Trump’s Shallow Thinking on ‘Terrorism’

Israel typically makes its enemies America’s enemies – think Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran – and few U.S. politicians dare step out of line. But hypocritical talk about “terrorism” has consequences, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

Last month, President Trump made a joint appearance at the White House with a visiting head of government, during which Trump spoke of the visitor’s country being “on the front lines in the fight against” an organization that is part of that same country’s governing coalition. The visitor was Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the organization was Hezbollah. Members of Hezbollah are ministers in Hariri’s cabinet. Hezbollah has the fourth largest bloc of seats among the two dozen parties that are represented in Lebanon’s parliament.

President Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel on May 22, 2017. (Screenshot from Whitehouse.gov)

Trump’s comment could be dismissed as an unsurprising gaffe from someone whose ignorance of the outside world is well known (and whose disorganized White House might have contributed to lousy staff work in preparing the President’s notes for the appearance with Hariri). Even if Trump had been better informed about current Lebanese politics, he might not have backed off from his comment. The United States does not have governing coalitions in the same sense as countries with parliamentary systems, but the nearest equivalent might arise with any glimmers of bipartisan cooperation on, say, health care.

Imagine that a foreign visitor came to the White House and praised the United States for being “on the front line in the fight against Democrats.” Although most observers would consider this to be a ridiculous and outrageously inappropriate remark, Trump might accept it smilingly as a personal compliment.

Where terrorism is involved, however, a simplistic approach often prevails that is broadly held and goes far beyond Trump. The problem arises in failing to recognize that terrorism is not some fixed set of people, groups, or states. It instead is a tactic that has been used by many different people and organizations in the pursuit of varying objectives. Yet the fixed-group attitude persists and frequently is visible in policy discussion and media coverage.

The official U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) is treated as if it were a master roster of organizations that we should never countenance, even though it was created 20 years ago only as a legal necessity to add precision to legislation that criminalized material support to terrorism.

If the United States supposedly were never to do any business with anyone who had used terrorism, it would somehow have to explain away the extensive business it has done with leaders who had been up to their eyeballs in terrorism, including Gerry Adams, Menachem Begin, and Yitzhak Shamir. The same is true not only of individual leaders but also some groups, such as the African National Congress.

We decide which of the users of terrorism we will countenance and which ones we won’t according to criteria other than terrorism itself. Only we don’t admit that we’re doing that, so as to preserve the fiction of being steadfastly opposed to terrorism wherever it arises. And this inconsistency doesn’t even take account of the U.S. acceptance of other applications of political violence that, although they do not meet the formal definition of terrorism because they involve overt use of force by a state, are just as deadly to many innocent civilians (such as the force that Saudi Arabia uses in Yemen, or that Israel regularly uses in the West Bank).

Differences Among Groups

The simplistic view of terrorism fails to distinguish among the vastly different interests and objectives of groups that have used terrorism and that may appear on the FTO list. This failure was prominent in Trump’s comment at his press conference with Hariri, in which the President listed as the groups that Lebanon supposedly was on the front lines against as “ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Hezbollah”.

Wanted Poster of the Palestine Police Force offering rewards for the capture of Stern Gang’s Jewish  terrorists: 1. Jaacov Levstein (Eliav), 2. Yitzhak Yezernitzky (later Israeli Prime Minister Shamir), 3. Natan Friedman-Yelin

There is no comparison between the first two of those and the third. ISIS and Al Qaeda are transnational terrorist organizations that seek to overturn governing structures in the Muslim world and to impose an extreme form of rule throughout that world. Hezbollah, by contrast, is focused mainly on sectarian politics and the distribution of power in Lebanon and its environs. Hezbollah’s participation in a governing coalition with other parties in an existing nation-state is far beyond the realm of anything possible with ISIS or Al Qaeda.

Hamas is another group that undeniably has used terrorism but otherwise has very little in common with the likes of ISIS and Al Qaeda. Like Hezbollah, it is focused primarily on more parochial political objectives — in Hamas’s case, on self-determination and political power in Palestine. It has demonstrated its ability and willingness to use peaceful means to pursue those objectives by winning a free and fair election among Palestinians.

The simplistic view tends to disregard the circumstances leading to the use of terrorism and to the emergence of groups that have used the tactic. Hezbollah was born in the early 1980s in the midst of a civil war in Lebanon. A major cause of both the war and the birth of the group was strong sentiment among Lebanon’s growing Shia population that it was underprivileged and unfairly underrepresented in Lebanese politics.

A more immediate circumstance underlying the emergence of Hezbollah was Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The invasion was intended to chase the Palestine Liberation Organization to the ends of the earth — or at least to Tunisia, to which it decamped. A salient episode in the Israeli military expedition was the Sabra and Shatila massacre], in which Israel’s army aided its Phalangist militia allies in the slaughter of hundreds and probably thousands of civilians, including Palestinian refugees and Lebanese Shia — Hezbollah’s constituency. Any reference to Hezbollah’s hostility toward Israel needs to recall these events for a full understanding.

Hezbollah terrorism against U.S. interests consisted of opposition to a foreign military presence. This was the case with the anti-U.S. terrorism in Lebanon in the 1980s (following a U.S. military intervention there, which came after the Israeli intervention), as well as with the one later attack against U.S. forces in which Hezbollah played a role: the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996.

These events are consistent with Robert Pape’s research finding that suicide bombings are motivated by opposition to the presence of foreign military forces. It is not consistent with any notion that Hezbollah is determined to kill Westerners or to attack U.S. interests in perpetuity.

Policy Implications

Failure to take into account the actual motivations, methods, objectives, and standing of a group such as Hezbollah leads to poor policy on problems that involve such groups. It leads to lack of awareness of how others perceive such groups and thus to what is or is not feasible as a U.S. policy objective.

Bodies of Palestinian refugees at the Sabra camp in Lebanon, 1982. (Photo credit: U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees)

These patterns are reflected in much of what is said in the United States about Hezbollah’s most important ally, Iran. “Number one state sponsor of terrorism” is part of the litany of labels that routinely are affixed to Iran in American discourse. But consult the State Department’s official justification for continuing to designate Iran as a state sponsor, and the gruel one sees is thinner than the discourse would suggest.

Most important, it is hard to see feasible changes from any Iranian regime that really did not want to be a state sponsor of terrorism. Much of what is in the U.S. official statement reflects history, which cannot be changed. Much of it involves Iran’s support, along with Russia, for the incumbent regime in Syria against a rebellion in which terrorist groups have played prominent roles. And much of it involves nonstate groups with which Iran does business, and especially its most important nonstate ally, Lebanese Hezbollah.

Whether we like it or not, Hezbollah is a well-established political actor in Lebanon, with its participation in Hariri’s government being part of that position. Most other political actors in Lebanon, even the group’s rivals, consider Hezbollah to be a legitimate and established actor that is here to stay, as do many other political actors elsewhere in the region. There is no way any Iranian regime would abandon its relationship with the group, which Iran sees as a major defender of Shia interests, let alone to try to justify to its Iranian constituents such a move as necessary to fight terrorism.

There cannot be, nor should there be, any forgiving or forgetting what Hezbollah did to Americans in the 1980s. The bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983 was, until 9/11, the deadliest terrorist attack ever against U.S. citizens. But not forgetting and not forgiving does not imply adopting the simplistic approach toward any group that is on our terrorist list. [Editor’s Note: The designation of the Marine barracks bombing as “terrorism” is itself questionable because the Reagan administration had militarily intervened in Lebanon by having the USS New Jersey shell targets on land and because the Marines were not civilians. The classic definition of “terrorism” is a willful attack on civilians to achieve a political goal.]

The current arrangements in Lebanon are probably the least bad way to keep that country from succumbing to full-scale civil war of the sort that afflicted it in the past and that afflicts Syria today. Prime Minister Hariri put it this way: “My job and my task as prime minister of Lebanon is to shield Lebanon from any instability like in Syria or Iraq or any other country that surrounds us. . . The political positions between us and Hezbollah are very well known. They don’t agree on my policies, and I don’t agree on their policies. But when it comes for the sake of the country, for the economy, how to handle those 1.5 million refugees, how to handle the stability, how to handle the governing our country, we have to have some kind of understanding, otherwise we would be like Syria. So, for the sake of the stability of Lebanon, we agree on certain things.”

Not seeing Lebanon fall into renewed civil war is in U.S. interests, so the arrangement Hariri describes is probably in U.S. interests as well. Many who find Hezbollah reprehensible are not aware that the United States provides financial assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces, which in turn has operational coordination with Hezbollah on some armed operations. Even some informed observers in quarters whose opposition to Hezbollah is unquestioned and usually don’t want to have anything to do with any ally of Iran see benefit in continuing that assistance.

These complexities are beyond the comprehension of Donald Trump. But what is at stake is not just the avoidance of gauche presidential statements but also the designing of prudent policy toward troublesome groups in troublesome regions, without making the mistake of treating all such groups as the same.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

 

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66 comments for “Trump’s Shallow Thinking on ‘Terrorism’

  1. Philip
    August 13, 2017 at 8:23 am

    Are you telling us that Trump’s predecessors took a more sophisticated view of the War on Terror? I’m not buying it. The USA is the world’s number one terrorist organization, and the CIA is right at the center of it.

    • JWalters
      August 13, 2017 at 6:53 pm

      The “War on Terror” is a ludicrous PR phrase concocted to deflect attention from the true nature of that war. For new readers,
      “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”
      http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

  2. Herman
    August 13, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Another incisive article on CN, but most who read CN will note aside from the gaffe, what Trump is doing is lock step with what was done by us previously. As to Trump, it is clear that he has no intention to change very much in the Middle East, and any good sentiments he might harbor are far outweighed by his close connection, including family, with Zionist sentiment.

    Very informative article. Somewhere I had developed the understanding that Hezbollah arose out of Lebanese resistance to Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon and that the groups who attacked us in the 1980’s were forerunners. Mr. Pillar is obviously better informed than I.

    • dave
      August 13, 2017 at 11:59 am

      “Attacked us” while we were invading their country? How dare they!

      • August 13, 2017 at 1:12 pm

        dave
        Exactly what I thought reading the line, “There cannot be, nor should there be, any forgiving or forgetting what Hezbollah did to Americans in the 1980s. The bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983 was, until 9/11, the deadliest terrorist attack ever against U.S. citizens.”
        That is ABSURD!!!
        That was an act of WAR upon a Determined, well trained, equipped, armed, and provisioned INVADING FORCE!!!
        If there were non-combatant civilian contractors among the dead, well that is what happens when one weighs profit vs. risk.
        Terrorism, is a tactic where violence, or the threat of violence is used to coerce a community onto a coarse of action which the community would not have accepted otherwise.
        That Lebanese national was ramming a truck packed with explosives through the front door of the building he knew to house people he considered Invaders. Terrorists using violence, and the threat of violence to coerce his compatriots to turn away Palestinian refugees.

        • ToivoS
          August 14, 2017 at 1:35 am

          What you say is correct. Also I do not believe Hezbollah was yet in existence when marine barracks was attacked. At least as a visible organized force they didn’t appear until 1984, In 1982 the Shiites were organized around Amal.

        • Anon
          August 14, 2017 at 8:52 am

          Yes, the article’s use of “what Hezbollah did to Americans in the 1980s” is zionist propaganda.
          The zionists paid US politicians to get the US bloody there, to give us a Pearl Harbor in the Mideast, and the zionist-controlled mass media have used it ever since to keep us fighting wars to support Israeli land theft.

          We must never forget or forgive what the zionists have done to the US, leaving us only the ruins of democracy.

  3. Joe Tedesky
    August 13, 2017 at 8:47 am

    No mention of Afghanistan, and not a word about Zbigniew Brzezinski.

  4. alley cat
    August 13, 2017 at 9:28 am

    President Trump doesn’t question the official neocon narrative on most issues with two critically important exceptions: Russia and so-called “free trade agreements” (in reality job exportation agreements). With respect to Hezbollah’s resistance to Israeli terrorism and ethnic cleansing (not the other way around), the president just parrots AIPAC talking points. Maybe it’s the result of shallow thinking (or no thinking at all), or maybe it’s Trump’s instinct for self-preservation kicking in. What’s certain is that any U.S. politician who dares to tell the truth about both Russia and Israel is political (and maybe literal) roadkill. Unfortunately, the issues of Russia and Israel are inextricably linked since Zionists both here and in Israel are determined to have their U.S. poodle/rottweiler destroy Syria (then Iran, followed by Russia), and Trump is off his leash when he allies the U.S. with Russia to destroy ISIS and Al Qaeda instead of Assad.

    • exiled off mainstreet
      August 13, 2017 at 10:29 am

      I fully concur with this statement, which fully covers the matters discussed in the article.

    • Leslie F
      August 13, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      I think it is really just Russia. His problem with trade agreements appears to have been a campaign tactic. What he is attempting to do with NAFTA is as bad as TPP. And TPP was pretty much dead anyway.

      • alley cat
        August 13, 2017 at 4:29 pm

        Well, the neocons have made it crystal clear that they own the news media and pretty much every U.S. politician to boot. The near-unanimous sanctions vote was a wake-up call for all of us. Trump can forget about normalizing relations with Russia or he can kiss his *ss good-bye. Murkans (those who didn’t already know) are about to find out who’s really in charge of this country, and it ain’t them, as George Carlin might have said.

      • BobS
        August 13, 2017 at 7:54 pm

        As we’ve witnessed, not well-reasoned or principled with respect to Russia, either.

  5. exiled off mainstreet
    August 13, 2017 at 10:27 am

    While Trump’s views on Hezbollah are absurd, likely due to his palling around with a New York zionist element and the fact he never has really studied the issue adequately, the deep state’s view that the terrorists in Syria were “freedom fighters” as represented by the faux heroic “white helmets” was and is criminally treasonous and inimical to civilization itself. The “Russia” conspiracy theory propagating by the deep state and its acolytes has, as Mr. Parry indicates elsewhere, made it far more difficult for Trump to take a less ignorant approach since the view of Hezbollah and Iran being “terrorists” is part of the deep state received wisdom.

  6. fudmier
    August 13, 2017 at 10:31 am

    The more I learn about those who lead the USA as governors of America” the more I realize USA leadership is does concerned about ordinary Americans or even about America as a sovereign nation… take a look at this highly revealing article http://www.globalresearch.ca/has-narenda-modi-switched-sides/5603805
    its shows who does business with whom is the object of the USA foreign policy ..
    nothing about culture, integrity, human rights, democracy, morality or anything else matters.
    Since inauguration Trump’s USA has been giving Americans assets away, as promotional gifts designed to promote establish a market for his global LNG business: trading advanced sophisticated weapons, US technology and US military placement to dangerous parties in exchange for purchase obligations to buy (creating a market at gunpoint of sorts) Israeli, Wall Street USA and other western investment owed and produced LNG products.
    Trump is in the LNG business; nothing else seems to matter; every bombing and troop placement decision becomes easy to understand, if considers one considers what is good for or needed to make the western based LNG business flourish.

    • Sam F
      August 13, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      Can you supply a link on the Trump LNG connection?

  7. Gregory Herr
    August 13, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    I’m glad for some honesty in marking distinctions regarding Hezbollah. The times that they fired rockets into Israeli territory were wrongheaded & counterproductive, but from the standpoint of tit-for-tat, revengeful desire in war, and defense from foreign invasion/occupation within the context of standing up for oppressed minorities certainly seems understandable.

    And it seems to me that preserving “the fiction of being steadfastly opposed to terrorism wherever it arises” certainly should be an exercise in futility when considering the “U.S. acceptance of other applications of political violence.” But I would go further in suggesting that very much of what occurred in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere under the authority of nation-states, including but especially our own, constitutes “a willful attack on civilians to achieve a political goal.” It can be called “collateral damage” until the cows come home, but I’m sure it feels pretty terrifying for the affected populations.

  8. DocHollywood
    August 13, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Thank you, Mr. Pillar; your analysis and explanation of “terrorism” is one of the best.

  9. dave
    August 13, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    “There cannot be, nor should there be, any forgiving or forgetting what Hezbollah did to Americans in the 1980s. The bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983 was, until 9/11, the deadliest terrorist attack ever against U.S. citizens.”

    This statement encapsulates the real reason “why they hate us”: the assumption that we have the right to intervene in your country if we want to, and if you dare to resist, you’re a “terrorist”.

    I’m glad the editor (presumably Robert Parry) also took issue with the “terrorism” characterization.

  10. August 13, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Pillar does well in explaining some of the distinctions between “terrorist” groups and their relative threat to peace and stability in the MidEast. Obviously, the complexity of the chemistry in the region is too much for Donald Trump to fathom. A similar simplistic approach to Iraq occurred during the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld era and we continue to reap the catastrophic results!

    • August 13, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      Storm Clouds Gathering, a youtube channel committed to exposing the deep state features a clip on one of their videos, Cheney speaking in 1994 why the US did not commit to toppling S. Hussein in 1991.
      He describes exactly what would happen ten years later, with Hussein’s regime removed the country fragmented into sectarian feuds. More evidence that these supposed “blunders” are not mistakes at all.

      • D5-5
        August 13, 2017 at 1:53 pm

        According to the definition given as “classic”–“terrorism is a willful attack on civilians to achieve a political goal.”

        Let me use my newly developing lawyerly skills from recent articles and threads at CN to argue 1) the US government itself is terrorist in using proxy terrorist groups and 2) in its current posture via Trump toward “fire and fury” directed at sundry nations, including at this moment North Korea.

        That is, on 2) (since 1) is obvious) I’m arguing Trump’s “fire and fury” baloney is a terrorist attack on us ordinary citizens with the evidence that at this time Americans are shaking in their boots and bringing huge profits to bunker and survival industries, sales going through the roof.

        We are responding to another bogus know-nothing Trump bunch of nonsense additional to his mistake on Hezbollah re his “fire and fury” on North Korea, plus more braggadocio on Venezuela etc. etc.

        This is Bush-Cheney from 03 all over again telling us to get out there and cover our homes with plastic effectively to protect us from the incoming Saddam Hussein attacks on us with his WMD. Some of you may recall this actually being said in the MSM as part of the response to the false flag WMD of that year.

        • August 13, 2017 at 2:42 pm

          D5-5…I wouldn’t argue with your analysis…the mention of Venezuela is yet another issue we haven’t dealt with yet.

          • D5-5
            August 13, 2017 at 3:08 pm

            Thanks, Bob. I did have tongue in cheek, and I’d better admit it. Obviously the crux of such an argument would rest on deaths and mayhem, and so far in our buying up survival kits and digging bunkers in our back yards we are “merely” scared, which probably does not count as “terror,” since we are not yet dead.

            Obviously, very problematic is Trump’s vulnerability to having his ego stroked, which appears to be an incessant, driving need governing his decisions. His action on Syria in April, only 2 days following an alleged chemical attack which had not been investigated at that time, and was subsequently debunked, his continuing ignorance as with this Hezbollah gaffe, his eagerness to de-certify Iran, now his threatening Venezuela, all of it verifies him as “a looney loose cannon” writ large on the current world scene.

      • August 13, 2017 at 2:38 pm

        CommonT…it wouldn’t surprise me that Cheney advocated toppling S. Hussein’s regime 10 years prior, but this doesn’t negate the fact that it was a “blunder” as he didn’t recognize the serious sectarian and ethnic divisions within Iraq( thus Bush’s famous “victory accomplished” declaration). Cheney thought he could install Ahmed Chalabi as an American puppet regime with the simplistic idea that Iraq would unite behind a new leader. He completely ignored the Baathist support for Hussein and the prospect of Sunni resistance. He also discounted the fact that Kurds were committed not to be absorbed again in an Arab state.

        • Brad Owen
          August 14, 2017 at 5:12 am

          Consider the possibility that Cheney and the American Establishment of aggressively stupid Elites, are themselves just tools used to achieve an end in MENA (which has NOTHING to do with American National Interests) which is to produce failed states peppered with puppet regimes(the easier for the looting operation called “Empire”) surrounding the area of prime concern; i.e. the Homeland of the former colonial masters of the British, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portugese, Belgian, Turkish Empires. As the saying went about the Roman Empire(which applies to these, their offspring; Anatolia went Muslim, renouncing the Byzantine/East Roman Era) “they create a desert and call it peace”. EIR search box: “Return of the Monarchs” and “Synarchy against America”.

          • Brad Owen
            August 14, 2017 at 5:23 am

            The same reasoning applies to Ukraine, an existing situation directly opposed to natural U.S. interests in being in strong alliance with Russia against the global machinations of the PanEuropean Oligarchs (and their Wall Street wannabes).

  11. jo6pac
    August 13, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    I would think that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri main goal is to stay a live and out of the way of Hezbollah and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Aoun the real power of Lebanon.

  12. MEexpert
    August 13, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    I have asked many times for someone to explain why Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization. This is the first article that attempts to answer that question. I say ‘attempts’ because the author still assigns that label to Hezbollah in regard to the marine barracks attack and the Khobar Towers. Thanks to Robert Parry for setting the record straight about terrorism, sparing me from explaining the situation there. First Iran and then Hezbollah was blamed for Khobar Towers. In reality it was an Al-Qaeda operation which Saudi Arabia hushed it up in order to deny the presence of that group in Saudi Arabia. Officially, it remains unsolved. Israel has tried to blame Iran/Hezbollah for other attacks in South America, again without proof. Investigative reporter, Gareth Porter has written articles about it on this website.

    Although trying to be fair, the author errs in assigning blame to Hezbollah for “occasional rocket attacks” on Israel. Hezbollah has never initiated an aggressive step against Israel. Even the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers in 2006 which was blamed for the Israeli onslaught on Lebanon in 2006. The fact, that the MSM failed to report, is that the Israel soldiers deliberately entered the Lebanese territory patrolled by Hezbollah. The 34 day bombardment that ensued against the Lebanese civilians and the infrastructure by Israel is a proof that Israel was looking for an excuse to launch a full-scale attack on Hezbollah. Hezbollah is on the list of terrorist organizations because it is the only organization that has successfully stood up to Israel.

    George W. Bush government imprisoned a Pakistani-American businessman for including Al-Manar, the Hezbollah-run TV channel, in a cable package that he was selling. Israel also tried Australia to ban Al-Manar but the Australian government refused. Franklin Lamb, an American living in Lebanon, wrote an article, published on Counterpunch, about Al-Manar and showed that none of its programming contains anything against Israel or any other country. Perhaps its news programs include news that show the other side of the story, different from official Israeli version.

    If the criteria, US government uses to assign terrorist label to countries and governments, is applied fairly to everyone, the US and Israel will be the at the head of the list of terrorist sponsoring governments and Israel and CIA as the leading terrorist organizations.

    • D5-5
      August 13, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      It occurred to me the author made a mistake in saying Hezbollah fired rockets into Israel and was thinking of Hamas or possibly other Palestinian forces responding to Israel’s attacks on Gaza. If so, these rockets were not effective and not much superior to throwing stones, as was also done. I’m thinking of the attacks on Gaza in the last few years.

    • Chris Chuba
      August 13, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      I totally agree with you about the Khobar towers bombing. I read Gareth Porter’s article and found it very convincing. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32589-who-bombed-khobar-towers-anatomy-of-a-crooked-terrorism-investigation
      In short, the Saudis arrested people and tortured them until they confessed. It was Al Qaeda, not Hezbollah. Al Qaeda even took credit for the bombing.

      Regarding the bombings in South America, I’ve read that the evidence is questionable and that Hezbollah has denied it. My only question is who else would have a motive for blowing up a building causing a mass killing targeting Israelis?

      • MEexpert
        August 14, 2017 at 2:46 am

        Islamic Jihad took the responsibility for the Israeli Embassy bombing but Israel continued to blame Hezbollah and Iran. Hezbollah had always denied any involvement. They always operate close to home. It makes me think that it was a false flag operation by the Israelis.

  13. backwardsevolution
    August 13, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Trump campaigned on wanting to stop wars, negotiate, cooperate. He wanted to disband NATO or greatly cut it back, and he wondered about the necessity of it. Then Russia-gate started. Congress has now tied Trump’s hands with regards to sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. Many members of Congress have openly called for Trump’s impeachment. Congress is controlled not by the American citizens, but by AIPAC and multinational corporations.

    Imagine what would have happened had Trump been allowed to follow through on his campaign promises.

    Imagine if AIPAC was forced to register as a foreign agent. Imagine if the practice of giving $3 billion to Israel every year was ended. Imagine if AIPAC lost all of its ability to influence Congress. Israel would have to start compromising and cooperating with its surrounding neighbors. The balance of power would shift.

    Imagine if politicians could no longer accept political campaign donations. Imagine if future elections were run with taxpayer money, where each candidate supplied detailed and written answers to a list of questions which could then be posted in all major newspapers, where each was given time to explain their views to the American public not via one-sided, useless debates, but through a one or two hour video explaining, again in detail, exactly what their positions are and the reasons for said positions on every single question listed in the written questionnaire.

    The questionnaire and video could be accompanied with a detailed CV listing their history: who they are, where they’re from, their work history, how they’ve voted on particular issues in the past, etc. Imagine having a country that was not held hostage by vested interests.

    Imagine if all the troops were brought home. The U.S. multinational corporations would then have to cooperate with foreign countries and actually pay for the resources they wanted instead of getting the government to go in first and clear a path for them. Imagine if the CIA was not given free rein to overthrow governments and orchestrate coups, removing in many cases good government leaders who are loyal to their citizens.

    Imagine if Trump could have done what he wanted, if he had not been vilified. Imagine if he could have devoted his time to domestic policies: bringing jobs back, securing the borders, working on fair and balanced trade policies, rebuilding infrastructure.

    And on foreign policy, imagine if Trump could have cooperated with other countries and gotten the U.S. out of “other people’s business”.

    This is what Trump campaigned on, and the vested interests are fighting him every step of the way, with many here cheering this behavior on, calling him a “simpleton”.

    Trump is not interested in foreign affairs, and if what I stated above were instigated, he shouldn’t really have to be. Staying out of other people’s business is a good practice to follow. It might be simple, but, hey, give it a try. “Complex” doesn’t appear to be working.

    When I think of the U.S., I think of this: wanting something for nothing. Wanting to take what is not theirs, and then justifying it.

    Things could be “simple”, they really could, but the vested interests don’t really want simple, do they?

    • Realist
      August 13, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      A+

    • Herman
      August 14, 2017 at 8:57 am

      Backwardsevolution

      All great points. Thinking back did the snowball begin with the Cold War and was it too late by the time Eisenhower issued his warning at the end of his terms in office. How enticing it is to prey upon those you have crushed. Investment bankers with great piles of cash waiting to swoop down and rob the vanquished of their assets. Yes, it is the state of mind of the powerful in America, not to negotiate but to crush with sanctions and bombs. Not worthy of America but true. By the way, I am a careless reader. I read you nom d plume with an r after the d rather than an e.

      • backwardsevolution
        August 15, 2017 at 2:08 am

        Herman – the American people are good and fine people who will get it straightened out eventually. It’s hard to know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been, so it’s good to see that more and more people are beginning to question what is really going on. Once people wrap their minds around the fact that their Presidents are not really running things, that their Congress has been bought, they will rise up and demand better. Thanks, Herman.

    • Sam F
      August 14, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Very true and well said.

    • roza shanina
      August 14, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      it’s a real shame it’s all ended up this way. we’re dealing with the hangover from cold war 1. now fresh into cold war 2.0. maybe with an upgrade to 2.1. Truman was a puppet who ran things while this mess was being cooked up. As much as I detest the man, he perhaps kind of realized his mistake. unfortunately, the cat was out of the bag.

      Truman_CIA
      Interested in anyone else’s take on this mess. what’s to be done?

      • Bob Van Noy
        August 14, 2017 at 2:27 pm

        Rosa, this is JFK’s 100th Anniversary, and many major events are scheduled which will discuss in detail, The Deep State. One good place to begin is The Mary Farrell Foundation. I’ll link it for you.
        http://www.maryferrell.org/pages/Main_Page.html

        • roza shanina
          August 14, 2017 at 8:14 pm

          Thank you, Mr.Van Noy! Your comments are always so respectful and insightful. I ran across the Mary Farrell Foundation a while back and lost the link. Her work reminds me of the great Mae Brussell. I used to listen to World Watchers on KFJC in my formative years.
          Not completely off topic, but a bit, I work in Koreatown in the wonderful mess that is Los Angeles. There is a pro-THADD demonstration going on at Western and Wilshire right now. It saddens me to see that there are reactionary elements in society who want to fan the fires of hatred and warfare. The deception regarding the mess in Korea is at an all time high. As a species we need to come together and try to live in … harmony …peace … I don’t know. Can we just not kill one another?

          • Bob Van Noy
            August 15, 2017 at 12:28 am

            Thank you rosa shanina, Mae Brussell was, and still is, a treasure. I’ll include a link so that others can see how feisty she was. And, regarding Koreatown, we live in truly dangerous but decidedly important times. One can easily see from this site alone, the depth of knowledge and sincere concern for our beloved Country of mixed races. We are plagued by criminal leadership but their incompetence is slowly becoming apparent. I think we’re going to be OK, and then, way better off, with a proper attention to our environment and education.
            http://maebrussell.com

    • Bob Van Noy
      August 14, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      backwardsevolution, I’m doing just what you are recommending. I know very little about this candidate running for Governor of Indiana other than he looks terrific on paper And he’s Not accepting large donations. That is the way to defeat big money’ simply make them look silly…

      https://theintercept.com/2017/08/14/big-money-runs-illinois-can-small-donor-backed-daniel-biss-change-that/

      Also, I’m Very leery of Act Blue and recommend that all donations be made Directly to the candidates Name. Thanks, let’s keep thinking about electoral fixes.

      • backwardsevolution
        August 15, 2017 at 1:15 am

        Bob Van Noy – good for you!

  14. Brewer
    August 13, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    Israel’s primary tactic has long been the application of the “terrorist” label to legitimate resistance groups. It’s very existence depends on it for its separatist, race based policies can only justified by making out that the indigenous, rightful owners of the land it has wrested by violence are a sub-human, barbaric people.
    Israel was spawned, midwifed and nurtured by terrorism and assassination and has employed its every form, from direct action (the King David Hotel , Embassy bombings, massacres, letter bombs etc of the forties) through false flag operations such as the Lavon Affair.
    It is interesting to note that this article and comments do not reference the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in Buenos Aires which Israel’s agents, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, tried to blame Hezbollah and Iran. Gareth Porter wrote about it here:
    https://consortiumnews.com/2015/02/07/a-rush-to-judgment-in-argentine-bomb-case/
    I tried to summarize it here:
    http://brewerstroupe.blogspot.co.nz/2009/08/aima-bombing.html

    The Hezbollah/Iran connection was a crock but the affair (which was once Israel’s flagship in the propaganda battle against Hezbollah) now seems to have disappeared down the memory hole. I’d love to know why and if there have been any further developments.

    • MEexpert
      August 14, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      Read my post above about Argentina bombing.

  15. Realist
    August 13, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Our American leaders have never been intelligent enough to see beyond simplistic Manichean “black and white” or “good and evil” models of the world. Like Dubya said, “you’re either with us or against us,” and every person on the planet must be characterised and pigeonholed as a friend or an enemy, including the readers of this blog. Other societies cannot simply be left alone to evolve in their own direction, even though they have no impact on and present no danger to the United States. Some bullshit talmudic argument will always be crafted to justify Washington sticking its nose into other peoples’ business, judging them and ultimately controlling them. Then Washington gets all bent out of shape when these distant nations resent our micromanipulations and push back in the slightest. To make things as confounding as possible, the criteria upon which America’s leaders most often judge and punish or reward other peoples come down to the least objective, least rational sets of beliefs held by either side: their religion and politics, at least those are the public explanations given when probably deeper down in most cases the base motivation is greed and avarice for what material riches others have and all the fancy words are just an excuse to mask that fact.

    • August 13, 2017 at 6:40 pm

      Realist…AMEN

    • Mild-ly Facetious
      August 13, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      If you’d ever an occasion to read some of the sociopathic / diabolical writings in the Talmud you’d understand Netanyahu’s Extreme Malevolence toward The Palestinian People / How can we stand by, silently, and Excuse the harsh cruelty meted out to an Authentic People?

      The BBC just ran an historically documented report on the British slave trade which featured documented Cultural Records,along with ledgers and docs that provide truth to names, Places, Plantation Records as well as Monetary Compensation Awards to British West Indian Slave Holders who were gratuitously compensated and who’s excess of riches financed the building of British Infrastructure through the capitalist system of Investment For The Future.
      — It’s funded European Monarchs and US Aristocrats {The Elite}, with their insatiable search for wealth or death.

      Peace is the absolute
      absence of turmoil.
      There must be A
      Reason for everything –
      InfraStructure development

      that births Absence Of Turmoil
      In a discombobulated world of
      Sheep Who’ve Lost Their Way
      On The Road of discomfiture,
      Kerouac and Ginsberg Howl.

      (Find oil geologist Rick Bass’s first
      book, Winter; Notes From Montana).

  16. John
    August 13, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    Money talks and bullshit walks…..nothing fuuking new here. The nations of the world with their elite leadership are nothing more than thug gangs hiding behind a political bullshit philosophy. They create icons in every walk of life demonstrating “the way a man should think”. Humans are indeed stupid cattle marching toward their own demise …….The politicians and policymakers of the wretched hell hole of a planet should be forced to wear shock collars, when they sow their bullshit lies ….we get the last laugh……

  17. Lee Francis
    August 14, 2017 at 2:58 am

    Good terrorists = First Israel, Ariel Sharon, Menacham Begin, Yitkhak Shamir, Yitzak Rabin, Avraham Stern. Then Ukraine, Neo-nazi terrorists, Dmitry Yarosh (Praviy Sektor) Oleh Tyanybok (Svovoda) Andriy Biletsky (Patriots of Ukraine/ Azov battalion) who states – “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”Andriy Parubiy (Svoboda) Lyashko (Radical Party) all members of parliament in the Kiev junta, and all catapulted into power with the ‘democratic’ west’s invaluable assistance.

  18. August 14, 2017 at 8:55 am

    How about calling Frump a racist, for equating the neo-Nazi and the KKK for being just other protestors?

  19. mike k
    August 14, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I’m back. Our computer crashed, and we are busy setting up a new one. I have been able to go to the CN site the last couple of days, and catch up on the essays and comments (from which I am learning so much) but I could not comment until today. I think of CN as a learning community, where each of us contributes pieces of possible solutions to our global problems. None of us has a complete answer, so we need each other’s inputs.

    Thanks to a couple of folks who noticed my absence, and sent good wishes for my return. That really helps. On other blogs I have shared on, I have noticed a lack of mutual support, and a spiral into solely very negative critical comments which can end in open animosity. Keeping this in mind, positive comments on other’s sharing can produce a more congenial atmosphere for all.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 14, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Good to have you back mike. Your absence worried a few around here, so once again it’s good to hear from you….now give them hell mike. Joe

    • Bob Van Noy
      August 14, 2017 at 11:24 am

      Welcome back mike k, you were missed…

    • Bob Van Noy
      August 14, 2017 at 11:26 am

      I like to say we’re fighting a battle here…

    • August 14, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      Welcome back Mike…computers are fickle but your wisdom and congeniality are consistent!

    • Skip Scott
      August 14, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      Hi mike k-

      Glad you’re back in the discussion. I always value your input, and your strong moral character. I’m hitting the road tomorrow morning and will be pretty busy until around the end of Sept or so. I’ll still try to keep up, but probably won’t comment much. You are a great bunch of folks and you provide me with hope for the future. CN really feels like a community.

      • Joe Tedesky
        August 14, 2017 at 11:45 pm

        Skip you take care now, and we’ll all be here when you get back. Joe

  20. mike k
    August 14, 2017 at 10:17 am

    To me, this CN site exists to create a better world based on truth and mutual caring. If we were to let this opportunity drift into the usual egotistical posturing, dogmatism, name calling, scapegoating affair – we would fail to practice the kind of behavior necessary to bring a new world into being. We should remember Gandhi’s dictum to
    “be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

    • Virginia
      August 14, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Mike, you were sorely missed, you prophet of good…(if we don’t destroy ourselves first)! I was thinking that you took a mighty long walk that day. Why, we have here a ring for your finger, sandals for your feet, and are preparing a great feast!

      Welcome home, brother ours!

  21. Xenophon
    August 14, 2017 at 10:40 am

    I like Paul Pillar’s writing and analysis, but I am unclear about his view that Iran was involved in the Khobar Towers bombing. Saudi and Bahraini Shia suspects who are supposedly members of Hezbollah al Hejaz have been arrested. But I really have to question the evidence for Iranian involvement as well as what their motive would have been, unless “rogue IRGC” is the claim. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has publicly said that he believes AQ was the perpetrator. Would like to hear more from Pillar on this point.

    • Virginia
      August 14, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      I have the same questions, Xenophon. All those discussions took place before I became a “subscriber” here. I, like Mike, find this site to provide, to those willing to undertake the study, a PHD education in history, current affairs, and much more including the thinking and motivations behind courses of events. No tuition and no exams! though contributions make a good investment.

      I’ve picked up a good educational book! with a good recommendation from Graham Green who said: “This, to the best of my knowledge, is a unique account of Espionage because it is written by the Chief of the Service concerned — a Chief who did not sit at an office desk but ran as his own agent in the field.” The book, MASTER OF SPIES The Memoirs of General Frantisek Moravec, is a thrilling read and is incredibly educational about “intelligence work” from the ground up. It is telling me how important Czechoslovakia was in Britain and the US’s winning World War II. (Someone please read it and tell me if there is anything in at that most of you at CN didn’t already know.)

  22. Skip Scott
    August 14, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Paul Pillar should at least be brave enough to note that attacking foreign soldiers (marines) on your own soil is not terrorism, but it looks like Robert Parry had to plug in an “Editor’s note”. He fails to mention Operation Gladio, and the CIA’s involvement, and also Operation Northwoods which President Kennedy nixed. Also I would say that Israel’s mowing the grass in Palestine every few years and employing white phosphorus on heavily populated areas is classic terrorism. Not to mention our carpet bombing of Cambodia, the Mai Lai massacre, and other notable atrocities. I wish the USA would learn to respect the Geneva Conventions and the UN charter. Then maybe we could preach to others about terrorism and be taken seriously.

    • MEexpert
      August 14, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      UN is nothing but a tool for the United States. They use the power of money to keep the UN under control. Otherwise, both the US and Saudi Arabia would have been censured for the Yemen bombing or civilian killing everywhere else. It is also against the UN charter to invade a member nation without just cause, say Syria. For a number of year the IAEA was under the US control and was used to force sanctions against ran. Israel has violated every UN charter but because of the US no action has been taken against it. Israel deserve more sanctions against it than Iran.

  23. wholy1
    August 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Increasingly suspect of the meme/narrative that the Trumpster is some sort of very cunning/smart “operator”?

  24. mike k
    August 14, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Trump is totally motivated by greed. If that is a “skill” it’s the only one he has.

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