How US Blunders Strengthened Iran

Exclusive: By echoing the Israeli-Saudi bellicosity toward Iran, President Trump is repeating the same mistakes of his predecessors and inviting wider Mideast wars that could enhance Iran’s position, writes Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

Behind only North Korea, Iran is the country the Trump administration vilifies most. The White House endorses Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s injunction that “We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.”

President Donald Trump speaking to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 19, 2017, and devoting much of his speech to denunciations of Iran. (Screenshot from Whitehouse.gov)

Parroting Netanyahu’s claim that Iran is “busy gobbling up the nations” of the Middle East, CIA Director and conservative GOP stalwart Mike Pompeo warned in June that Iran — which he branded “the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism” — now wields “enormous influence . . . that far outstrips where it was six or seven years ago.”

In an interview with MSNBC, Pompeo elaborated, “Whether it’s the influence they have over the government in Baghdad, whether it’s the increasing strength of Hezbollah and Lebanon, their work alongside the Houthis in Iran, (or) the Iraqi Shias that are fighting along now the border in Syria . . . Iran is everywhere throughout the Middle East.”

Few would deny that Iran’s influence in the region has grown over the past decade. What’s missing from such dire warnings of its imperial designs, however, is any reflection on how aggressive policies by the United States and its allies have consistently backfired, creating needless chaos that Iran has exploited as a matter of self-interest and self-defense.

Consider the case of Hezbollah, a Lebanese-based Shiite organization that Israeli leaders describe as a major threat and almost certainly the target of Israel’s next war. Although the Iranian-backed force intervened actively in Syria to back the Assad government, it disclaims any intent to start a war with Israel.

It does, however, declare with great bravado its intent to deter another Israeli invasion of its homeland. “Israel should think a million times before waging any war with Lebanon,” said its leader earlier this year.

Spurred by Israeli Invasions

In fact, Hezbollah owes its very existence to Israel’s repeated invasions of their country. In 1982, Israel broke a cease-fire with the Palestine Liberation Organization and invaded southern Lebanon with 60,000 troops. The Reagan administration took no steps to stop that invasion, which caused thousands of civilian casualties and turned much of the population against Israel.

Bodies of Palestinian refugees at the Sabra camp in Lebanon, 1982, a massacre carried out by Israeli allies in Lebanon. (Photo credit: U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees)

With Iranian money and guidance, the Shiite resistance in Lebanon coalesced around the organization that became known as Hezbollah. “We are only exercising our legitimate right to defend our Islam and the dignity of our nation,” the group claimed in one of its ideological tracts. “We appealed to the world’s conscience, but heard nothing.”

Years later, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak conceded that “It was our presence [in Lebanon] that created Hezbollah.” Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin seconded that assessment, saying that Israel had let the “genie out of the bottle.”

In 2006, Israel again invaded Lebanon, this time to wipe out Hezbollah. Israel’s indiscriminate attacks against civilians drew condemnation from international human rights organizations. They also succeeded in strengthening the very enemy Israel sought to annihilate.

“Especially since the 2006 war with Israel, . . . an overwhelming majority of the Shi’a have embraced Hezbollah as the defender of their community,” writes Augustus Richard Norton in his study, Hezbollah: A Short History. “This suggests that outsiders . . . seeking to reduce Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon must redress the security narrative rather than take steps that validate it.”

Instead, of course, the United States and its Sunni Arab and Turkish allies promoted the violent overthrow of Syria’s government, drawing Hezbollah forces into the fight for the survival of their longtime ally. While Hezbollah has paid a political and human price for its military expedition, its soldiers have gained tremendous battle experience, making them all the more formidable a foe.

The Iraqi Gift

Washington’s greatest geostrategic gift to Iran was the unprovoked U.S. overthrow of Iran’s arch enemy, Saddam Hussein, in 2003. Iran had lost hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in an eight-year war with Iraq, triggered by Saddam’s invasion in 1980. The Bush administration not only killed Saddam, but handed political power to Iraq’s majority Shiite population, which looked to Iran for spiritual and political guidance.

At the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to conduct a devastating aerial assault on Baghdad, known as “shock and awe.”

That windfall may not have been entirely luck. The leading Iraqi lobbyist for war, the neoconservatives’ darling Ahmed Chalabi, was later identified by U.S. authorities as a key Iranian intelligence asset. U.S. counterintelligence agents concluded that Chalabi and other Iraqi exiles, who peddled false claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, had “been used as agents of a foreign intelligence service … to reach into and influence the highest levels of the U.S. government,” in the words of a Senate Intelligence Committee report.

But Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s office shut down the investigation, leaving Chalabi to direct the political purge of Iraq’s government and then become Iraq’s deputy prime minister and oil minister. The Chalabi-led purge targeted Iraq’s Sunni politicians, aggravating the country’s sectarian divide and fueling the insurgency that still plagues the country today. The violence strengthened Iran’s hand in the country, as Shiite militia sought Tehran’s help to defend their communities.

At the same time, popular opposition to the U.S. occupation led to the rise of radical Sunni terrorists. It was from their swelling ranks in Iraq’s prisons that ISIS was born. ISIS made lightning gains across much of western Iraq in June 2014, with the conquest of Fallujah, Tikrit, and Mosul, the country’s second most populous city. With its very existence in jeopardy, Iraq’s beleaguered government welcomed Iran’s immediate dispatch of 2,000 soldiers to help block the ISIS offensive. Syria’s air force also began striking ISIS bases in coordination with Baghdad.

Misguided Pressure

Washington, in contrast, rejected Iraq’s call for air strikes and suggested that its Shiite-led government should step down to placate aggrieved Sunnis. Only in August 2014 did President Obama authorize limited bombing of ISIS to protect minorities threatened by their military advance. Needless to say, many Iraqis were grateful to Iran for its military support at a critical time.

Journalist James Foley shortly before he was executed by an Islamic State operative in 2014.

“The Iranians are playing a long game and a waiting game,” said Sajad Jiyad, the director of the Al Bayan Center for Planning and Studies in Baghdad. “They put their skins on the line. They lost three or four generals plus a dozen senior officers.”

So when a “hamfisted” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking in Saudi Arabia, recently demanded that Baghdad send home Iranian-backed paramilitary units that helped defeat ISIS, it didn’t go over well with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

“No party has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters,” his office stated. Abadi called the Popular Mobilization forces “Iraqi patriots,” not mere proxies of Iran, and insisted that they “should be encouraged because they will be the hope of country and the region.” Score another few points for Tehran.

ISIS might never have spread into Syria had not the United States publicly promoted the overthrow of the Assad government in 2011, following years of covert efforts by Washington and Israel to weaken the regime and promote sectarian divisions within Syria.

Contributing greatly to the rise of radical Islamist forces in Syria was the U.S.-backed overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, which unleashed large stocks of arms and hundreds of hardened fighters to spread their revolution into Syria.

By late 2011, Sunni-led states such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar began financing and arming militant Islamist rebels in Syria, including Al Qaeda and even ISIS. The resulting war killed hundreds of thousands of combatants and civilians, uprooted millions of refugees, and laid waste to ancient cities.

The Obama administration proved itself just as deluded as the Bush administration about the efficacy of armed intervention. Describing hopes by the White House that Libya’s uprising would “ripple out to other nations in the region” and fuel anti-regime movements in Syria and Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported, “Syria has served for 30 years as Iran’s closest strategic ally in the region. U.S. officials believe the growing challenge to Mr. Assad’s regime could motivate Iran’s democratic forces.”

Instead, of course, Syria’s conflict prompted Iran’s hardliners to send Revolutionary Guard units and Hezbollah forces to the defense of their ally. With the help of Russian air power, they turned the tide in Assad’s favor, leaving the Damascus regime intact and greatly in Tehran’s debt.

The Yemeni Mess

Echoing longstanding claims by Saudi Arabia, the Trump administration also insists that Iran is a major backer of Houthi tribal forces who swept down from northern Yemen to seize control of most of the country in early 2015. That March, with U.S. backing, a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states launched a scorched–earth military campaign to oust the Houthis, in the name of resisting Iran.

Saudi King Salman bids farewell to President Barack Obama at Erga Palace after a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The coalition’s indiscriminate bombing of industrial and other civilian targets, including schools and hospitals, has laid waste to much of the country and destroyed the economy. Its blockade of ports caused mass hunger and triggered the world’s worst cholera epidemic.

“Cynics can argue that the real strategy of the Saudi coalition is to rely on starvation and disease to wear down the Yemeni people,” observed former White House adviser and CIA analyst Bruce Riedel. “The United Nations has labeled the war the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world . . . (Yet) Iran is the only winner, as it provides aid and expertise to the Houthis at a tiny fraction of the cost of the Saudi war effort while the Islamic Republic’s Gulf enemies spend fortunes on a conflict they jumped into with no endgame or strategy.”

Experts point out that Washington picked the wrong ally in this fight. “The Houthis are one of the few groups in the Middle East that has little intention or ability to confront the United States or Israel,” writes Harvard lecturer Asher Orkaby. “And far from being aligned with extremists, the Houthi movement has repeatedly clashed with the Islamic State . . . and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It is Saudi Arabia that has long supported Sunni Islamist groups in Yemen.”

To compound the irony, the paranoid sheiks in Riyadh created the very threat they set out to crush with their invasion in 2015. Iranian ties to the Houthis were negligible before then. Remarking on years of attempts to smear them as pawns of Iran, the U.S. ambassador to Yemen reported in a classified cable in 2009, “The fact that . . .  there is still no compelling evidence of that link must force us to view this claim with some skepticism.”

Two former members of the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning have recently confirmed that “the vast majority of the Houthi arsenal . . . was seized from Yemeni army stockpiles,” not provided by Iran.

As the devastating war grinds on, however, Iran has provided the Houthis with modest training, advice, and ground munitions. “Iran has exploited, on the cheap, the Saudi-led campaign, and thus made the expansion of Iranian influence in Yemen a Saudi self-fulfilling prophecy,” they observe.

“By catering to the Saudis in Yemen,” they add, “the United States has . . . strengthened Iranian influence in Yemen, undermined Saudi security, brought Yemen closer to the brink of collapse, and visited more death, destruction, and displacement on the Yemeni population.”

Qatar and Beyond

In a moment of particular lunacy, President Trump this June tweeted his support for a Saudi-led political and economic blockade of Qatar, a tiny but gas-rich Gulf emirate. Riyadh is aggrieved in part by Qatar’s sponsorship of Al Jazeera, the politically nettlesome broadcaster. Trump’s action surprised and embarrassed the Pentagon, which operates a huge military base in Qatar.

President Donald Trump poses for photos with ceremonial swordsmen on his arrival to Murabba Palace, as the guest of Saudi King Salman, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Iran quickly took advantage of this latest Saudi blunder. It opened its airspace to Qatari flights that were barred from crossing the Arabian Peninsula. It shipped food to replace supplies lost by the closure of the Saudi-Qatari border. In gratitude, Qatar restored full diplomatic relations with Tehran after recalling its ambassador two years ago.

“This dispute has pushed Qatar towards other players in the region who are critical: Iran, Turkey, Russia, China,” said Rob Richer, former Associate Deputy Director for Operations at the CIA. “These are players who now have a lot more influence as we diminish our influence in the region. In this way, the blockade has actually undermined everything that the Saudis and Emiratis wanted by pushing the Qataris into the arms of these other regional players.”

Time after time, in other words, the United States and its regional supporters have made a mess of matters with their overt and covert military interventions in the Middle East. It’s only natural that Iran, having long been targeted by Washington and its allies (sometimes for understandable reasons), tries to seize opportunities to defend its interests.

The lesson we should learn is that curbing Iran and promoting U.S. security interests will require less intervention from afar, not more self-defeating forays into the region.

As Chatham House research fellow Renad Mansour recently observed, until the United States overcomes its counterproductive reactions to obsessive fears of Iranian influence, “the Iranophobes will be right about one thing: Iran is the smarter player in the region.”

Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books related to national security and international relations, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War, and the International Drug Trade (Stanford University Press, 2012).

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65 comments for “How US Blunders Strengthened Iran

  1. Abe
    November 5, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    “the Massoud Barzani clan has built a dictatorial power in the Kurdish region of Iraq using assassination, corruption and since 2014, control of sales of Iraqi oil via Turkey. Such is Barzani’s mafia-power, despite the fact that his term as President of the Iraqi Kurdistan ended in 2015 and the Kurd regional parliament refused to renew it, he has ruled since without any legal basis by preventing the parliament from convening and formally ousting him. Massoud’s son controls the region’s security council and all all military and civilian intelligence.

    “Barzani, with open backing of Israel’s Netanyahu, despite major opposition from most of the world, went ahead with a referendum for an independent Kurdish state. It was to have been the beginning of a domino-style reshaping of the geopolitical map of the entire Middle East along the lines of US Army Col. Ralph Peters’ 2006 Armed Forces Journal, ‘Blood Borders: How a Better Middle East Would Look.’

    “Since the British and French carved up the oil-rich lands of the collapsing Ottoman Empire in the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 during the First World War, the ethnic peoples known as Kurds were divided, deliberately, between the borders of Iran, Iraq, Syria and of Turkey. To now create a single Kurdish state would destabilize the entire region and beyond. The issues among the various ethnic Kurds themselves are as well vast with differences in Kurd dialects sometimes being as vast as that between English and modern German. The political differences as well are significant.

    “Had the US and Israel succeeded in forming an independent Kurdish state in Iraq as a precursor to a Greater Kurdistan of some 23 million people, it would have thrown the entire region from Iran to Iraq to Syria and Turkey into war, the kind of really big war the Pentagon neoconservatives have salivated over since they concocted the fake proof in 2003 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. […]

    “Amidst the chaos of the conquests of ISIS across Iraq and Syria after 2014, a conquest that was initially facilitated by Barzani in his bid to grab Kirkuk oil, Barzani’s clan made an illegal deal with the family of Turkish President Erdogan to sell the oil via Turkish pipelines where it was sold on to Israel earning Barzani’s clan billions of dollars. By August 2015 the Jerusalem Post reported that as much as 77% of Israel oil imports were coming from Kurd-occupied Kirkuk region, via pipeline from Turkish Ceyhan to the Israel oil port at Ashkelon.

    “Following Barzani’s bombastic declaration of a 93% independence referendum yes vote, the Iraq government, as did others including that of Turkey and Iran, declared the vote illegal. Baghdad swiftly moved to impose sanctions on the Iraqi Kurdish region. Erdogan’s Turkey, fearing a spread of Kurdish independence to Turkish Kurds, a significant minority bordering Syria and Iraq, cut off Kurd pipeline flows. […]

    “On October 29, Massoud Barzani announced he would step down as (illegitimate) President of the Iraqi Kurdish region, acknowledging the utter failure of the Israel-backed referendum ploy. […]

    “Further setback for Washington is the development around Qatar. Since Washington and Israel goaded the incalculable Saudis last summer into the laughable idea of creating an “Arab NATO” of Sunni oil states (plus Israel), aimed at Iran, that ‘Arab NATO’ as its first act imposed an economic embargo against former Gulf Cooperation Council ally and Muslim Brotherhood-backed Qatar. Qatar was targeted by the Saudis because they had openly sought the cooperation of former arch foe Iran in building a common gas route to the EU. Now Qatar is working with Iran, Turkey, Russia and China in a new geopolitical alignment opposed by Saudi Arabia.

    “Russia, placing herself in the midst of the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria has managed a brilliant political coup against the Anglo-American and Israeli designs for a Greater Kurdistan and a NATO-controlled Greater Middle East.”

    Moscow Outmaneuvers Washington’s Kurdistan Project
    By F. William Engdahl
    https://journal-neo.org/2017/11/04/moscow-outmaneuvers-washington-s-kurdistan-project/

  2. Abe
    November 5, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Lamenting “recent clashes that drove Kurdish militias out of Kirkuk”, pro-Israel Lobby figure Thomas Donnelly is busily selling “Israel’s coming war” in Lebanon and Syria as some kind of wonderful “strategic opportunity for the United States”.

    Donnelly is a “resident fellow” at a leading organ of the pro-Israel Lobby, the American Enterprise Institute neoconservative think tank in Washington, D.C.

    Donnelly served as Deputy Executive Director of the Project for the New American Century from 1999 to 2002. After stepping down from this position, Donnelly remained at PNAC as a military analyst.

    Several PNAC principals, including Donnelly, Gary Schmitt, Reuel Marc Gerecht, and Bruce Jackson, moved from PNAC to AEI.

    A frequent op-ed contributor for national media outlets, Donnelly is a vocal proponent of long-term U.S. military engagement abroad. Although not as outspoken as some of his neocon colleagues, Donnelly has nevertheless vigorously advocated confrontation with Iran.

    In 2016, Donnelly praised Israel’s “Clausewitzian ability” in the face of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna in July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany), and the European Union.

    On 20 March 2017, the Trump administration formally certified that Iran that Iran had upheld its end of the agreement. The International Atomic Energy Agency, EU, Russia and China have all affirmed that Iran is respecting the limitations on its nuclear program.

    The IAEA, the foremost authority on the matter, has repeatedly deemed Iran in compliance with the nuclear deal. The U.S. State Department has also certified that Iran is holding up its end of the bargain, and a host of experts affirmed these findings. IAEA Director General Amano said that “Iran is subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime.”

    On October 13, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he would not make the certification required under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.

    Israel is ready to do what it always does in the face of pressure to comply with international law: launch another war.

    The Israeli planned large-scale ground assault in southern Lebanon and Syria is designed to inflict maximum civilian casualties and draw the United States in militarily on the side of Israel.

    • Anna
      November 5, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      “The Israeli planned large-scale ground assault in southern Lebanon and Syria is designed to inflict maximum civilian casualties and draw the United States in militarily on the side of Israel.”
      That would be a supreme crime of aggression. Thankfully, the former Soviet Jews seems still have some intellectual influence over the tin-head warriors like Bibi, Lieberman, Sharansky and such. Israel loves seeing the Arab casualties; the Israeli minister of justice even suggested that Palestinian babies (“little snakes”) must be eliminated before growing up. However, if the obnoxious idiots from Israel-first camp push for another “brilliant adventure” in the Middle East (see the ruined and bloodied Iraq, Libya, and Syria), this time the pushers could bring a war inside Israel, with all the unpleasant consequences. That would be a direct responsibility of Mr. Donnelly, resident fellow at the senescent American Enterprise Institute, and similar amoral “chosen.

      • Sam
        November 9, 2017 at 6:46 pm

        the former Soviet Jews include Lieberman, Sharansky and such. they’re even worse than the sabras!

    • JWalters
      November 5, 2017 at 11:23 pm

      “and draw the United States in militarily on the side of Israel.”

      JFK refused to get drawn into Alan Dulles’ Bay of Pigs invasion. It would be great to have a US president refuse to get drawn into another Israeli war.

      • Valar
        November 7, 2017 at 9:20 am

        and we all know what happened to Kennedy……..standing up to the war makers and the military industrials is unhealthy for a POTUS

        much more recently: remember that Trump wanted to normalize relations with Russia?
        and wanted to bring the troops home?
        he got a lot of flack about that. so much that after the hawks and the Clintonite war crazies succeeded in ditching several of his aiders, he is now neutered and owned by the neocons and the war makers.

    • Abe
      November 7, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      Demonization of Russia escalated dramatically after Russia thwarted the Israeli-Saudi-US plan to dismember the Syrian state.

      With the rollback of ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorist proxy forces in Syria, and the failure of Kurdish separatist efforts in Iraq, Israel plans to launch military attacks against southern Lebanon and Syria.

      South Front has presented a cogent and fairly detailed analysis of Israel’s upcoming war in southern Lebanon.

      Conspicuously absent from the South Front analysis is any discussion of the Israeli planned assault on Syria, or possible responses to the conflict from the United States or Russia.

      Israeli propaganda preparations for attack are already in high gear. Unfortunately, sober heads are in perilously short supply in Israel and the U.S., so the prognosis can hardly be optimistic.

      “Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War

      Over time, IDF’s military effectiveness had declined. […] In the Second Lebanon War of 2006 due to the overwhelming numerical superiority in men and equipment the IDF managed to occupy key strong points but failed to inflict a decisive defeat on Hezbollah. The frequency of attacks in Israeli territory was not reduced; the units of the IDF became bogged down in the fighting in the settlements and suffered significant losses. There now exists considerable political pressure to reassert IDF’s lost military dominance and, despite the complexity and unpredictability of the situation we may assume the future conflict will feature only two sides, IDF and Hezbollah. Based on the bellicose statements of the leadership of the Jewish state, the fighting will be initiated by Israel.

      “The operation will begin with a massive evacuation of residents from the settlements in the north and centre of Israel. Since Hezbollah has agents within the IDF, it will not be possible to keep secret the concentration of troops on the border and a mass evacuation of civilians. Hezbollah units will will be ordered to occupy a prepared defensive position and simultaneously open fire on places were IDF units are concentrated. The civilian population of southern Lebanon will most likely be evacuated. IDF will launch massive bombing causing great damage to the social infrastructure and some damage to Hezbollah’s military infrastructure, but without destroying the carefully protected and camouflaged rocket launchers and launch sites.

      “Hezbollah control and communications systems have elements of redundancy. Consequently, regardless of the use of specialized precision-guided munitions, the command posts and electronic warfare systems will not be paralysed, maintaining communications including through the use of fibre-optic communications means. IDF discovered that the movement has such equipment during the 2006 war. Smaller units will operate independently, working with open communication channels, using the pre-defined call signs and codes.

      “Israeli troops will then cross the border of Lebanon, despite the presence of the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, beginning a ground operation with the involvement of a greater number of units than in the 2006 war. The IDF troops will occupy commanding heights and begin to prepare for assaults on settlements and actions in the tunnels. The Israelis do not score a quick victory as they suffer heavy losses in built-up areas. The need to secure occupied territory with patrols and checkpoints will cause further losses.

      “The fact that Israel itself started the war and caused damage to the civilian infrastructure, allows the leadership of the movement to use its missile arsenal on Israeli cities. While Israel’s missile defence systems can successfully intercept the launched missiles, there are not enough of them to blunt the bombardment. The civilian evacuation paralyzes life in the country. As soon IDF’s Iron Dome and other medium-range systems are spent on short-range Hezbollah rockets, the bombardment of Israel with long-range missiles may commence. Hezbollah’s Iranian solid-fuel rockets do not require much time to prepare for launch and may target the entire territory of Israel, causing further losses.

      “It is difficult to assess the duration of actions of this war. One thing that seems certain is that Israel shouldn’t count on its rapid conclusion, similar to last September’s exercises. Hezbollah units are stronger and more capable than during the 2006 war, despite the fact that they are fighting in Syria and suffered losses there.

      “Conclusions

      “The combination of large-scale exercises and bellicose rhetoric is intended to muster Israeli public support for the aggression against Hezbollah by convincing the public the victory would be swift and bloodless. Instead of restraint based on a sober assessment of relative capabilities, Israeli leaders appear to be in a state of blood lust. In contrast, the Hezbollah has thus far demonstrated restraint and diplomacy.

      “Underestimating the adversary is always the first step towards a defeat. Such mistakes are paid for with soldiers’ blood and commanders’ careers. The latest IDF exercises suggest Israeli leaders underestimate the opponent and, more importantly, consider them to be quite dumb. In reality, Hezbollah units will not cross the border. There is no need to provoke the already too nervous neighbor and to suffer losses solely to plant a flag and photograph it for their leader. For Hezbollah, it is easier and safer when the Israeli soldiers come to them. According to the IDF soldiers who served in Gaza and southern Lebanon, it is easier to operate on the plains of Gaza than the mountainous terrain of southern Lebanon. This is a problem for armoured vehicles fighting for control of heights, tunnels, and settlements, where they are exposed to anti-armor weapons.

      “While the Israeli establishment is in a state of patriotic frenzy, it would be a good time for them to turn to the wisdom of their ancestors. After all, as the old Jewish proverb says: ‘War is a big swamp, easy to go into but hard to get out’.”

      Israeli Defense Forces: Military Capabilities, Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War
      https://southfront.org/israeli-defense-forces-military-capabilities-scenarios-for-the-third-lebanon-war/

  3. john wilson
    November 5, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Chalabi (also known as curve ball) was simply a Patsy, a creation of the then US government as a voice from the inside of Iraq. Had it not been Chalabi it would have been someone else. Chalabi was all part of the weapons of mass destruction farce and he was but a cog in the wheel of deception perpetrated by the deep state, which was flourishing then as it is today.

    • Broompilot
      November 5, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      Chalabi was not the informant known as curveball.

    • Sam F
      November 5, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      This article seeks to conceal the Israeli source of the fake Iraq WMD intelligence. In fact zionist DefSec Wolfowitz appointed known zionist propagandists Wurmser, Perle, and Feith (who had previously worked together to influence Netanyahu to trick the US into wars for Israel) to the offices at DIA, CIA, and NSA that “stovepiped” known-bad intelligence (including the discredited Chalabi stories) to Rumsfeld et al to propagandize for Iraq War II. See Bamford’s Pretext for War. Chalabi was well known to be an unscrupulous Iraqi power-seeker. Those who try to blame this Israeli operation on Iran are clearly zionists faking up more “intelligence” to attack Iran by a new route.

      • JWalters
        November 5, 2017 at 11:41 pm

        Sam F, Thanks for that background info. I was wondering who wrote Chalabi’s WMD script. Israel was the most logical candidate, having the PM who said 9/11 was “good for Israel”.

        9/11 enabled Israel to have their American muscle destroy Iraq, scattering Iraq’s military and weapons around the Middle East. A war bonanza followed, likely according to plan. For readers who haven’t seen it yet,
        “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”
        http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

    • rosemerry
      November 6, 2017 at 4:28 pm

      I find it convenient that the US sources claimed that Iran was behind Chalabi-another way to demonize Iran while Chalabi by his words and actions showed he had no idea of what was going on in Iraq after he left it as a child.

  4. Kozmo
    November 5, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    No surprise to read a summation o0f all the ways in which the far cleverer Iranians managed to dupe and subvert the clueless Bush and Obama administrations. They’ve been at this game for centuries and survived in a hostile world. The Yanks are mere infants when it comes to this style of high-stakes maneuvering and subterfuge. We must look like rubes from the sticks on our first trip to a casino when we roll in, full of bluster and ignorance, and then wonder where all our money went moments later. We have no business playing these games. We stink at them. And innocents pay the price for or our ham-fisted blunt adventurism.

    • Anna
      November 5, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      The US was drawn into an old quarrel between the obnoxious and petty upstart Israel and the ancient civilization of Persia. These cousins should be left to sort out their grievances without European/US involvement.

    • Sam F
      November 5, 2017 at 6:40 pm

      Yes, although US zionist wars appear to have aided Iran quite accidentally. The article tries to blame Iran falsely for the Chalabi fake info on Iraq WMD: see my comment above and Bamford’s Pretext For War.

      • John the Ba'thist
        November 8, 2017 at 11:41 am

        I must admit to being taken aback by finding comments here that minimize the offenses of Ahmed Chalabi. That man was living proof that one could be both a neocon and an agent of Iranian policies in Arab countries. Hell, the neocons themselves were living proof of that.

        Chalab’is earliest contacts with the neocons were the strongest advocates of the sectarian breakup of existing Arab states according to Aram Roston’s account in his book “The Man Who Pushed America to War”(Bamford provided an excellent endosement for that book). Through Professor Albert Wohlstetter he was introduced to Richard Perle in his student days. In the 1980s Perle introduced him to the ’eminence grise’ of orientalist historians, Bernard Lewis, who recommended that the US take the Iranian side in the Iran-Iraq War. Chalabi then became acquainted with neocon officials serving in Reagan’s administration who included Richard Pipes, Howard Teacher and Michael Ledeen, who were supporting the Iran-facing side. Ledeen was even running a major arms supply ring from his specially constructed vulture’s perch at the National Security Council. All of these neocons became early advocates of Chalabi’s INC.

        Skipping past Chalabi’s very prominent role in the 1990-2003 campaign of false propaganda and insurgency against Iraq, the State Department purchased a headquarters villa in Tehran to facilitate,Chalabi’s role as an actual agent of influence for the Iranian theocracy. According to Rostom, Chalabi made his single most important contribution to the destruction of Arab Iraq, which was to arrange the alliance between the US and the Iran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. That sectarian arm of the Iranian theocracy remained in power throughout the Maliki regime, and its militia and death squads were the main perpetrators of the sectarian cleansing of Baghdad and other areas, as well as the campaign of wholesale assassinations against the secular, the Arab nationalists, the Mandaeans, the Sunni and those perceived as gay in Iraq. After his appointment by Bremer as head of the De-Ba’thification Commitee, Chalabi was ideally placed to direct the breaking of the Arab consensus that had always been the foundation of the politics and civic society of modern Iraq.

        • Abe
          November 9, 2017 at 1:02 am

          Not so much.

          Aram Roston devotes Chapter 48 of his book to a purported “Iran Connection”.

          What Roston presents is mostly conjecture about Chalabi’s “emotional tie” and the fact that “some people came to believe” he was an “agent of influence” for Iran.

          Nevertheless, the mighty Wurlitzer of Israeli-Saudi-US Axis propaganda is throwing every scrap of spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks.

    • Anon
      November 6, 2017 at 6:38 am

      There are Americans capable of strategy, but in America, the most important skill is compliance with ideaology.

  5. fudmier
    November 5, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Inviting wider Mideast wars that could enhance Iran’s position, writes Jonathan Marshall”..

    still the “he did its” are about the profits in oil, gas, opium, and slavery.. the three slight of hand thimbles are race, religion and sovereignty. might want to look http://www.moonofalabama.org
    lots of facts in the article, not too sure about conclusions drawn in below link but concerning to think about http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index2426.htm ; still no news on Lebanon’s PM resignation from Saudi Arabia?

  6. Realist
    November 5, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    “We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.”

    That’s your own image you see, Bibi, not Iran.

    “Iran is everywhere throughout the Middle East.”

    Yes, Mike, that is where Iran is geographically situated, and is not going anywhere.
    Where is Washington? And why do you think it should have more influence in Tehran than in California or Texas?

    • JWalters
      November 5, 2017 at 11:44 pm

      Yes, we must all stand together to stop Israel’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.

  7. Drew Hunkins
    November 5, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    A strengthened Iran may be just what the Middle East needs in order for something, anything to act as a bulwark of sorts against the Zio-Washington Terror Network that’s set on dominating and subjugating vast chunks of Asia.

    • Sam F
      November 6, 2017 at 11:29 am

      Yes, and the consolidation of Shite power would be much improved by a real Sunni-Shiite rapprochement that would end the zionist divide-and-conquer strategy for land theft in the Mideast.

    • Dave P.
      November 6, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      Drew Hunkins – Yes. I agree. Iran/Persia is an ancient civilization. Persian was the court language Of Mogul Emperors in India. Saudi Arabians are kind of Barbarians compared to the Persian civilization.

      Ayatollahs as guardians of State in Iran will go away one day, and Iranians will have more democratic, open society than it is now. Give them some time. Even now it is the only semi-democratic country in ME. Syria was another country which was secular and more democratic in many ways. If those countries had been left alone by the West, they would have established appropriate democratic governments in their countries.

      But the biggest trouble maker, the source of instability, wars, and this death and destruction in the Middle East is Israel and U.S.. They have created all this chaos in ME.

  8. ranney
    November 5, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Marshall says “it’s only natural that Iran, having long been targeted by Washington and its allies (sometimes for understandable reasons) tries to … defend its interests.”

    I get annoyed and occasionally angry when I read some reporters thoughts on the disaster that is called American foreign policy. “Sometimes for understandable reasons” America and its allies have targeted Iran??? What does that mean? It was “understandable” that we took out Iran’s elected leader over 50 years ago and replaced him with a dictatorial monster? It was understandable that we imposed horrendous embargos on Iran for daring to stand up for their sovereignty ? And now it’s understandable that we renege on a carefully worked out agreement that Iran was strictly upholding?
    When I read essayists who often have much more information than I do give the US a pass on our horrible treatment of just about every country we have dealings with, it makes me angry. This mostly relates back to the Putin thing where every breath that man takes is apparently part of some evil plot. And writers, even writers for Consortium, seem to need to say some palliative words to excuse our criminal behavior, even as their article points out how stupid, conniving and faithless our own actions are.
    As I read it, virtually everything Iran (or pick your own favorite country) has done over decades has been in response to our depredations. Marshall may not like some Iranian response, but it is not fair to cavil over their response to one of our illfated actions – the response is totally the result of our actions. If we don’t like their response then we should not have acted in the way that we did.

    • Realist
      November 5, 2017 at 6:25 pm

      Amen.

    • Lois Gagnon
      November 5, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      Totally agree. We play the game of Empire and humanity pays the price. Shut it down before these nitwits make the final blunder.

    • Sam F
      November 5, 2017 at 6:48 pm

      Yes, no “understandable reasons” were presented other than the false claim that Iran was behind the fake Iraq WMD “intelligence” which was a purely zionist scheme: see my comment above and Bamford’s Pretext For War.

    • David G
      November 5, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Similarly, in the penultimate paragraph:
      “The lesson we should learn is that curbing Iran and promoting U.S. security interests will require …”

      Why should we share in those priorities at all, at least in the way in which they are generally understood in the U.S.?

    • Dave P.
      November 6, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      ranney –

      Your comments: “. . . This mostly relates back to the Putin thing where every breath that man takes is apparently part of some evil plot. And writers, even writers for Consortium, seem to need to say some palliative words to excuse our criminal behavior, even as their article points out how stupid, conniving and faithless our own actions are.”

      Yes. Very true. I totally agree with your comments.

  9. November 5, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    You know what they say: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” And it’s true. America’s sanctions are systematically strengthening Russia over many years now, for example. And that’s how it works, with Iran too.

  10. Realist
    November 5, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    The Saudis have just accused Iran of launching the missile from Yemen which was intercepted over Riyadh. Using the term “an act of war.” They are determined to entrap Iran one way or another. Things could get “interesting.”

    “…tonight, according to a statement from the Saudi coailition carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the missile that targeted Riyadh has been called “a direct military aggresion” by Iran against Sauid Arabia, that “could rise to be considered an act of war.” Furthermore, the Saudi-led coalition has closed all Yemen’s land, sea and air ports after missile targeted Riyadh.”

    From: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-05/saudis-call-missile-attack-blatant-act-aggression-iran-could-be-considered-act-war

  11. JWalters
    November 5, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    “and draw the United States in militarily on the side of Israel.”

    JFK refused to get drawn into Alan Dulles’ Bay of Pigs invasion. It would be great to have a US president refuse to get drawn into another Israeli war.

  12. Steve Abbott
    November 6, 2017 at 6:56 am

    Generally agreeable, but I could have wished, literally for arguments sake, that Jonathan Marshall had expanded on his reference to the (sometimes) understandable reasons for which Washington and its allies have targeted Iran. (Third last paragraph) One suspects that such reasons might generally be viewed differently from the perspective of Irani people fearful of repetitions of British and American covert and overt actions between 1953 and today.

  13. Joe L.
    November 6, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I just hope that Iran becomes a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The world needs to come together and shift away from the US.

  14. Herman
    November 6, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    What strikes me that all the countries on our enemies would be willing to sit down to discuss differences. That is not to say there would be agreement on all issues, but our saber rattling and refusal to seek diplomatic settlements makes that impossible. Are we asked to believe that Russia wants a military confrontation with us, or that Iran or China does? Are we asked to believe that Russia would not welcome a joint effort against terrorism or religious extremism. No, we want to defeat Russia, Iran and China and or have them bow down before us. Even if it were possible the losses of human life would be horrendous. Mr. Marshall does a terrific job of describing the folly of our policies in the Middle East and southwest Asia which have been ineffective but more than that have proven to be counterproductive. Not mentioned in the article that corruption of our foreign policy be a very small group of zealots puts the world in danger.

    • Mild-ly - Facetious
      November 6, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Herman — “Mr. Marshall does a terrific job of describing the folly of our policies in the Middle East and southwest Asia which have been ineffective but more than that have proven to be counterproductive. Not mentioned in the article that corruption of our foreign policy be a very small group of zealots puts the world in danger.”

      Trump, speaking in Japan yesterday, made a point of emphasis that the mass murder at the Texas church was, in his words, ‘a matter of mental illness’ – not a GUN problem but a problem of “mental illness”.

      Trump then turned the page and bragged about U S $$$$ millions from weapons sales to Japan and South Korea!

      Is this not fundraising via intimidation?or a Marketing Scheme? or worse, a prevailing world of wars/and rumors?

      • Herman
        November 7, 2017 at 11:37 am

        Mildly Facetious

        America has a hard time looking in the mirror, not at what is wrong with the world but what is wrong with us. Over coffee we often talk about our extended family and in this supposedly normal group, how many lives have be seriously damaged, even ruined by drugs. Boasting of arms sales, parading graphic violence in the media. baiting our enemies, prisons overflowing, mass murders, and on and on. Was it Pogo who said we have found the enemy and it is us. By the way, don’t stop with Trump. Remember Obama’s first visit to Vietnam followed by the announcement of a 140 million arms deal. Fifty years after killing a million or so.

  15. sally
    November 6, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    https://friendsofsyria.wordpress.com <=== President Trump is repeating the same mistakes of his predecessors and inviting wider Mideast wars that could enhance Iran’s position, writes Jonathan Marshall

  16. Mild-ly - Facetious
    November 6, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    http://www.atimes.com

    The politics of extinction
    The United States and China have recently made apparently significant moves in combatting the illegal traffic in wildlife. In reality, they have to do much, much more to halt a US$20-billion-a-year business that adds up to a global war against nature and is driving extinctions across the world’s great forests and savannas. – William deBuys (Mar 18, ’15)

    Canada’s waste rots in Manila
    Hazardous waste packed into 50 containers from Canada have been standing in the Port of Manila for nearly two years. Canada says it does not have any legal capacity to compel re-export of the shipment, while protesters claim the Canadian government is in breach of its obligations under international law as set out in the Basel Convention. – Diana Mendoza (Mar 16, ’15)

    Myanmar government bombs ‘fall in China’
    Bombs dropped by Myanmar government forces fighting ethnic Kokang rebel troops have fallen inside Chinese territory on at least three occasions in recent days, according to local sources, with one saying some fell around 40 kilometers inside the Chinese border. – Xin Lin and Wen Yuqing (Mar 13, ’15)

    Hanoi, Manila near strategic pact
    The decision of the foreign ministers of the Philippines and Vietnam to raise “the level and intensity” of the two countries’ bilateral exchanges, against the background of China’s influence in the South China Sea, looks likely to develop into a strategic partnership agreement that would be only the third such relationship for the Philippines. – Carl Thayer (Mar 11, ’15)

    Cambodia on verge of wealth breakthrough
    The head of the Asian Development Bank says Cambodia is close to transitioning from a low-income to a middle-income country, after average annual GDP growth of 6.5% over the past seven years and poverty reduction from nearly 50% of the population to under 20%. (Mar 11, ’15)

    China sees opening in Thailand
    Throughout US global wars against communism, drugs and terrorism, Thailand has been an indispensable strategic partner. But deterioration in ties since the Asian country’s latest military coup has left a gap China has moved to fill with economic and strategic overtures. – Shawn Crispin (Mar 11, ’15)

  17. mike k
    November 6, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    America the great marksman – when it comes to shooting it’s own foot!

  18. Valar D
    November 6, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    “With the help of Soviet air power,”
    o.0
    with the help of WHO?

    the Sovyet Union ceased to exist in 1991….that’s 26 years ago!

    the RUSSIANS helped Assad with their airforce.

    Russia is NOT the same as the Sovyet Union.

    • Jonathan Marshall
      November 6, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      Thanks for the catch. I’ll try to get my mistake corrected.

  19. Mild-ly - Facetious
    November 6, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    The looming scenario perfectly fits
    “The Clash of Civilizations” /

    or, as they prefer, the subtitle,

    The West Against The Rest,
    by Prof Samuel P. Huntington

    In the book, Huntington “foresaw”
    A war with/on Islamics or Arabs
    immediately followed by hostilities
    against China (a grand scheme).

    now we see hostilities bubbling
    in the East – agitated by U S A,
    The World’s Great Purveyor of
    Violence w/Intimidation and control
    as if masters of the universe.

    • Mild-ly - Facetious
      November 7, 2017 at 12:42 pm
      • Mild-ly - Facetious
        November 8, 2017 at 2:03 pm

        http://www.beyondintractability.org/bksum/huntington-clash

        Huntington predicts and describes the great clashes that will occur among civilizations. First, he anticipates a coalition or cooperation between Islamic and Sinic cultures to work against a common enemy, the West. Three issues that separate the West from the rest are identified by Huntington as:

        The West’s ability to maintain military superiority through the nonproliferation of emerging powers.
        The promotion of Western political values such as human rights and democracy.
        The Restriction of non-Western immigrants and refugees into Western societies.
        Non-Western countries see all three aspects as the Western countries attempt to enforce and maintain their status as the cultural hegemony.

        In the chapter The Global Politics of Civilizations, Huntington predicts the conflict between Islam and the West to be a “small, fault line war,” and the conflict between the America and China having the potential to be an “intercivilizational war of core states” (207).

        Islam and the West

        Huntington goes into a brief historical explanation of the conflictual nature of Islam and Christianity and then lists five factors that have exacerbated conflict between the two religions in the late twentieth century. These factors are:

        the Muslim population growth has generated large numbers of unemployed and dissatisfied youth that become recruits to Islamic causes, the recent resurgence of Islam has given Muslims a reaffirmation of the relevance of Islam compared to other religions,
        the West’s attempt to universalize values and institutions, and maintain military superiority has generated intense resentment within Muslim communities, without the common threat of communism, the West and Islam now perceive each other as enemies, and increased communication and interaction between Islam and the West has exaggerated the perceived differences between the two societies (211).

        Asia, China, and America

        Economic development in Asia and China has resulted in an antagonistic relationship with America. As discussed in previous sections, economic success in Asia and China has created an increased sense of cultural relevancy. Huntington predicts that the combination of economic success of the East Asian countries and the heightened military power of China could result in a major world conflict. This conflict would be intensified even more by alignments between Islamic and Sinic civilizations. The end of chapter nine provides a detailed diagram (The Global Politics of Civilizations: Emerging Alliances) which helps explain the complexity of the political relationships in the post-Cold War era (245).

        • Abe
          November 9, 2017 at 2:06 am

          Beyond Intractability promotes the notorious PropOrNot disinformation site under the heading “Russia is Manipulating US Public Opinion”

          Go to http://www.beyondintractability.org/moos/links/russia-manipulation and click the link.

          In addition to its paean to Samuel Huntington, Beyond Intractability site features anti-Russian propaganda from leading “regime change” think tanks.

          Some recent references linked to Beyond Intractability include Larry Diamond at the Hoover Institution, Jeffrey Lewis at Arms Control Wonk, and Kate Brannen at the Atlantic Council.

          Beyond Intractability poses as a resource for “peacebuilders” but it links to war propaganda.

        • Abe
          November 9, 2017 at 1:03 pm

          Further illustrating the solid propaganda bias at Beyond Intractibility:

          The site’s references concerning the conflict in Ukraine derive from the NATO military alliance, the right-wing Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank, the pro-EU NGO Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Russophobic foreign-policy think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), Atlantic Council “regime change” flacks like Adrian Karatnycky and Alexander J. Motyl, the hawkish Center for the national Interest, and similar biased sources.

          Independent investigative journalism, historical analysis, and geopolitical perspective is completely missing at Beyond Intractibility.

        • Abe
          November 9, 2017 at 7:41 pm

          “’Labeling news reports that you don’t like as ’fake news’ is the laziest form of media criticism,’ says Jim Naureckas, editor of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, a New York-based journalism review. ‘It’s like putting your fingers in your ears and going ‘la la la’ really loudly. Both the government and the corporate media have reasons for not wanting the public to hear points of view that are threats to their power.’

          “While Kellyanne Conway claimed her right to offer ‘alternative facts’ as a way to justify getting caught in a lie, there are also alternative facts which are real but don’t get reported in the corporate media. A classic example was in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when the entire corporate media reported as fact that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was attempting to develop a nuclear bomb.

          “There were plenty of alternative news organizations who quoted UN inspectors saying that none of that was true and there were no WMDs or WMD programs in Iraq, but they were simply blacked out by the corporate media like the Times, the Post and the major news networks.

          “These days another dubious story is that the Russians ‘hacked’ the server of the Democratic National Committee. It may have happened that way, but in fact, the vast intelligence system the U.S. has constructed to monitor all domestic and foreign telecommunications has offered up no hard evidence of such a hack. National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney and retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern have suggested that some evidence indicates a DNC insider must have been involved.

          “There is certainly fake news all over the internet, and baseless conspiracies run rampant on both the left and the right. But all too often, articles […] cited by PropOrNot (a genuine purveyor of fake news!) are being labeled as propaganda in what Naureckas says is simply “the use of irony as a defense mechanism” by news organizations that themselves are actually guilty of publishing really fake news, as the Post did with its PropOrNot blacklist ‘scoop.’

          “‘What the government and the corporate media are trying to do, with the help of the big internet corporations,’ argues Mickey Huff, director of the Project Censored organization in California, ‘is basically to shut down alternative news sites that question the media consensus position on issues.’

          “A wide threat to online media

          “That’s a threat to any online news organization, including this one, that depend upon equal access to the internet and to fast download speeds. Already, Huff charges, there are reports that Facebook is slowing down certain sites that have links on its platform, in a misguided response to charges that it sold ad space to Russian government-linked organizations accused of trying to influence last November’s presidential election.

          “An end to internet neutrality, the equal access to high-speed internet for surfing and downloading that has been guaranteed to all users — but that is now under attack by the Trump administration, its Federal Communications Commission and a Republican-led Congress — would make it that much easier for such a shutdown of alternative media to happen.

          “The real answer, of course, is for readers and viewers of all media, mainstream or alternative, to become critical consumers of news. This means not just looking at articles critically, including this one, but going to multiple sources for information on important issues. Relying on just the Times or the Post, or on Fox News or NPR, will leave you informationally malnourished — not just uninformed but misinformed. Even if you were to read both those papers and watch both those networks, you’d often be left with an incomplete version of the truth.

          “To get to the truth, we need to also check out alternative news sources, whether of the left, right or center — and we need to maintain the critical distinction between unpopular or unorthodox points of view and blatant lies or propaganda. Without such a distinction, and the freedom to make such decisions for ourselves, maintaining democracy will be impossible.”

          The attack on “fake news” is really an attack on alternative media
          By Dave Lindorff
          https://www.salon.com/2017/11/06/the-attack-on-fake-news-is-really-an-attack-on-alternative-media/

    • Abe
      November 9, 2017 at 1:26 am

      During the Carter administration, Samuel P. Huntington served on the National Security Council staff in 1977-78 as Zbigniew Brzezinski’s personal assistant for national security planning.

      Colonel William E. Odom, Brzezinski’s military assistant, praised Huntington’s “intellectual power” in the development of the February 1977 Presidential Review Memorandum 10 “Comprehensive Net Assessment and Military Force Posture Review” A study of US-Soviet global competition, PRM-10 concluded that Iran was the are where a “crisis confrontation” was likely to occur.

      Brzezinski told Carter: “The paper identifies Iran as the ‘one contiguous non-satellite state’ that could be the ‘possible site for a Soviet-initiated [crisis confrontation].’ It meets the criteria which Soviet leaders and planners might use if they were consciously attempting to expand their influence through the political use of military force and wished to confront the U.S. with a situation in which it would suffer a diplomatic humiliation if it made no response or would risk military defeat if it made a military response.”

      In 1979, the possibility for such a confrontation was intensified by the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet intervention of Iran’s neighbor, Afghanistan.

      The emphasis on Iran found its ultimate policy formulation in the Carter Doctrine, proclaimed during Carter’s State of the Union Address in January 1980. The following key sentence was written by Brzezinski:

      “Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

      Brzezinski modeled the wording on the Truman Doctrine, and insisted that the sentence be included in the speech “to make it very clear that the Soviets should stay away from the Persian Gulf”.

      In The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, author Daniel Yergin notes that the Carter Doctrine “bore striking similarities” to a 1903 British declaration, in which British Foreign Secretary Lord Landsdowne warned Russia and Germany that the British would “regard the establishment of a naval base or of a fortified port in the Persian Gulf by any other power as a very grave menace to British interests, and we should certainly resist it with all the means at our disposal”.

      Thus, for reasons that have nothing to do with a “clash of cultures”, the US has proven politically incapable of viewing Iran through any other lens than “crisis confrontation” since 1979.

      Independent journalist and analyst Steve Chovanec accurately observes:

      “we should look critically at the validity of any media or politicians claims in relation to the existence of an outside threat, we should understand that the US is the world’s largest and quite possible will be the only truly global, hegemonic superpower, and that a superpower of this magnitude, and power systems in general, necessitate a perceived outside threat as a means of mobilizing popular support for imperialistic military ventures, as well as to justify the containment of other powers, the domination of strategic regions, and the acquisition of resources conducive to global power and influence. It is in this context, and not within some fantastical and arbitrary protestations of ‘national security threats,’ that we must understand the ‘threat’ of Iran, of Russia, of Assad, of ISIS (now IS), of Al Qaeda, or of any other supposed boogeymen that the neoliberal, capitalist, globalist elites choose to throw at us as a means of scaring us into supporting acts of war that don’t protect us, and that, in the end, only serve the betterment and avarice of the politicians, the corporate elites, the military industrial complex, and the profiteers of imperialism and state terror.”

      http://undergroundreports.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-threat-of-iran-or-threat-of-saying.html

  20. Den Lille Abe
    November 6, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    US foreign policy has largely been a failure since 1812. Or earlier. The Us special geographic location, vast size of the country and its relatively short history as a nation has formed the lack of understanding of and need of working together with other nations. Even today US senior politicians, to a European, come of as hill-billies, entrenched, myopic and narrow minded, and to boot most cant speak a foreign language and their own poorly. The few people of foreign heritage that has been employed in the State’s service has all bar none, had their own “special ” agenda to pursue. So the irony is that you have a superpower, with the understanding and outlook like a 10 year old, but of immense military might.
    All, and I do mean all other nations on earth, have since Methuselah understood that outlook, understanding and insight are the keys to cooperation, pursuance of strategic and tactic goals and in the end survival, it is ingrained in us. Even in countries that has histories of Imperialism, Britain certainly did not make the largest Empire ever by not understanding their foes and friends, the same could be said about the Romans , Persians, the Chinese.
    You see, they all at some point also were victims of other countries aggression, and it was essential knowing what made the other part tick.
    So this is why American foreign policy fails…. Or is it because there is another agenda, hidden, that dictates that the US moust be the sole dominating power in the world, controlling all aspects of life for the 8 billion of people living here ?

  21. SteveK9
    November 7, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    ‘Iran, having long been targeted by Washington and its allies (sometimes for understandable reasons)’

    What are those ‘understandable reasons’?

  22. Abe
    November 8, 2017 at 1:33 am

    With the demise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, terrorist forces are reorganizing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, states that border Iran. In addition to the threat to Iran, terrorist operations in neighboring Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan are a threat to Russia:

    “In recent years, experts from a number of countries have started mentioning the growing threat that the the Khorasan caliphate terrorist group poses to Syria, Iraq, and a number of Central Asian states. Its activities have been reported in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Muslim South Asian countries of the CIS. After the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ even a casual reader could notice the growing popularity of Islamist and jihadist groups, when one terrorist organization is being succeeded by another. Once one such group is getting banned across the globe or ceases its operations due to successful anti-terrorist operations conducted by a number of states, then the backbone of such a group is getting re-branded only to continue its operations, sometimes those groups receive names that are similar to those that certain existing groups have. […]

    “The terrorist group that goes under the name of Khorasan, that is connected with the almost universally banned al-Qaeda, has been operating in Syria for years which is confirmed by a number of Western reports. This group would be frequently mentioned by Western media sources during the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, when it was forced to relocate from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Its goal was to create the Caliphate of Khorasan in the Nangarhar Province with its capital in Jalalabad.

    “It is believed that Khorasan was created more than twenty years ago by a Egyptian that goes under the name of Mohammed Islambuli, brother of Egypt’s famous jihadist who participated in the assassination of the President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, in 1981. Islubuli would undergo extensive training in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 1990s. The group he created would operate both across the Central Asian and Middle Eastern states. As early as 2012, Khorasan militants started operating in Syria and Yemen, becoming active allies of yet another illegal terrorist group – the Jabhat Al-Nusra.

    “By the spring of 2015, the “Afghan wing” of ISIS, formerly operating primarily in Pakistan, managed to infiltrate the north of Afghanistan, replacing the cells of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and Haqqani network. Operations of ISIS militant groups up to a thousand men were reported in various parts of Afghanistan. According to existing reports, these militants are mostly immigrants from the countries of the former USSR (in particular from the South Asian region, from the South Caucasus), who previously fought in Iraq and Syria before they were sent to the border areas of Turkmenistan, where they were joined by local radicals and former activists of the Islamic political party of Afghanistan, the Sunni Islam. As a result, militants loyal to the Khorasan caliphate announced the establishment of a province that they would command, which encompasses the territories of both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    “After the successful anti-terrorist operation that Russia launched in Syria, supported by the efforts of other states, we’ve witnessed ISIS being pushed back both in Syria and Iraq. Upon losing control of the majority of oilfields in the region, former ISIS militants started moving to Afghanistan to join the Khorasan caliphate. In many respects this process was aggravated by the desire most militants shared to establish control over yet another lucrative business – Afghan heroin trade that is capable of producing incomes comparable to those that ISIS was getting from black market oil trade in Syria and Iraq. Another no less significant factor in the recent rise of the the Khorasan caliphate is its ability to get fresh recruits in the Central Asian states. As a result, a new large extremist group of several thousand men called Khorasan is being created along the borders of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. […]

    “The return of the almost forgotten group Khorasan caliphate to the center stage of international terrorism is, with a doubt, is a sign of internal dynamics that exists within the jihadist structures. Now it is already clear to everyone that the project of the so-called Islamic state has come to an abrupt end. The militants of ISIS seek employment other groups, including such terrorist organization as Jabhat al-Nusra. It is possible that the Khorasan caliphate would try to present a reincarnation of ISIS ideas”

    How Come Khorasan Caliphate Replaces ISIS?
    By Valery Kulikov
    https://journal-neo.org/2017/11/07/how-come-khorasan-caliphate-replaces-isis/

    • Mild-ly - Facetious
      November 8, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      Abe — “The terrorist group that goes under the name of Khorasan’ …”

      https://www.commdiginews.com/news-2/khorasan-al-qaeda-isis-who-are-all-these-terror-groups-26860/

      • Abe
        November 8, 2017 at 11:59 pm

        Communities Digital News is a fake “news site” peddling the same old Hasbara garbage.

        James Picht is a former USAID employee, now a Hasbara propaganda mouthpiece, falsely proclaiming that a political arrangement between Israel and Palestine is impossible because Hamas allegedly seeks to “scrub the land clean of Jews”.

    • Abe
      November 8, 2017 at 11:35 pm

      Communities Digital News is a right-wing propaganda outlet masquerading as a “news site”.

      Little more than a collection of op-eds and blog screeds, CDN shares the pro-Israel bias, relentless anti-Islam venom, and neocon sensibilities of its progenitor, the right-wing The Washington Times associated with the South Korean theocrat, Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

      Communities Digital News split off from The Washington Times in 2014, but maintained the right-wing Islamophobic orientation.

      A columnist for The Washington Times, James Picht was appointed Editor in Chief & Political Editor at Communities Digital News.

      Picht certainly has some fascinating credentials.

      From 1994 to 1998, Picht was hired by the Barents Group for post-Soviet “fiscal reform” projects through contracts awarded by the US Agency for International Development. USAID projects helped precipitate the Russian financial crisis of the 1990s.

      During the 1990s, Picht was employed as policy analyst for the Institute of Public Administration, Cabinet of Ministers, Ukraine; fiscal advisor to the Ministry of Finance and State Duma, Russian Republic; technical advisor with the U.S. Department of Treasury at the Ministry of Finance, Bosnia-Herzegovina; senior advisor and chief trainer for the Asian Development Bank project, Ministry of Finance, Kyrgystan; and senior fiscal advisor to the Ministry of Finance, Republic of Kyrgystan.

      In Dollars for Terror. The United States and Islam (1999), journalist and researcher, Richard Labeviere explained that the American transnational corporations and financial structures have one and the same goal as Central Asian terrorist groups: the destruction of nation states.

      Picht, a USAID sub-contractor now masquerading as a “journalist” and self-styled “terrorism” expert, is delivering pure Hasbara propaganda boilerplate.

  23. John G
    November 8, 2017 at 4:12 am

    This article is written from an American exceptionalist’s perspective. Imperialism is wrong, Mr Marshall.
    It is also written from the perspective that America’s stated aims are its real aims. Naive at best.

  24. Abe
    November 8, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    “The CIA has given the Long War Journal exclusive access to the supposed Osama bin Laden files taken from his “compound” in Pakistan.

    “The Long War Journal is a project of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) where its editors are senior fellows. The foundation is a refuge for neocons and a staunch supporters of Israel and its policies. It is also a vocal advocate of confronting Iran.

    “So it shouldn’t come as a surprise the CIA ‘shared’ a carefully selected portion of the documents?—?some 500,000 files?—?with the Long War Journal.

    “The released documents focus on Iran and its supposed relationship with al-Qaeda. […]

    “There is no evidence al-Qaeda worked with Iran. Iranian officials said they have held al-Qaeda members in detainment, although they will not release further information, including names.

    “Once again, the neocons are attempting to spread lies and fabrication as a pretext to step up hostilities against Iran, same as they did with Iraq.

    “The CIA and the neocons at FDD are counting on the ignorance of the American people to sell these lies. It’s safe to say most Americans are unaware of the fact Shiite (Iran) and Sunni Muslims (primarily the Saudi Wahhabi variety) are sworn enemies and it is extremely unlikely they would cooperate on anything.

    “Naturally, the establishment media grabbed this fairy tale and ran with it. […]

    “It seems the non-stop deluge of negative news?—?including this latest batch of fairy tales?—?has resulted in an unfavorable view of Iran by Americans. If Pew Research can be believed, only 14% of Americans hold a favorable view of Iran and nearly 70% disapprove of the Iran nuclear deal.

    “Meanwhile, thanks to endless propaganda, many Americans look favorably on Saudi Arabia, a country where 92% of citizens approve of the Islamic State.”

    Dubious Osama bin Laden Documents: A Pretext for a War on Iran
    By Kurt Nimmo
    https://medium.com/@kurtnimmo/dubious-osama-bin-laden-documents-a-pretext-for-a-war-on-iran-481bd8b9847d

    • Balderdash
      November 8, 2017 at 11:59 pm

      As long a Roggio is involved they won’t make it much further than Bin Laden’s porn collection.

      Roggio is the beneficiary of a White House Lunch for ‘war reporters’, when Bushco was looking for a way to ‘win’ that the Generals didn’t know about. Whatever Bill told George resonated in getting him (Roggio) closer to the administration The way to win didn’t pan out either as the failure to do that morphed into the corollary that the USA was in this for generations and as going to outlast the people who’d lived there for millennia.

      Roggio is BIG on that neverending war ‘strategy’ – he’s got a blogazine to prove it..

  25. Vurun Kahpeye
    November 8, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    Biggest US blander is replacing Sunni Saddam with Shi’a Precident whom they are taking direct order from Shia IRAN. And ISIS fighters are all ex Saddam’s army personnel locked in prison because luck of plan what to do with the huge well trained Saddam’s Army.
    Iran’s possible empire established and all they have to do carry on,thanks to America.
    Iraq handed over to Iran literally because of ignorant G.W.Bush.

    • Balderdash
      November 8, 2017 at 11:52 pm

      Just another aspect of the ignorance and hubris with which the US marched into folly. Check out the story of how Maliki got the nod, and then let Bushco down. One might even think that Allah was looking out for him, for George was headed to Baghdad, twice, to give him a pink slip – when ‘bad stuff’ stopped that from happening.

      Maliki you may recall almost outlasted Obama, as well, and stepped down into gracious retirement from a job he might otherwise never have had or even qualified for.

    • Abe
      November 9, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      Hasbara propaganda has shifted into overdrive, desperately attempting to falsely portray anybody and everybody as some sort of “agent of Iran”.

      Nouri al-Maliki, the former Prime Minister of Iraq, began his political career as a Shia dissident under Saddam Hussein’s regime in the late 1970s and rose to prominence after he fled a death sentence into exile for 24 years. During his time abroad, he became a senior leader of the Islamic Dawa Party, coordinated the activities of anti-Saddam guerrillas and built relationships with Iranian and Syrian officials whose help he sought in overthrowing Saddam. Al-Maliki worked closely with United States and coalition forces in Iraq following their departure by the end of 2011.

      Al-Maliki and his government succeeded the Iraqi Transitional Government. His first Cabinet was approved by the National Assembly and sworn in on 20 May 2006. In September 2006, Al-Maliki made his first official visit to neighbouring Iran, whose alleged influence on Iraq is a matter of concern for Washington, D.C. He discussed with Iranian officials, including president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the “principle of no interference in internal affairs” during his visit on 11 and 12 September 2006, i.e., political and security issues. His visit closely followed an incident in which Iran detained Iraqi soldiers it accused of having illegally crossed the border. Ibrahim Shaker, Iraqi defence ministry spokesman, said the five soldiers, one officer and one translator involved had simply been doing “their duty”. During his visit al-Maliki called the Islamic Republic of Iran “a good friend and brother.”

      In August 2007, CNN reported that the firm of Barbour, Griffith & Rogers had “begun a public campaign to undermine the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki”. The network described BGR as a “powerhouse Republican lobbying firm with close ties to the White House”. CNN also mentioned that Ayad Allawi is both al-Maliki’s rival and BGR’s client, although it did not assert that Allawi had hired BGR to undermine al-Maliki.

      Al-Maliki’s second Cabinet, in which he also held the positions of acting Interior Minister, acting Defense Minister, and acting National Security Minister, was approved on 21 December 2010.

      Since December 2013, Iraqi security forces clashed with terrorist forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) throughout western Iraq. In early January 2014, ISIL took control of Fallujah and Ramadi, bringing much of Anbar Province under their control. Afterwards, the Iraqi Army began conducting an offensive against the Anbar region, the stronghold of ISIL, with the stated goal of bringing the region under government control.

      The advances of ISIL in neighboring Syria – thanks to an abundant supply of weapons channeled via Turkey – substantially strengthened their position in Iraq. In early June, ISIL began to advance up over to central and northern part of Iraqi land, placing them in control of most of Fallujah and Garmah, as well as parts of Haditha, Jurf Al Sakhar, Anah, Abu Ghraib and several smaller settlements in Anbar Province.

      In June 2014, ISIL and aligned forces captured several cities and other territory, beginning with an attack on Samarra on 4 June followed by the seizure of Mosul on 10 June and Tikrit on 11 June. As Iraqi government forces fled south on 13 June, the Kurdish forces took control of the oil hub of Kirkuk, part of the disputed territories of Northern Iraq.

      Al-Maliki called for a national state of emergency on 10 June following the attack on Mosul, which had been seized overnight. However, despite the security crisis, Iraq’s parliament did not allow Maliki to declare a state of emergency; many Sunni Arab and ethnic Kurdish legislators boycotted the session.

      By late June, Iraq had lost control of its border with Jordan and Syria.

      Maliki’s friendly gestures towards Iran have sometimes created tension between his government and the United States but he has also been willing to consider steps opposed by Tehran, particularly while carrying out negotiations with the United States on a joint-security pact. A June 2008 news report noted that al-Maliki’s visit to Tehran seemed to be “aimed at getting Iran to tone down its opposition and ease criticism within Iraq”. Al-Maliki said an agreement reached with the U.S. won’t preclude good relations with neighbors like Iran.

      In late 2014, Vice President Al-Maliki accused the United States of using ISIL as a pretext to maintain its military presence in Iraq. He stated that “the Americans began this sedition in Syria and then expanded its dimensions into Iraq and it seems that they intend to further stretch this problem to other countries in their future plans.”

      In the wake of a string of defeats of Iraqi security forces battling ISIS, United States officials said that al-Maliki should give up his premiership. On 14 August 2014, he announced his resignation as Prime Minister of Iraq.

      “Vurun Kahpeye” and “Balderdash” dump up the same steaming piles of Hasbara propaganda that are being defecated by the mainstream media.

      But hey, speaking of ignorance, now we’re supposed to pity the village idiot: poor ol’ ignorant George W. Bush.

      It’s all a fierce propaganda shitstorm in preparation for the next war: Israel’s upcoming military attack on Lebanon and Syria.

  26. Balderdash
    November 8, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    The Middle East is a neocon ‘shitstorm’. There is NO Way America is going to come out of this as healthy as it as going in. Whether it really means anything or not, just the money wasted and national debt incurred will eventually cripple America. If Murphy’s law is correct, that will come at the worst possible moment and leave the USA with few choices but to triple down and ‘go nuts’, or risk losing everything the last five administrations have worked so hard to bring to fruition – a Middle East where America is important, rather than impotent.

    • Abe
      November 9, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      “Balderdash” – senseless talk or writing; nonsense, bunk, piffle, poppycock or twaddle.

      Alas!

      Once upon a time, noble “America” went “in” so healthy, so important… so very, very potent.

      And now poor shriveled “America” can barely manage to get it up.

      No choice now for “America” but to pound a bottle or two of triple-strength military Viagra and “go nuts” on Iran.

      Assuming that “Balderdash” isn’t actually “Mild-ly – Facetious”, the latest Hasbara propaganda shitstorm is coprophilic foreplay for Israel’s upcoming orgy in Lebanon and Syria.

      Israel certainly will demand more of that triple-strength military Viagra, so generously supplied by “America”, to keep it up while it “goes nuts” on the civilian population of southern Lebanon and Syria.

  27. WH
    November 9, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    I didn’t buy the story of Chalabi as an Iranian asset, looks more like BS to say that the US was misled so all the dead in Iraq was not really their fault they just meant well.

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