Cherry-picking Toward War with Iran

In trying to rally American hostility toward Iran, CIA Director Pompeo and other U.S. officials are engaging in the same kind of distorted intelligence that led to the catastrophic Iraq invasion, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

Although nobody knows exactly where Donald Trump intends to go with his campaign of seeking confrontation with Iran, his administration already has provided disconcerting parallels with the techniques an earlier U.S. administration used in selling its launching of a war against Iraq. Among these techniques is the cherry-picking of intelligence not to inform policy-making or to enlighten the public but instead to inculcate false perceptions among the public and thereby to muster support for a policy already chosen.

Now CIA Director Mike Pompeo speaking at the 2012 CPAC in Washington, D.C. February 2012. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

The parallels have become remarkably close as the Trump administration has tried to get people to believe there is some sort of cooperation and common purpose between Iran and Al Qaeda. The President made this insinuation in his speech on Iran in October. Then his CIA director, Mike Pompeo, ordered a tendentious re-exploitation of already exploited documents captured in the raid at Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin  Laden.

This time the purpose was to find any possible connection between bin Laden’s group and Iran. Pompeo took the highly unusual step of giving an advance look at the selected documents to an advocacy organization: the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a leader of efforts to kill the agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear program.

FDD duly did its part in the insinuation by highlighting a single document that it depicted as suggesting some sort of Iranian assistance to Al Qaeda. This was despite the fact that the thrust of the Abbottabad documents as far as Iran is concerned is that Tehran was in conflict, not cooperation, with Al Qaeda. This remains the judgment of experts who follow the terrorist group closely.

Even the very document FDD highlighted did not say what those highlighting it contended it said. It held no evidence of any Iranian assistance to Al Qaeda.

This entire effort to manipulate public perceptions has been remarkably similar to the efforts by promoters of the Iraq War to use whatever scraps they could find to suggest that there was, in George W. Bush’s words, an “alliance” between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda that in fact never existed.

More Cherry-picking

Now Colum Lynch and Dan De Luce at Foreign Policy report that the White House, in the latest bit of cherry-picking, “is pressing to declassify intelligence allegedly linking Iran to short-range ballistic missile attacks by Yemeni insurgents against Saudi Arabia.”

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presents a dummy vial of anthrax on Feb. 5, 2003, during a speech to the UN Security Council outlining the American case that Iraq possessed forbidden stockpiles of WMD.

Our antennae ought to be raised very high regarding the motives and reality lying behind anything that comes out of this attempt to manipulate public perceptions.

Imagine that, in a parallel universe that Donald Trump did not inhabit, the White House was sincerely trying to help the public understand whatever was the foreign policy problem at hand. The problem in this case is the Yemeni civil war, which originated with discontent among northern tribes about how their interests were treated by the central government. The education of the public would note that large-scale intervention led by Saudi Arabia — which has a long history of conflict with, and demographic and security concerns about, Yemen — turned the civil war into bigger carnage. An aerial assault by Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates, together with a Saudi-imposed blockade, has further turned Yemen into a humanitarian catastrophe.

Meanwhile, some Iranian assistance reportedly has gone from Iran to the principal northern tribe, known as the Houthis. By any reasonable account, the physical impact of any such aid is minor compared to the Saudi military offensive. The lesson to the public might note that the Houthis have been among the staunchest adversaries of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. It might also note that the Houthis have been allied for most of the war with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who during more than three decades in power became known as America’s man in Yemen.

The Saudi air war has devastated Yemen. Is it any surprise that those now in power in the Yemeni capital of Sana (i.e., the Houthi-led coalition) would try to get off a few shots at Saudi Arabia in response? Should we even condemn this effort to strike back, any more than the much bigger strikes in the other direction?

The Trump administration’s efforts to highlight this one facet of a much larger war serve two of its objectives. One is to continue its overall campaign to pin on Iran all blame for any mayhem in the Middle East. The other is to distract as much attention as possible from the indefensible U.S. support (which began during the previous administration) for the Saudi offensive against Yemen. Meanwhile, the cherry-picking conveys to the public a false impression of what the Yemeni war is all about and what has caused it to take the shape that it has.

Lynch and De Luce report that the effort by the Trump White House to make public cherry-picked intelligence about Houthi-fired missiles is intended to influence not just a domestic audience but also opinion at the United Nations. Here is yet another parallel with the selling of the Iraq War. Specifically, it evokes the presentation to the Security Council in February 2003 by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who — against Powell’s own better judgment and contrary to the judgment of the U.S. intelligence community — laid out some scraps intended to persuade people that the non-existent alliance between Iraq and Al Qaeda really existed.

Such misuse of intelligence means foreign policy is being made on the basis of badly mistaken premises. The public sales job makes the misunderstanding all the worse, both because misperceptions are infused into a larger audience and because salesmen who are strongly committed to their cause — as was the case with the chief promoters of the Iraq War — come to believe their own propaganda.

The misuse also represents a subversion of the proper function of the intelligence agencies. Intelligence is supposed to inform policymakers to help them in making decisions they have not yet made. The agencies do not exist to be tools to sell publicly policy that already has been made.

The Trump administration is not the first to commit such misuse, but the misuse fits a pattern of how Trump has handled other government departments and agencies. That pattern, featuring many fox-running-the-henhouse senior appointments, has been one of subverting rather than executing the mission of agencies.

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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80 comments for “Cherry-picking Toward War with Iran

  1. Seer
    December 2, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    BECAUSE, Israel!

    It’s got nothing to do with Trump and his “administration.” This is the Deep State continuing to perform its Zionist objectives.

    • Tiu
      December 2, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      And the Zionists are serving the One World Government/New World Order objectives!
      All wars are bankers wars, the bankers want to rule the world.

      • Seer
        December 2, 2017 at 10:24 pm

        Yes, they can serve that purpose, but underneath all of this is the”End Times” suicide mission. We’re all along for the ride, even the bankers.

        • tina
          December 3, 2017 at 12:39 am

          that one bank would be trump’s bank

          • Anon
            December 3, 2017 at 8:39 am

            No one spoke of one bank, he does not control bankers, and you are trying to distract.

        • Abe
          December 4, 2017 at 6:29 pm

          Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser on Middle East/Israel issues, was the keynote speaker at the Saban Forum at the Brookings Institution on 3 December 2017.

          Haim Saban, a Democratic mega donor who was a key supporter of Hillary Clinton, praised Kushner for attempting to derail a vote at the United Nations Security Council about Israeli settlements during the Obama administration.

          Kushner reportedly dispatched former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to make secret contact with the Russian ambassador in December 2016 in an effort to undermine or delay the resolution, which condemned Israel for settlement construction.

          Saban told Kushner that “this crowd and myself want to thank you for making that effort, so thank you very much.”

          Kushner and Saban framed Middle East peace as a “real estate issue”
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZyGpirUMvk

          Leading pro-Israel war hawks from the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution authored the June 2009 document “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran”

          Martin Indyk, the “director” of the Saban Center, is a former AIPAC staffer. Indyk cofounded the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in 1985 with the wife of AIPAC Chairman Lawrence Weinberg and former president of the Jewish Federation, Barbi Weinberg. Despite his well known affiliation with the Israel Lobby and his Australian nationality, Bill Clinton appointed Indyk as the first foreign-born US Ambassador to Israel in 1995. The issuance of his US nationality had been expedited for his previous appointment by Clinton in 1993 as Middle East adviser on the National Security Council.

          Kenneth M. Pollack, the “director of research” at the Saban Center, is a former CIA analyst and National Security Council staffer under Bill Clinton. A prominent “liberal hawk” cheerleader for the Iraq War, Pollack is credited with persuading liberals to endorse the invasion of Iraq. His 2002 book, The Threatening Storm, was influential in selling the “WMD” case. His 2005 book, The Persian Puzzle, recycled many of the same arguments, this time directed at Iran.

          Michael E. O’Hanlon, the “director of foreign policy research” at Brookings, is a war hawk and frequent op-ed writer for major news outlets like the Washington Post. In recent years, O’Hanlon has pushed for U.S. intervention in Syria. In April 2007, O’Hanlon and Fred Kagan urged the United States to invade and occupy Iran.

          In March 2003, shortly after the United States invaded Iraq, O’Hanlon contributed his name to an open letter published by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative advocacy outfit closely associated with American Enterprise Institute that played a major role generating public support for the invasion of Iraq and pushing an expansive “war on terror.” Among those contributing their names to the document were hardline neocons like Max Boot, Eliot Cohen, Joshua Muravchik, and William Kristol, as well as liberal interventionists like O’Hanlon and Ivo Daalder, also a scholar based at Brookings.

          In a March 2006 update on activities of the Israel Lobby, American political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt noted that media mogul Haim Saban is an “ardent Zionist”.

          Mearsheimer and Walt observed that “Saban Center publications never question US support for Israel and rarely, if ever, offer significant criticism of key Israeli policies.”

          In their landmark book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy (2007), Mearsheimer and note that the Saban Center at Brookings is “part of the pro-Israel chorus” (pg 156).

          In 2002, Saban pledged $13 million to start a “research” organization at Brookings.

          To put the Saban Center into perspective, one should note that Saban says “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel”. Saban has close ties with Bill and Hillary Clinton, and is one of their biggest campaign donors

          The annual Saban Forum hosted by Brookings since 2004 includes Israeli government officials.

          The Center no longer carries Saban’s name, and a note from the director explained that the partnership was “entering a new stage.” In a press release, Saban made clear he would “sustain and expand” the annual Saban Forum. “Haim is still a strong supporter for the Brookings Center, financial and otherwise, and he is still on the Brookings Board of Trustees,” the statement added.

        • Anon
          December 5, 2017 at 7:47 am

          Clearly no one is on a suicide mission. The zionists are in it for themselves alone.

      • December 3, 2017 at 9:03 pm

        Whaaaaaaaatttttt ? Please enough of the Zionist conspiracy bullshit.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain
          December 4, 2017 at 2:58 am

          You might as well deny the rising and setting of the Sun.

        • Anon
          December 4, 2017 at 8:29 am

          Listen and learn, and do not try to suppress the truth.
          You are deceived, and are serving the zionists and their opportunists.
          Investigate for yourself who controls the mass media.
          Investigate for yourself who controls Congress with campaign bribes.
          Investigate for yourself the wrongs done by Israel in Palestine.

      • Anon
        December 5, 2017 at 7:53 am

        No, the racists serve only themselves and are not suddenly serving vague unity objectives.
        US secret wars in the Mideast serve the zionists, and elsewhere serve specific corporate objectives.
        The WallSt/financial interests want deregulation, and otherwise serve the corporate or zionist goals.

    • Sam F
      December 2, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      Yes, the intent is Israeli policy alone, whether the foxes “running-the-henhouse” of secret agencies and subverting their mission to “rally American hostility toward Iran” are “senior appointments” or a shadow deep state government. So long as money controls US elections and mass media, America and democracy are lost.

      • Anna
        December 2, 2017 at 11:10 pm

        “The United States military… is a Zionist institution.” Shoshana Bryen
        Notes from a speech given by Shoshana Bryen at the American Zionist Movement Conference November 2017, Washington, DC
        http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/11/have-the-us-militry-gone-zionist.html
        “I have taken more than 400 American security professionals – primarily retired American Admirals and Generals – to Israel in more than 30 trips. And at the other end of their careers, I have sent more than 500 cadets and midshipmen of our service academies to Israel before they received their commissions.”
        The US has become effectively “second” to Israel thanks to the many efforts by the Lobby. The stronger support for Israel from dudes like Pompeo, the more bribery and corruption the dudes have allowed to happen to ensure their own wellbeing. Their loyalty to the US is also “second.”

        • Seer
          December 3, 2017 at 1:37 pm

          Anna, that’s a good article. The comments, however, are excellent! Great stuff there! Thanks.

        • Abe
          December 4, 2017 at 5:12 pm

          Shoshana Bryen is a Hasbara propaganda flack at the pro-Israel warhawk Gatestone Institute, an offshoot of the neoconservative Hudson Institute.

          http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/bryen_shoshana/

    • Drogon
      December 4, 2017 at 4:58 pm

      Oh please. Obama managed to negotiate a reasonable agreement with Iran in spite of strong opposition from Congress and Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump has been openly criticizing the deal since well before he was elected President. Don’t pretend this is all on the “Deep State” and has absolutely nothing to do with Trump.

  2. Joe Tedesky
    December 2, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    We Americans need to better wake up. When will we citizens finally come to the realization that our government always demonizes and lies to us when it wants to go to war? I mean come on now, how many times are we to fall for the same line? Name one war America has engaged in where we citizens weren’t sold a bag of garbage before hand.

    Miko Peled sums it up pretty good with his article regarding the Saudi-Israeli-American anti-Iran campaign.

    https://ahtribune.com/politics/2033-collapse-of-israeli-saudi-american-alliance.html

    • john wilson
      December 3, 2017 at 7:04 am

      The Americans people won’t ever wake up, they are in a deep Rip-Van- Winkle coma never to wake up again.

      • Joe Tedesky
        December 3, 2017 at 2:13 pm

        John your observation is correct, but when awake we Americans argue with each other to who is accepting of the media’s ‘fake news’. We Americans are being blitzed with ‘real news’ mixed in with a lot of ‘fake news’, and because of that we stay divided amongst each other. It is hard for a majority of us Americans to get on the same page with one another when there are so many pages to choose from. Lately our cable tv networks are on a constant 24/7 Trump attack, as this replaced all standard normal news coverage. Take for example the plight of the Yemeni which gets all but a couple of minutes of news coverage, while Russia-Gate coupled with outrageous Trump tweets get hours upon hours of coverage, along with pundit analysis. So John, while much of America sleeps through these sad events of our times, the rest of us Americans are fed a constant diet of all things Trump, and with that we Americans stay confused if not a sleep. Take care John, as I always enjoy reading your perspective from where you sit. Joe

      • john landis
        December 3, 2017 at 10:55 pm

        that is the bottom line here: the ignorance of the american people as a whole. you can sell them anything and they will buy it. with not even elementary knowledge of history or geography and with a remarkably limited attention span, they are the perpetual victims of even the most basic form of propaganda and brain washing.

  3. Annie
    December 3, 2017 at 12:24 am

    “Such misuse of intelligence means foreign policy is being made on the basis of badly mistaken premises.”

    “…and because salesmen who are strongly committed to their cause — as was the case with the chief promoters of the Iraq War — come to believe their own propaganda.”

    How about we went to war in Iraq on a lie and none of those who made that decision, like Cheney, knew it to be anything other then a lie. Do I believe those that pitch their wars come to believe their own propaganda, absolutely not. I think Mr. Pillar is being to too kind, or covering their asses. Other then that the war in Yemen is an abomination, and of course once again we are apart of that. No doubt Trump is using it too further our interventionism in the area, but hopefully saner heads will prevail.

    • Tom Welsh
      December 3, 2017 at 6:13 am

      I am sure that Mr Pillar and many thousands of other honest, expert, hardworking intelligence specialists past and present did go to work in the belief that they were gathering information for the good of the nation.

      But why are the bosses of those organizations always political appointees? I see absolutely no reason why the political leaders shouldn’t tell the bosses of the intelligence agencies what they want to be told, while all the time the vast majority of the intelligence employees are going about their work honestly. It’s just that the boss of each agency files the reports he gets from his people, then writes reports saying something entirely different for publication.

      The Russiagate case is a perfect example of this. We have been told over and over that “the whole intelligence community” agreed about Russia’s interference in the election. On closer examination, it was admitted that three agencies only were involved, and even they contributed only a hand-picked group of individuals – hand-picked, presumably, for their ambition and pliability.

      If you wanted a good intelligence capability and meant to use it properly, why would you need more than one agency? Obviously it helps to have 20 or so, if you are set on picking out from the mass of mixed messages whichever you like best.

      • Anna
        December 3, 2017 at 2:16 pm

        Mr. Pompeo, the Director of the CIA, surely knows what had happened to Seth Rich in a DC hospital, when the wounded Seth Rich was brought there. “Conflicting reports have stated his wounds did not appear fatal.”
        Mr. Pompeo has proudly informed the world that Wikileaks informers are within the reach of the CIA. Could Mr. Pompeo explain why there were no arrests made in relation to Seth Rich murder?
        https://medium.com/@trentlapinski/seth-rich-is-a-whistleblower-b348767699eb

        • Seer
          December 3, 2017 at 3:30 pm

          I’ve mentioned it several times that I figure that the CIA helped in derailing Sanders’ campaign. THEY know who unleashed that data, and, the ones having the greatest interest in doing this ain’t the Russians, so that leaves…

  4. DocHollywood
    December 3, 2017 at 12:59 am

    “Intelligence is supposed to inform policymakers to help them in making decisions they have not yet made. The agencies do not exist to be tools to sell publicly policy that already has been made.”

    Somewhere in hell, Allen Dulles and Richard Helms just chuckled.

    • Seer
      December 3, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      THAT was funny!

  5. fudmier
    December 3, 2017 at 1:40 am

    Its like i have said for some time.. the intelligence communities are directed by the global bankers, the ICs report to the bankers, the ICs employees expect post IT employment fat cat jobs at positions designed by the bankers in various multinational corporations and mercenary armies. The post It employment jobs and perks, are the carrots that causes the donkey to continue to pull the cart; IT will do as told because they have signed NDA agreements which prohibit disclosure of wrong doing, or the use of knowledge acquired as an employed IT worker anywhere except at a post IT employment perk job. Its all secret. […] worse, the IT employee may have been employed as a professional criminal and is therefore beholding to the past IT employer to protect and save that criminal from discovery and prosecution.
    A way to lose democracy is to allow the government or anyone else to either operate in secret or to maintain 24/7 detail surveillance on everyone. The IT is a gigantic threat to the governed people of the world. https://journal-neo.org/2017/12/01/the-lunatic-technocracy-to-introduce-truth-algorithms-for-us/

    • Seer
      December 3, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      Secrecy kills. Nothing more needs to be said.

  6. Tom Welsh
    December 3, 2017 at 6:05 am

    In the first place, the “intelligence community” exists primarily for the purpose of persuading citizens, US and foreign, that the US government’s policies are justified. When Tony Blair and George W Bush were preparing to attack Iraq, this was accurately described as “fixing the intelligence around the policy”. Having decided what you want to do – whether that be to beat the tar out of a weaker nation because its leader disrespected your daddy, or to beat the tar out of a weaker nation because it kicked out your puppet dictator – you tell the “intelligence” chiefs what they are to report.

    In the second place, I and many others believe that by the time of the “raid on Abbottabad” Osama bin Laden had been dead for at least ten years, in view of his serious and incurable kidney disease. Hence any “secret documents” said to have been found there were certainly planted as part of the disinformation demanded by the White House.

    • Seer
      December 3, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      It’s like we’re all paying for a really bad novel, a novel in which creatures pop out into life and kill us.

  7. john wilson
    December 3, 2017 at 6:53 am

    The trouble with Pillar’s piece is it falls down when he says ” the documents recovered from the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden” I’m amazed that anyone gives credence to the fake killing of Osama in Pakistan which was a farce if ever there was one. Apart from the fact that the American government (deep state etc) had told us that Osama bad been killed on several occasions before, he had serious kidney failure needing sophisticated medical treatment on a daily basis of which those who were close to him said he had already died. When the American military told us they had buried Osama at sea and weren’t prepared to show his body to the world community for DNA tests etc, it was obvious that they had lied or got the wrong man. Surely, showing Osama’s body to the world would have been a must for such successful mission. As far as documents go, as I read the Alice-in-wonderland story of the raid, I can’t see how there was time to be collecting sensitive documents unless they were just sitting there on the table. The way the American public have sucked up and absorbed the Russia gate nonsense, the deep state and the Neocons won’t have any difficulty brainwashing the people into believing any story they can concoct about Iran.

    • Seer
      December 3, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      john, did you hear the one about the 9/11 passports that survived an inferno?

      • john wilson
        December 3, 2017 at 5:07 pm

        Thanks, Seer, I did indeed see the passport found in near perfect condition at the bottom of one of the towers

        • Seer
          December 3, 2017 at 5:46 pm

          And then there was the one about the vaporized aluminum at the Pentagon building and DNA being recoverable from THAT inferno!

          Before Trump and his “alternate facts” there was “alternate physics!”

      • Skeptigal
        December 3, 2017 at 11:07 pm

        It seems ID papers, a bankcard, and indestructible passports are conveniently found at terrorist attack sites. Even after terrorists blew themselves up at the Paris Bataclan, their passports were miraculously found!

        Read more at: https://www.globalresearch.ca/manchester-berlin-paris-nice-london-new-york-passports-and-ids-mysteriously-discovered-in-the-wake-of-terror-attacks/5592063

        • Seer
          December 4, 2017 at 2:08 pm

          Have to wonder if the perps are just sitting back and laughing at all of this. Of course, history tends to show that there’s always a day of reckoning.

    • Joe Tedesky
      December 3, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      John the 2007 David Frost interview of Benazir Bhutto is often quoted as the real deal when it comes to the fate of Osama bin Laden. I for one think this may possibly be the truth, and Benazir Bhutto may have died for her telling of this chapter in the life and times of the world’s most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden. I doubt the official story of whatever it was that was supposed to have happened in Abbottabad with bin Laden, as the lack of evidence should suggest a ‘false flag’ of sorts was remedied to do away with the Osama bin Laden narrative. In other words, Osama bin Laden had served the purposes of the Neo-Shadow Government, so good byes were appropriately put in place so as the Neocon project for world hegemony could move on to pursue bigger things…like Syria, Libya, and threatening Iran.

      Regardless this project of invading 7 countries within 5 years, has only proved to introduce Russia into the Middle East, and with that America loses whatever it was it was there to do in the first place. A thank you to Israel and Saudi Arabia are in order, for without their encouragement of this American fiasco Putin would just have been another world leader, but now he rules the board. Any lame brain plan that comes to try and change these dynamics will be faced with ruin since America’s coalitions and allies are now going their separate ways. Yeah, let’s invade some more nations, and then get upset when Russia comes along to scoop up the popularity it so well deserves for defeating the ISIS, al Qaeda threat, which America and it’s Middle East allies funded instead of destroying these Coalition Proxies.

    • geeyp
      December 4, 2017 at 6:55 am

      Yes John. So many think that nineteen hicks from some hills and caves in Afghanistan hopped on some planes here and flew them safely across half the country into their “targets”. Do people in this country ever learn their history? The fact that they won’t is the real tragedy learned from these events. Other than David Ray Griffin, Kevin Ryan’s “Another Nineteen” is the go-to for following the facts and connections on this “event” and its cover-up. Perhaps in England the JFK assassination wasn’t on the mind as much as it is here. If you have followed that”event” and it’s cover-up, 9/11 on day one made so much more sense.

  8. Realist
    December 3, 2017 at 8:06 am

    This country is sure on a mad scramble to leap off the nearest cliff. Whether that cliff is nuclear war, economic collapse, civil war, or something entirely novel remains to be seen. Maybe our conscience-deprived WMD developers in their attempt to create designer pathogens, gene-linked disorders targeting specific ethnic adversaries, or novel recombinant viruses or chemical toxins to wipe out some other country’s agriculture will fuck up and unleash the apocalypse on ourselves. The world could get lucky.

    • Seer
      December 3, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      Realist, don’t despair! Without growth the entire economic structure collapses. NOTHING lasts forever. It could very well be a fairly innocuous event that triggers the tipping point: of course, the resulting turmoil will be another matter.

      ALL empires collapse. All systems fail.

      • Realist
        December 3, 2017 at 5:44 pm

        Of course, entropy inevitably prevails. It’s the way the universe was structured when time emerged in its marriage to space and all the zero point energy contained therein. Heat Death (aka Entropic Doom) is on its way fer sure, but these fellas seem to be in such a hurry to get there. If we don’t pause to smell the roses before they are a pile of rotting mush that loss is our choice, unless we have been forced to move along by those who would impose their seized authority on the rest of us. “End times” are coming soon enough on Nature’s timetable, I don’t appreciate fanatics pushing up the schedule.

  9. fudmier
    December 3, 2017 at 8:25 am

    “Now Colum Lynch and Dan De Luce at Foreign Policy report ..[white house] seeks to use intelligence (similar to Colin Powell’s false anthrax WMD speech against Iraq] to once again “manipulate public perception”; this time, to show creditable evidence exist to link Iran to short-range ballistic missile attacks by Yemeni insurgents against Saudi Arabia.” Where there is a will, there is a way, the WH will manipulate until successful.

    It has been reported that, the Houthi Ansarullah claim their home-made longer range ballistic missile just hit the December Sunday, the Barakah nuclear reactor, Abu Dhabi, UAE ; UAE is not only in the Saudi war againt Yemen, but it has detained former PM of Egypt, Ahmed Shafig, candidate likely to defeat Egyptian President Sisi in up coming Egyptian elections; Shafig is now missing according to his family.

    Is it not a violation of human rights to falsely establish the basis for a war by the people of one nation against the people of another nation. Seems punishment for false war should be much greater than un used WMDs.

    • Seer
      December 3, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      “Seems punishment for false war should be much greater than un used WMDs.”

      I think they have to vote on the creativeness of it. If it’s really good then it gets a pass!

  10. mike k
    December 3, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Was there ever a war without lies being told about the prospective “enemy”? All war is a lie supported by falsehoods. Governments all play this game – they are founded and function on the basis of lies. Our whole modern “culture” is nothing more than a concoction of lies. A person seeking the truth about our world has to dig through a mountain of bullshit that covers it up. That’s why we need things like CN.

  11. Herman
    December 3, 2017 at 11:13 am

    If there is credence in the proposition that an enemy of my enemy is my friend, it would be possible to conceive of situations where Iran encouraged Al Qaeda. But we also know conclusively that this MO is ours and always has been and on a far larger scale than is claimed to be with Iran.

    Mr. Parry makes the case that there is no natural bridge between Sunni Al Qaeda and Shia Iran. Just more smoke and mirrors, and very dangerous.

  12. Zachary Smith
    December 3, 2017 at 11:17 am

    The mention of Pompeo is alarming, for he is an established ***-licker of Israel.

    During his confirmation hearing, Pompeo didn’t speak at length about Israel, but he did take a tough line against Russia, more than the one promoted by the President who appointed him. Pompeo called Russia a major threat to the United States, and said that Vladimir Putin’s country “has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nearly nothing to aid in the destruction and defeat of ISIS.

    Somebody who graduated first in his class at West Point isn’t a fool. This statement shows that he is instead a very dishonest person.

    Unfortunately this fellow is possibly going to become Secretary of State. From Fox:

    Mike Pompeo is rumored pick for secretary of state: What to know about him

    Finally:

    “We may be looking at a larger dose of Trump at the State Department,” if Pompeo did get the job, said Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, head of the German Marshall Fund’s Berlin office.

    More Trump Leadership at the micro-manage level. Just what we need! Sputnik News had a somewhat surprising headline:

    Gloves Off: Now Even Mainstream Media Calls Trump ‘Idiot,’ ‘Hated,’ ‘Unhinged’

    That such language is becoming so much more common is – in itself – disturbing.

    h**ps://sputniknews.com/us/201712021059642739-media-goes-for-the-throat/

    • WC
      December 3, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      Still rattling your tin cup, I see there Zac. Given the volume of posts you and the rest of your mutual admiration society make on this site tells me this is your life. And given that no one in a position of power is even paying the slightest bit of attention to your endless yammering should be your first clue that you and your comrades are simply engaging in a rather pathetic feel-good circle jerk. ;)

  13. December 3, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    That the enemy of our enemy is our friend is a truism and a common practice. It would not be surprising if Iran would engage in such practice, but for the US to claim that someone else is doing what we have been doing in spades in the Middle East and South Asia describes just how special we are or more accurately, think we are.

  14. Ol' Hippy
    December 3, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    All I can say is the massive military machine is hungry, itching for a war and it doesn’t care where it will be fought. N Korea, Iran, Russia? It’s(the machine) blind and depends on various devices to get “everybody” on board so folks won’t mind sacrificing their children and murdering countless women and children of the “enemy”. The various devices are all the information channels for public consumption, the intelligence community’s area of exquisite expertise.

    • Seer
      December 3, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      You think there’s a connection between the FACT that the US military is the largest single entity consumer of energy AND that it’s totally engaged (and has been) in the ME (where the greatest amount of readily extractable oil is)? Naw! Just another one of those odd coincidences!

    • Dave P.
      December 3, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      Yes Ol,Hippy, there are many channels and Think Tanks and these organizations too.

      . . .”This time the purpose was to find any possible connection between bin Laden’s group and Iran. Pompeo took the highly unusual step of giving an advance look at the selected documents to an advocacy organization: the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a leader of efforts to kill the agreement that limits Iran’s. . .”

      “Foundation for Defense of Democracies”. In a real democracy they will change its name to “Foundation for Destruction of Democracies.” Then there is that Carl Gershman’s National Endowment for Democracies. Where do they get these names! There are hundreds of these Outfits whose sole purpose is to implement regime changes, overthrow sovereign governments, democratic or authoritarian who do not submit to U.S. subjugation.

      What a World we live in!

      • DHorse
        December 6, 2017 at 2:31 pm

        My favourite: The Patriot Act.

  15. mike k
    December 3, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    How much closer does Trump with his diabolical picks for assistants have to push us towards Armageddon, for his last hopeful hangers-on to realize they are supporting a monster? It’s hard to see how Pence, as evil as he is, could be as bad as Trump. It’s almost enough to make a person believe the stories about how in the last days the Antichrist will be in the saddle. Donald sure aint doing the good Lords work. Maybe he is working for the Other Side – the Dark One’s team…….

    • Seer
      December 3, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      Trump really has no clue about the real world. Pence, however, is fully behind all this.

      • Seer
        December 3, 2017 at 4:17 pm

        I meant to say that Pence supports all of this (he’s no mastermind, just a cog).

  16. Zachary Smith
    December 3, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Pompeo is acting like he already has the Secretary of State job.

    CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Saturday that he sent a letter to a top Iranian military official warning him that the United States would hold Tehran accountable for any attacks it conducted on American interests in Iraq.

    h**ps://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/12/03/cia_director_warns_top_iranian_general_on_iraq_112718.html

  17. wholy1
    December 3, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    What’s really SICK about this Pompeo D[e]C[eit] turd-pond bottom-breeder/feeder, former legisTRAITOR? “IT” purports to being a “Christian”.

  18. BobS
    December 3, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    As usual, good article.
    Also as usual, should come with a warning for your usual commenters to remember to take their psychotropic medications- might save them money on the aluminum foil.

    • mike k
      December 3, 2017 at 5:53 pm

      Aluminum foil is a lot cheaper.

      • Seer
        December 3, 2017 at 9:20 pm
        • Zachary Smith
          December 3, 2017 at 10:01 pm

          Upon looking at that silly picture an entirely different and *maybe* not-so-silly idea popped into my head. Backstory: years ago I was suckered into buying “Last of the Mountain Men”, and it is long gone. But I do recall Sylvan Hart being quoted to the effect of ‘the only thing that really frightens me is a cold rain’.

          SO, wouldn’t a large square of heavy duty foil be just the thing for shaping over a thick wool stocking hat to keep my head warm and dry? Rain gear for heads is problematical – at least for me. Come to think of it, why not have a nice piece of duct tape to seal the neck-raincoat junction? I might look darned silly, but if a long walk through a near ice storm was an absolute necessity, it seems I could have worse things packed with the raincoat in the car trunk.

          How’s THAT for going off-topic? :)

  19. December 3, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    November 13, 2014
    Rally Round Your Flags Boys

    Rally round your flags boys; get ready for World War Three
    Your “leaders” will be in their luxury bunkers, watching it on T.V
    Millions will be killed and millions will be maimed
    Ask yourself this question: Are your “leaders” bloody insane?

    Millions will be dead and dying, and the earth will be all aflame
    Will “victory” be assured and “won” in your name?
    Then if there is anybody left breathing and dreadfully still alive
    Your “leaders” will hand out medals to those who might survive

    They will call it a great “victory,” after creating hell
    But when lunatics are in charge, propaganda does sell
    Has the earth been captured by those of a mental disorder?
    Is this the satanic culmination of the New World Order?

    War for these evil ones is an “opportunity” to bask in the limelight
    Just don’t ask your “leaders” to be in the frontline of the hellish fight
    They will lead as always from their palatial bunkers at the rear
    Safely watching the action and protected from any fear

    So rally round the flags boys; NATO is in control
    Once those nuclear missiles start arriving, there will be a great big hole
    The world will be contaminated, decimated and also on fire
    A monument to madness is the earth’s burning funeral pyre

    Bodies burned and vaporized, as the world goes up in smoke
    This is what happens when power is in the hands of crazy folks
    So rally round your flags boys, and get ready to support the insane
    Your “leaders” are hiding in their bunkers, their last resting places of “fame”

    And if there is anybody left boys, don’t forget to clap and cheer
    We must not forget our war madness so don’t even shed a tear
    Nuclear war is the final parade and the last bloody profits for the elites
    So rally round your flags boys, let’s praise the hellish “victory”—or is it defeat?

    And when the last battle is “won” and there is nothing left to lose
    Those still alive will wonder and ask, “Did we win or lose?”
    Then they’ll sing their national anthems, and perhaps even cheer
    So rally round your flags boys, hell on earth will soon be here…

    [more info at link below]

    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2014/11/rally-round-your-flags-boys.html

    • mike k
      December 3, 2017 at 5:56 pm

      Good poem Stephen. One of your best.

      • December 3, 2017 at 6:41 pm

        Thanks Mike.
        Cheers, Stephen J.

  20. ranney
    December 3, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    A couple of days ago I was watching Rachel Maddow ( I do occasionally just to see what she is up to) and I was listening with half an ear as I fixed dinner. She was saying something about Yemeni and Iran giving them missles to fire at Arabia and something else – blah blah- maybe that Iran was helping AlQueda or something, then I heard her say something about how terrible and vicious Iran had been with its own citizens, imprisoning them, torturing them etc. She threw that out and then went to a break while I mulled over what I had just heard.
    I have heard about Iran ever since the ayatolla take over and the hostage crisis and much has been said about how the new religious government repressed its citizens at least for a while until it started to ease up a decade or more ago. But I have never heard any news that said that citizens were tortured. That was reserved for news abut the Shah who we ( yes, the US ) put in place in a coup that replaced a mildly progressive democratically elected president (Mosedeque,-sp?). Could Rachel have meant that? If so, why didn’t she tell her audience that the imprisonment, torture and repression of dissidents was rampant under the Shah decades ago (which is why there was finally a revolution- and why Iran has good reason not to trust us). But no, Rachel didn’t exactly lie – she just didn’t tell the truth. Which is why Orwell said “Omission is the most powerful form of lie”.
    It appears that soon we will shortly be at war with Iran due to lies of omission thanks to our MSM (and of course, our government which has continually lied to us for decades – only now we have the MSM to back them up).

    • Joe Tedesky
      December 4, 2017 at 2:01 am

      Rachel is what Bill O’Reilly was all but 15 years ago, while Joy Ann Reed is Glenn Beck’s replacement. America’s Right has now moved to the Left (that’s not really Left), go figure. Maddow came up on her critical denouncements of George W Bush, and now Trump, but Rachel threw in of late a new twist….she hates everyone Russian, Iranian, and she is grief stricken over Putin’s military takeover of Crimea. To redacted Rachel it doesn’t matter the Crimean’s voted like in huge numbers of something like 93% to go with the Russian Federation, but that’s ‘fake news’ according to Maddow and Reed. Your right ranney, it’s not what they say, it’s what they don’t say, that counts.

      Our American news is horribly slanted away from any objective, or questioning view. Our media gets goose bumps when even their arch enemy President Donald J Trump fires off Tomahawk missiles. I mean these people are all but nasty for war, and condemn anyone who should appear to stand in their way. Our leadership has no desire to develope skills of diplomacy, but pay no never mind to any obstacles preventing them from shaking their sabres in the face of an opposing nation to the empires rule. It’s sad, because this unflinching power hungry mammoth may soon be heading to the unknown location of the huge mammoth graveyard.

      I’m starting to think more of how very calculatingly reasonable it is to make the assumption that all of mankind would, or will someday become extinct, and I say to myself ‘so be it’. Are we watching this extinction of mankind all but startling to play out? ..I truly think so.

      Please have a great diner ranney, it will all still be here by the time you put the last dish away…because your not buying what they are trying to sell you. Joe

  21. Taras 77
    December 3, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    A big FWIW (this is a copy of partial post three days ago on the same article in National Interest-it has been in Moderation since then and is still pending) whatever!?
    ____________________________________________________

    “The author logically compares this latest effort at intell manipulation to the Iraq disaster but
    to my mind this effort is much more ominous.
    Iran has an ability to defend and respond with serious counter atks. If the zionist israel firsters in FDD and White house believe that an atk on iran would be a cake walk leading to regime change, I believe they are dangerously mistaken. But when have the interventionists ever worried about consequences of their actions-think never.”

    • Seer
      December 3, 2017 at 7:59 pm

      Don’t forget about the fact that there’s a fairly strong relationship with Russia AND China. No matter, the Zionists are as compelled to control the Temple Mount as strongly as the Salmon is compelled to return to its spawning site.

      Enjoy the last days as best you can. We’re riding along with the doors locked and these folks are going to run the bus over the cliff:

      http://www.newsweek.com/trump-cabinet-spiritual-adviser-views-697479

  22. Babyl-on
    December 3, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    This is done so often it just seems routine now. We are dealing with an authoritarian Empire not a democracy.

    Power in the West is centered in three places, the rich and powerful people around the Boy King who himself controls the holy sites and doctrine of the Muslim religion which espouses extremist Wahhabi teachings; in Tel Aviv where the holy sites of the Jews and control of the Jewish doctrine is held by extremist Zionists; and In the US where an extreme form of Calvinism has been dominate for over 200 years.

    The three worship the same one god and all preach the same morality – obedience. Their interests are so closely aligned it is hard to tell if it really is three – kind of like the “holy” trinity its all in one.

  23. Zachary Smith
    December 3, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    The upper-level Zionists know very well the “Temple Mount” is not where the Jewish Temple was located, but it’s a convenient excuse for Muslim Removal, and one many American Fundamentalists will swallow hook, line, and sinker.

    It’s difficult to grasp how coordinated the Muslim Removal Scheme has been, even from the very beginning.

    In age of forest fires, Israel’s law against Palestinian goats proves self-inflicted wound for Zionism

    Read the link to see how the fake Israeli reputation for being great guardians of Nature was another part of the Land Grab scheme. Heck, I’ve believed it myself until just now. Murderous, thieving, and lying scum – from the beginning.

  24. December 4, 2017 at 10:10 am

    I don’t think Pompeo, Trump, the Saudis, and the Israeli right can pull it off. Without controlling the propaganda organs like the NYTimes and the groups that are focused on Russia a war against Iran isn’t going to happen. The Deep State is too divided and, at the moment, is happy with the budget so will continue with Cold War II.

    • Seer
      December 4, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      I tend to agree with your assessment. It’ll then be up to this group to hold the real apocalypse group at bay: I’m thinking that this is going to be pretty tough now that they’re really starting to smell blood- expect some crackdowns on right-wing extremists (the “left” is and will continue to be fairly well distracted/controlled).

  25. MC
    December 4, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    We would be wise to rise as a nation, in protest to the hidden disastrous foreign policy in the middle east. True the general public can not know better than experts, but there does appear to be a plan at work here that should be evaluated by a democratic legal and rational process. . The results have been beyond catastrophic between Iraq , Syria, Lybia, Yemen etc. European Migrations to Europe has been tearing them apart . Now allying with Saudi Arabia against Iran? Anyone who knows anything has to recognize the bargain with the devil here. Our nation is fomenting hell. This creates a less secure world for everyone, including Israel. It doesn’t take an expert to recognize that ITS WRONG to start another war on false pretenses to support the Saudi Royals and Sunnis. Its a recipe for more terrorism. Our government knows this. Therefore who ever is actually behind these decisions needs to be exposed and their perspective and goals examined. Do we really want as a nation to be the empire builders that stir up RAGE world wide? It would appear that, like the NRA ,these underground manipulators can not be stopped. Where is the discussion in the press on these topics. WHO ARE THE POWER BROKERS AND WHAT ARE THEY REALLY UP TO? Not conspiracies , just facts please. Thank you for your article.

    • Abe
      December 4, 2017 at 10:50 pm

      Pillar neglects to mention Israel and the pro-Israel Lobby cherry-pickers that vigorously promoted the distorted intelligence that led to the catastrophic Iraq invasion.

      They’re all still around and busy ginning up the next war.

      The facts concerning pro-Israel Lobby influence on American foreign policy in the Middle East are not hidden.

      When the facts of Israeli collusion in “regime change” projects from the Middle East to Eastern Europe are presented, the Hasbara propaganda aparatus labors to ‘splain’ it all as mere “conspiracy” talk, throws up all manner of diversion and distraction from the facts, and strives to minimize the key role played by the pro-Israel Lobby in these foreign policy disasters.

      Israel intensifies the violence in the Middle East and contributes to sales of the arms industry worldwide.

      The basic reality is that a “less secure world” for Israel guarantees ever more lavish American military and economic aid to Israel.

      Israel is the world’s most militarized state and the world’s largest arms exporter in per capita terms. Indeed, while the U.S. has the largest military-industrial complex in the world, Israel has the largest proportion of its economy dedicated to the military-industrial complex.

      Israel has been the largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient since World War ll.

      In reality, Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II.

      To date, the United States has provided Israel $127.4 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance.

      Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance.

      At a signing ceremony at the State Department on September 14, 2016, representatives of the U.S. and Israeli governments signed a new ten-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid covering FY2019 to FY2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledges to provide $38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in FMF grants plus $5 billion in missile defense appropriations)
      to Israel. This new MOU will replace the current $30 billion 10-year agreement, which runs through FY2018.

      https://www.everycrsreport.com/files/20161222_RL33222_278feba814b80351cda4e906fdd20fb6d057b8d5.pdf

      All that lavish US aid to Israel has not made the United States more secure.

      While continued US military aid to Israel ensures high profits for the U.S. arms companies, the US also buys military equipment from Israel in reciprocal deals, further contributing to the Israeli military-industrial complex.

      The militarized state of Israel thrives on a lack of “security”. The last thing Israel wants is “peace” with its neighbors.

      Perpetual war on false premises ensures plentiful “threats” keeps the Israeli economy from self-destruction, and provide a rationale for Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territory.

      The results throughout the Middle East continue to be catastrophic.

      The Hasbara propaganda apparatus wants to avoid discussion of the facts at all costs, and will shout that it’s all mere “conspiracy”.

    • Anon
      December 5, 2017 at 8:04 am

      The Mideast warmongers are largely zionist Jews, including the Kagan/Nulands and the 2003 Iraq War II sponsors SecDef Wolfowitz and his Israeli spy operatives Perl, Feith, and Wurmser installed at CIA/DIA/NSA offices to select known-bad “intelligence” to incite war. The Kochs are of course complicit. Any who aren’t zionist Jews are zionist opportunists, seeking their stolen US funds to Israel, fed to stink tanks and campaign bribes.

      The war in Iraq was such a success that the US was forced out having ensured the pro-Iran government it most feared, having built AlQaeda from a CIA proxy to a regional and then a worldwide enemy, and having guaranteed the violent Sunni uprising now called IS. See Bamford’s Pretext for War. More successes like Iraq and Syria and the US will have ensured the predominance of Iran in the Mideast, a fitting result of our having overthrown democracy in Iran in 1953. Now we must bring them to Israel.

  26. rosemerry
    December 4, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    ” linking Iran to short-range ballistic missile attacks by Yemeni insurgents against Saudi Arabia.”
    Even if this were true, what on earth is wrong with “an ally”, if Iran is one, helping the Houthis against a violent destruction by the illegal action of the Saudis and their suppliers, USA and UK forming a blockade.

  27. Den Lille Abe
    December 5, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    It is beyond doubt a war on Iran is considered, as is a war on North Korea. Now neither of these actions would be looked upon with approval by either China or Russia. Iran is no walkover and both China and Russia has a say too, while both countries probably are inferior to American military might singularly, they certainly are not so together; most of the rest of the world would be enraged, the US given the cold shoulder and isolated, maybe spelling the death of NATO. This would further the building of a EU Defence Force, which the US has been against for decades, as the EU would suddenly wield military power as well as the enormous economic power it already wields.
    It is possibly the most idiotic foreign policy option in the book available. For everybody.
    But the Trump administration chooses mad decisions, recognizing officially Jerusalem as the Israel capital (radio just now) is another colossal blunder, that will enrage, 1,5 billion Muslims in the world and a breach of UN resolution 242.

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