War is extending: Bibi-Trump plot against Iran

President Donald Trump has put the United States on the course for war with Iran. That was clearly his objective when he refused to certify the international nuclear accord with Iran and proclaimed heavy sanctions against Tehran’s powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guards Corps.

All of Trump’s senior national security officials and those from the treaty partners and UN reported that Iran had kept its end of the deal.

Bob Corker, Tom Cotton, and Marco Rubio, are all firmly in the pocket of pro-Israel lobbies. The U.S. vociferous ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, is almost a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Las Vegas gambling mogul and uber Zionist billionaire, Sheldon Adelson – who is also a key financial backer of Trump and Netanyahu.

Having pushed the U.S. to destroy its old foes, Iraq and Syria, Israel now has its big guns trained on Iran, the last regional power that can challenge Israel’s domination of the Mideast. Iran, we should remember, is also the only important Mideast power backing the Palestinians and calling for a Palestinian state.

The Israeli lobby and so-called Christian Zionists that make up Trump’s electoral base are beating the war drums against Iran.

President Trump’s administration has put Iran on “final notice”, and with Republicans in control of all branches of government, GOP may finally get what it has been wanting for decades… another country to invade. Trump and the Republicans are furiously beating the war drums against Iran, and have attempted to mislead the American people so they’re able to justify military action in Iran. Legislation was passed on the first day of the 115th session of Congress that would give President Trump the authority to use military force against Iran unilaterally.

“This is the only time in modern presidential history when we’ve had a small number of people from the uniformed world hold this much influence over the chief executive,” said John E. McLaughlin, a former acting director of the CIA who served in seven administrations. “They are right now playing an extraordinary role.”

Commentator and Trump ally Ann Coulter tweeted, “The military-industrial complex wins.”

Kelly, Mattis and McMaster are not the only military figures serving at high levels in the Trump administration. C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke each served in various branches of the military, and Trump recently tapped former Army general Mark S. Inch to lead the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

“The only chance we have of trying to keep this thing from blowing apart is some military discipline,” said Peter Wehner, who served in the three Republican administrations prior to this one and who opposes Trump. “It’s like military rule or a military coup.”

Many retired senior military officers are now working as war consultants (while drawing a fat pension) at $200-$300 per hour. Bleeding our coffers while 40 million Americans are living on food stamps. And now this fake war is extending even after Saddam’s and Bin Laden’s deaths.

A well equipped, well trained, well funded, well supported U.S. troops did not win in Iraq or in Afghanistan. Now, the generals say this is a bigger threat than Saddam and Bin Laden, let us roll the dice once again, to fight the enemy of America! While in 2018 – Saudi troops, Egyptian flight sorties are bombing in Yemen using U.S. supplied war inventory.

Iran, which won its independence in the 1979 Islamic revolution, should be a natural ally of the United States. The most scientifically advanced Middle Eastern nation, Iran has an educated population, a growing and highly-diversified economy, and a crucial geostrategic position in the center of the Eurasian chess board. Its successful experiment in political Islam is pluralistic and at least as democratic as anything in the West.

But the U.S. is owned by international bankers and influenced by ultra-Zionist neoconservatives. These folks are out to conquer the world. So they don’t want allies, they want vassals. Iran will never settle for vassal status, nor will it acquiesce to the Zionist genocide of Palestine. Hence the “Iran problem.”

Now that Bibi Netanyahu has helped install his man Donald Trump in the White House, will the Likkudniks accelerate their plots against the Islamic Republic? Of course they will.

There is no compass in Trump’s negotiations and his need for free-flying improvisation may have worked during his real estate days, but applying the same principle to geopolitics is rife with risk. Within hours of scrapping the nuclear agreement with Iran, missiles were fired between Israel and Syria. The European Union is banning European companies from complying with U.S. sanctions as well as planning to switch to euros instead of dollars for Iranian Oil. When Trump slapped punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum from abroad and then followed with a new round of U.S. sanctions on fourteen Russian companies, the Russian stock exchange plunged, causing chaos in global commodity markets and inadvertently hurt European aluminum manufacturing.

Fortunately, most of the extremists around Donald Trump don’t know what they’re doing. Any major attempt to destabilize or (God forbid) attack Iran will almost certainly turn into a fiasco for the aggressors. Even back in 2004, when Iran’s defenses were far less formidable, the neocons at Atlantic Magazine couldn’t buy a war-game-against-Iran scenario that didn’t implode into mega-disaster for the US.

Since top military people are usually not that stupid, we may assume that they will settle for some kind of regime change effort: Color revolution (that already failed in 2009, but who cares?), coup attempt, Saudi-money-fueled effort to stir up ethnic and religious minorities…you know the drill.

I am already hearing rumors of a supposed “coup attempt” shaping up.

Will this scam work? It may very well succeed in enriching a few Iranian-exile scumbags. But it won’t overthrow the government of Iran. The Iranian people, even those who lack religious enthusiasm for the current government, remember 1953 and are not about to let it happen again.

There is only one solution for this problem – Just get all U.S. troops out of the Middle East. We all know this won’t happen because there is too much money to be made! So far the U.S. government has spent over 3 trillion on this war of terror. 9,000 dead US troops!!

This trade clash with Beijing is not even over steel and aluminum but the dominance of core information technology into the 21st Century. China has its own “Made in China 2025” strategy which aims to establish a world leading role in technology with giants like Alibaba and Tencent whose market values are already over half a trillion. China has the world’s fastest supercomputer and is building its own Hadron supercollider. While the U.S. has taken a laissez-faire approach, heading in a different direction in technology, China is funding centers in India and Japan. China has supercomputers faster than the U.S., chips that are Chinese made and fifth generation wireless networks (5G) will be first in China, not America.

Semiconductor chips have replaced oil as the lifeblood of the global economy. The arms race over the future and technological dominance will shake American hegemony to its very foundations. In an attempt to stall China’s technological advancement and catch up, America introduced tariffs. Tariffs won’t work. S&P Global warned that American companies would be the biggest losers in a trade war with China.

Professor Allison and his colleagues studied the conflicts between a rising power and an established ruling power over a 500 year period showed that when one power threatens to displace the other, that in 12 of 16 cases, they ended badly in bloodshed.

In America businesses are at war on a daily basis against a rogue US Government.

The soft tyranny we endure now on a daily basis has turned scores of Americans into reluctant activists, no longer satisfied with participation in mundane “demonstrations” that prove and accomplish nothing.

Nearly everywhere you turn, crowds of angry Americans are gathering, no longer content to merely sit idly by and remain spectators to the cavalcade of injustices being perpetuated ad nauseum against We the People by criminal governments that have long since lost their legitimacy.

As the Fed’s quantitative tightening intensifies, the financial system will contract further raising alarms over the $164 trillion of debt held by the U.S., Japan and China. Inflation long feared to be dormant has picked up as the sanctions have affected everything from aluminum to oil. And, ominously the benchmark 10 year Treasury yield continues to breach levels not seen in seven years, indicating rising inflation expectations and stormy times ahead.

Trump’s tax cut will cost $5.5 trillion in lost revenues and add over $1 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, deepening the hole in America’s debt to GDP currently over 100 percent.

A decade after the global financial crisis, the world led by the United States has loaded up on debt again. Once the biggest buyer, China has started dumping US government debt.

After years of easy money, Trump’s trillion dollar spending plans risks America becoming the next global crisis as its debt spirals out of control.

The truth is that Iran is simply not behind most of the turmoil in the Middle East, and until Washington’s policymakers change their all-Iran-all-the-time mental model, they are doomed to failure. One thing is guaranteed: they are going to misdiagnose the patient and attack the wrong disease.

The Iran Exaggeration

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a Middle Eastern country — no, not Israel — but one with a sizeable, protected Jewish community, a place where Islam is the state religion but its president regularly tweets Rosh Hashanah greetings for the Jewish New Year.

Sounds like somebody’s wild fantasy, but it’s actually Iran. In fact, the Islamic Republic sets aside one mandatory seat in its parliament for a Jew, three for Christians, and another for a Zoroastrian. It would be a mistake to conclude from such token gestures that Iran is a paragon of tolerance. But they do speak to the complexity of a diverse society full of paradox and contradiction.

85% of domestic terrorists turned out to be American citizens or permanent residents.  Most were American-born.  Of the 13 U.S. citizens involved in such fatal terror attacks, none were Iranian-American.

It always struck me as odd that Iran made the cut for the very exclusive membership in George W. Bush’s “axis of evil.”  After all, unlike those 15 Saudi hijackers and perhaps even the Saudi government, it had no connection to 9/11 and was “comprehensively helpful” in the initial take down of the Afghan Taliban and the arrest of fleeing al-Qaeda fighters.

By contrast, consider just a few of Washington’s “partners” in the region:

* Saudi Arabia: this monarchy enforces a strict brand of conservative Wahhabi Islam not so terribly different from the basic theology of ISIS.  The Saudi government publicly executes an average of 73 people per year, including juveniles and the mentally ill.  Beheading is the favored technique. (Sound familiar?)  Nor are all the victims convicted murderers.  According to a 2015 Amnesty International report, “Non-lethal crimes including adultery, robbery, apostasy, drug-related offenses, rape, ‘witchcraft,’ and ‘sorcery’ are punishable by death.”  In addition to its citizens carrying out the 9/11 attacks, Saudi Arabia supported a branch of al-Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra) in the Syrian conflict.  Furthermore, its ongoing U.S.-backed air strikes against Yemen’s Houthi rebels have been killing numerous civilians and may have helped to cause and further intensify a disastrous famine. The U.S. response: a record-breaking $110 billion arms deal for the Saudis.

* Egypt: In the wake of a 2013 coup d’état led by General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi against an elected government, that country’s military gunned down hundreds of demonstrators.  Since then, its strongman has used “mass, arbitrary arrests,” tortured detainees, and conducted “extrajudicial executions” — all in the interest of retaining power.  The U.S. response: $1.4 billion in (mostly military) foreign assistance in fiscal 2017.  To top it off, President Trump recently invited Sisi to the White House, lauded the dictator’s “fantastic job in a very difficult situation,” and is planning a future visit to Egypt.

There’s an uncomfortable truth that Washington needs to face: U.S. policy toward Iran hasn’t achieved its goals despite almost four decades of effort since an American-installed autocrat was overthrown there in 1979.  Foreign policy hawks — Democrats and Republicans alike — will undoubtedly fight that reality tooth-and-nail, but as with the Cuban embargo, Iranian isolation has long outworn any imagined usefulness.  That ostracizing Iran remains fashionable reflects domestic political calculus or phobic thinking, not cogent strategy, and yet our new president just traveled to Saudi Arabia, a truly autocratic country, and in the wake of an Iranian election that was by all accounts resoundingly democratic, denounced that land as despotic and all but called for regime change.

U.S. policy in the Middle East is confused, contradictory, counterproductive, and dangerous. It could leave Washington involved in a war with Iran. (And given our recent wars in the region, imagine where that’s likely to land us.)

Major Danny Sjursen is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.  He lives with his wife and four sons near Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Sources:

Gold Eagle: The war drums

Common Dreams: Beating the war drums…again

Toms Dispatch

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Hamza’s speech was released yesterday by al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, As Sahab. It is the latest speech by Osama’s heir, who was given a starring role in al Qaeda’s productions last August.

At the beginning of the 9/11 wars, Hamza says, the “mujahideen were besieged in Afghanistan.” But today the “mujahideen are in Afghanistan and they have reached Sham [Syria], Palestine, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Somalia, the Indian Subcontinent, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, and Central Africa.” With the possible exception of Iraq, al Qaeda’s official branches and affiliated groups have a presence in each of the areas listed by Hamza.

Osama’s son taunts President Trump and his new administration, claiming that former President Obama “declared that he will end the wars, and that his era is an era of peace, and that he will close the open files that his predecessor left for him,” meaning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other issues. But Obama “has now left the White House and has also left open files for his successor,” Hamza says, because he was “incapable” of solving them and “because the force of the mujahideen stands before him.”

The ‘War on Terror’ has cost US taxpayers at least $1.46 trillion since September 11, 2001, the Department of Defense’s cost of war report has revealed.

The 74-page DoD dossier was obtained by the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News. It breaks down the cost of the US’s various conflicts and reveals the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq account for the greatest chunk of change.

Operation Enduring Freedom (the name given to the ‘War on Terror’ between 2001 and 2014), Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq War) and Operation New Dawn (past operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011) made up the biggest expense. They cost a combined $1.315 trillion.

Current military operations cost $147.6 billion. This includes $102.9 billion for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the name given to the ‘War on Terror’ by Barack Obama at the end of 2014, and Operation Inherent Resolve, the US’s operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria which started in 2014, and has cost $17.1 billion.

Operation Noble Eagle, the US’s domestic air defense operation has cost $27.6 billion.

The report only includes direct war-related expenses, such as equipment, operating bases, training, paying troops as well as the costs related to feeding, housing and transporting them.

COST OF WAR NOT INCLUDED

The numbers don’t include veterans’ expenses, or the amount racked up by intelligence agencies in their war on terror. The numbers also don’t take into account the cost involved in rebuilding and post-conflict programs.

VETERANS

The Veterans Benefits Administration’s latest annual report found 1,060,408 veterans are receiving benefits, at an average of $15,907 each per year.

Veterans of the War on Terror’s benefits’ are costing $16.8 billion a year, and 1 million are receiving benefits at the moment.

According to a 2011 Harvard Kennedy School study, Afghanistan and Iraq veterans’ benefits were estimated to cost between $600 billion and $1.3 billion over 40 years.

The report found that $31.3 billion had been spent in the 10 years since 2001 on medical care and disability for almost 500,000 vets. It also found that Afghanistan and Iraq veterans were applying for benefits at far greater rates than previous wars.

The report found the “cost of caring for war veterans rises for several decades and peaks in 30-40 years or more after a conflict.”

(Un)INTELLIGENCE

The CIA’s classified operations, along with the NSA’s efforts to combat terrorism aren’t included in the total.

The report includes the total amount of funding given through war related-requests between 2001 and 2017, which is $1.7 billion and includes war spending, non-war spending on fuel and the cost of running the Noble Eagle base. It also includes an $83 billion in funds marked as “classified.”

US Intelligence agencies receive upwards of $66 billion budget to play with annually, a significant fraction of which goes to foreign operations.

The intelligence budget request for 2018 was $57.7 billion for the National Intelligence Program, which includes all programs, projects and activities of the intelligence community, and $20.7 billion for the Military Intelligence Program, which includes military intelligence operations. The NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency fall under both programs.

Despite the staggering amount spent on defense, President Trump has promised to “rebuild” the military which he says is “depleted.” He proposed a $603 billion budget for defense spending in March.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives have voted to pass $696 billion and $696.6 billion defense budgets, respectively.

In Trump budget, Lockheed gets almost as much as the State Department

The Washington Post

Of Lockheed Martin’s $51 billion in sales last year, nearly 70 percent, or $35.2 billion came from sales to the U.S. government. It’s a colossal figure, hard to comprehend.

So think of it this way: Lockheed’s government sales are nearly what the Trump administration proposed for the State Department next year in its recently released spending plan. Or $15 billion more than all of NASA. Or about the gross domestic product of Bolivia.

With a White House proposal to spend a massive amount on defense next year in what one consultant called an “eye-watering” budget for the defense industry, Lockheed, the world’s largest defense contractor, could get even more.

Over the past decade, Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed, which employs 100,000 people across the globe, has averaged about $38 billion a year in federal sales, a reign during which, year after year, Lockheed has received more federal money than any other corporation.

Boeing is in second place with annual sales of $26.5 billion in 2016, a year in which the top five defense contractors — including General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman — had total sales of nearly $110 billion to the United States government, according to federal procurement data. The five biggest defense contractors took in more money from the U.S. government than the next 30 companies combined.

But no one can touch Lockheed, the manufacturer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The company is so big that some have likened it to a government agency and have quipped that Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed’s chief executive, is as powerful as a Cabinet secretary — or higher. When she gives her annual state of the company speeches, flanked by a pair of flags — one American, one with the company logo — she looks, well, presidential.

President Trump has opened the floodgates for defense spending, proposing $716 billion for the Pentagon, a 13 percent increase. And the defense industry is poised to profit, with Lockheed in the lead.

Contrary to the promised “peace dividend,” the U.S. has maintained its military arsenal and used it to enforce its agenda with successive and intensifying military interventions–from the use of conventional troops in Iraq, to “humanitarian intervention” in Haiti, to drone wars in Central Asia.

US MILITARY SPENDING (Follow the money)

Let’s look at how the federal government spends our money…

The pie chart below shows the distribution of the total federal budget spending for FY 2013.

The “Social Security & Unemployment” and “Medicare & Health” take on a major fraction of the federal spending, amounting to about 58% of the total outlays, whereas “Military” spending appears to amount to just 18%. The problem with this representation is that the Social Security & Medicare are parts of the mandatory spending directly financed by the dedicated revenue raised from payroll taxes, as imposed by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), not through the Federal income tax and thus represents a different Treasury account.

If we separate the mandatory spending and look only at the discretionary spending component appropriated by Congress on an annual basis and for which all the federal programs compete, a very different picture arises.

The Military (“National Defense” budget function 050) consumes nearly 57% of the discretionary budget in comparison to Education (6%), Science (3%), Energy & Environment (3%), etc. Military spending has sharply risen since the beginning of the War on Terrorism, from $294b in FY 2000 to $705b in FY 2013 (data from Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables Fiscal Year 2013, Table 6.1).

Military spending in inflation-adjusted dollars is now greater than at any time since World War II — even greater than during the peak spending years of the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and the Persian Gulf War (figure credit: RandomNonviolence).

A large portion of this spending goes to the military contractors, companies whose profits and viability critically depend on the size of the military budget. Defense contractors actively lobby and donate campaign money to the members of Congress who sit on the Armed Forces and Appropriations Committees which oversee military spending. The table below shows the amounts of federal contracts awarded to the five largest defense contractors, and the corresponding expenses on lobbying and political campaign contributions for 2011.

Sources: Center for Responsive Politics, FedSpending.org – a project of OMB watch

You can see that these companies are having an excellent return on their investment. To be fair we must also mention that defense companies do employ many workers across the country who are reminded by their bosses of potential job losses if spending decreases. Undoubtedly, the Military budget can be reduced at such a rate as to allow for natural job attrition from the defense sector to avoid the defense contractors having to fire their employees, but this is never discussed. Instead we hear that cuts to the Military budget will result in huge job loss for the economy; however, research shows otherwise. The Political Economy Research Institute conducted a study of “The U.S.

Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities” concluding that $1 billion spent on domestic priorities will create substantially more jobs within the U.S. economy than would the same $1 billion spent on the military: 1.5 times more in Clean Energy and 2.4 times more in Education. Therefore, spending shifted from the defense to the domestic sectors of the economy will actually create jobs not the other way around. You can watch interview with the institute’s co-director: Military spending: Bang for the Buck?

Similarly, reductions in the Military budget should be accompanied by a natural attrition of military personnel toward a more sustainable, leaner size for the Armed Forces. Veterans for Peace does not support pay cuts or forced lays offs of military personnel in order to balance a federal budget.

Reduction in the Military budget does not threaten our national security. Even if defense spending were reduced by half, the US would easily remain the world’s strongest military superpower. The figure below shows how the US military spending compares to the rest of the world. The US spends almost 5 times more than China on the military, 10 times more than Russia, and 95 times more than Iran!

And do not expect the DoD to be careful with that money. In 2001 the US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted that the DoD cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions, supposedly because of the complexity and the multitude of accounting systems which do not conform with each other. Read Rumsfeld’s entire speech.

The DoD continues on the goose chase after the loose money preparing for its first audit by 2017 amidst the Government Accountability Office’s sobering assessment of the department’s accounting issues.

The defense contracting systems is ripe with fraud and abuse and according to a DoD report hundreds of defense contractors that defrauded the U.S. military received more than $1.1 trillion in Pentagon contracts during the past decade.

Proponents of high military expenditures commonly emphasize that military spending as a percentage of GDP has considerably declined since the end of the WWII as shown in the figure below suggesting that military spending is already at historically low levels.

The problem with this argument is that military spending as a percentage of GDP represents the burden such spending puts on the entire economy, but does not indicate the burden military spending places on the taxpayers. The general decline in military spending as a percentage of the GDP is a testament to economic growth, not to a reduction in military appropriations, which have continued to increase since the end of WWII even when adjusted for inflation as was previously shown. The accurate measure of the burden military spending puts on the taxpayer is the percentage of the discretionary budget spent on the military as shown below.

This fraction has changed significantly since the end of the WWII and does not manifest a consistent downward trend. On the contrary, since the beginning of the War on Terrorism the fraction spent on the military is on the rise.

In any case, the US spends more of its GDP on the military than any other major military power as shown below, and far surpasses those nations in spending when looking in absolute amounts. 

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