Saturday, January 4, 2020

How The Donald Assassinated 'America First'



By David Stockman

By the twisted logic of Imperial Washington, you could say the Iranians were asking for
it. After all, they had the nerve to locate their country right in the middle of 35 U.S.
military bases!

Then again, your saner angels may ask: What in the hell is Washington doing with a
massive military footprint in a region and in a string of backwater countries that have
virtually no bearing on homeland security, safety and liberty?

Djibouti? Oman? Kyrgyzstan? Uzbekistan? Afghanistan? Bahrain? Kuwait? And, yes,
Iraq and Iran?


In fact, Washington destroyed the former for no good reason and based on egregious Big Lies about Saddam's nonexistent WMDs and sheltering of al-Qaeda. That turned Iraq into a failed state hell-hole, pulsating with sectarian frictions and anti-American grievances--even as the rump of Iraq centered in Baghdad fell under the control of Iran-friendly Shiite politicians and militias. At the same time, Iran itself is zero threat to the American homeland. It's tiny $350 billion GDP amounts to 6 days of US annual output and its $20 billion defense budget is equivalent to what the Pentagon wastes every 10 days.
Militarily, it has no blue water navy, an air force that could double as a cold war museum and a short and medium range missile force that is self-evidently dedicated to defense and deterrence in the region, not an attack on the USA way over on the yonder side of the deep blue seas. Its 300 or so active aircraft, for example, include 175 US F-4, F-5, F-14 and sundry transports, helicopters and trainers purchased by the Shah during the 1970s and kept together since the revolution with bailing wire and bubble gum. It also fields 60 or so Soviet vintage MiG-29s and Sukhoi Su attack aircraft---plus a few dozen European and Chinese planes of mostly ancient design.
Likewise, even its most advanced medium range cruise missile (Soumar) can barely get to Rome, Italy, to say nothing of Rome, Georgia.
As is evident from the yellow, green, red and black circles on the map below, which circles outline each missile's striking range, the overwhelming bulk of Iran's missile force has a range of 500 miles or less. These missiles are capable of hitting targets in the immediate vicinity of the Persian Gulf, or roughly the same area which encompasses the 35 military bases designated by American flags in the graphic above.
Stated differently, Iran's extremely modest military capacities are not remotely about an offensive threat to the American homeland. They are overwhelmingly about defending itself in its own neighborhood, where Washington has been intervening and occupying with massive firepower and hostile intent for decades.

Therein, of course, lies a hint. More than 13 years after Saddam's last hurrah on a
Baghdad gallows, the US still has upwards of 30,000 troops and contractors in the
immediate vicinity of the Persian Gulf. But why?

It can't be owing to ISIS. The Islamic State was never much more than a no count salient
of dusty, woebegone towns and villages on the Upper Euphrates straddling Western Iraq
and northeastern Syria, and was destined to collapse into its own barbaric madness
anyway. As it has happened, it was essentially dispatched by the Russian air force,
Assad's military and the Shiite militia forces organized by the dead man himself, Major
General Soleimani.

Likewise, it should be obvious by now that it's not about the oil, either. At the moment
the US is producing nearly 13 million barrels per day and is the world's leading oil
producer--well ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia; and is now actually a net exporter of
crude for the first time in three-quarters of a century.

Besides, the Fifth Fleet has never been the solution to oil security. The cure for high
prices is high prices---as the great US shale oil and Canadian heavy oil booms so
cogently demonstrate, among others.

And the route to global oil industry stability is peaceful commerce because virtually
every regime--regardless of politics and ideology---needs all the oil revenue it can
muster to fund its own rule and keep its population reasonably pacified.

Surely, there is no better case for the latter than that of Iran itself---with an economy
burdened by decades of war, sanctions and mis-rule and an 80-million population that
aspires to a western standard of living.

So left to its own devices, Tehran would produce 5 million barrels per day from its
abundant reserves. That's more than 10 times its present meager exports, which have
nearly vanished owing to Washington's vicious sanctions against any and all customers
for its oil and potential investors in modernizing and expanding it production capacity.
So if it's not ISIS or oil, exactly why does Washington maintain the circle of 35 bases
displayed in the graphic above and keep thousands of US troops and other personnel in
harms' way in the region?

Or more to the moment, why has the Donald been unable to bring the forces home as he
has so often proclaimed to be his policy?

The answer, of course, is that the foreign policy apparatus of the US government is
controlled by anti-Iran neocons and regime changers. We are still in Syria not to fight
ISIS, which is gone, but to block Iran's land route to its allies in Syria and Lebanon
(Hezbollah); and we remain in Iraq solely to use it as a base for clandestine US and
Israeli attacks on these Iranian allies and proxy forces.

These Washington instigated or conducted attacks on Iranian allies, in fact, are why
there was growing pressure in the Iraqi government to demand that the US finally leave.

These pressures will now become overwhelming in light of this week's US bombing
of five PMF camps (Popular Mobilization Forces) which are Shiite militias that have
been integrated into the Iraqi army and which are under the command of its prime
minister. Thursday night's assassination of its Deputy Commander along with Soleimani is
only more kerosene on the fire.

To be sure, Iran's choice of allies has nothing to do with America's homeland security:
None of the sovereign governments of Lebanon (where Hezbollah is the leading political
party) or Syria or even Iraq (which is an ostensible US ally) have protested these
confession (i.e. Shiite) based arrangements and the aid and benefits which flow from
them.

That's because the so-called evil Shiite crescent is a bogeyman invented by Bibi
Netanyahu and is the excuse for his hysterical anti-Iranian foreign policy. The latter is
not even designed to enhance Israel's own security, but to vilify a "far enemy" that can
keep his rightwing coalition glued together and himself in power.

Likewise, the US military-industrial complex's greed and appetite for power and pelf is
so voracious that it will embrace any and all missions anywhere on the planet---no
matter how stupid or futile or immoral, as per the case of 19-years in Afghanistan---that
keep the budgetary loot flowing.

Accordingly, the Washington apparatus conspires to keep the 35 mideast bases in place
and to trigger actions like last night's insane assassination of Iran's foremost military
leader in order to reify the threat and to periodically stoke tensions and counter-attacks
that keep missions alive and the forces deployed.

Indeed, we are hard-pressed to imagine a more poignant case of the pot calling the
kettle black than Washington's claim that it had to retaliate owing to actual and
expected Iranian "aggression".

For crying out loud, Washington has been demonizing, ostracizing and economically
attacking Iran for decades, and is now literally attempting to destroy its economy and
society through its oil sanctions and its "maximum pressure" campaign that aims to
bring the fate of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi to its top leaders in Tehran.
So do ya think a regime under a veritable existential threat might gravitate toward
retaliation as an alternative to extinction?

And we need be clear about the matter of striking back in self defense. Washington's
current sanctions campaign against Iran is so aggressive and brutal that it constitutes
war by any other name.

When you surround a sovereign nation with an armada of land, sea and air-based high-
tech lethality and then declare outright economic war on it with a barely-disguised aim
of regime change, it must and will fight back however it can.

That's why Secretary of State Pompeo' statement justifying the Donald's act of naked
aggression is so hideous.

Washington is putting the entire nation of Iran at risk in the very place where God or
evolution, as the case may be, formed the peninsula on which it resides; and it is doing
so without any Iranian provocation against the security of the American homeland
whatsoever.

But this neocon knucklehead has the gall to insist that when it comes to the actual anti-
Iranian belligerents (i.e. U.S. forces) Washington has bivouacked where they have no business being at all, that not a hair on their head should come to harm.

That's Imperial arrogance of a kind rarely seen in a world history which is littered with
exactly that.

"I can't talk too much about the nature of the threats. But the American people
should know that the President's decision to remove Soleimani from the
battlefield saved American lives," Pompeo told CNN.

The IRGC general had been "actively plotting" in the region to "take big
action, as he described it, that would have put hundreds of lives at risk,"
according to Pompeo.

Undoubtedly, things will now spiral out of control because the Iranian regime must and
will retaliate for Soleimani's death. Indeed, by vaporizing the latter, the Donald has now
also vaporized any chance of actually implementing the "America First" policy upon
which he ran, and which was the principal basis for his freakish elevation to the Oval
Office.

The fact is, the only decent thing Obama did on the foreign policy front was the Iran
Nuke Deal. Under the latter, Iran gave up a nuclear weapons capability it never had or
wanted for the return of billions of escrowed dollars (which belong to Tehran in the first
place), while putting itself in a straight-jacket of international inspections and controls
that even Houdini could not have broken free from.

But the Donald wantonly shit-canned this arrangement, not because Iran violated either
the letter or spirit of the deal, but because the neocons--led by his bubble-headed son-
in-law and Bibi Netanyahu errand boy, Jared Kushner----blatantly lied to him about its alleged defects.

Indeed, the resulting Washington pivot to the current "maximum pressure" aggression
against Iran is fast becoming the Empire's most demented and shameful hour---even as it crystalizes like rarely before the difference between homeland defense and imperial
aggression.

Under the former, not one American serviceman, contractor or civilian official would be
in harms' way because the ring of hostile bases surrounding Iran would not exist nor
would Washington be waging economic warfare on what would otherwise be a
prosperous 5 million barrel per day oil trade with the world.

Only empires put their citizens needlessly in harms' way and thereby trap their leaders
into a cycle of violence which feeds upon itself.

The Donald is now yet another American president ensnared in the kind of tit-for-tat
trap that is the modus operandi of Empire First.


David Stockman was Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street.
The above originally appeared at David Stockman's Contra Corner.

6 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Ditto. The picture of the US bases surrounding Iran says it all.

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  2. Stockman hit it out of the park with this one. Normally his verbosity and meandering turn me off, but this was superb. Desert Island keeper, for sure.

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  3. Predictably, millions of U.S. citizens who are ignorant of any essential facts concerning the long-running U.S. conflict with Iran now cheer a war crime by their effete president. Almost certainly dozens if not hundreds or even thousands of innocents will perish because of Trump's murder of this general, which will only serve to compound U.S. aggression against Iranians. Credit a superb propaganda machine and state-dominated educational system for making the U.S. the home of the stupid and blood-thirsty.

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  4. The scenario described by Stockman has been repeated by every U.S. presidential administration in recent memory. In fact it seems to be SOP for almost every president since George Washington. Lie about an external "enemy" to justify and/or obscure stealing from and killing the presidents own citizens to enrich his friends and cronies. Voting and otherwise participating in democracy only enables this activity. As long as most citizens believe they are not in harms way this tragic cycle will repeat.

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  5. Absolute rubbish from start to finish which remarkably fails to make one mention of the 2000+-year-old openly declared, actively engaged with a continuing body count, Shia movement to impose their culture and ideology across the globe. If that shit hole of a nation wasn't surrounded and hadn't been beaten back over the centuries… Y'all might have a little different view. Not sure of the nationalities or ethnicities of the posters on this blog but my suggestion would be, with America being such an atrocious and demonic place to live, I'd hustle your little asses right over Iran and settle into the land of milk and honey.

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