This is an abridged version by Lasha Darkmoon of a major report from yesterday’s Guardian newspaper (January 4, 2020), with graphics and commentary added, including an extended endnote entitled “Has Donald Trump started WWIII?”
The Middle East is starting the decade under the shadow of a major new conflict, as Iran vows to take ‘severe revenge’ for the US drone strike that killed its most powerful general, Qassem Suleimani.
The Pentagon ordered 3,000 reinforcements to the region, diplomats were reportedly told to pack their bags in case of sudden evacuation, and the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, called his counterparts around the world to try to persuade them the US was “committed to de-escalation”.
However, there were signs overnight that the US was continuing operations against Iranian allies in Iraq, with air strikes reported against the Shia Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) in a motorcade in north Baghdad in the early hours of Saturday. According to Reuters, six people were killed and three were critically wounded.
In Syria and Iraq, there was some rejoicing at Suleimani’s death. The ruthless commander was implicated in tens of thousands of civilian deaths, but the general reaction in world capitals was apprehension.
“This is a moment in which leaders must exercise maximum restraint,” the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said. “The world cannot afford another war in the Gulf.”
LD: Note the sanctimonious plea by UN secretary general António Guterres for “maximum restraint” by the Iranians, the victims of a gratuitous act of unprovoked violence by the US; but there is not the slightest criticism here of Donald Trump for his refusal to exercise even minimum restraint.
So this appears to be the magic formula: “maximum restraint” prescribed for Iran, Russia and China, and “minimum restraint” left as the preserve of the US pathocracy and its pugnacious allies Britain, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
I mention Israel, the more so as its name is mysteriously missing from most of these reports on the current crisis in the Middle East. Yet it is no secret that this wanton act of war has been perpetrated on behalf of Israel, much to the satisfaction of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to whom it comes as a gift from heaven. When the body bags return to the West in due course, assuming this dogfight escalates beyond control, we can be sure they will contain the mangled bodies of American and British soldiers, with not a single Israeli Jew cadaver among them.
The infamous antisemitic quote by Mahathir bin Mohamad, prime minister of Malaysia, springs to mind: “Today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them. President Trump, it seems, is only too pleased to sacrifice American lives for his Jewish friends. [LD]
The Iranian supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, ordered three days of mourning and declared that the US would face “severe revenge” for the killing of Suleimani, who ran Tehran’s military operations in Iraq and Syria.
The incoming commander of the Quds Force, Esmail Ghaani, was quoted on al-Jazeera as saying: “We tell everyone, be patient and see the dead bodies of Americans all over the Middle East.”
General Qassem Suleimani, second most powerful man in Iran
after Iranian supreme leader, Ali Khamenei:
KILLED IN COLD BLOOD
ON THE PERSONAL ORDERS OF DONALD TRUMP
“Be patient, and see the dead bodies of Americans all over the Middle East.”
— Incoming Commander of the elite Quds force, Esmail Ghaani
— § —
In a brief address from his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago on Friday afternoon, Donald Trump described Suleimani as “the number one terrorist anywhere in the world”, and claimed the 62-year-old general was planning “imminent and sinister” attacks on US diplomats and personnel.
But the US president said that he was not seeking regime change in Iran, saying: “We did not take action to start a war.”
LD: Needless to say, Trump’s devious hypocrisy beggars belief. Having launched a shameless and unprovoked attack on a weaker country, a sovereign state he has been playing cat-and-mouse games with for the last three years, he assures the world unctuously, “We did not take action to start a war.” It would be ironical if, at some future date, Russia and China should deploy the same logic against the United States and demolish the White House with Trump and his family in it, and then declare: “This is not an act of war — just a friendly warning!” [LD]
“The question that looms now, of course, is how do Iranian forces and their proxies throughout the region and beyond respond to this attack?” General Petraeus told the Guardian.
Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, said on Twitter that as a legal justification for the attack in which 10 people were killed, the Pentagon’s claims were “very vague”.
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said Suleimani’s “martyrdom” would make the country more determined to resist America. “With no doubt, Iran and other freedom-seeking countries in the region will take revenge,” he said.
Tehran’s Lebanon-based ally Hezbollah also promised to avenge the killing.
HAS DONALD TRUMP STARTED WWIII?
Endnote by Lasha Darkmoon
“Donald Trump rode to victory in 2016 on a promise to end the useless wars in the Middle East, but he has now demonstrated very clearly that he is a liar. Trump bears full responsibility for what comes next.” — Philip Giraldi, here
Trump’s supporters will undoubtedly come up with some cock-and-bull story to justify their hero’s intransigent behavior. We are not concerned with these wishful thinkers. They are best left to their own devices and allowed the pleasures of idolatry. Let me say in passing, however, that such a strenuous capacity for adoration is deeply moving in itself and disposes me to like these idolaters rather than dislike them. Trump supporters, I have learned to my surprise, are by no means all scoundrels; they are often exceptionally nice people.
What is abundantly clear is that Trump himself authorized this attack on Iran. This makes him a scoundrel in my book, so idolizing him any further is misguided and I would strongly advise against it. Trump can no longer hide behind some faceless official at the Pentagon or elsewhere, claiming the innocence of Pontius Pilate.
As Philip Giraldi notes is his comment above: “Trump bears full responsibility for what happens next.” The Guardian makes Trump’s personal responsibility for this assassination perfectly clear in the final paragraph of its report:
“Trump authorised the strike at a time when the US Congress was in recess, and the White House framed the action as an act of self-defence in the context of counter-terrorism operations. But Democrats and perhaps some Republicans in Congress will see it as a usurpation of the legislature’s authority to decide matters of war and peace.”
I would now like to bring to the reader’s attention these highly pertinent comments on the latest Iran crisis by a writer on the Lew Rockwell site. The article from which they are taken, written by Thomas Luongo and published yesterday, arrived in my inbox from an unknown correspondent only half an hour ago. So this is mint-fresh material and far more penetrating in its analysis than any other article I have seen in the mainstream media to date.
Here is the gist of the article:
When I wrote that the coup against President Trump had morphed into a Civil War, I wasn’t kidding. The sham impeachment created the perfect environment for the Democrats and Republicans to get something definitive from him by playing the House and the Senate off each other.
It is under these circumstances we should view the events in Iraq over the last week.
At the end of the day we are held captive by a minority of power-mad Trotskyites. Truly Maoist in their thinking, the only political power that exists for them comes from the barrel of a gun. This is why there has been zero opportunities for diplomacy with Iran.
Iran is to be destroyed. If not today, tomorrow. If not then, then the day after. It will not end. Any potential diplomacy was sabotaged at every turn. Peace can only happen through subjugation.
A man like Solemaini would never submit to this. And yet, fighting a war against the Empire is always reduced to terrorism to sell it to the public. Like it or not Trump executed the man most responsible for the systemic destruction of ISIS and neutering of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq. He’s also the man, over the years, who has fought the US to a standstill across the Middle East.
Those were Solemaini’s pertinent crimes.
The results of these fights were to empower Israel’s enemies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Russia and China supported this in their own interests.
Recent events show that this is the most dangerous escalation of Trump’s administration. Nothing Trump has done up to this point compares with killing Solemaini and taking immediate credit for it.
Nothing he’s done is more tone deaf or disproportionate to whatever crimes were the proximate cause. And nothing he could have done would be more galvanizing of resistance to US occupation of Iraq and Syria.
Trump, to his credit, held back the neocons at critical junctures over the past couple of years. After the Russian ELINT plane was shot down, Trump worked with Putin to negotiate a truce which would have seen Iranian forces in Syria pulled back from the Golan Heights as a start to changing the dynamic there.
Benjamin Netanyahu said no, all Iranians out of Syria. The war between Israel and the Shia forces backed by Iran continued. The path to peace could have begun then if Trump had the moral courage to force that outcome.
But the neocons at home had him under suspicion of treason. His National Security staff wouldn’t allow that to happen. If he hadn’t pulled out of the JCPOA and left room to negotiate we wouldn’t be here today.
But he did. And we are downstream of this bad decision. It’s been one escalation after another and a series of increasingly dangerous confrontations. This doesn’t end with Iran going meekly to bed, folks.
They aren’t disobedient children, but they aren’t animals either.
Killing Solemaini was presaged months ago with the US designating the Quds Force a terrorist organization, which gives the US unilateral legal cover to summary execution of anyone affiliated with them, especially if they are not on home soil.
But, at the same time, Trump assassinated (note the difference) members of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces in the raid as well, since these are considered members of the Iraqi military and the attack occurred on Iraqi soil.
So, in simplistic and, I believe, legal terms Trump committed an Act of War against Iraq. Iran obviously considers killing Solemaini, legal definitions aside, such as well.
This is an act Trump cannot walk back from. He can’t ask Iran to come to the negotiating table now or ever. It’s an act of overt war. Whether it leads directly to forces facing off in high level combat is debatable. It will certainly continue escalating from here.
Israel has been itching for the US to attack and destroy Iran’s nuclear R&D facilities. The only way to achieve that was to get Trump to pull out of the JCPOA, forcing Iran back into enrichment and then using that as the casus belli.
Welcome to 2020.
And the sad truth is that it means more killing, more murder and more of everything bad. There is no Just War rationalization for this. While no one rational wants to see Iran with nuclear weapons the end result of the policy led us to that potential outcome.
No rational person should want anyone with nuclear weapons and yet Netanyahu sits on hundreds of warheads.
Beating people into submission doesn’t work. The neocons told Trump to smack Iran in the mouth, that’s the only lesson these animals understand.
By the way, they say that about everyone.
Solemaini may have been responsible for hundreds of American deaths, but Iran and the US have been at war for forty years. At some point that has to be processed honestly.
Americans supporting this refuse to comprehend that we’re as much to blame as Iran is for the violence. We’re not the good guys and they aren’t the bad guys. Everyone sucks here. For every Iranian that shouts “Death to America” there are Americans who sing “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Bomb, Bomb Iran.”
Trump was elected to end this belligerence but he’s incapable of separating strength from weakness. A mafiosi-type who uses violence indiscriminately, Trump is a weak man.
This was indiscriminate in that Trump believes the political calculus is in his favor, so he can get away with it. He shores up his support in the Senate just long enough to beat the impeachment and can sail to re-election.
But, who he is was written on the bombs he threw at the Al Shairat airbase and the MOAB he dropped in Afghanistan in April 2017 to prove a point to Putin and Xi he wasn’t a wimp.
But Trump is a wimp. And a coward. And neither man was impressed by this. He hasn’t won a single negotiation of note in three years. Killing Solemaini was the result of having no capacity for diplomacy.
China’s won the trade war. Russia gets their pipelines. Syria will be returned to Syrians and Iraq will reject US presence there. Venezuela won’t fall and North Korea has nukes. Nothing has changed and yet everything has.
A strong man admits his mistakes and makes concessions to those he’s harmed. He doesn’t hide behind how unfair it is the political machine is arrayed against him.
And, now, Trump is a failed president no different than Obama who he despises.
The only thing more pathetic than Trump right now is the gaggle of jackals running against him. Weep for the future.
— Excerpted from here
Has Trump started WWIII? It’s too early to say. It looks very much like it. The assassination of Solemaini has all the hallmarks of a major provocation, a key event that bears comparison with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo. What happens next is anyone’s guess. No predictions are likely to mirror the actual events as they unroll in 2020. The game, as they say, is not over until the fat lady sings.
What we do know for sure, if we open our eyes to the light, is that Trump has broken every important promise he has made. Has he built the wall he promised? No. Has he brought an end to the Third World invasion of America? No. Has he improved the lives of the indigent working classes in America, many of them eking out a wretched life on opiates? No. Has he made life safer and fairer for America’s white indigenous population? No. Everything Trump has touched, he has made worse.
One of the main beneficiaries of Trump’s misrule has been the state of Israel. Supported to the hilt by the American taxpayer, Israel now sees the Golan Heights as a personal gift from Donald Trump. It’s a wonder he hasn’t offered them the entire West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well. That will come.
It remains to be seen if Hezbollah, driven to a pitch of frenzy by the antics of this dangerous clown in the White House, should finally lose its cool and launch a blizzard of long-range missiles at Tel Aviv. That would be the day. Being an advocate of passive resistance and non-violence, I would naturally be horrified to see the towers of Tel Aviv come toppling down. Most of the people around me would undoubtedly shed copious tears if that should happen, but I suspect they would be crocodile tears. One can hardly blame them.
2020 has not opened well, and I fear it may not close well either. Something wicked this way comes.