Category Archives: Iraq

The World Must End The US’ Illegal Economic War

The United States is relying more heavily on illegal unilateral coercive measures (also known as economic sanctions) in place of war or as part of its build-up to war. In fact, economic sanctions are an act of war that kills tens of thousands of people each year through financial strangulation. An economic blockade places a country under siege.

A recent example is the increase in economic measures being imposed against Iran, which many viewed as more acceptable than a military attack. In response to Iran retaliating for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani and seven other people, Iran used ballistic missiles to strike two bases in Iraq that house US troops. President Trump responded by saying he would impose more sanctions on Iran. Then he ended his comments by urging peace negotiations with Iran. The United States needs to understand there will be no negotiations with Iran until the US lifts sanctions that seek to destroy the Iranian economy and turn the people against their government.

The sanctions on Iran have been in place since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which made that country independent of the United States. Iran is not the only country being sanctioned by the United States. Samuel Moncada, the Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, speaking to the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement of 120 nations on October 26, 2019, denounced the imposition of sanctions by the US, as “economic terrorism which affects a third of humanity with more than 8,000 measures in 39 countries.”

It is time to end US economic warfare and repeal these unilateral coercive measures, which violate international law.

Take Action: Join the International Days of Action Against  Sanctions
and Economic WarMarch 13 – 15, 2020

 

Sanctions are war (From havaar.org.)

Sanctions Are A Weapon of War

The United States uses sanctions against countries that resist the US’ agenda. US sanctions are designed to kill by destroying an economy through denial of access to finance, causing hyperinflation and shortages and blocking basic necessities such as food and medicine. For example, sanctions are expected to cause the death of tens of thousands of Iranians by creating a severe shortage of critical medicines and medical equipment everywhere in Iran.

Muhammad Sahimi writes that in a “letter published by The Lancet, the prestigious medical journal, three doctors working in Tehran’s MAHAK Pediatric Cancer Treatment and Research Center warned that, ‘Re-establishment of sanctions, scarcity of drugs due to the reluctance of pharmaceutical companies to deal with Iran, and a tremendous increase in oncology drug prices [due to the plummeting value of the Iranian rial by 50–70%], will inevitably lead to a decrease in survival of children with cancer.’”

Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and asthma affect over ten million Iranians who will find essential medicines impossible to get or available only at high prices. The US claims that food and medicines are excluded from sanctions but in practice, they are not because pharmaceutical companies fear sanctions being applied to them over some technical violation and Iran cannot pay for essentials when banks can’t do business with it. European nations failed to persuade the Trump administration to ensure that essential medicine and food were available to Iranians.

In Venezuela, due to the sanctions, 180,000 medical operations have been canceled and 823,000 chronically ill patients are awaiting medicines. The Center for Economic and Policy Research found sanctions have deprived Venezuela of “billions of dollars of foreign exchange needed to pay for essential and life-saving imports,” contributing to 40,000 total deaths in 2017 and 2018. More than 300,000 Venezuelans are at risk due to a lack of access to medicine or treatment. Economists warn US sanctions could cause famine in Venezuela. Sanctions also cause shortages of parts and equipment needed for electricity generation, water systems, and transportation as well as preventing participation in the global financial market. Sanctions, which are illegal under the UN, OAS and US law, have caused mass protests in Venezuela against the US.

Sanctions against Iran and Venezuela could be a prelude to military attack; i.e., the US weakening a nation economically before attacking it. This is what happened in Iraq. Under pressure from the United States, on August 2, 1990, the UN Security Council passed sanctions that required countries to stop trading or carrying out financial transactions with Iraq. President George H.W. Bush said the UN sanctions would not be lifted “as long as Saddam Hussein is in power.” The US continued to pressure the increasingly skeptical Security Council members into compliance even though hundreds of thousands of children were dying. In 1996, then-U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright was asked about the death of as many as 500,000 children due to lack of medicine and malnutrition exacerbated by the sanctions, and she brutally replied, “[The] price is worth it.” Sanctions were also used against Libya and Syria before the US attacked them.

This is consistent with the US ‘way of war’ described by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz in “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States,” which describes frontier counterinsurgency premised on annihilation including the destruction of food, housing, and resources as well as ruthless militarism. The US has waged a long-term economic war against Cuba (sanctions in place since 1960), North Korea (first sanctions in the 1950s, tightened in the 1980s), Zimbabwe (2003) and Iran (1979)

Sanctions hurt civilians, especially the most vulnerable – babies, children, the elderly and chronically ill – not governments. Their intent is to shrink the economy and cause chronic shortages and hyperinflation while ensuring a lack of access to finance to pay for essentials. The US then blames the targeted government claiming that corruption or socialism is the problem in an effort to turn the people against their government. This often backfires as people instead rally around the government, quiet their calls for democracy and work to develop a resistance economy.

Stop Sanctions destroying lives from BrightonAndHoveNews.org.

The Movement to End Sanctions

In recent years, a movement has been building to end the use of illegal economic coercive measures. The movement includes governments coming together in forums like the Non-Aligned Movement, made up of countries that represent 55 percent of the global population, as well as UN member-states calling for international law and the UN Charter to be upheld and social movements organizing to educate about the impact of sanctions and demand an end to their use. This June, the Non-Aligned Movement called for the end of sanctions against Venezuela.

Popular Resistance is working with groups around the world on the Global Appeal for Peace, an initiative to create a worldwide network of people and organizations that will work together to oppose the lawless actions of the United States, and any country that acts similarly. A high priority is opposing the imposition of unilateral coercive economic measures that violate the charter of the United Nations. The UN and its International Court of Justice have been ineffective in holding the US accountable for its actions. No one country or one movement has the power alone to hold the United States accountable, but together we can make a difference. Join this campaign here.

With 39 countries targeted with sanctions, and other countries impacted because they cannot trade with those countries, nations are challenging the US’ dollar domination. Countries are seeking to conduct trade without the dollar and are no longer treating the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency while also avoiding Wall Street. The de-dollarization of the global economy is a boomerang effect that is hastening due to the abuse of sanctions and will seriously weaken the US economy.

Foreign Minister Zarif, who describes sanctions as “economic terrorism,” warned that “the excessive use of economic power by the United States, and the excessive use of the dollar as a weapon in US economic terrorism against other countries, will backfire.”  As the blowback continues to grow, the negative impact on the US economy may force the US to stop using sanctions. The end of dollar domination will add to the demise of the failing US empire.

Take Action: Join the International Days of Action Against  Sanctions
and Economic War
March 13 – 15, 2020

End the Deadly Sanctions banner on the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC. (From the Embassy Defense Collective.)

Time to End the Use of Illegal Economic Sanctions

The combination of countries acting against US sanctions, and people’s movements pressuring the US government has the potential to end the abuse of sanctions. The EU has moved to blunt the impact of the sanctions against Iran by creating an alternative to the US-controlled SWIFT system for trade. This is spurring the end of the dollar as the reserve currency. Some officials in the EU have called for retaliatory sanctions against the US.

Trump left a small opening for potential diplomacy with Iran that could lead to the end of sanctions against that country. Trump bragged about the US being the number one oil and gas producer, taking credit for an Obama climate crime, and therefore no longer needing to spend hundreds of millions a year to have troops in the Middle East. He concluded with a message to the “people and leaders of Iran” that the US was “ready to have peace with all those who seek it.” He said the US wanted Iran to have a “great and prosperous future with other countries of the world.”

That future is only possible if the US moves to end the sanctions against Iran. Iranians have learned the US cannot be trusted. Iran lived up to the requirements of the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but Trump did not when he withdrew from it and re-instated draconian sanctions lifted by Obama. Trump added even move sanctions. This also angered European allies who had negotiated the agreement and were put in the position of being subservient to the US or going against it. To regain Iran’s trust, the US needs to make a good-faith gesture of ending punitive economic measures.

North Korea, which has been sanctioned by the US longer than any other country, had a similar experience after they reached an agreement with the United States in 1994 under the Clinton administration.  The George W. Bush administration wanted to put in place a national missile defense system but the agreement with North Korea blocked that. John Bolton and Dick Cheney falsely accused North Korea of violating the agreement, increased sanctions against it and claimed it was part of the Axis of Evil, along with Iran, and Iraq. North Korea, like Iran, learned they cannot trust the United States. Sanctions are causing thousands of deaths in North Korea. Now, China and Russia are allied with North Korea and are urging relief from the US sanctions. Russia and China have also ignored US sanctions against Venezuela and continue to do business with it.

On December 17, the Senate passed a Sanctions Bill that put in place sanctions against corporations working with Russia to develop gas pipelines to Europe. The action is naked US imperialism seeking to prevent Russia from being the main natural gas exporter to the EU market and to replace it with more expensive US-produced gas, a move to save the financially-underwater US fracking industry. Russia, Germany, and others have defiantly told Washington its weaponizing of economic sanctions will not halt the gas pipeline construction.

The indiscriminate, illegal and immoral use of sanctions is an act of war. Unless they are authorized by the United Nations, unilateral coercive measures are illegal. A critical objective of the peace and justice movement in the United States, working with allies around the world, must be to end this terrorist economic warfare. The US economy currently depends on financial hegemony and war. The slow, steady collapse of the dollarized economy means the 2020s will be the decade US domination comes to an end. The US must learn to be a cooperative member of the global community or risk this isolation and retaliation.

Iraq:  Why Doesn’t the US Move Out Despite the Iraqi Parliament’s Decision?

Why doesn’t the U.S. respect the decision made by the Iraqi Parliament and move out of Iraqi territory? The short answer is, because the US doesn’t respect anybody’s – any country’s – decision or sovereignty, as long as it doesn’t meet their objectives.

Now, the US is steadfast and will not leave the region. Already President Assad has requested that the US leave Syrian territory. They didn’t. The stakes are too immense for the US. It has all to do with their move towards world hegemony by territory and by finance – meaning by the US dollar.

The conflict with Iran is not over by any means. We are just experiencing a respite for regrouping and subsequently continuing and escalating the conflict. US bases in Iraq and military presence, at present more than 5,000 troops, are the most convenient means of force against Iran.

Other than controlling the rich and highly strategic territory of the Middle-East as an important step towards world hegemony, the US continuous presence in the region also has to do with profits for the war industry and with the price and control of hydrocarbons, especially gas.

We have seen, soon after the cowardly murder of General Qassem Suleimani, the share values of the war industry jump up, of course, in anticipation of a hot war and huge weapons sales. The war industry profits insanely from killing. Wars and conflicts are increasingly what drives the western economies. Already in the US the war industry and related industries and services make up for about half of the country’s GDP. The US economy without war is unthinkable. Therefore, the Middle-East is a perfect eternal battle ground – a sine qua non for the west. War is addictive. The western economy is already addicted to it. But most people haven’t realized that – yet. Revolving and renewed conflicts and wars is a must. Imagine, if the US were to leave the Middle-East, PEACE might break out. This is not admissible. Soon, your job may depend on war — if you live in the west.

Then there is the Iranian gas. Daily 20% to 25% of all the energy consumed to drive the world’s economy – including wars – transits through the Golf of Hormuz which is controlled by Iran. Immediately after the heinous murder on General Suleimani, the oil and gas prices spiked by about 4%, later declining again. This, in anticipation of a major conflict which could have Iran reduce her gas production, or block the passage of Hormuz. In either case a collapse of the world economy could not be excluded.

As a parenthesis – it is so absolutely necessary that the world frees itself from this nefarious source of energy – hydrocarbons – and converts to other, cheaper, cleaner and FREER sources of power to drive our industries and activities. Like solar energy of which Mother Earth receives every day more than 10,000 times what it needs for all her industrial and creative activities on every Continent.

The US, with a flailing multi-trillion fracking industry which just failed the European market, due Russian gas via Nord Stream2, and just inaugurated Turkstream, would like to control the price of hydrocarbon, so as to revive the highly indebted fracking industry. What better way than to control Iran, and her enormous reserves of gas, shared with Qatar?

Then there is the close alliance between Iran and China — China being Iran’s largest customer of gas. China is perceived by Washington as a deadly competitor, and barring her from the energy that makes China’s economy thrive, is one of those devilish objectives of the United States. They are unable to compete on an even playing field. Cheating, lying and manipulating has become part of their, and the western, life style. It is deeply ingrained in western history and culture.

Of,course, there are other ways of supplying China with the hydrocarbons she needs. Russia, with the world’s largest gas reserves, could easily increase her supplies.

In brief, the US is unlikely to leave the Middle-East, although some generals – and even some high-ranking Pentagon brass – believe this would be the smartest thing to do. They see the light, and the light is not war, but PEACE.

What could Iraq do to get the US out of Iraq and eventually out of the Region? After all, the Iraqi Parliament has taken a majority decision to regain Iraq’s sovereignty and autonomy, without foreign troops. Most countries with troops stationed in Iraq respect that decision. Denmark, Australia, Poland and Germany are preparing to move their troops out of Iraq. Only the UK with her 800 military men and women decided for now to stay alongside the US.

Iraq may want to strengthened her alliance with Russia and China, hereby increasing the pressure on the US to honor Iraq’s sovereign request for the US to leave. How much that would take to materialize, if at all, is a difficult question to answer. Maybe ‘never’. Except, if the US-dollar hegemony over western economies can be broken. And at the moment, a strong down-turn of the dollar’s role in the world economy is showing, as the western world is increasingly seeking ways to de-dollarize her economy and to associate with the East, led by China and Russia, where de-dollarization is advancing rapidly.

When that happens, chances are that the US of A’s dictates over the nations of the world will be mute, will not be listened to anymore, and that Washington will have to rethink its future, and very likely a US presence in the Middle-East will be history.

And We Allow this Madness to Continue

Try as I did, I found it impossible to send New Year’s greetings to friends in Iraq given the unthinkable and shameless actions of Trump and his regime in the last weeks. His decision to assassinate Iranian Major General Qasim Soleimani at the Baghdad airport led to the Iraqi Parliament voting to expel all foreign troops from Iraq. Trump’s quick response to that was “If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

In 1996,Voices in the Wilderness began visiting Iraq in defiance of the economic sanctions. The campaign bore witness to the crippling effect of US sanctions imposed on Iraq after the first Gulf war. Over thirteen years, approximately seventy delegations traveled to Iraq, enabling us to build lasting relationships with Iraqis.

Trump’s threats a few days ago to put sanctions on Iraq, “sanctions that would make Iran sanctions seem tame,” can only be called blasphemous.

This morning I am reading from a communication I wrote on November 8, 2002 from Baghdad :

Together with others in the Iraq Peace Team, I was invited to the home of a Muslim woman (well known to Kathy Kelly) who had gathered some of her friends to meet with us…While apologizing for seeming rude, the hostess asked us pointedly ‘Why are you here and not in your own country speaking to your president, to your own government?….How is it possible that you are allowing them to do this?  What right does your president have to attack us, to ruin our country?’ With tears in her eyes, she asked,‘Where is your Christianity? We loved your Christianity.’

Her impassioned call to us, and that of the other Iraqi guests present, was ‘You need to see to your own house!’ A hard message we all need to hear again and again. God knows, we have attempted to reach the US media and government through demonstrations, vigils, fasts and acts of civil disobedience as well as letters and phone calls…. We can no longer afford to be silent; our silence has now indeed become complicity.  We must find ways to counter this madness.

This was written just a few months before the US-led invasion of Iraq. I was in Baghdad with The Iraq Peace team,  launched by Voices in  the Wilderness as war against Iraq seemed more and more imminent. We intended, in the event of war, to live alongside ordinary Iraqi people, believing that all life is precious and valuable.  Some of us remained in Baghdad throughout  the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign.

Just two days ago on a bus returning from Philadelphia to New York city (I go weekly to be with my 94-year-old mother), I was finally able to compose a letter to two trusted and long-time friends in Baghdad.

I explained how wordless I had felt, at the beginning of the New Year. I said I felt horrified by recent US bombings and the assassination of Gen. Soleimani. Trump’s threats (even of imposing crueler sanctions on Iraq) were too shameful to repeat. And, I said, we allow this madness to continue!  I pictured them trying to carry out their daily work and could only pray for their strength, stamina and renewed spirits.

Yesterday one of these friends replied:

Dear Cathy,

Thanks so much for your warm words, happy New year for you and family, may God bless you by keeping your mother longer in good health.

As you said the words failed us, as we are passing very hard threatening time without knowing the reason for being the target of world politics over the last 4 decades with end result of complete collapse on all levels and the most important is moral damage of people with loss of hope, helplessness and frustration.

We need the support of all good will people in the world as we are simply human beings like them.

Adra and her 5-year-old son Atarid in hospital. Atarid suffered from cancer. He died on the 3rd day of the United States Shock and Awe bombing. (Photo credit: Cathy Breen,  March 2003.)

Reckless US Actions Fire Up The Antiwar Movement

The reckless and dangerous act of war committed by Donald Trump and the Pentagon in killing Major General Qasem Soleimani of Iran and the Iraqi leader of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, has brought the conflict in the Middle East (aka West Asia) to a new level. The conflagration of war is growing with the United States making this direct attack on a top Iranian official in violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

As expected, the corporate media and many politicians are spreading lies to justify the murders and further aggression towards Iran. It is important for us to understand the facts so we can respond to this misinformation and avoid being lied into yet another war.

Fortunately, there was a rapid response in the United States with actions in more than 82 cities in 38 states involving tens of thousands of people to protest more war on Iran. [See our message to Iran here.] It is imperative, and the ingredients are in place for it, that the antiwar movement grows exponentially very quickly and becomes a major force in 2020. The combination of opposition to never-ending, always-expanding wars, hatred of Donald Trump, the 2020 election year and pent up frustration over massive military spending can create a movement more dangerous to Trump than the toothless Democratic Party impeachment.

January 4 march in Washington, DC. Shawn Thew/EPA/EFE.

The Assassination of Soleimani was Based on Falsehoods

As expected, corporate media in the US is pushing lies to rationalize the crimes committed by the US. In reality, the justifications used by the US for the assassination were false. The primary claim used to justify the attack is that Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on US forces. In fact, Moon of Alabama reports that Soleimani was not planing any “imminent attacks” on the US or its interests in Iraq. In no way was Soleimani a legitimate target for a US attack.

Moon of Alabama writes:

The Quds force [which Soleimani led] is the external arm of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Soleimani was responsible for all relations between Iran and political and militant movements outside of Iran…. He was the man responsible for, and successful in, defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In 2015, Soleimani traveled to Moscow and convinced Russia to intervene in Syria. His support for the Houthi in Yemen enabled them to withstand the Saudi attackers.

In all these instances, Soleimani was standing up against US imperialism. These actions made him a target of the US military establishment and a hero in Iran and allied nations.

There have been vague claims that Soleimani killed a US contractor, but this is in doubt. As Scott Ritter writes:

There are several problems with this narrative, first and foremost being that the bases bombed were reportedly more than 500 kilometers removed from the military base where the civilian contractor had been killed. The Iraqi units housed at the bombed facilities, including Khaitab Hezbollah, were engaged, reportedly, in active combat operations against ISIS remnants operating in both Iraq and Syria. This calls into question whether they would be involved in an attack against an American target. In fact, given the recent resurgence of ISIS, it is entirely possible that ISIS was responsible for the attack on the U.S. base, creating a scenario where the U.S. served as the de facto air force for ISIS by striking Iraqi forces engaged in anti-ISIS combat operations.

Following the alleged killing of this unnamed US contractor, the US military bombed members of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) killing dozens and wounding about 50 people. In response to this outrageous action – imagine a Chinese contractor being killed in the US and China responds by bombing our domestic military bases – Iraqis stormed the US Embassy in Baghdad. The assassination of Soleimani was apparently in response to the protests at the embassy.

Prior to these events, Iraqis had been protesting their government and were divided over the US and Iran’s involvement in the country. However, now the country is united against the United States and the Parliament voted to expel the US from the country. Before that vote, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi told the Parliament he was scheduled to meet with Soleimani a day after his arrival to receive a letter from Iran in response to a de-escalation offer Saudi Arabia had made. The US assassinated Soleimani shortly after his arrival at the Baghdad civilian airport and before the letter could be delivered.

Iranians march in the southwestern city of Ahvaz to pay homage to top general Qassem Soleimani (Hossein Mersadi/fars news)

The Fallout

The United States has been waging a war of “maximum pressure” on Iran throughout the past year to no avail. Iran has been measured in its responses to the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, increased illegal unilateral coercive measures (aka sanctions), threats of attack and false accusations against Iran. This assassination is a new level of criminality and recklessness. General Soleimani was loved and revered in Iran and throughout the region. Since his murder, Iranians and Iraqis have poured into the streets to mourn him and al-Muhandis and to call for action.

Iran has promised, “forceful revenge” but Iran is not seeking a war with the US. Unlike the US’ action, which doesn’t seem to be thought through, Iran will be deliberate to achieve strategic objectives. While rapid escalation is possible, more likely is a long-term careful response by Iran. An asymmetrical response, which is the strategy put in place by Soleimani, is the most likely. Iran’s control of the Strait of Hormuz, where one-third of the world’s oil passes, could choke the world’s oil supply resulting in increased prices that risk a recession in the US and globally. Already, oil prices are rising.

Iran can act diplomatically to further isolate the United States. Scott Ritter writes:

The diplomatic missions Suleimani may have been undertaking at the time of his death centered on gaining regional support for pressuring the United States to withdraw from both Syria and Iraq. Of the two, Iraq was, and is, the highest priority, if for no other reason that there can be no sustained US military presence in Syria without the existence of a major US military presence in Iraq.

The 16,000 people working at the massive US embassy in Baghdad could also be forced out of Iraq. Muqtada al-Sadr has already said in a letter that Iraq should go further and shut down the US embassy. The State Department has ordered all US citizens to leave Iraq.

Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, Iran’s former defense minister and current military adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei, says Iran is not seeking war with the United States and will only target military sites. There are also military targets in the region that could be attacked by Iranian allies including those of the US and its allies such as Israel.  General Gholamali Abuhamzeh, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, said: “Some 35 US targets in the region, as well as Tel Aviv, are within our reach.”

An escalation of the situation could occur no matter what Iran does because of actions by the United States. Yesterday, President Trump was threatening to bomb 52 targets in Iran, including historic sites. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote in response that “Targeting cultural sites is a WAR CRIME.” Zarif sent letters to both the UN Security Council and the UN to condemn the US’ actions. 

The US announced it is sending 3,500 more troops from the 82nd Airborne Division to Iraq, adding to the 5,000 already there, at the same time that the Iraqi Parliament, Premier, and Prime Minister have called for the US to leave Iraq. The US will either leave voluntarily or it will remain as an illegal occupying force. And Iran just announced that it is leaving the nuclear agreement. Although Iran has not stated an intention of building nuclear weapons, leaving the agreement opens that door.

US Out of Iraq

Iran’s first goal of removing the US from Iraq, Syria and the Middle East was advanced on Sunday when the Iraqi Parliament voted to expel the US military from the country. Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi described the murders as “a political assassination” and urged “for the sake of our national sovereignty” that Iraq establish a timetable for the exit of US troops.

Shia PMU groups have already declared they will do whatever they can to evict the US military from Iraqi soil. The US killed their leaders and comrades so they will take action independent of Iran. Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shia cleric who commands millions of followers in Iraq, has given orders to reactivate his military to force the US out. Millions of people in Iraq joined processions remembering Soleimani and al-Muhandis. These Iraqis will be ready to take action to force the US to leave if the US does not abide by the Iraqi government’s request.

An unfortunate outcome of the US’ actions is that not only have very effective leaders in the fight against ISIS been killed, but the Iraqi PMU is now diverting its efforts away from stopping ISIS to focus on US troops. This is one more reason why the US needs to leave Iraq, and ideally the whole Middle East. US foreign policy over the past decades has brought instability to the region and made the world more insecure. It’s time for people in the United States to increase our calls for the US to get out of Iraq and the whole Middle East.

Anti-war activists march in Washington DC on Jan 4 in reaction to Trump’s assassination of General Soleimani and commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes.

Our Next Steps

The mobilizations across the country yesterday were large and energetic. Many youth and new faces showed up. The messages were clear about opposition to more war on Iran and sanctions, demanding the US get out of the Middle East and calling out the bipartisan war machine. The root causes of capitalism and imperialism were also condemned. In 2020, we can build a people’s peace movement that cannot be ignored.

Congress returns to Washington, DC on Tuesday. We need to send a clear message upon their return that there must not be any more aggression on Iran and that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force must be repealed immediately. Click here to call Congress. You can also call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. We need to pressure all members of Congress and candidates to speak out against the war on Iran.

We will also need to continue educating ourselves and members of our communities to counter the lies being told in the media. All wars are based on lies and we must be able to recognize them when we hear them. Sharing articles on social media, writing letters to the editor and holding teach-ins and public forums in your communities can counter the corporate media claims.

And we will need to continue to protest in the streets. There will be more calls for days of action, but you can also organize your own. Find a highly-trafficked location such as a transit center or a public square and hold regular vigils to show your opposition. Hold a protest at your member of Congress’ office. If you are more ambitious, you can organize disruptive actions. Have a sit-in at your local weapons producer’s office, for example.

These reckless actions by the US military create dangerous and uncertain times, but it is also an opportunity to demand significant changes to US foreign policy. The US is losing imperial power and cannot continue to be a bully that violates international law. It is time to transform from domination to being a cooperative member of the world community. It is time to put in place a peace economy that creates economic security at home and abroad. The US is a young nation that has much to learn from more mature civilizations like Iran if we can only stop misbehaving long enough to listen.

Iran’s Hero has Fallen and Now the World is an Even More Dangerous Place

They say he came from a humble background, and worked himself up the ranks, becoming, as many believe, the second most powerful man in Iran. They say he had the chance to become the next Supreme Leader of the country.

Whenever I visit Iran, I am told how much he is loved by his people. He became the symbol of resistance against the West; the symbol of the strength and dignity of the nation which was attacked, colonized and starved by several Western capitals.

And now, Iran’s Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani is no more. And the U.S. Commander-in-Chief, Donald Trump, is proudly claiming responsibility for his demise.

The statement from the Pentagon came promptly, and it was clear:

At the direction of the president, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani… This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans. The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and interests wherever they are around the world.

Defensive action…

Almost immediately, RT and others asked me to analyze.

I could not help but to define what was done at the airport outside Baghdad, Iraq, as a vulgar and brutal extra-judicial killing.

*****

For the last two months, I have been flying all over the world, writing about (and filming) all those horrors that the Empire unleashed against the people with different cultures, living in various parts of the world.

The Middle East, China, Latin America.

It appears that all boundaries have been crossed. Washington and its NATO allies have lost all restraint, shame and decency. They actually never had much of those, but now they have almost none.

Everything appears to be primitive, as in a badly directed mafia film. If the rulers of the West do not like some country? In that case they simply attack it, starve and destroy it. As brutal as that. No U.N. Security Council mediations, no arguments, and no pretending that there should be some legal process.

It has been happening to Hong Kong, to Bolivia, Venezuela and West Papua. It has also been happening to Iran, as well as China and Russia, although those countries have proven to be much tougher to eliminate than Washington’s planners originally thought.

The same applies to individuals: people get murdered without second thought, some quickly, some very slowly and painfully. Julian Assange is one of them, being slowly tortured to death in front of the entire world, despite legal and medical experts protesting and demanding his release.

The killing of Qasem Soleimani and others in Baghdad was quick and totally unexpected.

The facial expressions of U.S. officials were absolutely shocking: as if mafia bosses were caught in a corner of some filthy den by a bunch of amateur journalists. Unapologetically, they grinned at the lenses, suggesting: “So what? What are you going to do now? Challenge us? Us? We’ll break your legs, or something…”

And nobody, absolutely nobody, really dares to challenge them! Not yet. Not at this moment.

It is one tested, bulletproof game. You destroy an entire country, or you kill a person, and then you show your piece; your well-maintained revolver, or two. You expose your guns and ugly row of teeth. You say, or you suggest without pronouncing it: “You have a wife, and two daughters back home, don’t you? You don’t want anything to happen to them, right?”

It is on that level now. It is not any better than that, don’t you see?

If you defend yourself – you die; your family dies. Or your family members get violated. Or both.

You like it? You don’t like it? You absolutely detested it? Who cares! The Empire has guns. It is all it has. The ability to kill and to rape. It has become dumb, degenerate. It produces hardly anything of value. But it has millions of weapons, as well as a monstrous propaganda machine.

*****

Now, seriously: what can Iran do? What can a nation with thousands of years of culture do?

Can it defend itself? Honestly, if you think it can, then say it: how?

If it retaliates, it could be erased from the face of the earth. If it doesn’t do anything, it will lose face, self-respect, as well as the purpose to continue with its struggle for true independence and its unique form of socialism.

For years and decades, Iran has been a thorn in the eye of the West. Its allies have fought against Western-injected terrorism in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Iranian ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah, has been defending the country against Israeli invasions, while providing social support to poor and needy citizens. Iran has been giving jobs and temporary shelter to many Afghan citizens, particularly those from Herat, people who have absolutely nothing left after the horrendous U.S./NATO occupation of the country. I worked in Afghanistan, and I saw tremendous lines in front of the Iranian consulate in Herat. Iran has even been deeply involved in Latin America, helping, building social housing in Venezuela, Evo’s Bolivia, and elsewhere.

And now, recently, it began moving closer and closer to two of Washington’s arch enemies: China and Russia.

Therefore, it has been decided in the annals of Washington and the Pentagon: Iran has to be stopped; destroyed. At any price. Meaning, any price which would have to be paid by the Iranian citizens.

*****

I am convinced that this madness has to be stopped.

For Iran’s sake.

But also, because, if Iran is ruined, destroyed like Iraq, Libya or Afghanistan, someone will be next. First, most likely, Venezuela, and then Cuba. But then, perhaps, most likely, Russia or China, or both.

The Empire will not stop by itself.

If not opposed, it will get more and more emboldened.

It is a tremendous mistake to let it literally ‘get away with a murder’.

Today, a brave Iranian General has been murdered. Washington is smiling provocatively, cynically.

It is sending vibes to all corners of the world: “Stay on your couches in front of television sets. Be petrified. Do nothing. Or else!”

Yes, the world is scared. There are reasons to be scared. But the world simply has to act. These brutal, cowardly acts of degeneracy and fundamentalism/fanaticism committed by the Empire have to be stopped, sooner or later, in the name of our human race. Otherwise, soon, there will be no humanity left!

First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook – a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences, under the same title

Sheep-dogging on Steroids: The New Democratic Party Anti-War Activists

In the cynical spectacle that is called politics in the United States, the latest insult to the intelligence of the people is the Democrats who are posturing as Anti-war champions in reaction to the Trump Administration’s assassination of Qassem Soleimani and the possibility of further attacks on Iran.

We are supposed to buy that the Democrats are concerned about war with Iran. The same Democrats who opposed de-escalation with North Korea; who blocked any attempt to remove U.S. occupation forces from South Korea; who continue to champion the NATO white supremacist structure; who were silent on Obama’s war on Yemen; who supported the assault on Libya; who  were unmoved by the over 40,000 people who reportedly have died from U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela; and who gave the Trump Administration another obscene increase in military spending.

It is common knowledge that there has always been a bipartisan antipathy to Iran, not because of anything that Iran has done to the U.S., but because of the geopolitics of the so-called Middle East in which the U.S. has sought to dominate. The Democrats had some of the loudest voices supporting confrontation with Iran up until the Obama-Rohani nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that Trump abrogated. That is what makes the Anti-war posture of the Democrats – even the progressive ones – so incredible.

Therefore, since it is clear that the Democrats didn’t have any less of an appetite for war and global U.S. dominance than the Republicans, how should we understand this newly discovered “anti-warism”?

The Opposition is anti-Trump, not Anti-war!

Nancy Pelosi correctly understood that the politics of impeachment was a dead-end that would only result in satisfying the Democratic base but held out very little prospects for the longer-term strategy of defeating Trump in November 2020. She understood that politically the Democrats had gotten all they could from the Russiagate silliness when they reclaimed the majority in the House of Representatives.

But an essential element of the Democratic party messaging leading up to the mid-term vote in 2018 was the implication that with a Democratic majority in the House the primary item on the party’s agenda would be the impeachment of Donald Trump.  When that majority was achieved, Pelosi and the party establishment found themselves under tremendous pressure to find a way to impeachment. All their eggs for impeachment were in the Mueller report basket that had been held until after the mid-term election.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, the report, like Mueller himself, was a flop.  The report failed to ignite a groundswell of impeachment fever beyond the increasingly irrational demands from the liberal base of the party.  However, one of the unforeseen results of the 2018 mid-term for Pelosi and centrist Democrats was the emergence of a group of “progressives” who wouldn’t let the impeachment ploy fade away.

Consequently, Ukraine-gate became the issue for the foregone conclusion that there would be an impeachment. Pelosi and House leadership delivered on impeachment knowing that there would be no removal by the Senate. They could, however, claim that they met their supposed Constitutional duty, but importantly, their political imperative to impeach.  The second act of this diversionary drama was scheduled to begin when the Congress came back into session in January – that is, before the current crisis with the possibility of war with Iran.

War with Iran: Everyone wins!

Pelosi wins because she delivered on impeachment and can now switch tactics and allow the progressives to take the lead with the new messaging that Trump’s recklessness and unfitness for office is now threatening the possibility of a new war. The hawks in the U.S. foreign policy community win. Those elements have always wanted a conflict with Iran and believed that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to limit Iran’s nuclear capacity was a mistake.

Liberals win. Even though the more rational ones knew Trump was not going to be removed by the Senate, the developing crisis with Iran allows them to exploit the issue of a possible war with Iran to drive home the idea that Trump is a threat to global peace and should not be trusted with a second term. Trump wins. Iran shifted the focus from the impeachment trial in the Senate and the possibility, as remote as that might have been, that “new” information might flip the requisite number of republican senators to vote with democrats to remove him.  Moreover, if the situation with Iran doesn’t escalate out of control, he can claim this as another victory for a muscle assertion of U.S. power and strong leadership. The U.S. state wins with the possibility that Iran will be obliterated and with it Chinese interests harmed with the cut-off of oil but also with the disruption of shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.

The only elements that don’t win are the working class soldiers of the U.S. military who will be put in harm’s way for yet another war of choice, and the many thousands of innocents in Iran who may have their lives snuffed out by this crazed rogue state. But who cares about either of those elements?

There is a growing war-weariness that Trump understood and tapped into during his campaign. Trump never claimed to be Anti-war or pro-peace. However, being an anti-globalist, “pro-American,” white nationalist, he understood the sentiments and orientation of his base who had grown tied of sending their sons and, now daughters, off on multiple deployments to fight for what they saw as an elite agenda of never ending wars for the “liberal bankers” (his base understood that coded reference).

That same war-weariness existed in the working class base of democrat party voters also with some 79% of Democrats supporting a general roll-back in U.S. foreign commitments, but the pro-imperialist elitists in the party could not recognize that position and speak to it from a progressive perspective.

Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, and even the queen of pandering Elizabeth Warren and a few others on the liberal-left of the Democratic party have started to understand the growing importance of U.S. foreign policy issues and specifically the issue of war for the public, even if the corporate press, party establishment, and most of the candidates running for that party’s nomination haven’t given much attention to those subjects.

The progressives are not taking comprehensive Anti-war positions and certainly have not embraced anti-imperialist positions.  Their positions have not deviated that far from the party establishment that continues to take the morally dubious and legally unsupportable position that somehow the U.S. has a right to murder the general of a nation that the U.S. was not at war with if only Trump had consulted with Congress and had thought through all of the consequences of a possible war with Iran.

That is why this party is not the party that is capable of resisting U.S. imperialism.  The rhetoric of the progressives only gives cover to the ongoing criminality of the U.S. state and its commitment to permanent war – with Congressional approval!

The role of these progressives is to keep the people on the Democratic party plantation.  The only countervailing force to U.S. gangsterism are the independently organized working class, nationally oppressed and all marginalized and exploited and oppressed people. This past weekend we saw the beginning of that resistance with demonstrations in close to 80 cities across the country in opposition to the possibility of war with Iran.

As the Black Alliance for Peace stated:

The Trump Administration along with the democrats are united in their objective interests, despite the impeachment charade, to support white power in the form of their imperialist agenda. But they need us – the people – as the cannon fodder and the passive supporters.

Obama was the ultimate sheep dog that not only kept progressives and even radicals on the democrat party plantation but gave a new respectability to U.S. imperialist criminality.  We will not fall for that again, not from the “squad” Sanders or anyone else.

Iran vs. US: The Murder of General Qassem Suleimani

Interestingly, after the US attack on Iraqi Militia fighters on 31 December 2020, and the assassination of General Qassem Suleimani, on 2 January, the first thing President Trump could come up with was bragging that it was him who gave the order to murder the popular military leader. General Qassem Suleimani was the commander of the Iranian special Quds Force. The Quds Force was created during the Iran–Iraq War as a special unit from the broader Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It has the mission of liberating Muslim land, especially al-Quds, from which it takes its name – “Jerusalem Force“, in English.

General Suleimani was killed by a US drone. He was not only the most popular and prominent military officer in Iran, but he was also influential and respected throughout the Middle East. He was chief in training Iraqi forces who eventually defeated ISIS in Iraq within less than a year when the US and NATO estimated it would take at least 3 years. General Suleimani, along with Russia, was also instrumental in training the Syrian armed forces with the objective of defeating ISIS / IS / DEASH in Syria, and they succeeded. This US act of impunity, the General Suleimani killing, was unmistakenly targeted with precision and as such a clear declaration of war on Iran.

Trump expected applause from the public at large. Let’s not forget he is entering the year 2020 of his re-election… that’s what he wants. So, he needs increased popularity and approval ratings. To be reelected, he, like others before him, doesn’t shy away from committing murder or entering a new war, killing millions. That’s what American Presidents do to win elections. That’s what Obama has done. He entered the Presidency with two ongoing US wars – Afghanistan and Iraq – when he left office the US was engaged in seven wars around the globe, in Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq.

Plus, numerous proxy-conflicts, meaning they are fought by mercenaries and / or US trained, funded and armed terrorists; i.e., ISIS / DAESH, Islamic State (IS) and whatever other names the empire gives its agents of terror to confuse the world. And let’s not forget, the algorithmically manipulated regime-change elections in Latin America and Europe, the steady NATO advances with new military bases encircling Russia and China, including the stationing of more than 50% of the US Naval force in the South China Sea.

Most of the US Presidents are elected on the basis of their aggression, planned or ongoing, on how much they are willing to kill around the world and how well they are representing the interests of the US War Industry — and, of course, the Israeli AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). In other words, Americans who go to the polls are duped into believing they are electing a president, when in reality their president had been pre-selected by a small group of elitists, representing the key US interests, the War Industry, Big Finance, Big Oil, Big Pharma – and who else, of course, the State of Israel.

The unarmed Iraqi protests and attack on 31 December on the US Embassy in Baghdad was a response to a US assault on Militia Iraqi forces on 29 December – leaving at least 25 dead and more than 50 wounded.

The US has absolutely no business in Iraq. Not now, not ever – nor in Syria, nor anywhere else in the Middle East – for that matter, outside the frontiers of the United States of America. It’s as simple as that.

And the world, the UN, the UN Security Council should act accordingly.

The boundless US aggression must be stopped.

The world has become used to it and, for the most part, is just silent. The ABNORMAL has become normal. That must be reversed.

Yes, the Iranian Government warned of retaliation. Understandably. However, that is precisely what Washington and the Pentagon wants; that’s what they were provoking, with this assassination of General Suleimani, and earlier with confiscated oil tankers and tanker attacks in the Gulf. The US hawks are just waiting for Iran to retaliate, so they can attack in full force – or ask Israel to attack in full force with US backing, of course.

Knowing how the US is acting around the world with impunity – and especially in the countries they want to dominate – Iran has to count with the worst. So far, Iran has been acting wisely with a lot of restraint, not to risk MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction, in other words, a World War scenario.

A retaliation must be well-thought out – and foremost not be obvious. It must be strategic with long-term impact not the short-term face-saving military act. In the long-term, non-aggression, non-confrontation – the contrary of what Washington is seeking – may prevail. Let the American war hawks continue shadow boxing.

What the Middle East and world is dealing with is a dying beast. That’s what the US empire has become. The beast, in its last breath, is lashing out round itself no matter how many other countries it pulls with it into the abyss, no matter how many people are killed in the process.

What will be the world’s reaction to this open and flagrant murder?  Do not expect much from the US-submissive West, especially the Europeans.

However, Iran can certainly count on Russia and China and on a number of other allies. And in the UN on the more than 120 non-aligned countries that also stand behind Venezuela and Cuba, and now behind Evo Morales.

This is important. These unaligned countries are now in the majority of the UN body of member states. They have to speak out in the Security Council, as well as in the General Assembly. This case of US impunity should be elevated to world attention. Therefore, Iran may want to call a special UN General Assembly Meeting to discuss the case. It would show where the UN stands and would accordingly provide Iran with more leverage on their reaction.

Iran cannot elevate this case high enough on the world stage. So that each and every nation realizes that their own sovereignty is at risk – is every day at risk – of being annihilated by the wannabe World Hegemon, the self-declared Exceptional Nation, US of A.

Only united can this monster be beaten.

Washington is weak, knows no long-term thinking, no long-term strategy – lives off instant gratification. This works for a while, by sheer military force, but not forever.

Russia and China have now far advanced precision weaponry and are allies of Iran.  Short-term thinking may be a suicide mission.

• First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO

Invoke U.N.’s Uniting For Peace Resolution Before Trump Embroils Us In War With Iran

In the early hours of January 3, 2020, the United States military assassinated Iran’s most powerful military commander, General Qasem Soleimani.

Soleimani’s killing, accomplished by means of a drone strike in Baghdad, was done without the authorization of the Iraqi government. It thus constitutes a grave breach of Iraqi sovereignty.

It also constitutes an act of war against the state of Iran. Soleimani was a high-ranking representative of the Iranian government, reputed by many to be the second most powerful official after Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The U.S. government sought to justify Soleimani’s assassination on the basis that Soleimani was allegedly planning one or more “imminent” attacks on Americans.

According, however, to New York Times correspondent Rukmini Callimachi, who consulted with knowledgeable sources within the United States government, the evidence suggesting there was to be an imminent attack on American targets is “razor thin.”

As stated by Agnes Callamard, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions:

Outside the context of active hostilities, the use of drones or other means for targeted killing is almost never likely to be legal.

Ms. Callamard went on to explain that:

To be justified under international human rights law, intentionally lethal or potentially lethal force can only be used where strictly necessary to protect against an imminent threat to life.

Thus, Soleimani’s assassination was not only a grave breach of Iraqi sovereignty and an act of war against Iran, it was also a violation of international human rights law.

Even worse, on January 5, Iraq’s Prime Minister revealed that Trump had called him to ask him to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran with a view to defusing tensions between them and that the U.S. assassinated Soleimani at the very moment when Soleimani was carrying a response to the Saudi initiative.

In response to these shocking revelations, former U.S. Green Party leader Jill Stein tweeted:

Now THIS is grounds for #impeachment – treachery unleashing the unthinkable for Americans & people the world over: Trump asked Iraqi prime minister to mediate with #Iran then assassinated Soleimani – on a mediation mission.

Undeterred by the collapse of his mendacious justification for provoking war with Iran, Trump threatened on January 5 to target Iranian cultural sites – a brazen war crime – if Iran elected to retaliate against his act of war.

Meanwhile, Iran has announced its withdrawal from the Obama-era nuclear deal, referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or “JCPOA.” The JCPOA’s future was already in grave doubt due to the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 and his subsequent imposition of crushing sanctions on Iran — which are destroying Iran’s health infrastructure and causing innocent Iranians to suffer and die.

It is important to recall that, at the time of Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, the International Atomic Energy Agency certified that Iran was in compliance with the deal.

The mere fact that Iran entered into the deal at all was remarkable, given that its arch-nemesis in the region, Israel, possesses the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal and is the only state in the Middle East that refuses to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT).

The United States itself is a party to the NNPT but is flagrantly violating its core provisions by failing to disarm and by ‘modernizing’ its already massive nuclear arsenal.

Thus, American-Israeli demands that Iran be deprived of any and all nuclear weapons is the height of hypocrisy – a hypocrisy almost universally ignored by the Western corporate media.

Trump’s machinations are occurring within an historical context that is also routinely ignored by the Western corporate media.

In 2013, the CIA admitted that, along with British intelligence, it orchestrated a 1953 coup d’état against Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq. The coup, according to declassified documents, was “conceived and approved at the highest levels of government.” Mosaddeq’s ‘crime’ was that he nationalized the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company for the benefit of his own people.

Mosaddeq was supplanted by the murderous, Western-backed Shah of Iran. Subsequent to the Shah’s demise, the United States helped the dictator Saddam Hussein to massacre Iranians with chemical weapons in a savage war that cost an estimated one million Iranian lives.

Toward the end of that war, the U.S. navy shot down an Iranian commercial airliner, killing all of the plane’s 290 civilian passengers.

More recently, Israel has repeatedly violated the sovereignty of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq in order to kill Iranian forces and officials who are in those countries lawfully, at the invitation of their internationally recognized governments.

Despite the appalling historical record of Western abuse of the Iranian people, Iran is routinely treated by Western officials and the corporate media as a diabolical aggressor whose expansionism must be contained at all costs.

None of this is to deny that the Iranian regime has committed severe human rights abuses, but since when did Western ‘leaders’ prioritize human rights? Even as they wax eloquent about the liberation and well-being of the Iranian people (whose economy is being strangled by American sanctions), they are arming to the teeth the monstrous Saudi autocracy. As renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky has observed, the Saudi autocracy “makes Iran look like a virtual paradise.” In 2013, Professor Chomsky denounced Western powers for “torturing” Iran for 60 years, since the 1953 CIA-led coup.

What now?

Unless the world acts quickly, retaliation by Iran, either directly or by means of proxy forces, seems inevitable. After all, how could Iran maintain any credibility as a regional power if it allowed the murder of its top general to go unanswered?

Any such retaliation would almost certainly be met with a deadly escalation by the criminally insane Trump administration, perhaps leading to all-out war.

Iran has called upon the U.N. Security Council to denounce the Trump administration’s “criminal act” and “state terrorism” (both accurate descriptions of Trump’s drone attack on the sovereign territory of Iraq), but Security Council intervention is doomed to failure: the U.S. government would undoubtedly exercise its veto power to block any Security Council action against the United States.

There may be, however, another option.

That option is United Nations General Assembly Resolution 377, known as the “Uniting for Peace” resolution. Adopted in 1950, Resolution 377 provides that, in cases where the Security Council, due to a lack of unanimity amongst its five permanent members, fails to act as required to maintain international peace and security, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately and may issue any recommendations it deems necessary in order to restore international peace and security.

Any such recommendations would not be binding upon United Nations members or the Security Council, but a strong, widely-supported denunciation of America’s latest act of criminal aggression against Iran, coupled with carefully crafted recommendations for defusing the crisis with collective measures, might just be enough to preserve Iran’s credibility as a regional power without obliging Iran to retaliate.

Even the most belligerent actors agree that an all-out war between the United States and Iran and its allies would have dire consequences for the Middle East and, indeed, the entire world.

There is nothing to lose by invoking the Uniting for Peace resolution, and everything to gain by doing so.

• First published at https://dimitrilascaris.org/

The Death of a General

The U.S. military-industrial-congressional triangle (MIC) is comprised of the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Armed Forces; industry, the corporations that sell goods and services to the Pentagon and allied governments; and U.S. Congress, which authorizes funding for the Pentagon to purchase industry’s goods and services. The MIC is insulated. It is entirely removed from the will of the U.S. public; the public elects the congressional side of the triangle, but industry corrupts Congress (via, for example, campaign finance, strategic allocation of manufacturing plants, think tank narratives, and forceful lobbyists), neutralizing the prospects of redress or the attainment of a republic. Last week at Baghdad International Airport, the U.S. military, under the direction of former Raytheon executive (current Secretary of War) Mark Esper, assassinated another human, Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Also killed in the airstrike were members of Kata’ib Hezbollah, a paramilitary organization operating as part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, which are part of the overall Iraqi state security apparatus. This follows U.S. airstrikes against Kata’ib Hezbollah in eastern Syria and Western Iraq on Sunday, December 29. Global citizens add these deaths to the hundreds of thousands who have died in the post-9.11 wars.

U.S. President Donald Trump approved the airstrike against Gen. Soleimani. From George W. Bush through Donald J. Trump, the White House is a premier dealer of goods and services from the U.S. war industry. It sells to allied regimes, like the despotic House of Saud, and facilitates use of such goods and services in wars, hot and cold, against populaces in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The salient, relevant difference between Trump and his recent predecessors is that he approved the airstrike on Gen. Soleimani, while Bush and Obama had rejected such an assassination. The murder of Soleimani must be seen against the backdrop of increased funding and authorities given by Congress to the military and industry sides of the MIC in recent National Defense Authorization Acts. It was only a matter of time until an occupant of the White House approved the airstrike when faced with such immense military-industrial pressure. Though Trump is a brutal tyrant, this airstrike isn’t about him. It is about the military-industrial weight that has captured U.S. government.

The airstrike was carried out using a General Atomics MQ-9 drone, a favorite of the U.S. military and CIA. The Blue Brothers, Neal and Linden who own General Atomics, have made millions of dollars selling such drones to France, the U.K., the U.S., Australia, Spain, and other governments. The Blue Brothers are just two of dozens of high-profile profiteers guiding the war industry (including Marillyn Hewson at Lockheed Martin, Tom Kennedy at Raytheon Technologies, Bill Brown at L3Harris, and Nazzic Keane at SAIC). A variety of ordnance, from General Dynamics bombs to Lockheed Martin & Raytheon missiles, can be launched from General Atomics drones. Thousands have died from this deadly combination. Expensive, seductive, plentiful, and often indiscriminate, drones are the consummate instrument of the MIC élite steering the moribund U.S. Empire.

For years, corporate media, accepting advertising dollars from war corporations and punditry from MIC officials, have hyped Gen. Soleimani as the sly, strategic mastermind of Iran’s Quds Force—always “elite,” never contextualized. Corporate media and the D.C. regime say Gen. Soleimani is a “terrorist.” The MIC abuses the term “terrorist,” contorting it to such an extent that now anyone who pushes back against D.C.’s edicts or hegemony is branded a “terrorist.” Soleimani was a “terrorist” because he supported Hezbollah, a defensively oriented social welfare provider based in Lebanon; opposed Israeli Apartheid; and wielded significant influence in Iraq, a nation the U.S. government invaded and shredded in 2003. The fact that Iranian-backed paramilitary organizations were some of the most successful groups confronting the “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq has been repeatedly withheld from corporate media accounts of Iranian activity.

Girding the assassination of Soleimani are two tricks of the MIC trade: defensive posturing and blaming the enemy no matter the circumstances. U.S. military leadership justified the airstrike by claiming Gen. Soleimani was developing plans to attack U.S. diplomats and military personnel. This has since been exposed as a lie. The MIC regularly frames its attacks, big and small, as defensive operations. Iran is to blame. When undisclosed parties attacked oil tankers in the Persian Gulf during summer, 2019, the MIC blamed Iran. In September, Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for strikes against Saudi oil facilities. The MIC blamed Iran. Unknown parties launched a rocket attack at a U.S. military base near Kirkuk during late-December, killing one U.S. mercenary. The MIC blamed Iran while asserting that Gen. Soleimani was ultimately responsible for previous killings of U.S. military personnel occupying Iraq. MIC logic positions D.C.’s actions as defensive, responding to aggression.

The leadership within the Pentagon that bullies Iran and pushes us all toward war is stacked with civilian officials who made their fortunes at war corporations. These civilian officials—in such imposing posts as Under Secretary for Policy, Under Secretary for Acquisition & Sustainment, and Secretary—will soon return to industry to profit once more, this time from the aggressive policies they recently enacted. But what about the uniformed military leaders? The 3- and 4-star generals and admirals who co-lead the Pentagon will retire shortly and join war corporations as advisers, lobbyists, counselors, vice presidents, and directors. (Some, like Adm. James Stavridis and Gen. John Allen, also enter academia and industry’s think tanks.) The airstrike on Gen. Soleimani serves no strategic or tactical military purpose. Matters of strategy and tactics do not concern current or aspiring war profiteers.

U.S. Congress, which has abstained from its constitutional authority to declare war and enforce peace, played its role well. Senators Lindsey Graham and Ben Sasse issued roaring praise of the airstrike, while, on the other hand, Senators Bernie Sanders and Tom Udall framed the airstrike as “Trump’s dangerous escalation” and “President Trump is bringing our nation to the brink of an illegal war,” respectively. By focusing on the Trump White House, both Sanders and Udall miss the underlying corporate impetus driving the MIC, which will always find new enemies to justify bureaucratic authority, territorial expansion, and massive war budgets (the bulk of which is spent on corporations). Intelligence and White House officials briefed members of the House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees, post-strike, Friday afternoon in a classified setting. (Reminder: war corporations spend millions of dollars annually lobbying and funding the campaigns of officials on these Committees.) Secrecy and compartmentalization prevent the U.S. public from being informed on matters of war and peace, and effectively snuff out another avenue of democratic engagement.

D.C. imposes warzones on disparate peoples, from Colombia to the Sahel to Iraq to the Philippines. Global war is professionally and financially profitable to the élites running the military-industrial-congressional triangle. Iraqi protestors from across the political and sectarian spectra have been calling for Tehran and D.C. to stay out of Iraq’s internal affairs. One day the aforementioned regimes will heed the people’s demands.

The “Great Game” is Afoot: Killing Soleimani Reflects US Desperation in the Middle East

By killing top Iranian military commander, Qasem Soleimani, American and Israeli leaders demonstrated the idiom ‘out of the frying pan into the fire.’

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are both politically and legally embattled – the former has just been impeached and the latter is dogged by an Attorney General indictment and investigation into major corruption cases.

Despairing, out of options and united by a common cause, both leaders were on the lookout for a major disruption – that would situate them in a positive light within their countries’ respective media – and they found it.

The assassination of the Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and commander of its Quds Force, Soleimani, on January 3, along with several Iranian military leaders by a US drone was a testament to the degree of that US and Israeli desperation.

Although there has been no official confirmation or denial of the Israeli role in the US operation, it is only logical to assume indirect or even direct Israeli involvement in the assassination.

Over the last few months, the possibility of a war against Iran has once more gained momentum, topping the agenda of Israel’s foreign policy makers. Politically beleaguered Netanyahu has repeatedly and tirelessly asked his friends in Washington to increase pressure on Teheran.

“Iran is increasing its aggression as we speak,” Netanyahu claimed on December 4, during a meeting with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. “We are actively engaging in countering that aggression.”

One can only assume what “active engagement” from the overtly militant Israeli point of view can possibly mean in this context.

Moreover, the fingerprints of the Israeli intelligence, the Mossad, are unmistakably present in the assassination. It is plausible that the attack at Soleimani’s convoy near the Baghdad International airport was a joint CIA-Mossad operation.

It is well-known that Israel has more experience in targeted assassinations in the region than all Middle Eastern countries combined. It has killed hundreds of Palestinian and Arab activists this way. The assassination of Hezbollah’s top military leader – the movement’s second in command –  Imad Mughniyah in February 2008, in Syria, was only one of numerous such killings.

It is no secret that Israel is itching for a war against Iran. Yet all of Tel Aviv’s efforts have failed to bring about US-led war similar to the Iraq invasion in 2003. The most that Netanyahu could achieve in terms of US support in that regard was a decision by the Trump administration to renege on the US commitment to the international community by withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Treaty in May 2018.

That coveted Israeli war seemed assured when Iran, after various provocations and the slapping by Washington of yet more sanctions, shot down a US unmanned aerial vehicle that, as Iran maintained, violated the country’s airspace, on June 20, 2019.

Even then, the US response fell short of achieving the all-out war that Netanyahu has been so frantically seeking.

But much has happened since then, including a repeat of  Netanyahu’s failure to win a decisive election, thus securing another term in office, compounding the Israeli Prime Minister’s fully justified fear that he could eventually find himself behind bars for operating a massive racket of bribes and misuse of power.

Trump, too, has his own political woes, thus his own reasons to act erratically and irresponsibly. His official impeachment by the US House of Representatives on December 18 was the last of such bad news. He too needed to up the political ante.

If there is one thing that many Democratic and Republican lawmakers have in common is their desire for more Middle East military interventions and to maintain a stronger military presence in the oil and gas-rich region. This was reflected in the near-celebratory tone that  US officials, generals, and media commentators have used following the assassination of the Iranian commander in Baghdad.

Israeli officials too were visibly excited. Immediately following the killing of General Soleimani, Israeli leaders and officials issued statements and tweets in support of the US action.

For his part, Netanyahu declared that “Israel has the right to defend itself. The US has the same right exactly.” “Soleimani,” he added, “is responsible for the deaths of innocent US citizens and many others. He was planning further attacks.”

The last statement in particular, “he was planning further attacks,” points to the obvious joint intelligence and information sharing between Washington and Tel Aviv.

Benny Gantz, mistakenly celebrated for being a “centrist”, was no less militant in his views. When it comes to matters of national security, “there is no coalition and opposition,” he stated.

“The killing of Soleimani is a message to all the head of global terror: on your own heads be it,” the Israeli general, responsible for the death of thousands of innocent Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere, also added.

Iran will certainly respond, not only against American targets but Israeli targets as well, for Teheran is convinced that Israel has played a major role in the operation. The pressing questions are more about the nature and the timing of the Iranian response: How far will Iran go to send even a stronger message back to Washington and Tel Aviv and could Teheran communicate a decisive message without granting Netanyahu his wish of an all-out war between Iran and the United States?

Recent events in Iraq – the mass protests and attempt by unarmed protesters to storm the US embassy in Baghdad on December 31 – were, to some extent, a game changer. Initially, they were understood as an angry response to US airstrikes on an Iranian-backed militia group on Sunday, but the protests had unintended consequences as well, particularly dangerous from a US military and strategic perspective. For the first time since the phony US ‘withdrawal’ from Iraq under the previous administration of Barack Obama in 2012, a new collective understanding began maturing among ordinary Iraqis and their representatives that the US must leave the country for good.

Acting quickly, the US, with palpable Israeli giddiness, assassinated Soleimani to send a clear message to Iraq and Iran that demanding or expecting an American withdrawal is a red line that cannot be crossed – and to the whole Middle East that the evident US retreat from the region will not be duplicated in Iraq.

Soleimani’s assassination was followed by yet more US airstrikes on Iran’s allies in Iraq, as to also emphasize the level of US seriousness and willingness to seek violent confrontation as a matter of course.

While Iran is now weighing in its responses, it must also be aware of the geostrategic consequences of its decisions. An Iranian move against US-Israeli interests would have to be convincing from the point of view of Iran and its allies, yet, again, without engaging in an all-out war.

Either way, Iran’s next move will define the Iranian-US-Israeli relations in the region for years to come and will further intensify the ongoing regional and international “Great Game”, on full display throughout the Middle East.

Soleimani’s assassination could also be understood as a clear message to both Russia and China as well, that the US is prepared to set the whole region on fire, if necessary, in order to maintain its strategic presence and to serve its economic interests – which mostly lie in Iraqi and Arab oil and gas.

This comes at the heel of a joint Russian, Chinese and Iranian naval drill in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman, starting on December 27. The news of the military exercises must have been particularly alarming to the Pentagon, as Iran, which was meant to be isolated and browbeaten, is increasingly becoming a regional access point to the emergent and resurfacing Chinese and Russian military powers respectively.

Soleimani was an Iranian commander, but his massive network and military alliances in the region and beyond made his assassination a powerful message sent by Washington and Tel Aviv that they are ready and unafraid to up their game.

The ball is now in the court of Iran and its allies.

Judging by past experiences, it is likely that Washington will regret assassinating the Iranian general for many years to come.