THE ABSURD TIMES — STILL

War and Twinkie-brain

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on January 3, 2020

THE ABSURD TIMES

By Latuff: Motivation

War and Twinkie-Brain

by

Czar Donic

Hey, I’m tired, ok, got it? Cut it out!

Now Twinkle Toes Trump has assassinated the second most powerful person in Iran, Qasem Soleimani, and the man who did to most, next to Assad, to defeat ISIS. We were not there at the time, but he was. He was popular in Iraq and Iran. As a result of this abject stupidity, Iran will definitely strike back, and it can strike back just about anywhere: Lebanon, Gaza, West Bank, Iraq, Europe, and these are just the launching points. The tragets could be any one of these as well as Israel, Saudi Arabia, that’s right, I forgot Yemen for a moment. So what is the purpose of this?

Why stir up so much shit, shit-for-brains? Well, obviously, it is intended to help divert attention from the Impeachment – nothing like a nice war with American troops getting killed to derail an impeachment. It also is helpful often to call to the public to rally around the flag and re-elect him. It should not be lost that the first thing he tweeted out was photo of the U.S. Flag. Now, you can print it out and rally around it.

If you want to hear about all the points that make this bold, patriotic, and lovely, all you have to do is tune into Fox. Also, Hannity is available on radio as well. And get ready for this: the only sane voice on Fox is now Geraldo who knows some of what is going on.

If you are looking for sane and competent reporters on the air, you have only Arwa Damon of CNN and Robert Engels of NBC. Both are fluent in Arabic as well and know what is going on. Arwa is more perceptive and Richard more analytical. Arwa seems more accurate, but both are at least sufficient.

An ally of Iran is Russia, just in case you wonder. Also, we could have a Depression soon if Twinkle-toes continues on his present path. Anyway, here are a few people who lay out some of the basics:

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The United States has assassinated Iranian commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in a major escalation of the conflict between Iran and the United States, which now threatens to engulf Iraq and the Middle East. President Trump authorized the drone strike that killed Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport and four other people, including a high-level Iraqi militia chief, Thursday night U.S. time, Friday morning in Baghdad. Iran called Soleimani’s assassination an act of “international terrorism.” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, “The U.S. bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.” The Pentagon justified Soleimani’s assassination as a defensive strike, saying the general was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” The Pentagon did not offer evidence of an upcoming planned attack. We get response from Iranian scholar Trita Parsi, who is executive vice president of the Quincy Institute, a new think tank.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The United States has assassinated the Iranian commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in a major escalation of the conflict between Iran and the United States, which now threatens to engulf Iraq and the Middle East. President Trump authorized the drone strike that killed Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport. It killed also four other people, including a high-level Iraqi militia chief. This happened Thursday night U.S. time, Friday morning in Baghdad.

General Soleimani has long been one of the most powerful figures in Iran. He was the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force — Iran’s powerful foreign military force, similar to a combination of the CIA and U.S. Special Forces.

Iran called Soleimani’s assassination an act of “international terrorism.” The Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, quote, “The U.S. bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.” The Pentagon said, quote, “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” The Pentagon did not offer evidence of an upcoming Iranian planned attack.

After the assassination, President Trump tweeted from Mar-a-Lago, where he is golfing, in Florida, at his resort. He tweeted an image of an American flag.

Democratic lawmakers slammed the assassination as unconstitutional, as Trump did not have congressional authority to carry out the strike. Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy tweeted, “Did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?”

Both Presidents Obama and George W. Bush had rejected the idea of killing Soleimani, out of fears it would lead to outright war between the U.S. and Iran. This is Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaking after the assassination.

AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI: [translated] If the Islamic Republic decides to challenge and fight a country, it will do so unequivocally. We are strongly committed to our country’s interests and our peace. We are strongly committed to the dignity of our country. We are strongly committed to the progress and greatness of our country. And if anyone threatens that, we will, without any hesitation, confront it and strike it.

AMY GOODMAN: The targeted assassination came after members of an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia and its supporters attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and set fire to a gatehouse, in response to a slew of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that killed two dozen members of the Iranian-backed Iraqi militia Kata’ib Hezbollah. These strikes were in retaliation for the killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack in Kirkuk, Iraq, a week ago. The head of Kata’ib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was also killed in the drone strike.

The New York Times reports General Soleimani had flown into Baghdad from Syria in order to urge Iranian-backed militias in Iraq to do more to stop the wave of anti-Iran protests that have swept Iraq in recent months. The militias are already accused of killing and disappearing protesters and human rights activists.

The Pentagon has sent more than 14,000 U.S. troops to the region since May. The U.S. is now warning American civilians to leave Iraq immediately.

The attack has sparked fear and alarm in Iraq and across the world. France’s deputy minister for foreign affairs said this morning, “We are waking up in a more dangerous world,” unquote. Tensions between the United States and Iran have been escalating since President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the landmark Iran nuclear deal and imposed crushing economic sanctions on Iran. In response to the assassination, protests are planned Saturday in at least 30 cities across the U.S. as part of a National Day of Action: U.S. Troops Out of Iraq.

Well, for more, we’re going to begin in Washington, D.C., with Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the new think tank, the Quincy Institute. His most recent book, Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy, he’s also the author of A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Trita Parsi.

TRITA PARSI: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to the assassination of Soleimani?

TRITA PARSI: I think a couple of former Obama officials on TV yesterday put it best when they said that this is an act of war. And it’s an act of war that took place without any consultation with Congress, any approval from Congress, any authorization from Congress. It’s fascinating to see that the last couple of days Pompeo has been spending a lot of time talking to the foreign ministers and the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel, and not until today did he actually start making phone calls to the Europeans and others.

So, this is something that is going to be a major point of escalation. It’s a decision that I think ultimately has made America less, rather than more, safe. I think that’s clear from the decision by the State Department today to urge all Americans to immediately leave Iraq. Rather than ending these endless wars, that Trump promised his base that he would do, he is sending more troops to the Middle East, he is doing things that is further destabilizing the Middle East, and that will probably trap American servicemen and women in the Middle East for a longer period of time.

AMY GOODMAN: John Bolton, the former national security adviser, tweeted, “Congratulations to all involved in eliminating Qassem Soleimani. Long in the making, this was a decisive blow against Iran’s malign Quds Force activities worldwide. Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran.” Trita Parsi?

TRITA PARSI: So, it’s clear now that even without John Bolton in the White House, Trump has surrounded himself with so many neoconservatives, or people who are very close in their thinking to the neoconservatives, that he is continuously getting advice that is very similar to the advice that the Bush administration was given went it came to the invasion of Iraq. And Bolton has for long urged not only war with Iran, but regime change in Iran, and has been pushing the United States to go in that direction. And I think part of the reason why many of these war hawks are celebrating on Twitter today is not because they think that this actually was a decisive blow to Iran or a decisive blow to the IRGC; I think it’s because they view this as a point of irreversible escalation. After this, there can only be more escalation and, ultimately, war. And that’s what they’re celebrating.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Trita, because I know you have to leave — this is such a significant day today here in the United States, in Iraq and all over the world — if you could explain: Who is Soleimani?

TRITA PARSI: So, Soleimani is head of the Quds Force, which is the external arm of the IRGC. IRGC itself has a tremendous amount of problems inside of Iran, because we’ve seen how they have been involved in the repression of the Iranian people. We’ve seen that just in the last couple of weeks. But Soleimani was head of its external activities. And as a result, he was receiving — he had an image that was separate from that of the IRGC. Polls made by U.S. entities have shown that he had popularity levels around 70% inside of Iran, which is largely because a large part of that population viewed him as a key reason as to why ISIS was defeated, a key reason as to why that type of a radicalism and terrorism did not reach Iran. So, this is not going to be something, I think, that will hurt the regime. On the contrary, I think they will utilize this in order to be able to consolidate their power and, on top of that, move the Iranian government in a much more repressive, as well as hawkish, direction than it was before.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, of course, the U.S. is calling him a terrorist; Iran, a hero. Talk about Soleimani’s significance around the world and the fact that both Obama, who you’ve written extensively about, and George W. Bush, though they too had the opportunity, did not assassinate him.

TRITA PARSI: Because they recognized that that would be such a major escalation that it likely would lead to war. It doesn’t mean that they, in any way, shape or form, had a positive view of Soleimani, but they did recognize, I think, that he is revered in corners in the Middle East that may be outside of the control of Iran. And as a result, even if the Trump administration and the government of Iran would end up in a scenario in which both of them would like to de-escalate the situation, they may not be able to do so, because they may not be able to control other entities that will seek to take revenge for Soleimani’s assassination by killing Americans. And as a result, their ability to put out this fire may be much, much more limited. I think the Bush administration and the Obama administration recognized this and, as a result, chose not to go in this direction, because they recognized how uncontrollable the situation would be.

AMY GOODMAN: Trita Parsi, we want to thank you so much for being with us, executive vice president of the new antiwar think tank, the Quincy Institute. Trita’s latest book is titled Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy, also author of A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran. He is an Iranian-American author and scholar.

I want to turn now to Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, correspondent for The Guardian newspaper, joining us via Democracy Now! video stream from Istanbul, Turkey. Ghaith, we talked to you yesterday about the protests in Iraq. This was right before the assassination of Soleimani. If you can describe the significance in your country, in Iraq? What does this mean? The U.S. assassination of Soleimani occurred at the Baghdad airport.

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: [inaudible]

AMY GOODMAN: Ghaith, we have to go to a break because we’re not quite hearing you, and then we’re going to come back to you. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, correspondent for The Guardian newspaper. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back with him in a minute.

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We continue our discussion of the U.S. assassination of Iranian commander Major General Qassem Soleimani with Democratic Congressmember Ro Khanna of California. Khanna says he believes the assassination was planned for some time and that Congress has failed to hold the Trump administration accountable. “I believe that the president’s policies are putting us in tremendous danger, and the motives are almost not relevant. What’s relevant is that he acted in a way that’s unconstitutional,” Khanna says.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue on this day after the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian commander, major general, number two almost in Iran, a major escalation of the conflict between Iran and the United States, which now threatens to engulf Iraq and the Middle East. We are going to Ro Khanna, who is the Democratic congressmember from Silicon Valley in California, member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Your response, as you join us by telephone, to what has just taken place, Congressmember Khanna?

REP. RO KHANNA: Amy, this is what many of us feared. As you know, I had an amendment in the National Defense Authorization that would have prevented Iran from having — any offensive attack against Iran and any funding for that attack. That amendment was stripped from the final bill at the Pentagon’s insistence. My belief is that the Pentagon has had this kind of activity in the works and planned for a while, and they have not come to Congress. But the tragedy is that Congress has not insisted on having that authorization.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, explain. Explain what has just happened. You, along with Senator Bernie Sanders, fiercely condemned the bipartisan passage of the Pentagon spending bill, the overall spending bill. Why do you believe this allowed for the assassination?

REP. RO KHANNA: There was an amendment in that bipartisan bill, that had passed the House of Representatives, that would have prevented the Congress from authorizing any funding for an offensive strike against Iran, including any Iranian official. That clear language was saying that the president, the Pentagon had to come to Congress before taking any offensive action. This is clearly an offensive action. It may be an action of retaliation, but it’s an offensive action. It’s not an action of self-defense where there was imminent harm. And this is exactly what the amendment would have prohibited. That is why the Pentagon pushed back incredibly hard on keeping that amendment in the National Defense Authorization. The White House pushed back incredibly hard. And the amendment was removed, even though the House had passed it and even though a majority of senators had supported it. The amendment didn’t make it into the final bill. And I believe that was a signal to the Pentagon that Congress wasn’t going to stand up against this kind of action in Iran.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Khanna, you tweeted, “Soleimani has blood on his hands. So did Saddam Hussein. But we shouldn’t have gone to war in Iraq. And we now must not in Iran.” Can you elaborate?

REP. RO KHANNA: Surely. I mean, no one is arguing that Soleimani hasn’t done certain terrible things. I mean, he has orchestrated campaigns. He has possibly ordered the killing of Americans. And that is a — he’s not a good person. Neither was Saddam Hussein. Neither was Gaddafi.

The question, though, is first constitutional. The United States doesn’t go and start wars without congressional authorization, and that didn’t happen here. And second, the question is: What is an appropriate response in terms of keeping us safe and not allowing terrorism to spread? And what we have seen is that the “war on terrorism” over the last 20 years has been a failure. Terrorism has spread. It’s 5,000% up and spread around the world since this “war on terror” has started. And we’ve spent trillions of dollars in these wars, that could have gone into other initiatives to make our country stronger.

AMY GOODMAN: This is —

REP. RO KHANNA: And so, my —

AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead.

REP. RO KHANNA: So, my point is that, you know, just because someone may be a bad actor doesn’t mean that the United States can go to war without congressional authorization.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking on CNN just before we went to broadcast.

SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO: I’ve watched these protests over the last weeks. They weren’t burning American flags. They were demanding that the Iraqi political leadership stop their kleptocracy, stop their political shenanigans. And Qassem Soleimani was at the center of that. He was driving bad outcomes for the Iraqi people. He was causing many Muslims in the region to be killed. I saw last night there was dancing in the streets in parts of Iraq. We have every expectation that people, not only in Iraq, but in Iran, will view the American action last night as giving them freedom, freedom to have the opportunity for success and prosperity for their nations. And while the political leadership may not want that, the people in these nations will demand it.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Khanna, your response?

REP. RO KHANNA: The justification for American military intervention, that somehow we’re going to bring freedom, that somehow the people in those countries wanted it, but if Secretary Pompeo really was convinced about that, why didn’t he come to Congress to make this case? His argument is that this doesn’t seem to be an imminent attack. He’s arguing that this was a planned attempt to help bring greater freedom to Iran or to the people there. And if that was the case, he should make that case to the United States Congress. But he knows that if he had made that case to the Congress, Congress wouldn’t have authorized this kind of offensive attack.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Khanna, Michael Moore — right? — the Oscar-winning filmmaker, tweeted this New York Times front page from December 17, 1998, with the front-page banner headline “Impeachment Vote in House Delayed as Clinton Launches Iraq Air Strike, Citing Military Need to Move Swiftly.” Are we seeing echoes of the past? You have right now, today, the Senate majority leader, with the Senate coming back today, speaking about impeachment. You have the OMB releasing all of these emails that show the direct line to President Trump stopping the aid to Ukraine, which, of course, was about investigating his political rival, Joe Biden. Is this a wag-the-dog situation?

REP. RO KHANNA: Well, no, I don’t want to speculate on motives without evidence, but I think the facts are bad in themselves. And here is the facts — here are the facts as we know it. This president and his advisers have been itching for an escalation with Iran from the day he took office. He got us out of the JCPOA, the agreement we had with Iran that was leading to greater peace. He declared the Iran Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. He has engaged in constant escalation and skirmishes. And this is the highest escalation. So, I believe that the president’s policies are putting us in tremendous danger. And the motives are almost not relevant. What’s relevant is he’s acted in a way that’s unconstitutional. He is potentially getting us in another endless war. And he’s getting us into the Middle East in another intervention, when he promised exactly the opposite on the campaign trail.

AMY GOODMAN: Bernie Sanders tweeted an hour ago, “I was right about Vietnam. I was right about Iraq. I will do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran. I apologize to no one.” You are co-chair of his campaign, Ro Khanna. Last 10 seconds, your final words?

REP. RO KHANNA: Well, this is why we need Bernie Sanders as president. He is — he had warned against Iraq. In fact, the Iraq invasion strengthened Iran in the region. He will stop these unconstitutional wars. And he had the courage to vote against the National Defense Authorization and to anticipate this situation. He had warned, as had some of us in Congress, that we needed to restrict this president before the president took this kind of action.

AMY GOODMAN: California Congressmember Ro Khanna, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. RO KHANNA: Thank you.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

fter the United States assassinated Iranian commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in a major escalation of the conflict between Iran and the United States, which now threatens to engulf Iraq and the Middle East, we get response from Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, who says the U.S. killing of Soleimani was reckless. “Did anyone consult Iraqis about the assassination of Qassem Soleimani on Iraqi soil?” he asks. “We don’t want another round of civil war.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: In 2011, before he was president, Donald Trump tweeted, quote, “In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran.” This is Trump saying the same thing in a video he posted online in 2011.

DONALD TRUMP: Our president will start a war with Iran, because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He’s weak, and he’s ineffective. So the only way he figures that he’s going to get re-elected, and as sure as you’re sitting there, is to start a war with Iran.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Trump. We’re going back right now to Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, the correspondent for The Guardian newspaper, joining us via Democracy Now! video stream from Istanbul, Turkey. What you understand is happening on the ground now in Iraq amongst Iraqis, and if you can also respond to what then not President Trump, before he was president, Donald Trump said about Obama wanting to start a war with Iran to get re-elected?

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: I mean, in Baghdad, there is a real anxiety. I mean, I love Secretary Pompeo when he talks about freedom for Iraqis. I mean, these words are so absurd, so meaningless. I mean, what freedom? Did anyone consult Iraqis about the assassination of Qassem Soleimani on Iraqi soil? I mean, this is an act of war, an act of war committed on the land of another country. We are no fan of Qassem Soleimani or Iran, but at the same time we don’t want another war, another round of civil war happening in Iraq.

What you have at the situation — we spoke about this yesterday, Amy — is you have a very delicate confrontation taking place between different elements of Shia political power, different Shia militias. Those are anti-Iran, and those who want a kind of a more independent Iraqi role. In between comes the United States and assassinates the biggest Iranian general in the region. There will be a reaction from the Iranians in Iraq. There will be a reaction from the Iranian militias in Iraq. And this reaction will happen on Iraqi soil. It will not happen in New York. It will not happen in D.C. It will happen in my country.

And this is why this is such a dangerous game. I mean, it is a repetitive game of what we heard in 2003, of what I heard when I was a child in 1991 and of all of the wars in between. And this is very dangerous. Yes, there were some dancing scenes, because like five, six people, the same number of people who chanted when the Americans rolled through Baghdad. I mean, don’t they read history? Don’t they know that none of these military actions that have been taking place, from the ’90s ’til today, led to more peace? I mean, I totally agree with your previous speaker, that 15, 20 years after the “war on terrorism,” what have we achieved? We have ISIS on the outskirts of Baghdad. We had cities destroyed. I mean, when did ever war achieve anything good in this region?

AMY GOODMAN: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, you have Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated. Also, the head of the Popular Mobilization Forces was also assassinated. I think, altogether, there were five people killed at Baghdad airport. The significance of this?

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: It’s huge significance. And again, it has two layers of significance, one in terms of the confrontation between the United States and Iraq. On the other layer, it will be a confrontation between pro-Iranian elements within the militias, within PMUs, the Popular Mobilization Units, the hashd, so-called, and more Iraqi moderate elements in the — I mean, we’ve heard Ayatollah Sistani come today in the sermon and condemn the attack, but called for caution, called for preserving Iraq from internal conflict. Everyone is trying to create this middle path for Iraq, but it will be very difficult. And I’ve been talking to activists in the square. I’ve been talking to Iraqi journalists and writers. They’re all fearing that they will be the first target on these pro-Iranian militias. They will want to vent their anger on someone. They might not be able to attack the Americans, but they will definitely be able to attack Iraqi, you know, pro-democracy, anti-Iranian people in the streets.

AMY GOODMAN: So, The New York Times is reporting, Ghaith, that General Soleimani had flown into Baghdad from Syria in order to urge Iranian-backed militias in Iraq to do more to stop the wave of anti-Iran protests that have swept Iraq in recent months. You talked about this yesterday, these protests. But if you could respond to that?

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: I mean, I haven’t read this report particularly, but we know that Qassem Soleimani, certain elements and some pro-Iranian elements in the Iraqi militias and the Iraqi government have been very vocal and very lethal in confronting these demonstrations. I mean, we know about kidnappings, we know about disappearances, we know about snipers shooting at demonstrators — a repetition of the way that demonstrations in Iran were quelled. So, we know that these elements were very highly involved in trying to oppress these demonstrations. But as I said yesterday, kind of like these demonstrations managed to put these pro-Iranian elements on the back foot. What the attack on these mobilization units on the border with Syria and now this attack on Qassem Soleimani is suddenly giving them, the — you know, the raison d’être to respond and to be more vocal and more violent in their response.

AMY GOODMAN: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, what do you see happening now? You have the French Foreign Ministry saying we have woken up to or more dangerous morning. In Britain, the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has condemned the assassination. One Democratic leader after another in the United States, the Democrats are saying that the U.S. didn’t approve of this. What do you see happening at this point?

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: For the past decade, there have been a kind of a — kind of a way both Iranians and the Americans were confronting each other, but there was lines, rules for the game, in which each tried to avoid an open confrontation, an open war. I think these rules have just collapsed today. I do not see how another round of violence is not going to grip the Middle East. I don’t see how Iraq will prosper in peace. I don’t see Iranians being saved from the next round of violence. And this is very maddening and very dangerous — it’s not dangerous. “Dangerous” is an underestimation. This is criminal. I mean, I have been reporting on the last 16 years of war in Iraq. I’m flying back to Baghdad to cover the next round of fighting in Iraq. So, this is not kind of assumptions or theories; this is the reality. You have tens of thousands of armed pro-Iranian militias. You have tens of thousands of anti-Iranian forces. And then what do you do? You’ll have a confrontation. You’ll have a war. It’s a war by proxy, in a region that’s crippled by war. So it’s maddening. It’s maddening how this is allowed to happen.

AMY GOODMAN: And let’s be clear, these pro-Iranian militias, they are Iraqi. They are part of the Iraqi security forces. And in fact, while they targeted U.S. forces for years, they then went on to target ISIS. Is that right, Ghaith?

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: Of course. I mean, these units were largely established after ISIS’ conquest of one-third of Iraq. They were formed, they were trained, equipped by the Iranians. And they fought, and they are still fighting, against ISIS. Now, yes, they are involved in violence against Iraqis. Yes, they are, you know, accused of corruption, financial corruption, whatever you want to call it. But, yes, they are part of official Iraqi military structure. I mean, I’ve talked to — there is a lot of resentment towards these forces amongst Iraqi officers, but that doesn’t change the issue that — the point that they are part of the established Iraqi military structure. And you know what? During the battle against ISIS, I witnessed at least two incidents in which American airstrikes came in support — not officially, unofficially — came in support of these militias when they really needed help on the outskirts — unofficially — when they needed help on the outskirts of Mosul. So, both of these units have been fighting a common enemy. The common enemy is almost gone, and now we’re having a situation where the Americans want to settle their scores with the Iranians, in the most idiotic way, if I may say so. I apologize.

AMY GOODMAN: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, I want to thank you for being with us, Iraqi correspondent for The Guardian newspaper. We’re speaking to him in Istanbul, Turkey. He is headed into Iraq to report for The Guardian. Please be safe.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

We host a roundtable discussion on the U.S. assassination of Iranian commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, who has long been one of the most powerful figures in Iran. He was the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force — Iran’s powerful foreign military force, similar to a combination of the CIA and U.S. Special Forces. Iran called Soleimani’s assassination an act of “international terrorism.” “It was probably the best, the fastest, the quickest way to have a unifying rallying cry for the Iranian political establishment,” notes Iranian journalist Negar Mortazavi. We are also joined by historian Ervand Abrahamian, author of “The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations,” and Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of “Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, as we continue our roundtable discussion after the U.S. assassinated the Iranian commander, basically number two in Iran, Major General Qassem Soleimani, a major escalation in the Iran-U.S. conflict, now threatening to engulf Iraq and the Middle East. We are also joined by Negar Mortazavi, who is an Iranian-American journalist in Washington, D.C. Ervand Abrahamian is with us here, too, a historian at City University of New York, author of several books, including The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations. And Phyllis Bennis in Washington, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, who has written the book, among many others, Understanding the US-Iran Crisis.

Negar, let’s start with you. Is this attack on Soleimani going to unite people across the political spectrum in Iran?

NEGAR MARTAZAVI: It definitely is, and it already has. We see various political factions inside Iran — I’m not talking about dissidents or the opposition base outside, but the political factions that are operating within the country, including the ones who are considered opposition to the government who had been cracked down during the 2009 Green Movement. Some have been to jail but still are operating inside the country. We see messages of condolences. We see messages of condemnation coming from almost every faction. This includes the reformists, the moderate factions and, of course, the hard-liners, who saw Qassem Soleimani as a hero. So, it was probably the best, the fastest, the quickest way to have a unifying and rallying cry for Iranian political establishment.

AMY GOODMAN: Phyllis Bennis, as a U.S. activist, scholar, organizer, your response to what has taken place?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: You know, Amy, I think what’s very important for us to remember is that history is shaped by when you start the clock. This crisis, this escalation did not begin with the killing of one U.S. military contractor last week. We still don’t know who was responsible for that strike. But this was not the beginning of the escalation as we’re being told in much of the mainstream media. This crisis goes directly back to the Trump administration decision, that was implemented in 2018, to abandon the Iran nuclear deal. That’s what destroyed the potential for a diplomatic, rather than war-based, approach in the region. I don’t think that this attack was a reflection of a new strategic approach on the part of the Trump administration. There’s no evidence that this actually was based on a strategic approach at all. So I think that we have to be very clear at looking at the trajectory from 2018, from the withdrawal of the Iran nuclear deal, right up through the increasing tensions that have led to potentials for clashes between the U.S. and Iran and between U.S. allies and Iran throughout the region.

And we now have reached the most reckless, the most dangerous provocation that we’ve seen so far. There’s a very serious possibility that this action, which will force some kind of Iranian reaction — we don’t know what it will be. We don’t know what form it will take, whether it will be a direct military attack on a U.S. base, on a U.S. ally, whether it might take the form of cyberattacks of one sort or another. But we know there will be a response.

And then the question will be: What will be the response of the Trump administration to that? Are they prepared to set the region ablaze in another full-scale war that would pit the United States and its allies — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel, potentially others, some of the forces in Lebanon — against Iran and its allies throughout the region? This could be a devastating war, far greater militarily, if it came to that, than the already horrific history of the U.S. invasion and war in Iraq.

And to have done so without any care about congressional consultation, as we heard from Representative Ro Khanna a few minutes ago, the notion that this went forward without any effort to consult with Congress to get authorization — we should remember that the authorization that does exist, that did exist, for U.S. troops to be sent back to Iraq, was a very, very narrow decision, without direct authorization, but was based on a claim by the White House, by the Trump White House, that troops were being sent back only to challenge ISIS. This was not an attack on ISIS, as we’ve already heard. General Soleimani was one of the leading forces against ISIS, and his forces and the U.S. forces were on the same side in Iraq throughout much of the years of war against ISIS.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring in Ervand —

PHYLLIS BENNIS: So, there is no legitimacy here.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring in Ervand Abrahamian. You are a historian. You’ve long covered the U.S.-Iranian relationship, including 1953. That has no significance, that date, probably, for many people in the United States, but it’s the moment that the U.S. funded the overthrow of the democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mosaddegh. To give that historical context, in this last minute we have, and the significance of it today, as you heard that Soleimani was killed — also, apparently, his son-in-law was killed, as well — by the U.S. at the Baghdad airport.

ERVAND ABRAHAMIAN: Well, in the past, Iran has seen United States as a conspiratorial power that carries out coup. Now I think it’s become a different ball game. They can describe United States as a state terrorist power, that actually goes out and not only kills someone, but kills them at an international airport at a foreign country. This, by any definition, this would be described as terrorism. So, in that way, they have, actually, a new basically propaganda weapon to use against United States.

And I suspect what the National Security Council in Iran will do, instead of doing something rash — people are expecting some sort of military reaction, so — they think politically, and they are going to say what we’re going to do politically. And politically, they will use basically the whole issue to rally the public. There are elections in a few weeks’ time. The right-wing populist will sweep the elections. That will sweep away the more moderates who had been talking about peace negotiations and normalization. So, you’re going to have, in the long run, increasing tension. I don’t expect war in the near future, but if Trump is re-elected, I would say it’s 110% chance of war after that election.

But, meanwhile, I think the person who’s having the best laugh at this moment is the former caliph, al-Baghdadi, in his grave, because what the killing of Soleimani has done has actually provided a wonderful opportunity for ISIS to recover. There will be a resurgence of ISIS very much in Mosul, northern Iraq. And that, paradoxically, will help Iran, because the Iraqi government will have no choice but to rely more and more on Iran to be able to contain ISIS. After all, ISIS was contained earlier by the U.S., the Kurds and Iran. Trump has pulled —

AMY GOODMAN: These very militias

ERVAND ABRAHAMIAN: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: And these pro-Iranian Iraqi militias.

ERVAND ABRAHAMIAN: Yeah, yes. And Trump has pulled out of north Iraq, of the area where ISIS was, pulled the rug out from the Kurds, and now he’s declared war on the pro-Iranian militias. And the Iraqi Army has not been in the past capable of dealing with ISIS. So, the obvious thing is now, the Iraqi government, how are they going to deal with the revival of ISIS? Possibly they could turn to Russia, but I think Russia has its hands full in Libya and Syria, so they will have no choice but to actually rely more and more on Iran. So, Trump has actually undermined his own policy, if he wants to eliminate Iran’s influence in Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to leave this discussion here, but of course we will continue it next week. I want to thank you, Ervand Abrahamian, a historian, a journalist. I want to thank Negar Mortazavi, the Iranian-American journalist, speaking to us from Washington. Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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War and Twinkie-brain

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The Decade of Decadence

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on January 1, 2020

This is a little better version

The Decade of Decadence

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I am Perfect

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I am Perfect

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Scum Also Rises

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The Scum Also Rises (rev.)

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The Scum Also Rises

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on December 15, 2019

Change Celebration!

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on December 8, 2019

https://absurdtimes.blogspot.com/2014/12/happy-birthday-beethoven.html

I think this would make a good substitute for the typical XMAS madness.

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