Category Archives: U.S. Foreign Policy

Middle East Focus: From Red Herrings and Axis of Evil to an Axis of Convenience………..


“There’s only one strategy with a decent chance of winning: forge a military and political coalition with the power to stifle the jihadis in both Iraq and Syria. This means partnering with Iran, Russia, and President Assad of Syria. This would be a very tricky arrangement among unfriendly and non-trusting partners, but the overriding point is that they all have common interests. All regard the jihadis as the overwhelming threat, and all would be willing to take tough joint action. And with this fighting arrangement in place, the “partners” could start seriously fixing the underlying political snake pits in Damascus and Baghdad. Now, don’t start firing rockets at me just yet. Hear me out. First, every state, even the United States, works with bad guys, adversaries and enemies whenever the need is great, whenever it suits reality. Don’t forget, Iran helped us protect the western border of Afghanistan for almost the first two years of America’s war effort there. Tehran didn’t like the Taliban and neither did we. The cooperation stopped when President George W. Bush threatened to overthrow the Ayatollah’s regime with his “axis of evil” speech………….”

That foolish “axis of evil” speech is already marked as one of the stupidest creations of the White House in the modern era. A soundbite that the media dutifully propagated. And it came just months after Wahhabi terrorists, all citizens of Arab countries allied with the Bush Administration, committed the worst act of terrorism in the United States history on September 11, 2001. It was as if the Neocons were using Iran and Iraq as a ‘red herring’ to distract from other ‘facts’ leading up to 9/11, facts that now stare us in the face from Syria through Iraq.

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mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Myth of the Iraqi Baathist Army Endures……

      


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Whenever
things heat up in Iraq, as they are these days, most Western and Arab media types and ‘analysts’ fall back on an old and mistaken argument. That argument is: that disbanding the old Baathist army was a big mistake by the Bush administration. Oh, yes, if only the old Baathist army ‘was not disbanded’. Yet it is arguable how and when the old army was ‘disbanded’ and by whom.

During
the start of the last Iraq war in 2003, the Iraqi army vanished. Its men just shed their military uniforms and melted away. They deserted rather than defend Iraq’s borders. They did not even defend their capital Baghdad, which lay open for the coalition invaders (or liberators, if you will). The army that tormented its own native people could not face foreign forces, sadly a typically common Arab phenomenon.

The
old Iraqi army vanished, deserted at the start of the war, long before Paul Bremer arrived in Baghdad. The myth that Bremer made a mistake by “disbanding” it continues. The myth is dusted up periodically by media and analysts and pundits and many Arab apologists, then shelved until the next Iraq crisis. 

Yet, with or without Bremer, would the Shi’as and Kurds of a new Iraq have accepted continued domination by Saddam Hussein’s Baathist army? The same army that was so good at gassing and repressing them?
In fact Bremer just formalized a fact that existed: the old Iraqi army had deserted, refused to fight, and effectively disbanded itself.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

America on the Nile, Whining on the Nile: Time to Grow Up on the Nile?……..

      


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These discredited Egyptian liberals made their bed with the generals, now they are being forced to sleep in it. So just relax and enjoy it for the next thirty years: you’ve earned it……………” Me

Here is my broad-brush take on political developments in Egypt since 2011:

  • In February 2011 during the uprising against the regime of Hosni Mubarak, many of his Egyptian opponents claimed that the Obama administration was trying to shore up his position, to keep him in power.
  • On the other hand, many of his supporters complained that the United States was trying to overthrow him, by not helping him. Saudi King Abdullah, who famously claimed the protesters at Tahrir were foreign agents, is still pissed upset at Obama for not helping Mubarak crush his people.
  • After Mubarak fell, almost everybody in Egypt who was not an army general claimed the Obama administration was keeping the SCAF military junta in power. Some among the military probably suspected that Obama was ready to throw them under one of those crowded Cairo buses.
  • In the summer of 2012, Mohammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood won the presidency in free and fair close elections. His domestic and Arab opponents mostly acted as if the Obama administration had somehow helped him win the election. The Islamists claimed that he won in spite of American plots against him. Persian Gulf princes and potentates who could not tell an election from the proverbial ‘hole in the ground’ apparently suspected foul play. Egypt’s liberals joined forces with the oligarchs and the Mubarakistas and the Wahhabis to call for ‘restoration’ of the feloul.
  • In July of 2013 General Al Sisi, whom Morsi had promoted to minister of defense, stabbed him in the back by staging a military coup that overthrew the elected president. Al Sisi was urged to act by three factions: Egypt’s deluded liberals, the feloul, and the Gulf princes and potentates. The Muslim Brotherhood -MB- claimed the Americans were in cahoots with the military. Admittedly that was a very tempting suspicion, given the history.
  • At the time U.S. congressional delegations to Cairo had divergent opinions: McCain/Graham said correctly that July 3 of 2013 was a military coup; Bachmann/Gohmert (the idiot delegation) praised the military coup even as they told Egyptians of the joys of American electoral democracy.
  • The other side in Egypt, the liberals and oligarchs and feloul, claimed the Americans had made a deal with the MB and had wanted them in power. Egypt’s ‘liberals’, most of whom had urged the military to stage a coup and supported it, now proceeded to whine that the military had made plans with Washington to take power (after a coup that these same liberals pushed for and supported).

Continue reading America on the Nile, Whining on the Nile: Time to Grow Up on the Nile?……..

Bergdahl Controversy: Profiles in Courage, Profiles in Afghan Food…….

      


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“Soldier: ‘Ludicrous’ To Lay 100 Percent Of Blame At Bergdahl’s Feet..” 


“Hillary Camp Distances… After Defending Days Ago!….” 

“Republicans Delete Digital Praise of Bowe Bergdahl Release….” 

“GOP Strategists Are Arranging Media Interviews To Attack Bowe Bergdahl…..” 

“The Hero Who Died Looking for Bowe Bergdahl…..” 

“Hillary Clinton Was Skeptical of Taliban-Bergdahl Swap…..” 

“Bergdahl was unpopular with fellow troops” (He read books about Afghanistan!)

Those were some of the headlines this week on the Bergdahl-Taliban exchange. So:
  • Many Republicans praised the deal then saw an opportunity to benefit politically……….
  • The Clintonistas, Hillary et al, praised the deal then it got warm in the kitchen. They saw a pitfall, let it know Hillary MAY have been skeptical……
  • What next? That Obama was skeptical but went along with Smiling Joe Biden?
  • Either way, Susan Rice has had her last official government job: she is the fall girl, has been since before Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi (John McCain can manage to look dignified as he whistles that tune to sound like Maria, Maria, Maria)……..

Oh courage, courage or lack thereof and the soundbite and the video clip without consent. And don’t forget the spin for 2014 and 2016. The early bird gets the spin. That is what defines American politics these years.

Now for the main event, Bowe Bergdahl: 
  • The kid was held in captivity among the cutthroat Taliban for five years! Imagine one of the sanctimonious fat senators, or Rush Limbaugh or Hannity, or a Clinton adviser being in his place. 
  • Notice that in almost every video clip we see of him in captivity he is stuffing his face (as in eating)? Do you think the Afghans may have lured him with promises of better food than the pink slime and the SRE or whatever they serve in those outposts? 
  • The guy looked skinny and starved before his captivity, but we won’t know what he looks like now until he is shown on the inevitable TV circus. It shouldn’t be long now.

John Bolton’s Gift to Iran: the Chickenhawk and the Cyber Mullahs………

      


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“In Iran’s intelligence war against America, the regime has a new weapon: “John R. Bolton.” No, Iran has not turned President Bush’s former ambassador to the United Nations into a sleeper agent. Instead, hackers believed to be connected to the Tehran government are posing as Bolton on social media platforms in a scheme to get human rights activists and national security wonks to hand over their passwords and user names. The fake Bolton LinkedIn account provides a window into how Iran’s hackers are trying to penetrate the policy networks of their government’s adversaries. Most experts say Iran lacks the sophistication to launch the kinds of advanced cyber attacks it has suffered at the hands of the West, such as the Stuxnet worm……………..”

John Bolton is so far out to the extreme that the Republican-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee rejected him when Bush (W) nominated him for U.N. ambassador. He was appointed for one year during a congressional recess, bypassing the Senate vote. 

He has been advocating more Muslim wars for some years now, from Iran to Syria and to other places. He has never met a Muslim war he has not loved, as long as he did not have to do the fighting (sort of like his stand on Vietnam?). A classic chickenhawk position. Now apparently the Iranian hackers have found a way to use this implacable enemy of their country. And possibly pay back for the cyber attacks their systems suffered from all the malware Western intelligence (and other) services invaded it with.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Labors of Hassan Rouhani: Local Landmines, Regional Sea Mines……

      


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Hassan Rouhani is facing the toughest test of his career, the toughest test any Iranian leader has faced in decades. Can he fulfill the promises he made to the majority that elected him by opening up the country and get the Western economic blockade lifted? He faces regional and domestic obstacles:

 

  • Israel: the debate about the Iranian nuclear ‘program’ has been a Godsend to Benyamin Netanyahu and he has been milking it for all its worth since the 1990s. He has claimed various deadlines by which time Iran would have nuclear bomb, and then he has ignored his earlier deadlines and suggested yet new dates. Top ‘retired’ Israeli intelligence and military leaders often contradict him on this. The amazing thing is that all the caca de toro has not hurt him with the Israeli electorate. Nor has it hurt his credibility in the U.S. Senate and Congress: on the contrary, the schmucks now look at him as an oracle of Middle Eastern and Iranian (especially nuclear) matters. Besides, it has served one of the purposes he used it for: for years it has helped him divert Western attention away from his problems with the Palestinians.
  • Iranian hardliners: the country needs a nuclear deal but any reasonable deal will probably have to get past these old revolutionaries. Many of them would prefer no deal but they also realize that most Iranians are young and want to open up to the world and want more freedoms and less intrusion in their private lives by the mullahs. Besides, the economy is hurting from the blockade no matter what officials claim.
  • American Hawks (Democrats and Republicans and others): when it comes to the Middle East, almost the whole Senate and Congress are hawks. Being seen as soft on the Iran negotiations is like being against “motherhood and Memorial Day and Independence Day”, and not necessarily in that order. It is like being soft on Ho Chi Minh before 1968 or accepting Chairman Mao as the legitimate leader of China before the 1970s …………

 

  • Gulf GCC: it is divided over Iran, as it is divided over many other issues. But the GCC states are divided among themselves regardless of the Iranian question. Three of them have pulled their ambassadors from Qatar because its government rejects Saudi hegemony on certain aspects of the Arab turmoil
  • Saudi Arabia: the Al Saud have been the most hawkish about both the nuclear issue and Iran’s ties to the Arab world, until recently. Failure of their policies in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon (and American advise) may have pushed them to seek some form of accommodation with Tehran. 
  • UAE: there are some divisions. Abu Dhabi potentates are hawkish but Dubai and possibly some others do not seem so. 
  • Qatar: has been concerned about balancing worrisome forces (Saudi vs. Iran). Its dispute with Iran has been mainly over Syria and possibly Iraq. But it has had more serious and more threatening disputes with the Saudis. Some Arab media even reported in recent months allegations of military threats against Qatar from the Saudi-UAE alliance. I have posted about past tensions between Qatar and the Saudis
  • Kuwait: was invaded from both Iraq and Saudi Arabia during the past century. It also uncovered at least one large Iranian espionage network in recent years. It tries not to antagonize either Saudis or Iranians, mindful of the ability of both to cause trouble. Then there is the recent past experience with Baathist Iraq………
  • Oman: has been mostly neutral and it does not seem to buy the Saudi argument about either the nuclear issue or the general “Iranian threat”. It does not seem to feel threatened. Oman was reportedly instrumental in starting the recent Iranian-American dialog last summer. 
  • Bahrain: the least important of the GCC members. Nobody cares wtf its repressive rulers think now. It has become a full-fledged Al Saud appendix and the ruling potentates do exactly as they are told. 

Cheers

mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com