Beating The War Drums

National Security Advisor John Bolton still thinks that the Iraq war was a good idea. He has never met a war he didn’t like or a treaty that he did. Now, as Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, he has a great deal of power to make war against Iran. Bolton has given speeches for the MEK, a cultish organization that wants regime change in Iran.

Trump pulled the United States out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, Iran deal) a year ago, under the fiction that his great deal-making skills and “maximum pressure” would force Iran into a deal where they would change their government, stop supporting Hamas, end all nuclear work, and, probably, build a Trump Tower Tehran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has listed twelve points that Iran must meet to become a good world citizen in his eyes. Presumably, as in the case of North Korea, Iran must meet all those points before sanctions will be removed.

The JCPOA covers the possibility of Iran’s making nuclear weapons in full detail. Iran is complying with the agreement. But that’s not enough for a faction in the United States and Israel who opposed the JCPOA from the beginning and have continued to agitate for withdrawal from it. Read more

This Business Will Get Out of Control, It Will Get Out of Control and We’ll Be Lucky to Live Through It: Tanker Attack Rashomon Edition!

According to reports, over the weekend, several oil tankers were attacked using magnetically attached mines in the United Arab Emirates’ Fujairah port. The initial reports were, interestingly enough, on Sputnik, the Russian state owned “news” media service on Mother’s Day in the US. Which meant absolutely no one was following this story. So the Saudis, which had two tankers damaged and the UAE, in whose port this occurred are, of course, screaming for security assistance and blaming Iran. Iran is denying they had anything to do with it. And knowledgeable observers have questions. Especially as the port authorities in Fujairah have denied that anything out of the ordinary happened at all.

Here’s the translation:

The media office of the Government of Fujairah denies the validity of media
reports about the loud explosions that rocked the UAE port of Fujairah at dawn
today, and confirms that the work movement in the port is conducted as usual,
and calls on the media to investigate the accuracy and reliance on official

Nothing was showing on satellite at the time:

The Saudis, of course, are claiming major damage to their two tankers:

And Iran denies any involvement:

While these types of operations are not my area expertise, I have spent considerable amounts of time over the past decade working on issues pertaining to Iran; its strategic understanding of itself, how it interacts with the world and within the region; and its strategic objectives. The IRGC and the Quds Force are neither stupid, nor are they sloppy. They know that right now the US is looking for an excuse, so conducting a high risk, low reward operation like this right now makes no sense whatsoever. I think this analysis is a far better explanation of what is going on:

Until/unless I see something to make me think otherwise, Chief Wright’s and Chief Nance’s assessments make the most sense to me. I would not be surprised at all, as more information on what, if anything happened, in Fujairah over the weekend is learned and reported, that we find this was another ultimately self defeating effort undertaken by security and intel personnel close to Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, Emirati Crown Prince Muhammad bun Zayed, or that they contracted it out. It will also be interesting to see whether or not Secretary Pompeo uses this to hammer the EU officials he’s meeting with in Brussels today in regard to the US’s position on Iran and/or whether it comes up during his meeting with Putin and Lavrov at Putin’s resort in Sochi later in the week.


Open thread!

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Bibi Gives Away the Game by Publicly Patting Himself on the Back: Israel is the Tail Wagging the American Dog

Looks like Bibi Netanyahu just proved Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib were correct. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Congressman Crenshaw or the arbiter of American anti-Semitism, Megan McCain, to acknowledge their errors and apologize for their incendiary remarks.

Here’s the translation courtesy of The Times of Israel (1. So no one can accuse me of doing a biased/slanted translation from the Hebrews. 2. Because I really don’t like having to translate it myself at this hour with my rusty, out of use Hebrew. 3. Emphasis mine.):

In recording, Netanyahu boasts Israel convinced Trump to quit Iran nuclear deal

Public broadcaster airs clip of PM telling Likud activists US exit came after he stood up ‘against the whole world’ by opposing accord

Russiagate Open Thread: Is Donny Jr Going Under the Bus?

I trust Richard Burr not at all, but unlike the Squatter-in-Chief, he’s a party professional. Preliminary reports this week suggest he may have decided somebody will need to be sacrificed to protect the GOP oligarchy, and it might as well be the guy whose own father doesn’t like or care about him…

Digby (Heather Digby Parton) at Salon:

It’s clear that Trump is… probably unaware that Burr also acted as a back channel during the investigation, speaking to former White House counsel Don McGahn about whom the committee had interviewed. But Trump mentioned that Burr had said publicly that his committee had found no evidence of collusion and seemed confused since he had obviously considered Burr to be among his loyal henchmen.

Burr is a strange figure in all this. He has gone out of his way to avoid appearing publicly with Trump, supposedly to avoid the appearance of a conflict even as he shared info with the White House and intervened with the press on Trump’s behalf. He has managed to work congenially with Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the panel’s ranking Democrat, and by all accounts the committee investigation itself has not been compromised…

Burr’s back-channel activities with the White House are reminiscent of Sen. Howard Baker of Watergate fame, the Tennessee Republican known for his repeated question, “What did the president know and when did he know it?” It was later learned that Baker had secretly provided the Nixon White House with information about the Watergate committee’s investigation; his question was designed to protect Richard Nixon, under the assumption that Nixon hadn’t known anything about the criminal cover-up. When it could no longer be denied that Nixon knew everything, Baker changed sides and sealed his reputation as a man of integrity, even though the truth was much murkier than that.
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“Somebody could say it’s improper…”

We talked about this last week — Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to compel the Ukrainian government to reopen an investigation into Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s business activities in that country. The purpose is clearly to advance-slime a potential rival. Now Giuliani is being even more blatant about it (NYT):

“There’s nothing illegal about it,” he said. “Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

Mr. Giuliani’s planned trip, which has not been previously reported, is part of a monthslong effort by the former New York mayor and a small group of Trump allies working to build interest in the Ukrainian inquiries. Their motivation is to try to discredit the special counsel’s investigation; undermine the case against Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s imprisoned former campaign chairman; and potentially to damage Mr. Biden, the early front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Why are these people not in jail? (Note: rhetorical question!) I’m not a lawyer, but dangling incentives for foreign countries to help bugger a U.S. election — after obstructing an investigation of previous foreign interference in an election for two years — seems like it should at least fall into the category of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Does anyone believe for a second that if another candidate starts to eclipse Biden in the primary, Trump won’t dispatch goons like Giuliani to slime that person too? It’s intolerable.