Juan Cole reports that House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, Eliot Engel (D-NY) has criticized the administration for its assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in response to a report fresh out of the DOD that said the attack was for past activities by Iran in attacking tankers and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia without any mention of a threat against US personnel in Iraq, the ostensible reason and the only legal reason for doing this.
Cole also reminds that Soleimani had been in Baghdad to negotiate peace with Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the Iraqi prime minister. He also reminds us that the Iraqis are denying that the original attack that killed the American contractor and initiated the escalation by the US before the Soleimani attack almost certainly did not come from Kata’ib Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militia the US claimed was respoinsible because that Shia militia has not been anywhere near the base in Kirkuk that was attacked for 18 months, with the attack almost surely having come from ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. This puts the US attack that also killed the Iraqi general who commanded Kata’ib Hezbollah to be utterly illegal and essentially just murder and a war crime.
Which is worse, antagonizing Iran or antagonizing Russia?
After Russia seized Crimea, the US implemented sanctions against Russia. The support from Europe has been less than enthusiastic. The seizure was already complete and no one could possibly believe that Russia would return Crimea and its Russian naval bases back to Ukraine. The sanctions were a meaningless gesture!
This began a series of actions which degraded the military status quo which had developed after the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.
There were confrontations between US and Russian military aircraft close to Russia’s northwestern border. The US began moving US Navy ships into and out of the Black Sea. Russia has been flying bombers at the US border in Alaska and moving submarines or their intelligence gathering trawlers up and down the US east coast.
Russian military commanders have made bellicose statements similar to those made under the Soviet Union.
How much antagonism with Russia does the US want?
Personally, I would prefer that we antagonize Iran. Iran has been meddling in the affairs of its neighbors around the middle east for decades. And it has been working toward acquiring nuclear weapons. If they were successful, then the Non Proliferation Treaty would be shredded as its neighbors go nuclear.
Russia never recovered from the economic rape of 1991-2000, and Harvard mafia designed neo-liberalization of the country, which produced a caste of oligarchs.
They still have huge internal problems, and hostility of the USA amplifies them. . The standard of living is still pretty low for the majority of population, especially outside major cities. https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-standard-of-living-in-Russia?share=1
That creates separatist movements within the country, including Islamist movements in Muslim-dominated regions.
So their posture is strictly defensive, and probably is not much more than a mild defensive reaction to “Full-spectrum Dominance” doctrine and the aggressive foreign policy conducted by the USA neocons.(which totally dominate NSC and the State Department.as we saw from Ukrainegate testimonies)
The USA coup d’état in Ukraine actually have a blowback for the USA — it neutralized influence and political status of Russia neoliberal fifth column (neoliberal compradors), and if not Putin (who is paradoxically a pro-Western neoliberal; although of “national neoliberalism” flavor similar to Trumpism ) some of them probably would be now hanging from the lamp posts. They are really hated by population after hardships, comparable with WWII hardships, imposed on ordinary Russian during Western-enforced neoliberalization under marionette Yeltsin government and attempt to grab Russian resources for pennies on a dollar. “Marshall plan” for Russia instead of economic rape would be a much better policy.
I think Obama-Nuland plot to turn Ukraine into the USA vassal state was yet another very dangerous move, which hurts the USA national security and greatly increased chances of military confrontation with Russia (aka mutual annihilation)
It was worse then a crime, it was a blunder. And now the USA needs to support this vassal with money we do not have.
The role of NSC in militarizing the USA foreign policy is such that it neutralizes any impulses of any US administration (if we assume they exist) to improve relations with Russia.
Neoliberal Dems now is a second war party which bet on neo-McCarthyism to weaken Trump. They went into the complete status of psychosis in this area. I view it as a psychotic reaction of the first signs of the collapse of the USA-centered global neoliberal empire (which will happen anyway independently of Russian moves)
That’s actually a very dangerous situation indeed, and I am really afraid that the person who will replace Putin will not have Putin steel nerves, diplomatic talent, and affinity with the West. Then what ? another Sarajevo and another war?
With warmongering “raptured” crazies like Mike, “we killed up to 200 Russians” Pompeo, the situation can really become explosive like before WWI. Again, after Putin leaves the political scene, the Sarajevo incident is easy to stage, especially with such incompetent marionette of the military-industrial complex like Trump at the helm.
I believe antagonizing Russia was a reckless, very damaging to the USA interest move, the move initiated by Clinton administration and supported by all subsequent administration as weakening and possibly dismembering Russia is one of the key aspect of Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine. . And we will pay a huge price for this policy.
See also Professor Stephen Cohen books on the subject.
“And it has been working toward acquiring nuclear weapons.”
I’ve never read any convincing evidence for this. It certainly wasn’t working towards nuclear weapons under the agreement brokered by the Obama administration.
Do you have proof of this, or are you just repeating reckless warmongering US and Israeli propaganda?
Why do you pose this as antagonizing either Russsia or Iran? They are somewhat allied, so in fact antagonizing iran as we are doing also antagonizes Russia.
The relative economic position of Russia in terms of median income is no different today than it was 30 years ago before Yeltsin, except for the rise of China. It was behind the European nations to its west ,both those that were under its domination and those that were not, and it sitll is. So big ddeal.
And somehow you have this fantasy that if it were not for Obama-Nuland, Ukrainians would just loooove to be under Russian dominatino. f you think this, you ser both foolish and very ignoratn.
I might well be foolish and ignorant (I am far from being the specialist in the region), but I suspect Ukrainians do prefer the exchange rate ~8.5 hrivnas to a dollar (before the coup) to the current 25 hrivnas to a dollar.
Especially taking into account stagnant salaries and actual parity of prices in dollars for many types of food (especially meat), industrial products, and services between the USA and Ukraine.
I recently talked with one Ukrainian woman who told me that the “bribe” (unofficial payments due to low salaries for doctors and nurses in state clinics) for the child delivery was $1000 in Kiev in 2014 and she gave birth exactly at the time when hrivna jumped from 8.5 to over 20 per dollar. That was a tragedy for her and her family.
And please remember that the average SS pension in Ukraine is around 1500 hrivna a month (~ $60). So to me, it is completely unclear how pensioners can survive at all while the government is buying super expensive American weapons “to defend the country from Russian aggression.”
I would strongly recommend you to read the recent Consortium news story https://consortiumnews.com/2020/02/14/understanding-the-ukraine-story/
“The head of Iran’s nuclear program said on Monday that Tehran was now operating double the amount of advanced centrifuges than was previously known in violation of its atomic deal with world powers.”
Why does Iran need that level of enrichment if the purpose is peaceful? This has worried the experts and that is enough to cause some concern to me.
Of course it is always remotely possible that everyone is lying except for the Iranians.
Did we learn absolutely nothing from the tortured negotiations and soon broken treaties with North Korea? When we had the proof of their deceit and their goal, it was too late to do anything about it.
You are suggesting that we all stand idly by as the Non Proliferation Treaty is reduced to meaninglessness.
“Why do you pose this as antagonizing either Russsia or Iran? They are somewhat allied, so in fact antagonizing iran as we are doing also antagonizes Russia.”
Iran is just another oil producing competitor to Russia. Russia only got involved in Syria because they did not want to lose their naval base on the Syrian coast.
Russia ratcheted up their military responses after the US imposed economic sanctions. And there have been tit-for-tat reactions since then.
The fact is that Ukraine has the bad luck to be on Russia’s border. The US will give them military aid to defend themselves but neither the US nor the Europeans are going to go to war to defend Ukraine.
My view of the situation with Russia is simple. I do not want to see another 40 years of cold war.
You are out of date and out to lunch. Economy in Ukraine under Zelensky is finally growing and he is actually fighting corruption, no help from Trump, and is very popular.
Current level of enrichment in Iran is below weapons grade but usable for medical purposes it has and was enriching to this point before the JCPOA. What is also possible is that you are an ignorant fool, which seems to be the case.
Regarding North Korea, while it is not widely known in the US, we were the ones who broke the treaty with North Korea, not the other way around.
And, no, Iran is not “just another oil producing competitor.” Yes, Ukrane is “unlucky” to be Russia’s nieghbor, but this does not justify Russia annexing Crimea in violation of international law and not getting sanctioned for it. The current return to the Cold War is largely Putin’s fault, thumping his nationalist chest for domestic political popularity given the weak economy and massive corruption.
Ah, you have it all figured out. The US is always lying and breaking treaties. North Korea and Iran are just innocent victims, peacefully preparing fissionable materials.
You wrote: “Yes, Ukrane is “unlucky” to be Russia’s nieghbor, but this does not justify Russia annexing Crimea in violation of international law and not getting sanctioned for it. ”
Honestly, you are like “a babe in the woods”!
Of course Russia had no right to annex Crimea. So what???
It has been done and there is no undoing it without a full blown modern war. Are you going to volunteer your family members to serve in the army to right that wrong! I doubt it.
And your precious sanctions have caused additional problems. And you blame Putin for those. What do you want to do about that???
There are things not worth doing.
The path to hell is paved with good intentions.
What other problems have the sanctions caused? My postion on Crimea is that indeed it will not be undone, but Putin must not be rewarded for this blatant violation of international law. Keep the bloody sanctions on until he is gone and then when it seems appropriate,cut a deal with his successor, assuming that person is somewhat more reasonable and less of an authoritarian asshole.
It seems you are out of it regarding iran. No, neither it nor DPRK are “innocent victiims,” but I do hope you know that regarding the JCPOA nuclear deal Iran was in fulll compliance while the US pulled out against the views of the UNSC and all the other parties to the agreement. Trump has imposed extreme economics sanctions that have achieved nothing and now illegally assasinated one of its generals,the outcome of which has been nearly 200 people dead and over 100 US personnel injured with no give at all by Iran. Even the Israelis are now saying Trump is behaving like an idiot regarding Iran, and they with the Saudis were the main nainos among the handful out of the 200 or so in the world that supported Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA.