COME YE AMATEURS OF WAR

12 01 2020

I want to start with The Green Party’s official press release about the murder of  Iranian Major General Qassim Soleimani.

Greens joined demonstrations in at least 80 cities in 38 states over the weekend in response to the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassim Suleimani on Iraqi soil, which the Green Party has called an act of war and an unconscionable escalation of hostilities in a region where the U.S. has already wreaked immense devastation over decades.

Lisa Savage, seeking the U S Senate seat from Maine and Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, spoke at a demonstration on Saturday in Portland, ME.

“U.S. military aggression serves war profiteers, not the people,” said Savage in a recent statement. “We cannot bomb our way to a peaceful resolution of the conflict zone our nation has created in Iraq, nor is deliberately provoking Iran in our best interests as a nation. Diplomacy and the restoration of congressional authority over the president’s use of the U.S. military are urgently needed. We need senators and congresspeople willing to stand up to the Pentagon and the executive branch of government to say no to more warmongering.”

Suspicion among peace advocates that the drone attack was designed to move Iran, Iraq and the U.S. even further to the brink of all-out war has since been borne out by President Trump’s abhorrent threat to destroy Iranian sites that are “important to Iranian culture.”

Greens are also alarmed by reports that the Department of Homeland Security has ordered Customs and Border Protection to “’report’ and detain anyone with Iranian heritage entering the country who is deemed potentially suspicious or ‘adversarial,’ regardless of citizenship status” (source: Council on American-Islamic Relations).

Several state Green Parties also issued statements and calls to action.

The Green Party categorically opposes measures ‘authorizing’ preemptive or illegal military actions, or delegating to the president sole power to commit acts of war. Greens have called for the repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) 2001 to restrict the president’s ability to direct more attacks.

A great deal has already been written about this, much of it pure dissembling. The Democrats are outraged, not so much about the murder and the effects it is likely to have, as about the fact that they weren’t consulted first. Only few deeply principled Dems have denounced it wholeheartedly–Bernie Sanders and his deputy Ro Khanna, Tulsi Gabbard, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar, mostly. Some of the more libertarian Republican–Mike Lee and Rand Paul, f’rinstance–are also not pleased.

Corporate media have mostly framed Soleimani as a “terrorist with blood on his hands,” conveniently ignoring the fact that part of the job description for “general” is “being wiling to get ‘blood on your hands’ by ordering the soldiers under your command to risk their deaths in order to kill other people.” Every general in the world–Iranian, American, wherever, has blood on his, or, these days, her hands, or at least has indicated a willingness to do so. Disparaging a general for having “blood on his hands” is like criticizing a farmer for having dirt under hir fingernails. It comes with the territory.

Generals are willing to “get blood on their hands,” but generally recognize that it’s better not to–it’s better to outmanoeuvre your  opponent, and better still to find a way to make peace. That, in fact, is what Soleimani was doing in Iraq on the day he was murdered. According to the Prime Minister of Iraq, Soleimani was on his way to meet with him about getting together with the Saudis and de-escalating tensions in the region, and the US government knew it–in other words, all those top US government officials who are braying that Soleimani was “planning the deaths of more Americans” are either lying, or haven’t done their homework. The US has given the rest of the world yet another in the long list of reasons not to trust Uncle Sam.

I’m a pacifist, as is the Green Party in general, but so far pacifism is not the way of the world. Nations intimidate other nations by killing people, and, the only thing that generally stops them is if too many of their own people get killed by the people of the nation they are attacking. That is reality and it would hardly be in line with an overall pacifist take on things to insist that all murderers, er, soldiers, need to be killed to make this a better world. For that matter, it wouldn’t be the pacifist way to deny that they have something to say and need to be included in working out non-violent solutions to world problems. The way to end war is to promote the familyhood of the human race, not to try and exclude everybody we don’t already agree with.

Killing Soleimani will not bring peace. Bush and Obama knew that, and pulled the US and the Israelis back from assassinating him on several occasions. Since I began writing this, there has been an exchange of threats, and the Iranians opted to use their precision-guided missiles to blow some bomb craters into unoccupied parts of a couple of Iranian military bases that also host US troops. You could call this a “warning shot.” Those missiles could have landed on occupied parts of those bases, or the US embassy in Baghdad, but the Iranians knew such moves would provoke massive retaliation. They are in possession of Russian anti-aircraft and anti-missile defenses that supposedly can knock anything the US might throw at them out of the sky, but nobody really wants to find out how well they work.

The Iranian response exactly matches the US response to the alleged Syrian government gas attack in Douma (a claim now known to have been fabricated, by the way), when the US fired missiles that hit open ground at a Syrian base. Democrats criticized Trump for this “weak response,” but in retrospect, it does look like a wiser move than escalation would have been.

The other Iranian demand, that the US leave Iraq, has been enthusiastically adopted by the Iraqi Parliament. I am somewhat amused by the fact that the democratic system of governance the US so forcibly introduced into Iraq is now being employed to ask us to leave. I guess the US didn’t exactly “win their hearts and minds.”

And, speaking of “hearts and minds,” consider that the Iraqis Soleimani is “accused” of helping were resisting US occupation of their country after their government and its army collapsed. They are more properly termed “resistance fighters” than “terrorists.” What’s the difference between them and “The French Resistance,” or any other WWII resistance movement that we now view as heroic? Those people were all “terrorists” to their German oppressors.

And what is the difference between German aggression in WWII, generally launched on the flimsiest of pretexts, and the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, likewise launched on flimsy pretexts that were soon proved false–or even known to be false at the time? German aggression was, and US aggression is, aimed at increasing the prosperity of “the homeland” at the expense of the countries that are attacked, either by destroying the victim country’s sources of wealth and power or by sending that wealth to the conquering country. In our case, our government has made it quite clear that the invasion of Iraq was about gaining control of the country’s oil resources. As every Iranian knows, but few Americans are aware, the US and Britain collaborated to overthrow a democratically elected government in Iran  in 1954 because it had promised to nationalize the country’ s western-owned oil resources and give the benefit to the Iranian people instead of rich westerners. That’s the source of all this “mysterious” Iranian hostility to the west. We ripped the Iranians off, it took twenty-five years for the them to throw off the dictator the west installed, aka “The Shah of Iran,” and then the US and Britain harassed them for taking their country back, just as the US is now saying that, if the US leaves, the Iraqis will have to pay “us” for the military bases the US will have to abandon. What gall!

The same cause–regaining control of the oil–lies behind the US siege of Venezuela. But that’s a whole other topic.

Thus, Soleimani was defending his country against US aggression, working to “stop the Americans in Iraq so he wouldn’t have to stop them in Iran,” if you will. Americans were, in a way, only a secondary concern for him. His main focus was on defeating the various Saudi/Wahaabi-instigated insurrections that go under the names of ISIS, or The Taliban or The Islamic State of….”. To this end, he was willing to co-operate with the US when our country initially invaded Afghanistan “to go after The Taliban,” and his influence, not to mention his soldiers, had a great deal to do with the US’s initial success there. Iran’s reward for helping the US in this venture was to be labelled part of “the axis of evil.” Once that insult was turned loose, the co-operation was mostly over, until once again the US and Iran found themselves on the same side in the effort to eliminate the radical fundamentalist  “Islamic State” from Iraq and Syria, most notably at the battle of Fallujah.

“The Islamic State,” The Taliban, and ISIS are not creations of the Iranian Shi’ite Muslims, but have all been founded, armed, and financed by “our friends the Saudis,” who are Sunni Muslims. Former Ambassador Craig Murray had some excellent comments in his recent blog post on the subject, which I am now going to quote:

The truth of the matter is that if you take every American killed including and since 9/11, in the resultant Middle East related wars, conflicts and terrorist acts, well over 90% of them have been killed by Sunni Muslims financed and supported out of Saudi Arabia and its gulf satellites, and less than 10% of those Americans have been killed by Shia Muslims tied to Iran.

This is a horribly inconvenient fact for US administrations which, regardless of party, are beholden to Saudi Arabia and its money. It is, the USA affirms, the Sunnis who are the allies and the Shias who are the enemy. Yet every journalist or aid worker hostage who has been horribly beheaded or otherwise executed has been murdered by a Sunni, every jihadist terrorist attack in the USA itself, including 9/11, has been exclusively Sunni, the Benghazi attack was by Sunnis, Isil are Sunni, Al Nusra are Sunni, the Taliban are Sunni and the vast majority of US troops killed in the region are killed by Sunnis.

Precisely which are these hundreds of deaths for which the Shia forces of Soleimani were responsible? Is there a list? It is of course a simple lie. Its tenuous connection with truth relates to the Pentagon’s estimate – suspiciously upped repeatedly since Iran became the designated enemy – that back during the invasion of Iraq itself, 83% of US troop deaths were at the hands of Sunni resistance and 17% of of US troop deaths were at the hands of Shia resistance, that is 603 troops. All the latter are now lain at the door of Soleimani, remarkably.

Those were US troops killed in combat during an invasion. The Iraqi Shia militias – whether Iran backed or not – had every legal right to fight the US invasion. The idea that the killing of invading American troops was somehow illegal or illegitimate is risible. Plainly the US propaganda that Soleimani was “responsible for hundreds of American deaths” is intended, as part of the justification for his murder, to give the impression he was involved in terrorism, not legitimate combat against invading forces. The idea that the US has the right to execute those who fight it when it invades is an absolutely stinking abnegation of the laws of war.

As I understand it, there is very little evidence that Soleimani had active operational command of Shia militias during the invasion, and in any case to credit him personally with every American soldier killed is plainly a nonsense. But even if Soleimani had personally supervised every combat success, these were legitimate acts of war. You cannot simply assassinate opposing generals who fought you, years after you invade.

The US’s bull-in-a-china-shop approach to diplomacy in this and many other matters is alienating our country’s European allies, as well.  It seems that, just as climate change is coming upon us faster than we initially thought it would, the twilight of American hegemony is likewise deepening into night more quickly than our leaders believed it would when The Soviet Union, our only major rival, crashed and burned thirty years ago. As Pepe Escobar commented in Consortium News,

We knew it was coming. There were plenty of rumbles in Israeli media by former military and Mossad officials. There were explicit threats by the Pentagon. I discussed it in detail in Umbria last week with sterling analyst Alastair Crooke – who was extremely worried. I received worried messages from Iran.

The inevitable escalation by Washington was being discussed until late Thursday night here in Palermo, actually a few hours before the strike. (Sicily, by the way, in the terminology of U.S. generals, is AMGOT: American Government Occupied Territory.)

Once again, the Exceptionalist hands at work show how predictable they are. Trump is cornered by impeachment. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted. Nothing like an external “threat” to rally the internal troops.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei knows about these complex variables as much as he knows of his responsibility as the power who issued Iran’s own red lines. Not surprisingly he already announced, on the record, there will be blowback: “a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of other martyrs last night on their hands.” Expect it to be very painful.

… The Deep State is absolutely terrified that Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces), a grassroots organization, are on the way to becoming a new Hezbollah, and as powerful as Hezbollah. Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the supreme religious authority in Iraq, universally respected by Shia, fully supports them.

So, the American strike also targets Sistani — not to mention the fact that Hash al-Shaabi operates under guidelines issued by the Iraqi Prime Minister Abdel Mahdi. That’s a major strategic blunder that can only be pulled off by amateurs.

“Amateurs” is the word Escobar uses, and in a sense it’s appropriate, for what we are seeing in the Trump regime is foreign and domestic policy being made by people who seem to be completely unmindful of its broader effects.  Their only question seems to be, “Will this benefit my business interests in the short run?” This is the attitude that Democrats are legitimately criticizing in the Ukraine affair, but their hands are not clean, either. Their last Presidential candidate lost in part because she repeatedly attempted to “prove her manhood” by overthrowing governments that were resisting absorption into the US empire, and because she was all too willing to put other peoples’ children in harm’s way to do so. This same short-sightedness also accounts for our government’s failure to do what it will take to meet the challenge of climate change. So it’s not just Trump’s “amateurism” that creates misguided US policy. It’s a systemic problem. The “professionals” have their own biases and make their own miscalculations. So far, it seems that both the US and Iran are recognizing that it is in the interest of neither country to escalate hostilities. Hopefully, cooler heads will continue to prevail.

Meanwhile, reality rolls on, and this whole shoot-em-up drama is just another distraction from the unthinkably vast changes that our planet’s increasingly chaotic climate is unleashing on us. The more our governments ignore them, the harder those blows will become. The Titanic is sinking, and the shots fired by the fools fighting over who will get to use the lifeboats are blowing holes in those lifeboats and rendering them useless. We’ll be lucky to get through this century alive.

Bob Dylan, “Masters of War”  electric version w/great video

Richard Thompson, “The Woods of Darnay

Jane Siberry “All the Candles in the World


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