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No to War with Iran! The Wounded Beast Syndrome…U.S. Assassinates Iranian General Qassim Suleimani in a Heliocopter Attack: Two Days After the Iranian Attack on U.S. Bases in Iraq: Just when we think Trump has “hit bottom” we learn, “there’s a bottom below.”

January 9, 2020

some of the five-to-seven million Iranians mourning the murder of General Qassem Suleimani. Teheran, Iran. January 6, 2020

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Main point where it comes to both the damages done to the base and U.S. personnel casualties: more and more it appears the damage was seriously understated by Trump at his press conference. There are several reasons why Trump would lie, exaggerate in the way he did.

– The first is simply but poignantly to save face. Say what you like, the United States just suffered a major strategic defeat in the Middle East which Trump is trying to cover it.  The Iranians demonstrated that they had both the technical means and the audacity to challenge Washington. It was the United States that has been first discredited and now humiliated by Iran and not visa-versa. 

– Then there is the more practical reason – the danger of follow up attacks on U.S. bases and personnel in the region. The Iranians showed that it is possible to stand up to Washington militarily. What conclusions will others draw from this? And now a region-wide campaign to shut down U.S. military bases in the Middle East and neighboring countries is underway.

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1.

So… This is the last of these brief updates in the series “No to War with Iran! The Wounded Beast Syndrome…U.S. Assassinates Iranian General Qassim Suleimani”. Now we are two days after the Iranian attack on two U.S. military bases in Iraq – Ain Assad, a tad northwest of Baghdad – and the Erbil base in the northern region of the country.

There is a certain amount of relief that the cycle of attacks – the U.S. murder of Iranian General Suleimani followed by the Iranian attack on the two U.S. military bases – has ended for the moment. Had it continued – and few knew if it would or not – the dangers – not just to regional peace, but to world peace cannot be overstated.

Having led us to the brink – first by trashing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran Nuclear Deal) and imposing increasingly punishing sanctions on Iran, then by the cold and calculating assassination – murder that is – of one of the most important political figures in Iran, Qassim Suleimani – the Trump Administration is responsible for this escalation of tensions and for the military tit-for-tat that it entailed. It has backfired politically.

The Trump Administration might get a point (well half a point) for pulling back from the brink but it cannot escape the fact that the entire crisis was “made in America.”

2.

Since yesterday morning’s press conference, President Trump has continued to defend the decision to murder Suleimani. The weaker his arguments become, the more shrill the message, the more blatant the lies. I don’t know how he can outdo today’s performance but then always remember the title of the Malvina Reynolds song that gives me the necessary slap in the face: “So you think you’ve hit bottom? Oh no! There’s a bottom below!”

Today’s bottom: Today at the White House Trump told the press that murdered General Suleimani was “looking to blow up our embassy”  [US embassy in Baghdad), laying it on deeper and thicker with “he was a real monster.” As a companero noted, “total lie, Hitler like” – which it was. Trump was building on yesterday’s lie in which the White House claimed Iran “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”

To date no evidence backing either claim has been presented. Don’t hold your breath that some will be forthcoming.

In fact, as noted in an earlier  blog entry, the scenario put forth by the Administration and essentially swallowed by mainstream media in the United States, that Suleimani was in Baghdad to organize the killing of U.S. military personnel – that is simple and pure fantasy.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Mahdi, explained that Suleimani came to Baghdad to respond to a Saudi peace offering (about Yemen) and it is Trump himself who requested that the Iraqis act as middlemen between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Furthermore he flew in on a commercial airline from Beirut. Quite a different explanation from the fear-based fantasies that Trump has been spinning.

3.

Already a day after Trump’s press conference which  justified the Suleimani murder but also put the breaks on a U.S. military response, Trump’s arguments are once again collapsing before our eyes – probably one of the main reasons that the media is focusing on the civilian airliner shot out of the sky in Iran. (more on that in my next blog entry). A cousin of mine back East, quoting from the Washington Post, noted that in his press conference Trump lied:

  • He claimed the Iranian people chanted “Death to America” on the day the nuclear deal was signed. In reality, thousands of Iranians took to the streets to celebrate the signing of the nuclear deal, elated that a diplomatic channel between Iran and the United States had finally been opened after years of tensions.
  • He repeated a wild claim that the U.S. gave Iran “$150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash” after signing the deal. This is patently untrue: after the deal was signed, Iran regained access to $150 billion of its own assets, which had been frozen abroad.
  • He again claimed that he had destroyed “100 percent of ISIS and its territorial caliphate”.

Yes and he either lied or made other mis-statements, many of the actually.

Weaving all those lies together though, what were the main points Trump was trying to convey:

– that Suleimani’s murder was justified,

– that little damage was done to the targeted US bases,

– that there were no U.S. casualties,

– that the Iranian missiles were ineffective and…

– that it was Iran that “conceded” to the United States politically.

Most of those arguments are unraveling or seriously questioned a mere 24 hours later. Let’s look at them one by one:

– Very few world leaders in the international community – other than Netanyahu and Boris Johnson – is claiming that assassinating Suleimani was justified. Trump and his administration are being close universally condemned. France, Russia and China all condemned the killing. A number of high level Japanese responded likewise. In the Islamic world, the condemnation was near-universal. Trump’s justification of the killing is falling flat; that is why he is now fabricating a new line of non-reasoning – that Suleimani was going to blow up the American Embassy in Iraq.

So much for that one.

Concerning the damage done to the bases and U.S. casualties.

The bigger base is Ain Assad northwest of Baghdad. Photos released and then placed on social media – many by U.S. marines and army personnel – suggest massive damage. Today there are Iraqi reports that the entire U.S. section of the base was leveled to the ground by the missiles.

– Concerning U.S. casualties – there are mixed reports.

One report claims that two hours prior to the missile attack that the Iranian government informed the Iraqi government of that a missile strike was imminent and that immediately, the Iraqis told Washington., ie, that Trump was forewarned and could remove U.S. troops and personnel from the intended targets. The reasoning goes that Iran wants more to send a political message to Trump than to kill American military personnel. 

This makes sense to me and I am confident in the days to come that this scenario will be verified (and already has been to a certain extent)

Concerning U.S. military casualties, a confused situation. At first the Iranians claimed that there were some eighty casualties but then pulled back on that. Still, there was another report, which first appeared and then was pulled from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that just after the missile attack some 225 U.S. military personnel were transferred to Israel, some of them wounded and in bad condition.(1)

Main point where it comes to both the damages done to the base and U.S. personnel casualties: more and more it appears the damage was seriously understated by Trump at his press conference. There are several reasons why Trump would lie, exaggerate in the way he did.

– The first is simply but poignantly to save face. Say what you like, the United States just suffered a major strategic defeat in the Middle East which Trump is trying to cover it.  The Iranians demonstrated that they had both the technical means and the audacity to challenge Washington. It was the United States that has been first discredited and now humiliated by Iran and not visa-versa. 

– Then there is the more practical reason – the danger of follow up attacks on U.S. bases and personnel in the region. The Iranians showed that it is possible to stand up to Washington militarily. What conclusions will others draw from this? And now a region-wide campaign to shut down U.S. military bases in the Middle East and neighboring countries is underway.

– Concerning the technical accuracy of Iranian missiles. They proved deadly and highly effective and not the inefficient near useless missiles that Trump suggested.

What proved to be completely ineffective, now for the second time in three months, was the high cost U.S. made radar defense and the much touted Patriot Missiles, anti-missile missiles, meant to neutralize a such an attack. First there were the Yemeni drone attacks on the Saudi oil fields which exposed the mostly U.S. purchased high tech defense systems essentially irrelevant. Now these same defense mechanism proved useless to long range Iranian missiles that can hug the ground below radar. Think of what they could do to a U.S. air craft carrier.

There is one other aspect to this crisis – yet to be confirmed – but at least as it was relayed to me by people in the region and it is this. At a certain point almost immediately after the Iranian missiles hit their target, F-18s (based in Qatar) were scrambling to attack. A call was made to Qatar and the Emirates suggesting that should Iran be attacked by American planes from their countries that Iran would respond in full. The F-18s were called back. The Gulf countries got the message.

Plain and simple: The United States is the aggressor and it is the Trump Administration – for a variety of reasons (which Kazerooni and I will go over in detail in our next edition of KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues – January 24) led engaged in such senseless brinkmanship.

End of series

The movement to close down U.S. bases abroad has long and deep roots. This photo from a June 1986 conference in Athens. Theme: Shut down U.S. military bases in Greece (R. Prince photo)

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Footnotes:

  1. Conflicting reports on the Haaretz piece… but Pepe Escobar on social media published the following: 

    VERY IMPORTANT ALLEGED INJURED US SOLDIERS IN IRAQ UPDATE

    Going beyond the report which was or was not on Haaretz, or was axed, or was fake news, or came from a stolen account – whatever. What matter is what the head of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said. And that is EXTREMELY SERIOUS. I just reconfirmed it.

    He said: “US forces transported its injured soldiers to Zionist entity [ a.k.a. Israel] USING NINE AIRPLANES.”

    So that essentially confirms the report/no report/whatever published or not published by Haaretz.

    The Pentagon would NEVER admit in public they had injured soldiers – because in Exceptionalistan this is a casus belli.

    Gen. Hajizadeh is a very serious character. He’s not in the lying and cheating business, like Consul Pompeus Minimus. He also said, “we were able to target the barracks of US soldiers in airbase but we avoided that, because our aim was to target the command center.”

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