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U.S – Israeli Targeted Assassinations – Pyrrhic Victories, Strategic Losses.

September 19, 2021

Ghassan Suliemani and with former Iranian foreign secretary (and University of Denver, Korbel School of International Studies, phd.) Javad Zarif. Suliemani was assassinated by the Trump Administration. Most Americans have no idea how destructive that murder was to U.S. Middle East policy…

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Washington has a long history of exaggerating its victories – political or military – as well as minimizing or simply denying its setbacks or defeats. It also has a long history of face saving damage control when it comes to defeats or just “fuck ups” – like the recent drone killing of an Afghan family of ten that has been in the news. This New York Times article celebrating targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists fits nicely into that pattern. Washington and Tel Aviv might have their hands tied with Iranian shipments of oil to Lebanon (a strategic set back) but at least “we’re” still killing Iranian nuclear scientists! Sick logic, but what else is new?

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1.

Recently the New York Times ran a detailed story about the Israeli  high tech targeted assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhizadeh on November 27, 2020, a murder carried out by a remote-controlled machine gun “equipped with an intelligent satellite system” using artificial intelligence.

Although the article gave the appearance of being a breakthrough in investigative reporting, actually it was nothing of the kind. Most of the information therein had appeared days after the attack in the Iranian press with follow up articles all over the Middle East and beyond. Only in the United States were the details of the event as well as Israel’s long-standing targeted assassination program against Iranian nuclear scientists – was more muted (although there have been articles, especially in the alternative media). What is “new” about the piece is that finally the information is now appearing in an authoritative mainstream media source that remains a kind of unofficial flagship of U.S. foreign policy, the New York Times.

The article is curious in a demented sort of way.

Israeli (and U.S.) bragging that it can assassinate (which means politically murder) anyone in Iran from Fakhizadeh to the five other nuclear scientists it has killed since the program began in 2004 (this according to the article). The normalization of cold blooded murder? The evidence that these assassinations are essentially U.S.-Israel joint operations appears frequently throughout. Israel could not engage in such programs without the green light from Washington. The article claims that in the aftermath of assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader Qassim Suleimani that Iran’s response was “tepid.” Tepid? Almost immediately thereafter, Iran bombed two U.S. military bases in Iraq, the major one be the Al Asad Base in Western Iraq. In so doing it showed to the world, but especially to Washington and Tel Aviv, that it has accurate long range missile capability with missiles that could strike basically undetected over a distance of 800 miles. The other response to the Suliemani murder was that it has resulted in a region-wide campaign to close the network of U.S. military bases enveloping Iran that has included a steady flow of missile attacks against the bases.

Tepid?

But the question in my mind reading this article boasting of killing Fakhizedah is why now? 

Why now, ten months after the event has the NY Times chosen not only to do an expose on the Israeli high tech assassination of Fakhizedah? Why in a mainstream media source detail the Israeli targeted assassination campaign in such detail, only verifying the claims that alternative media sources have been making for decades?

A couple of themes come to mind.

First, is the need in both the United States and Israel to justify their on-going flagrant violations of international law involved in killing foreign nationals in this manner, be it drone killings, the new artificial intelligence version here, or the old fashioned C.I.A. type. Thousands of unofficial murders both countries have been committed with impunity, or attempted (as in the case of Fidel Castro) over the years. As both countries have plans to kill many more opponents across the world, they continue to need to domestic support of public opinion to continue. Vilification becomes a way to justify the torture and murder of the victims, be it Patrice Lumumba tortured to death, his body then dissolved in sulphuric acid, Mohammar Khadaffi who was slowly tortured and killed with a bayonet up his butt, Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. Then there the equally obscene Israeli assassination of Hamas spiritual leader, Sheik Yassin, comes to mind. He was a cripple in a wheel chair incinerated by an Israeli missile fired from an attack helicopter.

By any standard of law, just human decency, those who ordered and executed these killings should be indicted for murder. Just the opposite has happened. The assassins, be they the Israeli high tech murderers who killed Fakhizedah, or even more so, the U.S. Navy special forces team that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, become heroes. (1)

The fallacy of such operations is clear enough: that to kill leaders of a movement, be it nuclear scientists in Iran or any of the others is that “by cutting off the head”, the movement will shrink and die – it’s essentialy the same logic that led to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., exactly. Problem is – the ethics or lack thereof aside – it hasn’t worked, doesn’t work and will not work in the future, the reason being that the opposition Washington or Tel Aviv is trying to crush has developed to such a degree that knocking off one leader or another has hardly any effect – there is a whole cadre of others to replace the victims.

2.

But this line of reasoning – ie, the Times published the piece to, once again, justify that which is unjustifyable, the epidemic of political assassinations, either in person or remotely, is only a part of the story. Whenever a piece like this appears, with elements (and that is all) of truth, admitting to the mainstream what is well known by anyone who has ventured to explore the question, something else is going on. And in this case, the timing of the piece is of the essence. The Times article is an attempt to redirect the public to “the facts on the ground” currently, these being, that U.S. (and to a certain extent) and Israeli Middle East policy has, suffered a series of blows of late from which, at least now, they have no answer for. One could even call them “political defeats.” Hints of these have appeared in the media here, but only in bits and pieces and usually so obscure that it’s difficult to piece them othere.

So what are these body blows to U.S. Middle East to which I am referring?

1. One of the biggest, the U.S.-Israeli failure to block oil shipments from Iran to Lebanon via Syria. Iranian oil tankers have deposited a large shipment of oil Even the Times of Israel essentially admitted as much a few days ago:

Israel won’t move to stop Iran shipments of fuel to Lebanon, amid the serious economic and energy crisis plaguing the neighboring country, according to a senior military official and a television report on Thursday.

Dozens of trucks carrying Iranian diesel arrived in Lebanon on Thursday, the first in a series of deliveries organized by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group. The overland delivery through neighboring Syria violates US sanctions imposed on Tehran after former president Donald Trump pulled America out of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2018.

By shipping Iranian oil to Lebanon, the Iranians have both defied U.S. sanctions (of any country doing business with the Iranian oil industry) as well as embarrassed the Israelis who are, for the moment at least, helpless to stop the delivery. Further, Iran has announced that other shipments of oil will follow adding salt to the wound.

Why can’t the previously “all powerful” U.S. and/or Israel block these shipments?

Very simply, Hezbollah has vowed to retaliate against Israel with missile strikes in response to any effort to block these oil shipments from getting through. Washington, forever speaking of its yet to happen strategic shift to Asia, does not want to ignite a regional war, has taken note and has let the this violation of its sanctions stranglehold go by the wayside. As for the Israelis, they have never really recovered from the sting of defeat Hezbollah iniitiated against them in 2006, Knowing that the Lebanese resistance movement’s missile know-how has only grown dramatically since them, Israel understands that the organization’s warnings of retaliation are more than simply empty rhetoric, idle threats. In the both case their hands are tied. While they might chaff at the bit so to speak, their unwillingness to ignite a further military confrontation over the Iranian oil shipments, their caution is well founded.

Small news in the U.S. media (it has been reported but gingerly) the Iranian oil shipments to Lebanon are big news throughout the Middle East, page 1, stuff and are interpreted as they should be, as a set back for U.S. policy. Needless to say, these shipments are very popular in Lebanon, itself, in a U.S. sanctions strangehold as a result of the Caesar Act.

2. There is another body blow to U.S. Middle East policy, again downplayed in the U.S. media. The U.S. is looking towards closing the al Asad military base in western Iraq as well as withdrawing Patriot missiles and some U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia. Missile attacks by Iraqi and Yemeni resistance groups have made their continued presence precarious. As usual, when presented with such incidents, Washington has the option of responding with increased force. But that would only deepen the quadmire into which the U.S. finds itself militarily in the region. Instead of upping the ante militarily, the long-term knee jerk typical U.S. reaction, Washington has bitten the bullet so to speak and is quietly but systematically drawing down its military presence only to emphasize that much more the non-military aspects of its hybrid warfare (economic, cyber warfare, media disinformation) aspects of its policies.

Washington has a long history of exaggerating its victories – political or military – as well as minimizing or simply denying its setbacks or defeats. It also has a long history of face saving damage control when it comes to defeats or just “fuck ups” – like the recent drone killing of an Afghan family of ten that has been in the news. This New York Times article celebrating targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists fits nicely into that pattern. Washington and Tel Aviv might have their hands tied with Iranian shipments of oil to Lebanon (a strategic set back) but at least “we’re” still killing Iranian nuclear scientists! Sick logic, but what else is new?

  1. (Here a personal note. I once met a human piece of detritus that claimed to have been a part of the hit team that killed Cuban revolutonary, Che Guervara, in Bolivia. He lived in the neighborhood of Northwest Denver where Nancy and I have lived for 45 years; of all odd things, he and his wife were a part of a baby-sitting coop in which our family participated at the tim.  I never could verify his claim but his description of how Guervera died matched what I later read. Shortly afterwards, all this is 40 years ago, his young wife developed cancer at which point he abandonned her to her fate. I was impressed by his boasfulness (“so happy we got that son of a bitch” – sticks in my mind) and his impressive lack of humanity. I thought at the time that he would have made a fine guard in a Nazi concentration camp, Bagram or Abu Graib.
One Comment leave one →
  1. Gene Fitzpatrick permalink
    September 22, 2021 9:42 am

    Suleimani’s incendiary elimination seemed to me to be particularly cold-blooded and associated with a certain nonchalance on Trump’s part, All in a day’s work and not worth a second thought. The seemingly complete lack of umbrage over the killing on the part of American society is revealng about that society’s value of human life. In the year and a half since the killing, I’ve yet to witness anger and condemnation issuing from the mainline Protestant and Catholic leadership over its occurrence.

    Excuse me, I feel like going now and ‘taking a knee’ with Colin Kaepernick.

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