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Film Showing – 1948: Creation and Catastrophe: A Documentary About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

January 8, 2020

Sunday, January 12, 2020

3-5 pm

Augustina Lutheran Church

5000 E. Alameda at Fairfax, Denver

please use the Fairfax Street entrance


sponsored by Sabeel – Colorado. “Diplomacy”

January 7, 2020

Iraqis Storming the US Embassy in protest of Trump’s assassination of Iranian General Qassim Suleimani and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces leader Abu Mahdi al Muhandis


Bartlett relates that in testimony before the Iraqi Parliament – prior to its vote calling for the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq –  the country’s former Prime Minister, Abdul Mahdi, commented that Trump threatened to have US marines snipers fire at protesters if he refuses to cancel a major trade agreement with China. He also said that Trump threatened to have him & the defense minister killed.

The subtlety of Al Capone. No, Capone would have been more “poetic”.


Washington’s Political Insane Asylum

Every day a new revelation.

Interesting how during crises another truth – seems to get shaken loose and how the main stream media – the big guys – the TV networks, the New York Times, Washington Post etc. – try to shape the narrative. For the most part they apply what is referred to as “gray propaganda” – ie. they don’t exactly lie but emphasize or de-emphasize the truth as they see it in order to shape the narrative they would like the public to swallow. “Black” propaganda – a la Fox News and the like – they resort to outright lying no wholes barred.

Without spending one’s entire day filtering this and that news story, it is possible to glean a counter narrative – one closer to reality. There are useful sources – even on Facebook – and the internet in general that help deconstruct the untruths and exaggerations that bring into focus what is really going on. Also, especially but not uniquely with this president – it seems that the spats within the Administration go in opposite directions.

By way of examples:

– two days ago the president in his usual vile manner threatened to bomb 52 sites in Iran – among them the country’s cultural sites. The next day, in contradiction, the Pentagon said no, cultural sites would not be targets.

– similarly, there are wildly contradictory statements coming from the Administration and its Supreme Do Do Head concerning the drawing down of U.S. troops in Iraq.

State Department going one way, Defense another, the president tweeting whatever comes to mind and openly attacking the FBI (yesterday Trump referred to the FBI as “scum“), Trump says something one day, his own Pentagon contradicts him the next. Looks like a zoo, sounds like a zoo, feels like a zoo, smells like a zoo.  Guess it’s a zoo. Read more…

No to War with Iran! The Wounded Beast Syndrome…U.S. Assassinates Iranian General Qassim Suleimani in a Heliocopter Attack – 5 – Negotiating with “the Deplorables”

January 6, 2020

from anti-war demonstration, Denver, Colorado – January 4, 2020.


Bottom line: The Deplorables didn’t have a clue about the anger and anti-American sentiment that murdering Suleimani would unleash and now don’t have a clue as to how to deal with it. They are vaguely – at least some of them – aware that are in trouble, big time.


The deplorables…

On a Skype call with an old friend from Finland.

She wants to hear – but doesn’t want to hear – about “the deplorables” – her metaphor for the Trump Administration and what the future holds for the Middle East. “No long, gory details,” she asks. “If its gonna get better I want to know, but it isn’t, is it?” she continues. How to answer in a few words – always difficult for me! But I remember what a Tunisian-Jew friend in Los Angeles told me about the Tunisian situation just after Ben Ali was overthrown: “First it’s gonna get worse…. and then it will get better.”

So I tried that. She was unimpressed.

The Deplorables? Good title for a rock band, less fitting, but unfortunately all to apt for the President of the United States, his cabinet and the Congress.

So, what ARE the Deplorables up to?

Well, I’m sure you can read or see many reports on what is unfolding. Again, more interested in some general trends than long complex analyses.

My take is that under the surface the Deplorables are running scared and are only now vaguely – it is never more than vaguely – coming to understand the consequences of having ordered the murder of Iranian General Qassim Suleimani.

As another friend poetically put it…”There’s the music and the math”…

On the one hand – as mentioned yesterday – Trump has publicly in a tweet threatened to bomb 52 cultural and religious sites in Iran if the Iranians refuse – through third parties – to negotiate with him, the Great Deplorable. To date, Kameni and company in Teheran have politely told the Great Deplorable to chuck it, as we used to say.

Today the Great Deplorable struck out at Iraq.

While his No 2 – Great Deplorable in Training – Mike Pompeo – blew off the Iraqi parliament’s resolution calling on the withdrawal of all foreign troops from their country – which includes 5000 or so U.S. troops and an untold number of private contractors (called mercenaries), in yet another “temper-temper” (as my daughters used to call tantrums when they were young), a day later, the Great Deplorable himself has “threatened to slap `very big’ sanctions on Iraq if it expels U.S. military forces from Iraq:

Trump told reporters that the U.S. would ignore Iraq’s calls for removal due to the “extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there.”

“We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” he said, according to press pool reports. “If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever.”

So much for “the music” – a discordant as it is – from the Great Deplorable.

Then there is the math…

  • U.S naval ships – it has been reported in a number of Middle East news sources – their tails between their legs – are withdrawing from the Persian Gulf to places 1000 miles to the east in the Indian Ocean. They fear being targeted.
  • The State Department has called on all Americans in Iraq to leave the country
  • The Trump Administration is desperately, through a number of third parties, trying to negotiate with the Iranians. To date, the Iranians have rejected all these approaches. Truly bizarre proposals, one of which is that the U.S. would accept a revenge assassination of an American (general?) “of equal stature” to Suleimani. It is as if  Trump is willing to “sacrifice” an American general and then call it “even.”
  • With an eye on the 2020 presidential contest, Trump has had to compromise with the Democrats in Congress, promising not to go to war with Iran without Congressional consent.
  • Meanwhile, in Iran and throughout the Middle East, sizable, no enormous crowds (tens? hundreds of thousands? several million) have taken to the streets to mourn Suleimani’s murder. If you think this is just “Iranian propaganda” or that it does not matter, or “what’s the big deal?” you are sadly mistaken.

Bottom line: The Deplorables didn’t have a clue about the anger and anti-American sentiment that murdering Suleimani would unleash and now don’t have a clue as to how to deal with it. They are vaguely – at least some of them – aware that are in trouble, big time.

No to War with Iran! The Wounded Beast Syndrome…U.S. Assassinates Iranian General Qassim Suleimani in a Heliocopter Attack – 4 – Waste Deep in the Big Muddy

January 5, 2020


Waste deep in the Big Muddy, but the big fool said to push on


Again as a reminder – just a daily update – of a mix of reflections on the heightening tensions triggered by the U.S. assassination of Iranian al Quds leader, Qassim Suleimani, that is being condemned more and more widely as an “act of war” (which it was).

First off, initial reports from friends in Minneapolis, New York City suggest that anti-war demonstrations in other places in the United States had a similar tone (youth led, angry, militant, anti-imperialist) as yesterday’s Denver demonstrations, and that the Denver was not unique. It probably helps that the maniac/moron/gangster Trump is the President Although peaceful and non-violent, the old “love your enemies” stuff just doesn’t seem to wash anymore.

What comes to mind today are three points.

First that the Trump Administration has gone on the defensive internationally trying to tone down the impact of the assassination. Secondly that the American military has become “fair game” all over the region… and it can be expected that there will be a “tick up” in the number of military personnel (and private contractors) returning home in coffins and body bags. Thirdly that the p. r. effort – crafted by organizations such as the Israeli-connected Foundation for the Defense of Democracy – to vilify Qassim Suleiman with the same brush as Saddam Hussein or Muammar Khadaffi is going nowhere abroad and fast unraveling after three days here in the United States.

1. Concerning Trump on the defensive…

In response to the overwhelmingly negative international opinion to the assassination, the Trump Administration is already, clearly on the defensive, so much so that Trump has asked for help from the same allies that he likes to shit on, the Europeans in particular, to act as mediators between Teheran and Washington.

– A veritable diplomatic stampede: Swiss, German, Omani, Kuwaiti, Qatari diplomats (and who knows? probably others) have been trying to intervene on Trump’s behalf in Teheran to no avail.

– According to one report, ever the deal maker, Trump has notified the Iranians that Washington would “accept” some kind of retaliatory attack “as long as it was proportional, ie, the assassination of an American of equal stature to Suleimani. Another report related a meeting between Qatari Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Abdulrahman al Thani and his Iranian counterpart, suggesting that Washington was offering “a nuclear deal” and lifting sanctions in exchange for no response.

Mixing the proverbial stick with the unconvincing carrot – and giving what is classic example of a mixed message – at the same time, should the Iranians refuse to negotiate Trump has threatened to bomb 52 cultural sites in Iran. As Jake Johnson noted in a post at Common Dreams:

Ordinary Iranians on Saturday responded to U.S. President Donald Trump’s monstrous threat to strike sites “important to Iran and the Iranian culture” with an outpouring of photos highlighting their favorite mosques, museums, monuments, and other stunning architecture.

2. Iran has refused to respond to any of these “offers” and has instead “raised the red flag” over its religious sites throughout Iran. In Shi’ite tradition”raising the red flag” symbolizing blood spilled unjustly and serves as a call to avenge the person slain.

What might that mean?

Frankly it is rather clear: all American military personal, as well as private contractors limited to the the broader region of the Middle East, have, over the past few days, become targets. Already there have been several missile attacks on U.S. positions in northwestern Iraq seemingly as a result. Only fools, members of Congress (both parties), the neo-Cons advising Donald Trump and the mainstream America media would ignore – or downplay – the warnings herein.

So…. get ready, get ready.

3. The rationale for the targeted assassination of Suleimani is unraveling and as one source puts it, is little more than a fairytale. After asserting that Suleimani was planning “imminent attacks” on U.S. military personnel or its interests in Iraq, more thoughtful commentators have noted that Washington, once again, has provided no evidence. More than likely because there is none.

The vilification of Suleimani – which has some traction in the U.S media – has virtually no support outside of the United States. Widespread media attempts to paint him as some kind of fanatic or mass murderer – another justification for the assassination – are going nowhere beyond the borders of the United States and are backfiring. Attempts to put him in the same category as Saddam Hussein or Muammar Khadaffi are not flying and will not – even if some left and peace movement types in the United States have bought in to this particular brand of cool aid.

To the contrary, the assassination has done what Washington has long feared: created a martyr and not just among Shi’ites for whom martyrdom has a special place (as it does, if you have forgotten, among Christians).

Hold on to your seat belts…

Anti-war protest sign. Denver, Colorado. January 4, 2020


No to War with Iran! The Wounded Beast Syndrome…U.S. Assassinates Iranian General Qassim Suleimani in a Heliocopter Attack – 3 – “Nationwide Mobilization Against War With Iran”

January 4, 2020

from Denver’s January 4, 2020 anti-war demonstration, one of about 80 throughout the U.S. that came together on two days’ notice

As war approaches, I feel a need to write every day… not long complex analyses, just elaborations on one point that I’ll try to keep less than 1000 words, admittedly a challenge. No doubt I am writing as much for myself as those who read this. I’m trying to figure out both what is going on – how close to a regional war have we come, and to assess the global movement against a U.S. attack against Iran.

Today I want to give some thoughts on the national anti-war demonstrations – some 75, 80 cities mobilized in two days – all over the country through what I saw in Denver.

Funny how Nancy and I can look at the same situation and have such different takes. She was disappointed with the turn out, I was quite satisfied. She would have liked to have seen it three, four times as big. I suppose I would have too, but while crowd estimates are not my strong point I do believe there were better than five hundred people who showed up on two day’s notice. A whole coalition of forces had come together overnight, some old some new. I wasn’t able to hear all the sponsors but it was a wide variety. The speeches were excellent – solid anti-imperialist militant stuff – on the mark and the young activists who spoke really knew their stuff and the ones I heard were very articulate and no-nonsense.

Something new is in the air… angry, militant, controlled, politically savvy and anti-war to its very core. Unafraid. I would not be surprised if the tone is any different anywhere else in the country. It probably helps that the maniac/moron/gangster Trump is the President.

They knew of what they spoke… bipartisan treachery, the lies being fed by the media like in 2003 before the Iraq invasion… the very rapacious nature of U.S. Middle East policy…and a genuine sympathy towards the Iranian people for the loss of their extraordinarily talented military leader, Qassim Suleimani. Main points were 1. nothing can justify a war against Iran 2. the U.S. should withdraw its troops from Iraq.. 3. How Trump announced a troop pullout from Syria at the same time there is actually a 14,000 troop build up through the Middle East.

These were the themes that dominated both the speeches, banners and posters.

More important that was the age spread. This was a youth-dominated event. This is a youth-led peace movement with a strong openly socialist component. By “youth” , again I am somewhat vague and uncertain but my sense was that most were under the age of 35. And while I couldn’t tell for sure, I had the distinct impression that that these youths – their futures in jeopardy from both climate change and nuclear war – are starting out far more militant than some of the previous episodes of peace movement building.

Of course there were some of “old timers” people who had demonstrated for peace and against U.S. foreign intervention since the 1960s, Nancy and I among them. My birdwatcher friend Henry Feldman, Pat McCormick of the Sisters’ of Loretto, Eric and Judy Danielson – Quakers with a lifetime of peace work behind them for the American Friends Service Committee, Jonathan Moyer from Korbel, Arnie Carter from the Oscar Romero Troop greeted us as did several people we had worked with in the Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace and Priority Peace.

Tay Anderson, our newly elected Denver School Board member was also present. Nancy went up to him to say hello.

Among the presidential candidate signs were only two – some signs for Bernie Sanders and several for Tulsi Gabbard.  There were no signs of Michael Bennet, Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg’s supporters, nor those (few) gathering behind Michael Bloomberg’s presidential bid. One Trump supporter was present. He literally wrapped in a Trump banner weaved his way through the crowd, it seemed to me more to provoke the protesters present than to demonstrate against war himself. He was ignored.

But it was the new, young faces of the relative newcomers on the scene, from Democratic Socialists of America and the Party for Socialism and Liberation who spearheaded today’s events.

At the rally at the capitol steps in Denver…

No to War with Iran! The Wounded Beast Syndrome…U.S. Assassinates Iranian General Qassim Suleimani in a Heliocopter Attack – 2 – “Asymmetrical Warfare”

January 4, 2020

Saudi oil field destroyed by Yemeni drone attack in September, 2019

Part One


My first impression was that the assassination was yet another U.S. (and/or Israeli) provocation made to incite an Iranian response that would provide the pretext for a major U.S.-Israeli-Saudi bombing campaign of Iran and that Iran would not take the bait and respond militarily and I have written along those lines already publicly.

Unfortunately, more and more this does not appear to be the case.


What a dangerous mess…as the United States and Iran head towards war. We in the United States have a responsibility to do everything in our power to prevent our government from – once again – lurking towards a regional Middle East war. In an effort to redirect the nation’s attention from his impeachment, Donald Trump has, in ok-ing the assassination of Iranian military leader Qassim Suleimani, dangerously ratcheted up the stakes for war.

Should it break out, it will be an “asymmetrical” conflict. The term “asymmetrical warfare” will be thrown around by the media to describe the growing likelihood of a Middle East war between the United States and Iran in the near future.


What is “asymmetrical warfare?

Asymmetrical warfare is war between two (or more) nations in which one of the two is richer, more powerful economically and militarily, but that the weaker party finds the ways and means to fight back and in many cases, win. On the surface it appears that the materially weaker party (national liberation movement, Third World country) doesn’t stand a chance against the more militarily, economically and powerful core country (like the U.S., U.K., France). But the materially weaker party develops tactics that give it advantages over its much stronger adversary. Key, is the support the underdog has among the broader population, its base.

Some examples… Read more…

No to War with Iran! The Wounded Beast Syndrome…U.S. Assassinates Iranian General Qassim Suleimani in a Heliocopter Attack.

January 3, 2020

US bases around Iran. Who is threatening whom? Keep in mind these bases have just gone from military outposts…to targets.


What is the wounded beast syndrome?

Based on the idea that a wounded beast will do whatever, act irrationally to save its life as it is dying. Applied to international politics it refers to the tendency of a nation whose policies are failing, to act irrationally and out of desperation to commit unpredictable and “irrational” acts to save its skin.

Kazerooni and I in our monthly radio program – KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues – have used the term to describe some of the zig-zags in U.S. (and Israeli) policy in the region.

Last night on returning from a family dinner that included good news on the personal front, and having watched our seven month old grandson’s latest developmental breakthrough (taking the glasses off of his aunt’s face, finding the wonders of dinner place mates) I made the mistake of turning on my computer to see the latest news.

There it was: In Baghdad, the United States had assassinated-by-helicopter Iranian General Qassim Suleimani, leader of that country’s Quds Force along with several top members Iraqi Shia militia leaders, including Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al Muhandis.

Iran has promised retaliation at the time and date of its own choosing. Suleimani’s words will come back to haunt Washington: “The United States might start a war (with Iran), but we will finish it.”


In any event it is not my purpose here to give detailed analyses of the situation. We (Kazerooni and I) will do so during our next one hour radio program, now scheduled for January 28. Besides there will be plenty of analyses out there that are solid and informative. I find the tendency to want to get “the first analysis” of events like this almost always shallow and off the mark. Here in the U.S. even solid anti-war analyses often miss what is happening in the Middle East region. Already, the day after this assassination, a whole series of regional shifts is taking place.

Also for those of you in Colorado – which is about half of the audience – I will update people with the anti-war demonstrations, forums, and other activities as I learn about them. I am certain there will be many and the peace movement here will flex its muscle once again as it will and must.

For now only a few comments to help people understand the current situation.

a. The United States (and Israel) has long been under the illusion that to assassinate the leader of an opposition movement will kill the movement. This is pure hubris. It is undoubtedly based on the experience of the 1960s and the dramatic assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby Kennedy, in the Congo, the torture, killing and boiling his body in acid of Patrice Lumumba.

However, It no longer works. And certainly doesn’t work in the Middle East.

–  Obama – and his staff – watched as Special Forces moved in for the kill against Osama Bin Laden. Al Qaeda did not collapse, but morphed into more sophisticated, lethal forms that we are still dealing with.

–  The Israelis assassinated what was the early leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the sophisticated and wiley, Abbas al Musawi in 1992; Hezbollah immediately produced the even more sophisticated and more wiley (or is it wilier?) Hasan Nasrallah, who fourteen years after Musawi’s death, in 2006,handed Israel is biggest military defeat in that nation’s history from which Tel Aviv is still reeling.

– The assassination – the cold blooded murder, without Congressional participation or approval – of Iran’s Suleimani – will not, as with the examples mentioned above, shift the regional power balance in any way in U.S. favor.

To the contrary.

b. Suleimani’s assassination puts the U.S. military presence in the region in greater danger, much greater as Washington is scampering to withdraw U.S. personnel from the region. The fortress embassy in Baghdad is shutting down, with the U.S. ambassador there running for his life – an echo of a similar scene in Vietnam in 1975.

Washington has troops and ships all over the region, not just in Syria and Iraq, some known others secret. Add to this an even larger number of U.S. “private contractors”, otherwise known as mercenaries. All of them have now become prime targets and not just from the Iranians. There are too many of them in too many places for Washington to withdraw them. In the weeks and months ahead, watch how members of the U.S. armed forces in the Middle East return to the country in body bags.

Finally, these assassinations (remember there were high level Iraqis killed too) over night changed the political situation in Iraq itself. Using the finely honed methodology of Gene Sharp the United States appeared to have undermined to a certain degree Iran’s position in Iraq, splitting the country once again along religious and sectarian lines over issues of domestic corruption, etc. That is now history as Iraqis are beginning to unite against the U.S. military presence and on-gong occupation.

This is enough for now. I won’t do daily updates but will try to offer some insights to help people understand the growing crisis.

  • Most people know the basics – any war between the United States (and Israel) against Iran should be prevented. It must be stopped before it is started
  • We (the American people) have been lied to before and are being lied to again. Stay tuned for details. Let us resist ALL media cheer-leading for war.
  • And obviously, time to hit the streets, to contact our weak, morally bankrupt legislators who passed the largest military budget in U.S. history and to call for cutting – slicing that military budget to address the mounting problems at home…

To Peace with Justice…In the Middle East and everywhere. To a new, more humane U.S. foreign policy!

Onward to peace!


Part Two