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“Stranger Than Strange – The Rapture, Armageddon and Igniting a War With Iran – The Christian Fundamentalist Evangelical Program Being Implemented by the Trump Administration” – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU 1390 AM, 88.5 FM – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. September 24, 2019 – Transcript -Part One.

September 25, 2019

Rapturists – A major Middle East War is a prelude to the rapture. Formerly a marginal idea, now being promoted by many in the Trump Administration

Stranger Than Strange – The Rapture, Armageddon and Igniting a War With Iran – The Christian Fundamentalist Evangelical Program Being Implemented by the Trump Administration” – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU 1390 AM, 88.5 FM – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. September 24, 2019 – Transcript Part One.

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It was at that time (early 1970s) that they, the Evangelicals, in conjunction with other arch conservative elements in the country, in response to the country’s swing leftward, developed a strategy countering that more secular, liberal influence and to maximize their political power. Their position in the Trump Administration is the culmination of these decades of work. (Rob Prince)

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…Just a moment ago you referred to “an unholy trinity’ of military, neo-conservative and Christian Right elements. When Jerry Falwell started the “Moral Majority” there was a consensus reached between these three components with the upper echelons of power. They all needed one another.

The military needed the blessing of the so-called “divine group” – the religious establishment. The neo-cons wanted to establish there own authority and their own unique political outlook on the world. To achieve legitimacy they needed the support of both the military and religious elements. The Conservative Christian/Evangelical circles, in turn, lacking power by themselves needed the cooperation of both the Neo-cons and the military to be able to enhance their political influence and make major headway into the country’s political structures.

And they succeeded. (Ibrahim Kazerooni)

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Jim Nelson: We have a very interesting topic to discuss this evening. It’s the role of the evangelical religious movement in shaping U.S. Middle East policy.

I haven’t seen the full transcript of President Trump’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly today but it seems that much of it reflected evangelical themes – religious freedom. Vice President Pence’s thinking is sprinkled throughout.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Jim, I listened to it. There was a lot of hype combined with little substance.

Jim Nelson: I’m surprised there was any substance.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: You can imagine when most of the speech is written by Pence then there’s not much to be expected from it.

Jim Nelson: So let’s begin – The evangelical movement and how it’s influencing Trump’s Middle East policy

Rob Prince: Oke-doke.

So much has happened over the past month in the Middle East since our last Middle East dialogues that, frankly it’s difficult to know where to begin..

With each month that we’re on this program, the specter of some kind of regional Middle East war becomes that much more pronounced…

Today there is a sense that the region is about to explode and that it could happen anywhere – in southern Lebanon, Syria, along the Syrian-Iraqi border, in the Persian Gulf, in Yemen.

The stakes seem to get higher and higher.

Many mainstream voices, finally are urging caution, although it’s done vaguely and they tend not to address the root causes of the conflict However, there are, within the Administration, others that are, frankly, pushing for war, actually cheering for war and in fact the worse the war the more content they appear to be.

Among those are the Christian Evangelicals.

To discuss their role, five, ten years back, even then they were more of a marginal group, whose influence on foreign policy was there, but modest at best. That is not true today.

We have chosen to contextualize, if you like, tonight’s program within the framework of what has come to be referred to as the evangelical narrative of “Armageddon and the Rapture.” It sounds strange to some ears.

We are exploring the role of the Evangelicals – and their offshoot – Christians United for Israel – because they have emerged as a significant, – if not decisive – element of the Trump Administration Middle East policy and the Administration contains an extensive web of them .

For starters, who are they? Who are the Evangelicals?

Without going into a great deal of complex history, at the heart and core of this religious tendency, many have their roots in Southern Baptist ontology. Looking at the history of Southern Baptists, particularly the political history, over the past five decades, already since the early 1970s, they, among others, were deeply concerned with and opposed to the direction that the United States had taken both in terms of domestic and foreign policy during the prior decade, the 1960s.

It was at that time (early 1970s) that they, the Evangelicals, in conjunction with other arch conservative elements in the country, in response to the country’s swing leftward, developed a strategy countering that more secular, liberal influence and to maximize their political power. Their position in the Trump Administration is the culmination of these decades of work.

As a result, today, they are literally an integral part of Trump’s political base: from Betsy Devos, the Secretary of Education who wants to privatize public education and “Christianize” it to Vice President Mike Pence who is afraid to be in a room alone with a woman who is not his wife, the Evangelicals are all over the Trump Administration and in key positions, certainly including foreign policy. Read more…

The Middle East, U.S. Bases Here, There, Everywhere….

September 23, 2019

US military bases galore…The map does not include the U.S. naval Armada in the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and Eastern Mediterranean Sea…

 

What follows below is an article in full from the on-line source “Axios” from two days ago (September 21, 2019). Its author, Rashaan Ayesh has done his homework. Check the links and you will see that most of the sources are from U.S. Congressional citations. Main point – the Middle East is up to its neck in U.S. military bases, including it appears in Saudi Arabia. Many if not most, are located in a circle surrounding Iran.

A number of decades ago I was amused that there was a debate in Finland, that Nordic wonderland, concerning how many lakes the country has. 80,000? 200,000? Might not interest others, but for Finns it was an important question and I would guess still is today. Key here – at what size precisely does a “pond” become a “lake?”

Its a similar puzzle when it comes to counting the number of U.S. bases, both in the Middle East and worldwide. At what size does a concentration of U.S. military personnel become “a base?” Then there is the new category of “mobile” or “temporary” U.S. bases, the kind becoming more common in Africa pockmarking that continent but also widespread in the Middle East. Probably most are secret because of Special Forces operations. Point here is simply to note that the size of the U.S. military presence is more than likely much larger than the approximately 60,000 personnel suggested below, and that Ayesh’s figures are, if anything, quite conservative.

For all that, besides the fact that the Houthi drone strike against Saudi oil fields exposed the (well known) Saudi inability to use U.S. purchased weapons, it reveals how ineffective this huge U.S. regional military presence has been, even in protecting U.S. interests. Asymmetrical warfare, advances in technology are neutralizing this overbearing, frankly gigantic U.S. military presence and showing how vulnerable it is.

Yemeni Houthi rebels, whose fighting ability has been grossly underestimated by Washington. The Trump Administration refuses to believe that they could have both engineered and then executed the drone strike on the Saudi oil fields that humiliated the Saudis, and showed the uselessness of U.S. patriot missiles and communications technology

A couple of additional points. Read more…

“Stranger Than Strange – The Rapture, Armageddon and Igniting a War With Iran – The Christian Fundamentalist Program Being Implemented by the Trump Administration” – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU 1390 AM, 88.5 FM – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. September 24, 2019. 6 pm Mountain Time

September 22, 2019

US military bases surrounding Iran. Who is threatening whom?

A few days ago the Trump Administration announced that it will send an undefined number of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia in response to the Yemeni Houthi drone attack on Saudi oil installations, this in response to the war crimes that the Saudis and until recently their allies, the United Arab Emirates have been committing in Yemen. Although the Houthis have publicly claimed credit for it, Washington is blaming Iran.

Stakes seem to get higher and higher. Danger of war seems even more pronounced today than it was a month ago when we last met. Some mainstream voices are urging caution…however, there are others that are pushing for war, actually cheering for it and in fact the worse the war the more content they appear to be.

Among those pushing for  such a war are those referred to as Christian Zionists.. Who are they, what do they mean by “the rapture” and why are they – along with the Bolton types, the Israelis and the Saudis trying to push the Trump Administration into an armed confrontation with Iran?

As the specter, the momentum for war becomes more vivid, more and more unstoppable, who are these Christian Zionists, how influential are they in the Trump Administration and why is that they are actually cheering on such a potentially devastating scenario.

Stranger Than Strange – The Rapture, Armageddon and Igniting a War With Iran – The Christian Fundamentalist Program Being Implemented by the Trump Administration” – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU 1390 AM, 88.5 FM, Streaming at http://www.kgnu.org– Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. September 24, 2019. 6 pm Mountain Time.

Tune in…

Project Rulison – A Blast from the Past – Another Project Plowshares Debacle. Four Protesters and a documentary Film Crew Return to the Scene of the Crime.

September 16, 2019

Protesters at the Rulison nuclear blast site, Ground Zero, along with the documentary film makers from Project Boom. They are making a documentary about Project Plowshares and Rulison in particular. Nancy Fey in white sweatshirt with flowers. On her right Melinda Dell Fitting. Front and center in light long sleeve shirt, Chester McQueary and to his right in the read t-shirt, yours truly, Rob Prince.

Today, in 2019, the world has entered a new nuclear weapons arms race. In many ways it is far more dangerous than the one which unfolded during the Cold War. The United States has invested some $1.4 trillion over a ten year period to modernize the entire nuclear weapons arsenal. None of its competitors is spending anything near that, be it China, Russia or the other nuclear weapons countries. 

In the nuclear arms race that unfolded during the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union – in response to worldwide rejection of nuclear weapons’ testing and the revelations of the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – tried to sugar coat nuclear weapons, put makeup on the corpse that is nuclear annihilation by arguing they could also be used for peaceful development and construction purposes. 

Remembering Rulison is not just a exercise in what happened fifty years ago, but a warning for what is happening today. 

 

Chester McQueary, Project Rulison organizer, preparing the meeting room for the 50th anniversary memorial

September 10, 2019.

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A group of fifty or so people, almost all from the surrounding area of Battlement Mesa, Parachute, Rifle Colorado gathered at the Battlement Mesa Recreation Center located on 1-70 between Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction in the Colorado Rockies. Battlement Mesa sits in a valley between the Roan Plateau to the north and Grand Mesa to the south. It was supposed to “Ground Zero” for Colorado’s mega-oil shale development program that, thankfully, never got off the ground.

The area is “Ground Zero” for another federal boondoggle that did get off the ground, or more accurately was triggered under the ground. The Battlement Mesa audience came to hear the recollections and comments of four people who, fifty years to the day, on September 10, 1969, had protested the detonation of an underground nuclear blast at nearby Rulison, set off by the Atomic Energy Commission in conjunction with the Austral Oil Company and the GeoNuclear Corporation.

At the time, the protest organizers, and those who joined them at the blast site, were under the illusion that if enough of people were protesting near the blast site – we were a few miles from Ground Zero – that the Atomic Energy Commission would not detonate the bomb. They were mistaken about that. The organizers had hoped to bring several hundred people from the Front Range to protest, but as it turned out, fewer people were willing, able to participate. Still, no small thing to protest a 43 kiloton blast 8400 feet below the surface a few miles from Ground Zero

“Project Rulison” was a part of a larger program that resulted in 27 underground nuclear blasts using 31 nuclear weapons known as “Project Plowshares’ – an Edward Teller production. Teller, like Donald Trump today had limitless energy to propose stupid ideas. “Plowshares” was an attempt to give a face lift to nuclear weapons suggesting that besides being weapons of mass destruction, that weapons could also be used for mass construction projects, building harbors, canals, tunnels through mountains. There were even plans on the drawing board – never activated – to use nuclear weapons for weather modification. (1) Read more…

Project Rulison – A Blast From The Past…and some of us were there…Project Plowshares and the “Baby Tooth Survey”

September 5, 2019

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The fiftieth anniversary of Project Rulison, an underground nuclear blast to produce commercially grade natural gas – a kind of nuclear fracking – will take place on September 10, 2019. Rulison lies west of the continental divide between Grand Junction and Glen Wood Springs in the Colorado Rockies.

Some of us involved in protesting the blast will return to Rulison for a Memorial Forum and as a part of an effort to make a documentary film on the event. What was Project Rulison and what broader program was it a part of? It was an important moment in the state and nation’s history but so few know anything about it. The Rulison Blast took place some six years after the signing of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963. Worldwide protests combined with several fascinating and original scientific studies forced nuclear testing underground worldwide, and once underground forced deeper and deeper detonations to control for radioactive contamination. One of the more interesting studies, detailed below, was known as “the Baby Tooth Survey” 

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As a part of preparing for the 50th Anniversary Project Rulison reunion which will take place in a few days at the blast site, I decided to do a little reading about “Project Plowshares” of which Project Rulison was an intimate part. To that end, have read two books, one entitled “Project Plowshares” by Scott Kaufman, a fine overview of the history of the “Plowshares” twenty year experiment. The other, entitled “The Firecracker Boys” by Dan O’Neill deals in depth with an early abortive Plowshares’ program called “Project Chariot,” it, an attempt to detonate nuclear weapons on the northwestern coast of Alaska, initially to create a harbor and the movement that sprang up, “mushroomed” against it. The project was killed by widespread popular protest that was spearheaded by Eskimo communities in the area where the blast was scheduled to take place.

It is quite a story that I will detail elsewhere.

When Project Plowshares began in 1957, both the United States and the Soviet Union were tripping over one another’s feet detonating nuclear blasts. Of the more than 2000 nuclear bombs detonated, some 544 of them were above ground nuclear blasts, with the United States and the-then Soviet Union responsible for more than 80% of those. Overwhelmingly, those above ground nuclear tests took place prior to the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of August, 1963. The test ban treaty drove almost all the 1500 or so later nuclear testing underground. This created something of a crisis for Project Plowshares, much of whose leadership opposed the test ban treaty.(1)

There were, during the 1950s, great fears about radioactive contamination, what caused it, the length of toxicity of different radioactive elements and to what degree the above ground nuclear tests were responsible for increased levels of radioactive contamination. But there were very few studies. But there was one, that was conducted by the Greater St. Louis Committee for Nuclear Information (one of whose leading personalities was Barry Commoner) in conjunction with twp St. Louis dental schools. Together they conducted what became known as “The Baby Tooth Survey” – a multi-year scientific study of the teeth of children to test levels of strontium 90 – one of the radioactive contaminants resulting from nuclear blasts. The Baby Touth Studies were a part of a key scientific evidence that drove nuclear bomb testing underground, and in many ways, greatly complicated Edward Teller’s plans at “nuclear landscaping.” Read more…

Washington’s New Boogeyman – “the Axis of Resistance” – What it is, What it isn’t – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. August 27, 2019 – Transcript – Part Three

August 30, 2019

Hezbollah members listen to a speech by groups leader, Hassan Nasrallah. August 22, 2019

Transcript – KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogue – August 27, 2019 – Part Three. (Continued from Part Three)

Part One, (Continued from Part Two).

What is China looking for where it wants to extend the Belt and Road to and through the Middle East? It’s looking for regional stability so that it can extend its trade relations.

Jim Nelson: Both of you have mentioned China’s Belt and Road Initiative one section of which passes through the Middle East. Having these mercenaries run amok in the region throws a wrench into the completion of that plan.

Rob Prince: If you look at where China hopes to extend the Belt and Road Initiative – so many of these regions are areas of instability, including the Middle East, including quite frankly as far away from the Chinese mainland as the Cameroon, in West Africa. The Cameroon, the Middle East, Myanmar these are regions of high tension. One has to wonder what’s going on in all these places. There are some analysts that say this is a part of a great global chess game.

What is China looking for where it wants to extend the Belt and Road to and through the Middle East? It’s looking for regional stability so that it can extend its trade relations.

Jim Nelson: Just a little update on the mercenaries in Syria. Trump recommended that they be sent back to their countries of origin, especially those emanating from Europe – to Germany, France or wherever. Have you heard about that?

Rob Prince: No, I haven’t heard that. The last thing I heard our president talking about was nuking hurricanes.

But I did want to talk about Hezbollah because the negative, nasty press it’s gotten in this country, a movement considered on the State Department’s terrorist list, treated here as nothing other than a terrorist organization.

Two very brief stories.

∙ When I was still teaching, I had a student who got some kind of scholarship to spend a summer in Lebanon. He suggested a research project; what should I do it on? Let’s both think about it. The next he comes back, brimming with enthusiasm, telling me that he wanted to do a paper on Hezbollah. This was prior to the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. I responded that it was a great idea, that we don’t hear very much or know very much about Hezbollah here in the USA. A serious study would be useful. I know something about it in a general way, but quite frankly, not that much. So let’s set up a doable research project in which you can learn something about them and their role in Lebanese society. You’ll be there for a couple of months. Do some interviews, find out what is this organization about, what is its social base, its role in Lebanese society and more generally in the region?

When he got to Lebanon and checked in with the U.S. Embassy there as he was required to do for his studies, the first thing he was told was that under no circumstances should he have any contacts with anyone from Hezbollah and that if he was, he would be expelled immediately. Read more…

Project Rulison – A Blast From The Past…and some of us were there….

August 29, 2019