Category Archives: Iran

When An Exceptionally ‘Good Country’ Downs A Plane

America, Crime, Criminal Injustice, Ethics, Iran, Reason, Russia

To extrapolate from Dinesh D’Souza’s illogic (explained nicely by Jack Kerwick), when an exceptionally ‘Good Country,’ as the US surely is, downs a plane, that country deserves mitigation, for it is good. In other words, the properties of the crime, which are the same whoever commits it, somehow change, depending on the identity of the perpetrator.

Thus, because he belongs to a good collective, D’Souza, presumably, would diminish the culpability of the “U.S. Navy captain” who shot “Iran Air Flight 655″ out of the sky, on July 3, 1988.

“A quarter-century later,” writes Fred Kaplan of Slate, “the Vincennes is almost completely forgotten, but it still ranks as the world’s seventh deadliest air disaster (Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is the sixth) and one of the Pentagon’s most inexcusable disgraces.”

Kaplan compares the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 to “The time the United States blew up a passenger plane—and tried to cover it up.”

… In several ways, the two calamities are similar. The Malaysian Boeing 777 wandered into a messy civil war in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border; the Iranian Airbus A300 wandered into a naval skirmish—one of many clashes in the ongoing “Tanker War” (another forgotten conflict)—in the Strait of Hormuz. The likely pro-Russia rebel thought that he was shooting at a Ukrainian military-transport plane; the U.S. Navy captain, Will Rogers III, mistook the Airbus for an F-14 fighter jet. The Russian SA-11 surface-to-air missile that downed the Malaysian plane killed 298 passengers, including 80 children; the American SM-2 surface-to-air missile that downed the Iranian plane killed 290 passengers, including 66 children. After last week’s incident, Russian officials told various lies to cover up their culpability and blamed the Ukrainian government; after the 1988 incident, American officials told various lies and blamed the Iranian pilot. Not until eight years later did the U.S. government compensate the victims’ families, and even then expressed “deep regret,” not an apology. …

Read “America’s Flight 17.”


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On The Ground In Iraq

Iran, Iraq

Patrick Cockburn offers a cogent, matter-of-fact account of the latest developments in Iraq:

Iran is moving to stop the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) from capturing Baghdad and the provinces immediately to the north of the capital.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is taking a central role in planning and strategy in Baghdad in the wake of the disintegration of the Iraqi army in the country’s north, an Iraqi source has told The Independent.
With the Iraqi army command completely discredited by recent defeats, the aim of the IRGC is to create a new and more effective fighting force by putting together trustworthy elements of the old army and the Shia militias. According to the source, the aim of the new force would be to give priority “to stabilising the front and rolling it back at least into Samarra and the contested areas of Diyala”. The Iraqi army has 14 divisions, of which four were involved in last week’s debacle, but there is no sign of the remaining units rallying and staging a counter-attack. MORE…

On June 11, Cockburn wrote: “Iraq Crisis: Capture of Mosul Ushers in the Birth of a Sunni Caliphate”:

The capture of Mosul by Isis means a radical change in the political geography of Iraq and Syria. Moreover, the impact of this event will soon be felt across the Middle East as governments take on board the fact that a Sunni proto-caliphate is spreading across northern Iraq and Syria.
The next few weeks will be crucial in determining the outcome of Isis’s startling success in taking over a city of 1.4 million people, garrisoned by a large Iraqi security force, with as few as 1,300 fighters. Will victory in Mosul be followed by success in other provinces where there is a heavy concentration of Sunni, such as Salahuddin, Anbar and Diyala? Already, the insurgents have captured the important oil refinery town of Baiji with scarcely a shot fired by simply calling ahead by phone to tell the police and army to lay down their weapons and withdraw.
These spectacular advances by Isis would not be happening unless there was tacit support and no armed resistance from the Sunni Arab community in northern and central Iraq. Many people rightly suspect and fear Isis’s bloodthirsty and sectarian fanaticism, but for the moment these suspicions and fears have been pushed to one side by even greater hatred of Iraq’s Shia-dominated government.
This may not last: Iraqi government officials speak of a counterattack led by special “anti-terrorist” forces that are better trained, motivated and armed than the bulk of the Iraqi army. It may be that the Kurds will use their peshmerga troops in Nineveh and Kirkuk provinces to drive back Isis and create facts on the ground in areas often rich in oil, in Kirkuk and Nineveh provinces. A successful counter-offensive could happen but the failure of the Iraqi army to retake Fallujah, a much smaller city than Mosul, in the six months since it fell in January does not bode well for the government. If the Isis advance takes more towns and villages, then the territory lost to the government may become too large to reconquer.
But Isis too has its weaknesses: in the past it has isolated itself by its fierce determination to monopolise power, impose fundamentalist Islamic norms and persecute or kill all who differ from it. MORE …


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UPDATED: Every Day An Outrage (More Megyn OMGs)

Celebrity, Critique, Feminism, Iran, Journalism, Media

The Kelly File, for which I had high hopes as a news broadcast, has disintegrated into a rah-rah, flag-waving, hour-long session. Each segment features some sort of outrage against:

US deserved status in the world
US flag stateside
US soldier

The current outrage on Kelly is over Iran’s new UN ambassador. It’s news only the first time reported. Otherwise, these items are meant to heighten emotions and send hissing viewers to social media to create a buzz.

UPDATE (4/3): Mygyn’s OMG segment today had to do with “Tolerant Feminists Tell[ing] Conservative Young Woman: We Don’t Want You Here.” Yawn. A tolerant feminist is a contradiction in terms.


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Ordinary Iranians Deserve Relief

Foreign Policy, Iran, Israel, Trade

Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a patriot. About that there can be no doubt. Unlike American pols, whose policies vis-a-vis the American people border on treason, Netanyahu generally acts in the interests of his countrymen. As the patriot he is, one expects Netanyahu to disapprove of the deal Western powers are hammering out with Iran.

“I told them that according to the information reaching Israel, the deal that appears to be in the offing is bad and dangerous,” said Netanyahu. “Not just for us but also for them. I suggested that they wait and give it serious consideration, and it’s good that that is indeed what was decided. We will do everything we can to convince the leaders not to reach a bad agreement.”

The truth, of course, is that the “deal” is not dangerous to the U.S.

Israel’s concerns notwithstanding, pursuing negotiations that ease sanctions on Iran are good for the U.S. and indubitably fair to the Iranian people. Detailed in “The Warmongers: Not Looking Out For Us” are the costs to Americans—as opposed to their overseers in Washington—of sanctions:

Not to be overlooked are the costs to Americans of sanction enforcement, avers Harmer. In addition to the opportunity costs—the missed business aforementioned—there are “direct costs.” The Office of Foreign Asset Control in the U.S. Treasury Department squanders around $1 billion a year in developing lists of “financial institutions that are subject to sanctions,” and then infringing on the rights of individuals and companies to freely exchange privately owned property.

“Indirect costs” are incurred in the course of cultivating a massive U.S. intelligent infrastructure—a veritable alphabet soup of agencies—upon which the Treasury draws in enforcing a regimen of sanctions.

So, too, are the “deterrent costs” borne by the American taxpayer who pays for patrolling the Persian Gulf, the Northern Arabian Sea and the Strait of Hormuz. …

The toll on ordinary Iranians is orders of magnitude greater. Especially pressing: “the disbursement to Iran in installments of up to about $50 billion of Iranian funds blocked in foreign accounts for years.”

Ultimately, trade, not democracy, is the best antidote to war with Iran. The more economically intertwined countries become, the less likely they are to go to war. More than boycotts, barter with Iran is bound to promote good will and reduce belligerence on both sides. As a general rule, state-enforced boycotts harm honest, hard-working Americans who use the economic means to earn their keep. They benefit servants of Uncle Sam—the political class and its media and think-tank hangers-on. For they deploy the political means to advance their ends and grow their sphere of influence. As libertarian economist Murray Rothbard once observed, these “are two mutually exclusive ways of acquiring wealth”—the economic means is honest and productive, the political means is dishonest and predatory.


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The Warmongers: Not Looking Out For Us

Business, Economy, EU, Free Markets, Iran, Media, Russia, The State

“The Warmongers: Not Looking Out For Us” is the current column, now on WND. An excerpt:

To listen to U.S. government officials there is only an upside to the punitive sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States and a reluctant European Union. Consequently, the emphasis is forever on how to toughen the punishment; never on whether to lift economic sanctions on the long-suffering people of Iran.

But what about the effects of trade boycotts on American businesses?

Chris Harmer of The Institute for the Study of War estimates that the Boeing Company alone forfeits a minimum of $25 billion in business every year because of U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran, a niche market that is filled by the Russians. Overall, Harmer puts the value to U.S. business of trade lost due to the economic embargo on Iran at approximately $50 billion per annum.

For example, Iran imports $1.5 billion worth of cars a year, the beneficiaries of which are companies like Nissan, Toyota and Peugeot (when they might have been General Motors and Chrysler). Peugeot does an added half a billion dollars’ worth of commerce with Iran just in car parts.

The Iranian economy, moreover, has diversified and is adapting to life without the U.S. The rest of the world—pockets in Europe and most of Asia—has not isolated Iran, with the result that the country has many trading partners other than the U.S. And while Iran has lost petroleum revenue due to sanctions, the trend will not endure. China, Japan and South Korea are hungry for the country’s crude.

Not to be overlooked are the costs to Americans of sanction enforcement, avers Harmer. In addition to the opportunity costs—the missed business aforementioned—there are “direct costs.” The Office of Foreign Asset Control in the U.S. Treasury Department squanders around $1 billion a year in developing lists of “financial institutions that are subject to sanctions,” and then infringing on the rights of individuals and companies to freely exchange privately owned property.

“Indirect costs” are incurred in the course of cultivating a massive U.S. intelligent infrastructure—a veritable alphabet soup of agencies—upon which the Treasury draws in enforcing a regimen of sanctions.

So too are the “deterrent costs” borne by the American taxpayer who pays for patrolling the Persian Gulf, the Northern Arabian Sea, and the Strait of Hormuz. …

… As a general rule, state-enforced boycotts harm honest, hard-working Americans who use the economic means to earn their keep. …”

Read the entire column. “The Warmongers: Not Looking Out For Us” is now on WND.

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An Exchange Neoconservatives Didn’t Want To See

Internet, Iran, Media, Neoconservatism

Neoconservatives can relax. It would appear that America’s notoriously stupid news media reported in haste and before verification that Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s new leader, and a member of his cabinet, were sending out happy Rosh Hashana tweets to Iran’s Jewish community.

“As the sun is about to set here in #Tehran I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah,” Hassan Rouhani was purported to have tweeted, with the new president’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, following with a succinct “Happy Rosh Hashanah” tweet.

CNN Jessica Yellin erupted almost as she does when Obama looks her way or says her name during a press “briefing.”

International Business Times provided a correction it got from Iran’s official FARS News Agency:

“Mr. Rouhani does not have a tweeter account,” Presidential Advisor Mohammad Reza Sadeq told FNA on Thursday.

The western media claimed late Wednesday that the Iranian president has tweeted a felicitation message to the worldwide Jewish community to congratulate them on the advent of the new Jewish year.

“As the sun is about to set here in Tehran, I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah,” the western and Israeli media quoted Rouhani as saying in his tweet. The message was posted with a picture of a man in a yarmulke bowing his head in prayer.

In response, Sadeq explained that “proponents and fans of Mr. Rouhani were active in the cyberspace during the recent presidential election in Iran and used many web pages with titles similar or close to Mr. Rouhani (‘s name) to run their activities”.

“Of course, such activities are fully normal during election campaigns, and some of them might continue their operation even after the election,” the advisor continued.

“Yet,” he emphasized, “any official news on him (the president) is released by the presidential office.

Neoconservatives will have to conserve their energies until the next time they will be called upon to deflect any friendly gesture Iranian leaders may attempt.


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