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America the Punitive
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There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama’s relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.

The most recent is the new sanctioning of Russia over the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury England. For those not following developments, last week Washington abruptly and without any new evidence being presented, imposed additional trade sanctions on Russia in the belief that Moscow ordered and carried out the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4th. The report of the new sanctions was particularly surprising as Yulia Skripal has recently announced that she intends to return to her home in Russia, leading to the conclusion that even one of the alleged victims does not believe the narrative being promoted by the British and American governments.

Though Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded with restraint, avoiding a tit-for-tat, he is reported to be angry about the new move by the US government and now believes it to be an unreliable negotiating partner. Considering the friendly recent exchanges between Putin and Trump, the punishment of Russia has to be viewed as something of a surprise, suggesting that the president of the United States may not be in control of his own foreign policy.

Turkey is also feeling America’s wrath over the continued detention of an American Protestant Pastor Andrew Brunson by Ankara over charges that he was connected to the coup plotters of 2016, which were allegedly directed by Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader, who now resides in Pennsylvania. Donald Trump has made the detention the centerpiece of his Turkish policy, introducing sanctions and tariffs that have led in part to a collapse of the Turkish lira and a run on the banking system which could easily lead to default and grave damage to European banks that hold a large party of the country’s debt.

And then there is perennial favorite Iran, which was hit with reinstated sanctions last week and is confronting a ban on oil sales scheduled to go into effect on November 4th. The US has said it will sanction any country that buys Iranian oil after that date, though a number of governments including Turkey, India and China appear to be prepared to defy that demand. Several European countries are reportedly preparing mechanisms that will allow them to trade around US restrictions.

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common? All are on the receiving end of punitive action by the United States over allegations of misbehavior that have not been demonstrated. Nobody has shown that Russia poisoned the Skripals, Turkey just might have a case that the Reverend Brunson was in contact with coup plotters, and Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear arms agreement signed in 2015. One has to conclude that the United States has now become the ultimate angry imperial power, lashing out with the only thing that seems to work – its ability to interfere in and control financial markets – to punish nations that do not play by its rules.

Given Washington’s diminishing clout worldwide, it is a situation that is unsustainable and which will ultimately only really punish the American people as the United States becomes more isolated and its imperial overreach bankrupts the nation. As America weakens, Russia, Turkey, Iran and all the other countries that have been steamrolled by Washington will likely seek revenge. To avoid that, a dramatic course correction by the US is needed, but, unfortunately, is unlikely to take place.

(Republished from Strategic Culture Foundation by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Russia, Turkey 
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  1. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:

    Nothing better shows that President Trump won’t (can’t?) do what he promised than the actions of Uncle Sam listed here by Mr. Giraldi.

    Linh Dinh foresaw both the outcome and pointlessness of the last election months in advance. Yet even among a relatively savvy readership, many here are wound back up about the next … then 2020 …

    I quit voting or participating in elections for any “federal” office after the GOP cheated Dr. Paul in 2012. Withhold your consent, and hope that as few innocents as possible are harmed during the unraveling of the Empire.

  2. Anonymous[724] • Disclaimer says:

    Oh dear, the US is being soooo bad! lulz

    “The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoSx7uADc38

    • Replies: @Antiwar7
  3. Nikolay says:

    “… suggesting that the president of the United States may not be in control of his own foreign policy.”
    100+ years ago, in February, 1918 a postcard was in circulation in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. Russian tzar Nicholas II was depicted on it. Naked, his crown on, holding his penis with both hands (so big), that is all he was in power/control, inscription below read – samoderzhets (самодержец)/selfholder/sovereign. The president of the United States is not much more powerful.
    The difference is that the Russian tzar was tragic personality, and US president – clownish.
    According to a study by the University of Oxford “Donald Trump has more psychopathic tendencies than Adolf Hitler” (two points ahead of Adolf).

    • Replies: @Nikolay
  4. The most recent is the new sanctioning of Russia over the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury England.

    As I commented under another article, the most surprising thing here is that no one is commenting on the fact that the alleged nerve gas poisoning by the Russians occurred in the town of Salisbury in south western England, which is only 5 miles as the crow flies from Porton Down, Britain’s secret defense research center where substances like nerve gas are studied.

    Can it really be a complete coincidence that the Russians chose to strike in a town where many of the scientists who work at Porton Down live–if indeed it was the Russians who were responsible and not a rogue researcher?

    • Replies: @Antiwar7
  5. Antiwar7 says:
    @Anonymous

    Interesting impersonation of a bot!

  6. Antiwar7 says:
    @Jonathan Mason

    Plus, there’s the Russian claim that the Swiss OPCW lab found BZ in the sample, which seems to fit the observed facts better: it’s more stable, outdoors or wherever, even wet; and it’s not as lethal.

  7. Nikolay says:
    @Nikolay

    Mistake! …in February, 1917…

  8. blackswan says:

    ” Lying has become so habitual among U.S. politicians and Govt. officials that truth is not even seen anymore as having any real value. Examination of almost any Govt. program or public event discloses varying levels of deception, spin, distortion, bias, cover stories or concealment. A huge amount of Govt. activity, including everything done by the military and the intelligence agencies, is covered under various secrecy statutes for the purposes of ” National Security” the average citizen doesn’t have a clue to whats being done, or even what crimes are being committed. The news media are in on the game, not only concealing the truth, but making up fake news to divert attention. And who benefits from this cesspool? Obviously the Military-Industrial-Intelligence bureaucracy and millions of employees whose livelihoods depend on the collective insanity.” Richard C. Cook

  9. The day after the failure of Operation Eagle Claw to release the hostages at the US embassy in Tehran in April 1980, President Jimmy Carter appeared on TV and said: ” I cannot lie to the American people… and went on to accept full personal responsibility for the botched operation.(At least, that is my personal memory, I cannot find an online account of this speech, but I remember hearing it and thinking what a tool Carter was.)

    No US President since then has every tried that truth-telling stunt.

    Ronald Reagan then came to power pledging not to pay “ransom for people who have been kidnapped by barbarians” and his administration later obtained the release of the hostages in the normal manner, basically by paying bribes.

    • Replies: @Sparkon
  10. Sparkon says:
    @Jonathan Mason

    From the beginning, I have suspected that operation Eagle Claw — Pres. Carter’s attempted rescue of the Iranian hostages — was sabotaged by people close to the Reagan-Bush campaign.

    Perry: Barbara Honegger was a researcher with the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1980. Subsequently she spent two years in the White House as a policy adviser to President Reagan. Honegger’s investigation into this issue has revealed a disturbing story of treason, blackmail and sabotage.

    Marshall: Miles Copeland, who had had some CIA connections in his past, ran in the Washington Star a hypothetical hostage rescue piece–how he would do it–and it’s so remarkably close to the actual mission, and came only about one or two days before the mission took place, that there is legitimate room for at least questioning as to whether it was some kind of leak that came out in the form of fiction to protect him from charges that he had sabotaged it.

    Honegger: And then, of course, we have Mr. Richard Secord, Oliver North, and Albert Hakim. Richard Secord was one of the chief planners for the so-called “failed” Desert One rescue attempt; Mr. North was involved in that rescue attempt, in the mother ship, which was on the Turkish border awaiting the cue from Mr. Secord to fly into Teheran to rescue the hostages; and Mr. Albert Hakim was in charge of the ground operations for the Desert One rescue attempt–in particular, obtaining the trucks and other vehicles that were going to be necessary for it. Mr. Hakim skipped town, left Teheran, 24 hours before the rescue attempt was to take place; and the reason for that, as detailed in my research documentation, was that Secord, North and Hakim had absolutely no intention of seeing Desert One carry through, and so sabotaged the operation.

    Perry: The hostage rescue team consisted of eight helicopters, six C-130 transport planes, and 93 Delta Force commandos. But Delta Force never made it to Teheran. Only five of the eight helicopters reached the site of Desert One in operable condition. Perhaps this is due to a bizarre incident that occurred on the deck of the aircraft carrier Nimitz, where the helicopters were tightly guarded. General James Vaught, the mission’s task force commander, suspects the incidents on the Nimitz may have been a deliberate effort to stop the hostage rescue mission. According to General Samuel Wilson, who investigated the many failures of the Eagle Claw rescue mission, the Pentagon’s review panel found negligence on a level surprising even to those hardened to military incompetence. The incident on the Nimitz is only one of the many strange events surrounding the Desert One hostage rescue mission. Barbara Honegger takes us back to Teheran during the rescue attempt.

    Honegger: This mysterious fifty-third hostage, Mrs. Cynthia Dwyer, who was in Iran and who had not yet been taken hostage at the time, told Reverend Moore, an American Presbyterian minister who was there and interviewing her at the time by phone, that the CIA had sabotaged the rescue attempt. She told him that immediately after the so-called “aborted” failure. And we also know from Reverend Moore, who was in Teheran at the time of the so-called Desert One rescue attempt, that a mullah who was at a prayer meeting heard a siren that went off in Teheran, and stood up in the middle of the prayer and said “God is great, God is good, your helicopters have just crashed in the desert.” There are a number of other reasons and independent sources we have for a sabotage, but it was definitively sabotaged and there was advance multiple-failure planning.

    (selected excerpts)

    http://www.art.net/~hopkins/Don/text/october-suprise.html

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