The USA Doubles Down on its Saudi Allegiance 391


For the United States to abandon proxy warfare and directly kill one of Iran’s most senior political figures has changed international politics in a fundamental way. It is a massive error. Its ramifications are profound and complex.

There is also a lesson to be learned here in that this morning there will be excitement and satisfaction in the palaces of Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Tehran. All of the political elites will see prospects for gain from the new fluidity. While for ordinary people in all those countries there is only the certainty of more conflict, death and economic loss, for the political elite, the arms manufacturers, the military and security services and allied interests, the hedge funds, speculators and oil companies, there are the sweet smells of cash and power.

Tehran will be pleased because the USA has just definitively lost Iraq. Iraq has a Shia majority and so naturally tends to ally with Iran. The only thing preventing that was the Arab nationalism of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Socialist Party. Bush and Blair were certainly fully informed that by destroying the Ba’ath system they were creating an Iranian/Iraqi nexus, but they decided that was containable. The “containment” consisted of a deliberate and profound push across the Middle East to oppose Shia influence in proxy wars everywhere.

This is the root cause of the disastrous war in Yemen, where the Zaidi-Shia would have been victorious long ago but for the sustained brutal aerial warfare on civilians carried out by the Western powers through Saudi Arabia. This anti-Shia western policy included the unwavering support for the Sunni Bahraini autocracy in the brutal suppression of its overwhelmingly Shia population. And of course it included the sustained and disastrous attempt to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria and replace it with pro-Saudi Sunni jihadists.

This switch in US foreign policy was known in the White House of 2007 as “the redirection”. It meant that Sunni jihadists like Al-Qaida and later al-Nusra were able to switch back to being valued allies of the United States. It redoubled the slavish tying of US foreign policy to Saudi interests. The axis was completed once Mohammad Bin Salman took control of Saudi Arabia. His predecessors had been coy about their de facto alliance with Israel. MBS felt no shyness about openly promoting Israeli interests, under the cloak of mutual alliance against Iran, calculating quite correctly that Arab street hatred of the Shia outweighed any solidarity with the Palestinians. Common enemies were easy for the USA/Saudi/Israeli alliance to identify; Iran, the Houthi, Assad and of course the Shia Hezbollah, the only military force to have given the Israelis a bloody nose. The Palestinians themselves are predominantly Sunni and their own Hamas was left friendless and isolated.

The principal difficulty of this policy for the USA of course is Iraq. Having imposed a rough democracy on Iraq, the governments were always likely to be Shia dominated and highly susceptible to Iranian influence. The USA had a continuing handle through dwindling occupying forces and through control of the process which produced the government. They also provided financial resources to partially restore the physical infrastructure the US and its allies had themselves destroyed, and of course to fund a near infinite pool of corruption.

That US influence was balanced by strong Iranian aligned militia forces who were an alternative source of strength to the government of Baghdad, and of course by the fact that the centre of Sunni tribal strength, the city of Falluja, had itself been obliterated by the United States, three times, in an act of genocide of Iraqi Sunni population.

Through all this the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi had until now tiptoed with great care. Pro-Iranian yet a long term American client, his government maintained a form of impartiality based on an open hand to accept massive bribes from anybody. That is now over. He is pro-Iranian now.

Such precarious balance as there ever was in Iraq was upset this last two months when the US and Israelis transported more of their ISIL Sunni jihadists into Iraq, to escape the pincer of the Turkish, Russian and Syrian government forces. The Iranians were naturally not going to stand for this and Iranian militias were successfully destroying the ISIL remnants, which is why General Qassem Suleimani was in Iraq, why a US mercenary assisting ISIL was killed in an Iranian militia rocket attack, and why Syrian military representatives were being welcomed at Baghdad airport.

It is five years since I was last in the Green Zone in Baghdad, but it is extraordinarily heavily fortified with military barriers and checks every hundred yards, and there is no way the crowd could have been allowed to attack the US Embassy without active Iraqi government collusion. That profound political movement will have been set in stone by the US assassination of Suleimani. Tehran will now have a grip on Iraq that could prove to be unshakable.

Nevertheless, Tel Aviv and Riyadh will also be celebrating today at the idea that their dream of the USA destroying their regional rival Iran, as Iraq and Libya were destroyed, is coming closer. The USA could do this. The impact of technology on modern warfare should not be underestimated. There is a great deal of wishful thinking that fantasises about US military defeat, but it is simply unrealistic if the USA actually opted for full scale invasion. Technology is a far greater factor in warfare than it was in the 1960s. The USA could destroy Iran, but the cost and the ramifications would be enormous, and not only the entire Middle East but much of South Asia would be destabilised, including of course Pakistan. My reading of Trump remains that he is not a crazed Clinton type war hawk and it will not happen. We all have to pray it does not.

There will also today be rejoicing in Washington. There is nothing like an apparently successful military attack in a US re-election campaign. The Benghazi Embassy disaster left a deep scar upon the psyche of Trump’s support base in particular, and the message that Trump knows how to show the foreigners not to attack America is going down extremely well where it counts, whatever wise people on CNN may say.

So what happens now? Consolidating power in Iraq and finishing the destruction of ISIL in Iraq will be the wise advance that Iranian statesman can practically gain from these events. But that is, of course, not enough to redeem national honour. Something quick and spectacular is required for that. It is hard not to believe there must be a very real chance of action being taken against shipping in the Straits of Hormuz, which Iran can do with little prior preparation. Missile attacks on Saudi Arabia or Israel are also well within Iran’s capability, but it seems more probable that Iran will wish to strike a US target rather than a proxy. An Ambassador may be assassinated. Further missile strikes against US outposts in Iraq are also possible. All of these scenarios could very quickly lead to disastrous escalation.

In the short term, Trump in this situation needs either to pull out troops from Iraq or massively to reinforce them. The UK does not have the latter option, having neither men nor money, and should remove its 1400 troops now. Whether the “triumph” of killing Suleimani gives Trump enough political cover for an early pullout – the wise move – I am unsure. 2020 is going to be a very dangerous year indeed.

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391 thoughts on “The USA Doubles Down on its Saudi Allegiance

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  • Blue Dotterel

    These are the people the Iranians should target: “the political elite, the arms manufacturers, the military and security services and allied interests, the hedge funds, speculators and oil companies”. That is, all the Western war mongers.

  • Andyoldlabour

    The biggest problem with Middle East politics, as far as I can see, is the reporting by the BBC and other MSM. They will never mention the 1953 coup in Iran, or point out that Iraq is a majority Shia country. They never mention the US involvement in the Iran/Iraq war, supply of chemical weapons by the US, the logistical help provided by US forces which led to the slaughter of Iranian troops and Kurdish civilians.
    The largest state sponsor of terrorism in the World, has been for the past 80 years the US.
    I really fear for my relations in Tehran, because if and when Iran retaliates – God knows I wouldn’t blame them – then I wouldn’t put it past the US to use nuclear weapons.
    I have always known Trump is a complete madman.

  • DG

    “Missile attacks on Saudi Arabia or Israel are also well within Saudi Arabia’s capability”

    Typo. Believe should read Iran’s at the end.

  • Paul

    Craig,

    You are a big fan of self-determination, so, if the Iraqi population (through its Shia majority) were to vote to merge their country into Iran, am I correct in thinking that you would approve?

    • craig Post author

      It’s a colonial boundary. I don’t think all of Iraq should merge with anything. Also remember there is an important difference between ethnic persian shias and ethnic arab shias. The whole question of states defined by colonial boundaries is massive, and the creation of national identity which very quickly becomes real is a fascinating thing. Olivier Roy has published some very interesting work on it in Central Asia.

      So self-determination yes, but I don’t presume where that should lead. Very likely to splitting the country.

        • Andyoldlabour

          John Pretty

          The Iran/Iraq war was largely a construct of the US, following the Iranian revolution in 1979 and the subsequent sacking of the US embassy in Tehran. Many people in the UK/US are never told that 70% of Iraqis are Shia Muslims, who were treated abominably by Saddam Hussein.

      • Andyoldlabour

        Craig,

        Millions of Shia pilgrims, many from Iran, visit the holy Shia sites in Iraq each year – Karbala and Najaf (the site of Ali’s tomb), so the Persian Shia are very close to the Iraqi Shia. The aim of the US particularly is to disenfranchise the Shia in Iraq (something which their man Saddam Hussein managed to do). The whole modus operandi of the British empire was to divide and conquer, set people against each other, draw up boundaries.

      • Paul

        Yes, OK – let’s say independence for Iraqi Kurdistan (maybe the Turks would like this as a place to expel theirs to?) and the rest joins Iran.

        But the whole issue of national boundaries (which in the history of humanity are a pretty recent thing anyway) is a mess. The world will be a much better place if mankind survives long enough to get over the whole religion thing, and interbreeds to the point where the only label you can put on someone by looking at them is “human”.

        • Vivian O'Blivion

          Iraqi Kurdistan is unfortunately the fiefdom of the Barzani clan. They have been allowing Israeli combat drones to fly from American bases in their territory to attack Iraqi, government aligned militias. Such treacherous behaviour will not go unanswered.

    • Laguerre

      “if the Iraqi population (through its Shia majority) were to vote to merge their country into Iran,”

      There is not the slightest chance of that happening. The Iraqi Shi’a are very conscious of their difference from the Iranians, Arabic speaking is quite different from Persian. And they follow a different political policy. In Iraq the Ayatollahs don’t take part in politics, apart from the occasional comment from Sistani, in Iran they run the country. Iraqis are very up-front about not following the Iranian policy, which they don’t like.

  • eddie-g

    Yesterday, you wrote: “That the consequences of the fake Douma incident were much less far-reaching than they might have been, is entirely due (and I am sorry if you dislike this but it is true) to the good sense of Donald Trump.”

    I’m sorry if you dislike this, but it is true, but time to include “Donald Trump” and “good sense” in the same sentence is never. No excuses, ever.

    • Baalbek

      Indeed. The need many commentators of a “liberal left” persuasion have to carry water for Trump is puzzling. The man is not always as trigger happy as some of his rivals and predecessors but that’s not saying much when one considers his impact on world affairs, including his fondness for economic “sanctions” which are really a type of siege warfare that deliberately withholds the necessities of life from the civilian populations of targeted countries in hopes that they will turn against their governments.

      • eddie-g

        It’s maddening. The “Donald the Dove” narrative which appears from time to time beggars belief. Any attempt to ascribe ethics or philosophy or deeper strategy to Trump is a fool’s errand, he understands only transactional relationships, and his decisions are best understood by knowing the last person he spoke to.

        He’s a demented moron, and the notion that he wouldn’t start a war on a whim is absurd. If he sees it in his interests, he will, and for all the turnover in his cabinet, he’s still surrounded by plenty of people happy to make the argument. Just for good measure, Mark Penn, one of Hillary’s favorite pollsters, and one of the most unscrupulous political creatures in DC, recently begun working for Trump and advising him on how to appear presidential now he’s been impeached.

        I respect that people have their sacred cows, what I don’t respect is the belief that if Donald Trump hasn’t slaughtered yours yet, he’s sorta defendable. Your time will come and don’t say you haven’t been warned, Trump doesn’t care about anything you hold dear.

      • Antonym

        Sorry, was Qassem Soleimani some kind of saint? Did he never organize any mass suicide bombing/ assassination of an opponent in Irak, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon or elsewhere?

      • Muscleguy

        And his distrust of the security establishment means he is now prey for individual or small group voices who can sometimes get him to act without enough thought, calculation and informed advice. After this evidence the Israeli apparatus will be working overtime to achieve something through similar isolate and influence tactics.

        Trump can be impulsive and loves to aggrandise himself. This is a very dangerous combination. That he might or definitely won’t understand the full and proper import of an action will obviously now not stop him.

  • Goose

    Luke Harding resurfaced in the guardian with a story on Iran, just a few days ago.

    Should have realised something was afoot. These targeted attacks take planning and inter-agency cooperation/ coordination this assassination has probably been weeks in the planning.

  • Goose

    Iran should choose the WarGames (1983) strategy..

    A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

  • Mist001

    What I wrote yesterday:

    “This is not new. For many years now, the policy of the USA government at least has simply been to hell with the fall out, just go ahead and do what they were going to do because there will be plenty of time afterwards to deal with any criticisms which they’ll ignore anyway.

    Such is the way of the world in the 21st century and you can see this attitude seeping into every day life too.”

    Remember. You don’t have to think, I did the thinking for you.

    • joel

      Yes, and our opinion formers will ensure the US comes out smelling of roses no matter what it does, even nuking civilians or chemical weaponing an entire region of the globe. We know this because it has already been exonerated in the popular mind for doing precisely that in the last century. The US can do anything it wants without staining its impeccable character.

  • Goose

    “My reading of Trump remains that he is not a crazed Clinton type war hawk and it will not happen. We all have to pray it does not.”

    Maybe not, but Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is fanatical about Israel; he equated criticism of Zionism with antisemitism in a major newspaper article he wrote. And Pompeo seems aligned with the thinking of Netanyahu; that ‘something must be done about Iran’. They know they are literally running out of time in an election year.

    That’s why Iran should show restraint. The US will have war-gamed all of this, and their next play demands Iran does something rash in response.

    • eddie-g

      Any “reading” of Trump is ridiculous. He’s an impulsive, amoral moron.

      Nearly as crazy is to assume that Trump is capable of following what the US has gamed out (I agree with you that their foreign policy apparatus has gone through this exercise, an exercise that of course can’t account for an idiot US president).

      More likely, imo, is Putin steps in to broker a de-escalation. e.g. He’ll persuade the Iranians to take a number of steps to revive the nuclear deal, convince Trump he’s “won” something as a result, and have Trump pay-off the Saudis and Israelis to close that circle.

      • Goose

        Indeed Craig has far too much respect for Trump’s judgement.

        James Mattis probably resigned because he wanted no part in it.

        Trump has shown himself to be shallow with a fragile ego on numerous occasions , he’s the very last person you want calling the shots in a war. You can imagine him using nukes then boasting about it on twitter. Everyone who has been around him thinks he’s a complete moron.

      • Tatyana

        eddie-g, not very long from the beginning of the discussion, I was expecting that someone would say “Putin may settle this”. Thanks for your believe in Putin’s diplomatic skill.
        I’m just saying, it is not our war. we didn’t begin it. we are not part of it. our interest is to have peace in the neighbouring region. it is not the desirable role of any leader – to go around and sort out the mess of other leaders.
        So I think perhaps the most clever thing that Putin may have done, it is to state that Trump IS a russian agent and enjoy how they impeach and execute that madman.

        • eddie-g

          Putin’s done this sort of thing before, turning a crisis into an opportunity. And given how he has assisted Assad and his allies in Syria, Iran you’d think will be willing to listen to him. There’s not many countries Iran trusts, with fair reason.

          • Tatyana

            It’s a nice proposal, but I think it would be nicer if the US people prevented their president from missile strikes, and people of Europe prevented their governments from supporting the strikes.
            I see that you don’t do this, but have hopes for Russia. Somehow childish behaviour.

          • Goose

            @Tatyana

            The role of media is key.

            Some of our leading journos here in the UK see supporting the US as a matter of honour and patriotism.

            To quote Malcolm X : ‘If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.’

            This is true right across our media TV, radio and print. And the 30% or so who know how dark and corrupted things are , are simply outvoted by the easily swayed.

          • Tatyana

            @Goose
            You echo my point of view, but put it in your own words, adding an explanation of the mechanism of why and how it works.
            Whatever the reasons, but in general these are reckless and irresponsible acts. The hope that the arbitrator would come and settle everything – it is the level of kindergarten.
            After all, do not limit yourself to the peacekeeping roles, Putin can consider that such an immature people perhaps needs his leadership on a daily basis, what’s your perspective on it? 🙂

            Seriously speaking, the hopes that a foreign leader will deal with your government’s policies is a bad idea. You can lose your reputation, influence and even fall under external control. Ukraine has a good understanding of how foreign aid ‘helps’ in political and military affairs.

            You yourself must force your own government to conduct sound policies. We are told that you are democracy, which means it is the people who make decisions, and this means that the people have a mechanism to force the government to do what the people want.
            War is a serious matter, the excuses that the media fooled you will not be taken into account.

          • eddie-g

            Tatyana – I don’t mean to judge if it is good for Putin to get involved, I’m only saying it could happen.

            I too would much rather the US and Europe behaved responsibly in the Middle East, but I have no confidence that will come about.

          • lysias

            The U.S. is in fact not a democracy, but a plutocracy. Only plutocrats have real power.

          • Goose

            @Tatyana

            There is a lot of apathy and opposing anything is dangerous, certainly for leading politicians who may one day exercise real power. Look at the treatment Corbyn received and he wasn’t even all that outspoken. Bernie Sanders would face it no doubt too, if he were to win the nomination. I’ve read comments by US citizens who support Sanders claiming they think Bernie would quote : ‘have an accident’, if he looked like winning. Everyone knows the politics is horrible but the options to change things aren’t there.

          • Tatyana

            Goose
            “the options to change things aren’t there” – this is the most unpleasant thing that I expected to hear. I read this site for about two years, I believe, and I see analytical info, discussions, opinions, but I rarely see a call to action (except for a call to share the article or to sign a petition, which I translate inside of me into “more people need to talk about this”).
            Is talking is all that is possible to do?

          • Goose

            @Tatyana

            Craig certainly knows how difficult the UK is to change, via Westminster elections. So many enemies of creating a country where polite informed discussion and transparency are the norm. Probably have to look to Scandinavia for the ‘ideal model’ democracies.

            Hence, among other reasons, why he’s put his faith and hope in Scottish independence.

            This recent big Tory majority is baffling and depressing, given finding anyone who likes the Tories or their policies here , is difficult.

          • Tatyana

            difficult to change, you say, baffling and depressing, and again is difficult.
            Thanks, Goose. I see.
            I hope that you know I do not intend to offend anyone. Just give another perspective.
            For me it’s like complaining to a girlfriend how difficult it is to find the right shade of lipstick in the Létoile, because the consultants are trying to impose on me a brand, the sale of which brings them higher profit. It is undoubtedly difficult and baffling and sometimes depressing…
            Compare this with the persistence you show when you want to visit the toilet. Not many obstacles seem so very baffling to you, right?
            I think you have not reached the critical point yet. Another carelessness, because then there will be a completely different price.

  • Abulhaq

    Who would have reckoned that the demise of the Ottoman sultanate and the abolition of the caliphate would still resonate today. A percipient and wise man perhaps?
    Has Nicola Sturgeon a view on this assassination? If you want to be an independent state, that is.
    Iraq once cradle now potential grave of civilization. Thanks a bunch America!
    Have a nice day!

  • Republicofscotland

    The US must’ve know that by killing Suleimani they’d lose Iraq but they went ahead anyway.

    I don’t see the Americans pulling out of Iraq, I think they will build up a significant force in Iraq now. They certainly have the military might to do so.

    • Laguerre

      Sending large numbers of US troops to Iraq will not go down well back home. But it will be the only way to keep Iraq, now that acquiescence by the Iraqi public has been lost. So Trump will be stuck on the horns of his dilemma. Send troops and lose the election, or, let Iraq go and lose the election because of US humiliation. It’s one or the other. It’s why the killing was a big mistake.

      • Vivian O'Blivion

        Pompeo is not the loyal servant of Trump. Pompeo takes his orders from the MIC. Trump’s re-election matters not a jot one way or other. The evidence for this assertion lies in Pompeo’s behaviour regards “Ukrainegate”. Pompeo what ever else he is, he ain’t stupid (first in his class at West Point) and yet when Trump orders Pompeo to have the State Department work in tandem with crazy Guiliani on a hybrid State / Private endeavour, Pompeo says “yes, right away boss (and I’ll leave a paper trail to that effect)”.
        The MIC having deployed its assets (Tillerson, Mattis et al) to ameliorate Trump’s “worst” isolationist tendencies, to limited effect, has deployed Pompeo (and William Barr) to “give him enough rope to hang himself” (regards misconduct in office and impeachment).

        • Goose

          Indeed.

          Pompeo doesn’t strike anyone as a MAGA supporter. I imagine Pompeo is there to filter what information Trump is given, prevent him knowing too much about the CIA etc. Trump is prone to letting slip classified info and Pompeo is there to protect the deep state. If Trump loses, it’s probably neither here nor there to Pompeo.

      • Republicofscotland

        History says different G.W. Bush a confirmed warmongerer was re-elected in1998, Bush won re-election with a record 69 percent of the vote.

  • Privs

    Hi, I would like to point out that in the case of Syria, what we actually had was a predominantly Sunni Syrian Arab Army fighting against the “allegedl Sunni” terrorist backed by the west, for a considerable amount of time the Guardian (when one could comment) was trying to play a sectarian card that simply did not exist, the Syrian people being civilised and intelligent people saw what happened in Libya and knew what was in store for them, hence why they overwhelmingly backed their President, something which Nato even admitted. No one in our main stream media questioned why our government was financing and supporting groups inside Syria who had next to nothing in terms of support from actual Syrian society.

    If anything Syria is an outstounding example of how the people came together be they Sunni, Shia or Alawite.

    Was the missile strike good news? John Bolton is probably beating his bishop over the prospect of their being a war with Iran before the next US general election, Trump is an odious and obnoxious piece of shit, but is likely to win again in Nov this year given the pathetic political enslavement of american mentality.

    • michael norton

      Privs, you did not mention the Armenians and the Christians, they are almost 100% behind President Assad.
      The people against Assad are the Coalitition of the willing, Israel, Jordan and Turkey and the Chinese Muslims.

  • Dungroanin

    A while back when I realised that our election was going to be fixed by global coordination it became clear why:
    ‘Mesopotamia and Cenral Asia, here we come -again! Sorry for the bloodshed but we will be spilling plenty of our own and proxy Uighurs too. We voted for it!’

    The propaganda machine is oiled and whirring now to get the boots on the ground and once more send our youth to foreign shores to do or die – Fuking and Cuntery.’
    ——-
    I had been arguing with my friends that this escalation to full war with Iran was the plan; making sure that Labour would not be allowed to win by hook or crook.

    Now you know WHY and why also bozo and his minders like LauraKoftheCIA all disappeared for the last week or so – for their briefing for war.

    I was asking why the media over the holidays have STILL been banging away against Corbyn – knowing he is going? Nick Robinson this morning like a rat out of a bag instantly pushing the ‘patriotism’ line. As has LBC for a week. The narrative was outed as the line about why the northern wall collapsed because they considered Corbyn unpatriotic…
    The Groaniads imperial blue web page…

    IT HAS BEEN LONG PLANNED AS POMPEOS GAUNTLET WAS.
    ——-
    The Maximum Pressure campaign just played a major card at disrupting the emerging EurAsian Empire and the inevitable collapse of our own AngloImperial multi century project, and the various infrastructure projects under the Belt & Road Initiatives – ASSASSINATION of a major statesman.

    With Macron under pressure, Netanyahu and MBS too and the collapse of Russiagate with it’s blowback – Trump was easily going to triumph. Now HIS implacable backers have decided to push for the maximum disruption from that triumph – the fact that the Durham report and charges have still not published or were finally about to, has been the trigger.

    If Trump was against further war in the M.E. he has now been turned into an assassin by his DS and they can easily despatch him and claim it was the Iranians… it is a coup against him if he is not a willing party today.
    ——–
    A instant asymmetric response is now likely – i would’t expect Aramco to be worth investing in now, and if the Israeli farmers and Saudis think they have plenty of desalinated water saved up, good luck; it is certain that it will strike all the way back in Washington and any number of US/UK and French targets across the world – followed by a full on air and cruise missile attack on Iranian cities and infrastructure- destoying the last remaining archeological treasures and millions of people.

    I would say many a false flag attacks are now imminent.

    I would also say that the chances of such blogs and our voices continuing to be heard just dropped by orders of scale.

    I would also say that the EU will come under extreme pressure to fall apart with the UK’s hard brexit and the various Nato whores wishing to go to war while the rest of the EU will try and make peace and stay out of it.

    The Empire is still fighting back – we still have haven’t realised WE are that EVIL Empire.

    We have just escalated to the accidental use of strategic weapons across the planet for the benefit of the very very few ancient overlords.

    Our only hope is the Merkel/Putin/Xi cool heads, and us, in our 10 millions taking to the streets in a major general strike in this mid-winter to stop this SHIT once and for all.

    • Tony_0pmoc

      Dungroanin,

      I agree with much of that. Not convinced that Trump knew anything much about it, judging from his Twitter account. He normally boasts about such things but said nowt – just posted an American Flag, and hours later used the word negotiation. Doubt the UK or anyone else in NATO knew anything much about it either. Even CNN seemed shocked.

      As far as The EU is concerned, I suggest a read of this is worthwhile. Thierry Meyssan is usually on the ball.

      For the European Union, the time has come to use force by Thierry Meyssan

      https://www.voltairenet.org/article208739.html

      Otherwise another great analysis, by Craig Murray.

      I was already feeling sick by his previous one, but this is very much worse in its implications for all of us.

      Check out for flashes in the Sky and Duck & Cover, not that it will do you any good.

      Tony

      • Tom Welsh

        “Check out for flashes in the Sky and Duck & Cover, not that it will do you any good”.

        Your remaining seconds would best be spent in prayer.

    • Dungroanin

      For the sake of looking at all sides, devils advocacy wise, having cogitated over it in the bath…

      The ONLY way this does NOT escalate is if the General had gone rogue, and the Russians and Chinese recommended it with the blessing of the leader in Iran.

      I say again – that is not what my opinion is (as stated above) – just a contrary argument.

      3,000 US troop deployment? Where do they end up? SA or Iraq? Too small to be invasive.

  • Jack

    Going back to Craig’s past article on zombies in the media, today we see it in full spectrum where journalists, politicians do not take a stance against Trump’s war and whereas comment sections are filled with joy by alot of regular people, believing the attack is something good!
    To get out with the correct message is impossible which is of course why wars are started year after year because the propaganda machine is so strong in the west. People are indeed zombies.

    • Goose

      There are a lot of what in the US they call ‘Firsters’ in our media. People who put Israel first despite being born here in the UK; people whose views are closely aligned with Israeli govt’s. As Israel has moved to the political extreme right, journalists who used to be pro a two state solution, the JCPOA and compromise, don’t talk about that anymore. They’ve also been the ones fanning the bogus antisemitism stories against people and parties they perceive as inimicable to the stance of the Israeli govt.

      • Jack

        Exactly, this situation so reminds us of the prelude to war on Iraq:

        Tony Blair on why Iraq was invaded:

        ” As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this.”
        https://foreignpolicy.com/2010/02/08/i-dont-mean-to-say-i-told-you-so-but/

        • Goose

          Remember it well. Israel didn’t have the wall (security barrier) back then and Palestinian suicide attacks on transport were frequent. The israelis would respond with the IDF armored bulldozing of the houses of the families of the suicide bombers as part of their controversial ‘collective punishment’ methods. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq starting offering huge bounty payouts to those families to rebuild. Amazingly back then, the KSA used to be very pro-Palestinian too, they’d frequently hold telethons to raise money. KSA’s moves to towards friendlier relations with Israel are a relatively recent development nurtured by among others, Jared Kushner.

    • Tom Welsh

      “There was once an interview with Jeff Greenfield in which he was asked why I was never asked onto Nightline. He gave a good answer. He said the main reason was that I lacked concision. I had never heard that word before. You have to have concision. You have to say something brief between two commercials.

      “What can you say that’s brief between two commercials? I can say Iran is a terrible state. I don’t need any evidence. I can say Ghaddaffi carries out terror. Suppose I try to say the US carries out terror, in fact it’s one of the leading terrorist states in the world. You can’t say that between commercials. People rightly want to know what do you mean. They’ve never heard that before. Then you have to explain. You have to give background. That’s exactly what’s cut out. Concision is a technique of propaganda. It ensures you cannot do anything except repeat clichés, the standard doctrine, or sound like a lunatic”.

      – Noam Chomsky (interview with Laura Flanders, 24/4/2012). http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/04/30/talking-with-chomsky/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlL2Jj-kCNU

  • Mary

    We were bombing Iraq iw hundred years ago. A brave British airman L E O Charlton refused to obey orders and resigned his command.

    ‘Air Commodore Lionel Evelyn Oswald Charlton, CB, CMG, DSO (7 July 1879 – 18 April 1958) was a British infantry officer who served in the Second Boer War. During the First World War, Charlton held several command and staff posts in the Royal Flying Corps, finishing the war as a brigadier general. Transferring to the Royal Air Force on its creation, Charlton served in several air officer posts until his retirement from the air force in 1928. Most notably, Charlton resigned his position as the RAF’s Chief Staff Officer in Iraq as he objected to the bombing of Iraqi villages.’

    ‘On 2 February 1923, Air Commodore Charlton took up the post of Chief Staff Officer at the headquarters of the RAF’s Iraq Command. It was at this time that the RAF employed the bombing of Iraqi villages with the intent of pacifying tribal opposition. Charlton opposed this policy and he went on to openly criticize such bombing action. Within a year of his arrival, Charlton resigned from his post in Iraq. His opposition to the bombing policy is said to have started with a visit to the local hospital in Diwaniya, where he witnessed horribly mangled civilians, including women and children, who were among the victims of a British air raid.

    On his return to Great Britain, Charlton expected to be summoned to see the Chief of the Air Staff, Hugh Trenchard. The summons never came.’

    Although Charlton was barred from further postings in Iraq, he went on to serve as Air Officer Commanding No 3 Group. Charlton requested early retirement, which he was granted.’

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_Charlton

    • Goose

      I know, got an uncle(British) buried in Mesopotamia, we’ve got a plan of the grave and everything.

  • Monster

    Iran should put a bounty of $10,000 for the death of any US or Israeli person in the Middle East. Hopefully that will get a war going which the US seems rather reluctant to start. Next move, before the old B1 bombers have cranked up their engines, would be mass rocket attacks on the Saudi oil fields and a closing of the straits of Hormuz. This will be the only hope Iran has before the nuclear weapons begin to fly. I imagine Russia and China are considering their options too.

  • Harry law

    Why are the Iraqis so angry, couldn’t be the 500,000 Iraqi children starved to death through sanctions which US Sec of State M Albright said was a “price worth paying”, or the million Iraqis killed and whose infrastructure was destroyed in operation “Iraqi Freedom” then later when ISIS sent thousands of Jihadis from Syria hundreds of kilometers in Toyota trucks kicking up tons of dust into Northern Iraq, all the time being monitored and tracked by US satellites and spy planes, the US did nothing, simply to put pressure on the Iraqi government. In order to have any self respect, Iraq needs to expel the US military and do deals with China and Russia, if they will not go [and they won’t] then they will have no other option than to use force, as is legitimate under International law. They were driven out before when the explosively formed projectiles [EFP’s] were introduced [there is no defence against this weapon.
    Could be the US calculate that when the UN Arms embargo ends shortly Iran may want the S400 missile system, the Russians may very well agree, if attacking Iran is difficult now it would be almost impossible if Iran had all the goodies Russia has to offer.
    “As the military embargo approaches its expiration date [October 2020] Tehran has tightened military ties with powers hostile to Washington. Several high-level bilateral visits have occurred as Iran signed military agreements with Russia and China in the years since the JCPOA entered into force. The pacts cover strategic and military matters, and Iran reportedly weighs a future $10 billion deal to import Russian “T-90 tanks, artillery systems, planes and helicopters.” Just last month, Iran proclaimed that together with China and Russia, it plans to hold joint naval exercises in international waters”.
    https://en.radiofarda.com/a/what-should-the-west-do-as-un-arms-embargo-on-iran-ends-in-2020/30219365.html

    • Dungroanin

      The exercises have happened last week.

      This is an escalation by the murderous powers who have lost their old Empire – who just enabled a nuke first strike when the Iranians sink an aircraft carrier and destroy Saudi and Israeli infrastructure in a few hours.

      Pray.

  • David

    Unlikely that the USA will send troops to Iran, there would be no appetite for that in the US. However the USA does need a decent contested air war to show the world how good the F35 is and how easily they can penetrate IAD systems. It wouldn’t be the first time the USA has picked a fight to test its new weapons.

    My money is that Iran will shout a lot, make a lot of noise but do nothing, they know that the next stage for the USA is a massive air war, which will devastate much of the country

    • Goose

      Iran is literally too big – with its thousands of miles of border and too large a populace 80m+. There’s no staging country for what need to be at the very least a 130,000 plus invasion force, and Iran has massive chemical and biological weapons stockpiles plus other unknown capability – possibly crude nuclear devices, quite unlike Iraq prior to that invasion, which the UK and US knew was already disarmed.

      Iran is also a lot more cohesive/united than Iraq’s demoralised Sunni/Shia divided society, Iranian’s are as patriotic as anyone else. The US would be bogged down for years at incredible cost. And as for Trump, it’d be the precise opposite of his campaign pledge.

      • Jack

        Goose

        Do they need troops on iranian soil though? Trump like Obama is focused on war by drones nowadays with no casualties on their own side.

        • Tom Welsh

          Where would the drones be launched from? If it’s within 2,000 km the Iranians could destroy it. If it’s a carrier, too bad.

          Besides, the Russian close-defence systems are amazingly good. Drones sacrifice a lot for small size and cheapness. They are far easier to shoot down than jet fighters or missiles.

        • Dungroanin

          Jack a war cannot be one without taking possession of the land.

          Asymmetry also means Wars can be fought far away from the immediate battlefield – after all that is what the Israeli creed has been.

      • John Pretty

        “Iran has massive chemical and biological weapons stockpiles”

        Does it? I’m not saying you are wrong Goose. I’m just wondering where you got this from?

        • Goose

          It’s alleged by German intelligence they do : Iran was found to have used German companies seeking to acquire equipment which could be used to produce and deliver “atomic, biological and chemical weapons. Could be wrong, their Supreme leader has said they don’t and condemned such weapons, but afaik, they’ve never faced full (CWC) inspection .

          Maybe I confused them with North Korea – who most definitely do possess such weapons at scale. Iran is certainly well-armed.

          • John Pretty

            Thank you Goose. Germany is a part of NATO, so I would be suspicious of what German Intelligence alleges.

            The phrase: “equipment which could be used to” is very weasely!

            The nature of the equipment is not made clear here. There are types of equipment that can be purchased for a multiplicity of purposes. The fact that a piece of equipment could in theory be used for nefarious purposes is not evidence that it was in fact being procured for nefarious purposes.

            And as for CWC inspections, we have recently seen that the OPCW is not fit for purpose!

          • Goose

            Indeed.

            But given its heavily armed enemies in the region(including nuclear armed Israel) and how Iran has shunned nuclear development in the past. It’d seem insane not to have developed some game changing WMD capability of its own. Conventional high explosive warheads are weak sauce for a country the size of Iran.

          • John Pretty

            Goose, that is an evidence free assertion on your part. I do not agree with your assessment here.

        • Dungroanin

          I thought they were able to make the fabled novichok.

          Having had such nasties used against them by the US proxy Iraq – would you blame them for having the ability to strike back in kind?

          • John Pretty

            Dungroanin, I wouldn’t blame them, except that perhaps they may wish to adhere to the CWC. Not, perhaps wishing to succumb to a similar fate as Iraq.

            Goose made a very bold statement for which he has no evidence at all.

            Chemical weapons are not especially useful weapons. Conventional weapons are much more effective. The possession (or claim of possession) of chemical weapons do give the West and in particular the Americans an excuse for starting regime change wars.

            https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/04/18/chemical-weapons-arent-the-real-problem-in-syria/

          • John Pretty

            “I thought they were able to make the fabled novichok. ”

            – I have no idea of their capabilities, which is why I respectfully asked goose to provide evidence.

            Do you have any evidence for your assertion?

            I would think that most countries have the capability to manufacture chemical weapons. it is not that difficult. That does not mean that they do.

          • John Pretty

            Thank you. Obtuse? No. And my surname is Pretty.

            It doesn’t matter anyway. Chemical weapons are not effective in military situations. Their only use is against civilian populations. Hence the ban.

      • Tom Welsh

        The main point, Goose, is that if the USA invades Iran or attacks it with WMD, Russia would have to come in on Iran’s side. Probably China too.

        They don’t want to, but they simply cannot let the USA get away with destroying a major Asian power.

        • Herbie

          “if the USA invades Iran or attacks it with WMD, Russia would have to come in on Iran’s side. Probably China too.”

          Not sure the idea was ever to destroy Iran.

          No.

          It is what it’s always been over the past few years. To get Iran to reduce its reach in the region.

          The Kremlin weren’t against this, as has been reported ad nauseam by Andrew Korybko and others, over the past few years.

          I mean, you can’t have Iran in Lebanon if Israel can’t be in the Kurdish areas.

          Fair’s fair.

          The Kremlin’s role is to balance the major tensions in Eurasia, including those created by the Western empire.

          Soleimani was Iran’s outreach guy. And very very good at his job, by all accounts.

          Too good.

          • Rowan Berkeley

            “you can’t have Iran in Lebanon if Israel can’t be in the Kurdish areas. Fair’s fair.”
            Are you serious? Have you never been taught to beware of false equivalences?

          • Herbie

            It’s a sphere of influence issue.

            Iran is on Israel’s borders.

            They’re competing regional powers.

            Israel was losing what it considers its domain.

            The author of that loss is gone.

          • Tom Welsh

            “I mean, you can’t have Iran in Lebanon if Israel can’t be in the Kurdish areas”.

            Israel shouldn’t be at all, let alone in Kurdish areas.

          • Herbie

            “Israel shouldn’t be at all”

            Yeahbut. It is.

            It’s a regional power, and it’s pissed that Iran is on its borders.

            Iran should be up there in the central Asian Stans with the oil and whatnot and feck off outta the Med.

            Would be the thinking.

    • Laguerre

      “My money is that Iran will shout a lot, make a lot of noise but do nothing, ”

      Too simplistic a view. It will be more subtle than that. There will be what they like to call these days an “asymmetric” response, just not strong enough to provoke the US sending in the bombers. The real act will be in Iraq, where Iran has a great opportunity to torture the US for years. Tempt Trump to send in the troops, which will be needed to protect the US position, now that Iraqi public acceptance of the US presence has been lost. 100,000 at least will be necessary. Astronomical costs, and high casualties. That’ll go down a bomb in the US, after the last round of occupation.

  • Dungroanin

    All the Great Wars that We Love to Fight and Die in with Futile Sacrifice of Our Youth start with an Assassination.

    The name General Qassem Suleimani will become as well known as Archduke Ferdinand, from just over a hundred years ago.

    The Evil Empire that got its last hundred years of control over the World – lost it’s mind and that control today.

    Here is what a slavering Empire Sith bloodthirsty warmongering killer sounds like

    “John Bolton
    (@AmbJohnBolton)
    Congratulations to all involved in eliminating Qassem Soleimani. Long in the making, this was a decisive blow against Iran’s malign Quds Force activities worldwide. Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran.
    January 3, 2020 ”

    What a complete and utter **** That guy is. He ought to fly into Tehran immediately and collect his dues! (Never been anywhere near any of the danger and mass murder he has created all his life afaik.)

  • bevin

    This is a narrative written in an era of superpower hegemony. A world in which history has ended and the US may do as it chooses, as it systematically removes the last remaining holdouts to the New World Order.
    But does that era actually exist?
    Cannot Moscow and Beijing, in a moment, change everything by indicating to Washington that the option of attacking Tehran no longer exists?
    My assessment of the situation is that the US Deep State (a very useful term) can allow Trump and his coterie of neocon amateurs to play their bloody games because they know that, to the east, adults are watching and that, should matters begin to get out of hand, a quiet, private warning will be issued to the effect that the US must withdraw.
    And the US will. And Israel, which is where the election, featuring Tweedledum and Tweedledee, which is worth killing scads of foreigners for a knesset seat or two, will be forced to sober up too.

    • J

      True, but the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria would also have been geo-politically difficult if not impossible without 9/11.

      • Antonym

        Why? Bin Laden & co were hiding in Pakistan: no destruction. They were definitely not in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya etc.
        Those 7 countries general Clark once mentioned were simply the wish list of the Arab oil sheikhs, and they have lots of oil money and reserves to keep the US dollar alive. The CIA gets paid in unlimited quantities of Green backs remember?

    • Tom Welsh

      “Cannot Moscow and Beijing, in a moment, change everything by indicating to Washington that the option of attacking Tehran no longer exists?”

      Precisely. They may already have done so – neither Western governments nor MSM would ever mention the fact, of course.

    • Tom Welsh

      “Who is the US fighting for, and for what?”

      The super-rich; and to enrich them still further.

      • Herbie

        “The super-rich; and to enrich them still further.”

        That’s it.

        And this fine general was of a poor family.

        Perhaps too principled for the art of the deal.

        • Tom Welsh

          “And this fine general was of a poor family”.

          Exactly. Just like Mr Putin and Mr Xi and Mr Maduro and Mr Morales…

  • Ben

    “a US mercenary assisting ISIL was killed in an Iranian militia rocket attack,”

    https://www.moonofalabama.org/
    said on Dec 29 that “Instead of finding the real culprits – ISIS remnants, disgruntled locals, Kurds who want to regain control over Kirkuk – the U.S. decided that Kata’ib Hizbullah was the group guilty of the attack.”

    Anyone have an opinion who most likely it was?

    • Laguerre

      No. No-one knows. The US mistakenly thought Kata’ib Hizbullah were part of Lebanese Hizbullah, but the only thing they share is the name. That shows the level of incompetence going on in Washington at present, outstripping all previous US regimes. I should think the assassination of Sulaimani is on about the same level.

    • Theophilus

      Mossad and I expect the pro-Sulimani slogans on the walls of the US embassy were an inside job.

  • Ben

    I as wondering how the US targeted such a senior figure so easily, but if he was at a battle front in Iraq I suppose that explains some of it. So do US drones currently have ability to hit who they want where and when they want?

    • Goose

      It’ll have been flying with the Iraqi govt’s full permission.

      I’d imagine US reconnaissance drones in the sky are an everyday part of life in Iraq.

    • Jack

      Ben

      Yes iranians blundered badly, they dont realize they are being watched 247 by the americans by intelligence (drones, satellites, spies).

      • Laguerre

        I should think Suleimani knew what he was risking. It had been his life for forty years since the revolution, visiting numerous conflicts, and, I believe, it was not the first assassination attempt.

    • Tom Welsh

      Ben, General Soleimani qwas not “at a battle front”. He was being driven from Baghdad airport – where I suppose he had just landed in an ordinary plane.

      He does not seem to have taken any special precautions, perhaps assuming that the Yanks would not openly murder such an important and well-loved figure. From General Soleimani’s point of view there was no downside, as he had been seeking martyrdom for years.

      Read this and think it over carefully. It speaks volumes.

      http://thesaker.is/message-by-the-leader-ayatullah-khamenei-regarding-the-martyrdom-of-shahid-sardar-qasem-suleimani/

    • Dungroanin

      He was flying openly on a commercial flight from Lebanon I think.
      Bernard at MoA, Magnier and sst and of course this site – are where to find the FACTS.

      Lets keep it straight as we can against msm narrative.

  • remember kronstadt

    The US isn’t at war with Iran – so Warren approves killing the murderer. Bernie get five points but possibly not a medal.

  • Gary

    Firstly I want to say how shocked I am, not by the killing itself, but by the massive disparity in the depth of analysis missing from the BBC News reporting of this same event. They DO have access to the same knowledge but have chosen not to share it. I secondly want to thank YOU for doing so.

    Iran’s response, whatever it is, will be something that looks good on TV but doesn’t start WW3. They have the same needs/problems as Trump. So, aside from how they decide to handle future foreign policy in Iraq I think they will probably be content with a single action, something noisy and crowd pleasing, rather than a sustained full force action which could end them, destabilise the region (and others) and potentially lead to more major actors getting involved…

  • J

    Escalation may be the simple intention. It’s very difficult to understand why else America would do this. Why would Trump hostage himself so powerfully to the darker elements of his own security state if it wasn’t already decided to go much further? Any of them have a green light to do again what you’ve been writing about just one post ago, this time on a larger scale and there’ll be no questions asked.

    Perhaps http://ine.uaf.edu/wtc7, an Iranian ‘retaliation’ which makes little sense on the face of it, but which western media would view uncritically as Iranian ‘revenge,’ as they’re paid to do. With the current crop of Tories unrestrained by any accountability the timing couldn’t be better for a new War on Terror. In the face of ‘some catastrophic and catalysing event – like a new Pearl Harbor’ all bets are off. And if they can get away with it once, they will do it again.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    If (and it’s a monumental IF) the SNP Westminster Group really wanted to make a nuisance of themselves, this is where they should go.
    The OPCW being compromised by Western intelligence agencies.
    The Douma fiasco.
    Link the OPCW corruption to the dodgy, Novichok (really American BZ) analysis in Salisbury.
    The promotion of the jihadi, White helmets by MI6.
    Claims by Pompeo that the IRGC was about to launch a massive attack against Americans (and logically, murdering their leader prevents that “attack” how exactly?).

    The SNP are the third largest party in the Commons by a massive degree. The Speaker has to call them on a regular basis. With Stephen Gethins out of the picture, take the opportunity to make a noise and ask awkward questions. Johnson would welcome the opportunity to rid himself of a persistent irritant.

  • Mary

    A variety of warmongers and commentators have been rolled out by the BBC on their ‘news channel’ today to justify the killing or to comment.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/world-middle-east-50980663

    Just some I have heard or seen –

    Tom Tugenhadt ex chair Foreign Affairs Committee
    Alistair Burt MP ex FCO minister, CFoI, Henry Jackson Society
    Jonathan Marcus BBC correspondent
    Fawaz Gerges LSE
    Frank ‘I was there’ Gardner. BBC correspondent

    A busy day at Portland Place.

    Olga Guerin comes on at intervals to give her view on the likely escalation.

    I have avoided Sky as that would probably have been worse.

    President Putin has condemned Trump’s action.

    • Goose

      BBC seems too far gone to salvage, doesn’t it.

      So many people associated with the intel services using it as a propaganda tool that it’s become a huge turnoff for viewers. I got relatives on the left and right and none of them can stand BBC news, it reeks of the security state agenda.

    • Ingwe

      Good post Mary at 15:41.
      Whilst we can’t of prevent the USA from doing anything, we can prevent the Tugenhats and fellow imperialists from getting away with the total inversion of the truth. To allow that prick Tugenhat to get away with stating, as he just was quoted on the BBC news, that it is Iran to blame for the huge loss of life in Iraq and Syria, is a travesty.
      The BBC will vomit up all its ‘pundits’ from the Heritage Association, the Brookings institute, the Combined Servces whatever, the Atlantic Council and various retired decrepit war-monger generals to state that white’s black and up is down but we must shout the truth from the rooftops at every occasion. Bastards.

    • Dungroanin

      And wait till Bizo and Laura get back from their honeymoon CIA war briefing mission.

      Meanwhile the unelected ‘Strangelove’ Cummings is cackling wildly in No10 as he twitches inadvertent heils screaming ‘yes, yes, yes..’

  • writeon

    The Iranians will have to calculate very carefully what their response should be. Certainly they shouldn’t allow themselves to be drawn into an American ‘trap’ and give them the ‘excuse’ they require before launching a full-scale military attack on Iran targetting the country’s infrastructure and bombing it back decades, and this is on top of the devastating economic slow strangulation, or seige, that’s been escalating for years and has massively undermined the Iranian economy.

    Whilst the Americans can virtually destroy Iran as a modern functioning state, the Iranians cannot retalitate directly against the US mainland. All they can do is attack US interests, the military and Saudi Arabia in reply to a US bombing campaign. The US doensn’t need Saudi oil. Europe, Chian and Japan, do need it though.

    Iran would be ill-advised to escalate the conflict with the United States despite this latest outrageous provocation. But there surely comes a point when the consequences of not reacting are marginally worse than reacting. Slowly being strangled compared to a war where one might be able to inflict so much damage on the US that might be forced out of the region by US public opinion, could be worth the obvious risks, seen from an Iranian perspective.

    • J

      Iran probably won’t, but if others do (look no further than Craigs previous post for evidence of how such things work) then who will be standing around asking for evidence amongst the stampede for war?

      • Anthony

        Nobody. The Media Lens book ‘Propaganda Blitz’ details how the propagandists have mastered the stampede for war in the past couple of decades, always following the same script. An urgent, uniform blitz across the ‘respectable’ media with all dissent shut out.

    • Goose

      The US would find Iran doing nothing in response the most painful retaliation of all.

      Comprehensive US military action against Iran may result in US losses and the US population need to be primed to accept losses. Only by presenting such action as an unfortunate necessity – in response to Iranian aggression – can any action be sold to a war wary US public.

      That’s the grim reality.

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