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Clinton pokes the Bear and the Dragon.

Updated below, Sat., 7 July.

Our top “diplomat”, Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died Clinton, is now threatening punishment for Russia and China because they refuse to support regime change in Syria.  Russia and China, let us remember, are founding members of the Shanghai Cooperative Organisation (the SCO), and are working jointly in this economic and military partnership – formed largely to protect themselves and other participating nations from attempted US hegemony.  We are fools to ignore the SCO group and bigger fools to take a sharp stick and poke at them, especially on a matter where we are in the wrong.  Forced regime change by an outside country is illegal under international law.

The situation in Syria is murky at best.  The US, via the CIA, and several other nations are arming the “rebels”.  Reporting is bizarre, with some articles reading that the Syrian military is killing every civilian within range and others pointing out that the Syrian military itself is the target and on the losing side of each confrontation.  Reporting in the US consists mostly of canned quotes from “anonymous” persons in “positions of authority”.  I suspect that this will one of those matters where the truth is brought to light many decades after the events.  Clinton has called for regime change (again – illegal under international law) and baldly stated that Assad’s “days are numbered”.   al Qaeda, as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP, is once again surfacing as the enemy de jour, although the entire al Qaeda brand name is beginning to be questioned in some quarters as a CIA operation.

We were oddly on the same side as al Qaeda in Libya, where the “rebels” were known to be both al Qaeda- and CIA-backed.  Our regime change there has left the country bereft of any meaningful leadership, embroiled in a civil war, mired in lawlessness, with a vigorous turn toward sharia by the “recognized government” the US preferred.  However, the oil derricks are being protected by US troops and the oil is once again beginning to flow under the auspices of the newly enshrined for-profit corporations, so there’s that.  Libya’s oil fields are no longer facing any threat of being nationalized, one of Ghaddafi’s final projects; the profits will go to the multinational companies instead of the Libyan people.  We call this A Success.  This is what we thought was better for Libya than what they had.

Russia and China both state that they do not approve of way Assad rules Syria, but that the issues must be worked out internally and that they cannot participate in the proposed forced regime change.

China joined Russia on Thursday in boycotting a meeting aimed at coordinating efforts to stop the bloodshed in Syria, where three senior army officers were among more than 150 people reported killed in 48 hours.

Moscow confirmed that some Western countries had asked it to offer Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a haven in exile, saying it had dismissed the idea as a “joke.”

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said China would not attend the so-called “Friends of Syria” gathering in Paris on Friday. China “at present does not consider attending the meeting,” Liu said.

Russia has also said it will stay away from the meeting after accusing the West of seeking to distort a weekend deal by world powers in Geneva aimed at achieving a transition of power.

The Paris meeting follows one in Tunis and another in Istanbul, both of which called in vain for tougher action against Assad’s government.

China did not attend either of those meetings, in which the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Arab nations Saudi Arabia and Qatar lead a group of more than 60 members, including most EU states and many Arab League nations.

China backed Russia in Geneva on insisting that Syrians must decide how the transition should be carried out, rather than allow others to dictate their fate, and did not rule out Assad remaining in power in some form.

The West has said Assad should not be part of any new unity government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that Western nations had asked Moscow to offer Assad asylum and that the idea was first raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during June 1 talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  “Our side thought this was a joke and responded with a joke — how about you, the Germans, take Mr Assad instead,” Lavrov said during a press appearance with his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle.

Lavrov said he was “quite surprised” when the idea was raised again during the meeting in Geneva on Saturday.

The foreign minister also repeated Russia’s displeasure with the slow pace of reforms pursued by its Soviet-era ally, but again argued that any attempts at forced regime change were doomed to end in even greater violence.

“Yes, the regime bears the main responsibility,” but those who seek regime change “ignore the fact that we are not talking about a few dozen people — as they tell us we are — but a very large part of the Syrian population that ties its security to the current president.”

On the eve of the Paris meeting, Amnesty International called for an immediate arms embargo on the Syrian government and for caution over the supply of weapons to rebels. [Teri’s note: it was Amnesty International France which supplied the original story that Ghaddafi was going to massacre civilians – a story that they later admitted was untrue and based on unfounded rumors, although they carefully did not admit that they themselves had begun the rumors.  It seems they are being a little more careful WRT to Syria.]

“Amid growing reports of abuses by members of the armed opposition, states should also stop arms transfers to the opposition wherever there is a substantial risk that they are likely to be used for war crimes or other human rights abuses,” it said.[…]

http://news.yahoo.com/west-trying-distort-syria-deal-says-russia-032828655.html

Despite their rather reasonable pleas for handling the matter in a way that allows for the national sovereignty of Syria to be honored, Clinton just issued a belligerent threat to both countries today while attending the “Friends of Syria” meeting.

Moscow and Beijing will be punished for supporting the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton harshly stated at the “Friends of Syria” meeting of over 100 Western and Arab nations in Paris on Friday.

“I do not believe that Russia and China are paying any price at all – nothing at all – for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime.  The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price,” Clinton warned.

Russia and China once again opted not to attend the “Friends of Syria” meeting. Neither Moscow nor Beijing believe the meeting in the French capital will be helpful in uniting the Syrian opposition “on a constructive basis”.

“We have frankly laid out the reasons why we have restrained from joining the mechanism, the very name of which has a contradiction between the word and the deed,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier this week.
The US Secretary of State further criticized Russia for the maintenance of Syria’s Soviet-made helicopters. Two weeks ago Hillary Clinton lashed out at Russia for repairing three Syrian helicopters, saying their presence “will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry swiftly refuted the allegations. “In 2008 there was a contract to repair them. They are still to be assembled after delivery”, Lavrov said. ”That entire process will take at least three months. So to speak about something we have just sold to Syria, which is then to be used in action, is not true at all,” he added.

French President Francois Hollande demanded Bashar Assad step [down] while delivering an opening statement at the Friends of Syria meeting on Friday. Hollande believes a transition of political power is the only way to end the 16-month conflict in Syria.  The Friends of Syria meeting comes just a week after a UN-led summit in Geneva where the international community endeavored to reach a consensus on the conflict. They agreed to get behind UN envoy Kofi Annan’s plan for a transition government in Syria.

However, Russia said that western powers were purposely distorting the terms of the agreement to push for the removal of Assad.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that the agreement said Assad must leave office, whereas Moscow claims that the original accord made no allusion to the removal of the Syrian president.

http://on.rt.com/24i1ib

RT further updates its article with the following rumination from someone who actually studies the use of diplomacy:

Mark Almond, a professor of international relations at Bilkent University in Turkey, told RT that the US probably has its own solution for the Syrian problem and is not prepared for any sort of compromise.

“The rhetoric of Mrs Clinton recalls that of the Bush era,” the professor said. “There is a great deal of congeniality in international policy between George Bush and Barack Obama’s administrations,” he said. 

“After all France, Russia and China opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. (Then US Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice threatened (Then French President) Jacques Chirac by name that he would pay a price with the distraction of his reputation and public esteem,” Almond recalled.

“Mrs. Clinton is converting a regional problem, a crisis in Syria and its neighbors, into a potential global problem,” he said. “Those countries that do not agree with every word of Mrs Clinton are to be considered supporters of tyranny and enemies of the good. This is creating a much more dangerous global answer,” he continued.  

“Maybe Mrs. Clinton is simply speaking out of frustration at the fact that her policies have not yet achieved the goal of overthrowing Assad,” Almond argued, adding that Clinton is known for using harsh rhetoric towards people she does not like.

“Remember her comments on Gaddafi. She said ‘We came, we saw, he died’, which was broadcasted on American TV. Falling out with Mrs Clinton can prove fatal,” he concluded.

http://www.rt.com/news/clinton-russia-china-syria-569/

One would think that after the ruin we have imposed on Iraq, Libya, and many South American and African countries through these coups and regime changes that we indulge in, after the obvious bad results wrought by our interference and invasions in foreign lands (think the Philippines, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.) we would stop this sort of thing.  Just stop.  It makes no sense and produces nothing remotely passing for democracy or peace in the nations thus “handled” by the US – if that weren’t obvious before, it certainly should be by now.  Still, we intend to forge ahead in yet another country; and this time we are threatening two nuclear armed giants with “punishment” for not agreeing with the process.

Our leaders are clinically insane.

UPDATE: Sat. 7 July:

This has nothing to do with Russia and China, but with Clinton – and as it comes immediately on the heels of her statements a day or two ago, I am posting it with this article.

Apparently, Hillary and Barrack have just posted a sign in Afghanistan which reads, “Please excuse our mess as we remodel to better serve our customers”.  Clinton just announced that Afghanistan is now a major non-NATO ally of the US.

Mercy.  Slap me on the ass and call me Betsy.  I could have sworn that the United States invaded and has been at war with Afghanistan for over a decade.  Can you call a country an ally if you only like half the people who live there and are doing your best to kill the other half?  We have a rather, um, visible group of military and mercenary forces in Afghanistan and last I heard, they were armed with a vengeance and using those arms against Afghans.  We are also running a number of prisons to house Afghans we don’t like so much.  Guess we will go through neighborhood by neighborhood to decide which ones are allies and which not.  Although, come to think of it, we consider Pakistan and Yemen allies and we are drone-bombing the hell out of certain people in those countries.  Perhaps the fact that we are “accidentally” arming both the Afghans we like and the Afghans we are at war with makes the designation somehow more acceptable and meaningful.  Or maybe not.  Maybe nothing means anything any more.

The truth is, it would seem that by naming Afghanistan an “ally”, Obama and Clinton have just assured that boatloads of US taxpayer dollars will eternally flow into the place and, despite our agreement to withdraw troops by 2014, we will now have cover for keeping forces there forever – as we do in our other “non-Nato ally” countries such as Japan and the Philippines.  Clinton said at a press conference in Kabul, “Please know that the United States will be your friend and your partner. We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan. Quite the opposite.”  Your friend and partnerAbandoning them?  This is what we say to a country we invaded?  They did not, to the best of my recollection, ask us to come in and start a jolly little war.  Yeah, excuse our mess…

(Reuters) – Washington declared Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally on Saturday, a largely symbolic status reinforcing its message to Afghans that they will not be abandoned as the war winds down.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the decision, made by President Barack Obama, during her unannounced visit to Kabul where she met President Hamid Karzai on the eve of a major donors’ conference in Tokyo which will draw pledges for aid.

The status upgrade may help Afghanistan acquire U.S. defense supplies and have greater access to U.S. training as the Afghan army takes more responsibility for the country’s security ahead of the 2014 withdrawal of most NATO combat troops.

“Please know that the United States will be your friend and your partner. We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan. Quite the opposite,” Clinton told a press briefing with Karzai before jetting off to Tokyo.

Obama’s decision meets a pledge he made on a visit to Afghanistan this year to upgrade Kabul to a special security status given to only a limited number of U.S. partners — including close allies like Israel and Japan — which are not members of NATO.

Participants at the Tokyo meeting are expected to commit just under $4 billion annually in development aid for Afghanistan at Sunday’s meeting, though the central bank has said the country needs at least $6 billion a year to foster economic growth over the next decade.

This is on top of the $4.1 billion committed annually by NATO and its partners for Afghanistan’s security forces, pledged at a Chicago summit in May.

U.S. officials with Clinton declined to say how much aid the United States would pledge, which has significantly reduced aid since the peak year of 2010 when more than $6 billion was given, two thirds from Washington.[…]

U.S. officials may be reluctant to cite a specific pledge because the sum actually given is ultimately controlled by Congress, which holds the U.S. government’s purse strings. Enthusiasm for foreign aid has generally waned in Congress because of massive U.S. budget deficits.

(Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/07/us-afghanistan-clinton-idUSBRE86601120120707

 

[…]Clinton announced the new alliance to diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, according to the Associated Press. She was in Afghanistan to meet with President Hamid Karzai.

The White House had informed Karzai of  its plans when President Barack Obama made a secret trip to Afghanistan in May, on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. At the time, a White House statement said the move would “provide a long-term framework for security and defense cooperation.”

The list of major non-NATO allies includes Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.  Notably, these countries are eligible for priority delivery of military hardware and can get U.S. government help to buy arms and equipment.

But the designation does not include the mutual-defense pledge that is at the heart of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance.

NATO has agreed to give Afghan security forces the lead in their strife-torn country by mid-2013, on the road to a full withdrawal by the end of 2014. But Obama has always said that U.S.-Afghan cooperation will continue beyond that date.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/u-anoints-afghanistan-major-non-nato-ally-033404099.html

Welcome to the fold, Afghanistan:

A video has surfaced online that appears to show a US helicopter crew singing “Bye-bye Miss American Pie” before blasting a group of Afghan men with a Hellfire missile.

The footage comes in the wake of a string of damaging videos and pictures showing US forces in Afghanistan urinating on the bodies of dead insurgents, and posing with the remains of both suicide bombers and civilians killed for sport by a group of rogue soldiers.[…]

Men spotted digging in Afghan roads by the US or other foreign forces are likely to fall under suspicion that they are insurgents burying home-made bombs, one of the Taliban’s main weapons.

If the US military is confident it has identified them as insurgents, bombs are sometimes used to kill them, although Afghan officials have accused troops in the past of killing farmers and people working on irrigation ditches when they thought they were targeting people laying bombs.

In the video, after the bomb appears to hit the group, survivors scatter, and the helicopter aims machine gun fire at them.[…]

In April, the Los Angeles Times published pictures that appeared to show American soldiers posing with the bodies of dead Afghans in the south of the country, and the US president, Barack Obama, called for an investigation.[…]

In March a US soldier killed 16 civilians on a solo night-time shooting rampage. Deadly violence erupted in February over the burning of copies of the Qur’an by US troops. In January a video surfaced of marines apparently urinating on Taliban corpses, and last year a group were tried for murdering three Afghan civilians for sport.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/07/06/u-s-helicopter-crew-sings-bye-bye-miss-american-pie-before-launching-hellfire-missile-in-afghanistan/

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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Afghanistan, Libya, MIC, Russia, SCO, State Dept/diplomacy, Syria

 

The effect of sanctions on Iran.

Victoria Nuland, State Dept. spokeswoman, press briefing, 7 Feb., 2012:

QUESTION: Just staying on Iran —

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: I mean, even though you note that the latest U.S. sanctions have exceptions for food and medicine and so on, what has already begun to happen…companies are…they’re just backing out of any dealing through Iran, including on food stuff. And we have reported over the weekend very extensively about the ways in which you’re starting to see almost sort of panic buying in parts of Iran, people stocking up on certain food stuffs. So whether you intend the sanctions to…you’re already seeing effects that clearly hurt the population. How do you address that? I mean, you’ve always said that you have no quarrel with the Iranian people, but is this what you actually want, that you want to see the sanctions squeeze the ordinary people so that they will try to get their government to change its policies?

MS. NULAND: Well, just as you have said, Arshad, we do have no quarrel with the Iranian people. In fact, it is the Iranian people’s future and their hopes and aspirations to live in a freer, more democratic state that actually provides for them rather than siphoning off vital resources of the state into the nuclear program that we are seeking to help them achieve here with these policies. Our sanctions are designed to make it hurt the Iranian regime, that it is making the choice not to come clean on its nuclear program, not to allow the IAEA in to see what it needs to see.

And we frankly do regret the fact that this has begun to have some knock-off effect on the people. And we are trying, through all of our media platforms to the Iranian people, to make clear that this is not directed at them, that our own policies do allow continued trading in food stuffs and medicines and medical supplies. But frankly, the bad choices that their government is making are chilling the international environment for any kind of trade with Iran. But all of this will end — Iran’s own isolation will end when it comes clean with the international community about its nuclear program and particularly makes clear that it — and demonstrates that it doesn’t have an intent to build a weapon.

QUESTION: Even if you regret it and even if you have (inaudible) exceptions for food and medicine, one of the clear effects of the sanctions passing or being signed into law on New Year’s Eve has been a depreciation in the Iranian currency. As a result of that – and this is on the front page of The New York Times,…there is considerable inflation as people are uncertain whether Iran will be able to continue to import foodstuffs or other essential goods. And it seems like you want to have it both ways: You want to be able to say, well, we regret that this hurts the Iranian people, we’re not really trying to hurt the Iranian people; but you are hurting the Iranian people.

MS. NULAND: Our message to the regime is that they need to look very hard at what their lack of openness, their lack of transparency, the fact that they continue to profess that they don’t have or want a nuclear weapons program but won’t demonstrate that to the world, what the knock-off effect of that is on their own people. These are their bad choices that are resulting in the situation on the ground in Iran.

QUESTION: Toria, the word around town that is used…that is used time and time again to describe as an alternative to war is crippling sanctions. How do you define crippling sanctions? What does that mean?…

MS. NULAND: It is twofold. It is first designed to cripple the flow of revenue that the regime can use to fund its nuclear ambitions. And secondly, it’s designed to make the choice for Iran crystal clear.  http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/latest-national/30736-state-department-briefing-by-victoria-nuland-february-7-2012.html

Victoria Nuland, press briefing two days later, 9 Feb., 2012

QUESTION: Financial sanctions on Iran are – increasingly seem to affect Iran’s ability to import food; you have reports that grain shipments are being – are channeled away from Iran. Palm oil is drying up for them. Does it concern you at all that this may now begin to hit the Iranian on the street? I mean, you constantly say that you want to put pressure on the government and not necessarily on the average citizen. But it seems like now, if you’re talking about food supplies, things could be getting very dicey. What’s the U.S. view on these – this impact of the sanctions regime?

MS. NULAND: Well, Andy, … we had a long discussion of this earlier in the week…Obviously, we have no beef with the Iranian people. In fact, our intention is to be able to end the isolation of Iran and have it reintegrated into the international community so that the Iranian people can live the way they want to live – in a state that is increasingly democratic and prosperous.

Unfortunately, the Iranian Government has not lived up to its international commitments, has not come clean with us about its nuclear program, and so we are having to squeeze and squeeze and squeeze economically…

I do want to make clear, as we said the other day, that with regard to U.S. sanctions, we do have carve-outs for the provision of food, medical equipment, medicines to the Iranian people because we don’t want to hurt them any more than we need to. But they are living in a state with a government that would rather spend money on a nuclear weapons program than on the welfare of its people, and that’s why we are compelled to increase the pressure and increase the isolation until they see the light.

QUESTION: But on this issue, Victoria, I mean, how would you avoid the situation? I understand that you don’t want to hurt the Iranian people, and that’s quite admirable, but how – what lessons have you learned, let’s say, from the Iraq situation where Iraq was not allowed to have graphite pencils or strings for the musical instrument for the Baghdad Philharmonic or things for medication and so on, where not only people suffer but also their culture suffers a great deal?

MS. NULAND: Again, those are not the kind of sanctions that we’re seeking. We’re seeking sanctions on those things that provide funding for the regime to continue to pursue its nuclear program, and that’s why these sanctions are focused on the government, are focused on crude oil.

QUESTION: But inevitably, you have things that are called dual use or double purpose and so on. How do you deal with that issue?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, we don’t have any gripe with the Iranian people at all, and we are doing our best to target this situation so that it is the Iranian regime that has to make the difficult choice ahead of it. And we do regret that this is having an impact on people, but it’s having an impact on people because their government is making a very bad choice for Iran’s future, and frankly, for regional security and global security.

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2012/02/183639.htm#IRAN

This is our State Dept.  Our department of diplomatic outreach to the world, the face we present to other countries.  I know that we live in a rather casual linguistic environment here in the US, but (let me just get this off my chest) – do we really need to descend to the level of street-style mafioso language coming from our State Dept.?  Recall Hillary Clinton hideously giggling and throwing around what she thought of as witty repartee when Ghaddafi was assassinated?  “We came, we saw, he died.”  Indeed.  And Madeleine Albright casually saying that the half a million Iraqi children who died due to sanctions were “worth it”?

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it. –60 Minutes (5/12/96)

Here we have Victoria Nuland saying to the press that the US “has no gripe” with the people of Iran and we regret any “knock-off effect” on them.  We have no gripe with those people.  Sounds like a couple of thugs talking about taking out the underlings by accident.  Yeah, well, youse knows we got no beef wit those babbos – it’s just that the capo di tutti capi has a thing about their capo, ya know how it is.

Word choice aside, she tells two outright lies in these press briefings.  First, Iran has no plans to develop nuclear weapons.  They do have plans to develop nuclear power plants.

US intelligence still maintains Iran is not working on nuclear weapons. UN nuclear inspectors confirm this view, though they have been pressured by the US, which pays a quarter of UN salaries, to suggest Iran might be working on something nefarious – though all Iran’s nuclear sites are under strict UN inspection and satellite surveillance….

Even Israel’s hawkish defense minister recently opined that Iran is still some years away from having the ability to deploy a nuclear-armed missile…http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/02/11-5

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said of the Iranians, “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.”

Nuland’s second lie is that the UN nuclear arms inspectors have not been allowed into Iran. (“…the Iranian regime, that it is making the choice not to come clean on its nuclear program, not to allow the IAEA in to see what it needs to see.”)  The IAEA has been allowed into Iran as often as they have asked, to do their inspections; these inspections of Iranian facilities occur more frequently than in any other nation.  Matter of fact, a team of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors just visited Iran.  The result – no bomb-making going on.

Our State Dept. keeps stressing that Iran is “isolated”, an idea the American press seems to like well enough to repeat ad nauseam, although it is not factually correct.  Just a few days ago, Pakistan gave up on the taking-forever TAPI pipeline – long the dream of Washington, and the reason we are in Afghanistan – and agreed to streamline the Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline.  [http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/01/10/135449/pakistan-speeds-pursuit-of-iranian.html ]

Russia and China refused to participate in the sanctions against Iran.  In fact, China and Iran have been doing business together for about, oh, 2000 years.  (Anyone remember the phrase “The Silk Road”?)  They know very well how to negotiate with one another.  Furthermore, Iran is an observer nation in the Shanghai Cooperative Organisation (the SCO), which I have mentioned several times.  This is a group of countries which have formed a union (somewhat like NATO in the west) to cooperate on security, military, and economic matters.  China and Russia were two of the founding members of the group; India and Pakistan also have observer status along with Iran.  Iran currently has joint projects going with Venezuela and Ecuador, and Brazil and Turkey tried to broker a uranium swap deal with Iran so that Iran would not need to enrich its own uranium for power plants, but that deal was sabotaged by the US.  Iran is not isolated in the least.  And these countries propose, or are already, using currencies other than the dollar with which to trade for oil.

I can only marvel at Nuland’s suggestion that the problem here is that the Iranian government is making bad choices and wasting its taxpayer money on really bad stuff.  I do believe I have seen a number of polls showing that Americans, by and large, really hate the way our government wastes money on wars and weapons rather than using our money for the good of the people.  And we hate the bank bailouts, too; although no-one in Congress so far has called our banks “money-laundering schemes”, at least not in public.  In any case, we say we hate these things when given the chance to in anonymous polls; however, note must be taken that we fail to do anything at all about it.  Maybe we are more on board with the whole stealing America thing going on than these polls might suggest.  Maybe we need to sanction ourselves.

The Washington Post of 10 Jan. had a headline reading: “Goal of Iran sanctions is regime collapse, U.S. official says.”  Someone decided that just didn’t sound good, so it was changed, along with a few of the sentences in the article.  How many countries can we go to war with to force regime change, after all, without looking like complete bullies and international scofflaws?  The headline was altered to read, “Public ire one goal of Iran sanctions, U.S. official says.”  Which doesn’t sound very diplomatic either, in my opinion, although no-one asked me.  A portion of the original article is as follows:

The goal of U.S. and other sanctions against Iran is regime collapse, a senior U.S.intelligence official said, offering the clearest indication yet that the Obama administration is at least as intent on unseating Iran’s government as it is on engaging with it.

The official, speaking this week on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the administration hopes that sanctions “create enough hate and discontent at the street level” that Iranians will turn against their government.

The comments came as the administration readies punitive new sanctions targeting Iran’s Central Bank and the European Union moves toward strict curbs on Iranian oil imports. The increased pressure is intended to force Iranian officials to heed Western demands that they abandon alleged nuclear weapons plans.

But the intelligence official’s remarks pointed to a more profound goal, even as the administration has reiterated its willingness to open a dialogue with Iran. Although designed to pressure a government to change its policies, it is a recognized but generally unspoken reality that economic sanctions usually have far more effect on general populations than on elites….

You can read the new and “improved” article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/goal-of-iran-sanctions-is-regime-collapse-us-official-says/2012/01/10/gIQA0KJsoP_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

Juan Cole has expressed some thoughts about the sanctions on Iran – and sanctions in general.

…I think blockading a civilian population for the purpose of instituting regime change in a state toward which no authorization of force has been issued by the UN Security Council may well be a war crime. Even advocating a war crime can under some circumstances be punishable, as happened at the Nuremberg trials.

Unlike Israel (Egypt 1956, 1967; Lebanon 1982, 2006) or the US (Iraq 2003), Iran has not unilaterally attacked a nation that had not attacked it, and Iran has not occupied other states’ territory. Both Israel and the US have stockpiles of nuclear warheads. Iran doesn’t have a single one and doesn’t even have a nuclear weapons program. Since Iran has not attacked anyone (and hasn’t done so for over a century), and since the UNSC has not authorized the use of force against Tehran, it would be illegal under the UN Charter for the US or Israel to attack Iran.

Moreover, the toxic and radioactive materials released on civilians in Isfahan as a result of an attack on the Natanz facilities would pose a significant hazard to civilian life in that city– another war crime…

http://www.juancole.com/2012/01/iran-hype-undermined-by-obama-administration-admissions.html

I doubt the Pentagon or State Dept. care much what Professor Cole thinks; his thinking on the subject of Iran differs vastly for some reason from his thinking on Libya (he supported the NATO bombardment of Libya, and was widely quoted then).  The US and NATO just finished bombing Libya to hell and gone, including bombing civilian infrastructures and the water supply, and authorized the assassination of Libya’s leader.  The razing of the entire country of Libya and the resulting deaths of tens of thousands of its citizens was illegal by international standards from start to finish, and little effort was made to hide the fact that it was carried out specifically for the purpose of regime change.

I am going to side-track here and mention an article which I read on warisacrime.org.  According to the article, Obama invoked the NDAA and the Nat’l Emergency Powers Act when signing the statement regarding sanctions on Iran.  This means he can authorize war with Iran without seeking approval from Congress.

On February 5, 2012, President Obama invoked the NDAA, which authorizes the use of military force, and issues an executive order declaring the “threat” of Iran a National Emergency. The video below shows this issuance of President Obama executive order which declares Iran’s threat to cut off oil supplies a national emergency.

The executive order directs all government agencies to respond immediately to the threat. It further invokes the authority of the 2012 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) which gives the President the power to launch military action against any nation without the approval of Congress. Ironically, the State of Emergency order also accuses the Iranian central bank of deceptive banking practices.

http://warisacrime.org/content/obama-signed-executive-order-declaring-his-personal-power-make-war-iran

The official executive order can be read here:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/02/06/executive-order-blocking-property-government-iran-and-iranian-financial-

Returning to the issue of the sanctions and the effect on the general population of Iran, I will close with a bit of an article from a few days ago.  Eventually, the Iranian economy will rebound, as the government there works out new trade agreements with other members of the international community, especially if they go totally off the dollar as a trading mechanism.  In the end, it may be the US and Europe who are hurt economically by the global toll of these sanctions.  Immediately, however, the sanctions are causing terrible inflation in Iran and the effect is mostly felt by the civilian population.  It is very likely that the plan to encourage the Persians to arise against their own government will backfire, since the Iranian people are less likely to blame their own government than they are to blame the US and Europe.  They know who is sanctioning them and the pain of the sanctions may well cause an up-swelling of nationalism in the people.  In the US, we say, “our country – love it or leave it”.  Do we suppose the Iranians will not likewise band together to face the economic enemy of their country?  Do we suppose that they do not see the sanctions as a form of asymmetrical warfare?

(Reuters) – Each day that he struggles to buy food for his family, vegetable seller Hasan Sharafi shoulders part of the burden of Iran’s defiance of the West over its nuclear programme. He can hardly bear it.

“Prices are going up every day, life is expensive. I buy chicken or meat once per month. I used to buy it twice per week,” the father of four said in Iran’s central city of Isfahan.  “Sometimes I want to kill myself. I feel desperate. I do not earn enough to feed my children.”

With just a month to go before a parliamentary election, Iran has been hit hard in recent months by new U.S. and European economic sanctions over its nuclear programme, which Tehran says is peaceful but the West says is aimed at making a bomb.

In conversations in towns and cities across Iran, people complained of rapidly deteriorating economic conditions, likely to be the main issue in an election that exposes divisions between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and hardline opponents…

“My father lost his job because the factory he used to work for 30 years was closed last month. I am so pessimistic. Why is this happening to us?” lamented mathematics student Behnaz in the northern city of Rasht.

“I don’t know whether the prices are rising because of sanctions. The only thing that I know is that our lives are ruined. I have no hope for the future.”

Iran’s leaders deny that sanctions are having an economic impact, but are also calling for solidarity in the face of them. In a defiant speech on Friday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iranians sanctions would make them stronger.

“Such sanctions will benefit us. They will make us more self reliant,” he said in a televised address marking the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution. “Sanctions will not have any impact on our determination to continue our nuclear course.”

Such rhetoric resonates with some Iranians, who say they are willing to endure pain to defend a nuclear programme that has become a symbol of national pride.

“America uses the nuclear issue as an excuse to replace our regime with a puppet regime to control our energy resources. But we will not let them. Nuclear technology is our right and I fully support our leaders’ view. Death to America,” said student Mohammad Reza Khorrami in the northern town of Chalous….

“What is the nuclear dispute? Don’t waste my time asking irrelevant questions,” said 62-year-old peddler Reza Zohrabi in a marketplace overflowing with imported Chinese goods in the city of Kashan. “I’m not interested in talking about politics and the nuclear issue. I have to find ways to put bread on my family’s table.”

Iranian authorities say 15 percent of the country’s workforce is unemployed. Many formal jobs pay a pittance, meaning the true figure of people without adequate work to support themselves is probably far higher….

Since the sanctions have only begun to bite, far greater pain is looming. Oil is 60 percent of Iran’s economy. Much of its food and animal feed are imported, and many of its factories assemble goods from imported parts.

Already, ships bringing grain have been turning back from Iranian ports because Tehran cannot pay suppliers: an agricultural consultancy said maize imports from Ukraine – a major source of animal feed – fell 40 percent last month…

For those who link the hardship to international sanctions, the most vivid example is neighboring Iraq, where an embargo imposed between 1991 and the U.S. invasion in 2003 reduced a wealthy oil exporting country to dire poverty.

“I don’t want Iran to become like Iraq before America’s invasion. With the sanctions, soon we will have problems finding essential goods and even medicine,” said 31-year-old teacher Rokhsareh Sharafoleslam in Chalous….

Prices for bread, dairy, rice, vegetables and cooking fuel have soared. A traditional Iranian loaf of “sangak” bread costs 30 percent more than a few months ago….

“Prices are increasing by the hour. My husband and I cannot afford starting a family as life is so expensive,” said Mahla Aref, a government employee.

Small businesses say they are struggling to operate as the falling currency raises the cost of goods…

http://news.yahoo.com/iranians-bemoan-sanctions-hardship-vote-approaches-130207046.html

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Iran, MIC, SCO, State Dept/diplomacy

 

EU places embargo on Iranian oil.

Updated below.  Update 2 below: Wed., 25 Jan.

I do not like referencing my own work; however, in this case it is the easiest way to direct you to links from outside sources which I have used in previous articles.

The European Union has just announced that it will embargo Iranian oil as a means of getting Iran to stop doing what it is not doing. [see:  http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/11/on-iran-and-a-small-video-of-sirte-libya/  and a link from another previous article:  http://goo.gl/mJG2E  ]  The embargo goes into effect immediately on new oil contracts with Iran; already existing contracts will have to be phased out by 1 July.  Other targets for sanctions may include a number of Iranian companies, individuals and financial institutions.  The US has already sanctioned Iran’s Central Bank (to take effect within 60 days), as part of the NDAA recently signed by Obama.  [see:  http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/12/diplomacy-and-other-strong-arm-tactics/  ]

Greece, driven into debt and suffering under drastic austerity measures (“So long, and thanks for all the fish” – Goldman, Sachs to Greece) reportedly asked for a 12-month stay. It turns out that within the EU, there are three countries most likely to suffer from any increased oil prices and economic fallout from the sanctions: Italy, Spain and Greece, which account for up to 68 per cent of Iranian oil consumed in Europe.  Greece and Italy recently had new leaders foisted on them – unwillingly and without elections – in both cases, the new prime ministers are bankers.  [see:  http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/11/replacements/  ]  I think it is safe to assume that the EU is not particularly concerned with the effects of the embargo on Italy, Spain and Greece.

The EU embargo, combined with the US sanctions, will remove roughly 2 million barrels of oil from the markets each day.  China is the biggest buyer of Iranian oil and has not agreed to any sanctions; China may decide to take up the oil now banned by the west, which would obviously help alleviate the financial pressure felt by Iran.  The other Asian countries are under pressure from the US and the EU to join in the embargo, but so far are also refusing.

Oil prices are already rising because of these actions.  This is due to the speculators in the markets.   Commodities speculators used to be heavily regulated to prevent them from unfairly affecting prices on necessary goods, such as oil.  They have been deregulated.  (‘High oil prices are driven by speculators in the markets.  We need to do something about them.’ – Barack Obama, campaign remark, 2008.  ‘Oh, I don’t think we can say that speculators have any impact on oil prices’ – Barack Obama, upon entering the White House.)  The impact from the US sanctions was immediate.  [see:  http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/01/lets-get-the-story-straight/  ]  Increased fuel costs will adversely affect the western economies which are under pressure and in decline from bad financial decisions ongoing since 2008.  But never let it be said that we passed on a perfectly good opportunity to shoot ourselves in the foot.

Bonus video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_JOGmXpe5I

Update:  According to the Israeli-based news website, DEBKAfile, India and possibly China are making arrangements to trade in gold for Iran’s oil.  Every article I have read concerning this so far refers back to the Debka exclusive.  [See: http://www.debka.com/article/21673/ ]

This story is most likely accurate; as I have mentioned several times, Iran set up trading on the Tehran bourse earlier last year with the explicit purpose of trading off the dollar.  This will obviously depress the value of the dollar and enhance the price of gold.

Turkey, Russia, India, and China have not agreed to any sanctions or embargos against Iran.  Japan and South Korea are discussing the matter with the US, but are reluctant to join in the embargo as they depend rather heavily on Iranian oil.

In articles I was reading yesterday, I kept seeing remarks quoted from “US officials” about Iran needing to engage in talk.  We say that as Iran keeps saying that they want diplomatic talks.  This is reminiscent of the situation in Libya – we kept insisting Ghaddafi talk and negotiate while at the same time, we refused each of his attempts to negotiate.  Yet, we are the ones whose first approach to Iran over the issue of possible nuclear enrichment has been to sanction them.  Our second approach has been to threaten them by surrounding them by land and sea.  Our third approach has been to get the EU to embargo Iranian oil.  We are not doing any “talking”, as near as I can see.  We cut off diplomatic ties with Iran in 1980 and have never re-engaged.  Sanctions and embargos (economic warfare) are our idea of diplomacy.

I think now is a good time to mention again the Shanghai Cooperative Organisation (the SCO).  This is a group of countries which have formed a union (somewhat like NATO in the west) to cooperate on security, military, and economic matters.  The member countries are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.  Observer states are India, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan. (The US applied for observer status in ’06 and was denied.) Dialogue partners are Belarus and Sri Lanka.  Guest Attendances are Turmenistan, the ASEAN (Assoc. of SE Asian Nations: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam), and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States: former Soviet Republics).

“Its six full members account for 60% of the land mass of Eurasia and its population is a quarter of the world’s. With observer states included, its affiliates account for half of the human race.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_Cooperation_Organisation

If the neocons (and the neoliberals like Obama) desire World War 3, they are setting up a situation where it may mean half the globe’s population against the other half.  This is all due to seeking domination of the world’s resources.  It is unnecessary.  It is insane.  Yet it has been the intention of people like Cheney, Rumsfeld and the Pentagon for decades.  Obama is simply going with their blueprint.

We are being led into oblivion by the mad.  Why we are following is a whole other question.

Update 2:  Wed, 25 Jan.

Looks like someone thought about how the sanctions might bring some hardship to the EU as well as Iran.  To prevent some European countries from having to depend on Russia to make up the energy deficiency caused by the sanctions, the UK wants BP’s natural gas operations to be exempted from the sanctions.  To this end, the UK, the EU, and BP sent lobbyists to Washington to influence lawmakers here.  According to the Wall Street Journal:

“British and European Union officials have convinced some U.S. lawmakers to ensure that any new sanctions against Iran exempt a BP PLC-led natural-gas project, as Western governments try to isolate Tehran without harming their own energy security.

“The $20 billion project in the Caspian Sea off Azerbaijan is seen as key to alleviating Europe’s dependence on Russia as its largest supplier of natural gas.

” ‘There is broad-based consensus in the House and Senate that our sanctions policy should impose maximum economic pain on the Iranians without allowing Russia to hold Eastern Europe hostage for energy supplies,’ said a congressional aide familiar with the European lobbying effort….

“The Shah Deniz II project could have been hit by a bill by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) that would ban any company doing business with Iran’s oil and gas sector from operating in the U.S. But the current version of the legislation includes language that says it won’t affect efforts ‘to bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe and Turkey,’ or to achieve ‘energy security and independence from Russia.’

“The Ros-Lehtinen bill is now with the Senate’s committee on foreign affairs….

“A BP spokesman said recent discussions on Shah Deniz II were part of the U.K.-based company’s ‘routine engagement’ with U.S. lawmakers…. ”

http://engforum.pravda.ru/index.php?/topic/245394-iran-sanction-bill-exempts-bp-project/

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), is the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  The bill in question, which would exempt BP, is HR 1905, the Iran Threat Reduction Act.  This was introduced on 5/13/2011 (they have been thinking about the Iranian sanctions a long time – the sanctions did not spontaneously pop up in the NDAA).  The bill was approved [in Dec.] by the House by a vote of 410-11.   Per the House press summary: “It strengthens, updates and replaces previous Iran sanctions laws to ensure that current law vigorously addresses the multiple threats posed by Iran. The bill closes loopholes in energy and financial sanctions, including by targeting the Central Bank of Iran. The bill also targets the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and senior Iranian regime officials.”  The bill is now in the hands of the Senate foreign relations committee, being readied for introduction to the Senate.

“Ros-Lehtinen is also the author of H.R. 2105, the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act, which was approved by the House by a vote of 418-2. The bill expands sanctions on those assisting Iran, North Korea, and Syria in the development of their weapons programs, including their nuclear programs.” – House press summary.  See, they are working on that pesky Syria problem, too.

I did not know anything about Ros-Lehtinen.  Turns out she is a Cuban-American.  Interesting that she is so aggressive about threatening, sanctioning, embargo-ing, and otherwise disrupting and punishing countries that have not directly threatened the US.  Perhaps she does not know anything about her own cultural heritage.  She is, however, very aggressive and very angry at various foreign countries and would like to see certain of them “taken out”.  (Or perhaps she does know her cultural heritage; it’s just that she sees Cuba’s economic woes as being entirely the fault of Castro rather than having anything at all to do with over 50 years of embargos and sanctions against Cuba by the US.  According to her wiki entry: she “supports continued sanctions against Cuba. She also supported the de facto government in Honduras, headed by Roberto Micheletti, that emerged after the military coup against President Manuel Zelaya. She has said of the decision to invade Iraq: “Whether or not there is a direct link to the World Trade Center does not mean that Iraq is not meritorious of shedding blood. The common link is that they hate America.”)

One might hope (in vain) that the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee would be even-tempered and just a little, well, diplomatic.  But considering that our Top Diplomat is the now completely deranged Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died Clinton, it should not be surprising to see that Ros-Lehtinen issued this public statement to Obama on 19 January.   Our “diplomats” and other officials in charge of handling foreign affairs are insane.  Clinical psychopaths.  As I said, we are being led into oblivion by the mad.  Why we are following is a whole other question.  (Bear in mind please, while you read her statement, that she is talking here about Iran; a country that has not started any war in hundreds of years, a country that is not developing nuclear weapons, and that has allowed nuclear inspectors to do their jobs with more frequency than any other country.  A country that has been the target of internally disruptive, covert CIA operations for decades, has had its scientific computers taken down by the US and Israel, its scientists assassinated, and which is the current target of economic warfare waged on it by the US and the EU –  all to make them stop doing what they are not doing.)

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented today on reports that the President proposed new direct negotiations with Iran in a letter to Iran’s “Supreme Leader.” Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“I hope that reports the Administration is seeking new ‘engagement’ with the Iranian regime are false. Now is the time to clamp down on the regime through sanctions that close every loophole and deny Tehran any breathing room. The Administration must not fall into the regime’s trap and again pursue the failed policy of dialogue and engagement.

“The Iranian regime is only capable of negotiating in bad-faith, which it is happy to do in order to buy even more time for its nuclear efforts. We can’t afford to fall into this obvious trap yet again.

“The clock is running out to stop Iran from achieving a breakout nuclear capability. Sanctions are having an impact. Negotiations will undermine the prospects for stopping Iran, as the only result will be more time for Iran’s centrifuges to spin. The Administration needs to step up the pressure by imposing all the sanctions in U.S. law without further delay if we hope to stop Iran’s nuclear pursuits from moving forward.”

http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/press_display.asp?id=2167

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in austerity, fossil fuels, Greece, Iran, MIC, SCO, Wall St and banks