Monday 1st of March 2021

more jewishly brazen after US presidential elections...

Israel has played a “role” in the attack on prominent Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was killed on Friday near Tehran, the Islamic Republic’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has said.

Zarif said in a tweet that an “eminent” Iranian scientist had been killed by unnamed “terrorists”. 

He also said Tehran had “serious indications” to believe that Tel Aviv had had some role in the incident, but did not provide any specific evidence to substantiate his accusation.


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the semites love bombings...

Syria’s military says Israeli warplanes have bombed locations south of the capital Damascus in the second such attack in a week.

A Syrian state media report, quoting an unnamed military official, said the fighter jets attacked shortly before midnight on Tuesday.

Israeli air raids in Syria kill three soldiers, hit Iranian sitesMike Pompeo makes first visit by US top diplomat to Golan HeightsSyria’s president says US pressure obstructing return of refugees

“At exactly 11:50pm … the Zionist enemy launched an air raid from the direction of the occupied Golan Heights towards southern Damascus,” resulting in “material losses”, the source was quoted as saying.

At least eight fighters operating in pro-Iran militias were killed, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding the attacks targeted an arms depot and a position held by Iranian forces and their Lebanese ally Hezbollah. The nationalities of the dead were not immediately known.

Military defectors said the air raids targeted a military base in Jabal Mane Heights near the town of Kiswa, where Iranian Revolutionary Guards have long been entrenched in a rugged area almost 15km (9.3 miles) south of the centre of Damascus. The area has anti-aircraft missiles that are stationed to defend the Golan Heights along the border with Israel, the military sources said.

Earlier, the state Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said Syria’s air defences responded to the incoming missiles.

Reports on SANA and Syrian Al-Ikhbariya TV said Israeli warplanes struck a village in Quneitra province on the edge of the Golan Heights and in the southwest of the capital Damascus. They offered no details.



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diplomacy by dumb media...

Iran does not deserve any more chances

When Kylie Moore-Gilbert arrived at Tehran airport to fly home to Australia in September 2018, she would have had no idea about the coming 804 days.

The University of Melbourne academic, who had been in Iran for a conference, was arrested and accused of spying for Israel. She was found guilty, sentenced to 10 years in jail and only freed last week after a diplomatic effort by the Australian government. For the first year of Moore-Gilbert’s imprisonment, no one knew where she was.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made clear there was never any substance to the claims Moore-Gilbert was a spy. The truth is this Australian found herself a pawn in a high-stakes diplomatic game between Iran and the West.

Her release brings relief to her family, the government and all Australians, but it only emboldens Iran to seize more Western hostages for its own political purposes. It makes travel to Iran for any Australian a dangerous prospect that can compromise the government and unshackle terrorists who would have stayed behind bars.

Moore-Gilbert was freed from prison and handed over to the Australian ambassador in Tehran as part of a prisoner exchange, with three Iranians jailed over a Bangkok bombing in 2012 released from a Thai prison and returned to their homeland.

The trio, one of whom blew his legs off while trying to flee after the 2012 explosion, were reportedly part of a plot to kill Israeli diplomats in Thailand. Their foiled effort, when they blew up their own villa, came a day after Israeli diplomats were targeted with explosives in India and Georgia. Iran denied any involvement but the country is infamous for its state-sponsored terrorism.

So an innocent Australian woman could only gain her freedom because three guilty Iranians with suggested links to terrorism were given theirs.

This is not the first time an innocent Australian has been part of an apparent prisoner exchange with Iran. Australian bloggers Jolie King and Mark Firkin, accused of flying a drone without permission, were released from an Iranian prison last year, in the same week an Iranian science student awaiting extradition to the US was allowed to fly home from Brisbane.

Citizens of other Western countries, including Britain and the US, have found themselves caught in the same way. Moore-Gilbert’s release has given hope to some families that their governments will find a way to repatriate their loved ones too. Iran should release these foreign nationals immediately.

But Iran must be held to account for its hostage taking; for the egregious way in which it dallies with the lives of the innocent to get its own way. And yet it knows it can keep playing this game because Western countries will go to great lengths to get their citizens back. How could a country take a stand to such blackmail and walk away from one of its own? It would be an abrogation of duty, met with fury at home.

One answer lies with each of us. We all have a duty to take a stand and refuse to put ourselves in a position that could compromise our government. Take Moore-Gilbert’s story as a warning – and do not travel to Iran without a very good excuse. The Australian government, too, must condemn Iran’s actions and censure it in an international arena.

Last week Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, spoke of improved relations with the West under a Biden administration in the US. But he must know this is unlikely if Iran continues to hold Westerners hostage. If he is serious about improving relations, and having sanctions removed on Iran, then he must free the foreign nationals held unjustly in Iranian prisons.


SMH Sunday 29/11/2020…


Yeah… And not a mention of the assassination of two Iranians, one by the US at the beginning of the year, one by Jews unknown, a few days ago… Kylie Moore-Gilbert got lucky she got released before the murder of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. No mention of Julian Assange in a UK prison, etc, etc, under fake charges as well… The Editorial bored board at the SMH must be ignorant about pawns in a game of chest-beating.
And what if Iran "does it again"? Bomb it? Destroy that country? Take it to an international court?
No… Better understanding and less threatening posture should be a good start...

Yes the West may not deserve any more chances...

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the greenwald conundrum...

Counterpunch has lost its ways. We've known this for a while as it has become partisan rather than seeking the truth... Here is some stuff that is not quite right:

OCTOBER 30, 2020

What Happened to Glenn Greenwald?

The simplest answer may be inertia, and time—essentially, nothing—but for better or worse I have a particular fixation on this question, and there is no denying Greenwald has become, shall we say, more problematic over the last couple of years.

Glenn Greenwald needs no introduction, so suffice it to say: he first came to prominence as an anti-Bush blogger, became a sort of celebrity when he published much of the Snowden reporting in The Guardian, and subsequently (along with Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras, with funding from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar) co-founded The Intercept, where he worked until his apparently acrimonious exit this week.

Lately most Greenwald columns tend towards highly specific media criticisms of mainstream liberal outlets, like MSNBC and the New York Times. At least I think they do—I haven’t read one of his columns fully in months, because they’re insufferable. At this point, Greenwald seems to have almost no ideology besides reflexive contrarianism. Perhaps this is simply the end result of spending hours on Twitter every day for years, or spending two (or four?) years focused laser-like on the Russia inquiry. His incessant—and often finely detailed, and articulate—criticisms have transformed the man into a kind of fanatic.

More problematic, obviously, this tendency towards contrarian criticism has increasingly aligned him with the far right. Some of this can clearly be chalked up to the simplification of information within the context of social media; self-reinforcing media bubbles are created. But we pick our bubbles, and Greenwald appears to be comfortable with his niche.

It is worth noting that the rhetorical overlap between Greenwald and the far right was always there, but could, in the past, usually be plausibly discounted as both-sides hostility towards a corrupt elite—consider the comparisons between Trump and Bernie. Or at least that’s how I felt. No longer. Take a look at Greenwald’s Twitter feed, which reads as an unending stream of right-wing grievance against cultural liberalism, and/or specific and almost exclusive amplification of right-wing media.

Greenwald and others in his niche (like Matt Taibbi, who has taken a similar turn) might counter that they serve as reliable, and perhaps anti-partisan, media critics, in reaction to a hegemonic, neoliberal media elite. This may be partially true, but the justification appears increasingly irrelevant as they come to identify—admitimgly or not—with one side of the partisan divide. This is to say nothing of the fact that their insistence to the contrary ultimately lends cover to the far right, who are able to launder their media through the ‘contrarian’ niche.

At face value one wonders how Greenwald, who made such a name for himself as an opponent to the national security state, and who lives as a prominent gay journalist, married to a Socialist congressman, in Bolsonaro’s Brazil, can now spend so much time and energy effectively running cover for the American fascist right. But, as I suggested above, the answer may be uncomplicated. Clearly, Greenwald’s fixation on the vapidity of the American liberal media elite—coupled with his experience of American domestic politics through a curated, algorithmic Twitter feed—has narrowed, and hardened, the aperture through which he sees the world. Moreover, as the targets of his criticism increasingly and desperately associate cultural liberalism with a neoliberal agenda, both become targets for Greenwald, and he finds himself neatly aligned with the far right. Still, this is a charitable reading, given Greenwald’s intelligence and presumed awareness of the dynamic.

I often compare Glenn to his colleague Jeremy Scahill, whose podcast, Intercepted, I regularly listened to over the first couple years of the Trump administration—and who recently released an audio documentary recapping, quite artfully, the last four years of Trump. Scahill, like Greenwald, had a natural skepticism of the obvious bizarreness of the Russia fixation. Unlike Greenwald, he covered this and related topics with nuance, emphasizing that while Trump-as-Manchurian-candidate was clearly crazy, serious questions of corruption remained. More importantly, also unlike Greenwald, Scahill never cedes any ground to what was and is obviously a fascistic, right-wing movement, one Greenwald repeatedly dismisses as an imagined liberal hysteria (or, indulges).

I will conclude by emphasizing that Greenwald was instrumental in my own political understanding around 2015-2016, and I recall his piece following the last election was one of the first and most sensible I read after Trump had won. Clearly, he has held this role for others. But at this point, unless he alters course, he is a spent—and possibly dangerous—voice in US politics.

Will Solomon can be followed at or on twitter @endtalkpod.

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Is Will Solomon afraid of the truth? What is the truth? Is this why he is trying to put the boot into Glenn Greenwald? Is Joe Biden the real quid or is he standing in for the Deep State? Is Joe preparing the next war for the Warriors? Glenn Greenwald did what ALL journalists ought to have investigated: Biden's role in Ukraine, etc… The masters of his former media platform decided that this was not on. He resigned... It seems his investigation was going against the “liberal” media narrative that tells us that "Joe Biden is the saviour of US democracy while Trump is the destroyer of it”. So there. Is Joe more than an illusion who says the right easy things while the curtains hide some very difficult contradictions that no-one on the liberal side want to see or admit to exist, because everything is rosy? Is it a bit a bit like “you’re with us or against us” from G W Bush, while the next bombs are loaded in the planes? 

Is it possible that there was election fraud as well? Is there somewhere, someone in hiding with documents proving that the automated totalisation of the votes had been tampered with? Say once some votes are altered, the votes, contrary to voters intent, are still valid? At this stage, anyone who does statistics for the gambling industry would know that “this is possible”. This “whistleblower”, if there is one, would have to fear for his/her life. The CIA and the FBI are not on Donald’s side. They hate the guy… Not even a witness protection program would be sufficient to prevent the unfortunate accidental death of any whistleblower. Snowden knows this. Greenwald wrote a book about Snowden.

So what about Glenn Greenwald? Has he sold out to the Evil Trump? Is he a spent — and possibly dangerous — voice in US politics, like Will Solomon tells us?

At this stage I don’t think so. First, Greenwald has not sold to the Dumbdumb. Second, he only can be “dangerous” by unearthing the truth. I believe that Greenwald has seen the way the “other side” (the Democrats) has behaved badly and he is fully worried by it. Sure, I could have too much “faith” in Glenn Greenwald, so here are some of his articles at his new website (

Three Tactics of the Neoliberal Order and the Biden/Harris Transition

The exploitation of identity, the powerlessness of the Sanders left, and the promise of returning to pre-Trump “normalcy”: all driving Democratic decision-making.

Biden Appointee Neera Tanden Spread the Conspiracy That Russian Hackers Changed Hillary's 2016 Votes to Trump

How can Democrats and allied media outlets credibly oppose unhinged conspiracy theories and attacks on U.S. election legitimacy while empowering its worst purveyors?

Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Misguided Defense of John Brennan and The Logan Act: a Dangerous and Unconstitutional Law

Foreign policy dissidents have the greatest interest in repealing the Logan Act, not wielding it as a weapon to shield ex-CIA Directors while heralding it as a clearly defined criminal statute.

Demanding Silicon Valley Suppress “Hyper-Partisan Sites” in Favor of “Mainstream News” (The NYT) is a Fraud

The corporate news organizations masquerading as reliable and non-partisan are, in fact, as hyper-partisan as any sites on the internet, and spread as much misinformation.

A Long-Forgotten CIA Document From WikiLeaks Sheds Critical Light on Today's U.S. Politics and Wars

The Agency knew that their best asset for selling their wars was Barack Obama -- the same reason so many in the security state were eager to get rid of Donald Trump.

See also: war is peace...

And so on and on… Make your own mind... And anyone working for Dominion, the vote aggregator, would be looking behind their back...

has CNN threatened independent journalists?...

The mainstream media giant threatened investigative journalists with felony charges this week after the independent website [Veritas] posted a recording of a board meeting in which CNN President Jeff Zucker ordered editors to suppress a story about Hunter Biden influence-peddling scandal allegations.

Project Veritas claims it is ready to fight CNN "all the way" in court after the mainstream media giant threatened the independent journalists with legal action for posting leaked excerpts of the network’s briefings. CNN Communications did not confirm or deny the authenticity of recordings, but tweeted, citing “legal experts”, that the leak of the tapes “may be a felony”, adding that the company had “referred it to law enforcement.”

"The statement about contacting law enforcement and a felony came from the CNN PR staff - it didn't come from their lawyers, right?" Project Veritas communications director Neil McCabe told Sputnik. "That was a PR stunt by the PR staff. The police aren't knocking on our door. They didn't name any legal experts... The whole thing is ridiculous."

"Project Veritas is on a seven to zero winning streak in court," he boasted. "We do not settle. We take everybody to court - we take it all the way to trial."

He scoffed at threats from CNN "legal experts" of “felony” charges after Project Veritas posted leaked recordings of a board meeting in which CNN President Jeff Zucker ordered allegations of a Biden scandal buried.

"These are the same legal experts that told CNN that it was OK to run the secret recordings of First Lady Melania Trump. These are the same legal experts that said it was okay to run the Access Hollywood tapes of President Trump," McCabe stressed. "When have CNN ever said, hold on, we can't run this because it might be breaking a law?"

CNN Director 'Actively Suppresses' News Stories 'That Don’t Fit His Worldview'

In recordings released by Project Veritas, Zucker is heard to say: "I don't we should be repeating unsubstantiated smears just because the right-wing media suggests that we should".

A CNN executive vice president and legal counsel, David Vigilante, agrees in the audio that "we should be awfully careful regarding coverage of the Hunter Biden story" and demands to know why some political journalists had shared the story on social media.



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the red pill...


by Alastair CROOKE

Former British diplomat, founder and director of the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum.

Biden says he wants – through diplomacy – to achieve a nuclear deal with Iran – i.e. a JCPOA ‘Plus + Plus’. The Europeans desperately concur with this aspiration. But the ‘deal protocols’ that his ‘A-Team’ inherits from the Obama era have always contained seeds to failure.

And now, four years on, the prospect of failure seems assured – firstly by the hostages to fortune already offered up by Biden, and secondly (and decisively), by the fact that the ‘world’ today is not the ‘world’ of yore. The ‘chair’ at the head of the table of global leadership is no longer an American perquisite. Israel is not the same Israel, and Iran – for sure – is not the same Iran (as at the outset to the Obama initiative). The world has moved on. The last four years cannot simply be expunged as some inconsequential aberration to earlier protocols, still valid today.

Trump’s mark on America and the world cannot be normalised away. Half of America in these last years has become America First-ers – as Pat Buchanan points out, whatever the establishment believes, in the clash between nationalism and globalism, globalism has lost half of America.

If followed through, the protocols – the implicit procedures – to ‘a deal’, in today’s environment, inevitably will take Biden or Harris, or whomsoever is President, along the path to the protocol’s final point: Should negotiation not produce the desired result, the threat of a military option will be back on the table. 

Just to be clear, some hope for that. Most sane people don’t. Likely, at this early stage, the Biden ‘A’-Team just hope it won’t come to that. Hope, alone – however – is no strategy.

What are these protocols, and what are these separate global shifts that will take Biden into that ‘tunnel’ leading ultimately to the ‘military option’ – which is not really ‘a true option’ at all?

The protocols reach back to the ‘Wohlstetter doctrine’ which enunciated that since there was no essential technical difference between peaceful enrichment, and weapons-oriented enrichment; ‘untrustworthy actors’ such as Iran should, he argued, not be allowed to enrich – ever. Many today, in the Israeli-influenced, U.S. foreign-policy establishment, still cling to the Albert Wohlstetter view.

Some Iranians dissented to his doctrine: No, they assured the West (as early as 2003), monitored and verified, low-enrichment could be a trusted solution that would foreclose on the need for the ‘military option’ (Obama, at the time, was seeking to escape the military option, as, at that same time, Netanyahu was advocating a go-it-alone, Israeli attack on Iran).

The latter attack was only just avoided (in 2009) through the steely opposition of the then head of Mossad – the redoubtable Meir Dagan. Finally, Obama bought into the verifiable limited-enrichment idea, and accepted to time-limit the experiment through Sunset Clauses, after whose expiry, the enrichment restraints would fall away.

But the Wohlstetter shadow lingered on, making the Obama protocols accept military action as the due response, were Iran to move within twelve months to a putative nuclear breakout (because Iran was ‘not to be trusted’).

Rightly, or wrongly, even then, Obama understood that the protocol dynamic could lead him towards a military option (with, or without, Israel participation).

What was so problematic about the protocols? Well, the point was that they never addressed the real underlying issues, which, if anything, have become much, much more acute, today. These issues remain ‘unspoken’, yet very present.

The first is that no one – including Israel – believes that nuclear weapons of any sort are a real threat in the Middle East. The Region is just too small – a jostling amalgam of competing sects and interests. It is all too much of a ‘mixing bowl’ that presents no ‘clean’ targets for strategic nukes. Even Israeli ideologues do not believe that Iran would contemplate liquidating 6.5 million Palestinian Muslims to get at Israel.

What frightens Israel is Iran’s conventional missile weaponry. And these were not a part of the deal. (There would have been ‘no deal’ if these were included, given Iran’s memory of recent life under Saddam’s missiles and chemical weapons).

The second occult issue derived from the (real) Sunni fear of a resurgent and energised Shi’a Iran, at a time of long-term decline and the visible exhaustion of the old Ottoman Sunni élites. The power of the Revolution and of subsequent Shi’a renaissance terrified the Gulf monarchies.

This tension is deep, and its’ nature mostly misunderstood in the West: Sunnis for the last millennia have viewed themselves as the natural ‘party of government’ – they were (and still believe they are) ‘the Establishment’, if you like. The Shi’a, on the other hand, always have been disdained (and discriminated against) – they were the ‘deplorables’ (to use the American analogy). And just as the U.S. Establishment loathes Trump and his populist army, similar tensions exist in the Middle East – the Gulf monarchies loathe the ‘deplorables’ and fear them (and fear any inversion of power). –

So they looked for protection from America their own surging (Shi’i) ‘deplorables’. The nuclear ‘bomb’ threat is, and always was, their leverage to get what they wanted from Washington – even if they didn’t really believe in it per se. Ditto for Israel: Weapons and subsidies galore for them, and painful, damaging containment for Iran.

This is the ‘protocol paradox’: For two decades, Washington has been absorbed with stopping a largely illusionary ‘Big Threat’, whilst Iran has quietly been assembling thousands of almost invisible tiny deterrents (as small as the smallest drones) right under everyone’s nose. A ‘Biden’ JCPOA++ diplomatic initiative will resolve none of these under-the-table issues – and will not therefore, be accepted by Israel (or by the Gulf).

A U.S. return to diplomacy – however improbable its successful outcome – simply exacerbates these fears. And the Democrat’s ‘A-Team’ are giving many hostages to fortune: Not content with aiming for a new nuclear accord – limiting enrichment and centrifuges – they want the deal stripped of its present ‘Sunset clauses’; they want restrictions over Iran’s foreign policy; they want Iran’s proxies de-fanged; they want conventional arms control (ballistic missiles); AND they want Israel and the Gulf States’ direct involvement in the process. In short, they have overbid.

Has Washington learned nothing from the Palestinian experience? The American Oslo teams imagined that if the Palestinians could only ‘re-assure’ Israel about its security, Israel would concede a two-state solution – in its own demographic interest. But this was an error: the more Palestinian security Israel got, the more it wanted. It will be the same in respect to Iran – Israel can never have enough.

So what of the new realities?

Israel remains the hub around which U.S. foreign policy wholly revolves. In the period since the Obama team left office, a number of its former members suggested that the Obama failures (i.e. to actuate the two-state objective) had resulted from team members being too Israeli-centric (“playing Israel’s lawyer”, in the words of one). But to repeat, the Israel of today is not the Israel of the Obama era.

There is no Israeli ‘peace party’ any more (with any meaningful political heft). The hard Right and the Orthodox sectors are now the key ‘swing’ power bloc. Netanyahu’s line on Iran cannot be challenged by Israeli politicians today (in fact, even ‘Leftist’/Liberal senior Israeli former officials have hailed the Fakhrizadeh assassination). Ditto for the Palestinian issue. Netanyahu simply has taken these off the Israeli domestic agenda. They have become settled national stances. Were Netanyahu to depart the political scene, would Israeli policy change significantly, given the shifts already entrenched in it? Unlikely.

On Iran, Netanyahu’s explicit JCPOA conditionality lies closer to the Pompeo’s (maximalist) 12-point red-lines, than to anything resembling the ‘Obama approach’. Iran says – definitively – that it will not accept any new conditions to a JCPOA re-launch. Israel says – definitively – it will never accept the JCPOA as it stands.

In Obama’s, and now Biden’s playbook, this has always conceptually opened the window to possible military action (should Iran make a rush to a ‘weapon’ (in the U.S. formulation), and, in the Israeli view, should Iran rush to 90% weapons-grade enrichment).

Given the logic to both U.S. and the Israeli formulation, military action will inevitably distill into serious consideration. Does Biden’s Team ‘A’ believe that a limited strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is realistic, without triggering wider war? If not, is Team ‘A’ then prepared to contemplate wider war – on Israel’s behalf? One hopes not.

Mossad and some western intelligence agencies cast Iran as being on the brink of economic collapse and of political implosion, owing to their perception of an Iran riven by popular disaffection. Russia and China however see Iran in differently: They view Iran both as the pivot to RBI (they help fund components to it), and lying at the centre of a ‘heartland’ north-south energy strategy. They acknowledge Iran’s significant regional security contribution, too – a big disparity in analysis with that of the West, that is rarely considered.

What should be less in dispute, however, is the veritable transformation withinIran. Its political centre of gravity has moved: In the 2020 parliamentary elections, the Principalists (conservative) faction achieved an unprecedented victory by winning 221 out of 291 seats in the Iranian parliament. And it is likely that the next President – to be elected in mid 2021 – will emerge out from this faction. Iran has adopted its own Ostpolitik. It is developing its options away from America and Europe, and is more culturally nationalist.

Young and old now, are equally suspicious of both Europe and America – whereas at the outset of the Obama era there was genuine optimism about a rapprochement with the West being possible. That optimism is long gone. Iran’s economy, though not thriving, has adapted. But notably, Iran – literally – has transformed in terms of its conventional military capabilities. This key shift poses the crucial question – why exactly would Iran today want a new nuclear deal? At what price?

Tom Friedman of the NY Times, (no friend to Iran), surprisingly gets it:

“With the assassination presumably by Israel of [Mohsen Fakhrizadeh], the Middle East is promising to complicate Joe Biden’s job from Day 1. President-elect Biden knows the region well, but if I had one piece of advice for him, it would be this: This is not the Middle East you left four years ago …

Yes, Israel and the Sunni Arab states want to make sure that Iran can never develop a nuclear weapon. But some Israeli military experts will tell you today, that the prospect of Iran having a nuke is not what keeps them up at night — because they don’t see Tehran using it. That would be suicide, and Iran’s clerical leaders are not suicidal.

They are, though, homicidal.

And Iran’s new preferred weapons for homicide are the precision-guided missiles that it used on Saudi Arabia and that it keeps trying to export to its proxies in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq, which pose an immediate homicidal threat to Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and U.S. forces in the region. (Iran has a network of factories manufacturing its own precision-guided missiles.)

If Biden tries to just resume the Iran nuclear deal as it was — and gives up the leverage of extreme economic sanctions on Iran, before reaching some understanding on its exporting of precision-guided missiles — I suspect that he’ll meet a lot of resistance from Israel, the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia.

Why? It’s all in the word “precision.” In the 2006 war in Lebanon, Iran’s proxy militia, Hezbollah, had to fire some 20 dumb, unguided, surface-to-surface rockets of limited range in the hope of damaging a single Israeli target. With precision-guided missiles manufactured in Iran, Hezbollah — in theory — needs to fire just one rocket each at 20 different targets in Israel with a high probability of damaging them all …

That is why Israel [is trying] to prevent Tehran from reaching its goal of virtually encircling Israel with proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Gaza, all armed with precision-guided missiles …“Think of the difference in versatility between dumb phones and smartphones,” observed Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment: “For the past two decades we have been consumed by preventing Iran’s big weapon, but it is the thousands of small smart weapons Iran has been proliferating that have become the real and immediate threat to its neighbours.”


Friedman has it right (in part): The murder of Fakhrizadeh likely was the formal missive from Netanyahu to Biden’s lot to warn that Israel is looking more to the ‘military option end’ of any ‘deal spectrum’, rather than to accept anything resembling a JCPOA-style outcome, at the opposite end of the deal spectrum.

The ‘under-the-table’ issue is Iran’s conventional military prowess, and not its putative nukes. And that is why Israel will insist on maximal pressure – i.e. more (and not less) U.S. extreme sanction leverage – over Iran, to force constraints on its conventional armoury, as well as on its nuclear programme. And that just ain’t going to happen – Iran isn’t going to do that. “That is going to be very, very difficult to negotiate”, Friedman says, “It’s complicated”.

Indeed. Pursuing negotiations according to the old Obama protocols inevitably will take Biden directly to the explicit threat of the ‘military option’ (which exactly seems to match Netanyahu’s intent).

Paradoxically, it is however, precisely this new Iranian ‘smart’ conventional capability that ultimately might deter Biden from the military option path – the fear of igniting region-wide war that could destroy the Gulf States. And it is this Iranian transformation which indicates why the ‘military option’ is not a true option: A U.S. endorsed military option is a ‘red pill’ option for the region.

Any new accord, Friedman warns, ‘will be very, very difficult to negotiate’. Friedman implies that Biden’s difficulty will be in persuading the Iranians. Actually, the difficulty – conversely – will lie with Biden persuading Netanyahu to look truth in the eye: The ‘red pill’ option would destroy Israel too.


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semite criticism not allowed...


Current Affairs Editor-in-Chief Nathan Robinson tweeted a joke satirizing U.S. support of Israel, and The Guardian newspaper cancelled his regular op-ed column. Now he speaks with TRNN about facing accusations of anti-Semitism for criticizing Israeli power on Capitol Hill.

Nathan Robinson, founder and editor-in-chief of Current Affairs magazine, has been writing a column for The Guardian U.S. since 2017. Then, without warning, The Guardian stopped accepting his pitches after Robinson tweeted criticisms of U.S. arms sales to Israel. In this segment of “The Marc Steiner Show,” Marc talks to Robinson about the still-unfolding saga and what it portends for the future of free speech in mainstream media.

Tune in for new episodes of The Marc Steiner Show every Friday on TRNN


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