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Saturday, July 28, 2018


Some of you have expressed concern that Trump, in a pique or to distract attention from his worsening legal peril, will launch an attack on Iran.  This is a prospect that keeps me up at night, and I am not soothed by the thought that John Bolton is whispering in his ear.  I suppose we must hope that he is so in thrall to Putin that he will not dare without getting Russian clearance, which I should like to think he would not get.  In the face of such dangers, it seems feckless to soldier on trying to elect a Democrat in the NC 6th CD, but I think we must teach ourselves to operate on several planes simultaneously.  Launching a cruise missile strike on forewarned Syrian airbases, all the while eating a large piece of chocolate cake, is his infantile notion of exercising his war powers.  Unfortunately, a one-off air attack on Iran would have catastrophic consequences.

Short of pulling up stakes and fleeing the country, I do not see what else I can do save add my tiny bit to the political struggle.


s. wallerstein said...

I don't agree that Trump needs an ok from Putin before attacking Iran, but let's assume that he does.

Why would Putin prevent Trump from attacking?

First of all, an attack by the U.S. against Iran, with the inevitable "collateral damage", would turn most of the Muslim world against the U.S. (except the Saudi ruling elite and their ilk in other petrostates), and that would benefit Putin in his quest to turn the Middle East into a Russian sphere of influence.

Second, while Iran and Russia are technically allies in Syria insofar as they both back Assad, they are rivals for control over Syria. I assume that Assad stays in power, by the way. A U.S. attack against Iran would weaken Iran and turn Russia into the obvious candidate for Assad to turn to, since he needs backing from other powers to keep his own population in check, etc. Another reason for Putin to applaud (even though publicly he will decry it) a U.S. attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Jerry Fresia said...

Recalled that when Obama was planning to attack Syria for "crossing a red line," Putin offered to support a United Nations Security Council resolution to force Syria to deliver its chemical weapons to UN inspectors if Obama changed his mind on the bombing of Syria.

Putin, in effect, de-escalated the situation and Obama was able to save face and back down.

One only hopes that Putin can come to the rescue a second time.

But with Trump's former lawyer and now his lifetime CFO preparing to flip, Trump must be feeling trapped. Does anyone
believe he will respond to all this simply by tweeting and organizing those dumb rallies? As you say, with Bolton whispering in his ear, the situation is a tad ominous.

s. wallerstein said...

Not only Bolton whispering in Trump's ear, but also Netanyahu and the Saudis, both of who are generous when it comes to presidential campaigns and can promise future contracts for Trump hotels and golf courses.

Jerry Fresia said...

s. wallerstein: good point!! Bibi may be the single most important voice in this. BTW, check out new film - free - Killing Gaza:

MS said...

See the assessment of the former ambassador to Russia of what Trump described as Putin's "generous offer" to interrogate him and other State Dept. employees:

LFC said...

The upper reaches of the U.S. military and the defense sec., Mattis, are not at all in favor of attacking Iran. So mainly for that reason I'm skeptical it will happen (which is not to rule it out completely, of course). There was a column in Foreign Policy a while back about this. May try to link it later.

s. wallerstein said...


This is interesting because if what you say is true (the U.S. military is against attacking Iran) and what many of us suspect is true (Trump wants to attack), we'll see how much power the President really has and how much power the Pentagon really has. There's a long debate on the left about whether the president is a puppet of the military industrial complex and the intelligence agency or not. I know the Constitution says he (or she) is the commander in chief, but the debate is about to what extent the Constitution functions in the real world.

LFC said...

s. wallerstein,

I don't think Trump is their puppet but I think in this instance the military's view will carry a lot of weight. But I guess we'll see...

Jerry Fresia said...

The US to use Saudi forces and Yemen as pretext?

The humanitarian disaster (massive starvation, cholera) unfolding in Yemen, is an on-going example of a war made in the US but conducted by Saudi forces.It is also a war unknown to most Americans.

MSNBC, for example, in the last year had 455 segments devoted to the Stormy Daniels saga and zero dedicated to explaining the Yemen war and the US role in it. I doubt MSNBC, media arm of the resistance, will probe the role of Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and other war profiteers in all of this. Nor, as rumors of an imminent attack swirl about, will they point to their rising stock prices as evidence of collusion, let alone material interest.

The essential political worry is that Democrats would not seriously criticize the action and a not insignificant number of voters would rally around the flag. The left has been silenced, marginalized, discounted and smeared as agents of foreign evil doers.

Yet, the crisis does present opportunity; is an anti-war/anti-trump movement likely?

LFC said...

MSNBC, for example, in the last year had 455 segments devoted to the Stormy Daniels saga and zero dedicated to explaining the Yemen war and the US role in it.

By contrast, the PBS NewsHour, not exactly a radical news org., had coverage of the conflict in Yemen and the U.S. role by a reporter who smuggled herself into parts of Yemen under Houthi control.

For instance:

Michael Llenos said...

Dr. Wolff,
Isn't this kind of cynical talk (about Iran and U.S. relations) the same thing that everybody was saying about N. Korea and the U.S. several months back? [That the President has a militaristic character, and that he truly wants to invade N. Korea because that country is the Trump administration's enemy?] But look what kind of relations we have now: very nice, now, as opposed to, very bad, back then... Btw your Night Sweats reminded me of Wallace Shawn's audio book: Night Thoughts. That 70 (+ or -) page essay of his is very liberal, very brilliant, and very enjoyable to contemplate over and to listen to. I thought I would pass that along as I am a fan of his.

LFC said...

Not that the comment was addressed to me, but I wouldn't say that U.S./N. Korea relations are now "very nice." There are some signs of progress, but it's much too soon to say anything more than that, and whether the key issue of 'denuclearization' will pan out remains to be seen.