Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 104 Re-run

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Description: Interventions, Interference, and Invasions: Nate and Bill lead a world tour of the post-WWII history of countries entering other countries’ civil wars and uprisings, for good or ill, and what it means for the future. (We talk about Cuba, Angola, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Indonesia, Guatemala, Libya, Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia, and many others.) People: Bill, Nate. Originally produced: October 20th, 2014. Re-edited and abridged: April 19, 2017.

Discussion Points:

– Kissinger’s plan to bomb Cuba and what the future of the embargo is
– CIA history: Why arming rebels has often failed and what it means for US plans in Syria now
– What does the future hold for international and unilateral military interventions in armed conflicts and crises? Is the UN still relevant?

Episode 104-Abridged (54 min)
AFD 104

Related links
Segment 1

NYT: Kissinger Drew Up Plans to Attack Cuba, Records Show
AFD: Jimmy Carter’s Election Prevented a Disastrous War in Cuba

Segment 2

NYT: CIA Study Says Arming Rebels Seldom Works

Segment 3

AFD: Confusion in Libya as Egyptian jets bomb Benghazi
AFD: US suddenly surprised to find Mideast states acting unilaterally
AFD: Is the US-led Syria operation vs ISIS legal under international law?
AFD: France announces indefinite Sahel deployment
AFD: France: Back to Africa?

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Op-Ed | (Non-) Nuclear Trump: The Ahmadinejad of the West?

This past weekend, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad abruptly launched an English-language Twitter account and released a video, in English, of himself announcing the account.

It was an unlikely development from someone who was nearly toppled from office by street protests in 2009 organized via Twitter – especially given the U.S. government’s request at the time for the company to ensure smooth operations of the service.

But on the other hand, Ahmadinejad has likely felt muzzled since leaving office in 2013 due to term limits. His relationship to the state had deteriorated anyway in his second term between the protests and the sanctions on the country.

Supreme Leader Khamanei also recently suggested that it would be bad for the country if Ahmadinejad were to seek a new term in 2017.

Trump and Ahmadinejad

Twitter, as demonstrated by the new U.S. President, Donald Trump, allows totally unfettered messaging to supporters and the media, without interference by anyone.

Perhaps the former Iranian president decided to follow suit.

In February 2017, Ahmadinejad sent a lengthy letter to Trump, officially objecting to the Muslim ban, which affected Iran, but also offering advice and personal experience on leadership – from one “human to another human.”

He noted that Trump’s election had been an upset:

It can be inferred from the political and media atmosphere in the US that the result of the election has been (in spite of) the status quo, and beyond the will and prediction of the governing body and the main system behind the scene of the U.S. political stage.

Like Ahmadinejad in 2005, Donald Trump was elected as the hardliner candidate. Both rose to win an upset victory from the back of the pack, running on a conservative but populist and nationalist message.

Similar loose talk

In Ahmadinejad’s case, his policy pronouncements and speeches were not the final word in policy, subject to the Supreme Leader’s support ultimately.

To some degree, that appears to be the case with Trump as well, surprisingly. (Sometimes, someone like Steve Bannon sticks an order in front of him and Trump signs it without reading it.)

What is certainly true for both men, of course, is that their off-the-cuff remarks or deliberated provocations still terrify half of their respective home countries and most of the countries around the world.

For all his loose talk about nuclear weapons, it was always a bit difficult to tell whether Ahmadinejad was really perpetually hovering over the launch buttons on the country’s (non-nuclear) arsenal or just blustering. Trump keeps everyone guessing in much the same way.

Would he or wouldn’t he?

At a recent press conference Trump said unprompted that the best way to show his independence from Russia would be to fire missiles at a Russian Navy submarine off the U.S. coast – but reiterated that he obviously would not do so.

Change a few nouns and it would be Ahmadinejad threatening to reduce Strait of Hormuz sea traffic – including U.S. vessels – to smoking wreckage.

Trump also added, as justification for his restraint:

I’ve been briefed. And I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say, because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other.

A hidden restraint?

That attitude, too, is familiar to fair-minded Iran observers. Throughout Iran’s controversial nuclear energy program development, Iran’s leaders have been very careful to point out that they believe nuclear weapons are immoral and proscribed, and that the program is peaceful.

Ahmadinejad, himself, was a staunch defender of the civilian nuclear program on the grounds of sovereignty and anti-colonialism, but he also called nuclear weapons “illegal” and immoral and supported global non-proliferation.

Typically, Iran’s leaders point specifically to the Iran-Iraq War and Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons on young Iranian soldiers as a reason Iran does not want WMDs. They also sometimes cite religious reasons for a ban.

At one point, in 2008, the Supreme Leader even indirectly urged Ahmadinejad to dial back his over-enthusiastic rhetoric on the nuclear issue, which (unlike in the United States) is not really under presidential authority anyway.

One must hope along similar lines, therefore, that when the White House under Trump “considers all options” in situations such as North Korea’s recurring threats, it is not seriously contemplating the literal nuclear option.

Originally published at The Globalist.

Further questions about the alleged Iran-Houthis link

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

Flag of Yemen

Flag of Yemen

Investigative journalist Gareth Porter continues his work poking holes in the accepted media narrative that Yemen’s current war is actually a fight between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

“How False Stories of Iran Arming the Houthis Were Used to Justify War in Yemen”

But another cable dated November 11, 2009, reported that the government had “failed to substantiate its extravagant public claims that an Iranian ship seized off its coast on October 25 was carrying military trainers, weapons and explosives destined for the Houthis.”
[…]
President Saleh had hoped to use the Mahan 1 ruse to get the political support of the US for a war to defeat the Houthis, which he was calling “Operation Scorched Earth.” But as a December 2009 cable noted, it was well known among Yemeni political observers that the Houthis were awash in modern arms and could obtain all they needed from the huge local arms market or directly from the Yemeni military itself.

 
And when we say “awash with modern arms,” let’s remember Yemen is awash with them from Saudi Arabia. And they’re dropping off a lot more in this new war.

FIFA World Cup Qatar: Ghost of Christmas Future

You’ve probably heard of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar (which never should have been awarded to Qatar) being moved to the winter to avoid scorching stadium temperatures. You might also have heard of the devastating heat waves this past summer from Lebanon to Iran.

Will the Persian Gulf region and Arabian Peninsula be uninhabitably hot later this century (without significant action on climate change soon)? A new study published in Nature Climate Change journal argues so.

Satellite photograph of the Arabian Desert from NASA World Wind 1.4.

Satellite photograph of the Arabian Desert from NASA World Wind 1.4.

“Extreme heatwaves could push Gulf climate beyond human endurance, study shows” – The Guardian:

The study shows the extreme heatwaves, more intense than anything ever experienced on Earth, would kick in after 2070 and that the hottest days of today would by then be a near-daily occurrence.
[…]
They said the future climate for many locations in the Gulf would be like today’s extreme climate in the desert of Northern Afar, on the African side of the Red Sea, where there are no permanent human settlements at all. But the research also showed that cutting greenhouse gas emissions now could avoid this fate.
[…]
The new research examined how a combined measure of temperature and humidity, called wet bulb temperature (WBT), would increase if carbon emissions continue on current trends and the world warms by 4C this century.

At WBTs above 35C, the high heat and humidity make it physically impossible for even the fittest human body to cool itself by sweating, with fatal consequences after six hours. For less fit people, the fatal WBT is below 35C. A WBT temperature of 35C – the combination of 46C heat and 50% humidity – was almost reached in Bandar Mahshahr in Iran in July 2015.
[…]
Air conditioning might be able to protect people indoors and those in wealthy Gulf oil states might be able to afford it, said the scientists, but less wealthy nations would suffer. In Yemen, for example, the WBT would reach 33C.

 

Republicans still trying to milk 9/11 for political points

Senate Republicans somehow think it’s symbolically important to vote against the Iran Nuclear Deal on 9/11 this week.

They probably forgot that 9/11 was an attack by Sunni extremist citizens of the Gulf countries that oppose Shia Iran, and that Iran and the Iranian people rallied to us on 9/11, extending a hand of support — and then they attempted to assist us with the reconstruction of Afghanistan before being slapped down by the Bush Administration. So, less symbolic than ironic.


AFD Radio Excerpt

Aug 19, 2015 – Ep. 139: Interview with Ambassador Nicholas Burns on the Iran Nuclear Deal

Is Iran sending refugees to Syria as cannon fodder?

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

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The Daily Star (Lebanon) — “Iran enlists Afghan refugees as fighters”

But interviews with Afghan fighters and relatives of combatants killed in Syria point to a vigorous – and sometimes coerced – recruitment drive of Shiite Hazara refugees by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps propping up Assad’s floundering regime. […]
Haider, she said, was lured by the monthly salary of $700 – a tidy sum for a laborer with no combat experience – and the promise of an Iranian residency permit, an attractive inducement for refugees who otherwise live in constant fear of deportation. […]
Haider’s premonition came true – a few days after he left, an Iranian official informed his relatives, also refugees in Tehran, that he had been killed in battle.