The failure of sanctions and the road to war with Iran

The news media has finally caught up with what I've been pointing out for weeks (here and here) - that our economic sanctions aren't working. In fact, the sanctions are completely backfiring.
Headlines from this morning spells this out in no uncertain terms.

Despite sanctions, Putin is pulling the world back to Russia
Trump Pushes the World Right Into Putin’s Hands

“Russia is one of the main beneficiaries of Trump’s decision on Iran,” said Cliff Kupchan, chairman of Eurasia Group, a New York-based research firm. “Putin senses an opportunity to split the West and escape from pariah status.”

U.S. Sanction Power May Be Reaching Its Limit

“You f***ing Americans,” the message read. “Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians?”
It’s a sentiment that has echoed through halls of power in recent weeks following President Trump’s May 8 decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and impose unilateral sanctions, despite all indications that the country was complying. In Year Two of the Trump administration, the number of financial penalties has hit a high after years of increasing use. “The current administration is kind of drunk on the sanctions power,” says Jarrett Blanc, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who was a leading Department of State official in the Obama administration responsible for Iran nuclear issues. “They don’t understand that the tool is limited and fragile.”
Today’s global economy runs through the U.S. financial system, which constitutes a major source of the country’s influence. The dollar is the world’s currency, and Wall Street remains a key financial center, which helps U.S. leaders sway friends and coerce rivals. That status is “not ordained,” Blanc says. “At a certain point, it might be worthwhile for foreign governments and private-sector actors to work around New York.”

As I've pointed out, most of Asia is already "working around New York" and now Europe is exploring the idea. This is especially true now that Italy wants to drop the Russian sanctions while Brexit means Britain no longer has influence in Europe for sanctions.

Which brings us to Trump decision against the Iran deal.
As the Independent put it, the new US strategy on Iran is designed to be rejected.

There are a dozen demands, amounting, in effect, to a declaration of economic warfare, a demand for Tehran to surrender its defence and foreign policy and the threat to force regime change.
The conditions put forward by the new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, have no chance of being accepted by Iran.
...No one thinks The US administration’s Plan B is going to work.

Trita Parsi, of the National American Iranian Council, said: “Plan B of the Trump administration is designed to fail and then pave the way for Plan C, which is most likely war… When you combine unrealistic demands with massive pressure then you are by design creating a pathway to confrontation.”

Iran will never surrender their national security and foreign policy, nor should they.
As for U.S. sanctions, they are already springing leaks all over the place. The tighter we squeeze, the more leaks will appear.
Pompeo has talked about "the strongest sanctions in history" against Iran, but that only works if the rest of the world cooperates, and most of the world won't. So sanctions are a dead-end.

That only leaves the military option and the ominous term "regime change".

The freshly-installed National Security Advisor John Bolton has made a long career out of public calls for regime change in Tehran, even saying that the declared policy of the United States of America should be “the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” setting a target of 2019.
Trump lawyer and confidant Rudy Giuliani recently made a call similar to Bolton's long record, saying it was "more important than an Israeli-Palestinian deal[and] the only way to achieve peace in the Middle East," and claiming Trump was firmly committed to it.

I shouldn't have to remind anyone about our disastrous record with regime change in Syria, Libya, and most of all, Iraq.
All of those nations were smaller, weaker and much more politically isolated than Iran is today. What's more, in the cases of Libya and Iraq, we largely had the West on our side when we attacked. This time we won't.
But that doesn't mean we will be alone.

several developments have come together to suggest that the rationale for using sanctions to force a re-negotiation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is cover for an eventual military assault by the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia aimed at regime change in Tehran.
...Four days before Netanyahu’s speech Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman met with his American counterparts and, according to Al Monitor, got a “green light” for any military action Tel Aviv might take against Iran.

Oh goody. The U.S. teams up with Israel to attack muslim Iran.
What could possibly go wrong?
One analyst says that war with Iran "would make the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts look like a walk in the park.”
CNN tried to put a dollar value on this potential war (i.e. Trillions) and simply ignored the horrific loss of life.
Others point out that the war would cause the price of oil to skyrocket.

Javier Solana, former secretary general of NATO, said, “Iran scares me. Nowadays we should already know that a change of regime doesn’t work.” And then Solana pointed out what should be obvious.

There is ample scope for the situation in the Middle East to deteriorate further, Solana said, after Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a former militia commander who has led attacks on American forces, emerged as winner in Iraq’s elections earlier this month.
“If there’s a conflict with Iran, what happens to Iraq?” Solana said. “Because Iran is effectively in control there.”

No need to wait for the fallout in Iraq. We are already seeing the blowback in Afghanistan.

Tehran directly supported a Taliban offensive last week against the western city of Farah that’s situated near the border between the two nations, Afghan government and police officials said. Fighters from the insurgent group crossed over from Iran, where they had been trained and armed, Farid Bakhtawar, the head of the provincial council of Farah, told Bloomberg.

“Iran is involved in the recent violence and was actually leading the May 15 battle,” Fazl Ahmad Sherzad, the police chief of Farah province, said by phone on Wednesday. “They have been directly funding and providing arms to the Taliban as Iran sees Farah as part of its strategic interest.”
“Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran deal poses a clear and present danger to U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan,” Michael Kugelman, a senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, said in an email. It “gives Tehran a strong incentive to ramp up its military support to the Taliban.”

Afghanistan is just the first nation. Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon will be next.

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in one day

President Donald Trump called the collapse of a planned summit with Kim Jong Un a setback for both North Korea and the world, and said the U.S. military is ready if necessary in the event of a conflict on the Korean peninsula.

“While many things can happen and a great opportunity lies ahead, potentially, I believe this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and indeed a setback for the world,” Trump said at the White House hours after releasing a letter to Kim canceling the meeting.

Trump said he had spoken with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the leaders of South Korea and Japan. The U.S. military is “ready if necessary,” he said, and the two Asian allies “are not only ready should foolish or reckless acts be taken by North Korea, but they are willing to shoulder much of the financial cost or burden” of a conflict.

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still bombing Syria

Air strikes overnight in eastern Syria killed at least 12 pro-government fighters, all reportedly foreign nationals, a war-monitoring group said Thursday.
The Syrian government-run media blamed the strikes on the US-led coalition fighting Daesh.

jihadists are happy

Mines, booby-traps and bombs continue to kill and maim. Bodies are still being pulled from the rubble. The lights are off and there is no running water. “The Americans have given us nothing,” said Omar Alloush, a member of the city council, weeks before he was shot and killed in his apartment by unidentified gunmen.

The goodwill that first greeted the coalition is fading as popular anger mounts, especially in the Arab heartlands south of Raqqa, along the Euphrates river. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia that America relies on to fight IS, are increasingly viewed as occupiers. Tribal leaders in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor mutter openly about taking up arms to drive the Kurds from Arab lands. Some fear the jihadists will try to exploit the situation. They are already creeping back into lost territory.

Ethnic tension in Syria’s east dates back decades, a legacy of the divide-and-rule tactics used by President Bashar al-Assad and his father before him in the country’s hinterlands. America’s decision to rely on the military wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) to lead the SDF has deepened those divisions.

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Iran sanctions fall on Afghanistan

However, two other US allies much closer to Iran have rather more to lose from the new trade restrictions, which are due to take effect in two waves, in August and November. Afghanistan and Iraq have a few things in common, including weak economies that have been ravaged by corruption and warfare – they also both have borders with Iran, which is an important trading partner.
Afghanistan’s economy is small and it is only the 145th largest exporter in the world. However, Iran plays a central role as the largest source of Afghan imports and the third largest destination for its exports, according to the World Bank. The importance of trade via Iran has been rising and was set to be further enhanced by the development of Chabahar port on Iran's Arabian Sea coast.

U.S. fails

The U.S. government’s 17-year effort to stabilize parts of war-torn Afghanistan has mostly failed, according to a report released Thursday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

The damning report finds that much of the $4.7 billion spent on programs to stabilize areas cleared of insurgents has been largely wasted — some of it siphoned off by corrupt officials, some of it paying for projects that did more harm than good. All told, the U.S. government has appropriated about $126 billion to rebuild the country, most of it to train and equip security forces.

“The large sums of stabilization dollars the United States devoted to Afghanistan in search of quick gains often exacerbated conflicts, enabled corruption, and bolstered support for insurgents,” the report states.

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godamned Tea Party gift just keeps on giving, doesn't it? The stupidity is now in full control. Not only corrupt but stupid as hell. I read a comment on Consortium that said perhaps the PTB knew the final collapse was going to happen sooner instead of later and wanted a stooge to blame it all on, and a "political outsider" as well, and HRC was told she'd just have to suck it up if she wanted to "save" the entire rotten system. And here we go.

Edit to add: I really should not say "save" this system but the final transformation of it into full blown fascism, open and honest, not the semi-hidden type we live with now. The oligarchs want their spoils now, even they see it can't go on forever so they're going to go full on open about it under the Rump. And Democrats will be held up as the saviors after the collapse, but of course will do NOTHING to change any of it.

And poor old HRC just had to suck it up and deal. But she gets to gin up the war with Russia and anything remotely smacking of socialism, so there is that. s/

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