Thursday, September 20, 2018

Mainstream Media Says Trump Triumphs Over Iran!

That would be several stories in both the New York Times and the Washington Post over the last two days: Trump's policy against Iran is a great success and it  is completely reasonable and justified. This reporting and columnizing has followed three tracks.

One was in a column yesterday in WaPo from Mark Thiessen of AEI, generally pro-Trump.  His column was about how Trump in general doing well on foreign policy, although with no mention of the trade war.  He did not spend much time on Iran, but it is a success, so obviously so it does not need much discussion.   He fulfilled a campaign promise and showed he is strong, and of course it is so justified he did not waste time defending it.  However, he made no comment on how Iran has responded to this supposedly gloriously successful policy, and in fact Iran has basically done nothing.

Anouher thrust in both papers have been reports of the release of the State Department's annual report  on terrorism.  As in past years the report again without question names Iran as the world's "leading state sponsor of terrorism," something that Trump and politicians of both parties have regularly repeated without a shred of embarrassment.  Juan Cole points out several problems here.  For starters, there is not a single terrorist act that happened last year (this report covers 2017) that can be blamed on Iran or any of the groups it supposedly supports.  The single piece of evidence on Iran's supposed terrorist threat to the US is that in February two supposed Hezbullah "operatives" were arrested in Michigan.  There is not even a claim that these "operatives" were even planning a terrorist act, much less actually carried out one.  As Cole notes, Hezbullah is the dominant force in the Lebanese government, and it is well over a decade since anybody has tied that organization to an actual terrorist act. As it is, Cole notes that the report notes a 23% decline in terrorist acts from 2016 to 2017, with most of that due to a reduction of acts by ISIS in Iraq especially.  Who helped shut down ISIS in Iraq?  Iran-supported gropus, but the report fails to note that, just as it fails to note ongong Saudi support for terrorist actions.

The final thread showed up in a news report in the business section of the NY  Times that can barely restrain itself from frothing at the mouth over how "successful" Trump's economic sanctions against Iran have been, and here we must grant that he has  managed to get a lot of businesses to go along with withdrawing from Iran out of fear of retaliation from the US.  Oil exports from Iran have fallen by nearly half and will fall further, but without oil and gasoline prices rising much.  Success!  Apparently 72 companies have decided to leave Iran, 19 have decided to stay, with 142 still undecided.  Many of those 72 companies are from nations that oppose the US policy but have been unable to convince their own companies to stick with Iran.  France's Total is a poster boy for this.  Only China and Russia and their companies appear to be fully resisting the internationally illegal Trump policy.

Ironiccally this article even includes as part of Trump's ttriumph is that Iran is still adhering to the nuclear deal and has not moved to enriching lots of uranium again. Wow!  What a triumph!  Trump is successfully beating up on them and damaging their economy, but they continue not to obey the agreement.  Hurray!  But then it also gets quietly admitted that Iran is not doing anything else, reducing their aid for Syria, Hezbullah, and the Houthis in Yemen, not to mention shutting down their missile programs.  Oh well, maybe you cannot win them all, but, wow! Trump is triumphing over the damaged Iranian economy and US car drivers are not suffering from higher gas prices!  A triumph!

Barkley Rosser


Anonymous said...

September 19, 2018

Trump Hit Iran With Oil Sanctions. So Far, They’re Working.
By Clifford Krauss

September 18, 2018

Chaos or not, Trump is racking up a record of foreign policy success
By Marc A. Thiessen

Anonymous said...

This has the makings of a very important essay since the implication is that the nature of American foreign policy has been radically changed by the president and supporting administrators, and this change will have long-term repercussions. I think we are seriously weakening ourselves strategically.

Anonymous said...

Nikki Haley, by the way, may be the most crude ambassador in our history, surely most crude UN ambassador. She threatens other countries almost daily. The threats are seldom replied to, but they are obviously noticed and will be considered in future in judging the nature or new nature of American diplomacy.

Anonymous said...

Nikki Haley @nikkihaley

RT @USUN: ”Iran treats Iraq like it’s not an independent nation. Iran sees Iraq as a transit point for weapons and a training ground for its proxies. Iran seeks to keep Iraq economically weak. Why? Because Iran wants to use a weak Iraq to illicitly fund its terrorist activities.”

4:03 PM - 20 Sep 2018 said...

I do not know if she ia the worst we have ever had, but she is an embarrassment, trying to keep up with the ongoing round of nonsensical aggressive babblings coming out of Trump. Probably her colleagues at UN know this and write most of what she says off.

LetUsHavePeace said...

It helps to see Trump's foreign policy as a revival of the central banking mercantilism that United Kingdom used in defeating Spain and France in the 18th century Wars of Empire. "Terrorism" is the modern analog to Jenkins Ear. Embargoing Iran reinforces the primacy of the American clearinghouse and the necessity for "allies" to buy F-35s.

Anonymous said...

New York Times World @nytimesworld

In a strong denunciation of Russia, the American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, said "lying, cheating and rogue behavior has become the new norm of the Russian culture."

Haley Says Russia ‘Actively Working’ to Subvert North Korea Sanctions
The remarks by Ambassador Nikki R. Haley reflected frustration over North Korea’s failure to take serious denuclearization steps.

7:02 PM - 17 Sep 2018

nick said...

Halloween or Hallowe'en, also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day said...

Ever since the end of World War 2, much of the world felt the US was a safe, trustworthy, ethical partner. Thus, much "soft power" was built around the US, notably financial structures and the US dollar as the world's reserve currency.

Trump's successes in foreign policy, such as they are, consist of treating the rest of the world the way he treated his business partners: by using his power over them to extract concessions. It works for a while - Trump was able to force his contractors to write off lots of money he owed them as uncollectible, and the finances of many large businesses are too intertwined with US financial institutes to risk defying Trump's sanctions - for now.

However, this is only a short term victory: just as banks and vendors stopped doing business with Trump Enterprises, Europe, Russia and China are setting up financial structures making them independent of the US financial industry. Trump's burning through the US soft power structure just like he did with investors' capital at his casinos. It'll take a few years, but by 2022 I expect China's Yuan will be the new world reserve currency, and the US Dollar's privileged position will join the British Pound as a formerly significant currency.

All the money wasted on a powerful military will have been wasted - we won't have the ability to keep it running.