Blog No. 152.
Trump’s Nobel prize: two shots – one into each foot!
So a lot has been happening in the past fortnight! The dates had been fixed for the summit of hopeless expectations between wannabe Nobel laureate, Donald Trump and the wannabe dischargee from the economic leper-colony, Kim Jong-Il. Then, as if to deliberately sabotage all Trump’s hopes, John Bolton, Trump’s new National Security Advisor (or the Shadow Government’s appointee as his foreign affairs minder?) announced that only a ‘Libya type’ outcome of the Singapore summit would be seen as acceptable! There being no evidence that Kim is an amnesiac, he hardly needed reminding of the fate of the two other, too trusting nuclear-disarmers, Gadhafi, with a bayonet up his rectum and Saddam, with his head pulled off on a gallows. It is also a safe assumption that Kim is not suicidal and in search of death by globo-cop. It will be interesting to see, as an indicator of the extent to which Trump is really his own master, how long after this assault on his ambitious ego, Bolton will remain in post.
At the same time, with seemingly perfect timing, along with Bolton’s flagrant threats, Trump has demonstrated to Kim that an agreement made with an American President is likely to prove as durable as a Stormy Daniels vow of eternal love. In unilaterally revoking the JCPA, the painstakingly negotiated nuclear deal between members of the UN Security Council and Iran, Trump has once again flaunted the USA’s contempt for international law. At the same time he has further undermined the slender chances of its prevailing in the international melt-down that may well follow these two momentous events.
With Trump’s decision on Iran, will go the hopes for economic relief for eighty million or so impoverished Iranians. Likewise, out the window will probably go the chances of the current (and by Trump’s reneging, now discredited) moderate, reformist government in Tehran. It is unlikely that the moderate faction will be able to hang onto power in the face of the more aggressive, “I told you the Great Satan couldn’t be trusted,” anti-Western conservatives.
The John Boltons and Netanyahus of this world will be wetting themselves with joy at the prospect of being able to realise a thirty or so year ambition to force regime change (a return of the Shah’s son?) on the long-suffering Iranians and to destroy the Middle East’s only regime that could realistically be viewed as a democracy. It would appear that in their eyes, the invasion of Iraq was such a success that it bears repetition!
The probable outcome of Trump’s attempt to have his cake in Tehran and eat it in Singapore will be a case of acute food-poisoning (with the USA’s toxic bodily excretions manifesting themselves at both ends.)
It remains to be seen what will actually emerge from the Singapore summit if and when it is convened. Trump will be looking for a win, rather than for a win-win. For his domestic market, Trump’s ‘win’ can only be the total denuclearisation of North Korea. Given past history, such a commitment would be the equivalent of an abdication by the Kim family dynasty and the signing of their own death warrant. Only (and only, perhaps) China might be able to offer the requisite security guarantees that would have to go with such a commitment on Kim’s part. Alas! China is not invited to the summit.
It also has to be remembered that there are voices other than Trump’s in the formulation of US foreign policy. Some of these see no reason why a change of the belligerent status quo in the Korean peninsula, which the USA has so carefully preserved since the end of the Korean War, is desirable. As things stand, the hostility of the North keeps South Korea and Japan firmly in the Western camp and making their due contributions to the containment of China. However, for the longer-term hopes of these armchair warriors, it might already be too late. The developing momentum of détente between the South and North might now be hard to reverse. If peace breaks out between the two Koreas, the US military’s continued control over South Korea’s military may prove untenable and both South Korea and Japan will become more open to Chinese influence. The big unknown is how a Trump, disappointed (as it seems he is likely to be) at the Singapore summit and suffering what will be an acute loss of face with his electorate, will react.
Both the Korean and Iranian crises have been instigated by democratic leaders in electoral crisis. Netanyahu faces an ever-escalating series of corruption charges and Trump is likewise overburdened with an immense flock of chickens coming home to roost. Just as Theresa May opted for the Skripal and Douma provocations as distractions from her domestic woes, these two valiants-for-democracy will be tempted to opt for jingo should an opportunity be presented.
In my previous blog, I referred to the rampaging Godzilla that is the USA. Every four years of electoral term, the titanic reptile has to slough its skin to emerge in its new and re-energised form. Since WWII this painful, electoral process has come to require increasingly liberal applications of dollar grease. For this essential service, the monster has come to rely on the good offices of another member of the Zilla tribe. Jehovazilla’s well-heeled family members in the USA habitually provide the necessary grease and ensure the smooth transfer of power to those chosen to hold political office.
Through this relationship, the relatively puny Jehovazilla is often able to lead Godzilla by the nose when it comes to ventures on Jehovazilla’s home patch in the Middle East. A strongly recommended read is this Israeli commentator’s views on the subject of cooperation and coordination between Washington and Tel-Aviv. (1.) It is by no means a recent phenomenon. Other than a brief glitch under Obama’s presidency, it has been evident for several decades and well before President Johnson’s cover-up of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967.
However, what will now happen in the struggle between the two Zillas and the Mullah’s of Tehran is not as obvious as many commentators would have us believe. Ostensibly, the war faction in Washington, led on by the appointments of Bolton and Pompeo, will succeed in crippling the Iranian economy, and inspiring regime-changing insurrection through their sponsorship of terrorist groups such as MEK (2.) They could well encourage Israeli inspired provocations against Iran in the hope that Iranian retaliation might provide the excuse for the involvement of US Special Forces and air power against Iran. There are already arguments flying around the blogosphere that the recent, failed missile attacks from Syrian territory against targets in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, which resulted in an immediate escalation of Israeli attacks on Iranian targets in Syria, was a false flag made with just such an intention in mind.
Happily, the situation is far more complex than that. Netanyahu’s obsessive desire to inspire a military showdown with Iran is dampened by considerable urgings for caution from Israel’s military and intelligence communities. Given that so many of Israel’s more recent immigrants are of Russian origin and the powerful position Russia now occupies in Syria, it has considerable influence in Israel. In many more cautious Israeli eyes, Russia is able to exert a restraining influence over Iranian activities in Syria in return for Israeli caution in moves that might otherwise drag Russia into a much wider ME conflict. Whereas Russia will be perfectly happy to see the threat of ME war push up the oil price, it would draw the line at anything likely to bring about regime change in either Syria or Iran.
Bearing in mind that the new sanctions and hostility towards Iran are not UN approved, they will bring Iran that much closer to SCO membership, which will suit both China and Russia just fine. In this context, this article is a must read (3.) (One has to believe that the most urgent defence procurement acquisition for the USA is a pair of bullet-proof boots!)
Despite the slavering of the dogs of war in Washington, and given that Russia will continue to have the influence to dissuade Iran from making any over-the-top military responses to Israeli provocations, a new hot-war in the Middle East is by no means a certainty. Instead, Trump’s renunciation of the JCPA should be seen as yet another nail in the coffin of the increasingly besieged American empire. Germany sees itself increasingly at odds with the USA, France and Britain and its economy increasingly imperiled by newly imposed US tariffs on its manufactures. Now, on top of the other injuries, the USA is demanding that German companies abandon their freshly established trading ties with Iran and conform to Trump’s new round of sanctions. Thanks to such aggressive bungling in Washington, the lure of the East and the trade spoils to be had in Eurasia will have an ever increasing draw on Germany’s business community and politicians. The USA and its followers, would do well to remember that the German eagle looks both West and East.
In this context, the first of the final three articles I would recommend is by the Berlin-based journalist, Come Carpentier de Gourdon (4) the second is taken from Germany’s most influential publication, Der Spiegel (5) and finally there is an article displaying Putin’s immaculate sense of timing as he moves to debunk the Washington myth of Moscow’s aggressive intent and to make cooperation with Russia ever more inviting to European eyes (6.)