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The last thing the overstretched US military needs is war with Iran

Why the U.S. Military Should Stay Out Of Iran…

Alex Christoforou

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Danny Sjursen is a fellow at Defense Priorities. He served combat tours with U.S. Army reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

Via The Editor at Breaking Defense

It’s not that often that a major in the US military — albeit now a reservist — points the finger at the Defense Secretary and says, sir, you’re wrong, and does it in writing and in public. Here you have it. Army Maj. Danny Sjursen, expressing his own unofficial opinions, says Iran is Jim Mattis’ blind spot and that his boss is wrong in his assessments of the country. Why? Read on, Dear Reader!

Why the U.S. Military Should Stay Out Of Iran” by Maj Danny Sjursen…

Last week, after Israel reportedly shot down an Iranian drone and Prime Minister Netanyahu proudly displayed a hunk of twisted metal as a war trophy, Americans were treated to fresh calls for regime change from some prominent neoconservatives.

Granted, Iran is no friend to the U.S. and might even qualify as a modest adversary. Its nuclear ambitions should continue to be thwarted, as most reports indicate they are. Still, what Washington desperately needs right now is some perspective and an honest conversation about the realities of the Middle East. Not alarmism. The last thing the overstretched U.S. military needs is another hot war. It’s already pretty busy. President Obama bombed seven countries in 2016, and President Trump has continued apace.

There’s reason to worry. Trump, who ran on an eminently reasonable platform of disengagement from “dumb” wars in the region, quickly pivoted to a hawkish stance on the Islamic Republic. In December, when protestors hit the streets of Tehran based on mostly economic motives, Trump immediately rallied in support and not-so-subtlety tweeted “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever.” Except, that is, for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other illiberal authoritarian regimes we support.

Perhaps Trump simply meant the people of Iran would topple the ayatollahs, but if the recently released National Defense Strategy is any indicator — it lists Iran as one of four core threats —U.S.-imposed regime change is certainly on the table.

It shouldn’t be. At present, Iran does not present a clear and present vital threat to American national security. Statements from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, however, indicate he disagrees.

Mattis’ Blind Spot

The secretary is the boss, my boss, but his focus on the Iranian regime qualifies as his blind spot, a veritable Iran obsession.

Since at least 2011, Mattis has overstated the Iranian threat and hinted at toppling the regime in Tehran. And he’s only doubling down. This past May, Mattis told “Face the Nation,” that “what we find is, wherever there are challenges, wherever there is chaos, wherever there is violence, whether it be in Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen, the attempts to unsettle Bahrain. We always find Iran and the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] at it.” He also once told then-President Obama that the top three threats in the Middle East were “Iran, Iran, Iran.” That sounds excessive.

Iran spends about as much on defense annually as the U.S. does on a single aircraft carrier. A simple comparison is instructive: Iran’s GDP was about $427 billion, and it spent some $11.5 billion on defense in 2016. U.S. allies, like Saudi Arabia (GDP: $678 billion; defense spending: $66.7 billion) and Israel (GDP: $348 billion; defense spending: $19.6 billion) can more than hold their own. And remember, standing behind them is the real behemoth, the U.S., which plans to spend $716 billion on defense in 2019—that’s $300 billion more than Iran’s entire GDP. The numbers speak for themselves. Conclusion: some perspective is in order.

While Iran definitely is engaged in the Mid-East, its own neighborhood, it’s rarely behind much of anything and doesn’t have nearly the power or influence to pull all the various regional strings. Yemeni and Bahraini unrest were homegrown. Conflict in Syria and Lebanon preceded Iranian deployments there. And Iraq, well, the U.S. handed Baghdad to Iran on a silver platter after that ill-fated invasion. Iran use regional proxies, rather than its own military, precisely because it is weak and fearful.

Furthermore, though he’s recently backed off some of his most bellicose threats, Mattis regularly draws distinctions between the supposedly disenfranchised people of Iran and an ostensibly separate revolutionary regime. There’s something to this, but in Mattis’ statements, it sounds like he’s calling for the fall of the regime. “It’s not the Iranian people,” Mattis added. “We are convinced it’s a regime that is conducting itself in order to stay in power in Tehran as a revolutionary regime, not as a proper nation-state. They are not looking out for the best interests of their own people.”

Maybe that’s true enough, but surely dozens of governments fail to represent their populace the world over. That doesn’t necessitate regime change, does it? Such rhetoric raises tensions and threatens to stoke nationalist tendencies in Iran which work to the advantage of relative hardliners.

The View from Tehran

After all, try and view the last decade of U.S. military actions from Tehran. Washington toppled and seemingly permanently occupied Iran’s neighbors on its western (Iraq) and eastern (Afghanistan) flanks, encircled the country with its military bases, and intervened in just about every country in its neighborhood.

I remember way back in August 2002, and even then the rhetoric was chilling: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran,” a British official close to the President Bush team told Newsweek in the lead up to the Iraq War. Who could rationally blame Iran’s leaders for fearing they were next? And who would be surprised to see them turn to Shia militias to trap the U.S. military in a Baghdad quagmire? That’s basic survival instincts. While not excusing their tactics, it’s undeniable that their approach enhanced their standing vis-à-vis Iraq and the region—an unintended consequence of ousting Saddam Hussein.

Iranians also have a long memory. The CIA helped overthrow a democratically elected government in Tehran in 1953. Then, throughout the 1980s, the U.S. backed Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s brutal invasion of Iran. Heck, President Reagan even sent one Donald Rumsfeld (remember him?) to make nice with Saddam.

None of this sordid history obviates Iran from acting responsibly in the region—but this must serve as a reality check for Washington’s triumphalism and an unfathomable commitment to strategic overreach. Walking the proverbial mile in an adversary’s shoes isn’t “soft,” it’s smart. Only by understanding the motives of other countries can we correctly predict and counter actions that undermine America’s interests.

Military Action: A Bad Idea

Iran’s military is far from the imposing behemoth threat of hawkish imagination. In fact, Saudi Arabia is much better armed and could likely handle Iran by itself—remember, it spends more than five times much on its military than Iran.

Nonetheless, Iran is spatially large and mountainous with an enormous, fiercely nationalist population. Make no mistake, U.S. military occupation of the Islamic Republic would make the Iraq War, for once, actually look like the “cakewalk” it was billed to be.

America’s armed forces are currently spread thin in a dozen simultaneous operations and deployed in nearly 70 percent of the world’s countries. The Army alone is rotating brigades to deter Russia in Eastern Europe; manning the DMZ in South Korea; training and advising across Africa; conducting raids in Somalia, Yemen, and Niger; and actively fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

So where are the troops available to topple Tehran? They don’t exist. The U.S. military is already running at full throttle, and the American people won’t be flocking to recruiters to stave off an overhyped, distant Iranian threat. The polling data is clear: Americans don’t want another war.

Ubiquitous, over-the-top proclamations aside, Iran’s various regional interventions have been more cost than benefit for Tehran and largely defensive in nature—look no further than recent protests throughout Iran for proof. Iran isn’t seeking a New Persia any more, or less, than our purported Turkish (NATO) ally’s dream of a revamped Ottoman Empire. That’s rhetoric, not reality. And these days, with Turkish tanks just miles from U.S. forces in Syria and openly threatening Washington, guess who the greater threat is?

Indeed, it might be time for Washington to swallow its pride and admit to some common interests with Iran in the region—the defeat of ISIS, suppression on Sunni Islamists, and a stable, non-threatening Afghanistan—rather than harping on the exaggerated negatives.

Look, I don’t take any of this lightly. Iranian-supplied bombs killed two of my soldiers on January 25, 2007. Still, it’s important to remember, no Iranians have attacked the homeland since 9/11 (not something that can be said of our many autocratic “allies” in the region). The proper role of the U.S. military is to prevent enemies killing Americans, not to keep rival Mid-East factions from killing each other.

Forget a new war. Iran isn’t worth it. Not now, probably not ever. The U.S. military is busy, thank you very much. And any trouble it causes can easily be countered by our partners and allies in the region.

Washington should ditch the alarmism and get real in the complex Middle East.

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Trump Weighs In On The Single Worst Mistake In American History

Trump hits Bush: Invading Iraq ‘the single worst decision ever made’.

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Via Zerohedge


In a wide ranging interview with The Hill on Tuesday conducted in the Oval Office, President Trump was asked to give his take on the biggest mistake in American history.

Considering just how open-ended a question that is, it’s perhaps surprising that he merely went back less than a couple decades into the Bush presidency, though Trump’s base will certainly welcome it as it hearkens back to his “America First” foreign policy vision of the campaign trail.

“The worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country: going into the Middle East, by President Bush,” the president during his interview with Hill.TV.

“Obama may have gotten them (U.S. soldiers) out wrong, but going in is to me the biggest single mistake made in the history of our country,” he said.

Trump explained the reasoning behind this choice, and why it wasn’t something like the civil war or another defining and devastating event reaching far into American History.

“Because we spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. Now if you wanna fix a window some place they say, ‘oh gee, let’s not do it. Seven trillion, and millions of lives — you know, ‘cause I like to count both sides. Millions of lives,” the president explained.

Some scholars and humanitarian groups estimate that over one million Iraqis were killed in the US invasion and occupation of Iraq starting in 2003. A 2008 Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll, for example, found that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war.

“To me it’s the worst single mistake made in the history of our country. Civil war you can understand. Civil war, civil war. That’s different. For us to have gone into the Middle East, and that was just, that was a bad day for this country, I will tell you.”

Various estimates on the Iraq war’s cost have put the total taxpayer bill as low as near $2 trillion, but none dispute that it is in the multiple trillions, and estimates will vary widely depending on if veteran care is factored into it.

The comments echo things Trump said on the campaign trail in 2016. For example during one of his first major foreign policy speeches then candidate Trump said, “I will never send our finest into battle unless necessary, and I mean absolutely necessary, and will only do so if we have a plan for victory with a capital V.” And referencing the famous quote of John Quincy Adams, he said during the same speech, “The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies.”

He had previously shocked pundits for being the first Republican nominee for president to trash George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq, and has more recently likened it to “throwing a big fat brick into a hornet’s nest”.

All of this is a hopeful sign considering the extremely heightened and dangerous tensions over Syria this week, and given Trump seems to have vacillated between “bringing the troops home” and getting more involved. On Monday Trump hinted that a decision on the U.S. role in Syria is coming soon.

Commenting on the over 2,000 troops now in Syria ostensibly as part of the “anti-ISIL” coalition campaign, Trump indicated this mission could end soon: “We’re very close to being finished with that job,” he said. He followed with: “And then we’re going to make a determination as to what we’re going to do.”

We consider it a hopeful and a good sign that Trump is possibly revisiting his “America First” foreign policy pledges by identifying the Iraq War as the worst mistake in US history.

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Brett Kavanaugh eleventh hour smear begins to fall apart (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 112.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Trump is urging the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh to testify and be heard.

Trump said he wants to hear from Christine Blasey Ford, noting that it would be “unfortunate” if she does not testify before a Senate committee. Trump told reporters Wednesday as he left the White House to view hurricane damage in North Carolina…

“If she doesn’t show up, that would be unfortunate.”

“If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that would be very interesting.”

From Trump’s lips to God’s ear…Blasey Ford came out to issue a statement essentially saying that she will not testify to Congress, either in an open or closed door session.

Furthermore it appears that Ford will not even allow Senate investigators to fly to California and obtain her statement from the comfort of her own home (as Senator Grassley has offered to do).

Ford is demanding an FBI investigation into an allegation with no date, time or place attached to it. 

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss the dangerous game of identity politics being played by the establishment, Democrat left, and their mainstream media minions.

The premise that a four decades old accusation is all that is needed to destroy a person’s entire life, threatens to tear down the most basic foundational values adhered to from within the US Constitution, and propel the United States of America towards a fascist state where censorship, citizen surveillance, and evidence free accusations are used to keep the establishment left in power and the American population cowered in fear.

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According to Zerohedge, Democrats’ Hail Mary play to stymie the confirmation of Trump SCOTUS pick Brett Kavanaugh is beginning to fizzle out. As angry Dems demanded that a Monday hearing on the allegations against Kavanaugh be delayed until the FBI has a chance to investigate, turncoat Republicans (on whom the Dems had been depending for votes) instead withdrew their support and fell in line after Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley declared that he would not honor Democrats’ request. Grassley revealed his intention to stand firm late Tuesday after lawyers for Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey, who is claiming that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her 35 years ago when the two were 17-year-old high school students, said their client wouldn’t be wiling to appear at Monday’s hearing.

According to the HillGrassley said Tuesday that there was “no reason” to delay the hearing now that Republicans have invited both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, his accuser, to testify publicly. However, while Ford’s attorneys have insisted that their client has taken a polygraph test and “deserves to be heard”, Ford has bizarrely insisted that the FBI should have an opportunity to investigate her claims before she appears before the committee in order to spare her the “trauma” of confronting her alleged assailant.

Ford’s lawyers conveyed her request in the form of a letter sent to the committee, a copy of which was obtained by CNN.

Senator Grassley said he would refuse this request as several Republicans who had appeared to be on the cusp of defecting said they wouldn’t support further delays should Ford prove unwilling to testify.

Via the Hill…

“Republicans extended a hand in good faith. If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote,” said GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), who was one of the first Republicans to call for the Judiciary Committee to hit pause on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Sunday.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) told reporters earlier Tuesday that Ford’s lack of response to the committee about testifying was “puzzling.”

And GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, who had threatened to vote against Kavanaugh if Ford wasn’t given the chance to be heard, told CNN that he expected the committee to move on if she doesn’t appear.

“I think we’ll have to move to the markup,” he told CNN. “I hope she does (appear). I think she needs to be heard.”

Via Zerohedge…

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegations and insisted he didn’t attend the party where the physical assault allegedly took place. Patrick Smyth, a fellow former Georgetown Prep student whom Ford alleges was also in attendance during the party issued a statement via his lawyer standing up for Kavanaugh. And in a separate letter to Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, not only does Smyth repudiate Ford’s allegations, but he adds that he doesn’t remember this party even taking place.

Of course, Feinstein – who admitted last night that she couldn’t say for certain that Ford’s story is entirely truthful – sat on Ford’s allegations for three months before referring them to the FBI and sharing them with other lawmakers (who purportedly “leaked” it to the press). President Trump on Tuesday said that he “feels sorry” for Kavanaugh, adding that he doesn’t want to “play into [Democrats] hands”, presumably by giving them more time to drag out the confirmation process.

“They should have done this a long time ago, three months ago, not now. But they did it now. So I don’t want to play into their hands,” Trump said.

Without the support of their Republican allies, Democrats will lack the votes on the committee to hold up the nomination past Monday. Though bizarrely, Kavanaugh himself hasn’t said yet whether he would or wouldn’t testify, which begs the question: If neither Kavanaugh nor Ford appear at the hearing, what exactly will lawmakers discuss?

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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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Via RT


One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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