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Trump stops neocon drive towards war with Iran (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 428.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss U.S. President Trump’s statement signaling an end to military hostilities between the United States and Iran, following, what has been confirmed to be, a symbolic Iranian missile strike on American military targets within Iraq.


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“Pompeo’s Gulf Of Tonkin Incident,” authored by Gareth Porter, via The American Conservative…

Like the crucial steps toward public acceptance preceding the U.S. invasions of Vietnam and Iraq, the assassination of Qassem Soleimani was aimed at building popular support for war on Iran. Not only the justification, but the assassination itself were part of a broader strategy to grease the skids into war.

The Soleimani ploy has apparently failed, however, thanks to the carefully prepared Iranian response, which did not provoke Donald Trump to raise the stakes further. At least not yet.

The fingerprints of Pompeo are all over this provocation to war. In a striking parallel to the deception that accompanied the Gulf of Tonkin crisis in 1964—in which the American public was told about an attack on a U.S. ship that never happened, precipitating the Vietnam War—Pompeo and his allies carried out a complex deception in regard to the Soleimani hit. They claimed they had to kill the second most popular leader of Iran with no advance notice to Congress because the Iranian general was planning a massive attack that put the country in “imminent” danger. Trump officials have so far not provided any evidence publicly to back up this version of events. In fact, when briefed by DoD officials Wednesday, Democrats complained about the lack of hard evidence presented, leaving them unconvinced there was an imminent threat. Republican Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY., said the briefing was “less than satisfying.”

The deception accompanying Soleimani’s killing was just the latest in a much longer string of efforts by Pompeo that began in September  2018.  That’s when Pompeo and then-National Security Advisor John Bolton established the basic propaganda line that was used to sell the Soleimani assassination. They claimed that a few mortar rounds in the vicinity of the U.S. embassy and a consulate in Basra were evidence of an effort by Tehran to kill or injure U.S. diplomats. Bolton then demanded the Pentagon come up with retaliatory options if any Americans were harmed by any action of an Iranian “proxy,” Pompeo issued a public threat to attack Iran over the incidents.

But in fact those rockets landed a kilometer away from the U.S. Embassy in the Green Zone where all foreign embassies are located, and that the one that fell near the Basra airport’s outer perimeter was nowhere near the U.S. consulate. And they were fired the same night that anti-Iran rioters were setting fire to the Iranian consulate in Basra and shutting down the country’s only seaport, and at the same time Sadrist protesters were rallying against the Iraqi government at the entrance to the Green Zone in sympathy with the anti-Iran protests.

In May 2019, Bolton claimed new “escalatory indications and warnings” of a threat to U.S. personnel in the Middle East and vowed, “[A]ny attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”  He and Pompeo leaked to major news outlets that there was intelligence about Iran ordering militia allies in the region to “target” Americans. But other officials who had seen the intelligence told the Wall Street Journal that Tehran sent its allies a directive telling them to prepare for possible attack by the United States.

The Bolton-Pompeo effort to lure Trump into a war with Iran faltered when the president twice refused their advice to retaliate militarily over the shoot-down of a U.S. drone and the drone attack on a key Saudi oil facility.  Bolton got fired in September, but Pompeo continued what they had begun. On December 13, he condemned two attacks on a Iraqi military base located near the Baghdad Airport on Dec. 7 and Dec. 9, in which two Iraqi anti-terrorist troops were injured, and then added, “We must also use this opportunity to remind Iran’s leaders that any attacks by them, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies, or our interests will be answered with a decisive U.S. response.”

But the circumstances surrounding those rocket attacks made it unclear who might have fired the two to four mortars or rockets at the Iraqi Security Forces headquarters near Baghdad Airport, wounding two Iraqi counter-terrorism personnel. Opponents of the government had just launched new protests against repression of demonstrations by lethal forces by Iraqi security forces, including anti-riot police, and Moqtada al Sadr, who had been supporting the Iraqi government, but had just started to support the demonstrators. It is entirely possible that Sadrist militiamen or other opponents of the government had fired the rockets at the base in protest.

Two weeks later, on December 27, a rocket attack on the K1 Iraqi base near Kirkuk killed an American contractor, as “Operation Inherent Resolve” command confirmed.  The Trump administration immediately went into crisis mode, discussing both killing Soleimani and retaliatory strikes against Kataib Hezbollah. But the provenance of the event that triggered the fateful decisions that followed is shrouded in ambiguity. As The New York Times reported on Dec. 27, “It wasn’t clear who was responsible for the attack,” adding that the base had been threatened previously by both Iranian-backed militias and Islamic State forces.

The IS forces in the area of Kirkuk where the K1 base was located had become increasingly active in 2018 and 2019, with a rapidly growing pace of attacks, operating freely out of the rugged mountainous north and south of the city. In fact there had been more attacks by IS on government targets in Kirkuk in 2018 than anywhere else in Iraq, and it had the highest rate of growth as well.

To confirm the origins of the rockets might have taken some time, but Pompeo wasn’t interested in waiting. Instead of taking on the responsibility of investigating the incident thoroughly, the Pentagon and the command of Operation Inherent Resolve turned that responsibility over to the Iraqi Security Forces. If there was indeed an investigation that turned up information indicating that Kataib Hezbollah was responsible, it would certainly have been released publicly, but no further information on the incident has been forthcoming from either Iraqi or U.S. commands. The only specific information available has been a Reuters report from “security sources that Iraqi security forces had found a ‘launchpad’ for Katyusha rockets in ‘an abandoned vehicle near the base,’” which further deepened the mystery.

But it can be argued that Pompeo was eager for the United States to provoke a military confrontation with Iran, just as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was eager to begin airstrikes against North Vietnamese targets in August 1964. Even though he knew there were serious doubts on the part of the U.S. commander in the Gulf of Tonkin that an American ship had been attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats on Aug. 4, McNamara did not inform President Lyndon Johnson, and went ahead with the order for retaliatory strikes that night. Similarly, Pompeo apparently led Trump to believe that there was no doubt that pro-Iranian militia forces had killed an American in Kirkuk, despite the genuine uncertainty about the provenance of the attack.

In the initial meeting with Trump to discuss retaliation for the Dec. 27 attack, Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley presented the option of assassinating Gen. Soleimani along with strikes against Kataib Hezbollah, which they were blaming for the attack. According to The New York Times, the principals suggested the “improbable” assassination option only to make the retaliatory airstrikes more palatable. But considering Pompeo’s record of pushing for a military confrontation with Iran, and everything he has said publicly since, “taking Soleimani out” was probably Pompeo’s ultimate objective.

The U.S. retaliatory strikes against the militia’s weapons storage sites and other targets on Dec. 29 were nowhere near Kirkuk. One of the strikes was against al Qaim on the Syrian border 400 kilometers away from Kirkuk and two others were in Syria. It was obvious those retaliatory strikes would provoke a response by pro-Iranian militias in Baghdad that could be used to justify the assassination of Soleimani. And the response was not long in coming: thousands of angry pro-Iranian Shiite militants, many in militia uniforms, broke into the Embassy compound and set fire to three trailers near the outer wall a reception area before being ordered by militia leaders to disperse, because they had delivered the desired “message.

That was enough to persuade Trump to support the Soleimani assassination option. Pompeo had achieved his objective of U.S. military aggression, while publicly making the obviously specious argument that it was aimed at “deterring” Iran from further military actions. No one in the national security elite, which was universally convinced that Iran would have to retaliate against the assassination, took Pompeo’s argument seriously.

Iran is too clever, however, to allow Pompeo to so easily maneuver it into a confrontation that would serve the interests of American hawks and Israel. Iran has its own much more complex political-military strategy for managing the problem of the Trump administration’s policy of economic and military warfare. It now appears from the results of Iran’s military retaliation Tuesday night that it has foregone any mass casualty strike in revenge for the U.S. assassination of its second most prominent official. And Trump, as yet, will not retaliate in response. Now Pompeo will have to come up with a new deception to try to provoke U.S.-Iran war.

Gareth Porter is an independent journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of numerous books, including Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare (Just World Books, 2014).

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Joe
Joe
January 9, 2020

Why is the Duran publishing this nonsense? Isn’t it as plain as the nose on your face, Alex and Alec, that Trump is a fully fledged member of the Swamp that he claimed he wanted to drain?

“The buck stops here”: did you ever hear this expression? Trump knew what he was doing, he committed a war crime, broke International Law and the Geneva Convention and acted like the gangster he has proved himself to be. No crying by you can change that.
You sicken me.

Dee Cee
Reply to  Joe
January 9, 2020

Too one dimensional… your comment. I’m not defending Trump. But Trump is not capable of doing this without help. Pompeo and Bolton most certainly are masterminding the continuous war and instability in the Middle East with the intent to topple the last of 7 planned middle east countries (The Project for the New American Century). And, as described above, twice they’ve tried to provoke the President into acts of aggression against Iran. Twice he declined. Where he is 100% culpable is in his acquiescence this time. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.” He needs… Read more »

ManintheMoon
ManintheMoon
Reply to  Dee Cee
January 9, 2020

Trump appointed these guys along with Bolton and all the other neocons that infest(ed) his administration. He’s hand in glove with Netanyahu and would not say boo to AIPAC if his life depended on it. When will Trump’s dwindling band of apologists realise that this is a weak man always taking the line of least resistance? The only reason why Trump drew back was because the Iranians very cleverly demonstrated that all American bases surrounding them are sitting ducks. Even Netanyahu, the chickenhawk that he is, was suddenly backing off “oh it’s nothing to do with us”! It has finally… Read more »

Joe
Joe
Reply to  Dee Cee
January 9, 2020

He’s the president: the “buck” stops with him. He could have said “no”. No amount of “explaining” can alter that. He is 100% responsible for murdering Gen Soleimani. End of story.

Marcus
Marcus
Reply to  Joe
January 9, 2020

After the Khan Shaykhun and the Douma “BS” you would think that Trump (I’m trying to refrain from lapsing into vitriol) would have learned something. Did Trump even bother asking what the name was of this US “contractor” that was killed that kicked off this recent range of idiocy? Trump has been in position for over three years and he is still not trusted enough to tie his own shoe laces. This “stable genius” (deep breath here) is worse than delusional. He’s a menace. And the people HE has surrounded himself with are a hundred times worse. If Trump was… Read more »

Rev. Spooner
Rev. Spooner
Reply to  Marcus
January 9, 2020

I don’t understand this dynamic. One Alex appears to be a supplicant and the other Alex, an Oracle. To make it more lively, the ‘supplicant’ Alex should contribute more opinions and the Oracle shouldn’t roll his eyes so often. And yes, I’m from the deep state./sarc

Tom
Tom
Reply to  Rev. Spooner
January 9, 2020

One is Alex and the other is Alec.

Enquiring Mind
Enquiring Mind
Reply to  Tom
January 10, 2020

Which ones the smart-alec?

penrose
penrose
Reply to  Marcus
January 9, 2020

It’s good to not be gullible.
It’s also good to not be dead.
Ask John Kennedy.

Joe
Joe
Reply to  penrose
January 9, 2020

Then why bother to run in elections for the job, if you know that? Or are you saying Trump was too dumb to know better?

Chronic cronyism
Chronic cronyism
Reply to  Joe
January 10, 2020

A bout of temporary insanity struck him, 3 years ago.

Janet
Janet
Reply to  Joe
January 9, 2020

If he were a full-fledged member of the swamp, the swamp wouldn’t be trying to impeach him. Unfortunately, Trump’s “outsider” position makes him vulnerable to the warhawk neocons he has naively surrounded himself with. If he now fires a few more (as he did Bolton), Alex and Alexander’s analysis will be even more reinforced.

America's Potato Blight
America's Potato Blight
Reply to  Janet
January 10, 2020

There are two competing swamps, with a cadre of neoconniving swampmasters overseeing their interactions.

Dee Cee
January 9, 2020

A correction: Was this article written by Alex Christoforou or by Gareth Porter?

Joe
Joe
Reply to  Dee Cee
January 9, 2020

Alex posted it, so he’s as responsible as if he’d written it. He and Alec are the editors.

TheDarkMan
January 9, 2020

Couldn’t agree more. Trump has offered them an oliver branch. The Iranians should accept it.

Rev. Spooner
Rev. Spooner
Reply to  TheDarkMan
January 9, 2020

Why? Why should they sell out? Is your soul for sale?

ManintheMoon
ManintheMoon
Reply to  TheDarkMan
January 9, 2020

Like the deal Presidente Obama offered them and Trump tore up? Ha Ha. It’s the – question: would you buy a second hand car from this man? You would? Oh dear ….

Joe
Joe
Reply to  TheDarkMan
January 9, 2020

Why? After he dishonoured the JCPOA agreement? Don’t spout nonsense!

Deep Fate
Deep Fate
Reply to  TheDarkMan
January 10, 2020

There could be a hidden twist in that oliver branch.

SteveK9
SteveK9
January 9, 2020

Trump did not ‘find his way out’. He was given a way out by Iran. As angry as they are, they are rational. Scott Ritter wrote a very good article describing the purpose of the attack, which was to demonstrate Iranian capability without killing any Americans, so to avoid a war. Even so, I doubt this is ‘over’, it will just move to less public avenues.

SteveK9
SteveK9
January 9, 2020

Guys, I have some crazy music playing here, while I am trying to type … need to have your website manager look at this … very annoying.

Subliminally Manufacturing Consent
Subliminally Manufacturing Consent
Reply to  SteveK9
January 10, 2020

It’s Deep State Muzak. I muted my internet long ago over the very same concerns. 😉

Rev. Spooner
Rev. Spooner
January 9, 2020

Once you decide about someone and then try to stand or wriggle into their shoes, the struggle becomes obvious. In this case it’s Trump shoes that both Alex and Alex are trying on. I think the shoes don’t fit.
Now the whole story the Iraqi President is and was narrating in the Iraqi Parliament about Trump’s phone calls is coming out. How should we treat it? Is he a liar? And so why?

oldandjaded
Reply to  Rev. Spooner
January 10, 2020

“And so why?”

Because it runs counter to the ideological narrative, and cognitive dissonance makes their heads hurt.

Brewer
Brewer
January 9, 2020

Consider Trump’s backdown speech after Iran demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the U.S. Patriot defense system (known to be 0 -10% effective for years), the accuracy of its new generation of missiles and the Iraqi eviction order – especially this bit: “And options in the Middle East became available. We are now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil.” What is that doing in there? Hmmmmm. Could it be the Yankees once again declaring victory and going home? Guaranteed vote winner for Trump in the… Read more »

Brokenspine66
Brokenspine66
Reply to  Brewer
January 9, 2020

For the waning Empire it’s not about just profit from other countries energy resources, that’s just the side show…of cources some of the corrupt players will fill their pockets, best excemples are Clinton’s + Biden’s, the main objectives are always to control it for leverage + blackmail of other countries, the same goes for their economic/financial warfare/terrorism against literally the rest of the world. “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control people.” [Henry Kissinger]

Olivia Kroth
January 9, 2020

Thank you for your excellent analysis, Alex and Alexander. We can learn so much from you.

Brokenspine66
Brokenspine66
January 9, 2020

I believe Trump was duped + manipulated by the Neocons Zionists + Deep-State crooks around him they set up this trap and because he’s ‘Intellectual Lazy’ he falls for it and now he’s stuck in the mudd.

Quagmires have their pluses and minuses
Quagmires have their pluses and minuses
Reply to  Brokenspine66
January 10, 2020

He can spend his time tracing TRUMP in HUGE letters in the mud then. It’s been his underlyng raison d’etre almost since birth.

oldandjaded
January 9, 2020

an accurate piece of info from here, an accurate piece of info from there, narrative A falls apart, narrative B ceases to be viable, and an accurate picture starts to emerge. And the ideologues are having a REAL bad day, but they are so insipid, even when the facts emerge, they just keep on playing their record, over, and over, and over, and over…. “Flattery: The First Principle of Mind Control Why then does he revere them? Because they flatter him. This is the first secret of mass mind control and can be observed as the foundation stone of virtually… Read more »

oldandjaded
Reply to  oldandjaded
January 9, 2020

Looks like there’s some truth to the various emerging narratives that political players outside the US were involved in the decision on the initial action. Take that into account and it all starts to gel.
The emergence of a charismatic military figure always constitutes an existential threat to an existing regime.
But then, Ideologues don’t need to read history.

oldandjaded
Reply to  oldandjaded
January 10, 2020

Not quite sure what it means, but they sure don’t like the sound of it….”Four legs good, Two legs bad!”

Force Manure
Force Manure
January 10, 2020

No stop there. They just took a coffee break, maybe a siesta, maybe 9 rounds of golf but certainly no stop.

Olivia Kroth
January 10, 2020

“Like the crucial steps toward public acceptance preceding the U.S. invasions of Vietnam and Iraq, the assassination of Qassem Soleimani was aimed at building popular support for war on Iran. Not only the justification, but the assassination itself were part of a broader strategy to grease the skids into war.”

I wonder why President Trump still has not fired the in his entourage. He should do that pronto, prontissimo, and get on with his main aim, getting rid of the empeachment mongers.

John Ellis
John Ellis
January 10, 2020

The most powerful and super-rich Empire the world has ever known, and yet, it is manipulated and controlled by the whim and caprice of paid actor politicians? Let us look at the facts. — 1. The 25% most wealthy keep the 50% working-poor so miserable by poverty, that the poor refuse to vote, causing the 25% most wealthy to be the voting majority who win all elections. — 2. The educated upper-half of society always votes to hoard all of the land, wealth, healthcare and political power. Root cause for the 50% working-poor. — 3. The 25% middle-class always allows… Read more »

Jeffrey Clark
Jeffrey Clark
January 11, 2020

J

Jeffrey Clark
Jeffrey Clark
January 11, 2020

I agree that trump is being fed intelligence that’s untrue but he has surrounded himself with neo cons like John Bolton and Gina haspil, Elliot Abrams which means to me that is the type of foreign policy he wants to pursue. He seems to be very much in favor of regime change in Venezuela and following lsraels agenda which is not in the us best interest. I voted for him but in 2016 but he has been a major disappointment to me. Also he seems to make decisions based on emotion which can prove to be very dangerous for a… Read more »

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