Conflicts of Interest: Corporate Press Covers for Israel as It Murders Palestinians By Choice

On COI #143, Kyle and Will break down the latest quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which paints a bleak picture for the country as the US’ 20-year war and occupation finally appear to be winding down. A major Taliban offensive over the spring and summer has put around half of Afghanistan’s districts under the militant group’s control, sending civilian casualties to record levels for the period between May and June. Despite being propped up by American largesse for nearly two decades straight, the Afghan military has been woefully unprepared to meet the ongoing assault.

Washington has imposed two rounds of sanctions on Cuban officials on allegations they worked to “suppress” recent anti-government protests, part of a growing pressure campaign on Havana by the Biden administration, which has vowed additional penalties in the future. With the sanctions largely symbolic so far, it’s unclear whether Biden is looking to seriously take on the regime, or merely to score a short-lived domestic PR win.

Israeli forces shot four Palestinians dead in the occupied West Bank last week, including a 12-year-old boy. Another victim – all were civilians – was murdered in cold blood during the child’s funeral, where IDF troops deployed to terrorize mourners. Kyle and Will discuss the extreme state violence Palestinians are forced to tolerate on a daily basis, and Washington’s role in ensuring it never stops.

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US Hopes To Turn Philippines Into Military Outpost Aimed Against China

On July 29, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte decided to cancel his plans to end the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) – an important defense treaty with the United States. He said that the legal conditions for the temporary US military presence in the Philippines has existed since 1998, on which the two sides conducted joint exercises on land, air and sea. Duterte informed Washington of his intention to cancel the agreement in February 2020, but withdrew the decision at a meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in the Filipino capital of Manila on Friday.

"There is no request to terminate the VFA pending and we are back on track," Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters.

The head of the Pentagon welcomed Duterte’s decision, which as he said, would help strengthen defense ties between the two countries. Austin said that it gives confidence in the future of their bilateral relations, especially now that the US can make long-term plans for the Asia-Pacific region and conduct a variety of training activities aimed at containing China.

Continue reading “US Hopes To Turn Philippines Into Military Outpost Aimed Against China”

How Misinformation Poisons the Iran Debate

Shibley Telhami describes the findings of a new University of Maryland Critical Issues poll taken earlier this summer. There are a number of interesting results from the survey, but perhaps the most striking one was the discovery that more Americans incorrectly believe Iran possesses nuclear weapons than know that Israel has them:

Seventh, more Americans think Iran possesses nuclear weapons than think Israel does. While Israel has been known to possess nuclear weapons for decades (without officially acknowledging it) and Iran is not known to have ever possessed any, the American public perception presumes a different reality: 60.5%, including 70.6% of Republicans and 52.6% of Democrats, say Iran possesses nuclear weapons – compared to 51.7% who say Israel does, including 51.7% of Republicans and 51.9% of Democrats.

The results are maddening on one level, but they make a kind of sense when you consider how Iran’s nuclear program is covered and Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal is almost never mentioned. It is commonplace in news stories, commentary, and television coverage for people to talk about Iran’s nuclear program as though Iran’s government is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. Many news stories still mislabel Iran’s program as a nuclear weapons program when it is well-established that Iran has not had anything like a nuclear weapons program in almost two decades. Iran and North Korea are frequently lumped together in presidential speeches and in news reports, and the two are often treated as if they pose comparable threats when they absolutely do not.

Iran hawks constantly, dishonestly talk about the nuclear deal as “paving the way” for a nuclear weapon, and our Iran policy debate has revolved around the possibility of an Iranian bomb for so long that it is not entirely surprising if many Americans wrongly conclude that Iran must have already acquired such weapons. It is not an accident that 70% of Republicans wrongly believe Iran has nuclear weapons when virtually every outlet in conservative media is banging the drums of threat inflation and fear-mongering every day. Meanwhile, Israel’s arsenal of dozens of nuclear weapons is never so much as acknowledged even in passing. Israel’s government does not talk about it, and neither does ours, but its existence is an open secret.

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Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

Antiwar Across the Political Spectrum: Video with Scott Horton

From Massachusetts Peace Action:

The peace movement has been talking about the bipartisan consensus on foreign policy for years. The establishment of both the Democratic and Republican parties has overseen expanding US militarism and ballooning Pentagon budgets for decades. But antiwar sentiment and a desire for peace also crosses party lines. More and more Americans are becoming frustrated with the same policies in Washington DC. This Friday, we’ll be talking to Scott Horton from Antiwar.com, a site, “devoted to the cause of non-interventionism… by libertarians, pacifists, leftists, “greens,” and independents alike, as well as many on the Right who agree with our opposition to imperialism.” We’ll discuss how antiwar activists from all political persuasions can stand together to make change.

Conflicts of Interest: How Biden Bungled Talks to Save the Iran Nuclear Deal

On COI #142, Kyle Anzalone breaks down Biden’s Iran policy. Trump took a stark turn from Obama when it came to Tehran. Rather than looking to build on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Trump tore the deal to shreds and embarked on a “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign. With the destruction of the deal, US-Iran hostilities nearly erupted into a shooting war.

Biden entered office on vows to “restore normalcy” with Iran and significantly reduce tensions. Iran simply wanted to return to 2016, when Biden was Obama’s vice president. However, rather than agreeing to revive a deal he previously endorsed, Biden demanded additional concessions, though Iran predictably held firm in response.

Months passed by as the US took other aggressive actions, with Biden holding provocative war games and sending ships and planes to Iran’s doorstep. Biden only increased the sanctions and sold pirated Iranian oil, while the US sat idly by as its Middle East accomplice, Tel Aviv, sabotaged Iranian tanker ships and nuclear facilities. 

Now, a hardliner has been elected as Iran’s president and the US is indicating it will not budge further, retaining most Trump-era sanctions. The nuclear deal appears to be dead, and even if it is saved, Iran’s hardliners will have struck a victory regardless.

Kyle discusses the US war in Afghanistan as CENTCOM ramps up airstrikes on the Taliban. Gen. McKenize refused to tell the American people if the bombs would stop falling after Biden’s declared withdrawal deadline at the end of August. Even as the US continues to strike Taliban targets, Secretary of State Antony Blinken lectured the militant group that there is “no military solution” to the conflict. 

Biden and the Iraqi prime minister announced a change to the mission of US troops in Iraq. According to the agreement, American troops will remain in Iraq, but shift to a training only role by the end of the year. Some Shia figures in Iraq welcomed the agreement, however, rockets landed in Iraq’s Green Zone in the days after it was signed. 

While Biden has brought some troops home from Afghanistan, and promised a mission change in Iraq, he plans to keep all 900 troops deployed to the occupation of northeastern Syria. The Biden administration also announces new sanctions against and an opposition rebel group.

Kyle also updates Israel’s war against Ben and Jerry’s. Tel Aviv has now launched its own “maximum pressure” campaign on the ice cream giant after it said it would halt sales in the occupied West Bank after 2022. The company’s decision was backed by its founders and namesakes.

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