Nikki Haley’s Ridiculous Demand to Escalate Economic War Against Iran and China

Nikki Haley reminds us why we are fortunate that she is no longer representing our country at the U.N.:

Iran and China have recently taken their alliance a step further. Last year, they finalized a “strategic partnership” that commits Beijing to investing $400 billion in Iran over 25 years. In exchange, China will get long-term access to discounted Iranian crude supplies and deepen its presence in Iran’s ports, railways, telecommunications and elsewhere. The agreement also strengthens their military ties.

Haley is wrong to say that Iran and China have an “alliance.” The agreement she cites creates nothing of the kind, and China already has more significant economic relationships with Iran’s neighbors and rivals than it has with Iran. She credulously repeats a $400 billion figure that seems to be based on nothing. A few early reports included this bogus figure, and then it has been repeated despite the fact that it makes no sense. Bill Figueroa explained this last year:

Third, the terms of the document itself have been greatly exaggerated. The quoted figure, four hundred billion dollars, seems extraordinarily unlikely given China and Iran’s current economic capabilities and the impact of international sanctions. Claims that Chinese military personnel will be stationed in Iran are similarly dubious. Doing so would also be nearly impossible given the Iranian public’s long-standing hostility to the presence of foreign armies and the legacy of repeated British and Russian occupations. The Chinese and Iranian press have also been silent on the news, and Iran’s oil minister Bijan Zanganeh denied that such massive investment was incoming. According to Scita, the head of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce, also referred to the report as “a joke.” It seems clear that no massive investment is forthcoming.

So much for the grand Sino-Iranian alliance. Haley and the other hawks at the misnamed United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) are not interested in accuracy. They will latch on to any claim, no matter how false, to bolster their fearmongering about Iran and China. Haley wants to exaggerate the significance of Iran-China ties to build support for taking a harder line against both, and in the process she confirms once again that Iran hawks in general and UANI in particular have no interest in resolving the nuclear issue. They prefer to keep it around so that they can demagogue it and use it as an excuse for more coercive policies.

Read the rest of the article at Eunomia

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.

10th Anniversary of Obama Killing a Young American

Last week was the 10th anniversary of the drone killing of Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, a 16-year-old born in Colorado and killed in Yemen. He perished as part of Obama’s crackdown on terrorist suspects around the world. His father, who was also an American citizen, was killed two weeks earlier by another drone strike ordered by Obama.

I wrote a piece condemning Obama’s assassination program for Christian Science Monitor in 2011, “Assassination Nation: Are There Any Limits on President Obama’s License to Kill?” I derided the Obama administration’s claim that the president possessed a “right to kill Americans without a trial, without notice, and without any chance for targets to legally object…. Killings based solely on presidential commands radically transform the relation of the government to the citizenry.”

Readers responded by calling for my assassination. My article mentioned an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit pressuring the Obama administration “to disclose the legal standard it uses to place US citizens on government kill lists.” “Will R.” was indignant: “We need to send Bovard and the ACLU to Iran. You shoot traders and the ACLU are a bunch of traders.” (I was pretty sure the ACLU was not engaged in international commerce). “Jeff” took the high ground: “Hopefully there will soon be enough to add James Bovard to the [targeted killing] list.” Another commenter – self-labeled as “Idiot Savant” – saw a grand opportunity: “Now if we can only convince [Obama] to use this [assassination] authority on the media, who have done more harm than any single terror target could ever dream of … ”

Continue reading “10th Anniversary of Obama Killing a Young American”

Misjudging the Balance of Interests in Taiwan

Matthew Kroenig cannot make a case that Taiwan matters more to the U.S. than it does to China, so he tries to make a war over Taiwan into being about something much broader than it would be:

I wouldn’t be so quick to cede the balance of interests to Beijing. The United States and its allies have built and defended a rules-based system over the past 75 years that has produced unprecedented peace, prosperity, and freedom globally. I don’t want to trade that in for a world in which Americans stand by as revisionist autocracies like China gobble up neighbors by military force – or, worse, lose a hegemonic war leading to the end of this order and the rise of a Chinese-led system.

It is not Kroenig’s intention to do this, but this rhetorical move on his part illustrates how potentially dangerous a lot of the talk about a “rules-based order” can be. If you treat the defense of Taiwan as a test case of the US willingness to uphold the entire “rules-based system” of the last 75 years (no laughing, please), you are trying to rig the scales. Kroenig wants us to believe that the UShas to defend Taiwan or risk the collapse of the entire edifice of post-WWII institutions and alliances. This is the bogus credibility argument on methamphetamines.

The US doesn’t have vital interests in Taiwan, and it shouldn’t go to war to defend it. For that reason, the USshouldn’t make an explicit security commitment that would oblige the US to go to war. Kroenig tries to get around this by making Taiwan stand in for the entire global system when it does not. When hawks are forced to make an argument like this, it is always a good sign that the US doesn’t have enough interests in a place to justify going to war over it. One problem with Kroenig’s argument is that the Chinese government can probably see through the smokescreen to realize that US interests in Taiwan are not great enough to risk a war. He thinks that an explicit guarantee would be “helping them not to miscalculate,” but making an explicit commitment is bound to provoke a challenge rather than discourage one.

Half a century ago, hawks insisted that fighting in South Vietnam was critically important to containment worldwide, and they were horribly wrong. For the last twenty years, hawks have insisted that fighting in Afghanistan was essential to keeping the United States safe from international terrorism, and they were horribly wrong. Now China hawks want us to believe that the fate of the entire “rules-based system” hinges on whether the US gets into a war over Taiwan that it will probably lose. What are the odds that their judgment is any better this time? It is the same story every time: invest a peripheral theater with much more importance than it really has and bog the US down in an unwinnable war that it didn’t have to fight.

Read the rest of the article at SubStack

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.

End the Failed Regime Change Campaign in Venezuela

Presidents Trump and Biden share the same regime change strategy

  • After Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s death in 2013, then-Vice President Nicolás Maduro succeeded the late socialist leader, consolidating power amid rampant economic mismanagement and increasing violence and deprivation.
  • Venezuela’s authoritarian slide accelerated under Maduro’s rule. Electoral fraud, crackdowns on opposition figures, and human rights abuses hardened U.S. resolve to apply pressure to change Caracas’ policies.
  • President Trump reportedly discussed using US military force to oust Maduro in 2019 but pursued non-military regime change instead, increasing economic and diplomatic pressure in the false hope the Venezuelan leader would vacate his office.
  • President Biden has continued this policy. The US objective remains: (1) to delegitimize and push out Maduro as the country’s leader and (2) put pressure on Venezuela’s economy to force Caracas into reinstituting democracy.

Continue reading “End the Failed Regime Change Campaign in Venezuela”

Conflicts of Interest: Corporate Press Weaponizes Fictional ‘Havana Syndrome’

On COI #176, Kyle Anzalone discusses the so-called “Havana Syndrome.” Since 2017, the supposed ailment – which has so far not been proven to exist as its own discrete illness – has been invoked repeatedly by deep state and corporate media pundits to demonize US “adversaries.” The Havana Syndrome has no known cause, and its alleged symptoms range from migraines, dizziness, nausea and vertigo, among other symptoms common to countless other existing diseases and disorders. Initially, the Trump administration used the issue to roll back Obama’s diplomatic gains with Cuba. As scientists increasingly suggested the Havana Syndrome could be psychosomatic – or largely a psychological problem rather than physical disease – the MSM spun the Trump administration’s lack of interest by tying the narrative into the broader Russiagate craze. Now, the deep state and corporate press are deploying the unproven theory again to demonize Russia and China, suggesting they are somehow behind the mysterious syndrome. 

Kyle breaks down recent news about Facebook after the Intercept released the social media giant’s ‘blacklist,’ which includes some 4,000 groups and individuals deemed “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” on the platform. Among the blacklisted figures were politicians, writers and various other people of influence. The list helps explain how Facebook suppresses independent reporting on the empire, ensuring certain voices are never heard while elevating others as go-to ‘experts.’ 

Kyle updates recent missile tests by North Korea. As with many previous launches by Pyongyang, the corporate media treated the test-fire as an act of aggression and allowed subsequent coverage to retain the same framing. Washington’s regular joint war games Seoul –  effectively simulating an invasion of the north – as well as its own periodic weapons tests are seldom mentioned in mainstream coverage.

Kyle argues that the US should meet North Korea’s missile tests with diplomacy, noting that South Korean President Moon Jae-in – a vocal proponent for improved inter-Korean ties – is giving Biden an ideal opportunity as he continues to push for an official end to the Korean War, which is formally still underway despite an armistice pact signed in 1953.

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