The U.S. is absolutely on the road to war with Iran

Is the U.S. on the road to war with Iran?

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

Is the U.S. on the road to war with Iran?
There are two kinds of people: those with, and without, grace. President Trump can decide on which side he falls, although Mrs. Abe the Japanese Prime Minister’s wife has clearly made up her mind. Anyone who can read a whole speech in English knows enough to say, ‘Excuse me, I do not speak English well’. So, to not respond at all to the U.S. president sitting beside her, who turns to converse, conveys a distinct meaning.

There was a time when countries prided themselves on their civility and their citizenry for their courtesy. Now the byword is the put down; rudeness, crudeness and vulgarity rule the day — not to forget the jingoism, demagoguery and xenophobia that can win elections. If such was the state of a democracy, its founders, were they alive, would weep.

In the past week, U.S. presidential ire has been directed at Iran. Shortly after the administration’s annual declaration to Congress certifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, it slapped additional economic sanctions the following Tuesday (July 18). Three days later, Trump added threats of ‘new and serious consequences’ unless detained U.S. citizens are returned. Robert Levinson, a former law enforcement officer disappeared ten years ago in Iran. In addition, Xiyue Wang, a Chinese-born U.S. citizen, as well as a father and son Iranian-Americans, Baquer and Siamak Namazi — the elder a former provincial governor in Iran — have been sentenced to 10 years jail for spying. For perspective, it is worth noting that 5 million tourists visit Iran annually contributing $2 billion in revenue, and the country is trying to expand its tourism industry.

The nuclear agreement itself is difficult for the U.S. to abrogate unilaterally as it involves the five permanent veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Yet Trump appears to have swallowed the Netanyahu line on the deal. Add that to Trump’s new found chumminess with the Saudis and their deep Wahhabi antagonism towards Shia Iran and we could be on the edge of another cataclysm in the Middle East, this time enveloping the whole region.

If we recall the history of the deal, the Obama regime first had to give up their zero-enrichment requirement before the Iranians would even agree to talk. They got low enrichment.

While sanctions had hurt Iran, it refused to buckle under the pressure; in fact it added centrifuges and speeded up enrichment. Had the Obama administration continued on this course, they would have had a nuclear Iran or war.

There are those in Washington who still believe sanctions and pressure would bring Iran to its knees. They have forgotten the Iranian response to Iraq and the Iran-Iraq war when Iran stood up to a better-armed Iraq despite enormous casualties.

If Trump keeps up the pressure imposing further sanctions, how soon before the extremists in Iran secure an upper hand and the deal falls apart? Could an unwinnable war (Iraq and Afghanistan are living examples) and/or a nuclear Iran be the consequence?

Dr. Arshad M. Khan is a former Professor based in the US. Educated at King’s College London, OSU and The University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. Thus he headed the analysis of an innovation survey of Norway, and his work on SMEs published in major journals has been widely cited. He has for several decades also written for the press: These articles and occasional comments have appeared in print media such as The Dallas Morning News, Dawn (Pakistan), The Fort Worth Star Telegram, The Monitor, The Wall Street Journal and others. On the internet, he has written for Antiwar.com, Asia Times, Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Countercurrents, Dissident Voice, Eurasia Review and Modern Diplomacy among many. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in its Congressional Record.

Russia’s New Super Nuclear Bomb

Russia’s Satan Nuclear Missile Said Capable of Destroying Countries, but It’s Taking a Long Time to Get Right

By Tom O’Connor On 7/10/17 at 3:37 PM

Russia has faced numerous delays in building its “Satan 2” nuclear missile said to be capable of taking out entire countries at once, but another devastating weapon of mass destruction system may soon be in the works as well.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Thursday that Moscow’s defense ministry was immediately prepared to begin work on both the oft-delayed  RS-28 Sarmat (NATO calls it the SS-X-30 “Satan 2”) and on the Barguzin railroad combat missile complex, a train system said to be able to deliver nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to targets thousands of miles away. Both weapons, which have origins in the country’s Soviet past, may soon be resurrected amid heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington—if Russia’s government and technological capabilities allow.

The RS-28 Sarmat and Barguzin are “on the level of absolute readiness…for their implementation, should the relevant decision be made to include the projects in the state armament program,” Rogozin told Pravda, the official newspaper of Russia’s Communist Party.

RTR2Q7LY Visitors walk past an R-36 or SS-18 SATAN intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at the Strategic Missile Forces museum near Pervomaysk, some 186 miles south of Kiev, Ukraine, August 22, 2011. Russia has been working on a new and improved version of the nuclear-capable missile known as “Satan 2” for some time, as well as a train-based system capable of launching thermonuclear ICBMs from a mobile platform. Gleb Garanich/Reuters

The RS-28 Sarmat can reportedly hold up to 10 nuclear warheads, enough to effectively decimate an area the size of the entire state of Texas, or even the whole of France. Despite Rogozin’s remarks, however, the missile’s production has been continuously delayed since being announced in 2014, and Russia’s Defense Ministry last week said testing would be further postponed until later this year, according to another report by Pravda. The missile is intended to replace the R-36 Voevoda, dubbed “Satan” by NATO in the 1970s. It was supposed to enter service between 2019 and 2020, but setbacks and bugs may affect this projection.

The Barguzin is also said to be an improvement on a previous design, known to NATO as “Scalpel.” Earlier versions of the railroad-based weapon were first considered in the 1960s and later developed in the 1980s, but the systems were largely forgotten after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now the so-called ghost trains may be brought back to life, as a new and improved nuclear weapons system capable of traveling across the largest country on Earth, significantly protecting it from detection. The Barguzin can reportedly be equipped with up to six 55-ton RS-24 Yars thermonuclear ICBMs, an upgrade from the previous three, and it could be seen in the field by 2019, according to The National Interest. Missile testing for the weapons system reportedly took place in November.

With an estimated 7,300 and 6,970 warheads, Russia and the U.S, have the largest and second-largest nuclear weapons arsenals in the world, respectively. These massive nuclear stockpiles were largely developed amid a post-World War II arms race that saw the world’s leading superpowers compete for global military dominance. The rivalry cooled after the fall of the Soviet Union, but has picked up again in recent years as the U.S. backs Western military alliance NATO in a regional battle of influence with Russia over the political future of Europe.

Amid these deteriorated relations, President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met Friday for the first time during the highly anticipated G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. The two vowed to cooperate more closely on various issues, such as their countries’ roles in the conflict in Syria and cyber crime, which the U.S. frequently accuses the Kremlin of sponsoring. In December, Trump and Putin separately called for the expansion of their respective nuclear weapons arsenals.

Babylon vs Babylon the Great

Iran versus the United States – Raddington Report

BY MAJID RAFIZADEH

It’s war by any other means. The Iranian regime is heightening its efforts to damage US national interests and scuttle Washington’s foreign policy objectives by ramping up its interventions in the Middle East.

The regime’s concerted efforts are being directed by its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, his Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its many tentacles. Among the actors in this play are the Navy, the Aerospace Force, ground forces, the Ministry of Intelligence, and the elite Qods force, which is led by General Qassem Soleimani and operates outside Iran’s borders to export the regime’s revolutionary ideals

Lately, Iran’s state-owned media outlets, long since the mouthpieces of Khamenei and the IRGC, have been extensively covering the increasing capabilities, power, and influence of Iran’s armed forces in the region. Iran’s leaders enjoy boasting about the leverage that the regime revels in defying the US in various fields.

The regime is accomplishing these objectives by steadfastly extending the core pillar of its foreign policy. In practice, this means the regime is working hard to widen its connections to militia and terrorist groups through different means, including political and military interventions in countries throughout the Middle East, including as Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon — not countries known for their stability at present.

Over in Iraq, Iranian leaders are delegating a more expansive role to the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a network of Tehran-backed Shi’ite paramilitary groups, which are estimated to have roughly more than 60,000 fighters. With Tehran’s bank balances back in the black thanks to the nuclear agreement, the IRGC provides vital military, financial and advisory assistance to the PMF. The IRGC and Iran’s news outlets do not hide the presence of Iran’s ground forces in Iraq. The IRGC appointed one of its generals, Iraj Masjedi, to be the new ambassador to Iraq.

During the latest visit of the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to Tehran, Khamenei emphasized the expanding role of PMF and how the presence of Shi’ite paramilitary groups on the ground are becoming political realities in Baghdad. One approach is linked to intensifying interference in the upcoming Iraqi elections. Iran’s sophisticated interventions has prompted the Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi to point out that “Iran has been interfering even in the decision [making process] of the Iraqi people…We don’t want an election based on sectarianism, we want an inclusive political process … we [hoped] that the Iraqis would choose themselves without any involvement by any foreign power.”

Khamenei warned Haider al-Abadi not to interfere with Iranian foreign policy goals. He made it clear that the objective of expanding the role of Iraqi militia groups is to spread anti-American sentiments and disrupt US regional objectives, telling the Iraqi leader that “We should remain vigilant of the Americans and not trust them.”

In Syria, IRGC has launched ballistic missiles, kicking off fresh phase of military interventions — this is Iran’s first deployment of such weaponry abroad in nearly three decades. It speaks to a transformation in how Iran’s armed forces will escalate its engagement in the region. But it also highlights the fact that Iran is buttressing Assad’s military. The IRGC generals made it evident that the attacks were “a message” and a “warning” not only to ISIS but also to the US and its regional allies.

For Iran, this is just the beginning. As former IRGC Guard chief Gen. Mohsen Rezai warned, darkly, “The bigger slap is yet to come.”

Iran has been busy in Yemen, as well. The Iranian regime is not only stepping up its support for the Tehran-backed Houthis, but is also deploying other proxies, including Hezbollah, in the war-torn state, in an attempt to further damage the country’s infrastructure and spoil US initiatives in Yemen. Although Iranian leaders deny playing any role in Yemen, the IRGC forces and its proxies are present in Yemen fighting alongside Houthi forces. Iran’s rising shipments of arms to Yemen, however, is impossible to deny. Several countries including the US have intercepted Iran’s attempt to deliver weapons to the Houthis. Most recently, the Saudi navy captured three members of the IRGC from a boat approaching Saudi Arabia’s offshore Marjan oilfield. The Saudi information ministry stated: “This was one of three vessels which were intercepted by Saudi forces. It was captured with the three men on board, the other two escaped.”

Hezbollah currently enjoys a presence in “every third or fourth house” in southern Lebanon, according to the IDF Chief of Staff, a clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 — and Iran does not show any signs of wishing to give up on their Lebanese proxy. Hezbollah affects Lebanon decision-making to serve Khamenei’s interest, not that of the Lebanese people. The growing financial and military assistance has also made Hezbollah “more militarily powerful than most North Atlantic Treaty Organization members” according to a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.

Iran’s support for terrorist groups across the spectrum, which are sworn to disrupt US foreign policy and damage Washington’s interests, is a core pillar of Tehran’s foreign policy. The 2016 statement by Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper remains very much accurate: “Iran — the foremost state sponsor of terrorism — continues to exert its influence in regional crises in the Middle East through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its terrorist partner Lebanese Hezbollah, and proxy groups.”

There exists a rare opportunity that the US should seize. After eight years of Obama’s administration trying to appease the Iranian regime and after eight years of neglecting the security concerns of other regional governments, the Gulf states and other regional powers long to counter Iran’s support for terrorist groups, increasing use of brute force and regional military adventurism. The Trump administration can capitalize on regional powers’ political and military weight in holding back Iran. Isolating and sanctioning Tehran via establishing a powerful and united front is critical at this moment.

The Iranian regime is rapidly using its militia and terrorist groups to shape political realities across the Middle East. It is penetrating the political, military and security infrastructures of several Middle Eastern nations. The aim is to advance the regime’s Islamist revolutionary ideals, hegemonic ambitions, and to damage US national interests. A swift and proportionate response to the Iranian regime, which is an integration of political pressure and military force, ought to be a top priority.

The New Cold War

If you are looking for a reason the United States urgently needs to update its nuclear posture review, which is generally done every eight years, look no further than this sentence from the last review in 2010.”While policy differences continue to arise between the two countries and Russia continues to modernize its still-formidable nuclear forces, Russia and the United States are no longer adversaries, and prospects for military confrontation have declined dramatically.”That was then; this is now.

“A resurgent Russia has turned from partner to antagonist as it seeks to re-emerge as a global power,” Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s supreme allied commander, told Congress in March.

Russia has not only morphed from “frenemy” to full-blown enemy since its 2014 covert invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea, but it has also updated its nuclear doctrine to intimidate NATO nations along its periphery, as well as former Soviet states, including Ukraine and Georgia.

It’s a strategy known as “escalate to de-escalate,” the idea that a limited nuclear strike with a tactical or “battlefield” nuke could shock the U.S. into freezing a conflict in place.

“It’s one of the most challenging military questions you have,” Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the commander of America’s nuclear forces, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month.

Hyten said “escalate to de-escalate” is really a strategy of “escalate to win,” which views the use of nuclear weapons as a normal extension of a conventional conflict.

“It’s important that we look at them seriously, understand what those pieces are,” Hyten testified April 4. “When we say ‘escalate to win,’ what does that really mean? And in order for us to win, we have two choices. One, to prevent that escalation. Or two, to respond in such a way after that escalation that would want to stop any aggression.”

While Russia remains America’s only peer in the area of nuclear weapons capabilities, China has been embarked on an ambitious military modernization campaign that includes both “qualitative and quantitative” upgrading of its nuclear arsenal, according to the last nuclear posture review.

And then there’s North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un has a stated goal of developing intercontinental ballistic missiles with the capability of delivering a nuclear warhead to a city on the U.S. mainland.

Hyten said that while the U.S. has de-emphasized the role of nuclear weapons for the past two decades, its adversaries have done the exact opposite.

“Russia, in 2006, started a huge, aggressive program to modernize and build new nuclear capabilities. They continue that to this day. New ballistic missiles, new weapons, new cruise missiles, significant air-launch cruise missile capabilities, now the ground launch cruise missile capabilities,” Hyten warned Congress. “China has done the same thing. Hypersonic glide vehicles on both sides that bring new threats to bear.”

It is, according to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, a grave new world.

“As service chiefs, you know, what we do is we look at [trying to balance] capability, capacity and readiness,” Goldfein testified before the House Armed Services Committee in April. “We make strategic trades based on our assumptions of the global security environment. What’s different now? The world’s different now.”

It’s against this backdrop that President Trump directed Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to begin a sweeping review of all aspects of U.S. nuclear deterrence policy, everything from how many warheads the U.S. needs, to how many delivery systems, to what threats the U.S. may need to counter in the coming decade.

National Security Presidential Memorandum 1, signed by Trump one week after his inauguration, directs Mattis to conduct the review “to ensure the U.S. nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, effective, reliable and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies.”

Last month, Mattis assigned the task to the deputy secretary of defense and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and set a deadline of the end of 2017.

But even before the formal directive, the work had already begun, Hyten said. And it’s not just one review but multiple studies, including a review of the ballistic missile defenses and the appropriate response to Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with its recent deployment of a land-based cruise missile. “I suspect there will be serious consideration of recommending pulling out of INF treaty and not extending New START,” said James Carafano, a defense analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

But Hyten said it appears Moscow is adhering to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty agreement, which calls for both sides to be limited 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed delivery systems by February 2018.

“From a strategic weapons perspective, I support the limits that are in the New START,” Hyten testified, adding that withdrawing from the treaty would not be part of the review.

Also off the table is consideration of eliminating any of the three legs of the nuclear triad, the Cold War strategy under which the U.S. maintains the capability to deliver nuclear weapons from submarines, bombers and land-based ICBMs.

The 30-year triad modernization plan calls for a new Columbia class of ballistic missile submarines, new B-21 Raider long-range stealth bombers, and new replacement ICBMs known as the ground-based deterrent, along with new bombs and cruise missiles. It is projected to cost $1 trillion.

But Michael O’Hanlon, an analyst at the Brookings Institution, said the review should not just be about counting warheads and systems but about the role nuclear deterrence can play in maintaining peace and stability.

“I feel the best focus now may be on counterforce and how much of it we really need to do,” O’Hanlon said. “I don’t think we need to aim for the capacity to substantially disarm the Russians in a first strike, yet much of our planning still does so, explicitly or implicitly.”

But with Russia thinking differently about the role of nuclear arms in the 21st century, the U.S. may have to adjust its calculus too, argued Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain at last month’s hearing on the U.S. Strategic Command.

“Whatever well-intentioned hopes we may have had after the end of the Cold War,” McCain said, “the United States can no longer seek to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy or narrow the range of contingencies under which we would have to consider their use.”

Russia Extends Her Nuclear Horn Into The Arctic

THE NEW COLD WAR

Experts reckon the area could be cover more than £23 TRILLION worth of oil and gas

VLADIMIR Putin has his eyes set on starting a new Cold War – by opening a top-secret military base in the Arctic.

The giant complex on the northern ice cap is believed to be fully-armed with missile systems and nuclear-ready fighter jets.

 

The vast complex is decked out in the colours of the Russian flag

TASS

The vast complex is decked out in the colours of the Russian flag

It is part of a drive to take advantage of trillions of pounds worth of natural resources Moscow believes is buried beneath the snow

TASS

It is part of a drive to take advantage of trillions of pounds worth of natural resources Moscow believes is buried beneath the snow

Russia sends world’s largest submarine – Typhoon-class Dmitry Donskoy – to the BalticAnd Russian economists reckon it could hold the key to the Kremlin unearthing almost £24 TRILLION of oil and gas buried deep beneath the snow, The Times reports.

Moscow yesterday released the first pictures of the giant Arctic Trefoil complex on the Arctic island of Alexandra Land – where temperature can drop to -50°C.

More than 150 troops will be based at the clover-shaped compound – which is decked out in the red, white and blue of the Russian flag.

Vladimir Putin had overseen plans for the massive complex on Alexandra Land

Russia Increases the Nuclear Ante (Revelation 15)

Russia developing 152 mm tank gun and small battlefield nuclear weapons

brian wang | April 12, 2017 |
Russia in considering upgrading future T-14 main battle tnks to use the 2A83 152 mm gun instead of its current 2A82 125 mm gun. The 2A83 gun has a high-speed APFSDS shell with a 1,980 m/s muzzle velocity, only dropping to 1,900 m/s at 2 km.

However, Russian engineers have so far kept the 125 mm-size gun, assessing that improvements in ammunition could be enough to increase effectiveness, while concluding that a larger bore weapon would offer few practical advantage.

Russia is both miniaturizing the nuclear warheads and using sub-kiloton low-yield warheads. Battlefield nuclear weapons could be pared with the larger tank gun.

The 152 mm tank gun could penetrate 1 meter of armor.

For 11 years, China has been testing a 140mm gun on one its Type 98 tanks. The 140mm gun could fire an armor piercing round with twice the penetrating power of one fired from a 120mm gun (about 22 mega joules of energy, versus 11), the amount of ammunition carried was reduced by about a third (to 20-30 rounds, depending on the tank). The 140mm shell was about fifty percent larger than the 120mm one, and could probably knock out an M-1 tank with a frontal shot.

When the Armata (T-14) tank gets the 152mm gun, it will be the most powerful cannon to be mounted on a main battle tank of any country ever.

Trump’s Comrade States The Obvious

BN-JB080_russia_P_20150623091509Russia Could Annihilate U.S. With Nuclear Weapons, Trump Nominee Warns

The man President Donald Trump was set to nominate Thursday for a key Defense Department position once wrote an editorial that slammed Russia’s aggressive nuclear posture and the U.S.’ response.

The White House announced it intended to nominate David J. Trachtenberg to serve as the principal deputy under the secretary of defense for policy. In a December 2015 opinion piece for Defense News, Trachtenberg—the president of a national security consulting firm and former Department of Defense staffer—wrote that Russia had taken on a “threatening nuclear posture” and that the current approach left “Americans hostage to nuclear annihilation by Russia” in the name of strategic stability.

“In the most critical areas of nuclear deterrence and defense, it’s time to square the circle between Russia’s actions and America’s response,” Trachtenberg concluded in his Defense News piece. “Bolstering our nuclear offensive and defensive capabilities is long overdue. Let’s get on with it.”

The Trump administration’s ties to Russia have regularly come into question. The U.S. intelligence community determined that the country worked to help Trump get elected over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton through a hack of the Democratic National Committee and an “influence campaign.”

Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn stepped down after he misrepresented a conversation with a Russian ambassador to Vice President Mike Pence. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, meanwhile, recused himself this month from an ongoing investigation of ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia after it was revealed that he did not disclose his meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the run-up to the election.

Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump have expressed a desire to further their nation’s nuclear capabilities.

Russia must “enhance the combat capability of strategic nuclear forces, primarily by strengthening missile complexes that will be guaranteed to penetrate existing and future missile defense systems,” Putin said in December.

Trump tweeted around that time, the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.”

“Let it be an arms race,” Trump said in a statement to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” the day after that tweet. “We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”

Russia Soon To Be A Nuclear Ally With The US

Russia and AmericaDonald Trump seeks a grand bargain with Vladimir Putin

It is a terrible idea

GEORGE W. BUSH looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and thought he saw his soul. He was wrong. Barack Obama attempted to “reset” relations with Russia, but by the end of his term in office Russia had annexed Crimea, stirred up conflict elsewhere in Ukraine and filled the power vacuum that Mr Obama had left in Syria. Donald Trump appears to want to go much further and forge an entirely new strategic alignment with Russia. Can he succeed, or will he be the third American president in a row to be outfoxed by Mr Putin?

The details of Mr Trump’s realignment are still vague and changeable. That is partly because of disagreements in his inner circle. Even as his ambassador to the UN offered “clear and strong condemnation” of “Russia’s aggressive actions” in Ukraine, the president’s bromance with Mr Putin was still smouldering. When an interviewer on Fox News put it to Mr Trump this week that Mr Putin is “a killer”, he retorted: “There are a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

For an American president to suggest that his own country is as murderous as Russia is unprecedented, wrong and a gift to Moscow’s propagandists. And for Mr Trump to think that Mr Putin has much to offer America is a miscalculation not just of Russian power and interests, but also of the value of what America might have to give up in return.

The art of the deal meets the tsar of the steal

Going by the chatter around Mr Trump (see Briefing), the script for Russia looks something like this: America would team up with Mr Putin to destroy “radical Islamic terror”—and in particular, Islamic State (IS). At the same time Russia might agree to abandon its collaboration with Iran, an old enemy for America in the Middle East and a threat to its allies, including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In Europe Russia would stop fomenting conflict in Ukraine, agree not to harass NATO members on its doorstep and, possibly, enter nuclear-arms-control talks. In the longer term, closer ties with Russia could also help curb Chinese expansion. Stephen Bannon, Mr Trump’s most alarming adviser, said last year that he had “no doubt” that “we’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to ten years.” If so, America will need allies, and Russia is a nuclear power with a 4,200km (2,600-mile) border with China. What’s not to like?

Pretty much everything. Russian hacking may have helped Mr Trump at the polls, but that does not mean he can trust Mr Putin. The Kremlin’s interests and America’s are worlds apart.

In Syria, for example, Mr Putin makes a big noise about fighting IS terrorists, but he has made no real effort to do so. His price for working with America could be to secure a permanent Russian military presence in the Middle East by propping up Bashar al-Assad, whose regime was revealed this week to have hanged thousands of Syrians after two- or three-minute trials. None of this is good for Syria, regional stability or America. Even if Mr Putin and Mr Trump shared a common goal (they don’t) and Americans did not mind becoming complicit in Russian atrocities (they should), American and Russian forces cannot easily fight side by side. Their systems do not work together. To make them do so would require sharing military secrets that the Pentagon spends a fortune protecting. Besides, Russian aircraft do not add much to the coalition air power already attacking IS. Ground troops would, but Mr Putin is highly unlikely to deploy them

Likewise, Russia is not about to confront Iran. The country’s troops are a complement to Russian air power. Iran is a promising market for Russian exports. And, most of all, the two countries are neighbours who show every sign of working together to manage the Middle East, not of wanting to fight over it.

The notion that Russia would be a good ally against China is even less realistic. Russia is far weaker than China, with a declining economy and population and a smaller army. Mr Putin has neither the power nor the inclination to pick a quarrel with Beijing. On the contrary, he values trade with China, fears its military might and has much in common with its leaders, at least in his tendency to bully his neighbours and reject Western lecturing about democracy and human rights. Even if it were wise for America to escalate confrontation with China—which it is not—Mr Putin would be no help at all.

The gravest risk of Mr Trump miscalculating, however, is in Europe. Here Mr Putin’s wishlist falls into three classes: things he should not get until he behaves better, such as the lifting of Western sanctions; things he should not get in any circumstances, such as the recognition of his seizure of Ukrainian territory; and things that would undermine the rules-based global order, such as American connivance in weakening NATO.

Mr Putin would love it if Mr Trump gave him a freer hand in Russia’s “near abroad”, for example by scrapping America’s anti-missile defences in Europe and halting NATO enlargement with the membership of Montenegro, which is due this year. Mr Trump appears not to realise what gigantic concessions these would be. He gives mixed signals about the value of NATO, calling it “obsolete” last month but vowing to support it this week. Some of his advisers seem not to care if the EU falls apart; like Mr Putin, they embrace leaders such as Marine Le Pen who would like nothing more. Mr Bannon, while admitting that Russia is a kleptocracy, sees Mr Putin as part of a global revolt by nationalists and traditionalists against the liberal elite—and therefore a natural ally for Mr Trump.

Played for a sucker by a silovik

The quest for a grand bargain with Mr Putin is delusional. No matter how great a negotiator Mr Trump is, no good deal is to be had. Indeed, an overlooked risk is that Mr Trump, double-crossed and thin-skinned, will end up presiding over a dangerous and destabilising falling-out with Mr Putin.

Better than either a bargain or a falling-out would be to work at the small things to improve America’s relations with Russia. This might include arms control and stopping Russian and American forces accidentally coming to blows. Congressional Republicans and his more sensible advisers, such as his secretaries of state and defence, should strive to convince Mr Trump of this. The alternative would be very bad indeed.

Trump Finally Speaks Some Truth About Babylon the Great

Trump says America is not ‘so innocent’ when asked about Putin’s brutality – TheBlaze

“Fox News” Bill O’Reilly interviews President Donald Trump in a segment slated to air right before the Super Bowl on Sunday, January 5, 2017. (Image source: Fox News)

Sarah Lee

President Donald Trump told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly that he doesn’t think America is “so innocent” when confronted with the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a killer of those who criticize him.

In a preview of the interview, which is slated to air at 4 p.m. Sunday right before the Super Bowl, O’Reilly asks Trump if he respects Putin, and Trump gives a surprising answer:

O’Reilly: “Do you respect Putin?”

Trump: “I do respect him.

O’Reilly: “Do you? Why?”

Trump: “I respect a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with them. He’s a leader of his country. I say it’s better to get along with Russian than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS…and Islamic terrorism all over the world…major fight. That’s a good thing. Will I get along with him? I have no idea.

O’Reilly: “He’s a killer, though…Putin’s a killer.”

Trump: “We got a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

Putin is known for placing a value on brutality as a leader, as this Foreign Policy piece from 2016 details in attempting to explain Russia’s sustained and unmerciful bombing of Aleppo to fight the Islamic State. The article compares Putin’s strategic approach in Aleppo with his moves in the Second Chechen War’s battle for Grozny, one of his first wars as leader of Russia. That battle left thousands dead, tens of thousands homeless, and “the city described by the United Nations as the most ruined one on the planet,” writes Foreign Policy.

He has been implicated in the 2004 dioxin poisoning during the campaign of eventual President of Ukraine Victor Yushenko, leaving him disfigured. He was most recently implicated in another poisoning, this time of Vladimir Kara-Murza, an outspoken activist for Democracy in Russia, who was recently placed on life support in Moscow.

Additionally, in a story Putin denies but one that has particular and humorous relevance to the Super Bowl Sunday interview between Trump and O’Reilly, Putin was accused in 2013 of stealing New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s 2004 Super Bowl ring during his visit to Russia in 2005.

Al-Qaeda Dares The Apprentice

A woman walks past a graffiti in Sanaa, Yemen, protesting U.S. military operations in the country.

Al-Qaeda says Trump has ignited ‘the flame of jihad’ with Yemen raid

 

The Washington Post
Loveday Morris
© Yahya Arhab/Eupropean Pressphoto Agency A woman walks past a graffiti in Sanaa, Yemen, protesting U.S. military operations in the country.
IRBIL, Iraq — President Trump is “foolish” and has ignited the “flame of jihad” with a raid in Yemen in which civilians were killed, al-Qaeda said Friday in its first official comments on the new U.S. administration.That the raid came only days after Trump’s vow to eradicate Islamist terrorism in his inauguration speech, makes it “clear for us that the threat was not directed to the Islamic militants only, but to all the Muslims, men, women and even children,” al-Qaeda’s al-Nafeer bulletin said, accusing the Trump administration of intentionally killing women and children.U.S. Central Command, or Centcom, has not specified how many civilians were killed in the raid Saturday, in which a Navy SEAL also died. Among those reported dead was the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric with al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen who was killed in a 2011 U.S. drone strike.

Civilian casualties also provide easy fodder for extremist propaganda, and Trump’s comments indicating that he will heavily bomb Islamic State militants have caused nervousness for some in the region. In the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, where about 750,000 civilians still remain in areas under Islamic State control, the United States has so far used strict rules of engagement.

But Trump’s executive order on defeating the Islamic State said a plan should recommended changes to U.S. rules of engagement and other “policy restrictions that exceed the requirements of international law.”

Analysts have also expressed fears that such policies as Trump’s travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries could fan international extremism and stoke anti-American sentiment, causing more danger to the United States, rather than protecting it. On online forums and social media, Islamist militants have hailed the ban as proof that the United States is at war with Islam.

Aaso Ameen Shwan contributed to this report.