Lavrov Calls Out USA/NATO’s Role in Afghanistan Drug Trafficking

Lavrov Calls Out NATO’s Role in Afghan Drug Trafficking

Russia’s Foreign Minister says that NATO tolerates drug trafficking in Afghanistan — which continues to fund extremism in the region

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov always finds the most diplomatic ways to point out Washington’s innumerable international crimes.

During a discussion with Russian military officers last week in Moscow, Lavrov pointed to Afghanistan as an example of Washington’s longstanding policy of “managed chaos” in the Middle East. In the process, he also blew the whistle on NATO’s extremely high tolerance for drug trafficking:

The US operation against the Taliban and al-Qaeda was supported by all countries. It’s another matter that after receiving the international approval, the United States and its NATO allies, which took over in Afghanistan, started acting rather inconsistently, to put it mildly. During their operation in Afghanistan, the terrorist threat has not been rooted out, while the drug threat has increased many times over. The drug industry prospered. There is factual evidence that some of the NATO contingents in Afghanistan turned a blind eye to the illegal drug trafficking, even if they were not directly involved in these criminal schemes. Afghanistan is a separate case, although the current developments there, which are a result of the NATO operation’s failure, despite the carte blanche the bloc received from the international community, can be considered an unintended cause of managed chaos. In Iraq, Syria and Libya, this chaos was created intentionally.

Lavrov is being too gentle.

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As Wired magazine reported back in 2013, current U.S. policy in Afghanistan is to allow poppy fields to grow — and prevent Afghan forces from destroying them. You can’t make this stuff up:

[U.S. soldiers are] not allowed to actually step foot in [the Afghan farmer’s] many acres of poppy fields or damage the fields in any way.

They can’t even threaten to destroy the fields or send in Afghan troops to burn, plow under or poison the delicate, pastel-colored flowers.

Nor can they discourage poppy farmers, however gently, from growing their illicit crop, which is hardier and commands a higher price than alternatives such as wheat. Poppy cultivation has been illegal in Afghanistan since 2001 but still represents a full quarter of the country’s gross domestic product and a major source of revenue for the Taliban, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Many of the middlemen who buy up raw poppy paste for onward sale to heroin-producers hail from the insurgent group.

Watch Lavrov “diplomatically” blow the whistle on this insane racket

Iran under Trump

All revolutions are constantly in evolution – on a never-ending quest for legitimacy and self-improvement. The revolution that gave birth to the Islamic Republic of Iran is no different.

Iran under Trump

Some experts argue that the Islamic revolutionary order had been solidified by the Iran-Iraq war [1980-1988], which was fueled by western states and Arab monarchies. The conflict that served to reaffirm the revolution’s anti-imperialist zeal also charted the course for Tehran’s national security agenda.

In the years that followed, the isolated, Shiite-majority state emerged as a regional powerhouse, mastering the process of mobilizing and fighting alongside external ‘non-state actors’, to keep Washington’s dogs of war away from its borders.

The last two decades, defined by the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the war effort against the Damascus government, only reaffirmed Tehran’s chosen path, hardening its resolve.

In many respects, the arrival of Donald Trump is simply a continuation of this process, reassuring the Iranian public and political establishment that their decades-long approach towards Washington’s regional agenda has always been spot-on.

And while Trump’s election polarized the western world, it served to strengthen the unity of the Iranian nation and bridge any existing gaps between the country’s reformist and conservative camps.

“Thank you, Mr. Trump”

During the 38th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution on February 7, the Supreme Leader, His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, mockingly addressed the Trump administration’s hostile stance towards Tehran.

“Thank you, Mr. Trump, for showing the true face of America,” Sayyed Khamenei said.

Iranian president Sheikh Hassan Rouhani also addressed the crowds gathered to laud the Revolution.

“We are not after tensions in the region and the world,” he said. “We are united in the face of bullying and any threat.”

Interestingly, the nationwide rallies, which came at a time of sharp anti-Iranian rhetoric in Washington, further highlighted Tehran’s ability to exercise restraint and its constant readiness for dialogue.

According to the New York Times, the national holiday was marked “with far less of the usual vitriol for the United States.”

“Most notably, there were no missiles on display, as had been customary in previous years,” NYT’s Thomas Erdbrink writes.

“[Tehran] does not want any confrontation with the US. Don’t be surprised, we have no interest with tensions,” said the Iranian political analyst Farshad Ghorbanpour.

Of course, all of this should hardly come as a surprise, given that the Islamic Republic has absolutely nothing to gain by ratcheting up tensions across the region.

Trump’s approach

It is very difficult to understand President Trump’s reasoning behind his decision to slap fresh sanctions on Iran. It is equally difficult to analyze the key components of the Trump administration’s foreign policy agenda, especially with respect to the enduring climate of instability in the Middle East.

Despite the fact that Trump’s campaign rhetoric often promised to undo the Iranian nuclear agreement, no concrete steps have been taken in this regard. Suggestions that the American president could simply tear up the multilateral accord reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries should be taken with a grain of salt, given that such a move lacks any semblance of serious international support.

Instead, the Trump administration appears to believe that a new round of negotiations with Tehran over its growing role in the region, which includes its alliances with Damascus and Hezbollah, is still possible. Trump’s reset with the Arab monarchies and ‘Israel’ is designed to send a message that his administration is unwilling to accept the new realities on the ground, particularly in Syria, where a long-term Iranian presence is looking increasingly likely.

Recent ‘Israeli’ airstrikes, which struck targets deep in Syrian territory, as well as the deployment of hundreds of additional American soldiers to Syria, suggest that Trump wants to be heard, and that the current state of affairs in the Middle East is not acceptable for the US president.

But the sheer notion that Tehran would be willing to negotiate over its regional alliances – one of the defining features of its national security policy since the early years of the Islamic Revolution – has been dismissed as a nonstarter in Iran.

To what degree this lack of common ground, combined with the increasingly desperate Tel Aviv and Riyadh may contribute to further regional instability, is still an open question.

A senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment and professor at Georgetown University, Karim Sadjadpour, offers a pessimistic outlook of the future.

“In Donald Trump’s first term, there is a serious possibility of a military conflict, whether intentional or inadvertent, between the United States or ‘Israel’ and Iran,” Sadjadpour, who also reports on Iran, writes for The Atlantic.

And a combination of mistrust, aggressive action and isolated incidents could set the course towards a direct military confrontation, which, needless to say, is clearly not in any regional or international player’s interest at the moment.

Al-Ahed News

25-03-2017 | 07:44

War on Afghanistan is a profit driven “Resource War”. Minerals, natural gas, pipelines & Opium

“The War is Worth Waging”: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky,

The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven “Resource War”.

"The War is Worth Waging": Afghanistan's Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

Author’s Note

US and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan more than 16 years ago in October 2001. It’s has been a continuous war marked by US military occupation.

The justification is “counterterrorism”.  Afghanistan is defined as a state sponsor of terrorism, allegedly responsible for attacking America on September 11, 2001. 

The war on Afghanistan continues to be heralded as a war of retribution in response to the 9/11 attacks. US troops are still present and deployed in Afghanistan.

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The legal argument used by Washington and NATO to invade and occupy Afghanistan under “the doctrine of collective security” was that the September 11 2001 attacks constituted an undeclared “armed attack” “from abroad” by an unnamed foreign power, namely Afghanistan. 

Yet there were no Afghan fighter planes in the skies of New York on the morning of September 11, 2001. 

This article, first published in June 2010, points to the “real economic reasons”  why US-NATO forces invaded Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.  

Under the Afghan-US security pact,  established under Obama’s Asian pivot, Washington and its NATO partners have established a permanent military presence in Afghanistan, with military facilities located within proximity of China’s Western frontier.  The pact was intended to allow the US to maintain their nine permanent military bases, strategically located on the borders of  China, Pakistan and Iran as well as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

In recent developments, President Trump in his February 28, 2017 address to a joint session of  Congress vowed to “demolish and destroy” terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq as well as in Afghanistan under a fake counter-terrorism mandate.

According to Foreign Affairs, “there are more U.S. military forces deployed there [Afghanistan] than to any other active combat zone” and their mandate is to go after the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS (which are supported covertly by US intelligence). 

There is both a geopolitical as well as an economic agenda in Afghanistan requiring the permanent presence of US troops.

In addition to its vast mineral and gas reserves, Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the World’s supply of opium which is used to produce grade 4 heroin.

US military bases in Afghanistan are also intent upon protecting the multibillion narcotics trade.  Narcotics, at present, constitutes the centerpiece of Afghanistan’s export economy.

The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.

“The highest concentration of NATO servicemen in Afghanistan is being accompanied with the highest concentration of opium poppy, ….  That situation causes doubts about the anti-terrorist mission and leads to the conclusion about catastrophic consequences of the eight-year stay [of coalition forces] in Afghanistan,” (Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service head Viktor Ivanov, January 2010)

Michel Chossudovsky,  March 25, 2017

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“The War is Worth Waging”: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven “Resource War”.

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

October 2010

The 2001 bombing and invasion of Afghanistan has been presented to World public opinion as a “Just War”, a war directed against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a war to eliminate “Islamic terrorism” and instate Western style democracy.

The economic dimensions of  the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) are rarely mentioned. The post 9/11 “counter-terrorism campaign” has served to obfuscate the real objectives of the US-NATO war.

The war on Afghanistan is part of a profit driven agenda: a war of economic conquest and plunder,  ”a resource war”.

While Afghanistan is acknowledged as a strategic hub in Central Asia, bordering on the former Soviet Union, China and Iran, at the crossroads of pipeline routes and major oil and gas reserves, its huge mineral wealth as well as its untapped natural gas reserves have remained, until June 2010, totally unknown to the American public.

According to a joint report by the Pentagon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and USAID, Afghanistan is now said to possess “previously unknown” and untapped mineral reserves, estimated authoritatively to be of the order of one trillion dollars (New York Times, U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, See also BBC, 14 June 2010).

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said… “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines. (New York Times, op. cit.)

Afghanistan could become, according to The New York Times “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”. “Lithium is an increasingly vital resource, used in batteries for everything from mobile phones to laptops and key to the future of the electric car.” At present Chile, Australia, China and Argentina are the main suppliers of lithium to the world market. Bolivia and Chile are the countries with the largest known reserves of lithium. “The Pentagon has been conducting ground surveys in western Afghanistan. “Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large as those of Bolivia” (U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, see also Lithium – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

“Previously Unknown Deposits” of Minerals in Afghanistan

The Pentagon’s near one trillion dollar “estimate” of previously “unknown deposits” is a useful smokescreen. The Pentagon one trillion dollar figure is more a trumped up number rather than an estimate:  “We took a look at what we knew to be there, and asked what would it be worth now in terms of today’s dollars. The trillion dollar figure seemed to be newsworthy.” (The Sunday Times, London, June 15 2010, emphasis added)

Moreover, the results of a US Geological Survey study (quoted in the Pentagon memo) on Afghanistan’s mineral wealth were revealed three years back, at a 2007 Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce. The matter of Afghanistan’s mineral riches, however, was not considered newsworthy at the time.

The US Administration’s acknowledgment that it first took cognizance of Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth  following the release of the USGS 2007 report is an obvious red herring. Afghanistan’s mineral wealth and energy resources (including natural gas) were known to both America’s business elites and the US government prior to the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1988).

Geological surveys conducted by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and early 1980s confirm the existence of  vast reserves of copper (among the largest in Eurasia), iron, high grade chrome ore, uranium, beryl, barite, lead, zinc, fluorspar, bauxite, lithium, tantalum, emeralds, gold and silver.(Afghanistan, Mining Annual Review, The Mining Journal,  June, 1984). These surveys suggest that the actual value of these reserves could indeed be substantially larger than the one trillion dollars “estimate” intimated by the Pentagon-USCG-USAID study.

More recently, in a 2002 report, the Kremlin confirmed what was already known: “It’s no secret that Afghanistan possesses rich reserves, in particular of copper at the Aynak deposit, iron ore in Khojagek, uranium, polymetalic ore, oil and gas,” (RIA Novosti, January 6, 2002):

“Afghanistan has never been anyone’s colony – no foreigner had ever “dug” here before the 1950s. The Hindu Kush mountains, stretching, together with their foothills, over a vast area in Afghanistan, are where the minerals lie. Over the past 40 years, several dozen deposits have been discovered in Afghanistan, and most of these discoveries were sensational. They were kept secret, however, but even so certain facts have recently become known.

It turns out that Afghanistan possesses reserves of nonferrous and ferrous metals and precious stones, and, if exploited, they would possibly be able to cover even the earnings from the drug industry. The copper deposit in Aynak in the southern Afghan Helmand Province is said to be the largest in the Eurasian continent, and its location (40 km from Kabul) makes it cheap to develop. The iron ore deposit at Hajigak in the central Bamian Province yields ore of an extraordinarily high quality, the reserves of which are estimated to be 500m tonnes. A coal deposit has also been discovered not far from there.

Afghanistan is spoken of as a transit country for oil and gas. However, only a very few people know that Soviet specialists discovered huge gas reserves there in the 1960s and built the first gas pipeline in the country to supply gas to Uzbekistan. At that time, the Soviet Union used to receive 2.5 bn cubic metres of Afghan gas annually. During the same period, large deposits of gold, fluorite, barytes and marble onyxes that have a very rare pattern were found.

However, the pegmatite fields discovered to the east of Kabul are a real sensation. Rubies, beryllium, emeralds and kunzites and hiddenites that cannot be found anywhere else – the deposits of these precious stones stretch for hundreds of kilometres. Also, the rocks containing the rare metals beryllium, thorium, lithium and tantalum are of strategic importance (they are used in air and spacecraft construction).

The war is worth waging. … (Olga Borisova, “Afghanistan – the Emerald Country”, Karavan, Almaty, original Russian, translated by BBC News Services, Apr 26, 2002. p. 10, emphasis added.)

While public opinion was fed images of a war torn resourceless developing country, the realities are otherwise: Afghanstan is a rich country as confirmed by Soviet era geological surveys.

The issue of “previously unknown deposits” sustains a falsehood. It excludes Afghanstan’s vast mineral wealth as a justifiable casus belli. It says that the Pentagon only recently became aware that Afghanistan was among the World’s most wealthy mineral economies, comparable to The Democratic Republic of the Congo or former Zaire of the Mobutu era. The Soviet geopolitical reports were known. During the Cold War, all this information was known in minute detail:

… Extensive Soviet exploration produced superb geological maps and reports that listed more than 1,400 mineral outcroppings, along with about 70 commercially viable deposits … The Soviet Union subsequently committed more than $650 million for resource exploration and development in Afghanistan, with proposed projects including an oil refinery capable of producing a half-million tons per annum, as well as a smelting complex for the Ainak deposit that was to have produced 1.5 million tons of copper per year. In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal a subsequent World Bank analysis projected that the Ainak copper production alone could eventually capture as much as 2 percent of the annual world market. The country is also blessed with massive coal deposits, one of which, the Hajigak iron deposit, in the Hindu Kush mountain range west of Kabul, is assessed as one of the largest high-grade deposits in the world. (John C. K. Daly,  Analysis: Afghanistan’s untapped energy, UPI Energy, October 24, 2008, emphasis added)

Afghanistan’s Natural Gas

Afghanistan is a land bridge. The 2001 U.S. led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has been analysed by critics of US foreign policy as a means to securing control  over the strategic trans-Afghan transport corridor which links the Caspian sea basin to the Arabian sea.

Several trans-Afghan oil and gas pipeline projects have been contemplated including the planned $8.0 billion TAPI pipeline project (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India) of 1900 km., which would transport Turkmen natural gas across Afghanistan in what is described as a “crucial transit corridor”. (See Gary Olson, Afghanistan has never been the ‘good and necessary’ war; it’s about control of oil, The Morning Call, October 1, 2009). Military escalation under the extended Af-Pak war bears a relationship to TAPI. Turkmenistan possesses third largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran. Strategic control over the transport routes out of Turkmenistan have been part of Washington’s agenda since the collapse of the Soviet union in 1991.

What was rarely contemplated in pipeline geopolitics, however, is that Afghanistan is not only adjacent to countries which are rich in oil and natural gas (e.g Turkmenistan), it also possesses within its territory sizeable untapped reserves of natural gas, coal  and oil. Soviet estimates of the 1970s placed “Afghanistan’s ‘explored’ (proved plus probable) gas reserves at about 5  trillion cubic feet. The Hodja-Gugerdag’s initial reserves were placed at slightly more than 2 tcf.” (See, The Soviet Union to retain influence in Afghanistan, Oil & Gas Journal, May 2, 1988).

The US.Energy Information Administration (EIA) acknowledged in 2008 that Afghanistan’s natural gas reserves are “substantial”:

“As northern Afghanistan is a ‘southward extension of Central Asia’s highly prolific, natural gas-prone Amu Darya Basin,’ Afghanistan ‘has proven, probable and possible natural gas reserves of about 5 trillion cubic feet.’ (UPI, John C.K. Daly, Analysis: Afghanistan’s untapped energy, October 24, 2008)

From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979, Washington’s objective has been to sustain a geopolitical foothold in Central Asia.

The Golden Crescent Drug Trade

America’s covert war, namely its support to the Mujahideen “Freedom fighters” (aka Al Qaeda) was also geared towards the development of the Golden Crescent trade in opiates, which was used by US intelligence to fund the insurgency directed against the Soviets.1

Instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war and protected by the CIA, the drug trade developed over the years into a highly lucrative multibillion undertaking. It was the cornerstone of America’s covert war in the 1980s. Today, under US-NATO military occupation, the drug trade generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, see also Michel Chossudovsky, Heroin is “Good for Your Health”: Occupation Forces support Afghan Narcotics Trade, Global Research, April 29, 2007)

Towards an Economy of Plunder

The US media, in chorus, has upheld the “recent discovery” of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth as “a solution” to the development of the country’s war torn economy as well as a means to eliminating poverty. The 2001 US-NATO invasion and occupation has set the stage for their appropriation by Western mining and energy conglomerates.

The war on Afghanistan is  a profit driven “resource war”.

Under US and allied occupation, this mineral wealth is slated to be plundered, once the country has been pacified, by a handful of multinational mining conglomerates. According to Olga Borisova, writing in the months following the October 2001 invasion, the US-led “war on terrorism [will be transformed] into a colonial policy of influencing a fabulously wealthy country.” (Borisova, op cit).

Part of the US-NATO agenda is also to eventually take possession of Afghanistan’s reserves of natural gas, as well as prevent the development of competing Russian, Iranian and Chinese energy interests in Afghanistan.

Note

1. The Golden Crescent trade in opiates constitutes, at present, the centerpiece of Afghanistan’s export economy. The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.

Since the 2001 invasion, narcotics production in Afghanistan  has increased more than 35 times. In 2009, opium production stood at 6900 tons, compared to less than 200 tons in 2001. In this regard, the multibillion dollar earnings resulting from the Afghan opium production largely occur outside Afghanistan. According to United Nations data, the revenues of the drug trade accruing to the local economy are of the order of 2-3 billion annually.

In contrast with the Worldwide sales of heroin resulting from the trade in Afghan opiates, in excess of $200 billion. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism”, Global Research, Montreal, 2005)

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America’s “War on Terrorism”

Michel Chossudovsky

The original source of this article is Global Research

Who owns the planes and the ships that transport 90% percent of the world’s heroin from Afghanistan?

Heroin, a major factor in the USA’s continued occupation of Afghanistan

A Conspiracy Theory that became a “Conspiracy Fact”: The CIA, Afghanistan’s Poppy Fields and America’s Growing Heroin Epidemic

CIA-US-MILITARY-HEROIN

First published by Global Research in July 2016

The heroin epidemic resembles the days when “Crack cocaine” became the major drug that destroyed communities across the United States and other parts of the world including the Caribbean that began in the early 1980’s. The Crack epidemic coincidently began around the same time when the Iran-Contra Scandal was being exposed. U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, Miami and New York City experienced a rise in crime and disease. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported back in 2015 that “heroin use in the United States increased 63% from 2002 through 2013.” Fast forward to 2016, heroin is sweeping across the United States at unprecedented levels.

According to an NBC affiliate  reported that state officials were set to declare a “public health emergency” in New Haven, Connecticut over the rise of heroin use which has resulted in two deaths:

Officials in New Haven on Friday were set to address a public health emergency declaration brought on by a rash of heroin overdoses in the city beginning Thursday. New Haven police said emergency responders saw at least 15 overdoses since Thursday afternoon, and possibly up to 22. At least two people have died. The city is warning residents that there is a batch of tainted, life-threatening heroin on the streets

In the suburbs of Long Island, NY, heroin use is an increasing problem. According to www.suburbanheroin.com a website devoted to the heroin epidemic on Long Island states that in 2012 – 2013 more than 242 people died from heroin use. Long Island is home to some of the wealthiest communities in New York State which goes to show that heroin is affecting all neighborhoods rich and poor. The NBC news report said that the CDC admitted that heroin has become an epidemic since 2002 

“The CDC reports that between 2002 and 2014 the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths more than quadrupled and more than 10,500 died nationwide in 2014.”

Now the question is why heroin use has dramatically increased since 2002? Maybe the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 after the September 11th attacks under the Bush regime had something to do with it? The main-stream media (MSM) establishment mouthpiece The Washington Post admitted in 2006 that heroin production in Afghanistan “broke all records” while under U.S. occupation:

Opium production in Afghanistan, which provides more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin, broke all records in 2006, reaching a historic high despite ongoing U.S.-sponsored eradication efforts, the Bush administration reported yesterday.

In addition to a 26 percent production increase over past year — for a total of 5,644 metric tons — the amount of land under cultivation in opium poppies grew by 61 percent. Cultivation in the two main production provinces, Helmand in the southwest and Oruzgan in central Afghanistan, was up by 132 percent

Washington claims that Mexico is the source of the heroin that is flooding U.S. streets “with 10,500 hectares under poppy cultivation in 2012” while Afghanistan had “224,000 hectares” according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in a 2014 report but the numbers tell a different story. Mexico’s heroin trade is small in comparison although it has been increasing its production capabilities.

However, not only heroin from Afghanistan is the major source for U.S. citizens, “BigPharma”, or the ‘corporate drug dealers’ who sell “legal drugs” also have a hand in the epidemic because they produce and sell ‘Opioids’ such asOxyContin and Percocet which is similar to heroin. Opioid medications are normally used as painkillers for broken bones, lacerations or post-surgery pain. However, abusing Opioids can also lead to heroin use.

The online news source The Huffington Post published an article titled ‘Ron Paul Had Accurate Conspiracy Theory: CIA Was Tied To Drug Traffickers’ highlights what the former Libertarian Presidential nominee Dr. Ron Paul said on the involvement of the CIA in the drug trade which was not a “Conspiracy Theory” but a fact when taking into consideration the Iran-Contra Scandal:

In 1988, while running for president on the Libertarian Party ticket, he highlighted yet another conspiracy theory, and this one doesn’t collapse under investigation: The CIA, Paul told a gathering of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, was involved in trafficking drugs as part of the Iran-Contra debacle.

Drug trafficking is “a gold mine for people who want to raise money in the underground government in order to finance projects that they can’t get legitimately. It is very clear that the CIA has been very much involved with drug dealings,” Paul said. “The CIA was very much involved in the Iran-Contra scandals. I’m not making up the stories; we saw it on television. They were hauling down weapons and drugs back. And the CIA and government officials were closing their eyes, fighting a war that was technically illegal”

The Taliban banned the production of opium in 2000. The War in Afghanistan was mainly about producing opium which did end up in the streets of Iran, Russia and China. According to a Pravda report in 2015 by William Edstrom titled ‘Heroin Dealer in Chief. Afghanistan, Source of 90% of The World’s Heroin’ stated the impact of Afghanistan’s opium production on neighboring countries:

Afghanistan, source of 90% of Earth’s heroin, ended 90% of Earth’s heroin problems when Taliban outlawed opium in 2000. The reason for War in Afghanistan was because Taliban outlawed opium growing which ended economic wars (opium wars) against Iran, Russia and China

The heroin epidemic is now affecting cities and towns across the U.S. Edstrom estimates that 165,000 American’s will die from the heroin epidemic in the next 10 years:

The War in Afghanistan began as an opium war against Iran, Russia and China, the tables are turning into an opium war against Americans on track to kill 165,000 Americans (2016-2026). Americans, 5% of Earth’s population, take 60% of painkillers on Earth

The death rate could go much higher considering the increasing level of poverty in the U.S. especially in the inner cities where the highest unemployment rates is among the 18-34 year olds. Many young adults will unfortunately turn to the drug trade whether they sell or use as hope fades for the lack of jobs or opportunities.

Fox News had a segment with Geraldo Rivera that shows how the U.S. government (in this case, the U.S. Marines) is involved in Afghanistan’s heroin production with Washington’s approval of course. Watch Video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgKmJESBFsw

Heroin is a valuable commodity as long as the War on Drugs remains in effect, that’s why Obama extended the Afghan mission until 2017, for the next U.S. elected president to occupy the White House. If it’s Hillary Clinton, U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan indefinitely. Trump might do the same, but that still remains to be seen. On July 7th, 2015 NBC reported on Afghanistan’s opium production and where they stand in terms of world supply

“According to the United Nations, the war-torn nation provides 90 percent of the world’s supply of opium poppy, the bright, flowery crop that transforms into one of the most addictive drugs in existence.”NBC also quoted John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction who did say that “Afghanistan has roughly 500,000 acres, or about 780 square miles, devoted to growing opium poppy. That’s equivalent to more than 400,000 U.S. football fields — including the end zones.”

That’s a large amount of land devoted to opium production which provides an opportunity for the CIA to cash in on the illegal drug trade for their secret covert operations (which avoids public scrutiny) and re-establish a drug trade route to target the populations of China, Iran and Russia.

The heroin crisis then and now is a direct consequence of the Military-Industrial Complex. During the 1970’s, around the same time during the Vietnam War, heroin made its way to the United States from the Golden Triangle which became an epidemic. It was estimated that more than 200,000 people in New York City alone were using heroin. At one point in time, you were able to find used syringes on public playgrounds. Now, heroin from Afghanistan has made its way back to the U.S. Heroin is profitable as much as it is strategic; it is also used as a weapon against Chinese, Iranian and Russian populations which has led to addiction, crime and helped spread diseases such as AIDS. Heroin is now affecting the United States, the CIA’s very own territory. Not that the CIA really cares who it effects when you closely examine their history of drug trafficking with the Iran-Contra Scandal or the Golden Triangle during the Vietnam War as author and activist William Blum noted in his book Rogue State,

 “The CIA flew the drugs all over Southeast Asia, to sites where the opium was processed into heroin, and to trans-shipment points on the route to Western customers.”

As long as the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan continues under the guise of establishing a democratic government, the flow of heroin will continue unabated. One question we should ask is “who owns the planes and the ships that transport 90% percent of the world’s heroin from Afghanistan to the rest of the world in the first place? It sure isn’t the Taliban.

Iran congratulated over refugee policy which has welcomed millions of Afghans displaced by decades of US and NATO backed war

UN lauds Iran’s refugee settlement program

On Wednesday,  Sivanka Dhanapala, Sri Lankan diplomat and head of the United Nations high commissioner for refugees in Tehran, lauded Iran for its exemplary refugee settlement program which has welcomed millions of Afghans displaced by decades of US and NATO backed war and occupation.

In a world where you have multiple bad stories about hosting refugees, I think Iran is really a good news story. It’s a story that’s not told often enough,” said Sivanka Dhanapala.

The leadership demonstrated by the Iranian government has been exemplary in hosting refugees and keeping borders open,” he added.

His remarks came on the same day a Hawaii federal judge blocked a second attempt by the pro-Israel anti-Muslim Trump administration (Steve Brannon, Ben Carson, Mike Pompeo, Gen.  Mattis, Gen. John Kelly, etc.) to ban Muslim refugees and travelers from entering the United States.

On February 3, 2017, John Spritzler debunked the anti-Muslim propaganda by the pro-Israel Zionist pigs.

A majority of Americans support Trump’s recent travel ban Muslims from seven Muslim majority countries because since 9/11 there has been an intense BI-PARTISAN effort to make Americans fear Muslims, using lies and manipulation. The Big Lie was that 9/11 was done by “19 Muslims” when in fact it was an inside job designed to make us fear Muslims. Even before 9/11 the US ruling class supported Israel’s violent ethnic cleansing of non-Jews (Palestinians, who are mainly Muslims) from more than 78% of Palestine. There is absolutely no moral justification for this ethnic cleansing whatsoever. Its purpose is to force the Palestinians to resist the ethnic cleansing so that they can then be falsely portrayed in the West as evil antisemitic and anti-American Muslim terrorists,” wrote John Spritzler.

We’ve also worked with the government on incorporating refugees into a government-sponsored health insurance scheme which is a ground-breaking development not just for Iran but globally for refugees,” Dhanapala said.

He also praised a 2015 directive from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei which called on education administrators to allow all Afghan children, documented or not, to attend Iranian schools.

Islamic Republic has been a generous host for more than 3 million Afghan refugees as result of invasion and occupation of Red Army followed by US-NATO invasion and occupation. There are still over one million Afghan refugees being taken care by Iranian government and local charities. In addition to Afghan refugees, tens of thousands displaced people from wars in Iraq, Syria, and Bosnia took refuge in Iran. Tehran has refused to accept aid from the US and EU governments or NGOs for the refugees.

The office of the UNHCR was established by the UN General Assembly in 1950.

The UN has reported that 40,791 Afghans sought asylum in Europe in 2016, though most of those will likely be deported back to Afghanistan as the rising tide of Islamophobia pushes even the most liberal government towards increasingly xenophobic policies.

On Thursday, the organized Jewry mourned the defeat of pro-Israel anti-Muslim Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in Netherlands elections. Last year, Wilders was investigated for his close ties with Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Europe’s anti-Muslim individuals, political parties and organizations have long realized that the best way to hide their racism is to support the Zionist entity.

Trump and Gorbachev ترامب وغورباتشوف

Trump and Gorbachev

فبراير 22, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Whether Mikhail Gorbachev was an agent to the US intelligence as accused by his opponents or not, and whether Donald Trump was an agent to the Russian intelligence as accused by his opponents or not, the aspects of similarity in the circumstances which brought them to the rule, and the conditions in which each one rules, as well as the roles which are represented by each one of them in the history of the superpower where both of them stood at the top of the pyramid in it are elements that allow the objective comparison between the two figures.

Gorbachev has led the Soviet Union after the defeat in a war that was the first war which he launched within an offensive plan outside the borders after the World War II, through the entry of his troops to Afghanistan, it was not mere an arming support for an ally or a circumstantial escalation of a position. That defeat led to the rise of the popular resentment in the Russian community entitled the compliant from spending on wars, the glories of the greatness, and the rise of voices that called for the priority of paying attention and concern to the declining Russian interior, that suffered economically and socially, and where the services were retracted and its infrastructure was eroded. While Trump is leading America after a resounding defeat of many wars that were the first after the World War II which aimed to extend the influence of the American leadership in the world in an offensive way and within an imperial campaign not within the context of an involvement in a war, its beginning was the support of an allied regime or a subordinate as the wars of Vietnam and Korea. It adopted a slogan of the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan in the beginning and then overthrowing Syria. As a result of the defeat there were escalated claims to abandon the pursuit behind the role of the world policeman, while America internally is retracting economically and socially as described by Trump himself in his electoral campaign in terms of unemployment, the declining services, and the imminent collapse of the infrastructure, so he launched his slogan America first, in confronting this situation.

Trump’s campaigns against the ideological media which is dominated by him in a factional way are similar to Gorbachev’s ones launched against the ideological media, moreover the escalating campaigns of Trump against the intelligence are similar to Gorbachev’s ones. The two men are in a battle with the elites of their countries that led their global aspect namely the media and the intelligence. The racist white calls of Trump against the US interior are similar to the Russian Gorbachev’s white calls against the countries of the Soviet Union and which were looking to get rid of them as burdens. Trump’s battles with the economic blocs which monopolize the US economy in favor of the minority of the owners and workers, versus the decline of the sectors which employ most of the Americans and which their owners are distributed on a major faction of the owners of the capitals represented by Trump are similar to the battles of Gorbachev against the possession of the country of the huge economies and the marginalization of the rising capital. Both of them raises the slogan of the balance of the economy’s aspects through perestroika project for the reconstruction, and a direct contact with the people as nominated Glasnost by Gorbachev, and which is translated by Trump in his daily tweets on Twitter.

Gorbachev considered that the reason of the bottleneck of the Soviet Union especially Russia was due to the useless investment on the race of arming as a tax for the global leadership, and that the weighing of the private sector in the economy will lead to the recovery of the middle class and the structures of the useful production. Trump considers that the economic bottleneck of America is due to the tax which it pays as a cost for the global leadership, either through spreading huge forces outside the borders to protect rich allies that do not pay anything as Japan, Europe, and the Gulf or through economic facilities for the poor allies within agreements that led to the weakness of the US economy as the agreement with Argentina and the countries of the Pacific which is known as NAFTA. The two men converge on the call to liberate their countries from these burdens as a way for the economic recovery and the getting out of the bottleneck and recession.

Gorbachev’s policies which based on removing the dominance of the country on the major economic sectors have led to a big decline of the earnings and the weakness in the country’s ability to spend, so the market declined and became weaker. There were new economic powers that quickly handled the economy of the market including the enormous class differences in the community. Russia within ten years emerged as a country from the third world after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the fall of the socialist system, and the collapse of its military alliance entitled Warsaw Pact which most of its countries moved to the West under the title of the European Union or NATO. The question which faces Trump and his project is whether the linking of the military deployment with the paying of its costs by the allies will lead to the regression of the influence on the allies and thus on the world, and whether weakening the giant intercontinental enterprises in favor of the US national companies which depend on the US market will lead to the confusion in the qualitative importance of the US currency in the world markets and to the bankruptcies as a result of the scarcity of the external resources and the revenues of the speculation of the US banks, and whether all of that will open the debate about the justification of sticking to the dollar as a mandatory international currency in the banking transactions and in the US banks as a knot for the passage of the financial transactions in the world. The dollar and banking currency are the last ways for protecting the US leadership in the world, and they are translated by the sanctions through which America is threatening all of its opponents.

It is striking that the Jewish community in each of Russia and America is supporting these two men, and it is striking their excessive enthusiasm toward Israel. Israel’s interest in Gorbachev was confined with making the international arena in favor of America while through the Israeli weakness it is enough from Trump to submit an ally in America which does not believe that Israel is in need of who can save it from itself and from its arrogance, on the contrary to share with it this arrogance, an ally that reassures its settlers that they have an ally that does not argue with them, as it is striking how the fall of the Soviet Union was the insurance policy for a quarter of a century for Israel which was facing with the rise of Gorbachev a valiant Palestinian uprising that is known by the uprising of stones and an active Lebanese resistance that has already  liberated half of the occupied territories. But the US monopoly of ruling the world was as a momentum for Israel to overcome many threats and crises, while the instability of America today coincides with the entry of Israel into deadly existential crisis, where it does not have an insurance policy. It is striking as well that at the time of the Russian regression America has rushed to fill the gap, and at the time of the American regression Russia rushes to fill the gap, so the history repeats that powerfully but harshly… this is history.

The paradox here is that Gorbachev has waged the battle of changing the Soviet Union at the spokesman of the cultivated elegant elites against whom he described by (the bullies) while Trump is waging his battle as a “bully” who fights the pedant elites . It is enough to notice the language of Trump.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

ترامب وغورباتشوف

ناصر قنديل

– سواء أكان ميخائيل غورباتشوف عميلاً للمخابرات الأميركية، كما يتّهمه خصومه أم لم يكن، وسواء كان دونالد ترامب عميلاً للمخابرات الروسية، كما يتّهمه خصومه أم لم يكن، فإنّ أوجه التشابه في الظروف التي أوصلت كلا من الرجلين إلى الحكم، والظروف التي يحكم فيها كل منهما، والأدوار التي يمثلها كل منهما في تاريخ الدولة العظمى التي وقف على رأس الهرم فيها، عناصر تسمح بالمقارنة الموضوعية بينهما.

– تولّى غورباتشوف قيادة الاتحاد السوفياتي بعد هزيمة في حرب كانت الأولى التي قام بها ضمن خطة هجومية خارج الحدود بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية عبر دخول قواته إلى أفغانستان، وليست دعماً تسليحياً لحليف أو تصعيداً ظرفياً لموقف فقط، وترتّب على هذه الهزيمة صعود نقمة شعبية في المجتمع الروسي عنوانها التذمّر من الإنفاق على الحروب وأمجاد العظمة، وارتفاع أصوات تنادي بأولوية الانتباه والاهتمام لداخل روسي يتداعى ويعاني اقتصادياً واجتماعياً، وتتراجع الخدمات فيه وبناه التحتية تتآكل بينما يتولى ترامب قيادة أميركا بعد هزيمة مدوّية لحروب، هي الأولى بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية الهادفة لتمديد نفوذ الزعامة الأميركية في العالم هجومياً ضمن حملة إمبراطورية وليست ضمن سياق تورّط بحرب، بدايتها دعم نظام حليف أو تابع كحروب فييتنام وكوريا، واتخذت عنوان غزو العراق وأفغانستان بداية وإسقاط سورية لاحقاً، وتصاعدت بأثر الهزيمة المطالبات بالتخلّي عن اللهاث وراء دور شرطي العالم، بينما أميركا في الداخل تتراجع اقتصادياً واجتماعياً، كما وصفها ترامب نفسه في حملته الانتخابية لجهة البطالة وتراجع الخدمات وتداعي البنى التحتية، وأطلق في مواجهة هذه الحال شعاره «أميركا أولاً».

– تتشابه حملات ترامب على الإعلام العقائدي المسيطر عليه فئوياً بالحملات التي شنّها غورباتشوف على الإعلام الايديولوجي، كما تتصاعد حملات ترامب على المخابرات بما يستعيد حملات غورباتشوف المشابهة والرجلان في معركة مع نُخَب بلديهما التي قادت طابعهما العالمي، الذي مثّل الإعلام والمخابرات جناحيه، وتتشابه أيضاً دعوات ترامب العنصرية الببضاء الموجّهة للداخل الأميركي بحملات غورباتشوف الروسيّة البيضاء الموجّهة لدول الاتحاد السوفياتيّ والساعية للتخلّص منها كأعباء. وكذلك تتشابه معارك ترامب مع التكتلات الاقتصادية التي تستأثر بالاقتصاد الأميركي لحساب أقليّة من المالكين والعاملين فيها، مقابل ذبول القطاعات التي تُشغل غالبية الأميركيين ويتوزّع أصحابها على شريحة ضخمة من أصحاب الرساميل، يمثلهم ترامب، بمعارك غورباتشوف ضد ملكيات الدولة للاقتصادات الضخمة وتهميش الرأسمال الصاعد، وكلاهما يرفع شعار إعادة التوازن لأجنحة الاقتصاد عبر مشروع «بريسترويكا» لإعادة البناء، وخطاب مباشر للشعب أسماه غورباتشوف بـ«الغلاسنوست»، ويترجمه ترامب في تغريداته اليومية عبر تويتر.

– اعتبر غورباتشوف أن سبب اختناق الاتحاد السوفياتي، خصوصاً روسيا ناجم عن الاستثمار اللامجدي على سباق التسلح، كضريبة للزعامة العالمية، وأن ترجيح كفة القطاع الخاص في الاقتصاد سيؤدي لإنعاش الطبقة الوسطى وبنى الإنتاج المجدي. ويعتبر ترامب أن الاختناق الاقتصادي لأميركا ناتج عن الضريبة التي تدفعها ثمناً للزعامة العالمية، سواء عبر نشر قوات هائلة خارج الحدود لحماية حلفاء أغنياء لا يدفعون شيئاً كاليابان وأوروبا والخليج، أو عبر التسهيلات الاقتصادية للحلفاء الفقراء ضمن اتفاقيات ترتّب عليها إضعاف الاقتصاد الأميركي كحال الاتفاقية مع الأرجنتين ودول المحيط الهادئ المعروفة بـ«اتفاق نفتا». ويلتقي الرجلان على الدعوة لتحرير بلديهما من هذه الأعباء طريقاً للانتعاش الاقتصادي، والخروج من الاختناق والركود.

– ترتّب على سياسات غورباتشوف مع إزالة سيطرة الدولة على القطاعات الاقتصادية الكبرى تراجع هائل في الواردات، وضعف في قدرة الدولة على الإنفاق فتراجع السوق وازداد ضموراً، وظهرت قوى اقتصادية جديدة بسرعة حملت اقتصاد السوق وما فيه من فوارق طبقية هائلة في المجتمع، فظهرت روسيا فيها خلال عشر سنوات كدولة من دول العالم الثالث، بعدما تفكّك الاتحاد السوفياتي وسقطت المنظومة الاشتراكية وانهار حلفها العسكري المسمّى بـ«حلف وارصو» وذهبت أغلب دوله لضفة الغرب تحت عنوان الاتحاد الأوروبي أو حلف الأطلسي. والسؤال الذي يواجه ترامب ومشروعه عما إذا كان سيترتب على ربط الانتشار العسكري بتسديد الحلفاء تكاليفه إلى تراجع النفوذ على الحلفاء وبالتالي في العالم، وما إذا كان سيترتب على إضعاف الشركات العملاقة العابرة للقارات لحساب الشركات الأميركية الوطنية الصرفة، والمعتمدة على السوق الأميركية، إلى اضطراب في الوزن النوعي للعملة الأميركية في الأسواق العالمية، وإلى إفلاسات تُصيب بسبب شحّ الموارد الخارجية وعائدات المضاربات، الكثير من المصارف الأميركية، وما إذا كان كل ذلك سيفتح النقاش حول مبرّر التمسك بالدولار عملة دولية إجبارية للتعاملات المصرفية، وبالمصارف الأميركية كعقدة مرور للطرق المالية في العالم. وهذان هما، الدولار والتداول المصرفي، آخر ما تبقى من جدران حماية لزعامة أميركية في العالم تترجمهما سياسة العقوبات التي تلوّح بها أميركا لخصومها كلّهم.

لافت أن تقف الجالية اليهودية في كل من روسيا وأميركا بقوة وراء دعم الرجلين. ولافت حماسهما المفرط لـ«إسرائيل». وقد كانت مصلحة «إسرائيل» من غورباتشوف تنحصر بإخلاء الساحة الدولية لأميركا، بينما مع الهزال «الإسرائيلي» صار يكفي من ترامب أن يقدّم لـ«إسرائيل» حليفاً في أميركا لا يؤمن بأن «إسرائيل» تحتاج لمن ينقذها من نفسها ومن غطرستها، بل يشاركها هذه الغطرسة، حليفاً يطمئن مستوطنيها أنهم يحظون بحليف لا يجادلهم. كما هو لافت كيف كان سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي بوليصة تأمين لربع قرن أمام «إسرائيل» التي كانت تواجه مع صعود غورباتشوف انتفاضة فلسطينية باسلة عرفت بانتفاضة الحجارة ومقاومة لبنانية نشطة كانت قد حرّرت نصف الأراضي المحتلة، فجاء التفرّد الأميركي في حكم العالم شحنة دفع لتتخطّى «إسرائيل» الكثير من المخاطر والأزمات، بينما يتزامن تخلخل أميركا اليوم مع زمن دخول «إسرائيل» أزمة وجودية قاتلة، ولا يبدو أمامها بوليصة تأمين. ولافت أيضاً أنه في زمن الانكفاء الروسي اندفعت أميركا لتملأ الفراغ، وفي زمن الانكفاء الأميركي تندفع روسيا لتملأ الفراغ. يفعلها التاريخ بقوّة ولكن بقسوة أيضاً… هو التاريخ!

– المفارقة أن غورباتشوف خاض معركة تغيير الاتحاد السوفياتي بلسان النخب المتأنّقة والمثقفة، بوجه من وصفَهم بـ«القبضايات»، ويخوض ترامب حربه بصفته «القبضاي» الذي يقاتل النخب المتحذلقة والمتفذلكة، وتكفي لغة ترامب لقول ذلك.

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The Misuse of American Military Power and The Middle East in Chaos

The Misuse of American Military Power and The Middle East in Chaos By Danny Sjursen

Tom Dispatch” – The United States has already lost — its war for the Middle East, that is. Having taken my own crack at combat soldiering in both Iraq and Afghanistan, that couldn’t be clearer to me. Unfortunately, it’s evidently still not clear in Washington. Bush’s neo-imperial triumphalism failed. Obama’s quiet shift to drones, Special Forces, and clandestine executive actions didn’t turn the tide either. For all President Trump’s bluster, boasting, and threats, rest assured that, at best, he’ll barely move the needle and, at worst… but why even go there?

At this point, it’s at least reasonable to look back and ask yet again: Why the failure? Explanations abound, of course. Perhaps Americans were simply never tough enough and still need to take off the kid gloves. Maybe there just weren’t ever enough troops. (Bring back the draft!) Maybe all those hundreds of thousands of bombs and missiles just came up short. (So how about lots more of them, maybe even a nuke?)

Lead from the front. Lead from behind. Surge yet again… The list goes on — and on and on.

And by now all of it, including Donald Trump’s recent tough talk, represents such a familiar set of tunes. But what if the problem is far deeper and more fundamental than any of that?

Here our nation stands, 15-plus years after 9/11, engaged militarily in half a dozen countries across the Greater Middle East, with no end in sight. Perhaps a more critical, factual reading of our recent past would illuminate the futility of America’s tragic, ongoing project to somehow “destroy” terrorism in the Muslim world.

The standard triumphalist version of the last 100 or so years of our history might go something like this: in the twentieth century, the United States repeatedly intervened, just in the nick of time, to save the feeble Old World from militarism, fascism, and then, in the Cold War, communism.  It did indeed save the day in three global wars and might have lived happily ever after as the world’s “sole superpower” if not for the sudden emergence of a new menace.  Seemingly out of nowhere, “Islamo-fascists” shattered American complacence with a sneak attack reminiscent of Pearl Harbor.  Collectively the people asked: Why do they hate us?  Of course, there was no time to really reflect, so the government simply got to work, taking the fight to our new “medieval” enemies on their own turf.  It’s admittedly been a long, hard slog, but what choice did our leaders have?  Better, after all, to fight them in Baghdad than Brooklyn.

What if, however, this foundational narrative is not just flawed but little short of delusional? Alternative accounts lead to wholly divergent conclusions and are more likely to inform prudent policy in the Middle East.

Let’s reconsider just two key years for the United States in that region: 1979 and 2003.  America’s leadership learned all the wrong “lessons” from those pivotal moments and has intervened there ever since on the basis of some perverse version of them with results that have been little short of disastrous.  A more honest narrative of those moments would lead to a far more modest, minimalist approach to a messy and tragic region.  The problem is that there seems to be something inherently un-American about entertaining such thoughts.

1979 Revisited

Through the first half of the Cold War, the Middle East remained a sideshow.  In 1979, however, all that changed radically.  First, rising protests against the brutal police state of the American-backed Shah of Iran led to regime collapse, the return of dissident ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and the declaration of an Islamic Republic. Then Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, holding 52 hostages for more than 400 days.  Of course, by then few Americans remembered the CIA-instigated coup of 1953 that had toppled a democratically elected Iranian prime minister, preserved Western oil interests in that country, and started both lands on this path (though Iranians clearly hadn’t forgotten).  The shock and duration of the hostage crisis undoubtedly ensured that Jimmy Carter would be a one-term president and — to make matters worse — Soviet troops intervened in Afghanistan to shore up a communist government there. It was quite a year.

The alarmist conventional narrative of these events went like this: the radical mullahs running Iran were irrational zealots with an inexplicable loathing for the American way of life.  As if in a preview of 9/11, hearing those chants against “the Great Satan,” Americans promptly began asking with true puzzlement: Why do they hate us?  The hostage crisis challenged world peace.  Carter had to do something. Worse yet, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan represented blatant conquest and spotlighted the possibility of Red Army hordes pushing through to Iran en route to the Persian Gulf’s vast oil reserves.  It might prove the opening act of the long awaited Soviet scheme for world domination or a possible path to World War III.

Misinformed by such a tale that they repeatedly told themselves, Washington officials then made terrible choices in the Middle East.  Let’s start with Iran.  They mistook a nationalist revolution and subsequent civil war within Islam for a singular attack on the U.S.A.  With little consideration of genuine Iranian gripes about the brutal U.S.-backed dynasty of the Shah or the slightest appreciation for the complexity of that country’s internal dynamics, they created a simple-minded but convenient narrative in which the Iranians posed an existential threat to this country.  Little has changed in almost four decades.

Then, though few Americans could locate Afghanistan on a map, most accepted that it was indeed a country of vital strategic interest.  Of course, with the opening of their archives, it’s clear enough now that the Soviets never sought the worldwide empire we imagined for them, especially not by 1979. The Soviet leadership was, in fact, divided over the Afghan affair and intervened in Kabul in a spirit more defensive than aggressive. Their desire or even ability to drive towards the Persian Gulf was, at best, a fanciful American notion.

Nonetheless, the Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan were combined into a tale of horror that would lead to the permanent militarization of U.S. policy in the Middle East.  Remembered today as a dove-in-chief, in his 1980 State of the Union address President Carter announced a decidedly hawkish new doctrine that would come to bear his name.  From then on, he said, the U.S. would consider any threat to Persian Gulf oil supplies a direct threat to this country and American troops would, if necessary, unilaterally intervene to secure the region.

The results will seem painfully familiar today: almost immediately, Washington policymakers began to seek military solutions to virtually every problem in the Middle East.  Within a year, the administration of President Ronald Reagan would, for instance, support Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein’s ruthless invasion of Iran, ignoring his more vicious antics and his proclivity for gassing his own people.

Soon after, in 1983, the military created the United States Central Command (headquarters: Tampa, Florida) with specific responsibility for the Greater Middle East. Its early war plans demonstrated just how wildly out of touch with reality American planners already were by then. Operational blueprints, for instance, focused on defeating Soviet armies in Iran before they could reach the Persian Gulf.  Planners imagined U.S. Army divisions crossing Iran, itself in the midst of a major war with Iraq, to face off against a Soviet armored juggernaut (just like the one that was always expected to burst through Europe’s Fulda Gap).  That such an assault was never coming, or that the fiercely proud Iranians might object to the militaries of either superpower crossing their territories, figured little in such early plans that were monuments to American arrogance and naïveté.

From there, it was but a few short steps to the permanent “defensive” basing of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain or later the stationing of U.S. troops near the holy cities of Mecca and Medina to protect Saudi Arabia from Iraqi attack.  Few asked how such forces in the heart of the Middle East would play on the Arab street or corroborate Islamist narratives of “crusader” imperialism.

Worse yet, in those same years the CIA armed and financed a grab bag of Afghan insurgent groups, most of them extreme Islamists. Eager to turn Afghanistan into a Soviet “Vietnam,” no one in Washington bothered to ask whether such guerrilla outfits conformed to our purported principles or what the rebels would do if they won. Of course, the victorious guerrillas contained foreign fighters and various Arab supporters, including one Osama bin Laden.  Eventually, the excesses of the well-armed but morally bankrupt insurgents and warlords in Afghanistan triggered the formation and ascension of the Taliban there, and from one of those guerrilla outfits came a new organization that called itself al-Qaeda. The rest, as they say, is history, and thanks to Chalmers Johnson’s appropriation of a classic CIA term of spy craft, we now know it as blowback.

That was a major turning point for the U.S. military.  Before 1979, few of its troops had served in the region.  In the ensuing decades, America bombed, invaded, raided, sent its drones to kill in, or attacked Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq again (and again), Somalia (again and again), Libya again, Iraq once more, and now Syria as well.  Before 1979, few — if any — American military personnel died in the Greater Middle East.  Few have died anywhere else since.

2003 and After: Fantasies and Reality

Who wouldn’t agree that the 2003 invasion of Iraq signified a major turning point both in the history of the Greater Middle East and in our own?  Nonetheless, its legacy remains highly contested. The standard narrative goes like this: as the sole remaining superpower on the planet after the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991, our invincible military organized a swift and convincing defeat of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the first Gulf War.  After 9/11, that same military launched an inventive, swift, and triumphant campaign in Afghanistan.  Osama bin Laden escaped, of course, but his al-Qaeda network was shattered and the Taliban all but destroyed.

Naturally, the threat of Islamic terror was never limited to the Hindu Kush, so Washington “had” to take its fight against terror global.  Admittedly, the subsequent conquest of Iraq didn’t exactly turn out as planned and perhaps the Arabs weren’t quite ready for American-style democracy anyway.  Still, the U.S. was committed, had shed blood, and had to stay the course, rather than cede momentum to the terrorists.  Anything less would have dishonored the venerated dead.  Luckily, President George W. Bush found an enlightened new commander, General David Petraeus, who, with his famed “surge,” snatched victory, or at least stability, from the jaws of defeat in Iraq.  He had the insurgency all but whipped.  Then, just a few years later, “spineless” Barack Obama prematurely pulled American forces out of that country, an act of weakness that led directly to the rise of ISIS and the current nightmare in the region.  Only a strong, assertive successor to Obama could right such gross errors.

It’s a riveting tale, of course, even if it is misguided in nearly every way imaginable.  At each turn, Washington learned the wrong lessons and drew perilous conclusions.  At least the first Gulf War — to George H.W. Bush’s credit — involved a large multinational coalition and checked actual Iraqi aggression.  Instead of cheering Bush the Elder’s limited, prudent strategy, however, surging neoconservatives demanded to know why he had stopped short of taking the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.  In these years (and for this we can certainly thank Bush, among others), Americans — Republicans and Democrats alike — became enamored with military force and came to believe that it could solve just about any problem in that region, if not the world.

This would prove a grotesque misunderstanding of what had happened.  The Gulf War had been an anomaly.  Triumphalist conclusions about it rested on the shakiest of foundations.  Only if an enemy fought exactly as the U.S. military preferred it to do, as indeed Saddam’s forces did in 1991 — conventionally, in open desert, with outdated Soviet equipment — could the U.S. expect such success.  Americans drew another conclusion entirely: that their military was unstoppable.

The same faulty assumptions flowed from Afghanistan in 2001.  Information technology, Special Forces, CIA dollars (to Afghan warlords), and smart bombs triggered victory with few conventional foot soldiers needed.  It seemed a forever formula and influenced both the hasty decision to invade Iraq, and the irresponsibly undersized force structure deployed (not to speak of the complete lack of serious preparation for actually occupying that country).  So powerful was the optimism and jingoism of invasion proponents that skeptics were painted as unpatriotic  turncoats.

Then things turned ugly fast.  This time around, Saddam’s army simply melted away, state institutions broke down, looting was rampant, and the three major communities of Iraq — Sunni, Shia, and Kurd — began to battle for power.  The invaders never received the jubilant welcome predicted for them by Bush administration officials and supportive neocons.  What began as a Sunni-based insurgency to regain power morphed into a nationalist rebellion and then into an Islamist struggle against Westerners.

Nearly a century earlier, Britain had formed Iraq from three separate Ottoman imperial provinces — Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul.  The 2003 invasion blew up that synthetic state, held together first by British overlords and then by Saddam’s brutal dictatorship.  American policymakers seemed genuinely surprised by all this.

Those in Washington never adequately understood the essential conundrum of forced regime change in Iraq.  “Democracy” there would inevitably result in Shia majority dominance of an artificial state.  Empowering the Shia drove the Sunni minority — long accustomed to power — into the embrace of armed, motivated Islamists.  When societies fracture as Iraq’s did, often enough the worst among us rise to the occasion.  As the poet William Butler Yeats so famously put it, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed… The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Furthermore, the invasion played directly into Osama bin Laden’s hands, fueling his narrative of an American “war on Islam.”  In the process, the U.S. also destabilized Iraq’s neighbors and the region, spreading extremists to Syria and elsewhere.

That David Petraeus’s surge “worked” is perhaps the greatest myth of all.  It was true that the steps he took resulted in a decrease in violence after 2007, largely because he paid off the Sunni tribes, not because of the modest U.S. troop increase ordered from Washington.  By then, the Shia had already won the sectarian civil war for Baghdad, intensifying Sunni-Shia residential segregation there and so temporarily lessening the capacity for carnage.

That post-surge “calm” was, however, no more than a tactical pause in an ongoing regional sectarian war.  No fundamental problems had been resolved in post-Saddam Iraq, including the nearly impossible task of integrating Sunni and Kurdish minorities into a coherent national whole.  Instead, Washington had left a highly sectarian Shia strongman, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in control of the government and internal security forces, while al-Qaeda in Iraq, or AQI (nonexistent prior to the invasion), never would be eradicated.  Its leadership, further radicalized in U.S. Army prisons, bided its time, waiting for an opportunity to win back Sunni fealty.

Luckily for AQI, as soon as the U.S. military was pulled out of the country, Maliki promptly cracked down hard on peaceful Sunni protests.  He even had his Sunni vice president sentenced to death in absentia under the most questionable of circumstances.  Maliki’s ineptitude would prove an AQI godsend.

Islamists, including AQI, also took advantage of events in Syria.  Autocrat Bashar al-Assad’s brutal repression of his own protesting Sunni majority gave them just the opening they needed.  Of course, the revolt there might never have occurred had not the invasion of Iraq destabilized the entire region.  In 2014, the former AQI leaders, having absorbed some of Saddam’s cashiered officers into their new forces, triumphantly took a series of Iraqi cities, including Mosul, sending the Iraqi army fleeing. They then declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Many Iraqi Sunnis naturally turned to the newly established “Islamic State” (ISIS) for protection.

Mission (Un)Accomplished!

It’s hardly controversial these days to point out that the 2003 invasion (aka Operation Iraqi Freedom), far from bringing freedom to that country, sowed chaos.  Toppling Saddam’s brutal regime tore down the edifice of a regional system that had stood for nearly a century.  However inadvertently, the U.S. military lit the fire that burned down the old order.

As it turned out, no matter the efforts of the globe’s greatest military, no easy foreign solution existed when it came to Iraq.  It rarely does.  Unfortunately, few in Washington were willing to accept such realities.  Think of that as the twenty-first-century American Achilles’ heel: unwarranted optimism about the efficacy of U.S. power.  Policy in these years might best be summarized as: “we” have to do something, and military force is the best — perhaps the only — feasible option.

Has it worked? Is anybody, including Americans, safer?  Few in power even bother to ask such questions.  But the data is there.  The Department of State counted just 348 terrorist attacks worldwide in 2001 compared with 11,774 attacks in 2015. That’s right: at best, America’s 15-year “war on terror” failed to significantly reduce international terrorism; at worst, its actions helped make matters 30 times worse.

Recall the Hippocratic oath: “First do no harm.”  And remember Osama bin Laden’s stated goal on 9/11: to draw conventional American forces into attritional campaigns in the heart of the Middle East. Mission accomplished!

In today’s world of “alternative facts,” it’s proven remarkably easy to ignore such empirical data and so avoid thorny questions.  Recent events and contemporary political discourse even suggest that the country’s political elites now inhabit a post-factual environment; in terms of the Greater Middle East, this has been true for years.

It couldn’t be more obvious that Washington’s officialdom regularly and repeatedly drew erroneous lessons from the recent past and ignored a hard truth staring them in the face: U.S. military action in the Middle East has solved nothing.  At all.  Only the government cannot seem to accept this.  Meanwhile, an American fixation on one unsuitable term — “isolationism” — masks a more apt description of American dogma in this period: hyper-interventionism.

As for military leaders, they struggle to admit failure when they — and their troops — have sacrificed so much sweat and blood in the region.  Senior officers display the soldier’s tendency to confuse performance with effectiveness, staying busy with being successful.  Prudent strategy requires differentiating between doing a lot and doing the right things. As Einstein reputedly opined, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

A realistic look at America’s recent past in the Greater Middle East and a humbler perspective on its global role suggest two unsatisfying but vital conclusions.  First, false lessons and misbegotten collective assumptions contributed to and created much of today’s regional mess.  As a result, it’s long past time to reassess recent history and challenge long-held suppositions.  Second, policymakers badly overestimated the efficacy of American power, especially via the military, to shape foreign peoples and cultures to their desires.  In all of this, the agency of locals and the inherent contingency of events were conveniently swept aside.

So what now? It should be obvious (but probably isn’t in Washington) that it’s well past time for the U.S. to bring its incessant urge to respond militarily to the crisis of the moment under some kind of control.  Policymakers should accept realistic limitations on their ability to shape the world to America’s desired image of it.

Consider the last few decades in Iraq and Syria.  In the 1990s, Washington employed economic sanctions against Saddam Hussein and his regime.  The result: tragedy to the tune of half a million dead children. Then it tried invasion and democracy promotion.  The result: tragedy — including 4,500-plus dead American soldiers, a few trillion dollars down the drain, more than 200,000 dead Iraqis, and millions more displaced in their own country or in flight as refugees.

In response, in Syria the U.S. tried only limited intervention.  Result: tragedy — upwards of 300,000 dead and close to seven million more turned into refugees.

So will tough talk and escalated military action finally work this time around as the Trump administration faces off against ISIS?  Consider what happens even if the U.S achieves a significant rollback of ISIS.  Even if, in conjunction with allied Kurdish or Syrian rebel forces, ISIS’s “capital,” Raqqa, is taken and the so-called caliphate destroyed, the ideology isn’t going away.  Many of its fighters are likely to transition back to an insurgency and there will be no end to international terror in ISIS’s name.  In the meantime, none of this will have solved the underlying problems of artificial states now at the edge of collapse or beyond, divided ethno-religious groups, and anti-Western nationalist and religious sentiments.  All of it begs the question: What if Americans are incapable of helping (at least in a military sense)?

A real course correction is undoubtedly impossible without at least a willingness to reconsider and reframe our recent historical experiences.  If the 2016 election is any indication, however, a Trump administration with the present line-up of national security chiefs (who fought in these very wars) won’t meaningfully alter either the outlook or the policies that led us to this moment.  Candidate Trump offered a hollow promise — to “Make America Great Again” — conjuring up a mythical era that never was.  Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton offered only remarkably dated and stale rhetoric about America as the “indispensable nation.”

In the new Trump era, neither major party seems capable of escaping a shared commitment to the legends rather than the facts of America’s recent past in the Greater Middle East.  Both sides remain eerily confident that the answers to contemporary foreign policy woes lie in a mythical version of that past, whether Trump’s imaginary 1950s paradise or Clinton’s fleeting mid-1990s “unipolar moment.”

Both ages are long gone, if they ever really existed at all.  Needed is some fresh thinking about our militarized version of foreign policy and just maybe an urge, after all these years, to do so much less. Patriotic fables certainly feel good, but they achieve little.  My advice: dare to be discomfited.

Major Danny Sjursen is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point

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