Punishing the World With Sanctions

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Philip Giraldi
August 15, 2019

Sanctions are economic warfare, pure and simple. As an alternative to a direct military attack on a country that is deemed to be misbehaving they are certainly preferable, but no one should be under any illusions regarding what they actually represent. They are war by other means and they are also illegal unless authorized by a supra-national authority like the United Nations Security Council, which was set up after World War II to create a framework that inter alia would enable putting pressure on a rogue regime without going to war. At least that was the idea, but the sanctions regimes recently put in place unilaterally and without any international authority by the United States have had a remarkable tendency to escalate several conflicts rather than providing the type of pressure that would lead to some kind of agreement.

The most dangerous bit of theater involving sanctions initiated by the Trump administration continues to focus on Iran. Last week, the White House elevated its extreme pressure on the Iranians by engaging in a completely irrational sanctioning of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The sanctions will have no effect whatsoever and they completely contradict Donald Trump’s repeated assertion that he is seeking diplomacy to resolving the conflict with Iran. One doesn’t accomplish that by sanctioning the opposition’s Foreign Minister. Also, the Iranians have received the message loud and clear that the threats coming from Washington have nothing to do with nuclear programs. The White House began its sanctions regime over a year ago when it withdrew from the JCPOA and they have been steadily increasing since that time even though Iran has continued to be fully compliant with the agreement. Recently, the US took the unprecedented step of sanctioning the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is part of the nation’s military.

American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made clear that the sanctions on Iran are intended to cause real pain, which, in fact, they have succeeded in doing. Pompeo and his accomplice in crime National Security Advisor John Bolton believe that enough pressure will motivate the starving people to rise up in the streets and overthrow the government, an unlikely prospect as the American hostility has in fact increased popular support for the regime.

To be sure, ordinary people in Iran have found that they cannot obtain medicine and some types of food are in short supply but they are not about to rebel. The sanctioning in May of Iranian oil exports has only been partially effective but it has made the economy shrink, with workers losing jobs. The sanctions have also led to tit-for-tat seizures of oil and gas tankers, starting with the British interception of a ship carrying Iranian oil to Syria in early July.

Another bizarre escalation in sanctions that has taken place lately relates to the Skripal case in Britain. On August 2nd, Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing a package of new sanctions against Moscow over the alleged poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England in March 2018. The order “prohibit[s] any United States bank from making any loan or providing any credit… except for loans or credits for the purpose of purchasing food or other agricultural commodities or products.” The ban also includes “the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance… by international financial institutions,” meaning that international lenders will also be punished if they fail to follow Washington’s lead.

The sanctions were imposed under the authority provided by the US Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act adopted in 1991, which imposes penalties for use of chemical weapons. Novichok, which was reportedly used on the Skripals, is a chemical weapon developed in the labs of the Soviet Union, though a number of states are believed to currently have supplies of the agent in their arsenals. Russia can appeal the sanctions with 90 days by providing “reliable assurance” that it will not again use chemical weapons.

Russia has strenuously denied any role in the attack on the Skripals and the evidence that has so far been produced to substantiate the Kremlin’s involvement has been less than convincing. An initial package of US-imposed sanctions against Russia that includes the export of sensitive technologies and some financial services was implemented in August 2018.

Venezuela is also under the sanctions gun and is a perfect example how sanctions can escalate into something more punitive, leading incrementally to an actual state of war. Last week Washington expanded its sanctions regime, which is already causing starvation in parts of Venezuela, to include what amounts to a complete economic embargo directed against the Maduro regime that is being enforced by a naval blockade.

The Venezuelan government announced last Wednesday that the United States Navy had seized a cargo ship bound for Venezuela while it was transiting the Panama Canal. According to a government spokesman, the ship’s cargo was soy cakes intended for the production of food. As one of Washington’s raisons d’etre for imposing sanctions on Caracas was that government incompetence was starving the Venezuelan people, the move to aggravate that starvation would appear to be somewhat capricious and revealing of the fact that the White House could care less about what happens to the Venezuelan civilians who are caught up in the conflict.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez condemned the move as “serious aggression,” and accused the Trump Administration of trying to impede Venezuela’s basic right to import food to feed its people.

One of the most pernicious aspects of the sanctions regimes that the United States is imposing is that they are global. When Washington puts someone on its sanctions list, other countries that do not comply with the demands being made are also subject to punishment, referred to as secondary sanctions. The sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, for example, are being globally enforced with some few exceptions, and any country that buys Iranian oil will be punished by being denied access to the US financial and banking system. That is a serious penalty as most international trade and business transactions go through the dollar denominated SWIFT banking network.

Finally, nothing illustrates the absurdity of the sanctions mania as a recent report that President Trump had sent his official hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien to Stockholm to obtain freedom for an American rap musician ASAP Rocky who was in jail after having gotten into a fight with some local boys. The Trumpster did not actually know the lad, but he was vouched for by the likes of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, both of whom have had nice things to say about the president. The negotiator was instructed to tell Sweden that if they did not release Rocky there would be “negative consequences.” Who can doubt that the consequences would undoubtedly have included sanctions?

It has reached the point where the only country that likes the United States is Israel, which is locked into a similar cycle of incessant aggression. To be sure Donald Trump’s rhetoric is part of the problem, but the indiscriminate, illegal and immoral use of sanctions, which punish whole nations for the presumed sins of those nations’ leaders, is a major contributing factor. And the real irony is that even though sanctions cause pain, they are ineffective. Cuba has been under sanctions, technically and embargo, since 1960 and its ruling regime has not collapsed, and there is no chance that Venezuela, Iran or Russia’s government will go away at any time soon either. In fact, real change would be more likely if Washington were to sit down at a negotiating table with countries that it considers enemies and work to find solutions to common concerns. But that is not likely to happen with the current White House line-up, and equally distant with a Democratic Party obsessed with the “Russian threat” and other fables employed to explain its own failings.

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Pompeo ‘Happy’ to Pontificate in Tehran, Revealing US Tyranny of Arrogance

Finian Cunningham
August 3, 2019
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Imagine the spectacle. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sitting in Tehran and telling the Iranian people via a state media interview how “evil” their government is. No wonder tensions with Iran are reaching a flashpoint when Washington is so arrogant and delusional.

Last week, Pompeo told US media he was willing to go to Iran despite the Americans having no diplomatic relations with Tehran. Pompeo was not intending to suddenly meet with Iranian officials. Instead he wants a putative visit to Tehran to be an occasion to get on state media and address the Iranian people “directly”.

In response to a question about whether he was prepared to go to Tehran, the American top diplomat said:

“Sure. If that’s the call, I’d happily go there… I would welcome the chance to speak directly to the Iranian people.”

“I’d like a chance to go [to Tehran], not do propaganda but speak the truth to the Iranian people about what it is their leadership has done and how it has harmed Iran,” he added.

That’s not diplomatic outreach. It is simply about seeking the chance to pontificate in Tehran. Despite claiming he would “not do propaganda”, the talking points that Pompeo would regurgitate on Iranian media would be the usual baseless slander that has become Washington’s standard depiction of Iran. A depiction that Pompeo as well as President Donald Trump have personally propagated.

Iran, according to Washington dogma, is an evil terrorist-sponsoring regime that ruthlessly represses its 80 million people, fueling conflict all over the Middle East, and secretly building nuclear weapons. Typically, the Americans never provide any evidence to substantiate their caricature of Iran. It’s merely a “truth” solidified by relentless repetition of hollow allegations. In short, propaganda.

And Pompeo wants to insult the intelligence of Iranians by being given a pulpit on Iranian state media.

By saying he wants to “speak directly” to the Iranian people, Pompeo is adverting to the real US agenda of fomenting regime change.

America’s official arrogance and hypocrisy are boundless. Every malign activity that Washington accuses Iran of can be thrown straight back at the US with manifold more accuracy of facts. The US has destroyed the Middle East with numerous criminal wars and covert regime-change operations, has sponsored terrorists as its proxies, and has fueled the danger of nuclear war by illegally arming Israel with hundreds of weapons of mass destruction.

President Trump has sinisterly alluded to potentially using WMD against Iran in recent weeks, threatening to deploy overwhelming force “to end the regime”.

Admittedly, the American president has at times said he is open to talks with the Iranian government. His “offer” is unconvincing of an intention for genuine dialogue. Trump expects Iran to come to the negotiating table in an act of surrender and self-debasement to accept his terms of “disarmament”. All the while using the threat of annihilation as a bargaining tool.

Moreover, Pompeo expressed his entitlement to lecture the Iranians and urge them to liberate themselves from a “theocratic tyranny

” because, he said, the Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javid Zarif is allowed “the freedoms of the United States to come here and spread malign propaganda”.

Pompeo was referring to an official visit to the US earlier this month by Zarif who was attending the United Nations in New York City for a diplomatic conference. All foreign diplomats have a sovereign right to attend the UN. Pompeo’s remarks indicate a presumption that the US government has dominion over the UN and international law.

The alleged “malign propaganda” that Pompeo accused Zarif of spreading was an interview he conducted with the NBC news channel at the Iranian ambassador’s residence. During that interview, Zarif did not unload on the litany of factually verifiable war crimes that the US is culpable of.

What Zarif said was a model of restraint and diplomacy. He said that if the US lifted crippling sanctions off Iran, then the “door is wide open” for future negotiations.

Calling for the avoidance of war, the Iranian diplomat pointed out that it was the United States, not Iran, that had undermined diplomacy by walking away from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers, reported NBC.

“It is the United States that left the bargaining table. And they’re always welcome to return,” Zarif added.

What Pompeo calls “malign propaganda” many other people would view as an accurate, if restrained, telling by the Iranian diplomat of how it really is.

Given the unlawful aggression that the Trump administration is wielding against Iran in terms of economic warfare on the country’s vital oil trade and in terms of military force buildup in the Persian Gulf, including nuclear-capable B-52 bombers, what Iran is demonstrating is an immense discipline to maintain regional and world peace.

Iran’s conditions for possible negotiations are eminently reasonable. They include being respected as a sovereign nation and entering into dialogue as a mutual party where discussions can be held on the basis of facts and international law.

Pompeo’s supreme arrogance about America’s presumed exceptional entitlements and superiority are, unfortunately, a sign that Washington is incapable of being a normal state. The real “theocratic tyranny” is in Washington where it has the perverse belief that it has divine right to destroy other nations if they don’t grovel sufficiently at its feet. But those feet are made of the proverbial clay signifying a doomed power, as Iran’s dignity and defiance is revealing.

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Rouhani: War on Iran is The Mother of All Wars, Iran to Emerge Victorious Sooner or Later

By Staff

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that a possible war against Iran is “a mother of all wars”, while peace with Tehran is “the mother of all peace”.

In a speech broadcast live on state-run TV on Tuesday, Rouhani also reiterated Tehran’s readiness to sit down with Washington if it scraps all the sanctions against Iran.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran favors talks and negotiations and, if the US really wants to talk, before anything else it should lift all sanctions”, he underscored.

The Iranian President further highlighted: “We are always ready for negotiation. I tell you this hour and this moment to abandon bullying and lift the sanctions and return to logic and wisdom. We are ready.”

He added that Iran had shifted its approach from “strategic patience” to “reciprocal action” and would respond in kind to any of Washington’s steps related to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

According to Rouhani: “Certain parties in the nuclear deal have violated commitments to deprive Iran of economic benefits.”

“Zionists, reactionary states, and US hardliners sought to destroy JCPOA from the beginning,” Rouhani stated, noting that “Only certain US cronies support [US President Donald] Trump’s decision to withdraw from The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].”

In parallel, he underscored that Iran took calculated step to scale back certain commitments under JCPOA. “Our reduction to nuclear commitments is not a burden on us.”

“All US sanctions against Iran have proved to be its own detriment,” Rouhani stressed, pointing out that “The Americans have proved that their words are far from truth.”

In a clear message to the US and regional rivals, the Iranian President warned: “No one can target our security and seeks peace for himself.”

“Iran to emerge victorious from US restrictions sooner or later,” he concluded.

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China, Other Countries Receive Oil From 12 Iranian Ships in the Teeth of US Sanctions – Report

Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 sits anchored after it was seized earlier this month by British Royal Marines off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory on suspicion of violating sanctions against Syria, in the Strait of Gibraltar, southern Spain July 20, 2019

Since Beijing reiterated its commitment to the JCPOA accord in late July at a gathering of the signatories, it has emerged that Iran has been much more actively proceeding with oil deliveries than was previously believed, with tankers following sea routes not only to China, but – probably – to a number of Mediterranean countries as well.

China and a number of other states are receiving oil supplies from a greater number of Iranian tankers than was previously estimated, in defiance of the sanctions slapped on Iranian oil producers by the US, an investigative piece with respective gif-maps by the New York Times has suggested.

Having reviewed data from MarineTraffic and Refinitiv, two ship-tracking services, as well as satellite imagery from Planet Labs and analysis from shipping and energy experts, the edition has found that at least 12 Iranian tankers have loaded and shipped oil across the Indian Ocean to China, as well as all the way to the Eastern Mediterranean, possibly to Syria and Turkey, since 2 May, while countries that accept the cargo risk economic penalties at the hands of the US. At least six of those tankers were found to have delivered their cargo to ports in China – historically the top buyer of Iranian oil, which also happens to be in a severe ongoing trade war with Washington.

Meanwhile, only some of the aforementioned 12 tankers were previously known to have proceeded with Iranian oil deliveries, The NY Times specified.

“US sanctions have not stopped Iran from moving oil to the Mediterranean and Asia”, said Noam Raydan, an analyst at ClipperData, which tracks international crude shipments.

International law doesn’t in prohibit buying and hauling Iranian oil or related products, but those that have continued to do so since 8 May when Trump unilaterally pulled out from the JCPOA deal, are in Washington’s crosshairs.

The Trump administration’s oil sanctions, which mainly went into effect last November, are therefore unilateral, signifying a new low in Washington’s relations with the Islamic Republic. The administration initially granted eight governments permission to continue buying Iranian oil despite the sanctions, but withdrew those exemptions on 2 May 2019.

American officials have said that the sanctions are aimed at cutting off money to the Iranian government in order to prompt the country to make further concessions on its national nuclear and missile programmes, as well as transform its foreign and home policy.

In May, Tehran announced that it would partially suspend its obligations under the JCPOA (which stipulates that Iran guarantee the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme in exchange for the easing of economic limitations) giving the other agreement signatories 60 days to save the accord by facilitating oil exports and trade with Iran, which the US had vowed to bring to zero.

As the deadline expired, Iran said it would begin enriching uranium beyond the 3.67 percent level stipulated by the JCPOA and warned it would gradually give up its nuclear commitments, taking steps every 60 days. The Persian Gulf state has for now stepped up uranium enrichment to 4.5 percent, breaking the 3.67 percent limit allowed under the treaty, after accusing Germany, France, and the United Kingdom of insufficient effort to shield the country from US sanctions.

Last week, signatories to the JCPOA, including EU countries, China, and Russia, met in Vienna for an emergency gathering during which the Chinese delegation’s head reiterated Beijing’s commitment to the deal and denounced the US’ harsh policies vis-à-vis Iran.

Why The End Of The INF Treaty Will Not Start A New Arms Race

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Moon of Alabama

August 03, 2019

Yesterday the U.S. left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. The end of this and other treaties that eliminated or restricted the deployment of nuclear systems is seen by some as the beginning of a news arms race:

William J. Perry – @SecDef19 – 7:37 PM · Aug 2, 2019The U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty today deals a great blow to nuclear arms control and global security, we are sleepwalking into a new arms race.

The former Secretary of Defense is wrong. The race will not happen because Russia (and China) won’t run. Or said differently, they already won.

To understand why that is the case we have to look at the history if the nuclear treaties and their demise.

In 1976 the Soviet Union started to deploy nuclear armed SS-20 (RSD-10 Pioneer) intermediate range missiles in Europe. The west-Europeans, especially Germany, feared that these missiles would decouple the U.S. from western Europe. The Soviet Union might tell the U.S. that it would not use its intercontinental nuclear missiles against the U.S. mainland as long as the U.S. would not fire its intercontinental missiles into the Soviet Union. It could then use the SS-20 to attack NATO in Europe while the U.S. would refrain from nuclear counter strikes on the Soviet Union. Europe would become a nuclear battle field while the U.S. and the Soviet Union would be left untouched.

The German chancellor Helmut Schmidt urged the U.S. to station nuclear armed intermediate range missiles in western Europe to press the Soviets to eliminate the SS-20. In 1979 NATO made the double track decision. It would deploy U.S. made Pershing IImissiles in Europe and at the same time offer the Soviet Union a treaty to ban all such intermediate range weapons. The effort was successful.

The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (later Russia) banned all of the two countries’ land-based ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and missile launchers with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310-3,420 mi). All SS-20 and Pershing II missiles were withdrawn and destroyed. A nuclear war in Europe became less likely.

Another successful treaty was the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. It prohibited both sides from deploying more than one ABM system. It was necessary because the side that thought it had a working anti-ballistic missile defense could launch a massive first strike on the other side, destroy most of its forces, and defend itself against the smaller retaliation strike that would follow. Both sides were better off with prohibiting ABM in general and to rely on Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) for the prevention of a nuclear war.

In June 2002 U.S. President George W. Bush, under the influence of one John Bolton, withdrew from the ABM treaty which led to its termination. The U.S. deployed ABM system in Alaska and California but during tests the systems proved to be unreliable.

The U.S. claimed at that time that ABM was needed to defend against nuclear missiles from North Korea and Iran. That was always obvious nonsense. At that time North Korea had no missile that could reach the United States and Iran has no nukes and limits the range of its missiles to 2,000 kilometer.

Russia saw the U.S. step as an attempt to achieve a first strike capability against it. It immediately started the development of new system that would make the U.S. anti-missile defense irrelevant.

The U.S. also pressed NATO to deploy ABM systems in Europe. Iran was again cited as the main danger. Plans were developed to deploy Patriot and THAAD anti-missile system in Poland and Romania. These did not immediately endangered Russia. But in 2009 President Obama canceled the deployment and came up with a more devilish plan. The AEGIS system used on many U.S. war ships would be converted into a land based versionand deployed in an alleged ABM role. AEGIS consist of radar, a battle management system and canister missiles launchers. The big issue is that these canisters can contain very different types of missiles. While the Standard Missile-2 or 3 can be launched from those canisters in an ABM role, the very same canisters can also hold nuclear armed cruise missile with a range of 2,400 kilometer.

Russia had no means to detect which type of missiles the U.S. would deploy on these sites. It had to assume that nuclear intermediate range nuclear missiles will be in those canisters. In 2016 the U.S. activated the first of these AEGIS ashore systems in Romania. It was that step that broke the INF treaty.

That Obama had earlier signed a nuclear agreement with Iran that made sure that Iran would never build nukes made it obvious that Russia is the one and only target of those system:

During a visit to Greece intended to repair ties with the EU, Vladimir Putin said that Russia has “no choice” but to target Romania, which has recently opened a NATO missile defense base, and Poland, which plans to do so within two years.“If yesterday people simply did not know what it means to be in the crosshairs in those areas of Romania, then today we will be forced to carry out certain measures to ensure our security. And it will be the same with Poland,” Putin said during a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens on Friday.

“At the moment the interceptor missiles installed have a range of 500 kilometers, soon this will go up to 1000 kilometers, and worse than that, they can be rearmed with 2400km-range offensive missiles even today, and it can be done by simply switching the software, so that even the Romanians themselves won’t know,” said Putin, who is in Greece for a two-day tour.

Russia urged the U.S. to negotiate about the issue but the U.S. rejected that. A year after the U.S. deployed its system in Romania it alleged that Russia itself was in breach of the INF treaty. It claimed that Russia deployed the 9M729 missile, an extended range version of a previous missile, with a range that exceeds the limits of the INF treaty. Russia says that the missile is just a technical upgrade of an older one and has a maximum range below 500 kilometers. The U.S. never provided evidence for its claim.

In January 2019 the U.S. rejected a Russian offer to inspect the new Russian missile and started to pull out of the INF treaty. It gave a six month notice on February 2 and yesterday the INF treaty terminated.

Neither the New York Times obituary of the treaty nor the CNN write-up mention the ABM system in Romania and Poland that were the first to breach of the treaty. Both repeat the unproven claim that Russia deployed new intermediate range systems as fact.

The Europeans in NATO are not happy about the treaty’s end:

The official demise of a landmark arms control pact between the US and Russia is a “bad day” for stability in Europe, the military alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN Friday, hours after the US withdrew from the pact.Speaking to CNN’s Hala Gorani, the Norwegian politician called the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Moscow a “serious setback.”

“I’m part of a political generation that was shaped during the 1980s, where we all were concerned for the risk of nuclear war and where we were actually able to reach the INF treaty that didn’t only reduce the missiles but banned all intermediate range missiles and weapons,” he said.

Stoltenberg went on to blame Russia without mentioning the fake U.S. “ABM” sites in Romania and Poland.

It was John Bolton who was behind the demise of the ABM treaty and it was John Bolton who convinced Trump to terminate the INF treaty. With Bolton in the lead the New Start treaty, which limits intercontinental systems but ends in 2021, will likely not be renewed. Soon the whole system of treaties that limited U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons and delivery means will be gone.

Why is the U.S. so eager to end all these? It is known John Bolton hates anything that restricts the U.S., but there is also a larger strategy behind it. The U.S. believes that it defeated the Soviet Union by creating an arms race that the Soviets lost. It hopes that it can do the same with a recalcitrant Russia. But that calculation is wrong. President Putin has long said that Russia will not fall for it:

Moscow will not engage in an exhausting arms race, and the country’s military spending will gradually decrease as Russia does not seek a role as the “world gendarme,” President Vladimir Putin said.Moscow is not seeking to get involved in a “pointless” new arms race, and will stick to “smart decisions” to strengthen its defensive capabilities, Putin said on Friday during an annual extended meeting of the Defense Ministry board.

As Patrick Armstrong explains well:

Putin & Co have learned: Russia has no World-Historical purpose and its military is just for Russia. They understand what this means for Russia’s Armed Forces:Moscow doesn’t have to match the US military; it just has to checkmate it.

And it doesn’t have to checkmate it everywhere, only at home. The US Air Force can rampage anywhere but not in Russia’s airspace; the US Navy can go anywhere but not in Russia’s waters. It’s a much simpler job and it costs much less than what Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev were attempting; it’s much easier to achieve; it’s easier to plan and carry out. The exceptionalist/interventionist has to plan for Everything; the nationalist for One Thing.

Russia already has all the weapons it needs to defend itself. U.S. warfare depends on satellite communication, air superiority and missiles. But Russia’s air defense and electronic warfare systems are first class. They demonstrated in Syria that their capabilities exceed any U.S. systems.

When the U.S. left the ABM treaty Russia started to develop new weapons. In 2018 it was ready and demonstrated weapon systems that defeat any ABM system. The U.S. can not longer achieve first strike capability against Russia no matter how many ABM systems and nukes it deploys. There is no defense against hypersonic systems, nuclear torpedoes or nuclear powered cruise missiles with unlimited reach.

If the U.S. wants to start a new arms race with Russia or China it will be the only one to run. It will have to run fast to catch up.

Unlike the U.S. neither Russia nor China try to achieve world wide hegemony. They only have the need to defend their realm. The U.S. threat against both of them made them allies. If China needs more defense capabilities Russia will be happy to provide these. A U.S. nuclear attack against either of them, from Europe, Japan or the U.S. itself, will be responded to with a nuclear attack on the U.S. mainland. As the U.S. has no ability to defend itself from the new Russian systems it will continue to be deterred.

Posted by b on August 3, 2019 at 18:55 UTC | Permalink

معاهدة الصواريخ: آخر دوائر الاشتباك

أغسطس 3, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– أول الاستنتاجات التي يؤكدها اندلاع أزمة معاهدة الصواريخ الاستراتيجية والمتوسطة بين موسكو وواشنطن، هو السقوط المدوّي للنظريّة القائلة بأن كل اهتمام روسيا كان منصباً خلال العقدين الماضيين على كيفية التدخل في ملفات نزاعات إقليميّة سعياً للتحرّش التفاوضي بواشنطن والحصول على صفقة تعترف لها بدور ما وتمنحها بعض المكاسب. فالقضية في أزمة الصواريخ هي قضية روسية أميركية صرفة لا تتصل بطرف ثالث، كحال الأزمات الإقليمية. وهذا يعني أنه عندما تفتح هذه الأزمة، فيما لا تزال العناوين الإقليمية مفتوحة في أربع جهات الأرض، من أوكرانيا وكوريا الشمالية إلى فنزويلا وسورية وإيران، أن النزاع الأصلي الحاكم في العالم هو روسي أميركي، وأن كلاً من الطرفين يخوض حروبه عبر البحث عن تحالفات راسخة في خيار المواجهة مع الآخر، ولكن عينه على الطرف الآخر، وكيف يزداد قوة أو ضعفاً.

– هذا يجب أن يكون كافياً لطرد الفرضيات القائمة على مساومات يمكن أن تجريها موسكو على حساب مَن تحالفهم، بل ربما يكون العكس هو القائم، خشية روسية من تسويات منتصف الطريق التي قد يعقدها حلفاؤها، كما كان حال كوريا الشمالية في فترة، وكما أرادت واشنطن من الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، لكن إيران فضلت مواصلة المواجهة مع واشنطن في سورية وفلسطين واليمن وسواها، عندما تثبتت من عزم موسكو على الاستمرار. وكانت التضحية بالاتفاق النووي ثمناً لا بد من دفعه على هذا الطريق المشترك الذي ترجم بالانتصارات المشتركة في سورية.

– في أزمة الصواريخ قضيتان يجب شرحهما، الأولى أن روسيا كانت مستعدة لمواصلة العمل بالمعاهدة شرط التزام أميركي حقيقي بمضمونها، لكن بدا واضحاً من ولاية الرئيس السابق باراك اوباما أن واشنطن عاجزة عن المضي قدماً فيه، بسبب ضغط جماعات الصناعات العسكرية لزيادة العقود مع الحكومة الأميركية وتضامن وزارة الدفاع وضباطها للخروج من المعاهدة، أو من آلياتها التطبيقية إذا صمتت موسكو على الخداع وقبلت مجرد الالتزام النظري، وهو ما كان مقبولاً لمدة في موسكو الضعيفة، لكنه ما عاد وارداً في زمن الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين، الذي قال مراراً إما التزام متزامن ومتوازن أو خروج من المعاهدة.

– الأمر الثاني في الأزمة هو ما بدا من توازن آخر في التهديدات المتبادلة، وهو يحدث لأول مرة منذ الستينيات في القرن الماضي وما عرف بأزمة خليج الخنازير حول كوبا بين موسكو واشنطن، ففيما تعلن واشنطن عزمها نشر صواريخ جديدة في الجوار الأوروبي لروسيا، ردّت موسكو بإعلان العزم على نشر صواريخ موازية في كوبا وربما أيضاً في فنزويلا.

أزمة الصواريخ هي آخر مساحات الاشتباك المفتوح بين موسكو واشنطن، بعدما امتلأت الجغرافيا ببؤر التوتر ودارت حرب العقوبات، ولم يتبقَ إلا الساحة الأصعب، وهي تعبير عن فرصة لا تزال مفتوحة للقوى التي ترغب بالتحرّر من الهيمنة الأميركية للاستثمار على موقع روسيا الحاسم في هذه المواجهة، حتى يتحقق التوازن المنشود على الساحة الدولية.

هل يُنقِذُ النظام الإيراني «الشرق الأوسط» وقوى أخرى صاعدة…؟

يوليو 30, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

يدافعُ النظام السياسي في إيران عن جمهوريته أولاً، في وجه أكبر استهداف أميركي غير مسبوق، لكن نجاحه في هذا المشروع يُطلق رذاذاً إقليمياً يُصحّحُ العلاقة بين الأميركيين والدول المستتبعة لهم بدرجات كبيرة، رافعاً من متانة حلفائه وفاتحاً أبواباً كبيرة أمام تغيّرات عالمية.

لذلك تتسم الحرب على إيران بمميّزات إيرانية وعربية وشرق أوسطية وعالمية، وهذا ليس من قبيل المبالغة بقدر ما يعكس قراءات متأنية لمكاتب دراسات عالمية تعتبر أنّ حرب الخليج هي بديل من الحرب العالمية الثالثة «المستحيلة» إنما بأدوات «موضعية» لا تفني الأرض وتحقق الغرض المرجو.

إنّ أسباب الاتجاه الأميركي نحو عقوبات اقتصادية قاتلة تدريجياً لها علاقات بأبحاث أميركية دقيقة، اعتبرت أنّ هذه الحرب ذات أمد طويل إذا كانت تقليدية بالأسلحة الكلاسيكية حتى المتطوّرة منها، وذلك بسبب اتساع مساحة إيران وقدرتها على التحمّل وما تملكه من بنية تسليحية معتبرة.

وهذه وضعية تسمح لتحالفاتها في الإقليم بالتحرك وتفجير مدى كبير يتحوّل بسرعة نزاعاً دولياً مفتوحاً.

هناك أسباب أخرى على تماس مع اقتراب موعد الانتخابات الرئاسية في 2020 ما يفرض على المرشحين ومنهم الرئيس الأميركي الحالي ترامب تحاشيها قدر الإمكان بسبب نمو مزاجٍ شعبي أميركي جديد رافض للحروب المستنزفة للاقتصاد.

كما أنّ الحرب الطويلة تشجع البلدان ذات الطموحات الاقتصادية والساعية الى ادوار عالمية، بالتموضع فيها، لتحسين مواقعها في مراكز القوى المنتظرة. وهذا حال أوروبا والصين وروسيا، فمن كان يتصوّر أنّ بلداً مثل كوريا الجنوبية يرسل سفينة حربية إلى مياه الخليج للمشاركة بالمشروعين الأميركي والأوروبي، لحماية أمن الملاحة فيها على حدّ زعمها.

هناك إذاً نزوع عالمي للانتماء الى «أزمة الخليج» بالمشاركة في أمن الملاحة فيها بعد تيقن كلّ الاتجاهات السياسية في العالم بصعوبة الحسم فيها، وذلك تطبيقاً لمفهوم «أنّ كلّ من يحضر السوق يبيع ويشتري».

في المقابل يستفيد البيت الأبيض من قدرته على جذب الأوروبيين والآسيويين وعرب الخليج الى مشروعه بخنق إيران معتقداً انه يستدرجهم بالتلويح الوهمي لهم بإمكانية قبوله بأدوار اقتصادية لهم في الشرق الأوسط إلا أنّ الأميركيين يظنون أنهم نجحوا في الفرار من فكرتي الحرب الكلاسيكية الشديدة الكلفة والحرب النووية ذات الآفاق الكونية وذلك في اتجاه حرب اقتصادية لها مفاعيل الحروب التدميرية لا تكلفهم إلا استعمال هيمنة الأحادية الأميركية في العالم بفرض عقوبات لا تستطيع تجاوزها إلا الدول ذات القدرات العالمية وقد لا تنجح، لتمكن الاقتصاد الأميركي من الإمساك بالعالم الاقتصادي بالدولار من جهة ونفوذ الاسواق الأميركية بيعاً وشراءً من جهة ثانية بالاضافة الى النفوذ الجيوبوليتيكي الأميركي الذي ينشر نحو 800 قاعدة عسكرية في العالم، تؤمن ولاء مئات الدول من دون الحاجة الى استثمار مباشر.

لذلك تفرز هذه المعطيات ثلاث قراءات: أميركية ترى انّ أسلوب الخنق الاقتصادي فاعل يؤدّي غرضه وتؤيّدها «إسرائيل» وبلدان الخليج وبلدان أخرى بعيدة عن المسرح المباشر، اما الثانية فمعظم أوروبا التي تعتقد انّ أزمة الخليج لن تنتج رابحاً من الطرفين الأميركي والإيراني فتستطيع بهذه الحالة الاستفادة من إنهاك إيران للأميركيين فتدخل الى الشرق الأوسط من بوابة الصمود الإيراني.

بدوريهما تعمل روسيا والصين على إسناد إيران لأنهما متأكدتان من انّ خروجها السليم من الخنق الأميركي لا يعني إلا اتساع تحالفات إيران في الشرق الأوسط على حساب النفوذ الأميركي، وهذا يتيح لهما حرية حركة واسعة في ميدان استراتيجي اعتادت الدول الكبرى ان تصبح عظمى من خلال السيطرة عليه، أليس هذا حال فرنسا وانجلتره وحالياً الولايات المتحدة الأميركية في المراحل التاريخية الأخيرة؟

ألا تؤكد هذه القراءات على اعتماد دول كثيرة على الصمود الإيراني لتحسين مواقعها في الشرق الأوسط؟ لكنها لا تستطيع التعبير عن نياتها بشكل علني، أو توفير سياسات واضحة تؤدي إليه خشية جذب غضب أميركي عليها قد لا تحمد عقباه؟

ماذا الآن عن إيران الطرف المستهدَف بالخنق؟

ردود فعل إيران تكشف أنّ فريقها الحاكم يعرف لماذا اختار الأميركيون العقوبات القاتلة ضدّها؟

فقسموا أزمة الأميركيين معهم إلى ثلاث نقاط: نووي باليستي – وتحالفات سياسية، مدركين انّ الذريعة النووية ليست حقيقية لأنهم لا يملكون سلاحاً نووياً وكذلك فإنّ الصواريخ سلاح دفاعي يقصف إمكانات الخصم ولا قدرة احتلالية فيه، اما التحالفات السياسية فتجسّد قوى تجتمع مع الإيرانيين بالسياسة، لكنها عربية وتعبّر عن قسم هام من توجهات شعوب المنطقة الرافضة للحلف الأميركي الخليجي الإسرائيلي.

أين المشكلة اذاً؟ موجودة في إيران نفسها، وعلى مستوى نظامها السياسي حصراً، فاستمراره يؤدي الى استمرار العداء الإيراني مع تحالفاته الإقليمية للنفوذ الأميركي في الشرق الاوسط والعالم الإسلامي.

وقد يذهب في مراحل معينة لإنتاج النووي وتطوير الباليستي ما يتيح لإيران التموضع في مواقع بين المستويين الإقليمي والدولي على حساب التمدّد الأميركي.

لذلك تكشف هذه القراءات بوضوح ما ذهب إليه مؤتمر فيينا الأخير لدول الأربع زائد واحد أعضاء الاتفاق النووي الذي انسحب منه الأميركيون في 2018، وهي روسيا والصين وفرنسا وبريطانيا وألمانيا، فهذه الدول لا تريد خنقاً أميركياً لإيران لكنها تخشى اتخاذ تدابير داعمة لتحاشي الغضب الأميركي، فتحاول التحايل بتدابير خفيفة على طريقة «لا تقتل الذئب ولا تفني الغنم».

وتراهن في الوقت نفسه على صمود إيران لمنع الاحتكار الأميركي للعالم، بموازاة تحرك روسي صيني مدعوم أوروبياً هو الوحيد القادر على تزويد إيران بالحدّ المقبول من دعم اقتصادي يُحبط الخطة الأميركية بما يشبه التسوية وليس «الغُلب».

بذلك يمنحُ الصمود الإيراني الشرق الأوسط وروسيا والصين وأوروبا فرصة الاستفادة من الخيبة الأميركية دافعاً نحو إعادة تشكل المراكز الجديدة للقوة التي تدفع نحو شرق أوسط جديد يلتحق بالقرن الواحد والعشرين متخلياً عن دولة القرون أوسطية

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