(Philosophy Poem) Lies, Spies And Cover Thy Ass Again

(Philosophy Poem) Lies, Spies And Cover Thy Ass Again

 

Our great Nations and Corporations to them we cower

They now have annualized every single thing about us

They know us, o yes, they do know us all so very well

But our own Government wouldn’t sell out all our people

Yet is it the truth when they speak to us, or just more lies

 

Our very own government, is it filled with half truth tellers

They had shot down a passenger jet, would our own government

Would our own government be as honest about this ‘mistake’

I pray that they would stand-up with the truth in their hands

Let us all know of their horrible mistake, be open about it

 

Rage is something easy to carry on and on from generations

Yet this one thing I do salute Iran’s government on honesty

There I said it, now Hell has frozen over in Iran and D.C.

Advantageous to tell the truth, better than a myth or a lie

No wonder most trust no-one to ever just tell them the truth

 

Life for a few is always a life about covering their own behinds first

Yet is everything we see or hear first filtered before it even gets to us

Would we know it if Good or Evil walked right past us this very day

Have we sold ourselves to the Madness of un-guaranteed tomorrows

Send Hate back in time, pray that we let God’s love and respect guide us

Did God Shoot Down The Ukrainian Passenger Jet In Iraq?

Did God Shoot Down The Ukrainian Passenger Jet In Iraq?

 

Do you think that God ‘directed’ an Iranian missile into the Ukrainian passenger jet at the Baghdad Iraqi airport a couple of days ago? Even though I was hoping that the missiles the Iranian leadership had fired at military bases in Iraq would be the end of the tit for tat with the U.S. (President Trump) over his killing of their mass murdering General it appears that this was only wishful thinking. I read in this mornings news feeds that Iran fired 8 more missiles at another Iraqi Air Base where some American soldiers are based at. This attack was said to have been telegraphed to the Americans and they were able to get all of their soldiers underground before the missiles struck. It has been written that 4 Iraqi soldiers were injured though, how badly was not part of the news information though.

 

I had been hoping that with the Iranian government’s announcement that they were at fault for blowing that Boeing Jet out of the sky that just maybe that would be enough damage (176 dead) that Iran and Mr. Trump would grow up and decide to act like adults, but it appears that this was asking for to much of both. I have seen one live feed of the jet being shot down and it appears to me that Iran fired a bunch of missiles at 3 different Iraqi military fields and about 50 miles short of their target one of the missiles struck the jet very shortly after it took off from the Baghdad Airport. That was poor execution by Iran’s Military, not realizing that for their missiles to reach their target that the missiles would be whizzing right by a major airport, or they simply didn’t give a damn if a jet liner of two or three got hit in the process. Personally via their governments past actions I would go with option number two of those two lines of thought. I was honestly thinking that the unintentional death of 176 civilians just might be enough of an event that both sides would decide to become ‘gun shy’ and maybe the loss of their lives would stop a hot war between Iran and the U.S. from happening. It appears that this was just a flaw of decency hoping for there to be no war.

Did God Cause That Jet To Crash?

 

Personally to this question I say, no. There is Biblical precedent where God has taken (killed) a person or persons because He knew that they were young and innocent now but that as time passed He also knew that they would become lost so He took them before age corrupted their Soul getting them condemned later on in their life. But, God has only done this when talking about ‘A’ person, not a whole group of people. One of the reasons that we humans do not have any God given right to kill another person is because if we do kill we are in essence condemning others to Hell by not giving them their full time here on this rock and if they were not in a “saved’ condition and we killed them, we condemned them and our own selves. Even if there were a person or two or even a hundred on that plane that God had decided to ‘bring home’ early He would not have done so at the expense of 176 lives. No, evil, ignorance and ego killed those 176 people, God didn’t do this.

176 killed after Ukraine International Airlines plane crashes in Tehran shortly after takeoff

176 killed after Ukraine International Airlines plane crashes in Tehran shortly after takeoff

(CNN)All 176 people on board a Ukraine International Airlines flight were killed when it crashed shortly after takeoff from Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran, the country’s state-run Press TV reported.

The Boeing 737 jet took off early Wednesday morning with 167 passengers and nine crew on board, Press TV reported, citing Ali Khashani, a senior public relations official at the airport.
Earlier reports from Iranian state media had said 180 people were on board.
Emergency crews were dispatched to the crash site but could not assist because the area is currently ablaze, said Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iran’s Emergency Medical Services. Koulivand told state-run media outlet IRINN that the crash site is between the cities of Parand and Shahriar.
Flight-tracking service FlightRadar 24 said in a tweet that the jet had been in service for about three and a half years.
Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA reported the crash was due to technical difficulties.
A Boeing spokesperson told CNN they are “aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information.”
First responders are seen after the crash.

The crash takes place just days before the company’s new CEO David Calhoun will formally take the job. Calhoun replaces Dennis Muilenburg, who was ousted in December after Boeing’s disastrous year.
The American aviation giant is still reeling from the aftermath of two 737 Max crashes, which killed 346 people. The Max has been grounded worldwide since March, and the company has struggled with delays and other issues in its bid to get the planes back in the air.
This is a developing story and will be updated.

Do Not Be Ignorant Enough To Take-Out Iranian National Monuments

Do Not Be Ignorant Enough To Take-Out Iranian National Monuments

 

The General that President Trump ordered the hit on a couple days ago surprised me, I didn’t expect it. This General was a founding block of the hatred from within parts of Shiite Islam. To many now, this mass murderer is now a martyr for millions. But if President Trump did this with any thoughts turned towards to create a crisis, to get peoples minds off of his impeachment, then what?

 

Lets get to the main topic, President Trump has been threatening Iran that he/we will hit at least 52 of their monuments, personally I believe this to be a horrible idea. You do this, take them out and you will unite all of the population of the Shiite believers against us. You do this foolish thing then retaliation against our own, is a certain. Iran and the believers of hard line Shiite believe that they are now in a Holy War against the West, especially against the U.S.. When President George W. Bush invaded Iraq I believe it was just to one-up his Dad. A lot of people have died because of his tunnel vision. Then we bomb to bits Iraq’s infrastructure and at that time commit another huge miscalculation. W. and Mr. Dick rewarded a lot of great government contracts to American firms who hired Americans and Westerners which kept the people of Iraq unemployed and without basic fundamental services like electricity, running clean water, and food. Folks, we can’t go back into (military actions) in Iraq by doing the very thing that will unite those who hate us, against us in Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Iraq. The Government’s beliefs are the problems one may think, so do not take out our anger on their people, leave them alone. There is a difference in a mental state of war and a religion based mental state of war, the hate and the resolve are much deeper. We are going to now have to fight this Tiger with many Kittens as a part of our Nations new DNA. Taking out their National Monuments, is not a good idea folks.

Canada/U.S. Border stops for people of Iranian descent spark outrage

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO)

 

Border stops for people of Iranian descent spark outrage

The reaction to the detentions at a Canadian crossing and a New York airport came after the U.S. killing of an Iranian military commander.

CBP agents

Reports of Iranians and Iranian-Americans being detained for questioning upon entering the U.S. kicked off a furor on Sunday from Washington state to Washington, D.C., marking a new domestic blow back to the Trump administration’s targeted killing of a key Iranian leader.

The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a prominent Muslim civil liberties group, said on Sunday that more than 60 people of Iranian descent, including American citizens, were held for hours long periods of questioning over the weekend at the Peace Arch checkpoint in Blaine, Wash., along the border with Canada. CAIR noted that many Iranian-Americans would continue to approach the port of entry over the weekend as some return to the U.S. after attending an Iranian pop concert Saturday in Vancouver.

The initial reports and the backlash they triggered — with references to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II — highlighted the potential risks inside the U.S. even before the fierce retaliation promised by the Iranian government for the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite paramilitary forces, by a U.S. military drone on Thursday.

CAIR said in its statement that a source at U.S. Customs and Border Protection had reported that the agency received a national directive from the Department of Homeland Security to “‘report’ and detain anyone with Iranian heritage entering the country who is deemed potentially suspicious or ‘adversarial,’ regardless of citizenship status.”

“We are working to verify reports of a broad nationwide directive to detain Iranian-Americans at ports of entry so that we can provide community members with accurate travel guidance,” Masih Fouladi, executive director of CAIR’s Washington chapter, said in a statement.

Len Saunders, an immigration attorney in Blaine, said his contacts through CBP indicated that headquarters in Washington had ordered new vetting procedures, which appear to be directed toward people born in Iran, that require port directors to sign off on admitting anyone held for questioning.

A CBP spokesperson denied that DHS or the agency had issued any such directive.

“Social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian-Americans and refusing their entry into the U.S. because of their country of origin are false,” the spokesperson said.

The agency says it often adjusts operations and staffing to balance security needs with lawful travel and trade. Processing times at the Blaine port of entry reached an average of two hours Saturday evening, though CBP said some travelers waited up to four hours to cross.

Sam Sadr, who lives in North Vancouver, said he was held for nearly nine hours at the Peace Arch border crossing on Saturday after the birthplace printed on his Canadian passport caught the attention of the U.S. customs officer.

Sadr, who was born in Tehran, told POLITICO he was on his way to Seattle for the day with his family. The officer, he said, asked him to pull over and go into the border office to provide more information.

Sadr recalled arriving at the border at 11:07 a.m. Pacific time. He and his family were finally allowed to enter the U.S. around 7:45 p.m.

In between those times, the officers took their passports and asked lots of questions, he said. After a couple of hours, the officers asked the same questions again.

They wanted to know where they were coming from, where they went to school, whether they had military backgrounds and whether they had firearms licences, Sadr said.

“Why me? Why my parents? Why my sisters, brothers? I don’t know,” said Sadr, a professional photographer who received his Canadian citizenship two years ago.

“We are innocent. … This completely discriminates.”

While he was waiting, he said, he saw many other people of Iranian descent also held up at the border crossing. He said some people, including officers, appeared to be frustrated with the situation.

Sadr, who left Iran more than 12 years ago, said he and his family stayed in the U.S. for only about an hour since it was so late and the stores had closed.

Asked for comment on Sadr’s story and to explain the discrepancy between the “four hours” figure in CBP’s statement and Sadr’s nearly nine hour ordeal, a CBP spokesperson said the agency stood by their earlier statement.

Attorneys monitoring the situation at the border in Washington state said they had not seen any evidence that American citizens with Iranian ties were denied entry to the U.S. Those being held for questioning are now being processed more quickly — within 30 to 60 minutes, rather than upwards of 10 hours as some experienced on Saturday, said Matt Adams, legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project’s Seattle office.

“It doesn’t make any sense, because these are individuals who are U.S. citizens and don’t have any individualized suspicion associated with them, other than the fact that they’re Iranian or of Iranian heritage,” he said. “What’s clear is that they are being targeted for the secondary inspection because of their Iranian background, and there must be some kind of directive” to CBP officers to pull them over, he added.

Attorneys in Washington state said CBP officers’ questions focused on travelers’ family members and where they went to school or worked, as well as whether they or a relative had any ties to the Iranian military.

The questioning of Iranians and Iranian-Americans wasn’t unique to Washington state.

John Ghazvinian, an Iranian-American historian and U.S. citizen, said he was subject to additional questioning on Sunday when he flew back on Air France from a trip to Egypt.

“Well, just landed at JFK and — no surprise — got taken to the special side room and got asked (among other things) how I feel about the situation with Iran,” he wrote in a tweet that went viral. “I wanted to be like: my book comes out in September, preorder now on amazon.”

In an interview, he said that the first CBP officer flipped through his passport and asked him, “When was the last time you were in Libya?”, to which he replied, “I’ve never been to Libya.” The officer quickly corrected himself to say “Iran,” to which Ghazvinian told him that he had last been there in 2009. He then was asked more questions in a private secondary screening, he said, the first time he’s ever been held up when returning to the U.S.

Asked whether he felt he was pulled aside because he was Iranian-American, he said he didn’t “want to speculate on another person’s private thoughts or motivations, but [the officer’s] first question was about the last time I had been to Iran.”

Ghazvinian, the interim director of the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said that the officers told him they had flagged him for extra scrutiny because it looked as though he had bought a one-way ticket to the U.S., when in fact he hadn’t. The female CBP officer, whom he described as “very friendly,” also asked him in the secondary screening whether he had family members in Iran and what they thought of what is going on. He told them he hadn’t talked to them about the situation.

Then she asked him what he thought of the tensions between the U.S. and Iran, to which he responded by saying he didn’t think the question was relevant. “She said, ‘We are just curious about what people think about these things,’ and I said, ‘It feels a little political,’ and then she dropped it,” he recalled.

The events, which he called “inherently a stressful experience” and “nerve-wracking,” involved a five- to 10-minute wait and around three minutes of questioning, he said.

Soon after he cleared immigration and customs, he sent out the tweet and said he was “surprised by the attention it got. … It was not my intention to paint myself as some type of victim here. I don’t feel that way.”

“To be honest, I thought it was just funny and so I just sent out what I thought was a lighthearted tweet,” he said.

Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project, said the accounts made public thus far were “very disturbing” and were stoking fear among a population already sensitive to border issues, given the Trump administration’s travel restrictions on Iranian nationals.

“The government has a legitimate interest in verifying identity, citizenship or legal status at the border, but it has no business infringing on the constitutional rights of citizens and legal permanent residents by detaining and invasively questioning them about their associations, religious or political beliefs or practices,” Shamsi said.

Reps. Adam Smith and Pramila Jayapal, both Seattle-area Democrats, tweeted Sunday that they were trying to gather more information on the detentions at the border with British Columbia.

“Let me be clear: Instituting xenophobic, shameful and unconstitutional policies that discriminate against innocent people, trample over basic civil rights, and put fear in the hearts of millions do not make us safer,” Jayapal said in a statement.

Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Democrat whose district includes Blaine, said she was also investigating the reports.

Parmida Esmaeilpour, a director with the Civic Association of Iranian Canadians in Vancouver, said concerns related to crossing the U.S. border had been building in her community for several days.

“It’s my understanding that [authorities] said that they would be detaining or questioning people who may have some sort of suspicious ties to the [Iranian] government,” said Esmaeilpour, whose association works to encourage Iranian-Canadians to engage more in Canada’s political process. “But in practice we’re seeing that it’s actually being applied much more indiscriminately to anyone of Iranian background who’s trying to cross the border.”

A Canada Border Services Agency spokesperson directed inquiries to DHS.

One former DHS official said he was worried that in the future, as part of a tit-for-tat with Iran, CBP could tighten its screening of potential visitors to the U.S. even more “to take a harder look and a longer view of somebody‘s travel history,” which would lead CBP port-of-entry directors and officers to “err on the side of caution absent any formal guidance.“

Saunders, the immigration lawyer, said two of his clients, both Persian-Canadians and one of whom is an American citizen, encountered hours of questioning at two different ports of entry in Washington state on Saturday.

“Why were 50 to 100 Persians sitting inside the Peace Arch port of entry yesterday for hours upon hours?” he said Sunday. “They were being singled out. I saw it myself.”

Andy Blatchford reported from Ottawa. Nahal Toosi and Connor O’Brien contributed reporting from Washington.

Good riddance to Qassim Soleimani, Iran’s terrorist in chief

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER) 

 

Good riddance to Qassim Soleimani, Iran’s terrorist in chief

Qassim Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s terrorist Quds force, has been killed in an airstrike in Baghdad, a monumental event and great news for the United States and the countless victims of his strategy that has unleashed death and chaos throughout the Middle East.

Soleimani has been described as the architect of Iran’s malignant strategy to exert its influence from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea, bolstering enemies of the U.S. and its allies. Under his leadership, in Iraq, the Iranian regime supplied roadside bombs to Sunni terrorists and used Shiite militias to carry out attacks on U.S. troops and, most recently, against the U.S. Embassy; in Syria, it has provided support for the brutal regime of Bashar Assad; in Lebanon, it has supported and advised the terrorist group Hezbollah; in Yemen, it has stirred civil war by supporting the radical Houthi movement.

In 2008, Soleimani wrote in a letter to David Petraeus, “Dear General Petraeus: You should be aware that I, Qassem Soleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan.”

Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, writing for Foreign Policy, recently explained:

“Suleimani has grown from a military commander into a ghostly puppet master, relying on quiet cleverness and grit to bolster Iran’s international influence. Suleimani has grown from a military commander into a ghostly puppet master.His brilliance, effectiveness, and commitment to his country have been revered by his allies and denounced by his critics in equal measure. What all seem to agree on, however, is that the humble leader’s steady hand has helped guide Iranian foreign policy for decades—and there is no denying his successes on the battlefield. Suleimani is arguably the most powerful and unconstrained actor in the Middle East today. U.S. defense officials have reported that Suleimani is running the Syrian civil war (via Iran’s local proxies) all on his own.”

The loss of Soleimani is a devastating blow to the Iranian regime, which is already suffering from President Trump’s ratcheting up of sanctions. And it’s great news for the U.S.

America just took out the world’s no. 1 bad guy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY ON CNBC NEWS)

 

America just took out the world’s no. 1 bad guy

KEY POINTS
  • The killing of Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani doesn’t have the emotional power of the take down of Osama bin Laden, but taking him out means much more in terms of saving current lives, writes Jake Novak.
GP: Qassem Suleimani Soleimani Iran Quds Force IRGC 180517
Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani (C) attends Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s (not seen) meeting with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Tehran, Iran on September 18, 2016.
Pool | Press Office of Iranian Supreme Leader | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

So, just who is this top Iranian general the U.S. just eliminated?

For many of us who watch and analyze news out of the Middle East daily, he was the world’s number one bad guy.

Qassim Soleimani has been in control of Iran’s Quds Force for more than 20 years. His current greatest hits include helping Bashar al Assad slaughter hundreds of thousands of his own people in the Syrian civil war, stoking the Houthis in Yemen’s civil war, and overseeing the killing of hundreds of Iraqi protesters recently demonstrating against Iranian influence in their country.

But most importantly for Americans, Soleimani was behind the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers during the Iraq War. Last year, the U.S. State Department put the number of Americans killed by Iranian proxies in Iraq at 608 since 2003.

The killing of Soleimani doesn’t have the emotional power of the takedown of Osama bin Laden, and he wasn’t even as well-known to Americans as ISIS founder Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. But in many ways, taking him out means much more in terms of saving current lives. Remember that bin Laden and al Baghdadi were mostly out of business and in hiding at the time of their deaths. Solemani was busier than ever, directing mayhem all over the Middle East and beyond.

For example, these last few days have made it clear to the whole world just how much Iran controlled just about all of Iraq and Iraq’s Shia population. It appears Solemeini not only felt justified in being the likely mastermind behind Tuesday’s attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, he also was comfortable enough to travel to Iraq personally to oversee it. But this time, he got too comfortable.

We’re already hearing from a number of critics that this move will likely backfire against the U.S. and will provoke Iran to retaliate even more forcibly against American and its allies. To those people making those warnings, there’s really only one thing to say: “Welcome to the party, pal!”

That’s because Iran has really been at war with the U.S. since 1979. The killing of hundreds of our troops in Iraq, the constant terrorism it sponsors and supplies against Israel, and even the recent provocations against oil traffic in the Persian Gulf are all acts of war from which there really is no retreat without severe consequences. For the Trump administration, it would appear the embassy attack was the last straw. It was also one that provided the ultimate opportunity to eliminate Soleimani as he foolishly left his home country and made himself more physically and legally vulnerable.

Another thing to remember is that Soleimani and his foreign escapades may have been the delight of the ruling mullahs in Tehran. But the people in the streets abandoned him long ago, if they ever really supported him in the first place.

Soleimani clearly came to personify the increasingly unpopular spending on proxy wars and terrorism. With Iran’s economy faltering, the chanting in the streets during that nation’s recent protests included: “no money, no gas, screw Palestine.” That was probably the best proof that the Iranian people are keenly aware of the resources being sent abroad that could be used to improve the domestic economy and not pay for rockets in Gaza or wars in Syria and Yemen.

In fact, Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad tweeted almost immediately after Soleimani’s death was reported that the Quds commander was also hated by ordinary Iranians for his long history of brutality against his own people. That includes a bloody crackdown on university students in Iran in the 1990s:

Masih Alinejad 🏳️

@AlinejadMasih

IMPORTANT: For many Iranians Qassem Soleimani was a warmonger who caused massive casualties in Syria. He was no hero to average Iranians who chanted against the country’s support for Hezbollah and Hamas 1/

2,637 people are talking about this

In the coming hours and days the debate over the decision to kill Soleimani will unfortunately be dominated by partisan politicians looking to score points for or against President Trump. Perhaps Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut has taken the top partisanship buffoonery prize already by scolding President Trump for the action just two days after publicly decrying America’s lack of action against the Baghdad embassy attack:

Chris Murphy

@ChrisMurphyCT

The attack on our embassy in Baghdad is horrifying but predictable.

Trump has rendered America impotent in the Middle East. No one fears us, no one listens to us.

America has been reduced to huddling in safe rooms, hoping the bad guys will go away.

What a disgrace.

17.2K people are talking about this

Chris Murphy

@ChrisMurphyCT

Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. That’s not a question.

The question is this – as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?

36.7K people are talking about this

But that’s just politics. It will also just be politics when President Trump takes a victory lap on Twitter or at a future rally over this killing.

What isn’t just politics is the fact that Soleimani was a very effective and deadly leader of the world’s most active and pervasive terrorist army. The knee-jerk assumptions we will hear from those who say that someone else will simply take his place and be just as effective and deadly probably come from people who truly don’t know how powerful and effective Soleimani was. He’s going to be a very hard act to follow.

For now, Soleimani’s death is justice for the thousands of deaths he caused all over the world and to his own people. It may have seemed like swift justice Friday morning, but it was actually a long time coming.

Jake Novak is a political and economic analyst at Jake Novak News and former CNBC TV producer. You can follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

Column: Iraqis storm our embassy, another sign of U.S. failure

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

 

Iraqi protesters use a plumbing pipe to break the bulletproof glass of the U.S. Embassy's windows in Baghdad on Dec. 31, 2019.
Iraqi protesters use a plumbing pipe to break the bulletproof glass of the U.S. Embassy’s windows in Baghdad on Dec. 31, 2019. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)
It’s a matter of official record that Afghanistan has been the longest war in American history, still going on after more than 18 years. But you could make a case that the longest war is really Iraq. We initiated hostilities there in January 1991, and they’ve never really stopped.

You know something has gone wrong when a mob of the people you thought you were helping storms your embassy chanting “Death to America.” It brings back memories from 2003, when Dick Cheney informed Americans that our invading troops would be “greeted as liberators.” Yet the objects those Iraqis were hurling at the diplomatic compound were not flowers.

The protest came in response to U.S. airstrikes against sites in Iraq and Syria, which were directed at an Iranian-supported militia that killed an American contractor in a rocket barrage. Iran’s proxy forces have made several attacks on U.S. military facilities in recent weeks, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. “will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy.”

Why Americans are still in Iraq to be put in jeopardy is a long story. Why Iranian-backed insurgents want to kill them is another complicated tale. But the latest events are a reminder that when it comes to Iraq, we still don’t have a clue.

Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg have raised the issue because Joe Biden makes much of his foreign policy expertise. But as a senator, he voted for the invasion. Sanders voted against it, and Buttigieg thinks it relevant that Biden “supported the worst foreign policy decision made by the United States in my lifetime.”

Mayor Pete is too kind. The Iraq War was the worst foreign policy decision made by the United States in anyone’s lifetime. Over time, our leaders have made it even worse. And its effects have billowed like a toxic cloud over the national landscape, where they will foul our politics for years to come.

The 2003 war followed 12 years in which we enforced no-fly areas in Iraq, sometimes bombing targets and killing Iraqi civilians. That approach failed at one of its objectives: toppling dictator Saddam Hussein. Our leaders’ frustration at his survival served as motivation for the invasion, which was sold on deception and misinformation.

The invasion was a case of “catastrophic success.” We accomplished one mission only to be surprised and overwhelmed by the forces it uncorked. George W. Bush’s administration claimed the victory would be easy, cheap and quick. It turned out to be insurmountable, astronomically expensive, long-lasting and not exactly a victory.

By smashing Saddam’s regime, we eliminated one enemy but helped another. It’s been said that the U.S. and Iraq fought a war, and Iran won. The mullahs became a dominant factor in the aftermath, thanks to their close relations with numerous groups that had opposed Saddam.

As The New York Times reported in 2017, “Iran never lost sight of its mission: to dominate its neighbor so thoroughly that Iraq could never again endanger it militarily, and to use the country to effectively control a corridor from Tehran to the Mediterranean.”

The U.S. occupation pushed the two regimes into a close alliance. In the country we set out to liberate, our forces now face attacks from militias that Iran supports.

We left in 2011, because the Iranian-allied Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to sign an agreement protecting American troops from prosecution in Iraqi courts. The space we vacated was filled by militants known as Islamic State. In 2014, we returned to fight this new enemy in tacit cooperation with … Iran.

The bewilderment and regret the war fostered back home served to discredit leaders in both parties, as well as the premises of U.S. foreign policy. They fostered a widespread cynicism that sunk Hillary Clinton — who had supported the invasion — and boosted someone whose chief foreign policy credential was having nothing to do with such failures.

When respected experts were so wrong about something so important, the public might well wonder if maybe Donald Trump’s stupendous ignorance could really be worse. But it’s not clear he learned the lesson that military might does not solve all problems. It would surprise no one if he lurched into a war with Iran or North Korea — or expanded the one in Iraq.

This much is true: The Iraq War was the worst U.S. foreign policy decision of Mayor Pete’s lifetime. At least so far.

Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at www.chicagotribune.com/chapman.

Twitter @SteveChapman13

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Houthi Projectiles Land on Hospital in Jazan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Houthi Projectiles Land on Hospital in Jazan

Wednesday, 11 December, 2019 – 12:45
Al-Harath General Hospital. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Saudi civil defense teams received on Tuesday several complaints that projectiles, fired by the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen, had landed on a hospital in Jazan.

General Directorate of Civil Defense spokesman in Jazan, Yehya al-Qahtani, said the projectiles hit the al-Harath General Hospital and civilian infrastructure near the facility.

No one was injured.

The outer fence surrounding the hospital was damaged in the incident, Qahtani added.

In Prisoner Swap, Iran Frees American Held Since 2016

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

In Prisoner Swap, Iran Frees American Held Since 2016

Xiyue Wang was a graduate student at Princeton who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison on two charges of espionage that U.S. officials have called groundless.

Credit…Hua Qu, via Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Iran on Saturday freed an American graduate student who had been imprisoned in Tehran for more than three years on suspicion of being a spy, in an exchange of prisoners at a moment of high tensions with Washington.

The American, Xiyue Wang, was flown in a Swiss government airplane from Tehran to Zurich, where he was met by Brian H. Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, according to two senior United States officials.

Mr. Wang, 38, was a fourth-year Princeton University graduate student conducting research in Iran when he was arrested there in August 2016. He was charged with espionage and sentenced to 10 years in prison. United States officials deny that Mr. Wang, who had been locked in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, was a spy.

In exchange for Mr. Wang’s release, the United States freed Masoud Soleimani, an Iranian scientist who was arrested at a Chicago airport last year and was convicted on charges of violating American trade sanctions against Iran. American officials said that Mr. Soleimani’s release was a low price to pay for Mr. Wang’s freedom because Mr. Soleimani was expected to be released from prison as early as next month under a plea agreement.

The White House confirmed the prisoner swap early on Saturday with a statement from President Trump. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also confirmed the deal on Twitter and posted photos of himself accompanying Mr. Soleimani home on an Iranian jet.

The senior American officials, speaking only on the condition of anonymity to discuss the delicate nature of the exchange, said they saw no indication that it portended a larger dialogue with Iran.

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As part of a “maximum pressure campaign,” Mr. Trump has targeted the country with severe economic sanctions. The president, who withdrew from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, has said he hopes to negotiate with Tehran over its nuclear program and regional aggression. On Wednesday, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, reiterated that Iran would be prepared to meet with the parties to the nuclear deal, including the United States, “whenever the U.S. lifts the unfair sanctions.”

Trump administration officials believe Iran may have released Mr. Wang in order to soften its image and deflect attention from a recent brutal crackdown on mass domestic protests. American officials believe the unrest has left hundreds dead and as many as 7,000 imprisoned, drawing condemnation from around the world.

Mr. Hook, who flew to Zurich overnight on an American military jet to meet Mr. Wang on Saturday, briefed reporters on Thursday at the State Department on the crackdown, denouncing “the atrocities the Iranian regime has committed against its own people.”

But it was Mr. Hook, working through Swiss intermediaries who often serve as a diplomatic channel between Washington and Tehran, who negotiated the prisoner exchange.

Mr. Hook has had no direct contact with Iranian officials since a March 2018 meeting in Vienna shortly before Mr. Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement. In Vienna, Mr. Hook insisted to Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, that Mr. Wang’s transparent activities made clear he was no covert operative. Mr. Araghchi countered that perhaps Mr. Wang had simply not been trained well, according to a senior United States official.

Mr. Wang, who has a wife and a young son, was a student of late-19th- and early-20th-century Eurasian history, according to a Princeton University website. Backed by university funding, he went to Iran in 2016 to study Farsi and conduct archival research for his doctoral dissertation.

Before his visit, Mr. Wang explained in writing his research plan to the Iranian interest section at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, which issued his visa. “He was not involved in any political activities or social activism,” the university says.

Iran’s government charged that Mr. Wang had been “sent” to the country by Princeton and that he had ties to United States intelligence agencies.

In September 2018, a United Nations human rights panel found that Iran had “no legal basis” for Mr. Wang’s “arbitrary” imprisonment and said he should be released immediately.

Mr. Wang was born in 1980 in Beijing and in 2001 came to the United States, where he was naturalized in 2009. His release follows rumors of a breakthrough in his case, and his lawyer, Jason I. Poblete, tweeted on Wednesday that he was “hopeful there is progress in the near future” for Mr. Wang’s freedom.

Jason I Poblete@JasonPoblete

We are hopeful there is progress in the near future to reunite American citizen with his wife and young son. All stakeholders should help resolve @FreeXiyueWang case and all others.

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Mr. Wang’s wife, Hua Qu, celebrated his release in a statement on Saturday. “Our family is complete once again,” she said. “Our son Shaofan and I have waited three long years for this day, and it’s hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue.”

Mr. Soleimani, a prominent stem cell researcher who had been treating stroke patients at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, was charged with violating American trade sanctions by seeking to transfer growth hormones to Iran without a license. (He is not related to the senior Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.) His lawyers argued that the sanctions law at issue was ambiguous and that he had been swept up in rising tensions between the United States and Iran under Mr. Trump.

Mr. Soleimani flew to Zurich on the same aircraft as Mr. Hook, under the supervision of federal marshals.

Iran has long spoken of a potential prisoner swap with the United States. In September, Mr. Zarif told NPR that he had offered to exchange Mr. Wang for Mr. Soleimani.

“The Chinese American in Iran is in jail on a charge on a court case. And I have offered to exchange them, because as foreign minister I cannot go to our court and simply tell them, ‘release this man,’” he said. “I can go to the court and tell them, ‘I can exchange this man for an Iranian,’ and then have a standing, have a legal standing in the court.”

Several other Americans remain in custody in Iran, and Trump administration officials call their release a top priority.

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With Brutal Crackdown, Iran Is Convulsed by Worst Unrest in 40 Years

As Iran vs. West Tensions Rise, So Does Uncertainty Over Prisoners

Her Husband Was a Princeton Graduate Student. Then He Was Taken Prisoner in Iran.

Michael Crowley is a White House correspondent, covering President Trump’s foreign policy. He joined The Times in 2019 from Politico, where he was the White House and national security editor, and a foreign affairs correspondent. @michaelcrowley