The present-day U.S. military qualifies by any measure as highly professional, much more so than its Cold War predecessor. Yet the purpose of today’s professionals is not to preserve peace but to fight unending wars in distant places. Intoxicated by a post-Cold War belief in its own omnipotence, the United States allowed itself to be drawn into a long series of armed conflicts, almost all of them yielding unintended consequences and imposing greater than anticipated costs. Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. forces have destroyed many targets and killed many people. Only rarely, however, have they succeeded in accomplishing their assigned political purposes. . . . [F]rom our present vantage point, it becomes apparent that the “Revolution of ‘89” did not initiate a new era of history. At most, the events of that year fostered various unhelpful illusions that impeded our capacity to recognize and respond to the forces of change that actually matter.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Update for Monday, May 20, 2019

The hostile and threatening rhetoric from the U.S. administration toward Iran has escalated to a threat of national extermination from the president.

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran,” Trump tweeted. “Never threaten the United States again!
He did not state what this is in response to, as Iran has not threatened the United States and in fact the Iranian regime has stated clearly that it is not threatening the U.S. and does not want war.

It is possible that this was in response to a rocket exploding in the Green Zone about half a kilometer from the U.S. embassy, which caused no damage or casualties. No-one has taken responsibility. In fact the Iranian-backed Hezbollah brigades has denounced the attack, as have other pro-Iranian factions.

In the midst of this war of words, Exxon-Mobil has withdrawn foreign staff from an oil field in southern Iraq, angering the Iraqi oil minister who denounces the move as "political" and unrelated to real security concerns. "For us, this withdrawal is unacceptable and unjustified because other international companies are working freely and safely in developing oil fields," Ghadhban added.

Iraqi Shiite political leader Muqtada al-Sadr warns that Iraq could not surive a war between the U.S. and Iran  and urges Iraqis to unite against such a possibility.

Cheryl Rofer asks what could be the objectives of a U.S. war against Iran. The U.S. administration has not articulated any.

Iraq's president makes it clear that he is talking with Iranian and U.S. officials and making it clear that Iraq wants no part of a war between the two, while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iraqi leaders that if they are not going to stand with the US against Iran, then they should stand aside.

I will just note that as disastrous as the 2003 invasion of Iraq was for Iraqis and for the United States, Iran has more than twice the population of Iraq (81 million vs.  38 million), a vastly more capable military, and a more unified populace. The U.S. would have no real allies in such a conflict -- Israel and the Saudis would cheerlead but that's about all. And of course the idea that Iran is somehow a threat to the United States is completely preposterous. John Bolton, for reasons he has never really articulated, has wanted to go to war with Iran for more than a decade. As far as I can tell, that it is the basic reason for what is going on now. --- C



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