Closing Thought–20Jun17

Update:  The first tropical storm approaches the coast where I live…not predicted to be a strong storm but will get a bunch of rain and some wind…we should be safe from any major damage….this time.

Speaking of the “first”…….

Have you guys ever read a story or report that made you sit up and ask…..WTF?

Well, I read one that made me ask that question and shake my head….

It appears that some cultures still hang on the old belief of the purity of the woman they are about to marry…..yes I am talking about that virginity thing.

A story out of Tunisia about a procedure that is being done to solve that problem for some women……hymenoplasty.

In Tunisia, young women are expected to be virgins when they marry, leading to a growing trade in hymen reconstruction surgery.

Yasmine (not her real name) looks nervous. She’s biting her nails and checks her mobile phone constantly.

“I consider this to be deception and I’m really worried,” she says.

We’re on the fourth floor of a private clinic in Tunis – the gynaecology service. Around us in the pink waiting room, other women wait patiently to be seen.

Yasmine confides in me that she is having a hymenoplasty, a short procedure that promises to reconstruct her virginity surgically.

Source: The Tunisian women who want to be virgins again – BBC News

Personally, I do not understand this fixation on virginity….but then I do not have to worry about it.

What happens if the news gets out of which doctors are doing this….will there be a religious backlash?

What about the women themselves?  If found out will they be safe?

Wave bye bye….time for me to shut it down for the day….back tomorrow with more stuff….chuq

Iran: How It All Began

I see that Iran has once again made it into the conversation about foreign policy….there is the nuke deal that Congress is screwing with and then there is the Iranian interference in Syria or should I say…the Middle East?

I realize that Iran has become the “bad guy” in our foreign policy…..and since many readers are not old enough to remember the history behind the situation ….leave it to me to fill in the blanks for you….

Relations with Iran has been in the dumper since 1979 and the taking of American hostages….that is the story the media and the history book will pass along…..but actually the problem began further back than 1979…..it all began in 1953…..with the plot to overthrow a popularly elected prime minister because of his leftist leanings….

The State Department today released a long-awaited “retrospective” volume of declassified U.S. government documents on the 1953 coup in Iran, including records describing planning and implementation of the covert operation.  The publication is the culmination of decades of internal debates and public controversy after a previous official collection omitted all references to the role of American and British intelligence in the ouster of Iran’s then-prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq.  The volume is part of the Department’s venerable Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series.

For decades, neither the U.S. nor the British governments would acknowledge their part in Mosaddeq’s overthrow, even though a detailed account appeared as early as 1954 in The Saturday Evening Post, and since then CIA and MI6 veterans of the coup have published memoirs detailing their activities.  Kermit Roosevelt’s Countercoup is the best known and most detailed such account, although highly controversial because of its selective rendering of events.  In 2000, The New York Times posted a 200-page classified internal CIA history of the operation.

Source: US Releases Long-Awaited Documents on 1953 Coup in Iran

Now as Paul Harvey use to say….”You know the rest of the story”.

(For those too young…Paul Harvey was a radio show commentator for decades)

One More Time

On numerous occasions I have written that I do not like the foreign policy that Trump has set out for this country…..I think it is dangerous and ill-conceived…..his dependency on military force over diplomacy is not making the world a safer place…..

A loyal reader and friend of IST posted this the other day on his blog…

In 2016, Spiegel wrote that Donald Trump could be the leader of a new, hate-filled authoritarian movement as a president during which George W. Bush’s America would seem like a place of logic and reason in comparison. Bush, to his credit, never compared migrants to poisonous snakes — something Trump does. And Spiegel was not wrong about the Trump gloal threat. All what he said about Middle East  before his election were just communication tactics. And the US becomes more and more dangerous country under Trump’s hegemony.

Source: Donald Trump Is the World’s Most Dangerous Warmonger | Eyes on Europe & Middle East

Within the ranks of foreign policy wonks there is a growing concern about his, Trump’s, foreign policy…..

Against the backdrop of the counter-Islamic State campaign, the civil wars in Syria and Yemen and efforts to forge strong ties with Israel, recent reports suggest that the Trump administration is placing a renewed focus on combating Iran’s network of sectarian-based militant groups and terrorist organizations, even as inter-Arab tensions are on the rise.

The Trump administration has also, reportedly, engaged in direct military action against Iranian-backed elements, threatening U.S. and U.S.-backed personnel in Syria.  The administration will have to determine how best to manage a more direct and aggressive approach to Iran’s proxy network in the midst of inter-Arab disputes.

Source: Is Trump’s foreign policy more ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ or ‘Press Your Luck’? | TheHill

The world has changed and our State Department needs to keep up with the rest of the world…..as it is today there is NO direction other than a military one.

For as long as they have existed, nations have clung to the illusion that their military strength guarantees their security.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that the military power that one nation considers vital to its security fosters other nations’ sense of insecurity. In this climate of suspicion, an arms race ensues, often culminating in military conflict. Also, sometimes the very military strength that a nation intended for protection ends up emboldening it to engage in reckless, aggressive behavior, leading to war.

By the twentieth century, the devastation caused by wars among nations had grown so great that the general public and even many government officials began to recognize that a world left to the mercies of national military power was a dangerous world, indeed. As a result, after the mass slaughter of World War I, they organized the League of Nations to foster international security. When this proved insufficient to stop the march of nations toward World War II and its even greater devastation, they organized a new and stronger global entity: the United Nations.

Source: National Illusions and Global Realities – Antiwar.com Original

The US needs to work with other countries to solve problems instead of resorting to force at every turn…..mutual agreement is far superior to brute force.

War and violence decoupled from strategy and policy—or worse yet, mistaken for strategy and policy—have contributed to perpetual war, or what has seemed like 15 years of “Groundhog War.” In its wars since 11 September 2001, the United States has arguably cultivated the best-equipped, most capable, and fully seasoned combat forces in remembered history. They attack, kill, capture, and win battles with great nimbleness and strength. But absent strategy, these victories are fleeting. Divorced from political objectives, successful tactics are without meaning.

In theory, we fight wars to fulfill a political purpose and to achieve objectives by aligning the means and methods of war toward that purpose. In theory, the purpose of war is a better peace. In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but as history has shown repeatedly, in practice there is.

Source: The Wages of War Without Strategy | RealClearDefense

There is only so much that can be accomplished without a strategy….a long war will ensue.

Are We Inching Toward All Out War?

When Russia sent in aircraft to help the Syrians fight against the rebels…..I wrote then that this was leading to a big mistake that could take the US and Russia into a confrontation……

Well the worse case scenario just happened…..

The US military shot down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet Sunday that bombed local forces aligned with the Americans in the fight against ISIS militants, an action that appeared to mark a new escalation of the conflict. The US had not shot down a Syrian regime aircraft before Sunday’s confrontation, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. While the US has said since it began recruiting, training, and advising what it calls moderate Syrian opposition forces to fight ISIS that it would protect them from potential Syrian government retribution, this was the first time it resorted to engaging in air-to-air combat to make good on that promise, the AP reports.

The US-led coalition headquarters in Iraq said in a statement that a US F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian government SU-22 after it dropped bombs near the US partner forces, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces. The shootdown was near Tabqa, a Syrian town in an area that has been a weekslong focus of fighting against ISIS militants by the SDF as they surround the city of Raqqa and attempt to retake it from ISIS. The US military statement said it acted in “collective self-defense” of its partner forces and that the US did not seek a fight with the Syrian government or its Russian supporters. “The coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” the Pentagon said.

The Russians have a retort……

Russia’s defense ministry says it will treat US-led coalition planes in Syria that venture west of the Euphrates River as targets after the US military shot down a Syrian Air Force jet on Sunday, reports the AP. Moscow also suspended a military hotline the two nations have used to coordinate air missions over Syria, reports the New York Times. Russia condemned the US downing of the Syrian government fighter jet as a “military aggression” and demanded a fuller explanation. The US has said the Syrian jet dropped bombs near its partner forces, but Syria said its jet was attacking ISIS militants.

“All flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected west of the Euphrates, will be followed by Russian air defense systems as targets,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. The downing of the warplane—the first time in the conflict that the US has shot down a Syrian jet—came as Iran fired several ballistic missiles at ISIS positions in eastern Syria in retaliation for two attacks by the extremists in Tehran earlier this month that killed 17 people. Areas of northern Syria west of the Euphrates were controlled by ISIS before Syrian government forces captured most of them in recent months

Where will this end?

We know how Trump feels about using force……will that be the answer?

I mentioned the illegality of U.S. actions in Syria in an earlier post, but I wanted to say a bit more on that point. There has never been a Congressional vote authorizing U.S. military operations in Syria against anyone, and there has been scant debate over any of the goals that the U.S. claims to be pursuing there. The U.S. launches attacks inside Syria with no legal authority from the U.N. or Congress, and it strains credulity that any of these operations have anything to do with individual or collective self-defense. The U.S. wages war in Syria simply because it can.

Source: Syria and Our Illegal Acts of War | The American Conservative

Americans need to pay attention before it is too late.

Death Of A Bad Man

Word is spreading through the news organization that ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi, has been killed in a Russian airstrike…..I believe this is the 5th time he has either been injured or killed…..what we need is verification…..not speculation…

Russia’s claim to have killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an airstrike in Raqqa on May 28 should be taken with a heavy grain of salt. At the time in question, the U.S.-led Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) were only days away from launching their final assault on the city and there’s no logical reason imaginable why Baghdadi would have risked staying in a surrounded, sitting target. Notwithstanding justified doubts surrounding Baghdadi’s then presence in Raqqa, Russia’s statement also says its strike killed another 330 ISIS fighters – which is almost certainly an absurd claim.

Russia has a long track record of issuing fake claims and deliberate misinformation during its campaign in Syria. This recent statement also contradicts a claim by its Syrian partner, the Assad regime, to have killed Baghdadi themselves on June 10. Either Baghdadi has dozens of lives, or nobody really knows where he is.

Source: Russia’s Baghdadi Claim Needs Verification | Middle East Institute

Let us say that their claim is genuine…..what will that mean for the region?

Does that mean we may be winning the War on Terror?  I think not…there will be someone to step into the void.

The news of the possible death of the leader of the so-called Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, no doubt filled most people with a certain sense of relief. It’s not often the death of a human being elicits such an emotion but Baghdadi, most sane people can agree, barely makes the homo sapiens cut.

Nonetheless, our collective exhale may be premature. According to the Russian defence ministry, Baghdadi may have been caught by a Russian airstrike targeting a meeting of senior ISIS commanders south of Raqqa, the capital of the group’s self-declared caliphate, at the end of May. He was reportedly killed along with 30 other mid-level ISIS commanders and 300 fighters.

Source: Why the death of ISIS’s leader could spell trouble – Macleans.ca

You see if he is dead then he is one terrorist dead…there are many others waiting their turn.

Do not rejoice…..be vigilante…..