The newest “Iran did 9/11” hit piece from neocons & Saudi PR. Some caveats.

Iran Admits To Facilitating 9/11 Terror Attacks” reads the headline on the fervently neocon faux-newspaper Washington Free Beacon. As evidence, it cites an article by the Saudi-government owned Al Arabiya network written by a journalist/”#HumanRights activist” (mirror) who appears to specialize in publishing negative articles on the Islamic Republic. The Al Arabia article in turn translates an interview of Iranian judiciary official Mohammad-Javad Larijani that aired on Iranian TV May 30.

In the translation offered by Al Arabia, it appears that Mohammad-Javad Larijani is paraphrasing allegations made against Iran by the 2004 9/11 Commission Report. The gist of the Al Arabia report is that Larijani is “admitted” that Iran assisted 9/11 hijackers. From their translation:

The lengthy report of the 9/11 commission which was headed by figures like Lee Hamilton and others mentioned in pages 240 and 241, i.e. in two or three pages, queries Iran’s role in the issue (and said that) a group of reports stated that al-Qaeda members who wanted to go to Saudi Arabia and other countries like Afghanistan or others and who entered Iranian territories by land or by air asked the Iranian authorities not to stamp their passports (and told them) that if the Saudi government knows they’ve come to Iran, it will prosecute them.

Our government agreed not to stamp the passports of some of them because they were on transit flights for two hours, and they were resuming their flights without having their passports stamped. However their movements were under the complete supervision of the Iranian intelligence.

The Americans took this as evidence of Iran’s cooperation with al-Qaeda and viewed the passage of an airplane through Iran’s airspace, which had one of the pilots who carried out the attacks and a Hezbollah military leader sitting (next to) him on board, as evidence of direct cooperation with al-Qaeda through the Lebanese Hezbollah.

So, even generously assuming the Al Arabia translation is accurate, it isn’t ultimately clear that Larijani is admitting to anything damning in the first place. They allowed some passengers to pass through Iran without stamping their passports. Iranian intelligence watched them. There is no admission that Iran knew about the 9/11 plans or even knew the passengers were al-Qaeda operatives.

There are some other caveats worth keeping in mind:

1. I have yet to see a translation of this interview from another source. In addition, there may be some important conversational context being left out. I do not know Persian, so I have no definitive answers. Looking at the transcript provided by Al Arabia, I think it is entirely plausible that Larijani’s intent was to simply paraphrase the allegations lobbed by the 9/11 Commission as just that, allegations, with simple grammatical alterations made in translation to suggest he was “admitting” to them being true.

2. The 9/11 Commission Report’s section alleging Iran and Hezbollah had a working relationship prior to 9/11 relies heavily on interrogations with suspected al-Qaeda members that took place in 2002-2004, which were likely to have involved the use of torture. This can be gleaned by looking at the endnotes (see below). Seeing as torture was used to fabricate ties between al-Qaeda and the regime of Saddam Hussein prior to the Iraq War and was later used to tie Iran to the post-invasion insurgency, we can see enough of a pattern to take the section in with a grain of salt.

3. The 9/11 Commission Report itself admits that “we have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack.”

4. If there was a limited relationship between Iranian assets and al-Qaeda prior to 9/11, it has little relevance to today’s diplomatic atmosphere. It is highly doubtful that Iran would ever want to re-engage Salafi extremists on friendly terms anytime in the near future considering the massive effort they put into defeating such groups in Syria and Iraq. The same neocon analysts who still claim Saddam had a strong supporting relationship with al-Qaeda are also pushing the line than Iran has/had direct connections to 9/11. They still put a huge amount of stock in citing the example of Hassan al-Turabi’s short lived Popular Arab and Islamic Congress. This tenuous alliance, based mainly around certain Sunni Islamists, Shia Islamists and secular Arab nationalists, ultimately proved to be a pipe dream. Sudan, the country in which it was based, has largely fallen out with Iran and improved its relations with the US-GCC bloc drastically. It even played a large role in the 2011 effort to overthrow Gaddafi. [This also begs the question: if Sudan can have friendly relations with the US after harboring Osama Bin Laden in the 1990s, why should we continue to antagonize Iran for some flimsy ties based on scant evidence?]

5. This is the most obvious point, but there is significantly more evidence from more plentiful and reliable sources that Middle East allies of the US–such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey–have played and continue to play a huge role in promoting Sunni extremism. It is the height of absurdity to say we should antagonize Iran with ramped up sanctions for unproven accusations about passports from two decades ago while making massive arms shipments to the Saudis.

The entire section of the 9/11 Commission Report on Iran can be found below for further reference:

Assistance from Hezbollah and Iran to al Qaeda
As we mentioned in chapter 2, while in Sudan, senior managers in al Qaeda maintained contacts with Iran and the Iranian-supported worldwide terrorist organization Hezbollah, which is based mainly in southern Lebanon and Beirut. Al Qaeda members received advice and training from Hezbollah.

Intelligence indicates the persistence of contacts between Iranian security officials and senior al Qaeda figures after Bin Ladin’s return to Afghanistan. Khallad has said that Iran made a concerted effort to strengthen relations with al Qaeda after the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, but was rebuffed because Bin Ladin did not want to alienate his supporters in Saudi Arabia. Khallad and other detainees have described the willingness of Iranian officials to facilitate the travel of al Qaeda members through Iran, on their way to and from Afghanistan. For example, Iranian border inspectors would be told not to place telltale stamps in the passports of these travelers. Such arrangements were particularly beneficial to Saudi members of al Qaeda.[120]

Our knowledge of the international travels of the al Qaeda operatives selected for the 9/11 operation remains fragmentary. But we now have evidence suggesting that 8 to 10 of the 14 Saudi “muscle” operatives traveled into or out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001.[121]

In October 2000, a senior operative of Hezbollah visited Saudi Arabia to coordinate activities there. He also planned to assist individuals in Saudi Arabia in traveling to Iran during November. A top Hezbollah commander and Saudi Hezbollah contacts were involved.[122]

Also in October 2000, two future muscle hijackers, Mohand al Shehri and Hamza al Ghamdi, flew from Iran to Kuwait. In November, Ahmed al Ghamdi apparently flew to Beirut, traveling-perhaps by coincidence-on the same flight as a senior Hezbollah operative. Also in November, Salem al Hazmi apparently flew from Saudi Arabia to Beirut.[123]

In mid-November, we believe, three of the future muscle hijackers, Wail al Shehri, Waleed al Shehri, and Ahmed al Nami, all of whom had obtained their U.S. visas in late October, traveled in a group from Saudi Arabia to Beirut and then onward to Iran. An associate of a senior Hezbollah operative was on the same flight that took the future hijackers to Iran. Hezbollah officials in Beirut and Iran were expecting the arrival of a group during the same time period. The travel of this group was important enough to merit the attention of senior figures in Hezbollah.[124]

Later in November, two future muscle hijackers, Satam al Suqami and Majed Moqed, flew into Iran from Bahrain. In February 2001, Khalid al Mihdhar may have taken a flight from Syria to Iran, and then traveled further within Iran to a point near the Afghan border.[125]

KSM and Binalshibh have confirmed that several of the 9/11 hijackers (at least eight, according to Binalshibh) transited Iran on their way to or from Afghanistan, taking advantage of the Iranian practice of not stamping Saudi passports. They deny any other reason for the hijackers’ travel to Iran. They also deny any relationship between the hijackers and Hezbollah.[126]

In sum, there is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers. There also is circumstantial evidence that senior Hezbollah operatives were closely tracking the travel of some of these future muscle hijackers into Iran in November 2000. However, we cannot rule out the possibility of a remarkable coincidence-that is, that Hezbollah was actually focusing on some other group of individuals traveling from Saudi Arabia during this same time frame, rather than the future hijackers.[127]

We have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack. At the time of their travel through Iran, the al Qaeda operatives themselves were probably not aware of the specific details of their future operation.

After 9/11, Iran and Hezbollah wished to conceal any past evidence of cooperation with Sunni terrorists associated with al Qaeda. A senior Hezbollah official disclaimed any Hezbollah involvement in 9/11.[128]

We believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government.

ENDNOTES:

[120] Intelligence reports, interrogations of detainee, Oct. 18, 2001; Mar. 13, 2002; Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Mar. 7, 2002; Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM,Aug. 20, 2003; Sept. 12, 2003, July 16, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Sept. 12, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Sept. 30, 2003; CIA analytic report, “Iran and al-Qa’ida: Ties Forged in Islamic Extremism,” CTC 200440009HCX, March 2004, pp. i, 6-12.

[121] Intelligence report, analysis of Hezbollah, Iran, and 9/11, Dec. 20, 2001; Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, July 16, 2004.

[122] Ibid.; Intelligence report, Hezbollah activities, Oct. 11, 2001; Intelligence report, operative’s travel to Saudi Arabia,Aug. 9, 2002.

[123] Intelligence reports, hijacker activities, Oct. 11, 2001; Oct. 29, 2001; Nov. 14, 2001; Intelligence report, operative’s claimed identification of photos of two Sept. 11 hijackers, Aug. 9, 2002.

[124] Intelligence reports, hijacker activities, Nov. 14, 2001; Oct. 2, 2001; Oct. 31, 2001.

[125] Intelligence reports, hijacker activities, Oct. 19, 2001; Dec. 7, 2001.

[126] Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, July 16, 2004; Intelligence report; interrogation of Binalshibh, July 16, 2004.

[127] Intelligence report, analysis of Hezbollah, Iran, and 9/11, Dec. 20, 2001.

[128] Intelligence report, Hezbollah and Sunni terrorist activities, Sept. 21, 2001; Intelligence report, Hezbollah denies involvement in 9/11, Sept. 22, 2001.

 

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One man’s neocon is another’s anti-globalist: Get ready for the great alt-right/neocon (re)convergence

It hasn’t been a secret that the alt-right has been posturing as antiwar for a while now. Now we learn that the isolationist anti-establishment rebel Donald Trump is appointing John “Bomb Iran” Bolton to be his National Security Advisor. As it turns out, at least one prominent alt-right personality is framing this in “owning the libs” terms:

Now, this may seem odd to people who have gotten into politics only in the past five years. But those of us who have paid attention to right-wing rhetoric under George W. Bush will no doubt remember that it was considered “manly”–or “alpha” as the kids these days call it–for the US to wage war unilaterally (as well as break international law and torure people). I mean, who needs those effette Europeans and their Axis of Weasel? And what a bunch of soy boy snowflake beta cucks all those antiwar protesters were, right?

There was once a time in the 1990s when “globalism” kind-of sort-of meant something, since it was criticized mostly from the left. Today it’s just another right-wing rage word, like “ACORN” and “Alinsky” used to be when Obama was in office. But here’s the thing: when people say John Bolton is “anti-globalist” they aren’t entirely wrong. John Bolton believes in unchallenged US dominance of the globe with little input from the rest of the world, be it traditional US allies in Western Europe or the UN. He also doesn’t see much need to legitimize US power plays through international law or appeals to human rights and democracy. By overtly rejecting the idea that the rest of the world should have a say in how the US projects itself, he is rejecting a key aspect of globalism.

Now, I’m sure Ron Paul and Alex Jones-types would object to this as a perversion of the concept. To them, “Americanism” is best defined by non-interventionism. But the fact of the matter is that their terminology was always incoherent at the root. The US, being a settler state founded on genocide and slavery, is itself the product of a violent foreign intervention and has historically enrichest itself on the backs of the world’s poor and non-white. The entire system of neoliberal globalization is itself a US-led project, which is why the right’s appropriation of much of the left’s critique’s of it is so perverse. If the US is itself a nobel and pure enterprise defined by non-interventionism, then its constant warmongering can safely be blamed on “alien” (or “(((alien)))”) influences.

In short, the adoption of the “anti-globalist” posture by US militarists and neocons is a logical conclusion to paleocon/alt-right thought.

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The murky world of Rwanda’s Congo pillage and US complicity

The US State Department’s FOIA reading room has recently posted a series of diplomatic cables, ranging from 1999 to 2003, concerning Rwanda’s illegal exploitation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s mineral wealth. A concise backgrounder for the historical context can be found in Howard W. French’s article in the NY Review of Books (Sep 29, 2009). Following the 1994 Hutu-led genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda, the US-backed Tutsi-lead Rwandan Patriotic Front gained control of the entirety of the country. The US Army Fort Leavenworth-trained Paul Kagame has been considered the de facto leader of Rwanda since 1994 and its official president since 2000. In 1996, the now Tutsi-dominated government of Rwanda sent its troops into the North and South Kivu regions of the Congo to chase down Hutus they accused of being complicit in the genocide and to overthrow longtime dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. They succeeded in overthrowing Mobutu installing Laurent Kabila as the new leader in the capital city of Kinshasa. In 1998, Kabila attempted to expel Rwanda’s soldiers from the country but was met with a “new and even larger invasion of the country.”

While failing to overthrow Kabila entirely, Rwanda succeeded in obtaining control of mineral-rich regions of the Congo through its military occupation and its proxy militias. During this time, the UN and other organizations issued multiple reports documenting the systematic pillage of the country’s resources by Rwanda’s ruling class.

As just one example:

According to a 2005 report on the Rwandan economy by the South African Institute for Security Studies, Rwanda’s officially recorded coltan production soared nearly tenfold between 1999 and 2001, from 147 tons to 1,300 tons, surpassing revenues from the country’s main traditional exports, tea and coffee, for the first time. “Part of the increase in production is due to the opening of new mines in Rwanda,” the report said. “However, the increase is primarily due to the fraudulent re-export of coltan of Congolese origin.”

From an August 2000 cable from the US Embassy in Kigali and titled “Rwanda: Organized crime involvement in the diamond industry“:

RCD-Goma [a Rwanda-backed militia] officials and Rwandan and Congolese businessmen explained to us the basic diamond exportation process. In Kigali, businessmen go first to “the Congo Desk” which they say is operated by the Rwandan External Security Services Operated by the Rwandan External Security Services. The men mentioned most frequently as the Congo Desk representatives are Chief of External Services Colonel Patrick Karegeya, Major Dan Munyuza, and Gatete (fnu [first name unknown]) (also sometimes referred to as “Dan” Gatete). (Gatete is believed to be an RPA [Rwandan Patriotic Army] major who works directly for RPA Chief of Staff Bg Kayumba Myamwasa.) many sources claim that their main contact is “Dan,” referring sometimes to Gatete, other times meaning Munyuza (Refs B and C).

Sources told us that typically, a five percent “tax” must be paid to the Congo Desk in Rwanda for permission to export diamonds located in the RPA/RCD-Goma sector of the DROC. We have also heard that a flat fee, ranging from USD 20,000 to USD 100,000 must be paid (Refs B and D). It is unclear how long the export rights “last” once the tax or flat fee has been paid and whether the fees are different depending on the commodity (Ref D). RCD-Goma’s [redacted] said that the RPA uses this money for the war effort in Congo. He had no doubt that the RPA uses the money to purchase weapons, food, clothing, and medicine for the RPA (Ref B provides similar commentary).

Many of the details surrounding the “Congo Desk” are further expanded upon by UN reports I previously linked. From UN document S/2002/1146, pp. 14-15 (bolding mine):

The elite network’s operations in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo are managed centrally from the RPA Congo Desk, which serves to link the commercial and military activities of RPA The Panel has described this function in some detail in previous reports. The Panel continues to receive documentation on ways in which the proceeds of the RPA commercial wing finance an armed presence. As an illustration, the Panel has recently acquired documents showing coltan sales being negotiated by ranking Congo Desk officials. The Panel has copies of faxes sent from the office of RPA Major Dan Munyuza on behalf of Maniema Mining Company and another fax sent from the office of RPA Chief of Staff General James Kaberebe.

While revenues and expenditure in the Congo Desk are considerable, they are kept strictly separate from Rwanda’s national budget. A reliable source associated with the Congo Desk has calculated that income to the Desk provided 80 per cent of all RPA expenditure in 1999. The official Rwandan budget for 1999 allocated $80 million to the military. If this official budget allocation of $80 million represents the 20 per cent referred to by the Panel’s source as the portion of military expenditure not covered by the Congo Desk, then the total military budget from all sources would approximate $400 million. This comes to 20 per cent of GNP for 1999 and approximately 150 per cent of recurring budget expenditure for that year. The Congo Desk’s contribution to Rwanda’s military expenses would therefore have been in the order of $320 million. The activities funded by revenues generated by the Congo Desk strongly shape Rwanda’s foreign policy and directly influence national decision- making in a number of domains. These transactions are, however, hidden from the scrutiny of international organizations.

A couple of things are worth noting about names mentioned in both the US diplomatic cable and the UN report quoted above. Patrick Karegeya fell out with the Kagame regime and fled to South Africa in 2008. He was murdered, likely by agents of of the Rwandan government, on December 31, 2013. Kayumba Myamwasa fled to South Africa in 2010 where he survived an assassination attempt later that year. Dan Munyuza has been directly implicated in ordering assassinations on behalf of Kagame’s ruling circle in a 2011 phone recording. As of February 2016, Munyunza was reported to be “Inspector General of Police in charge of operations,” and is probably still in good terms with the leadership of Rwanda.

Perhaps the most intriguing character in all of this is one Major Gatete Edward Karuranga. He is only fleetingly identified as “Gatete” in the US Embassy in Kigali cable and UN document S/2002/1146 names him “Edward Gatete” and recommends he be punished with a “travel ban and financial restrictions” for his role in the Congo Desk. A July 2007 article from the Lawrence Journal-World of Kansas names “Maj. Karuranga Gatete of Rwanda” as a student at the US Army Fort Leavenworth’s Command and General Staff College (CGSC). Sure enough, a PDF for the college’s Class of 2007 graduation program names “Karuranga, Gatete Edward,” a major from Rwanda, as a graduate. For further corroboration, “Lt. Col Gatete E. Karuranga of Rwanda, a 2007 CGSC graduate” is named in a 2011 issue of a CGSC Foundation newsletter. A 2010 newsletter from the UNFPA in Rwanda claims that “Maj. Gatete Karuranga was promoted to Lt. Col. and appointed Director General External Intelligence.”

Put together, this means that the US trained a military officer from Rwanda after US diplomats and a UN Panel of Experts had named him as complicit in the theft of the DRC’s mineral resources. It’s the type of thing you would typically expect from US imperialism. At the same time, it is worth wondering if this was a violation of the Leahy Law (not that it would ever be enforced anyway).

KeyWiki.org: Trevor Loudon’s comprehensive online blacklist of left activists

If you’ve browsed or searched for anything relating to left-wing activism, you may have encountered a site called KeyWiki.org. It bills itself as a “bipartisan knowledge base focusing primarily on corruption and the covert side of politics in the United States and globally.” In reality, the site is nothing but a modern-day blacklist of left-wing activists with a disturbing amount of its information gleaned from private Facebook groups. While many of its 80,000+ entries are nothing but stubs based on names found in petitions or subscription lists, an increasingly large amount of its pages boast comprehensive details about associations and occasional information about family members.

Needless to say, the prominent display of numerous activists’ online trail neatly listed under their real name on a publicly accessible wiki is a cause for concern. The site can be seen as an extension of the private right-wing surveillance and blacklisting groups established after the fall from grace of Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), such as the Western Goals Foundation and the Church League of America. Indeed, many of the source notes on KeyWiki refer back to a defunct publication known as Information Digest, run by private spy and Congressional aide John Rees and which counted numerous law enforcement agencies among its subscribers. It is clear that whoever is compiling this wiki has access to a large archive of right-wing sources on the left that goes back at least half a century.

The webmaster is a self-proclaimed “libertarian” from New Zealand named Trevor Loudon. It is intriguing to note that someone with the identical full name is listed as a representative for the Sugar Industry Central Board in apartheid-era South Africa. It could be someone with the same name, it could be someone related to him or it could be him. Either way, Loudon has an apparent interest in demonizing Nelson Mandela and KeyWiki approvingly links to a blog that accuses the ANC of being “black-nationalist” and “racist.” Is something more personal going on here?

Quote of the Day

Senior Kuwaiti and Saudi officials now argue privately and sometimes publicly that the partition of Iraq into several entities — Shiites in the south, Kurds in the north and Sunnis in the center — may be the key to neutralizing a country whose population is increasingly viewed by oil-rich gulf Arab states as inherently aggressive.
[…]
A senior Saudi intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about this evolving position in a recent interview in Paris, said that Saudi Arabia was less concerned now about what impact a breakup of Iraq’s 17 million people would have. “This possibility may in fact be a better solution than the present situation,” the official noted.
[…]
“What we need to do is what the Americans did in Japan and Germany after World War II,” the Saudi official said. “We must go into Iraq and change the whole setup, the whole mentality, including the social structure of that country which permits dictators like Saddam to resurface there with regularity every 20 years or so. “To do that,” he said, “we may need several small entities to deal with instead of attempting to preserve one Iraqi nation.”
[…]
In Kuwait, a similar sentiment is expressed more openly now in newspaper editorials.
[…]
“We must substitute a state with a wholly different state, a major surgical operation that will take much time to execute,” wrote Ahmad Jarallah, publisher of the pro-Saudi Kuwaiti daily, Al Siyassah, in a front-page commentary on the eve of the second anniversary of the Iraqi invasion. “In the process, however, we must prepare to coexist with a new Iraq in the post-Saddam era that will be for at least 20 years the scene of much internal strife and settlement of accounts.”

“Let us say it clearly: It is not not enough to bring down Saddam or kill him alone to give the world a rest from his problems,” Mr. Jarallah said today. “What is necessary is to cut the roots of the entire Iraqi regime with all its infrastructure, its various support elements, its executive instruments, its spies and its agents.”

–Youssef M. Ibrahim, “Gulf Arabs Thinking of a Divided Iraq,” NYT, 2 Aug. 1992

Five reasons why Democrats should stop obsessing over Russia

1. It is rehabilitating neoconservatism
Some of the biggest proponents of the effort to tie Trump to the Kremlin are the same neocons who sold us the 2003 war of aggression against Iraq and are still campaigning to sabotage the Iran deal, one of the few foreign policy successes of the Obama administration. One only need to look at recent editorials by self-proclaimed imperialism apologist Max Boot and efforts by the ghoul none other than Dick Cheney to “reach out” to liberals and take on the Russian menace. I’ve seen many prominent liberals these days promote the anti-Russian rantings of this guy:

Not a good look, to say the least.

2. It feeds into national chauvinism and jingoism
According to liberals, their own tradition on foreign affairs is one that favors diplomacy over militarism and reconciliation over needless belligerance. Yet much of the rhetoric targeting Trump sounds like the right-wing arguments against Obama’s foreign policy: that he isn’t “tough enough” on America’s Enemies. As an example, Trump is being accused of acting as an agent of the Kremlin simply for proposing a relaxation of economic sanctions against Russia. This sounds perilously similar to what we heard from the right, and indeed Trump himself, when Obama administration relaxed sanctions on Iran and Cuba.

It also feeds into the myth of American exceptionalism, which once again I thought liberals claimed to oppose. There are many “takes” among liberal “thinkfluencers” these days about how America is a naturally progressive and benevolent force for good and this is contrasted with Russia, which is demonized as backwards and cruel even beyond Putin’s leadership. Many of these same personalities have, in other contexts, acknowledged various truths about America being founded on slavery and genocide and it being sustained by imperialist plunder to this very day. One need not be a Maoist Third Worldist to recognize as ridiculously self-acquitting the idea that the US needed Putin’s nefarious influence to elect an overt white supremacist like Trump.

3. It is a diversion from more pressing matters
Just recently the GOP proposed gutting Medicaid in order to finance a patchwork of tax cuts that would disproportionately benefit the incredibly wealthy. Thankfully, extremist elements within the GOP helped shoot the proposal down, presumably for not being cruel enough. Medicaid is a very popular program that Trump promised not to cut. Its beneficiaries include many elderly and disabled individuals and the GOP would’ve had a challenging time portraying them as freeloaders to the American people. Instead of spending more time celebrating this defeat and exploiting the opportunity to present a genuinely progressive vision for health care, the Democrats largely allowed the news cycle to drop this story in order to focus on Trump’s ties to Russia.

This is inconceivable to me. When polls are showing increased willingness for a single-payer system, the Democrats are willing to switch the script and make common cause with neocons in pursuit of a more antagonistic foreign policy. Additional Trumpian monstrosities such as the proposed cuts to the EPA and an end to local police reform efforts are also taking a back seat in media coverage. One has to ask: what is the end goal here? One likely consequence of this hysteria is that the Trump administration will be pressured into adopting an even more hostile policy towards Russia and its allies. It will under no circumstances lead to a more progressive vision at home or abroad.

4. It will bite liberals and Democrats in the ass in the end
The moment Democrats are back in the saddle and decide to promote detente with Russia or any other foreign power viewed as a rival, they will be attacked as hypocrites for so long leading a crusade based on the idea that hostility towards Russia should be the norm. If you go to some of the archives of liberal writers and bloggers currently beating this story to death, you will find that many of them in the past recognized the dangerous warmongering delusions of the anti-Russia neocons. During the 2008 Georgia-Russia War, it was acknowledged by liberals that neocons were promoting a reckless policy of confrontation with Russia. How on Earth can American liberalism credibly switch tack after this current round of Russia-bashing?

I’ve seen it said by conservatives that if Russia really is that dangerous that we should massively increase our defense spending. Others have accused the Democrats of being hypocrites for promoting hostility to Russia while also calling for reapproachment with Iran. If anything, if the Democrats succeed in making Russia a matter of national concern among the general population, it will benefit the neocon wing of the GOP much more than the Democratic Party.

5. It risks damaging long term prospects for peace with Russia
This is the most important reason by far. If the US political atmosphere becomes increasingly anti-Russia as the Democrats want it to be, it will be nearly impossible to come to any sort of diplomatic understanding with Russia in the near future. Use of the US military and intelligence agencies to “solve” global conflicts will be more palatable to the general public. Support for penetrating foreign interventionism will become a kind of litmus test as it was in the immediate post-9/11 hysteria of mindless patriotism that enabled the Iraq War.

Is this really what liberals want? I have to come to the conclusion that for many of them it is. Others who are on the fence about Trump/Russia scandalmongering should take note. If you want to avoid an aggressive foreign policy in the future, it is definitely not a scandal you want to promote.

The overrepresentation of Sunni right-wing in Muslim-American leadership

The following appalling Tweet was sent out today by the executive director of CAIR for the Los Angeles region:

russian-jet

I think a discussion is long overdue in the role the most prominent Muslim American organizations play in legitimizing both US imperialism in the Middle East and Sunni supremacy. If the above tweet occurred in a vacuum, it might be brushed aside as an fringe view by one official. Unfortunately, it fits into a wider pattern.

As the largest and most well-known Muslim American organization, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), has an inconsistent record (to be charitable) when it comes to condemning US and Israeli intervention in the Muslim world. While it has admirably opposed Obama’s drone assassinationsIsrael’s repression of the Palestinians and the US invasion of Iraq, it also has lobbied for no fly zones (i.e. air support for regime change) in both Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2015. It has largely remained silent on the Saudi air campaign targeting Shia regions of Yemen. The only press release by the organization I can find refers to US citizens stuck in Yemen but makes no criticism or condemnation of the Saudi air strikes responsible for most civilian deaths. When put next to its strongly worded condemnations of the Assad government over the Syrian civil war, this strongly suggests a sectarian double standard.

Now, in all fairness, it should be noted that CAIR appears to have had a better record on relations with Shia Muslims before the chaos that has unfolded in Syria in the past five years. It condemned sanctions against Syria in 2002 as well as the IDF’s 2006 rampage against Shia regions of Lebanon.

Yet the above tweet by Hussam Ayloush (who actually applauds the US military in other tweets, it should be noted) cannot be excused under any circumstances. At a bare minimum, CAIR’s national headquarters should repudiate the views expressed in the tweet.

Further Reading From Ikhras.com

Letter From A Reader: U.S. Muslim And CAIR Supporter Rejects Call For “No-Fly Zone” Over Syria
CAIR Hypocrisy On Full Display After Terrorism Hits Beirut And Paris