American Elephants


Does Anybody Know What We’re Doing In the Middle East? by The Elephant's Child

Every time I think I’m getting a grip on what is going on in the Middle East, I find that is not the case.  Reader Spartan noted that Debka File had said there were U.S troops in Israel in readiness for a military engagement with Iran, categorized as the biggest joint US-Israel war game ever held. I demurred as I have read that Debka File is not a reliable source. So, Spartan, mea culpa.

Iran had some more excitement in which a drive-by motorcyclist slapped a ‘sticky bomb’ on the car carrying one of Iran’s nuclear scientists. Motorcyclist escaped, car blew up, one less Iranian nuclear scientist, and Hillary Chamberlain Clinton rushed for the closest microphone to insist we had nothing whatsoever to do with THAT.  Americans just don’t do that sort of thing.

Iran’s foreign ministry boldly proclaimed that it has:

reliable documents and evidence that this terrorist act was planned, guided and supported by the CIA. The documents clearly show that this terrorist act was carried out with the direct involvement of CIA-linked agents.

Other complications: Obama had finally grasped that Nigeria’s labor strike against oil producers, the war against the Canadian pipeline and topping that off with an embargo on Iranian oil, would probably boost the price of gas over $5 a gallon and boost reelection chances to zero. So last Thursday the U.S. postponed any oil embargo for 6 months or so, though European governments were not quite so craven. They are expected to agree to a ban on imports of Iranian oil on Jan. 23.

A  joint U.S.– Israel military exercise that is to be the biggest ever between the two countries has been postponed, Israel Radio reported. Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman  Josh Hantman said in a phone interview that the exercise was still under discussion and declined to give further details.

The exercise was moved to the second half of 2012 for “a variety of factors” to promote “optimum participation by all units,” said Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman. “We remain dedicated to his exercise and naturally want it to be as robust and as productive as it can be,” he said in an email.

U.S. sanctions imposed last year were to cut off oil dealings with Iran’s banking system, making it difficult for consumers to buy the country’s oil.  Iran responded by threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, the route for about a fifth of globally traded oil, if sanctions are imposed.

Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon told Israel Radio that while Congress had shown itself determined to place tougher sanctions on Iran’s nuclear  program, the Obama administration “appears more hesitant out of fear that oil prices might rise.”

Russia is parking its warships in Syrian harbors, while they pursue bilateral trade, supply ammunition to the locals, and replacing the dollar with the rial and ruble in trade.

I guess if we can just be persuaded to wait until after the election, then Obama will be firm and deal promptly with these nasty little foreign policy glitches. It’s not exactly “appeasement,” it’s just, um, that “we take no options off the table,” according to press secretary Jay Carney. “But we are engaged in the kinds of diplomatic efforts that you would expect in a situation like this.” Carney is getting good at empty words that convey nothing, nothing at all.

The U.S.will not enforce a no-fly zone over Syria.  Israel says US-Israel exercise postponed for “Budget Reasons.”Army  General Martin Dempsey is making his first visit to Israel as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but “he is not delivering any specific message to the Israelis.”  A White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, declined to elaborate on Obama’s January 12 call with Netanyahu.

So there you go. All perfectly clear. ––

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