Will Trump’s Hawks Dare to Risk Israel?

Strategic Culture Foundation

Will Trump’s Hawks Dare to Risk Israel?

It was the eleventh, and perhaps the most important meeting between President Putin and PM Netanyahu on 27 February, writes the well-informed journalist, Elijah Magnier: “The Israeli visitor heard clearly from his host that Moscow has no leverage to ask Iran to leave – or, to stop the flow of weapons to Damascus … Moscow [also] informed Tel Aviv about Damascus’s determination to respond to any future bombing; and that Russia doesn’t see itself concerned [i.e. a party to such conflict] ”.

This last sentence requires some further unpacking. What is going on here is the mounting of the next phase of the Chinese-Russian strategy for containing the US policy of seeding hybrid disorder – and of pouring acid in to the region’s ‘open wounds’. Neither China nor Russia wish to enter into a war with the US. President Putin has warned on several occasions that were Russia to be pushed to the brink, it would have no choice but to react – and that the possible consequences go beyond contemplation.

In short, America’s recent wars have clearly demonstrated their political limitations. Yes, they are militarily highly destructive, but they have not yielded their anticipated political dividends; or rather, the political dividends have manifested more as an erosion of US credibility, and of its appeal as a ‘model’ for the world to mimic. There is now no ‘New’ Middle East that is emerging anywhere that casts itself in the American mold.

Trump’s foreign policy-makers are not old-style ‘liberal’ interventionists, seeking to slay the region’s tyrannical monsters’, and promising to implant American values: that wing of US neo-conservatism – perhaps unsurprisingly – has assimilated itself to the Democratic Party and to those European leaders desirous of striking (a supposedly morally ‘virtuous’) pose in contra-distinction to Trump’s (supposedly amoral) transactional approach.

Bolton et al however, are of the neoconservative school that believes that if you have power, you use it, or lose it. They simply do not trouble themselves with all those frills of promising democracy or freedom (and like Carl Schmitt, they see ethics as a matter for theologians, and not a concern for them). And if the US cannot, any longer, directly impose certain political outcomes (on their terms) on the world as it used to, then the priority must be to use all means to ensure that no political rival can emerge to challenge the US. In other words, instability and bleeding open-wounds become the potent tools to disrupt rival power-blocks from accumulating wider political weight and standing. (In other words, if you cannot ‘make’ politics, at least disrupts others’ attempts so to do.)

So, how does this play out in President Putin’s messaging to Netanyahu? Well, firstly this meeting occurred almost immediately following President Assad’s visit to Tehran. This latter summit took place in the context of increasing pressures on Syria (from the US and the EU) to try to undo the Syrian success in liberating its land (obviously with much help from its friends). The explicit aim being to hold future Syrian reconstruction hostage to the political reconfiguring of Syria – in the manner of America and Europe’s choosing.

The earlier Tehran summit took place, too, against the back drop of a crystallisingmindset for confrontation with Iran in Washington.

The Tehran summit firstly adopted the principle that Iran represented Syria’s strategic depth; and concomitantly, Syria is Iran’s strategic depth.

The second item on the agenda was how to devise a scaffolding of deterrence for the northern tier of the Middle East that might contain Mr Bolton’s impulse to disrupt this sub-region, and attempt to weaken it. And through weakening it, weaken Russia and China (the latter having a major stake in terms of security of energy supply and of the viability of an Asian trading sphere).

President Putin simply outlined the principles of the putative containment plan to Netanyahu; but the Israelis had already got the message from others (from Sayyed Nasrallah and from leaks from Damascus). Its essentials are that Russia intends to stand above any regional military confrontations (i.e. try not get pulled in, as a party to it). Moscow wants to keep ‘doors open’. The S300 air defence system is installed in Syria (and is ready), but Moscow, it seems, will preserve constructive ambiguity about its rules for engagement for these highly sophisticated missiles.

At the same time, Syria and Iran have made plain that there will henceforth be a response to any Israeli air attack on “significant strategic” Syrian defences. Initially, it seems, that Syria likely would respond by launching its missiles into occupied Golan; but were Israel to escalate further, these missiles would be targeted on strategic military targets in the depth of Israel. And if Israel escalated yet further in response, then the option would exist for Iranian and Hizbullah’s missiles to be activated too.

And just to tie the pieces together, Iran is saying that its advisers effectively are everywhere in Syria where Syrian forces are. Which is to say that any attack affecting Syrian forces may be construed by Iran as an attack on Iranian personnel.

What is being constructed here is a complex, differentiated deterrence, with ‘constructive ambivalence’ at all levels. At one level, Russia deploys full ambiguity over the rules of engagement for its S300s in Syria. At another level, Syria maintains some undefined ambiguity (contingent on the degree of Israeli escalation) over the geographic siting of its response (Golan only; or the extent of Israel); and Iran and Hizbullah maintain ambiguity over their possible engagement too (by saying their advisors can be everywhere in Syria).

Netanyahu returned from his meeting with Putin saying that Israel’s policy of attacking Iranian forces in Syria was unchanged (he says this every time) – despite Putin having made it plain that Russia is not able to enforce an Iranian departure on the Syrian government. It was – and is – Syria’s right to choose its own strategic partners. The Israeli PM has however now been formally forewarned that such attacks will be met with a possible reaction that will badly disconcert his public (i.e. missiles landing in the depth of Israel). He knows too, that the existing Syrian air defence systems, (even absent S300 support), are operating with a very high degree of effectiveness (whatever Israeli commentators may claim). Netanyahu knows that Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ and ‘David’s Sling’ missile defences are not highly rated by the US military.

Will Netanyahu risk further significant attacks on Syrian strategic infrastructure? Elijah Magnier quotes well-informed sources saying: “It all depends on the direction the Israeli elections will take. If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu estimates his chances are high enough to win a second term, then he will not venture any time soon into a new confrontation with Syria and its allies. The date of the next battle will be postponed. But, if he believes he will lose the election, then the possibility of his initiating a battle becomes very high. A serious battle between Israel on one hand, and Syria and Iran on the other hand, would be sufficient enough to postpone the elections. Netanyahu doesn’t have many choices: either he wins the election and postpones the corruption court case against him; or, he goes to jail”.

This thesis may sound compelling, but the calculus on which it rests may prove to be too narrow. It is clear that the differentiated deterrence ploy, outlined by Putin – though framed in terms of Syria – has a wider purpose. The present language used by the US and Europe signal plainly enough that they are largely finished with military operations in Syria. But, in parallel to the disavowal of further military operations in Syria, we have also seen a consolidation of the US Administration mindset towards some sort of confrontation with Iran.

Whereas Netanyahu was always vociferous in calling for confrontation with Iran, he is not known in Israel as a military risk taker (calling for ‘mowing the Palestinian grass’ carries no political risk in domestic Israeli politics). And too, the Israeli military and security establishment have never relished the prospect of outright war with Iran, unless conducted with the US fully in the lead. (It would always be highly risky for any Israeli PM to launch a possibly existential war across the region, without having a sound consensus within the Israeli security establishment.)

Yet Mr Bolton too, has long advocated ‘bomb Iran’ (i.e. in his NYT op-ed of March 2015). Until recently, it was always assumed that it was Netanyahu who was trying to coat-trail the Americans into leading a ‘war’ with Iran. Is it sure that these roles have not become reversed? That it is now John Bolton, Mike Pence and Pompeo who are seeking not all-out war, but to put maximum hybrid pressures on Iran – through sanctions, though fomenting anti-Iranian insurgencies amongst ethnic minorities in Iran, and though Israel regularly poking at Iran militarily, in the hope that Iran will overreact, and fall into Mr Bolton’s trap for ‘having Iran just where he wants it’?

This is the point of the deterrence package – it is all about ‘containing’ the US. The initiative is constructed, as it were, with all its deliberately ambivalent linkages between actors, to signal that any US attempts to foster chaos in the Greater Levant or in Iran, beyond a certain undefined point, now risks embroiling its protégé, Israel, in a much wider regional war – and with unforeseeable consequence. It is a question not so much whether Netanyahu ‘will risk it’, but will Bolton dare ‘risk Israel’?

Tags: Israel  Trump
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‘Financial terrorism’ suspected in 2008 economic crash according to Pentagon study

ed note– Kevin Freeman, the ‘contractor’ listed in the story who was commissioned and paid by the Pentagon to compile the report on the attack on the financial system of the US in mid-September 2008 is listed as a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy, a NeoCon think tank with close ties to Israeli intelligence aimed at embroiling America deeper and deeper into military conflicts with Israel’s enemies in the Islamic world. The piece itself appearing in the Washington Times below was written by Bill Gertz, also well known for championing all things NeoConservative and who has written for various NeoCon publications including Bill Kristol’s now-defunct Weekly Standard which is jocularly referred to as ‘the NeoCon Bible’.

As an interesting little aside, while researching the piece written by the NeoCon author of this Pentagon-commissioned study, it became clear that he based his thesis i.e. ‘shariah-compliant state actors’ being responsible for this financial attack in what was an obvious attempt on his part at circumventing and rerouting the direction of the original piece appearing here that advanced the theory of Israel being the prime suspect, including the NeoCon author basing his thesis on the same CSPAN video featuring Rep. Paul Kanjorski, the archived page of which can be found here.

SO, the theory goes thus–

In the waning days of the George W. Bush administration as the war on terror is beginning to lose steam and as a new president is about to take over, an attack on the financial systems of the United States takes place on or about 9/11/2008 that–according to at least one Congressman in a moment of frustration mixed with candor–had to be stopped in mid-morning lest the entire US financial infrastructure and economic/banking system collapse by 2 pm later that same afternoon that would have then resulted in the complete collapse of the world economy within 24 hours.

As argued here, the most likely culprit for the attack was/is the same entity who–

A. Maintains an uncontested stranglehold over the banking and economic system in America,

and–

B. Was the primary beneficiary of the terrorist attacks taking place 7 years earlier on the morning of 9/11–

Israel.

The plan was obvious–blame it on some state-sponsored terrorist entity tied to a nation which Israel wants destroyed–Iran, Russia, etc, and then let loose the dogs of war, just as took place after the events of 9/11/2001.

Now it has surfaced that one of the most powerful and wealthy men in America lost substantial amounts of his net worth as a result of the tumult of those events, a man whose nomination to the Republican ticket in the election cycle of 2016 was militantly opposed by the same NeoCon faction in control of the White House during the Bush Administration and who steered the US towards destroying Iraq per Israel’s orders, the same NeoCons who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 and who now are working feverishly to see that powerful and wealthy man removed from the White House via the process of Impeachment.

And yes, ladies and Gentile-men, it now appears there is a deep connection between the events of 9/11/2001, 9/11/2008, the Presidential election of 2016 and the drive to remove the man who won that election from office by this same NeoCon faction that pulled off the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 and 9/11/2008. He lost, and lost BIG as a result of the monetary shenanigans that took place in the month of September of 2008 and they know it and know he’s out for a lil’ payback, Trump style.

Bill Gertz, The Washington Times

Monday, February 28, 2011

Evidence outlined in a Pentagon contractor report suggests that financial subversion carried out by unknown parties, such as terrorists or hostile nations, contributed to the 2008 economic crash by covertly using vulnerabilities in the U.S. financial system.

The unclassified 2009 report “Economic Warfare: Risks and Responses” by financial analyst Kevin D. Freeman, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, states that “a three-phased attack was planned and is in the process against the United States economy.”

While economic analysts and a final report from the federal government’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission blame the crash on such economic factors as high-risk mortgage lending practices and poor federal regulation and supervision, the Pentagon contractor adds a new element: “outside forces,” a factor the commission did not examine.

“There is sufficient justification to question whether outside forces triggered, capitalized upon or magnified the economic difficulties of 2008,” the report says, explaining that those domestic economic factors would have caused a “normal downturn” but not the “near collapse” of the global economic system that took place.

Suspects include financial enemies in Middle Eastern states, Islamic terrorists, hostile members of the Chinese military, or government and organized crime groups in Russia, Venezuela or Iran. Chinese military officials publicly have suggested using economic warfare against the U.S.

In an interview with The Times, Mr. Freeman said his report provided enough theoretical evidence for an economic warfare attack that further forensic study was warranted.

“The new battle space is the economy,” he said. “We spend hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons systems each year. But a relatively small amount of money focused against our financial markets through leveraged derivatives or cyber efforts can result in trillions of dollars in losses. And, the perpetrators can remain undiscovered.

“This is the equivalent of box cutters on an airplane,” Mr. Freeman said.

Paul Bracken, a Yale University professor who has studied economic warfare, said he saw “no convincing evidence that ‘outside forces’ colluded to bring about the 2008 crisis.”

“There were outside players in the market” for unregulated credit default swaps, Mr. Bracken said in an e-mail. “Foreign banks and hedge funds play the shorts all the time too. But suggestions of an organized targeted attack for strategic reasons don’t seem to me to be plausible.”

Regardless of the report’s findings, U.S. officials and outside analysts said the Pentagon, the Treasury Department and U.S. intelligence agencies are not aggressively studying the threats to the United States posed by economic warfare and financial terrorism.

“Nobody wants to go there,” one official said.

A copy of the report also was provided to the recently concluded Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, but the commission also declined to address the possibility of economic warfare in its final report.

Officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said senior Pentagon policymakers, including Michael Vickers, an assistant defense secretary in charge of special operations, blocked further study, saying the Pentagon was not the appropriate agency to assess economic warfare and financial terrorism risks.

Mr. Vickers declined to be interviewed but, through a spokesman, said he did not say economic warfare was not an area for the Pentagon to study, and that he did not block further study.

Mr. Vickers is awaiting Senate confirmation on his promotion to be undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

Despite his skepticism of the report, Mr. Bracken agreed that financial warfare needs to be studied, and he noted that the U.S. government is only starting to address the issue.

“We are in an era like the 1950s where technological innovation is transforming the tools of coercion and war,” he said. “We tend not to see this, and look at information warfare, financial warfare, precision strike, [weapons of mass destruction], etc. as separate silos. It’s their parallel co-evolution that leads to interesting options, like counter-elite targeting. And no one is really looking at this in an overall ‘systems’ way. Diplomacy is way behind here.”

Mr. Freeman wrote the report for the Pentagon’s Irregular Warfare Support Program, part of the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, which examines unconventional warfare scenarios.

“The preponderance of evidence that cannot be easily dismissed demands a thorough and immediate study be commenced,” the report says. “Ignoring the likelihood of this very real threat ensures a catastrophic event.”

The report concluded that the evidence of an attack is strong enough that “financial terrorism may have cost the global economy as much as $50 trillion.”

Because of secrecy surrounding global banking and finance, finding the exact identities of the attackers will be difficult.

But U.S. opponents in Russia who could wage economic warfare include elements of the former KGB intelligence and political police who regard the economy as a “logical extension of the Cold War,” the report says.

Asked by The Times who he thought to be the most likely behind the financial attacks, Mr. Freeman said: “Unfortunately, the two major strategic threats, radical jihadists and the Chinese, are among the best positioned in the economic battle space.”

Also, the report lists as suspects advocates of Islamic law, who have publicly called for opposition to capitalism as a way to promote what they regard as the superiority of Islam.

Further Pentagon Low Intensity Conflict office research into possible economic warfare or financial terrorism being behind the economic collapse by the Pentagon’s Special Operations and was blocked, Mr. Freeman said.

The Pentagon report states that the evidence of financial subversion revealed that the first two phases of an attack on the U.S. economy took place from 2007 to 2009 and “based on recent global market activity, it appears that the predicted Phase III may be underway right now.”

The report states that federal authorities must further investigate two significant events in the months leading up to the financial crisis.

The first phase of the economic attack, the report said, was the escalation of oil prices by speculators from 2007 to mid-2008 that coincided with the housing finance crisis.

In the second phase, the stock market collapsed by what the report called a “bear raid” from unidentified sources on Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and other Wall Street firms.

“This produced a complete collapse in credit availability and almost started a global depression,” Mr. Freeman said.

The third phase is what Mr. Freeman states in the report was the main source of the economic system’s vulnerability. “We have taken on massive public debt as the government was the only party who could access capital markets in late 2008 and early 2009,” he said, placing the U.S. dollar’s global reserve currency status at grave risk.

“This is the ‘end game’ if the goal is to destroy America,” Mr. Freeman said, noting that in his view China’s military “has been advocating the potential for an economic attack on the U.S. for 12 years or longer as evidenced by the publication of the book Unrestricted Warfare in 1999.”

Additional evidence provided by Mr. Freeman includes the statement in 2008 by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. that the Russians had approached the Chinese with a plan to dump its holdings of bonds by the federally backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Among the financial instruments that may have been used in the economic warfare scenario are credit default swaps, unregulated and untraceable contracts by which a buyer pays the seller a fee and in exchange is paid off in a bond or a loan. The report said credit default swaps are “ideal bear-raid tools” and “have the power to determine the financial viability of companies.”

Another economic warfare tool that was linked in the report to the 2008 crash is what is called “naked short-selling” of stock, defined as short-selling financial shares without borrowing them.

The report said that 30 percent to 70 percent of the decline in stock share values for two companies that were attacked, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, were results of failed trades from naked short-selling.

The collapse in September 2008 of Lehman Brothers, the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, was the most significant event in the crash, causing an immediate credit freeze and stock market crash, the report says.

In a section of who was behind the collapse, the report says determining the actors is difficult because of banking and financial trading secrecy.

“The reality of the situation today is that foreign-based hedge funds perpetrating bear raid strategies could do so virtually unmonitored and unregulated on behalf of enemies of the United States,” the report says.

“Only recently have defense and intelligence agencies begun to consider this very real possibility of what amounts to financial terrorism and-or economic warfare.”

As for Chinese involvement in economic sabotage, the decline in the world economy may have hurt Beijing through a decline in purchases of Chinese goods.

Treasury spokeswoman Marti Adams had no immediate comment on the report but said her department’s views on the causes of the economic crash were well known.

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