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For Truly Better Relations with Cuba, Open the Door and Get Out of the Way!
President Obama today took a bold and surprising step toward ending the futile 50 year US embargo of Cuba. The president announced he would begin normalizing relations, including upgrading the diplomatic mission in Havana to embassy status. The president also said he was taking steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information between the US and Cuba.

17 December 2014read on...

The Cold War Has Never Ended for the CIA
In the midst of the CIA’s torture scandal, USAID continues its obsessive Cold War activity against Cuba, in a desperate attempt to finally, once and for all, oust the Castro regime from power and install another pro-U.S. dictatorship.

17 December 2014read on...

Three Members of Congress Just Reignited the Cold War While No One Was Looking
Late Thursday night, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a far-reaching Russia sanctions bill, a hydra-headed incubator of poisonous conflict. The second provocative anti-Russian legislation in a week, it further polarizes our relations with Russia, helping to cement a Russia-China alliance against Western hegemony, and undermines long-term America’s financial and physical security by handing the national treasury over to war profiteers.

16 December 2014read on...

BBC US Editor Parrots CIA, Republican Talking Points on Senate Torture Report
The BBC is supposed to be an "impartial", "honest" and "independent" news outlet, but today its US Editor, Jon Sopel, showed very clearly whose side he is on. In a short post, "A whiff of hypocrisy about CIA report?", he regurgitates some staple Republican talking-points and makes arguments eerily similar to those presented by former CIA and Bush officials in their various self-exculpatory media appearances this past week.

16 December 2014read on...

After Ukraine: Are the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary Veering Off The NATO/EU Reservation?
Despite the firmness shown by the EU’sbiggest players when it comes to sanctioning Putin’s Russia, lower down the pecking order some member states are not happy. Unlike the most craven and obedient puppets — the Baltic States and Poland — it took some arm twisting to get the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary to agree to punish Moscow for annexing Crimea. Each country is dependent for much of its energy on Russia with which there are also valued economic ties. Why rock the boat? Despite hyperbole claiming that Vladimir Putin was intent on taking them over and rebuilding the iron curtain, in reality, Russia has been an unproblematic neighbour for a quarter of a century.

15 December 2014read on...

All I Want for Christmas is a (Real) Government Shutdown
The political class breathed a sigh of relief Saturday when the US Senate averted a government shutdown by passing the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. This year’s omnibus resembles omnibuses of Christmas past in that it was drafted in secret, was full of special interest deals and disguised spending increases, and was voted on before most members could read it.

14 December 2014read on...

Eric Garner, the Torture Report, and Authoritarian Psychology
What do the NYPD arresting officers of Eric Garner, the CIA officials responsible for the crimes detailed in the Torture Report and U.S. foreign policy officials all have in common? They are all agents of  institutions that have adopted an “authoritarian psychology.” So what does authoritarian psychology mean?

12 December 2014read on...

Torture and the Myth of Never Again: The Persecution of John Kiriakou
The United States sanctioned acts of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency and others. The acts took place in secret prisons (“black sites”) against persons detained indefinitely without trial. They were described in detail and explicitly authorized in a series of secret torture memos drafted by John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury, senior lawyers in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. (Office of Legal Counsel attorneys technically answer directly to the DOJ, which is supposed to be independent from the White House, but obviously was not in this case.) Not one of those men, or their Justice Department bosses, has been held accountable for their actions.

11 December 2014read on...

Do They Really Oppose Torture?
The Senate Intelligence Committee released its long-awaited report on CIA torture of detainees and the reaction has been strong. While some still maintain that torture is justified, the emerging details of the program have left most of the country disgusted and ashamed.

11 December 2014read on...

US Foreign Policy: Into the Heart of Darkness
The United States is careening toward an unnecessary new cold war with Russia.  Cold War II may be even more dangerous than the first Cold War, because the constitutional checks and balances and the attention span of the people regulating the US government’s behavior have broken down. While Ukraine is now at the center of this madness, the neocon-driven march to folly has roots reaching well beyond the Ukraine.

10 December 2014read on...

Featured Articles

Iran Gets Short End Of The Nuclear Deal


Iran Surrounded

After all the gnashing of teeth, beating of breasts and tearing of hair coming from Israel and its American supporters, you’d think last week’s nuclear deal in Geneva has opened the way for Iran to become a mighty nuclear weapons power.

Nonsense. Coolly examined, Tehran came off with the short end of the stick at the so-called P5 + 1 big power talks in Geneva. Here’s why:

Bowing to intolerable sanctions and economic warfare from the US, Tehran agreed to limit uranium enrichment to only 5% (over 80% is needed to make a nuclear weapon). This low level is sufficiently only for power generation. Iran is to stop enriching to 20%, the level needed for medical isotopes.

Iran further agreed to halt construction of its Arak heavy water reactor that could eventually produce plutonium, a key nuclear weapons fuel. Tehran agreed not to build any new nuclear facilities, including next generation centrifuges, and grant daily access to UN nuclear inspectors at its top-secret Nantaz and Fordow plants. It will provide design plans for its Arak reactor.

In short, Iran freezes its modest nuclear program to the point where it can only be used for civilian energy purposes.

For these major concessions, Iran will be paid $7 billion – of its own money, which has been frozen abroad by US-led sanctions. Some sanctions will be slightly eased. Iran will regain access to some of its gold and cash held abroad. But most of its $ 100 billion in assets frozen abroad will remain blocked. Tehran will be able to sell modest amounts of oil at current restricted levels, and fund some Iranian students abroad. Big deal.

Iran will be finally allowed to buy some parts for its dilapidated civilian airliners that have become flying coffins because of sanctions. But, apparently, not new western aircraft.

The Geneva accord will last for 6 months, then be reviewed.
Given all the American and Israeli talk of war against Iran, it represents something of a triumph for US, Russian, EU and Chinese diplomacy. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry deserve kudos for engineering the deal – both the open one in Geneva, and the backroom talks run out of Oman.

Russia’s deft Foreign Mininster Sergei Lavrov also deserves applause, having contributed much diplomatic skill and intelligent policy to the negotiations.

There appears no way Iran could even come close to making a few nuclear weapons – or, for that matter, delivered them at medium range. But that has not quieted the wailing and threats coming from Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, who has some 200 nuclear weapons tucked away in his basement. Or from America’s pro-Israel lobby and its captive Republican Party.

As the great Israeli writer Uri Avnery observed, the US Congress would jump to repeal the Ten Commandments if so ordered by Israel.

We have been watching the ugly spectacle of Congressmen and Senators backing the harsh criticism of their president by Israel’s Netanyahu. The US media has also been very biased against the Geneva deal. Yet in spite of this, a recent Pew poll found 44% of Americans supported the Geneva accords while only a small number opposed them.

While Iran has not benefitted from this deal, it has at least lessened the threat of attack. The Geneva accord may pave the way to a warming of relations with the west and America’s final acceptance of the Islamic Republic as a legitimate Mideast presence. This prospect that has driven the Israelis and the Saudis into a towering rage.

The campaign to block the Geneva accords has thrust into the daylight the long-covert alliance between Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates on one hand, and Israel. Egypt and Jordan are also members of this anti-Iranian camp. The possible emergence of Iran from US-imposed isolation is already throwing the Mideast into convulsions.

We also witnessed at Geneva another example of the consummate, unblushing hypocrisy that makes France often less than loved. France, which has been selling arms to the Gulf Emirates and has a base in Abu Dhabi, held up the Iran deal claiming it would promote “nuclear proliferation.” This is the same France that originally sold nuclear technology, weapons and missiles to Israel in the mid-1950’s. Quel nerve!

Back in the US, having seen the full might of the pro-Israel lobby attacking their president and making Congress clap like circus seals, many Americans must be wondering if they have lost control of their nation’s Mideast policy.

Polls show Americans certainly don’t want to fight yet another war for Israel’s benefit. PM Netanyahu has gone too far in trying to throw his weight around in America and in humiliated President Barack Obama.

His heavy-handed actions will remind many that the US Congress has been totally corrupted by big money and big media – and needs to be reformed.

As Ben Franklin said, “there is no bad peace; and no good war.” So Geneva, however imperfect, is a step forward. Now, we will watch its foes move heaven and earth to sabotage these accords.

Read Mr. Margolis's blog.

Flickr/georat1960


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