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As John Bolton tries to clean up the Syria mess, I’m reminded of an old quote

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As John Bolton tries to clean up the Syria mess, I'm reminded of an old quote

John Bolton isn’t my favorite politician, but I’ve always appreciated his straightforward style. He doesn’t participate in the careful-speak so many in DC seem to embrace these days, even though he’s also not the loudmouth many expected him to be once he joined the Trump administration.

With that said, he’s currently in the Middle East setting stipulations for a troop withdrawal from Syria. This is a cleanup effort after the President whimsically Tweeted he’d be pulling troops from there almost immediately. It reminded me of a quote from Bolton, one that seems apropos.

“There is no patriotic obligation to help advance the career of a politician who is otherwise pursuing interests that are fundamentally antithetical to your values. That’s not the call of patriotism.”

We’ll see if he makes it through to the end of the administration or not.

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Iran’s continuous string of lies about tanker attacks reveals their intentions

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To understand why the events surrounding the two tankers attacked in the Gulf of Oman yesterday happened, we must understand the mentality of the Iranian regime. Their way of thinking is very different from most western perspectives. It’s not just religious and cultural differences. They have a deep-seated desire to be seen by the world as they see themselves.

I am neither a psychologist nor a Middle East scholar, but my coverage of and research into Iranian military and geopolitical activities over the last two decades is why nothing about the attacks and subsequent reactions by Iran took me by surprise. This was all part of standard operating procedure for a regime that has attempted to build two narratives since before the 9/11 attacks: “We are strong” and “the Middle East is our region.”

And the most important part of “their” region is the Strait of Hormuz.

Strait of Hormuz

This narrow stretch of sea, a mere 21 nautical miles wide at one point, connecting the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman has nearly 1/5th of oil exports travel through it. Whoever controls the Strait of Hormuz has the power to dramatically change oil imports and exports for much of the world.

Yesterday’s and last month’s attacks on oil tankers in the region were orchestrated to build the narrative that terrorists are afoot and someone needs to protect the ships that travel in the region. Every aspect of Iran’s reaction points to them being the ones who orchestrated them.

  • Their boats were ready to be first on the scene, and not just because of standard proximity. They were close enough to be the first responders but far enough away to not be seen as the perpetrators.
  • Their forced rescue, in which they illegal apprehended many sailors in international waters who were already safely aboard rescue boats, jibed with what appears to be a prepared statement about rescuing all who were aboard the vessels.
  • The “smoking gun” removal of an unexploded limpet mine and their subsequent clumsy attack on the video demonstrated a poor reaction to events not going as planned.
  • As events unfolded, they continuously reported that one of the ships had “completely sunk” even though they were right there seeing that neither ship was sinking.
  • Their choice of a Japanese ship while Prime Minister Shinzō Abe was in Tehran to discuss deescalation was intentional.

The questions that some in the international media are asking are being met with further lies by the Iranian regime. Here are some of the questions from the Jerusalem Post:

What was Iran’s plan behind tankers attack?

A key piece of evidence for what Iran may have thought would happen when this attack was planned come from the fake video of the attack, and the claims of sinking and rescue. Iran’s Al-Alam TV first reported the incident. Why would IRIB show a video of the attack that was clearly false? Why report that 44 people were rescued if they weren’t? Why did Iran’s boats interdict the Hyundai and forcibly rescue the sailors from the Altair in international waters? What was the point? And why remove a mine if Iran didn’t put it there in the first place?

It seems that those who planned the attack believed that at least one ship would sink and that they could valiantly rescue the sailors. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said after the incident that “we are responsible for ensuring the security of the Strait of Hormuz, and we have rescued the crew of those attacked tankers in the shortest possible time.” Did Iran already have a prepared statement claiming to have rescued all the crew, resulting in this false information?

As one would expect, these aren’t the questions being asked by most American mainstream media news outlets. Instead, they seem to be focused on President Trump’s reactions while blaming him for any aggression Iran is displaying following the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal and sanctions placed on the nation. It would seem like Iran’s state-run media and many progressive activists in American mainstream media are reading from the same script.

Iran’s goals are very clear. They want to be the protectors of the Strait of Hormuz. Their initial press release before the smoking gun video was made public reveals their goals for using terrorism in the region.

“We are responsible for ensuring the security of the strait and we have rescued the crew of those attacked tankers in the shortest possible time,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

Once the video was released, Iran’s press and their proxies in other friendly news outlets started doing triage. Some started throwing out the “false flag” conspiracy theory, as if speculating the video was produced by others to frame Iran. Then, the narrative started spreading that the ship was rescuing sailors, but that’s clearly not what happened in the video. With nothing else sticking, the state-run media simply shared the video itself, reiterated the regime’s talking point, but finished the Tweet by asking what people thought.

As mentioned above, we have to understand the Iranian regime’s mentality to understand how any of this could make sense to them. They want respect, but more importantly they need to get their economy turned around. To do this, they need the international community to balk at President Trump’s sanctions and threats.

If they could create fear that tankers in the region were being targeted by someone else, they could stake claim, as they initially attempted to do, as being the defenders of ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. In exchange for their benevolence, they wouldn’t ask for much. Just let them export their oil and everyone traveling n the region would be safely protected under their watchful hand. That was their play. It’s like a protection racket; give us a cut and we won’t smash up your store.

Iran clearly manufactured an event they hoped would allow them to come out looking like heroes so they could press for sanctions relief and control the Strait of Hormuz. But they were incompetent. Now they look like fools.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Foreign Affairs

U.S. Navy releases smoking gun video of Iran removing unexploded limpet mine from oil tanker’s hull

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US Navy releases smoking gun video of Iran removing unexploded limpet mine from oil tankers hull

Update: Iran’s motivations, spelled out.

Original Story:

If there were any doubts Iran is responsible for the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a new report should put those doubts to rest. The United States has video of Iran removing unexploded mines from the side of one of the ships that was hit.

The Iranian ship can be seen pulling alongside one of the tankers and removing what appears to be a limpet mine while believing they were not being watched. The video above, released by the United States Navy, shows the actions by the Iranians. The image below released by CentCom shows two areas, one where an exploded mine did damage and the other of a mine that apparently didn’t detonate.

US Navy releases smoking gun video of Iran removing unexploded limpet mine from oil tankers hull

There is little Iran can do or say now other than pretend like it wasn’t them in the video or that the video itself was doctored.

Iran must back down or face war

As my colleague noted earlier, Iran is using rumors of war as a way to draw international sympathy and bring world leaders to the negotiating table where they can try to shift sentiment to blame the United States. Iran is in dire straits with their economic situation but they have no intentions of backing down on their nuclear ambitions despite protestations against them.

They are playing with fire in more ways than one. As much as I’m against war of any kind, my inclinations to avoid any intervention by the United States military has a line drawn at the point of attacks on us or our allies. That’s what this is. They are trying to destabilize the world oil market and harm their competitors through terrorism. Perhaps they believe they can pressure the United States to lift sanctions. Maybe they think this is a way to get the world to force the United States to let them export their oil. At this point, their acts of desperation seem to be unprecedented, even for a regime that likes operating in the shadows and using proxies instead of getting their own hands dirty.

The increased United States presence in the Gulf region following the defection of Iranian Brigadier General Ali Nasiri seems to have forced Iran to change their plans. If they were hoping a proxy war alone would be enough to draw the United States into a mistake, Nasiri’s defection and the subsequent increase in our presence there changed those plans.

Acts of terrorism like this are unacceptable alternatives. They need to simply back down and come to the table with their nuclear ambitions completely abolished. At this point, it’s clear they cannot handle even monitored access to nuclear materials in any form or fashion.

The Iranian government and military are absolute cowards for going after civilians at sea. Moreover, destabilizing the oil market harms billions of people worldwide. Their shame is incalculable. At least it should be.

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Foreign Affairs

Iran doesn’t want war. They want rumors of war.

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Iran doesnt want war They want rumors of war

Today’s escalation of attacks in the Gulf of Oman in which Iran is being accused of attacking two oil tankers, possibly with torpedoes, should draw serious concern from those who rely on oil imports or exports, which is essentially everyone. If Iran continues down this path, the United States and others will have no choice but to protect the oil infrastructure in the Middle East or risk an oil-price-driving situation similar to the “tanker war” of the 1980s between Iran and Iraq.

This is a different time. The dozens of oil tankers sunk back then drove prices higher from a very low point just as we’re at a low point today, but the markets react more quickly than they did back then. This quick reaction time means quick panics can take place as stock prices are available instantaneously. A major attack can send oil prices upward in a hurry.

But there’s a silver lining to this problem. Just as they can rise rapidly, they can also stabilize rapidly as well for the same reasons.

There’s another major difference today. America isn’t nearly as dependent on oil imports. In fact, our current status puts us at nearly being a net oil exporter. Back in the 1980s, skyrocketing oil import prices would have crippled us. Today, a global oil crisis would not dramatically affect us directly once certain countermeasures were put into place. But that wouldn’t stop us from acting because the effects it would have on the rest of the world, including allies and trade partners, would be much higher. We would be harmed indirectly.

Iran is testing the waters. Their attacks last month on four smaller tankers and the proxy’s drone attack on a Saudi pipeline were designed to see how the world and the economy would respond. The response has been condemnation and significant temporary rising oil prices, but more importantly the rumors of war are increasing. This is Iran’s primary goal.

Their militaristic regime is accustomed to operating from the shadows. They will continue to do so and deny involvement in the attacks, knowing they won’t be believed. This is intentional. They want the world to fear escalation. They want the EU, Russia, China, and regional powers to try to intervene before a full-blown Gulf war ensues. When they’re at the center of attention, they’re able to negotiate. Rumors of war are their invitations to bring everyone other than the United States to the negotiating table.

Once there, they will try to turn the world against us.

It’s imperative that we maintain a firm but steady hand on the wheel. Escalation by Iran is unacceptable, but if we start firing weapons without clear justification, Iran will point fingers at us as being the aggressors. And it will work. Let’s not underestimate the desire to hate the United States nor the sympathy that has been manufactured for those who are considered to be our victims, particularly in the Muslim world. The United Nations fears nothing more than to antagonize its Muslim members. This is why they regularly condemn Israel and the United States while ignoring much worse atrocities committed by Islamic-run states.

We must remain diligent, firm, and cautious. Iran is playing a dangerous game because they feel they have nothing to lose. We have to correct their false thinking and fight their false narrative on the world stage.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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