Belmont Club

More news from all over

Iranian Revolutionary Guards detained in Khamenei murder plot: According to the Jerusalem Post, “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khamenei has ordered the arrest of a number of senior members of the Revolutionary Guards he suspects of planning to assassinate him, pan-Arab news Channel Al Arabiya reported Tuesday. … According to the source, “some of those” detained had invited Khamenei to come and visit the same weapons depot near Tehran where a large blast killed 17 people, among them the head of Iran’s ballistic-missiles program.”

‘Some say he is a nationalist; others say he is a puppet of Iran’: “Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has moved swiftly to consolidate power in advance of the American military withdrawal, offering a glimpse of how Iraq’s post-American identity may take shape, by rounding up hundreds of former Baath Party members and evicting Western companies from the heavily fortified Green Zone.”

Practice closure of the strait of Hormuz: “A member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security Committee said on Monday that the military was set to practice its ability to close the Gulf to shipping at the narrow Strait of Hormuz, the most important oil transit channel in the world, but there was no official confirmation.”

Obama, Maliki outline post-war cooperation between U.S. and Iraq: “Speaking at a midday news conference, Obama and Maliki pledged to work together to ensure Iraq’s political stability and strengthen its national defense, as Iran’s creeping influence in the region continues to worry U.S. policymakers.”

Former IRG member part of Maliki delegation to the White House: “A former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the FBI says played a role in a 1996 terrorist attack that killed 19 U.S. servicemen, accompanied Iraq’s prime minister to the White House on Monday, attending an event at which President Obama trumpeted the end of the Iraq War.”

Washington Post editorial says Obama’s Iraqi policy is ‘unsettling’: “a conflicted Obama administration never tried very hard to strike a deal with Mr. Maliki. Now, having promised in 2008 to end the war “responsibly,” Mr. Obama seems to feel obliged to prematurely declare the war over — and to oversell the regime that U.S. soldiers are leaving behind. … Mr. Obama’s virtually unqualified support for Mr. Maliki consequently was unsettling.”

Iran claims to extract data from U.S. drone: “Iranian military experts are in the final stages of extracting data from a sophisticated U.S. drone that crashed in Iran under mysterious circumstances this month, a lawmaker said Monday. In Washington, President Obama said Monday that the United States has asked Iran to return the drone.”

Hezbollah claims to release names of CIA officers in Lebanon: “Escalating its confrontation with the CIA, the militant organization Hezbollah released what it said were the names of agency officers working in Lebanon in a television broadcast that aired there last week.”

Islamabad Says Blockade On NATO Will Last Until ‘Rules Of Engagement’ Changed: “Pakistani Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani says his country’s blockade of NATO supply lines into Afghanistan — ordered in retaliation for a deadly NATO helicopter attack in Pakistan — is likely to stay in place for weeks.”

The ‘Ploughshares Fund’ spends millions to cut US defenses: “Overall, Ploughshares gave out $6.2 million in 2010 to a network of nonprofits that supports its agenda. Its own funders include other foundations like the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as well as celebrities such as actor Michael Douglas…. Last year, Cirincione’s network of nonprofits was aligned with the Obama administration in seeking passage of the U.S.-Russia arms control treaty.” The Washington Post’s Fact Check columnist, Glenn Kessler, said last week that the Ploughshares data on US arms control was inaccurate, a statement disputed by Jeffrey Lewis, who writes the blog Arms Control Wonk.

Lewis is the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Since March 1, 2010, the Monterey Institute has received $301,500 from Ploughshares. Asked if the contribution had anything to do with his attack on Kessler, Lewis responded, “No! Fuck you!”

Panetta To Discuss Cuts: “Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will begin talking publicly next month about the results of a U.S. strategic review undertaken this year to guide the Pentagon as it cuts hundreds of billions of dollars in military spending.”

Reflections on Smart Power: Nathan Thrall and Jesse Wilkins offered some lessons from history to then-candidate Barack Obama, who seemed determined to misread it. Obama had said, “If George Bush and John McCain have a problem with direct diplomacy led by the president of the United States, then they can explain why they have a problem with John F. Kennedy, because that’s what he did with Khrushchev.”

[Kennedy] embarked on a summit meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961, a move that would be recorded as one of the more self-destructive American actions of the cold war, and one that contributed to the most dangerous crisis of the nuclear age. …

for two days he was pummeled by the Soviet leader. Despite his eloquence, Kennedy was no match as a sparring partner, and offered only token resistance as Khrushchev lectured him on the hypocrisy of American foreign policy, cautioned America against supporting “old, moribund, reactionary regimes” and asserted that the United States, which had valiantly risen against the British, now stood “against other peoples following its suit.” Khrushchev used the opportunity of a face-to-face meeting to warn Kennedy that his country could not be intimidated and that it was “very unwise” for the United States to surround the Soviet Union with military bases.

Kennedy’s aides convinced the press at the time that behind closed doors the president was performing well, but American diplomats in attendance, including the ambassador to the Soviet Union, later said they were shocked that Kennedy had taken so much abuse. Paul Nitze, the assistant secretary of defense, said the meeting was “just a disaster.” Khrushchev’s aide, after the first day, said the American president seemed “very inexperienced, even immature.” Khrushchev agreed, noting that the youthful Kennedy was “too intelligent and too weak.” The Soviet leader left Vienna elated — and with a very low opinion of the leader of the free world.

Kennedy’s assessment of his own performance was no less severe. Only a few minutes after parting with Khrushchev, Kennedy, a World War II veteran, told James Reston of The New York Times that the summit meeting had been the “roughest thing in my life.” Kennedy went on: “He just beat the hell out of me. I’ve got a terrible problem if he thinks I’m inexperienced and have no guts. Until we remove those ideas we won’t get anywhere with him.”

The result as some may remember, was the construction of the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile crisis. The NYT op-ed concluded: “If Barack Obama wants to follow in Kennedy’s footsteps, he should heed the lesson that Kennedy learned in his first year in office: sometimes there is good reason to fear to negotiate.”

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