Belmont Club

The Battle of the Messages

Russia has scheduled war games with Iran while the Pentagon is ‘pushing back’ on rumors that US-Israeli maneuvers were postponed at the behest of the administration to prevent ratcheting up tensions. The Christian Science Monitor says Russia “is signaling that it will use all its diplomatic influence to oppose war … will block any further sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council” — and will hold war games in the Caucasus.

The independent Moscow daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Monday that this year’s annual military exercises in Russia’s south, Kavkaz 2012, will be much larger than usual and organized around the premise of a war that begins with an attack on Iran but spreads to neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan, and draws Russia into a regional maelstrom. The newspaper said the war games, which are usually confined to Russian territory, might this year include maneuvers in the breakaway Georgian statelets of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and perhaps also in Russian-allied Armenia.

Meanwhile, Yahoo reports that “the Pentagon is pushing back on media reports suggesting that a major U.S.-Israel war game was postponed at the direction of the United States”. The Pentagon, in turn, said that it was Israel which requeted the delay.

But despite that assertion, sources have subsequently been engaging in something of a whispering campaign in both the Israeli and American media, implying that the war games are being pushed back because the Obama administration doesn’t want to further ratchet up tensions with Iran at this time … on Tuesday, the Pentagon pushed back a bit harder on the misinformation, telling the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was not happy about Barak’s request to delay the exercise.

Meanwhile, Russia defended a mysterious shipment to Syria as not being contrary to international law. A Russian ship widely believed to be carrying arms left Cyprus for Syria.

Russia has angered both Washington and the European Union by refusing to back the West’s arms embargo on its Soviet-era ally, despite violence that the United Nations estimates has killed more than 5,000 people.

Moscow still maintains close Soviet-era ties with the secular regime and remains the main supplier of weapons to Damascus.

Lavrov said Russia had no intention of joining the West’s arms embargo despite pressure from Washington.

“Without question, we cannot view unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union or anyone else as legitimate for Russian actions.

Also, the Teheran Times says that “Iranian stealth submarines are able to lie in wait in the Persian Gulf to target hostile aircraft carriers that are moving near them.”

“If an ordinary submarine submerges in the Persian Gulf, it could be the worst threat to the enemy. It is one of the Americans’ fears because our submarines are covered with coatings that do not allow sound to travel through them and do not reflect sound waves sent by (enemy vessels’) sonar systems,” Rear Admiral Farhad Amiri said in an interview with the Fars News Agency published on Wednesday.

In other news, the new Libyan government has announced its intention to pay 200,000 rebel gunmen $8 billion for overthrowing Khadaffy as concerns grew that those payments would be pilfered by corrupt officials.

The new government is already having problems with mismanagement and incompetent administrators. People, especially soldiers of the new army, are not getting paid on time. Bills, in general, are often not paid, causing local and foreign firms to stop doing business with the government. This has led to strikes in Libya, where the economy was long centrally run and propped up by lots of oil income. A lot of Libyans feel they are due a paycheck no matter what, but the new government does not want to continue the old Kaddafi era centrally controlled economy.

Can the US taxpayer seek reimbursement for the munitions expended in making the fall of the Duck of Death possible? Or is that prohibited under the moral heading, “no blood for oil”?


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