The Sixth Seal: More Than Just Manhattan (Revelation 6:12)



New York, NY – In a Quake, Brooklyn Would Shake More Than Manhattan
By Brooklyn Eagle
New York, NY – The last big earthquake in the New York City area, centered in New York Harbor just south of Rockaway, took place in 1884 and registered 5.2 on the Richter Scale.Another earthquake of this size can be expected and could be quite damaging, says Dr. Won-Young Kim, senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.
And Brooklyn, resting on sediment, would shake more than Manhattan, built on solid rock. “There would be more shaking and more damage,” Dr. Kim told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.
If an earthquake of a similar magnitude were to happen today near Brooklyn, “Many chimneys would topple. Poorly maintained buildings would fall down – some buildings are falling down now even without any shaking. People would not be hit by collapsing buildings, but they would be hit by falling debris. We need to get some of these buildings fixed,” he said.
But a 5.2 is “not comparable to Haiti,” he said. “That was huge.” Haiti’s devastating earthquake measured 7.0.
Brooklyn has a different environment than Haiti, and that makes all the difference, he said. Haiti is situated near tectonic plate.
“The Caribbean plate is moving to the east, while the North American plate is moving towards the west. They move about 20 mm – slightly less than an inch – every year.” The plates are sliding past each other, and the movement is not smooth, leading to jolts, he said.
While we don’t have the opportunity for a large jolt in Brooklyn, we do have small, frequent quakes of a magnitude of 2 or 3 on the Richter Scale. In 2001 alone the city experienced two quakes: one in January, measuring 2.4, and one in October, measuring 2.6. The October quake, occurring soon after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “caused a lot of panic,” Dr. Kim said.
“People ask me, ‘Should I get earthquake insurance?’ I tell them no, earthquake insurance is expensive. Instead, use that money to fix chimneys and other things. Rather than panicky preparations, use common sense to make things better.”
Secure bookcases to the wall and make sure hanging furniture does not fall down, Dr. Kim said. “If you have antique porcelains or dishes, make sure they’re safely stored. In California, everything is anchored to the ground.”
While a small earthquake in Brooklyn may cause panic, “In California, a quake of magnitude 2 is called a micro-quake,” he added.

Israeli Raids Continue Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

palestine
Israeli forces killed at least 171 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem in 2022 [File: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters]

As Israeli raids continue, what comes next for the West Bank?

Analysts say the Palestinian West Bank is approaching a crossroads in the struggle against the occupation.

By Zena Al Tahhan

Published On 10 Jan 202310 Jan 2023

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – Instability hangs low over life for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

There is an expectation that the situation on the ground is going to implode at some point in the near future.

When and how that will unfold – or what the trigger will be – cannot be predicted, but several developments on the ground over the past year indicate that the occupied West Bank is approaching a serious shift in the currently unsustainable political and security status quo.

“A Palestinian confrontation and a renewal of the struggle with the [Israeli] occupation is inevitable,” Belal Shobaki, head of the political science department at Hebron University, told Al Jazeera. “I believe that the scenario of matters exploding in 2023 is possible.”

“In the estimations of the Israeli military and security apparatus, the West Bank is bound to eventually mobilise. Israel is trying to postpone this scenario for as long as possible by employing a strategy of containment and absorption,” he continued.

For now, he said: “Israel is not allowing complete calm, and it is not allowing matters to explode.”

For close to a year, the occupied West Bank has witnessed an increase in violence by the Israeli military, with at least 170 Palestinians, including 30 children, killed during near-daily raids in 2022 – the highest death toll in 16 years according to the United Nations. Attacks committed against Palestinians by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank have also sharply increased.

The deaths have continued into 2023, with four Palestinians, including three children, killed in the first five days during Israeli raids.

While many of those killed over the past year were civilians, the Israeli army raids and killings are being conducted under the banner of crushing Palestinian armed resistance in the northern occupied West Bank.

A new, far-right Israeli government sworn in last month has taken punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority (PA), and includes controversial figures in key positions of control over Palestinians, further raising the prospect of an explosion on the ground.

A new military operation?

Since September 2021, a number of relatively small, cross-factional Palestinian armed groups have been formed, mainly in the cities of Jenin and Nablus. The groups are limited in terms of their capabilities and are focused on defending the areas they operate in during Israeli military raids, and also carry out shootings at Israeli military checkpoints.

Separately in 2022, attacks committed by Palestinians in Israel and the occupied West Bank killed 29 people, according to the Israeli foreign ministry.

The prospect of Israel launching a full-scale invasion of Palestinian cities, as it did in 2002, or a new Palestinian Intifada (uprising) has repeatedly been put forward by observers over the past year.

However, Abdeljawad Hamayel, an academic at Birzeit University, said he believes it is unlikely that Israel will invade with full force unless there is a change in the nature of the attacks carried out by Palestinian groups.

“[Israel’s] strategy now is a mix of negotiation and assassination. The armed groups themselves are not carrying out attacks deep in Israel. If there are attacks in the coastal area for example – then they might start considering this again as then they will have enough political will to take these groups out,” Hamayel told Al Jazeera.

“The [armed] groups have created zones of relative freedom, but they are not isolated from Israeli power. Israel enters, arrests, carries out assassinations and special operations in these areas with relative immunity for its soldiers,” he continued.

“Yes, they are facing firepower and they can’t arrest people as easily as before, but these zones are penetrable to the Israeli army so they don’t feel they need to do a full-scale invasion.”

For Shobaki, the absence of real coordination between the armed groups, and the violence still being largely restricted to the occupied West Bank, means that Israel is content with its current strategy.

“The majority of the points of confrontation have been in the Palestinian arena – inside the villages and cities, refugee camps, on checkpoints. All of this is happening in a way that is not affecting daily life for the settlers, and that is not as costly for the Israeli occupation as it is for the lives of Palestinians,” he explained.

Gaza and the Palestinian Authority

It is not just Israel seeking to stop any significant upheaval in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), controlled by the Fatah party, also has a role to play, and one that separates it from other Palestinian groups.

“If we look at the reality of the occupied West Bank, we have a group of parties that are looking to change the reality even if it means an explosion in the West Bank,” said Shobaki. “They are Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).”

While many members of the newly-formed armed groups are affiliated with Fatah, they represent a form of opposition to the PA leadership, which cooperates with the Israeli army in security coordination to thwart attacks and publicly condemns armed attacks.

“We may see that pockets of the Fatah movement may defect and become part of the armed struggle against the Israeli occupation, [allowing space for] Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PFLP to work in,” said Shobaki.

Instead, several of the new armed groups are affiliated with the armed wing of the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) – the al-Quds Brigades.

Israel targeted the PIJ in August in a three-day bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, killing at least 49 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, including 17 children.

But the short-lived nature of that conflict, and the absence of any real follow-up, have led observers to believe that another Israeli war in Gaza is unlikely in the coming period.

The Iraq War Was Foreseeable Prophecy: Revelation 13:1

Was the Iraq War a Foreseeable Blunder?

By Gabriel SchoenfeldTuesday, January 10, 2023, 8:16 AM

President George W. Bush. (Official U.S. Government photo by Eric Draper/The U.S. National Archives)

A review of Melvyn P. Leffler, “Confronting Saddam Hussein: George W. Bush and the Invasion of Iraq” (Oxford University Press, 2023)

Why did the United States commit the enormous blunder of invading Iraq in 2003? The costs of the war are staggering. Nearly 5,000 American soldiers killed, many thousands more wounded, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed and maimed, $2 trillion expended, the empowerment of fundamentalist Iran, intense polarization and the destruction of trust in government at home, and reputational damage across the globe. In view of the catastrophe, prominent Americans who supported the second Gulf War have made a volte face. The historian Max Boot, once a leading advocate of the war, now calls it “all a big mistake.” The commentator Andrew Sullivan, another fervent war hawk, has expressed profuse regrets for being wrong. And then there are the many politicians, like Hillary Clinton, who have apologized for their vote to authorize the employment of American military force. 

With hindsight, all is clear: The ending is known. But every historical event must be looked at from two directions. The key question for understanding is always how events appeared at the time to decision-makers struggling with uncertainty. Was there justification for what they did? Or was it obvious, even at the time, that they were on a profoundly mistaken course? There is also a counterfactual imponderable that must be weighed: What kind of ending, including disaster, might have unfolded had they embarked on an alternative path?

In seeking to answer such questions about America’s second Iraq war, we are now blessed with a historical reconstruction of the George W. Bush administration’s choices by the historian Melvyn Leffler. The story he tells in “Confronting Saddam Hussein”—based on extensive documentary research, interviews with everyone who was anyone in the decision-making tree, and years of thinking about the subject—is as complex as it is gripping.

Nothing about the decision to go to war in Iraq can be understood without gauging the impact on the Bush administration of the disaster of Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax attack that began shortly thereafter. The former, it became quickly apparent, was the work of al-Qaeda. The latter, the employment of a weapon of mass destruction, was a terrifying mystery, with Iraq’s brutal dictator Saddam Hussein a possible culprit. But whoever was behind the attacks, action to avert a follow-on attack was an urgent necessity. “Everyday since [9/11] has been September 12” is how Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s national security adviser, described the atmosphere in the White House. “We all had the overwhelming sense that we were still one step behind the terrorists and in danger of another successful attack.” 

Less than two weeks after 9/11, Bush declared a global war on terror. Leffler notes that, although Afghanistan, the homebase of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, was to be the principal theater, “Iraq remained a burning problem.” No evidence emerged suggesting that Hussein was behind 9/11, but a lot of solid intelligence demonstrated that he was directly involved in sponsoring terror attacks around the Middle East and points further afield. A lot of other intelligence—which turned out to be far less than solid—demonstrated that Hussein possessed chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and was acquiring nuclear weapons as well. On top of that, Hussein was the only world leader who praised the Sept. 11 attacks. Then, three days after the first American died from anthrax, an Iraqi newspaper opined that “[t]he United States must get a taste of its own poison.” The ever-present danger, in the minds of the Bush administration, was that Hussein would provide WMD to a terrorist group. The possibility of a second and far more terrible Sept. 11 loomed large in a White House that had already failed to avert a great disaster.

But even the hawks in the Bush administration, in the fall of 2001, did not regard Iraq as an imminent threat and were not advocating for an all-out war. It is an easily exploded myth, Leffler demonstrates, that the Bush administration decided on attacking Iraq immediately after 9/11 and then lied to the public about the intelligence. It is equally a myth that the U.S. invaded Iraq as part of some neoconservative project to bring democracy to the Middle East. Instead, the Bush administration had a twin focus: to guard against another attack on the homeland and to prevent a nuclear-armed Iraq from dominating the Middle East. Toward those ends it began to pursue two approaches, both in tension with one another. The first was regime change: get rid of Hussein, perhaps by encouraging a coup or forcing him to flee. The second was disarmament: leave Hussein in place but persuade him to surrender his WMD. 

Accomplishing either of these goals would require “coercive diplomacy,” the central theme of Leffler’s book:

Bush wanted to intimidate Hussein. He wanted to use the threat of force to remove the Iraqi dictator from power. He also wanted to use the threat of force to resume inspections and gain confidence that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction. He did not really know which of these two goals had priority. They were distinct, yet often conflated. He sometimes wanted Hussein’s removal in order to feel assured there was no threat of WMD falling into the hands of terrorists; at other times, he wanted to use the threat—the demand for inspections—as a ruse to justify military invasion in order to overthrow him. These conflicting, overlapping impulses coursed through Bush’s mind for the next year. He never clearly sorted them out, yet each would become more and more compelling.

As the Bush administration wrestled with how best to confront Hussein, a steady stream of alarming intelligence flowed in. In May 2002, a senior al-Qaeda planner, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, turned up in Baghdad. An intelligence report noted that, in addition to Zarqawi, “other individuals associated with al-Qaida are operating in Baghdad and are in contact with colleagues who, in turn, may be more directly involved in attack planning.” Some 200 al-Qaeda terrorists, possibly under the leadership of Zarqawi, had moved into an ungoverned region in northeastern Iraq, where they were experimenting with biological and chemical warfare. U.S. intelligence, reviewing all the evidence, issued an assessment that Iraq’s reconstituted biological weapons program posed “a credible but elusive threat.”

The pressure for military action grew. The Pentagon prepared a new Iraq war plan, which Bush approved. But as Leffler emphasizes, “war planning did not mean war”; the planning was all part of the pressure campaign. Bush continued to have reservations about going to war and continued to hope that coercive diplomacy would achieve results. The British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, spelled out what he called the Iraq “paradox”: namely, that “diplomacy had a chance of success only if it was combined with the clearest possible prospect that force would be used if diplomacy failed.” Leffler walks readers through the subsequent intense diplomacy, both public and in the halls of the United Nations, where Bush addressed the General Assembly, holding open the possibility that Hussein might remain in power if he acceded “immediately and unconditionally” to disclose and destroy all of his illicit weapons of mass destruction.

Of course, as we now know, Hussein did not have such weapons. But, unfortunately, neither did he come clean about his past record of cheating on their proscription, fueling suspicion about his present WMD capabilities. In Leffler’s analysis,

[Hussein] thought he could outsmart and defy the Americans. He did not think the Bush administration would use force to remove his regime. Believing that Washington had no good reason to invade Iraq—the United States, in his view, already had a position of preponderance in the region and was sure they knew he had no weapons of mass destruction—he calculated that the Americans were playing a game of bluff with him. They wanted to intimidate and force him to flee, but he was confident they would not invade and risk casualties.

Leffler takes readers through the deployment of military power designed to coerce Hussein and, if coercion failed, to destroy his regime. As late as January 2003, as the U.S. was moving forces into position around Iraq, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was still operating in support of Bush’s coercive diplomacy even as he was coming to believe that, thanks to Hussein’s recalcitrance, war was inevitable. Secretary of State Colin Powell was still searching for a diplomatic solution. But Hussein remained defiant. By March, the difficulty was that troops were already in the field. They could not sit in place for months as summer approached and the heat imposed impossible hardship. They could not sit in place making the United States look like a paper tiger. Deployment for the sake of coercion set in motion an almost unstoppable chain of events. The result, on March 20, 2003, was war.

Without question, the Bush administration made grave mistakes both in the run-up to the war and then in its execution. The gaps in the intelligence about Iraq’s WMD are the most glaring instance. Leffler recounts the group-think that had taken hold in Washington and in every Western capital, infecting policymakers and intelligence analysts alike. Hawks and doves both “thought they knew” that Iraq had a chemical and biological warfare capability and was aspiring to build a nuclear capability as well. To be sure, some analysts were later to claim that they were bullied and told their superiors what they wanted to hear, but Leffler, after examining the charge, rejects it, writing:

It is not at all clear that policymakers were seeking incriminating evidence, nor evident that analysts felt political pressure. What preoccupied them—analysts and policymakers, alike—was knowledge that they had previously underestimated Hussein’s penchant to cheat. What they knew from their own lived experience—from recent history—was that Hussein had developed and used weapons of mass destruction. Analysts knew, [former CIA deputy director Michael] Morell explained [in an interview], “that he once had the stuff and actually used it.” They knew that he once “was very very close to getting a nuclear weapon, much closer than we thought.” They knew, said Morell—Bush knew, Cheney knew—that Iraq once “had a weapons program that we completely missed.”

With such a backdrop, no one stopped to pause and ask how firm the intelligence was that pointed to the presence of WMD. If they had paused, they would have been forced to recognize that the intelligence was extraordinarily thin, full of untested suppositions, and bolstered by a confidential source—Curveball—known to be a fraudster. To be fair, intelligence analysts were confronting a conceptual barrier that was extremely difficult to pierce. Convinced that Hussein was hiding WMD to get out from under sanctions, they lacked the imagination to conceive that he was deliberately fostering the false impression that he possessed WMD for the purpose of intimidating both Iran and his own populace. Nonetheless, responsibility for failing to pause—to scrutinize the intelligence, to consider alternative hypotheses about Hussein’s behavior—rests heavily with CIA Director George Tenet and, ultimately, with President Bush.

Perhaps even more egregious than botching the intelligence was scanting the day-after questions: Who would rule Iraq once the Iraqi tyrant was gone, and how would they rule it? William Burns, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs (and now CIA director), wrote a prescient memo entitled “Iraq: The Perfect Storm” that laid out possible scenarios of what could go wrong before, during, and after an American invasion. In Leffler’s summary (quoting from the memo),

“[I]mmediately after liberation a powerful dynamic will begin mixing U.S. military, media, new Iraqi authorities, paroxysm of revenge, recriminations and angling for power by key constituencies.” Confronted with “inchoate and escalating disorder in the provinces,” administration officials would face “an agonizing decision: step up more direct security role, or devolve power to local leaders.” This meant that “we need to think now about a very big and expensive commitment. This is a five- or ten-year job, not a fast in and out.”

But as Leffler notes, Burns’s warning was hardly a plea against action: Indeed, “it began with an acknowledgment that war and regime change—if done right—‘could be a tremendous boon to the future of the region, and to U.S. national security interests.’”

In any event, Pentagon and State Department preparation for a post-Hussein Iraq was not set up for a five- or 10- or even one-year job. Inside the bureaucracies, there was endless mastication of the key issues—should power be handed over to Iraqis? If so, which ones? How many troops should be left in place to maintain order? What should be done with the Iraqi army and the ruling Baath party?—but no resolution. Such questions were given far less attention than the mechanics of winning the opening battle. Once again, in fairness to the Bush administration, it must be noted that postwar planning was constricted due to the fear that it would convey the erroneous impression that a decision to go to war had already been made. In the end, following a lightning victory in Baghdad, the U.S. military was grossly unprepared.

Bush bears ultimate responsibility for inattention to postwar planning, but Rumsfeld set the tone. As he was later to write: “I did not think that resolving other countries’ internal political disputes, paving roads, erecting power lines, policing streets, building stock markets, and organizing democratic governmental bodies were missions for our men and women in uniform.” The immediate upshot was widespread looting and destruction, which then devolved into a civil war, with American soldiers, now occupiers, as targets. “Mission Accomplished” was the banner greeting Bush on the deck of the carrier USS Lincoln immediately after Hussein was deposed. Hardly. No weapons of mass destruction were found. Years of chaos and bloodletting commenced.

Was this perfect storm foreseeable at the outset? Opponents of the war, pointing to the results, claim vindication in spades. But as Francis Fukuyama, initially a supporter of the war before changing his mind early on, has observed, “[C]ritics who assert that they knew with certainty before the war that it would be a disaster are, for the most part, speaking with a retrospective wisdom to which they are not entitled.” Likewise, apologies for having supported the war rely largely on retrospective wisdom, undermining their worth. The decision to go to war, as demonstrated by Leffler’s exhaustively researched and exquisitely judicious account, was not an obvious blunder—though well hidden beneath the surface was dereliction of responsibility on the part of the nation’s leaders. To the decision- makers in the Bush administration, to a bipartisan majority in Congress, and to much of the public at large, going to war seemed like an eminently reasonable course of action to protect the United States from a gathering threat. It is only the blinding clarity of hindsight that leaves us unable to see that haunting reality.

The Iraqi Joins the Iranian Horn Against the US: Daniel

 Iraqi Judiciary pledges to take action against Soleimani’s assassins

Iraqi Judiciary pledges to take action against Soleimani’s assassins

The headquarters of the Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq. Photo: Almayadeen

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) – The Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq announced that the Iranian capital, Tehran, is hosting an Iraqi-Iranian meeting to exchange information regarding the assassination of the Quds Force commander, Qasem Soleimani, and the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, near Baghdad International Airport in 2020.

The Supreme Judicial Council mentioned in a statement that an Iraqi judicial delegation met with an Iranian judicial delegation as part of the work of the joint judicial committee between the two countries to exchange information and the latest investigative measures taken regarding the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, Shafaq News reported.

“The judiciary’s approach in dealing with any crime takes place according to the evidences provided by the security agencies that undertake the investigation,” the Iraqi judicial delegation mentioned in a statement.

“The judiciary will take legal measures against anyone proven to be involved in this crime,” the statement of the Iraqi judicial delegation added.

The President of the Supreme Judicial Council, Faiq Zaidan, announced last Thursday the issuance of an arrest warrant for former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Zaidan mentioned in a statement that the Iraqi judiciary issued an arrest warrant for Trump, who confessed to having committed the crime, calling on those investigating the assassination of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis, to make an exceptional effort to uncover the perpetrators.

“Why has he not yet been held accountable for this heinous crime?” Zaidan asked, referring to Donald Trump.

The U.S. army carried out a military operation in which Soleimani was assassinated near Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.

The operation, in which Al-Muhandis was also assassinated, led to an escalation of tension between the United States and Iran, which vowed strong revenge.

The Iranian army, a few days following the operation, responded by firing missiles at Ain Al-Assad base, the largest U.S. base in Iraq.

The Iranian Tragedy of Obama’s Rule: Daniel 7

Mark Makela/Getty Images

Obama’s Anti-Imperialist Fantasy Bears Bitter Fruit

The longer we refuse to acknowledge the mistakes of the Iran deal, the greater a price we pay

The eventual fall of the Islamic Republic of Iran will reveal the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement to have been one of the worst unforced strategic errors in the history of U.S. foreign policy. At home, the Islamic Republic is the enemy of perhaps 80% or more of its own people, who see it as a criminal entity that murders them in the streets. Abroad, the clerical regime sows further chaos and bloodshed, threatening the United States and its allies and earning the hatred of peoples across the Middle East. Locking the United States in a nearly decadelong embrace of a failing theocratic totalitarian state is a policy disaster of unrivaled proportions, driven by no apparent external necessity. So why is the Biden administration finding it so difficult to move on?

Oddly, or not, the answers—or nonanswers—to this mystery seem to reveal as much about the unique psyche of the American president at the time, Barack Obama, as they do about the decadelong policy debate on Iran that continues to consume Washington. Yet for some of his supporters and detractors, Obama was simply a practioner of fact-based geopolitics—even if the facts in the end were against him. In this view, Obama as president understood the Islamic Republic as posing a severe threat to American interests and forged a limited agreement to constrain a regime that would be even more dangerous with nuclear weapons. To these critics, he pursued the right goals, but was just remarkably bad at achieving them. A more experienced bargainer might have achieved a better deal.

Alternatively, to others, the explanation of what went wrong is rooted in the unique character and upbringing of the American leader himself. According to this reading, Obama’s choices were rooted in a personal distaste for Western imperialism and American power that was not shared by many of the deal’s supporters or its detractors. It was Obama’s own picture of the world, not any broader consensus view of how American power should be employed or conserved in the Middle East, that led him into a delusional engagement with anti-Western Sunni and Shiite actors, notably the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Republic, and into a strategic realignment that strengthened these American adversaries against America’s traditional allies, notably Saudi Arabia and Israel.

In life, as in politics, incompetence can often explain more than bad ideas. In this reading, Obama deserves more blame for his negotiating ineptitude with the mullahs than he does for some ill-conceived scheme of Middle East realignment that supercharged Persian regional power. The 2015 deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, was simply a bad deal that wouldn’t stop Iran’s nuclear weapons programs, not a bad idea rooted in anti-Western theories from the American faculty lounge, where Obama had spent considerable time. But then why are we still stuck backing such an obvious loser?

Even as the clerical regime publicly disintegrates, JCPOA supporters continue to argue for the merits of a limited agreement that would even temporarily put Iran’s nuclear program “back in a box,” as Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, put it. Opponents counter that, more than seven years later, a return to the 2015 agreement would be even more wrongheaded than the original deal. Sunsets kick in over a few short years, and the regime would receive a windfall of an estimated $245 billion in sanctions relief in the first year, and over $1 trillion by 2030 when Iran’s nuclear program would be free and clear from meaningful limitations—rescuing a tottering, ill-intentioned and widely hated regime by pumping it full of cash that it would use to build nuclear weapons and sow regional chaos. The arms control paradigm, in which supporters and critics argue back and forth over what would constitute “a better deal,” is preventing a clear acknowledgement of Obama’s failure—and blocking the development of a workable strategy for dealing with current developments in Iran and throughout the region.

The faults of the JCPOA have been covered many times, including by this author. The Obama administration abandoned its negotiating leverage, provided mainly by a bipartisan Congress which passed biting economic sanctions on Iran between 2009 and 2012 over the objections of the Obama White House. The administration concluded a flawed interim nuclear agreement in 2013, and an even worse final agreement in 2015. The eventual deal trashed decades of bipartisan U.S. policy and multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to cease enriching uranium or reprocessing plutonium on its soil. While it temporarily delayed Iranian nuclear expansion, the deal ceded the right to develop nuclear fissile material to the Islamic Republic and contained a series of sunset provisions under which nuclear restrictions disappeared. These sunsets permitted Tehran to develop, over time, an industrial-size enrichment program, near-zero nuclear breakout capability, and an advanced centrifuge-powered sneak-out capacity, as even Obama himself acknowledged after the deal was concluded.

Many critics of the deal argued that a longer, stronger, and broader agreement was possible if Obama had maximized the pressure on the regime, including through a credible threat of military force. Indeed, the Trump administration came into office promising to do exactly that. Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, imposed crushing sanctions that ravaged the Islamic Republic’s finances, and dealt a serious blow to Iranian regional power with the joint Mossad-CIA killing of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most competent military strategist and most feared battlefield commander.

Analysts and partisans continue to debate what could have transpired if this “maximum pressure campaign” had lasted longer than two years. But Biden reversed Trump’s pressure strategy, looked the other way as Chinese purchases of Iranian oil spiked, and waited too long before tackling a massive clandestine sanctions network that earned the regime tens of billions of dollars in hard currency. Predictably this “maximum deference” approach, meant to lure Iran back to the bargaining table, has failed to deliver any agreement, including even a return to a weaker version of the JCPOA. Instead, Iran’s nuclear program has rapidly and dangerously expanded under Biden’s watch, with no serious discussion about how to stop it—aside from stuffing the Islamic Republic’s pockets with more cash.

As protests continue to rage in Iran, with more than 2,000 demonstrations in over three months across all of Iran’s provinces and Iranians demanding regime change and “death to the dictator,” the place to start to answer the question of how we got ourselves into this mess is an earlier Iranian uprising: the 2009 Green Revolution. Then, the fraudulent reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in an even more blatant act of election manipulation than had been common in the Islamic Republic, led to massive pro-democracy demonstrations in Tehran.

The 2009 demonstrations were bigger in size than anything since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, including the current protests. The Green Revolution had clear leadership with support inside some elements of the regime itself; it arguably represented a more cohesive and threatening political opposition to the regime than this year’s leaderless street demonstrations. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei himself said that the 2009 protests had taken the clerical regime “to the edge of the cliff.” So why did the 2009 Green Revolution fail?

The key to the regime’s successful campaign of repression in 2009 was America’s decision to appease the Islamic Republic at the expense of the Iranian people. The demonstrators were clearly looking outward with the expectation of Western support, especially from the young, supposedly idealistic, newly elected American president. When Obama instead took pains to reassure the Iranian leadership of his commitment to engagement, he made it clear to the demonstrators that they were on their own against their jailers. Within a few weeks, the would-be revolution collapsed.

In the moment, many people outside Iran cut Obama considerable slack. It was just the beginning of his presidency, and his focus was clearly on getting out of Iraq, as he had promised. Yet, in retrospect, there is something disturbing about what Obama did in 2009 that looks even more troubling from the vantage point of Syria, Crimea, and the Donbas, and America’s continuing inability to forget about the JCPOA.

Why did Obama so comprehensively and demonstratively turn his back on the Iranian democracy protesters in 2009, in what was his first major foreign policy decision as president? It is a deep question, especially since Obama himself, after bipartisan and European support swung behind the 2022 protests, has belatedly acknowledged that his lack of support for the Green Revolution was a mistake.

The first set of answers again lies in the familiar area of realpolitik: Obama didn’t want any distractions in getting the United States out of Iraq, and he saw Iran as the keystone to a smooth withdrawal. Angering the Iranian leadership would only lead to greater American casualties, which could cause a political firestorm, with Obama blamed for getting U.S. soldiers killed. That would force him to surge in more troops to Iraq to assuage the Pentagon and Congress, rather than withdrawing them.

Yet Obama had a problem in carrying out his withdrawal from Iraq: Congress was passing tough sanctions on Iran over the objections of the White House. In response, he wrote letters to Iran’s supreme leader offering an end to U.S.–Iranian hostilities and greater political and economic engagement. As the regime took Obama’s messaging as a green light to rapidly increase its influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Gaza, even as America’s Sunni allies warned of a “Shiite crescent” that threatened their own stability, Obama did little to confront Tehran.

Yet Obama’s strategic priority in 2009 was not to cement a U.S. deal with Iran at any cost. It was to engage with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was seen as the commander of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. Obama characterized Erdogan as the type of moderate Muslim leader that could help him stabilize a turbulent Middle East. Turkey was a NATO member and major Middle Eastern military power. Engaging with Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood also meant taking out Egypt’s authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak, who had repressed the Brotherhood, and stood in the way of the Arab Spring.

It is possible from one angle to see Obama’s support for the Arab Spring as support for democracy in the Middle East. Yet as his decision to turn his back on the Iranian pro-democracy protesters suggests, Obama was hardly a supporter of regional democrats. Nor was he particularly interested in supporting Iraq’s struggling democracy, which he saw as a tar pit that would only prolong U.S. engagement in the region—which he strongly opposed. In place of U.S. engagement, Obama supported anti-Western, “one election” Islamists who, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Erdogan in Turkey, and Khamenei in Iran, used and abused democratic mechanisms to gain and keep power. His preference was not for democrats per se, but for anti-imperialists who overthrew or sought to overthrow autocratic U.S. allies.

Yet the Arab Spring turned out very differently than Obama expected. When the Arab Spring in Egypt led to the takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian military, backed by many secular Egyptians who had demonstrated against Mubarak, launched a coup to restore secular authoritarian rule. In Syria, a democratic uprising led to a brutal crackdown by Bashar Assad, with support from Iran-backed ground troops.

The failures of the Arab Spring meant the collapse of Obama’s vision for a Middle East led by the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates. It was only after that vision collapsed that Obama sent his advisers Jake Sullivan and Bill Burns to Oman in 2013 to explore nuclear negotiations with the Iranians—in the hopes of finding another Middle Eastern power aside from Turkey that could “stabilize” the region in the wake of America’s withdrawal from Iraq.

Unsurprisingly, Iran often seemed to exist for Obama not as a threat to U.S. interests but as a historical victim of Western imperialism, which supposedly overthrew a “democratically elected” Iranian prime minister and installed the shah. Iran’s repressive theocratic regime seemed less notable for its blatant offenses against its own people, or its efforts to destabilize neighboring states, than for its role as the bête noire of warmongering neoconservatives in the United States, who supported a regional structure that put America on the side of troublemakers such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. Faced with the choice between the Islamic Republic and its enemies, Obama found it surprisingly easy to take the side of the mullahs—putting himself and the United States crossways both to U.S. interests and the hopes and dreams of the Iranian people.

Obama’s big Iran play was neither ‘values-driven’ nor purely pragmatic.

Obama’s big Iran play, which continues to shape U.S. regional policy to this day, was therefore neither “values-driven” nor purely pragmatic. His apparent goal was to extricate the United States from a cycle of endless conflict—one of whose primary causes, as he saw it, was Western imperialism. In doing so, Obama sought to be the first anti-imperialist American president since Dwight Eisenhower, who had backed Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser against the British, French, and Israelis in the 1956 Suez war. (Eisenhower later admitted that backing Nasser and abandoning the United States’ traditional allies had been one of the biggest mistakes of his presidency.)

Yet the Iranians were not, in fact, powerful enough to play the “balancing” role Obama envisioned for them, as their failure to stabilize Syria proved. He therefore stood aside, willingly or not, as the Russians intervened on the Iranian side to bomb the Syrian resistance. For rescuing the Islamic Republic and its allies in Syria, Putin was allowed to invade Crimea and the Donbas with minimal opposition from the Obama administration.

Anti-imperialist narratives were clearly important to Obama, and make sense as products of his unique upbringing. The fact that they utterly failed to correspond to regional realities caused multiple problems on the ground in the Middle East. Obama’s policy of trying to put the United States on the side of his own preferred client states created a slaughter in Syria that in turn led to multiple other slaughters throughout the region. The rise of ISIS was fueled partly in response to vicious Iran-backed attacks against Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis. The shocking rise of the Islamic State required Obama to send U.S. troops into Syria and back into Iraq. It also emboldened Putin, who invaded Ukraine for the third time in 2022.

Obama’s ongoing and catastrophic policy failure, which has blocked the Biden administration from developing any kind of workable strategic vision for dealing with current realities in Iran and throughout the region, demonstrates that substituting American narratives about purity and guilt for hard-power realities is a dangerous business. Ideologically driven anti-Western narratives led the United States to place dangerous and wrongheaded bets on Sunni Islamists and Shiite theocrats at the expense of our own interests and friends. Poorly executed policy led to a fatally flawed nuclear agreement that continues to bedevil the Biden administration and America’s European and Middle Eastern allies. The JCPOA was a big mistake. The longer we refuse to admit that, the higher the price we will continue to pay.

Obama’s Grave Mistake With The Iranian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 8

Former US President Barack Obama (file photo)

Former US President Barack Obama

Obama Admits Mistake Of Not Supporting Iran Protests In 2009

Saturday, 10/15/2022

Iran ProtestsWorld

Former US President Barack Obama has admitted that he made “a mistake” by not supporting the Iranian people’s 2009 Green Movement against the Islamic Republic.

Speaking during a podcast on Friday, he described the lack of public support for the 2009 protests as a missed opportunity to back the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, saying, “In retrospect, I think that was a mistake. Every time we see a flash, a glimmer of hope, of people longing for freedom, I think we have to point it out. We have to shine a spotlight on it. We have to express some solidarity about it.”https://d-1631981662935297409.ampproject.net/2212151632002/frame.html

“There is deep dissatisfaction with the Iranian regime,” he said, adding that women in particular are chafing under a series of arbitrary and cruel discrimination exercised by the state in addition to the systematic subjugation of women, which has made them fed up and tired of the regime.

Obama said that whether the current uprising – ignited by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini – “ends up bringing about fundamental change in the regime is hard to predict.”

He explained that back in 2009 and 2010, “there was a big debate inside the White House about whether I should publicly affirm what was going on with the Green Movement because a lot of the activists were being accused of being tools of the West, and there was some thought that we were somehow going to be undermining their street cred in Iran if I supported what they were doing.”

Obama noted that “our moral response to the incredible courage that is taking place in Iran and those women and girls who are on the streets knowing that they’re putting themselves in harm’s way to speak truth to power” is “to affirm what they do and hope that it brings about more space for the kind of civic conversation that over time can take that country down a better path.”

The Sixth Seal: More Than Just Manhattan (Revelation 6:12)

New York, NY – In a Quake, Brooklyn Would Shake More Than Manhattan
By Brooklyn Eagle
New York, NY – The last big earthquake in the New York City area, centered in New York Harbor just south of Rockaway, took place in 1884 and registered 5.2 on the Richter Scale.Another earthquake of this size can be expected and could be quite damaging, says Dr. Won-Young Kim, senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.
And Brooklyn, resting on sediment, would shake more than Manhattan, built on solid rock. “There would be more shaking and more damage,” Dr. Kim told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.
If an earthquake of a similar magnitude were to happen today near Brooklyn, “Many chimneys would topple. Poorly maintained buildings would fall down – some buildings are falling down now even without any shaking. People would not be hit by collapsing buildings, but they would be hit by falling debris. We need to get some of these buildings fixed,” he said.
But a 5.2 is “not comparable to Haiti,” he said. “That was huge.” Haiti’s devastating earthquake measured 7.0.
Brooklyn has a different environment than Haiti, and that makes all the difference, he said. Haiti is situated near tectonic plate.
“The Caribbean plate is moving to the east, while the North American plate is moving towards the west. They move about 20 mm – slightly less than an inch – every year.” The plates are sliding past each other, and the movement is not smooth, leading to jolts, he said.
While we don’t have the opportunity for a large jolt in Brooklyn, we do have small, frequent quakes of a magnitude of 2 or 3 on the Richter Scale. In 2001 alone the city experienced two quakes: one in January, measuring 2.4, and one in October, measuring 2.6. The October quake, occurring soon after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “caused a lot of panic,” Dr. Kim said.
“People ask me, ‘Should I get earthquake insurance?’ I tell them no, earthquake insurance is expensive. Instead, use that money to fix chimneys and other things. Rather than panicky preparations, use common sense to make things better.”
Secure bookcases to the wall and make sure hanging furniture does not fall down, Dr. Kim said. “If you have antique porcelains or dishes, make sure they’re safely stored. In California, everything is anchored to the ground.”
While a small earthquake in Brooklyn may cause panic, “In California, a quake of magnitude 2 is called a micro-quake,” he added.