The Media is enabling the Trump cultists with their war propaganda

Last Thursday evening, Trump ordered the assassination of the commander of Iran’s Quds Force Maj. Gen. Qassem Solemani. Following the attack, many Fox false news figures heaped absolute praise on Trump’s decision to commit an act of war.

The war fervor escalated further on Friday when Fox host and Trump adviser Sean Hannity fantasized about a further strike inside Iran which would (somehow) prompt Iranians to overthrow their government. (same crap he said about Iraq) Hannity also told Trump to disregard rules of engagement and to “bomb the living hell” out of Iran. A day later, Trump threatened to do exactly that.

Mainstream outlets run with Trump propaganda statements on Iran which are later seriously undermined.

Later Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the rounds, but the hosts of the five major Sunday news shows fell short in questioning and pushing Pompeo in two major ways.

As Pompeo seemingly pivoted away from the claim that Soleimani presented an imminent threat to the U.S. following reports that the administration greatly exaggerated intelligence, the hosts failed to press him on the exact nature of intelligence the administration claimed to have.

Pompeo was also not challenged when he consistently blamed the Obama administration and specifically the Iran nuclear deal (also known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) for actions that Iran has taken since Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement.

Again major mainstream news outlets continued to unquestionably repeat the Trump administration’s purported justification for the attack in their headlines. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted on Twitter an overarching justification for the strike, saying it warded off “imminent threats to American lives.” (no proof has been offered)

CNN, USA Today, The New York Times, Axios, ABC News, and The Hill all put Pompeo’s claim into a headline. Multiple pundits on all cable news channels said that they had no reason to doubt the administration’s claims. (WTF!)

And yet, less than a day later, that bogus claim collapsed. New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi found that the justification was “razor-thin.” According to emerging reporting, the Iraqi Prime Minister has said that Soleimani was on a diplomatic mission to meet with him regarding a Saudi attempt to de-escalate tensions in the region.

The facts are still not settled, but that’s even more reason to not take seriously the word of the Trump administration and Pompeo, who are known liars.

Recent revelations that government officials lied about the Afghanistan War underscore that the media should be aggressively skeptical about war against Iran.

Don’t forget what Trump and Fox said about Obama and Iran: Trump repeatedly spoke with Fox personalities at the time about how Obama would start a war with Iran in order to get re-elected. He made similar claims in a video he posted to his website. In response to Trump, Sean Hannity said that would be “the single most chilling abuse of power in American history.”

Meet the Press doesn’t disclose guest talking about Iran is Lockheed Martin board member

Jeh Johnson, who was secretary of homeland security under President Barack Obama, appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press to discuss President Donald Trump ordering the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Neither Johnson nor host Chuck Todd disclosed that Johnson is a board member of defense contractor Lockheed Martin, which reportedly paid him over $300,000 in 2018 alone.

Right-wing media already accusing Democrats who question Trump of being aligned with Iran

On Friday, several Fox personalities accused Democrats critical of the decision the kill Solemani of being aligned with Iran. On Fox and Friends the morning after the attack, retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata expressed offense that Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) had called America’s targeted killing of Soleimani an “assassination,” accused Murphy of “jumping on the side of Iran,” and complained that “Democrats will support, you know, Hamas, or Hezbollah, or Iran” over American and Donald Trump. Trump himself retweeted a claim from far-right pundit Dinesh D’Souza comparing Sen. minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to Iranians.

 

edited from Media Matters

Americans, have become the “bad guys.” 

While many people’s attention was focused on the impeachment breaking news stories, the despicable coward Trump was meeting with Turkey’s despot Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and apparently okaying a full-on offensive against our former friends and allies the Kurd’s. NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel confirmed last night that Turkey indeed had launched a new offensive against the Kurds in Northern Syria, Engel hashtagged his update with #AmericanBetrayal.

“Massive attacks underway against the Kurds in northern Syria. No ceasefire. Total nonsenses there is,” Engel reported.

Donald Trump originally greenlighted the first attacks against the Kurds during a phone call with Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This action resulted in may innocent women and children being murdered, it also released many Daesh (ISIS) terrorist fighters back into the population.

“US military officials tell me they are ashamed, ‘sickened.’ It’s cold now outside. What about the families, and kids, out of their homes?” he wondered.

Of course, Trump praised Erdoğan during a White House visit on Thursday.

Richard Engel had this sobering assessment, “The more I talk to sources, the more I’m hearing America’s betrayal of the Kurds, and the humiliation, misogynistic squashing” of US ambassador in Ukraine for political motivations makes people think, we, Americans, have become the “bad guys.”  Hearing it was a gut punch.

This is life in the US with a reality TV star running the show

During Trump’s interview with NBC’s worm “both sides do it” Chuck Todd for Meet the Press, scheduled to be fully broadcast on Sunday, he said that if he declares war on Iran (surprise he can’t legally do that), it will mean “obliteration like you’ve never seen before.” He almost immediately tried to qualify this by saying that “I’m not looking to do that” and that there were no pre-conditions on talks with Tehran. This is the same dumb script as his lame “fire and fury” North Korea TV drama.

Earlier this week, Trump was supposedly on the verge of launching a strike on Iran following the downing of a U.S. drone that the Pentagon claims was over international waters, but supposedly aborted the mission minutes before it was to be carried out. Ya right! (How can we believe anything coming from this criminal, he lies when he breathes)

Trump’s administration has been provoking Iran at every turn, including breaking the multilateral nuclear agreement with the country and declaring the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group. Some members of Trump’s inner circle, particularly National Security Adviser and full-time warmonger John Bolton, have been itching for a military conflict with Iran. In recent weeks, however, Trump himself wants to have dinner with the Iranian leader.

Now even the conservative hawkish Wall Street Journal has scorched Trump for getting played by Iran in a brutal editorial. In a scathing column from the editors of the Journal, Trump received a dressing down for his aborted attack on Iran with the piece saying the Middle Eastern country “called his bluff” and he will come to regret it. The editors took idiot Trump to task for not only ordering an attack and changing his mind at the last minute — but for also for his lame attempt to lay the blame on the Pentagon.

“It’s important to understand how extraordinary this is. The Commander in Chief ordered ships and planes into battle but recalled them because he hadn’t asked in advance what the damage and casualties might be? While the planes were in the air, he asked, oh, by the way? This is hard to take at face value,” they wrote.

No shit, in our opinion this was no doubt another one Trumps stupid good cop bad cop negotiating ploys to get a sit-down meeting with the Iranians to try and bully and charm them simultaneously. That tactic will never work. Clearly, this imbecile has never done business with any Iranians. They don’t play like that.

OMG! It’s War mongering deja vu all over again

Mike Pompeo is like Robert McNamara who goaded Lyndon Johnson into escalating the Viet Nam War in the sixties.

John Bolton is like the new Dick Cheney, who fanned the flames of war with made-up tales of weapons of mass destruction.

This is the same John Bolton who always downplays the value of diplomacy and has rarely seen an adversary he didn’t want to go to war against.

These two chicken hawks, Bolton and Pompeo, are chomping at the bit to start some kind of new conflict. They both want regime change.
All Iran has to do is make the slightest “apparent” provocation. Doofus Trump claims he does not want war, yet he’s put these crazy ass warmongers in these critical positions.

With the constant drumbeat for war with Iran coming from the Trump White House, many people can still remember how we entered two fraudulently and tragically failed wars during the past 55 years cannot help being concerned by alarming echoes of past disasters. The bogus Gulf of Tonkin attack set off a full-scale war in Vietnam in 1964, and contrived evidence of Iraqi nuclear weapons development resulted in the 2003 invasion.

Trump has excoriated Bush relentlessly for starting the Iraq War and Trump campaigned relentlessly that Hillary wanted to start a war.

But now a panicking Donald Trump could well benefit by starting a conflict and diverting our attention from the investigations into his traitorous criminal administration, the failure of his trade war with China, and the declining prospects for his reelection in 2020.

Every week the Trump administration is taking a yet more confrontational posture that could easily lead to armed conflict with Iran.

Before Bolton and Pompeo lead the U.S. into yet another disastrous war, our lawmakers must repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force and secure the passage of the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act. The U.S. can ill afford to stumble into yet another forever war in the Mideast.

We must not repeat these horrible actions by launching an attack on the Iranians based on suspicious claims of the danger they pose to the United States and its allies.

 

 

The threat of a nuclear-armed terrorist state

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

While you’re being distracted by the Trump shit show, there’s a very real and emerging danger in the world that few are paying attention to.

“Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world — not this year, not next year, but certainly down the road,” says Michael Morell, former acting CIA director.

Pakistan has the world’s 5th largest population, 5th largest military, and 6th largest nuclear arsenal. The danger begins, Morell says, with a dysfunctional economy and a rapidly growing population of young people without education or job prospects. Add to that a military that continues to call the shots as though war could break out at any moment.

“The main reason the military has a grip on decision-making is because of a long-held and now mistaken belief in Pakistan that India is an existential threat to Pakistan and that Islamabad must do everything it can to protect itself from that threat,” he says.

“One of the areas in which this plays out is in Pakistan’s support to jihadists — in short, its support to terrorists fighting India. That support bleeds over to extremists who want to overthrow the Pakistani state itself, including al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.”

The bottom line: “This anti-state jihadist extremism is growing in Pakistan, creating the nightmare society down the road — an extremist government in Islamabad with nuclear weapons.”

https://www.axios.com/newsletters/axios-am

One thing Trump can relate to Russians about is getting his ass kicked in Afghanistan

When Trump announced his new war strategy last year, Trump declared that Taliban and Islamic State insurgents in Afghanistan “need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms.”

Trump’s usual bravado and then his backs down.

Now Trump is urging American-backed Afghan troops to retreat from sparsely populated areas of the country, officials said, all but ensuring the Taliban will remain in control of vast stretches of the country.

The withdrawal resembles strategies embraced by both the Bush and Obama administrations that have started and stuttered over the nearly 17-year war. It will effectively ensure that the Taliban and other insurgent groups will hold on to territory that they have already seized, leaving the government in Kabul to safeguard the capital and cities such as Kandahar, Kunduz, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Jalalabad. (oh no Trump behaving like the hated black president)

The retreat to the cities is a searing acknowledgment that the American-installed government in Afghanistan remains unable to lead and protect the country’s sprawling rural population. Over the years, as waves of American and NATO troops have come and left in repeated cycles, the government has slowly retrenched and ceded chunks of territory to the Taliban, cleaving Afghanistan into disparate parts and ensuring a conflict with no end in sight.

The strategy depends on the Afghan government’s willingness to pull back its own forces. A Defense Department official said some Afghan commanders have resisted the American effort to do so, fearing local populations would feel betrayed.

Just over one-quarter of Afghanistan’s population lives in urban areas, according to C.I.A. estimates; Kabul is the largest city, with more than four million residents. Most Afghans live and farm across vast rural hinterlands.

Of Afghanistan’s 407 districts, the government either controls or heavily influences 229 to the Taliban’s 59. The remaining 119 districts are considered contested, according to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Hundreds of Afghan troops are being killed and wounded nearly every week — many in Taliban attacks on isolated checkpoints. Over the last year alone, the number of Afghan soldiers, police, pilots and other security forces dropped by about 5 percent, or 18,000 fewer people, according to the inspector general’s office.

The strategy for retreat borrows heavily from Mr. Obama’s military blueprint in Afghanistan after he began withdrawing troops from front lines in 2014.

Under President George W. Bush, and during Mr. Obama’s first term, the Pentagon established a constellation of outposts across Afghanistan, affirming that the American-led military coalition would fight the war in far-flung villages and farmlands.

But by 2009, an Army document outlined a shift from “attacking the enemy in remote areas” to “protecting and developing the major population centers” in eastern Afghanistan.

That approach began to take hold months later, in 2010, when American forces withdrew from the Korengal Valley after suffering bloody losses in isolated northeastern outposts. At the same time, however, United States Marines were surging into the rural areas of Helmand Province and the Army was pushing into the Taliban heartland in Kandahar.

In 2015, the Obama administration encouraged Afghan commanders to give up defending some of the most remote checkpoints and outposts that were seen as difficult to reclaim and hold.

Should Afghan troops pull back now, defending remote pockets of the country would mostly be left to the local police, which are more poorly trained than the military and far more vulnerable to Taliban violence. In some areas, police officers have cut deals with the Taliban to protect themselves from attacks.

Trump is also instructing top American diplomats to seek direct talks with the Taliban to refuel negotiations to end the war, and two senior Taliban officials said on Saturday that such talks had been held in Qatar a week ago. The negotiations are a major shift in American policy and could serve as a bridge to an eventual withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan.

Evan McAllister, a former reconnaissance Marine staff sergeant, and sniper, fought in parts of Helmand Province in 2008 and 2011 — areas that are now almost entirely under Taliban control. He said trying to maintain an Afghan government-friendly presence in rural areas was, and still is, a “fool’s errand.”

“Attempting to control rural areas in Afghanistan always eventually ends up boiling down to simple personal survival,” Mr. McAllister said. “No strategic gains are accomplished, no populace is influenced, but the death or dismemberment of American and Afghan troops is permanent and guaranteed.”

No shit, we should have left back in 2002-TE

(This story is an edited and reworked version of a New York Times article)
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/28/world/asia/trump-afghanistan-strategy-retreat

 

Trump’s DPRK “used car deal” doesn’t even make it off the car lot before the engine falls out

After all the self-congratulations and sycophant’s compliments, following Trump’s poorly planned meeting with the North Korean (DPRK) ruler Kim Jong Un.  Big Suprise! There is no deal! There never was.

In many ways, this debacle is much worse than the George W. Bush “Mission Accomplished” humiliation.  The ramifications of this disaster will potentially lead to an all-out conflict that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons

Right after his reckless meeting in Singapore with Kim, Trump unilaterally declared North Korea will keep its promises, and the US will stop war games with no real evidence to support his retreat.

Trump said he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “had a terrific day.””We learned a lot about each other and about our countries,” Trump says, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the North Korean dictator. All I can say is they want to make a deal.”Trump also says the U.S. will be stopping the war games it conducts near North Korea.

So now, we are today and North Korea’s foreign ministry expressed disappointment in the U.S.’s continued demands for complete and verifiable denuclearization following talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

North Korea’s foreign ministry expressed disappointment in the U.S.’s continued demands for complete and verifiable denuclearization following talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, adding to concerns over Pyongyang’s commitment to dismantling its nuclear arms.

“We had expected that the US side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of the leaders’ summit … we were also thinking about providing reciprocal measures,” an unnamed spokesman of Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

“However, the attitude and stance the United States showed in the first high-level meeting (between the countries) was no doubt regrettable,” the DPRK spokesman said.

While you’re being distracted by Trump’s savage racism he flips again on North Korea

Trump flips again on North Korea, declaring country still an ‘extraordinary threat’

President extended the ‘national emergency’ for one year in an executive order, re-authorizing economic restrictions

Donald Trump makes a statement before saying goodbye to Kim Jong-un in Singapore on 12 June. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

Donald Trump has declared that North Korea still poses an “extraordinary threat” to the United States, just days after saying that the country’s nuclear program no longer constituted a danger.

In an executive order on Friday, the president extended for one year the so-called “national emergency” with respect to the nuclear-armed nation, re-authorizing economic restrictions against it.

While expected, the declaration comes just nine days after Trump tweeted: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” following his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

Remember this two weeks ago: Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump –  Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!

The order appears to undermine the president’s claim.

It states that “the existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material” and the actions and policies of the North Korean government “continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States”.

The national emergency has been in place since 2008 and is a sign of the enduring tensions between the US and North Korea that spiked last year as the North moved closed to perfecting a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach American soil, but ebbed with the 12 June summit where Kim agreed to “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula.

The two sides, however, still have to negotiate the terms under which the North would give up its nukes and win relief from sanctions – a goal that has eluded US administrations for a quarter-century.

Trump claimed at a cabinet meeting Thursday that denuclearization had already begun, although his defense secretary, James Mattis, told reporters a day earlier that he wasn’t aware that North Korea had taken any steps yet toward denuclearization, and that detailed negotiations have not yet begun.

Russia’s fully weaponized propaganda machine kicks in right before 2018 elections

The Election of Trump by any means necessary was a gambit by Putin, now he’s getting serious!

Some on the right just love this guy

First Russia unleashed a nerve agent. Now it’s unleashing its lie machine.

Maybe he was a drug addict; maybe he was suicidal. Maybe his British handlers decided to get rid of him; maybe it was his mother-in-law. Ever since Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, was poisoned in a provincial English town, Russian state media and Russian officials have worked overtime to provide explanations.

The British government identified the poison as Novichok, a substance made only in Russia. A spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry spokesman parried the claim by insisting that the Czechs, the Slovaks, and the Swedes had it, too. And, of course, the British themselves.

One Russian journalist opined that the assassination attempt was a rival’s ploy to undermine Russian President Vladi­mir Putin; another blamed a Ukraine attempt “to frame Russia.” The Russian foreign minister declared the whole story was an attempt to “distract from Brexit.”

For his part, Putin, when asked, said Russia had destroyed all its chemical weapons anyway.

The conspiracy theories came so thick and fast that some had to be retracted. One Russian scientist admitted that the Soviet Union had created Novichok; the interview was removed from the Internet because it contradicted the foreign ministry spokesman, who claims Novichok never existed. So far, the British foreign office has tallied 21 separate explanations for the assassination attempt, with more presumably on the way.

No one was surprised by this barrage of contradictory claims: This was exactly how the Russian media and Russian authorities responded after Russian-backed troops in eastern Ukraine shot down a Malaysian passenger plane in 2014, killing everyone on board. Those explanations were just as varied and far-fetched (the Ukrainians were trying to shoot down Putin and missed; the plane took off from Amsterdam with dead bodies on board), and they had the same aim: to pollute the conversation and make the truth seem unknowable.

Inside Russia, that campaign was a huge success. A Radio Liberty journalist did a series of man-in-the-street interviews in Moscow soon after the crash. Almost everyone he asked told him that not only was it impossible to know what happened but also that nobody would ever know. Even some in the Netherlands (which had many passengers on the doomed flight) have adopted “nobody will ever know” as an explanation for the crash — even though Dutch authorities and others have shown quite convincingly that it was shot down by a Russian Buk missile launched by the Russian-backed “separatists” in eastern Ukraine.

Knowing that there is no point in rebutting each claim — that would simply amplify them further — the British foreign office decided to respond, as one official told me, “by exposing the methodology” of deceit. Its officials created a short video mocking the multiple Russian explanations, and they posted it on Twitter and Facebook with a statement accusing Russia of offering “denial, distraction and threats” instead of explanations. They also sent samples of the Skripals’ blood to a neutral international institution, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, for testing to confirm their conclusions.

But the campaign will continue in places that are much harder to see. Trust in the government is very low in large swaths of the British political spectrum. The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has said that he still wants a “definitive answer” about the source of the nerve agent. Russian Internet trolls are working hard on deepening this doubt. While watching the debate about Skripal, Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab noticed an online poll, the creation of a pro-Corbyn blogger with a large social media following. It asked, “Are you satisfied that Theresa May has supplied enough evidence for us to be able to confidently point the finger of blame at Russia?” When Nimmo investigated, he found large numbers of Russian and consistently pro-Russian accounts answering the poll (with an overwhelming “no,” of course) — and then amplifying the result so that it appeared to have even more approval. A minor thing, but it was enough to convince the blogger that “the mood of the public is starting to shift.”

This is an example in miniature of the kinds of efforts that will be repeated again and again, and it’s instructive. Since 2016, we’ve become fixated on the idea that Russian disinformation is something that happens during election campaigns. But it goes on all the time, and coordinators respond to all kinds of circumstances and will evade official attempts to avoid them.

Social media, which makes it easy for anonymous trolls to have influence, makes it easy to invent disinformation. Social divisions, which diminish trust in authorities like the British foreign office, help it spread.

What is needed now is a broader version of Britain’s “expose the methodology” campaign, one ambitious enough to reach below the surface. That will take time and effort. But unless we get started, we’re doomed to live in a world where truth is defined by those who have the least respect for it.

from Anne Applebaum – The Washington Post

Is Trump ready to fight Iran by using Israel as his surrogate?

Trump in the past gave the green light to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister to go after Iran

Yesterday Israel launched air attacks  that reportedly hit an airport on the outskirts of al-Suwayda, in southern Syria, and a weapons depot near the capital, Damascus.

Netanyahu has described his country’s most significant air attacks on Syria in decades as a heavy blow to Syria and Iran. 

Is this beginning of a more serious conflict with Iran, with Israel acting as the surrogate for Trump?

Israeli soldiers on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the border with Syria, February 10, 2018. Syrian air defenses repelled an Israeli raid on a military base in the center of the country, hitting more than one warplane, state media said. The report came after the Israeli military said one of its fighter jets had crashed during strikes against ‘Iranian targets’ in Syria after intercepting a drone. JALAA MAREY/AFP/GETTY

Here’s an opinion piece from Newsweek on the topic:

If you were an Israeli living in Northern Israel, you were awakened yesterday morning by sirens and sounds of explosions.

If you were in the rest of the country, you learned of attacks as you woke up, to news reports and notifications on your phones of missile warning in the North.

This morning Israeli intelligence spotted an Iranian drone taking off from an Iranian base T-4, near Tadmor Syria. Israel tracked the drone as it approached Israel’s border. Waiting at the border was a group of Israeli Apache attack helicopters that swiftly downed the drone.

The Iranian action was not totally unexpected and the Israeli Air Force was ready with a quick response — a response that included attacking the Iranian base, as well as destroying the command and control vehicle that sent the drone.

According to some Israeli sources, the attacks took place using stand-off advanced weaponry that did not require Israeli planes having to actually enter Syria.

The Syrians fired an unprecedented number of anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli aircraft. One of the Israeli planes, an F-16i flying over Northern Israel, was struck by a missile. It tried to reach the Israeli air base in the Galilee, but the crew realized they would not make it and ejected.

The plane crashed into an empty field. The pilot was seriously injured, seemingly from the missile attack on the plane, and the navigator was only slightly injured. It was the first Israeli fighter aircraft that has been shot down since 1982.

Israel responded with a much larger strike in Syria, attacking 12 targets including 4 Iranian targets, and at least four Syrian missile emplacements destroying all of the sites that fired on the Israeli planes. According to Israeli sources, it was the largest and most successful attack on the missile system in Syria since the Lebanon War of 1982.

Israelis are now asking themselves whether we have been living in a period of false peace? Have things fundamentally changed? The answer seems to be yes.

The major change is the fact that the Iranians directly sent a drone into Israel. It is not clear if the drone was on an attack mission, or merely an intelligence mission — but the nature of the mission is not really relevant. The Iranians have taken a strategic decision to confront Israel directly, and that constitutes a change.

Israel has made it clear that it will not allow the Iranians to establish advanced bases in Syria and the Iranians are determined to establish those bases. Additional confrontations can be expected.

The downing of an Israeli F-16i came as a surprise. While the Israeli Air Force never believed that its planes were untouchable, the fact that the plane was hit, while over Israel, clearly came as a surprise. Clearly some of the built-in advance defensive systems of the F-16 failed to work.

In reality, one should not be shocked, as no systems work 100 percent of the time. Still, the Syrians are celebrating the downing of the first Israeli planes in decades.

It should be noted that according to Israeli sources, the Iranian drone was one with an advanced semi-stealth design, based on the technology of the American RQ-170 drone, captured by the Iranians in 2011. The fact that this drone has been recovered mostly intact, should provide important intelligence about the Iranian abilities.

An additional lesson learned today was the complete absence of the United States. Not since the 1950s has America been such an irrelevant actor in events in this part of the Middle East.

Yesterday morning, the President of the United States was busy with irrelevant tweets. In an unusual move the Department of Defense was the department issuing a statement- defending Israel’s right to defend itself.

Marc Schulman Newsweek