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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 9/4/19

War in All But Name as US State Department Offers Bribes to Pirates

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If at first you don't succeed, spread some money around. The Financial Times reports that the US State Department is offering cash bribes to captains of Iranian ships if they sail those ships into ports where the US government can seize them.

The offers are funded from a "Rewards for Justice" program authorizing payouts of up to $15 million for "counter-terrorism" purposes. It's not about counter-terrorism, though. It's about doubling down on US President Donald Trump's decision to violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, usually called the "Iran Nuclear Deal."

The other parties to the deal -- especially France, the UK, and Germany -- don't want to let the deal go, but also don't want to enrage Trump by violating the unilateral sanctions he's imposed on Iran. The Iranians, on the other hand, have made it clear that unless those other countries find ways to deliver meaningful sanctions relief, they're abandoning the deal too. They've started taking concrete steps in that direction.

On July 4 -- Independence Day in the United States -- members of the United Kingdom's Royal Marines boarded an Iranian oil tanker, the Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar. They seized ship, crew, and cargo in an act of open piracy.

The pretext for the seizure was that selling oil to Syria violates European Union sanctions. But neither Iran nor Syria are EU member states, and the tanker was taken in international "transit passage" waters. That's like giving a speeding ticket to a driver in Hungary for violating Kazakhstan's speed limits.

Spain's foreign minister, Josep Borrell, plausibly asserted that the seizure was requested by the US government. The ship was released after Iran agreed that the oil would not go to Syria (its whereabouts and destination remain unknown as of this writing).

In the meantime, a US court had issued a seizure warrant -- for an Iranian vessel, carrying Iranian oil, to a non-US destination, clearly outside any reasonable definition of US jurisdiction. And the Iranians had hijacked a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz in reprisal for the taking of Grace 1.

So now the US State Department is reduced to simple bribery in its attempts to clean up after Trump's 2016 campaign promise to get the US out of the "nuclear deal."

Under the deal, the Iranians went beyond their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to "end" a nuclear weapons program which the US intelligence community didn't even believe existed. All they got out of it was some relief from sanctions that should never have been imposed, and the return of some money stolen by the US government decades ago. All the US got out of it was an empty propaganda victory.

But electoral politics required Trump to throw even that tiny trophy away. He had to either promise foreign policy belligerence SOMEWHERE or risk establishment mockery as a peacenik. Enter the Israeli lobby and Sheldon Adelson's millions. Iran drew the short straw.

So did we. This is war in all but name and only likely to escalate as Election 2020 draws nigh.

 

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Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


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4 people are discussing this page, with 5 comments


David William Pear

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This is what comes of decades of the public willingly letting their civil liberties be taken away from them in return for a false sense of safety, and looking the other way when the US violated international laws---"if you didn't don anything wrong etc----".

To use WW2 as a demarcation line for convenience, the POTUS has become an emperor. Gone went all the checks and balances. Corruption rules supreme in the legislature and judicial branches.

The door was left wide open for a Trump to walk in, put on the crown and seize power to do whatever he/she wanted. He knows that there is nothing anybody can do to him. As he bragged he could shoot someone in broad daylight in Times Square, grab women by their "pussies" and get away with it.

Guess what, he can!

Bush and Obama tortured "some folks", carried out illegal assassinations, backed terrorists, invaded countries, overthrew governments, and used illegal sanctions that were designed to kill innocent civilians as collective punishment completely against international law. Not a peep out of the public that amounted to anything.

The government is out of control, Trump is running amuck and the public let it happen by sleeping.

P.S. Technically, Iran is within its legal rights UNDER THE WRITTEN LANGUAGE IN THE JCPOA to increase its nuclear energy, medical and research nuclear programs. It is very ironic that the MSM screams that "Iran is breaching the deal" when it is not.

Submitted on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2019 at 11:39:06 PM

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Richard Pietrasz

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It should be well known civil liberties are restricted during wartime. This was even taught in public schools when I was a child in Massachusetts. That is one reason we have perpetual war.

Submitted on Friday, Sep 6, 2019 at 3:37:51 AM

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Mrs. Fuxit

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In theory, America's military-industrial complex occupies 3/4 of the planet. By the numbers, there are 15 foreigners working their butts off for each American. Endless errorism must prevail until morale improves.

Submitted on Thursday, Sep 5, 2019 at 6:15:18 PM

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John Jonik

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Hasn't been a declared official US War since WW II. US Military atrocities since then were "police action", intervention, illegal invasions and the like.

The End The War activists have done their job on Wars...now onto the other abominations.

Submitted on Friday, Sep 6, 2019 at 3:00:15 AM

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Richard Pietrasz

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Every high ranking US military or intelligence officer knows Iran needs nuclear weapons to defend itself against the US militry threat. They also know the US also helped Israel gain the capability to launch nuclear attacks against USA using small sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles to carry out a nuclear 9/11 event. Then, they can blame the nuclear attack on any desired enemy they want.

One would think if these people were actually loyal to their country they would raise a big stink about this, so that they would be forced by public pressure to defend against it.

Submitted on Friday, Sep 6, 2019 at 3:52:02 AM

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