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Blowback, from Mali to Iran

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As we all know, the French intervention in Mali has brought anti-western blowback in Algeria, where dozens of Americans and Europeans are being held hostage by Islamist militants. So what if the U.S. attacks Iran? Iran is a far richer and more technologically-resourceful society than Mali. What would the blowback be in that instance? It would surely be huge– cyber and human attacks, as the US military command states here [excerpt below]. (Thanks to Harry Hjalmarson)

And not to conflate American and Israeli concerns, but did Jeffrey Goldberg acknowledge this American reality in arguing that Israel can’t live with a nuclear Iran the other night in New York? I’m awaiting a report on the former Israeli army corporal’s debate performance. Meantime, here is Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio:

Iran’s developing ability to launch cyber attacks will make it “a force to be reckoned with,” the head of the U.S. Air Force Space Command said.

General William Shelton said the Iranians are responding to an attack on the computer operating system that runs the uranium enrichment facilities in the country’s suspected nuclear-weapons program…

Iran has denied responsibility for a spate of cyber attacks against online banking sites that accelerated in September. U.S. banks, including JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (PNC), have said some customers were having difficulty at times accessing their websites. Former Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, was among those who have said Iran may be at fault.

“Iran respects international law and refrains from targeting other nations’ economic or financial institutions,” Iran’s mission to the United Nations said in a Jan. 11 statement, according to the a report on the website of the state run Press TV news channel.

Philip Weiss

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21 Responses

  1. pabelmont on January 18, 2013, 2:02 pm

    All countries lie. Usually. Period. So Israel and USA may say they did not murder Iranian scientists and did not launch cyber attacks on Iran, and Iran may say it is not building a bomb and not launching cyber counter-attacks on USA. Ho hum.

    The USA (its governing class, that is) believes in war. It lives by the sword. It is an empire, by gad! And therefore although it may not welcome counterattacks, it is willing to suffer them because they become excuses for more and more severe war-fighting. Israel, ditto. Did I mention that (the governing classes of) USA and Israel believe: [1] they are invincible; [2] they are deserving to rule over others who are morally corrupt when they object to our (as we like to suggest, with forked tongue in cheek) “benign” interventions in their business and their territory; and [3] the rest of the world (unless very white-skinned indeed) are scum.

    I am troubled that the grand Iranian Ayatollah has said that it is contrary to Islam to make and keep nukes. Or whatever he said. Because I suspect he will be made out a religious liar (rather than merely, ho hum, a political liar) with bad fallout for Islam.

    • Keith on January 19, 2013, 1:20 pm

      PABELMONT- “The USA (its governing class, that is) believes in war. It lives by the sword.”

      Right you are! What many folks seem blissfully unaware of is that following WWII the US became a warfare state, relying on military Keynesianism and the Pentagon system of economic planning and control to stimulate and direct the economy, without which the US economy would likely have sunk back into depression. After all, it was WWII which got us out of the depression. This is why for the last 65 years the US has engaged in non-stop war against the entire Third World.

  2. Avi_G. on January 18, 2013, 2:08 pm

    Former Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, was among those who have said Iran may be at fault.

    Israel’s whore has spoken so it must be true.

  3. MHughes976 on January 18, 2013, 3:25 pm

    British mainstream political discourse is totally unbalanced, almost in the sense of ‘unbalanced’ that suggests mental illness. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former Foreign Secretary, was remarking on television that the Army is the real power in Algeria – ie Algeria is a military dictatorship. The legitimacy of this regime and the crazy ‘terrorist’ status of the other side goes completely unquestioned both in television interviews and in parliamentary debates. As if French neo-imperialism,which we seem to be supporting without reservation, was an unquestionably noble cause.

  4. fillmorehagan on January 18, 2013, 4:21 pm

    If Mali terrorists were operating in Syria they would be cheered on by the US and NATO instead of being bombed.

    The US has no problem with terrorism as long as the “right people” are being terrorized.

    • annie on January 19, 2013, 1:57 am

      The US has no problem with terrorism as long as the “right people” are being terrorized.

      The US has no problem with terrorism as long as the “right people” are doing the terrorizing.

      • eljay on January 19, 2013, 10:03 am

        >> The US has no problem with terrorism as long as the “right people” are being terrorized.
        >> The US has no problem with terrorism as long as the “right people” are doing the terrorizing.

        The U.S. has no problem with U.S.-sanctioned terrorism, which it sells under the brands “Freedom”, “Democracy” and “Justice”.

  5. ToivoS on January 19, 2013, 12:14 am

    Err Phil if I am not mistaken you supported the Nato led “rebellion” against Libya last year. It was clear from the first week that this was an Islamist led rebellion. Also many informed analysts see that the current war in Mali (and its spill-over into Algeria) is blow back from that Libyan adventure. Please let us know: what the hell are you advocating?

    As much as I appreciate your perspectives on the world, you are one contradictory guy.

    • aiman on January 19, 2013, 2:31 am

      One thing is clear: these interventions have successfully instituted a Taliban Raj. The citizens, besides a handful of “rebel” strongholds whose voice was amplified to that of the “Libyan nation” etc., of these countries did not ask for anyone to intervene, they well knew the ugly ideology that Saudi Arabia’s clergy propagate and whose foot soldiers wreak tremendous havoc in addition to centuries of Western interference. Even Al Jazeera appears to be distancing itself from the Syrian rebels now or it was in that one Al Jazeera English report I watched.

      Libya was essentially about the US-Russia/China Cold War standoff and look how far that arrogance got them and at what cost to ordinary people.

    • Keith on January 19, 2013, 1:03 pm

      TOVIOS- “Also many informed analysts see that the current war in Mali (and its spill-over into Algeria) is blow back from that Libyan adventure.”

      Yes, and the blowback is not unexpected, rather, it provides an additional pretext for the expansion of AFRICOM involvement in African resource wars.

  6. gingershot on January 19, 2013, 11:56 am

    This is blowback from the machinations that Rumsfeld and the neocons started and what the US has been doing in Mali for years. Not understanding this is truly not understanding what is going on in Mali and why

    The US has been heavily involved in ‘False Flag Operations’ in the Sahara since the days Donald Rumseld began to use P202-Offices plans to militarize the Sahara during the Bush administration.

    ‘Mission Accomplished’, neocons – now comes the Blowback

    The original core of the problem is the fabricated terrorism and support for proto-Al Qaeda that the US (and Algeria) themselves created. Jeremy Keenan has been warning himself blue about this for years about now – warning about the inevitable blowback that would occur once Al Qaeda stopped following US command and no longer were content in just being used as a puppet of the US.

    We can expect the same kind of ‘Out of Control Al Qaeda’ to soon be a major problem for us in Syria as well – it’s all just blowback from our own actions

    The disaster now unfolding is the blowback from US hyping and creating false flag operations in order to find a pretext to militarizing Africa, getting AFRICOM set up, and trying to control the region so the Chinese can’t continue exploiting it without push-back from the US

    Great interview with Keenan – who has written two books on the region and provides an excellent summary as well as detailed nuance on the whole program- on the Scott Hortons Show up at

    ‘Out of Control Al Qaeda’ – from Osama bin Laden, to Al Qaeda IM, to the the ‘Free Rebel Army’ factions in Syria – it’s all BLOWBACK from our ‘Previously Used and In Control Al Qaeda’.

    It’s all convenient for the permanent, Endless, ‘Long War’ which the neocons want us to be fighting for the next 100 years.

    ‘We creates the wars and we fights them’ – that’s their plan

  7. MHughes976 on January 19, 2013, 12:20 pm

    Just to recommend very highly Kevan Harris’ ‘A Fistful of Tomans’ in the current London Review of Books, examining both the remarkable successes and interesting failure of the sanctions regime in Iran. There are 10 rials to the toman, apparently, and 3000 tomans to the dollar. Oil exports have halved since 2011. Diabetes medication is becoming hard to find.

  8. Citizen on January 19, 2013, 2:38 pm

    Some prominent Germans are speaking truth about Israel and its US & German main enablers–they are catching huge flack from the Zionists:

    German parrots of hasbara actually think since Germany inflicted so much harm on the Jews in the past, that gives Germany a blank check to inflict harm on the Palestinians. Churchill said about the Germans: “They are either at your feet or at your throat.” What the fuck is wrong with them, anyway?

    • on January 19, 2013, 3:56 pm

      Citizen: What the fuck is wrong with the Germans, anyway?
      Uri Avneri (Helmut Klostermann) wrote in counterpunch on Grass,
      ‘Gunther the terrible’:

      “Germans, as is their wont, are a bit more thorough here than others. The term ‘Antisemitismus’ was invented by a German (a few years before the terms Zionism and Feminism), and anti-Semitism was the official ideology of Germany during the Nazi years. Now the official German ideology is pro-Semitism, again going to extremes.”
      But I would add: Neither during the Nazi years nor today, the official anti- or pro-Semitism was/is shared to the same extent (extreme) by the public. – But there is an authoritarian trait in the German culture. Germans lack an anarchist edge.

      • Citizen on January 20, 2013, 3:00 am

        @ Klaus Bloemker

        So, the culture does not admit ambiguity? Nietzsche would agree?

      • Citizen on January 20, 2013, 3:37 am

        Also, thanks for Uri’s article. In contrast to what he says on a related subject, I am not nearly so certain the current Israeli regime and the influential neocons still sucking up so much air in the American government, would settle for merely destroying Iranian atomic program sites; I think both would love to partner to also bomb all strategic institutional sites, with the grossly stupid idea this would cause the downfall of the Iranian regime, not merely set Iran’s atomic program back for a couple of years. Of course, what it would do is unite all Iranians of every stripe.

        Also, I don’t think the reason the US government maintains ambiguity on Israel’s war nukes is because otherwise, the US would have to act towards international control of them same as it’s doing against Iran’s nonexistent war nukes. Rather, it’s because of strategic reasons, balancing off Russia/China, not unlike why the US voices aggression against Syria, but not Bahrain when those respective regimes both have a majority relegated to de facto second class citizenship, if that. And also because of the power of the Israel Lobby—Obama too, is not Hagel.

  9. kalithea on January 19, 2013, 8:30 pm

    Pepe Escobar nails it, AGAIN.:

    “Salafi-jihadis in Mali have got a huge problem: they chose the wrong battlefield. If this was Syria, they would have been showered by now with weapons, logistical bases, a London-based “observatory”, hours of YouTube videos and all-out diplomatic support by the usual suspects of US, Britain, Turkey, the Gulf petromonarchies and – oui, monsieur – France itself.”

    Calling BH Levy, come in Levy…same guys that “liberated” Libya and are helping Sunni in Syria dump Assad for Islamic rule are intent on same in Mali…come in Levy, cue to start blathering. Lol! He’s too busy embracing his French/Israeli colonial roots.

    Here’s a good understanding of the hypocrisy involved in U.S./Israeli/Nato fp:

    It’s okay to liberate Syria from the minority in power by any means, but the Shia majority in Bahrain–to hell with them; let them suffer under a brutal monarchy!! Snark-snark.

  10. piotr on January 19, 2013, 9:04 pm

    One should stress that this hostage crisis is a relatively minor issue. The problem in Mali is much worse, and it displays utter inability of USA to provide some positive influence.

    Mali being next to Libya and somewhat strategic, our government decided to stabilize the strategic situation there by training and presumably equipping the army. Apparently, recruits for the training were broadly of two kinds: really enthusiastic about the military training, and they were trained as an “elite unite” and the rest. When the Tuareg “mercenaries” fled Libya, the elite unite of ca. 1400 defected — apparently all enthusiastic recruits were Tuareg. Non-elite unites did not have much zeal to fight the Tuareg, so when the civilian President insisted that they do they made coup d’etat. So now we have a war between two sides trained by Americans — more numerous worse students versus less numerous “top of the class”.

    The guys who came from Libya also good fighting spirit and good hardware, which explains why for so many months the combined Tuareg force is treated very very gingerly. Strictly local problem is that it takes a very special kind of person to enjoy fighting in Sahara (or doing anything over there). Air superiority means little against a force on pickup trucks that move INDIVIDUALLY and converge to attack their targets. In Sahara, 500-1000 such trucks are enough to make an empire.

    • annie on January 19, 2013, 10:06 pm

      So now we have a war between two sides trained by Americans — more numerous worse students versus less numerous “top of the class”.

      oh my piotr. i have not been following this conflict.

      • ToivoS on January 20, 2013, 5:46 am

        Nor have most of us. Just another case of blow back from US military intervention. This is a result of Hillary Clinton’s policy of extending “humanitarian” war into the “liberation” of Libya.

        I think maybe Obama has just wised up a bit and this might be why he abandoned Susan Rice who was also responsible for this failed policy.

      • piotr on January 20, 2013, 12:45 pm

        There is a theme here which is common with our actions in Afghanistan. The effectiveness of an outside force is limited at best, it is essential to have domestic forces to handle domestic problems.

        I have a little comparison how Soviet Union was controlling Poland starting from 1944. However you judge desirability of that, they had a very good degree of control for more than 40 years. Now for the first 3 years there was a significant problem with guerillas and initially there were also substancial repressions performed by the Soviet troops.

        However, right from the start the bulk of security task was performed by forces made of Poles with some, but not that many, Soviet officers who knew Polish. Overall, these forces were reliable, and fairly soon Soviet troops were restricted to some military bases, like American troops in Germany.

        I suspect two aspects were crucial. One is that there was a positive ideology with some positive results. One can object that in the long run the command economy cannot work, and right from the start Poland would be better under free market and Marshall plan, but there was enough of positive results to cement loyalties of a fairly large minority. The second aspect is the cultural barrier, which is 100 times smaller in Polish-Russian relations than in the case of American operating in Iraq, Afghanistan or Mali.

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