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Name the six countries the U.S. is bombing in the Middle East

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Last weekend at the J Street conference, Ilan Goldenberg, a former high official in President Obama’s foreign policy brain trust, took issue with an Israeli diplomat‘s assertion that the United States was withdrawing from the Middle East and engaging more in East Asia, in part because of energy independence. Goldenberg said:

I’m not sure the U.S. is moving out of the Middle East quite the way Alon [Pinkas] described it. President Obama pulled us back pretty significantly to sort of more of a normal place, to where we were before we went into Iraq. The reality is that even he got drawn in again after ISIS popped up on the scene, and after we over-withdrew from the Middle East. We’re still dropping bombs as we were at the end of the Obama administration in six countries in the Middle East. As much as we don’t rely on oil, the world economy still relies on oil, it’s one international market, and the United States forces still underwrite the basic security of the the sea lanes that send that oil and trade out of the Middle East and also connect Europe and Asia overall.

So I do see a move away to a more balanced position, but I don’t see us pulling out completely of the region in the way that people have described it. I just see us as correcting from what had been an over-investment after Iraq.

I asked Goldenberg what the six countries are. He answered, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

Goldenberg also quipped that the Iran Deal is the “Obamacare of foreign policy.” Donald Trump might want to rip it up, but he can’t, too much is now dependent on it. “If it dies it will die more of neglect and lack of trust than anyone walking away from it.”

Goldenberg works at the Center for a New American Security, the 10-year-old thinktank that is the heart of liberal interventionist Democratic foreign policy, and might be said to represent the deep state, having worked at Senate Foreign Relations, the Pentagon, and the State Department. Goldenberg worked hard for the Iran deal, though he has also endorsed a harder line on Iran than Obama took. He was for supporting the Syrian rebels. He has promoted security arrangements that he says could underpin a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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28 Responses

  1. Theo on March 1, 2017, 11:01 am

    Goldberg forgot a country or two, to Pakistan we send drohnes very regularly, hitting towns and killing thousands of civilians every year, or anyone sitting in Ramsfeld, Germany, at the controls, can see who is a civilian, a woman or a child?

    • JLewisDickerson on March 2, 2017, 8:46 am

      Technically, I suppose, Pakistan would more likely be considered part of Asia (or the Far East) rather than the “Middle East”.

      • Rashers2 on March 2, 2017, 9:38 am

        “Technically”, JLD, so might Afghanistan. Both countries are now usually lumped together as parts of “South Asia” (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan), although a map might suggest “Central Asia” more appropriate. The USA’s activities in Pakistan are linked with those in Afghanistan and in the M-E so Theo has a point irrespective of geographical designations.

      • Rashers2 on March 2, 2017, 10:57 am

        Apols. to my Nepalese friends – I omitted Nepal, Bhutan & the Maldives when listing S. Asia’s constituents.

      • Theo on March 2, 2017, 12:12 pm

        Since all this countries are “served” from the same place in Germany, I purposefully included Pakistan to the group. Somalia is also not in the ME, however receives the same treatment, thanks to the group of new liberals in Washington, mostly jewish, who without asking the nation decided 20 years ago to change governments in seven nations.

      • RoHa on March 3, 2017, 7:19 am

        The terminology has changed in my lifetime. There used to be a geographic classification of Near East (Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Arabian Peninsula, maybe Iran), Middle East (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indian sub-continent countries, maybe Tibet and Myanmar), and Far East (the rest up to the Pacific, but not South of Indonesia.)

        In current British ethnic terminology, “Asian” refers to people of sub-continent ancestry. In Australia it refers to people of Far Eastern ancestry.

      • JLewisDickerson on March 4, 2017, 2:17 am

        RE: “The terminology has changed in my lifetime. There used to be a geographic classification of Near East (Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Arabian Peninsula, maybe Iran), Middle East (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indian sub-continent countries, maybe Tibet and Myanmar), and Far East (the rest up to the Pacific, but not South of Indonesia.)” ~ RoHa

        MY REPLY: Thanks, quite interesting. I had entirely forgotten about the “Near East”. By the way, I always enjoy your commentaries at I just wish there were more of them!

        “Israel: Neither Democratic or Jewish”
        by Ran HaCohen, March 03, 2017
        LINK –

      • JLewisDickerson on March 4, 2017, 2:58 am

        “Was Elliott Abrams Hitler’s Senior Advisor?” ~ by Ran HaCohen,, 9/16/11

        [EXCERPTS] Probably not: Abrams was born 2.5 years after Hitler died. But then again, who knows. . .

        . . . The Jewish-American lawyer and policy analyst who served in foreign policy positions under Reagan and George W. Bush, currently a senior fellow at the CFR, cannot claim innocence nor ignorance. He knows the Middle East better than many others. So when he says the Palestinian State “would be the first to officially prohibit Jews or any other faith since Nazi Germany, which sought a country that was judenrein, or cleansed of Jews,” Abrams knows what he is doing. And what he is doing is much dirtier than the manipulative title I gave this column.

        Abram’s malicious demagoguery was triggered by the words of Palestinian ambassador to the US Maen Erekat, quoted saying that “after the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated.” That’s what Erekat said; he didn’t say no Jews would be allowed into Palestine; he didn’t say all Jews would be butchered and their corpses sliced and pickled; he didn’t say all Jews would be annihilated or gassed. He just said it would be in the interest of the two peoples to be separated…

        . . . Abrams is reported to have met several times with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington

        Now you may wonder: how can that be true? How can Abrams, who finds a moderate call for separation between Palestinians and Israelis a despicable anti-Semitic manifesto unprecedented since Nazi Germany, how can this idealistic person meet several times an official representative of a state that officially prohibits Jews from entering its borders, where even Jewish-American soldiers (stationed there to defend the backward — but US-friendly — dictatorship) have to hide their identity and carry false “Protestant ID cards” for a rainy day?

        Well, you’ll have to ask Abrams about that. While you are at it, do ask him if he didn’t happen to be Hitler’s close advisor after all. You never know.


      • JLewisDickerson on March 4, 2017, 3:31 am

        RE: “Abrams. . . The Jewish-American lawyer” ~ Ran HaCohen

        MY COMMENT: OMG, I had no idea Elliott Abrams was an attorney in addition to being a genocidal a-hole! That is truly icing on the cake !
        But, surely he was disbarred for having lied to Congress. At least, I pray to God he was disbarred and is no longer a lawyer!
        Obviously, unlike the Trump Administration, the CFR has absolutely no minimum standards.

      • Keith on March 4, 2017, 11:14 am

        JLEWISDICKERSON- “OMG, I had no idea Elliott Abrams was an attorney….”

        Just like Slick Willy, Horrible Hillary and “kill list” Barack. Birds of a feather. Sorry, JL, but it needed to be said.

      • Mooser on March 4, 2017, 5:10 pm

        “Just like…”

        Stephen Cohen, and Jeff Sessions.

      • RoHa on March 5, 2017, 4:43 am

        “By the way, I always enjoy your commentaries at I just wish there were more of them!”

        I’d like to oblige, but I think Ran HaCohen and I are completely different people. I haven’t checked, though.

      • Mooser on March 5, 2017, 11:33 am

        .” I haven’t checked, though.”

        When you do check, use his new column, as there hasn’t been one for a while.

      • Keith on March 5, 2017, 2:46 pm

        MOOSER- “Stephen Cohen, and Jeff Sessions.”

        Jeff Sessions? Perhaps. Stephen Cohen? No way, Jose! JLD was lamenting that Elliott Abrams was an attorney (Harvard). I pointed out that the Clintons and Obama were also Ivy League lawyers (Yale and Harvard). I think a case can be made that Ivy League lawyers (particularly Harvard and Yale) should be banned from holding federal government office. Ivy League Wall Street lawyers and the CIA go way back. Sessions got his law degree from the University of Alabama. He may be bad but he is not part of the cabal. Stephen Cohen is Ivy League, but not law. As for tenuous CFR commonality, the CFR does have some legitimate scholars like Cohen on board.

    • CigarGod on March 2, 2017, 11:29 am

      Ok, thats 6 out of 200 countries we are overtly bombing.
      I wonder how many we are covertly bombing.
      Where are we standing at the side of those we train…as they press the button?

  2. HarryLaw on March 1, 2017, 11:29 am

    The US will not walk away from the region [as Jimmy Carter said “Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force”]. Condoleezza Rice warned of the ‘arc of resistance’ made up of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon [Hezbollah] and wanted to back the Sunni regimes [Saudi Arabia and other GCC states] hence the support for Syrian regime change in 2007 Seymour Hersh wrote an article detailing how the George Bush administration wanted the Middle East to look like “The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda”. Of course Islamic state is a step too far for the US, although maybe not for Saudi Arabia or Qatar who continue to clandestinely fund them. Because of the massive arms sales and other economic interests the GCC have with the US, also their willingness to align with Israel in confronting Iran, it is easy to see which side [in the short term the US will back] in my opinion these Monarchies are on the wrong side of history and when the Iraqis and Syrians smash Islamic state with the help of Russia, a new Middle East will appear. One not to the liking of either Israel, Saudi Arabia or the US.

    • Citizen on March 1, 2017, 4:18 pm

      Add to this that Iranian militia are fighting ISIS in Iraq. Egypt is fighting ISIS by fighting ISIS in Syria, thus helping Assad (like Iran & Hezbollah are). McCain tried to get US government to stop aid to Egypt, but failed–Israel supported continuing US aid to Egypt. US military aid to Israel & Egypt account for 75% of all US military aid. Trump wants to cut foreign aid to help pay for more funds to the US military. I don’t know which countries he plans to take the hit, which get a pass. Probably neither Israel or Egypt will take a hit–don’t look for US main media to tell you; but alternative media will.

    • Citizen on March 1, 2017, 4:34 pm

      Yes it is. Thanks for sharing. Watching the show, I think the only person in the room who felt anything but cheap sentiment was the recent war widow. Watching the Kushners watching her speak to her dead husband “in heaven” & try to hold back her tears and clap too, was horrifying.
      (It was also disgusting to watch the GOP cheerleaders, and the Democrat rock faces, plus the two women jeering thumbs down, was equally disgusting.

    • JLewisDickerson on March 2, 2017, 10:00 am

      One of GG’s very best! ! !

  3. Keith on March 1, 2017, 7:03 pm

    PHIL- “…and might be said to represent the deep state….”

    Might be said? J Street, like AIPAC, is a staunch supporter of empire. Both are filled with representatives of the deep state such as Ilan Goldenberg.

  4. peacenotapartheid on March 1, 2017, 9:12 pm

    Is there a reason he includes Somalia in the Middle East?

  5. JWalters on March 1, 2017, 10:06 pm

    Back in the 1940’s America’s Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense warned that U.S. support for the establishment of Israel would lead to a religious war, and this religious war could blow back at the U.S. for decades. They were exactly correct.

    Today every American citizen who boards a commercial plane in the U.S., even when flying to another city in the U.S., endures a security checkpoint hassle directly due to Israel’s religious war. Israel has brought its war onto American soil. It’s another part of America’s price for supporting the new “Jewish Caliphate”.

    In 1791 Thomas Paine wrote, “That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true.” Applied to today, for readers who haven’t seen it, a succinct history is in “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”.

  6. iResistDe4iAm on March 2, 2017, 7:22 am

    USA bombs 6 Muslim countries in 1 day (2016)

    USA bombed 7 Muslim countries in 2016

    USA bombed rebel-controlled territory in Yemen, after supporting Saudi-led war for months

    USA summarily executed 1,147 people (inc women & children) WITHOUT charge or trial in Pakistan & Yemen (as at 2014)

    Mali was the 8th country (as at 2013) where Muslims are killed by the west

    Syria was the 14th Muslim country that the USA has invaded, occupied or bombed since 1980

    Israel & USA dropped bombs on 8 Muslim countries in 2014

    USA dropped 23,144 bombs on Muslim countries in 2015

    USA dropped 26,171 bombs on Muslim countries in 2016

    War on Islam:
    NOW ▸ Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Syria, Yemen
    Covert ▸ Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan
    Next? ▸ Lebanon, Iran

  7. Elizabeth Block on March 2, 2017, 11:23 am

    Here’s an excerpt:
    About 10 days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon, and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” I said, “Well, you’re too busy.” He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?” He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.” So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military, and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”

    So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the secretary of defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”

  8. rosross on March 2, 2017, 5:32 pm

    Sitting safely in a bunker, thousands of miles away from the people you are shredding with your drone bombs, so-called legitimate targets, although never found guilty in a court of law, and alongside innocent civilians, will debase mind and culture more effectively than anything else.

    The US has sown the seeds of its own rot from within and there was fertile soil to begin with.

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