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Who Is James Dobbins?



With little comment from conservative media, President Obama last week appointed James Dobbins as special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the high-profile job long occupied by the late Richard Holbrooke.

Dobbins is a prominent exponent of the idea that America can live with a nuclear Iran, as well as an opponent of the use of military force against Iran’s nuclear program under any conditions. Whatever the White House might be thinking, the appointment sent a signal to Iran that the military option is pure bluff.

“Obama’s AfPak envoy may embrace Iran” is the lead of today’s Asia Times Online under the byline of MK Bhadrakumar, a former Indian ambassador to Turkey. Writes Bhadrakumar:

The probability is that the United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry got around to reading the congressional testimony titled “Negotiating with Iran” given by Ambassador James Dobbins on the Hill on November 7, 2007, while deciding to name him as the new U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The appointment seems odd, the former Indian diplomat explains, because:

Dobbins has been an inveterate critic of Obama’s plan to reduce the US military footprint in Afghanistan. He voiced enthusiastic support for the counterinsurgency strategy [COIN] carried out by General David Petraeus and was sharply critical that the COIN was reduced to mere counterterrorist operation.

One wonders if the Republican establishment declined to object to Dobbins’ appointment because of his COIN credentials.

But there’s an explanation for Obama’s selection, Bhadrakumar adds:

Dobbins’ real credentials lie quite somewhere else than on the kinetic battlefield. Kerry made this clear while announcing the appointment. He said, “He [Dobbins] has deep and longstanding relationships in the region, … Jim will continue building on diplomatic efforts to bring the conflict to a peaceful conclusion, actively engaging with states in the region and the international community.”

Secretary Kerry was referring, evidently, to Dobbins’ “deep and longstanding relationship” with Iran.

As assistant secretary of state for European affairs and general troubleshooter in the George W. Bush administration, Dobbins proposed to jointly train the Afghan army with Iran. As he said in Congressional testimony in 2007:

Iranian participation, under American leadership, in a joint program of this sort would be a breathtaking departure after more than 20 years mutual hostility. It also represented a significant step beyond the quiet diplomatic cooperation we had achieved so far. Clearly, despite having been relegated by President Bush to the “axis of evil”, the Khatami government wanted to deepen its cooperation with Washington, and was prepared to do so in a most overt and public manner.

This was too much for the Bush administration, and Dobbins de-camped from the State Department for a senior job at the RAND Corporation.

There, he co-authored a 2011 monograph titled: “Coping with a Nuclearizing Iran.” In effect, the Dobbins report proposes a don’t ask, don’t tell approach to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Its summary states:

It is not inevitable that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons or even that it will gain the capacity to quickly produce them. U.S. and even Israeli analysts continually push their estimates for such an event further into the future. Nevertheless, absent a change in Iranian policy, it is reasonable to assume that, some time in the coming decade, Iran will acquire such a capability. Most recent scholarly studies have also focused on how to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Other, less voluminous writing looks at what to do after Iran becomes a nuclear power. What has so far been lacking is a policy framework for dealing with Iran before, after, and, indeed, during its crossing of the nuclear threshold. This monograph attempts to fill that gap by providing a midterm strategy for dealing with Iran that neither begins nor ends at the point at which Tehran acquires a nuclear weapon capability. It proposes an approach that neither acquiesces to a nuclear-armed Iran nor refuses to admit the possibility — indeed, the likelihood — of this occurring.

What this doublespeak actually means becomes clear in the body of the report:

The closer Iran moves toward testing and deploying nuclear weapons, the more negative the consequences for regional and global security. Uncertainty regarding Iran’s actual capacity — although itself a source of anxiety — would be less provocative than certainty about such a capacity. The region has lived with an unacknowledged Israeli nuclear arsenal since the late 1960s and could conceivably do the same with a similarly discreet Iranian capacity.

To equate Israel’s nuclear capability and Iran’s attempt to acquire a nuclear capability is monstrously wrong. We have already seen in the case of North Korea what a rogue nuclear power can do once it acquires nuclear weapons.

Dobbins has argued forcefully and frequently against the use of military force against Iran under any circumstances. In a Nov. 16, 2011, article for US News and World Report titled “An Attack Would Only Strengthen Iran’s Influence,” Dobbins wrote:

In the aftermath of an attack, Iran would likely move its program entirely into to clandestine or heavily protected sites. The global coalition the United States has built in opposition to the Iranian program would be seriously strained. Further international sanctions would be difficult, maybe impossible to achieve. Some nations could become more willing to assist the Iranian program, or at least less willing to police those who might.

Tehran will read this high-profile appointment as proof that the Obama administration never will use military force to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons — and that Washington will do nothing as long as Tehran maintains a policy of nuclear ambiguity. At best, the Obama administration has displayed incompetence in the extreme. At worst, it has given Iran a green light to become a nuclear power.

David P. Goldman is an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. His book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too) was published by Regnery Press in September 2011.


Trump’s Foreign Policy Reflects his Servitude to Deep State Global Oligarchs

Rahul D. Manchanda, Esq.



President Donald Trump was elected by the American people in order to pursue policies designed to strengthen and fortify America’s economy, position in the world, and to restore policies to protect and assist the American worker.

More specifically, Trump was elected to help protect and safeguard the American people.

But Trump’s inexperience with foreign policy threatens to undermine all of this, and undo all of the progress that he is making.

By placing into power Mike Pompeo as State Department chief, Gina Haspel as CIA Director, and John Bolton as National Security Advisor, Trump is moving the United States closer and closer to outright war, culminating in World War 3.

Obviously, China and Russia will never back down over their support of both Iran and Syria, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (“JCPOA”) Iran Nuclear deal shelved any hope or ambition of nuclear proliferation in that country, as well as opened up that nation to full transparency, inspections and monitoring by the international community, including by the USA.

And diplomacy and calmer heads have allowed North Korea to also come to the negotiating table, in the last few weeks to try and place their nuclear arsenal into the dustbin of history.

But the track records of the above 3 individuals show that they have no interest in diplomacy or cooperative foreign policy, but rather they have focused on bullying, browbeating, chest thumping, fiery rhetoric and provocative actions which will only bolster and fortify China and Russia’s burgeoning military and economic relationship (they were strategic competitors/ enemies before the Neo-Conservatives pushed them together with their misguided foreign policy objectives, support of clandestine terrorism, ISIS, and other catastrophic decisions by the Neo-Con foreign policy establishment, led by men like John Bolton, Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney, Bill Kristol and others).

This has also further pushed the Eurasian nations further into the orbit and influence of Russia and China, while fleeing the West.

The fact remains that the United States can become “great again” when it comes to domestic policy, even with such internationally consequential acts such as tariffs, but it can never become the pre-eminent international power that it used to be, even 10 years ago.

China and Russia have completely altered the global landscape both militarily and economically, and will not budge or yield one inch in either, without a major military confrontation where everyone in the world would die.

America needs to accept this reality, have some humility, cooperate with other powerful nations, and stop trying to revert back to the unipolar world order of yesterday, briefly enjoyed for a few years after the fall of the Soviet Union.

It’s ok to “Make America Great Again,” but it is both short sighted and fool hardy to try and make the world “American” again, without first accepting that the entire world and its people would be obliterated in the process.

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Major Topics to Consider to Determine the Direction the 2018 Mid-Term Elections



The 2018 mid–term elections, since Donald Trump won the November 2016 election against Hillary Clinton, is a significant test for the incumbent administration. Make no mistake, while Mr. Trump’s political and policy rhetoric has not ingratiated him with a majority of the American electorate, the battle for the House, Senate, and state governor’s races will not be a cake walk for either Democrats or Republicans when voters decide that first Tuesday in November. With the 2020 Presidential elections on the horizon, too, the chances for one group to take a popular lead will be hard to predict given the missteps this president and the two parties have incurred. Yet voters can assess the elections by exploring certain factors that help influence their decision making.

It is too early to tell the outcome of the November mid-terms. Though according to the latest polling figures regarding job approval ratings, nearly 63% of Americans disapprove of the President’s job performance, meaning it can influence the respective party vote. This rating has much to do with Mr. Trump’s fashion of presidential leadership. Therefore,US Leadership will be the first of three areasexamined when deciding who wins or who loses in the upcoming elections. Can presidential leadership translate to who wins? Does a person being a president in earnest, that Trump is not, make the argument that leadership is an important influencer and that the image of U.S. leadership, now, is weaker worldwide than it was under Barack Obama and George W. Bush, according to Gallup. As Presidents come and go every four or eight years, they represent American integrity and power throughout their administrations. While past presidents are more discreet in their approaches to allies and adversaries, it should be noted that Mr. Trump’s tact is more public than discretionary. The US President’s approach to his office is reflected by his personality and policies that may, if not already, have negative implications for the US as a global leader.

For instance, voters should ponder Europe’s reactions to what the American President calls “Making America Great Again” and “America First?” This point of view signifies a blatant change in American directionfrom previous administrations. European capitalstoo are public when it comes to highlighting their confidence level in the US; this confidence factor has taken a hit as exemplified with the recent UN vote against moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. There, 128 countries voted “NO” in the resolution condemning the United States. With American diplomacy being devalued, along with his lack of understanding on policy matters, Mr. Trump’s temperament does not bolster the definition of what we are used to regarding presidential or leadership quality.While the US still remains a power both financially and militarily, Trump’s decisions and actions have hurt the country dropping it to 8th place on U.S. News and World Report’s annual “Best Countries” list. Due to President Trump’s unpopularity and countries viewing the U.S. as less trustworthy and more politically unstable, the argument that we can overcome these anomalies is now being challenged by the likes of China, while placing the country behind Sweden and Australia, to name a few.Though a portion of the Republican base will vote Republican come “hell or high water”, all the problems emanating from the President’s office should influence most voters in deciding whether the party of Trump is worth the bother.

It is believed that the problems America faces is about attitude rather than instant action and Donald Trump prefers to tell world than work behind the scenes, or at least that’s what it seems like. What is worrisome are our allies’ thoughts that the President lacks a sense of history, political and global understanding of US policies impact on many countries…certainly not a good start to developing close ties with Asian and European allies.

In the end the outcome to how America will change under this president will be tested via the ballot box wherepresidential leadership will be questioned. The need to deal with trade, terror, and international relationships in the wake of President Trump’s approach dealing with people can possibly hinder both domestic and international agendas. With Russian meddling at the top of the controversy list, with China’s becoming more engaged in trade, foreign policy and the like, and with European leaders looking to maneuver out from the American umbrella that President Trump advocated, there seems to be a change in direction that in the long-term hurts the country’s respect and image and leadership capacities. The mid-terms will either signify a pleasure or displeasure of the Trump agenda and administration’s prestige that only Mr. Trump can rectify which possibly equates to a win for the Republican majority in both House and Senate this November.

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Why America’s major news-media must change their thinking

Eric Zuesse



America’s ‘news’-media possess the mentality that characterizes a dictatorship, not a democracy. This will be documented in the linked-to empirical data which will be subsequently discussed. But, first, here is what will be documented by those data, and which will make sense of these data:

In a democracy, the public perceive their country to be improving, in accord with that nation’s values and priorities. Consequently, they trust their government, and especially they approve of the job-performance of their nation’s leader. In a dictatorship, they don’t. In a dictatorship, the government doesn’t really represent them, at all. It represents the rulers, typically a national oligarchy, an aristocracy of the richest 0.1% or even of only the richest 0.01%. No matter how much the government ‘represents’ the public in law (or “on paper”), it’s not representing them in reality; and, so, the public don’t trust their government, and the public’s job-rating of their national leader, the head-of-state, is poor, perhaps even more disapproval than approval. So, whereas in a democracy, the public widely approve of both the government and the head-of-state; in a dictatorship, they don’t.

In a dictatorship, the ‘news’-media hide reality from the public, in order to serve the government — not the public. But the quality of government that the regime delivers to its public cannot be hidden as the lies continually pile up, and as the promises remain unfulfilled, and as the public find that despite all of the rosy promises, things are no better than before, or are even becoming worse. Trust in such a government falls, no matter how much the government lies and its media hide the fact that it has been lying. Though a ‘democratic’ election might not retain in power the same leaders, it retains in power the same regime (be it the richest 0.1%, or the richest 0.01%, or The Party, or whatever the dictatorship happens to be). That’s because it’s a dictatorship: it represents the same elite of power-holding insiders, no matter what. It does not represent the public. That elite — whatever it is — is referred to as the “Deep State,” and the same Deep State can control more than one country, in which case there is an empire, which nominally is headed by the head-of-state of its leading country (this used to be called an “Emperor”), but which actually consists of an alliance between the aristocracies within all these countries; and, sometimes, the nominal leading country is actually being led, in its foreign policies, by wealthier aristocrats in the supposedly vassal nations. But no empire can be a democracy, because the residents in no country want to be governed by any foreign power: the public, in every land, want their nation to be free — they want democracy, no dictatorship at all, especially no dictatorship from abroad.

In order for the elite to change, a revolution is required, even if it’s only to a different elite, instead of to a democracy. So, if there is no revolution, then certainly it’s the same dictatorship as before. The elite has changed (and this happens at least as often as generations change), but the dictatorship has not. And in order to change from a dictatorship to a democracy, a revolution also is required, but it will have to be a revolution that totally removes from power the elite (and all their agents) who had been ruling. If this elite had been the nation’s billionaires and its centi-millionaires who had also been billionaire-class donors to political campaigns (such as has been proven to be the case in the United States), then those people, who until the revolution had been behind the scenes producing the bad government, need to be dispossessed of their assets, because their assets were being used as their weapons against the public, and those weapons need (if there is to be a democracy) to be transferred to the public as represented by the new and authentically democratic government. If instead the elite had been a party, then all of those individuals need to be banned from every sort of political activity in the future. But, in either case, there will need to be a new constitution, and a consequent new body of laws, because the old order (the dictatorship) no longer reigns — it’s no longer in force after a revolution. That’s what “revolution” means. It doesn’t necessarily mean “democratic,” but sometimes it does produce a democracy where there wasn’t one before.

The idea that every revolution is democratic is ridiculous, though it’s often assumed in ‘news’-reports. In fact, coups (which the U.S. Government specializes in like no other) often are a revolution that replaces a democracy by a dictatorship (such as the U.S. Government did to Ukraine in 2014, for example, and most famously before that, did to Iran in 1953). (Any country that perpetrates a coup anywhere is a dictatorship over the residents there, just the same as is the case when any invasion and occupation of a country are perpetrated upon a country. The imposed stooges are stooges, just the same. No country that imposes coups and/or invasions/occupations upon any government that has not posed an existential threat against the residents of that perpetrating country, supports democracy; to the exact contrary, that country unjustifiably imposes dictatorships; it spreads its own dictatorship, which is of the imperialistic type, and any government that spreads its dictatorship is evil and needs to be replaced — revolution is certainly justified there.)

This is how to identify which countries are democracies, and which ones are not: In a democracy, the public are served by the government, and thus are experiencing improvement in their lives and consequently approve of the job-performance of their head-of-state, and they trust the government. But in a dictatorship, none of these things is true.

In 2014, a Japanese international marketing-research firm polled citizens in each of ten countries asking whether they approve or disapprove of the job-performance of their nation’s head-of-state, and Harvard then provided an English-translated version online for a few years, then eliminated that translation from its website; but, fortunately, the translation had been web-archived and so is permanent here (with no information however regarding methodology or sampling); and it shows the following percentages who approved of the job-performance of their President or other head-of-state in each of the given countries, at that time:

  • China (Xi) 90%
  • Russia (Putin) 87%
  • India (Modi) 86%
  • South Africa (Zuma) 70%
  • Germany (Merkel) 67%
  • Brazil (Roussef) 63%
  • U.S. (Obama) 62%
  • Japan (Abe) 60%
  • UK (Cameron) 55%
  • France (Hollande) 48%

In January 2018, the global PR firm Edelman came out with the latest in their annual series of scientifically polled surveys in more than two dozen countries throughout the world, tapping into, actually, some of the major criteria within each nation indicating whether or not the given nation is more toward the dictatorship model, or more toward the democracy model. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer survey showed that “Trust in Government” (scored and ranked on page 39) is 44% in Russia, and is only 33% in the United States. Trust in Government is the highest in China: 84%. The U.S. and Russia are the nuclear super-powers; and the U.S. and China are the two economic super-powers; so, these are the world’s three leading powers; and, on that single measure of whether or not a country is democratic, China is the global leader (#1 of 28), Russia is in the middle (#13 of 28), and U.S. ranks at the bottom of the three, and near the bottom of the entire lot (#21 of 28). (#28 of 28 is South Africa, which, thus — clearly in retrospect — had a failed revolution when it transitioned out of its apartheid dictatorship. That’s just a fact, which cannot reasonably be denied, given this extreme finding. Though the nation’s leader, Zuma, was, according to the 2014 Japanese study, widely approved by South Africans, his Government was overwhelmingly distrusted. This distrust indicates that the public don’t believe that the head-of-state actually represents the Government. If the head-of-state doesn’t represent the Government, the country cannot possibly be a democracy: the leader might represent the people, but the Government doesn’t.)

When the government is trusted but the head-of-state is not, or vice-versa, there cannot be a functioning democracy. In other words: if either the head-of-state, or the Government, is widely distrusted, there’s a dictatorship at that time, and the only real question regarding it, is: What type of dictatorship is this?

These figures — the numbers reported here — contradict the ordinary propaganda; and, so, Edelman’s trust-barometer on each nation’s ‘news’-media (which are scored and ranked on page 40) might also be considered, because the natural question now is whether unreliable news-media might have caused this counter-intuitive (in Western countries) rank-order. However, a major reason why this media-trust-question is actually of only dubious relevance to whether or not the given nation is a democracy, is that to assume that it is, presumes that trust in the government can be that easily manipulated — it actually can’t. Media and PR can’t do that; they can’t achieve it. Here is a widespread misconception: Trust in government results not from the media but from a government’s having fulfilled its promises, and from the public’s experiencing and seeing all around themselves that they clearly have been fulfilled; and lying ‘news’-media can’t cover-up that reality, which is constantly and directly being experienced by the public.

However, even if trust in the ‘news’-media isn’t really such a thing as might be commonly hypothesized regarding trust in the government, here are those Edelman findings regarding the media, for whatever they’re worth regarding the question of democracy-versus-dictatorship: Trust in Media is the highest, #1, in China, 71%; and is 42% in #15 U.S.; and is 35% in #20 Russia. (A July 2017 Marist poll however found that only 30% of Americans trust the media. That’s a stunning 12% lower than the Edelman survey found.) In other words: Chinese people experience that what they encounter in their news-media becomes borne-out in retrospect as having been true, but only half of that percentage of Russians experience this; and U.S. scores nearer to Russia than to China on this matter. (Interestingly, Turkey, which scores #7 on trust-in-government, scores #28 on trust-in-media. Evidently, Turks find that their government delivers well on its promises, but that their ‘news’-media often deceive them. A contrast this extreme within the Edelman findings is unique. Turkey is a special case, regarding this.)

I have elsewhere reported regarding other key findings in that 2018 Edelman study.

According to all of these empirical findings, the United States is clearly not more of a democracy than it is a dictatorship. This particular finding from these studies has already been overwhelmingly (and even more so) confirmed in the world’s only in-depth empirical scientific study of whether or not a given country is or is not a “democracy”: This study (the classic Gilens and Page study) found, incontrovertibly, that the U.S. is a dictatorship — specifically an aristocracy, otherwise commonly called an “oligarchy,” and that it’s specifically a dictatorship by the richest, against the public.

Consequently, whenever the U.S. Government argues that it intends to “spread democracy” (such as it claims in regards to Syria, and to Ukraine), it is most-flagrantly lying — and any ‘news’-medium that reports such a claim without documenting (such as by linking to this article) its clear and already-proven falsehood (which is more fully documented here than has yet been done anywhere, since the Gilens and Page study is here being further proven by these international data), is no real ‘news’-medium at all, but is, instead, a propaganda-vehicle for the U.S. Government, a propaganda-arm of a dictatorship — a nation that has been overwhelmingly proven to be a dictatorship, not a democracy.

The American public seem to know this (though the ‘news’-media routinely deny it by using phrases such as ‘America’s democracy’ in the current tense, not merely as referrng to some past time): A scientifically designed Monmouth University poll of 803 American adults found — and reported on March 19th — that 74% believed either probably or definitely that “a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy” (commonly called the “Deep State”) actually exists in America.

The question as asked was: “The term Deep State refers to the possible existence of a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy. Do you think this type of Deep State in the federal government definitely exists, probably exists, probably does not exist, or definitely does not exist?” 27% said “Definitely”; 47% said “Probably”; only 16% said “Probably not”; and only 5% said “Definitely not.”

In effect, then: 74% think America is a dictatorship; only 21% think it’s not. So: this isn’t only fact; it’s also widespread belief. How, then, can the American Government claim that when it invades a country like Iraq (2003), or like Libya (2011), or like Syria (2012-), or like Ukraine (by coup in 2014), it’s hoping to ‘bring democracy’ there? Only by lying. Even the vast majority of the American public now know this.

So: America’s major ‘news’-media will have to change their thinking, to become at least as realistic as the American public already are. The con on that, has evidently run its course. It simply discredits those ‘news’-media.

first published at

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