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US Plays Shell Game with Russia

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Russia-US: Following Russia's inclusion into the World Trade Organization, US Secretary of State Clinton said the US should now normalize trade relations with Russia so that American businesses can benefit from trade with one of the world's leading economies.

The sanctions have origins in a 1974 law known as Jackson-Vanik and are waived each year.

Comment: This is another American shell game - there is no pea -- because the sanctions have been waived. The Russians presumably are supposed to be grateful for receiving nothing of value from the US. That is what is known as a bluff.

Meanwhile, Russian President Putin announced last week at an Asian-Pacific summit in Vladivostok, that Russia has tilted East, meaning the Moscow government intends to place more focus on trade and investment in Pacific Rim countries, which presumably would include Mexico and all of the Pacific countries of Central and South America.

Iran: The Iranian rial fell to an all-time low 9 September, trading at roughly 24,000 rials to the US dollar, exchange traders said. The official exchange rate is fixed at 12,260 rials to the dollar.

The government is threatening to seize control of the money market.

Comment: Every commentator judged the collapse of the rial is an economic disaster for Iran, but no one judged it would spark a political movement to overthrow the government, which is the ultimate purpose of economic warfare.

NightWatch learned in studying more than 60 government overthrows that social and economic grievance are necessary but are never sufficient causes for a government overthrow, as long as the guns remain loyal. Economic hardship, by itself, will lead to political action. That is one of the lessons of analysis from the past 65 years of US intelligence.

The Western hope is that collective punishment through economic hardship will be so severe that the government will halt the nuclear program or be overthrown. Economic warfare works on many levels but not against a leadership that thrives on suffering, as do the Shiites of Iran. Hardship reinforces their conviction of their righteousness and their determination that they are on the right path, even if the people are suffering.

Iraq: Attacks occurred in at least 30 cities in every part of Iraq today. A total of 107 people died and 484 were injured.

Comment: Attacks occurred in nearly every major town, regardless of sect or ethnicity. This is the worst single day of violence in at least five years.

Most commentaries have linked the surge in violence to the conviction and death sentence given by an Iraqi criminal court to Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni Muslim on the run for the past year.

It is premature to blame the violence on Sunni militants, but if they prove to be the principle agents of violence, then Iraq must be considered to be returning to sectarian civil war.

Syria: Comment: A doctor from Doctors Without Borders returned from Aleppo after spending two weeks in Aleppo provided context and contrast about Western news reporting on the Syrian fighting. This is an anecdotal report but by a credible source.

Dr. Beres said foreign Islamists intent on turning Syria into an autocratic theocracy have swollen the ranks of rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Asad and think they are waging a "holy war."

Beres returned from Syria on Friday evening after spending two weeks working clandestinely in a hospital in the besieged northern Syrian city.

In an interview in Paris on Saturday, the 71-year-old said that contrary to his previous visits to Homs and Idlib earlier this year about 60 percent of those he had treated in Aleppo this time had been rebel fighters and that at least half of them had been non-Syrian.

"It's really something strange to see. They are directly saying that they aren't interested in Bashar al-Asad's fall, but are thinking about how to take power afterwards and set up an Islamic state with sharia law to become part of the world Emirate," the doctor said.

The foreign jihadists included young Frenchmen who said they were inspired by Mohammed Merah, a self-styled Islamist militant from Toulouse, who killed seven people in March in the name of al-Qaida.

Comment: The implications of this testimony, by a doctor who was working with the Syrian rebels, is the uprising is not Syrian; is not interested in democracy or anyone's rights and wants to use Syria as the base for a terrorist emirate. The Western countries are helping create the terrorist base they say they are fighting, based on the testimony of Dr. Beres.

The NightWatch contention for the past two years is that US and Western policymakers are way over their heads in Syria and in the Arab Spring countries of the Middle East in general. Dr. Beres' testimony tends to reinforce that position. Western intelligence services still do not know who is fighting the Syrian forces. They continue to support positions that clearly are against long term Western interests.

In any event, several respectable analytical commentaries this week concluded that the lightly armed opposition stands no chance against Syrian forces for an indeterminate future. The opposition act precisely like autonomous and competing criminal gangs… after 18 months of Western support.

End of NightWatch ###

NightWatch is brought to readers of Townhall Finance by Kforce Government Solutions, Inc. (KGS), a leader in government problem-solving, Data Confidence® and intelligence. Views and opinions expressed in NightWatch are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of KGS, its management, or affiliates.


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