News from the World of Stupid

First item — right-wing news outlets are worked up into a tizzy over a link between Iran and the 9/11 attacks. The usual suspects — Breitbart, Gateway Pundit, Townhall, RedState, Washington Free Beacon, Jihad Watch, etc.  — are running screaming headlines about it with photos of the burning towers. I’m not linking to most of these bozos because it just encourages them.

What is this link between Iran and 9/11? If you carefully pick through the thickets of overheated verbiage, it turns out that some politician stated that Iranian authorities had allowed the 9/11 perps to change planes in an Iranian airport without stamping their passports. Whether these Iranian authorities had any idea of what the perps were planning, the articles do not say. I rather doubt it, though. A couple of the articles say that Iran often didn’t stamp Saudi passports in those days if people were just passing through, for complicated reasons that don’t involve the U.S.

This is from the Washington Free Beacon:

Mohammad-Javad Larijani, an international affairs assistant in the Iran’s judiciary, disclosed in Farsi-language remarks broadcast on Iran’s state-controlled television that Iranian intelligence officials secretly helped provide the al Qaeda attackers with passage and gave them refuge in the Islamic Republic, according to an English translation published by Al Arabiya.

“Our government agreed not to stamp the passports of some of them because they were on transit flights for two hours, and they were resuming their flights without having their passports stamped. However their movements were under the complete supervision of the Iranian intelligence,” Larijani was quoted as saying.

The remarks represent the first time senior Iranian officials have publicly admitted to aiding al Qaeda and playing a direct role in facilitating the 9/11 attacks.

Several of the articles tell us triumphantly that this detail confirms something in the 9/11 Commission report. And, indeed, it does. I looked it up. The 9/11 Commission expressed the opinion that al Qaeda operatives from Saudi Arabia, including the 9/11 perps, routinely traveled to and from Afghanistan through Iran to avoid getting their passports stamped. Mohammad-Javad Larijani was just saying “yeah, but we were keeping tabs on them.” This is hardly an admission that Iran played a direct role in the 9/11 attack.

The 9/11 Commission report also states, “We have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack. At the time of their travel through Iran, the al Qaeda operatives themselves were probably not aware of the specific details of their future operation.” In other words, if Iran was guilty of “facilitating” the 9/11 attacks, so were the U.S. airlines who sold the perps their tickets. They “facilitated” the attack, but they weren’t in on it.

Try as I might, I can’t work myself into a state of alarm over this. Or even mild concern, at this point. It’s not even really news. Watch the Creatures from the Fever Swamps try to use it to whip the Right into a foaming-at-the-mouth determination to invade Iran, however.

Item #2: Donald at the G6 plus 1 meeting in Quebec. Where do I start? Reading between the lines of this Politico article, one gets the impression that the G6 leaders spent most of their time yesterday trying to explain to the plus 1, Trump, what a “trade deficit” is.

During the private gathering, Europe’s major economic powers pushed back hard against Trump’s repeated assertions that the U.S. is a victim of unfair trade practices.

“We should at least consider no tariffs, no barriers — scrapping all of it,” Trump said, according to officials who were listening and taking notes.

Trump floated the idea — which was received as somewhat rhetorical — as the meeting was breaking up and was quickly challenged by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who asked, “What about subsidies?”

The other G7 leaders — from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, as well as the presidents of the European Commission and European Council — have been trying to impress upon Trump the complexity of trade issues, insisting that his oft-repeated complaint about the trade imbalance between the U.S. and allies on many manufactured goods is only part of the picture. …

… The leaders came armed with an array of their own statistics aimed at demonstrating to Trump that he was not right to view the U.S. as a victim. Macron, in particular, implored Trump to understand that tariffs alone were not a cause of trade imbalances. He explained that France runs trade deficits with Germany and the United Kingdom on manufactured goods, even though all three countries are part of the EU single market and have zero tariffs between them.

“Why is this happening?” Macron asked, according to an official. “Because French like German cars.”

To everyone’s relief, Trump is leaving early. There are indications that the participants will skip the traditional joint statement at the end of the meeting rather than ask Trump to sign anything. See also Trump hits the world stage, Day 1: Come late, leave early, offend host, alienate allies.

Trump’s next stop is, of course, Singapore, where he is to meet with Kim Jong Un. Since Trump is totally unprepared for such a meeting and too stupid to realize it, the Singapore Summit promises to be a Cavalcade of Derp.

Related to all of this, I urge you to read “We’ve Got a Problem. A Big Problem.” by Josh Marshall at TPM. A snip:

Over the course of 16+ months, President Trump has acted consistently and with some success to destabilize and break up the western alliance (both its formal manifestation in NATO) but also its less formal dimensions in trade and other partnerships. He has also worked consistently on really every front to advance the interests of Russia.

Less obviously to many Americans, he’s been doing something similar in East Asia. The U.S. alliance with Japan and South Korea, which in recent years we’ve taken steps to extend to other states on the periphery of the East Asian landmass (which is basically to say, China) is not simply to protect against North Korea. It is to build a series of security relationships with countries on that periphery to act as a counterweight to the regional (perhaps world) great power, China. Allies in the region are closely watching President Trump’s apparent desire to remove U.S. troops from South Korea for that reason, among others.

The last twenty four hours of attacks on our closest allies capped by President Trump’s seemingly out of the blue demand to bring Russia back into the G-7 (making it again the G-8 which it was for most of the post-Cold War era until Russia was expelled over the annexation of Crimea) simply brings the matter into a newly sharp relief. If candidate Trump and President Putin had made a corrupt bargain which obligated President Trump to destabilize all U.S. security and trade alliances (especially NATO, which has been Russia’s primary strategic goal for 70 years) and advance the strategic interests of Russia, there’s really nothing more remotely realistic he could have done to accomplish that than what he has in fact done.

As Josh Marshall says, let that sink in.