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Sanctions against Russia

News Demonization of Putin Recommended Links British roots of US Rusoophobia Cold War II Perfidious Albion
Peak Cheap Energy and Temporary Oil Price Slump USA-Russia Gas War North Stream South Stream Zugzwang for Ukraine Russian Diplomacy
Fake News scare and US NeoMcCartyism False flag poisonings Skripal poisoning Litvinenko poisoning History of American False Flag Operations DNC and Podesta emails leak: blaming Vladimir Putin
Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Nulandgate Anti-Russian hysteria in connection with DNC leak Putin-did-it fiasco Russian Ukrainian Gas Wars The Rape of Russia
British poisoning false flags MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage Great Plunder of Russia after the dissolution of the USSR Obama: a yet another Neocon Professor Steven Cohen Putin stands up to US and G8 warmongers on Syria
Hillary role in Syria bloodbath Fifth Column of Neoliberal Globalization  Comprador vs. national bourgeoisie Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Diplomacy by deception Net hamsters
Neoliberal Compradors Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Khodorkovsky case Boris Berezovsky Magnitsky case Navalny's Saga
Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism In the Service of the Powerful Few The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment America and the Imperial Project Demonization of Putin Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Nemtsov assassination
Color revolutions The Rape of Russia, Testimony of Anne Williamson Before the House Banking Committee Russian Color Revolution of 2012 From EuroMaidan to EuroAnschluss Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17? Suppression of Russian language and culture in Ukraine
Miraculous metamorphosis of Russian crooks on crossing Western border Comprador vs. national bourgeoisie America and the Imperial Project Most important anti-Russian propaganda campaigns The Deep State Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"
Russian foreign policy Anatol Leiven on American Messianism Pussi Riot Provocation American Exceptionalism "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries Brain Drain
Soft propaganda The Real War on Reality Economics of Peak Energy Russophobic quotes from famous Russian Liberasts Humor Etc

Sanctions on false premises are unacceptable and need to be fought. But the question is how?  The larger story is the world neoliberal system. The USA is imperial power of the global neoliberal empire, so to speak. So it can dictate other players what to do, and often does. As long as neoliberalism is the social system that dominant on the globe.

IMHO Russia needs to be extremely careful with designing the countermeasures for the recent round of sanctions. The key idea of the new round of sanctions is to limit export capacity of Russia to EU and to provoke internal discontent due to sliding standard of living and create preconditions for a color revolution. Preventing that is the key countermeasure. So for example launching some new chemical plants that consume a lot of gas (producing fertilizers, or plastics, for example) makes perfect sense. You can sell chemicals instead of gas and probably can get additional profit because you do not need to transport gas several thousand miles West.

The standard countermeasure is import substitution but it will not work in many areas. For example in chips Russia is almost totally dependent on the West and China. I think they have only one or two own CPUs (Elbrus  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbrus_(computer)   ). All PCs and software are of Western origin (mainly China produced ). They also produce one mainframe-style open source CPUs (SPARC compatible), and several low end microprocessors.  That's almost it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Russian_microprocessors

Similarly complex equipment with geo steering necessary to increase output from the old oil fields is not produced in Russia (BTW this equipment dooms Trump idea of Mexican wall ;-).

So the key here is not to overreact and preserve cool head. May be just taking the blow and keep standing is the best policy. Otherwise, if as the result of overreaction the standard of living drops, Russia can slide into Venezuela-style situation, or, even worse -- provoke Brazilian-style the revolt of oligarchs (which will be happily financed by the West), or Argentinean style transition of power based of fake promises of neoliberal candidate. Sanctions tend to aggravate internal problems in Russian society and that is the calculation of the US congress. Now some Russian oligarch now will lose money. Sometimes serious money. As in neoliberal society "appetite comes with the meal" and "greed is good" Sechin's, and others loyalty to the state is not absolute.

As Russia is still a neoliberal country resistance to the global neoliberal empire (even decaying and with discredited ideology) is a very tough option. Especially open revolt against the dollar hegemony. That's the key advantage of the USA in this game: fifth column that benefits from neoliberal globalization if a serious force in any neoliberal country.

In any case, I think Russia should take considerable time to create viable countermeasures, which need to be highly asymmetrical: beneficial for Russian producers and still nor too harmful for the USA. Because the risk is to provoke the USA for another round of sanctions. May be selling some part of reserves kept in dollars also make sense, as a symbolic gesture. I do not know.

I would think some aggressive "liberalization" of arm export is one possible reaction. Iran would buy a lot of air-defense equipment, I think. If the USA do not allow to earn money in energy, Russia needs to find a decent substitute. And in some categories of weapons Russia can give the USA run for the money. See http://www.businessinsider.com/arms-sales-by-the-us-and-russia-2014-8

Unfortunately currently there is no alternative to neoliberalism. But cheap oil (by which I means oil below $100 per barrel) might not last another decade, so it makes sense to wait for the end of "chap oil age". which will be a knockdown for the USA. Becoming the boy for beating for the USA is not very attractive prospect. They need to coordinate the response with China, because other then via China they have almost no access to many technologies that originated in the West. West still holds tremendous technological superiority in many key areas.

While equalizing staff of the US and Russian embassies is not a bad reaction on Obama provocation, it is important to understand that countermeasures is what the US policymakers expect to start the spiral of tightening economic screws on Russia.

But in no way it is easy or may be even prudent for Russia to try to quickly switch from Western financial system to something else. And Russia track record does not inspire too much confidence. They were first hit in 2014. They have several years to introduce the domestic credit card and it looks like they did almost nothing. https://www.rbth.com/business/2015/04/02/visa_and_mastercard_join_russias_national_card_payment_system_44955.html

So the Chinese card is the only viable replacement for Mastercard/Visa in Russia https://www.rt.com/business/180696-china-russia-union-pay/

Similarly it would be cost-efficient to show US auditors like Price-Waterhouse-Cooper, KPMG, Deloitte, and like the door, but then what?
http://aaajournals.org/doi/10.2308/bria-10175?code=aaan-site


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[Jun 14, 2019] 'Make Russia Prostrate Again' Is the Only Thing US Democrats and Republicans Can Agree on

Jun 14, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

Despite the deep schism that separates America's deranged political duopoly, they do share a common foreign policy pet project, and that is to prevent Russia from ever shining again on the global stage in all fields of endeavor.

One of Donald Trump's main pledges on the 2016 campaign trail was to rekindle the dying embers of US-Russia relations, which had been undergoing a mini Ice Age under Barack Obama, his ballyhooed 'reset' notwithstanding. But before Trump was ever put to the test of romancing Russia, he was sidelined by one of the most malicious political stunts of the modern age.

It is only necessary to recall the 2016 Winter of Our Discontent when the Democratic leader sent 35 Russian diplomats and their families packing just before New Year's Eve in retaliation for Russia's alleged involvement in hacking the Democratic National Committee's computers. Before Trump ascended the throne, those unfounded claims lit the fuse on 'Russiagate,' the debacle which continues to undermine not just US-Russia relations, but the entire US political system.

Yet would things have turned out any differently between Washington and Moscow had the Democrats graciously accepted defeat in 2016 without feeling the need to blame remote Russia? I am not sure.

Today, observers reason that the US Republicans have no choice but to 'get tough' on Russia in an effort to dispel Democrat-generated rumors of excessive coziness with the Kremlin. Last year, for example, Trump bested Obama on the Russia front when he expelled 60 Russian diplomats in response to an alleged assassination attempt on former British spy, Sergey Skripal; an astonishing move on the part of the US conservative, but with so much riding on the line was it really a surprise?

And what was it exactly that was 'riding on the line'? Aside from good relations between the world's two premier nuclear powers, not to mention thwarting nuclear Armageddon as Prime Minister Theresa May very unwisely issued an ultimatum to Russia over the matter, there is the question of hundreds of billions of dollars of business contracts – from gas supplies to military hardware. Tycoon Trump would sooner win over European gas supplies than the plains of Central Asia, for example, the geopolitical lynchpin so dear to the hearts of US policymakers, like the late Zbigniew Brzezinski. This is where so many people misread Donald Trump: His heart and mind is devoted to the business deals, not the military steals. But that doesn't necessarily make his moves are any less dangerous.

From President Trump's perspective, Russia is a 500-pound cigar-chomping guy at the negotiating table with an ego and stature equal to his own that must be vanquished lest The Deal be lost and he – Donald J. Trump, CEO and Founder of The Trump Organization – look like a second-rate negotiator and fraud. Similar to the methods a belligerent globalist, Trump the inveterate businessman will do anything to achieve leverage in the pursuit of profit.

This is where Trump was only too happy to oblige the British with their extremely suspect Skripal story because vilifying the Russians, once again, would give the US an upper hand in stealing business away from Moscow, most notably in the realm of European gas supplies. Presently, the Trump administration is trying hard to halt progress on Nord Stream 2, an ambitious 11 billion euro ($12.4 billion) project to construct a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

Speaking from Kiev this week, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Washington, once again endorsing the spirit of free competition and enterprise, was preparing to introduce sanctions on foreign companies involved in the project.

But that's just the beginning.

To show how low the Americans would stoop to get a piece of this lucrative European market, which the Russian's have been dutifully supplying for many decades, they've gone for some dramatic rebranding , calling LNG supplies "freedom gas." You know, the byproduct of 'freedom fries.'

"Increasing export capacity from the Freeport LNG project is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America's allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy," said US Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes.

Dmitry Peskov, official spokesman of the Russian president, scoffed at such cynical attempts by Washington to strong-arm nations into accepting its preferred version of the 'free market.'

"Instead of fair competition they prefer to act like in Wild West times," Peskov told RT's Sophie Shevardnadze ahead of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). "They just show the gun and say that no, you guys here in Europe, you are going to buy our natural gas and we don't care that it is at least 30% more expensive than the gas coming from the Russians. This is the case."

Perhaps nowhere else is this effort to 'control the market' more evident than in the realm of military spending, and particularly among NATO states. Currently, European countries spend some $240 billion annually on military weapons and forces, while Russia spends just $66 billion each year. Yet for businessmen like Trump, that is not good enough. Employing the vacuous claim of an 'aggressive Russia,' Trump is passing around the proverbial hat, demanding that NATO members contribute an ever-higher amount of their GDP to military spending. At the same, the eastern border with Russia has become militarized like never before.

Here there is striking convergence on the part of the Democrats and Republicans when it comes to Russia. The Democrats under Barack Obama, accepting the baton passed to them by the Bush administration, dropped a US-made missile defense system in Romania, a stone's throw from the Russian border. Obama's assurances that the Russians would be allowed to participate in the project were casually forgotten. But the Russians, who know a thing or two about military strategy, did not forget. Last year, Vladimir Putin unveiled a number of daunting military breakthroughs, including hypersonic weapons, which the Russian leader explained were developed with the sole purpose of striking a strategic balance between the two nuclear superpowers. And if the world needs more of anything these days, it is certainly balance.

With such ploys in mind, it is easy to see why Moscow has little cause for celebration with either a Democrat or Republican in the White House. Both political parties have long viewed Russia not as a potential partner that could lend tremendous assistance in resolving some of the planet's most intractable problems, but rather as some Cold War foe that needs vilified and vanquished. Of course there is good reason for this decades-long duplicity. The double-pronged attack by the Democrats and Republicans allows Washington to continue to make strategic inroads against Russia, as well as China, while filling the corporate coffers at the same time. It is an age-old strategy – albeit a foolhardy one in an age of nuclear weapons – which is doomed to ultimate failure, if not disaster, if left unchecked. The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation. Tags: NATO Perry Russia Trump US

[Jun 03, 2019] MH17 attribution to Russia now looks like a classic false flag operation by Western intelligence services

Jun 03, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

I'd have to go with Zuesse's conclusion.

Have brought up Gabbard's sticking with the lies and false narratives regarding Russia and Ukraine, clearly one of her blind spots in her "antiwar" political campaign, that along with the massive and unrelenting war OF terror. That letter is a rather disgusting display of imperialist obfuscation by the duopoly political parties, fully supporting the lies about Maduro and what's happening in VS and in effect providing cover for future actions. You can't claim to be against military action while also lying about the reasons. Of course they can, that's how they prep the public for imperial advances. up 4 users have voted.


wendy davis on Sun, 06/02/2019 - 4:10pm

i'm not positive that

@Big Al

i totally endorse zuesse's theory, but oh my, he'd brought in a lot of moving parts at the time. paranoid conspiracy theory or 'coincidence theory', as some brilliant mofo used to ask. (i'l think of his name later.) the russian defense ministry's contentions are in conflict with zuesse's (buk missiles v. another jet with missiles), but i sure as hell know that the dutch report decision in advance was bullshit. i'd think that one would have to be willfully blind to accept it at face value, esp. if any of them like gabbard were on the defense and intel committees at the time. same with madurro's venezuela, to pretend that it's not mainly the egregious sanctions and blockades that are responsible for the estimated 40,000 citizens who've died for lack of medicines and food. and now their CLAP food delivery system is under attack...again.

i get that the intel they're fed is rubbish, but they all have the duty to look further than what lies they're spoon fed. CEPR has been incredibly valuable a resource for one, and it's pretty mainstream.

but he's right about one thing: yanukovitch was overthrown due to his refusal to sign the EU association memo, and when Imperialists speak of how 'russia stole crimea', or refuse to see why the separatists in the donbass formed their own independent nation-states, it's utter hypocrisy.

thanks for reading and commenting, big al.

oh, and do you know if tulsi's FP is still at her house.gov site? i looked at all her press releases that were dated after that offensive letter, but i'd found nothing new.

Big Al on Sun, 06/02/2019 - 4:55pm
Ya, I never got into it much.

@wendy davis I mean, there's the establishment/government narrative and there's the truth, that's about all I need to know. It's like that saying "trust, but verify". I say fuck that, "don't trust, and verify that".
I don't know about Gabbard's FP, she's done some housecleaning and avoided certain things since becoming the CFR's choice for 2024. Again, I've already done enough research, what, for over 3 years now?, to see what she's all about, something I failed to do in 2007/8 regarding Obama. Lo and behold, all the clues were there just waiting to be uncovered, but I wasn't in the same place as now.

Pluto's Republic on Sun, 06/02/2019 - 10:43pm
I believe the answer was best documented

@wendy davis

...by the Russians, who were not allowed to participate in the Dutch investigation. The information and data was presented to the Dutch and to the Western media in September 2018. Everything one could hope to see in physical evidence is here. There is additional evidence not in this article that adds to the details and forensics presented here.

https://www.rt.com/news/438596-mh17-downing-russian-briefing/

This information was not published in the West or in the Vassal State of Netherlands. The US possesses satellite photos of the incident. But it has classified those photos and refuses to release them.

As for means, motive and opportunity:

• MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, not over Russia.
• It was shot down with a missile owned by Ukraine, not by Russia.
• It had propaganda value for Ukraine and its CIA masters, none for
• The missile was fired from territory controlled by the neo nazi Kiev regime.

But the best evidence of what took place, as far as I'm concerned, is right here:

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, falling in the rebel-held part of the country. The crash claimed the lives of 283 passengers and 15 crew members, most of them Dutch nationals. Russia was blamed by Western media in the first days after the tragedy, even before any evidence had been collected on the ground.

wendy davis on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 8:57am
excellent,

@Pluto's Republic

and thank you. your memory is prodigious, and having the 2018 RT news is srsly helpful, as is your M,M, & O formula. blame first, then fail to allow russia (and malaysia) to be able to run investigations. good to know as well that the malaysian minister knew of the serial numbers and that ukraine owned the missiles.

eric zuesse had said that even dutch journalists were raising havoc with the JIT back in the day. but just think what this false blame resulting in mega-sanctions began, then onto the skripals, russia-gate in many guises, and tra la la.

mr. wd laughed this mornin' and said he wishes he had a choice to vote for sergei lavrov for prez; i second that!

dunno if the EU still wants a compact with ukraine, but NATO sure wants the neo-nazi nation as a member. ping: if i have the energy and time, i'll try to find in zuesse's tome admissions by snipers in 2014, as well.

Lookout on Sun, 06/02/2019 - 5:03pm
Tulsi's issue page....

...is here -
https://www.tulsigabbard.org/

Must admit I didn't hunt down her Ukraine position, but my personal take is Obummer and the CIA set out to foment problems and managed to get a fascists regime elected in order to oppose Russia. The new Ukrainian president may take things in a more pro-Russia direction?

wendy davis on Sun, 06/02/2019 - 6:01pm
ach; not at her house.gov

@Lookout

site, at her election site. well, check out Russia , for now. and i do thank you; i was lookin' in all the wrong places. ; )i'll check out more soon as i have time, but zounds: russia: crimea, the nation's interference in our election, wooof. of course jill stein raised boatloads of bucks for recounts in three states on the basis of russian interference, later 'foreign interference' against the wishes of the green party board and her own running mate, so...there's that, but it was just a dodge against trump winning, not hillary. sorry, tulsi.

wendy davis on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 9:09am
my apologies

@Lookout

for being in such a hurry i hadn't even registered your speculation about zelenskiy, but nah, he wants crimea and the donbass self-declared republics that Putin stole from him...back. he's being lauded and applauded for 'standing up to KGB Putin'. ; )

and the IMF's bailin' em out again so they have enough to pay their NATO dues and join the EU. (just saw that tryin' to remember how to sorta spell the comic's name.)

jim p on Sun, 06/02/2019 - 7:32pm
The pilot's body, iirc,

maybe it was passengers', was returned to Malaysia ... but in a sealed coffin, that even family members were refused to open.

At the time an OSCE member was the first to arrive at the crash site. Some 20 minutes after the downing. The photos taken by him, or so it was attributed, showed round holes (not shrapnel) shot in the pilot area. Sorry I don't have any links handy on either of these, but I'm pretty sure this is correct.

wendy davis on Sun, 06/02/2019 - 8:29pm
thank you;

@jim p

as i understand it, the hole size was not in contention. but weather it had been the pilot or a passenger: '...but in a sealed coffin, that even family members were refused to open.'

is that perhaps a malaysian custom? is the truth out there somewhere?

jim p on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 12:17pm
The family was furious

@wendy davis and the government protested. The holes in the photo were in the cockpit and looked perfectly round.

wendy davis on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 12:31pm
as pluto &

@jim p

eric zuesse remind us, the holes in the cockpit were likely from machine guns on the ukrainian fighter jet sent to make sure the ukie buk missiles had (omg) killed the plane, which if i'm getting it right (a big IF) was changing direction as it went down. my apologies for not getting all the moving parts and claims right on this thread.

but the 21st century wire shows charts and evidence that the flight crew was ordered to change course by the air traffic control tower (as per the later censored bbc plus recordings).

Pluto's Republic on Sun, 06/02/2019 - 11:20pm
Many believed that a Ukraine fighter jet

@jim p

...was involved in the downing of MH17, which was the opinion of many aviation experts and others, who found bullet holes in the cockpit, wings, and fuselage. This in addition to Buk damage.

Recordings were captured by multiple sources of a frightened and stressed Ukrainian pilot, who radioed, "I shot the wrong plane!" He sounded as if he was commanded to shoot down a military target plane and was misled into shooting a passenger jet. That pilot, named Voloshyn, later committed suicide.

The typical recollection of the incident is:

A fighter was also sent up to 'make sure' the target plane was shot down. If I remember rightly, the plane was hit, but was still flying and it began to turn back. If the plane story (which I tend to believe) is true, it's at that point that the fighter jet opened fire on the cockpit and wings.

That would also account for Buk damage to the Boeing, as well as fighter machine gun damage to the cockpit.

You can find many references to this incident along with transcripts of the conversation between the fighter pilot and the ground base.

wendy davis on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 8:54am
that theory

@Pluto's Republic

certainly covers all the bases, doesn't it? good on ya, again, upside-down pluto.

wendy davis on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 12:40pm
i never found zuesse's

video confessions from the snipers at maidan (i assume ukrainians firing on protestors in front of the trades union building that was eventually...burned to the ground.

but this?

"For instance, Moscow said a theory was never tested that the airliner could have been downed by a fighter jet spotted by Russian radar stations near flight MH17. The theory was later proven false by the discovery of debris from the Buk rocket.

Though Russia doesn't possess those black boxes ( which, by chance, were handed by the pro-Russian separatists to the Malaysian Government's representative, and yet that Government handed them to Netherland's Government instead of to Russia's -- apparently trusting Netherlands more than trusting Russia or even themselves), Russia does possess, and publicly reveals, evidence that's conclusive on its own; and it is 100% consistent with Haisenko's reconstruction of the event, regardless whether a Buk was involved or not."

one of his links went to ' MH17 Verdict: Real Evidence Points to US-Kiev Cover-up of Failed False Flag ' July 25, 2014 , 21stcenturywire.com

"As MH17 moved into Ukrainian air space, it was moved by ATC Kiev approximately 200 miles north – putting it on a new course, heading directly into a war zone, a well-known dangerous area by now – one that's hosted a number of downed military craft over the previous 3 weeks. Robert Mark, a commercial pilot and editor of Aviation International News Safety magazine, confirmed that most Malaysia Airlines flights from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur would normally travel along a route significantly further south than the route MH17 was diverted onto.

Data on all airline flight records can be found here. The BBC reported on July 17th: " Ukraine's SBU security service has confiscated recordings of conversations between Ukrainian air traffic control officers and the crew of the doomed airliner, a source in Kiev has told Interfax news agency."

a great (and lengthy) collaborative investigation by 21st century wire. thanks, obomba, thanks, tulsi, thanks Pierre and vickie nuland. and even the new guy can't control his neo-nazis. but then again, at least yulia tymoshenko didn't win.

but NATO will add them to the roster soon, which is one of the reasons that the atlantic council had recommended him: to root out poroshenko's oligarchs' corruption.

wendy davis on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 5:20pm
no date given, but:
wendy davis on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 5:13pm
i found it,

but i almost wish i hadn't it's sooooo long and full of twists and turns, news reports, videos, but in general the theme is that mikhail saakashvilli hired them, then stiffed them.

' The "Snipers' Massacre" in Kiev -- Another False Flag? ', January 13, 2015 , granvillepost.com, eric zuesse

you may remember him best john Mccains buddy: 'today we are all georgians'? like ahmed chalabi, he's the proverbial bad penny who keeps returning in whatever guise needed (after expulsions), and the big news this week is that zelenskiy's reinstated his ukrainian citizenship after promising to give up his former ambitions and work with the new prez.

good gawd all-friday.

[May 22, 2019] NATO has pushed eastward right up to its borders and threatened to incorporate regions that have been part of Russia's sphere of influence -- and its defense perimeter -- for centuries

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The Economist and Stephens are correct. The trade dispute is merely a small part of a much larger and even more intense geopolitical rivalry that could ignite what Stephens describes as "an altogether hotter war." ..."
"... From the mid-1940s onward, the primacy of the United States was assumed as a given. History had rendered a verdict: we -- not the Brits and certainly not the Germans, French, or Russians -- were number one, and, more importantly, were meant to be. That history's verdict might be subject to revision was literally unimaginable, especially to anyone making a living in or near Washington, D.C. ..."
"... Choose your own favorite post-Cold War paean to American power and privilege. Mine remains Madeleine Albright's justification for some now-forgotten episode of armed intervention, uttered 20 years ago when American wars were merely occasional (and therefore required some nominal justification) rather then perpetual (and therefore requiring no justification whatsoever). ..."
"... Like some idiot savant, Donald Trump understood this. He grasped that the establishment's formula for militarized global leadership applied to actually existing post-Cold War circumstances was spurring American decline. Certainly other observers, including contributors to this publication, had for years been making the same argument, but in the halls of power their dissent counted for nothing. ..."
"... Yet in 2016, Trump's critique of U.S. policy resonated with many ordinary Americans and formed the basis of his successful run for the presidency. Unfortunately, once Trump assumed office, that critique did not translate into anything even remotely approximating a coherent strategy. President Trump's half-baked formula for Making America Great Again -- building "the wall," provoking trade wars, and elevating Iran to the status of existential threat -- is, to put it mildly, flawed, if not altogether irrelevant. His own manifest incompetence and limited attention span don't help ..."
"... There is no countervailing force within the USA that is able to tame MIC appetites, which are constantly growing. In a sense the nation is taken hostage with no root for escape via internal political mechanisms (for all practical purposes I would consider neocons that dominate the USA foreign policy to be highly paid lobbyists of MIC.) ..."
"... In this sense the alliance of China, Iran, Russia and Turkey might serve as an external countervailing force which allows some level of return to sanity, like was the case when the USSR existed. ..."
"... I agree with Bacevich that the dissolution of the USSR corrupted the US elite to the extent that it became reckless and somewhat suicidal in seeking "Full Spectrum Dominance" (which is an illusive goal in any case taking into account existing arsenals in China and Russia and the growing distance between EU and the USA) ..."
May 21, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Great Power Game is On and China is Winning If America wants to maintain any influence in Asia, it needs to wake up. By Robert W. Merry • May 22, 2019

President Donald J. Trump participates in a bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, Thursday, November 9, 2017, in Beijing, People's Republic of China. ( Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead) From across the pond come two geopolitical analyses in two top-quality British publications that lay out in stark terms the looming struggle between the United States and China. It isn't just a trade war, says The Economist in a major cover package. "Trade is not the half of it," declares the magazine. "The United States and China are contesting every domain, from semiconductors to submarines and from blockbuster films to lunar exploration." The days when the two superpowers sought a win-win world are gone.

For its own cover, The Financial Times ' Philip Stephens produced a piece entitled, "Trade is just an opening shot in a wider US-China conflict." The subhead: "The current standoff is part of a struggle for global pre-eminence." Writes Stephens: "The trade narrative is now being subsumed into a much more alarming one. Economics has merged with geopolitics. China, you can hear on almost every corner in sight of the White House and Congress, is not just a dangerous economic competitor but a looming existential threat."

Stephens quotes from the so-called National Defense Strategy, entitled "Sharpening the American Military's Competitive Edge," released last year by President Donald Trump's Pentagon. In the South China Sea, for example, says the strategic paper, "China has mounted a rapid military modernization campaign designed to limit U.S. access to the region and provide China a freer hand there." The broader Chinese goal, warns the Pentagon, is "Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global pre-eminence in the future."

The Economist and Stephens are correct. The trade dispute is merely a small part of a much larger and even more intense geopolitical rivalry that could ignite what Stephens describes as "an altogether hotter war."

... ... ..

Russia: Of all the developments percolating in the world today, none is more ominous than the growing prospect of an anti-American alliance involving Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran. Yet such an alliance is in the works, largely as a result of America's inability to forge a foreign policy that recognizes the legitimate geopolitical interests of other nations. If the United States is to maintain its position in Asia, this trend must be reversed.

The key is Russia, largely by dint of its geopolitical position in the Eurasian heartland. If China's global rise is to be thwarted, it must be prevented from gaining dominance over Eurasia. Only Russia can do that. But Russia has no incentive to act because it feels threatened by the West. NATO has pushed eastward right up to its borders and threatened to incorporate regions that have been part of Russia's sphere of influence -- and its defense perimeter -- for centuries.

Given the trends that are plainly discernible in the Far East, the West must normalize relations with Russia. That means providing assurances that NATO expansion is over for good. It means the West recognizing that Georgia, Belarus, and, yes, Ukraine are within Russia's natural zone of influence. They will never be invited into NATO, and any solution to the Ukraine conundrum will have to accommodate Russian interests. Further, the West must get over Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula. It is a fait accompli -- and one that any other nation, including America, would have executed in similar circumstances.

Would Russian President Vladimir Putin spurn these overtures and maintain a posture of bellicosity toward the West? We can't be sure, but that certainly wouldn't be in his interest. And how will we ever know when it's never been tried? We now understand that allegations of Trump's campaign colluding with Russia were meritless, so it's time to determine the true nature and extent of Putin's strategic aims. That's impossible so long as America maintains its sanctions and general bellicosity.

NATO: Trump was right during the 2016 presidential campaign when he said that NATO was obsolete. He later dialed back on that, but any neutral observer can see that the circumstances that spawned NATO as an imperative of Western survival no longer exist. The Soviet Union is gone, and the 1.3 million Russian and client state troops it placed on Western Europe's doorstep are gone as well.

So what kind of threat could Russia pose to Europe and the West? The European Union's GDP is more than 12 times that of Russia's, while Russia's per capita GDP is only a fourth of Europe's. The Russian population is 144.5 million to Europe's 512 million. Does anyone seriously think that Russia poses a serious threat to Europe or that Europe needs the American big brother for survival, as in the immediate postwar years? Of course not. This is just a ruse for the maintenance of the status quo -- Europe as subservient to America, the Russian bear as menacing grizzly, America as protective slayer in the event of an attack.

This is all ridiculous. NATO shouldn't be abolished. It should be reconfigured for the realities of today. It should be European-led, not American-led. It should pay for its own defense entirely, whatever that might be (and Europe's calculation of that will inform us as to its true assessment of the Russian threat). America should be its primary ally, but not committed to intervene whenever a tiny European nation feels threatened. NATO's Article 5, committing all alliance nations to the defense of any other when attacked, should be scrapped in favor of language that calls for U.S. intervention only in the event of a true threat to Western Civilization itself.

And while a European-led NATO would find it difficult to pull back from its forward eastern positions after adding so many nations in the post-Cold War era, it should extend assurances to Russia that it has no intention of acting provocatively -- absent, of course, any Russian provocations.

... ... ...

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington journalist and publishing executive, is the author most recently of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century .

likbez, May 22, 2019

Great article. Thank you very much!

Pragmatic isolationalism is a better deal then the current neocon foreign policy. Which Trump is pursuing with the zeal similar to Obama (who continued all Bush II wars and started two new in Libya and Syria.) Probably this partially can be explained by his dependence of Adelson and pro-Israeli lobby.

But the problem is deeper then Trump: it is the power of MIC and American exeptionalism ( which can be viewed as a form of far right nationalism ) about which Andrew Bacevich have written a lot:

From the mid-1940s onward, the primacy of the United States was assumed as a given. History had rendered a verdict: we -- not the Brits and certainly not the Germans, French, or Russians -- were number one, and, more importantly, were meant to be. That history's verdict might be subject to revision was literally unimaginable, especially to anyone making a living in or near Washington, D.C.

If doubts remained on that score, the end of the Cold War removed them. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism, politicians, journalists, and policy intellectuals threw themselves headlong into a competition over who could explain best just how unprecedented, how complete, and how wondrous was the global preeminence of the United States.

Choose your own favorite post-Cold War paean to American power and privilege. Mine remains Madeleine Albright's justification for some now-forgotten episode of armed intervention, uttered 20 years ago when American wars were merely occasional (and therefore required some nominal justification) rather then perpetual (and therefore requiring no justification whatsoever).

"If we have to use force," Secretary of State Albright announced on morning television in February 1998, "it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future."

Back then, it was Albright's claim to American indispensability that stuck in my craw. Yet as a testimony to ruling class hubris, the assertion of indispensability pales in comparison to Albright's insistence that "we see further into the future."

In fact, from February 1998 down to the present, events have time and again caught Albright's "we" napping. The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the several unsuccessful wars of choice that followed offer prime examples. But so too did Washington's belated and inadequate recognition of the developments that actually endanger the wellbeing of 21st-century Americans, namely climate change, cyber threats, and the ongoing reallocation of global power prompted by the rise of China. Rather than seeing far into the future, American elites have struggled to discern what might happen next week. More often than not, they get even that wrong.

Like some idiot savant, Donald Trump understood this. He grasped that the establishment's formula for militarized global leadership applied to actually existing post-Cold War circumstances was spurring American decline. Certainly other observers, including contributors to this publication, had for years been making the same argument, but in the halls of power their dissent counted for nothing.

Yet in 2016, Trump's critique of U.S. policy resonated with many ordinary Americans and formed the basis of his successful run for the presidency. Unfortunately, once Trump assumed office, that critique did not translate into anything even remotely approximating a coherent strategy. President Trump's half-baked formula for Making America Great Again -- building "the wall," provoking trade wars, and elevating Iran to the status of existential threat -- is, to put it mildly, flawed, if not altogether irrelevant. His own manifest incompetence and limited attention span don't help.

There is no countervailing force within the USA that is able to tame MIC appetites, which are constantly growing. In a sense the nation is taken hostage with no root for escape via internal political mechanisms (for all practical purposes I would consider neocons that dominate the USA foreign policy to be highly paid lobbyists of MIC.)

In this sense the alliance of China, Iran, Russia and Turkey might serve as an external countervailing force which allows some level of return to sanity, like was the case when the USSR existed.

I agree with Bacevich that the dissolution of the USSR corrupted the US elite to the extent that it became reckless and somewhat suicidal in seeking "Full Spectrum Dominance" (which is an illusive goal in any case taking into account existing arsenals in China and Russia and the growing distance between EU and the USA)

[May 14, 2019] Putin Says Time To Restore Ties After Pompeo, Lavrov Spar On Election Meddling, Venezuela Iran

May 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed a broad number of security related issues in Sochi on Tuesday ranging from nuclear arms control to ratcheting US tensions with Iran to Venezuela to Ukraine. Importantly, the two top diplomats traded warnings against election meddling and interference in their respective countries -- though we might add that Lavrov's message was packed with more sarcasm following the Mueller report clearing Trump of "collusion".

In response to Pompeo's reportedly warning Russia to never interfere in what he described as America's "sacred" elections, specifically warning against any 2020 presidential election interference, Lavrov shot back with: "We can discuss this topic forever, but until we have cold hard facts on the table, we cannot have a grown-up discussion about it," according to Russia's RT .

Speaking to reporters afterward, Lavrov said proudly that he had handed Pompeo a "memorandum" on US interference in Russia but didn't reveal its precise contents, only saying, "we're prepared to talk on this topic."

Though both expressed hope for improved ties between Washington and Moscow, Reuters characterized it as a testy and impatient exchange :

Visiting Russia for the first time as secretary of state, Pompeo publicly clashed with Lavrov on issues from Ukraine to Venezuela. After their meeting, both men said they had been far apart on many issues .

"I made clear to Foreign Minister Lavrov... that interference in American elections is unacceptable. If the Russians were engaged in that in 2020 it would put our relationship in an even worse place than it has been ," he said.

"I'd encourage them not to do that. We would not tolerate that."

However, soon after the summit, Russian President Putin in public statements indicated his belief that "Trump is in the mood to restore ties with Russia."

He also indicated it's his own desire to "fully restore" Russia-US ties, according to the AP, and interestingly also praised the "quite objective" Mueller report in statements to reporters .

"As you know, just a few days ago, I had the pleasure of talking with the US president on the phone," Putin told Pompeo during the Tuesday summit in Sochi. "I got the impression that the [US] president was inclined to re-establish Russian-American relations and contacts to resolve together the issues that are of mutual interest to us."

Pompeo, for his part, appeared to say as much following the meeting, saying, "The United States stands ready to find common ground with Russia as long as the two of us can engage seriously on those issues."

Pompeo said further :

President Trump has made clear that his expectation is that we will have an improved relationship between our two countries. This will benefit each of our peoples. And I think that our talks here today were a good step in that direction.

However, Pompeo still went through a litany of disagreements he had with Russia, especially centering on multiple hot spots around the globe where the Trump administration has exercised a big stick approach.

At Lavrov-Pompeo presser, around 28:30, Lavrov says something significant: Russia recently offered to publish info from a US-Russia channel on cyberspace that he claims would address the allegations of Russian election meddling. He says the US declined: https://t.co/o4MbqQlwCy

-- Aaron Matι (@aaronjmate) May 14, 2019

* * *

Below is a brief run-down of key points to the two briefed reporters on afterwards.

Nuclear treaty

At the top of the agenda, Lavrov signaled Russia could be open to a new arms control treaty after the recent US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, countered by Russia suspending its obligations under the Reagan-era pact which crucially served to keep missile build-up out of Europe.

Pompeo stressed China had to be part of any future sweeping deal, also considering rapid advances in defense technology. Lavrov expressed hope that any future agreements will be "positively received by both nations."

The New START nuclear arms reduction treaty will expire in February of 2021, giving greater impetus for both sides to work through the current impasse.

No common ground on Venezuela

Predictably the Venezuela hawk Pompeo slammed Russia's "interfering" in the Latin American country's internal affairs, adding also to that list China, Cuba and Iran.

"Maduro has brought nothing but misery to the Venezuelan people," Pompeo stated. "We hope that Russian support for Maduro will end." Lavrov defended the right of Venezuelans to choose their own president and refused to recognize US-declared "Interim President" Juan Guaido.

"Democracy cannot be done by force," Lavrov told reporters. "The threats that we hear against the Maduro government, threats that come from the mouths of US officials this has nothing in common with democracy."

* * *

No desire for war with Iran

"We fundamentally do not see a war with Iran," Secretary of State Pompeo said, but added: "We've made it clear to the Iranians that if American interests are attacked, we will certainly respond in an appropriate fashion."

On Tuesday President Trump denied a prior New York Times report which alleged the White House was planning to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East should conflict erupt between Iran and the United States. The president called the report "fake news" but still added that should war actually break out he would send "a hell of a lot more," according to Reuters.

Lavrov stated that Russia hopes "reason will gain the upper hand," and added that Moscow opposed the US pullout of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), and further that Europe is right in attempting to stick to the deal.

Ukraine standoff

Pompeo informed Lavrov that the US hadn't budged in its position regarding Moscow's "illegal" annexation of the Crimea in 2014, saying economic sanctions would remain in place until Russia reverses course.

Following the Ukrainian election of comedian turned unlikely politician Volodymyr Zelensky, Pompeo said Russia should now "work with Ukraine's new president-elect to bring peace to eastern Ukraine," according to a paraphrase of Pompeo's words by Reuters, and further that Russian authorities should release Ukrainian sailors captured in last year's dangerous Kerch Strait incident .

[May 11, 2019] Leaked USA s Feb 2018 Plan For A Coup In Venezuela

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... It was comprehensive -- directing military, diplomatic, and propaganda, policies -- regarding the Trump Administration's planned "Overthrow" of Venezuela's Government. His plan has since guided the Administration's entire operation, including "the capacities of the psychological war," regarding Venezuela. ..."
"... Encouraging popular dissatisfaction by increasing scarcity and rise in price of the foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods for the inhabitants. Making more harrowing and painful the scarcities of the main basic merchandises." ... ..."
"... intensifying the undercapitalization of the country, the leaking out of foreign currency and the deterioration of its monetary base, bringing about the application of new inflationary measures." ... ..."
"... Fully obstruct imports, and at the same time discouraging potential foreign investors in order to make the situation more critical for the population." ... compelling him to fall into mistakes that generate greater distrust and rejection domestically" ... ..."
"... To besiege him, to ridicule him and to pose him as symbol of awkwardness and incompetence. To expose him as a puppet of Cuba." ... ..."
"... Structuring a plan to get the profuse desertion of the most qualified professionals from the country, in order 'to leave it with no professionals at all', which will aggravate even more the internal situation and along these lines putting the blame on of Government." ..."
May 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Leaked: USA's Feb 2018 Plan For A Coup In Venezuela

by Tyler Durden Sun, 05/05/2019 - 11:20 2 SHARES Authored by Eric Zuesse via Off-Guardian.org,

A detailed plan from "UNITED STATES SOUTHERN COMMAND" dated "23 FEBRUARY 2018" was issued with the title "PLAN TO OVERTHROW THE VENEZUELAN DICTATORSHIP 'MASTERSTROKE'" and is here presented complete.

This document was personally signed by Admiral Kurt W. Tidd , who was the Commander (the chief), at SOUTHCOM , and he was thus the top U.S. military official handling Venezuela. But this was far more than just a military plan.

It was comprehensive -- directing military, diplomatic, and propaganda, policies -- regarding the Trump Administration's planned "Overthrow" of Venezuela's Government. His plan has since guided the Administration's entire operation, including "the capacities of the psychological war," regarding Venezuela.

It instructed SOUTHCOM:

Encouraging popular dissatisfaction by increasing scarcity and rise in price of the foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods for the inhabitants. Making more harrowing and painful the scarcities of the main basic merchandises." ...

intensifying the undercapitalization of the country, the leaking out of foreign currency and the deterioration of its monetary base, bringing about the application of new inflationary measures." ...

Fully obstruct imports, and at the same time discouraging potential foreign investors in order to make the situation more critical for the population." ... compelling him to fall into mistakes that generate greater distrust and rejection domestically" ...

To besiege him, to ridicule him and to pose him as symbol of awkwardness and incompetence. To expose him as a puppet of Cuba." ...

Appealing to domestic allies as well as other people inserted from abroad in the national scenario in order to generate protests, riots and insecurity, plunders, thefts, assaults and highjacking of vessels as well as other means of transportation, with the intention of deserting this country in crisis through all borderlands and other possible ways, jeopardizing in such a way the National Security of neighboring frontier nations. Causing victims and holding the Government responsible for them. Magnifying, in front of the world, the humanitarian crisis in which the country has been submitted to."

Structuring a plan to get the profuse desertion of the most qualified professionals from the country, in order 'to leave it with no professionals at all', which will aggravate even more the internal situation and along these lines putting the blame on of Government."

the presence of combat units from the United States of America and the other named countries, under the command of a Joint General Staff led by the USA."

It was posted online at the Voltairenet site , and was first copied to a web archive on 14 May 2018 . So, it has been online since at least that date. However, because the photo in it of the document wasn't made available via software which includes the individual symbols, but presented only the full visual image of the paper document, it still hasn't yet gone viral on the Web.

Here, therefore, is the first appearance, on the Web, of the full document, that's manually copied, character-by-character, so that each phrase in this document becomes, for the first time, web-searchable, and thereby conveniently available for journalists and historians to quote from.

This prophetic document -- the source for what has happened afterward in and to Venezuela -- might therefore finally receive the public attention that it so clearly merits.

The document starts with propaganda against Venezuela's existing Government (and it totally ignores the extent to which the pre-existing U.S. economic sanctions against Venezuela had actually caused these problems ), and it then proceeds to present the U.S. plan to overthrow the 'dictatorship'. (Tidd refers to Maduro only as "the Dictator," except at the very start and very end.

At the end, he commands "the denouncement toward Maduro's regimen" and he also uses the phrase "the enemy" to refer to him -- as if there had been the U.S. Constitutionally required authorization, by the U.S. Congress, of this "war." The close urges "the dispatch of a UNO military force for the imposition of peace, once Nicolas Maduro's corrupt dictatorship is defeated." The U.N. is militarily to "impose" "peace," after the U.S. and its allies have conquered Venezuela.)

Although Tidd placed 100% of the blame for Venezuela's problems upon Maduro, and ignored the crucial extent to which U.S. economic sanctions had caused them, his plan emphasized that the U.S. must actively make things even worse for the Venezuelan public than America's economic sanctions had yet done.

His coup-plan is loaded with such statements, and, in fact, opens with one:

"Encouraging popular dissatisfaction by increasing scarcity and rise in price of the foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods for the inhabitants. Making more harrowing and painful the scarcities of the main basic merchandises."

So: he wasn't naive. America's induced suffering upon Venezuelans was part of his plan for Venezuelans, in order to get them to do what the U.S. regime wants them to do -- overthrow Maduro. Furthermore, the United States Government has had extensive successes in previous such operations. One example is that this was how Chile's Salvador Allende was brought down in 1973 (at a time when the U.S. Government's claims to have done it for 'national security' reasons had much more credibility than its current excuse of helping the Venezuelan people does, because the supposedly ideological Cold War was still on).

The only excuse that the perpetrators can come up with, this time around, is "to put an end to the Venezuelan nightmare and the awakening of theirs beloved nation at a luminous dawn, in which the vision of fortune, true peace and tranquility predominate for their fellow citizens."

Impoverish the nation, in order to help Venezuelans attain "true peace and tranquility." That's the plan.

Here is the document's entire text:

SOUTHCOM
TOP SECRET
23 FEB 2018

PLAN TO OVERTHROW THE VENEZUELAN DICTATORSHIP "MASTERSTROKE"

UNITED STATES SOUTHERN COMMAND 23 FEBRUARY 2018

TOP SECRET/20180223

CURRENT SITUATION

The Venezuelan Chavista dictatorship staggers as a result of its frequent internal problems; there is a great shortage of foodstuffs, an exhaustion of the sources of foreign currency and a rampant corruption. The international support, won with petrodollars, becomes scarcer each time and the purchasing power of its national currency is in a constant downfall.

Such scenario is not supposed to change, but the Venezuelan present-day leaders, as they usually do, in their despair to preserve their power, are capable to appeal to new populist measures that perpetuate their positions of privilege; the only mechanism that sustains them obstinate to the struggle to hold on their positions.

Maduro's corrupt regimen will collapse but regrettably, the divided opposing forces, legitimate defenders of democracy and the well-being of their people, do not have power enough to put an end to the Venezuelan nightmare and the awakening of theirs beloved nation at a luminous dawn, in which the vision of fortune, true peace and tranquility predominate for their fellow citizens.

The internal disputes, the supreme particular likings, the corruption similar to the one of their rivals, as well as the scarcity of rooting, do not grant them the opportunity to make the most of this situation and to give the necessary step to overturn the state of penury and precariousness in which the pressure group, that exercises the leftist dictatorship, has submerged the country. We are at the presence of an unprecedented criminal action in Latin America.

This affects the entire region, there is no respect to international right and local political alternatives are unacceptable.

Democracy spreads out in America, continent in which radical populism was intended to take over. Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil are examples of it. The rebirth of democracy has the support of the most valuable determinations, and the conditions in the regions run in its favour.

It is the time for the United States to prove, with concrete actions, that they are implicated in that process, where overthrowing Venezuelan dictatorship will surely mean a continental turning point.

It is the first opportunity of the Trump Administration to bring forward the vision in reference to security and democracy. Showing its active commitment is crucial, not only for the administration, but also for the continent and for the world.

The time has come to

Step to speed up the definite overthrow of Chavismo and the expulsion of its representative:

Undermining the decadent popular support to Government. Securing he the present-day dictator's irreversible deterioration Increasing the internal instability to a critical level. Using the army officers as an alternative of definite solution. Information Strategie

[signature]

K.W. TIDD

Admiral, USN

COMMANDER


WorkingClassMan , 9 minutes ago link

The US military learned their international terrorism activities from the best, the Mossad. This country is run (since at least Lincoln) by terrorists. Money stolen from us every year in the form of taxes used for ******** that destabilizes nations, destroys heritage and expands greater isn'treal.

All this and **** none of us even heard of yet...while our own borders remain wide open and our infrastructure crumbles.

Good use of money you ******* scum.

frankthecrank , 17 minutes ago link

It's fake. The military doesn't engage in such things, the spooks at the CIA do-along with the NSA. Just looking at that pic is humorous -- as if that's what they would title the document.

Gullible people.

fezline , 13 minutes ago link

Who is Gulible now??

https://documents.theblackvault.com/documents/jfk/northwoods.pdf

PeterLong , 9 minutes ago link

https://www.southcom.mil/Portals/7/Documents/Posture%20Statements/SOUTHCOM_2017_posture_statement_FINAL.pdf?ver=2017-04-06-105819-923

Joiningupthedots , 8 minutes ago link

The golden rule of finding yourself in a hole.......

STOP DIGGING!

gdpetti , 26 minutes ago link

BLah, blah, blah... in other words, the usual.... same as always... CIA's Crowley complained about these idiots after he retired... one example is the difference in Bush 1 and Bush Jr....

This plan is just the usual regime change script written about in many books... the only difference is how 'western' it is in targeting the mind of the masses... which only happens in 'democracies'.... real ones make you do that....

Wait till the puppets in DC really get frustrated... .and then see how frustrated their puppet masters get when their plans go awry as well... time is running out for both puppet and its master... Imagine being Putin and having to deal with these freaks.

mailll , 30 minutes ago link

I have a conspiracy theory. Since one of my theories is this: We want to gain control of Venezuela oil in order to secure oil imports coming into the US for when we attack Iran for the sake of Israel. The 22% of imports we get from the middle east, much of which comes from the Persian Gulf region, will be disrupted due to this war. And we would have a shortage here in the US along with skyrocketing oil prices. And we would surely bitch about it. But Venezuela oil will keep the oil coming into the US uninterrupted. And for those of you who believe we are energy independent, we are not. We use about 19 million barrels of oil per day, we produce about 12 million barrels per day, and we import about 6-7 million barrels of oil per day to help feed our craving for oil.

But to add to this conspiracy theory, I believe the window of opportunity is closing and the Zionists have to act quickly. So they will just say, OK, lets take Venezuela with our military and see how the world responds. We will never know until we try, so let's do it. And if it was a bad idea, don't worry boys, we are untouchable. We got away with it in Iraq, so let's do it again. Venezuela today, Iran tomorrow, and Israel always. They pay very well.

But this is just a conspiracy theory of mine, perhaps even a foolish one.

[May 05, 2019] The US is going to sanction itself into obscurity

As soon as nations learn to avoid dollar transactions that will dramatically weaken the USA neoliberal empire. Bulling using technology transfer prohibitions is not effective as Germany and Japan are now fully recovered from WWII destruction and post immediate threat to the USA technological hegemony.
May 05, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Joe Tedesky , April 29, 2019 at 22:01

We the people needn't worry about our vote for president in as much as we the people should investigate the people who surround our president's. Trump has been overtaken from his campaigns foreign policy rhetoric by the same cabal of those who have captured the other previous presidents from they're living up to their promises, whether by choice or by compromise. I wish that a presidential campaign requirement were that each presidential candidate would divulge the cabinet choices they would make as secretary's of our national agencies. I wish for a lot of things that never will happen but still it would be nice to know such substantial appointments as opposed to knowing about their personality disorders wish are always disclosed for further review and constant discussion.

I've said it before that the US is going to sanction itself into obscurity. These sanctioned nations are many and still growing if you include our allies. It's all sticks and no carrots. When it all collapses the collapse may be blamed on US arrogance and profit.

[May 05, 2019] James Petras

Notable quotes:
"... US global power is built on several significant facts. These include: the US victory in World War II, its subsequent advanced economy and dominant military position throughout five continents. ..."
"... The US advanced its dominance through a series of alliances in Europe via NATO; Asia via its hegemonic relationship with Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Taiwan as well as Australia and New Zealand in Oceana; Latin America via traditional client regimes; Africa via neo-colonial rulers imposed following independence. ..."
"... The most significant advance of US global power took place with the demise and disintegration of the USSR, the client states in Eastern Europe, as well as the transformation of China and Indo-China to capitalism during the 1980's. ..."
Apr 29, 2019 | www.unz.com

Introduction

US global power in the Trump period reflects the continuities and changes which are unfolding rapidly and deeply throughout the world and which are affecting the position of Washington.

Assessing the dynamics of US global power is a complex problem which requires examining multiple dimensions.

We will proceed by:

Conceptualizing the principles which dictate empire building, specifically the power bases and the dynamic changes in relations and structures which shape the present and future position of the US. Identifying the spheres of influence and power and their growth and decline. Examining the regions of conflict and contestation. The major and secondary rivalries. The stable and shifting relations between existing and rising power centers. The internal dynamics shaping the relative strength of competing centers of global power. The instability of the regimes and states seeking to retain and expand global power.

Conceptualization of Global Power

US global power is built on several significant facts. These include: the US victory in World War II, its subsequent advanced economy and dominant military position throughout five continents.

The US advanced its dominance through a series of alliances in Europe via NATO; Asia via its hegemonic relationship with Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Taiwan as well as Australia and New Zealand in Oceana; Latin America via traditional client regimes; Africa via neo-colonial rulers imposed following independence.

US global power was built around encircling the USSR and China, undermining their economies and defeating their allies militarily via regional wars.

Post WWII global economic and military superiority created subordinated allies and established US global power, but it created the bases for gradual shifts in relations of dominance.

US global power was formidable but subject to economic and military changes over time and in space.

US Spheres of Power: Then and Now

US global power exploited opportunities but also suffered military setbacks early on, particularly in Korea, Indo-China and Cuba. The US spheres of power were clearly in place in Western Europe and Latin America but was contested in Eastern Europe and Asia.

The most significant advance of US global power took place with the demise and disintegration of the USSR, the client states in Eastern Europe, as well as the transformation of China and Indo-China to capitalism during the 1980's.

US ideologues declared the coming of a unipolar empire free of restraints and challenges to its global and regional power. The US turned to conquering peripheral adversaries. Washington destroyed Yugoslavia and then Iraq – fragmenting them into mini-states. Wall Street promoted a multitude of multi-national corporations to invade China and Indo-China who reaped billions of profits exploiting cheap labor.

The believers of the enduring rule of US global power envisioned a century of US imperial rule.

In reality this was a short-sighted vision of a brief interlude.

The End of Unipolarity: New Rivalries and Global and Regional Centers of Power: An Overview

US global power led Washington into 'overreach', in several crucial areas: it launched a series of costly prolonged wars, specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan, which had three negative consequences: the destruction of the Iraq armed forces and economy led to the rise of the Islamic State which overtook most of the country; the occupation in Afghanistan which led to the emergence of the Taliban and an ongoing twenty year war which cost hundreds of billions of dollars and several thousand wounded and dead US soldiers; as a result the majority of the US public turned negative toward wars and empire building

The US pillage and dominance of Russia ended, when President Putin replaced Yeltsin's vassal state. Russia rebuilt its industry, science, technology and military power. Russia's population recovered its living standards.

With Russian independence and advanced military weaponry, the US lost its unipolar military power. Nevertheless, Washington financed a coup which virtually annexed two thirds of the Ukraine. The US incorporated the fragmented Yugoslavian 'statelets' into NATO. Russia countered by annexing the Crimea and secured a mini-state adjacent Georgia.

China converted the economic invasion of US multi-national corporations into learning experiences for building its national economy and export platforms which contributed which led to its becoming an economic competitor and rival to the US.

US global empire building suffered important setbacks in Latin America resulting

from the the so-called Washington Consensus. The imposition of neo-liberal policies privatized and plundered their economies, impoverished the working and middle class, and provoked a series of popular uprising and the rise of radical social movements and center-left governments.

The US empire lost spheres of influence in some regions (China, Russia, Latin America, Middle East) though it retained influence among elites in contested regions and even launched new imperial wars in contested terrain. Most notably the US attacked independent regimes in Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Sudan via armed proxies.

The change from a unipolar to a multi polar world and the gradual emergence of regional rivals led US global strategists to rethink their strategy. The Trump regime's aggressive policies set the stage for political division within the regime and among allies.

The Obama – Trump Convergence and Differences on Empire Building

By the second decade of the 21 st century several new global power alignments emerged: China had become the main economic competitor for world power and Russia was the major military challenger to US military supremacy at the regional level. The US replaced the former European colonial empire in Africa. Washington's sphere of influence extended especially in North and Sub Sahara Africa: Kenya, Libya, Somalia and Ethiopia. Trump gained leverage in the Middle East namely in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Jordan.

Israel retained its peculiar role, converting the US as its sphere of influence.

But the US faced regional rivals for sphere of influence in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Algeria.

In South Asia US faced competition for spheres of influence from China, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Latin America sharp and abrupt shifts in spheres of influence were the norm. US influence declined between 2000 – 2015 and recovered from 2015 to the present.

Imperial Power Alignments Under President Trump

President Trump faced complex global, regional and local political and economic challenges.

Trump followed and deepened many of the policies launched by the Obama- Hillary Clinton policies with regard to other countries and regions . However Trump also radicalized and/or reversed policies of his predecessors. He combined flattery and aggression at the same time.

At no time did Trump recognize the limits of US global power. Like the previous three presidents he persisted in the belief that the transitory period of a unipolar global empire could be re-imposed.

Toward Russia, a global competitor, Trump adopted a policy of 'rollback'. Trump imposed economic sanctions, with the strategic 'hope' that by impoverishing Russia, degrading its financial and industrial sectors that he could force a regime change which would convert Moscow into a vassal state.

At the beginning of his Presidential campaign Trump flirted with the notion of a business accommodation with Putin. However, Trump's ultra-belligerent appointments and domestic opposition soon turned him toward a highly militarized strategy, rejecting military – including nuclear – agreements, in favor of military escalation.

Toward China, Trump faced a dynamic and advancing technological competitor. Trump resorted to a 'trade war' that went far beyond 'trade' to encompass a war against Beijing's economic structure and social relations. The Trump regime-imposed sanctions and threatened a total boycott of Chinese exports.

ORDER IT NOW

Trump and his economic team demanded China privatize and denationalize its entire state backed industry. They demanded the power to unilaterally decide when violations of US rules occurred and to be able to re-introduce sanctions without consultations. Trump demanded all Chinese technological agreements, economic sectors and innovations were subject and open to US business interests. In other words, Trump demanded the end of Chinese sovereignty and the reversal of the structural base for its global power. The US was not interested in mere 'trade' – it wanted a return to imperial rule over a colonized China.

The Trump regime rejected negotiations and recognition of a shared power relation: it viewed its global rivals as potential clients.

Inevitably the Trump regime's strategy would never reach any enduring agreements on any substantial issues under negotiations. China has a successful strategy for global power built on a 6 trillion-dollar world-wide Road and Belt (R and B) development policy, which links 60 countries and several regions. R and B is building seaports, rail and air systems linking industries financed by development banks.

In contrast, the US banks exploits industry, speculates and operates within closed financial circuits. The US spends trillions on wars, coups, sanctions and other parasitical activities which have nothing to do with economic competitiveness.

The Trump regime's 'allies' in the Middle East namely Saudi Arabia and Israel, are parasitic allies who buy protection and provoke costly wars.

Europe complains about China's increase in industrial exports and overlook imports of consumer goods. Yet the EU plans to resist Trump's sanctions which lead to a blind alley of stagnation!

Conclusion

The most recent period of the peak of US global power, the decade between 1989-99 contained the seeds of its decline and the current resort to trade wars, sanctions and nuclear threats.

The structure of US global power changed over the past seven decades. The US global empire building began with the US command over the rebuilding of Western European economies and the displacement of England, France, Portugal and Belgium from Asia and Africa.

The Empire spread and penetrated South America via US multi-national corporations. However, US empire building was not a linear process as witness its unsuccessful confrontation with national liberation movements in Korea, Indo China, Southern Africa (Angola, Congo, etc.) and the Caribbean (Cuba). By the early 1960's the US had displaced its European rivals and successfully incorporated them as subordinate allies.

Washington's main rivals for spheres of influence was Communist China and the USSR with their allies among client state and overseas revolutionaries.

The US empire builders' successes led to the transformation of their Communist and nationalist rivals into emergent capitalist competitors.

In a word US dominance led to the construction of capitalist rivals, especially China and Russia.

Subsequently, following US military defeats and prolonged wars, regional powers proliferated in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Regional blocs competed with US clients for power.

The diversification of power centers led to new and costly wars. Washington lost exclusive control of markets, resources and alliances. Competition reduced the spheres of US power.

In the face of these constraints on US global power the Trump regime envisioned a strategy to recover US dominance – ignoring the limited capacity and structure of US political , economic and class relations.

China absorbed US technology and went on to create new advances without following each previous stage.

Russia's recovered from its losses and sanctions and secured alternative trade relations to counter the new challenges to the US global empire. Trump's regime launched a 'permanent trade war' without stable allies. Moreover, he failed to undermine China's global infrastructure network; Europe demanded and secured autonomy to enter into trade deals with China, Iran and Russia.

Trump has pressured many regional powers who have ignored his threats.

The US still remains a global power. But unlike the past, the US lacks the industrial base to 'make America strong'. Industry is subordinated to finance; technological innovations are not linked to skilled labor to increase productivity.

Trump relies on sanctions and they have failed to undermine regional influentials. Sanctions may temporarily reduce access to US markets' but we have observed that new trade partners take their place.

Trump has gained client regimes in Latin America, but the gains are precarious and subject to reversal.

Under the Trump regime, big business and bankers have increased prices in the stock market and even the rate of growth of the GDP, but he confronts severe domestic political instability, and high levels of turmoil among the branches of government. In pursuit of loyalty over competence, Trump's appointments have led to the ascendancy of cabinet officials who seek to wield unilateral power which the US no longer possesses.

Elliot Abrams can massacre a quarter-million Central Americans with impunity, but he has failed to impose US power over Venezuela and Cuba. Pompeo can threaten North Kore, Iran and China but these countries fortify alliances with US rivals and competitors. Bolton can advance the interests of Israel but their conversations take place in a telephone booth – it lacks resonance with any major powers.

Trump has won a presidential election, he has secured concessions from some countries but he has alienated regional and diplomatic allies. Trump claims he is making America strong, but he has undermined lucrative strategic multi-lateral trade agreements.

US 'Global Power' does not prosper with bully-tactics. Projections of power alone, have failed – they require recognition of realistic economic limitations and the losses from regional wars.

alexander , says: May 5, 2019 at 1:41 pm GMT

This is a fine synopsis but it leaves out the most fundamental of issues.

The American People don't want to be an Empire, .never asked to be an Empire and despise, to the core, our ruling elites who defrauded us into becoming one.

We do live in an Empire now, to our chagrin, but it is (in truth) a malevolent empire .an Empire of Fraud, Belligerence .. and Heinous
F#cking Debt .

Show me one American, anywhere, who is happy about it .

Our ruling elites have "lied" us into multiple wars of "never ending" criminal aggression ..wars which have all but exterminated the solvency of the nation and reaped untold carnage and misery on tens of millions of people who never attacked us (and never intended to).

This "War Fraud", foisted upon us , has been a catastrophic disaster for our country and the world.

A "mind -bending, catastrophic, . disaster".

Every single belligerent "oligarch" , "plutocrat" and "establishment elite", who conspired to defraud us into these "illegal wars", should be rounded up and thrown in federal prison Every single penny of their assets should be seized to pay down the cost of wars they lied us into.

This is , hands down, the most meaningful step we could take, as a nation.

Not only would it change the direction of the world, almost overnight, but it would lay the groundwork for the United States to rebuild itself.

Once we make "Accountability for War Fraud" our nations highest priority, we can repair and rebuild.

If we don't, we won't and(tragically) might never be able to.

[May 03, 2019] Sanctions are just a tool in preparation for the war

May 03, 2019 | www.unz.com

Randy , says: May 3, 2019 at 9:32 pm GMT

@Digital Samizdat

Sanctions are the foreign policy equivalent of obstruction of justice traps. Sanctions are initiated in the hope the sanctioned country then commits some actionable trepidation, a Casus belli. They say the first casualty of war is the truth but that casualty comes way before war starts and continues long after war ends.

[May 03, 2019] Trump lost anti-war right. Forever.

Notable quotes:
"... Trump *escalated* US-Iran and US-Venezuela conflicts and intensified the sabre rattling towards both countries, according to all analysts. For the first time a POTUS openly said direct US invasion to Venezuela "is on the table" and his Adelson bought appointment for USNSA Bolton publicly showed in a notebook the writing "5000 troops to Colombia" openly suggesting a direct invasion was imminent. For the first time the White House asked the Pentagon to draw up options for military strikes against Iran. ..."
"... Trump's administration declared a whole branch of the Iran armed forces (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation. This is an escalation and according to most analysts, considered an act of war. ..."
"... Trump administration heavily increased sanctions to Iran, Russia and Venezuela and in the latter case even instigated a failed uprising and coup d'etat, going as far as to declare a virtual political Venezuelan nobody the "official" president of the country, which is in itself unbelievable and has no historic precedent. Another act of war actually. ..."
"... Trump administration also escalated the tensions with China, ordered the arrest and de facto kidnapping of Chinese corporate executives and openly used the US legal apparatus to attack and hinder a foreign corporation. ..."
"... Trump has been, objectively, the most neocon Israel-firster POTUS in US history. ..."
"... Friendly reminder that voting for Republicans and expecting US Jewish lobby/Corporate America promoted policies such as open borders and US imperialist interventions to stop is moronic beyond belief. Republicans are the most pro corporate pro US Jewish lobby of the two parties by far. At least there is talk and critique about how the Israel Lobby owns the USG in the Dem party. Nothing of the sort going on in the GOP. ..."
May 03, 2019 | www.unz.com

Scalper , says: May 3, 2019 at 9:45 am GMT

@A123 You Trump shills are chutzpah personified:

The U.S. missile strike on Shayrat Airbase on 7 April 2017 was the first time the U.S. became a deliberate, direct combatant against the Syrian government and marked the start of a series of deliberate direct military actions by U.S. forces against the Syrian government and its allies in May -- June 2017 and February 2018.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/06/trump-syria-missiles-assad-chemical-weapons

Trump *escalated* the war from covert support to insurgents to direct intervention and official *invasion* in Syria. This is the equivalent of going from financing and supporting a faction in a so called proxy war in say Vietnam to leading the US to go full Iraq WMD and become a warring and invading faction in the conflict. Again, this is an escalation.

The number of boots on the ground vs Obama's is data you just took out of your bottom. Sources for your cheap PR shilling? You don't have any because this statement of yours is a blatant lie.

Trump *escalated* US-Iran and US-Venezuela conflicts and intensified the sabre rattling towards both countries, according to all analysts. For the first time a POTUS openly said direct US invasion to Venezuela "is on the table" and his Adelson bought appointment for USNSA Bolton publicly showed in a notebook the writing "5000 troops to Colombia" openly suggesting a direct invasion was imminent. For the first time the White House asked the Pentagon to draw up options for military strikes against Iran.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/13/white-house-asked-pentagon-plans-strike-iran

Trump's administration declared a whole branch of the Iran armed forces (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation. This is an escalation and according to most analysts, considered an act of war.

Trump's administration ended the Iran deal without any objective reasons, ie Obama's effort to deescalate the Israel firsters driven Iran-US conflict

Trump administration heavily increased sanctions to Iran, Russia and Venezuela and in the latter case even instigated a failed uprising and coup d'etat, going as far as to declare a virtual political Venezuelan nobody the "official" president of the country, which is in itself unbelievable and has no historic precedent. Another act of war actually.

Trump administration declared Golan Heights part of Israel brought US embassy to Jerusalem, increasing the tensions and animosity towards the US in the ME.

Trump administration will declare Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, increasing the animosity from Arab countries in the ME to unbelievable levels. This includes non Arab country Turkey also, a traditional ally until neocon Trump took power.

Trump administration also escalated the tensions with China, ordered the arrest and de facto kidnapping of Chinese corporate executives and openly used the US legal apparatus to attack and hinder a foreign corporation.

Trump has been, objectively, the most neocon Israel-firster POTUS in US history.

Friendly reminder that voting for Republicans and expecting US Jewish lobby/Corporate America promoted policies such as open borders and US imperialist interventions to stop is moronic beyond belief. Republicans are the most pro corporate pro US Jewish lobby of the two parties by far. At least there is talk and critique about how the Israel Lobby owns the USG in the Dem party. Nothing of the sort going on in the GOP.

Immigration restrictionism is a traditional pro working class, leftist policy.

Non intervention and "pacifist" policies the same. How many GOP supporters were against the Vietnam and Iraq war? Not many yeah.

Johnny Walker Read , says: May 3, 2019 at 1:20 pm GMT
@A123 Here's your numbers TROLL.

Trump has dropped more bombs and missiles on Middle Eastern countries in a comparable period of time than any modern U.S. President. Presidents Bush, Obama and now [2017] Trump have dropped nearly 200,000 bombs and missiles on Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Trump's rate of bombing eclipses both Bush and Obama; and Trump is on a pace to drop over 100,000 [180,000 to be precise] bombs and missiles on Middle Eastern countries during his first term of office -- which would equal the number of bombs and missiles dropped by Obama during his entire eight-year presidency.

Here's more perspective:

The United States Government, under the Trump administration, reportedly drops a bomb every 12 minutes, which means that 121 bombs are dropped in a day, and 44,096 bombs per year. The Pentagon's data show that during George W. Bush's eight years he averaged 24 bombs dropped per day, that is, 8,750 per year. Over the course of Obama's time in office, his military dropped 34 bombs per day, 12,500 per year. This shows that even though American presidents are all war criminals, Trump is the most vicious of them all.

Yes, Trump is dropping almost FOUR TIMES MORE BOMBS than Barack Obama and over FIVE TIMES MORE BOMBS than G.W. Bush -- which included military invasions of two countries.

We also know that Trump expanded America's wars in Afghanistan and Syria (and, no, he is NOT bringing U.S. troops home from Syria) and is ramping up America's war machine against Venezuela, Iran, China and Russia. And this does not even take into account the way Trump has given Benjamin Netanyahu's raunchy racist regime the green light to expand its wars against the Palestinians, Lebanon, Syria and Iran or the U.S./Israeli proxy war (with Saudi Arabia taking the lead) in Yemen.

Then there is Somalia:

In the age of Donald Trump, wasn't that [the Battle of Mogadishu -- Black Hawk Down] a million presidencies ago? Honestly, can you even tell me anymore what in the world it was all about? I couldn't have, not without looking it up again. A warlord, starvation, U.S. intervention, 18 dead American soldiers (and hundreds of dead Somalis, but that hardly mattered) in a country that was shattering. President Clinton did, however, pull out those troops and end the disastrous mission -- and that was that, right? I mean, lessons learned. Somalia? Africa? What in the world did it all have to do with us? So Washington washed its hands of the whole thing.

And now, on a planet of outrageous tweets and murderously angry white men, you probably didn't even notice, but more than two years into the era of Donald Trump, a quarter-century after that incident, American airstrikes in yep, Somalia, are precipitously on the rise.

Last year's 47 strikes, aimed at the leaders and fighters of al-Shabaab, an Islamist terror outfit, more than tripled the ones carried out by the Obama administration in 2016 (themselves a modest increase from previous years). And in 2019, they're already on pace to double again, while Somali civilians -- not that anyone (other than Somali civilians) notices or cares -- are dying in significant and rising numbers.

And with 500 troops back on the ground there and Pentagon estimates that they will remain for at least another seven years, the U.S. military is increasingly Somalia-bound, Congress hasn't uttered a peep on the subject, and few in this country are paying the slightest attention.

So consider this a simple fact of the never-ending Global War on Terror (as it was once called): the U.S. military just can't get enough of Somalia. And if that isn't off the charts, what is? Maybe it's even worth a future book (with a very small print run) called not Black Hawk Down II but U.S. Down Forever and a Day.

And now that I've started on the subject (if you still happen to be reading), when it comes to the U.S. military, it's not faintly just Somalia. It's all of Africa.

After all, this country's military uniquely has a continent-wide Africa Command (aka AFRICOM), founded in 2007. As Nick Turse has often written for TomDispatch, that command now has its troops, thousands of them, its planes, and other equipment spread across the continent, north to south, east to west -- air bases, drone bases, garrisons, outposts, staging areas, you name it. Meanwhile, AFRICOM's outgoing commanding general, Thomas Waldhauser, only recently told Congress why it's bound to be a forever outfit -- because, shades of the Cold War, the Ruskies are coming! ("Russia is also a growing challenge and has taken a more militaristic approach in Africa.")

And honestly, 600-odd words in, this wasn't meant to be a piece about either Somalia or Africa. It was meant to be about those U.S. wars being off the charts, about how the Pentagon now feeds eternally at the terror trough, al-Shabaab being only a tiny part of the slop it regularly digests.

And, while America's wars are way up, according to Gallup, church attendance in America is way down:

As Christian and Jewish Americans prepare to celebrate Easter and Passover, respectively, Gallup finds the percentage of Americans who report belonging to a church, synagogue or mosque at an all-time low, averaging 50% in 2018.

U.S. church membership was 70% or higher from 1937 through 1976, falling modestly to an average of 68% in the 1970s through the 1990s. The past 20 years have seen an acceleration in the drop-off, with a 20-percentage-point decline since 1999 and more than half of that change occurring since the start of the current decade.

Most interesting is this Gallup observation:

Although the United States is one of the more religious countries, particularly among Western nations, it is far less religious than it used to be. Barely three-quarters of Americans now identify with a religion and only about half claim membership in a church, synagogue or mosque.

The rate of U.S. church membership has declined sharply in the past two decades after being relatively stable in the six decades before that. A sharp increase in the proportion of the population with no religious affiliation, a decline in church membership among those who do have a religious preference, and low levels of church membership among millennials are all contributing to the accelerating trend.

Obviously, America's Jewish and Muslim populations pale compared to its Christian population. The vast decline of attendance to religious services, therefore, primarily means church attendance. Notice, also, that this steep decline commenced at the beginning of this century (2000) -- when G.W. Bush became President of the United States.

I tried to warn readers -- and listeners to my nationwide radio talk show -- that due to his insatiable war fever, G.W. Bush was going to forever warp the perception in people's minds of Christianity. And, sadly, I was absolutely right. After eight years of the warmongering G.W. Bush in the White House, millions of Americans came to associate Christianity with wars of aggression. As a result, the exodus out of America's churches began in earnest.

Enter Donald Trump.

As noted above, Trump has expanded Bush's war fever exponentially. But Trump has done more than that: He has aggressively put the United States smack dab in the middle of Israel's wars. It could even be argued that Donald Trump has turned the U.S. military into a proxy army for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Don't get me wrong: I am very cognizant of the fact that G.W. Bush's "war on terror" was nothing more than a proxy war for Israel. But the Israeli connection was covert and completely covered up. Not anymore. Donald Trump is unabashedly and explicitly partnering the mission of the U.S. military with that of the IDF. No wonder Benjamin Netanyahu promises to name a community in the Israel-seized, Israel-occupied Golan Heights after Donald Trump. (Trumplinka would fit Netanyahu's concentration-style occupation nicely.)

So, not only are millions of Americans now associating Christianity with G.W. Bush's wars of aggression, they are associating Christianity with Donald Trump's wars of aggression for the racist apartheid State of Israel. The result: the steepest decline in church attendance and church affiliation in U.S. history.

The longer evangelical Christians continue to support Donald Trump's radical pro-Israel, pro-war agenda, the deeper America will plunge into an anti-Christian country.

The good news is that all over America, people are waking up to the Israel deception. Support for the erroneous doctrine of dispensational eschatology is in a giant free fall; the myth of Zionist Israel being a resurrected Old Testament Israel is being repeatedly exposed; the attempts by Israel's toadies to characterize people whose eyes are open to the truth of Zionism as being "anti-Semitic" is losing more and more credibility by the day; and more and more people are becoming aware of the utter wickedness of the Zionist government in Israel. Plus, more and more people are beginning to understand the plight of the persecuted people (including Christian people) in the Israeli-occupied territories of Palestine.

Ron, maybe your shipmates on the USS LIBERTY didn't die in vain after all.

From an historical perspective, overextended wars are the downfall of any empire; from a financial perspective, warfarism is the precursor to an economically depressed middle class; and from a Scriptural/spiritual perspective, God cannot and will not bless a warmongering nation.

Let's be clear: God is not building a "Greater Israel." God is not building a third Jewish temple. God is not speaking through phony prophets who are attributing some sort of divine calling to Trump's pro-Israel warmongering. God is not blessing America because we are blessing Zionist Israel. Just the opposite: The more America aligns itself with Israel's belligerence, bullying and bombing of innocent people, the more God will deliver us over to becoming an antichrist country. After all, one cannot idolize and partner with antichrists without becoming one himself.

After Trump finishes this term in office, two-thirds of this young century will have seen a "Christian" warmonger in the White House. It is no coincidence that during this same period of time, wars are way up and church attendance is way down.
https://chuckbaldwinlive.com/Articles/tabid/109/ID/3866/Americas-Wars-Are-Way-Up-Church-Attendance-Is-Way-Down.aspx

Anonymous [102] Disclaimer , says: May 3, 2019 at 1:23 pm GMT
Burning down the house. Driving like a madman on the road to nowhere has put the nation on a path to its own demise. Our foreign policy is a disaster that does nothing to promote democracy anywhere in the world. Our military has provided nothing but instability in the world since the end of world war 2. Ask yourself, why are we involved in so many useless wars that don't make the world a better place?
Don't you feel like we are being used by war hawks who see every skirmish as a threat to our national security? Why can't we cut out all the military BS and just trade with with nations that want to trade, and ignore those who want to kill each other. Let them figure it out on their own. Social Capitalism is the only policy we should be supporting.
Johnny Walker Read , says: May 3, 2019 at 1:36 pm GMT
America's foreign policy since the end of WWII. End of story.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/O66UKjCwmTw?feature=oembed

EliteCommInc. , says: May 3, 2019 at 2:50 pm GMT
"All statements of Trump do not count. All Trump statements are results from stress of torture by Democrats, and deep state."

When this president stated during the campaign,

that christians don't have to forgive their enemies, I rolled my eyes stated he wrong, and understood well he doesn't know what christianity means and supported him anyway

that he supported same sex marriage, I rolled my eyes, rebuffed the the silliness of his comments and understood, he is not a conservative and beyond that he doesn't know what christianity means

when it was uncovered that he had in fact had relations outside of marriage, I rolled my eyes, and understood that alone could be a disqualifying factor in light of the competition and supported him anyway

when some of the most respected departments of government leaders said he colluded with Russians, based on the evidence, I said "poppycock" and supported him anyway

when media swirled with tales of Russian bath houses and carousings abounded, I thought nonsense and supported hum anyway

when the rumors of underage girls and same sex parties and orgies seped into the main, I rolled my eyes and supported him anyway . . .

when he spouted off about Charlottesville prematurely, I supported him anyway . . .

when became clear he actually advocated torture, I choked, spat and supported him anyway, afterall he's not schooled in international relations and the consequences for our service personnel, much less apparently the basics of tortures effectiveness, especially in large scale strategies such as the US is engaged in

when it came to light he was completely ignorant of how our criminal justice system gets it wrong as exampled by the Cen 5 case, I supported him anyway . . .

I supported him in spite of his comments about the poor and people like me who supported him

There's a long list of tolerance is support of this president based on his advocacy regarding turning the attention to the US welfare . . .

And when he actually agreed that the Russians had sabotaged the US elections and even engaged in murder in the states of our European allies -- I knew, that in all liklihood the turn inward was dead.

Here' a man who beat all the odds because of stalwart support of people like me, who repeatedly bit the sides of our cheeks in the understanding that the returns would exceed the price only to discover that the man who beat the odds doesn't seem to have a spine to stand on ideologically which were the foundations of my advocacy: national security, less reckless spending, holding business and financial organizations accountable for misbehavior, investing in the US citizen, restructuring our trade deals to benefit the US, not merely shooting up tarrifs that would in turn be priced to the citizens the supposed tarrifs were intended to protect, tax cuts that actually gave middle americans less, no evidence of a draw down in our careless ME behaviors, i even gave him some room to deal with israel as perhaps a new way forward -- it's a new way alright – no pretense of acting as honest brokers – that's new, Immigration is worse and by worse he might as well be serving tea and crumpets at the border welcoming illegals . . .

If the man you elected to turn the corner actually becomes the vehicle for of what you elected him to reject and change, eventually one has to acknowledge that fact. he beat the deep state, he just either had not the courage, the integrity, or the ability, perhaps all three to withstand the victory and do the work. Of course he had opposition and not much of it very fair and nearly all of it damaging to the country. But he had support to stand against it -- he chose an easier path.

And while I support him still, I have no intention of pretending that he is fulfilling the mandate for which he was elected. I would be lying to myself and doing a disservice to him.

I have not changed, I knew he was a situational leader, I knew what that meant, but I voted for a particular agenda, he left the reservation on his own accord and the "deep state", the establishment", the democrats, the liberals, the libertarians, can only be held to blame for so much --

But several weeks ago, on top of a complete failure to ensure US order security, the armed forces paid homage to Mexicans on US territory by relinquishing their weapons and surrendering -- and given the tenure thus far -- - it devastatingly fitting that this occurred under this admin.

And in the midst of all this, he is pandering to those engaged in same sex behavior -- – deep state my eye . . .

the path of least resistance. I cling to the belief that having voting for any of the other candidates -- matters would have been far worse.

I make no apologies for being a conservative and Christian and holding a loyalty to the US.

I reject your whine, it had legs and even some salience still, but at this stage, very little.

Now he is bed with Sen. Rubio, Sen. Cruz and others on mucking around in SA -- I can only consider your comments as an attempt at humor.

[May 01, 2019] India and Europe stopped buying iranian oil. 1 billion $ of iranian oil stays blocked in China, no one wants to touch it. Even Khamenei admitted that Europe left the JCPOA in practise.

Notable quotes:
"... The Empire is not weak, this is poor analysis. India and Europe stopped buying Iranian oil. 1 billion $ of Iranian oil stays blocked in China, no one wants to touch it. Even Khamenei admitted that Europe left the JCPOA in practice. ..."
"... Iran is in deep recession. Venezuela is in deep recession and is surrounded. ..."
"... Iraq? US troops are staying there. Syria? US troops are staying there long term. 1 third of the country containing the biggest oil fields is under US control. There is fuel shortage crisis due to sanctions. Europe is not stopping its sanctions either. ..."
May 01, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Passer by , May 1, 2019 8:19:31 PM | link

"The Empire only appears to be strong. In reality it is weak, confused, clueless"

The Empire is not weak, this is poor analysis. India and Europe stopped buying Iranian oil. 1 billion $ of Iranian oil stays blocked in China, no one wants to touch it. Even Khamenei admitted that Europe left the JCPOA in practice.

Iran is in deep recession. Venezuela is in deep recession and is surrounded. Almost all of Latin America now has pro-US governments. CIA linked Bolsonaro took over in Brazil. Turkey is in deep recession and Erdogan lost the big cities.

India is moving closer to the US. Europe remains a vassal. Russian economic growth is weak. The US won the trade war against China as Andrei Martyanov himself admitted.

Iraq? US troops are staying there. Syria? US troops are staying there long term. 1 third of the country containing the biggest oil fields is under US control. There is fuel shortage crisis due to sanctions. Europe is not stopping its sanctions either.

There is no doubt that they will be weaker in the future, but they will fight hard to stop this and gain time.

[Apr 29, 2019] The Mueller Report Indicts the Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theory by Aaron Matι

Highly recommended!
"Russiagate without Russia" actually means "Isrealgate". This individual points that he mentions below does not matter. Russiagate was a carefully planned and brilliantly executed false flag operation run by intelligences agencies (with GB agencies playing an important in some episodes decisive role) and headed probably by Obama himself via Brennan. There were two goals: (1) to exclude any possibility of detente with Russia and (2) to block any Trump attempts to change the USA foreign policy including running foreign war that enrich Pentagon contractors and justify supersized budget for intelligence agencies. As such is was a great success.
The fact that no American was indicted and that Mueller attempt to prosecute Russian marketing agneces failed does not matter. The atmosphere is now posoned for a generation. Americans are brainwashed and residue of Russiagate will stay for a long, long time. Neocons Bolton and Pompeo now run Trump administration foreign policy with Trump performing most ceremonial role in foreign policy domain.
In this sense Skripals poisoning was another false flag operation, which was the logical continuation of Russiagate. And Magnitsky killing (with Browder now a primary suspect) was a precursor to it. Both were run from Great Britain.
It is actually interesting how Mueller report swiped under the carpet the role of Great Britain in unleashing the Russiagate hysteria.
Two important foreign forces in the 2016 US Presidential elections was the Israel lobby and Great Britain. Trump proved to be a marionette not of Russia but of Israeli lobby. so sad...
Notable quotes:
"... Mueller's report does answer that question: There were effectively no "Kremlin intermediaries." The report contains no evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign spoke to a Kremlin representative during the election, aside from conversations with the Russian ambassador and a press-office assistant, both of whom were ruled out as having participated in a conspiracy (more on them later). ..."
Mar 26, 2019 | outline.com

For more than two years, leading US political and media voices promoted a narrative that Donald Trump conspired with or was compromised by the Kremlin, and that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would prove it. In the process, they overlooked countervailing evidence and diverted anti-Trump energies into fervent speculation and prolonged anticipation. So long as Mueller was on the case, it was possible to believe that " The Walls Are Closing In " on the traitor / puppet / asset in the White House .

The long-awaited completion of Mueller's probe, and the release of his redacted report, reveals this narrative -- and the expectations it fueled -- to be unfounded. No American was indicted for conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Mueller's report does lay out extensive evidence that Trump sought to impede the investigation, but it declines to issue a verdict on obstruction. It presents no evidence that the Trump campaign conspired with an alleged effort by the Russian government to defeat Hillary Clinton, and instead renders this conclusion: "Ultimately, the investigation did not establish that the [Trump] Campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities." As a result, Mueller's report provides the opposite of what Russiagate promoters led their audiences to expect: Rather than detailing a sinister collusion plot with Russia, it presents what amounts to an extended indictment of the conspiracy theory itself.

1. Russiagate Without Russia

The most fundamental element of a conspiracy is contact between the two parties doing the conspiring. Hence, on the eve of the report's release, The New York Times noted that among the "outstanding questions" that Mueller would answer were the nature of "contacts between Kremlin intermediaries and the Trump campaign."

Mueller's report does answer that question: There were effectively no "Kremlin intermediaries." The report contains no evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign spoke to a Kremlin representative during the election, aside from conversations with the Russian ambassador and a press-office assistant, both of whom were ruled out as having participated in a conspiracy (more on them later).

It should be no surprise, then, to learn from Mueller that, when "Russian government officials and prominent Russian businessmen began trying to make inroads into the new administration" after Trump's election victory, they did not know whom to call. These powerful Russians, Mueller noted, "appeared not to have preexisting contacts and struggled to connect with senior officials around the President-Elect." If top Russians did not have "preexisting contacts and struggled to connect with" the people that they supposedly conspired with, perhaps that is because they did not actually conspire.

To borrow a phrase from Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen, when it comes to the core question of contacts between Trump and the Russian government, we are left with a "Russiagate without Russia." Instead we have a series of interactions where Trump associates speak with Russian nationals, people with ties to Russian nationals, or people who claim to have ties to the Russian government. But none of these "links," "ties," or associations ever entail a member of the Trump campaign interacting with a Kremlin intermediary. Russiagate promoters have nonetheless fueled a dogged media effort to track every known instance in which someone in Trump's orbit interacted with " the Russians ," or someone who can be linked to them . There is nothing illegal or inherently suspect about speaking to a Russian national -- but there is something xenophobic about implying as much.

2. Russiagate's Predicate Led Nowhere

The most glaring absence of a Kremlin intermediary comes in the case that ostensibly prompted the entire Trump-Russia investigation. During an April 2016 meeting in Rome, a London-based professor named Joseph Mifsud reportedly informed Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos that "the Russians" had obtained "thousands of emails" containing "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. That information made its way to the FBI, which used it as a pretext to open the "Crossfire Hurricane" probe on July 31, 2016. Papadopoulos was later indicted for lying to FBI agents about the timing of his contacts with Mifsud. The case stoked speculation that Papadopoulos acted as an intermediary between Trump and Russia .

But Papadopoulos played no such role. And while the Mueller report says that Papadopoulos "understood Mifsud to have substantial connections to high-level Russian government officials," it never asserts that Mifsud actuall y had those connections. Since Mifsud's suspected Russian connections were the purported predicate for the FBI's initial Trump-Russia investigation, that is a conspicuous non-call. Another is the revelation from Mueller that Mifsud made false statements to FBI investigators when they interviewed him in February 2017 -- but yet, unlike Papadopoulos, Mifsud was not indicted. Thus, even the interaction that sparked the Russia-collusion probe did not reveal collusion.

3. Sergey Kislyak Had "Brief and Non-Substantive" Interactions With the Trump Camp

Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak's conversations with Trump campaign officials and associates during and after the 2016 election were the focus of intense controversy and speculation, leading to the recusal of Jeff Sessions, then attorney general, and to the indictment of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

After an exhaustive review, Mueller concluded that Kislyak's interactions with Trump campaign officials at public events "were brief, public, and non-substantive." As for Kislyak's much – ballyhooed meeting which Sessions in September 2016, Mueller saw no reason to dispute that it "included any more than a passing mention of the presidential campaign." When Kislyak spoke with other Trump aides after the August 2016 Republican National Convention, Mueller "did not identify evidence in those interactions of coordination between the Campaign and the Russian government."

The same goes for Kislyak's post-election conversations with Flynn. Mueller indicted Flynn for making "false statements and omissions" in an interview with the FBI about his contacts with Kislyak during the transition in December 2016. The prevailing supposition was that Flynn lied in order to hide from the FBI an election-related payoff or " quid pro quo " with the Kremlin. The report punctures that thesis by reaffirming the facts in Flynn's indictment: What Flynn hid from agents was that he had "called Kislyak to request Russian restraint" in response to sanctions imposed by the outgoing Obama administration, and that Kislyak had agreed. Mueller ruled out the possibility that Flynn could have implicated Trump in anything criminal by noting the absence of evidence that Flynn "possessed information damaging to the President that would give the President a personal incentive to end the FBI's inquiry into Flynn's conduct."

4. Trump Tower Moscow Had No Help From Moscow

The November 2018 indictment of Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was widely seen as damning, possibly impeachment-worthy, for Trump. Cohen admitted to giving false written answers to Congress in a bid to downplay Trump's personal knowledge of his company's failed effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. To proponents of the collusion theory, Cohen's admitted lies were proof that " Trump is compromised by Russia ," " full stop ."

But the Mueller report does not show any such compromise, and, in fact, shows there to be no Trump-Kremlin relationship. Cohen, the report notes, "requested [Kremlin] assistance in moving the project forward, both in securing land to build the project and with financing." The request was evidently rejected. Elena Poliakova, the personal assistant to Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, spoke with Cohen by phone after he e-mailed her office for help. After their 20-minute call, the report says, "Cohen could not recall any direct follow-up from Poliakova or from any other representative of the Russian government, nor did the [Special Counsel's] Office identify any evidence of direct follow-up."

5. and Trump Didn't Ask Cohen to Lie About It

The Mueller report not only dispels the notion that Trump had secret dealings with the Kremlin over Trump Tower Moscow; it also rejects a related impeachment-level "bombshell." In January, BuzzFeed News reported that Mueller had evidence that Trump "directed" Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow project. But according to Mueller, "the evidence available to us does not establish that the President directed or aided Cohen's false testimony," and that Cohen himself testified "that he and the President did not explicitly discuss whether Cohen's testimony about the Trump Tower Moscow project would be or was false." In a de-facto retraction, BuzzFeed updated its story with an acknowledgment of Mueller's conclusion .

6. The Trump Tower Meeting Really Was Just a "Waste of Time"

The June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower was widely dubbed the " Smoking Gun ." An e-mail chain showed that Donald Trump Jr. welcomed an offer to accept compromising information about Clinton as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." But the pitch did not come from the meeting's Russian participants, but instead from Rob Goldstone, a British music publicist acting on their behalf. Goldstone said that he invented "publicist puff" to secure the meeting, because in reality, as he told NPR , "I had no idea what I was talking about."

Mueller noted that Trump Jr.'s response "showed that the Campaign anticipated receiving information from Russia that could assist candidate Trump's electoral prospects, but the Russian lawyer's presentation did not provide such information [emphasis mine]." The report further recounts that during the meeting Jared Kushner texted then-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort that it was a "waste of time," and requested that his assistants "call him to give him an excuse to leave." Accordingly, when "Veselnitskaya made additional efforts to follow up on the meeting," after the election, "the Trump Transition Team did not engage."

7. Manafort Did Not Share Polling Data to Meddle in the US Election

In January, Mueller accused Manafort of lying to investigators about several matters, including sharing Trump polling data and discussing a Ukraine peace plan with a Ukrainian-Russian colleague, Konstantin Kilimnik, during the 2016 campaign. According to Mueller, the FBI "assesses" that Kilimnik has unspecified "ties to Russian intelligence." To collusion proponents, the revelation was dubbed " the closest we've seen yet to real, live, actual collusion " and even the " Russian collusion smoking gun ."

Mueller, of course, reached a different conclusion: He "did not identify evidence of a connection between Manafort's sharing polling data and Russia's interference in the election," and, moreover, "did not establish that Manafort otherwise coordinated with the Russian government on its election-interference efforts." Mueller noted that he "could not reliably determine Manafort's purpose in sharing" the polling data, but also acknowledged (and bolstered) the explanation of his star witness, Rick Gates, that Manafort was motivated by proving his financial value to former and future clients.

Mueller also gave us new reasons to doubt the assertions that Kilimnik himself is a Russian intelligence asset or spy. First, Mueller did not join media pundits in asserting such about Kilimnik. Second, to support his vague contention that Kilimnik has, according to the FBI, "ties to Russian intelligence," Mueller offered up a list of " pieces of the Office's Evidence" that contains no direct evidence. For his part, Kilimnik has repeatedly stated that he has no such ties, and recently told The Washington Post that Mueller never attempted to interview him.

8. The Steele Dossier Was Fiction

The Steele dossier -- a collection of Democratic National Committee-funded opposition research alleging a high-level Trump-Russia criminal relationship -- played a critical role in the Russiagate saga. The FBI relied on it for leads and evidentiary material in its investigation of the Trump campaign ties to Russia, and prominent politicians , pundits , and media outlets promoted it as credible .

The Mueller report, The New York Times noted last week , has "underscored what had grown clearer for months some of the most sensational claims in the dossier appeared to be false, and others were impossible to prove." Steele reported that low-level Trump aide Carter Page was offered a 19 percent stake in the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft if he could get Trump to lift Western sanctions. In October 2016 the FBI, citing the Steele dossier, told the FISA court that it "believes that [Russia's] efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with" the Trump campaign. The Mueller report, however, could "not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election."

The Steele dossier claimed that Michael Cohen visited Prague to meet Russian agents in the summer of 2016. In April 2018, McClatchy reported to much fanfare that Mueller's team "has evidence" that placed Cohen in Prague during the period in question. Cohen later denied the claim under oath, and Mueller agreed, noting that Cohen "never traveled to Prague."

After reports emerged in August 2016 that the Trump campaign had rejected an amendment to the Republican National Committee platform that called for arming Ukraine, Steele claimed that it was the result of a quid pro quo. The Mueller report "did not establish that" the rejection of the Ukraine amendment was "undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia."

9. The Trump Campaign Had No Secret Channel to WikiLeaks

In January, veteran Republican operative and conspiracy theorist Roger Stone caused a stir when he was indicted for lying to Congress about his efforts to make contact with WikiLeaks. But Mueller's indictment actually showed that Stone had no communications with WikiLeaks before the election and no privileged information about its releases . Most significantly, it revealed that Trump officials were trying to learn about the WikiLeaks releases through Stone -- a fact that underscored that the Trump campaign neither worked with WikiLeaks nor had advance knowledge of its e-mail dumps.

Mueller's final report does nothing to alter that picture. Its sections on Stone are heavily redacted, owing to Stone's pending trial. But they do make clear that Mueller conducted an extensive search to establish a tie between WikiLeaks, the Trump campaign, and Stone -- and came up empty. New reporting from The Washington Post underscores just how far their farcical efforts went. The Mueller team devoted time and energy to determine whether far-right conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, best known for promoting the false claim that Barack Obama was born outside the United States, served as a link between Stone and WikiLeaks. Mueller's prosecutors "spent weeks coaxing, cajoling and admonishing the conspiracy theorist, as they pressed him to stick to facts and not reconstruct stories," the Post reports. "At times, they had debated the nature of memory itself." It is unsurprising that this led Mueller's prosecutors to ultimately declare, according to Corsi's attorney, "We can't use any of this."

10. There Was No Cover-Up

The Mueller report does not just dispel the conspiracy theories that have engulfed political and media circles for two years; it puts to rest the most popular, recent one: that Attorney General William Barr engaged in a cover-up . According to the dominant narrative, Barr was somehow concealing Mueller's damning evidence , while Mueller, even more improbably, stayed silent.

One could argue that Barr's summary downplays the obstruction findings, though it accurately relays that Mueller's report does "not exonerate" Trump. It was Mueller's decision to leave the verdict on obstruction to Barr and make clear that if Congress disagrees, it has the power to indict Trump on its own. Mueller's office assisted with Barr's redactions, which proved to be, as Barr had pledged, extremely limited. Despite containing numerous embarrassing details about Trump, no executive privilege was invoked to censor the report's contents.

In the end, Mueller's report shows that the Trump-Russia collusion narrative embraced and evangelized by the US political and media establishments to be a work of fiction . The American public was presented with a far different picture from what was expected, because leading pundits, outlets, and politicians ignored the countervailing facts and promoted maximalist interpretations of others. Anonymous officials also leaked explosive yet uncorroborated claims, leaving behind many stories that were subsequently discredited, retracted, or remain unconfirmed to this day.

It is too early to assess the damage that influential Russiagate promoters have done to their own reputations; to public confidence in our democratic system and media; and to the prospects of defeating Trump, who always stood to benefit if the all-consuming conspiracy theory ultimately collapsed. The scale of the wreckage, confirmed by Mueller's report, may prove to be the ultimate Russiagate scandal.

[Apr 28, 2019] Rand think tank study suggest that the USA should flood the world with oil in order to overextend and unbalance Russia

Some pretty strange ideas if we are taking about oil. What they are smiling at RAND?
Notable quotes:
"... That evaluation is quite strange. The U.S. government does not produce oil. Private companies do so but only if they can make a profit. Increasing production beyond the global demand will decrease the oil price for all producers. All recent new U.S. production comes from shale oil. Optimistic estimates put the break even point for good shale oil fields at around $50 per barrel. Few fields can produce at lower costs. Most shale oil fields have a higher break even point. There is also a danger in suppressing oil prices. Many oil producing countries have U.S. friendly regimes. They need high oil prices to survive. Ruining them will not come cheap for the U.S. in geopolitical terms. ..."
"... of the 8 most promising suggestions - 6 of them are military... it seems to me these think tanks are great pr tools for the military industrial complex... who cares if the usa continues to move into 3rd world status as a nation, so long as more money for weapons can be acquired?? that is what these think tanks - rand and etc seem to want to foist on the public... it is all so very sad.. ..."
"... No, I think most US weapons procurement gives weapons that don't work as advertised, and wouldn't win wars anyway. I think it's one reason why the US military is largely only capable of spoiler wars, not actually conquering any place. (The other is the general unreliability of mercenary forces, which the US army basically is, however much they try to cultivate a militant Christian ethos.) ..."
"... I also do not believe spoiler wars help the country as a whole (as opposed to some of the owners) I think pretty much all a burden, immoral to boot and should be massively reduced. ..."
"... Even if you’re sure those companies are entirely private, if you print the current global reserve currency, can you not give “free” money to frackers and thereby make them more competitive than global peers? Sure, that’s flooding the market with an illegal subsidy. But, who can conduct proper accounting in opaque markets? ..."
Apr 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
According to RAND the best option to overextend and unbalance is to produce more oil:
Expanding U.S. energy production would stress Russia's economy, potentially constraining its government budget and, by extension, its defense spending. By adopting policies that expand world supply and depress global prices, the United States can limit Russian revenue. Doing so entails little cost or risk, produces second-order benefits for the U.S. economy, and does not need multilateral endorsement.

That evaluation is quite strange. The U.S. government does not produce oil. Private companies do so but only if they can make a profit. Increasing production beyond the global demand will decrease the oil price for all producers. All recent new U.S. production comes from shale oil. Optimistic estimates put the break even point for good shale oil fields at around $50 per barrel. Few fields can produce at lower costs. Most shale oil fields have a higher break even point. There is also a danger in suppressing oil prices. Many oil producing countries have U.S. friendly regimes. They need high oil prices to survive. Ruining them will not come cheap for the U.S. in geopolitical terms.

The second best option says RAND is to increase sanctions of Russia. This also doesn't make much sense. Russia can produce everything it needs and it has free access to the world's largest markets, China and India.

The best military options listed by RAND are all useless. All the new weapon systems Russia has revealed over the last two years are way more capable than anything the U.S. is able to field. If the U.S., as RAND advocates, invest more in certain fields, it will only be to catch up. That does not impose any new costs on Russia.

... ... ...

In all I find it a bit impertinent to publicly argue for "overextending and unbalancing Russia". Where is the need to do such?

The study demonstrates again that strategic analysis by U.S. think tanks is woefully shallow-minded. The "experts" writing these have no deep understanding of Russia, or even of the economic-political complexity of the real world.

Four of the eight best options the RAND study found start with the words "Invest more in ...". It is a sign that the foremost motive its writers had in mind is to grab more taxpayer money. Fine. Give it to them already. Overextending and unbalancing the U.S. by more abstruse expenditure for weapon systems that do not work will neither hurt me nor Russia.

james | Apr 27, 2019 2:34:51 PM | 2

thanks b.. of the 8 most promising suggestions - 6 of them are military... it seems to me these think tanks are great pr tools for the military industrial complex... who cares if the usa continues to move into 3rd world status as a nation, so long as more money for weapons can be acquired?? that is what these think tanks - rand and etc seem to want to foist on the public... it is all so very sad..

@1 steven.. well, as i read you, you are essentially supporting a continuation of the usa pouring endless money into the military then, regardless the accuracy of the accounts on the new Russian weapons.. do i have that right?

psychohistorian | Apr 27, 2019 2:42:19 PM | 3

@ b who wrote

"In all I find it a bit impertinent to publicly argue for "overextending and unbalancing Russia". Where is the need to do such?"

Russia is not beholden to the God of Mammon/global private finance world and the need to do such is to affect that position

The West is ruled by those that own private finance and all major conflict is predicated on the forceful, if necessary, maintenance of that control.

Steven T Johnson | Apr 27, 2019 2:47:15 PM | 4

james@2

No, I think most US weapons procurement gives weapons that don't work as advertised, and wouldn't win wars anyway. I think it's one reason why the US military is largely only capable of spoiler wars, not actually conquering any place. (The other is the general unreliability of mercenary forces, which the US army basically is, however much they try to cultivate a militant Christian ethos.)

However, since I also do not believe spoiler wars help the country as a whole (as opposed to some of the owners) I think pretty much all a burden, immoral to boot and should be massively reduced.

... ... ...

oglalla | Apr 27, 2019 5:34:07 PM | 18

>> The U.S. government does not produce oil. Private companies do so but only if they can make a profit. Increasing production beyond the global demand will decrease the oil price for all producers.

Even if you’re sure those companies are entirely private, if you print the current global reserve currency, can you not give “free” money to frackers and thereby make them more competitive than global peers? Sure, that’s flooding the market with an illegal subsidy. But, who can conduct proper accounting in opaque markets?

Of course, the money is not “free”. Depreciating the currency, an inflation tax, shows up in lower-quality goods (like frankenfood— we cannot afford healthy food any more) and higher prices in everything. But, again, who’s counting? The BLS and the media? Yep.

[Apr 28, 2019] NYC subway system as a sign of deterioration of the USA as economic power

Parachuting Harvard mafia on Russia was a more powerful weapon and led to more destruction of Russian economy then direct bombardment would
Notable quotes:
"... Concerning the capability of wrecking finances of other states, USA is not a slouch, the most powerful weapon is economic advise. If I interpret news correctly, it were experts of Goldman Sachs that help Greek government to borrow about twice as much as they could handle in the long run. The wreckage in Russia was as impressive, but, alas, hard to repeat, so now it remains to carp about their "bad behavior". ..."
Apr 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Piotr Berman , Apr 27, 2019 3:26:43 PM | link

I think that at least some weapon systems that USA makes or develops can be indeed superior. The most acute loss from the approach of "invest in over-extending and un-balancing the opponent" is that USA, while powerful, cannot do everything in the same time.

My favorite comparison chart is timeliness of subway systems in major metropolitan areas. Honestly, I cannot find it, because the search is swamped with the tales of woe of subway commuters in NYC. As befits the greatest financial center, cultural metropolis etc. etc., NYC has a transportation system that is comparable in its extend to other metropolitan areas like Tokyo, Paris or London. However, the performance is uninspiring. On the chart in NYT that I can't find out at the moment, only Mexico City had a lower percentage of train rides delayed by less than 10 minutes. I checked Moscow that has a larger subway system (compared to NY) and which was not on the chart. They pride themselves with frequency of delays that is 5 times smaller than in Paris (50 times smaller than in NYC?). Moscovites can actually plan their daily lives assuming that their commutes will arrive on time.

This is the most glaring example of a lost opportunity to take care of domestic needs, but the quality of education, healthcare etc. is mediocre compared with the rest of OECD, although there is always the southern neighbor that saves USA from being dead last.

Incidentally, NYC subway is not exactly underfunded, instead, it may have the most irrational management among major metropolitan areas which accurately reflects deficiencies of American political system. Bloated costs are pervasive across many areas, surely in military, healthcare and broadly meant policing, and their originate in lobbo-cracy, a plethora of lobbies grabbing chunks of monies either directly spent or (mis)regulated by the government. The activity of these lobbies is tightly regulated by elaborate rules, but the end effect is as if USA were pathetically corrupted (say, half as corrupted as Nigeria).

Piotr Berman , Apr 27, 2019 3:46:11 PM | link

Concerning the capability of wrecking finances of other states, USA is not a slouch, the most powerful weapon is economic advise. If I interpret news correctly, it were experts of Goldman Sachs that help Greek government to borrow about twice as much as they could handle in the long run. The wreckage in Russia was as impressive, but, alas, hard to repeat, so now it remains to carp about their "bad behavior".

Sanctions are also powerful when directed at small/medium size economies. Russia, although disparaged as "a smaller economy than Italy", but in actuality, Italy has "GDP per capity PPP" that is 40% larger than Russia, and Russia has 2.4 times larger population, so quite a bit larger economy in terms of "purchasing parity", and the most glaring domestic production deficiency are fruit and vegetables that, according to latest news, have a number of potential suppliers that are most glad when they can sell their produce.

[Apr 24, 2019] Economic Sanctions - How Washington Attempts to Control the World

Jan 07, 2019 | viableopposition.blogspot.com
For decades, Washington's favourite means of punishing nations that do not subscribe to its narrative has been through the imposition of economic sanctions. This has become particularly apparent with the ongoing and increasing sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea. While sanctions against these governments have garnered headlines for the past few years, in fact, there are far more sanctions that we rarely hear about.
In 1950, the Office of Foreign Assets Control was formed as part of the United States Department of the Treasury. OFAC administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions that are based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals. Sanctions have been imposed for the following reasons:
1.) terrorism
2.) international narcotics trade
3.) proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
4.) threats to national security, foreign policy and/or economy of the United States
Economic sanctions, in their most basic form, are defined as the withdrawal of trade and financial relations with a targeted nation for foreign and security policy purposes. Economic sanctions can take many forms including freezing of assets, arms embargoes, trade restrictions and bans, capital restraints, foreign aid reductions and travel bans. According to the Council on Foreign Relations , the United States uses economic and financial sanctions more than any other nation.
In the United States, sanctions can originate in either the Executive or Legislative branches of government. Presidents begin the process by issuing an Executive Order or EO which affords the president social powers to regulate commerce with a given entity. Under the EO, the president declares that there is a national emergency in response to "unusual and extraordinary" foreign threats, for instance, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States. In addition to Executive actions, Congress can also pass legislation to both modify and impose sanctions. Most sanctions programs are administered by the previously mentioned OFAC, however, other government departments may be involved including Homeland Security, Justice, State and Commerce.
On the OFAC website interested parties can search for information on federally mandated sanctions programs. Under each sanctions program there is an exhaustive listing of changes to the programs, guidelines that must be followed under penalty of law. There is also a listing of "General Licences" which are issued in order to authorize activities that would otherwise be prohibited under law. Here is a list from OFAC showing active sanctions programs and the date of their last update:

OFAC also tracks " Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) and Blocked Individuals ". This list contains the names of individuals and companies that are owned, controlled by or acting on behalf of targeted nations as well as the names of terrorists and narcotics traffickers that are not affiliated with any nation. The assets of these SDNs are blocked and American citizens and permanent residents are prohibited from doing business with them. Here is a very small sampling of SDNs from the PDF version of the complete listing:


In total, there are 1157 pages listing the names of over 6000 SDNs and blocked individuals.
Here is a specific person showing how difficult it is to ensure that you are not dealing with a SDN with an unknown number of aliases:

In this case, the SDGT following his name indicates that he is sanctioned under the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations.
OFAC can impose civil penalties on individuals and organizations that act in contradiction to the imposed sanctions. So far in 2018, there have been two penalties imposed as shown here for doing business with Iran:


...and here for doing business with Sudan:



During 2017 , 16 OFAC Enforcement Actions resulted in penalties of $119,527,845, up substantially from penalties totalling $21,609,315 in 2016.
Let's now look at the sanctions programs that are currently in place from the Council on Foreign Relations. Here is a graphic showing the current U.S. sanctions programs and their year of inception:

With this background on Washington's use of sanctions, let's look at what the World Economic Forum (WEF) has to say about the effectiveness of sanctions . The key factor in the effectiveness of sanctions is the size and capacity of the nation being sanctioned and the power of the sanctioning nation or coalition. Applying sanctions is a double-edged sword; for instance, in the case of Iran, China and Russia have stepped in to develop Iran's massive natural gas reserves whereas American oil companies are banned from investing and profiting from their potential investments in Iran. There are also longer term impacts of sanctions as show in this quote from the WEF:
" The consequences of this trend are evolving, but they potentially include companies' "de-globalization". That is, as companies are increasingly forced to think of themselves as tied to their home governments, they will think twice before investing in certain markets abroad. Other consequences include changes in traditional foreign trade patterns in line with new geopolitical alignments. Faced in 2006 with the Russian wine embargo, Georgia had to look for new markets in the West, where it was headed politically. When in 2014 Russia faced Western sanctions, it accelerated its rapprochement with China, the one major power that refused to condemn its actions and shared Moscow's opposition to US global dominance.
The outcome of these geo-economic campaigns is not a zero-sum game. The stronger economy backed by other forms of power can incur more damage on the target country than it will sustain in return, but it does not always alter the political behaviour of the government to be "punished". Sometimes sanctions can make that behaviour even more problematic. Ironically, the true winner may be a third party that jumps into the opening: European countries in the initial phases of US-Iran sanctions; China in the case of current Western sanctions against Russia; Russia in the case of the post-Tiananmen Western weapons ban on China; Turkey in the situation when EU pressure made Russia abandon its South Stream gas pipeline project. " (my bolds)
In many cases (i.e. Iran, Syria and North Korea), the ultimate desired impact of sanctions is to create an atmosphere where the targeted government is subjected to "regime change". As well, sanctions are generally less effective against nations that are adversaries since the sanctions may create a political climate where there is a stiffening of resolve of the people being punished by an outside power. We need look no further than the example of Vladimir Putin who, despite nearly five years of sanctions, still retains the backing of the majority of Russians as shown here :

One would think that Washington would have concluded that economic sanctions have not necessarily proven to be an effective means of getting its way in the world and, in fact, may have punished domestic businesses more than they punished foreign adversaries. The lessons taught by nearly 70 years of American economic isolation against Cuba are a prime example; while the sanctions have been painful, they resulted in a nation that has maintained its resolve in the face of economic difficulties and a leader that outlived and out ruled the reigns of U.S. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II.

[Apr 24, 2019] Viable Opposition

Apr 24, 2019 | viableopposition.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 23, 2019 US Power Wielding - Unconventional Warfare and Financial Power Back in December 2008, WikiLeaks released a relatively little-noted document " US Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare ". This 248-page, nine chapter publication was the September 2008 revision of the U.S. Army Field Manual 3-05.130, the keystone doctrine for Army special operations forces operations in unconventional warfare.
This document defines unconventional warfare as:
" Operations conducted by, with or through irregular forces against a variety of state and no-state opponents. "
These operations are conducted:
" ...in support of a resistance movement, an insurgency, and ongoing or pending conventional military operations "
Such operations have the following common conceptual core:
". ..working by, with, or through irregular surrogates in a clandestine and/or covert manner against opposing actors. "
In Chapter 2, the document outlines the instruments of United States national power which help the United States to achieve its national strategic objectives. These instruments of national power include diplomacy, information, intelligence, economic, financial, law enforcement and military. For the purposes of this posting, let's focus on one of these instruments as follows, the Financial Instrument of National Power . Here's how the document describes this instrument:
" The financial instrument of national power promotes the conditions for prosperity and stability in the United States and encourages prosperity and stability in the rest of the world. The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) is the primary federal agency responsible for the economic and financial prosperity and security of the United States and as such is responsible for a wide range of activities, including advising the President on economic and financial issues, promoting the President's growth agenda, and enhancing corporate governance in financial institutions. In the international arena, the Treasury works with other federal agencies, the governments of other nations, and the international financial institutions to encourage economic growth; raise standards of living; and predict and prevent, to the extent possible, economic and financial crises."
I like that " encourages prosperity and stability in the rest of the world ". That is true, unless you happen to live in a nation which doesn't share Washington's viewpoint. Just ask people living in one of many nations who are currently subject to one or another of Washington's long list of sanctions as shown here (current to mid-2017):

The document proceeds to note the following:
" T he application of economic or financial incentives is among the most powerful ideas in the U.S. arsenal of power. Although some U.S. adversaries are irreconcilable to accommodation with U.S. interests and must be engaged in other ways, many declared or potential adversaries can be persuaded or dissuaded by economic or financial means to become declared or potential allies (or at least neutralized) the ability of the United States government to affect the economic environment is enormous, and it has economic weapons at its disposal. Unconventional warfare planners must carefully coordinate the introduction and withholding of economic and financial assets into the Unconventional Warfare Operational Area (UWOA) with their interagency partners. For example, direct application of USAID grants to specific human groups can alter negative behaviors or cement positive affiliations. At the highest levels of diplomatic and financial interaction, the United States Government's ability to influence international financial institutions -- with corresponding effects to exchange rates, interest rates, credit availability, and money supplies -- can cement multinational coalitions for unconventional warfare campaigns or dissuade adversary nation-state governments from supporting specific actors in the UWOA. " (my bolds)
As you can see, the United States is willing to use financial blackmail including exchange and interest rate manipulation, credit availability and the supply of money to either persuade certain nations to join its unconventional warfare campaign or to dissuade adversarial nations from supporting the "other side" of an unconventional warfare strategy.
Here is a screen capture of page 2-8 of the document outlining how the United States can use financial incentives to manipulate other nations (ARSOF = Army Special Operations Forces and UW = Unconventional Warfare, DOS = Department of State, IC = Intelligence Community):

Note this sentence:
" Government can apply unilateral and indirect financial power through persuasive influence to international and domestic financial institutions regarding availability and terms of loans, grants, or other financial assistance to foreign state and nonstate actors ."
It is also interesting to note that the document clearly states that the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Bank for International Settlements are basically functioning as organizations that Washington can use to drive its global agenda and as yet another tool in America's quest for global hegemony. This isn't terribly surprising in the case of the World Bank since we find the following on its website:

In addition, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control whose sole responsibility is as follows:
". ..to administer and enforce economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other threats the national security... "
...has a " long history of conducting economic warfare valuation to any Army Special Operations Forces unconventional warfare. ".
This Army manual, leaked over a decade ago by WikiLeaks, gives us a very clear view of how Washington uses financial manipulation through its influence on the World Bank, IMF, OECD and other "global" groups to wage unconventional warfare on any nation that doesn't share its view of how the world should function and that threatens America's control of the globe. The use of financial blackmail to bend countries to America's narrative and overthrow nations who do not succumb to America's wishes is not terribly surprising, however, it is interesting to actually see one key aspect of Washington's unconventional warfare methodology in print.

[Apr 22, 2019] Brzezinski s Warning to America by Mike Whitney

Notable quotes:
"... What most people don't realize about Brzezinski, is that he dramatically changed his views on global hegemony a few years after he published his 1997 masterpiece The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperative. In his 2012 book, Strategic Vision, Brzezinski recommended a more thoughtful and cooperative approach that would ease America's unavoidable transition (decline?) without creating a power vacuum that could lead to global chaos. ..."
"... Haass's critique illustrates the level of denial among elites who are now gripped by fear of an uncertain future. ..."
"... Confrontation will only accelerate the pace of US decline and the final collapse of the liberal world order. ..."
"... "The liberal world order, which lasted from the end of World War 2 until today" Thanks for the laugh. It was over with the passing of the 1947 National Security Act. ..."
"... It is not a coincidence that this anti-Russian climate of hatred started back when Putin showed up the left's president, Barack Obama, over Libya. ..."
"... political globalists who wanted a liberal world order but didn't think about the economic side of things much and so let their economic policy be decided by the central banking mafia ..."
"... You should think more about US being aced. Syria was a masterstroke, but so was Ukraine, and not for Russia. Russia lost an extremely valuable ally and a trully brother nation, maybe forever. Ukraine, in the grand scheme of things, is a huge defeat for Russia. ..."
"... You definitely missed last 25 years of Russian-Ukrainian relations. You also, evidently, have very vague understanding of the Ukrainian inner dynamics. I am not sure we can speak of "brother nation" because Ukraine as political nation (and she did form as such by early 2000s) can not be "brother nation" to Russia by definition. In fact, being anti-Russia is the only natural state of Ukrainian political nation ..."
"... As it turned out, Russia is doing just fine without Ukraine. In a long run, if what is called Ukraine today decides to commit suicide by the cop, she sure can try to place US military bases East of Dniepr and we will observe a rather peculiar case of fireworks. ..."
"... It would have been a total catastrophe for Russia had she lost Sebastopol; but so long as Crimea is safely in Moscow's hands, Ukraine is not make-or-break. Russia's global position now, in fact, is even stronger than it was in 2014. ..."
"... Western corporations have been competing with each other (for decades now) to offshore everything to reduce costs /increase profits. The idea is to sell at Western prices and produce at Eastern prices, and this arbitrage has reached crazy proportions. ..."
"... Jews also hate nationalism since it threatens their (minority) power and highlights dual loyalty (or no loyalty) so the Zio-Glob are on one side, and the public on the other, with little common ground between them. ..."
"... At least Brzezinski became well aware of this shift. So many of America's neo-conservatives have largely failed in expressing this defeat. Between Brzezinski and Boot, & the Others, they've all turned out to be fanatic ideologues. ..."
Apr 22, 2019 | www.unz.com

The liberal world order, which lasted from the end of World War 2 until today, is rapidly collapsing. The center of gravity is shifting from west to east where China and India are experiencing explosive growth and where a revitalized Russia has restored its former stature as a credible global superpower. These developments, coupled with America's imperial overreach and chronic economic stagnation, have severely hampered US ability to shape events or to successfully pursue its own strategic objectives. As Washington's grip on global affairs continues to loosen and more countries reject the western development model, the current order will progressively weaken clearing the way for a multipolar world badly in need of a new security architecture. Western elites, who are unable to accept this new dynamic, continue to issue frenzied statements expressing their fear of a future in which the United States no longer dictates global policy.

At the 2019 Munich Security Conference, Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger, underscored many of these same themes. Here's an excerpt from his presentation:

"The whole liberal world order appears to be falling apart – nothing is as it once was Not only do war and violence play a more prominent role again: a new great power confrontation looms at the horizon. In contrast to the early 1990s, liberal democracy and the principle of open markets are no longer uncontested .

In this international environment, the risk of an inter-state war between great and middle powers has clearly increased .What we had been observing in many places around the world was a dramatic increase in brinkmanship, that is, highly risky actions on the abyss – the abyss of war .

No matter where you look, there are countless conflicts and crises the core pieces of the international order are breaking apart, without it being clear whether anyone can pick them up – or even wants to. ("Who will pick up the pieces?", Munich Security Conference )

Ischinger is not alone in his desperation nor are his feelings limited to elites and intellectuals. By now, most people are familiar with the demonstrations that have rocked Paris, the political cage-match that is tearing apart England (Brexit), the rise of anti-immigrant right-wing groups that have sprung up across Europe, and the surprising rejection of the front-runner candidate in the 2016 presidential elections in the US. Everywhere the establishment and their neoliberal policies are being rejected by the masses of working people who have only recently begun to wreak havoc on a system that has ignored them for more than 30 years. Trump's public approval ratings have improved, not because he has "drained the swamp" as he promised, but because he is still seen as a Washington outsider despised by the political class, the foreign policy establishment and the media. His credibility rests on the fact that he is hated by the coalition of elites who working people now regard as their sworn enemy.

The president of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, summed up his views on the "weakening of the liberal world order" in an article that appeared on the CFR's website. Here's what he said:

"Attempts to build global frameworks are failing. Protectionism is on the rise; the latest round of global trade talks never came to fruition. .At the same time, great power rivalry is returning

There are several reasons why all this is happening, and why now. The rise of populism is in part a response to stagnating incomes and job loss, owing mostly to new technologies but widely attributed to imports and immigrants. Nationalism is a tool increasingly used by leaders to bolster their authority, especially amid difficult economic and political conditions .

But the weakening of the liberal world order is due, more than anything else, to the changed attitude of the U.S. Under President Donald Trump, the US decided against joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. It has threatened to leave the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. It has unilaterally introduced steel and aluminum tariffs, relying on a justification (national security) that others could use, in the process placing the world at risk of a trade war .America First" and the liberal world order seem incompatible." ("Liberal World Order, R.I.P.", Richard Haass, CFR )

What Haass is saying is that the cure for globalisation is more globalization, that the greatest threat to the liberal world order is preventing the behemoth corporations from getting more of what they want; more self-aggrandizing trade agreements, more offshoring of businesses, more outsourcing of jobs, more labor arbitrage, and more privatization of public assets and critical resources. Trade liberalization is not liberalization, it does not strengthen democracy or create an environment where human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law are respected. It's a policy that focuses almost-exclusively on the free movement of capital in order to enrich wealthy shareholders and fatten the bottom line. The sporadic uprisings around the world– Brexit, yellow vests, emergent right wing groups– can all trace their roots back to these one-sided, corporate-friendly trade deals that have precipitated the steady slide in living standards, the shrinking of incomes, and the curtailing of crucial benefits for the great mass of working people across the US and Europe. President Trump is not responsible for the outbreak of populism and social unrest, he is merely an expression of the peoples rage. Trump's presidential triumph was a clear rejection of the thoroughly-rigged elitist system that continues to transfer the bulk of the nation's wealth to tiniest layer of people at the top.

Haass's critique illustrates the level of denial among elites who are now gripped by fear of an uncertain future.

As we noted earlier, the center of gravity has shifted from west to east, which is the one incontrovertible fact that cannot be denied. Washington's brief unipolar moment –following the breakup of the Soviet Union in December, 1991 -- has already passed and new centers of industrial and financial power are gaining pace and gradually overtaking the US in areas that are vital to America's primacy. This rapidly changing economic environment is accompanied by widespread social discontent, seething class-based resentment, and ever-more radical forms of political expression. The liberal order is collapsing, not because the values espoused in the 60s and 70s have lost their appeal, but because inequality is widening, the political system has become unresponsive to the demands of the people, and because US can no longer arbitrarily impose its will on the world.

Globalization has fueled the rise of populism, it has helped to exacerbate ethnic and racial tensions, and it is largely responsible for the hollowing out of America's industrial core. Haass's antidote would only throw more gas on the fire and hasten the day when liberals and conservatives form into rival camps and join in a bloody battle to the end. Someone has to stop the madness before the country descends into a second Civil War.

What Haass fails to discuss, is Washington's perverse reliance on force to preserve the liberal world order, after all, it's not like the US assumed its current dominant role by merely competing more effectively in global markets. Oh, no. Behind the silk glove lies the iron fist, which has been used in over 50 regime change operations since the end of WW2. The US has over 800 military bases scattered across the planet and has laid to waste one country after the other in successive interventions, invasions and occupations for as long as anyone can remember. This penchant for violence has been sharply criticized by other members of the United Nations, but only Russia has had the courage to openly oppose Washington where it really counts, on the battlefield.

Russia is presently engaged in military operations that have either prevented Washington from achieving its strategic objectives (like Ukraine) or rolled back Washington's proxy-war in Syria. Naturally, liberal elites like Haass feel threatened by these developments since they are accustomed to a situation in which 'the world is their oyster'. But, alas, oysters have been removed from the menu, and the United States is going to have to make the adjustment or risk a third world war.

What Russian President Vladimir Putin objects to, is Washington's unilateralism, the cavalier breaking of international law to pursue its own imperial ambitions. Ironically, Putin has become the greatest defender of the international system and, in particular, the United Nations which is a point he drove home in his presentation at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 28, 2015, just two days before Russian warplanes began their bombing missions in Syria. Here's part of what he said:

"The United Nations is unique in terms of legitimacy, representation and universality .We consider any attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the United Nations as extremely dangerous. It may result in the collapse of the entire architecture of international relations, leaving no rules except the rule of force. The world will be dominated by selfishness rather than collective effort, by dictate rather than equality and liberty, and instead of truly sovereign nations we will have colonies controlled from outside."(Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly )

Putin's speech, followed by the launching of the Russian operation in Syria, was a clear warning to the foreign policy establishment that they would no longer be allowed to topple governments and destroy countries with impunity. Just as Putin was willing to put Russian military personnel at risk in Syria, so too, he will probably put them at risk in Venezuela, Lebanon, Ukraine and other locations where they might be needed. And while Russia does not have anywhere near the raw power of the US military, Putin seems to be saying that he will put his troops in the line of fire to defend international law and the sovereignty of nations. Here's Putin again:

"We all know that after the end of the Cold War the world was left with one center of dominance, and those who found themselves at the top of the pyramid were tempted to think that, since they are so powerful and exceptional, they know best what needs to be done and thus they don't need to reckon with the UN, which, instead of rubber-stamping the decisions they need, often stands in their way .

We should all remember the lessons of the past. For example, we remember examples from our Soviet past, when the Soviet Union exported social experiments, pushing for changes in other countries for ideological reasons, and this often led to tragic consequences and caused degradation instead of progress.

It seems, however, that instead of learning from other people's mistakes, some prefer to repeat them and continue to export revolutions, only now these are "democratic" revolutions. Just look at the situation in the Middle East and Northern Africa already mentioned by the previous speaker. Instead of bringing about reforms, aggressive intervention indiscriminately destroyed government institutions and the local way of life. Instead of democracy and progress, there is now violence, poverty, social disasters and total disregard for human rights, including even the right to life.

I'm urged to ask those who created this situation: do you at least realize now what you've done?" (Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly)

Here Putin openly challenges the concept of a 'liberal world order' which in fact is a sobriquet used to conceal Washington's relentless plundering of the planet. There's nothing liberal about toppling regimes and plunging millions of people into anarchy, poverty and desperation. Putin is simply trying to communicate to US leaders that the world is changing, that nations in Asia are gaining strength and momentum, and that Washington will have to abandon the idea that any constraint on its behavior is a threat to its national security interests.

Former national security advisor to Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, appears to agree on this point and suggests that the US begin to rethink its approach to foreign policy now that the world has fundamentally changed and other countries are demanding a bigger place at the table.

What most people don't realize about Brzezinski, is that he dramatically changed his views on global hegemony a few years after he published his 1997 masterpiece The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperative. In his 2012 book, Strategic Vision, Brzezinski recommended a more thoughtful and cooperative approach that would ease America's unavoidable transition (decline?) without creating a power vacuum that could lead to global chaos. Here's a short excerpt from an article

he wrote in 2016 for the American Interest titled "Toward a Global Realignment":

"The fact is that there has never been a truly "dominant" global power until the emergence of America on the world scene .That era is now ending .As its era of global dominance ends, the United States needs to take the lead in realigning the global power architecture .The United States is still the world's politically, economically, and militarily most powerful entity but, given complex geopolitical shifts in regional balances, it is no longer the globally imperial power.

America can only be effective in dealing with the current Middle Eastern violence if it forges a coalition that involves, in varying degrees, also Russia and China .

A constructive U.S. policy must be patiently guided by a long-range vision. It must seek outcomes that promote the gradual realization in Russia that its only place as an influential world power is ultimately within Europe. China's increasing role in the Middle East should reflect the reciprocal American and Chinese realization that a growing U.S.-PRC partnership in coping with the Middle Eastern crisis is an historically significant test of their ability to shape and enhance together wider global stability.

The alternative to a constructive vision, and especially the quest for a one-sided militarily and ideologically imposed outcome, can only result in prolonged and self-destructive futility.

Since the next twenty years may well be the last phase of the more traditional and familiar political alignments with which we have grown comfortable, the response needs to be shaped now . And that accommodation has to be based on a strategic vision that recognizes the urgent need for a new geopolitical framework." ("Toward a Global Realignment", Zbigniew Brzezinski, The American Interest )

This strikes me as a particularly well-reasoned and insightful article. It shows that Brzezinski understood that the world had changed, that power had shifted eastward, and that the only path forward for America was cooperation, accommodation, integration and partnership. Tragically, there is no base of support for these ideas on Capital Hill, the White House or among the U.S. foreign policy establishment. The entire political class and their allies in the media unanimously support a policy of belligerence, confrontation and war. The United States will not prevail in a confrontation with Russia and China any more than it will be able to turn back the clock to the post war era when America, the Superpower, reigned supreme. Confrontation will only accelerate the pace of US decline and the final collapse of the liberal world order.


Walt , says: April 13, 2019 at 11:22 pm GMT

Zbig has fially admitted that America needs to become friends with Russia. We can not handle the world alone,but with Russia we would have 90% of the worlds nuclear weapons and vast geopolitical ifluence. Americans do hot have anything against Russia. It is the neocon cabal that is fostering conflict . Thet just can not get over the fact that they tried and failed to take control of Russia. They are trying to do so to the u.S.A.
Walt , says: April 13, 2019 at 11:24 pm GMT
Zbig is right. We need to be friends with Russia , not enemies.
China girl , says: April 14, 2019 at 2:30 am GMT
"2. Russia should become the real leader of the new process. (It has already become it but not yet aware of the fact.) The West and Israel need a strategic alliance with the Muslim world more than anything else, and this alliance is possible only through Russia. Only Russia in an alliance with the Muslim world can keep China in check without conflicts, helping it find its new place in the world as another super-power.

3. Leaders of Russia, America, Israel, Europe, Iran, India, and international financial capitals must initiate a dialogue over leaving this crisis behind and preventing events like those which swept America on September 11.

A time of change is upon us, and it's futile to wish we were living in some other era. We have to change ourselves and change the world "

Novaya Gazeta
No. 75
October 2001
THE THIRD FORCE OF WORLD WAR III

[MORE]

"THE AMERICANS DON'T REALIZE IT YET, BUT CHINA HAS WRITTEN ITS OWN SCRIPT FOR SQUEEZING THE UNITED STATES OFF THE WORLD STAGE. CHINA SUPPORTS ACTIONS OF THE WEST AIMED AT MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION OF RUSSIA AND THE MUSLIM WORLD. THE WEST, RUSSIA, ISRAEL, AND THE MUSLIM WORLD MUST WORK TOGETHER.

THE WESTERN SCRIPT

[ ]

"Using techniques of manipulating public opinion, the West is trying to establish the illusion of a global forces with the fascist- like ideology of Wahhabi fundamentalism. As far as the West is concerned, Wahhabi and Islam are the same thing. It is because of this that the essential terrorism of Wahhabi ideas is being formulated so simply for public consumption: all Muslims are terrorists by nature.

The preliminary objective of brainwashing (Islam is the basis of terrorism) is thus achieved. "

"This script becomes possible when we assume that some Western elites and secret services made a kind of covert pact with this still-unknown Player."

THE CHINESE SCRIPT

[ ]

" Throw a great deal of dollars into the market all at once, and the dollar will crash. A conflict with Taiwan may follow. It will be a conflict waged with American money, with American weapons, investment, and high technology. Add the nuclear factor here. Suffice it to recall the recent scandal when Chinese intelligence obtained all major nuclear secrets of the United States. "

Author: Viktor Minin
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, http://www.wps.ru/e_index.html%5D

http://www.russialist.org/archives/5497-14.php

MarkinLA , says: April 14, 2019 at 3:24 am GMT
What most people don't realize about Brzezinski, is that he dramatically changed his views on global hegemony a few years after he published his 1997 masterpiece The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperative. In his 2012 book, Strategic Vision, Brzezinski recommended a more thoughtful and cooperative approach that would ease America's unavoidable transition (decline?) without creating a power vacuum that could lead to global chaos.

So somebody put forth a deluded crack-pot idea that got great traction and made a lot of people very rich and powerful who want to stay that way, but the originator now says he was wrong and we should change. Yeah, those rich and powerful people just have to agree to give up some of that. How likely is that without a major catastrophe forcing them, given what we know about human nature?

Maybe the lesson is to have realistic ideas about foreign policy and relations in the future. Did anybody seriously believe countries with long histories like Russia and China were always going to be happy playing second fiddle to the US?

Andrei Martyanov , says: Website April 14, 2019 at 6:08 am GMT

Haass's critique illustrates the level of denial among elites who are now gripped by fear of an uncertain future.

True, but their problem is compounded with their fear which is anchored in the past, whose real history blows all current, being discredited as I type this, narratives out of the water. This, plus most of them, Haas and CFR included, do not operate with actual facts and data.

anon [423] Disclaimer , says: April 14, 2019 at 12:45 pm GMT
"The West and Israel need a strategic alliance with the Muslim world"

Unfortunately, this is probably not entirely feasible considering the United States's inappropriately close relationship to Israel and the American government's radical stance of forcing LGBTQ issues; as San Jose proves, these people aren't simply going to leave you alone, but rather they will make you conform under threat. Probably what will happen in the future is a Japan-EU-Russia alliance that makes peace with the Middle East and contains the Chinese military as much as possible.

The US could very well find itself cut out at some point. It has already proved itself both reckless and incompetent with its handling of Iran, Israel, and Venezuela. Also, I suspect that neither ordinary EU citizens nor Asians will want to be ruled over by a group of POC racists who discriminate against Europeans, Asian males, and traditional families.

I think the rest of the world should begin considering alternate defense arrangements. The US cannot afford to defend their interests forever with an aging, shrinking white Caucasian population and a growing, less capable and less conscientious replacement population less willing to die in imperial wars. Increasingly, the US will be less capable of defending others in the Pacific from China as it Affirmative Actions its air force; Obama was trying to do that throughout the whole of the American military and accomplished his objective by lowering standards. I think this process should continue in the future with disastrous results.

In the future, Asia will try to make peace with China before they get too strong and China will reciprocate with generous territorial concessions in exchange for neutrality. For example, the Chinese may relinquish territorial claims in the Philippines in exchange for a treaty stating that the Philippines will not base the American military or buy weapons from them, but they would be allowed to buy weapons from third parties such as the Russians. A series of moves like this might dramatically weaken the American position in the region, allowing China to jumpskip to Africa and the Middle East more effectively. Perhaps a similar deal will be worked out with Taiwan: autonomy and a peace treaty in exchange for no weapon purchases or defense arrangements with the US, but Taiwan could still buy Russian weapons.

"Zbig has fially admitted that America needs to become friends with Russia."

As Karlin has noted, I don't see this happening in the near future, not with the insane levels of anti-Russian hate coming from the American left, some of which is just pure racial hatred of whites projected onto Russians.

bro3886 , says: April 14, 2019 at 1:08 pm GMT
All this is irrelevant in the long run. America will be a third-world country in 50 years or less. Imagine a government filled with AOCs, Omars, and Bookers, with a constituency that matches. Brazil of the North isn't going to be a superpower. We can look on that as a silver lining.
Republic , says: April 14, 2019 at 1:35 pm GMT

The United States will not prevail in a confrontation with Russia and China any more than it will be able to turn back the clock to the post war era when America, the Superpower, reigned supreme. Confrontation will only accelerate the pace of US decline and the final collapse of the liberal world order.

Very dangerous times are ahead. A declining superpower in late empire mode may make risky decisions. I wonder if America will have a Suez event in the upcoming decade? The 1956 Suez crisis heralded the rise of a new superpower and the eclipse of another one.

dearieme , says: April 14, 2019 at 1:37 pm GMT
@anon some of which is just pure racial hatred of whites projected onto Russians

That hadn't occurred to me. But can it be true?

Bill Jones , says: April 14, 2019 at 1:53 pm GMT
"The liberal world order, which lasted from the end of World War 2 until today" Thanks for the laugh. It was over with the passing of the 1947 National Security Act.
Bill Jones , says: April 14, 2019 at 1:57 pm GMT
@Walt I don't know how fucked up you have to be to use "We" to refer to the murderous US State but you should seek competent professional psychiatric assistance, Soon.
anon [275] Disclaimer , says: April 14, 2019 at 3:42 pm GMT
"That hadn't occurred to me. But can it be true?"

The attitudes and political beliefs of your average Russian are very similar to many Red State conservatives, as has been noted on this webzine at least once in recent memory (and with an accompanying political map with similarities noted between American Blue and Red States compared with Russia). The American left projects its racist hate onto the Russians in response to those similarities.

It is not a coincidence that this anti-Russian climate of hatred started back when Putin showed up the left's president, Barack Obama, over Libya.

That also explains the left's hypocrisy on war: their tribe's racial leader, Obama, wanted war in Libya, so war is now good; Russia opposed it and later prevented war in Syria (which Obama wanted), so the Russians are now the bad guys. It's purely a matter of tribal affiliation and racial hate on the part of the American left.

Andrei Martyanov , says: Website April 14, 2019 at 4:21 pm GMT
@Republic

I wonder if America will have a Suez event in the upcoming decade?

She already had it and one is unfolding right this moment. For an empire of this size and influence, granted declining dramatically, it takes a sequence of events. "Suez Moment" for Britain happened during WW II, the actual Suez crisis was merely a nominal conclusion to British Empire dying in WW II.

Anon [332] Disclaimer , says: April 14, 2019 at 4:51 pm GMT
""Suez Moment" for Britain happened during WW II, the actual Suez crisis was merely a nominal conclusion to British Empire dying in WW II."

True. Syria might have been the American Suez Moment. We'll see in the coming years if we get a crisis that lays it all bare.

Andrei Martyanov , says: Website April 14, 2019 at 5:22 pm GMT
@Anon

We'll see in the coming years if we get a crisis that lays it all bare.

Ongoing real Revolution in Military Affairs and US losing conventional (and nuclear) arms race is what unfolds right now. Realistically, Putin's March 1, 2018 Speech to Federal Assembly was also one of these moments -- as I said, the process is protracted and at each of its phases US geopolitical cards have been aced and trumped, NO pun intended.

notanon , says: April 14, 2019 at 6:04 pm GMT
when i read these people i get the impression there are two camps:

1) political globalists who wanted a liberal world order but didn't think about the economic side of things much and so let their economic policy be decided by the central banking mafia

and

2) The central banking mafia who understood globalization was simply their criminal looting of the West backed up by a big military who could be rented out from a corrupted political class.

it seems the first group still don't understand that it was the banking mafia's neoliberal economics
– currency debasement
– usury
– cheap labor
that destroyed their dream.

the same three things have been destroying civilizations for 3000 years.

notanon , says: April 14, 2019 at 6:12 pm GMT

The West and Israel need a strategic alliance with the Muslim world more than anything else, and this alliance is possible only through Russia.

i think this is short-sighted. The global north needs to combine to contain the global south or the central banking mafia will eventually use them to destroy the north's genetic advantages and all our descendants will end up as 85 IQ slave-cattle.

Priss Factor , [AKA "Asagirian"] says: Website April 14, 2019 at 8:37 pm GMT
The liberal world order, which lasted from the end of World War 2 until today, is rapidly collapsing.

Really? Where? US is still in Middle East and now threatens war with Iran. Venezuela is on the brink. Japan and EU are the ever loyal dogs of the US. If they've been upset with Trump, it's not because he wants to exert more influence but less.

Republic , says: April 14, 2019 at 10:48 pm GMT
@Andrei Martyanov

the actual Suez crisis was merely a nominal conclusion to British Empire dying in WW II

The Atlantic charter signed aboard the HMS Prince of Wales, in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland on August 14, 1941 by FDR and Churchill was probably the moment when the old British empire traded places with the new global power, the United States. So you are correct in your analysis.

hgw , says: April 14, 2019 at 10:50 pm GMT
@MarkinLA This is not really about history, it is about power. Many of the US allies have much longer histories, but that does not help them in the power department. China and Russia have enough power to stand only on their own two feet.
hgw , says: April 14, 2019 at 10:54 pm GMT
@Andrei Martyanov You should think more about US being aced. Syria was a masterstroke, but so was Ukraine, and not for Russia. Russia lost an extremely valuable ally and a trully brother nation, maybe forever. Ukraine, in the grand scheme of things, is a huge defeat for Russia.
Anon [341] Disclaimer , says: April 14, 2019 at 11:13 pm GMT

The West and Israel need a strategic alliance with the Muslim world more than anything else, and this alliance is possible only through Russia.

Sberbank calls on UAE businesses to invest in Russia, offers help

"According to the statement, the Gulf countries' total capital available for investment is estimated at more than $3.2 trillion but only "a small part" of capital earmarked for investing in Russia has actually gone into Russia-based projects."

"The Russian visitors set out Sberbank's technology strategy and described achievements by the Moscow-based lender in artificial intelligence development.

They also "pointed out interest in Islamic finance", the statement said."

http://emergingmarkets.me/sberbank-calls-on-uae-businesses-to-invest-in-russia-offers-help/

Andrei Martyanov , says: Website April 15, 2019 at 12:00 am GMT
@hgw

Ukraine, in the grand scheme of things, is a huge defeat for Russia.

You definitely missed last 25 years of Russian-Ukrainian relations. You also, evidently, have very vague understanding of the Ukrainian inner dynamics. I am not sure we can speak of "brother nation" because Ukraine as political nation (and she did form as such by early 2000s) can not be "brother nation" to Russia by definition. In fact, being anti-Russia is the only natural state of Ukrainian political nation.

There is another twist to all this–these are Russians now, who do not want to deal with Ukraine in any of her manifestations and, to rub the salt into the wound, Zbig was delusional when thought that denying Ukraine to Russia would spell the end of Russian "imperialism". As it turned out, Russia is doing just fine without Ukraine. In a long run, if what is called Ukraine today decides to commit suicide by the cop, she sure can try to place US military bases East of Dniepr and we will observe a rather peculiar case of fireworks.

Andrei Martyanov , says: Website April 15, 2019 at 12:11 am GMT
@Republic

The Atlantic charter signed aboard the HMS Prince of Wales,in Placentia Bay,Newfoundland on August 14, 1941 by FDR and Churchill was probably the moment when the old British empire traded places with the new global power, the United States.

This happened in 1941 at secret ABC (America-Britain-Canada) consultations where Lord Halifax was trying to recruit American resources for defense of Britain's imperial interests. US "politely" declined. Big Three became Big Two and a Half at 1943 Tehran Conference at which Stalin was very specific that USSR wanted American as a head of Overlord.

All this pursuant to a strategic scandal between US and British Empire at Casablanca where General Stanley Embick of Marshall's OPD accused Britain in his memorandum of avoiding fighting main Nazi forces due to Britain's imperial interests. Churchill knew the significance of Tehran and suffered non-stop bouts of jealousy and suspicion towards FDR and Stalin.

I am sure Sir Winston knew that FDR wanted to meet Stalin without him. Stalin refused to do so without Churchill. As per "global power"–sure, except for one teeny-weeny fact (or rather facts), since WW II "global power" didn't win a single war against even more-or-less determined enemy.

Digital Samizdat , says: April 15, 2019 at 11:16 am GMT
@hgw

Ukraine, in the grand scheme of things, is a huge defeat for Russia.

It would have been a total catastrophe for Russia had she lost Sebastopol; but so long as Crimea is safely in Moscow's hands, Ukraine is not make-or-break. Russia's global position now, in fact, is even stronger than it was in 2014.

neutral , says: April 15, 2019 at 12:22 pm GMT
@bro3886

Brazil of the North

It will be much worse than Brazil, Brazil managed to cover up the reality that whites dominate politics and the economy (although there is a new push to copy the American affirmative action ideology). In America whites will not be able to do what is happening in Brazil, all politics will be non white dominated, likewise the woke corporate blue haired brigade will ensure that non whites dominate all companies, no exceptions allowed. The end result of this is predictable, Americans will be wishing they were like Brazil.

neutral , says: April 15, 2019 at 1:31 pm GMT
@Republic No it was earlier, it was when it decided to declare war on the Third Reich. It decided that Poland was more important than keeping its empire.
Miro23 , says: April 15, 2019 at 2:07 pm GMT

Globalization has fueled the rise of populism, it has helped to exacerbate ethnic and racial tensions, and it is largely responsible for the hollowing out of America's industrial core.

Western corporations have been competing with each other (for decades now) to offshore everything to reduce costs /increase profits. The idea is to sell at Western prices and produce at Eastern prices, and this arbitrage has reached crazy proportions.

The US has in fact exported whole industrial sectors (with the jobs and innovation). Same in Europe with a company such as Decathlon (Europe's Nº1 sport goods supplier) entirely sourcing its products outside Europe.

Conclusion that if globalization fails, then so do these companies, and they have a massive incentive buy political protection from Western governments – which they are doing. Nationalism and America First are anathema to them and they have (amazingly) managed to built globalization and open frontiers into the ethos of the EU and US – with all the self-serving multicultural Save the World blah.

Jews also hate nationalism since it threatens their (minority) power and highlights dual loyalty (or no loyalty) so the Zio-Glob are on one side, and the public on the other, with little common ground between them.

This doesn't mean that it's impossible to stop outsourcing. If it happened, then Decathlon would either go bankrupt or have to switch production to Rumania or Portugal = higher prices, but at least the money would stay in Europe. Same with the other industries, and the first step has to be to cut down the power of the EU bureaucracy and Washington.

notanon , says: April 15, 2019 at 6:39 pm GMT
@neutral the banking mafia wanted war cos Hitler closed down the German branch of the central bank.

the rest was puppetry.

Willie , says: Website April 18, 2019 at 12:22 am GMT
Just prepare fort the impending surge in Totalitarian methods to halt the inevitable in the USA.
The rest of the world is not our playground.
Good luck.
Alfred , says: April 20, 2019 at 5:42 am GMT
@Andrei Martyanov Haas and CFR included, do not operate with actual facts and data.

Absolutely correct. Without an honest media, it is impossible to make good decisions.

Those Zionists who control the media in the West are deluding themselves. They will be the biggest losers when ordinary people finally wake up to the fact that they have been lied to for over 100 years – WW1, WW2, Palestine, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Russia, Crimea, MH-17, Skripals, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, 9/11 and many other instances.

Oristayne , says: April 20, 2019 at 6:36 am GMT
This is a phenomenal article. What an incredibly written piece; much respect to you Mike Whitney.
Ma Laoshi , says: April 20, 2019 at 7:20 am GMT
Not so fast. OK, so maybe Zbig had some second thoughts about the whole project in 2012. But didn't the same Zbig opine in 2015, at the start of Russia's Syria intervention, that the US should strike hard and fast before the Russkies managed to complete their buildup there? To me that sounded rather much like an unprovoked attack on Russian troops, who were legally in Syria at the invitation of its internationally recognized government.

Bottom line, for all of his far-too-long career Mr. Brzezinski has been exactly what one would expect from the spiritual father of al-Qaeda: a vile and reckless individual. Anyone looking that way for salvation needs some time out for reflection.

Iris , says: April 20, 2019 at 10:58 am GMT

This strikes me as a particularly well-reasoned and insightful article. It shows that Brzezinski understood that the world had changed, that power had shifted eastward,

This is an excellent article, which addresses the key historic driver of our time. By 2015, world GDP had already passed the threshold where the GDP share of the West had become lesser than the share of the Rest.

The major share of global wealth shifting towards Asia is an ineluctable historic re-alignment; it is a natural return to the long-term historic balance pre-Industrial Revolution.

Western politicians ' problem is that they don't want to "break the news" to their people that Western standards of living are going to degrade ineluctably over the coming years , because that would expose their incompetence, as well as highlight the need to address wealth inequality in the West .

It is easier instead to the blame the disenfranchised, pauperised citizens voting for Trump, Brexit, and other "extreme" political parties.

Ahuehuete , says: April 20, 2019 at 4:37 pm GMT
@bro3886 When you think about it, the USA is going to become the next South Africa.
Zbig , says: April 20, 2019 at 10:48 pm GMT
Zbig was, and still is, even tho' he is dead now. He was the original zio-neocon illuminist satantic globalist elite.
Rubby2 , says: April 21, 2019 at 3:24 am GMT
@Walt

At least Brzezinski became well aware of this shift. So many of America's neo-conservatives have largely failed in expressing this defeat. Between Brzezinski and Boot, & the Others, they've all turned out to be fanatic ideologues.

Endgame Napoleon , says: April 21, 2019 at 11:48 pm GMT
@notanon Ralph Nader used to say the big issue is money in politics -- the money that "Congress Critters" use to get their government jobs at $174k. To get one of those government jobs, you don't have to understand something as complex as the banking system, which is made more opaque by the globalist neoliberals who want to maintain the Cheap Labor Lobby's beloved status quo.

You don't have to be Nomi Prins, someone who actually worked on Wall Street and knows its nooks and crannies, to get a Congress Critter job. You just have to be the right kind of pander bear with the right kind of faux outrage at selective moments.

The other problem is that -- like most of us in the general public -- Congress Critters have to rely on people in the financial system to navigate the terrain. It's a math-heavy field. Politicians have apparently always done this. They have created more than one era with too-big-to-fail institutions. That is what one of Prins' books describes.

But it does not matter whether it's bankers or the manufacturers, employing welfare-assisted illegal aliens or foreign nationals on foreign soil. And it does not matter that Congress Critters occasionally put the bigwigs on the hot seat as a PR stunt. They aren't going to do anything to actually change policy unless the corporate masters who fund their campaigns give them the go ahead. And they don't really even understand why.

[MORE]

If you think Congress Critters understand the global banking system, you should watch the banking committee hearing on C-SPAN, where they grilled the Treasury Secretary, dressing him down like he was a $10-per-hour call center worker. It makes for good theater.

Just like at a call center, the humiliation parade had nothing to do with the details of the work or getting anything done other than convincing voters that a bunch of fabulously wealthy legislators (every one) with a 212-day work year really care, especially about predatory factors in the financial system that supposedly affect only oppressed skin-pigmentation factions, located in their districts.

You vicariously enjoy rebellious facial expressions that you could never exhibit during a frequently absentee mom manager's tirades for fear of being fired from a churn job that does not cover the cost of rent that has risen by 72% over 25 years, even when you add any paltry commission for taking the trouble to always meeting your numbers. But that will be the extent of it. It is for show.

My favorite part was Empire-related; it involved the Rep. from Guam, a Congress Critter from one of US's far-flung territories. His mild and precise disposition made a strong contrast with the Chairwoman's fiery ambiguity. Since his questions were math-related and about specific budgetary matters, the Treasury Secretary seemed more frazzled than when he was receiving the emotional Sermon from the gavel-happy chairwoman.

Guam Rep asked the Treasury Secretary about a massive transference of funds from the budget, affecting things like the territory's education budget, trying to clarify whether the Earned Income Tax Credit was actually a "liability."

The language of most of our legislators reflects how bought off they are by the Cheap Labor Lobby. Which is why this Rep from Guam's straight-forward language was so refreshing.

By design, the "Child" "Tax" "Credit" and the Earned Income Tax Credit sound like things that would not subtract from the overall budget to me, too, but this is not money going to people who paid too much income tax. This is money that is credited back to people who make too little to pay income tax.

The moms often call it their "taxes," when explaining to you what they plan to spend it on. It is not education, Rep. from Guam. It is stuff like trips to the beach with a boyfriend and tattoos. That's doable for many low-wage mom workers since their major monthly bills are covered by government.

I enjoyed the Treasury Secretary's facial expressions at this point as well. It appeared to be two math types who didn't really thrive on the process of figuring out how to spin this fiscal irresponsibility, squirming in their chairs and / or looking kind of aghast at the absurdity of the situation.

It would have been nice if the Rep from Guam had been honest enough to narrow that down even more, explaining that the small amount of EITC money going to non-womb-productive, non-welfare-eligible citizens who mostly don't bother to claim such a paltry sum is the not the big issue.

It is the Refundable Child Tax Credit up to $6,431, not so much the smaller maximum EITC of up to $451. It is the big check, given as an additional reward to single-breadwinner, womb-productive households that also often receive free EBT food, reduced-cost rent, monthly cash assistance and free electricity when the single breadwinner works part-time, keeping her income under the earned-income limits for the programs.

He mentioned that Guam has a lot of poor workers like that, but so does the mainland. It is one of the big reasons for the impending collapse: undremployment of prime-aged citizens.

If it is due to technology, it is just because employers of office workers now mostly need data entry people since advanced software does most of the mid-level analytical work. And employers love to hire a near-100% womb-productive "diversity"of childbearing-aged moms with spousal income, rent-covering child support or welfare and refundable child tax credit cash who do not need decent pay or full-time hours. "It would mess them up with the government," as one all-mom employer put it.

Employers benefit from a welfare-fueled workforce that does not need higher pay. The Cheap Labor Lobby benefits. Congress Critters at $174k benefit via fat campaign war chests, but the many welfare-ineligible job seekers who need for pay alone to cover all household bills are screwed royally in this rigged system.

It is also screwing the SS Trust Fund that is no longer running surpluses and a lot of other things.

Guam Rep asked the Treasury Secretary if he was responsible and, specifically, what could he done to help restore fiscal order. Of course, the Treasury Secretary isn't responsible for the mid-allocation of funds. Pandering Congress Critters are. They have the "power of the purse" per US Constitution. The Treasury Sec. just tries to balance the books.

But it was nice that at least one of them showed some non-theatrical concern for finding out which of the six-figure Critters is responsible. He sounded like he wanted constructive action to stop the Neoliberal House of Cards from just putting more structurally unsound cards on the deck.

Good luck with that

[Apr 18, 2019] The result of Yeltsin neoliberal mafia rule was the largest after 1941-1945 kill off of Russians in modern history: Yeltsin plus Harvard Business School being responsible for many more deaths than even the intoxicated propagandist Robert Conquest ever dreamed of.

Notable quotes:
"... Skripal was just one more effort to tighten sanctions against Putin's allies in the Russian oligarchy and isolate Trump from foreign policy initiatives not approved by the Deep State. ..."
"... The significance of the NY Times story, then, is that, inadvertently it reinforces the reality that in the matter of Russiagate and Trump all roads lead to London, the Tory Establishment, which has been living off US-Russian tensions for seventy years and security agencies doing what the CIA cannot do for itself. ..."
Apr 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Apr 17, 2019 9:13:07 AM | link

Craig Murray has a piece on this today. There is nothing very new in what he writes but he sees the significance of this story, which is not about ducks or children or Donald Trump's personality but a concerted and thorough campaign, carried out largely by British state actors, to deepen the 'west's' isolation of Russia.

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

The real story of both the Cold War and the continually recurring propaganda stories about the "millions" of "victims of communism" is that the Soviet Union was manipulated throughout its history by capitalist control over the international economy. Like a demonic organist capitalist governments pulled out all the stops to control the moods and the policies of a state that the Bolsheviks never did get to rule.

In the end the Politburo gave in and did what the 'west' had always been wanted which is to hand over the country, lock, stock and population to the cannibals of capital.

The result being what was probably, after the 1930-45 war, the largest kill off of Russians in modern history: Yeltsin plus Harvard Business School being responsible for many more deaths than even the intoxicated propagandist Robert Conquest ever dreamed of.

It is that total control over Russia, through the manipulation of its economy, and the direction of its capitalists, that is behind the long series of sanctions, which are being added to every day: their purpose is to re-invent Yeltsinism, re-empower the Fifth Column in the Kremlin, and, in a stroke, re-establish the inevitable and eternal hegemony of the Washington centered Empire.

In this work the assistance of the 'cousins'in MI6 and GCHQ, plus the entire British military establishment has been crucial in a period in which the subservience of POTUS to the Deep State was, thanks to the underestimation of his electoral chances, very much in question. During a period in which Trump had to be tamed and brought under control the UK Establishment's assistance in coming up with a series of highly publicised interventions was crucia l.

Lysias points out that Haspel had acted as the CIA's Head of Station in London in 2016. It was in London that the entire "Russiagate" nonsense was put together, with British based actors continually prodding Congress, the media and the Democrats to act on revelations regarding Papadopolous, Mifsud, Stefan Halper.

Skripal was just one more effort to tighten sanctions against Putin's allies in the Russian oligarchy and isolate Trump from foreign policy initiatives not approved by the Deep State. The significance of the NY Times story, then, is that, inadvertently it reinforces the reality that in the matter of Russiagate and Trump all roads lead to London, the Tory Establishment, which has been living off US-Russian tensions for seventy years and security agencies doing what the CIA cannot do for itself.

[Apr 16, 2019] CIA Director Used Fake Skripal Incident Photos To Manipulate Trump

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The U.S. alone expelled 60 Russian officials. Trump was furious when he learned that EU countries expelled less than 60 in total. A year ago the Washington Post described the scene: ..."
"... Today the New York Times portraits Gina Haspel's relation with Trump. The writers seem sympathetic to her and the CIA's position. They include an anecdote of the Skripal expulsion decision that is supposed to let her shine in a good light. But it only proves that the CIA manipulated the president for its own purpose: ..."
"... Ms. Haspel showed pictures the British government had supplied her of young children hospitalized after being sickened by the Novichok nerve agent that poisoned the Skripals. She then showed a photograph of ducks that British officials said were inadvertently killed by the sloppy work of the Russian operatives. ..."
"... Ms Haspel was not the first to use emotional images to appeal to the president, but pairing it with her hard-nosed realism proved effective: Mr. Trump fixated on the pictures of the sickened children and the dead ducks. At the end of the briefing, he embraced the strong option. ..."
"... If the NYT piece is correct, the CIA director, in cooperation with the British government, lied to Trump about the incident. Their aim was to sabotage Trump's announced policy of better relations with Russia. The ruse worked. ..."
"... The NYT piece does not mention that the pictures Gina Haspel showed Trump were fake. It pretends that her lies were "new information" and that she was not out to manipulate him: ..."
"... The job of the CIA director is to serve the president, not to protect the agencies own policies. ..."
"... The 1970s movie 3 Days of The Condor is about the evils of the See Eye A. Also they create trial balloon in the movie about taking middle east oil. This later happens in real life with NeoCon See Eye A stooges - Poppy Bush then later GW Bush-Cheney, Clintons and Oboma all agency owned men. ..."
"... The head of the See Eye A is to serve the elites-Central banksters not the President. They did not serve JFK. Any President who crosses the central bankers aka roth-schilds ends up dead. ..."
"... It is interesting to see that nations that have traditionally been pro-American feel that the threat posed by American power is growing. ..."
"... Haspel was CIA station chief in London in 2016, when U.S. and Brit intel agencies conspired to stop Trump's candidacy. In her position, Haspel had to know about the plotting, more likely she participated in it. That Brennan supported her argues for the latter. ..."
"... Photos of fake dead ducks and fake sickened children confirm the Skripal story is, in turn, completely fake. It says a lot that the NY Times either does not know this or that its contempt for its readership matches the contempt by which the intelligence agencies hold for their putative boss. ..."
"... Thanks for bringing this Skripal segment to light, b, as most of us don't read the NY Times in any form. Haspel likely had a hand in the planning of the overall scheme of which the Skripal saga and Russiagate are interconnected episodes. Clearly, the Money Power sees the challenge raised by Russia/China/Eurasia as existential and is trying to counter hybridly as it knows its wealth won't save it from Nuclear War. ..."
"... after integrity initiative, we know the uk is full of shite on most everything... thus, the msm will not be talking about integrity initiative.. ..."
"... once Teresa May has spoken in Parliament, and Trump committed to expelling embassy staff, there is no way any alternative version of the truth is possible. ..."
"... Skripal of course was a colleague of Steele, and possibly the only person he asked to get info for the dossier beyond what Nellie Ohr had already given him. His evidence might have been crucial. The CIA and others have a strong motive to kill Skripal and a stronger one to blame the Russians. ..."
"... The fact that the 'Dirty Dossier' and the 'Skripal "story"' both originate in one and the same small town in the UK, tells you all you need to know about both. ..."
"... Haspel will not be fired. ..."
"... It is clear the USA, France, Israel and UK are fasting approaching ungovernable .. no one in government can keep the lies of the other hidden, and none of the governed believes anyone in government, the MSM, the MIC or the AIG (ATT, Intel and Google). .. ..."
"... The actors in government, their lawyers, playmates and corporations have become the laughing stock of the rest of the world. ..."
Apr 16, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

An ass kissing portrait of Gina Haspel, torture queen and director of the CIA, reveals that she lied to Trump to push for more aggression against Russia.

In March 2018 the British government asserted, without providing any evidence, that the alleged 'Novichok' poisoning of Sergej and Yulia Skripal was the fault of Russia. It urged its allies to expel Russian officials from their countries.

The U.S. alone expelled 60 Russian officials. Trump was furious when he learned that EU countries expelled less than 60 in total. A year ago the Washington Post described the scene:
President Trump seemed distracted in March as his aides briefed him at his Mar-a-Lago resort on the administration's plan to expel 60 Russian diplomats and suspected spies.

The United States, they explained, would be ousting roughly the same number of Russians as its European allies -- part of a coordinated move to punish Moscow for the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil.

"We'll match their numbers," Trump instructed, according to a senior administration official. "We're not taking the lead. We're matching."

The next day, when the expulsions were announced publicly, Trump erupted, officials said. To his shock and dismay, France and Germany were each expelling only four Russian officials -- far fewer than the 60 his administration had decided on.

The president, who seemed to believe that other individual countries would largely equal the United States, was furious that his administration was being portrayed in the media as taking by far the toughest stance on Russia.

The expulsion marked a turn in the Trump administration's relation with Russia:

The incident reflects a tension at the core of the Trump administration's increasingly hard-nosed stance on Russia: The president instinctually opposes many of the punitive measures pushed by his Cabinet that have crippled his ability to forge a close relationship with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.

The past month, in particular, has marked a major turning point in the administration's stance, according to senior administration officials. There have been mass expulsions of Russian diplomats, sanctions on oligarchs that have bled billions of dollars from Russia's already weak economy and, for the first time, a presidential tweet that criticized Putin by name for backing Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

Today the New York Times portraits Gina Haspel's relation with Trump. The writers seem sympathetic to her and the CIA's position. They include an anecdote of the Skripal expulsion decision that is supposed to let her shine in a good light. But it only proves that the CIA manipulated the president for its own purpose:

Last March, top national security officials gathered inside the White House to discuss with Mr. Trump how to respond to the nerve agent attack in Britain on Sergei V. Skripal, the former Russian intelligence agent.

London was pushing for the White House to expel dozens of suspected Russian operatives, but Mr. Trump was skeptical.
...
During the discussion, Ms. Haspel, then deputy C.I.A. director, turned toward Mr. Trump. She outlined possible responses in a quiet but firm voice, then leaned forward and told the president that the "strong option" was to expel 60 diplomats.

To persuade Mr. Trump, according to people briefed on the conversation, officials including Ms. Haspel also tried to show him that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were not the only victims of Russia's attack.

Ms. Haspel showed pictures the British government had supplied her of young children hospitalized after being sickened by the Novichok nerve agent that poisoned the Skripals. She then showed a photograph of ducks that British officials said were inadvertently killed by the sloppy work of the Russian operatives.

Ms Haspel was not the first to use emotional images to appeal to the president, but pairing it with her hard-nosed realism proved effective: Mr. Trump fixated on the pictures of the sickened children and the dead ducks. At the end of the briefing, he embraced the strong option.

The Skripal case was widely covered and we followed it diligently (scroll down). There were no reports of any children affected by 'Novichok' nor were their any reports of dead ducks. In the official storyline the Skripals, before visiting a restaurant, fed bread to ducks at a pond in the Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury.

They also gave duck-bread to three children to do the same. The children were examined and their blood was tested. No poison was found and none of them fell ill . No duck died. (The duck feeding episode also disproves the claim that the Skripals were poisoned by touching a door handle.)

If the NYT piece is correct, the CIA director, in cooperation with the British government, lied to Trump about the incident. Their aim was to sabotage Trump's announced policy of better relations with Russia. The ruse worked.

The NYT piece does not mention that the pictures Gina Haspel showed Trump were fake. It pretends that her lies were "new information" and that she was not out to manipulate him:

The outcome was an example, officials said, of how Ms. Haspel is one of the few people who can get Mr. Trump to shift position based on new information.

Co-workers and friends of Ms. Haspel push back on any notion that she is manipulating the president. She is instead trying to get him to listen and to protect the agency, according to former intelligence officials who know her.

The job of the CIA director is to serve the president, not to protect the agencies own policies. Hopefully Trump will hear about the anecdote, recognize how he was had, and fire Haspel. He should not stop there but also get rid of her protector who likely had a role in the game:

Ms. Haspel won the trust of Mr. Pompeo, however, and has stayed loyal to him. As a result, Mr. Trump sees Ms. Haspel as an extension of Mr. Pompeo, a view that has helped protect her, current and former intelligence officials said.

Posted by b on April 16, 2019 at 08:37 AM | Permalink


Russ , Apr 16, 2019 9:02:41 AM | link

I don't see how it's possible to manipulate someone (and especially the US president) into doing something they don't want to do with lies like the ones described here. On the contrary presidents, CEOs etc. favor the staffers who tell them the kind of lies they want to hear in order to reinforce what they wanted to do in the first place.

I've never seen any reason to alter my first position on Trump, that like any other president he does what he wants to do.

Jerry , Apr 16, 2019 9:14:30 AM | link
The 1970s movie 3 Days of The Condor is about the evils of the See Eye A. Also they create trial balloon in the movie about taking middle east oil. This later happens in real life with NeoCon See Eye A stooges - Poppy Bush then later GW Bush-Cheney, Clintons and Oboma all agency owned men.

The joke 7in the final scene Robert Redford tells See Eye A man Cliff Robertson that he gave all the evidence to the NY Times. What a joke. The NY Times and the Wash Post are the mouthpieces for the SEE Eye A. The AP news sources most of their stories from those two papers and other lackey See Eye A newspapers.

One final criticism in moon's story. The head of the See Eye A is to serve the elites-Central banksters not the President. They did not serve JFK. Any President who crosses the central bankers aka roth-schilds ends up dead.

manny , Apr 16, 2019 9:15:16 AM | link
Ms. Haspel, then deputy C.I.A. director

After this, she got the top job, so what is the real lesson here? Sociopathic liars get promoted....or you can tell the truth, try to be honorable and fade into obscurity.. In a nest of psychos, you have to really be depraved to become the top psycho...

Nuke it for orbit, it's the only way to be sure...

Sally Snyder , Apr 16, 2019 9:35:40 AM | link
Here is an article that looks at whether nations around the world regard the United States or Russia as the greater threat to their nation:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2019/03/which-is-greater-threat-russia-or.html

It is interesting to see that nations that have traditionally been pro-American feel that the threat posed by American power is growing.

donkeytale , Apr 16, 2019 9:40:06 AM | link
b

Backing up Russ's point, when will you realise the "buck stops" on Trump's desk for any and all departments he oversees, which are run by his appointees? Trump is dedicated to creating a neoconservative foreign policy melded to a neoliberal economic policy favouring his corporate fascist sponsors. Recently, you've been all over the Assange indictment, Trump's relationship with Nuttyahoo and the related rollback of JCPOA. Is this what you want to see continued into a second term?

There is much evidence to show Trump and the GOP working steadily towards a "democracy" where Congress is castrated (one might say the system castrates Congress anyway), opposing candidates are jailed, opposition votes are suppressed and the media is weakened to the point where no one can tell the difference.

They haven't got there quite yet but once the judiciary is controlled by GOP ideologues it's game over. And McConnell is dedicating his life to make that the reality ASAP.

Meanwhile back at the ranch we are dedicated to knocking down any and all potential opposition to this GOP hostile takeover for some reason I've yet to fathom.

BM , Apr 16, 2019 9:42:46 AM | link
Hopefully Trump will hear about the anecdote, recognize how he was had, and fire Haspel. He should not stop there but also get rid of her protector who likely had a role in the game[Pompeo]

Hopefully yes to all four propositions. Why am I sceptical though (except conceivably the first)?

Mataman , Apr 16, 2019 9:45:30 AM | link
The story veers into complete fiction when it claims that pictures of dead ducks had any effect on Trump. He doesn't like, nor care about animals. He's the first POTUS in decades I believe to not even pretend to like dogs by having an official White House dog and every policy his Administration can take against animals, they have taken. I'm not even sure I buy the spin that he cared about dead kids either. And NYT readers know this about him, so I don't understand what the point of peddling this fiction is other than to paint Torture Queen in some kind of good light (and we KNOW that she certainly doesn't care about dead anything).
the pair , Apr 16, 2019 10:08:18 AM | link
another example of trump's stupidity and pathological inability to think for himself. he gets his views from fox and his policy from bolton. his equally vapid daughter and kushner whine to him about sooper sad syria pictures they saw in a sponsored link while googling for new tmz gossip.

even worse that this is the twat in charge of one of russiagate's main instigating "deep state" agencies. he spent the entirety of his presidency railing against their various lies then takes this wankery at face value. it's just like the "chinese soldiers in venezuela"; if those pictures were legit they'd have been splattered over every front page and permanently attached to screeching cnn and msnbc segments demanding trump "finally get tough" on "putin's russia".

my only surprise is that she didn't tell him about british babies ripped from incubators and dipped in anthrax powder.
the nyt shilling for a soCIopAth? not that surprising.

Twiki , Apr 16, 2019 10:43:11 AM | link

The consultant in emergency medicine at Salisbury hospital wrote to The Times, shortly after the Skripal incident. His choice of words was odd, and some have said they indicate no novichok poisoning occurred. Leaving that to one side, his letter certainly puts paid to the idea that more than three people (the Skripals and the policeman, DCI Bailey) were poisoned. https://www.onaquietday.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/DocSaysNoNerveAgentInSalisbury.jpg
bjd , Apr 16, 2019 10:43:51 AM | link
" the nerve agent attack in Britain on Sergei V. Skripal, "

There was no attack on the Skripals. or on anyone else. The Russophobia in whose context it falls, is of a higher order, in which a fabricated narrative of a Skripal-like attack had an important function. The Skripals were perfectly happy to lend their name to the fabrication, and are living happily, probably in New Zealand.

Jackrabbit , Apr 16, 2019 10:59:48 AM | link
The Daily Beast article that b linked to describes how many serious, well-informed people felt that Haspel was unsuitable to lead the CIA. Even more strange and troubling was that Haspel was supported by Trump's nemesis, John Brennan.

Despite all that, MAGA Trump still nominated her. Any notion that Trump is at odds with, or "manipulated" by, Haspel, Bolton, or Pompeo is just propaganda. We've seen such reporting before (esp. wrt Bolton) and Trump has taken no action.

Babyl-on , Apr 16, 2019 11:04:28 AM | link
I see that Trump derangement is alive and well here at MoA. Commenters talk as if Trump is the first president stupid enough to be manipulated by the security agencies and shadow government sometimes referred to as a "deep state". People don't have to be historians or look back to Rome, just read the books about how the great general who "won WWII" was used by the oligarchy which had full control of US foreign policy throughout Eisenhower's term in office.

Works produced after WWII, C. Wright Mills, The Power elite was written in 1956,The Brothers and The Divil's Chessboard each about the Dulles Brothers and how they operated US foreign policy for the interests of the oligarchy, and the work Peter Phillips, GIANTS: The Global Power Elite and the work of David Rothkopf which thoroughly describes the feudal system under which the Western cultures are ruled.
The US government is a pantomime it is a show it has no power.

How many here can honestly say they understand that the US dollar itself and the ENTIRE GLOBAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM is privately owned. Why do you think the "banks were bailed out"? because the banks were in power not the government. The US is 22 trillion in debt - the oligarchy is the creditor - take over the US gov. and you have a powerless pile of debt.

Around 6,000 people control 85% of global assets until that changes nothing will change. The oligarchy won virtually all the mines and control the price of all basic commodities necessary for modern life, the internet, oil of course and more.

What is failing and what has failed over and over for 500 years is Western Civilization and its three "great religions" which preach obedience, oppression, domination by a one god suffocating mythology.

But the oligarchy doesn't own just the basic commodities, it owns the religions and it owns the drugs and all illegal trade as well.

Western "civilization" is really nothing more than one vast feudal kingdom, with royal courts in DC, Tel Aviv and Ryiadh. Wheather there is a god or not, religion is made of flesh and blood not miracles. No Rabbi or Priest or Imam claims visitations by god to instruct them on doctrine - they are flesh and blood and they want power so they behave like sycophants to the money they need to expand their power...all for the good souls under their care.

Jackrabbit , Apr 16, 2019 11:16:08 AM | link
Correction @13 Trump's supposed nemesis. Trump has brought several friends and associates of his enemies into his Administration:
  • VP Pence: John McCain's buddy
  • Bolton: a neocon (neocons were "Never Trump", remember?)
  • Wm Barr: close with Mueller
  • Haspel: Brennan's gal at CIA
And Trump himself was close to the Clintons.
lysias , Apr 16, 2019 12:00:59 PM | link
Haspel was CIA station chief in London in 2016, when U.S. and Brit intel agencies conspired to stop Trump's candidacy. In her position, Haspel had to know about the plotting, more likely she participated in it. That Brennan supported her argues for the latter.
Jose Garcia , Apr 16, 2019 12:08:01 PM | link
What can we expect from a tv personality who became a US president? A man who ran with an advertisement worthy of a business man like him, "Make America Great Again." How does he go about doing it? Giving more money to the military industrial-Congressional complex, even though we are really flat broke. Using aggressive tactics used by Wall Street in hostile company takeovers to really intimidate other nations. And hire and place those he really agrees with in important positions who really reflect his true feelings. I'm sure when he spoke with Haspel before offering her the job, he brought up the topic of torture and agreed with her on its use on terrorists.
Jackrabbit , Apr 16, 2019 12:24:11 PM | link
lysias @18: conspired to stop Trump's candidacy

I think there's a reasonable case to be made that they conspired not to stop Trump but to further speculation of Trump's "collusion" with Russia (what would later be known as Russiagate). The "collusion" and "Russia meddled" accusations are what fueled the new McCarthyism.

juliania , Apr 16, 2019 12:28:54 PM | link
I'll just add to Jerry's comment at #3 that the final line in the movie "Day of the Condor" is something like "But will they print it?" which really spoke to the message of the film in its entirety. The condor being an endangered bird for whom the hero is named, and the beginning outrage being the brutal murder of book lovers researching useable plot details for the 'company'makes this message current and applicable to what we see in the Skripal case. And instead of librarians, we now have online commenters, a doughty breed, and we have Assange.

Instead of 'Will they print it?' I am wondering 'Will they make another movie about it?'

"Day of the Condor: Part Two." Some Day.

Ross , Apr 16, 2019 12:41:17 PM | link
Remind me, where is Yulia Skripal these days? Well and truly 'disappeared' it seems. The mask is off. the snarling face of the beast is there for all to see.
Kiza , Apr 16, 2019 12:49:37 PM | link
What a total waste of an article discussing a story published in NYT or WaPo.

b, the World has divided itself into those who consume alternative media such as this and stupidos who consume MSM. There is nothing in-between that you are attempting to discuss and dissect here. NYT = cognitive value zero.

Fake News not worth one millisecond of our time, not even to decode what the regime wants us to know, we know all that already. Personally, I am only interested in the new methods of domestic repression, what is next after the warning of Assange arrest, future rendition and torture. The Deep Stare appears to be coming out into open, will it soon get rid of the whole faux democracy construct and just use iron fist to rule? It already impose its will as the rule of law. All of the Western block is heading in this direction.

jayc , Apr 16, 2019 1:00:38 PM | link
Photos of fake dead ducks and fake sickened children confirm the Skripal story is, in turn, completely fake. It says a lot that the NY Times either does not know this or that its contempt for its readership matches the contempt by which the intelligence agencies hold for their putative boss.
Piotr Berman , Apr 16, 2019 1:11:24 PM | link
The story veers into complete fiction when it claims that pictures of dead ducks had any effect on Trump. He doesn't like, nor care about animals. Mataman | Apr 16, 2019 9:45:30 AM

This assumes that Trump would primarily care about the ducks (and children) when he approved a massive expulsion, rather that his image and "ah, in that case it would look bad if we do not do something really decisive".

In any case, I was thinking why NYT would disclose something like that. The point is that readers of Craig Murray (not so few, but mostly Scottish nationalists who are also leftist and have scant possibilities and/or inclination to vote in USA) and MoonOfAlabama would quickly catch a dead fish here, but 99.9% of the public is blissfully unaware of any incongruences in the "established" Skripal narrative.

Piotr Berman , Apr 16, 2019 1:22:03 PM | link
BTW, it is possible that the journalist who scribbled fresh yarn obtained from CIA did it earnestly. Journalists do not necessarily follow stories that they cover -- scribbling from given notes does not require overtaxing the precious attention span that can be devoted to more vital cognitive challenges. I am lazy to find the link, but while checking for news on Venezuela, I stumbled on a piece from Express, a British tabloid, where Guaido was named a "figurehead of the oposition" supported by "450 Western countries". My interpretation was that more literate journalists were moved for to more compelling stories as Venezuela went to the back burner.
JOHN CHUCKMAN , Apr 16, 2019 1:28:11 PM | link
Yes, indeed, the Skripal Affair is one of the obviously contrived stunts we've seen. Just outrageous in its execution. On a par with the US having a man who didn't even run for president of Venezuela swear himself in and then pressure everyone to accept him as president.

Interesting, I had no idea Gina Haspel - aka, The Queen of Blood - played a role. I thought it was all original dirty work by Britain's Theresa May. Boy, I hope people are through with the false notion that if women just get into leadership, the world will become a better gentler place.

Here's some interesting background:

Noirette , Apr 16, 2019 1:28:44 PM | link
Macron was (afaik?) the only EU 'leader' who was quoted in the MSM as bruiting re. the Skripal affair a message like:

.. no culpability in the part of Russia has been evidenced .. for now...

I suppose he was enjoined to shut his gob right quick (have been reading about brexit so brit eng) as nothing more in that line was heard.

Hooo, the EU expelled a lot of Russ. diplomats, obeying the USuk, which certainly created some major upsets on the ground.

Some were expelled, went into other jobs, other places, but then others arrived, etc. The MSM has not made any counts - lists - of names numbers - etc. of R diplos on the job - anywhere. As some left and then others arrived.

Once more, this was mostly a symbolic move, if extremely nasty, insulting, and disruptive.

Theresa May's speech re. Novichok, Independent 14 March 2018:

.. on Monday I set out that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a Novichok: a military grade nerve agent developed by Russia. Based on this capability, combined with their record of conducting state sponsored assassinations – including against former intelligence officers whom they regard as legitimate targets – the UK Government concluded it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for this reckless and despicable act. ..

https://ind.pn/2XcAIk4

Cost her a consequent amount of political capital. - Everyone knows the Skripal story is BS.

semiconscious , Apr 16, 2019 1:31:34 PM | link
@25 & @26:

imo, the media has, once again, simply taken its lead from trump himself, & started making things up completely. & you're absolutely correct in pointing out that, much like trump's true believers, the msm's targeted audience never even notices...

karlof1 , Apr 16, 2019 1:53:44 PM | link
Thanks for bringing this Skripal segment to light, b, as most of us don't read the NY Times in any form. Haspel likely had a hand in the planning of the overall scheme of which the Skripal saga and Russiagate are interconnected episodes. Clearly, the Money Power sees the challenge raised by Russia/China/Eurasia as existential and is trying to counter hybridly as it knows its wealth won't save it from Nuclear War.
james , Apr 16, 2019 2:03:20 PM | link
after integrity initiative, we know the uk is full of shite on most everything... thus, the msm will not be talking about integrity initiative..

what i didn't know is what @18 lysias pointed out.."Haspel was CIA station chief in London in 2016, when U.S. and Brit intel agencies conspired to stop Trump's candidacy. In her position, Haspel had to know about the plotting, more likely she participated in it. That Brennan supported her argues for the latter." ditto jr's speculation @20 too...

so gaspel shows trump some cheap propaganda that she got from who??

my main problem with b's post - i tend to see it like kiza @23) is maintaining the idea trump isn't in on all of this.. the thought trump is being duped by his underlings.. if he was and it mattered, he would get rid of them.. the fact he doesn't says to me, he is in on it - get russia, being the 24/7 game plan of the west here still..

c1ue , Apr 16, 2019 2:03:56 PM | link
Please stop listening to idiot libertarians and their "US is flat broke" meme. The reality is that: so long as Americans transact in dollars, the United States government can tax anytime it feels like by issuing new dollars via the Fed.

Equally, so long as 60% of the world's trade is conducted in dollars, this is tens to hundreds of billions of dollars of additional taxation surface area. The MMT people - I don't agree 100% with everything they say, but they do understand the actual operation of fiat currency.

The people who want a hard currency are either wealthy (and understand that conversion to hard currency cements their wealth) or are useful idiots who don't understand that currency devaluation is the single easiest way to tax in a democracy.

Michael Droy , Apr 16, 2019 2:12:37 PM | link
Well this could be Syria, not Salisbury!

I doubt Haspel knew the ducks were fake - she was probably just given stuff to pass up the chain. It is a lot like John Kerry who was shown convincing satellite data of the BUK launch that hit MH17 - but no one could be bothered to pass on even the launch site coordinates to the JIT. I'm sure this stuff goes on all the time, and of course, once Teresa May has spoken in Parliament, and Trump committed to expelling embassy staff, there is no way any alternative version of the truth is possible.

Skripal of course was a colleague of Steele, and possibly the only person he asked to get info for the dossier beyond what Nellie Ohr had already given him. His evidence might have been crucial. The CIA and others have a strong motive to kill Skripal and a stronger one to blame the Russians.

bjd , Apr 16, 2019 2:25:23 PM | link
The fact that the 'Dirty Dossier' and the 'Skripal "story"' both originate in one and the same small town in the UK, tells you all you need to know about both.
fastfreddy , Apr 16, 2019 2:48:31 PM | link
Haspel will not be fired.
Russ , Apr 16, 2019 3:02:51 PM | link
@c1ue | Apr 16, 2019 2:03:56 PM | 32

"The people who want a hard currency are either wealthy (and understand that conversion to hard currency cements their wealth) or are useful idiots who don't understand that currency devaluation is the single easiest way to tax in a democracy."

The useful idiocy is most surprising among US farmers. In the 19th century they broadly understood that fiat money was good for chronic low-wealth debtors like themselves, while hard money was bad and a gold standard lethal. This was the basis of the Populist movement. Nothing has changed financially, but today's farmers, and the low-wealth debtor class in general, seem more likely to be goldbuggers than to have any knowledge of economics or of their own political history.

karlof1 36

Once a faction becomes submerged in the Mammon theocracy and becomes nothing but mercenary nihilists, thinking is no longer necessary or desirable, except to come up with attractive, pseudo-plausible lies.

This certainly characterizes "the right" (including liberals), but they have no monopoly on it. By now "the left" is nearly as thoughtless and instrumental on behalf of Mammon, except to the extent that a few people are starting to really grapple with what it means to have an intrinsically ecocidal and therefore suicidal civilization. That's really the only thought frontier left, all else has been engulfed in Mammon, productionism, scientism and technocracy.

snake , Apr 16, 2019 3:29:24 PM | link
@7 ..Trump and the GOP working steadily towards a "democracy" where Congress is castrated (one might say the system castrates Congress anyway), opposing candidates are jailed, opposition votes are suppressed and the media is weakened to the point where no one can tell the difference. https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/15/593529/Ecuadoran-president-sold-off-Assangeto-America-Ron-Paul

I remind that Mussolini wasted his legislature.. 1 balmy after noon @ a roadside spot. it made his government stronger.?

It is clear the USA, France, Israel and UK are fasting approaching ungovernable .. no one in government can keep the lies of the other hidden, and none of the governed believes anyone in government, the MSM, the MIC or the AIG (ATT, Intel and Google). ..

The actors in government, their lawyers, playmates and corporations have become the laughing stock of the rest of the world. Everyone in the government is covering for the behaviors of someone else in government, the MSM has raised the price of a pencil to just under a million, stock markets are bags of hot thin air, and everyone in side and outside of the centers of power at all levels of government have lied thru their teeth so much that their teeth are melting from the continuous flow of hot deceitful air.

Corrupt is now the only qualification for political office, trigger happy screwball the only qualification for the police and the military and . making progress is like trying to conduct a panty raid at a female nudist camp.

John Anthony La Pietra , Apr 16, 2019 3:47:03 PM | link
https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0073802/quotes?ref_=m_tt_trv_qu

Higgins: Hey, Turner! How do you know they'll print it? You can take a walk, but how far if they don't print it?

Joe Turner: They'll print it.

Higgins: How do you know?

[Apr 09, 2019] Russians halt search for intelligent life in Washington by Bryan Hemming

Apr 08, 2019 | off-guardian.org

Russian research team which claimed to have detected signs of intelligent life in Washington has now discovered the life there not to be quite so intelligent after all.

A Russian spokesman, who wishes to remain anonymous, told our Moscow science correspondent -- who also wishes to remain anonymous -- that the Washington atmosphere has been poisoned by huge clouds of putrid hot air belching from the corporate media. He explained that such a hostile environment makes it almost impossible for intelligent life to survive, let alone evolve a sustainable culture. The Russian team believes there may still be small pockets of intelligent life elsewhere on the North American continent but without the necessary conditions they need to thrive they are destined to disappear without trace.

Speaking off the record, the Russian spokesman, who asked us not to disclose his identity, added that hopes of finding intelligent life in London, Paris, Berlin and other Western European locations, where it might be expected to flourish, are fading fast. Though it is believed intelligent life once existed in Occiental Europe, an atmosphere suitable for the maintenance of such life has all but evaporated.

[Apr 08, 2019] New Russia Penalties Face `Sanctions Fatigue' in U.S. Congress - Bloomberg

Apr 08, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

Tough talk about the need to punish Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election is running into the reality that Congress's enthusiasm for additional sanctions is waning.

"We face a little bit of sanctions fatigue around here these days," said Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the sponsor of one of the bills aimed at Russia. "Hopefully we'll get more people on board."

Two main proposals are circulating aimed at increasing pressure on Russian individuals and companies by restricting their access to U.S. markets and capital. Both Senate bills received significant attention in 2018 after President Donald Trump failed to condemn Russia for its election meddling, but they lost steam after November's midterm elections and aren't moving any faster in this year's Congress.

Many lawmakers still want Russia to face stronger consequences for its actions in the U.S. and elsewhere, but there's no clear consensus on how to send the right message to the Kremlin. Two other factors add to the hesitation: concern about unintended economic consequences, and the difficulty of passing legislation in a divided Congress when the measures don't have the president's support.

"Sanctions can often be a double-edged sword," said Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. "So we really should take a little bit of a step back and assess where we are and what we can really do."

Sovereign Debt

Markets are closely watching the next U.S. moves on sanctions, since any action may affect Russia's sovereign debt. The ruble has depreciated against the dollar since 2014, when the U.S. imposed sanctions on during the Obama administration.

Read more: All About the U.S. Sanctions Aimed at Putin's Russia

Senators Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, in February reintroduced their DASKA Act , which would impose sanctions on Russian individuals, cyber operations and liquid natural gas export facilities. The legislation calls for the president to " prescribe regulations " for sanctions on sovereign debt issued 90 days after the law is enacted. The bill would also reinforce support for NATO, and would create a new office in the State Department to respond to cyber threats.

The other Senate bill, the DETER Act , was reintroduced last week by Rubio and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. It would require the Director of National Intelligence to tell Congress on any foreign interference within 60 days of a federal election. If a Russian violation is found, sanctions would target that country's political figures and its energy and defense sectors. Sanctions could also extend to government and state-owned company bonds issued after the bill is signed into law.

Van Hollen said the current version of his bill includes an option for the president to waive sanctions in the interest of "national security." Senators considered adding this provision in 2018 as an escape valve that would improve its chances of getting a floor vote, after the Treasury Department warned of potential economic spillover.

Previous versions of both bills failed to advance at the end of 2018 as Congress turned its focus to government spending measures, judicial nominations and a farm bill.

Van Hollen said the new version would deter Russian misbehavior because it would punish future action.

"We're not talking about adding new sanctions now, we're sending a clear signal that if you screw around in our elections again, there's going to be swift and severe punishment," he said. "It makes much more sense to tie a sanction to future conduct to deter the conduct."

The U.S. has sanctioned roughly 700 Russian entities since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea and fostered unrest in eastern Ukraine. Other sanctions were imposed following the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the poisoning of a former Russian agent and his daughter in the U.K. in March 2018.

Lawmakers last year stepped up the push for legislation compelling new sanctions after Trump sparked bipartisan outcry when he stood beside Russian President Vladimir Putin following a one-on-one summit in Helsinki and said he believed Putin's denial of Russia interference in U.S. elections.

Mueller Momentum

While senior lawmakers now express mixed feelings about what to do next, the upcoming release of portions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of the 2016 election and the Trump campaign could bring renewed attention to the sanctions bills.

"You'll see more interest in this from other members who may not have been as involved when they can see the full Mueller report," said Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia and vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

Some key lawmakers are taking their time, though, as they try to decide the best next steps. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Jim Risch, an Idaho Republican, said he isn't backing any particular proposal at this time.

'It's Getting Worse'

"The purpose is to persuade people to adjust their conduct, and it's not happening," Risch said. "In fact, if anything it's getting worse. That's what is causing the discussion."

Risch said he couldn't "really judge what the appetite is" in the Senate for more sanctions, but he'd like to see a strong stance from the U.S. "I'm interested in seeing Russia change their conduct," he said. "And the Russian administration, they're not nice people. They do bad things."

Jim Risch Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a Democrat on Risch's committee, said Congress's willingness to further punish Russia will also hinge on that country's participation in other conflicts around the world.

"We're seeing their activities in Venezuela," Shaheen said of Russia's support for the faltering Nicolas Maduro regime that the U.S. has sought to transition out of power. "If we see those kinds of activities continue, that there will be a growing appetite for additional sanctions."

Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat also on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Congress should be thinking "a little more creatively about how to make Russia pay a price." Murphy said the focus should be on how to address underlying geopolitical problems, rather than focusing on isolated punitive measures.

"We could spend our time talking about actual long-term strategies to try to combat Russia's influence, or we could spend all our time slapping sanctions on Russian individuals and banks," Murphy said. "The former is probably more important than the latter."

[Apr 08, 2019] Opinion Russians Always Knew There Was No Collusion

Russiagate is about keeping Russian down via additional sections. As simple as that. Epidemics of Neo-McCarthyism also helps to cement cracks in the US neoliberal facade and, as such, is very helpful for the US elite.
It also absolves Neoliberal Democrats of the political fiasco of the century -- rejection of establishment candidate by the majoring of working Americans which happened when Hillary Clinton was defeated by a person with zero political experience and no political patty behind him.
Notable quotes:
"... "The results of Mueller's investigations are a disgrace to the U.S. and their political elite. It's now confirmed that all their allegations have been plucked out of thin air. The media have played a shameful role of lie-mongers in a campaign built on lies. The adherents of this conspiracy theory are discredited. Only an idiot can believe them now." ..."
"... We've seen anti-Russian xenophobia spread into the American mainstream. Etched in our minds are comments like the one James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, made in an interview when he said that Russians are "almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever." ..."
"... To those of us who paid attention to American media and politics over the past two years, it quickly became clear that too many in the United States know nothing about our country. ..."
Apr 08, 2019 | www.nytimes.com
... ... ...

Alexey Pushkov, a former diplomat and a political analyst, tweeted to his 360,000 followers on Tuesday , following the release of Attorney General William Barr's summary of the report:

"The results of Mueller's investigations are a disgrace to the U.S. and their political elite. It's now confirmed that all their allegations have been plucked out of thin air. The media have played a shameful role of lie-mongers in a campaign built on lies. The adherents of this conspiracy theory are discredited. Only an idiot can believe them now."

To the Kremlin and its supporters, Russia is the aggrieved party here, and the government's consistent denials of interfering in America's internal affairs have been fully vindicated. Appearing on the Russian talk show "60 Minutes," Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, said the ministry was preparing a report to name and shame the "brigade of propagandists" -- pointing at, among others, Fareed Zakaria -- who tried to tie Mr. Trump to Russia. She added that "apologies are expected."

... ... ...

...it becomes clear that whatever the outcome of the Mueller investigation, our relationship with America has changed.

We've seen anti-Russian xenophobia spread into the American mainstream. Etched in our minds are comments like the one James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, made in an interview when he said that Russians are "almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever."

... ... ...

In the atmosphere where "contacts with Russians" has become cause for suspicion, every bank transaction and visa application faces extra scrutiny. I've heard from people I know about how exchange programs, conferences and businesses are suffering.

To those of us who paid attention to American media and politics over the past two years, it quickly became clear that too many in the United States know nothing about our country. Ominous images of onion-shaped domes taking over the White House baffled us; St. Basil's Cathedral is not part of the Kremlin complex and has no political connotation. The ubiquity of hammers and sickles in visuals accompanying Trump-Russia reports seemed likewise absurd. Our country hasn't been Communist for about 30 years.

[Mar 31, 2019] What is the purpose of Russiagate hysteria?

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The purpose is very simple: to create the perception that the government of Russia still somehow controls or manipulates the US government and thus gains some undeserved improvements in relations with the U.S. Once such perception is created, people will demand that relations with Russia are worsened to return them to a "fair" level. While in reality these relations have been systematically destroyed by the Western establishment (CFR) for many years. ..."
"... It's a typical inversion to hide the hybrid war of the Western establishment against Russian people. Yes, Russian people. Not Putin, not Russian Army, not Russian intelligence services, but Russian people. Russians are not to be allowed to have any kind of industries, nor should they be allowed to know their true history, nor should they possess so much land. ..."
"... Russians should work in coal mines for a dollar a day, while their wives work as prostitutes in Europe. That's the maximum level of development that the Western establishment would allow Russians to have (see Ukraine for a demo version). Why? Because Russians are subhumans. ..."
"... The end goal of the Western establishment is a complete military, economic, psychological, and spiritual destruction of Russia, secession of national republics (even though in some of them up to 50% of population are Russians, but this will be ignored, as it has been in former Soviet republics), then, finally, dismemberment of what remains of Russia into separate states warring with each other. ..."
"... The very concept of Russian nation should disappear. Siberians will call their language "Siberian", Muscovites will call their language "Moscovian", Pomorians will call their language "Pomorian", etc. The U.S. Department of State will, of course, endorse such terminology, just like they endorse the term "Montenegrian language", even though it's the same Serbo-Croatian language with the same Cyrillic writing system. ..."
Mar 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

S , Mar 30, 2019 8:51:37 PM | link

@b:
What is the purpose of making that claim?

The purpose is very simple: to create the perception that the government of Russia still somehow controls or manipulates the US government and thus gains some undeserved improvements in relations with the U.S. Once such perception is created, people will demand that relations with Russia are worsened to return them to a "fair" level. While in reality these relations have been systematically destroyed by the Western establishment (CFR) for many years.

It's a typical inversion to hide the hybrid war of the Western establishment against Russian people. Yes, Russian people. Not Putin, not Russian Army, not Russian intelligence services, but Russian people. Russians are not to be allowed to have any kind of industries, nor should they be allowed to know their true history, nor should they possess so much land.

Russians should work in coal mines for a dollar a day, while their wives work as prostitutes in Europe. That's the maximum level of development that the Western establishment would allow Russians to have (see Ukraine for a demo version). Why? Because Russians are subhumans.

Whatever they do, it's always wrong, bad, oppressive, etc. Russians are bad because they're bad. They must be "taught a lesson", "put into their place". It would, of course, be beneficial and highly profitable for Europeans to break with Anglo-Saxons and to live in peace and harmony with Russia, but Europeans simply can not overcome their racism towards Russians. The young Europeans are just as racist, with their incessant memes about "squatting Russians in tracksuits", "drunken Russians", etc., as if there's nothing else that is notable about a country of 147 million people.

The end goal of the Western establishment is a complete military, economic, psychological, and spiritual destruction of Russia, secession of national republics (even though in some of them up to 50% of population are Russians, but this will be ignored, as it has been in former Soviet republics), then, finally, dismemberment of what remains of Russia into separate states warring with each other.

The very concept of Russian nation should disappear. Siberians will call their language "Siberian", Muscovites will call their language "Moscovian", Pomorians will call their language "Pomorian", etc. The U.S. Department of State will, of course, endorse such terminology, just like they endorse the term "Montenegrian language", even though it's the same Serbo-Croatian language with the same Cyrillic writing system.

[Mar 15, 2019] Trump Administration, Canada And EU Hit Russia With Fresh Sanctions

Hate of Russia national runs deep with the infected bowels of the State Department. Sounds like Neo-cons saber rattling and wanting to start WWIII over a bunch of Ukrainian Neo-Nazis installed thanks to Victoria Nuland.
So much for detente with Russia. Trump proved to be just a marionette of MIC...
Sentiments about Trump at Zerohedge noticeably deteriorates since 2016
Mar 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
The US State Department announced on Friday that it would be joining the European Union and Canada to impose new sanctions against Russia in response to the Kremlin's "continued aggression in Ukraine."

Sanctions will apply to six "individuals who orchestrated the unjustified November 25 attack on three Ukrainian naval vessels near the Kerch Strait."

Also sanctioned by the United States are eight companies, including six Russian defense firms, "including shipbuilding companies; two individuals involved in the NOvember sham "elections" in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine; and two Russian energy and construction companies operating in Crimea."

Read the State Department announcement below:

Washington – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated six Russian individuals and eight entities in response to Russia's continued and ongoing aggression in Ukraine. Today's action targets individuals and entities playing a role in Russia's unjustified attacks on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait, the purported annexation of Crimea, and backing of illegitimate separatist government elections in eastern Ukraine. These actions complement sanctions also taken today by the European Union and Canada, and underscore the strength and commitment of the transatlantic partnership to counter Russia's continued destabilizing behavior and malign activities.

"The United States and our transatlantic partners will not allow Russia's continued aggression against Ukraine to go unchecked. This joint initiative with our partners in the European Union and Canada reinforces our shared commitment to impose targeted and meaningful sanctions in response to the Kremlin's attempts to disregard international norms and undermine Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. "The international community is strongly aligned against Russia's naval attacks in the Kerch Straight, purported annexation of Crimea, and support for the illegitimate separatist-conducted elections in eastern Ukraine."

OVERVIEW

Five years after its invasion of Ukraine and its attempted annexation of Crimea, Russia continues to undermine Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity while failing to implement its obligations under the Minsk agreements. On November 25, 2018, Russian authorities opened fire on and rammed three Ukrainian ships off the coast of Crimea, seizing the ships and capturing 24 Ukrainian crew members, who remain illegally detained in Russia. Russia also continues its occupation of Crimea, and the Kremlin has also backed illegitimate elections held by Ukrainian separatists in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic on November 11, 2018.

As a result of today's designations, all property and interests in property of the designated individuals and entities are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from transacting with them. Moreover, any entities owned 50 percent or more by these designated persons are also blocked by operation of law.

Designations Related to Russia's Attack in the Kerch Strait

OFAC today sanctioned four Russian officials who were involved in the Kerch Strait attack. OFAC designated Gennadiy Medvedev, the Deputy Director of the Border Guard Service of Russia's Federal Security Service; Sergey Stankevich, the Head of the Border Directorate of Russia's Federal Security Service; and Andrey Shein, the Deputy Head of the Border Directorate and Head of the Coast Guard Unit of Russia's Federal Security Service. Medvedev and Stankevich directly controlled and organized the attack against the Ukrainian ships and their crew, while Shein participated in the operation against the seized Ukrainian ships and crew.

OFAC also designated Ruslan Romashkin, the Head of the Service Command Point of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.

Medvedev, Stankevich, Shein, and Romashkin are being designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13661 for being officials of the Government of the Russian Federation.

DESIGNATIONS RELATED TO RUSSIA'S PURPORTED ANNEXATION OF CRIMEA

Today's action also targets six Russian defense firms with operations in Crimea, several of which misappropriated Ukrainian state assets to provide services to the Russian military. Four of these entities are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13662 for operating in the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy, and two entities are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13685 for operating in the Crimea region of Ukraine.

Yaroslavsky Shipbuilding Plant is a Russian state-owned shipbuilding plant that has built vessels for Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Russian Ministry of Defense. Yaroslavsky Shipbuilding Plant is also the project developer for a naval vessel that was completed at the Federal SUE Shipyard "Morye" in Crimea. Yaroslavsky Shipbuilding Plant is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13662 for operating in the defense or related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy.

Zelenodolsk Shipyard Plant, named after A.M. Gorky, is one of the largest ship manufacturers in Russia and has produced missile frigates and corvettes for the Russian Navy. The Zelenodolsk Shipyard Plant has collaborated with Crimea-based enterprise Skloplastic, which was unlawfully nationalized by the Russian government following its illegal invasion of Crimea in 2014. The Zelenodolsk Shipyard Plant is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13662 for operating in the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy.

AO Kontsern Okeanpribor (Okeanpribor) is a producer of hydroacoustic equipment and has supplied components to the Russian Navy. Okeanpribor has also collaborated on a naval project at the Federal SUE Shipyard "Morye" in Crimea. Federal SUE Shipyard "Morye" was designated by OFAC on September 1, 2016. Okeanpribor is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13662 for operating in the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy.

PAO Zvezda (Zvezda) is a supplier of diesel engines to the Russian Navy. Zvezda has also supplied components for Russian naval vessels that were being built at the Federal SUE Shipyard "Morye" in Crimea. Zvezda is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13662 for operating in the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy.

AO Zavod Fiolent (Fiolent) is a Crimea-based electronics manufacturer that has supplied parts for use in Russian military equipment. Fiolent was unlawfully seized by the Russian Federation following its annexation of Crimea in 2014. Fiolent is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13685 for operating in the Crimea region of Ukraine.

GUP RK KTB Sudokompozit (Sudokompozit) is a Crimea-based producer of defense components that are supplied for Russian military use. Sudokompozit was unlawfully seized by the Russian Federation following its annexation of Crimea in 2014. Sudokompozit is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13685 for operating in the Crimea region of Ukraine.

OFAC also designated the following two entities pursuant to E.O. 13685, due to their activities in Crimea.

LLC SK Consol-Stroi LTD is being designated for operating in the Crimea region of Ukraine. LLC SK Consol-Stroi LTD, a limited liability company registered in the city of Simferopol, Crimea, is one of Crimea's largest construction companies. LLC SK Consol-Stroi LTD is engaged in the construction of residential and commercial real estate in cities throughout the Crimea region including, among others, Feodosia, Kerch, Yalta, Simferopol, Sevastopol, and Yepatoria.

LLC Novye Proekty is being designated for operating in the Crimea region of Ukraine. In 2016, Russian authorities awarded the private company Novye Proekty an oil and gas exploration license for the Crimean Black Sea shelf. The Crimean shelf is believed to be rich in hydrocarbons and authorities in Ukraine have reported that Ukraine lost about 80 percent of its oil and gas deposits in the Black Sea due to Russia's purported annexation of Crimea. Novye Proekty's license permits geological studies, prospecting, and the extraction of raw hydrocarbon materials from the Black Sea's Glubokaya block. Prior to Russia's purported annexation of Crimea the Glubokaya block was estimated to hold reserves of 8.3 million tons of crude and 1.4 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

DESIGNATIONS RELATED TO ILLEGITIMATE SEPARATIST GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS IN UKRAINE

Today's action also targets two Ukrainian separatists who were involved in the organization of the November 2018 illegitimate elections in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic. These illegitimate elections clearly contradict Russia's commitments under the Minsk agreements, and were strongly opposed by the United States and EU.

Aleksey Alekseevich Naydenko is the Deputy Chair of the Central Election Commission of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic. Naydenko is being designated for being responsible for or complicit in, or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Vladimir Yurievich Vysotsky is the Secretary of Central Election Commission of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic. Vysotsky is being designated for being responsible for or complicit in, or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine.

View identifying information on the individuals designated today.


Insufferably Insouciant , 10 minutes ago link

Bizazze choice of wording in the official text:

" DESIGNATIONS RELATED TO RUSSIA'S PURPORTED ANNEXATION OF CRIMEA"

purported

/pərˈpôrdəd/

adjective

  1. appearing or stated to be true, though not necessarily so; alleged.

There is nothing "purported" about it, it was true and as legitimate as it could possibly be.

Then under "DESIGNATIONS RELATED TO ILLEGITIMATE SEPARATIST GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS IN UKRAINE" they claim that Russia violated its committments under Minsk 2, which the US never officially recognized. Minsk 2 intended increased sovereignty for the Oblasts under a new Ukraine Federal constitutional arrangement. That constitutional amendment has never been initiated by Kiev, with the blessing of Uncle Sam. It is the Ukraine puppet government who is in violation of Minsk 2.

If the US wrote this, assume the opposite to be true.

smacker , 47 minutes ago link

[Article]: " Sanctions will apply to six "individuals who orchestrated the unjustified November 25 attack on three Ukrainian naval vessels near the Kerch Strait." "

Translation: "The propaganda lunacy will continue". "We will keep telling the same old same old lies until people believe them".

My understanding of that incident is that the Ukrainian boats had some unexplained special forces people on board and they refused to pull over when ordered to. From Russia's view, there was a real risk of these people planning to plant explosives to blow up the Kerch bridge.

OpTwoMistic , 42 minutes ago link

Can you imagine Russia building missile batteries in Mexico or Cuba? That is what US has done in Ukraine.

nope-1004 , 33 minutes ago link

Now it appears that no matter which government is in power they go along with the aggressive agenda of the US.

Been like that since the '50's, just that you believed that the economy and world was good.

Voting matters ZERO. The lie you are made to believe is that there is a choice when voting, when in fact the ruling party is the financial engineers and bankers behind all governments.

Voting is a waste of time. The heart of the beast is the USD reserve and the Rothschild empire. Once we abolish that pig, all western governments implode under their own weight of cheap talk and empty "policy".

dirty dogs , 50 minutes ago link

Don't forget the paint company that Russia used on their assault boats to scratch those Ukie ships.

No Justice No Peace!

666D Chess , 1 hour ago link

The evidence that the orange swine is a Rothschild Trojan Horse is overwhelming at this point. Only a scumbag or an absolute imbecile would fail to see it. Fvck you orange roach.

2handband , 1 hour ago link

You might recall that I said as much right from the beginning of the campaign...

666D Chess , 1 hour ago link

I didn't read your comments at that time but I tip my hat to you. I realised that everything he said during the campaign was bullsh!t after he started appointing Goldman Sachs bankers to his cabinet...

marcel tjoeng , 1 hour ago link

The USA government is quite the set of loathsome filth,

[Mar 07, 2019] Wooing the Russians: how Spain and Italy are trying to lure back lost tourists by Stephen Burgen & Stephanie Kirchgaessner & Alec Luhn

This is from 2015. Not much changes since the introduction of sanctions.
Sep 04, 2015 | The Guardian

MaoChengJi -> andy4248 4 Sep 2015 22:10

"Russians are brainwashed daily that the West is an awful place and we are going to invade them at any moment. " Oh rather you're brainwashed daily that Russia is an awful place where Russians are brainwashed daily that the West is an awful place and we are going to invade them at any moment.

I'm pretty sure not a single Russian believes that the west is going to invade. For reasons that are obvious, or should be obvious.

runner911 -> notoriousANDinfamous 5 Sep 2015 04:23

You must be joking ! 70 per cent of Americans do not know what the Constitution is, and six per cent don't even know when Independence Day falls. In a recent survey just over a half of Americans didn't know what the Taliban are , despite the fact they led the charge in Afghanistan.

When looking at a map of the world, young Americans had a difficult time correctly identifying Iraq (1 in 7) and Afghanistan (17%). This isn't that surprising, but only a slim majority (51%) knew where New York was. According to Forbes and National Geographic, an alarming 29% couldn't point to the Pacific Ocean.

Many didn't know where Europe is let alone Spain.

Americans cultural ? What a hoot !

runner911 -> jezzam 5 Sep 2015 04:09

Be assured Russia is more than capable of defending itself against Western ( USA ) aggression, plus they hold the biggest nuclear arsenal on the planet , so lets be clear no-one is going to attack Russia and risk nuclear annihilation in return. As regards being surrounded by NATO, how do you think the yanks would react if the same were to apply to the USA and that sad corrupt country was surrounded by Russian Forces ? The last time it happened in 1962, as I recall the yanks were whining like whipped dogs, but eventually agreed to dismantle their missiles in Turkey provided the Russians did the same in Cuba.

Beckow -> notoriousANDinfamous 5 Sep 2015 11:59

You lost the argument, so you are trying to change the subject. Now we can see why Western media doesn't allow an open discussion - you don't have much to say.

East-central Europe was invaded by Germans, Russians, Ottomans, French, even the Swedes. Germans murdered about 15 million people here. Ottomans (Turks) about 10 million. Russians liberated us from a murderous German occupation after WWII and stayed way too long...

Russian victims are in tens of thousands. Given that Russians lost about 1.5 million soldiers liberating us from Germans and saved us from planned extermination by Nazis over time, we keep some perspective about it. But I am not sure your ideological and slogan-driven thinking would understand any of it...

EugeneGur -> zenithmaster 5 Sep 2015 11:43

This has zero to do with Russia's poor relations with the EU and everything to do the Russians' smaller spending power.

This is not quite true. You underestimate the power of the sentiment. One example: Russian tourism to Estonia dropped 60% after the scandal with the Bronze soldier in 2007, long before any decrease in the buying power, and it never recovered.

You are right, of course, that the decreased value of the ruble affected mass tourism, but the effect was multiplied by the anger towards Europe, believe me, it was. Going through the visa process was always annoying and humiliating but under the present circumstances it became unbearable. This one thing that affects all European countries whether its Bulgaria or Italy.

MaoChengJi -> jezzam 5 Sep 2015 09:56

Yeah, something like what thecorporateclass said above.

I'll add this: deep down even people like you don't believe in any Russian 'invasion' in Ukraine. They know: if Russia did invade, it would've been over long time ago. The question, rather, is about Kiev regime's control of the border, which would amount to a blockade of Donetsk-Lugansk republics; blocking all the supplies, attacking from all directions, and exterminating people who feel ethnically Russian.

This can not happen: it would've brought the Russian government down, and therefore no Russian government could participate in it; be it led by Putin, Dugin, or Navalny, or anyone at all. It's just a physical impossibility. IMO.

TheCorporateClass -> jezzam 5 Sep 2015 06:37

The West agrees to drop this missile shield, Putin agrees to stop his military interference in Ukraine.

This needs correcting IF it is to work as a solution.

The West agrees to drop this missile shield, agrees to stop it's interventions into Ukrainian government and it's politics, agrees to stop FUNDING and GUIDING far right neo-nazi militias and their political wings, agrees to stop making intentionally false/unproven/fictional accusations against Russia & Putin's Government, stops providing military intelligence to Ukraine (a non-Nato country), and admits to the direct connection between the externally caused "political and social" instability in Ukraine begun by EU/NATA and the externally caused "political and social" instability and then Civil War in Syria with oil/gas supplies from Russia and Qatar ... then that would be a great first step towards the truth of matters bullshit.

Then all of Russia and Putin at their ELECTED President would no doubt agree to stop his humane military interference in Ukraine on behalf of those people having their human rights and lives taken by ideologically driven psychopaths and their corrupt crazies from Washington, Berlin, Riyadh, Doha, and Tel Aiv.

Simple really.

HollyOldDog -> raffine 5 Sep 2015 04:59

Whereas there are convoys of Russian trucks that are stopping the East Ukrainians of starving to death. The only 'gifts' that West Ukraine gives to their East compatriates is constant shelling, grad missile fire, mine fields and snipers that shoot any East Ukrainians on sight whether they are men ,women or children.

MaoChengJi -> jezzam 4 Sep 2015 23:48

I believe the western anti-missile installations along the Russian borders give the impression that the US is trying to break the MAD balance and create, at some point in the future, a defense against retaliatory nuclear strike. That seems like the only rational explanation for those installations. For do you think they are for?

MaoChengJi -> andy4248 4 Sep 2015 22:10

"Russians are brainwashed daily that the West is an awful place and we are going to invade them at any moment. "

Oh rather you're brainwashed daily that Russia is an awful pleace where Russians are brainwashed daily that the West is an awful place and we are going to invade them at any moment.

I'm pretty sure not a signle Russian believes that the west is going to invade. For reasons that are obvious, or should be obvious.

crackling -> MaoChengJi 4 Sep 2015 22:03

fingerprints is copying GWBush's data collection on citizens and visitors to the US - last night I just had my photo and fingerprints taken on customs entry to Taiwan - I expect it's becoming the norm these days.

Beckow -> notoriousANDinfamous 4 Sep 2015 21:22

Address Obama's admission that "US assisted in the transition of power", why do you skip over it? $15 billion was a loan and it was used for the Ukrainian budget. If someone stole some of it, prove it and charge them.

I never said that Russians didn't try to influence Kiev, but so did US - listen to the recording, it assigns roles for different protest leaders. Ashton was an EU official and she was standing with the protestors - so were many others, incl. Nuland, ambassador, etc... - that goes way beyond "trade agreement".

I am a Slovak and I comment on anything I feel like. If you have a problem with that, maybe you don't understand democracy and freedom of speech. By the way, most people in my part of Europe (from Budapest to Vienna to Prague) roughly share my view of the situation. We know Russians, we know Ukrainians, and we can judge for ourselves.

Popeyes -> andy4248 4 Sep 2015 19:45

It's very sad but Russians are for more aware of what's going on politically than their Western counterparts. The fact that they have a low opinion of Westerners is hardly surprising and they certainly don't have to be " brainwashed ' by the Kremlin to know what's going on. They only have to look at Iraq, Libya, and Syria, Ukraine the list is endless to figure it out. You could blame GM food for the fact that Americans seem to be pretty dim and clueless on Europeans affairs, but as for the rest of Europeans I guess they are the ones that are really "brainwashed".

Beckow -> notoriousANDinfamous 4 Sep 2015 19:32

Thou protest too much.

The "baroness" was an EU foreign secretary, that's pretty high up. In addition: US ambassador, assistant sec for Europe (Nuland), and a number of other officials were at the Maidan protests - videos and all.

The recording was very specific about who (Yats) should be Prime Minister and how it should be done. If US also does that in Spain, that's even a bigger problem.

$5bn is a lot of "civil organizations" - most of it in the last 5-10 years. Russia gave a loan - that is very different.

Finally, Obama literally said "we assisted with the transition of power in Ukraine"
what other proof can one possible have than an admission by the chief?

By the way I used the term "assist in an overthrow". To "orchestrate" is more pro-active. Given what has been made public there definitely was "assistance" (see Obama's statement above), whether that amounts to "orchestrate" like in 1953 Iran, I would leave to the historians.

Beckow -> notoriousANDinfamous 4 Sep 2015 18:52

There are videos of dozens of Western leaders standing on the podium with the demonstrators on Maidan (just imagine Lavrov joinig an Occupy protest in New York or London).

There are recordings of Nuland deciding on who will run Ukraine ("f...k Europe").

US spent 5 billion in 20 years on "civil groups" in Ukraine.

If you prefer an infantile denial, I can't help you. Just don't be surprised if you become irrelevant.

Beckow -> dmitryfrommoscow 4 Sep 2015 18:34

Yes it was always mostly about the visa-free access to EU. Ukrainians want to move to Europe for jobs, benefits, school, etc... That was what drove Maidan energy (and US took advantage of it).

But your numbers are off. There are about 1 million Ukrainians now in EU, mostly in UK, Czech, Hungary and Poland. E.g. Poland has about 400,000 new Ukrainian migrants. The real large numbers are yet to come. I think they will - they are watching the Syrians and getting jealous, worried that all the empathy will be used up. Slovakia (my country) has camps ready on the border. We also suddenly have a lot of Ukrainians who have discovered the Slovak (or Czech) heritage. The same thing is going on in Poland, Romania and Hungary.

Millions are coming. And they won't be tourists or have money for Italian hotels. But I am sure the Western media will find a way to blame it on Russia. Such are the pleasures of dead-end ideologies, everything is very simple: "Putin did it!."

Beckow -> notoriousANDinfamous 4 Sep 2015 18:26

"US didn't orchestrate a coup in Ukraine and hasn't offered Kiev a military alliance"

I suppose that would depend on your definition of "orchestrate" and a "coup". Most rational observers would agree that US at a minimum assisted with the Maidan revolution (or a coup). There are videos, recordings, financial transfers. Until the whole Maidan thing went bad, the US State Department was very open about the assistance that they had provided on Maidan, Obama said "we assisted with the transition of power in Ukraine" (actual quote).

US has said since 2008 that Ukraine will join Nato. They reiterated it last year and Ukraine has an official policy of joining Nato. There are joint exercises and training with Nato. It is rather conclusive that US and Ukraine are having a "military alliance".

Given those two facts how can you deny it? Or do you also deny the nose between your eyes?

magicmirror1 4 Sep 2015 18:11

Fingerprints to get a visa.

Welcome to democratic EU. This is the future European leaders are building and I cannot understand why.

dmitryfrommoscow -> Ola Smith 4 Sep 2015 16:46

Ola, the problem is there are no 45 million people in Ukraine these days. As many as 2.8 million people with Ukrainian passports work and live in Russia alone. And I think twice as many live and work in the EU. And about five to seven million are in a crouch start position to rush elsewhere at the first opportunity that avails itself. After all the Maidan hullabaloo was about getting free access to European -- and probably North American -- job markets and disappearing there for good. Let's throw aside all that talk about 'democracy and values' and be honest about it.

[Feb 26, 2019] As for fake news, France, for example, adopted a law that filters the media space the way it wants. The Russian media Russia Today and Sputnik are political outcasts.

Notable quotes:
"... When we suggest turning to universally approved OSCE documents that reject as unacceptable any obstacles standing in the way of the public or journalists getting access to information, we are told that this was the case in 1990 and should remain there. ..."
"... It wasn't us that bombed Libya and turned it into a "black hole." It still remains such and through it bandits, terrorists and arms traffickers travel to the Sahara-Sahel zone whereas migrants are heading to the north. Therefore, we leave it up to them to deal with those who are responsible for this. ..."
"... Apparently, the international legal space is being fragmented – the US is doing this all along the way while the EU is isolating itself when it comes to a number of issues. The processes that are taking place in Eurasia may also be interpreted as isolation at some point but in reality we want to launch something that will become all-embracing. ..."
"... Maybe, there is a rational idea in everything that is taking place. As Vladimir Lenin used to say, "before uniting it is necessary resolutely to draw lines of demarcation." Maybe, we should be fragmented to understand who the main global players are. ..."
Feb 26, 2019 | www.mid.ru

Question:

We are now saying that the world is changing and the interdependence of states is growing. Do you think international regulation, for instance, in communications, can be radically improved in perspective? Because of fake news navigation in the sea of information leaves much to be desired. Is it possible to regulate a host of other things related to migration flows and capital management? Is it possible to raise international regulation to a new level or is this altogether impossible? Will countries continue to strike unstable alliances for shorter or longer periods of time or are there grounds to hope for an improvement of this situation?

Sergey Lavrov:

This question is fairly controversial. In brief, currently this regulation that should be ideally based on universal principles of international law is being replaced with narrowly interpreted rules elaborated in a narrow circle of states.

As for fake news, France, for example, adopted a law that filters the media space the way it wants. The Russian media Russia Today and Sputnik are political outcasts. They are not allowed to visit the Elysee Palace or attend any special events. When we address French officials in this context, they tell us that everything is correct because in their view these are propaganda instruments rather than news agencies. This is what regulation is all about.

When we suggest turning to universally approved OSCE documents that reject as unacceptable any obstacles standing in the way of the public or journalists getting access to information, we are told that this was the case in 1990 and should remain there.

There are other examples as well. When France failed to use the OPCW exclusively for passing remotely a verdict on who is guilty and who is not in violation of all conceivable norms of the Chemical Weapons Convention, it took the initiative to establish an International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons that was not linked with any international structures. A few months later the EU made a decision to the effect that if the new structure reveals violators, Brussels will impose sanctions on them. This is, of course, regulation but this regulation is based on the narrow interpretation of broad interests by an individual group of countries.

As for the internet, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has been talking for years, if not decades, about the way the internet should function so as to not offend anyone. No results have been produced and there will not be any in the foreseeable future for obvious-to-all reasons. I have practically no doubts about this. Likewise, for the same reason virtually not a single Western country supported our proposals that were endorsed by the UN General Assembly at the onset of work on the rules of responsible conduct in cyberspace.

You mentioned migration. There is the Global Compact for Migration that was adopted last year. The West was fighting for it to include a provision on the equal and divided responsibility for the migration crisis. Russia and other countries objected. It wasn't us that bombed Libya and turned it into a "black hole." It still remains such and through it bandits, terrorists and arms traffickers travel to the Sahara-Sahel zone whereas migrants are heading to the north. Therefore, we leave it up to them to deal with those who are responsible for this.

We are now talking about the formation of the multipolar international order. Its development was preceded by a whole historical era.

Apparently, the international legal space is being fragmented – the US is doing this all along the way while the EU is isolating itself when it comes to a number of issues. The processes that are taking place in Eurasia may also be interpreted as isolation at some point but in reality we want to launch something that will become all-embracing.

Maybe, there is a rational idea in everything that is taking place. As Vladimir Lenin used to say, "before uniting it is necessary resolutely to draw lines of demarcation." Maybe, we should be fragmented to understand who the main global players are.

Not those that established the UN in 1945 but those that are playing today, in the middle of the 21 st century. Only after this we should think what to do next, for instance, with the UN. It is absolutely clear that the UN Security Council requires a reform because the world's developing regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America are not properly represented in it. Today, up to one third of the UN Security Council is represented by EU countries. I don't think that if more countries from the historical West are added to this structure, it will gain the diversity we want to see in it.

[Feb 17, 2019] Kremlin Spokesman Says U.S. Sanctions Bill Borders on Racketeering

Feb 17, 2019 | larouchepub.com

Feb. 14, 2019 (EIRNS) -- Responding to the U.S. Senators' efforts to impose new sanctions on Russia by proposing a bill on Feb. 13 called the "Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA)" of 2019, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said behind such proposals

"there is an absolutely concrete, pragmatic and aggressive trading approach, having nothing to do with international trade rules.... This policy sometimes borders on racketeering. I mean various provisions of the draft law aimed at disrupting various energy projects of Russian companies, undermining the activities of Russian banks with state participation,"

Peskov said, reported TASS.

The proposed legislation, an updated version of an earlier bill that did not muster enough support, seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Russia "in response to Russia's interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait," said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who proposed the bill with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), among other members of the Foreign Relations Committee.

[Feb 04, 2019] Trump s Revised and Rereleased Foreign Policy: The World Policeman is Back

Highly recommended!
This article from 2017 looks like it was written yesterday. Trump betrayal of his elctorate on multiple levels, essentially on all key poin of his election program mkes him "Republican Obama".
What is interesting about Trump foreign policy is his version of neoliberal "gangster capitalism" on foreign arena: might is right principle applied like universal opener. Previous administrations tried to put a lipstick on the pig. Trump does not even bother.
In terms of foreign policy, and even during the transition before Trump's inauguration, there were other, more disturbing signs of where Trump would be heading soon. When Fidel Castro died on November 25, 2016, Trump seemed jubilant as if he had somehow been vindicated, and took the opportunity to slander Castro as a "brutal dictator" who "oppressed his own people" and turned Cuba into a "totalitarian island".
Notable quotes:
"... However, when he delivered his inaugural address on January 20, 2017, Trump appeared to reaffirm his campaign themes of anti-interventionism. In particular he seemed to turn the government's back on a long-standing policy of cultural imperialism , stating: "We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone". In addition he said his government would "seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world," and he understood the importance of national sovereignty when he added, "it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first". ..."
"... Yet when it came to Russia, Trump could have instantly removed sanctions that were imposed by Obama in his last weeks in office -- an irresponsible and dangerous act by Obama, where foreign policy was used as a partisan tool in the service of shoring up a crummy conspiracy theory about "Russian hacking" in order to deny the Democrats any culpability in their much deserved defeat. ..."
"... The entire conflict with Russia that has developed in recent years, on the US side, was totally unnecessary, illogical, and quite preventable. ..."
"... Just two weeks after violating his promise to end the US role as the world's policeman and his vow to extricate the US from wars for regime change, Trump sold out again. "I love WikiLeaks -- " -- this is what Trump exclaimed in a speech on October 10, 2016. Trump's about-face on WikiLeaks is thus truly astounding. ..."
"... AP: If I could fit a couple of more topics. Jeff Sessions, your attorney general, is taking a tougher line suddenly on Julian Assange, saying that arresting him is a priority. You were supportive of what WikiLeaks was doing during the campaign with the release of the Clinton emails. Do you think that arresting Assange is a priority for the United States? ..."
"... AP: But that didn't mean that you supported what Assange is doing? ..."
"... AP: Can I just ask you, though -- do you believe it is a priority for the United States, or it should be a priority, to arrest Julian Assange? ..."
"... While there is no denying the extensive data about the severe impacts of NAFTA on select states and industries in the US, witnessed by the closure of tens of thousands of factories and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, there is little support for the claim that Canada and Mexico, as wholes, have instead fared well and that the US as a whole has been the loser thanks to them. ..."
"... Since NAFTA was implemented, migration from Mexico to the US skyrocketed dramatically. US agricultural industries sent millions of Mexican farmers into food poverty, and ultimately drove them away from agriculture ..."
"... As for per capita GDP, so treasured by economists, NAFTA had no positive impact on Mexico -- in fact, per capita GDP is nearly a flat line for the entire period since 1994. Finally, Trump does not mention that in terms of the number of actual protectionist measures that have been implemented, the US leads the world . ..."
"... To put Trump's position on NAFTA in bold relief, it is not that he is decidedly against free trade. In fact, he often claims he supports free trade, as long as it is "fair". However, his notion of fairness is very lopsided -- a trade agreement is fair only when the US reaps the greater share of benefits. ..."
"... As argued in the previous section, if Trump is to be the newfound champion of this imperialism -- empire's prodigal son -- then what an abysmally poor choice he is ..."
"... On the one hand, he helped to unleash US anti-interventionism (usually called "isolationism" not to call it anti-imperialism, which would then admit to imperialism which is still denied by most of the dominant elites). On the other hand, in trying to now contain such popular sentiment, he loses credibility -- after having lost credibility with the groups his campaign displaced. ..."
"... As for Trump's domestic opposition, what should be most pertinent are issues of conflict of interest and nepotism . Here members of Trump's base are more on target yet again, when they reject the presence of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in the White House ("we didn't elect Ivanka or Jared"), than are those distracted by identity politics. ..."
"... As Trump leverages the presidency to upgrade the Trump family to the transnational capitalist class, and reinforces the power of US imperialism which that class has purchased, conflict of interest and nepotism will be the main political signposts of the transformation of the Trump presidency, but they could also be the targets for a refined strategy of opposition. ..."
Aug 09, 2017 | zeroanthropology.net

Trump could have kept quiet, and lost nothing. Instead what he was attacking -- and the irony was missed on his fervently right wing supporters -- was someone who was a leader in the anti-globalist movement, from long before it was ever called that. Fidel Castro was a radical pioneer of independence, self-reliance, and self-determination.

Castro turned Cuba from an American-owned sugar plantation and brothel, a lurid backwater in the Caribbean, into a serious international actor opposed to globalizing capitalism. There was no sign of any acknowledgment of this by Trump, who instead chose to parrot the same people who would vilify him using similar terms (evil, authoritarian, etc.). Of course, Trump respects only corporate executives and billionaires, not what he would see as some rag-tag Third World revolutionary. Here Trump's supporters generally failed, using Castro's death as an opportunity for tribal partisanship, another opportunity to attack "weak liberals" like Obama who made minor overtures to Cuba (too little, too late).

Their distrust of "the establishment" was nowhere to be found this time: their ignorance of Cuba and their resort to stock clichιs and slogans had all been furnished to them by the same establishment they otherwise claimed to oppose.

Just to be clear, the above is not meant to indicate any reversal on Trump's part regarding Cuba. He has been consistently anti-communist, and fairly consistent in his denunciations of Fidel Castro. What is significant is that -- far from overcoming the left-right divide -- Trump shores up the barriers, even at the cost of denouncing others who have a proven track record of fighting against neoliberal globalization and US interventionism. In these regards, Trump has no track record. Even among his rivals in the Republican primaries, senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul had more of an anti-interventionist track record.

However, when he delivered his inaugural address on January 20, 2017, Trump appeared to reaffirm his campaign themes of anti-interventionism. In particular he seemed to turn the government's back on a long-standing policy of cultural imperialism , stating: "We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone". In addition he said his government would "seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world," and he understood the importance of national sovereignty when he added, "it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first".

Russia

Yet when it came to Russia, Trump could have instantly removed sanctions that were imposed by Obama in his last weeks in office -- an irresponsible and dangerous act by Obama, where foreign policy was used as a partisan tool in the service of shoring up a crummy conspiracy theory about "Russian hacking" in order to deny the Democrats any culpability in their much deserved defeat.

Instead, Trump continued the sanctions, as if out of meek deference to Obama's policy, one founded on lies and antagonism toward Trump himself. Rather than repair the foul attempt to sabotage the US-Russian relationship in preparation for his presidency, Trump simply abided and thus became an accomplice. To be clear, Trump has done precisely nothing to dampen the near mass hysteria that has been manufactured in the US about alleged -- indeed imaginary -- "Russian intervention".

His comments, both during the electoral campaign and even early into his presidency, about wanting good relations with Russia, have been replaced by Trump's admissions that US relations with Russia are at a low point (Putin agreed: "I would say the level of trust [between Russia and the US] is at a workable level, especially in the military dimension, but it hasn't improved. On the contrary, it has degraded " and his spokesman called the relations " deplorable ".)

Rather than use the power of his office to calm fears, to build better ties with Russia, and to make meeting with Vladimir Putin a top priority, Trump has again done nothing , except escalating tensions. The entire conflict with Russia that has developed in recent years, on the US side, was totally unnecessary, illogical, and quite preventable. Russia had actively facilitated the US' war in Afghanistan for over a decade, and was a consistent collaborator on numerous levels. It is up to thinking American officials to honestly explain what motivated them to tilt relations with Russia, because it is certainly not Russia's doing. The only explanation that makes any sense is that the US leadership grew concerned that Russia was no longer teetering on the edge of total socio-economic breakdown, as it was under the neoliberal Boris Yeltsin, but has instead resurfaced as a major actor in international affairs, and one that champions anti-neoliberal objectives of enhanced state sovereignty and self-determination.

WikiLeaks

Just two weeks after violating his promise to end the US role as the world's policeman and his vow to extricate the US from wars for regime change, Trump sold out again. "I love WikiLeaks -- " -- this is what Trump exclaimed in a speech on October 10, 2016. Trump's about-face on WikiLeaks is thus truly astounding.

After finding so much use for WikiLeaks' publication of the Podesta emails, which became incorporated into his campaign speeches, and which fuelled the writing and speaking of journalists and bloggers sympathetic to Trump -- he was now effectively declaring WikiLeaks to be both an enemy and a likely target of US government action, in even more blunt terms than we heard during the past eight years under Obama. This is not mere continuity with the past, but a dramatic escalation. Rather than praise Julian Assange for his work, call for an end to the illegal impediments to his seeking asylum, swear off any US calls for extraditing and prosecuting Assange, and perhaps meeting with him in person, Trump has done all of the opposite. Instead we learn that Trump's administration may file arrest charges against Assange . Mike Pompeo , chosen by Trump to head the CIA, who had himself cited WikiLeaks as a reliable source of proof about how the Democratic National Committee had rigged its campaign, now declared WikiLeaks to be a " non-state hostile intelligence service ," along with vicious personal slander against Assange.

Trump's about-face on WikiLeaks was one that he defended in terms that were not just a deceptive rewriting of history, but one that was also fearful -- "I don't support or unsupport" WikiLeaks, was what Trump was now saying in his dash for the nearest exit. The backtracking is so obvious in this interview Trump gave to the AP , that his shoes must have left skid marks on the floor:

AP: If I could fit a couple of more topics. Jeff Sessions, your attorney general, is taking a tougher line suddenly on Julian Assange, saying that arresting him is a priority. You were supportive of what WikiLeaks was doing during the campaign with the release of the Clinton emails. Do you think that arresting Assange is a priority for the United States?

TRUMP: When Wikileaks came out never heard of Wikileaks, never heard of it. When Wikileaks came out, all I was just saying is, "Well, look at all this information here, this is pretty good stuff." You know, they tried to hack the Republican, the RNC, but we had good defenses. They didn't have defenses, which is pretty bad management. But we had good defenses, they tried to hack both of them. They weren't able to get through to Republicans. No, I found it very interesting when I read this stuff and I said, "Wow." It was just a figure of speech. I said, "Well, look at this. It's good reading."

AP: But that didn't mean that you supported what Assange is doing?

TRUMP: No, I don't support or unsupport. It was just information .

AP: Can I just ask you, though -- do you believe it is a priority for the United States, or it should be a priority, to arrest Julian Assange?

TRUMP: I am not involved in that decision, but if Jeff Sessions wants to do it, it's OK with me. I didn't know about that decision, but if they want to do it, it's OK with me.

First, Trump invents the fictitious claim that WikiLeaks was responsible for hacking the DNC, and that WikiLeaks also tried to hack the Republicans. Second, he pretends to be an innocent bystander, a spectator, in his own administration -- whatever others decide, is "OK" with him, not that he knows about their decisions, but it's all up to others. He has no power, all of a sudden.

Again, what Trump is displaying in this episode is his ultimate attachment to his class, with all of its anxieties and its contempt for rebellious, marginal upstarts. Trump shuns any sort of "loyalty" to WikiLeaks (not that they ever had a working relationship) or any form of gratitude, because then that would imply a debt and therefore a transfer of value -- whereas Trump's core ethics are those of expedience and greed (he admits that much). This move has come with a cost , with members of Trump's support base openly denouncing the betrayal. 6

NAFTA

On NAFTA , Trump claims he has not changed his position -- yet, from openly denouncing the free trade agreement and promising to terminate it, he now vows only to seek modifications and amendments, which means supporting NAFTA. He appeared to be awfully quick to obey the diplomatic pressure of Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and Mexico's President, Enrique Peρa Nieto. Trump's entire position on NAFTA now comes into question.

While there is no denying the extensive data about the severe impacts of NAFTA on select states and industries in the US, witnessed by the closure of tens of thousands of factories and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, there is little support for the claim that Canada and Mexico, as wholes, have instead fared well and that the US as a whole has been the loser thanks to them.

This really deserves to be treated at length, separately from this article. However, for now, let's keep in mind that when Trump complains about Canadian softwood lumber and dairy exports to the US, his argument about NAFTA is without merit. Neither commodity is part of the NAFTA agreement.

Moreover, where dairy is concerned, the problem is US overproduction. Wisconsin alone has more dairy cows than all of Canada . There is a net surplus , in the US' favour, with respect to US dairy exports to Canada. Overall, the US has a net surplus in the trade in goods and services with Canada. Regarding Mexico, the irony of Trump's denunciations of imaginary Mexican victories is that he weakens his own criticisms of immigration.

Since NAFTA was implemented, migration from Mexico to the US skyrocketed dramatically. US agricultural industries sent millions of Mexican farmers into food poverty, and ultimately drove them away from agriculture.

As for per capita GDP, so treasured by economists, NAFTA had no positive impact on Mexico -- in fact, per capita GDP is nearly a flat line for the entire period since 1994. Finally, Trump does not mention that in terms of the number of actual protectionist measures that have been implemented, the US leads the world .

To put Trump's position on NAFTA in bold relief, it is not that he is decidedly against free trade. In fact, he often claims he supports free trade, as long as it is "fair". However, his notion of fairness is very lopsided -- a trade agreement is fair only when the US reaps the greater share of benefits.

His arguments with respect to Canada are akin to those of a looter or raider. He wants to block lumber imports from Canada, at the same time as he wants to break the Canadian dairy market wide open to absorb US excess production. That approach is at the core of what defined the US as a "new empire" in the 1800s. In addition, while Trump was quick to tear up the TPP, he has said nothing about TISA and TTIP.

Mexico

Trump's argument with Mexico is also disturbing for what it implies. It would seem that any evidence of production in Mexico causes Trump concern. Mexico should not only keep its people -- however many are displaced by US imports -- but it should also be as dependent as possible on the US for everything except oil. Since Trump has consistently declared his antagonism to OPEC, ideally Mexico's oil would be sold for a few dollars per barrel.

China

Trump's turn on China almost provoked laughter from his many domestic critics. Absurdly, what figures prominently in most renditions of the story of Trump's change on China (including his own), is a big piece of chocolate cake. The missile strike on Syria was, according to Wilbur Ross, the " after-dinner entertainment ". Here, Trump's loud condemnations of China on trade issues were suddenly quelled -- and it is not because chocolate has magical properties. Instead it seems Trump has been willing to settle on selling out citizens' interests , and particularly those who voted for him, in return for China's assistance on North Korea. Let's be clear: countering and dominating North Korea is an established favourite among neoconservatives. Trump's priority here is fully "neocon," and the submergence of trade issues in favour of militaristic preferences is the one case where neoconservatives might be distinguished from the otherwise identical neoliberals.

North Korea

Where North Korea is concerned, Trump chose to manufacture a " crisis ". North Korea has actually done nothing to warrant a sudden outbreak of panic over it being supposedly aggressive and threatening. North Korea is no more aggressive than any person defending their survival can be called belligerent. The constant series of US military exercises in South Korea, or near North Korean waters, is instead a deliberate provocation to a state whose existence the US nearly extinguished. Even last year the US Air Force publicly boasted of having "nearly destroyed" North Korea -- language one would have expected from the Luftwaffe in WWII. The US continues to maintain roughly 60,000 troops on the border between North and South Korea, and continues to refuse to formally declare an end to the Korean War and sign a peace treaty . Trump then announced he was sending an "armada" to the Korean peninsula, and boasted of how "very powerful" it was. This was in addition to the US deploying the THAAD missile system in South Korea. Several of his messages in Twitter were written using highly provocative and threatening language. When asked if he would start a war, Trump glibly replied: " I don't know. I mean, we'll see ". On another occasion Trump stated, "There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely". When the world's leading military superpower declares its intention to destroy you, then there is nothing you can do in your defense which anyone could justly label as "over the top". Otherwise, once again Trump posed as a parental figure, the world's chief babysitter -- picture Trump, surrounded by children taking part in the "Easter egg roll" at the White House, being asked about North Korea and responding "they gotta behave". Trump would presume to teach manners to North Korea, using the only tools of instruction that seem to be the first and last resort of US foreign policy (and the "defense" industry): bombs.

Syria

Attacking Syria , on purportedly humanitarian grounds, is for many (including vocal supporters) one of the most glaring contradictions of Trump's campaign statements about not embroiling the US in failed wars of regime change and world policing. During the campaign, he was in favour of Russia's collaboration with Syria in the fight against ISIS. For years he had condemned Obama for involving the US in Syria, and consistently opposed military intervention there. All that was consigned to the archive of positions Trump declared to now be worthless. That there had been a change in Trump's position is not a matter of dispute -- Trump made the point himself :

"I like to think of myself as a very flexible person. I don't have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way, I don't change. Well, I do change and I am flexible, and I'm proud of that flexibility. And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me -- big impact. That was a horrible, horrible thing. And I've been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn't get any worse than that. And I have that flexibility, and it's very, very possible -- and I will tell you, it's already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much. And if you look back over the last few weeks, there were other attacks using gas. You're now talking about a whole different level".

Bending to the will of the prevailing Cold War and neo-McCarthyist atmosphere in the US, rife with anti-Russian conspiracy theories, Trump found an easy opportunity to score points with the hostile media, ever so mindful as he is about approval ratings, polls, and media coverage. Some explain Trump's reversals as arising from his pursuit of public adulation -- and while the media play the key role in purveying celebrity status, they are also a stiff bastion of imperialist culture. Given his many years as a the host of a popular TV show, and as the owner of the Miss Universe Pageant, there is some logical merit to the argument. But I think even more is at work, as explained in paragraphs above. According to Eric Trump it was at the urging of Ivanka that Donald Trump decided to strike a humanitarian-militarist pose. He would play the part of the Victorian parent, only he would use missiles to teach unruly children lessons about violence. Using language typically used against him by the mainstream media, Trump now felt entitled to pontificate that Assad is "evil," an " animal ," who would have to go . When did he supposedly come to this realization? Did Assad become evil at the same time Trump was inaugurated? Why would Trump have kept so silent about "evil" on the campaign trail? Trump of course is wrong: it's not that the world changed and he changed with it; rather, he invented a new fiction to suit his masked intentions. Trump's supposed opponents and critics, like the Soros-funded organizer of the women's march Linda Sarsour, showed her approval of even more drastic action by endorsing messages by what sounded like a stern school mistress who thought that 59 cruise missiles were just a mere "slap on the wrist". Virtually every neocon who is publicly active applauded Trump, as did most senior Democrats. The loudest opposition , however, came from Trump's own base , with a number of articles featuring criticism from Trump's supporters , and one conservative publication calling him outright a " weakling and a political ingrate ".

Members of the Trump administration have played various word games with the public on intervention in Syria. From unnamed officials saying the missile strike was a "one off," to named officials promising more if there were any other suspected chemical attacks (or use of barrel bombs -- and this while the US dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb in existence on Afghanistan); some said that regime change was not the goal, and then others made it clear that was the ultimate goal ; and then Trump saying, "Our policy is the same, it hasn't changed. We're not going into Syria " -- even though Trump himself greatly increased the number of US troops he deployed to Syria , illegally, in an escalation of the least protested invasion in recent history. Now we should know enough not to count this as mere ambiguity, but as deliberate obfuscation that offers momentary (thinly veiled) cover for a renewal of neocon policy .

We can draw an outline of Trump's liberal imperialism when it comes to Syria, which is likely to be applied elsewhere. First, Trump's interventionist policy regarding Syria is one that continues to treat that country as if it were terra nullius , a mere playground for superpower politics. Second, Trump is clearly continuing with the neoconservative agenda and its hit list of states to be terminated by US military action, as famously confirmed by Gen. Wesley Clark. Even Trump's strategy for justifying the attack on Syria echoed the two prior Bush presidential administrations -- selling war with the infamous "incubator babies" myth and the myth of "weapons of mass destruction" (WMDs). In many ways, Trump's presidency is thus shaping up to be either the seventh term of the George H.W. Bush regime, or the fifth straight term of the George W. Bush regime. Third, Trump is taking ownership of an extremely dangerous conflict, with costs that could surpass anything witnessed by the war on Iraq (which also continues). Fourth, by highlighting the importance of photographs in allegedly changing his mind, Trump has placed a high market value on propaganda featuring dead babies. His actions in Syria will now create an effective demand for the pornographic trade in pictures of atrocities. These are matters of great importance to the transnational capitalist class, which demands full global penetrability, diminished state power (unless in the service of this class' goals), a uniformity of expectations and conformity in behaviour, and an emphasis on individual civil liberties which are the basis for defending private property and consumerism.

Venezuela

It is very disturbing to see how Venezuela is being framed as ripe for US intervention, in ways that distinctly echo the lead up to the US war on Libya. Just as disturbing is that Trump's Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has a clear conflict of interest regarding Venezuela, from his recent role as CEO of Exxon and its conflict with the government of Venezuela over its nationalization of oil. Tillerson is, by any definition, a clear-cut member of the transnational capitalist class. The Twitter account of the State Department has a battery of messages sternly lecturing Venezuela about the treatment of protesters, while also pontificating on the Venezuelan Constitution as if the US State Department had become a global supreme court. What is impressive is the seamless continuity in the nature of the messages on Venezuela from that account, as if no change of government happened between Obama's time and Trump's. Nikki Haley, Trump's neocon ambassador to the UN, issued a statement that read like it had been written by her predecessors, Samantha Power and Susan Rice, a statement which in itself is an unacceptable intervention in Venezuelan internal affairs. For Trump's part, from just days before the election, to a couple of weeks after his inauguration, he has sent explicit messages of support for anti-government forces in Venezuela. In February, Trump imposed sanctions on Venezuela's Vice President. After Syria and North Korea, Venezuela is seeming the likely focus of US interventionism under Trump.

NATO

Rounding out the picture, at least for now (this was just the first hundred days of Trump's presidency), was Trump's outstanding reversal on NATO -- in fact, once again he stated the reversal himself, and without explanation either: " I said it was obsolete. It's no longer obsolete ". This came just days after the US missile strike against Syria, and just as Ivanka Trump was about to represent his government at a meeting of globalist women, the W20 . NATO has served as the transnational military alliance at the service of the transnational capitalist class, and particularly the military and political members of the TCC. 7

Saving Neoliberalism?

Has Trump saved neoliberal capitalism from its ongoing demise? Has he sustained popular faith in liberal political ideals? Are we still in the dying days of liberalism ? If there had been a centrally coordinated plan to plant an operative among the ranks of populist conservatives and independents, to channel their support for nationalism into support for the persona of the plant, and to then have that plant steer a course straight back to shoring up neoliberal globalism -- then we might have had a wonderful story of a masterful conspiracy, the biggest heist in the history of elections anywhere. A truly "rigged system" could be expected to behave that way. Was Trump designated to take the fall in a rigged game, only his huge ego got in the way when he realized he could realistically win the election and he decided to really tilt hard against his partner, Hillary Clinton? It could be the basis for a novel, or a Hollywood political comedy. I have no way of knowing if it could be true.

Framed within the terms of what we do know, there was relief by the ousted group of political elites and the liberal globalist media at the sight of Trump's reversals, and a sense that their vision had been vindicated. However, if they are hoping that the likes of Trump will serve as a reliable flag bearer, then theirs is a misguided wishful thinking. If someone so demonized and ridiculed, tarnished as an evil thug and racist fascist, the subject of mass demonstrations in the US and abroad, is the latest champion of (neo)liberalism, then we are certainly witnessing its dying days.

Is Trump Beneficial for Anti-Imperialism?

Once one is informed enough and thus prepared to understand that anti-imperialism is not the exclusive preserve of the left (a left which anyway has mostly shunned it over the last two decades), that it did not originate with the left , and that it has a long and distinguished history in the US itself , then we can move toward some interesting realizations. The facts, borne out by surveys and my own online immersion among pro-Trump social media users, is that one of the significant reasons why Trump won is due to the growth in popularity of basic anti-imperialist principles (even if not recognized under that name): for example, no more world policing, no transnational militarization, no more interventions abroad, no more regime change, no war, and no globalism. Nationalists in Europe, as in Russia, have also pushed forward a basic anti-imperialist vision. Whereas in Latin America anti-imperialism is largely still leftist, in Europe and North America the left-right divide has become blurred, but the crucial thing is that at least now we can speak of anti-imperialism gaining strength in these three major continents. Resistance against globalization has been the primary objective, along with strengthening national sovereignty, protecting local cultural identity, and opposing free trade and transnational capital. Unfortunately, some anti-imperialist writers (on the left in fact) have tended to restrict their field of vision to military matters primarily, while almost completely neglecting the economic and cultural, and especially domestic dimensions of imperialism. (I am grossly generalizing of course, but I think it is largely accurate.) Where structures such as NAFTA are concerned, many of these same leftist anti-imperialists, few as they are, have had virtually nothing to say. It could be that they have yet to fully recognize that the transnational capitalist class has, gradually over the last seven decades, essentially purchased the power of US imperialism. Therefore the TCC's imperialism includes NAFTA, just as it includes open borders, neoliberal identity politics, and drone strikes. They are all different parts of the same whole.

As argued in the previous section, if Trump is to be the newfound champion of this imperialism -- empire's prodigal son -- then what an abysmally poor choice he is. 8

On the one hand, he helped to unleash US anti-interventionism (usually called "isolationism" not to call it anti-imperialism, which would then admit to imperialism which is still denied by most of the dominant elites). On the other hand, in trying to now contain such popular sentiment, he loses credibility -- after having lost credibility with the groups his campaign displaced. In addition to that, given that his candidacy aggravated internal divisions in the US, which have not subsided with his assumption of office, these domestic social and cultural conflicts cause a serious deficit of legitimacy, a loss of political capital. A declining economy will also deprive him of capital in the strict sense. Moreover, given the kind of persona the media have crafted, the daily caricaturing of Trump will significantly spur anti-Americanism around the world. If suddenly even Canadian academics are talking about boycotting the US, then the worm has truly turned. Trump can only rely on "hard power" (military violence), because "soft power" is almost out of the question now that Trump has been constructed as a barbarian. Incompetent and/or undermined governance will also render Trump a deficient upholder of the status quo. The fact that nationalist movements around the world are not centrally coordinated, and their fortunes are not pinned to those of Trump, establishes a well-defined limit to his influence. Trump's antagonism toward various countries -- as wholes -- has already helped to stir up a deep sediment of anti-Americanism. If Americanism is at the heart of Trump's nationalist globalism, then it is doing all the things that are needed to induce a major heart attack.

As for Trump's domestic opposition, what should be most pertinent are issues of conflict of interest and nepotism . Here members of Trump's base are more on target yet again, when they reject the presence of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in the White House ("we didn't elect Ivanka or Jared"), than are those distracted by identity politics.

As Trump leverages the presidency to upgrade the Trump family to the transnational capitalist class, and reinforces the power of US imperialism which that class has purchased, conflict of interest and nepotism will be the main political signposts of the transformation of the Trump presidency, but they could also be the targets for a refined strategy of opposition.

[Jan 20, 2019] I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country's development: You have failed to contain Russia," Putin said during a national address in March.

Jan 20, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Friday, January 18, 2019 at 04:23 PM

Russia's PL-19 Nudol, a system U.S. military intelligence assesses will be focused primarily on anti-satellite missions, was successfully tested twice in 2018. The weapon, which was fired from a mobile launcher, was last tested on Dec. 23 and marked the seventh overall test of the system, according to one of the people who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Russian anti-satellite weapon is expected to target communication and imagery satellites in low Earth orbit, according to the other person, who also spoke on condition of anonymity. For reference, the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope travel in low Earth orbit.

While anti-satellite missiles are by no means new, the latest revelation comes less than a year after Putin touted his nation's growing military arsenal.

"I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country's development: You have failed to contain Russia," Putin said during a national address in March.

A recently unclassified report from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, or NASIC, explained how the U.S. advantage above the Earth's atmosphere is eroding to "an emergent China and a resurgent Russia."

The NASIC report said there number of foreign intelligence and imaging satellites "has tripled" to 300 in orbit in the last two decades. The U.S. itself has 353 of its own space assets in orbit for those purposes. In response, military superpowers have poured funding into researching and developing anti-satellite weapons.

Missiles are the most high-profile, physical manifestation of anti-satellite weapons. Frank Slazer, the vice president of space systems at the Aerospace Industries Association, told CNBC about how those missiles may be physically effective, but are likely not the "first line of approach on this."

"You'd much rather jam the satellite, blind it [with a laser], or take over its control systems with a cyberattack," Slazer said. "Kinetic impacts could cause problems for other nations, besides the one you are attacking, and possibly for your own system's for many years afterwards."

Both Slazer and the NASIC report pointed to the example of China's anti-satellite test in 2007. China fired an anti-satellite missile at one of its own, discarded weather satellites. The test was successful, but the satellite shattered into thousands of pieces, which continue to zip around in an orbital cloud of deadly debris.

"A huge percentage of the debris in low earth orbit is still attributable to that one test," Slazer said.

As far as the U.S. military's ability to defend against anti-satellite weapons, the assets and capabilities in orbit "are the same as they have been for awhile," Tommy Sanford, director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, told CNBC.

Sanford contends that there has not been much in the way of progress when it comes to defending U.S. space-based assets. Sanford gave the example of using networks of smaller and cheaper satellites, like cubesats and nanosats, to offer "effective platforms to augment and support missions carried out by the DoD's larger exquisite satellites."

"The idea behind a distributed architecture for space support is – instead of having one exquisite target – you'd have a system which could presumably survive some loss of its elements and still be able to provide function," Slazer said.

[Jan 19, 2019] Russia has to thank the British for sending a great message to her traitors and gangsters

Jan 19, 2019 | www.unz.com

Vojkan , says: April 10, 2018 at 1:48 pm GMT

Actually, I think that in the end Russia has to thank the British for sending a great message to her traitors and gangsters. Apart from the Skripal case, the UK seems up to confiscate the wealth Russian expats in the UK looted back home. On the one hand, it's ~ $10bn worth that will be definitely lost for Russia, on the other if the UK's treatment of Skripal and runaway oligarchs won't heal Russian traitors and gangsters from their blissful enamourment with England's climate, I don't know what will.
anonymous [107] Disclaimer , says: April 10, 2018 at 1:50 pm GMT
@Mike P I can't find the comment because the comment archive is down -- I think it was annamaria who reported that the British were holding assets of Russian oligarchs and that Russia wanted the funds back. The speculation was that Teresa May would take possession of the assets.

As these two articles state, most of the Russian billionaire oligarchs are Jewish

So at least (conspiracy theory) part of the Skripal scheme is for Teresa May to be an angel and return their assets to the Jewish billionaires who stole Russian wealth fair and square.

[Jan 02, 2019] Viable Opposition How the U.S. Senate is Instigating a Hot War With Russia

Notable quotes:
"... Senate Resolution on December 19, 2019 which calls for "a prompt multinational freedom of navigation operation in the Black Sea and urging the cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline ..."
"... Calling for a prompt multinational freedom of navigation operation in the Black Sea and urging the cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. ..."
Jan 02, 2019 | viableopposition.blogspot.com

Senator Ron Johnson (R- Wis) and Richard Durban (D-Ill) and 39 of their colleagues introduced a Senate Resolution on December 19, 2019 which calls for "a prompt multinational freedom of navigation operation in the Black Sea and urging the cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline" as shown here :

Here is a list of co-sponsors of the resolution:

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Ok.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation; and Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).
Here is the resolution (currently unnumbered) in its entirety:

Calling for a prompt multinational freedom of navigation operation in the Black Sea and urging the cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

... ... ...

... ... ...

(9) applauds and concurs with the European 2 Parliament's December 12, 2018, resolution condemning Russian aggression in the Kerch Strait and
the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, calling for the pipeline's cancellation due to its threat to European energy security, and calling on the Russian Federation to
7 guarantee freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait;

and

(10) urges the President to continue working with Congress and our allies to ensure the appropriate policies to deter the Russian Federation from further aggression.

Anonymous December 26, 2018 at 4:47 PM

Fortunately, these two neocons can make all the proclamations they want but without President Trump's support it's all just words; neocon virtue signalling. And of course President Trump won't support what they're doing because he campaigned on and governs as an anti-war president.

Ron Johnson is a Bushie neocon who actively supported the neocon ‘Jebe! (Please Clap) Bush while Durbin is a Hillary Clinton neocon who actively supported that drunken, corrupt, warmongering shrew.

Thank all that's holy that we have a genuine anti-war POTUS in office and not either of those two neocons, both of whom were utterly in the pockets of defense contractors.

Unknown January 1, 2019 at 10:02 PM

Thanks for your research on relevant naval law. The Ukrainian vessel is reported to have violated the ongoing protocol by failing to take on a Russian pilot as it transited the strait and an important bridge could potentially have been attacked by those vessels. This was a provocation by Ukraine that seems to have its desired effect on the U.S. Senate. For essential background on the Ukrainian civil war, I recommend reading Stephen F. Cohen's article in the Nation in 2014, titled "Kiev's atrocities and the Silence of the Hawks." https://www.thenation.com/article/kievs-atrocities-and-silence-hawks/

[Dec 27, 2018] Could someone explain to me how exactly was the Soviet Union a serious threat to the US, particularly in 1947?

Dec 27, 2018 | www.unz.com

james charles , says: December 25, 2018 at 9:27 am GMT

"So we go to fallback argument B, which is "containing Iran." "Containment" was a U.S. policy devised by George Kennan in 1947 to inhibit the expansion of a powerful and sometimes aggressive soon-to-be nuclear armed Soviet Union, which was rightly seen as a serious threat."

Seen as a serious threat by some?

"Taken together, these four volumes constitute an extraordinary commentary on a basic weakness in the Soviet system. The Soviets are heavily dependent on Western technology and innovation not only in their civilian industries, but also in their military programs. An inevitable conclusion from the evidence in this book is that we have totally ignored a policy that would enable us to neutralize Soviet global ambitions while simultaneously reducing the defense budget and the tax load on American citizens."

http://www.crowhealingnetwork.net/pdf/Antony%20Sutton%20-%20The%20Best%20Enemy%20Money%20Can%20Buy.pdf

Tony H. , says: December 25, 2018 at 7:06 pm GMT
"Containment" was a U.S. policy devised by George Kennan in 1947 to inhibit the expansion of a powerful and sometimes aggressive soon-to-be nuclear armed Soviet Union, which was rightly seen as a serious threat.

"which was rightly seen as a serious threat." So it was, was it? That's really the beginning of the bullshit in American policy. There were a few naysayers back then, since largely vindicated by the opening of former Soviet archives, who claimed that Stalin's postwar moves were largely defensive in nature and intended to protect the USSR from the talked about US preemptive attack on the Soviet Union. Stalin was well aware of all the loose talk on the American side and his country had just endured the same attempt on the part of Nazi Germany.

EugeneGur , says: December 25, 2018 at 7:08 pm GMT

"Containment" was a U.S. policy devised by George Kennan in 1947 to inhibit the expansion of a powerful and sometimes aggressive soon-to-be nuclear armed Soviet Union, which was rightly seen as a serious threat.

Could someone explain to me how exactly was the Soviet Union a serious threat to the US, particularly in 1947? The country was devastated by the war; some regions suffered from hunger, for goodness' sake; tens of millions were dead or maimed; the worked force was depleted as million of young men were killed, so the economic burden fell on the shoulders of women and teenagers; the cost of housing of people left homeless by the war was staggering; the cost of caring for orphan children, wounded and invalids -- ditto. In contrast, the United States was getting fatter by the minutes having benefited enormously from the war in Europe.

The Soviet Union "sometimes aggressive"? I am not aware of any Soviet plans to attack the US but we all know about the American and British plant to attack the USSR formulated as early as in 1945. No doubts the Soviet leadership was aware of such plans. The Soviets, having witnessed a demonstration staged for their benefits in Japans of the power of nuclear weapons, did everything with one purpose in mind: to prevent an attack, which they were in no position to withstand. Needless to say, the USSR didn't have nuclear weapons at that time but even after it had acquired them, it didn't quite catch up with the US in terms on number until the very end.

It's fair to say that the Soviet Union was never ever a thereat to the US. On the contrary, the US was a threat to the Soviet Union from the fist till the last day of its existence, as it remains a treat to Russia today. The problems with the Americans, even the most reasonable of them (not at all difficult to appear on today's insane background), is that they don't question the entire narrative they are fed but only the bits of it.

annamaria , says: December 25, 2018 at 8:14 pm GMT
@Tony H. George Kennan's attitude towards Russia had evolved throughout the 70s-90s, but this evolution has been carefully obscured by the ziocon warriors and other war-profiteers using the ZUSA resources for their personal enrichment:

With the end of the Cold War, Kennan continued to emphasize the limits of American power and the need for restraint in the exercise of it.

He lived to see the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war and characteristically aimed to influence the role that the United States should play in the new world circumstances.

He objected to plans for North Atlantic Treaty Organization expansion and to what he saw as exploitation of Russian weakness.

https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/history/us-history-biographies/george-kennan

[Dec 24, 2018] How Russia Would Strike Back if America Launches "Dollar" Sanctions by Josh Cohen

The author is a typical rabid neocon, but some paragraphs deserver you attention. Hi accidentally predicted provocation at Kerch bridge...
Notable quotes:
"... Josh Cohen contributes to a number of media outlets including National Interest, Foreign Policy, Reuters, Washington Post and others. ..."
Sep 01, 2018 | nationalinterest.org

In response to proposed Senate legislation that would target Russia's state-controlled banks by freezing their access to dollars -- a step which could genuinely damage the Russian economy -- Moscow issued a new threat. "If we end up we end up with something like a ban on banking activities or the use of certain currencies, we can clearly call this a declaration of economic war," Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated , emphasizing that Moscow would "respond to this war. By economic means, by political means and if necessary by other means."

... ... ...

Putin doesn't even need to rely on his military to harm American interests either. He could choose to openly increase economic and political support for North Korea, thereby weakening Washington's ability to pressure North Korea to curtail its nuclear program. Given that North Korea remains on the cusp of being able to reach the continental United States with a ballistic missile this would constitute a significant setback for American interests.

... ... ...

To be clear, Medvedev's threats may be mere bluster, and Moscow could respond to dollar sanctions by hunkering down even further and try to ride out the economic and political storm. However, if harsh sanctions were on the verge of causing the Russian economy to collapse -- especially if this resulted in unrest which threatened the stability of the Putin regime -- Moscow might well end up lashing out in unpredictable ways. American policymakers should be forewarned and prepared.

Josh Cohen contributes to a number of media outlets including National Interest, Foreign Policy, Reuters, Washington Post and others.


Craig 3 months ago ,

There are so many painful places in the US foreign politics: North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Latin America, North Africa, Yemen. All this weaknesses could be used by the US foes and Russia knows it. I won't be surprised if Russia pushes this weakspots. Yes, the US politicians have to be ready to aggresive and success reaction of Russia. And they have to make an informed decisions. Very cautiously.

Strod 4 months ago ,

Have you seen this Josh? See how Russia retaliates

https://www.americanbanker....

Сергей Александров 4 months ago ,

Can someone cite just one instance of American government imposing "sanctions" on a foreign government where it actually worked to USA interests? Don't cite Iran, Trump scrapped that deal - so much for negotiation with USA - think Boeing happy about all those lost airplane orders?

Vladdy 4 months ago ,

"Russia provoking an armed confrontation in the Sea of Azov" - really? Why the author did not mention that Ukraine made 2(!) acts of piracy against Russian vessels before Russia answered? Vessels "Nord" and "Mehanik Pogodin" are still seized by Ukraine against of law, while Russia inspects vessels in INTERNAL waters of Azov according to law.

Zashel Vladdy 4 months ago ,

Because it is not popular opinion in US massmedia. Ukraine is always right, Russia is always evil. Nobody want to pay you if you defend Russians. But if you will blame them in all sins - you have a chance to recive few dollars from Dems or from military corporations.
If you have another opinion - you are russian troll.

Александр Субботин 4 months ago ,

Inspection of ships in the Azov Sea is carried out in accordance with the agreement on economic activities in the Sea of Azov, Russia and Ukraine signed in 2012, Russia did not inspect Ukrainian ships until 2018, but after threats to blow up the Crimean Bridge, Russia began using the right to inspect all vessels in the Azov Sea seas

Andrey Vladimirovich 4 months ago ,

silly nonsense. The author has a primitive view of Russia

Alex Kuznetsoff 4 months ago ,

In the Ukraine there is a civil war, Russia's involvement in the poisoning of the "former Russian spy" has not been proven by anyone, and the holy belief in "election meddling" looks like a sign of idiocy.

Vorpal Blade 4 months ago ,

Lying and primitive propaganda and not an article ..

Zashel Vorpal Blade 4 months ago ,

I agree with you, too much lie. These american authors live in their own cloud castle which has no relations with reality. Only money from military corporations who need enemy.

R. Arandas 4 months ago ,

You hit me, I hit you...when will this back-and-forth slapping game end? We are all supposed to be grown adults here.

Drinas 4 months ago ,

Many inconsistencies and blatant lies on this article, but I wish to focus on this particular one.
The author claims "Russia provoking an armed confrontation in the Sea of Azov that could serve as a pretext for a significant Russian military escalation in the region -- a step right out of Moscow's 2008 playbook for its war in Georgia."
The 2008 South Ossetia war has been internationally recognized to be instigated by Georgia itself (even the official EU report on the subject admitted this clearly). In what way did Russia provoke the Georgian attack according to the author?
What evidence can he present to support this thesis? Or is he merely lying out of his teeth?

covertbabo Drinas 4 months ago ,

Russia has attacked many countries, including Afghanistan in 1979 and Ukraine in 2014.
Luckily your terrorist colleague Zakharchenko has been dealt with.

Drinas covertbabo 4 months ago ,

Wut?

Vladdy covertbabo 4 months ago ,

Russia never attacked Ukraine. This propaganda bullshit lives only in someones damaged brains and on papers of some mass media.
Zakharcheko never made any terror act. He defended his people from Ukraine nazis, who shelled civil homes, kindergardens and schools from all possible guns. He never harmed any civil human being. Vice versa - Kiev's bandits shell civil citizens of Donbass every day. There is "Alley of angels" in Donetsk - the cemetry of kids killed by Kiev's terrorists.
In 1979 USSR entered Afghanistan by REQUEST OF LEGAL GOVERNEMENT of Afganistan. Because US sponsored and supplied with weapons antigovernment bandits in Afgahnistan. CIA never hided this. And waht do US do today in Syria? Who asked them to kill people and government forces in Syria? And why did US sponsored putch in Kiev in 2014?

Andrey Vladimirovich Drinas 4 months ago ,

The author is a fool by vocation or for money ))

[Nov 22, 2018] Bloomberg: Here's One Measure That Shows Sanctions on Russia are Working

Nov 22, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al November 19, 2018 at 7:15 am

Bloomturd: Here's One Measure That Shows Sanctions on Russia are Working
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-16/here-s-one-measure-that-shows-sanctions-on-russia-are-working

Sanctions may have knocked as much as 6 percent off Russia's economy over the past four years and the drag isn't likely to go away anytime soon.

A new study by Bloomberg Economics has found that the economy of the world's biggest energy exporter is more than 10 percent smaller compared with what might have been expected at the end of 2013, before the Crimea crisis triggered wave after wave of restrictions by the U.S. and EU. While some of the blame falls on the slump in oil prices, sanctions are the bigger culprit .

"The underperformance has been much bigger than crude alone can explain," wrote Scott Johnson, an analyst at Bloomberg Economics in London. "Part of the gap is likely to reflect the enduring impact of sanctions both imposed and threatened over the last five years."..

They admit that part of the 6 percent gap could be attributed to other shocks, such as the introduction of inflation targeting and a sell-off in emerging markets
####

More anal-cysts at the link & my extra emphasis not to mention more qualifiers in the article too boot.

Timely 'proof' that USA still runs the world and can punish people? Hardly a surprise but they could have also pointed to not so great EU economic performance and its effect, but what would be the point in that? Is it a) keep the sanction up and Russia will collapse/change its foreign policy etc.? b) no need for more far reaching sanctions that could lead to Boeing/ULA being stranded etc.? c) filler and fluff? d) Bloomturd shilling for business after their Supermicro debacle?

Again, what's the point? What's it trying to prove?

If anything, de-dollarization and accelerating ties with the growing Asia-Pacific region is very good for Russia, even if there is some initial short term pain inflicted by others. If I do have a problem with Russia, it is that it seems to be cautious and then reactionary by nature – or is this more institutionally safe behavior?

kirill November 19, 2018 at 7:39 am
I smell GDP growth shenanigans at GKS. Hellevig had a piece earlier that debunked the claim of a 1.3% GDP growth in the first quarter of 2018 and estimated that it was closer to 6%. He was a bit too optimistic but the point is that 1.5% annual GDP growth (roughly 6%/4years) is falling through the cracks and likely deliberately.

I believe Putin introduced a misinformation campaign late in his first term in regards to GDP growth in Russia to keep NATzO confused about Russia's resurgence. The CIA was not doing a good job estimating the Russian GDP, so Putin could fake the numbers and NATzO triumphalists would lap them up with glee. I think this policy was smart and actually worked. That is why in 2014 Obama was certain the Russia's economy would collapse from the sanctions. Read the articles in the NATzO MSM from 2014 and even through 2017 which assumed that massive damage to Russia's economy was a given.

By keeping NATzO ignorant of Russia's actual potential, it could re-arm and regroup in peace. I think it would have been bad for Russia if the events of 2014 happened in 2004. In 2004, the Russian defense industry physical plant was still in sad shape and collapsing. This condition was basically rectified by 2014. And Russia was also able to deploy its new hypersonic wunderwaffen. Anyone who thinks such machinations are tin foil hat nonsense does not know the history leading up to WWII. The USSR managed to delay the attack of the Nazis by 2 years which allowed it to increase its military potential by 40% and to move defense factories to the Urals.

Today Putin is pretending that NATzO sanctions are actually working when it is patently obvious that they are not. This is ***physically*** apparent in Russia as import substitution occurs on a massive scale. Since every dollar imports saved amounts to two dollars of domestic production (one for local production and one for not exporting the dollar and incurring a negative GDP accounting penalty) Russia's GDP growth should be over 4%. But you would think that nothing was happening in terms of import substitution and that Russia's economy was running cool and near recession. The employment statistics show that this is not the reality. If the economy was near stagnation, the unemployment rate would go up. Low unemployment occurs when the economy runs hot.

The way that Russia's GDP statistics are skewed is through the official CPI and PPI. Nabiullina at the CBR claims that Russia is has serious inflationary instability. That is why the prime rate is over three times the actual CPI (7.5% vs 2.3%). I have posted before why there is no evidence of 1970s style South American inflation in Russia given the extremely short lived inflation spike after the late 2014 ruble forex devaluation; the spike was force-damped and did not have any recurring peaks after the initial one. Under real inflationary conditions a 7.5% prime rate would do didley squat and, in fact, there is no magic prime rate that controls the inflation. If it is set too high, the inflation actually increases. Also, if Russia's economy was running cool there would not be any need for a 7.5% rate since it would push the economy into a recession. So reality indicates that Russia's economy is actually running hot and this has some inflationary pressure but also means that 1.3% GDP growth numbers are BS.

et Al November 19, 2018 at 8:22 am
Today Putin is pretending that NATzO sanctions are actually working when it is patently obvious that they are not.

I suspect that he is not the only one. There's a whole host of other sanctions that the West has studiously avoided putting on Russia because of the damage that would be done to itself, not to mention that it would always like to have a few extra sanctions to dangle publicly/privately or both at will.

Vis the Bloomturd report, do they expect someone to pay for it? When you click on the link to the 'report' you get:

The article you requested is only available for Bloomberg Professional Service subscribers.

The article you requested is only available for Bloomberg Professional Service subscribers.
####

Uh-huh. Who exactly is their target audience again?

Eric November 20, 2018 at 5:02 pm
"I believe Putin introduced a misinformation campaign late in his first term in regards to GDP growth in Russia to keep NATzO confused about Russia's resurgence."

Well, you could be right with this , Kirill.

Belarus, Armenia ( near 10%) and Kyrgyzstan( countries with economies interlinked heavily with Russia's of course) all had very strong growth in their economies in the last year. Russia as the mother economy for those countries would be expected to have a lesser but still significant growth figures like 3-4%.
Other things like improved health and rapidly improving crime statistics in Russia, plus public spending could further support your theory ( nearly 60 trillion roubles for the next 3 years is allocated). On the other hand salaries going up is what is needed to substantiate your theory.

kirill November 20, 2018 at 5:28 pm
Salaries are determined by what the market perceives. If the Russian government and CBR are spreading a fake image of Russia's economic health, then that will have negative consequences. The choice is between those negative consequences and the neo-Reich lunatics who are openly baying for war on Russia.
davidt November 19, 2018 at 4:45 pm
GNP is undoubtedly a fairly crude indicator of the health of an economy- I am a little surprised that both GNP and the size of FIRE are not routinely published. Here is an interesting bar graph giving some detail as to how the Russian economy managed in 2015-2016

People like Andrei Martyanov (smoothieX12) argue that the (real) US economy is much smaller than customarily claimed, whilst the Russian economy is much larger. I have copied the above graph from a comment by smoothieX12 to his article
http://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/2018/11/it-begins-to-sink-finally-but-too-late.html
Mark Chapman November 19, 2018 at 6:04 pm
Interesting. I would have thought there was much more growth in Russian agriculture than that, but maybe some of the self-sufficiency efforts are still in their early stages, or perhaps domestic sales are harder to track for effect. Anyway, it puts paid to the nonsense that American sanctions are crushing the Russian economy.

[Nov 22, 2018] This calls to mind Russia's deal with Iran, in which Russia will trade food, medicines and what necessities Iran desires but which American-imposed sanctions make difficult to obtain, for Iranian oil and gas which Russia will use domestically.

Nov 22, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman November 18, 2018 at 5:59 pm

This calls to mind Russia's deal with Iran, in which Russia will trade food, medicines and what necessities Iran desires but which American-imposed sanctions make difficult to obtain, for Iranian oil and gas which Russia will use domestically. Countries are reverting to the barter system to nullify US sanctions in a way that does not use currency flow the USA might try to interdict or confiscate. No actual money changes hands, so America can snoop on SWIFT to its heart's content without seeing evidence of promising targets. Striking, too, is the prevalence of real sympathy for Iran and an evident desire to help it with its problems. The USA has apparently bitten off more than it can chew here, and several nations are openly flouting its rules. If America cannot think of a way to come down hard on them, their example may become contagious.

[Nov 02, 2018] The US is using every tool to destabilize russia and change the goverment into Yeltsin style comprador elite

Nov 02, 2018 | www.wsws.org

Kalen Blaine8 months ago

Hitler and Napoleon learned that it is impossible to conquer Russia size of continent of militarily impossible weather with now a network of underground fortifications, tunnels that cannot be nuked.

There is no conquering Russia with measly million soldiers west could at best deploy for their sure deaths. Hence no western strategist plan for that and so the idea of Russia responding to conventional attack with nuke was a propaganda aim to end the conversation about that absurd, no sides really considers, but is used to spread fear.

US may attack Russia with nukes but no strategic goal would be achieved by that while retaliation would have been devastating.

Even conventional attack on Russia is absurd. Poland 50k 5k offensive capability, All Baltic states 10k, Slovakia 5k, Hungary 9k facing what?

Russian allies: Donbas rebels 40k war hardened rebel soldiers would be hard to beat; Belarus 250k highly trained soldiers, fully integrated Air, Space, Ground and electronic warfare with all newest Russian toys, while entire army of 2 millions. Russia 3-5 million military can call at least 10 millions will maintain air and space superiority over their territory , digged in while invaders are exposed.

There is will be no invasion of Russia only intimidation of the elites to submit to US political and economic dictates. Also there is no conquering China as well. Not possible.

The only nuke war can occur when global elite will be losing grip on power and going down in flames in socialist revolution and only to take entire humanity with them to hell.

Blaine OL8 months ago
If faced with an existential conventional attack, Russian doctrine calls for nuclear response. It would be silly to think they'd limit it to low yield missiles in staging areas in E Europe. They WILL hit continental US and the Pentagon whizkids know this.

The US is using every tool to destabilize them for a change of government, and all the provocations to now are not on a scale of all out war. It does serve to build a compelling narrative that allows no discussion when laws are finally passed limiting freedom of information and association.

The US citizen is the real target here.

OL Blaine8 months ago
I see it as the real target being all the natural resources and cheap but skilled labor in the former USSR (on top of bringing down a competitor), and the US population just stading in the way because they're not brainwashed enough for the generals taste.
The capitalist economies can't work in autarchy, they need to get more markets, they need to bring down competitors. or they fall themselves, If you place the control of the population at the top of their priorities, how do you explain the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq etc ? How do you explain the mamoth military budget ? is it just in case a whole US city turns communist and they need to reduce it to ashes ?
Blaine OL8 months ago
First they would have to make sure the rest of the country didn't learn about the one that went communist. Then instead of reducing it to ashes they would use the association trees they have built tracking internet and social media to identify and round up the ringleaders. Rest of the country might never even know what had happened between partial blackouts and misinformation.

Don't get me wrong, the US would love to replace partial state control of key Russian industries with Western banking interests and have a free hand with the natural resources. This is certainly the long term plan. But...in the near term they have to reestablish control of the narrative.

The military budget is wealth transfer to folks who enjoy and agitate for any war. Afghanistan was about military contracts, hydrocarbons and opium, the Taliban had to go. Iraq (and Syria) are a problem for Israel - problem solved. Libya was setting up an alternative banking system and possessed attractive gold reserves.

OL Blaine8 months ago
Afghanistan was a good occasion for military contracts, but hydrocarbons of the whole region, (especially the project for a pipeline through the caspian sea that Russia and Iran opposed), were a bigger reason.

Why israel so important to the US ? because the resources of the whole region, and because they could threaten the suez canal.

etc

[Oct 25, 2018] Putin jokes with Bolton: Did the eagle eaten all the olives

Highly recommended!
John Bolton suffers a crippling shortage of olives.
Notable quotes:
"... "As far as I remember, the US coat of arms features a bald eagle that holds 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in another, which is a symbol of a peace-loving policy," ..."
"... "I have a question," ..."
"... "Looks like your eagle has already eaten all the olives; are the arrows all that is left?" ..."
Oct 25, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Meeting with US national security adviser John Bolton in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a comment about Washington's hostility that went right over the hawkish diplomat's head. "As far as I remember, the US coat of arms features a bald eagle that holds 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in another, which is a symbol of a peace-loving policy," Putin said in a meeting with Bolton in Moscow on Tuesday.

"I have a question," the Russian president added. "Looks like your eagle has already eaten all the olives; are the arrows all that is left?"

boz , October 23, 2018 at 3:49 pm

The Saker has the transcript of Putin's comments at a recent plenary in Sochi, small snippets of which have already appeared in the media.

http://thesaker.is/president-putin-meeting-of-the-valdai-international-discussion-club-2/

About 15-20 minutes to get through (the facilitator seems like a bit of a wet blanket), but fascinating to read, if like me, most of what you hear about Putin has been filtered through the MSM.

A couple of reflections:

Putin does detail. He is courteous and patient. He is highly pragmatic and appears to be widely (and, for my money, effectively) briefed.

Olga , October 23, 2018 at 5:33 pm

For those of us lucky enough to follow VVP in his native language – it is indeed a delight. (And – mind you – it was only after I took the time to follow him in his native language that I was able to appreciate this person and his leadership abilities. If one follows him through NYT – no chance that would give one an accurate picture.)
He is erudite, informed, and has a wicked sense of humour, as shown in this clip:
https://www.rt.com/news/442068-putin-olives-eagle-bolton/

[Oct 21, 2018] Russian Deputy FM Ludicrous 'meddling' charges an excuse for more sanctions and to play 'Russia card' ahead of midterm elections

Oct 21, 2018 | www.sott.net

Washington is concocting ludicrous charges against a Russian national for alleged election meddling merely to find reasons for new sanctions and to play the 'Russia card' ahead of the midterms, a top Kremlin official has warned.

The US is bringing up "ludicrous accusations" with a "laughable 'body of proof'" simply to slap Moscow with a new round of sanctions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in a statement on Saturday. He added that "certain" US politicians hope to use charges against Russia to gain the upper hand in "interparty brawls" ahead of the midterm elections, slated for November 6.

Ryabkov made his remarks after the US Department of Justice officially leveled charges against Russian national Elena Khusyaynova, who allegedly served as the chief accountant for 'Project Lakhta.' The officials suspect her of handling the funds used to pay online trolls for posting comments to "sow discord in the US political system," and to "undermine faith" in US democracy. These alleged activities were part of what Washington calls Russian strategic efforts to meddle in the 2016 US presidential race and as well as the upcoming midterms.

... ... ...

Russian official Ryabkov dismissed the charges as "flagrant lies" and yet another element of the "shameful slanderous campaign" unleashed by Washington against Moscow.

"The US clearly overestimates its capabilities," the deputy foreign minister said.

"While exhibiting hostility towards Russia and looking down on the whole world, they will only meet tougher pushback."

[Oct 09, 2018] US Russia Sanctions Are 'A Colossal Strategic Mistake', Putin Warns

Oct 09, 2018 | russia-insider.com

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Washington of making a "colossal" but "typical" mistake by exploiting the dominance of the dollar by levying economic sanctions against regimes that don't bow to its whims.

"It seems to me that our American partners make a colossal strategic mistake," Putin said.

"This is a typical mistake of any empire," Putin said, explaining that the US is ignoring the consequences of its actions because its economy is strong and the dollar's hegemonic grasp on global markets remains intact. However "the consequences come sooner or later."

These remarks echoed a sentiment expressed by Putin back in May, when he said that Russia can no longer trust the US dollar because of America's decisions to impose unilateral sanctions and violate WTO rules.

... ... ...

With the possibility of being cut off from the dollar system looming, a plan prepared by Andrei Kostin, the head of Russian bank VTB, is being embraced by much of the Russian establishment. Kostin's plan would facilitate the conversion of dollar settlements into other currencies which would help wean Russian industries off the dollar. And it already has the backing of Russia's finance ministry, central bank and Putin.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin is also working on deals with major trading partners to accept the Russian ruble for imports and exports.

In a sign that a united front is forming to help undermine the dollar, Russia's efforts have been readily embraced by China and Turkey, which is unsurprising, given their increasingly fraught relationships with the US. During joint military exercises in Vladivostok last month, Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that their countries would work together to counter US tariffs and sanctions.

"More and more countries, not only in the east but also in Europe, are beginning to think about how to minimise dependence on the US dollar," said Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin's spokesperson. "And they suddenly realise that a) it is possible, b) it needs to be done and c) you can save yourself if you do it sooner."

[Oct 04, 2018] US Sanctions Against Russia Are A Colossal Strategic Mistake, Putin Warns

Oct 04, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

US Sanctions Against Russia Are "A Colossal Strategic Mistake", Putin Warns

by Tyler Durden Thu, 10/04/2018 - 07:20 3 SHARES

As Russia is preparing plans to wean its banking system off the dollar, advancing a trend of de-dollarization among the US's largest economic and geopolitical rivals, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Washington of making a "colossal" but "typical" mistake by exploiting the dominance of the dollar by levying economic sanctions against regimes that don't bow to its whims.

"It seems to me that our American partners make a colossal strategic mistake," Putin said.

"This is a typical mistake of any empire," Putin said, explaining that the US is ignoring the consequences of its actions because its economy is strong and the dollar's hegemonic grasp on global markets remains intact. However "the consequences come sooner or later."

These remarks echoed a sentiment expressed by Putin back in May, when he said that Russia can no longer trust the US dollar because of America's decisions to impose unilateral sanctions and violate WTO rules.

While Putin's criticisms are hardly new, these latest remarks happen to follow a report in the Financial Times, published Tuesday night, detailing Russia's efforts to wean its economy off of the dollar. The upshot is that while de-dollarization may be painful, it is, ultimately doable.

The US imposed another round of sanctions against Russia over the summer in response to the poisoning of former double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, and the US Senate is considering measures that would effectively cut Russia's biggest banks off from the dollar and largely exclude Moscow from foreign debt markets.

With the possibility of being cut off from the dollar system looming, a plan prepared by Andrei Kostin, the head of Russian bank VTB, is being embraced by much of the Russian establishment. Kostin's plan would facilitate the conversion of dollar settlements into other currencies which would help wean Russian industries off the dollar. And it already has the backing of Russia's finance ministry, central bank and Putin.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin is also working on deals with major trading partners to accept the Russian ruble for imports and exports.

In a sign that a united front is forming to help undermine the dollar, Russia's efforts have been readily embraced by China and Turkey, which is unsurprising, given their increasingly fraught relationships with the US. During joint military exercises in Vladivostok last month, Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that their countries would work together to counter US tariffs and sanctions.

"More and more countries, not only in the east but also in Europe, are beginning to think about how to minimise dependence on the US dollar," said Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin's spokesperson. "And they suddenly realise that a) it is possible, b) it needs to be done and c) you can save yourself if you do it sooner."

Still, there's no question that US sanctions have damaged Russia's currency and contributed to a rise in borrowing costs. And whether Russia - which relies heavily on energy exports - can convince buyers of its oil and natural gas to accept payment in rubles remains an open question. Increased trade with China and other Asian countries has helped reduce Russia's dependence on the dollar. But the greenback still accounted for 68% of Russia's payment inflow.

But, as Putin has repeatedly warned, that won't stop them from trying. The fact is that Russia is a major exporter, with a trade surplus of $115 billion last year. As the FT pointed out, Russia's metals, grain, oil and gas are consumed around the world - even in the west, despite the tensions surrounding Russia's alleged involvement in the Skripal poisoning and its annexation of Crimea.

To be sure, abandoning the dollar as the currency of choice for oil-related payments would be no easy feat. But China has already taken the first step and show that it can be done by launching a yuan-denominated futures contract that trades in Shanghai - striking the most significant blow to date against the petrodollar's previously unchallenged dominance.

That should embolden Putin to continue with his experiment - not that the US is leaving him much choice.

[Oct 02, 2018] War time propaganda serves for the USA elite as a tool to contain/constrain discontent of allies and citizenry as they attempt to damage or destroy the Russian and Chinese economies.

Notable quotes:
"... Along these lines, the Trump Administration has informed Russia in April 2017 that the period of "strategic patience" is over (well, at least official 'cause being 'patient' didn't seem to deter regime change and covert ops) . They now employ a policy of "maximum pressure" instead. ..."
"... Also note: The Trump Administration has officially labeled Russia and China as enemies when they called them "recidivist" nations in the National Defense Authorization Act in late 2017. (Note: "recidivist" because Russia and China want to return to a world where there is not a hegemonic power, aka a "multi-polar" world). ..."
"... we're already within an ongoing Hybrid Third World War, which is more readily apparent with Trump's Trade War escalation. ..."
"... the "real" US economy is only 5 Trillion, only 25% of what's claimed as the total economy ..."
"... at's clearly happening--and it's been ongoing for quite awhile--for those with open eyes is the Class War between the 1% and 99%. The domestic battle within the Outlaw US Empire for Single Payer/Medicare For All healthcare is one theatre of the much larger ongoing war. ..."
"... Clearly, the upcoming financial crisis must spark a massive political upheaval larger than any ever seen before to prevent institution of the 2008 "solution." ..."
"... The primary dynamic of history is war. This has caused immense suffering. It is now becoming exponentially worse ..."
"... If we think of humankind as a large complex living entity, then like all such entities it will expire at some point. So in the larger picture, what we are moving towards is natural, and to be expected. ..."
Oct 02, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Sally Snyder , Oct 2, 2018 12:26:42 PM | link

Here is a detailed look at what the United States is getting for its $700 billion defense budget:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2018/09/voting-for-war.html

It is rather surprising that the Democrats who have demonized Donald Trump at every turn have voted in favour of the this extremely bloated defense budget, putting even more military might into the hands of a President and Commander-in-Chief that they seem to despise and who they are demonizing because of his alleged collusion with Russia.

m , Oct 2, 2018 1:33:28 PM | link

Speaking of WWIII...
https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/10/02/us-switching-ukraine-location-start-world-war-iii-against-russia.html
Mike Maloney , Oct 2, 2018 1:55:09 PM | link
We've been in WW3 for several years now. Bolton went "Full Monty" with his declaration that U.S. forces will stay in Syria until Iran vacates. The introduction of a Yemen War Powers Resolution in the House last week is a hopeful sign. A reason to root for a Blue Wave in November. Dem leadership, already on record backing the War Powers Resolution, would be obligated to block U.S. enabling genocide in Yemen.
Jackrabbit , Oct 2, 2018 2:25:59 PM | link
m @9

I disagree with Eric Zusse's belief that USA wants to start WWIII. I think they want to contain/constrain discontent of allies and citizenry as they attempt to destroy the Russian and Chinese economies. War is only a last resort. But heightened military tensions mean that the major protagonists have to divert resources to their military, causing a drag on the economies.

Along these lines, the Trump Administration has informed Russia in April 2017 that the period of "strategic patience" is over (well, at least official 'cause being 'patient' didn't seem to deter regime change and covert ops) . They now employ a policy of "maximum pressure" instead.

The big concern for me is that "maximum pressure" also means an elevated chance of mistakes and miscalculations that could inadvertently cause WWIII.

Also note: The Trump Administration has officially labeled Russia and China as enemies when they called them "recidivist" nations in the National Defense Authorization Act in late 2017. (Note: "recidivist" because Russia and China want to return to a world where there is not a hegemonic power, aka a "multi-polar" world).

PS IMO Trump election and the Kavanaugh and Gina Haspel nominations are key to the pursuit of global hegemony.

karlof1 , Oct 2, 2018 3:02:57 PM | link
Most warnings have centered on a financial meltdown, as this article reviews . As most know, IMO we're already within an ongoing Hybrid Third World War, which is more readily apparent with Trump's Trade War escalation.

As noted in my link to Escobar's latest, the EU has devised a retaliatory mechanism to shield itself and others from the next round of illegal sanctions Trump's promised to impose after Mid-term elections.

In an open thread post, I linked to Hudson's latest audio-cast; here's what he said on the 10th anniversary of the 2008 crash: "So this crash of 2008 was not a crash of the banks. The banks were bailed out. The economy was left with all the junk mortgages in place, all the fraudulent debts."

Another article I linked to in a comment to james averred the "real" US economy is only 5 Trillion, only 25% of what's claimed as the total economy . Hudson again: "Contrary to the idea that bailing out the banks helps the economy, the fact is that the economy today cannot recover without a bank failure ." [My emphasis]

Wh at's clearly happening--and it's been ongoing for quite awhile--for those with open eyes is the Class War between the 1% and 99%. The domestic battle within the Outlaw US Empire for Single Payer/Medicare For All healthcare is one theatre of the much larger ongoing war.

As Hudson's stated many times, the goal of the 1% is to reestablish Feudalism via debt-peonage. All the other happenings geopolitically serve to mask this Class War within the Outlaw US Empire. Clearly, the upcoming financial crisis must spark a massive political upheaval larger than any ever seen before to prevent institution of the 2008 "solution." Many predict that this crisis will be timed to occur in 2020 constituting the biggest election meddling of all time.

The crisis will likely be blamed on China without any evidence for hacking Wall Street and causing the subsequent crash -- a Financial False Flag to serve the same purpose as 911.

karlof1 , Oct 2, 2018 3:44:26 PM | link
james @16--

Much can occur and be obscured during wartime. The radical changes to USA from 1938-1948 is very instructive--the commonfolk were on the threshold of gaining control over the federal government for the first time in US history only to have it blocked then reversed (forever?) by FDR and the 1% who tried to overthrow him in 1933.

Same with the current War OF Terror's use to curtail longstanding civil liberties and constitutional rights and much more. To accomplish what's being called "Bail-In" within the USA, Martial Law would need to be emplaced since most of the public is to be robbed of whatever cash they have, and World War would probably be the only way to get Martial Law instituted--and accepted by the military which would be its enforcer.

A precedent exists for stealing money from the people--their gold--via Executive Order 6102 , which used a law instituted during WW1 and still on the books.

mike k , Oct 2, 2018 3:51:45 PM | link
The primary dynamic of history is war. This has caused immense suffering. It is now becoming exponentially worse . Critical graphs are going off their charts. The end is near.

If we think of humankind as a large complex living entity, then like all such entities it will expire at some point. So in the larger picture, what we are moving towards is natural, and to be expected.

Like individual humans, the human population as a whole can pursue activities that maintain it's health, or it can indulge in activities that create disease and hasten it's death. Humankind is deep in toxifying behaviors that signal it's demise in the near future.

[Sep 29, 2018] Washington's Sanctions Machine by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... According to media reports, the Chinese Department purchased the weapons from Rosoboronexport, Russia's principal arms exporter. This violated a 2017 law passed by Congress named, characteristically, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which sought to punish the Russian government and its various agencies for interfering in in the 2016 US election as well as its alleged involvement in Ukraine, Syria and its development of cyberwar capabilities. Iran and North Korea were also targeted in the legislation. ..."
"... Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation . ..."
Sep 27, 2018 | ronpaulinstitute.org
Perhaps it is Donald Trump's business background that leads him to believe that if you inflict enough economic pain on someone they will ultimately surrender and agree to do whatever you want. Though that approach might well work in New York real estate, it is not a certain path to success in international relations since countries are not as vulnerable to pressure as are individual investors or developers.

Washington's latest foray into the world of sanctions, directed against China, is astonishing even when considering the low bar that has been set by previous presidents going back to Bill Clinton. Beijing has already been pushing back over US sanctions imposed last week on its government-run Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Central Military Commission and its director Li Shangfu for "engaging in significant transactions" with a Russian weapons manufacturer that is on a list of US sanctioned companies. The transactions included purchases of Russian Su-35 combat aircraft as well as equipment related to the advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile system. The sanctions include a ban on the director entering the United States and blocks all of his property or bank accounts within the US as well as freezing all local assets of the Equipment Development Department.

More important, the sanctions also forbid conducting any transactions that go through the US financial system. It is the most powerful weapon Washington has at its disposal, but it is being challenged as numerous countries are working to find ways around it. Currently however, as most international transactions are conducted in dollars and pass through American banks that means that it will be impossible for the Chinese government to make weapons purchases from many foreign sources. If foreign banks attempt to collaborate with China to evade the restrictions, they too will be sanctioned.

So in summary, Beijing bought weapons from Moscow and is being sanctioned by the United States for doing so because Washington does not approve of the Russian government. The sanctions on China are referred to as secondary sanctions in that they are derivative from the primary sanction on the foreign company or individual that is actually being punished. Secondary sanctions can be extended ad infinitum as transgressors linked sequentially to the initial transaction multiply the number of potential targets.

Not surprisingly, the US Ambassador has been summoned and Beijing has canceled several bilateral meetings with American defense department officials. The Chinese government has expressed "outrage" and has demanded the US cancel the measure.

According to media reports, the Chinese Department purchased the weapons from Rosoboronexport, Russia's principal arms exporter. This violated a 2017 law passed by Congress named, characteristically, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which sought to punish the Russian government and its various agencies for interfering in in the 2016 US election as well as its alleged involvement in Ukraine, Syria and its development of cyberwar capabilities. Iran and North Korea were also targeted in the legislation.

Explaining the new sanctions, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert issued a statement elaborating that the initial sanctions on Russia were enacted "to further impose costs on the Russian government in response to its malign activities." She added that the US will "urge all countries to curtail relationships with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors, both of which are linked to malign activities worldwide."

As engaging in "malign activities" is a charge that should quite plausibly be leveled against Washington and its allies in the Middle East, it is not clear if anyone but the French and British poodles actually believes the rationalizations coming out of Washington to defend the indefensible. An act to "Counter America's Adversaries Through Sanctions" is, even as the title implies, ridiculous. Washington is on a sanctions spree. Russia has been sanctioned repeatedly since the passage of the fraudulent Magnitsky Act, with no regard for Moscow's legitimate protests that interfering in other countries' internal politics is unacceptable. China is currently arguing reasonably enough that arms sales between countries is perfect legal and in line with international law.

Iran has been sanctioned even through it complied with an international agreement on its nuclear program and new sanctions were even piled on top of the old sanctions. And in about five weeks the US will be sanctioning ANYONE who buys oil from Iran, reportedly with no exceptions allowed. Venezuela is under US sanctions to punish its government, NATO member Turkey because it bought weapons from Russia and the Western Hemisphere perennial bad boy Cuba has had various embargoes in place since 1960.

It should be noted that sanctions earn a lot of ill-will and generally accomplish nothing. Cuba would likely be a fairly normal country but for the US restrictions and other pressure that gave its government the excuse to maintain a firm grip on power. The same might even apply to North Korea. And sanctions are even bad for the United States. Someday, when the US begins to lose its grip on the world economy all of those places being sanctioned will line up to get their revenge and it won't be pretty.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation .

[Sep 15, 2018] The cutting off of water supplies to the Crimea

Sep 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile September 13, 2018 at 11:54 pm

Further to the criminal act perpetrated by the Ukrainian government, namely the cutting off of water supplies to the Crimea, one has to admit that as regards this matter the foreign minister of the Ukraine, Pavel Klmkin, is one obnoxious little twat:

Це не Україна відрізала Крим від води, це зробила Росія, силою відрізавши Крим від України. Сама по собі окупація Криму є страхітливим порушенням міжнародного права і людських прав усіх кримчан.

It is not the Ukraine that has cut off the Crimea from water: Russia did it, by its cutting off of the Crimea from the Ukraine by force. In its own right, the occupation of the Crimea is a terrible violation of international law and the rights of all Crimeans.

James lake September 14, 2018 at 2:32 am
Do the Crimeans have water?

If they do – then it's not such a great victory for Ukraine

Moscow Exile September 14, 2018 at 4:08 am
Yes, and they have desalination plants. The water from the canal that runs from Kherson is chiefly for irrigation. When they first closed the sluice in the Ukraine, the Crimea harvest suffered. No doubt Crimea-Tatar farmers were very pleased about this.

Water Resources of the Crimea

Crimean water resources are limited, failing to fully meet the drinking and economic needs of the region. Over 50 years, the problems of water resources in Crimea were solved by using Dnieper water supplied through North-Crimean Canal; however, after the integration of Crimea into Russia, Ukraine suspended water supply. At the aggravation of political situation between Russia and Ukraine, the situation in the water-management sphere in the Republic of Crimea looks very complicated. The water-management problems of Crimea should be solved based on its own potential. Groundwater resources are the leading factor of sustainable development of Crimean Region at the present stage.

Jen September 14, 2018 at 4:36 am
My understanding is that in 2015, Russian geologists discovered three aquifers in Crimean territory so pipelines have been built to connect the aquifers to the North Crimean Canal and to supply water to people living in eastern Crimea near Kerch.
https://sputniknews.com/russia/201504041020474871/#ixzz3WNLsZ6sG
Mark Chapman September 14, 2018 at 8:57 am
Right. Indulging the will of the very great majority of Crimeans is a terrible violation of international law, and that same population consequently deserves to be without water even though the supply they depended upon comes from Ukraine. Pull the other one, Pavlo. Not even a day-one civil-rights lawyer would buy that argument. The west has never contested that the decision of Crimeans to sever their ties to Ukraine was that of the majority – not really, It has danced around with that voting-at-the-point-of-a-Kalashnikov bullshit, but the vote was not even close. If there were a do-over with the strictest supervision of western officials, and Kuh-yiv itself got to write the referendum question, Crimea would still vote to secede, and the west knows it. If it was such a loyal part of Ukraine before, why was it the autonomous republic of Crimea?

The Ukraine-Crimea affair should stand as a textbook example of how the country that lost territory did absolutely everything wrong in its attempts to get it back.

[Sep 14, 2018] British Are In Flight Forward, Frantic to Save the Empire

Sep 06, 2018 | larouchepac.com
Prime Minister Teresa May took to the floor of the Parliament today to report that the Crown Prosecution Service and Police had issued warrants for two Russian GRU officials who, they claim, had carried out the Skripal attacks last March. "We were right," she said with a stiff upper lip, "to say in March that the Russian State was responsible." Mugshots were released of two people whose names, she declared, were aliases (how they know they are GRU officials if they don't know their names was not explained). "This chemical weapon attack on our soil was part of a wider pattern of Russian behavior that persistently seeks to undermine our security and that of our allies around the world," she intoned.

At the same time, dire warnings have been issued to Syria and Russia that there will be a major military response if Syria uses chemical weapons in Idlib. This is despite the fact that Russia has presented the proof to the OPCW and to the UN that the British intelligence-linked Olive security outfit and the British-sponsored White Helmet terrorists have prepared a false flag chlorine attack in Idlib, to be blamed on the Syrian government, to trigger such a military atrocity by the US and the UK.

Also at the same time, in the US, Washington Post fraudster Bob Woodward released a book claiming that numerous Trump cabinet officials made wildly slanderous statements about Trump -- all third hand from anonymous sources, of course. Chief of Staff John Kelly called the claims "total BS," while Secretary of State Jim Mattis called it typical Washington DC fiction, adding that "the idea that I would show contempt for the elected Commander-in-Chief, President Trump, or tolerate disrespect to the office of the President from within our Department of Defense, is a product of someone's rich imagination."

Worse, the New York Times, apparently for the first time, printed an "anonymous" op-ed by someone claiming to be a "senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us," under the title: "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration -- I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations." Whether this person is or is not who they claim to be, it is clearly part of the British coup attempt, as proven in the op-ed itself. After calling Trump amoral, unhinged, and more, and claiming there is discussion within the Administration of using the 25th Amendment to remove him for mental incompetence, it then states: "Take foreign policy: In public and in private, President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations [read: the United Kingdom - ed.]. Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals. On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin's spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable."

And, while news about the British drive for war with Russia and their attempted coup against the government of the United States fills the airwaves and the press, not a single word -- repeat, not a single word -- has been reported in the US or British media about the truly historic conference which took place on Monday and Tuesday in Beijing, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAP). Helga Zepp-LaRouche declared this week that this event will be recognized in history as the end of the era of colonialism and neo-colonialism. Every African nation except one was represented at the conference in Beijing (the "one" was Swaziland, the last holdout on the African continent which still maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan rather than Beijing).

All but six were represented their head of state. They reviewed the transformation taking place across Africa due to the Belt and Road Initiative since the last FOCAP meeting in 2015, and laid out plans for the even more rapid development over the next three years, and on to 2063 -- the target year for full modernization over 50 years, adopted by the African Union in 2013. One after another the leaders of the African nations described the actual liberation taking place, finally seeing in China the example that real development and the escape from poverty is possible. The program launched at the 1955 Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, where the formerly colonized nations met for the first time without their colonial masters, has finally been realized.

But no one reading the western press would even know that this transformative event had taken place.

Rather, there is only the new McCarthyism, trying to demonize Russia and China, to revive the "enemy image" which should have been eliminated with the fall of the Soviet Union and the recognition of the People's Republic of China.

Trump threatens this new McCarthyism, insisting that America should be friends with Russia and China. No longer will the U.S. accept Lord Palmerston's imperial dictate for the Empire, that "nations have no permanent friends or allies, only permanent interests." The "special relationship" is to be no more.

This is the cause of Theresa May's hysterical rant today in the Parliament. Better war, led by the "dumb giant" America, than to see the Empire destroyed in a world united through a shared vision of universal development.

Britain's drive for war must be exposed and stopped, along with their Russiagate coup attempt in the US. A victory for the common aims of mankind is within our grasp, but the danger is great, and the time is short.

[Sep 02, 2018] Is a 'Suez' Event Being Prepared for Syria by ALASTAIR CROOKE

Sep 01, 2018 | www.strategic-culture.org

So, the metamorphosis is done. President Trump has finally, fully, shed his 2016 Campaign 'skin' of loosely imagining a grand foreign policy bargain that could be the foundation for "WORLD PEACE, nothing less!" as Trump tweeted when imposing sanctions on Iran. We wrote, on 3 August, quoting Prof Russell-Mead, that Trump's '8 May metamorphosis' (the US exit from JCPOA), constituted a step-change of direction: one that reflected "[Trump's] instincts, telling him that most Americans are anything but eager, for a "post-American" world. Trump's supporters don't want long wars, "but neither are they amenable to a stoic acceptance of national decline".

It all began, very precisely, with Trump's '8 May metamorphosis' - which is to say, to the moment when the US president definitively took the Israeli 'line': exiting from the Iranian nuclear accord, deciding to sanction and to lay siege to Iran's economy, and when he endorsed the (old, never materialized) idea of a Sunni 'Arab NATO', led by Riyadh, that would confront Shi'a Iran.

In practical terms, Trump's Art of the Deal geo-strategy, as we now see, became thus transformed into the search for radical US leverage (through weaponising a strong dollar and tariffs) -- looking always to the means to force the capitulation of the counter-party. This cannot be rightly termed negotiation: It is rather, more as if the script has been lifted from The Godfather.

But, when Trump unreservedly took the Israeli (or, more properly the Netanyahu) 'line', he assumed to himself all 'the baggage' that comes with it, too. The 1996 Clean Break document, prepared by a study group led by Richard Perle for Binjamin Netanyahu, meshed the Israeli and US neocon camps into one. And they are still umbilically linked. 'Team Trump' now is filled with neocons who are unreserved Iran-haters. And Sheldon Adelson (a major Trump donor, a patron of Netanyahu, and the instigator for the US embassy move to Jerusalem), consequently has been able to implant his ally, John Bolton (a neocon), as Trump's chief foreign policy advisor.

The Art of the Deal has effectively been neocon-ised into a tool for enlarging American power – and there is nothing of earlier 'mutual advantage' to be heard of, or to be seen, these days.

And now, this week, the metamorphosis has been cemented. After the Helsinki summit between Trump and President Putin, there seemed to have opened a small window of opportunity – for co-operation between the two states - to return stability to Syria. Many hoped that from this small terrain of tentative Syria co-ordination, some lessening of tensions between the US and Russia, might have found fertile soil.

Trump said some positive things; the area around Dera'a, in south Syria, was smoothly cleared of insurgents, and was retaken by the Syrian army. Israel did not demur in having the Syrian army as their near neighbours. But then co-operation rather obviously stalled. It is not clear why, but perhaps this was the first sign of power fracturing apart in Washington. The Helsinki 'understandings' somehow were melting away (though military-to-military co-ordination continued).

Putin dispatched the head of the Russian Security Council to a meeting with Bolton in Geneva on 23 August, to explore whether there was still any possibility for joint co-operation; and, if so, was such activity politically 'viable'. But before even that bilateral meeting with a Russian envoy could be held, Bolton - speaking from Jerusalem (from what was billed as a 'roll-back Iran' brainstorming with PM Netanyahu) - warned that the United States would respond "very strongly" if forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were to use chemical weapons in the offensive to retake Idlib province (expected to commence early September), claiming that the US had intelligence of the intent to use such weapons in Idlib.

The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, however, said on August 25 "Militants of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), [trained by a named British company], are preparing to stage a chemical attack in northern Syria that will be used as a pretext for a new missile strike by the U.S., the UK and France - on facilities of the Damascus government". Russian officials said they had full intelligence on this false flag operation.

What is clear is that since early August the US has been moving a task force (including the USS The Sullivans and USS Ross) into position that would be able to strike Syria, as well as positioning air assets into the US airbase in Qatar. French President Emmanuel Macron too has declared that France was also ready to launch new strikes against Syria, in case of a chemical weapons attack there.

The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet says that the US military is laying the groundwork to close the airspace over northern Syria. US military freighters are reported to have transported radar systems to the city of Kobanî, controlled by the Kurdish militia, and to the US military base in Al-Shaddadah in southern al-Hasakah. Hurriyet claims that the US plans to use these complexes to establish a no-fly zone over the territory between Manbij in Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor. (This claim however, is unconfirmed)

Evidently, Russia takes this US threat seriously (it has deployed 20 naval vessels into the E. Mediterranean, off Syria). And Iran evidently takes the threat seriously, too. The Iranian Defence Minister on Sunday made a rapid unscheduled visit to Damascus in order to agree a tri-partite (Russia, Syria Iran) response to any US attack on Syria.

Then, in the wake of Bolton's chemical weapons claims, and the pre-positioning of US guided-missile vessels close to Syria, Petrushev and Bolton met. The meeting was a disaster. Bolton insisted that Petrushev admit to Russian interference in the US elections. Petrushev refused. Trump said we have 'secret' evidence. Petrushev retorted if that were so, what was the purpose of demanding admission. Bolton said effectively: We sanction you anyway.

Well not surprisingly, the two were unable to agree on Iranian withdrawal from Syria (which Petrushev put on the table). Bolton not only said flatly 'no', but afterwards went public with the Russian initiative to talk possible Iran withdrawal – thus killing it, and killing the initiative as a gambit to leverage further diplomacy. Even the customary, bland, uninformative, final communiqué that is usual in such circumstances, could not be agreed.

The message seems clear: any Helsinki understandings on Syria are dead. And the US is prepared it seems (they have actually moved assets into position) to strike Syria. Why? What is going on?

One obvious element is, that until now, Trump's hand in all this is not visible. Now, power appears to have fractured in Washington with regard to Middle East policy. The neocons are in the lead. This is very significant, since the slender pillar on which Trump's rapport with President Putin had been built, was the prospect of US-Russian co-operation over Syria. And that hat seems, now, to be a dead letter.

Lawrence Wilkerson, now a professor, but formerly the Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell during the infamous Saddam Hussein's 'weapons of mass destruction' episode says it 'cold' :

"It has to do with the return of the Neoconservatives (Neocons) what is happening today, as Trump is preoccupied increasingly with the considerable, ever-growing challenges to him personally and to his presidency institutionally, is the re-entry into critical positions in the government of these people, the people who gave America the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Even those many of them who declared "Never Trump" -- as arch-Neocon Eliot Cohen summed it up -- are salivating at the prospect of carrying out their foreign and security policy - while Trump essentially boils in his own corrupt juices.

"A vanguard, of course, is already in our government to beckon, comfort, and re-establish others of their type. John Bolton as national security advisor to the president leads this pack though he's not, strictly speaking, a card-carrying Neocon

"Presently, their first and most identifiable target is the unfinished business -- which they largely commenced -- with Syria and Iran, Israel's two most serious potential threats. If the Neocons got their way -- and they are remarkably astute at getting their way -- it would mean a reignited war in Syria and a new war with Iran, as well as increased support for the greatest state sponsor of terrorism on earth, Saudi Arabia".

Bolton, Pompeo and the neocons have made it abundantly clear that they – at least – have not abandoned 'regime change' in Syria, as their objective - and they remain set on delivering somehow a strategic setback to Iran (Bolton has said that sanctions alone, on their own, and without Iran suffering some extra strategic blow, would be insufficient to alter Iranian 'malign behaviour').

Whether or not Mattis and Votel are fully on board with Bolton's "very strong" military reprisal on Syria threat (for alleged chemical weapons use) is not clear. (Mattis succeeded in mitigating the last missile strike by Trump on Syria, and to co-ordinating with Moscow a 'nil response' to Trump's Tomahawk salvo). Will it be the same this time if the US again makes an unsubstantiated (and later unproven) claim of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government?

Will Israel join in any attack – using the pre-text of its self-awarded 'right' to attack Iranian forces anywhere in Syria? Given the new strategic 'fact' of the Iranian Defence minister's 'surprise' Sunday visit to Damascus to sign a common resolve on countering any such attack on Syria. Will Netayahu 'bet' on the Russians not responding to hostile Israeli aircraft entering Syrian airspace?

Who will blink first? Netanyahu? Or will Trump surface from his domestic tribulations sufficiently, to take notice and to say 'no' ?

Whatever happens, Presidents Putin and Xi can 'read the runes' of this affair – which is to say that President Trump's highest officials remain committed, openly, or through 'false flags', to defend the American 'global order'. These officials share a disdain for the Obama administration's retrenchment and retreat. They want to arrest, and even truncate the rise of America's rivals, whilst restoring to their former position, those former pillars to U.S. world power: i.e. America's military, financial, technological and energy, dominance.

Russia is trying to defuse the critical situation by sharing their intelligence with Washington that Tahrir al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra), was plotting a chemical attack that would then be misrepresented as another 'atrocity' committed by the 'Syrian regime'. Eight canisters of chlorine have been delivered to a village near Jisr al-Shughur city, and a specially trained group of militants, prepped by a British security company, have also arrived in the area, to imitate a rescue operation to save the civilian 'victims'. Militants plan to use child hostages in the staged incident, Russian officials say .

But will Washington listen? From the moment that the Syrian or the Iranian 'regime' is subjected to a judgement of moral delinquency (irrespective of evidence) – in the context of America's claim to its own Manifest (moral) Destiny – these 'regimes' become transformed from being a temporary, relative adversaries, into an absolute enemy. For, when one is upholding humanity's 'destiny' and seeking "WORLD PEACE, nothing less!", how can one wage war - unless it is in the name of a self-evident good. What is afoot is not attacking an adversary, but punishing and killing the guilty.

Faced with the radical moral devaluation of the 'Other' across western media; and - on the other hand - with the virtue signaling of western good consciousness, can Russia's rational presentations hope to carry weight? The only fact that might just weigh in the balance is the threat that Russia will use its missile arsenal assembling in the East Mediterranean. But what then?

[Sep 01, 2018] THE PECULIAR CASE OF SENATOR LINDSAY GRAHAM by John Chuckman

Notable quotes:
"... "The 'Magnitsky Trio' (John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Ben Cardin) Pushes for War With Russia With New Sanctions ..."
"... "The proposed sanctions by the Graham bill are so insane that even the Treasury department thinks they are a bad idea.' ..."
"... Israel, assisted by its very powerful lobby in America, was the driving force in the set of Neocon Wars that have burned through the Middle East. ..."
"... And I strongly suspect, given the intensity of his all efforts for Israel, that he was caught once in a Mossad "honey trap" and given to understand that very compromising photos of him existed. ..."
"... His constituents back home – conservative Southern Baptists and the like – of course, are not aware of his sexual proclivities, so pictures would make a serious threat. ..."
"... This kind of thing would not at all new to Washington. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, also a closet gay and indeed a cross-dresser according to one reliable biographer, is said to have been compromised the same way by the American Mafia, something which explains his long reluctance to act against Mafia interests, allowing them to flourish while he chased after largely non-existent communists across America. ..."
Sep 01, 2018 | chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE TO RUSSIA INSIDER

"The 'Magnitsky Trio' (John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Ben Cardin) Pushes for War With Russia With New Sanctions

"The proposed sanctions by the Graham bill are so insane that even the Treasury department thinks they are a bad idea.'

I think in many such analyses about American-Russian strained relations an important actor is left out, and that actor is America's strange Middle East quasi-colony, Israel.

Israel, assisted by its very powerful lobby in America, was the driving force in the set of Neocon Wars that have burned through the Middle East.

In order to have the kind of highly aggressive America represented by those wars, much in Israel's favor, effort has to be made to keep antagonisms high. And Russia is inevitably viewed as a barrier to an aggressive America, no matter how friendly Russian-Israeli relations are, and Putin does a very good job of trying to keep good relations.

But, still, while Netanyahu and his gang smile for the cameras after meetings, their deep-down drives are in conflict with Russia in some fundamental ways that cannot be made to disappear with handshakes or smiles. A highly aggressive America serves Israel in its own aggressive regional ambitions as well as in vague matters as "security," the term likely used by its lobby in America.

Russia has her own experience with these drives in the unhappy induced-coup in Ukraine, something in which that charming Neocon from the State Department, Barbara Nuland, famous for bragging that America spent $5 billion on its Ukraine operation and also for once shouting within earshot of others, "Fuck Europe!" played an important role.

The anti-Russian crowd in Washington – very much including the Neocons, who are part and parcel of the total multi-fronted Israel Lobby in Washington, many of the Neocons holding (or having held, as Nuland did) influential government posts – won something for their cause whichever way events in Ukraine went.

They gained either a large country, hostile to Russia right on its border, one with good American connections, to harass and worry Russia, or with the outcome we see, Ukraine having made a fool of itself in falling apart through incompetence and pig-headedness, they have gained the theme of Russian aggression. While Putin's moves were masterful and required, making the very best of a very bad situation, what has emerged still serves these nasty folks in stoking hatred of Russia, now accused of aggression, a charge strongly embraced in Washington and in American-influenced parts of Western Europe.

Lindsay Graham is about the most vocal and reactionary defender of Israel in the Congress. He might be matched by John McCain, but I'm not sure he doesn't in fact earn top honors in his service to another country. He quite literally leaps to his feet at any mention of Israel. So, when a guy like that strongly advocates greatly increased hostility towards Russia, it should tell us something.

And I strongly suspect, given the intensity of his all efforts for Israel, that he was caught once in a Mossad "honey trap" and given to understand that very compromising photos of him existed.

You see, Graham is known as a fairly flagrant gay in Washington.

His constituents back home – conservative Southern Baptists and the like – of course, are not aware of his sexual proclivities, so pictures would make a serious threat.

This kind of thing would not at all new to Washington. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, also a closet gay and indeed a cross-dresser according to one reliable biographer, is said to have been compromised the same way by the American Mafia, something which explains his long reluctance to act against Mafia interests, allowing them to flourish while he chased after largely non-existent communists across America.

[Aug 31, 2018] It is reported that the German company and partner in Nord Stream II, Uniper, may pull out of the project due to the risk of US sanctions

Aug 31, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

ET AL August 30, 2018 at 9:29 am

It is reported that the German company and partner in Nord Stream II, Uniper, may pull out of the project due to the risk of US sanctions (previously it said Uniper will pull out sic see link.).* In related news, construction has been started in German waters. Still silence from Denmark as to whether they will block it or not.

If I were Moscow, I would announce that the pipeline's route will avoid Danish waters and sit back to see the reaction. Why? Coz you can bet that some will claim it is punishment/bribe/threat/anti-competitive to Denmark, to whit, Russia can simply reply that Denmark has XXX days to provide the permits before it is no longer economically feasible for the route to go through its waters.

* https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/german-company-fully-committed-to-nord-stream-2-despite-fear-of-us-sanctions/

Euractiv: With attacks on Nord Stream 2, Washington ignores collateral damage
https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/opinion/with-attacks-on-nord-stream-2-washington-ignores-collateral-damage/

####

What p* me off about the reported 'threat from NSII' and even in articles like the one above that point out it is in Europe's interest, none of them mention the preceding sabotage of South Stream II under the mighty Obama and the impact from that led directly to Nord Stream II.

A blast from the past:
Bulgaria halts Russia's South Stream gas pipeline project after visit by US senators
https://www.rt.com/business/164588-brussels-bulgaria-halts-south-stream/

At this time there is a request from the European Commission, after which we've suspended the current works, I ordered it," Oresharski told journalists after meeting with John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson during their visit to Bulgaria on Sunday. "Further proceedings will be decided after additional consultations with Brussels."

McCain, commenting on the situation, said that "Bulgaria should solve the South Stream problems in collaboration with European colleagues," adding that in the current situation they would want "less Russian involvement" in the project.

"America has decided that it wants to put itself in a position where it excludes anybody it doesn't like from countries where it thinks it might have an interest, and there is no economic rationality in this at all. Europeans are very pragmatic, they are looking for cheap energy resources – clean energy resources, and Russia can supply that. But the thing with the South Stream is that it doesn't fit with the politics of the situation," Ben Aris, editor of Business New Europe told RT .
####

Yes kids. Warmonger McCain was at the forefront of getting it killed after interference from Brussels failed to shift the asshole Borissov's government. So when a European asks "What has John McCain done for us? , he's already f*ed you over for the benefit of the US and U-ropean poodle Krazy K**t Klan.

[Aug 31, 2018] It occurs to me that if Russia were really as malignant and evil as Washington pretends it is, Russia would be first to take that step, booting American companies out of Russia, perhaps giving them 72 hours to clear out their desks and get out.

Aug 31, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

MARK CHAPMAN August 30, 2018 at 8:49 am

See, this is why I enjoy Leonid Bershidsky's writing . Despite his idealistic prattling that Russia is actually guilty of all the things America says it is – his ultimate loyalty is still to his adopted homeland, the land of milk and honey – he remains essentially a realist. And his take on the economic dynamics is brutally realistic; the United States cannot 'bring the Russian economy to its knees'. Once again, America's ridiculously-high opinion of itself and its power fail to take account of consequences.

Oh, it could, I suppose, in a way. A way that would see the world's largest economy – arguably, and certainly in its last days if it is actually still the world's largest economy – wreck the global economy and its own trade relationship with the world in order to damage Russia. Is it willing to go that far? You just never know, as decades of feeding itself exceptionalism have addled its thinking.

Bershidsky points out – correctly, I think – that Russia has held off on punishing American companies in Russia just as the USA has not dared to sanction the energy industry in Russia. Neither wants to take that step, although one will certainly provoke the other.

In fact, it occurs to me that if Russia were really as malignant and evil as Washington pretends it is, Russia would be first to take that step, booting American companies out of Russia, perhaps giving them 72 hours to clear out their desks and get out. What would happen then? America would be bound to drop the sanctions hammer on oil and gas. And what would happen then? Europe would say, it's been a lovely party, but I must be going. I give that an 8 of 10 chance of happening, and solely because of the stupid actions heretofore by the Trump government. Had America been reasonable, it would have stood a chance of carrying Europe with it to a war against Russia. But Trump and his blowhard bullying have hardened European resolve against the USA.

[Aug 25, 2018] Trump is deliberately pushing Germany and Russia to make deals in order to shuffle the deck by Gilbert Docotrow

Notable quotes:
"... Meanwhile, what is surely the single most urgent issue for both sides was not mentioned at all in their opening statements: namely how to respond to US President Donald Trump's new sanctions on Russia and on participants in the Nord Stream II gas pipeline project that both countries support. ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... New York Times' ..."
"... I close out this little survey of English-speaking media by pointing to an article in The Guardian ..."
"... Both Merkel and Putin are now facing the same challenge: US foreign policy has become unpredictable, both for its allies and for rivals like Moscow. Notwithstanding the warm discussions Donald Trump had with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the American administration has just announced a new wave of sanctions on Russia relating to the Skripal affair. ..."
"... La Libre Belgique ..."
"... "Germany is not the only 'Western' nation to return to the Kremlin. Putin is taking full advantage of the boomerang effect caused by the policies of Donald Trump, who, by hammering away at his customary allies is pushing them to other interlocutors. By looking for confrontations, imposing taxes and sanctions while thinking that this rampant isolationism will make the United States 'great again,' Trump is helping to build a wall that he no doubt did not imagine, that of the anti-Trump people." ..."
"... Frankfurter Allgemeine ..."
"... Putin is under economic pressure to find closer ties with Europe. In Austria, which now chairs the European Council, he has allies in the government, namely the extreme right populists of the Freedom Party which installed Kneissl. But the way to Europe passes by way of Merkel and Putin knows that. ..."
"... Vremya Pokazhet ..."
"... Frankfurter Allgemeine ..."
"... In my view, Trump's use of sanctions and tariffs here, there, everywhere has a totally different logic from what is adduced in the writings of my peers in the analyst community. He invokes them because 1. they are within his sole power as Chief Executive and 2. they are in principle as American as apple pie and do not require grand explanations in Congress or before the public. As to why he invokes them, there you have to look at Trump's foreign policy from a 360 degree perspective and not merely as it relates to Putin or to Erdogan or to any of the small slices we see discussed in the news. ..."
"... When viewed in the round, it is obvious that Trump is reshuffling the deck. He is doing what he can to break up NATO and the other military alliances around the world which are consuming more than half of the U.S. defense budget and do not arguably provide greater security to the American homeland than the country can do for itself without fixed alliances and overseas bases. ..."
"... By contrast, what Trump is now doing is not a blunder or a bit of bluster. Even if he is not conversant with the whole of the Realist School of international relations, as surely he is not, he does grasp the fundamentals, namely the centrality of the sovereign nation-state and of the balance of power mechanism by which these states are constantly changing alignments of these nation-states to ensure no one enjoys hegemony . ..."
"... Accordingly, I insist that the possible rapprochement of Russia and Germany will be in line with Trump's reshuffling of the deck not in spite of it. ..."
Aug 23, 2018 | russia-insider.com

Reading the tea leaves of the Putin-Merkel meeting

During this past Saturday, 18 August, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a brief visit to Austria to attend the wedding of the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs Karin Kneissl. Per the Kremlin, this stop of several hours in the Styrian wine country not far from the border with Slovenia was a "purely private" side excursion "on the road to Germany" for the state visit with Chancellor Angela Merkel starting later in the day at the Meseberg Palace, the federal guest house 60 km north of Berlin.

Journalists were admitted to film the wedding party, including Putin's dance with the 53 year old bride. No questions were taken and no statements were issued by the President's Press Secretary, who also was present. We know only that on the return journey to Graz airport, Putin was accompanied by Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Presumably they had some issues to discuss that may be characterized as official talks.

Prior to their meeting both Putin and Angela Merkel made statements to the press listing the topics they intended to discuss. We may assume that these lists were not exhaustive. Comparing their lists, we find that the respective priorities of the parties were in inverted order, with economic cooperation at the head of Putin's list while regulating the Donbass crisis in Ukraine was the top concern of Merkel. Moreover, the content of issues bearing the same heading was very different. Both sides spoke of Syria, but whereas for Putin the issue for discussion is the humanitarian crisis of refugees, ensuring their return to their homes from camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey by raising funds to repair and replace fundamental infrastructure destroyed in the war. For Merkel, the number one issue in Syria is to prevent the Russian-backed Syrian armed forces from creating a new humanitarian disaster by their ongoing campaign to retake Idlib province from the militants opposed to Bashar Assad.

Meanwhile, what is surely the single most urgent issue for both sides was not mentioned at all in their opening statements: namely how to respond to US President Donald Trump's new sanctions on Russia and on participants in the Nord Stream II gas pipeline project that both countries support.

As was explained at the outset, there was to be no press conference or joint statement issued at the conclusion of the talks. The only information we have is that Merkel and Putin conferred for more than three hours, which is in itself quite extraordinary and suggests that some understandings may have been achieved.

In a word, the potentially very important diplomatic developments of Saturday remain, for once, a state secret of the parties, with no leaks for the press to parse. And yet there is material here worthy of our consideration. I have in mind the interpretations of what might transpire before, during and after the events of Saturday in the news and commentary reportage of various countries having greater or lesser interest in Russian affairs. Indeed, my perusal of French, Belgian, German, British, American and Russian news media shows great diversity of opinion and some penetrating and highly pertinent remarks based on different information bases. This material is all essential if we are to make sense of the behavior of the parties on the international stage in the coming weeks.

In this essay, I will set out what I have found per country, starting with the least attentive to detail - the United States - and ending with those who offered the best informed and most interested reportage, Germany and Russia. I will conclude with my own reading of the tea leaves.

* * * *

Let us take The Washington Post and The New York Times as our markers for how US mainstream media reported on Putin's meetings this past Saturday.

On the 18th, The Washington Post carried in its online edition two articles dealing with the Putin diplomatic doings. "At Austrian foreign minister's wedding, Putin brings the music, the flowers and the controversy" was written by the newspaper's bureau chief in Berlin, Griff Witte. It is accompanied by video clips of Vladimir Putin dancing with the bride and speaking, in German, to the wedding party seated at their banquet table. The journalist touches very briefly on the main political dimensions of Putin's visit to Austria, including the party relations between United Russia and the far right Freedom Party in Austria's ruling coalition which nominated Kneissl for her post, the criticism of Putin's participation in the wedding coming from the Opposition parties in Austria who see it as a violation of the government's own ambition to be a neutral bridge between East and West, and the issue of Putin's sowing division on the continent. The only criticism one might offer is that the article is superficial, that each of the issues raised deserves in-depth analysis separately.

The newspaper's second article online, which spread its net more broadly and covered the meeting with Merkel in Germany as well as the visit in Austria, came from an Associated Press reporter, not its own staff. Here again, the problem is that issues surrounding the meetings are not more than bullet points, and the reader is given no basis for reaching an independent finding on what has happened..

The New York Times' feature article "Merkel and Putin Sound Pragmatic Notes After Years of Tension," also published on the 18th and datelined Berlin was cited by Russian television news for a seemingly positive valuation of the talks in Meseberg Palace. However, the content of the article by reporter Melissa Eddy is more cautious, highlighting the pattern of "conflicts and reconciliations" that have marked German-Russian relations over the centuries and seeing the present stage not as a warming of relations but instead as reaching for compromises "on Syria, energy and other key issues while maintaining their differences over Russia's role in the conflict in Ukraine." She sees the Syrian issue as one where German and Russian interests may be closest given that refugees from the Middle East are now a German preoccupation with political weight. The reporter cites several experts attached to well-known institutes in Germany that are generally skeptical about Russia's intentions. But the end result is better informed than most NYT reporting on Russia even if it leaves us wondering what will result from the Saturday diplomacy.

In both mainstream papers there is no attempt to find a link between Putin's two visits on Saturday.

I close out this little survey of English-speaking media by pointing to an article in The Guardian from the 18th entitled "Putin urges Europe to help rebuild Syria so refugees can return." This piece comes from the Agence France-Presse in Berlin. It is not much more than a recitation of the lists of topics for discussion that Putin and Merkel issued before their talks. But the reporter has made his choice for the most important of them, Syria and refugees.

The French-language press does not seem to have been very interested in Putin's "private" trip to the wedding of the Austrian foreign minister, but was definitely keen to discuss Putin's trip to Berlin. On the day preceding the Putin-Merkel meeting, the French press offered a clear concept of where things were headed. We read in Figaro , "Merkel receives Putin Saturday to renew a difficult dialogue." A caption in bold just below is more eye-catching: "While the German Chancellor has become the main opponent to the Russian President within the EU, the policy of sanctions conducted by Washington has led to a rapprochement between Berlin and Moscow with regard to numerous issues."

The reporter notes that following the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, relations between the two heads of state had become quite bad and in four years they met only when obliged to do so during international summits.

"But starting three months ago, their diplomatic exchanges have intensified: in May Angela Merkel met the chief of the Kremlin in Sochi, Russia. In July, she met the head of the Russian diplomatic corps, Sergei Lavrov, in Berlin. By inviting Vladimir Putin this time, the German Chancellor has promised 'in-depth discussions.' "She is pursuing a pragmatic attempt at normalization of German-Russian relations, because the international realities have changed,' explains Stefan Meister, director of the Robert Bosch Center for Russia."

And how has the calculus of international relations changed? Both Merkel and Putin are now facing the same challenge: US foreign policy has become unpredictable, both for its allies and for rivals like Moscow. Notwithstanding the warm discussions Donald Trump had with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the American administration has just announced a new wave of sanctions on Russia relating to the Skripal affair.

"The American policy represents a danger for the Russian economy and a threat to German interests."

A spokesperson from Merkel's CDU party responsible for foreign policy is quoted on the possible dangers of secondary sanctions being directed at Germany through the application of US extraterritoriality against those failing to respect the new sanctions on Russia.

The article explains the issues surrounding the Nord Steam 2 pipeline, and in particular Trump's hostility to the project for its locking in German dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.

And the author points to the common interests of Germany and Russia over maintenance of the Iranian nuclear deal as a factor powering the rapprochement of the two countries. Here again the common threat is Donald Trump and American sanctions against those companies which continue to trade with Iran.

The article concludes that divergent views of Russia and Germany over Ukraine and Syria exclude any breakthrough at the meeting on Saturday. But nonetheless the dialogue that was lacking these several past years is being recreated.

In its weekend edition issued on 18 August, the Belgian mainstream daily La Libre Belgique was even more insistent on interpreting the Merkel-Putin meeting as a consequence of the policies of Donald Trump. Their editorial captures the sense very nicely in its tongue-in-cheek headline: "Trump is the best 'ally' of Putin."

La Libre sees Vladimir Putin's latest diplomatic initiatives as directly resulting from the way his host at the White House has annoyed everyone. Moreover, his outreach is welcomed:

"Germany is not the only 'Western' nation to return to the Kremlin. Putin is taking full advantage of the boomerang effect caused by the policies of Donald Trump, who, by hammering away at his customary allies is pushing them to other interlocutors. By looking for confrontations, imposing taxes and sanctions while thinking that this rampant isolationism will make the United States 'great again,' Trump is helping to build a wall that he no doubt did not imagine, that of the anti-Trump people."
The editors point to Turkish President Erdogan's clear signal that he is now looking for other allies. He has done his calculations and has said he has more to gain with Moscow than with Washington.'

The editorial concludes that a summit on reconstruction of Syria might even take place at the start of September between Moscow, Ankara, Paris and Berlin. The conclusion? "Putin has taken center stage on the chessboard. Thank you, Mr. Trump."

The article filed by La Libre 's correspondent in Berlin, Sebastien Millard, bears a heading that matches the editorial view of the newspaper: "Merkel and Putin - allies of convenience facing Trump." The author credits Donald Trump with being the catalyst for the resumption of dialogue between Germany and Russia; they are telling Washington that they do not accept its blackmail. He notes that we should not expect any reversal of alliances. There are too many differences of view between Berlin and Moscow on a variety of issues.

* * * *

The German press paid a good deal of attention to Vladimir Putin's visit to Austria for the wedding of Foreign Minister Karin Kreissl.

In an article posted on the 16th entitled "Suspicion that Austria is a Trojan horse," Die Welt highlighted the negatives of Putin's presence. Quoting an "expert from the University of Innsbruck" this does not cast a good light on the country. They anticipate political fall-out. This will impair Austria's ability as chair of the European Council to play a role of intermediary in the Ukraine conflict. The only beneficiary of the visit will be the the Russia-friendly be the Russia-friendly Freedom Party. For Putin, being a guest provides him with the opportunity to demonstrate that he is not isolated but is instead highly welcome in society of an EU country.

As for the coming meeting with Merkel on Saturday evening, Die Welt in a related article of the same day lists the issues for discussion. Without taking a position, it cites experts for and against the Nord Stream II pipeline and other issues on the list.

Welt's report from the wedding party on the 18th was gossipy and unfriendly, comparing it to a wedding of some European royal family because of the extraordinary guest list that included the country's chancellor, vice chancellor, and defense minister as well as the head of OPEC and...Vladimir Putin. With typical German petty financial accounting, they reckon that the 500 police and other security measures needed for the safety of the highly placed guests cost the Austrian tax payers 250,000 euros.

A separate article in Die Welt deals with Putin's meeting with Merkel at the Meseberg Palace. The emphasis here is on Merkel's remarks during the Statement prior to the talks that cooperation with Russia is "vital" to deal with many conflicts globally and that both sides bear responsibility to find solutions.

The article quotes from the opening statements of the leaders on all the issues in their list for discussion - Syria, Ukraine, Nord Stream II. We are given bare facts without any analysis to speak of.

The other major mainstream daily Frankfurter Allgemeine in its Saturday, 18 August edition offered separate articles on Putin's visits to Austria and Germany.

The article on Karin Kneissl's wedding heads off in a very different direction from the reporting in other media that I have summarized above. FAZ notes that Kneissl is rarely in the headlines and it asks: who is she? They answer the question with some curious details. We learn that Kneissl was once active in competitive sports and even now swims a kilometer every day. For many years she has lived on a small farmstead with a couple of boxers, two ponies, hens and cats. Each morning her chauffeur takes her and the dogs to her office in Vienna, to return in the evening. Regrettably, FAZ does not take this curious biographical sketch further. No connection is drawn between her personality and the Russian President's acceptance of her invitation to her wedding.

FAZ similarly has chosen to amuse rather than inform in its coverage of the meeting in Berlin entitled "Sparkling wine in Austria, sparkling water in Meseberg." They comment on how Putin arrived half an hour late, on how it is hard to see how the meeting could be characterized as a success. They stress that we know nothing about the content of the consultations. Then they tick off the opening positions of the sides as set out in their statements before the talks.

Spiegel online risks more by giving more interpretation and less bare facts. Its article entitled "Something of a new start" suggests that a rapprochement is underway and that both Merkel and Putin have a lot in play. Unlike the other German press we have mentioned, Spiegel sees a direct link between Putin's attending the wedding in Styria and his visit to Merkel.

Putin is under economic pressure to find closer ties with Europe. In Austria, which now chairs the European Council, he has allies in the government, namely the extreme right populists of the Freedom Party which installed Kneissl. But the way to Europe passes by way of Merkel and Putin knows that.

Meanwhile, says Spiegel , Germany also is interested in improving relations with Russia despite all the controversy, namely due to the growing conflicts with US President Donald Trump. We don't know the exact content of the talks which were confidential, but there is some movement now between Germany and Russia.

Spiegel remains cautious. Cordiality does not enter into the relationship. The parties keep their distance. There is no laughter to lighten the atmosphere. Yet, it concludes: "The talks have prospects and we can see the wish to make progress through common positions, and without being silent about contradictions. Diplomatic normality, as it were. A step forward."

* * * *

If the great bulk of commentary in the West about Putin's diplomatic weekend was reserved and stayed by the bare facts without speculation, Russian television more than made up for dryness. I point in particular to two political talk shows which invited a mixture of experts from different backgrounds.

Let us begin with the show Vremya Pokazhet (Time will tell) on state television's Pervy Kanal . Their Friday, 17 August program focused on Putin's forthcoming visit to the wedding 'on the road to Berlin,' which several panelists saw as a strong signal to Germany that Russ1+
ia had other channels to the EU if Germany refuses to be its intercessor.

The visit was said to be breaking new ground in diplomatic practice. According to panelist Andrei Baklanov, deputy chair of the association of Russian diplomats, this kind of positive, human diplomacy is Russia's answer to the negative behavior in international affairs that has occupied center stage in the recent past - sanctions, fake news, etc. As another panelist interjected, this is the first time that a Russian head of state attended a wedding abroad since Tsar Nicholas did so in Germany in 1913.

Baklanov proceeded to provide details about the bride, however, bringing out aspects of her career that are far more relevant to her attracting the attention of Putin than the Frankfurter Allgemeine produced. We learn that she grew up in Amman, Jordan, that she speaks 8 languages: Arabic, Hebrew, Magyar, French, Spanish, Italian, English as well as her native German. She studied Near Eastern languages in Vienna University, in the Jewish University of Jerusalem, in the University of Jordan and also graduated from the National School of Administration in France. She holds a doctorate in law. She is a non-party minister, which also attests to her generally recognized professionalism. For all of these reasons, she is a good fit with Putin's determination to find supporters in Europe for investments to restore Syrian infrastructure and enable the return of refugees.

The country's most prestigious talk show, "Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov," had a couple of Duma members and a well-known politician from Liberal circles comment on the diplomacy of the day before.

Sergey Mironov, leader of the socialist party Fair Russia said that despite Merkel's warning in advance not to expect breakthroughs it is likely progress was made in agreeing how to deal with US sanctions. This would be tested in the coming days.

As for the link between the visits to Austria and Germany, the representative of a pro-business party Sergey Stankevich reminded viewers that Germany and Austria are the market makers in Europe for Russian gas. Nord Stream II gas may land in Germany but a large part of it will be pumped further to Austria's hub for distribution elsewhere in Europe. Whatever may have been said publicly, Stankevich believes that Merkel and Putin did agree on many if not all the subjects named before the start: Iran, Syria, Ukraine, Nord Stream.

Russian media coverage of the Saturday travels of their President continued on Russian news programs into Monday, with video clips of Putin dancing at the wedding and speaking alongside Merkel before entering into their talks at Meseberg Palace.

* * * *

Looking back at the media coverage of Putin's visits to Austria and Germany on 18 August, and with all due respect to those who opinions are different from mine, I find that the most helpful for our understanding of the present day international situation were the report and editorial in Belgium's Libre Belgique and the unruly, risky but at times brilliant insights on Russian television.

What comes out of this is the understanding that the visits to a wedding in Austria and to the federal Chancellor outside Berlin were directly linked in Russian diplomatic strategy, that Russia is playing the Austrian card during the country's six months at the helm of the European Council in Brussels, that Russia is pushing for a multi-party relief effort for Syria to facilitate the return of refugees to their home and pacification of the war-torn country. The web of common interests that Russia is pursuing has at its core the fragility of the current world order and generalized anxiety of leading countries due to America's aggressive pursuit of narrow national interest under Donald Trump as seen in his tariff wars and sanctions directed at friends and foes alike.

Where I differ from the interpretations set out in the foregoing press reports is in my understanding of what Trump is doing and why.

The nearly universal assumption of commentators is that Trump's policies known as "Make America Great" are ignorant and doomed to fail. They are assumed to be isolationist, withdrawing America from the world community.

However, Trump did not invent bullying of US allies. That was going strong under George W. Bush, with his challenge "you are either with us or against us" when he sought to align the West behind his invasion of Iraq in 2003 without authorization of the UN Security Council. His more urbane successor Barack Obama was no kinder to U.S. allies, who were slapped with crushing fines for violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran, just to mention one way in which they were kept in line. And the U.S. Congress today is no more reasonable and diplomatic than the President in the brutal unilateral sanctions it has on its own initiative advocated against not just Russia but also against Turkey and other states which are not snapping to attention with respect to purchases of military materiel from Russia.

What made U.S. bullying tolerable before Trump was the ideological smokescreen of "shared values," namely democracy promotion, human rights and rule of law, that all members of the alliances could swear to and which set them apart from the still unenlightened parts of the globe where autocrats hold sway.

In my view, Trump's use of sanctions and tariffs here, there, everywhere has a totally different logic from what is adduced in the writings of my peers in the analyst community. He invokes them because 1. they are within his sole power as Chief Executive and 2. they are in principle as American as apple pie and do not require grand explanations in Congress or before the public. As to why he invokes them, there you have to look at Trump's foreign policy from a 360 degree perspective and not merely as it relates to Putin or to Erdogan or to any of the small slices we see discussed in the news.

When viewed in the round, it is obvious that Trump is reshuffling the deck. He is doing what he can to break up NATO and the other military alliances around the world which are consuming more than half of the U.S. defense budget and do not arguably provide greater security to the American homeland than the country can do for itself without fixed alliances and overseas bases.

The first two presidencies of this millennium undid the country's greatest geopolitical achievement of the second half of the 20th century: the informal alliance with China against Russia that put Washington at the center of all global politics. Bush and Obama did that by inattention and incomprehension of what was at stake. That inattention was an expression of American hubris in the unipolar world which, it was assumed, was the new normal, not a blip.

By contrast, what Trump is now doing is not a blunder or a bit of bluster. Even if he is not conversant with the whole of the Realist School of international relations, as surely he is not, he does grasp the fundamentals, namely the centrality of the sovereign nation-state and of the balance of power mechanism by which these states are constantly changing alignments of these nation-states to ensure no one enjoys hegemony . We see this understanding when he speaks about looking out for American interests while the heads of state whom he meets are looking out for the interests of theirs.

In his tweets we find that our allies are ripping us off, that they are unfair competitors. His most admiring remark about Russia is that it is a strong competitor. The consistent element in Trump's thinking is ignored or willfully misunderstood in the press.

Accordingly, I insist that the possible rapprochement of Russia and Germany will be in line with Trump's reshuffling of the deck not in spite of it.

Good Optics · about 3 hours ago

This nuanced analysis rings true and speaks to the fact that - though Trump may not exactly be playing 47D chess - he certainly does have some good intentions that, left to follow their course, would have a chance of making the world a better place. But that will not be allowed to happen by those in the US with firm commitments to pursue the world's subjugation through any means possible.

The Cs did tell us that Trump's heart is in the right place, unlikely though that does appear a lot of the time . . .

[Aug 25, 2018] Ron Paul interviews Rep. Thomas Massie on Russia, Sanctions, and Tariffs

Aug 25, 2018 | www.antiwar.com

Why is Congress so obsessed with starting a new Cold War with Russia? Are they all gripped by group-think? Who do sanctions hurt most? And how can people visit with Rep. Thomas Massie and Ron Paul later this month? Tune in to today's Ron Paul Liberty Report with a very special guest!

https://youtu.be/ZLzNqwuPVE4

[Aug 25, 2018] As Washington's Neocons "Crush" Russia, Ron Paul Warns Sanctions Lead To War

Aug 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Mon, 08/06/2018 - 16:47 206 SHARES Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

Authored by Ron Paul via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

You can always count on the neocons in Congress to ignore reality, ignore evidence, and ignore common sense in their endless drive to get us involved in another war.

Last week, for example, Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-NC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and others joined up to introduce what Senator Graham called "the sanctions bill from hell," aimed at applying "crushing" sanctions on Russia.

me title=

Senator Graham bragged that the bill would include "everything but the kitchen sink" in its attempt to ratchet up tensions with Russia.

Sen Cory Gardner (R-CO) bragged that the new sanctions bill "includes my language requiring the State Department to determine whether Russia merits the designation of a State Sponsor of Terror."

Does he even know what the word "terrorism" means?

Sen Ben Cardin (D-MD) warns that the bill must be passed to strengthen our resolve against "Vladimir Putin's pattern of corroding democratic institutions and values around the world, a direct and growing threat to US national security."

What has Russia done that warrants "kitchen sink" sanctions that will "crush" the country and possibly designate it as a sponsor of terrorism? Sen. Menendez tells us:

"The Kremlin continues to attack our democracy, support a war criminal in Syria, and violate Ukraine's sovereignty."

There is a big problem with these accusations on Russia : they're based on outright lies and unproven accusations that continue to get more bizarre with each re-telling .

How strange that when US Senators like Menendez demand that we stand by our NATO allies even if it means war, they attack Russia for doing the same in Syria. Is the Syrian president a "war criminal," as he claims? We do know that his army is finally, with Russian and Iranian help, about to defeat ISIS and al-Qaeda, which with US backing for seven years have turned Syria into a smoking ruin. Does Menendez and his allies prefer ISIS in charge of Syria?

And how hypocritical for Menendez to talk about Russia violating Ukraine's sovereignty. The unrest in Ukraine was started by the 2014 US-backed coup against an elected leader. We have that all on tape!

How is Russia "attacking our democracy"? We're still waiting for any real evidence that Russia was involved in our 2016 elections and intends to become involved in our 2018 elections. But that doesn't stop the propagandists, who claim with no proof that Russia was behind the election of Donald Trump.

These Senators claim that sanctions will bring the Russians to heel, but they are wrong. Sanctions are good at two things only: destroying the lives of innocent civilians and leading to war.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/BLiDwzJ2EJs

As I mentioned in an episode of my Liberty Report last week, even our own history shows that sanctions do lead to war and should not be taken lightly. In the run-up to US involvement in the War of 1812, the US was doing business with both France and the UK, which were at war with each other. When the UK decided that the US was favoring France in its commerce, it imposed sanctions on the US. What did Washington do in response? Declared war. Hence the War of 1812, which most Americans remember as that time when the British burned down the White House.

Recent polls show that the majority of Americans approve of President Trump's recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among Republicans, a vast majority support the meeting. Perhaps a good defeat in November will wake these neocon warmongers up. Let's hope so!

[Aug 25, 2018] Defections from Pax Americana Coming Louder and Faster

Notable quotes:
"... What started as small moments of defiance a few years ago are turning into full-throated shouts of opposition as the US pushes its leverage in financial markets to step on the necks of anyone who doesn't toe the line. ..."
"... What we are seeing is the culmination of a long-term plan by global elites to tighten the financial noose around the world through overlapping trade and tariff structures and weaponizing the dollar's position at the center of global financial interdependence. ..."
"... So, everyday another round of sanctions makes the case against continuing to do business with the US stronger. Everyday another global player speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and makes contingency plans for a world without the dollar at the center of it all. ..."
"... Maas openly accused the US of weaponizing the dollar and disrupting the very foundations of global trade, which is correct, to achieve its goals of regime change in Turkey and Iran. Maas mainly tied this to Trump's pulling out of the JCPOA but the reality is far bigger than this. ..."
"... The Magnitsky Act and its progenitors around the world are a major evolution in the US's ability to bring financial pain to anyone who it disapproves of. Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws also into this framework. ..."
Aug 25, 2018 | www.strategic-culture.org

What started as small moments of defiance a few years ago are turning into full-throated shouts of opposition as the US pushes its leverage in financial markets to step on the necks of anyone who doesn't toe the line.

And Trump feeds off this by casting everyone as a leach who has been sucking off the US's breast for decades. It doesn't matter the issue, to Trump US economic fragility is a hammer and every trade and military partner a nail to be bashed over the head to pay their way.

What we are seeing is the culmination of a long-term plan by global elites to tighten the financial noose around the world through overlapping trade and tariff structures and weaponizing the dollar's position at the center of global financial interdependence.

Trump is against that in principle, but not against the US maintaining as much of the empire as possible.

So, everyday another round of sanctions makes the case against continuing to do business with the US stronger. Everyday another global player speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and makes contingency plans for a world without the dollar at the center of it all.

The latest major one was with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This meeting wasn't expected to provide anything concrete, only vague assurances that projects like the Nordstream 2 pipeline goes through.

But, no breakthroughs on Crimea or Ukraine were expected nor delivered. It was, however, an opportunity for both Putin and Merkel to be humanized in the European media. Between Putin's attending Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl's wedding as well as the garden party photo op background for their talk, this meeting between them was a bit of a 'charm tour' to assist Merkel in the polls while expanding on Putin's humanity post World Cup and Helsinki.

That said, however, the statement by Merkel's Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, about the need for a new financial payment system which bypasses the US-dominated SWIFT system was the big bombshell.

Maas openly accused the US of weaponizing the dollar and disrupting the very foundations of global trade, which is correct, to achieve its goals of regime change in Turkey and Iran. Maas mainly tied this to Trump's pulling out of the JCPOA but the reality is far bigger than this.

The Magnitsky Act and its progenitors around the world are a major evolution in the US's ability to bring financial pain to anyone who it disapproves of. Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws also into this framework.

While KYC and AML laws can at least have the appearance of validity in attempting to stop illegal activity, targeted sanctioning is simply Orwellian.

It politicizes any and all economic activity the world over. Just look at the recent reasons for these sanctions – unproven allegations of chemical weapons usage and electioneering. Recent actions by the US have driven this point home to its 'allies' with stunning clarity.

Why do you think Putin brought up Bill Browder's name at the Helsinki press conference? He knows that Browder's story is a lie and it's a lie that has been used as the foundation for the type of political repression we're seeing today.

The US is blocking the simplest of transactions in the dollar now, claiming that any use of the dollar is a global privilege which it can revoke at a whim. Aside from the immorality of this, that somehow dollars you traded goods or services for on the open market are still somehow the property of the U.S to claw back whenever it is politically convenient, this undermines the validity of the dollar as a rational medium of exchange for trade.

This is why after the first round of sanctions over the reunification with Crimea Putin ordered the development of a national electronic payment system. He rightly understood that Russia needed a means by which to conduct business that was independent of US political meddling.

So, to me, if Heiko Maas is serious about the threat posed by continued use of the dollar in EU trade, he should look to Putin for guidance on building a system separate from SWIFT.

Moreover, Maas' statement didn't go out to the world without Merkel's approval. This tells me that this was likely the major topic of conversation between her and Putin over the weekend. Because a payment system that skirts the dollar is one the US can't control.

It took the Russians longer than they should have to develop MIR. Putin complained about how slow things went because too many within the Bank of Russia and the financial community could be thought of as fifth columnists for the West.

It's also why development of the crypto-ruble and Russia's policy on cryptocurrencies has been so slow. It took Putin publicly ordering the work done by a certain time to get these tasks completed. In the end, it shouldn't take the EU long to spin up a SWIFT-compliant internal alternative. It is, after all, just code.

And that's why so many of the US's former satraps are now flexing their geopolitical muscle. The incentives aren't there anymore to keep quiet and go along. Alternatives exist and will be utilized.

I don't expect the EU brass to do much about this issue, the threat may be all that is needed to call Trump's bluff. But, if in the near future you see an announcement of MIR being accepted somewhere in the EU don't be surprised.

Because what used to be a node of political stability and investor comfort is now a tool of chaos and abuse. And abusing your customers is never a winning business model in the long run. Customers of the dollar will remind the US of that before this is over.

[Aug 24, 2018] Credit Suisse freezes $5 billion of Russian money due to U.S. sanctions

Notable quotes:
"... Sounds like the rich Russians who refused to believe their wealth wouldn't be confiscated in the West just learned a hard lesson. The "rule of law" is for suckers. ..."
"... The west wants Putin gone so badly that there is no law they will not break, no amount of hard-earned soft power they will not throw away, no western business they will not throw under the bus if they think they will realize that goal. ..."
Aug 24, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

MOSCOW EXILE August 22, 2018 at 11:47 am

Credit Suisse freezes $5 billion of Russian money due to U.S. sanctions
AUGUST 22, 2018 / 5:53 PM / UPDATED 5 HOURS AGO

ZURICH (Reuters) – One of Switzerland's largest banks, Credit Suisse, has frozen roughly 5 billion Swiss francs ($5 billion) of money linked to Russia to avoid falling foul of U.S. sanctions, according to its accounts, further increasing pressure on Moscow .

Credit Suisse is being cautious in part because of earlier bad experiences. In 2009, it reached a $500 million settlement with U.S. authorities over dealings with sanctions-hit Iran.

There have been other instances where European banks have been punished. In 2014, France's BNP Paribas ( BNPP.PA ) agreed to pay a record $8.9 billion for violating U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Cuba and Iran.

Switzerland's banking watchdog FINMA does not require Swiss banks to enforce foreign sanctions, but has said they have a responsibility to minimize legal and reputational risks.

I hope the present Russian administration and those yet to come remember this.

CARTMAN August 22, 2018 at 3:42 pm
Sounds like the rich Russians who refused to believe their wealth wouldn't be confiscated in the West just learned a hard lesson. The "rule of law" is for suckers.
MARK CHAPMAN August 22, 2018 at 5:39 pm
I doubt very many ordinary Russians lost anything, but they got a pretty useful lesson for free. The west wants Putin gone so badly that there is no law they will not break, no amount of hard-earned soft power they will not throw away, no western business they will not throw under the bus if they think they will realize that goal.
MARK CHAPMAN August 22, 2018 at 4:21 pm
Surely there is something Russia can seize to pay them back, or a bank they can close down and kick out in reprisal.

Like

KIRILL August 22, 2018 at 5:01 pm
I wonder whose money this was. Russian offshoring is rather sneaky and uses all sorts of places like Cyprus and the Cayman Islands through various instruments. As of 2014, simply keeping money in a western bank was no longer an option.

So this is either illegal money or Credit Suisse is simply lying.

MARK CHAPMAN August 22, 2018 at 5:51 pm
That's a good point; some time ago (you're probably correct that it was 2014, or around there) the Russian government did somewhat formalize its advice to not keep money in western banks. As I best remember, it was only mandatory for members of government. But it seems unlikely the government would order all its ministers and senators to move all monies held in western banks out of those banks, and then leave government funds there itself. So perhaps some oligarch/s got burned.
JEN August 23, 2018 at 3:08 am
Could some of this money that Credit Suisse has frozen be Mikhail Khodorkovsky's?

Like

MARK CHAPMAN August 23, 2018 at 1:45 pm
Possibly, but I doubt it. Saint Mikhail's money, what there is left of it, is transparent to western investigations, and if they could think of a good reason they would give him a lot more, especially if he were even remotely popular in Russia and they thought he might be a candidate for insertion into Putin's role.

Like

MOSCOW EXILE August 23, 2018 at 4:02 am
Now Credite Suisse says that Russian accounts have not been frozen, that the Bank had reclassified certain assets placed under sanctions. By these actions no Russian customers have been affected, reports TASS .

Meanwhile, in the world's greatest dirty money laundry, it has been revealed that the London branch of Deutsche Bank has issued threats to the Russian government.

Deutsche Bank London Threatens to End Business With Russia
Bloomberg, 3 hours ago

Deutsche Bank AG threatened to end business with Russia's government earlier this year in a letter sent to the state demanding that it provide more information related to know-your-customer records.

The lender's London branch sent the correspondence in June saying the business relationship could be terminated if Russia failed to submit the documents within 30 days. While that deadline has long since elapsed, Russia never answered the letter and the German bank hasn't followed up on the initial request, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Arschlöcher!

I was working only yesterday and last week as well in the main office of Deutsche Bank here in Moscow.

Never saw no Fritzes there, only Ivans. Seemed to be business as usual to me..

Like

[Aug 24, 2018] US sanctions on Russia tied to UK attack to take effect Monday

Skripal (most probably false flag) poisoning now has distinct Washington connections. Cue Bono?
Nobody can still explain why Skripals lost conscience simultaneously. That kills UK version of door knob. Another strange issue is why all but one victims survived. That can be explained only if this was a false flag and novichok was injected in bio samples.
Aug 24, 2018 | uk.reuters.com

Plans to impose the latest sanctions were announced by the Trump administration on Aug. 8, a response to what the State Department said was Moscow's use of a nerve agent against a former Russian agent and his daughter in Britain in March.

RELATED COVERAGE

Sergei Skripal, a former colonel in Russia's GRU military intelligence service, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were found unconscious on a bench in the southern English city of Salisbury after a liquid form of the Novichok type of nerve agent was applied to the front door of his home. Both survived the attack.

Moscow has denied involvement in the attack. It has also denied meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections.

'CHANGE IN BEHAVIOUR'

Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, said on Friday Moscow must change its ways before the United States will lift its already long list of sanctions.

"The sanctions remain in force and will remain in force until the required change in Russian behaviour," he told a news conference in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

The new measures will be published and come into effect on Aug. 27 and remain in place for at least one year, according to the notice in the Federal Register, a daily catalogue of government agency actions. They are authorized by the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act.

Space flight activities, government space cooperation, areas concerning commercial aviation safety and urgent humanitarian assistance will be exempt.

A second batch of penalties will be imposed after 90 days unless Russia gives "reliable assurance" that it would no longer use chemical weapons and allow on-site inspections by the United Nations or another international observer group.

Soon after the attack on the Skripals, Washington also showed solidarity with Britain and announced it would expel 60 Russian diplomats, joining governments across Europe in punishing the Kremlin.

[Aug 22, 2018] Our Sanctions Addiction by DANIEL LARISON •

Notable quotes:
"... Our government is quick to apply sanctions and extremely reluctant to lift them. Once a government is targeted with sanctions on one issue, it becomes even easier to apply additional sanctions for other reasons. Multiple overlapping sets of sanctions give the targeted government little reason to cooperate. ..."
"... Now Trump has not only gone back on the promise of sanctions relief, but he is going out of his way to use U.S. sanctions to force other governments to wage economic war on Iran as well. ..."
"... Other governments understandably consider U.S. secondary sanctions on foreign firms to be illegal and unacceptable, and it is only a matter of time before many more states look for ways to get around them. ..."
"... Sanctions addicts are under the mistaken impression that they can force the targeted state to change its behavior, but in practice this just causes them to do more of what the U.S. doesn't want to give them additional leverage ..."
"... If the Trump administration succeeds in completely blowing up the deal, Iran won't have to abide by its restrictions any longer. In the worst-case scenario, the U.S. pressure campaign could convince Iran's government to leave the NPT. In its vain and destructive attempt to force Iran to make deeper concessions, the Trump administration could very easily repeat the Bush administration's North Korea blunder ..."
"... In fact, my guess would be that Iran could get a lot more "bang for the buck" by investing the significant efforts and budgets of pursuing a nuclear deterrent – with the resulting "window of vulnerability" – into those conventional and irregular deterrents: A2/AD and IRGC, Hezbollah, proxies in Iraq. ..."
"... Trump and Obama might be dumb enough to waste trillions on mutually assured nuclear suicide, Iran appears to have a more frugal approach to deterrence ..."
"... I find another aspect of sanctions illuminating. Sanctions have significant cost – opportunity cost, loss of investment, penalties on breach of contract – for large segments of US and EU industry – as our "allies" are now learning ..."
"... Is sanction enforcement by itself more profitable than the trade it suppresses? Or are sanctions without profitable "regime change" and the follow-thru looting – Russia 1991 or Iraq 2003 – a net loss? ..."
"... the interests of various factions of the presidential-congressional-military-industrial complex are not in perfect alignment ..."
"... "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." ..."
"... U.S. foreign policy has been completely militarized. "Our way or the highway" diplomacy is defined by the ham-fisted war-mongers Pompeo and Bolton. With Nutjob Nikki Haley cheering them on with Dragon Lady Gina Haspel and her arrogant minions hatching regime change plots at CIA with anticipatory delight. ..."
"... The U.S./Russia relationship has been fatally wrecked by the one-way ratchet sanctions ginned up by a nitwit Congress oblivious to unintended consequences. China and the rest of Asia are formulating an economic model decoupled from the Global Cop Gorilla. They will capture Iran's business and are peeling off Turkey. Europe is realizing the lunatic incoherence of U.S. foreign policy. ..."
"... BTW, Trump is so clueless he thinks that Putin will pow-wow with him under the current circumstances. ..."
Aug 21, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Iran's Foreign Minister recently criticized the U.S. for its "addiction" to sanctions:

"I believe there is a disease in the United States and that is the addiction to sanctions," he told CNN, adding that, "Even during the Obama administration the United States put more emphasis on keeping the sanctions it had not lifted rather than implementing its obligation on the sanctions it lifted."

Zarif has his own reasons for saying this, but the addiction he describes is all too real. Our government is quick to apply sanctions and extremely reluctant to lift them. Once a government is targeted with sanctions on one issue, it becomes even easier to apply additional sanctions for other reasons. Multiple overlapping sets of sanctions give the targeted government little reason to cooperate. In Iran's case, they made significant concessions on the nuclear issue in the expectation of receiving sanctions relief. Contrary to the lies of nuclear deal opponents, Iran made the bulk of its concessions up front in exchange for the promise of relief later. That relief was very slow in coming to the extent that it came at all. Now Trump has not only gone back on the promise of sanctions relief, but he is going out of his way to use U.S. sanctions to force other governments to wage economic war on Iran as well.

Iran is still in compliance with the deal even after the U.S. broke its promises, and now the U.S. is piling on sanctions simply for the sake of inflicting economic harm. Other governments understandably consider U.S. secondary sanctions on foreign firms to be illegal and unacceptable, and it is only a matter of time before many more states look for ways to get around them. The more that our government abuses sanctions , the more likely it is that other states will create mechanisms to shield themselves and their companies from them.

U.S. abuse of sanctions reminds me of another part of Bloomberg's recent editorial on the nuclear deal. The editors write:

But a deepening economic crisis could yet force a change of heart in Tehran. A second round of U.S. sanctions, targeting oil exports and due in November, could also concentrate minds. For his part, Trump has said he's open to meeting with Iran's leaders "whenever they want to." He might welcome a second act to his summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. The Iranians might reflect on the fact that Kim lost nothing from that encounter.

All this is, admittedly, slim hope on which to base a long, tortured process of negotiation. But it's better than the false hope that Europe's leaders are currently clinging to.

If additional sanctions "concentrate minds" in Tehran, what is likely to happen? Prior to the nuclear deal, increasing sanctions spurred Iran to build tens of thousands of centrifuges and advance their nuclear program significantly. Sanctions addicts are under the mistaken impression that they can force the targeted state to change its behavior, but in practice this just causes them to do more of what the U.S. doesn't want to give them additional leverage . In order for sanctions to have any chance of being effective, the other government has to believe that there is way to get the sanctions lifted permanently. Iran's leaders no longer believe that because Trump shredded our government's credibility by reneging on the deal. Now that the U.S. has shown that its promises of sanctions relief are meaningless, it can impose any number of sanctions for as long as it wants and all it will do is provoke Iran into doing exactly what our government opposes.

If the Trump administration succeeds in completely blowing up the deal, Iran won't have to abide by its restrictions any longer. In the worst-case scenario, the U.S. pressure campaign could convince Iran's government to leave the NPT. In its vain and destructive attempt to force Iran to make deeper concessions, the Trump administration could very easily repeat the Bush administration's North Korea blunder . Sanctions addicts don't think that abusing sanctions can have adverse and undesirable consequences, but in this case they could end up producing a much worse outcome to the detriment of all concerned. Posted in foreign policy , politics . Tagged Iran , North Korea , Bloomberg , NPT , Mohammad Javad Zarif , Donald Trump , JCPOA .


b. August 21, 2018 at 1:09 pm

"In the worst-case scenario, the U.S. pressure campaign could convince Iran's government to leave the NPT."

For the Bolt-On et.al. this would be a best case outcome. There are good arguments that Iran will refrain from anything that would deliver a pretext for "non-proliferation at gunpoint" until at least 2020 – US election – and 2021 – Iranian elections.

In fact, my guess would be that Iran could get a lot more "bang for the buck" by investing the significant efforts and budgets of pursuing a nuclear deterrent – with the resulting "window of vulnerability" – into those conventional and irregular deterrents: A2/AD and IRGC, Hezbollah, proxies in Iraq.

When the Trump administration and Congress defined that "malignancy", which so mirrors our own, they signaled clearly that Iran's actions were exposing weaknesses and serve as constraints on US impunitive action. Trump and Obama might be dumb enough to waste trillions on mutually assured nuclear suicide, Iran appears to have a more frugal approach to deterrence .

I find another aspect of sanctions illuminating. Sanctions have significant cost – opportunity cost, loss of investment, penalties on breach of contract – for large segments of US and EU industry – as our "allies" are now learning . For administrations such as Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump, that all hail from different toxic brews of corporate and oligarch interests, there has to be a reason to force these costs on one segment of their true "constituencies". On first glance, it would imply that the interests of the presidential-congressional-military-industrial complex – that is, the profit and business interests of the industrial segment, or the ancillary benefits for the other war profiteers – trump (for lack of a more appropriate word) the concerns and interests of the non-defense and non-electioneering business.

Bloomberg, of all publications, should be sensitive to this, unless they, too, place a premium on "national securities".

b. , says: August 21, 2018 at 1:25 pm

Is sanction enforcement by itself more profitable than the trade it suppresses? Or are sanctions without profitable "regime change" and the follow-thru looting – Russia 1991 or Iraq 2003 – a net loss?

Our foreign policy might be decided and defined by this trade-off. Do our war profiteering business elites consider regime change a requirement for deferred return on investment, or would they prefer sanctions in perpetuity?

Certainly, the interests of various factions of the presidential-congressional-military-industrial complex are not in perfect alignment . For example, a trillion dollar budget for mutually assured nuclear suicide might offer significant short term profits to a narrow "market segment" while increasing the "business risks" to all beneficiaries of inbred wealth across the world, for generations.

But it would appear that these trade-offs are not well understood. I guess I cannot complain about that, given my choice of "inbred wealth" as a description for the multi-generational estrangement of the rich, connected and powerful from existential realities.

SteveM , says: August 21, 2018 at 3:23 pm

Given the Neocon constitution of Trump's inner circle, it is not surprising that the Karl Rove delusion is again in play:

"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

How did that work out last time?

U.S. foreign policy has been completely militarized. "Our way or the highway" diplomacy is defined by the ham-fisted war-mongers Pompeo and Bolton. With Nutjob Nikki Haley cheering them on with Dragon Lady Gina Haspel and her arrogant minions hatching regime change plots at CIA with anticipatory delight.

How did that work out in Libya, Ukraine and Syria? And Mattis successfully fear-mongers out the wazoo for even more hyper-expensive "lethality".

The U.S./Russia relationship has been fatally wrecked by the one-way ratchet sanctions ginned up by a nitwit Congress oblivious to unintended consequences. China and the rest of Asia are formulating an economic model decoupled from the Global Cop Gorilla. They will capture Iran's business and are peeling off Turkey. Europe is realizing the lunatic incoherence of U.S. foreign policy.

And incredulously, Trump merely stands back and watches as his minions run his albeit mal-formed foreign policy vision into the ground. BTW, Trump is so clueless he thinks that Putin will pow-wow with him under the current circumstances.

Stick a fork in this harebrained administration – because it's cooked

[Aug 18, 2018] America the Punitive by Philip Girald

Notable quotes:
"... Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation . ..."
Aug 17, 2018 | ronpaulinstitute.org

There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama's relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.

The most recent is the new sanctioning of Russia over the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury England. For those not following developments, last week Washington abruptly and without any new evidence being presented, imposed additional trade sanctions on Russia in the belief that Moscow ordered and carried out the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4th. The report of the new sanctions was particularly surprising as Yulia Skripal has recently announced that she intends to return to her home in Russia, leading to the conclusion that even one of the alleged victims does not believe the narrative being promoted by the British and American governments.

Though Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded with restraint, avoiding a tit-for-tat, he is reported to be angry about the new move by the US government and now believes it to be an unreliable negotiating partner. Considering the friendly recent exchanges between Putin and Trump, the punishment of Russia has to be viewed as something of a surprise, suggesting that the president of the United States may not be in control of his own foreign policy.

Turkey is also feeling America's wrath over the continued detention of an American Protestant Pastor Andrew Brunson by Ankara over charges that he was connected to the coup plotters of 2016, which were allegedly directed by Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader, who now resides in Pennsylvania. Donald Trump has made the detention the centerpiece of his Turkish policy, introducing sanctions and tariffs that have led in part to a collapse of the Turkish lira and a run on the banking system which could easily lead to default and grave damage to European banks that hold a large party of the country's debt.

And then there is perennial favorite Iran, which was hit with reinstated sanctions last week and is confronting a ban on oil sales scheduled to go into effect on November 4th. The US has said it will sanction any country that buys Iranian oil after that date, though a number of governments including Turkey, India and China appear to be prepared to defy that demand. Several European countries are reportedly preparing mechanisms that will allow them to trade around US restrictions.

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common? All are on the receiving end of punitive action by the United States over allegations of misbehavior that have not been demonstrated. Nobody has shown that Russia poisoned the Skripals, Turkey just might have a case that the Reverend Brunson was in contact with coup plotters, and Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear arms agreement signed in 2015. One has to conclude that the United States has now become the ultimate angry imperial power, lashing out with the only thing that seems to work – its ability to interfere in and control financial markets – to punish nations that do not play by its rules.

Given Washington's diminishing clout worldwide, it is a situation that is unsustainable and which will ultimately only really punish the American people as the United States becomes more isolated and its imperial overreach bankrupts the nation. As America weakens, Russia, Turkey, Iran and all the other countries that have been steamrolled by Washington will likely seek revenge. To avoid that, a dramatic course correction by the US is needed, but, unfortunately, is unlikely to take place.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation .

[Aug 18, 2018] The USA with a single strike killed all efforts of Puting to establ;ish better relations with the USA

Google translation
Aug 18, 2018 | newzfeed.ru

According to leading analysts, America decided to take such a tough step because of Washington's desire to restrain the development of our state as much as possible. However, it is already clear that such actions on the part of American colleagues will only worsen relations between the two superpowers. The new sanctions package altogether nullifies all previous agreements.

"All the positive aspects that have emerged after the meeting of the two presidents in Helsinki, of course, will be almost completely leveled," the media quoted the statement of the head of the center for military and political studies Vladimir Batyuk.

According to him, the actions of the us administration threaten with negative consequences, extremely complicating the further dialogue between Washington and Moscow.

First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on international Affairs Vladimir dzhabarov, commenting on the situation, said - the United States is trying to "trim the wings" of Russia.

"The reason is banal – they are trying to restrain the development of Russia. The Americans themselves understand that our country is now deploying its wings, Russia is on the rise, it can become a powerful competitor both economically and militarily. Therefore at any cost try to constrain us", – the member of the Federation Council spoke.

According to dzhabarov, our country has long understood that Russia has no partners in America. The US is engaged in dirty methods of competition, using a variety of levers to squeeze Moscow from the EU energy markets.

"But it's useless. The history they, probably, not teaching. Let them read what the sanctions against Russia led to, " the Senator added.

We will remind, on August 8, the U.S. state Department announced the introduction of new restrictive measures against Russia. This package of anti-Russian sanctions includes a ban on the supply of dual-use products to Russia, a decrease in the level of diplomatic relations, an almost complete cessation of us exports, as well as a ban on flights to the States of the Russian company Aeroflot.

[Aug 18, 2018] All Sanctions Against Russia Are Based on Lies by Eric Zuesse

Notable quotes:
"... (labs in several countries including the UK have also manufactured it) ..."
"... still refuses to say any such thing ..."
"... Look at this paragraph: ..."
"... "Russia is the official successor state to the USSR. As such, Russia legally took responsibility for ensuring the CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention] applies to all former Soviet Chemical Weapons stocks and facilities." ..."
"... It does not need me to point out, that if Porton Down had identified the nerve agent as made in Russia, the FCO ..."
"... would not have added that paragraph. Plainly they cannot say it was made in Russia. ..."
"... In short, the ruling cited above, even if read in the most improbably forgiving way possible, shows the UK government does not have the information to warrant any of the claims it has so far made about Russian state involvement in the alleged poisoning of the Skripals. It shows the UK government is currently guilty of lying to Parliament, to the British people, and to the world. ..."
"... Imposition of Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act Sanctions on Russia ..."
"... Press Statement ..."
"... Department Spokesperson ..."
"... Following the use of a "Novichok" nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal, the United States, on August 6, 2018, determined under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act) that the Government of the Russian Federation has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals. ..."
"... Following a 15-day Congressional notification period, these sanctions will take effect upon publication of a notice in the Federal Register, expected on or around August 22, 2018. ..."
"... no path to peace, ..."
Aug 18, 2018 | theduran.com

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org:


All of the sanctions (economic, diplomatic, and otherwise) against Russia are based on clearly demonstrable intentional falsehoods; and the sanctions which were announced on August 8th are just the latest example of this consistent tragic fact -- a fact which will be proven here, with links to the evidence, so that anyone who reads here can easily see that all of these sanctions are founded on lies against Russia.

The latest of these sanctions were announced on Wednesday August 8 th . Reuters headlined "US imposes sanctions on Russia for nerve agent attack in UK" and reported that, "Washington said on Wednesday it would impose fresh sanctions on Russia by the end of August after it determined that Moscow had used a nerve agent against a former Russian agent and his daughter in Britain." This was supposedly because "Sergei Skripal, a former colonel in Russia's GRU military intelligence service, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were found slumped unconscious on a bench in the southern English city of Salisbury in March after a liquid form of the Novichok type of nerve agent was applied to his home's front door. European countries and the United States expelled 100 Russian diplomats after the attack, in the strongest action by President Donald Trump against Russia since he came to office."

However, despite intense political pressure that the UK Government and 'news'media had placed upon the UK's Porton Down intelligence laboratory to assert that the poison had been made in Russia (labs in several countries including the UK have also manufactured it) , the Porton Down lab refused to say this. Though the US Government is acting as ifPorton Down's statement "determined that Moscow had used a nerve agent," the actual fact is that Porton Down still refuses to say any such thing , at all -- this allegation is merely a fabrication by the US Government, including its allies, UK's Government and other Governments and their respective propaganda-media. It's a bald lie.

On March 18th, the great British investigative journalist and former British diplomat Craig Murray had headlined about UK's Foreign Secretary, "Boris Johnson Issues Completely New Story on Russian Novichoks" and he pointed to the key paragraph in the Porton Down lab's statement on this matter -- a brief one-sentence paragraph:

Look at this paragraph:

"Russia is the official successor state to the USSR. As such, Russia legally took responsibility for ensuring the CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention] applies to all former Soviet Chemical Weapons stocks and facilities."

It does not need me to point out, that if Porton Down had identified the nerve agent as made in Russia, the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office -- UK's foreign ministry] would not have added that paragraph. Plainly they cannot say it was made in Russia.

Murray's elliptical report, which unfortunately was unclearly written -- it was rushed, in order to be able to published on the same day, March 18 th , when the UK's official response to the Porton Down lab's analysis was published -- was subsequently fully explained on March 23 rd at the excellent news-site Off-Guardian, which specializes in investigating and interpreting the news-media (in this case, Craig Murray's article, and the evidence regarding it); they headlined "Skripal case: 'closely related agent" claim closely examined'," and concluded their lengthy and detailed analysis:

In short, the ruling cited above, even if read in the most improbably forgiving way possible, shows the UK government does not have the information to warrant any of the claims it has so far made about Russian state involvement in the alleged poisoning of the Skripals. It shows the UK government is currently guilty of lying to Parliament, to the British people, and to the world.

Nothing has been published further about the Skripal/Novichoks matter since then, except speculation that's based on the evidence which was discussed in detail in that March 23 rd article at Off-Guardian.

On the basis of this -- merely an open case which has never been examined in more detail than that March 23rd analysis did -- the Skripal/Novichok case has been treated by the UK Government, and by the US Government, and by governments which are allied with them, and by their news-media, as if it were instead a closed case, in which what was made public constitutes proof that the Skripals had been poisoned by the Russian Government. On that blatantly fraudulent basis, over a hundred diplomats ended up being expelled.

The Porton Down lab still refuses to say anything that the UK Government can quote as an authority confirming that the Skripals had been poisoned by the Russian Government.

All that's left of the matter, then, is a cold case of official lies asserting that proof has been presented, when in fact only official lies have been presented to the public.

The UK Government prohibits the Skripals from speaking to the press, and refuses to allow them to communicate even with their family-members . It seems that they're effectively prisoners of the UK Government -- the same Government that claims to be protecting them against Russia.

This is the basis upon which the US State Department, on August 8th, issued the following statement to 'justify' its new sanctions:

Imposition of Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act Sanctions on Russia

Press Statement

Heather Nauert

Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC

August 8, 2018

Following the use of a "Novichok" nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal, the United States, on August 6, 2018, determined under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act) that the Government of the Russian Federation has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals.

Following a 15-day Congressional notification period, these sanctions will take effect upon publication of a notice in the Federal Register, expected on or around August 22, 2018.

US law is supposed to be "innocent until proven guilty" -- the opposite of legal systems in which the contrary assumption applies: "guilty until proven innocent." However, regarding such matters as invading and destroying Iraq in 2003 upon the basis of no authentic evidence; and invading and destroying Libya in 2011 on the basis of no authentic proof of anyone's guilt; and on the basis of invading and for years trying to destroy Syria on the basis of America's supporting Al Qaeda in Syria against Syria's secular government; and on the basis of lying repeatedly against Russia in order to load sanction after sanction upon Russia and to 'justify' pouring its missiles and thousands of troops onto and near Russia's border as if preparing to invade 'the world's most aggressive country' -- the US federal Government routinely violates that fundamental supposition of its own legal system ("innocent until proven guilty"), whenever its rulers wish. And yet, it calls itself a 'democracy'.

Donald Trump constantly says that he seeks improved relations with Russia, but when his own State Department lies like that in order to add yet further to the severe penalties that it had previously placed against Russia for its presumed guilt in the Skripal/Novichok matter, then Trump himself is publicly exposing himself as being a liar about his actual intentions regarding Russia. He, via his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's State Department, not only is punishing Russia severely for this unproven allegation, but now adds yet further penalties against Russia for it. Trump is being demanded by the US Congress to do this, but it is his choice whether to go along with that demand or else expose that it's based on lies. He likes to accuse his opponents of lying, but, quite obviously, the members of Congress who are demanding these hiked rounds of sanctions against Russia are demanding him to do what he actually wants to do -- which is now clearly demonstrated to be the exact opposite of exposing those lies. If Trump is moving toward World War III on the basis of lies, then the only way he can stop doing it is by exposing those lies. He's not even trying to do that.

Nothing is being said in the State Department's cryptic announcement on August 8th that sets forth any reasonable demand which the US Government is making to the Russian Government, such that, if the reasonable demand becomes fulfilled by Russia's Government, then the United States Government and its allies will cease and desist their successive, and successively escalating, rounds of punishment against Russia.

Russia is being offered no path to peace, but only the reasonable expectation of escalating lie-based American 'justifications' to perpetrate yet more American-and-allied aggressions against Russia.

There have been three prior US excuses for applying prior rounds of sanctions against Russia, and all of them have likewise been based upon lies, and varnished with many layers of overstatements.

First, in 2012, there was the Magnitsky Act, which was based upon frauds (subsequently exposed here and here and here ) which assert that Sergei Magnitsky was murdered by the Russian Government. The evidence (as linked-to there) is conclusive that he was not; but the US Government and its allies refuse even to consider it.

Then, in 2014, Crimea broke away from Ukraine and joined the Russian Federation, and the US and its allies allege that this was because Russia under Putin 'seized' Crimea from Ukraine, when in fact America under Obama had, just weeks prior to that Crimean breakaway, seized Ukraine and turned it against Russia and against Crimea and the other parts of Ukraine which had voted overwhelmingly for the democratically elected Ukrainian President whom the Obama regime had just overthrown in a bloody coup that had been in the planning ever since at least 2011 inside the Obama Administration . Several rounds of US-and-allied economic sanctions were imposed against Russia for that -- for the constant string of lies against Russia, and of constant cover-ups of "the most blatant coup in history," which had preceded and caused the breakaway.

These lies originated with Obama; and Trump accuses Obama of lying, but not on this, where Obama really did lie, psychopathically . Instead, Trump makes those lies bipartisan. On what counts the most against Obama, Trump seconds the Obama-lies, instead of exposing them. And yet Trump routinely has accused Obama as having lied, even on matters where it's actually Trump who has been lying about Obama.

Then, there have been the anti-Russia sanctions that are based upon Russiagate and 'Trump is Putin's stooge and stole the election.' That case against Russia has not been proven, and Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange says that what he had published were leaks from the DNC and Podesta's computer, not hacks at all; and yet the sanctions were imposed almost as soon as the Democratic Party's accusations started. Those sanctions, too, are utterly baseless except as being alleged responses to unproven (and likely false) allegations . Furthermore, even in the worst-case scenario: the US Government itself routinely overthrows foreign governments, and continues tapping the phones and electronic communications of foreign governments, and manipulating elections abroad. Even in the worst-case scenario, Russia hasn't done anything that historians haven't already proven that the US Government itself routinely does. That's the case even if Russia is guilty as charged, on all of the U.S-and-allied accusations.

So: Who wants World War III? Apparently, both the Democratic and the Republican Parties do . Obama called Russia the world's most aggressive nation . Trump joins with him in that bipartisan lie. Outside of America itself, most of the world consider the United States to be actually the " greatest threat to peace in the world today." Therefore, why isn't the NATO alliance against America? The NATO alliance is America and most of its vassal-nations: they're all allied against Russia. Their war against Russia never stopped. That 'Cold War' continued, even after the USSR and its communism and its Warsaw Pact mirror-image to NATO, all ended in 1991 ; and now the intensifying 'cold war' threatens to become very hot. All based on lies. But that seems to be the only type of 'justifications' the US-and-allied tyrants have got.

Either the lies will stop, or else we all will. Trump, as usual, is on the wrong side of the lies . And he seems to be too much of a coward to oppose them, in these cases, which are the most dangerous lies of all. This is how we could all end. Doing something heroic that would stop it, seems to be way beyond him -- he doesn't even try. That's the type of cowardice which should be feared, and despised, the most of all. Trump has taken up Obama's worst, and he runs with it. Trump had promised the opposite, during his Presidential campaign. But this is the reality of Trump -- a profoundly filthy liar -- at least insofar as he has, thus far, shown himself to be. What he will be in the future is all that remains in question. But this is what he has been, up till now.

[Aug 17, 2018] Stephen F. Cohen Sanction mania versus Russia -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net

Notable quotes:
"... For nearly 100 years, Russia has been under US sanctions, often to the detriment of American national security. ..."
"... Historically, such sanctions were not problem-solving measures advancing American national security but more akin to temper tantrums or road rage, making things even worse, than to real policymaking. ..."
"... US "core" interests "need" Russia's cooperation in many vital ways. ..."
"... Moscow could sell off its billions of dollars of US Treasury securities ..."
"... It could end titanium exports to the United States ..."
"... Nor have four other circumstances. ..."
"... turning away even more from the West and toward China and other non-Western partners, and by developing its own capacity to produce sanctioned imports. ..."
"... in an era when there is no "globalization," or international security, without Russia. ..."
"... with the apparently solitary exception of Rand Paul of Kentucky, ..."
"... is in response to Russia's alleged "attack on American democracy" during the 2016 presidential election . ..."
"... only the kind of "meddling" and "interference" in the other's domestic politics that both countries have practiced, almost ritualistically, for nearly a hundred years. ..."
"... to thwart and even punish President Donald Trump for his policy of "cooperation with Russia." And Putin too for having met and cooperated with Trump at their Helsinki summit in July. ..."
Aug 17, 2018 | www.sott.net

For nearly 100 years, Russia has been under US sanctions, often to the detriment of American national security.

Cohen begins by putting the current bipartisan Senate campaign to impose new, "crushing" sanctions on Russia in historical context. Broadly understood, sanctions have been part of US policy toward Russia for much of the past 100 years. During the Russian civil war of 1918-20, President Woodrow Wilson sent American troops to fight against the emerging Soviet government. Though the "Reds" were clearly the established government of Soviet Russia by 1921, Washington continued to deny the USSR diplomatic recognition until President Franklin D. Roosevelt established formal relations in 1933. During much of the 40-year Cold War, the United States imposed various sanctions on its superpower rival, mainly related to technological and military exports, along with periodic expulsions of diplomats and "spies" on both sides.

Congress' major political contribution was the 1975 Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which denied Moscow privileged trading status with the United States, primarily because of Kremlin restrictions on Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union. Indicative of how mindlessly habitual US sanctions had become, Jackson-Vanik was nullified only in late 2012, long after the end of the Soviet Union and after any restrictions on Jews leaving (or returning to) Russia. Even more indicative, it was immediately replaced, in December 2012, by the Magnitsky Act, which purported to sanction individual Russian officials and "oligarchs" for "human-rights abuses." The Magnitsky Act remains law, supplemented by additional sanctions leveled against Russia as a result of the 2014 Ukrainian crisis and particularly Moscow's annexation of Crimea.

Looking back over this long history, there is no evidence that any US sanctions ever significantly altered Moscow's "behavior" in ways that were intended. Or that they adversely affected Russia's ruling political or financial elites. Any pain inflicted fell on ordinary citizens, who nonetheless rallied "patriotically" around the Kremlin leadership, most recently around Russian President Vladimir Putin. Historically, such sanctions were not problem-solving measures advancing American national security but more akin to temper tantrums or road rage, making things even worse, than to real policymaking.

Why, then, Washington's new bout of sanction mania against Moscow, especially considering the harsh official Russian reaction expressed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who called the Senate's proposed measures "a declaration of economic war" and promised that the Kremlin would retaliate?

One explanation is an underlying, astonishing assumption recently stated by Michael McFaul , the media-ubiquitous former US ambassador to Moscow and a longtime Russia scholar: "To advance almost all of our core national security and economic interests, the US does not need Russia." Such a statement by a former or current policymaker and intellectual is perhaps unprecedented in modern times - and manifestly wrong. US "core" interests "need" Russia's cooperation in many vital ways. They include avoiding nuclear war; preventing a new and more dangerous arms race; guarding against the proliferation of weapons and materials of mass destruction; coping with international terrorists (who are in pursuit of such materials); achieving lasting peace in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East; fostering prosperity and stability in Europe, of which Russia is a part; promoting better relations with the Islamic world, of which Russia is also a part; and avoiding a generation-long confrontation with a formidable new alliance that already includes Russia, China, Iran, and other non-NATO countries. If McFaul's assumption is widespread in Washington, as it seems to be, we are living in truly unwise and perilous times.

A second assumption is no less myopic and dangerous: that the Kremlin is weak and lacks countermeasures to adopt against the new sanctions being advocated in Washington. Consider, however, the following real possibilities. Moscow could sell off its billions of dollars of US Treasury securities and begin trading with friendly nations in non-dollar currencies, both of which it has already begun to do. It could restrict, otherwise undermine, or even shut down many large US corporations long doing profitable business in Russia, among them Citibank, Cisco Systems, Apple, Microsoft, PepsiCo, McDonald's, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Ford Motor Co., and even Boeing. It could end titanium exports to the United States , which are vital to American civilian and military aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing. And terminate the sale of rocket engines essential for NASA and US satellite operations. The world's largest territorial country, Russia could charge US airlines higher tariffs for their regular use of its air space or ban them altogether, making them uncompetitive against other national carriers. Politically, the Kremlin could end its own sanctions on Iran and North Korea, alleviating Washington's pressure on those governments. And it could end the Russian supply transit to US troops fighting in Afghanistan used since the early 1990s.

None of this seems to have been considered by Washington's sanction zealots. Nor have four other circumstances. Sanctions against Russia's "oligarchs" actually help Putin, whom the US political-media establishment so despises and constantly indicts. For years, he has been trying to persuade many of the richest oligarchs to repatriate their offshore wealth to Russia. Few did so. Now, fearful of having their assets abroad frozen or seized by US measures, more and more are complying. Second, new sanctions limiting Moscow's ability to borrow and finance investment at home will retard the country's still meager growth rate . But the Kremlin coped after the 2014 sanctions and will do so again by turning away even more from the West and toward China and other non-Western partners, and by developing its own capacity to produce sanctioned imports. (Russian agricultural production, for example, has surged in recent years, now becoming a major export industry.) Third, already unhappy with existing economic sanctions against Russia, European multinational corporations - and thus Europe itself - may tilt even farther away from their capricious "transatlantic partner" in Washington, who is diminishing their vast market in the East. And fourth, waging "economic war" is one impulsive step from breaking off all diplomatic relations with Russia, this too actually being discussed by Washington zealots. Such a rupture would turn the clock back many decades, but in an era when there is no "globalization," or international security, without Russia.

Finally, what reason do Washington extreme Cold Warriors themselves give for imposing new sanctions on Russia? Most of them are in the US Senate, historically a body with at least several independent-minded distinguished statesmen, but no longer, with the apparently solitary exception of Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has demonstrated considerable wisdom in regard to US-Russian relations. Their professed reasons are various and nonsensical. Some say Russia must be sanctioned for Ukraine, but those events happened four years ago and have already been "punished." Others say for "Russia's aggression in Syria," but it was Putin's military intervention that destroyed the Islamic State's terrorist occupation of much of the country and ended its threat to take Damascus, to the benefit of America and its allies, including Europe and Israel. Still others insist the Kremlin must be sanctioned for its "nerve agent" attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK several months ago. But the British government's case against the Kremlin has virtually fallen apart, as any attentive reader of articles in David Johnson's Russia List will understand.

Ultimately, though, the new bout of sanction mania is in response to Russia's alleged "attack on American democracy" during the 2016 presidential election . In reality, there was no "attack" - no Pearl Harbor, no 9/11, no Russian parachuters descending on Washington - only the kind of "meddling" and "interference" in the other's domestic politics that both countries have practiced, almost ritualistically, for nearly a hundred years. Indeed, whatever "meddling" Russian actors did in 2016 may well have been jaywalking compared to the Clinton administration's massive, highly intrusive political and financial intervention on behalf of the failing Russian President Boris Yeltsin's reelection campaign in 1996.

We are left, then, with the real reason behind the new anti-Russian sanctions effort: to thwart and even punish President Donald Trump for his policy of "cooperation with Russia." And Putin too for having met and cooperated with Trump at their Helsinki summit in July. This bizarre, also unprecedented, reality is more than a whisper. According to a New York Times "news analysis," as well as other published reports,

a "bipartisan group of senators, dismayed that Mr. Trump had not publicly confronted Mr. Putin over Russia's election meddling, released draft legislation" of new sanctions against Moscow. "Passage of such a bill would impose some of the most damaging sanctions yet."
Leave aside for now that it is not Russian "meddling" that is delegitimizing our elections but instead these fact-free allegations themselves that are doing so. (How many losing candidates in 2018 will claim their victory was snatched away by Putin?) Consider instead that for doing what every American president since Eisenhower has done - meet with the sitting Kremlin leader in order to avoid stumbling into a war between the nuclear superpowers - in effect both Trump and Putin are being condemned by the Washington establishment, including by members of Trump's own intelligence agencies.

If so, who will avert the prospect of war with Russia, a new Cuban missile-like crisis, conceivably in the Baltic region, Ukraine, or Syria? Certainly not any leading representative of the Democratic Party. Certainly not the current Russophobic "bipartisan" Senate. Certainly not the most influential media outlets, which amplify the warmongering folly almost daily. In this most existential regard, there is for now only, like it or not, President Donald Trump.

Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at NYU and Princeton, and John Batchelor continue their (usually) weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. Previous installments, now in their fifth year, are at TheNation.com .
Comment: As Cohen brilliantly points out - sanctions, for the US, are a dead end.

[Aug 15, 2018] Mastercard and Visa can be hit by Russian sanctions; the US financial sector can be eliminated in Russia

Notable quotes:
"... Regarding the Russian characterization of America as their "friend", I believe that Russia is simply playing with us. The US wants Russia to come across as an angry, belligerent and shoe-waving peasant. The intent is to keep alive the Cold War image of Russia as uncivilized and crass. The best response is to do exactly what they are doing. It makes the US look like the petulant bully that it is. Call it judo-politics . ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 10, 2018 at 7:58 am

It's time for everyone to come off Twitter – it is like writing your message on your buttocks with a black sharpie and dropping your trousers. Tweets are the kind of stupid thing you send out at the end of work after you've had a bastard of a day, and something you read or hear pushes you over the edge. People in diplomatic posts should not be allowed to use Twitter at all, and should be punished for doing so – reporters now avidly follow the Twitter feed of anyone who is anyone, and pounce on anything that has not been thought through before it can be deleted: an attempt to delete it is just the icing on the cake, an admission that you shouldn't have said it.

Time was, diplomats ran everything they said in writing in an official capacity through a review before it was released, it was parsed six ways from Sunday to see how it might be spun, twisted or misinterpreted. Diplomats speaking in a live interview were careful to remain vague and say nothing which might not have meant several different things. You did not get countries straining to get at one another because of something the minister of agriculture said. But now everybody feels they can speak for the government on Twitter. It's hard to imagine how the various countries of the world could come to be represented by their stupidest citizens.

I hope America does formally sanction the Russian finance and banking sector. They're already doing it under the radar, and going formal would give Russia an excuse to dump SWIFT and stop using it, as well as the US dollar. Mastercard and Visa would be gonzo, taillights, possibly in China as well. America sanctioning the Russian financial sector would remove its last ability to keep an eye on it easily.

Patient Observer August 10, 2018 at 3:29 am
Regarding the Russian characterization of America as their "friend", I believe that Russia is simply playing with us. The US wants Russia to come across as an angry, belligerent and shoe-waving peasant. The intent is to keep alive the Cold War image of Russia as uncivilized and crass. The best response is to do exactly what they are doing. It makes the US look like the petulant bully that it is. Call it judo-politics .
Mark Chapman August 10, 2018 at 7:42 am
It's just diplo-speak, to mark the speaker as a civilized man and not a thug. That is beginning to become a bit of a sore point – is there anyone left who actually believes that because Russian diplomats say "our American friends" or "our American colleagues", that they labour under a delusion that this is just a temporary spat and under it all they still have brotherly connections? If so, let me disabuse all those people of that notion; the Russian government and all its operatives are well aware that America is a self-declared and thus committed enemy. But saying, "the Americans, our enemies" would make for tiresome commentary in the western papers, in which ideologues would assess that this practice proved the Russians are the aggressors while westerners are just trying to work it out. Alternatively, they could lower themselves to the vernacular and instruct, "Listen up, motherfuckers".

Russia understands that America is an enemy and not a friend of any description, just as it understands the United Nations is an American-dominated body and that it is next to useless to expect the UN to back any Russian initiative. It continues to go through the motions in both cases, merely to underline who is following the rules and protocols set up by a better and more aware global civilization than currently prevails, and who is just kicking sand in the other's face and trying to get him to swing for the chin.

Moscow Exile August 13, 2018 at 12:41 am
I feel that I should add that by saying that Americans are not Russia's friends, I mean "deep-state" Americans and others of like mind.

I am sure that most American citizens just want to live their lives in peace and do not feel threatened by "Vlad" and his Evil Empire.

Not long back from the country and head off there again this afternoon for the rest of the week.

And no, I am not building my nuclear fall-out bunker there!

Patient Observer August 13, 2018 at 1:16 pm
Very true. Poll after poll fails to show any concern by American citizens over Russian "meddling" or Russian "assertiveness". Sure, questions can be posed such as "Should the US resist the Russian invasion of xxxxx?". Naturally, the answer would likely be yes. But when asked, without prompting, what concerns them, Russia does not register as a concern at any level. I find this remarkable as anti-Russian news is often the lead on every network evening news show. I can not recall a news broadcast for many months that did not include a Russian-bashing story. The tipping point on media credibility may have been reached

[Aug 15, 2018] Sanctions that Russia can implement

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Patient Observer says: August 12, 2018 at 6:23 pm

https://www.rt.com/business/435760-russia-response-us-sanctions/

In short:

  1. Cut off titanium metals and fabrications to the West – Boeing shutdowns as well as many other US aerospace operations;
  2. Close off air space or charge much higher tariffs to US carriers using Russian airspace. US airlines become non-competitive in many Asian and European markets;
  3. Stop exporting LNG and other energy products to the US;
  4. Raise taxes or shutdown US companies in Russia;
  5. Stop exports of the RD-180 and 181 rocket engines.

Action 1 would have a devastating impact on US aerospace manufacturing. The US has little ability to replace with domestic or foreign supplies. This action should be reserved in the event of extremely aggressive US actions such as a direct military attack on Syria;

Perhaps the sequence should be 2, 3, 5, 4, 1.

Cortes says: August 12, 2018 at 10:44 pm I propose a 6.

Call a presser at the UN and have the Ambassador confirm that Obama and HRC are wholly paid-up RF assets and watch Civil War II unfold.

[Aug 15, 2018] Countermove in Caspian see: no NATO allowed

Notable quotes:
"... It looks as if Zuckerman's 'nightmare situation' has come about. I don't know that these were ever proven reserves, and in fact I have the impression that the supposed energy bounty of the Caspian did not turn out quite as imagined, but Washington once thought – not long ago, either – that it was imperative America controlled the Caspian region because it was about 'America's energy security'. Which is another way of saying 'America must have control over and access to every oil-producing region on the planet.' ..."
"... Richardson was correct, though, that Russia 'does not share America's values'. In fact, Americans do not share America's values, in the sense that most Americans by far would not support the actions of the Saudi military in Yemen, the clever false-flag operations of the White Helmets in Syria, the deliberate destabilization of Venezuela, regime-change operations to the right and left in order to obtain governments who will facilitate American commercial and political control, and many other things that official America considers just important tools in the American Global Dominance Toolbox. ..."
"... Washington has long nurtured the dream of being Europe's primary, if not only, energy supplier, and owning the Caspian (had the reserves expectations played out) would have brought them closer to their dream. ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

yalensis August 13, 2018 at 2:06 am

Apologies if somebody already posted, the legal partitioning of the Caspian Sea is finally complete and constitutes good news for Russia:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-says-deal-to-settle-status-of-caspian-sea-reached-a8486311.html

yalensis August 13, 2018 at 2:10 am
The other backstory being that NATO wanted to stick its nose in the Caspian Sea, but has been pushed out. Not sure exactly what the pretext was. I have a piece in VZGLIAD that explains the whole thing, but I haven't worked through it yet, will probably do a piece on my own blog in the near future. But I have a couple of other projects in the queue first.
Mark Chapman August 13, 2018 at 8:39 am
Dick Cheney, among others, was convinced that the Caspian Basin holds massive deposits of oil and gas and is strategically significant for that reason.

http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/issue46/articles/real_reasons_quotes.htm

"Central Asian resources may revert back to the control of Russia or to a Russian led alliance. This would be a nightmare situation. We had better wake up to the dangers or one day the certainties on which we base our prosperity will be certainties no more. The potential prize in oil and gas riches in the Caspian sea, valued up to $4 trillion, would give Russia both wealth and strategic dominance. The potential economic rewards of Caspian energy will draw in their train Western military forces to protect our investment if necessary."

Mortimer Zuckerman
Editor, U.S. News and World Report

"This is about America's energy security. Its also about preventing strategic inroads by those who don't share our values. We are trying to move these newly independent countries toward the West. We would like to see them reliant on Western commercial and political interests. We've made a substantial political investment in the Caspian and it's important that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right."

Bill Richardson
Then-U.S. Secretary Energy (1998-2000)

It looks as if Zuckerman's 'nightmare situation' has come about. I don't know that these were ever proven reserves, and in fact I have the impression that the supposed energy bounty of the Caspian did not turn out quite as imagined, but Washington once thought – not long ago, either – that it was imperative America controlled the Caspian region because it was about 'America's energy security'. Which is another way of saying 'America must have control over and access to every oil-producing region on the planet.'

Richardson was correct, though, that Russia 'does not share America's values'. In fact, Americans do not share America's values, in the sense that most Americans by far would not support the actions of the Saudi military in Yemen, the clever false-flag operations of the White Helmets in Syria, the deliberate destabilization of Venezuela, regime-change operations to the right and left in order to obtain governments who will facilitate American commercial and political control, and many other things that official America considers just important tools in the American Global Dominance Toolbox.

Washington has long nurtured the dream of being Europe's primary, if not only, energy supplier, and owning the Caspian (had the reserves expectations played out) would have brought them closer to their dream. A pipeline network would have carried Caspian oil and gas to Europe. Agreement among the Caspian nations was most definitely not in American interests, and if you dig you will probably find American interventions to prevent that from coming about.

[Aug 15, 2018] Russia need to preserve normalcy for its own population despite US sanctions, so overreacting might be counterproductive as some goods produced by West can't be easily replaced

Notable quotes:
"... Russia is simply trying to preserve an impression of normalcy for its own population, and trade is normal – Russia replaces those goods it cannot buy from the west with those from other markets, but completely shutting off the purchase of all western goods would subject Russians to unnecessary privations for the sake of pride. ..."
"... Russia has many arrows in its quiver. Best not to use them until needed. Big ones like turning off the gas to the EU would only makes sense if there is imminent war which is clearly not the case. In fact, it would be in Russia's best strategic interest to continue to the the main supplier of energy to the EU as it inhibits them from doing things that are potentially stupid dangerous. ..."
"... I would like to see Russian stop supply of the RD-180 and 181 as it is ultra-high tech which would be a nice reminder to the West regarding Russia's science and technology edge as well as delivering a serious blow to the US presence in space – military and civilian. Trump's "Space Force" would be DOA. ..."
"... Western sanctions have done Russia enormous good. It provided an escape from WTO restrictions and unfair trade practices. Good that they are taking full advantage of this opportunity. I suppose that Paul Craig Roberts means well but he needs to take a step back and see the bigger picture ..."
"... I agree that Russia should start cutting the United States off from things it needs from Russia – like the RD-180 and titanium – which would be expensive for the USA to get elsewhere. ..."
"... The implemented economic measures may have a seemingly abstract or sterile quality about them: banning electronic exports to Russia, rattling financial markets, stock prices falling. But the material consequence is that American officials are intending to inflict physical damage on Russian society and Russian people. ..."
"... It's economic warfare on a sliding scale to military warfare, as the Prussian General Karl von Clausewitz would no doubt appreciate. ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 12, 2018 at 10:43 am

Russia is simply trying to preserve an impression of normalcy for its own population, and trade is normal – Russia replaces those goods it cannot buy from the west with those from other markets, but completely shutting off the purchase of all western goods would subject Russians to unnecessary privations for the sake of pride.

Mr. Putin's popularity with the Russian people rests largely on their confidence that he is looking out for them, and always carefully balancing risk with reward. If Russia were run by somebody like Erdogan, the west would have succeeded in overthrowing him ages ago.

Russia is in a good position to resist sanctions, because Washington dares not impose restrictions on its trade in oil and gas. While it would be wrong to assume Russia has nothing else, these are core industries and in the other sectors where Russia is strong, the west does not buy much from it anyway except for steel and raw materials. Russia can easily replace those markets. But western brands who spent decades building up their market in Russia slowly and carefully have lost it almost overnight. And they will be a long, long time getting it back.

Jen August 12, 2018 at 3:20 pm
PCR's sources of information probably focus too much on the doings of the Central Bank of Russia and not enough on other sources of advice that the Russian government might rely on. You wonder whether PCR or his researchers are aware that the Russians and the Chinese might be mocking the US in the statements and policies they choose to make public.
Patient Observer August 12, 2018 at 4:41 pm
Russia has many arrows in its quiver. Best not to use them until needed. Big ones like turning off the gas to the EU would only makes sense if there is imminent war which is clearly not the case. In fact, it would be in Russia's best strategic interest to continue to the the main supplier of energy to the EU as it inhibits them from doing things that are potentially stupid dangerous.

I would like to see Russian stop supply of the RD-180 and 181 as it is ultra-high tech which would be a nice reminder to the West regarding Russia's science and technology edge as well as delivering a serious blow to the US presence in space – military and civilian. Trump's "Space Force" would be DOA.

Western sanctions have done Russia enormous good. It provided an escape from WTO restrictions and unfair trade practices. Good that they are taking full advantage of this opportunity. I suppose that Paul Craig Roberts means well but he needs to take a step back and see the bigger picture.

Mark Chapman August 12, 2018 at 10:23 pm
I agree that Russia should start cutting the United States off from things it needs from Russia – like the RD-180 and titanium – which would be expensive for the USA to get elsewhere.

I also agree Russia should keep on supplying the EU with energy, for a couple of reasons. One, any interruption in the supply is just what Washington and its Atlanticist Eurobuddies are looking for so they can label Russia an unreliable partner, and start that whole alternative-sources conversation again: it's why they want to keep Ukraine in the loop – to initiate disruptions and promote uncertainty about the reliability of Russian gas.

Two, Russia has a good chance of splitting factions in Europe off from the USA, as the latter is more and more perceived to be trying to boss the European energy market so as to secure a captive customer for its own exports. The last thing Russia needs is to create the impression that Washington is saving Europe instead of dicking it around.

James lake August 12, 2018 at 7:16 am
https://www.strategic-culture.org/authors/finian-cunningham.html

US Sanctions Are Pushing Russia to War

"The new round of sanctions this week unleashed by the United States on Russia has only one meaning: the US rulers want to crush Russia's economy. By any definition, Washington is, in effect, declaring war on Russia.

The implemented economic measures may have a seemingly abstract or sterile quality about them: banning electronic exports to Russia, rattling financial markets, stock prices falling. But the material consequence is that American officials are intending to inflict physical damage on Russian society and Russian people.

It's economic warfare on a sliding scale to military warfare, as the Prussian General Karl von Clausewitz would no doubt appreciate."

kirill August 12, 2018 at 10:14 am
All these articles are hysterical pap. The events after 2014 have demonstrated that Russia is immune to western sanctions and actually massively benefits from them. It has also shown that it can rapidly react to changing financial conditions as seen in the offloading of $230 billion in foreign debt in 2015. The current round of "the mother of all sanctions" trash talk from Washington is desperate and pathetic failure.

Russia has no reason or incentive for war. It is NATzO that wants to take Russia out. Russia will adjust to the new sanctions by become fully independent of any western financial or economic links. Russia has the critical economic mass to by an autarchy. But it does not need to be since it will keep on trading with most of the planet. NATzO accounts for 11% of the global population (but thinks it is 100%). The congenital retards who run NATzO are helping China to become the next premier financial power. The Yuan will replace the dollar by necessity if not by choice.

I want to see the writers of this scaremongering garbage list the actual economic impacts on Russia. Starting with the financial ones. Russia does not depend on foreign currencies. It also does not depend on foreign loans like some banana republic. The current claims by the chimps in Congress that they will bring Russia's economy to its knees are the same BS as during the post Banderite Kiev coup sanctions which Obama was sure were going to cut Russia down.

Enough already!

davidt August 12, 2018 at 3:49 pm
There is some truth in what you say but nevertheless I think you quite underestimate the threat of US sanctions. One doesn't have to be an unabashed fan of Ben Aris to accept some of the points that he makes in the following article.
http://www.intellinews.com/moscow-blog-us-declares-economic-war-on-russia-146707/?source=blogs
In any case, I am a fan of Eric Kraus and he has serious concerns- check out some of his comments here, say, for example, 7 minutes in.
kirill August 12, 2018 at 4:29 pm
Eric Kraus apparently thinks that Russian enterprises need to borrow dollars or euro from the west. He is dead wrong. Russia can get all the dollars and euro it needs via the exports of oil and gas, minerals, military equipment, nuclear power plants and assorted other exports over $400 billion US per year. That was the point of my post: Uncle Scumbag's sanctions on financial transactions do not cut Russia off, they cut the US and the EU off from the Russian market. We are back to 2014 and these new "mother of all sanctions" will be as useless as the previous round.

As for Japan, it is a useless comparison. Pearl Harbour was triggered by the US trying to cut Japan off from vital resources. Non financial ones. Nobody can cut Russia either from natural resources or the financing it needs. But Russia can f*ck the EU over big time by cutting off natural gas exports. As the rabid mutt in Washington tries to go for broke, Russia should keep diverting natural gas eastward. Let Uncle Scumbag save the EU with the spare LNG he doesn't have.

Patient Observer August 12, 2018 at 5:20 pm
Yes, the analogy between prewar Japan and Russia is false. It can be argued that it is exactly the opposite. Russia has the resources that the West needs and if Russia were to cut those off, the West could be induced to launch a war of desperation as Japan did. If Russia is "walking on eggs" that is why.
Mark Chapman August 12, 2018 at 10:15 pm
Russia also can borrow whatever money it needs to from China. China probably has more than enough to lend of its own, but if it does not, it is under no restrictions against borrowing from western banks, and those banks have no control over how that money is reallocated.
davidt August 13, 2018 at 2:19 pm
I commented on the Pearl Harbour episode simply to make the point that the proposed sanctions are a very aggressive move- this is clearly how the Russian government sees them, and rightly so. If these sanctions clip a percent or so of Russian GDP growth for the foreseeable future then they are very damaging for the country. Frankly, I would not be very sanguine about Russia's long term future if it were not for China, and I continue to back Kraus's opinion over Kirill's This earlier article by Aris sets the stage reasonably well- it's obvious weakness is that the role of China is not taken into account
. http://www.intellinews.com/moscow-blog-russio-delenda-est-140787/?source=blogs
A further point. No matter how creative Russia's scientists and engineers might be, it beggars belief to imagine that any country can compete technologically long term if largely isolated by the rest of the World. Again, this further emphasizes how critical China is likely to be for Russia's well being.
Patient Observer August 13, 2018 at 3:01 pm
Russia needs China and China needs Russia if it wants to remain a sovereign nation.

I would add that the US is in a very fragile state burdened by a stagnate economy despite massive deficit spending in addition to a crumbling global empire. Russia may simply need to ride out the storm and let nature takes it course relative to the US.

kirill August 13, 2018 at 6:24 pm
The chimps in Congress can't see past their own noses and think that borrowing and debt is what sustains the Russian economy. Their bubble of delusion has no bearing on Russian reality. They are currently engaged in "the definition of insanity is to repeat the same failed approach over and over and expect a different result". You can't cut Russia off from western banks more than once and there is obviously no cumulative impact from such sanctions.
kirill August 13, 2018 at 6:20 pm
On what basis do you estimate 1% GDP growth reduction (or contraction?) for the foreseeable future? Kraus needs to make a case and not just engage in proof by assertion. How can we have the same restrictions to banking access that were imposed in 2014 all of the sudden starting to matter now? That is just ludicrous. Cutting off access to NATzO banks in 2014 was the limit of what NATzO could do. It can't go into Russia and shut down Russian banks to prevent Russian companies from financing themselves there or from the Russian government.

Anyway, too much obscure mush and utter lack of details. These "mother of all sanctions" are a joke because the 2014 sanctions did most of the "damage".

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/12/russia-sanctions-us-eu-banks-sberbank-oil-gazprom

LOL.

Mark Chapman August 13, 2018 at 11:18 pm
But for how long can the rest of the world (meaning, I suppose, the United States and western Europe, which seem together to think they are The World) keep it up? Long enough to bring Russia down? I frankly doubt it. America needs trade for its corporations to flourish and expand market share, and it is not achieving that through sanctions and tariffs. The USA is not just taking on Russia; it is making enemies everywhere. The global economy is so interwoven now that it is very difficult to sanction a country to death unless you can block all its major moneymakers. And Washington can't do that (to Russia) without hurting Europe.

The present sanctions are lame and do not really do anything but get journalists excited and use up paper. The sting is in the ones set to automatically go into effect in three months, because to avoid them Russia must admit that it has a secret chemical-weapons program, agree to shut it down and allow UN inspectors into the country to verify it has been done. Perhaps Trump and his cabal gamble that Russia will cop to something it actually doesn't have, just to avoid sanctions, as Gadaffi did. But Russia will not, while the American attempt to bring more inconvenience and problems to the Russian people in an effort to use them to bludgeon the government into doing Washington's bidding is about as shitty a thing as America has ever done without involving weapons, since it offers no proof at all of its conclusions. It is simply imposing collective punishment in order to get ts own way, and would be the first to squeal if Russia did it.

Northern Star August 14, 2018 at 3:06 pm
"The global economy is so interwoven now that it is very difficult to sanction a country to death unless you can block all its major moneymakers. And Washington can't do that (to Russia) without hurting Europe."

The entire sanctions discussion in a nutshell.

Northern Star August 14, 2018 at 3:48 pm
From the Ben Aris link:

"Like the Romans, the US has built a military-industrial economy that can massively out-resource all its opponents' and so is impossible to defeat – a legacy of the rapid militarisation during WWII when it simply out produced first the Nazis and then the Soviet Union, the only other country on the planet at the time with any chance of matching the US's industrial might"

Unlike the Reich the USA industrial base wasn't hampered by round the clock bombing from the Eighth AirForce and the RAF , which also involved the diversion on billions of Reichsmarks for thousands of planes and the Luftwaffe manpower in an attempt to stop or at least mitigate the air attacks.

Likewise the USA industrial base was not hampered by having to -in a massive undertaking-uproot its core manufacturing facilities and move them thousands of kilometers to where they could be reassembled and resume production of machinery , armor and weaponry in general.

Furthermore:

These are just a couple reasons for the fall of Rome, but what is perhaps most terrifying about the fall are the corollaries to today. The Unites States of America has a Gini coefficient of .45, and 40% of the wealth is controlled by the top 1% of the population.[5] By every metric, the United States is even more divided and unfair than Rome before its fall. The effects are perfectly evident as well as there is increasing inclination from the rich to build fallout bunkers and withdraw from civilization and politics just as the roman elites did centuries before. Worsening matters is the evidence of extreme racism towards migrant workers who like slaves in Rome "take the labor from the hardworking middle class". Increasingly the middle class shrinks as social unrest and bigotry grows. It is a scary combination that, if we aren't careful, could spell the end of civilization as we know it, just like it did for the Romans centuries before.

https://pages.vassar.edu/realarchaeology/2017/11/05/how-socialincome-inequality-and-the-fall-of-rome-is-relevant-today/
AND the five links therein.

Therefore the Aris notion that USA can simply bide its time and wait for Russia to collapse is suspect. If anything there may well be be a collapse but not Russia.

Patient Observer August 14, 2018 at 4:58 pm
Agree with the sentiment but the Soviet Union outproduced the US in every industrial category that mattered. Its military was much stronger than the US on land and in the air. On the sea, the US probably had the edge.

The Soviet Union fell because its ideology provided no means to deal with psychos and sociopaths. Religion, with all of its shortcomings, at least tried to address sociopathic behaviors with such terms as sin, evil, etc. When religion left the building, there was nothing left to stop the psychos and its kissing cousins, the Randites.

The West is immune from such dangers as it embraces sociopathyy. Russia, I believe, is seeking a society that can withstand such assaults without heavy handed purges which only provide temporary relief. The Orthodox Church ascendancy in modern Russia is helping to provide that moral anchor to keep socciopathy from becoming the dominant world view. I think even atheists can agree on the importance of its role in providing a stable and humane society.

[Aug 15, 2018] Russia is one of only 7 nation states to have verifiably dismantled and destroyed their chemical weapon stockpiles as ratified by the OPCW and in compliance to the CWC. After Skripal false flag they probably have a second thought.

Notable quotes:
"... What can I say – perhaps now Russia will batten down the hatches and stop all this pandering to western partners. ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

James lake August 8, 2018 at 12:21 pm

Breaking news here in the UK.

USA say that Russia did poison the Skripals in Salisbury.

"The US blamed the attack on Vladimir Putin and said they would be issuing fresh sanctions in response to the deadly attack.

The state department says Wednesday the sanctions will be imposed on Russia because it used a chemical weapon in violation of international law.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: "The United States determined under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act) that the government of the Russian Federation has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law, or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals."

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, in the British town of Salisbury in March."

What can I say – perhaps now Russia will batten down the hatches and stop all this pandering to western partners.

kirill August 8, 2018 at 3:28 pm
No need to batten down the hatches. Just ignore the yapping NATzO chihuahuas. We have not even had a proper trial to determine guilt. The US leadership is not some ultimate judicial body. They can make as many political judgements as they want, but that will do Jack to Russia.

At this point all the hysterical US-driven sanctions against Russia are totally self defeating. The monkeys in Washington clearly think that Russia is a banana republic and that it needs to have access to foreign money and technology to function. They are cleared fucked in the head.

Patient Observer August 8, 2018 at 3:56 pm
More on the above per RT:

It would reportedly include more drastic measures, such as downgrading diplomatic relations, banning the Russian airline Aeroflot from flying to the US and cutting off nearly all exports and imports.

So, are we talking about RD-180 rocket engines and Americans traveling to the ISS on Russian rockets? Are we talking about titanium fabrications that Boeing needs for its aircraft manufacturing?

This Russian hysteria is masking something, something big. My one-track mind suggests fixated on the idea of an approaching economic collapse and subsequent imposition of martial law and/or massive levels of censorship; all to be blamed on Russia. The increasingly frenetic pace of Russian hysteria suggests a near-term sh!t-storm is on the way.

James lake August 8, 2018 at 4:18 pm
The Russian hysteria is scary as so many citizens over there believe in the Russiagate nonsense and have been manipulated to feel they have been attacked.

It means therefore that conditions have been created whereby the USA has the support to attack back.

Putin should never have gone to Helsinki as that escalated the madness.

Trump is emasculated just as obama was and has no power to do anything to block this pathway to outright confrontation

The Europeans will sit by and watch – Russia has no allies there.,

Patient Observer August 8, 2018 at 5:27 pm
Europe will stay on the porch and let the big boys duke it out. In the red corner, we have Vlad – the Terminator. In the other corner, we have Donald – the Orange Haystack. In another corner we have Bruce – the Red Dragon.

Haystack lumbers out of his corner before the bell rings, makes some nasty gestures and starts his victory dance. The Terminator stands in his corner, muscular arms folded across his chest with a wry smile across his face. The Red Dragon is closely studying Haystack with an inscrutable stare. Haystack exhausts himself and collapses mid-ring. The Terminator and Red Dragon leave the arena as the Haystack fans seek their autographs. Something like that.

Mark Chapman August 8, 2018 at 4:41 pm
Perhaps a boxed piano will fall from a ninth-floor balcony and crush Nauert to a rectangular pizza. I'd pay to see that.

Define 'pandering'. Can you name some concessions the United States has wrung from Russia in the last two years? I seem to recall the British investigators said there was no proof that anyone in the Russian government was involved – they simply speculated that because Novichok could only be made in a state facility, there must be state involvement. Does the USA have some evidence that the British have not seen yet? Perhaps they found it in the same place they filed their satellite photography of the Buk missile taking out MH17.

Murdock August 9, 2018 at 1:05 pm
You mean the same Russia that is one of only 7 nation states to have verifiably dismantled and destroyed their chemical weapon stockpiles as ratified by the OPCW and in compliance to the CWC? That Russia?

I can't wait for this determination to be made public along with the coinciding evidence as released by an official judiciary body wielding the requisite jurisdiction and authority under official auspices of the UN. That's what is meant by determined right? Pretty unambiguous terminology there.

This entire charade has gone so far beyond farce it's not even comical anymore, just depressing.

Mark Chapman August 9, 2018 at 3:51 pm
That's an interesting point, because a likely consequence of the continued hysterical hostility from the west will be opacity where there once was transparency; ie: if the United States wants to know something about Russian unconventional weapons programs, it will have to go to extensive and complicated labour to insert a deep-cover spy or persuade an asset that it can trust to find out the information, never knowing if it is being fed disinformation deliberately by a double agent, where once it could simply have asked and been invited to verify the truth itself. International organizations controlled by Washington will be less and less likely to have a free pass to come in and poke about as they see fit.

[Aug 15, 2018] Medvedev: if they introduce something like a ban on banking operations or the use of any currency, we will treat it as a declaration of economic war. And we'll have to respond to it accordingly economically, politically, or in any other way, if required

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile August 10, 2018 at 12:38 am

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned the US that any sanctions targeting Russian banking operations and currency trade will be treated as a declaration of economic war and retaliated against by any means necessary.
" If they introduce something like a ban on banking operations or the use of any currency, we will treat it as a declaration of economic war. And we'll have to respond to it accordingly – economically, politically, or in any other way, if required ," Medvedev said during a trip to the Kamchatka region.

" Our American friends should make no mistake about it ," he emphasized.

Source RT: Russia to treat further US sanctions as an open declaration of economic war – PM
Published time: 10 Aug, 2018 04:42
Edited time: 10 Aug, 2018 08:25

Why does that prick of a Russian PM speak about "our American friends"?

I wish Medvedev would just fuck off out of it.

FFS! They are not your friends, idiot!!!!!

James lake August 10, 2018 at 2:39 am
Why is Medvedev even discussing the areas that would cause Russia harm in public?

It is like pointing a big arrow at the banking and finance sector with "Sanction this"" written on it in big red letters

There is a time for silence. And he needs to come off twitter as well.

[Aug 15, 2018] Trump policies are all over the place first the hard-ass who will never back off, then conciliatory and talking international unity

Notable quotes:
"... Interestingly, the USA is increasingly going it alone in such actions, and the EU – remarkably, for such a spineless outfit – has actually imposed a 'blocking statute' which allegedly will protect European companies from being sanctioned by the USA, while Brussels has taken the unprecedented step of instructing European firms not to comply with demands by the White House that they cease doing business with Iran. Even more astonishing, if that were possible, EU companies who opt to pull out of business with Iranian contacts must first obtain authorization from the European Commission to do so. Without such authorization, they may be sued by EU member states, while a mechanism has been created to allow EU businesses impacted by the sanctions to sue the US administration in the national courts of member states. Who could have forecast that would happen, as recently as a year ago? ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 6, 2018 at 5:21 pm

I suppose few were under any apprehension that Trump would not sign the sanctions bill reimposing American sanctions on Iran. Consequently, most will be unsurprised that he did so.

http://www.intellinews.com/trump-triggers-iran-sanctions-eu-unveils-updated-blocking-statute-146376/?source=iran

Interestingly, the USA is increasingly going it alone in such actions, and the EU – remarkably, for such a spineless outfit – has actually imposed a 'blocking statute' which allegedly will protect European companies from being sanctioned by the USA, while Brussels has taken the unprecedented step of instructing European firms not to comply with demands by the White House that they cease doing business with Iran. Even more astonishing, if that were possible, EU companies who opt to pull out of business with Iranian contacts must first obtain authorization from the European Commission to do so. Without such authorization, they may be sued by EU member states, while a mechanism has been created to allow EU businesses impacted by the sanctions to sue the US administration in the national courts of member states. Who could have forecast that would happen, as recently as a year ago?

I need hardly draw attention to the unmitigated and brazen arrogance of the stated US aim: to "force the Iranians to the table for a renegotiation of their role in the Middle East". They fucking live there, for God's sake, but the intent of the sanctions is to force them to bow to American will, and accept the plans for them of a state which is more than 6,000 miles away – yet insists on its right to direct and order regional affairs to its own strat