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Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA
and destroys not enhances national security

News Neoconservatism Recommended Links Israel lobby Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization "F*ck the EU": State Department neocons show EU its real place New American Militarism
Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton Hillary role in Syria bloodbath Obama: a yet another Neocon Hillary Clinton and Obama created ISIS Wolfowitz Doctrine Hillary role in Libya disaster Lock her up movement
Mayberry Machiavellians Robert Kagan Max Boot Paul Wolfowitz Madeleine Albright Anatol Leiven on American Messianism Leo Strauss and the Neocons
From EuroMaidan to EuroAnschluss Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism The History of Media-Military-Industrial Complex Concept Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism The ability and willingness to employ savage methods  IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement  
American Exceptionalism Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Robert Kagan Samantha Power Jeb "Wolfowitz Stooge" Bush Corporatism Big Uncle is Watching You
Fifth Column of Neoliberal Globalization  Color revolutions Guardian paper LA Times Paper by Neal Gabler Washington Post paper by Mike Allen Deception as an art form Neoliberalism as a New form of Corporatism
Mayberry Machiavellians Corporatism John Dilulio letter   Neoliberal Propaganda: Journalism In the Service of the Powerful Few Politically Incorrect Humor Etc
Note: This page is partially based on Wikipedia materials.

Introduction

  The Neocons never cease to amaze me and their latest stunt with Venezuela falls into this bizarre category of events which are both absolutely unthinkable and simultaneously absolutely predictable. This apparent logical contradiction is the direct result of a worldview and mindset which is, I believe, unique to the Neocons: a mix of imperial hubris and infinite arrogance, a complete lack of decency, a total contempt for the rest of mankind, crass ignorance, a narcissist/sociopath's inability to have any kind of empathy or imagine another guy's reaction and, finally, last but most certainly not least, crass stupidity.

Saker, The US aggression against Venezuela as a diagnostic tool Feb 4, 2019

The greater the hawkishness, the greater the ignorance.

Max Blumenthal, sited from Zero Hedge

In his volume Cultural Insurrections, Kevin MacDonald has accurately described neoconservatism as “a complex interlocking professional and family network centered around Jewish publicists and organizers flexibly deployed to recruit the sympathies of both Jews and non-Jews in harnessing the wealth and power of the United States in the service of Israel.”[3]Kevin MacDonald, Cultural Insurrections: Essays on Western Civilizations, Jewish Influence, and Anti-Semitism, The Occidental Press, 2007, p. 122. The proof of the neocons’ crypto-Israelism is their U.S. foreign policy:

“The confluence of their interests as Jews in promoting the policies of the Israeli right wing and their construction of American interests allows them to submerge or even deny the relevance of their Jewish identity while posing as American patriots. […]

Indeed, since neoconservative Zionism of the Likud Party variety is well known for promoting a confrontation between the United States and the entire Muslim world, their policy recommendations best fit a pattern of loyalty to their ethnic group, not to America.”[4]Kevin McDonald, Cultural Insurrection, op. cit., p. 66.

Laurent Guyénot, The Unz Review. Apr 8, 2019

 

The neoconservative impulse became visible in modern American foreign policy since Reagan, but it became dominant ideology and foreign policy practice during criminal George W. Bush administration, which unleashed disastrous for American people Iraq war and destabilized the region, which eventually led to creation of ISIS. Those disastrous neoconservative policies were continued during Obama administration ("Fuck the EU": State Department neocons show EU its real place. Especially sinister role was played  Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton  while she was the Secretary of State. She was the butcher of Libya and Syria.

Unlike traditionalist conservatism (which in the USA survived in the form of Paleoconservatism and preaches noninterventionism), Neoconservatism has nothing to do with conservative doctrine at all. This is neoliberal interpretation of Trotskyism -- neoTrotskyism.

Like neofascism it glorifies militarism (in the form of New American Militarism as described by Professor Bacevich), emphasizes confrontation, and regime change in countries hostile to the interests of global corporations, and which are a barrier of spread of neoliberalism and extension of global, US dominated neoliberal empire. It is an extremely jingoistic creed.  All Secretaries of State starting from Madeleine "not so bright" Albright subscribed to neocon thinking. And the US Department of State since 1980 was the citadel of neoconservatives. To the extent that when Trump was elected a bunch of those jingoistic honchos wrote a letter of protest in best color revolution style. Unfortunately Trump proved to be weak they were not summarily fired without pension for this attempt to stage a color revolution (such a "diplomats letter" how this trick is called, widely publicized by MSMs supporting the particular color revolution is as classic method to put heat on opposite side, probably as popular as false flag sniper shootings from rooftops of protester and police attributed to the government).

The unspoken assumptions of neocon cult, which have led the United States into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive posture of nearly perpetual wars of neoliberal conquest is that "wars are the health of the state".   But in  reality wars is the "health of MIC" not the state. Foreign war launched by  neocons since 1980th overextended the USA as a country and further lowered the standard living of population  of affected countries, as neoliberalism has nothing to do with raising of standard of living of population. It is about the redistribution of wealth to the top.

All-in-all neocons serve as lobbyists of MIC  providing yet another confirmation of Eisenhower warning. They are "wardogs" of MIC.

The unspoken assumptions of neocon cult have led the United States into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive posture of nearly perpetual wars of neoliberal conquest.  Which overextended the USA as a country and lowered the standard living of population further, as if neoliberalism alone was not enough. They serve as lobbyists of MIC  providing yet another confirmation of Eisenhower warning.

It also led to destabilization of the whole regions. It was the USA that launched political Islam into its current position, which at the end resulted in creation of ISIS and "institutionalization" of  suicide bombings as the only means to fight against global neoliberal empire by people deprived of regular military means.  From which many nations, suffered especially Russia. But also several European nations such as GB and France which supported the US policies.

In Russia neocons supported radical Islam and Wahhabism promoting it in such areas as Chechnya and Dagestan. They financially and logistically supported terrorist networks and facilitated import of extremists (sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Gulf monarchies). Like in Afghanistan before that they considered Wahhabi extremists as a useful political tool in their attempts to dismember Russia, as the lesser evil.

In Ukraine neocons supported far right nationalists with distinct national socialism leanings and history of crimes against humanity (Massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia - Wikipedia). They organized and financed the putsch against the legitimate (albeit corrupt) government of Yanukovich riding of the wave of population discontent with the slow standard of living and the corruption by (installed by the West) neoliberal government. And instead of promised  Euro Integration and an "instant" raise of the standard of living to European level promised by  pro-coup propaganda they got three times drop of standard of living (to African level of poverty for the most of the population) and civil war in Donbass.  Which was done with full support of several EU nations which also now have imperial ambitions and wanted to cut the country from Russia and use it the market for EU goods as well as the source of cheap commodities and labor for EU.

EuroMaydan as this color revolution was called made the country a debt slave of IMF and dropped already low standard of living of population almost three times. Making the Ukraine probably the poorest country in Europe where large percent of population (especially pensioners and single mothers) needs to survive of less the $2 a day. Average (note the word "average")  pension in Ukraine is about $1500 grivna which at the current exchange rate is approximately $60. It was three times higher before the Maydan color revolution which State Department so skillfully organized.

Everywhere neocons bring wars and disasters. And they impoverish the US middle class. To say nothing about desperate, completely robbed 50 or so million people with McJobs, who are liming essentially in the third world country that exists within the USA now  (Food Stamp Beneficiaries Exceed 46,000,000 for 38 Straight Months ). 

They are concerned mainly with enriching themselves and their masters from military industrial complex and bloated government bureaucracy, especially "national security parasites"). In other words they behave like the USSR nomenklatura -- a privileged, above the law class, degeneration of which eventually led to collapse of the USSR. Such a conservatives. And not unlike Party bureaucracy of the Third Reich, despite being disproportionally Jewish. 

In foreign policy they were a real, unmitigated  disaster.  Or more correctly series of disaster of varying magnitudes.

For their petty mercantile purposes (reckless jingoism is the credo of any MIC lobbyist) they successfully revived the threat of nuclear war with Russia (in the name of "US security", as MIC lobbyists understand it ;-). Moreover they moved Russia closer to China, which is no way is in the USA geopolitical interests.  Such a despicable "security parasites" (they really are the "security parasites")

Starting from Clinton administration their attitude to Russia was essentially was: be our vassal, or you have no right to exist. Which is reckless attitude to the second most powerful nuclear armed state in the world.  Even taking into account huge difficulties and huge deterioration of the Russia military capabilities after the dissolution of the USSR they were playing with fire initiating  the rearmament of Russia (which negatively affected the well-being of Russian people).  And they are enjoying every minute of their destructive actions.  Just look at glib face of Robert Kagan (the husband of Victoria Nuland, who was appointed as advisor to State Department by Hillary Clinton) during his public speeches. This man is definitely enjoying himself and his wit. 

 

For their petty mercantile purposes (recless jingoism is the credo of any MIC lobbyist) they successfully revived the threat of nuclear war with Russia (in the name of "US security", as MIC lobbyists understand it ;-). Moreover they moved Russia closer to China, which is no way is in the USA geopolitical interests.  Such a despicable "security parasites" (they really are the "security parasites")

...And they are enjoying every minute of their destructive actions.  Just look at glib face of Robert Kagan (the husband of Victoria Nuland, who was appointed as advisor to State Department by Hillary Clinton) during his public speeches. This man is definitely enjoying himself and his wit. 

An assertion that the fundamental determinant of the relationship between states rests on military power and the willingness to use it, is clearly wrong. It is a foreign policy equivalent to Al Capone idea that "You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone". It is very close to neo-Nazi idea that "War is a natural state, and peace is a utopian dream that induces softness, decadence and pacifism." The problem here is that it's the person who promotes this creed can be shot. Of course neocons are chickenhawks and prefer other people die for their misguided adventures.  Almost non of them served in Vietnam.

The idea  that disagreement about some unrealistic postulates (such as "full spectrum dominance") is tantamount to defeatism is simply silly. "Global unilateralism" promoted by neocon since dissolution of the USSR is capable to bankrupt the USA and it awakened  really powerful countervailing forces. The military alliance of Russia, China and Iran now is a distinct possibility at least in certain areas, despite all differences. Pakistan might be  the next to join this alliance.  That's more  then 1.5 billion people hostile to the USA interests. Usually when the enemy is twise the size the fight againat it became very difficult indeeed.  And EU can't be counted as a reliable  ally any longer , as it now has its own geopolitical interests, which are not fully aligned with the  USA, especially as for China, which is tremendously important market  for Germany manifacturing. 

Democracy promotion was a nice racket (via color revolutions) until probably 2008, but now way too many countries understand the mechanics of color revolutions and created mechanism to defend themselves from such attempts. bout. They failed in Russia in 2012 and in Hong Cong later.   Their last success was EuroMaydan in Ukraine which can well turn in Pyrrhic victory.

Neocon policies created the level of anti-American sentiment at Middle East unheard before,  provoked rearmament of Russia and armament of China which together represent a formidable force able to turn the USA into radioactive ash no less effectively then the USA can turn them. 

Despite disastrous results of the Neocon foreign policy neocons remain a powerful, dominant political force in Washington. In recent Presidential race neocons were represented by Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton which managed to get almost half of the votes (or steal then for Sanders, to be exact -- DNC pushed Sanders under the bus).

After the defeat they launched anti-Russian hysteria (as the way of rallying the nation around the flag and preventing loss of power of Clinton's wing of the Democratic Party) and then the color revolutions against Trump (with heavy involvement of FBI and CIA). Russiagate will remain one of the most sordid stories in the US political life, next to McCarthyism  

Neoconservatives are attempting to build an American Empire, seen as successor to the British Empire

From Wikipedia

John McGowan, professor of humanities at the University of North Carolina, states, after an extensive review of neoconservative literature and theory, that neoconservatives are attempting to build an American Empire, seen as successor to the British Empire, its goal being to perpetuate a Pax Americana. As imperialism is largely considered unacceptable by the American media, neoconservatives do not articulate their ideas and goals in a frank manner in public discourse. McGowan states,[68]

Frank neoconservatives like Robert Kaplan and Niall Ferguson recognize that they are proposing imperialism as the alternative to liberal internationalism. Yet both Ka

 
uson also understand that imperialism runs so counter to American's liberal tradition that it must... remain a foreign policy that dare not speak its name...

While Ferguson, the Brit, laments that Americans cannot just openly shoulder the white man's burden, Kaplan the American, tells us that "only through stealth and anxious foresight" can the United States continue to pursue the "imperial reality [that] already dominates our foreign policy", but must be disavowed in light of "our anti-imperial traditions, and... the fact that imperialism is delegitimized in public discourse"...

The Bush administration, justifying all of its actions by an appeal to "national security", has kept as many of those actions as it can secret and has scorned all limitations to executive power by other branches of government or international law.

Neoconservatism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In foreign policy, the neoconservatives' main concern is to prevent the development of a new rival. Defense Planning Guidance, a document prepared during 1992 by Under Secretary for Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz, is regarded by Distinguished Professor of the Humanities John McGowan at the University of North Carolina as the "quintessential statement of neoconservative thought". The report says:[68]
"Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power."

.... For its opponents it is a distinct political ideology that emphasizes the blending of military power with Wilsonian idealism...

Donald Rumsfeld and Victoria Nuland at the NATO-Ukraine consultations in Vilnius, Lithuania, October 24, 2005

Democracy promotion as the universal door opener

See also Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair

Neoconservative foreign policy is a descendant of so-called Wilsonian idealism. Neoconservatives endorse democracy promotion by the US and other democracies, based on the claim  that human rights belong to everyone, while killing thousand hundred people in their attempt to install puppet regimes in various countries in the globe. They practice so call liberation by killing, or "in order to free the village you need to destroy it". They hypocritically criticized the United Nations and, in the past, the  detente with the USSR not understanding the existence of the USSR, while disastrous to Russian people, were the main factor that protected the middle class in the USA from looting by financial oligarchy and prevented the US elite from self-destructive impulses, which became apparent after 1991.

Democracy promotion is allegedly derived from a belief that "freedom" (understood as the rule of neoliberal oligarchy subservant to the USA) is a universal human right and by opinion polls showing majority support for democracy in countries with authoritarian regimes. But the neocons driven "democracy promotion" provided fertile ground to the rise of Radical Islamism the most anti-democratic regime in existence. This essentially created ISIS. They also consider medieval Saudi Arabia to be the US ally and close eyes on horrible social condition of woman in this country.  Such a despicable hypocrites.

Another Neoconservative myth is that democratic regimes are less likely to start wars. The USA is perfect count-argument to that (although  the idea that it is a democratic country is open to review -- empires usually are not democracies, and not even republics). If we assume that the USA is still a republic, it is the most war-hungry and aggressive republic in the history of the world. Being  a direct successor of British empire, they actually managed to beat British in this respect, which is not easy, taking into account British record of mass murders in India, Opium wars and like.

Neocons argue that not extreme debilitating poverty, but the lack of freedoms, lack of economic opportunities, and the lack of secular general education in authoritarian regimes promotes radicalism and extremism. At the same time they promote nationalism and islamist extremists movement in Russia ("divide and conquer" strategy). In short  neoconservatives advocate democracy promotion to regions of the world with natural resources to loot, such  the Arab nations, Iran, Russia, and China.

During April 2006 Robert Kagan wrote in The Washington Post that Russia and China may be the greatest "challenge [neo]liberalism faces today":

"The main protagonists on the side of autocracy will not be the petty dictatorships of the Middle East theoretically targeted by the Bush doctrine. They will be the two great autocratic powers, China and Russia, which pose an old challenge not envisioned within the new "war on terror" paradigm. ... Their reactions to the "color revolutions" in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan were hostile and suspicious, and understandably so. ... Might not the successful liberalization of Ukraine, urged and supported by the Western democracies, be but the prelude to the incorporation of that nation into NATO and the European Union -- in short, the expansion of Western liberal hegemony?"[77]

During July 2008 Joe Klein wrote in TIME magazine that today's neoconservatives are more interested in confronting enemies than in cultivating friends.  In other words in foreign policy they tend to behave like a bully. He questioned the sincerity of neoconservative interest in exporting democracy and freedom, saying, "Neoconservatism in foreign policy is best described as unilateral bellicosity cloaked in the utopian rhetoric of freedom and democracy."[78]

"Neoconservatism in foreign policy is best described as unilateral bellicosity cloaked in the utopian rhetoric of freedom and democracy." ~  Joe Klein

Support of Israel as the key goal

During February 2009 Andrew Sullivan wrote that he no longer took Neoconservatism seriously because its basic tenet became the defense of Israel:[79]

The closer you examine it, the clearer it is that neoconservatism, in large part, is simply about enabling the most irredentist elements in Israel and sustaining a permanent war against anyone or any country who disagrees with the Israeli right. That's the conclusion I've been forced to these last few years. And to insist that America adopt exactly the same constant-war-as-survival that Israelis have been slowly forced into... But America is not Israel. And once that distinction is made, much of the neoconservative ideology collapses.

Neoconservatives respond to charges of merely rationalizing aid for Israel by noting that their "position on the Middle East conflict was exactly congruous with the neoconservative position on conflicts everywhere else in the world, including places where neither Jews nor Israeli interests could be found – - not to mention the fact that non-Jewish neoconservatives took the same stands on all of the issues as did their Jewish confrères."[80]

Wolfowitz Doctrine as quintessential Neoconservatism

Wolfowitz Doctrine is an unofficial name given to the initial version of the Defense Planning Guidance for the 1994–99 fiscal years (dated February 18, 1992) authored by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz and his deputy Scooter Libby. Not intended for public release, it was leaked to the New York Times on March 7, 1992,[1] and sparked a public controversy about U.S. foreign and defense policy. The document was widely criticized as imperialist as the document outlined a policy of unilateralism and pre-emptive military action to suppress potential threats from other nations and prevent any other nation from rising to superpower status.

Such was the outcry that the document was hastily re-written under the close supervision of U.S. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell before being officially released on April 16, 1992. Many of its tenets re-emerged in the [2] which was described by Senator Edward M. Kennedy as "a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept."[3]

Superpower status

The doctrine announces the US’s status as the world’s only remaining superpower following the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War and proclaims its main objective to be retaining that status.

Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.

This was substantially re-written in the April 16 release.

Our most fundamental goal is to deter or defeat attack from whatever source... The second goal is to strengthen and extend the system of defense arrangements that binds democratic and like-minded nations together in common defense against aggression, build habits of cooperation, avoid the renationalization of security policies, and provide security at lower costs and with lower risks for all. Our preference for a collective response to preclude threats or, if necessary, to deal with them is a key feature of our regional defense strategy. The third goal is to preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests, and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the re-emergence of a global threat to the interests of the U.S. and our allies.

U.S. primacy

The doctrine establishes the US’s leadership role within the new world order.

The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. In non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. We must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.

This was substantially re-written in the April 16 release.

One of the primary tasks we face today in shaping the future is carrying long standing alliances into the new era, and turning old enmities into new cooperative relationships. If we and other leading democracies continue to build a democratic security community, a much safer world is likely to emerge. If we act separately, many other problems could result.

Unilateralism

The doctrine downplays the value of international coalitions.

Like the coalition that opposed Iraqi aggression, we should expect future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies, often not lasting beyond the crisis being confronted, and in many cases carrying only general agreement over the objectives to be accomplished. Nevertheless, the sense that the world order is ultimately backed by the U.S. will be an important stabilizing factor.

This was re-written with a change in emphasis in the April 16 release.

Certain situations like the crisis leading to the Gulf War are likely to engender ad hoc coalitions. We should plan to maximize the value of such coalitions. This may include specialized roles for our forces as well as developing cooperative practices with others.

Pre-emptive intervention

The doctrine stated the US’s right to intervene when and where it believed necessary.

While the U.S. cannot become the world's policeman, by assuming responsibility for righting every wrong, we will retain the preeminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends, or which could seriously unsettle international relations.

This was softened slightly in the April 16 release.

While the United States cannot become the world's policeman and assume responsibility for solving every international security problem, neither can we allow our critical interests to depend solely on international mechanisms that can be blocked by countries whose interests may be very different than our own. Where our allies interests are directly affected, we must expect them to take an appropriate share of the responsibility, and in some cases play the leading role; but we maintain the capabilities for addressing selectively those security problems that threaten our own interests.

Russian threat

The doctrine highlighted the possible threat posed by a resurgent Russia.

We continue to recognize that collectively the conventional forces of the states formerly comprising the Soviet Union retain the most military potential in all of Eurasia; and we do not dismiss the risks to stability in Europe from a nationalist backlash in Russia or efforts to reincorporate into Russia the newly independent republics of Ukraine, Belarus, and possibly others....We must, however, be mindful that democratic change in Russia is not irreversible, and that despite its current travails, Russia will remain the strongest military power in Eurasia and the only power in the world with the capability of destroying the United States.

This was removed from the April 16 release in favor of a more diplomatic approach.

The U.S. has a significant stake in promoting democratic consolidation and peaceful relations between Russia, Ukraine and the other republics of the former Soviet Union.

Middle East and Southwest Asia

The doctrine clarified the overall objectives in the Middle East and Southwest Asia.

In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region's oil. We also seek to deter further aggression in the region, foster regional stability, protect U.S. nationals and property, and safeguard our access to international air and seaways. As demonstrated by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, it remains fundamentally important to prevent a hegemon or alignment of powers from dominating the region. This pertains especially to the Arabian peninsula. Therefore, we must continue to play a role through enhanced deterrence and improved cooperative security.

...

The April 16 release was more circumspect and it reaffirmed U.S. commitments to Israel as well as its Arab allies.

In the Middle East and Persian Gulf, we seek to foster regional stability, deter aggression against our friends and interests in the region, protect U.S. nationals and property, and safeguard our access to international air and seaways and to the region's oil. The United States is committed to the security of Israel and to maintaining the qualitative edge that is critical to Israel's security. Israel's confidence in its security and U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation contribute to the stability of the entire region, as demonstrated once again during the Persian Gulf War. At the same time, our assistance to our Arab friends to defend themselves against aggression also strengthens security throughout the region, including for Israel.

Neocon architects of American foreign policy are destroying American national security

Regular Americans can't even imagine the level of hate and resentment that neocon policies produce. . And those feeling became material force when they are shared by the majority of people of a particular country. In some countries it is now really uncomfortable to be an America tourist. I know the cases then American tourists in Spain pretended being from other country to avoid this resentment. But spectrum of problems neocons inflict on the USA are much wider and more dangerous. Professor Stephen Cohen recently gave a very insightful interview to  Patrick L. Smith in salon.com (Architects of American policy towards Russia and Ukraine are destroying American national security) which we will reproduce verbatim:

“Architects of American policy towards Russia and Ukraine are destroying American national security”: Stephen F. Cohen on the truths U.S. media and politicians hide

Myths of American nationalism busted as our interview with noted scholar concludes

Patrick L. Smith

If there is a lesson in Stephen F. Cohen’s professional fortunes over the past year, it is the peril of advancing a dispassionate reading of our great country’s doings abroad. Cohen’s many pieces in The Nation on the Ukraine crisis and the consequent collapse of U.S.-Russia relations now leave him in something close to a state of siege. “My problem with this begins with the fact that… I don’t have a vested interest in one of the ‘isms,’ or ideologies,” Cohen says in this, the second part of a long interview conducted last month. 

The problem lies with the ideologues infesting the waters wherein Cohen swims. Terminally poisoned by Cold War consciousness, they cannot abide disinterested thought. Cohen has been mostly scholar, partly journalist, since the 1970s. His “Sovieticus” column, launched in The Nation in the 1980s, put a magazine traditionally tilted toward domestic issues among the few American publications providing consistent analysis of Russian affairs. At this point, Cohen’s Nation essays are the bedrock scholarly work to which those (few) writing against the orthodoxy turn.

The first half of our exchange, last week on Salon, began with events during the past year and advanced toward the post-Soviet origins of the current crisis. In part two, Cohen completes his analysis of Vladimir Putin’s inheritance and explains how he came to focus his thinking on “lost alternatives”—outcomes that could have been but were not. Most surprising to me was the real but foregone prospect of reforming the Soviet system such that the suffering that ensued since its demise could have been averted.

Salon: Putin inherited a shambles, then—as he would say, “a catastrophe.”

Stephen F. Cohen: As Russia’s leader, Putin has changed over the years, especially in foreign policy but also at home. His first impulse was toward more free-market reforms, anti-progressive taxes. He enacted a 13 percent flat tax—Steve Forbes would’ve been ecstatic, right? He offers [George W.] Bush what Clinton never really offered Yeltsin: a full partnership. And what does he do? On September 11, 2001, he called George and said, Whatever you want, we’re with you. Bush says, Well, I think we’re going to have to go to war in Afghanistan. And Putin said, I can help you. We’ve got major resources and assets in Afghanistan. I even have an army over there called the Northern Alliance. I’ll give it to you! You want overflight? It’s all yours!

How many American lives did Putin save during our land war in Afghanistan? And do you know what a political price he paid in Russia for that? Because his security people were completely against it.

They were? Please explain.

Oh, yeah. You think they minded seeing America being brought to its knees? They’d been invaded so often; let America get a taste of it! But Putin assumes he’s achieved what Yeltsin couldn’t and that this benefits the Russian state. He has a real strategic partnership with America. Now, remember, he’s already worried about his radical Islamic problem because Russia has nearly 20 million Muslim citizens of its own. Russia sits in the East and in the West; it’s on the front lines.

What does Bush give him in return? He expands NATO again and he unilaterally withdraws the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the bedrock of Russia’s nuclear security— it’s a complete betrayal. Is that how you repay somebody who’s helped you save the lives of your citizens? This is where the word “betrayal” begins to enter into the discourse.

It’s an important word for Putin.

It’s not only Putin; [Dmitry] Medvedev uses it, too, when he becomes president [in 2008]. America has broken its word, it’s betrayed us, it’s deceived us, and we no longer take America at its word— well, they never should’ve in the first fucking place, just as Gorbachev should have got the promise not to expand NATO in writing. We’d have done it anyway, but at least they would have had a talking point.

This trust, this naive trust on the part of Russians, that there’s something about American presidents that makes them honorable—it suggests they need a crash course in something. This was betrayal for Putin, and for the entire Russian political class, and Putin paid a price.

I’ve heard him called, among right-wing Russian intellectuals, an appeaser of the West. Soft. You can hear this today: Mariupol? Odessa? Should’ve taken them a year ago; they belong to us. What’s he thinking? Why is he discussing it? [Mariupol and Odessa are two contested cities in the southeastern region of Ukraine.]

So Putin sets his course, and then comes this famous speech he gives in 2007 in Munich, with McCain sitting in the front row. Putin says just what I told you. He says, Look, we want to be your partner; this is what we’ve wanted to be since Gorbachev. We believe in the common European home. But every time we turn to you or we negotiate with you or we think we have an agreement with you, you act like a hegemon and everybody has to do exactly what you say if they want to be on your side. 

Putin has come to tell them that America is risking a new Cold War with more than a decade of bad behavior towards post-Soviet Russia. John McCain interprets this as the declaration of a new Cold War.

But the demonization of Putin came earlier, before the Munich speech, when he began to drive a few favorite American oligarchs [oil companies] out of the country. I looked it up: No major oil-producing country permits majority foreign ownership of its oil. So there’s a long a long history of how Putin goes from a democrat for sure in the U.S. media and an aspiring partner of America to becoming the Hitler of today, as Hillary Clinton put it. You can see what a disease it’s become, this Putin-phobia….

RT just aired a documentary in which Putin explains exactly when and why he decided to move as he did in Crimea. It’s striking: The deliberations began the night President Yanukovych was ousted in the American-supported coup last year. Can you talk about Putin’s thinking on the Crimea question, leading to the annexation? 

Putin, in my judgment, did some wrong-headed things. We now know much more about Crimea, but even given what he has said, there was an argument. It wasn’t quite as clear-cut as he says it was. There was a debate with two sides.

One side said, “Take Crimea now or fight NATO there later.” The other said, “Let the referendum [on association with Russia, held in March 2014] go forward and they’re going to vote 80-plus percent to join Russia. We don’t have to act on it; they’ve just made a request and we’ll say what we think about it. Meanwhile, we see what happens in Kiev.” The Kremlin had done polling in Crimea. And it’s the best bargaining chip Putin will have. He’ll have Crimea wanting to join Russia and he can say to Washington, Well, you would like the Crimea to remain in Ukraine? Here’s what I’d like in return: an eternal ban on NATO membership and federalization of the Ukrainian constitution, because I have to give my Crimean brethren something.

But those arguing that Crimea was the biggest bargaining chip Putin was ever going to have lost. The other side prevailed.

Now, Putin took all the credit, but that’s not what really happened. They were all dependent on intelligence coming out of Kiev and Crimea and Donbass. You see now, if you watch that film, what a turning point the overthrow of Yanukovych was. Remember, the European foreign ministers—Polish, German, and French—had brokered an agreement saying that Yanukovych would form a coalition government and stay in power until December, and that was burned in the street. I’ll never forget the massive Klitschko [Vitali Klitschko, a prizefighter-turned-political oppositionist, currently Kiev’s mayor] standing on a platform at Maidan, all 6’ 8” of him, announcing this great triumph of negotiation, and some smaller guy whipping away the microphone and saying, Go fuck yourself. This thing is going to burn in the streets. The next day it did. That night you saw what an undefeated heavyweight champion looks like when he’s terror-stricken.

This is the turning point, and “It’s all due to Putin,” but it’s all due to Putin because demonization has become the pivot of the analysis.

What do we do from here to resolve the Ukraine question? You used the word “hope” when talking about the February cease-fire, Minsk II—“the last, best hope.” It tripped me up. Hope’s a virtue, but it can also be very cruel.

Anyone of any sense and good will knows that it [the solution] lies in the kind of home rule they negotiated in the U.K.—and don’t call it a federated Ukraine if that upsets Kiev. As the constitution stands, the governors of all the Ukrainian provinces are appointed by Kiev. You can’t have that in eastern Ukraine. Probably can’t even have that in Western and Central Ukraine anymore. Ukraine is fragmenting.

I want to turn this around: what is your view of America’s strategic goal? I ask in the context of your analysis, in “Failed Crusade,” of “transitionology,” as you term the paradigm wherein Russia was supposed to transition into a free-market paradise. As the book makes clear, it amounted to the elevation and protection of crooks who asset-stripped most of an entire nation. Now we don’t hear much about Russia’s “transition.” What is Washington’s ambition now?

I think the Ukrainian crisis is the greatest blow to American national security— even greater than the Iraq war in its long-term implications— for a simple reason: The road to American national security still runs through Moscow. There is not a single major regional or issue-related national security problem we can solve without the full cooperation of whoever sits in the Kremlin, period, end of story.

Name your poison: We’re talking the Middle East, we’re talking Afghanistan, we’re talking energy, we’re talking climate, we’re talking nuclear proliferation, terrorism, shooting airplanes out of the sky, we’re talking about the two terrorist brothers in Boston.

Look: I mean American national security of the kind I care about—that makes my kids and grandkids and myself safe—in an era that’s much more dangerous than the Cold War because there’s less structure, more non-state players, and more loose nuclear know-how and materials…. Security can only be partial, but that partial security depends on a full-scale American-Russian cooperation, period. We are losing Russia for American national security in Ukraine as we talk, and even if it were to end tomorrow Russia will never, for at least a generation, be as willing to cooperate with Washington on security matters as it was before this crisis began.

Therefore, the architects of the American policy towards Russia and Ukraine are destroying American national security—and therefore I am the patriot and they are the saboteurs of American security. That’s the whole story, and any sensible person who doesn’t suffer from Putin-phobia can see it plainly.

Is it too strong to say that the point is to destabilize Moscow?

What would that mean? What would it mean to destabilize the country that may have more weapons of mass destruction than does the U.S.?

Is that indeed the ambition?

I don’t think there’s any one ambition. I come back to the view that you’ve got various perspectives in discussion behind closed doors. I guess Mearsheimer [John Mearsheimer, the noted University of Chicago scholar] is right in the sense of saying that there’s a faction in Washington that is behaving exactly as a great power would behave and trying to maximize its security, but it doesn’t understand that that’s what other great powers do, too. That’s its failure. Gorbachev and Reagan, though it wasn’t originally their idea, probably agreed on the single most important thing: Security had to be mutual. That was their agreement and they built everything on that. We have a military build-up you’re going to perceive as a threat and build up, and I will perceive your build-up as a threat… and that’s the dynamic of permanent and conventional build-up, a permanent arms race. And that’s why Gorbachev and Reagan reasoned, We’re on the edge of the abyss. That’s why we are going to declare the Cold War over, which they did.

That concept of mutual security doesn’t mean only signing contracts: It means don’t undertake something you think is in your security but is going to be perceived as threatening, because it won’t prove to be in your interest. Missile defense is the classic example: We never should have undertaken any missile defense program that wasn’t in cooperation with Russia, but, instead, we undertook it as an anti-Russian operation. They knew it and we knew it and scientists at MIT knew it, but nobody cared because some group believed that you’ve got to keep Russia down.

The truth is, not everything depends on the president of the United States. Not everything, but an awful lot does, and when it comes to international affairs we haven’t really had a president who acted as an actual statesman in regard to Russia since Reagan in 1985-88. Clinton certainly didn’t; his Russia policy was clownish and ultimately detrimental to U.S. national security interests. Bush’s was reckless and lost one opportunity after another, and Obama’s is either uninformed or completely out to lunch. We have not had a statesman in the White House when it comes to Russia since Reagan, and I am utterly, totally, 1000 percent convinced that before November 2013, when we tried to impose an ultimatum on Yanukovych—and even right now, today—that a statesman in the White House could end this in 48 hours with Putin. What Putin wants in the Ukraine crisis is what we ought to want; that’s the reality.

Interesting.

What does Putin want? He’s said the same thing and he’s never varied: He wants a stable, territorial Ukraine—Crimea excepted—and he knows that’s possible only if Ukraine is free to trade with the West and with Russia but is never a member of NATO. However, somebody’s got to rebuild Ukraine, and he’s not going to take that burden on himself, but he will help finance it through discounted energy prices. It could all be done tomorrow if we had a statesman in the White House. Tomorrow! Nobody else has to die.

I think Chancellor Merkel understands this, too.

I think she’s come to, but how strong she is and whether Washington will cut her legs out from under her as they’re trying to do now… [Shortly before this interview Senator McCain delivered a blunt attack on Merkel at a security conference in Munich for opposing the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine. The Arizona Republican was similarly critical when Merkel began to explore a diplomatic solution in Ukraine in spring 2013.]

They have very little respect for her, which is wrong.

What Lindsay Graham and McCain did in Germany, in her own country, on German national television, to her face—and the fact that she’s a woman didn’t help, either. The way they spoke to her, I can’t think of a precedent for that.

Parts of your work are very moving, and that’s not a word a lot of scholarship prompts. The enormous value the Soviet Union accreted—most Americans know nothing of this; with the media’s encouragement, we’re completely ignorant of this. There’s nothing encouraging us to understand that the hundreds of billions of misappropriated assets during the 1990s was essentially the misappropriation of Soviet wealth.

A lot of it came here, to the United States.

Can you talk about this?

I can tell you about a guy who was formerly very high up in the CIA. I called him about a something I was writing on Russian wealth smuggled through the banks into the United States, and he said, We have informed the FBI exactly where all this wealth is in the United States but we are under strict political orders to do nothing about it. Now, the interesting thing is, why now? Well, it would have badly damaged the Yeltsin regime, which the Clinton administration had unconditionally embraced, but also because that money became part of the flourishing stock and real estate markets here at that time.

Even today in Russia, when you ask people if they wish the Soviet Union hadn’t ended, you’re still getting over 60 percent, among young people, too, because they hear the stories from their parents and grandparents. It requires a separate study, but it’s not rocket science. If young kids see their grandparents dying prematurely because they’re not being paid their pensions, they’re going to resent it. When the bottom fell out of the Soviet welfare state and out of the professions, what happened in the 1990s was that the Soviet middle class— which was one of the most professional and educated, and had some savings and which therefore should have been the building block of a Russian free market sector— that middle class was wiped out, and it’s never been recreated. Instead, you got a country of impoverished people and of very, very rich people—with a small middle class serving the rich. That changed under Putin; Putin has rebuilt the middle class, gradually.

The Russian middle class isn’t the same as ours. A lot of Russia’s middle class are people who are on the federal budget: Army officers, doctors, scientists, teachers—these are all federal budget people. They’re middle class, but they don’t become middle class as autonomous property owners. A lot of my friends are members of this class, and a lot of them are very pro-Putin, but a lot of my friends are very anti-Putin, too. The thing about the Soviet Union can be summarized very simply: The Soviet Union lasted 70-plus years, so that would be less than the average life of an American male today. A person cannot jump out of his or her autobiography any more than they can jump out of their skin; it’s your life. You were born in the Soviet Union, you had your first sexual experience in the Soviet Union, you were educated, you got a career, you got married, you raised your kids: That was your life. Of course you miss it, certainly parts of it.

There were ethnic nationalities in the Soviet Union who hated it and wanted to break away, and this became a factor in 1991, but for a great many people— certainly the majority of Russians and a great many Ukrainians and Belorussians and the central Asians— it’s not surprising that 25 years later, those adults still remember the Soviet Union with affection. This is normal, and I don’t find anything bad in it. You know, Putin wasn’t actually the first to say this but he did say it and it’s brilliant and tells you who Putin is and who most Russians are. He said this: Anyone who doesn’t regret the end of the Soviet Union has no heart. Anyone who thinks you can recreate the Soviet Union has no head. That’s it, that’s exactly right!

Didn’t Putin say that the end of the Soviet Union was the 20th century’s greatest catastrophe?

It all has to do with the word “the.” There’s no “the” in Russian. Did Putin say, in translation, that the end of the Soviet Union was “the” greatest catastrophe of the 20th century? If so, there’s something wrong with that, because for Jews it was the Holocaust. Or did he say, “one of” the greatest catastrophes?

I would have guessed the latter.

All four professional translators I sent Putin’s phrase to said you have to translate it as “one of the greatest catastrophes of the 20th century.” Now, we can have a discussion. He’s taken a moderate position, but what are the others? Fair enough, but catastrophe for whom? Americans don’t think it was a catastrophe. Putin would say, “Look, 20 million Russians found themselves outside the country when the Soviet Union broke up, that was a tragedy for them, a catastrophe. Seventy or 80 percent plunged into poverty in the 1990s, lost everything. Can I put that on the list of “one of the greatest?” I would say sure, because for everybody there’s a greater catastrophe. For the Jews there’s no catastrophe greater than the Holocaust. For the Armenians, their genocide. Again, people can’t jump out of their history. A tolerant, democratic person acknowledges that. Each people and nation has its own history. I’d like to write an article about this, but I’m not going to live long enough to write all the articles or books I want to write. We say, for example, the Russians have not come to grips with and fully acknowledged the horrors of Stalinism and its victims. I would argue in this article that they have done more to acknowledge the horrors of Stalinism than we have of slavery.

Interesting.

For example, do we have a national museum of the history of slavery in the United States? They’re building a large one in Moscow to commemorate Stalin’s victims. He recently signed a decree mandating a monument in central Moscow to those victims.

In the way of being moved by some of the things you write, I’ve wanted to ask you about this for years. It has to do with the sentiments of Russians and what they wanted, their ambitions for themselves, some form of… as I read along in these passages I kept saying, “I wonder if he’s going to use the phrase ‘social democracy.’” And, sure enough, you did. These passages got me to take Rudolph Bahro [author of “The Alternative in Eastern Europe”] off the shelf. The obvious next step after East-West tension subsided was some form of social democracy. I don’t know where you want to put it. I put it between Norway and Germany somewhere. To me what happened instead is a horrific tragedy, not only for Russia but for Eastern Europe.

My problem with this begins with the fact that I’m not a communist, I’m not a socialist, a social democrat. I’d like to have enough money to be a real capitalist, but it’s a struggle. [Laughs.] I don’t have a vested interest in one of the “isms” or the ideologies, but I agree with you. I don’t know about Eastern Europe, let’s leave it aside, but look at Russia. You’d have thought that the logical outcome of the dismantling of the Stalinist Communist system, because the system was built primarily by Stalin from the 1930s on, would have been Russian social democracy and that, of course, was what Gorbachev’s mission was. Lots of books have been written, most persuasively by Archie Brown, the great British scholar, who knows Gorbachev personally, probably as well as I do, that Gorbachev came to think of himself as a European social democrat while he was still in power. That’s what his goal was. He had this close relationship with the Social Democratic prime minister of Spain, I forget his name.

Zapatero?

I don’t remember, but I remember that they did a lot of social democratic socializing and talking.

Felipe Gonzalez, I think it was.

Gonzalez, that’s right. Gorbachev was a very well-informed man and his advisors during his years in power were mostly social democrats and had been for years. Their mission had been to transform the Soviet Union. Now, remember, Lenin began as a social democrat, and the original model for Lenin had been not only Marx but the German Social Democratic Party. The Bolshevik or Communist Party was originally the Russian Social Democratic Party, which split into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. So in a way, and I once said this to Gorbachev, historically you want to go back to Lenin before he became a Bolshevik. He said, “Well that’s kind of complicated.” Then Gorbachev said, “Everybody agrees Russia is a left-of-center country.”

The Russian people are left of center. They’re a welfare-state country. Gorbachev had this interesting conversation with Putin, when he went to tell Putin that he, Gorbachev, was going to start a social democratic party. There had been several start-ups and they never went anywhere. And Putin said that’s the right thing to do, because Russia really is a left-of-center country. So Putin said the same thing. And so Russia is, if you look at the history of Russia…

Are you talking about Russia very early, thinking about Russian givenness to community and all that?

However you put it all together, the peasant tradition, the urban tradition, the socialist tradition. Almost all the revolutionary parties were socialist. You didn’t have a Tea Party among them. This is a Russian tradition. Now, it’s obviously changed, but I would say that today, looking at the polls, most Russians overwhelmingly believe that the state has obligations that include medical care, free education, and guaranteeing everybody a job. In fact, it’s in the Russian constitution, the guarantee of a job. Most Russians feel there should not be a “free market” but a social or regulated market, that some things should be subsidized, that the government should regulate certain things, and that nobody should be too rich or too poor. For that you get 80 percent of the vote every time. So that’s a social democratic program, right? Why don’t they have it?

I ask everybody in Russia who wants a social democratic party. They exist, but not a party that can win elections? What’s the problem here? I think know, but I want to hear Russians tell me what’s right. People cite what you and I would guess. First of all, there’s the hangover from communism, which was social democratic and somewhat socialist, in some form.

Second, and this is probably the key thing, social democratic movements tended to grow out of labor movements—labor unions, historically, in England and Scandinavia and Germany. They became the political movement of the labor movement, the working class movement. So you normally get a labor movement that favors political action instead of strikes, creates a political party, you have a parliamentary system, they begin to build support in the working class, elements of the middle class join them, and you end up eventually with European social democracy.

Old Labour in Britain is a perfect example.

Well, the labor unions in Russia are a complete mess. I shouldn’t say that, but they’re complicated. The major one remains the old Soviet official one, which is in bed deeply with state employers. The independent one, or ones, haven’t been able to get enough traction. In almost every European country there were circumstances, you might say the political culture was favorable. Those objective circumstances don’t exist [in Russia]. First, you have an insecure savaged middle class that’s seen its savings confiscated or devalued repeatedly in the last 25 years. You’ve got a working class trapped between oligarchs, state interests and old industries, and private entrepreneurs who are very vulnerable. In other words, the working class itself is in transition. Its own insecurities don’t lead it to think in terms of political organizations but in terms of issues—of whether Ford Motor Company is going to fire them all tomorrow. They’re localized issues.

Then you don’t have a leadership. Leadership really matters. No one has emerged, either in the Russian parliament or in Russian political life. By the 1990s Gorbachev was past his prime and too hated for what had happened to the country. He hoped to be, when he ran for president that time [in 1996] and got 1 percent, he hoped to be the social democratic leader. There are a couple guys in Parliament who aspire to be the leader of Russian social democracy…. When I’m asked, and I’ve told this to young social democrats and to Gennady Zyuganov, whom I’ve known for 20 years, the leader of the Russian Communist Party, the only real electoral party, that Russia needs social democracy with a Russian face….

What this means is that the most important force in Russia, and people were wrong to say Putin created it, is nationalism. This began, in fact, under Stalin. It was embedded during the Brezhnev years, and it was overshadowed during perestroika in the late-1980s. Then there was an inevitable upsurge as a result of the 1990s. You cannot be a viable political candidate in Russia today unless you come to grips with nationalism.

Therefore, the best way, in my judgment, if you also want democracy, is social democracy with a Russian nationalist face. What’s interesting is the guy who was until recently the most popular opposition leader, Navalny [Alexei Navalny, the noted anti-corruption activist], who got nearly 30 per cent of the vote in the Moscow mayoral elections and then blew it by becoming again a foe of the entire system instead of building on his electoral success—he’s too nationalistic for the taste of a lot of democrats.

Truly? You wouldn’t know it from what you read.

He’s got a bad history in regards to the Caucasus people, among others. But what’s interesting in this regard is, we don’t ever speak of American nationalism. We call it patriotism. It’s weird, isn’t it? We don’t have a state, we have a government….

Every American politician who seeks the presidency in effect tries to make American nationalism the program of his or her candidacy, but they call it patriotism. They’re fully aware of the need to do this, right? So why they think Putin doesn’t have to do it, too, is completely beyond me. There’s no self-awareness.

In Russia, people had lost hope tremendously after 1991 but their hope later attached to Putin—imagine what he faced. For example, can you imagine becoming the leader of such a country and for the sake of consensus having a textbook putting together Tsarist, Soviet and post-Soviet history? Our presidents had a hard time dealing with slave and post-slave, Civil War and post-Civil War history. How do they do it? Each president did it differently, but Putin inherited this conflicting history, and the way he’s tried to patch all three together into a consensual way for Russians to view their history and to teach kids in school is very interesting. Now, of course, it’s being ruptured again with this war and with Crimea and with this new nationalism.

I’d like to change the subject. Often in the books you mention an interest in alternatives: What could’ve happened if this or that hadn’t. We just covered one, the missed opportunity for a historically logical social democratic outcome in Russia. How do you account for this tendency in your thinking?

We have formative experiences—what shaped you, at least so you think when you look back. You don’t know it at the time, you don’t know a formative experience is formative until later. You’d agree with that.

It’s only in hindsight. “Reality takes form only in memory.” Proust.

For me it was growing up in the segregated South. But the reality was valid in retrospect, because I later realized that what I was doing had been so shaped by growing up in the segregated South, the way I reacted to that and the way I learned from it later, actually, in a strange way, led me to Russia.

You suggested this in the book on gulag returnees, “The Victims Return.” I wonder if you could explain the connection. How did growing up in Kentucky [Cohen was raised in Owensboro] lead you to Russian studies, and what does it do for your analysis of the Russian situation? How does a Kentucky childhood keep you alert to alternatives?

Well, you have to remember what segregation was. I didn’t understand this as a little boy, but it was American apartheid. Owensboro, probably had fewer than  20,000 people then, including the farmers. For a kid growing up in a completely segregated county, first of all, the world you’re born into is the normal world. I had no questions about it…. I didn’t perceive the injustice of it.

And then you get older and you begin to see the injustice and you wonder, how did this happen?… At Indiana University I run into this professor who becomes my mentor, Robert C. Tucker, [Tucker, who died in 2010, was a distinguished Russianist and author of a celebrated biography of Stalin]. I’d been to Russia—accidentally, I went on a tour—and he asked, “What in Russia interests you?” And I said, “Well, I’m from Kentucky, and I’ve always wondered if there was an alternative in Kentucky’s history between being deep South and not being deep South.” And Tucker said, “You know, one of the biggest questions in Russian history is lost alternatives. Nobody ever studies them.” And I said, “Aha!”

So the title of your 2009 book, “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives,” is in his honor?

I began to live in Russia in 1976, for two or three months a year until they took my visa away in 1982. This is when I got deeply involved in the dissident movement, smuggling manuscripts out and books back in and all these things. I begin to think, how does Russia change today? And my mind reverted to segregation and the end of segregation and the friends and foes of change…. I wrote an article called “The Friends and Foes of Change” about reformism and conservatism in the Soviet system, because I thought that it was institutions, it was culture, it was history and leaders and that you needed a conjunction of these events before you could get major change in Russia and the Soviet Union…. I published that as an article in 1976 or 1977 and I expanded it for a book I wrote, “Rethinking the Soviet Experience,” which was published in 1985, a month before Gorbachev came to power. And everybody would later say, “He foresaw Gorbachev.”

Actually I didn’t quite. What I foresaw was perestroika. For me it wasn’t about the name of the leader, but the policy such leader would enact. I got one thing wrong. Because it was so hard to make this argument in Cold War America, that the Soviet Union had a capacity for reform awaiting it, if factors came together. I didn’t think to carry the argument beyond liberalization to actual democratization. So I didn’t foresee a Gorbachev who would enact actual democratization, free voting, and dismantle the Communist Party…. But I always thought that thinking about the history of Kentucky, living through segregation, watching the change, seeing the civil rights movement, seeing the resistance to it and why helped me think more clearly about the Soviet Union under Brezhnev and about my dissident friends. And I also knew reformers in the party bureaucracy pretty well, and when we would talk at night, I never mentioned this but my mind would always kind of drift back.

The connection is not at all obvious but you explain it very well and it’s clear once you do. 

Well, sometimes people read a book that opens their eyes. I think the whole secret, particularly as you get older… Trotsky I think wrote that after some age, I think he said 39 or 45, all we do is document our prejudices. And there’s some truth to that, obviously. But one of the ways that you avoid becoming dogmatic about your own published views is to keep looking for things that challenge what you think. You try to filter them through whatever intellectual apparatus you’ve been using for, in my case, 40 years.

I thought it would be interesting to get through those sections of Kennan’s journals [“The Kennan Diaries,” 2014] that would be germane to our exchange. What struck me coming away from them was the enormous sadness and pessimism that hung over him in the later years. I wonder if you share that.

My position has always been, America doesn’t need a friend in the Kremlin. We need a national security partner. Friendships often don’t last. Partnerships based on common interests, compatible self-interests, do.

I have always known such a partnership would be difficult to achieve because there are so many differences, conflicts, and Cold War landmines. There were numerous chances to enhance the relationship—during the Nixon-Brezhnev détente period, Gorbachev and Reagan, Gorbachev and Bush, even with Putin after 9/11, when he helped [George W.] Bush in Afghanistan. But they all became lost opportunities, those after 1991 lost mainly in Washington, not Moscow.

When I speak of lost alternatives I do not mean the counter-factuals employed by novelists and some historians—the invention of “what-ifs.” I mean actual alternatives that existed politically at turning points in history, and why one road was taken and not the other. Much of my work has focused on this large question in Soviet and post-Soviet Russian history and in U.S.-Russian relations.

So you ask if I’m disappointed by the lost opportunities for an American-Russian partnership, especially in light of the terrible confrontation over Ukraine? Having struggled for such a partnership for about 40 years, yes, of course, I’m personally disappointed—and even more so by the Ukraine crisis because I think it may be fateful in the worst sense.

On the other hand, as an historian who has specialized in lost alternatives, well, now I have another to study, to put in historical context and analyze. And it’s my historical analysis—that an alternative in Ukraine was squandered primarily in Washington, not primarily in Moscow—that those who slur me don’t like.

To which I reply, Let them study history, because few of them, if any, seem ever to have done so.

Patrick Smith is the author of “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century.” He was the International Herald Tribune’s bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992. During this time he also wrote “Letter from Tokyo” for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter, @thefloutist.

More Patrick L. Smith.  

Nulandgate as an example of disastrous neocon foreign policy

While moving Ukraine closer to the West might be a worthwhile goal, but handing of this geopolitical task by the USA is a classic case of "elephant in china store". Level of incompetence, Chutzpah demonstrated by Nuland and her neocon friends in State Department is simply staggering. With the level of control of Yanukovich they demonstrated  during EuroMaydan events, including their ability simply buy some key government figures (and control of a part of Ukrainian security apparatus, inherited by Yanukovich from Yushchenko, who was a pro-Western president)  the need to violet overthrow of his government is highly questionable.

As a result, Ukrainians (like Iranian and Libyans before them) became another victim of Washington's dirty geopolitical games. And they are paying for those games with their lives,  with dramatically (to the level of starvation of pensioners; and I am not exaggerating) diminished standard of living and destroyed infrastructure, completely broken economic ties with Russia -- which was the major economic partner and major market for Ukrainian goods.

While rise of Ukrainian nationalism was given, taking into account the mere fact of independence, the forms which it took are definitely sub optional. Now they have a civil war in the South East, with all the associated cruelty and destruction. In other words "Somalization" of Ukraine proceeded after February 22, 2014 at full speed. It's very easy to destroy a civil order in a fragile country, but it will take decades to repair the damage and bring citizens back to their previous level of well-being and security.

Victoria Nuland will probably enter the history as a person who instigated the start of civil war in Ukraine. Generally Ukraine proved to be another colossal failure of the USA foreign policy: they tried to hit Russia, but got closer alliance of Russia and China. And like elephant in China store they hit Ukraine first, breaking country into peaces,  destroying the economy in the process. And what West needed is a new market for manufacturing, not a new hot spot. Not another failed country that now needs to be financed and maintained by Western loans which have little chance to be repaid.  Actually the role of Germany and personally Angela Merkel in all this mess is pretty negative too, although Germans definitely can't match the level of Chitzpah of their transatlantic masters.

Important factor contributing to the failures of the US foreign policy in recent years is the decrease of the intellectual potential of the "foreign policy establishment". To see the trend it's enough to compare Kissinger or Brzezinski, with the current Secretary Kerry and Victoria Nuland. The result is the degradation of quality of the USA foreign policy, which now creates a lot of unnecessary anger and indignation in large part of Europe and Asia. Even when goals of the USA are not that imperialistic per se. 

Unlike McFaul who got Ph.D, Nuland has just BA from Brown University (1983) where she studied Russian literature, political science, and history. She never served in Russian or even any Eastern European embassy. Her major previous position were  U.S. ambassador to NATO and State Department spokeswoman. Both positions required very little diplomacy and destructive influence of being the State Department spokeswoman (which is the propagandist, not a diplomat) were clearly detrimental to her current role.  Especially, her previous position as the US ambassador to NATO which essentially conditions a person to view Russia only via hairlines. And she lacks real, native diplomatic skills which the following dialogs clearly attests:

The start of this trend toward the intellectual degradation probably has began with the collapse of the USSR. At that time, the USA elite suddenly became the actual "master of the world", which does not need to be engaged in maneuvers in international politics, but can simply to impose their will through various levers of political and economic coercion, and, if necessary, by military operations. So the USA became a bully.

The first robin of this degradation was "not so bright" Madeleine (not so bright) Albright -- an interesting example if not a female sociopath, then a pretty much borderline personality. Those personalities do not care about building lasting fundament of international relations based on UN (which was created as an effort for preventing the repeat of WWII), they were hell bent on destroying this framework to provide the USA maximum political and economic advantages in the unipolar world. As such they all work toward WWIII ( Jen, July 13, 2014 at 6:11 pm ):

Since when Madeleine Albright (she who uttered the notorious line “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” to Colin Powell) was US State Secretary, the US State Department has more or less acted as a rogue element within the US government. Not that this particular gallery of rogues has been the only one with a mind of its own. The US Treasury is dominated by Goldman Sachs management, some of whose people have investments and links with arms companies and thus clear conflicts of interest. Plus US economic and foreign policies have been dictated by University of Chicago alumni who worship Friedrich Hayek / Milton Friedman free market economics and Leo Strauss’s faux-Platonian Republic political philosophy in which a ruling elite tells lies to its subjects to keep them all under control.

Nuland can also can be viewed as example of a related trend: the trend for the appointment to senior posts in the State Department people on the criteria of loyalty to a particular clan of the political elite to the detriment of the interests of the state as a whole. This trend started under Reagan and which got in full force under Bush II and continued under Barack Obama administration. Victoria Nuland was a member of Cheney's Cabal of Zealots:

'Cabal' of Zealots - Wilkerson calls Cheney’s inner group a “cabal” of arrogant, intensely zealous, highly focused loyalists. Recalling Cheney’s staff interacting in a variety of interagency meetings and committees, “The staff that the vice president sent out made sure that those [committees] didn’t key anything up that wasn’t what the vice president wanted,” says Wilkerson.

“Their style was simply to sit and listen, and take notes. And if things looked like they were going to go speedily to a decision that they knew that the vice president wasn’t going to like, generally they would, at the end of the meeting, in great bureaucratic style, they’d say: ‘We totally disagree. Meeting’s over.’” The committee agendas were generally scuttled.

And if something did get written up as a “decision memo” bound for the Oval Office, Cheney himself would ensure that it died before ever reaching fruition.”

It does not help that Nuland is married to Washington Post columnist and neoconservative historian Robert Kagan, who helped sell the case for the Iraq War, advised both Mitt Romney and John McCain’s presidential campaigns, and co-founded the Project for a New American Century think tank with Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. His credentials as neocon chickenhawk in the conservative foreign policy establishment are unimpeachable. Obama has spoken fondly of some of Kagan’s work as well.

And it does not help that her previous job was State Department spokesmen, the job which definitely further  radicalized her into right-wing neocon zealot. And would negatively effect the political views of  even more moderate person then Nuland was at the moment of her appointment.  Now she is definitely far tot he right from her husband Robert Kagan, who along with Wolfowitz is a leading US neocon:

Nuland is married to Washington Post columnist and neoconservative historian Robert Kagan, who helped sell the case for the Iraq War, advised both Mitt Romney and John McCain’s presidential campaigns, and co-founded the Project for a New American Century think tank with Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. Obama has spoken fondly of some of Kagan’s work as well, but his credentials in the conservative foreign policy establishment are unimpeachable.

"Republicans are good at wielding power, but they're not so wonderful when it comes to the more idealistic motives of liberal internationalism. The Democrats are better at liberal internationalism, but they're not so good at wielding power. I would say that if there were a Joe Lieberman/John McCain party, I'm in the Joe Lieberman/John McCain party."

- Robert Kagan

Leading antiwar blogger Marcy Wheeler called her a “former Cheney hack.” In both Bush and Obama State Departments when such people commit errors, some of which had all the signs of intentional crimes, they are swiped under the carpet. This has created favorable conditions for creation of the situation when real national interests and the security of the USA were sacrificed to the private interests of individual corporations and oligarchic clans, which enriched themselves using "sacred" neoliberal principle: " profits to private corporations, expenses to the state."

This reduction of the intellectual potential of the American elite contributed to gradual replacement of real experts in the higher echelons of power with incompetents who are sometimes called "effective managers" - people with close, often family connection to powerful clans (such as neoconservatives) and who after obtaining particular position try to advance interests of those clans on international arena. Occupying senior positions, such "effective managers" select the relevant employees. Both Hillary Clinton and Victoria Nuland can be viewed as examples of this trend.

Foreign policy became yet another area in which, in best traditions of neoliberalism, the objective interests of the United States as a state are sacrificed to the interests of private corporations. for example by driving the United States into military conflicts, in result of which the country suffers tremendous losses -- both material and image-related -- and only certain corporations reap huge profits (Iraq). There are similar signs of the same intellectual degradation in other areas, for example development of new types of military hardware based on unproven technologies. Which gives zero results but still generating huge profits for military-industrial complex.

This intellectual degradation strengthen Messianic elements in the USA foreign policy, the confidence that only the USA should solely determine all the elements of the new world order in all countries. And for this trend EuroMaidan in general and Victoria Nuland in particular is a textbook example.

See more in "Fuck the EU": State Department neocons show EU its real place

Instead of conclusions: Neocons are the War Party

Justin Raimondo aptly described neocons as the war party:

Such phrases as "the War Party" (yes, capitalized like that), and casual mention of "the neocons" – language pretty much confined to this site, until relatively recently – are now commonplace. The anti-interventionist lexicon is defining the terms of the debate, and I think Antiwar.com can take much of the credit.

All during the period leading up to the Kosovo war – and long after – we warned of the danger posed by the neoconservatives, and their doctrine of "benevolent global hegemony," as Bill Kristol, their Lenin, put it in 1996. In my first column, dated February 26, 1999, I wrote:

"Well-funded and well-connected, the War Party is such a varied and complex phenomenon that a detailed description of its activities, and its vast system of interlocking directorates and special interests, both foreign and domestic, would fill the pages of a good-sized book. The alternative is to break down the story, and serve up its constituent parts in brief glimpses, portraits of individuals and organizations that lobbied hard for this war and its bloody prosecution."

Except that the war I was referring to was the Kosovo war, those words might easily have been written today. The face of the enemy is unchanged: what's changed is that it is increasingly recognized, and resented. That is what we have been doing, here at www.antiwar.com: revealing, with every link and article, the many faces of the War Party – in all its aspects, and from a wide variety of viewpoints.

Our eclecticism has been the focus of criticism by some: David Frum, the ex-White House speechwriter turned neocon enforcer of political correctness, recently took us to task for running links to pieces by John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, Alexander Cockburn, and other demons of the right-wing imagination. It is typical of Commissar Frum that he would misunderstand the whole purpose of linking in this way: the very concept of the internet, with its constant cross-referencing interconnectivity, is utterly alien to the party-lining neocon mentality.

Another problem for the neocons is that it's much harder to smear someone on the internet than it is on paper, without showing up the smearer as a liar. In criticizing the views of an opponent, one is obliged to come up with a link – so that readers can see for themselves if the criticism is fair. The artful use of ellipses no longer works, because the entire context of a statement is readily available. Of course, one always can do what Commissar Frum did in his National Review screed against antiwar libertarians and conservatives, and not provide any links to the targets of abuse. But that isn't very convincing. Indeed, it is highly suspicious: no wonder many conservatives are now rising up against the self-appointed arbiters of political correctness on the Right. The neocon campaign to smear conservative opponents of the Iraq war as "anti-American" has backfired badly – and we at Antiwar.com take a special pride in knowing that this site had a lot to do with that.

We have, from the beginning, cultivated anti-interventionist sentiment on the Right, not only among libertarians – who already accept it as a defining principle of their ideology – but also among conservatives. The idea that we cannot be a republic and an empire is finally beginning to dawn on the advocates of limited government -–as they see the national security state swallowing up the last of our freedoms. Big Brother reads our email and tracks our every move, while Big Government just keeps on getting bigger.

Conservatives are catching on, and, while Antiwar.com alone can't take credit for this, what we can take credit for is amplifying and popularizing anti-interventionist views on the right, injecting them into the national debate.

Over the years Antiwar.com has presented a wide range of opinion, from left to right and all points in between, yet we have always been pretty up-front about our own ideological predilections. We are libertarians: we stand for the free market, and we don't take the view that American culture and American capitalism are the repositories of all that is wrong with the world. We reserve that role for governments –notably, and especially lately, the U.S. federal government.

We support the antiwar movement, yet we are not uncritical: far from it. We have tried to promote some sense of self-awareness, and of responsibility, while doing our best to correct what we view as the mistakes and misconceptions that are rife in antiwar circles. You may not always agree with our analysis – of tactics, or of general principles – but it is hard to contend that we haven't consistently tried to broaden and deepen the anti-interventionist current, in America and internationally.

Looking back on where we've been, I am filled with pride – and a sense of optimism. Looking ahead, however, to the prospect of future wars, I can feel only a gathering sense of dread.

My friend Pat Buchanan has recently posed the question: "Is the Neoconservative Moment Over?" He makes the case that the worst may already be behind us:

"The salad days of the neoconservatives, which began with the president's Axis-of-Evil address in January 2002 and lasted until the fall of Baghdad may be coming to an end. Indeed, it is likely the neoconservatives will never again enjoy the celebrity and cachet in which they reveled in their romp to war on Iraq.

"…the high tide of neoconservatism may have passed because the high tide of American empire may have passed. 'World War IV,' the empire project, the great cause of the neocons, seems to have been suspended by the President of the United States."

It's a nice thought, but I don't believe it for a moment. Not when the same propaganda campaign once directed at Iraq is now being launched against Iran; not when leading politicians declare that U.S. troops may have to go after Hamas – and certainly not as long as the President of the United States reserves the "right" to carry out a policy of "regime change" as a means of preemptive "defense."

The empire project may or may not be temporarily suspended: perhaps stalled is the right word. We can be sure, however, that the War Party isn't going away. As long as they're around, and more active than ever, Antiwar.com is a necessity. But our continued existence is by no means assured.

Unlike the interventionists, who lavish billions – much of it taxpayer dollars – on their permanent propaganda campaign, Antiwar.com doesn't have access to unlimited funding. Arrayed against us is the whole complex of neocon think tanks, newspaper chains, radio networks and special interests that keep the arteries of the media clogged with a constant stream of warmongering disinformation and outright fabrications. We have no Rupert Murdoch, no "merchants of death," and no government subsidies to fill our coffers. We depend on you, our readers, for the support we need to survive.

... ... ...


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The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "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."[2]

An unnamed aide to George W. Bush (later attributed to Karl Rove:

Reality-based community - Wikipedia

[May 21, 2019] 2020 Elections: It's Militarism and the Military Budget Stupid! by Ajamu Baraka

May 17, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

U.S. ships are involved in provocative "freedom of navigation" exercises in the South China Sea and other ships gather ominously in the Mediterranean Sea while National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo along with convicted war criminal Elliot Abrams conspire to save the people of Venezuela with another illegal "regime change" intervention. But people are drawn to the latest adventures of Love and Hip-Hop, the Mueller report, and Game of Thrones. In fact, while millions can recall with impressive detail the proposals and strategies of the various players in HBO's latest saga, they can't recall two details about the pending military budget that will likely pass in Congress with little debate, even though Trump's budget proposal represents another obscene increase of public money to the tune of $750 billion.

This bipartisan rip-off could not occur without the willing collusion of the corporate media, which slants coverage to support the interests of the ruling elite or decides to just ignore an issue like the ever-expanding military budget.

The effectiveness of this collusion is reflected in the fact that not only has this massive theft of public money not gotten much coverage in the mainstream corporate media, but also it only received sporadic coverage in the alternative media. The liberal-left media is distracted enough by the theatrics of the Trump show to do the ideological dirty work of the elites.

Spending on war will consume almost 70% of the budget and be accompanied by cuts in public spending for education, housing, the environment, public transportation, jobs trainings, food support programs like food stamps and Meals on Wheels, as well as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Most of the neoliberal candidates running in the Democratic Party's electoral process, however, haven't spoken a word in opposition to Trump's budget.

The public knows that the Democratic Party's candidates are opposed to Trump's wall on the southern border, and they expect to hear them raise questions about the $8.6 billion of funding the wall. But while some of the Democrats may oppose the wall, very few have challenged the details of the budget that the U.S. Peace Council indicates . For example:

"$576 billion baseline budget for the Department of Defense; an additional $174 billion for the Pentagon's Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), i.e., the war budget; $93.1 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs; $51.7 billion for Homeland Security; $42.8 billion for State Department; an additional $26.1 billion for State Department's Overseas Contingency Operations (regime change slush fund); $16.5 billion for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (nuclear weapons budget); $21 billion for NASA (militarizing outer space?); plus $267.4 billion for all other government agencies, including funding for FBI and Cybersecurity in the Department of Justice."

The Peace Council also highlights the following two issues: First, the total US military and war budget has jumped from $736.4 billion to $989.0 billion since 2015. That is a $252.6 billion (about 35%) increase in five years. Second, thesimultaneous cuts in the government's non-military spending are reflected in the proposed budget.

Here are some of biggest proposed budget cuts:

+ $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid over 10 years, implementing work requirements as well as eliminating the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The budget instead adds $1.2 trillion for a "Market Based Health Care Grant" -- that is, a block grant to states, instead of paying by need. It's not clear whether that would be part of Medicaid.

+ An $845 billion cut to Medicare over 10 years. That is about a 10 percent cut .

+ $25 billion in cuts to Social Security over 10 years, including cuts to disability insurance.

+ A $220 billion cut to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP) over 10 years , which is commonly referred to as food stamps, and includes mandatory work requirements. The program currently serves around 45 million people.

+ A $21 billion cut to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families , an already severely underfunded cash-assistance program for the nation's poorest.

+ $207 billion in cuts to the student loan program, eliminating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and cutting subsidized student loans.

+ Overall, there is a 9 percent cut to non-defense programs , which would hit Section 8 housing vouchers, public housing programs, Head Start, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program, and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program , among others.

The working classes and oppressed peoples of the U.S. and around the world can no longer afford the unchallenged ideological positions of the Pentagon budget and the associated expenditures for so-called defense that are considered sacrosanct in the U.S. They cannot afford that much of the U.S. public is not concerned with issues of so-called foreign policy that the military budget is seen as part.

The racist appeals of U.S. national chauvinism in the form of "Make America Great" and the Democrats' version of "U.S. Exceptionalism" must be confronted and exposed as the cross-class, white identity politics that they are. The fact that supposedly progressive or even "radical" politics does not address the issue of U.S. expenditures on war and imperialism is reflective of a politics that is morally and political bankrupt. But it also does something else. It places those practitioners firmly in the camp of the enemies of humanity.

The objective fact that large numbers of the public accept that the U.S. can determine the leadership of another sovereign nation while simultaneously being outraged by the idea of a foreign power interfering in U.S. elections demonstrates the mindboggling subjective contradictions that exist in the U.S. For example – that an Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez can assert that she will defer to the leadership of her caucus on the issue of Venezuela or that Barbara Lee can vote to bring Trump's budget proposal out of committee or that Biden can proudly support Trump's immoral backing of a neo-fascist opposition in Venezuela and they will all get away with those positions – reveals the incredible challenge that we face in building an alternative radical movement for peace, social justice and people(s)-centered human rights.

So, we must join with U.S. Peace Council and the other members of the Anti-war, pro-peace, and anti-imperialist communities in the U.S. to "resist and oppose this military attack on our communities, our livelihoods and our lives." This is an urgent and militant first step in reversing the cultural support for violence and the normalization of war that currently exists in the U.S. Now is the moment to demand that Congress reject and reverse the Trump Administration's military budget and the U.S. Government's militaristic foreign policy. But now is also the moment to commit to building a powerful countermovement to take back the power over life and death from the denizens of violence represented by the rapacious 1%. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Ajamu Baraka

Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch magazine.

[May 21, 2019] Bolton and the Road to the War He Wants by Gary Leupp

May 21, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

May 17, 2019 Isn't it obvious? A moronic president with no firm principles other than the preservation of his base's support chose as his third national security advisor the notorious John Bolton. Bolton is using his position to try to guide the supposedly isolationist president into more wars of imperialist aggression. He is the Wormtongue in Trump's court, allied not with Saruman and Mordor but Binyamin Netanyahu, Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the neocon cause for Middle East dominance. He presently tows the administration's line in seeking peace with North Korea, but he has historically urged regime change in the DPRK. He was probably the one who at the last minute sabotaged the announcement of an already worked out agreement in Hanoi.

He has long been a proponent of regime change in Venezuela, and deliberately threatened to post 5000 U.S. troops in Colombia to "assist" Venezuelans (and distribute food to them, and help in the coup). The planned coup fizzled however, much to the disappointment of the corporate media that was expecting high drama last week. Trump reportedly felt he'd been misled to think the clown Guaido would be able to seize power. He may blame Bolton for that.

Bolton has been an advocate of regime change in Syria, too, for over two decades. He has lied before to produce pretexts for U.S. actions (or to justify Israeli ones) against the Syrian state. Most of all he has demanded the bombing of Iran, on the basis of the Big Lie that Iran has ever had anything other than a peaceful, civilian nuclear program (initially supported by General Electric under the Eisenhower "Atoms for Peace" program in the 1950s). Now he is chomping at the bit, thinking his moment has come.

Trump is besieged by investigations, embarrassing revelations about his rather pathetic business history, and fallout from the China trade war. Impeachment is a real possibility, if House hearings show criminality so obvious that Republicans will desert the president. (It is not as though all Republican Senators love him; they are simply too awed by his solid 35-40% to break with him publicly.) The president is no doubt distracted and troubled.

In this context a National Security Council meeting was held in which the acting secretary of "defense" Patrick Shanahan (and Bolton) laid out options for a war with Iran. No fewer than six people present contacted the press afterwards to leak this news, indicating shock that such was even being considered.

Then Bolton, in a highly unusual statement in his own name, and perhaps without even the knowledge of the moron-president, announced that the U.S. was sending an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf to respond to Iranian threats to U.S. troops and interests in the area. Even MSNBC and CNN are questioning the basis for the reported threats, which are obviously more Bolton bullshit.

Trump joked recently, "I'm actually the one who tempers John, isn't that amazing?" implying that it was odd that
Bolton was even more bellicose and outrageous than himself. Hahahaha.

Imagine Bolton saying, "Look we can use those explosions on the UAE oil tankers in the Persian Gulf May 13 to blame Iran. Think about the U.S. Maine. You know? Oh you don't? We used this accident on a U.S. navy ship in Havana Harbor in 1898 to blame it on Spain and go to war. Spain wasn't responsible. But we got Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines and Hawaii out of the deal."

Trump perhaps laughs at this reminder (?) of U.S. history. He enjoys interacting with total warmongers. But he promised his base no more foreign wars. Morality has nothing to do with hesitation to send troops; when it comes to bombing and missile strikes Trump has shown his manhood in Afghanistan (dropping the monstrous MOAB bomb for the first time, just to show off what it could do) and Syria (striking some mothballed aircraft at a Syrian air force base in response to a bogus allegation of Syrian government sarin use). But he hesitates to deploy more troops abroad.

Yet suddenly (due to Bolton) we read of plans to dispatch 120,000 U.S. troops to the region around Iran if there's some attack on U.S. forces. Or maybe, allied (Saudi, UAE) forces. Trump's challenge to Iran, expressed in his childlike vocabulary, is both clear and totally unclear: "If they do anything they will suffer greatly." Anything. Will there be war? "We'll see."

Bolton must have now gained enough insight into Trump's malignant narcissistic personality that he knows what times and moods to exploit to pursue his own initiatives. Again, Trump may not even have been aware of Bolton's announcement. But Secretary of State Pompeo would have known, and acting Secretary of War Shanahan (Boeing Aircraft executive with no military experience) would have known as he announced plans for a potential deployment of 120,000 troops.

The warmongers have swiftly risen in the administration, raising worries about war on Venezuela or Iran if not North Korea. Trump is mercurial, impulsive, impressionable, without compassion or conscience. At this point the equally evil Bolton is the worst Wormtongue to have at his side and in his ear.

*****

Breaking news: Trump tells the press that he is not planning to send 120,000 troops to the Persian Gulf. (This is after the British Foreign Minister strongly advised against the move.) He calls it fake news. But, he adds, if he sends troops it will be a lot more than 120,000!

Unless you read that Bolton is fired in the near future, be rationally anxious. He's a despised, crazed monster, as any time Google-searching will convince you. And he serves a man without empathy, who admires outrageously brutal and foul-mouthed men. The combination is terrifying. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Gary Leupp

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan ; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan ; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900 . He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion , (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

[May 20, 2019] May be tensions with Iran is the USA neocons strategy of containing China by depriving it economy of oil

China is Iran strategic ally. It will continue to buy Iranian oil.
May 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

charles 2 , May 20, 2019 at 6:43 am

Or maybe it is just one front: I.e. making globalisation difficult for the Chinese :
by pushing non Chinese Asians countries to de-integrate their supply chains with China and
by cutting its supply of oil though shortages induced by tensions in the Gulf.
The US knows that it can't be the sole superpower anymore any longer, so the strategy is to reverse globalisation so that no other global superpower (a Russian-Chinese with a dominating Persia in the Middle East) can emerge.
Far too early to say if the strategy will be successful or not.
As far as I am concerned, the silver linings would be that a long period of oil shortage could finally be the trigger to switch industrial infrastructure worldwide away from liquid and gaseous fossils, and that less globalised supply chain would be more robust to shocks, but if these silver linings were the ultimate goals, I could think of less adversarial ways to achieve that globally, with less money wasted on the military

jackson , May 20, 2019 at 8:41 am

The benefits of joint pricing mechanisms are also enormous. Currently, Iran has no choice because of the sanctions but to sell its oil – including from the shared fields – at massively reduced pricing that is comprised of its official selling price (OSP) minus the sanctions discount minus the incremental risk discount. This has resulted in Iran offering 'cost, insurance, and freight' cargoes for 'free on board' pricing, with the difference between the two covered by Iran. "Under this new agreement, Iranian oil from these shared fields will be sold based on Iraq's much higher three month moving average OSP pricing for cargoes, with no discounts at all, and the three month moving average for the effective spot market that Iraq has created and now controls," said the oil source.

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Geo , May 20, 2019 at 3:02 am

Thanks for the in-depth info. Lots to digest and research.

the US has acted in such bad faith so often in the early stages of conflicts that it's sensible to wonder how much of this account is accurate. It is very frustrating to be dealing with an informational hall of mirrors.

It's depressing to say but I when I read anything from domestic official sources or the media I can't help but think it's mostly lies. Not under the illusion that foreign actors are all righteous and benevolent, but as you said, our nation's track record with the truth in these scenarios is pretty tainted at this point. Just as we found out with Saddam and Qaddafi, these leaders have little reason to poke the dragon, and a lot of reason to build up defenses.

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PlutoniumKun , May 20, 2019 at 5:35 am

Interesting observations if true, and they certainly do make sense of a lot of the things that have been happening.

I see it hasn't dissuaded Trump though, this morning he is reported as doubling down on his threats to Iran. A big fear now is that Iran does not seem to be in the mood to give Trump the sort of symbolic 'win' he can use to climb down gracefully (and sack Bolton). The Saudi's can probably be scared into stepping back, but the Israeli's and the neocons want a hot war.

Its easy to see this gradually ratchet up step by step into an uncontrolled region wide conflict.

Ignim Brites , May 20, 2019 at 8:54 am

Not sure what to make of this article but the Anglo-American press is not providing much context for the recent ratcheting up of confrontation with Iran.

NotTimothyGeithner , May 20, 2019 at 10:11 am

The MSM is mostly stenographers and right leaning pundits. If no one tells them, they wouldn't know.

Also, the DC elites were pretty irked by Obama's Iran deal. They deferred to Obama and the Europeans who demanded the deal, but I think they live in a world where DC's enemies are the enemies of the American people who overwhelmingly supported the Iran deal. DC hasn't come to grips with this.

JBird4049 , May 20, 2019 at 12:20 pm

but I think they live in a world where DC's enemies are the enemies of the American people who overwhelmingly supported the Iran deal. DC hasn't come to grips with this.

Yes, because all pain, real blood and death, misery and horror that they cause in fighting what they assume putatively are "the American people's enemies" are never suffered by them, but only everyone else including the American people; all the financial benefits do go to them so it is all gain and no cost.

Ian Perkins , May 20, 2019 at 9:11 am

Will Lavrov and Wang Yi's guarantees prevent an Israeli nuclear attack on Iranian facilities, followed by US pledges to fully support Israel's right to self defence?

jackson , May 20, 2019 at 10:01 am

There are two kinds of weapons in the world offensive and defensive. The latter are cheaper, a fighter plane compared to a bomber. If a country does not (or cannot afford to) have offensive intent, it makes sense to focus on defense. It is what Iran has done. Moreover, its missile centered defense has a modern deadly twist -- the missiles are precision-guided. As an Iranian general remarked when questioned about the carrier task force: some years ago it would've been a threat he opined; now it's a target. Iran also has a large standing army of 350,000 plus a 120,000 strong Revolutionary Guard and Soviet style air defenses. In 2016 Russia started installation of the S-300 system. It has all kinds of variants, the most advanced, the S-300 PMU-3 has a range similar to the S-400 if equipped with 40N6E missiles, which are used also in the S-400. Their range is 400 km, so the Iranian batteries are virtually S-400s. The wily Putin has kept trump satisfied with the S-300 moniker without short-changing his and China's strategic ally. The latter continuing to buy Iranian oil.

Iran has friends in Europe also. Angela Merkel in particular has pointed out that Iran has complied fully with the nuclear provisions of the UN Security Council backed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action i.e. the Iran nuclear deal. She is mustering the major European powers. Already alienated with Trump treating them as adversaries rather than friends, they find Trump's bullying tiresome. President Macron, his poll ratings hitting the lowest, is hardly likely to engage in Trump's venture. In Britain, Theresa May is barely able to hold on to her job. In the latest thrust by senior members of her party, she has been asked to name the day she steps down.

So there we have it. Nobody wants war with Iran. Even Israel, so far without a post-election government does not want to be rained upon by missiles leaky as its Iron Dome was against homemade Palestinian rockets. Topping all of this neither Trump nor Secretary of State Pompeo want war. Trump is as usual trying to bully -- now called maximum pressure -- Iran into submission. It won't. The wild card is National Security Adviser John Bolton. He wants war. A Gulf of Tonkin type false flag incident, or an Iranian misstep, or some accident can still set it off. In Iran itself, moderates like current President Hassan Rouhani are being weakened by Trump's shenanigans. The hard liners might well want to bleed America as happened in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thomas P , May 20, 2019 at 12:13 pm

I don't trust those air defenses too much, where have they ever performed well? The scary part is where Iran assumes that USA can through repeated air strikes wipe out their missiles. They will from the start find themselves in a "use them or lose them" scenario and may launch everything as response to even a limited US strike, since they can't know if it is limited or the beginning of a full scale attack, and I doubt Iran is willing to go down without doing everything it can to hurt their enemies. (Possibly excluding Israel which is crazy enough to go nuclear in response).

[May 20, 2019] On The Cusp Of War Why Iran Won't Fold

May 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. Glenn F sent along this story about recent events in the US-Iran conflict, many of which don't appear to have been reported in the English language press. Interestingly, the article takes the position that it is the Saudis that have been doing their best and largely succeeding in suppressing these reports.

Going into the weekend, it looked as if the US was trying to turn down the Iran threat meter a notch. Both Iran and the Saudis said they didn't want war but were prepared for one. Then a mystery rocket landed in the Green Zone in Baghdad. Oopsie. From the Wall Street Journal:

No major destruction was inflicted by the rocket, which landed near a museum displaying old planes and caused some damage to a building used by security guards, according to an official in the interior ministry.

The interior ministry official, who declined to be identified, said the rocket had landed around a kilometer from the U.S. Embassy inside Baghdad's Green Zone, where many other diplomatic missions and Iraqi government offices are located.

No group claimed responsibility. But security officials said security forces had found and seized a mobile rocket launcher in an area of Baghdad where Shiite militias, including some with close links to Iran, have a presence.

But also note this:

The Trump administration last week ordered a partial evacuation of its diplomatic missions in Baghdad and Erbil citing increased threats posed by Iran and its allies in Iraq. The Iraqi government has varying degrees of control over an array of armed groups, some of which are closely affiliated with Iran.

... ... ...

[May 20, 2019] EP.744 Presidential Candidate Mike Gravel -- Joe Biden's Conventional Wisdom is AMERICAN IMPERIALISM!

May 11, 2019 | www.youtube.com

On this episode of Going Underground, we speak to Democratic Presidential candidate Mike Gravel who discusses why he is joining the race to pull the debate to the left, the nature of his contenders such as Joe Biden, Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders, US regime change attempts in Venezuela and escalating tension with Iran, Julian Assange's imprisonment in the UK and the US' extradition request. Next we speak to Chris Williamson MP, in his first international interview since being suspended by the Labour Party.

He discusses NHS privatisation by stealth with the new GP contracts due to be signed next week, Israeli oppression of Palestinians, Trump's escalation against Iran and Julian Assange's on-going imprisonment in Belmarsh Prison.


Gary Salisbury , 1 week ago (edited)

Pompeo Finally Tells the Truth: 'We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal'" !! He makes me want to Puke !! His duplicity has no bounds !! A swamp dweller of NOTE !!

B. Greene , 1 week ago (edited)

Senator Gravel needs 100k unique contributions to qualify for the DNC debates. Help him shake things up with a $1 donation at: www.mikegravel.com

TrickyVickey , 1 week ago (edited)

Pompeo is a murderous "dictator pusher" for the military industrial complex.

harriet , 6 days ago (edited)

Love Mike gravel, honest, good, genuine person with pure heart and soul! Donate dollar to get him on the debates! Love Chris Williamson also a great men we need more people like these! This channel should have way more subs and views, great show!

Muzza Man , 1 week ago (edited)

The proven oil reserves in Venezuela are recognized as the largest in the world, totaling 297 billion barrels . They are going to be INVADED by the real world terrorists, the USA,BRITAIN, and their puppet allies !!!! Need I say more?

invisble man , 1 week ago

Joe Biden could stand in the middle of fifth avenue and sniff everybody and he would not lose any voters.

[May 20, 2019] Wang also reiterated the principled stand against the "long-arm jurisdiction" imposed by the United States

May 20, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian , May 19, 2019 10:55:01 PM | 6

Below is my final Xinhuanet link about China/US relations

Chinese FM urges US to avoid further damage of ties in phone call with Pompeo

The take away quote
"
Wang also reiterated the principled stand against the "long-arm jurisdiction" imposed by the United States.
"
Empire is having its hand slapped back in Venezuela, Iran, Syria, ???

Where are they going to get their war on?

I see empire as a war junkie and they are starting to twitch in withdrawals which is dangerous but a necessary stage. Trumps latest tweets show that level of energy.

The spinning plates of empire are not wowing the crowds like before.....what is plan Z?

[May 20, 2019] US bullying caprices stain its credibility

Those are pretty strong words from the official agency...
Notable quotes:
"... The U.S. side is perhaps narcissistic about its "art of deal," yet its tainted records in failing to keep its own words have alarmed the world. ..."
"... As a matter of fact, China is not the first victim of America's acts of bad faith and trade bullyism. Over more than a year, the U.S. side has wielded a "big stick" of protectionism, and coerced many of its trade partners, including South Korea, Canada and Mexico, into re-negotiating their long-existing trade agreements. ..."
"... When Washington decided to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union (EU) last year, the European Commission rebutted in a tweet, saying that "The EU believes these unilateral U.S. tariffs are unjustified and at odds with World Trade Organization rules. This is protectionism, pure and simple." ..."
"... Since the Trump administration took power, Washington has backed away from a string of major international agreements and multilateral bodies, including the Paris climate accord, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the UN Human Rights Council, and the Universal Postal Union. ..."
"... In the aftermath of the World War II, the United States helped establish the existing global trade and finance order. As a result, Washington has benefited enormously from such a system that is based on the U.S. dollar's supremacy. However, Washington is in no way justified to abuse its superpower status. ..."
"... Instead, it needs to fulfill its duties as an equal member of the international community. It is worth noting that the U.S.-led global order may collapse once Washington's credibility goes bankrupt. This dangerous prospect is in no one's interests. ..."
May 20, 2019 | www.xinhuanet.com

Source: Xinhua | 2019-05-20 17:11:21 | Editor: Xiang Bo

BEIJING, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Modern international trade relations are based on credibility and the spirit of the contract. However,in the year-long China-U.S. trade negotiations, Washington repeatedly reneged on its promises and played "face changing" tricks, leaving stark stains on its credibility.

During Chinese Vice Premier Liu He's visit to Washington last May, Beijing and Washington agreed not to engage in a trade war. Only days later, the Trump administration said it will impose a 25-percent tariff on 50 billion U.S. dollars' worth of Chinese imports which contain industrially significant technology.

Soon after the recent setbacks in China-U.S. trade consultations, the Trump administration, in the name of "national security," rolled out measures to hit Chinese tech firms. The White House's executive order will kill many business contracts between Chinese and U.S. firms.

The U.S. side is perhaps narcissistic about its "art of deal," yet its tainted records in failing to keep its own words have alarmed the world.

As a matter of fact, China is not the first victim of America's acts of bad faith and trade bullyism. Over more than a year, the U.S. side has wielded a "big stick" of protectionism, and coerced many of its trade partners, including South Korea, Canada and Mexico, into re-negotiating their long-existing trade agreements.

These bullying behaviors have sent a clear signal: one can arbitrarily tamper with the original contracts regardless of cooperation partners' interests and concerns, as long as it has the power to do so. That is "the logic of gangsters" and "the law of jungle." Such bullying tactic has stirred global opposition, including from Washington's allies in Europe.

When Washington decided to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union (EU) last year, the European Commission rebutted in a tweet, saying that "The EU believes these unilateral U.S. tariffs are unjustified and at odds with World Trade Organization rules. This is protectionism, pure and simple."

Also, America's bullying actions have gone far beyond multilateral economic and trade realms.

Since the Trump administration took power, Washington has backed away from a string of major international agreements and multilateral bodies, including the Paris climate accord, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the UN Human Rights Council, and the Universal Postal Union.

These self-serving moves have disgraced Washington's credibility as a responsible major country, and seriously eroded the foundation for international cooperation.

In the aftermath of the World War II, the United States helped establish the existing global trade and finance order. As a result, Washington has benefited enormously from such a system that is based on the U.S. dollar's supremacy. However, Washington is in no way justified to abuse its superpower status.

Instead, it needs to fulfill its duties as an equal member of the international community. It is worth noting that the U.S.-led global order may collapse once Washington's credibility goes bankrupt. This dangerous prospect is in no one's interests.

[May 20, 2019] "Us" Versus "Them"

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... There are differences between the parties, but they are mainly centered around social issues and disputes with little or no consequence to the long-term path of the country. The real ruling oligarchs essentially allow controlled opposition within each party to make it appear you have a legitimate choice at the ballot box. Nothing could be further from the truth. ..."
"... There has been an unwritten agreement between the parties for decades where the Democrats pretend to be against war and the Republicans pretend to be against welfare. Meanwhile, spending on war and welfare relentlessly grows into the trillions, with no effort whatsoever from either party to even slow the rate of growth, let alone cut spending. The proliferation of the military industrial complex like a poisonous weed has been inexorable, as the corporate arms dealers place their facilities of death in the congressional districts of Democrats and Republicans. In addition, these corporate manufacturers of murder dole out "legal" payoffs to corrupt politicians of both parties in the form of political contributions. The Deep State knows bribes and well-paying jobs ensure no spineless congressman will ever vote against a defense spending increase. ..."
"... Of course, the warfare/welfare state couldn't grow to its immense size without financing from the Wall Street cabal and their feckless academic puppets at the Federal Reserve. The Too Big to Trust Wall Street banks, whose willful control fraud nearly wrecked the global economy in 2008, were rewarded by their Deep State patrons by getting bigger and more powerful as people on Main Street and senior citizen savers were thrown under the bus. ..."
"... When these criminal bankers have their reckless bets blow up in their faces they are bailed out by the American taxpayers, but when the Fed rigs the system so they are guaranteed billions in risk free profits, they reward themselves with massive bonuses and lobby for a huge tax cut used to buy back their stock. With bank branches in every congressional district in every state, and bankers spreading protection money to greedy politicians across the land, no legislation damaging to the banking cartel is ever passed. ..."
"... I voted for Trump because he wasn't Hillary. ..."
"... If the Chinese refuse to yield for fear of losing face, and the tariff war accelerates, a global recession is a certainty. ..."
"... These sociopaths are not liberal or conservative. They are not Democrats or Republicans. They are not beholden to a country or community. They care not for their fellow man. They don't care about future generations. They care about their own power, wealth and control over others. They have no conscience. They have no empathy. Right and wrong are meaningless in their unquenchable thirst for more. They will lie, steal and kill to achieve their goal of controlling everything and everyone in this world. This precisely describes virtually every politician in Washington DC, Wall Street banker, mega-corporation CEO, government agency head, MSM talking head, church leader, billionaire activist, and blood sucking advisor to the president. ..."
"... The problem is we have gone too far. The "American Dream" has become a grotesque nightmare because people by the millions sit around and dream about being a Kardashian. Makes me want to puke. ..."
May 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

"I'll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. "I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs." "I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking." "Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding out both puppets!"" – Bill Hicks

Anyone who frequents Twitter, Facebook, political blogs, economic blogs, or fake-news mainstream media channels knows our world is driven by the "Us versus Them" narrative. It's almost as if "they" are forcing us to choose sides and believe the other side is evil. Bill Hicks died in 1994, but his above quote is truer today then it was then. As the American Empire continues its long-term decline, the proles are manipulated through Bernaysian propaganda techniques, honed over the course of decades by the ruling oligarchs, to root for their assigned puppets.

Most people can't discern they are being manipulated and duped by the Deep State controllers. The most terrifying outcome for these Deep State controllers would be for the masses to realize it is us versus them. But they don't believe there is a chance in hell of this happening. Their arrogance is palatable.

Their hubris has reached astronomical levels as they blew up the world economy in 2008 and successfully managed to have the innocent victims bail them out to the tune of $700 billion, pillaged the wealth of the nation through their capture of the Federal Reserve (QE, ZIRP), rigged the financial markets in their favor through collusion, used the hundreds of billions in corporate tax cuts to buy back their stock and further pump the stock market, all while their corporate media mouthpieces mislead and misinform the proles.

There are differences between the parties, but they are mainly centered around social issues and disputes with little or no consequence to the long-term path of the country. The real ruling oligarchs essentially allow controlled opposition within each party to make it appear you have a legitimate choice at the ballot box. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There has been an unwritten agreement between the parties for decades where the Democrats pretend to be against war and the Republicans pretend to be against welfare. Meanwhile, spending on war and welfare relentlessly grows into the trillions, with no effort whatsoever from either party to even slow the rate of growth, let alone cut spending. The proliferation of the military industrial complex like a poisonous weed has been inexorable, as the corporate arms dealers place their facilities of death in the congressional districts of Democrats and Republicans. In addition, these corporate manufacturers of murder dole out "legal" payoffs to corrupt politicians of both parties in the form of political contributions. The Deep State knows bribes and well-paying jobs ensure no spineless congressman will ever vote against a defense spending increase.

Of course, the warfare/welfare state couldn't grow to its immense size without financing from the Wall Street cabal and their feckless academic puppets at the Federal Reserve. The Too Big to Trust Wall Street banks, whose willful control fraud nearly wrecked the global economy in 2008, were rewarded by their Deep State patrons by getting bigger and more powerful as people on Main Street and senior citizen savers were thrown under the bus.

When these criminal bankers have their reckless bets blow up in their faces they are bailed out by the American taxpayers, but when the Fed rigs the system so they are guaranteed billions in risk free profits, they reward themselves with massive bonuses and lobby for a huge tax cut used to buy back their stock. With bank branches in every congressional district in every state, and bankers spreading protection money to greedy politicians across the land, no legislation damaging to the banking cartel is ever passed.

I've never been big on joining a group. I tend to believe Groucho Marx and his cynical line, "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member". The "Us vs. Them" narrative doesn't connect with my view of the world. As a realistic libertarian I know libertarian ideals will never proliferate in a society of government dependency, willful ignorance of the masses, thousands of laws, and a weak-kneed populace afraid of freedom and liberty. The only true libertarian politician, Ron Paul, was only able to connect with about 5% of the voting public. There is no chance a candidate with a libertarian platform will ever win a national election. This country cannot be fixed through the ballot box. Bill Hicks somewhat foreshadowed the last election by referencing another famous cynic.

"I ascribe to Mark Twain's theory that the last person who should be President is the one who wants it the most. The one who should be picked is the one who should be dragged kicking and screaming into the White House." ― Bill Hicks

Hillary Clinton wanted to be president so badly, she colluded with Barack Obama, Jim Comey, John Brennan, James Clapper, Loretta Lynch and numerous other Deep State sycophants to ensure her victory, by attempting to entrap Donald Trump in a concocted Russian collusion plot and subsequent post-election coup to cover for their traitorous plot. I wouldn't say Donald Trump was dragged kicking and screaming into the White House, but when he ascended on the escalator at Trump Tower in June of 2015, I'm not convinced he believed he could win the presidency.

As the greatest self-promoter of our time, I think he believed a presidential run would be good for his brand, more revenue for his properties and more interest in his reality TV ventures. He was despised by the establishment within the Republican and Democrat parties. The vested interests controlling the media and levers of power in society scorned and ridiculed this brash uncouth outsider. In an upset for the ages, Trump tapped into a vein of rage and disgruntlement in flyover country and pockets within swing states, to win the presidency over Crooked Hillary and her Deep State backers.

I voted for Trump because he wasn't Hillary. I hadn't voted for a Republican since 2000, casting protest votes for Libertarian and Constitutional Party candidates along the way. I despise the establishment, so their hatred of Trump made me vote for him. His campaign stances against foreign wars and Federal Reserve reckless bubble blowing appealed to me. I don't worship at the altar of the cult of personality. I judge men by their actions and not their words.

Trump's first two years have been endlessly entertaining as he waged war against fake news CNN, establishment Republicans, the Deep State coup attempt, and Obama loving globalists. The Twitter in Chief has bypassed the fake news media and tweets relentlessly to his followers. He provokes outrage in his enemies and enthralls his worshipers. With millions in each camp it is difficult to find an unbiased assessment of narrative versus real accomplishments.

I'm happy he has been able to stop the relentless leftward progression of our Federal judiciary. Cutting regulations and rolling back environmental mandates has been a positive. Exiting the Paris Climate Agreement and TPP, forcing NATO members to pay their fair share, and renegotiating NAFTA were all needed. Ending the war on coal and approving pipelines will keep energy costs lower. His attempts to vet Muslims entering the country have been the right thing to do. Building a wall on our southern border is the right thing to do, but he should have gotten it done when he controlled both houses.

The use of tariffs to force China to renegotiate one sided trade deals as a negotiating tactic is a high-risk, high reward gamble. If his game of chicken is successful and he gets better terms from the Chicoms, while reversing the tariffs, it would be a huge win. If the Chinese refuse to yield for fear of losing face, and the tariff war accelerates, a global recession is a certainty. Who has the upper hand? Xi is essentially a dictator for life and doesn't have to worry about elections or popularity polls. Dissent is crushed. A global recession and stock market crash would make Trump's re-election in 2020 problematic.

I'm a big supporter of lower taxes. The Trump tax cuts were sold as beneficial to the middle class. That is a false narrative. The vast majority of the tax cut benefits went to mega-corporations and rich people. Middle class home owning families with children received little or no tax relief, as exemptions were eliminated and tax deductions capped. In many cases, taxes rose for working class Americans.

With corporate profits at all time highs, massive tax cuts put billions more into their coffers. They didn't repatriate their overseas profits to a great extent. They didn't go on a massive hiring spree. They didn't invest in new facilities. They did buy back their own stock to help drive the stock market to stratospheric heights. So corporate executives gave themselves billions in bonuses, which were taxed at a much lower rate. This is considered winning in present day America.

The "Us vs. Them" issue rears its ugly head whenever Trump is held accountable for promises unkept, blatant failures, and his own version of fake news. Holding Trump to the same standards as Obama is considered traitorous by those who only root for their home team. Their standard response is that you are a Hillary sycophant or a turncoat to the home team. If you agree with a particular viewpoint or position of a liberal then you are a bad person and accused of being a lefty by Trump fanboys. Facts don't matter to cheerleaders. Competing narratives rule the day. Truthfulness not required.

The refusal to distinguish between positive actions and negative actions when assessing the performance of what passes for our political leadership by the masses is why cynicism has become my standard response to everything I see, hear or he read. The incessant level of lies permeating our society and its acceptance as the norm has led to moral decay and rampant criminality from the White House, to the halls of Congress, to corporate boardrooms, to corporate newsrooms, to government run classrooms, to the Vatican, and to households across the land. It's interesting that one of our founding fathers reflected upon this detestable human trait over two hundred years ago.

"It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime." – Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine's description of how moral mischief can ruin a society was written when less than 3 million people inhabited America. Consider his accurate assessment of humanity when over 300 million occupy these lands. The staggering number of corrupt prostituted sociopaths occupying positions of power within the government, corporations, media, military, churches, and academia has created a morally bankrupt empire of debt.

These sociopaths are not liberal or conservative. They are not Democrats or Republicans. They are not beholden to a country or community. They care not for their fellow man. They don't care about future generations. They care about their own power, wealth and control over others. They have no conscience. They have no empathy. Right and wrong are meaningless in their unquenchable thirst for more. They will lie, steal and kill to achieve their goal of controlling everything and everyone in this world. This precisely describes virtually every politician in Washington DC, Wall Street banker, mega-corporation CEO, government agency head, MSM talking head, church leader, billionaire activist, and blood sucking advisor to the president.

The question pondered every day on blogs, social media, news channels, and in households around the country is whether Trump is one of Us or one of Them. The answer to that question will strongly impact the direction and intensity of the climactic years of this Fourth Turning. What I've noticed is the shunning of those who don't take an all or nothing position regarding Trump. If you disagree with a decision, policy, or hiring decision by the man, you are accused by the pro-Trump team of being one of them (aka liberals, lefties, Hillary lovers).

If you don't agree with everything Trump does or says, you are dead to the Trumpeteers. I don't want to be Us or Them. I just want to be me. I will judge everyone by their actions and their results. I can agree with Trump on many issues, while also agreeing with Tulsi Gabbard, Rand Paul, Glenn Greenwald or Matt Taibbi on other issues. I don't prescribe to the cult of personality school of thought. I didn't believe the false narratives during the Bush or Obama years, and I won't worship at the altar of the Trump narrative now.

In Part II of this article I'll assess Trump's progress thus far and try to determine whether he can defeat the Deep State.


TerryThomas , 32 minutes ago link

"The scientific and industrial revolution of modern times represents the next giant step in the mastery over nature; and here, too, an enormous increase in man's power over nature is followed by an apocalyptic drive to subjugate man and reduce human nature to the status of nature. Even where enslavement is employed in a mighty effort to tame nature, one has the feeling that the effort is but a tactic to legitimize total subjugation. Thus, despite its spectacular achievements in science and technology, the twentieth century will probably be seen in retrospect as a century mainly preoccupied with the mastery and manipulation of men. Nationalism, socialism, communism, fascism, and militarism, cartelization and unionization, propaganda and advertising are all aspects of a general relentless drive to manipulate men and neutralize the unpredictability of human nature. Here, too, the atmosphere is heavy-laden with coercion and magic." --Eric Hoffer

666D Chess , 11 minutes ago link

Divide and conquer, not a very novel idea... but very effective.

Kafir Goyim , 32 minutes ago link

If you don't agree with everything Trump does or says, you are dead to the Trumpeteers

That's not true. When Trump kisses Israeli ***, most "Trumpeteers" are outraged. That does not mean they're going to vote for Joe "I'm a Zionist" Biden, or Honest Hillary because of it, but they're still pissed.

Rich Monk , 33 minutes ago link

These predators (((them))) need to fear the Victims, us! That is what the 2ND Amendment is for. It's coming, slowly for now, but eventually it speeds up.

yellowsub , 42 minutes ago link

Ya'll a dumb fool if you think gov't as your best interests first.

legalize , 46 minutes ago link

Citation needed.

Any piece like this better be littered with footnotes and cited sources before I'm swallowing it.

I'll say it again: this is the internet, people. There's no "shortage of column space" to include links back to primary sources for your assertions. Otherwise, how am I supposed to distinguish you from another "psy op" or "paid opposition hit piece"?

bshirley1968 , 51 minutes ago link

"The question pondered every day on blogs, social media, news channels, and in households around the country is whether Trump is one of Us or one of Them."

If you still ponder this question, then you are pretty frickin' thick. It is obvious at this point, that he betrayed everything he campaigned on. You don't do that and call yourself one of "us".......damn sure aren't one of "me".

If I couldn't keep my word and wouldn't do what it takes to do what is right.....then I would resign. But I would not go on playing politics in a world that needs some real leadership and not another political hack.

The real battle is between Truth and Lie. No matter the name of your "team" or the "side" you support. Truth is truth and lies are lies. We don't stand for political parties, we stand for truth. We don't stand for national pride, we take pride in a nation that is truthful and trustworthy. The minute a "side" or "team" starts lying.....and justifying it.....that is the minute they become them and not one of us.

Any thinking person in this country today knows we are being lied to by the entire complex. Until someone starts telling the truth.....we are on our own. But I be damned before I am going to support any of these lying sons of bitches......and that includes Trump.

Fish Gone Bad , 37 minutes ago link

Dark comedy. All the elections have been **** choices until the last one. Take a look at Arkancide.com and start counting the bodies.

Anyone remember the news telling us how North Korea promised to turn the US into a sea of fire?? Trump absolutely went to bat for every single American to de-escalate that situation.

bshirley1968 , 31 minutes ago link

Don't tell me about Arkancide or the Clintons. I grew up in Arkansas with that sack of **** as my governor for 12 years.

NK was never a real threat to anyone. Trump didn't do ****. NK is back to building and shooting off missiles and will be teaming up with the Russians and Chinese. You are a duped bafoon.

Kafir Goyim , 28 minutes ago link

I don't think anybody thought NK was an existential threat to the US. It has still been nice making progress on bringing them back into the world and making them less of a threat to Japan and S. Korea. Trump did that.

Giant Meteor , 9 minutes ago link

Dennis Rodman did that, or that is to say, Trump an extension thereof ..

Great theater..

Look, i thought it was great that Trump went Kim Unning. I mean after all, i had talked with a few elderly folks that get their news directly from the mainstream of mainstream, vanilla news reportage. Propaganda central casting. I remember them being extremely concerned, outright petrified about that evil menace, kim gonna launch nukes any minute now. If the news would have been announced a major troop mobilization, bombing campaigns, to begin immediately they would have been completely onboard, waving the flag.

Frankly, it is only a matter of time, and folks can speculate on the country of interest, but it is coming soon to a theater near you. So many being in the crosshairs. Iran i suspect .. that's the big prize, that makes these sociopaths cream in their panties.

Probably. In the second term .. and so far, if ones honestly evaluates the "brain trust" / current crop of dimwit opposition, and in light of their past 2 plus years of moronic posturing with their hair on fire, trump will get his second term ..

666D Chess , 15 minutes ago link

Until the last one? You are retarded, the last election was a masterpiece of Rothschilds Productions. The Illuminati was watching you at their private cinema when you were voting for Trump and they were laughing their asses off.

HoodRatKing , 55 minutes ago link

The author does not realize that everyone in America, except Native American Indians, were immigrants drawn towards the false promise of hope that is the American Dream, turned nightmare..

Owning your own home, car, & raising a family in this country is so damn expensive & risky, that you'd have be on drugs or an idiot to even fall for the lies.

I don't see an us vs them, I see the #FakeMoney printers monetized every facet of life, own everything, & it truly is RENT-A-LIFE USSA, complete with bills galore, taxes galore, laws galore, jails & prisons galore, & the worst fkn country anyone would want to live in poverty & homelessness in.

At least in many 3rd world nations there is land to live off of & joblessness does not = a financial death sentence.

bshirley1968 , 39 minutes ago link

Sure. Lets all go back to living in huts.....off the land....no cars.....no electricity.....no running water......no roads....

There is a price to pay for things and it is not always in the form of money. We have given up some of our freedom for the ease and conveniences we want.

The problem is we have gone too far. The "American Dream" has become a grotesque nightmare because people by the millions sit around and dream about being a Kardashian. Makes me want to puke.

There is a balance. Don't take the other extreme or we never find balance.

911bodysnatchers322 , 56 minutes ago link

This article is moronic. One can easily prove that Trump is not like all the others in the poster. Has this author been living under a rock for the last 2.5 yrs? The past 5 presidents represent a group that has been literally trying to assassinate Trump, ruin his family, his reputation, his buisness and his future, for the audacity to be an ousider to the power network and steal (win) the presidency from under their noses. He's kept us OUT of war. He's dissolved the treachery that was keeping us in the middle east through gaslighitng and a proxy fake war that is ISIS, the globalists' / nato / fiveys / uk's fake mercenary army

Giant Meteor , 25 minutes ago link

And yet, I'll never forget all the smiling faces at the gala wedding affair.

Happier times ..

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/30/us/politics/ex-ally-donald-trump-now-heaps-scorn-on-bill-clinton.html

And yes, thanks in advance for noting the link is from New York slime, but i believe the picture in this case anyway, was not photo shopped.

She is, (hillary) after all, good people, a real fighter ..

**** .. mission accomplished ..

ExPat2018 , 1 hour ago link

The greatest threat to the USA is its own dumbed down drugged up citizens who cannot compete with anyone. America is a big military powerhouse but that doens't make successful countries

You must have intelligent people

America doesn't have that anymore.

JuliaS , 1 hour ago link

Notice how modern narrative is getting manipulated. What is being reported and referenced is completely different from how things are. And knowing that we can assume that the entire history is a fabricated lie, written by the ruling class to support its status in the minds of obedient citizens.

911bodysnatchers322 , 54 minutes ago link

This article is garbage propaganda that proves that they think we aren't keeping score or paying attention. The gaslighting won't work when it relies on so much counterthink, willful ignorance, counterfacts and weaponized omissions

istt , 1 hour ago link

The reality is the de-escalation of wars, the stability of our currency and our economy, and the moral re-grounding of our culture does not occur until we do what over 100 countries have done over the centuries, beginning in Carthage in 250AD.

fersur , 1 hour ago link

There's an old saying; "Congress does 2 things well Nothing and Protest" said by Pence Live-Streamed 4 hours ago at USMCA America First speech !

Good, Bad and Ugly

The Good is President Trump works extreme daily hours trying his best !

The Bad is Haters miss every bit of whatever their President Trump does that is good !

The Ugly is Hater Reporters ignoring World events, scared of possibly shining President Trump fairly !

SHsparx , 1 hour ago link

You really are making it a bit too obvious, bro.

911bodysnatchers322 , 52 minutes ago link

The congress are statusquotarians. If they solved the problems they say they would,they'd be out of a job. and that job is sitting there acting like a naddler or toxic post turtle leprechaun with a charisma and skill level of zero. Their staff do all the work, half of them barely read, though they probably can

SHsparx , 1 hour ago link

I still think 1st and 2nd ammedment is predicated on which party rules the house. If a Dem gets into the WH, we're fucked. Kiss those Iast two dying amendments goodbye for good.

Zeusky Babarusky , 1 hour ago link

If we rely on any party to preserve the 1st or 2nd Amendments, we are already fucked. What should preserve the 1st and 2nd Amendments is the absolute fear of anyone in government even mentioning suppressing or removing them. When the very thought of doing anything to lessen the rights advocated in these two amendments, causes a politician to piss in their pants, liberty will be preserved. As it is now citizens fear the government, and as a result tyranny continues to grow and fester as a cancer.

Zoomorph , 1 hour ago link

In other words, those amendments are already lost... we're just waiting for the final dictate to come down.

Zeusky Babarusky , 1 hour ago link

You may very well be right. I still hold out hope, but upon seeing what our society is quickly morphing into, that hope seems to fade more each and every day.

SHsparx , 49 minutes ago link

@ Zeusky Babarusky

I couldn't agree with you more.

Unfortunately, it is what it is, which is why I used the word "dying."

Those two amendments are on their deathbed, and if a Dem gets in the house, that'll be the nail in the coffin.

bshirley1968 , 1 hour ago link

If you think the 1st and 2nd amendments are reliant on who is in office, then you are already done. Why don't you try growing a pair and being an American for once in your life.

I will always have a 1st and 2nd "amendment" for as long as I live. Life is meaningless without them.....as far as I am concerned. Good thing the founders didn't wait for king George to give them what they "felt" was theirs.....by the laws of Nature and Nature's God.

I hope the democrats get the power......and I hope they come for the guns......maybe then pussies like you will finally have to **** or get off the pot......for once in your life. There are worse things than dying.

Nephilim , 1 hour ago link

THEHAZELFLOCKOFCRANES

BRINDLED FOOT,

AUSTRALIAN.

caveofgoldcaveofold

Zoomorph , 1 hour ago link

"Why do we have wars?"

"Because life is war: fighting for survival, resources, and what is best in the world."

"Why do people say war is bad?"

"Because they are useful idiots who have been tricked by religion and/or weak degenerates who are too weary to participate."

delta0ne , 1 hour ago link

This country cannot be fixed through the ballot box. Unless we get rid of *** influencing from abroad and domestically. Getting rid of English King few hundred years ago was a joke! this would be a challenge because dual-citizens masquerading as locals.

blind_understanding , 1 hour ago link

Last revolution (1776) we targeted the WRONG ENEMY.

We targeted King George III instead of the private bankers who owned of the Bank of England and the issued of the British-pound currency.

George III was himself up to his ears in debt to them by 1776, when the bankers installed George Washington to replace George III as their middleman in the American colonies, by way of the phony revolution.

Phony because ownership of the central bank and currency (Federal-Reserve Banks, Federal-Reserve notes) we use, remains in the same banking families' hands to this day. The same parasite remains within our government.

djrichard , 1 hour ago link

https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2013/05/16/the-gervais-principle-vi-children-of-an-absent-god/

It is this strangely incomplete calculus that creates the shifting Loser world of rifts and alliances. By operating with a more complete calculus, Sociopaths are able to manipulate this world through the divide-and-conquer mechanisms. The result is that the Losers end up blaming each other for their losses, seek collective emotional resolution, and fail to adequately address the balance sheet of material rewards and losses.

To succeed, this strategy requires that Losers not look too closely at the non-emotional books. This is why, as we saw last time, divide-and-conquer is the most effective means for dealing with them, since it naturally creates emotional drama that keeps them busy while they are being manipulated.

[May 20, 2019] Venezuela Exposes the Myth of John Bolton's "Genius" by Martin Sieff

May 20, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

The fiasco of the latest obviously unsuccessful US attempt to topple twice democratically-elected President Nicolas Maduro made a laughing stock of the US government throughout the world and is now exposing new splits in the Trump administration in Washington. It is also exposing a dangerous but also ridiculous myth that Washington has credulously swallowed for generations – the idea that National Security Adviser John Bolton is actually competent.

No one among the carefully trained castrated geldings of the US mainstream news media and their pseudo-liberal and libertarian outliers has ever dared to ask how able Bolton actually is. He is held in awe and even fear for his supposed brilliant intellect and for his undoubted energy and relentless determination to push the policies he supports with tunnel vision and fanatical relentlessness as hard as he can.

Yet given such undeniable "qualities" what is truly astonishing is how useless Bolton has been in pursuing his own primary foreign policy goals for more than 40 years. He failed to prevent the first president to take him seriously, Ronald Reagan to conduct sweeping nuclear arms reductions with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and to push ahead with Gorbachev to dismantle the Cold War. These policies were anathema to Bolton who prophesied – falsely – that war and catastrophe would flow from them. But Reagan ignored him and pushed them through anyway.

Now Bolton has destroyed Reagan's legacy of peace by convincing current President Donald Trump to scrap one of Reagan's greatest achievement, the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

He succeeded in helping provoke the US invasion, conquest and occupation of Iraq under President George W. Bush in 2003 but failed to persuade even Bush, Junior and his top foreign policy adviser, National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to pull out of any arms control treaties whatsoever.

Then, the Iraq misadventure was so appallingly bungled that Bolton failed to get any traction whatsoever for his priority project of toppling the government of Iran, even if it took a full scale war to do it.

In Washington, even Bolton's greatest critics among libertarians and paleo-conservatives have spoken for decades with awe of his supposed brilliant intellect, command of all details, endless energy and ability to read and keep track of everything. But now, the latest failed coup in Venezuela instead reveals an ignorant, simplistic rash adventurer and gambler who charges head on into dangerous situations and who relies on bullying and bluster alone to get his way.

Bolton showed none of the ruthless, devious subtlety of a Dwight D. Eisenhower in masterminding a coup and fragrant breach of international law without appearing to have anything to do with it (a skill which Ronald Reagan, though far less masterful than the revered Eisenhower also attempted in Iran-Contra).

Bolton's fingerprints were all over the hard-charging policy of propping up ridiculous Juan Guiado as America's cardboard cutout puppet to run Venezuela, even though he had no credibility whatsoever.

Bolton is in fact is an awesomely bad judge of choosing his own allies in other countries. His combination of recklessness and vanity means he is always a sucker for whatever smooth-talking sociopath can worm his way into his presence.

This explains how the late, unlamented Ahmed Chalabi was able to convince Bolton and his neocon friends that he (Chalabi)) would be welcomed by tens of millions of Iraqis as soon the US armed forces invaded ("liberated" was the politically approved term) his country and how Zalmay Khalizad, a catastrophic clown, was acclaimed as an infallible guru on Afghanistan.

Bolton is widely known to have no small talk, private interests, charm or social skills whatsoever. Far from confirming his "genius", as his many worshipful courtiers claim, this only confirms his haplessness.

If Bolton played poker he would be skinned alive. He cannot read people and being an obsessive courtier and flatterer himself, he always falls flat on his face for the flattery of others. The arch-manipulator is in reality the easiest of figures to manipulate.

Once the strange miasma of worshipful myth is stripped from Bolton, all the confusions and bungles of the April 30 Coup That Never Was in Venezuela become clear.

[May 19, 2019] Lawrence Wilkerson Warns The US Is Driving Down A Highway To War With China

Notable quotes:
"... More broadly, Wilkerson pegs the ramping up of confrontation with China as "all about keeping the [military-industrial] complex alive" that Wilkerson explains "the military was scared to death would disappear as we began to pay the American people back" a peace dividend at the end of the cold war. US government efforts against terrorism, explains Wilkerson, have also been used to ensure the money keeps flowing. ..."
May 19, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Adam Dick via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

Former Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell in the George W. Bush administration, warns in a new The Real News interview with host Sharmini Peries that the United States government is driving down a "highway to war" with China -- a war for which Wilkerson sees no sound justification.

The drive toward war is not undertaken in response to a real threat posed by China to the people of America. Instead, argues Wilkerson, the US government is moving toward war for reasons related to money for both the military and the broader military-industrial complex, as well to advance President Donald Trump's domestic political goals.

Wilkerson, who is a member of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity's Academic Board, elaborates on the US military's money-seeking motivation to advance the new China scare, stating:

All of this right now, first and foremost, is a budget ploy. They want more money.

And that's largely because their personnel costs are just eating their lunch. And, second, it's an attempt to develop - and this has something to do with money too of course - another threat, another cold war, another feeding system .

The military just hooks up like it is hooking up to an intravenous, you know, an IV system and the money just pours out-slush fund money, appropriated money, everything else.

More broadly, Wilkerson pegs the ramping up of confrontation with China as "all about keeping the [military-industrial] complex alive" that Wilkerson explains "the military was scared to death would disappear as we began to pay the American people back" a peace dividend at the end of the cold war. US government efforts against terrorism, explains Wilkerson, have also been used to ensure the money keeps flowing.

Watch Wilkerson's complete interview here:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/42LauiK_rbY

* * *

Please donate to the Ron Paul Institute

[May 19, 2019] Why The Takedown Of Heinz-Christian Strache Will Strengthen The Right

Notable quotes:
"... In July 2017 Strache and his right hand man Johann Gudenus, who is also the big number in the FPOe, get invited for dinner to a rented villa on Ibiza, the Spanish tourist island in the Mediterranean. They are told that the daughter of a Russian billionaire plans large investments in Austria. It was said that she would like to help his party. The alleged daughter of the Russian billionaire, who is actually also Austrian, and her "friend" serve an expensive dinner. Alcohol flows freely. The pair offers a large party donation but asks for returns in form of mark ups on public contracts. ..."
"... Unknown to Strache the villa is professionally bugged with many hidden cameras and microphones. ..."
"... The right-wing parties will use the case to boost their legitimacy. ..."
"... Strache was obviously set up by some intelligence services, probably a German one with a British assist. The original aim was likely to blackmail him. But during the meeting on Ibiza Strache promised and did nothing illegal. Looking for potential support for his party is not a sin. Neither is discussing investments in Austria with a "daughter of a Russian oligarch." Some boosting while drunk is hardly a reason to go to jail. When the incident provided too little material to claim that Strache is corrupt, the video was held back until the right moment to politically assassinate him with the largest potential damage to his party. That moment was thought to be now. ..."
"... The massive economic shock following the banking collapse of 2007–8 is the direct cause of the crisis of confidence which is affecting almost all the institutions of western representative democracy. The banking collapse was not a natural event, like a tsunami. It was a direct result of man-made systems and artifices which permitted wealth to be generated and hoarded primarily through multiple financial transactions rather than by the actual production and sale of concrete goods, and which then disproportionately funnelled wealth to those engaged in the mechanics of the transactions. ..."
"... The political assassination of Christian Strache is unjust. What was done during the 2007-8 banking crisis was utterly corrupt and also unjust. Instead of going to jail the bankers were rewarded with extreme amounts of money for their assault on the well being of the people. The public was then told that it must starve through austerity to make up for the loss of money. ..."
May 19, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

During the last days a right wing politician in Austria was taken down by using an elaborate sting. Until Friday Heinz-Christian Strache was leader of the far right (but not fascist) Freedom Party of Austria (FPOe) and the Vice Chancellor of the country. On Friday morning two German papers, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Der Spiegel published (German) reports (English) about an old video that was made to take Strache down.

The FPOe has good connections with United Russia, the party of the Russian President Putin, and to other right-wing parties in east Europe. It's pro-Russian position has led to verbal attacks on and defamation of the party from NATO supporting and neoliberal circles.

In July 2017 Strache and his right hand man Johann Gudenus, who is also the big number in the FPOe, get invited for dinner to a rented villa on Ibiza, the Spanish tourist island in the Mediterranean. They are told that the daughter of a Russian billionaire plans large investments in Austria. It was said that she would like to help his party. The alleged daughter of the Russian billionaire, who is actually also Austrian, and her "friend" serve an expensive dinner. Alcohol flows freely. The pair offers a large party donation but asks for returns in form of mark ups on public contracts.

Unknown to Strache the villa is professionally bugged with many hidden cameras and microphones.


A scene from the video. Source: Der Falter (vid, German)

During the six hour long party several schemes get proposed by the "Russian" and are discussed. Strache rejects most of them. He insists several times that everything they plan or do must be legal and conform to the law. He says that a large donation could probably be funneled through an endowment that would then support his party. It is a gray area under Austrian party financing laws. They also discuss if the "Russian" could buy the Kronen Zeitung , Austria's powerful tabloid, and use it to prop up his party.

The evening goes on with several bottles of vodka on the table. Starche gets a bit drunk and boosts in front of the "oligarch daughter" about all his connections to rich and powerful people. He does not actually have these.

Strache says that, in exchange for help for his party, the "Russian" could get public contracts for highway building and repair. Currently most of such contracts in Austria go to the large Austrian company, STRABAG, that is owned by a neoliberal billionaire who opposes the FPOe. At that time Strache was not yet in the government and had no way to decide about such contracts.

At one point Strache seems to understand that the whole thing is a setup. But his right hand man calms him down and vouches for the "Russian". The sting ends with Strache and his companion leaving the place. The never again see the "Russian" and her co-plotter. Nothing they talked about will ever come to fruition.

Three month later Strache and his party win more than 20% in the Austrian election and form a coalition government with the conservative party OeVP led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Even while the FPOe controls several ministries, it does not achieve much politically. It lacks a real program and the government's policies are mostly run by the conservatives.

Nearly two years after the evening on Ibiza, ten days before the European parliament election in which Strache's party is predicted to achieve good results, a video of the evening on Ibiza is handed to two German papers which are known to be have strong transatlanticist leanings and have previously been used for other shady 'leaks'. The papers do not hesitate to take part in the plot and publish extensive reports about the video.

After the reports appeared Strache immediately stepped down and the conservatives ended the coalition with his party. Austria will now have new elections.

On Bloomberg Leonid Bershidsky opines on the case:

Strache's discussion with the Russian oligarch's fake niece shows a propensity for dirty dealing that has nothing to do with idealistic nationalism. Nationalist populists often agitate against entrenched, corrupt elites and pledge to drain various swamps. In the videos, however, Strache and Gudenus behave like true swamp creatures, savoring rumors of drug and sex scandals in Austrian politics and discussing how to create an authoritarian media machine like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's.

I do not believe that the people who voted for the FPOe (and similar parties in other countries) will subscribe to that view. The politics of the main stream parties in Austria have for decades been notoriously corrupt. Compared to them Strache and his party are astonishingly clean. In the video he insists several times that everything must stay within the legal realm. Whenever the "Russian" puts forward a likely illegal scheme, Starche emphatically rejects it.

Bershidsky continues:

Strache, as one of the few nationalist populists in government in the European Union's wealthier member states, was an important member of the movement Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been trying to cobble together ahead of the European Parliament election that will take place next week. On Saturday, he was supposed to attend a Salvini-led rally in Milan with other like-minded politicians from across Europe. Instead, he was in Vienna apologizing to his wife and to Kurz and protesting pitifully that he'd been the victim of a "political assassination" -- a poisonous rain on the Italian right-winger's parade.
...
This leaves the European far right in disarray and plays into the hands of centrist and leftist forces ahead of next week's election. Salvini's unifying effort has been thoroughly undermined, ...

This is also a misreading of the case. The right-wing parties will use the case to boost their legitimacy.

Strache was obviously set up by some intelligence services, probably a German one with a British assist. The original aim was likely to blackmail him. But during the meeting on Ibiza Strache promised and did nothing illegal. Looking for potential support for his party is not a sin. Neither is discussing investments in Austria with a "daughter of a Russian oligarch." Some boosting while drunk is hardly a reason to go to jail. When the incident provided too little material to claim that Strache is corrupt, the video was held back until the right moment to politically assassinate him with the largest potential damage to his party. That moment was thought to be now.

But that Strache stepped down after the sudden media assault only makes him more convincing. The right-wing all over Europe will see him as a martyr who was politically assassinated because he worked for their cause. The issue will increase the right-wingers hate against the 'liberal' establishment. It will further motivate them: "They attack us because we are right and winning." The new far-right block Natteo Salvini will setup in the European Parliament will likely receive a record share of votes.

Establishment writers notoriously misinterpret the new right wing parties and their followers. This stand-offish sentence in the Spiegel story about Strache's party demonstrates the problem:

In the last election, the party drew significant support from the working class, in part because of his ability to simplify even the most complicated of issues and play the common man, even in his role as vice chancellor.

The implicit thesis, that the working class is too dumb to understand the "most complicated of issues", is not only incredibly snobbish but utterly false. The working class understands very well what the establishment parties have done to it and continue to do. The increasing vote share of the far-right is a direct consequence of the behavior of the neoliberal center and of the lack of real left alternatives.

Last week, before the Strache video appeared, Craig Murray put his finger on the wound:

The massive economic shock following the banking collapse of 2007–8 is the direct cause of the crisis of confidence which is affecting almost all the institutions of western representative democracy. The banking collapse was not a natural event, like a tsunami. It was a direct result of man-made systems and artifices which permitted wealth to be generated and hoarded primarily through multiple financial transactions rather than by the actual production and sale of concrete goods, and which then disproportionately funnelled wealth to those engaged in the mechanics of the transactions.

...

The rejection of the political class manifests itself in different ways and has been diverted down a number of entirely blind alleys giving unfulfilled promise of a fresh start – Brexit, Trump, Macron. As the vote share of the established political parties – and public engagement with established political institutions – falls everywhere, the chattering classes deride the political symptoms of status quo rejection by the people as "populism". It is not populism to make sophisticated arguments that undermine the received political wisdom and take on the entire weight of established media opinion.

If one wants to take down the far right one has to do so with arguments and good politics for the working class. Most people, especially working class people, have a strong sense for justice. The political assassination of Christian Strache is unjust. What was done during the 2007-8 banking crisis was utterly corrupt and also unjust. Instead of going to jail the bankers were rewarded with extreme amounts of money for their assault on the well being of the people. The public was then told that it must starve through austerity to make up for the loss of money.

While I consider myself to be a strong leftist who opposes the right wherever possible, I believe to understand why people vote for Strache's FBOe and similar parties. When one talks to these people issues of injustice and inequality always come up. The new 'populist' parties at least claim to fight against the injustice done to the common men. Unlike most of the establishment parties they seem to be still mostly clean and not yet corrupted.

In the early 1990s Strache actually flirted with violent fascists but he rejected their way. While he has far-right opinions, he and his like are no danger to our societies. If we can not accept that Strache and his followers have some legitimate causes, we will soon find us confronted with way more extreme people. The neoliberal establishment seems to do its best to achieve that.

Posted by b on May 19, 2019 at 01:10 PM | Permalink

[May 19, 2019] The OPCW, Douma, The Skripals

Notable quotes:
"... The neocon faction in the US is usually (and reasonably) regarded as the motivator behind much of the western aggression in the Middle East. ..."
"... Granted the US has been looking for excuses to intervene ever more overtly in Syria since 2013, and in that sense this Douma "initiative" is a continuation of their longterm policy. It's also true Russia was warning just such a false flag would be attempted in early March. But in the intervening month the situation on the ground has changed so radically that such an attempt no longer made any sense. ..."
"... A false flag in early March, while pockets of the US proxy army were still holding ground in Ghouta would have enabled a possible offensive in their support which would prevent Ghouta falling entirely into government hands and thereby also maintain the pressure on Damascus. A false flag in early April is all but useless because the US proxy army in the region was completely vanquished and nothing would be gained by an offensive in that place at that time. ..."
"... The US media has been similarly, and uncharacteristically divided and apparently unsure. Tucker Carlson railed against the stupidity of attacking Syria. Commentators on MSNBC were also expressing intense scepticism of the US intent and fear about possible escalation. ..."
"... The official story is a hot mess of proven falsehoods, contradictions, implausible conspiracy theories, more falsehoods and inexplicable silences were cricket chirps tell us all we need to know. ..."
"... The UK government has lied and evaded on every key aspect. ..."
"... Indeed if current claims by Russian FM Lavrov turn out to be true, a "novichok" (whatever that precisely means in this case) may not have been the only substance found in those samples, and a compound called "BZ", a non-lethal agent developed in Europe and America, has been discovered and suppressed in the OPCW report (more about that later). ..."
"... The Skripals themselves were announced to be alive and out of danger mere days after claims they were all but certain to die. Yulia, soon thereafter, apparently called her cousin Viktoria only to subsequently announce, indirectly through the helpful agency of the Metropolitan Police, that she didn't want to talk to her cousin – or anyone else – at all. ..."
"... She is now allegedly discharged from hospital and has "specially trained officers helping to take care of" her in an undisclosed location. A form or words so creepily sinister it's hard to imagine how they were ever permitted the light of day. ..."
"... If a false flag chemical attack had taken place in Syria at the time Russia predicted, just a week or two after the Skripal poisoning, a lot of the attention that's been paid to the Skripals over the last month would likely have been diverted. Many of the questions being asked by Russia and in the alt media may never have been asked as the focus of the world turned to a possible superpower stand-off in the Middle East. ..."
"... So, could it be the Skripal event was never intended to last so long in the public eye? Could it be that it was indeed a false flag, or a fake event, as many have alleged, planned as a sketchy prelude to, or warm up act for a bigger chemical attack in Syria, scheduled for a week or so later in mid-March – just around the time Russia was warning of such a possibility? ..."
"... This would explain why the UK may have been pushing for the false flag to happen (as claimed by Russia) even after it could no longer serve much useful purpose on the ground, and why the Douma "attack" seems to have been so sketchily done by a gang on the run. The UK needed the second part to happen in order to distract from the first. ..."
"... If this is true, Theresa May and her cabinet are currently way out on a limb even by cynical UK standards. Not only have they lied about the Skripal event, but in order to cover up that lie they have promoted a false flag in Syria, and "responded" to it by a flagrant breach of international and domestic law. Worst of all, if the Russians aren't bluffing, they have some evidence to prove some of the most egregious parts of this. ..."
"... But even if some or all of our speculation proves false, and even if the Russian claims of UK collusion with terrorists in Syria prove unfounded, May is still guilty of multiple lies and has still waged war without parliamentary approval. ..."
"... The UK were the most vocal about Syria, and desperately tried to drum up support over Skripal, but it all came to nothing much in the end. ..."
"... Theresa May's political career still hangs by a thread, and her "Falklands moment", at best, staved off the inevitable for a few months. A washout in the EU elections, a very real threat from Farage's Brexit party, and rumblings inside her own party, make her position as unstable as ever. ..."
"... In the US, generally speaking, it seems that the Trump admin – or at least whichever interested parties currently have control of the wheels of government – have called time on war in Syria. Instead, they've moved on to projects in Venezuela and North Korea, and even war with Iran. ..."
"... The failure of the Douma false flag to cause the war it was meant to cause, and the vast collection of evidence that suggests it was a false flag, should be spread far and wide. Not just because it's a truth which vindicates the smeared minority in the alternate media. ..."
May 19, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Via Off-Guardian.org,

In view of the latest revelations from the leaked report, which seem to prove that at least some elements of the Douma "chemical attack" were entirely staged, we want to take look back at the chaotic events of Spring 2018.

The following is an extract from an article by Catte originally published April 14th last year, which takes on a greater weight in light of certain evidence – not only that the Douma attack was faked, but that the OPCW is compromised.

You can read the whole article here .

* * *

PRIMARILY UK INITIATIVE?

The neocon faction in the US is usually (and reasonably) regarded as the motivator behind much of the western aggression in the Middle East.

Since at least 2001 and the launch of the "War on Terror" the US has led the way in finding or creating facile excuses to fight oil wars and hegemonic wars and proxy wars in the region. But this time the dynamics look a little different.

This time it really looks as if the UK has been setting the pace of the "response".

The fact (as stated above) that Mattis was apparently telegraphing his own private doubts a)about the verifiability of the attacks, and b)about the dangers of a military response suggests he was a far from enthusiastic partaker in this adventure.

Trump's attitude is harder to gauge. His tweets veered wildly between unhinged threats and apparent efforts at conciliation. But he must have known he would lose (and seemingly has lost) a great part of his natural voter base (who elected him on a no-more-war mandate) by an act of open aggression that threatened confrontation with Russia on the flimsiest of pretexts.

Granted the US has been looking for excuses to intervene ever more overtly in Syria since 2013, and in that sense this Douma "initiative" is a continuation of their longterm policy. It's also true Russia was warning just such a false flag would be attempted in early March. But in the intervening month the situation on the ground has changed so radically that such an attempt no longer made any sense.

A false flag in early March, while pockets of the US proxy army were still holding ground in Ghouta would have enabled a possible offensive in their support which would prevent Ghouta falling entirely into government hands and thereby also maintain the pressure on Damascus. A false flag in early April is all but useless because the US proxy army in the region was completely vanquished and nothing would be gained by an offensive in that place at that time.

You can see why Mattis and others in the administration might be reluctant to take part in the false flag/punitive air strike narrative if they saw nothing currently to be gained to repay the risk. They may have preferred to wait for developments and plan for a more productive way of playing the R2P card in the future.

The US media has been similarly, and uncharacteristically divided and apparently unsure. Tucker Carlson railed against the stupidity of attacking Syria. Commentators on MSNBC were also expressing intense scepticism of the US intent and fear about possible escalation.

The UK govt and media on the other hand has been much more homogeneous in advocating for action. No doubts of the type expressed by Mattis have been heard from the lips of an UK government minister. Even May, a cowardly PM, has been (under how much pressure?) voicing sterling certitude in public that action HAD to be taken.

Couple this with the – as yet unverified – claims by Russia of direct UK involvement in arranging the Douma "attack", and the claims by Syria that the perps are in their custody, and a tentative storyline emerges. It's possible this time there were other considerations in the mix beside the usual need to "be seen to do something" and Trump's perpetual requirement to appease the liberal Russiagaters and lunatic warmongers at home. Maybe this time it was also about helping the UK out of a sticky problem.

THE SKRIPAL CONSIDERATION

Probably the only thing we can all broadly agree on about the Skripal narrative is that it manifestly did not go according to plan. However it was intended to play out, it wasn't this way. Since some time in mid to late March it's been clear the entire thing has become little more than an exercise in damage-limitation, leak-plugging and general containment.

The official story is a hot mess of proven falsehoods, contradictions, implausible conspiracy theories, more falsehoods and inexplicable silences were cricket chirps tell us all we need to know.

The UK government has lied and evaded on every key aspect.

  1. It lied again and again about the information Porton Down had given it
  2. Its lawyers all but lied to Mr Justice Robinson about whether or not the Skripals had relatives in Russia in an unscrupulous attempt to maintain total control of them, or at least of the narrative.
  3. It is not publishing the OPCW report on the chemical analyses, and the summary of that report reads like an exercise in allusion and weasel-wording. Even the name of the "toxic substance" found in the Skripals' blood is omitted, and the only thing tying it to the UK government's public claims of "novichok" is association by inference and proximity.

Indeed if current claims by Russian FM Lavrov turn out to be true, a "novichok" (whatever that precisely means in this case) may not have been the only substance found in those samples, and a compound called "BZ", a non-lethal agent developed in Europe and America, has been discovered and suppressed in the OPCW report (more about that later).

None of the alleged victims of this alleged attack has been seen in public even in passing since the event. There is no film or photographs of DS Bailey leaving the hospital, no film or photographs of his wife or family members doing the same. No interviews with Bailey, no interviews with his wife, family, distant relatives, work colleagues.

The Skripals themselves were announced to be alive and out of danger mere days after claims they were all but certain to die. Yulia, soon thereafter, apparently called her cousin Viktoria only to subsequently announce, indirectly through the helpful agency of the Metropolitan Police, that she didn't want to talk to her cousin – or anyone else – at all.

She is now allegedly discharged from hospital and has "specially trained officers helping to take care of" her in an undisclosed location. A form or words so creepily sinister it's hard to imagine how they were ever permitted the light of day.

Very little of this bizarre, self-defeating, embarrassing, hysterical story makes any sense other than as a random narrative, snaking wildly in response to events the narrative-makers can't completely control.

Why? What went wrong? Why has the UK government got itself into this mess? And how much did the Douma "gas attack" and subsequent drive for a concerted western "response" have to do with trying to fix that?

IS THIS WHAT HAPPENED?

If a false flag chemical attack had taken place in Syria at the time Russia predicted, just a week or two after the Skripal poisoning, a lot of the attention that's been paid to the Skripals over the last month would likely have been diverted. Many of the questions being asked by Russia and in the alt media may never have been asked as the focus of the world turned to a possible superpower stand-off in the Middle East.

So, could it be the Skripal event was never intended to last so long in the public eye? Could it be that it was indeed a false flag, or a fake event, as many have alleged, planned as a sketchy prelude to, or warm up act for a bigger chemical attack in Syria, scheduled for a week or so later in mid-March – just around the time Russia was warning of such a possibility?

Could it be this planned event was unexpectedly canceled by the leading players in the drama (the US) when the Russians called them out and the rapid and unexpected fall of Ghouta meant any such intervention became pointless at least for the moment?

Did this cancelation leave the UK swinging in the wind, with a fantastical story that was never intended to withstand close scrutiny, and no second act for distraction?

So, did they push on with the now virtually useless "chemical attack", botch it (again), leaving a clear evidence trail leading back to them? Did they then further insist on an allied "response" to their botched false flag in order to provide yet more distraction and hopefully destroy some of that evidence?

This would explain why the UK may have been pushing for the false flag to happen (as claimed by Russia) even after it could no longer serve much useful purpose on the ground, and why the Douma "attack" seems to have been so sketchily done by a gang on the run. The UK needed the second part to happen in order to distract from the first.

It would explain why the US has been less than enthused by the idea of reprisals. Because while killing Syrians to further geo-strategic interests is not a problem, killing Syrians (and risking escalation with Russia) in order to rescue an embarrassed UK government is less appealing.

And it would explain why the "reprisals" when they came were so half-hearted.

If this is true, Theresa May and her cabinet are currently way out on a limb even by cynical UK standards. Not only have they lied about the Skripal event, but in order to cover up that lie they have promoted a false flag in Syria, and "responded" to it by a flagrant breach of international and domestic law. Worst of all, if the Russians aren't bluffing, they have some evidence to prove some of the most egregious parts of this.

This is very bad.

But even if some or all of our speculation proves false, and even if the Russian claims of UK collusion with terrorists in Syria prove unfounded, May is still guilty of multiple lies and has still waged war without parliamentary approval.

This is a major issue. She and her government should resign. But it's unlikely that will happen.

So what next? There is a sense this is a watershed for many of the parties involved and for the citizens of the countries drawn into this.

Will the usual suspects try to avoid paying for their crimes and misadventures by more rhetoric, more false flags, more "reprisals"? Or will this signal some other change in direction?

We'll all know soon enough.

* * *

Back to today...

...and while things have moved on, we're still puzzling over all the same issues.

All these questions stand, and are important, but more important than all of that is the lesson: They tried it before, and just because it didn't work doesn't mean they won't try it again.

Last spring, the Western powers showed they will deploy a false flag if they need too, for domestic or international motives. And they have the motives right now.

The UK were the most vocal about Syria, and desperately tried to drum up support over Skripal, but it all came to nothing much in the end.

Theresa May's political career still hangs by a thread, and her "Falklands moment", at best, staved off the inevitable for a few months. A washout in the EU elections, a very real threat from Farage's Brexit party, and rumblings inside her own party, make her position as unstable as ever.

Britain had the most to gain, of all NATO countries, and that is still true. We don't know what they might do.

This time they might even receive greater support from France this time around – since Macron is facing a revolution at home and would kill (possibly literally) for a nice international distraction.

In the US, generally speaking, it seems that the Trump admin – or at least whichever interested parties currently have control of the wheels of government – have called time on war in Syria. Instead, they've moved on to projects in Venezuela and North Korea, and even war with Iran.

That's not to say Syria is safe, far from it. They are always just one carefully place false-flag away from all-out war. Last year, Mattis (or whoever) decided war with Syria was not an option – that it was too risky or complicated. That might not happen next time.

Clearly, the US hasn't totally seen sense in terms of stoking conflict with Russia – as seen by the decision to pull out of the INF Treaty late last year. And further demonstrated by their attempts to overthrow Russia's ally Nicolas Maduro. Another ripe candidate for a false flag.

The failure of the Douma false flag to cause the war it was meant to cause, and the vast collection of evidence that suggests it was a false flag, should be spread far and wide. Not just because it's a truth which vindicates the smeared minority in the alternate media.

But because recognising what they were trying to do last time , is the best defense when they try it again next time .

[May 18, 2019] If Washington were able to control everything, including "Big Prize" Iran, it would be able to dominate all Asian economies, especially China. Trump even said were that to happen, "decisions on the GNP of China will be made in Washington."

May 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU 1 , May 18, 2019 2:15:40 AM | link

Without the oil, Trump has lost. Pepe Escobar is starting to get the picture

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/05/17/the-dead-dont-die-they-march-to-war/

"If President Trump had ever read Mackinder -- and there's no evidence he did -- one might assume that he's aiming at a new anti-Eurasia integration pivot centered on the Persian Gulf. And energy would be at the heart of the pivot.

If Washington were able to control everything, including "Big Prize" Iran, it would be able to dominate all Asian economies, especially China. Trump even said were that to happen, "decisions on the GNP of China will be made in Washington."...

...Arguably the key (invisible) takeaway of the meetings this week between Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Wang Yi, and then between Lavrov and Pompeo, is that Moscow made it quite clear that Iran will be protected by Russia in the event of an American showdown. Pompeo's body language showed how rattled he was.

What rattled Pomp: "Any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies, be it small-scale, medium-scale or any other scale, will be treated as a nuclear attack on our country. The response will be instant and with all the relevant consequences,"

Trump may not have read Mackinder but Kissinger sure would have.

[May 18, 2019] Under the neocon enforced regime of the US militarism winning the competition takes precedence over working together, and diplomacy is reduced to making and enforcing US demands.

May 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Don Bacon , May 18, 2019 10:26:39 AM | link

What we need is a true and functional global community of nations and people, where governments truly work together to balance out the stronger world powers.

The US national security state which enjoys a huge military budget and 800 overseas bases necessarily sees the world in a masculine competitive sense, not in a feminine cooperative sense. So winning the competition takes precedence over working together, and diplomacy is reduced to making and enforcing US demands.

from the recent US National Defense Strategy. . .

We are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order -- creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security. China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea. . . here

[May 18, 2019] Trump's purported deviation from US foreign policy orthodoxy was a propaganda scam engineered by the pro-Israel Lobby from the very beginning

Highly recommended!
May 15, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Abe , May 15, 2019 at 17:04

During the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, Mitt Romney claimed that he would not make any significant policy decisions about Israel without consulting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Romney blatantly pandered to the pro-Israel Lobby, including both Jewish Zionists and evangelical Christian Zionists.

In a telling exchange during a debate in December 2011, Romney criticized Newt Gingrich for making a disparaging remark about Palestinians, declaring: "Before I made a statement of that nature, I'd get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say: 'Would it help if I say this? What would you like me to do?' "

Netanyahu met with Romney in 2011. The two men had worked together in the 1970s.

Martin S. Indyk, a leading figure in the pro-Israel Lobby who served as United States ambassador to Israel in the Clinton administration, said that whether intentional or not, Romney's statement implied that he would "subcontract Middle East policy to Israel."

"That, of course, would be inappropriate," added Indyk, a former director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), who also served eight years as the founding Executive Director of the notorious pro-Israel warhawk "think tank" Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).

For years, Netanyahu has mobilized pro-Israel Lobby groups and Congressional Republicans to pressure successive US administrations into taking a more confrontational approach against Iran.

"To the extent that their personal relationship would give Netanyahu entree to the Romney White House in a way that he doesn't now have to the Obama White House," Indyk said, "the prime minister would certainly consider that to be a significant advantage."

In March 2012, Romney spoke via satellite to a meeting of the AIPAC. Like other politicians backed by the pro-Israel Lobby, Romney vehemently criticized the Obama administration over its policies toward Israel.

Romney worked at at Boston Consulting Group from 1975 to 1977; Mr. Netanyahu was involved from 1976 to 1978. But a month after Netanyahu arrived, he returned to Israel to start an antiterrorism foundation in memory of his brother, an officer killed while leading the hostage rescue force at Entebbe, Uganda. An aide said he sporadically returned to the company over the rest of that two-year period.

Romney later decamped to Bain & Company, a rival of Boston Consulting. They did, however, maintain a significant link: at Bain, Mr. Romney worked closely with Fleur Cates, Netanyahu's second wife. (Cates and Netanyahu divorced in the mid-1980s, but she remained in touch with Romney.)

Netanyahu paid him a visit to Romney when the latter became the governor of Massachusetts. Netanyahu, who had recently stepped down as Israel's finance minister, regaled Romney with stories of how he had challenged unionized workers over control of their pensions and privatized formerly government-run industries. He encouraged Romney to look for ways to do the same.

"Government," Romney recalled Netanyahu saying, "is the guy on your shoulders."

As governor, Mr. Romney said, he frequently repeated the story to the heads of various agencies.

A few years later, Romney had dinner with Mr. Netanyahu at a private home in central Jerusalem. Before he left Israel, Romney set up several meetings with government officials in the United States for his old colleague. "I immediately saw the wisdom of his thinking," Romney claimed. Back in Massachusetts, Mr. Romney sent out letters to legislators requesting that the public pension funds they controlled sell off investments from corporations doing business with Iran.

Netanyahu maintained contact with Romney during the presidential campaign. When Newt Gingrich leaped to the top of the polls, an article in January 2012 explored why billionaire oligarch Sheldon Adelson was devoting millions of dollars to back Gingrich. It described Netanyahu and Adelson as close friends. Netanyahu's office quickly relayed a message to a senior Romney adviser, Dan Senor claiming that the Israeli prime minister had played no role in Adelson's decision to bankroll a Romney rival.

Fast forward to the 2016 US presidential election.

Trump's purported deviation from US foreign policy orthodoxy was a propaganda scam engineered by the pro-Israel Lobby from the very beginning.

Trump received the "Liberty Award" for his contributions to US-Israel relations at a 3 February 2015 gala hosted by The Algemeiner Journal, a New York-based newspaper, covering American and international Jewish and Israel-related news.

"We love Israel. We will fight for Israel 100 percent, 1000 percent."
VIDEO minutes 2:15-8:06
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiwBwBw7R-U

After the event, Trump did not renew his television contract for The Apprentice, which raised speculation about a Trump bid for the presidency. Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015.

Trump's questioning of Israel's commitment to peace, calls for even treatment in Israeli-Palestinian deal-making, and refusal to call for Jerusalem to be Israel's undivided capital, were all stage-managed for the campaign.

Stage management of both the Trump administration and its Republican and Democratic "opposition" continues apace.

The Israeli government, via the machinations of the pro-Israel Lobby, is an ever more aggressively warmongering "guy on your shoulders".

"Russia-gate" really is about an immense conspiracy to "do things".

The primary "thing", the key pretext that Lazare and other CN contributors steadfastly ignore:

The "Russia-gate" fiction was specifically designed to divert attention from the reality of "Israel-gate".

[May 18, 2019] Is Trump a double dealer. Why Trump Administration Withholds Information That Could Debunk Russian Interference Claims

May 16, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

tom , May 16, 2019 at 15:23

Trump Administration Withholds Information That Could Debunk Russian Interference Claims

Lavrov responded first to the question. He said that there is no evidence that shows any Russian interference in the U.S. elections. He continued:

Speaking about the most recent US presidential campaign in particular, we have had in place an information exchange channel about potential unintended risks arising in cyberspace since 2013. From October 2016 (when the US Democratic Administration first raised this issue) until January 2017 (before Donald Trump's inauguration), this channel was used to handle requests and responses. Not so long ago, when the attacks on Russia in connection with the alleged interference in the elections reached their high point, we proposed publishing this exchange of messages between these two entities, which engage in staving off cyberspace incidents. I reminded Mr Pompeo about this today. The administration, now led by President Trump, refused to do so. I'm not sure who was behind this decision, but the idea to publish this data was blocked by the United States. However, we believe that publishing it would remove many currently circulating fabrications. Of course, we will not unilaterally make these exchanges public, but I would still like to make this fact known.

The communication channel about cyber issues did indeed exist. In June 2013 the Presidents of the United States and Russia issued a Joint Statement about "Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs)". The parties agreed to establishing communication channels between each other computer emergency response teams, to use the direct communication link of the Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers for cyber issue exchanges, and to have direct communication links between high-level officials in the White House and Kremlin for such matter. A Fact Sheet published by the Obama White House detailed the implementation of these three channels.

One inference from Lavrov's statement is that the "fundamental understanding on this matter" between the two presidents that has "not been fully implemented" is the release of the communications about cyberspace incidents. The Russians clearly think that a release of the communications with the Obama administration would exculpate them. That would also exculpate Trump from any further collusion allegations. Why then does the Trump administration reject the release? Who is blocking it?

Cont. reading: Trump Administration Withholds Information That Could Debunk Russian Interference Claims

https://www.moonofalabama.org/

[May 18, 2019] Is John Bolton the most dangerous man in the world? by Ben Armbruster

May 18, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

The US is closer to war with Iran than it has been since the Bush years, or perhaps ever. And Bolton is largely to blame

But Bolton is on a fast track, seemingly aware that Trump's time in office may be limited.' Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton wants the United States to go to war with Iran .

We know this because he has been saying it for nearly two decades .

And everything that the Trump administration has done over its Iran policy, particularly since Bolton became Trump's top foreign policy adviser in April of 2018, must be viewed through this lens, including the alarming US military posturing in the Middle East of the past two weeks.

Just after one month on the job, Bolton gave Trump the final push he needed to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, which at the time was (and still is, for now) successfully boxing in Iran's nuclear program and blocking all pathways for Iran to build a bomb. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – as the Iran deal is formally known – was the biggest obstacle to Bolton's drive for a regime change war, because it eliminated a helpful pretext that served so useful to sell the war in Iraq 17 years ago.

Since walking away from the deal, the Trump administration has claimed that with a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, it can achieve a "better deal" that magically turns Iran into a Jeffersonian democracy bowing to every and any American wish. But this has always been a fantastically bad-faith argument meant to obscure the actual goal (regime change) and provide cover for the incremental steps – the crushing sanctions, bellicose rhetoric, and antagonizing military maneuvers – that have now put the United States closer to war with Iran than it has been since at least the latter half of the Bush administration, or perhaps ever.

And Bolton has no qualms about manipulating or outright ignoring intelligence to advance his agenda, which is exactly what's happening right now.

In his White House statement 10 days ago announcing (an already pre-planned) carrier and bomber deployment to the Middle East, Bolton cited "a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" from Iran to justify the bolstered US military presence. But multiple sources who have seen the same intelligence have since said that Bolton and the Trump administration blew it "out of proportion, characterizing the threat as more significant than it actually was". Even a British general operating in the region pushed back this week, saying he has seen no evidence of an increased Iranian threat.

What's even more worrying is that Bolton knows what he's doing. He's "a seasoned bureaucratic infighter who has the skills to press forcefully for his views" – and he has a long history of using those skills to undermine American diplomacy and work toward killing arms control agreements.

As a senior official in the George W Bush administration, he played key role in the collapse of the Agreed Framework, the Clinton-era deal that froze North Korea's plutonium nuclear program (the North Koreans tested their first bomb four years later).

He said he "felt like a kid on Christmas day" after he orchestrated the US withdrawal from the international criminal court in 2002. And now as a senior official in the Trump administration, he pushed for the US to withdrawal from a crucial nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

While it's unclear how much of a role he played in scuttling Trump's negotiations with Kim Jong-un in Hanoi last year, he publicly called for the so-called "Libya model" with the North Koreans (in other words, regime change by force). Just months before joining the administration, he tried to make the legal case for a preventive war against Pyongyang. And if you think he cares about the aftermath of war with North Korea, he doesn't. Bolton was reportedly "unmoved" by a presentation during his time in the Bush administration of the catastrophic consequences of such a war. "I don't do war. I do policy," he said then.

So far, Bolton has been successful in moving the United States toward his desired outcome with Iran – if getting the Pentagon to draw up plans to send 120,000 US troops to the region to confront Iran is any indication. There are hopeful signs that we can avoid war, as US officials and our European allies, seemingly alarmed by what Bolton is up to, are sounding the alarm about the Trump administration skewing intelligence on Iran.

But Bolton is on a fast track, seemingly aware that Trump's time in office may be limited. The question, ultimately, is whether the president can stick to his instincts of avoiding more military conflict, or acquiesce to a man hellbent on boxing him into a corner with no way out other than war with Iran.

Ben Armbruster is the communications director for Win Without War and previously served as National Security Editor at ThinkProgress

[May 18, 2019] What is the representative of Allmighty Nation doing un Russia?

May 18, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Bianca , May 16, 2019 at 06:46

So, what is the representative of Allmighty Nation doing un Russia? Why bothering to hint on better relations? Noted in the press conference was the absence of Pompeo's moralizing, limiting itself on US position on issues. What is the point in this flying back and forth?

Yes, Iran -- and arms control. Venezuela -- and arms control. North Korea -- and arms control. I think they are paranoid about Russian weapons. And if Iranians by any chance have some of the new weaponry, providing perfect testing ground, would Russia own to that? What was obvious, no concessions on any issue from Moscow. Not even softened language.

This time, it is different. The economic and military power has shifted east, Europeans forever without a spine this time are spineless in all directions, and it will come as a shock to the establishment that the presumed animosity towards Iran in Gulf, will nowhere to be found. Wil Saudis host US troops against Iran, Doubt that deeply.

[May 15, 2019] Trump's Hired Hands Want a War in Iran

Trump proved to be controlled by Zionists warmonger; a person far different that he presented to voters during his 2016 campaign. As deceptive as Obama -- the master of "bait and switch" maneuver with his "change we can believe in" propaganda.
He slides to to Bush II replica with a bunch of neocons in his administration. As one commenters noted, "Bolton reminds me a bit of Cheney and his considerable influence over Bush's foreign policy."
Notable quotes:
"... Washington is full of advisers, think tank scholars, and pundits who believe that it's simply impossible for the United States and Iran to coexist and that the only solution to the Iranian problem is to change the regime -- whether by force or by collapsing Tehran's finances and instigating a widespread, domestic revolt. ..."
"... Right now, diplomacy between Washington and Tehran is unlikely over the short-term. The Iranians will likely bide their time and hope U.S. policy will change after the 2020 U.S. presidential election. ..."
"... The American people don't want a war. The Iranian people don't want a war. Trump doesn't want a war. And the Iranian government, increasingly constrained by U.S. secondary sanctions, doesn't want a war it would lose. It's not too late for the president to nip the worst-case scenario in the bud. ..."
"... Sheldon Adelson getting his money's worth... ..."
May 15, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

For Trump's hawkish advisers -- National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- instigating or provoking a conflict with Iran would serve their unified purpose of throwing the ayatollahs out of the corridors of power for good. Yet for Trump himself, rightly skeptical of launching dubious wars of choice and having committed to the American people he would extricate the United States from pointless interventions, picking a fight with Iran would be a direct violation of his campaign promise.

More important, a military conflict with Iran would be a U.S. response wholly disproportionate to the threat Iran poses to U.S. security.

Washington is full of advisers, think tank scholars, and pundits who believe that it's simply impossible for the United States and Iran to coexist and that the only solution to the Iranian problem is to change the regime -- whether by force or by collapsing Tehran's finances and instigating a widespread, domestic revolt. But to suggest that the United States, the world's only superpower with global power projection capabilities, is incapable or powerless to manage Iran is a severely flawed interpretation of the overall situation. Indeed, it underestimates the superior power of the United States and gives Tehran far too much credit than it's entitled to.

Right now, diplomacy between Washington and Tehran is unlikely over the short-term. The Iranians will likely bide their time and hope U.S. policy will change after the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

However, what the Trump administration can do is decrease the tension before the situation gets to a point where avenues for de-escalation are further constrained. Trump must take control of the policy instead of leaving it in the hands of those who have been promoting unending confrontation with Iran for their entire careers. The simplest way to do this is by establishing direct lines of communication between U.S. and Iranian officials to -- at the very least -- pave the road for a dialogue and create a node that can be used by both to address any misunderstandings that occur at a moment's notice.

The American people don't want a war. The Iranian people don't want a war. Trump doesn't want a war. And the Iranian government, increasingly constrained by U.S. secondary sanctions, doesn't want a war it would lose. It's not too late for the president to nip the worst-case scenario in the bud.

Dan DePetris is a Fellow at Defense Priorities as well as a columnist for the Washington Examiner and the American Conservative. You can follow him on Twitter at @DanDePetris .

R. Arandas • 13 minutes ago

Bolton reminds me a bit of Cheney and his considerable influence over Bush's foreign policy.

AndrewK • 9 hours ago

Sheldon Adelson getting his money's worth...

[May 14, 2019] The Propaganda Multiplier How Global News Agencies and Western Media Report on Geopolitics

Highly recommended!
Images omitted.
Important article that shed some light on the methods of disinformation in foreign events used by neoliberal MSM
Notable quotes:
"... However, there is a simple reason why the global agencies, despite their importance, are virtually unknown to the general public. To quote a Swiss media professor: "Radio and television usually do not name their sources, and only specialists can decipher references in magazines." (Blum 1995, P. 9) The motive for this discretion, however, should be clear: news outlets are not particularly keen to let readers know that they haven't researched most of their contributions themselves. ..."
"... Much of our media does not have own foreign correspondents, so they have no choice but to rely completely on global agencies for foreign news. But what about the big daily newspapers and TV stations that have their own international correspondents? In German-speaking countries, for example, these include newspapers such NZZ, FAZ, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Welt, and public broadcasters. ..."
"... Moreover, in war zones, correspondents rarely venture out. On the Syria war, for example, many journalists "reported" from cities such as Istanbul, Beirut, Cairo or even from Cyprus. In addition, many journalists lack the language skills to understand local people and media. ..."
"... How do correspondents under such circumstances know what the "news" is in their region of the world? The main answer is once again: from global agencies. The Dutch Middle East correspondent Joris Luyendijk has impressively described how correspondents work and how they depend on the world agencies in his book "People Like Us: Misrepresenting the Middle East" : ..."
"... The central role of news agencies also explains why, in geopolitical conflicts, most media use the same original sources. In the Syrian war, for example, the "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" – a dubious one-man organization based in London – featured prominently. The media rarely inquired directly at this "Observatory", as its operator was in fact difficult to reach, even for journalists. ..."
"... Ulrich Tilgner, a veteran Middle East correspondent for German and Swiss television, warned in 2003, shortly after the Iraq war, of acts of deception by the military and the role played by the media: ..."
"... What is known to the US military, would not be foreign to US intelligence services. In a remarkable report by British Channel 4, former CIA officials and a Reuters correspondent spoke candidly about the systematic dissemination of propaganda and misinformation in reporting on geopolitical conflicts: ..."
"... "In all press systems, the news media are instruments of those who exercise political and economic power. Newspapers, periodicals, radio and television stations do not act independently, although they have the possibility of independent exercise of power." (Altschull 1984/1995, p. 298) ..."
Jun 01, 2016 | www.globalresearch.ca

By Swiss Propaganda Research Global Research, May 14, 2019 Swiss Propaganda Research Region: Europe , USA Theme: Media Disinformation

This study was originally published in 2016.

Introduction: "Something strange"

"How does the newspaper know what it knows?" The answer to this question is likely to surprise some newspaper readers: "The main source of information is stories from news agencies. The almost anonymously operating news agencies are in a way the key to world events. So what are the names of these agencies, how do they work and who finances them? To judge how well one is informed about events in East and West, one should know the answers to these questions." (Höhne 1977, p. 11)

A Swiss media researcher points out:

"The news agencies are the most important suppliers of material to mass media. No daily media outlet can manage without them. () So the news agencies influence our image of the world; above all, we get to know what they have selected." (Blum 1995, p. 9)

In view of their essential importance, it is all the more astonishing that these agencies are hardly known to the public:

"A large part of society is unaware that news agencies exist at all In fact, they play an enormously important role in the media market. But despite this great importance, little attention has been paid to them in the past." (Schulten-Jaspers 2013, p. 13)

Even the head of a news agency noted:

"There is something strange about news agencies. They are little known to the public. Unlike a newspaper, their activity is not so much in the spotlight, yet they can always be found at the source of the story." (Segbers 2007, p. 9)

"The Invisible Nerve Center of the Media System"

So what are the names of these agencies that are "always at the source of the story"? There are now only three global agencies left:

  1. The American Associated Press ( AP ) with over 4000 employees worldwide. The AP belongs to US media companies and has its main editorial office in New York. AP news is used by around 12,000 international media outlets, reaching more than half of the world's population every day.
  2. The quasi-governmental French Agence France-Presse ( AFP ) based in Paris and with around 4000 employees. The AFP sends over 3000 stories and photos every day to media all over the world.
  3. The British agency Reuters in London, which is privately owned and employs just over 3000 people. Reuters was acquired in 2008 by Canadian media entrepreneur Thomson – one of the 25 richest people in the world – and merged into Thomson Reuters , headquartered in New York.

In addition, many countries run their own news agencies. However, when it comes to international news, these usually rely on the three global agencies and simply copy and translate their reports.

The three global news agencies Reuters, AFP and AP, and the three national agencies of the German-speaking countries of Austria (APA), Germany (DPA) and Switzerland (SDA).

Wolfgang Vyslozil, former managing director of the Austrian APA, described the key role of news agencies with these words:

"News agencies are rarely in the public eye. Yet they are one of the most influential and at the same time one of the least known media types. They are key institutions of substantial importance to any media system. They are the invisible nerve center that connects all parts of this system." (Segbers 2007, p.10)

Small abbreviation, great effect

However, there is a simple reason why the global agencies, despite their importance, are virtually unknown to the general public. To quote a Swiss media professor: "Radio and television usually do not name their sources, and only specialists can decipher references in magazines." (Blum 1995, P. 9) The motive for this discretion, however, should be clear: news outlets are not particularly keen to let readers know that they haven't researched most of their contributions themselves.

The following figure shows some examples of source tagging in popular German-language newspapers. Next to the agency abbreviations we find the initials of editors who have edited the respective agency report.

News agencies as sources in newspaper articles

Occasionally, newspapers use agency material but do not label it at all. A study in 2011 from the Swiss Research Institute for the Public Sphere and Society at the University of Zurich came to the following conclusions (FOEG 2011):

"Agency contributions are exploited integrally without labeling them, or they are partially rewritten to make them appear as an editorial contribution. In addition, there is a practice of 'spicing up' agency reports with little effort; for example, visualization techniques are used: unpublished agency reports are enriched with images and graphics and presented as comprehensive reports."

The agencies play a prominent role not only in the press, but also in private and public broadcasting. This is confirmed by Volker Braeutigam, who worked for the German state broadcaster ARD for ten years and views the dominance of these agencies critically:

"One fundamental problem is that the newsroom at ARD sources its information mainly from three sources: the news agencies DPA/AP, Reuters and AFP: one German/American, one British and one French. () The editor working on a news topic only needs to select a few text passages on the screen that he considers essential, rearrange them and glue them together with a few flourishes."

Swiss Radio and Television (SRF), too, largely bases itself on reports from these agencies. Asked by viewers why a peace march in Ukraine was not reported, the editors said : "To date, we have not received a single report of this march from the independent agencies Reuters, AP and AFP."

In fact, not only the text, but also the images, sound and video recordings that we encounter in our media every day, are mostly from the very same agencies. What the uninitiated audience might think of as contributions from their local newspaper or TV station, are actually copied reports from New York, London and Paris.

Some media have even gone a step further and have, for lack of resources, outsourced their entire foreign editorial office to an agency. Moreover, it is well known that many news portals on the internet mostly publish agency reports (see e.g., Paterson 2007, Johnston 2011, MacGregor 2013).

In the end, this dependency on the global agencies creates a striking similarity in international reporting: from Vienna to Washington, our media often report the same topics, using many of the same phrases – a phenomenon that would otherwise rather be associated with "controlled media" in authoritarian states.

The following graphic shows some examples from German and international publications. As you can see, despite the claimed objectivity, a slight (geo-)political bias sometimes creeps in.

"Putin threatens", "Iran provokes", "NATO concerned", "Assad stronghold": Similarities in content and wording due to reports by global news agencies.

The role of correspondents

Much of our media does not have own foreign correspondents, so they have no choice but to rely completely on global agencies for foreign news. But what about the big daily newspapers and TV stations that have their own international correspondents? In German-speaking countries, for example, these include newspapers such NZZ, FAZ, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Welt, and public broadcasters.

First of all, the size ratios should be kept in mind: while the global agencies have several thousand employees worldwide, even the Swiss newspaper NZZ, known for its international reporting, maintains only 35 foreign correspondents (including their business correspondents). In huge countries such as China or India, only one correspondent is stationed; all of South America is covered by only two journalists, while in even larger Africa no-one is on the ground permanently.

Moreover, in war zones, correspondents rarely venture out. On the Syria war, for example, many journalists "reported" from cities such as Istanbul, Beirut, Cairo or even from Cyprus. In addition, many journalists lack the language skills to understand local people and media.

How do correspondents under such circumstances know what the "news" is in their region of the world? The main answer is once again: from global agencies. The Dutch Middle East correspondent Joris Luyendijk has impressively described how correspondents work and how they depend on the world agencies in his book "People Like Us: Misrepresenting the Middle East" :

"I'd imagined correspondents to be historians-of-the-moment. When something important happened, they'd go after it, find out what was going on, and report on it. But I didn't go off to find out what was going on; that had been done long before. I went along to present an on-the-spot report. ()

The editors in the Netherlands called when something happened, they faxed or emailed the press releases, and I'd retell them in my own words on the radio, or rework them into an article for the newspaper. This was the reason my editors found it more important that I could be reached in the place itself than that I knew what was going on. The news agencies provided enough information for you to be able to write or talk you way through any crisis or summit meeting.

That's why you often come across the same images and stories if you leaf through a few different newspapers or click the news channels.

Our men and women in London, Paris, Berlin and Washington bureaus – all thought that wrong topics were dominating the news and that we were following the standards of the news agencies too slavishly. ()

The common idea about correspondents is that they 'have the story', () but the reality is that the news is a conveyor belt in a bread factory. The correspondents stand at the end of the conveyor belt, pretending we've baked that white loaf ourselves, while in fact all we've done is put it in its wrapping. ()

Afterwards, a friend asked me how I'd managed to answer all the questions during those cross-talks, every hour and without hesitation. When I told him that, like on the TV-news, you knew all the questions in advance, his e-mailed response came packed with expletives. My friend had relalized that, for decades, what he'd been watching and listening to on the news was pure theatre." (Luyendjik 2009, p. 20-22, 76, 189)

In other words, the typical correspondent is in general not able to do independent research, but rather deals with and reinforces those topics that are already prescribed by the news agencies – the notorious "mainstream effect".

In addition, for cost-saving reasons many media outlets nowadays have to share their few foreign correspondents, and within individual media groups, foreign reports are often used by several publications – none of which contributes to diversity in reporting.

"What the agency does not report, does not take place"

The central role of news agencies also explains why, in geopolitical conflicts, most media use the same original sources. In the Syrian war, for example, the "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" – a dubious one-man organization based in London – featured prominently. The media rarely inquired directly at this "Observatory", as its operator was in fact difficult to reach, even for journalists.

Rather, the "Observatory" delivered its stories to global agencies, which then forwarded them to thousands of media outlets, which in turn "informed" hundreds of millions of readers and viewers worldwide. The reason why the agencies, of all places, referred to this strange "Observatory" in their reporting – and who really financed it – is a question that was rarely asked.

The former chief editor of the German news agency DPA, Manfred Steffens, therefore states in his book "The Business of News":

"A news story does not become more correct simply because one is able to provide a source for it. It is indeed rather questionable to trust a news story more just because a source is cited. () Behind the protective shield such a 'source' means for a news story, some people are quite inclined to spread rather adventurous things, even if they themselves have legitimate doubts about their correctness; the responsibility, at least morally, can always be attributed to the cited source." (Steffens 1969, p. 106)

Dependence on global agencies is also a major reason why media coverage of geopolitical conflicts is often superficial and erratic, while historic relationships and background are fragmented or altogether absent. As put by Steffens:

"News agencies receive their impulses almost exclusively from current events and are therefore by their very nature ahistoric. They are reluctant to add any more context than is strictly required." (Steffens 1969, p. 32)

Finally, the dominance of global agencies explains why certain geopolitical issues and events – which often do not fit very well into the US/NATO narrative or are too "unimportant" – are not mentioned in our media at all: if the agencies do not report on something, then most Western media will not be aware of it. As pointed out on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the German DPA: "What the agency does not report, does not take place." (Wilke 2000, p. 1)

America's "Righteous" Russia-gate Censorship. "Russia Bashing All the Time"

"Adding questionable stories"

While some topics do not appear at all in our media, other topics are very prominent – even though they shouldn't actually be: "Often the mass media do not report on reality, but on a constructed or staged reality. () Several studies have shown that the mass media are predominantly determined by PR activities and that passive, receptive attitudes outweigh active-researching ones." (Blum 1995, p. 16)

In fact, due to the rather low journalistic performance of our media and their high dependence on a few news agencies, it is easy for interested parties to spread propaganda and disinformation in a supposedly respectable format to a worldwide audience. DPA editor Steffens warned of this danger:

"The critical sense gets more lulled the more respected the news agency or newspaper is. Someone who wants to introduce a questionable story into the world press only needs to try to put his story in a reasonably reputable agency, to be sure that it then appears a little later in the others. Sometimes it happens that a hoax passes from agency to agency and becomes ever more credible." (Steffens 1969, p. 234)

Among the most active actors in "injecting" questionable geopolitical news are the military and defense ministries. For example, in 2009, the head of the American news agency AP, Tom Curley, made public that the Pentagon employs more than 27,000 PR specialists who, with a budget of nearly $ 5 billion a year, are working the media and circulating targeted manipulations. In addition, high-ranking US generals had threatened that they would "ruin" the AP and him if the journalists reported too critically on the US military.

Despite – or because of? – such threats our media regularly publish dubious stories sourced to some unnamed "informants" from "US defense circles".

Ulrich Tilgner, a veteran Middle East correspondent for German and Swiss television, warned in 2003, shortly after the Iraq war, of acts of deception by the military and the role played by the media:

"With the help of the media, the military determine the public perception and use it for their plans. They manage to stir expectations and spread scenarios and deceptions. In this new kind of war, the PR strategists of the US administration fulfill a similar function as the bomber pilots. The special departments for public relations in the Pentagon and in the secret services have become combatants in the information war. () The US military specifically uses the lack of transparency in media coverage for their deception maneuvers. The way they spread information, which is then picked up and distributed by newspapers and broadcasters, makes it impossible for readers, listeners or viewers to trace the original source. Thus, the audience will fail to recognize the actual intention of the military." (Tilgner 2003, p. 132)

What is known to the US military, would not be foreign to US intelligence services. In a remarkable report by British Channel 4, former CIA officials and a Reuters correspondent spoke candidly about the systematic dissemination of propaganda and misinformation in reporting on geopolitical conflicts:

Former CIA officer and whistleblower John Stockwell said of his work in the Angolan war,

"The basic theme was to make it look like an [enemy] aggression in Angola. So any kind of story that you could write and get into the media anywhere in the world, that pushed that line, we did. One third of my staff in this task force were covert action, were propagandists, whose professional career job was to make up stories and finding ways of getting them into the press. () The editors in most Western newspapers are not too skeptical of messages that conform to general views and prejudices. () So we came up with another story, and it was kept going for weeks. () [But] it was all fiction."

Fred Bridgland looked back on his work as a war correspondent for the Reuters agency: "We based our reports on official communications. It was not until years later that I learned a little CIA disinformation expert had sat in the US embassy, in Lusaka and composed that communiqué, and it bore no relation at all to truth. () Basically, and to put it very crudely, you can publish any old crap and it will get newspaper room."

And former CIA analyst David MacMichael described his work in the Contra War in Nicaragua with these words:

"They said our intelligence of Nicaragua was so good that we could even register when someone flushed a toilet. But I had the feeling that the stories we were giving to the press came straight out of the toilet." (Hird 1985)

Of course, the intelligence services also have a large number of direct contacts in our media, which can be "leaked" information to if necessary. But without the central role of the global news agencies, the worldwide synchronization of propaganda and disinformation would never be so efficient.

Through this "propaganda multiplier", dubious stories from PR experts working for governments, military and intelligence services reach the general public more or less unchecked and unfiltered. The journalists refer to the news agencies and the news agencies refer to their sources. Although they often attempt to point out uncertainties with terms such as "apparent", "alleged" and the like – by then the rumor has long been spread to the world and its effect taken place.

The Propaganda Multiplier: Governments, military and intelligence services using global news agencies to disseminate their messages to a worldwide audience.

As the New York Times reported

In addition to global news agencies, there is another source that is often used by media outlets around the world to report on geopolitical conflicts, namely the major publications in Great Britain and the US.

For example, news outlets like the New York Times or BBC have up to 100 foreign correspondents and other external employees. However, Middle East correspondent Luyendijk points out:

"Dutch news teams, me included, fed on the selection of news made by quality media like CNN, the BBC, and the New York Times . We did that on the assumption that their correspondents understood the Arab world and commanded a view of it – but many of them turned out not to speak Arabic, or at least not enough to be able to have a conversation in it or to follow the local media. Many of the top dogs at CNN, the BBC, the Independent, the Guardian, the New Yorker, and the NYT were more often than not dependent on assistants and translators." (Luyendijk p. 47)

In addition, the sources of these media outlets are often not easy to verify ("military circles", "anonymous government officials", "intelligence officials" and the like) and can therefore also be used for the dissemination of propaganda. In any case, the widespread orientation towards the Anglo-Saxon publications leads to a further convergence in the geopolitical coverage in our media.

The following figure shows some examples of such citation based on the Syria coverage of the largest daily newspaper in Switzerland, Tages-Anzeiger. The articles are all from the first days of October 2015, when Russia for the first time intervened directly in the Syrian war (US/UK sources are highlighted):

Frequent citation of British and US media, exemplified by the Syria war coverage of Swiss daily newspaper Tages-Anzeiger in October 2015.

The desired narrative

But why do journalists in our media not simply try to research and report independently of the global agencies and the Anglo-Saxon media? Middle East correspondent Luyendijk describes his experiences:

"You might suggest that I should have looked for sources I could trust. I did try, but whenever I wanted to write a story without using news agencies, the main Anglo-Saxon media, or talking heads, it fell apart. () Obviously I, as a correspondent, could tell very different stories about one and the same situation. But the media could only present one of them, and often enough, that was exactly the story that confirmed the prevailing image." (Luyendijk p.54ff)

Media researcher Noam Chomsky has described this effect in his essay "What makes the mainstream media mainstream" as follows: "If you leave the official line, if you produce dissenting reports, then you will soon feel this. () There are many ways to get you back in line quickly. If you don't follow the guidelines, you will not keep your job long. This system works pretty well, and it reflects established power structures." (Chomsky 1997)

Nevertheless, some of the leading journalists continue to believe that nobody can tell them what to write. How does this add up? Media researcher Chomsky clarifies the apparent contradiction:

"[T]he point is that they wouldn't be there unless they had already demonstrated that nobody has to tell them what to write because they are going say the right thing. If they had started off at the Metro desk, or something, and had pursued the wrong kind of stories, they never would have made it to the positions where they can now say anything they like. () They have been through the socialization system." (Chomsky 1997)

Ultimately, this "socialization process" leads to a journalism that generally no longer independently researches and critically reports on geopolitical conflicts (and some other topics), but seeks to consolidate the desired narrative through appropriate editorials, commentary, and interviewees.

Conclusion: The "First Law of Journalism"

Former AP journalist Herbert Altschull called it the First Law of Journalism:

"In all press systems, the news media are instruments of those who exercise political and economic power. Newspapers, periodicals, radio and television stations do not act independently, although they have the possibility of independent exercise of power." (Altschull 1984/1995, p. 298)

In that sense, it is logical that our traditional media – which are predominantly financed by advertising or the state – represent the geopolitical interests of the transatlantic alliance, given that both the advertising corporations as well as the states themselves are dependent on the US dominated transatlantic economic and security architecture.

In addition, our leading media and their key people are – in the spirit of Chomsky's "socialization" – often themselves part of the networks of the transatlantic elite. Some of the most important institutions in this regard include the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Bilderberg Group, and the Trilateral Commission (see in-depth study of these networks ).

Indeed, most well-known publications basically may be seen as "establishment media". This is because, in the past, the freedom of the press was rather theoretical, given significant entry barriers such as broadcasting licenses, frequency slots, requirements for financing and technical infrastructure, limited sales channels, dependence on advertising, and other restrictions.

It was only due to the Internet that Altschull's First Law has been broken to some extent. Thus, in recent years a high-quality, reader-funded journalism has emerged, often outperforming traditional media in terms of critical reporting. Some of these "alternative" publications already reach a very large audience, showing that the „mass" does not have to be a problem for the quality of a media outlet.

Nevertheless, up to now the traditional media has been able to attract a solid majority of online visitors, too. This, in turn, is closely linked to the hidden role of news agencies, whose up-to-the-minute reports form the backbone of most news portals.

Will "political and economic power", according to Altschull's Law, retain control over the news, or will "uncontrolled" news change the political and economic power structure? The coming years will show.

Case study: Syria war coverage

As part of a case study, the Syria war coverage of nine leading daily newspapers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland were examined for plurality of viewpoints and reliance on news agencies. The following newspapers were selected:

The investigation period was defined as October 1 to 15, 2015, i.e. the first two weeks after Russia's direct intervention in the Syrian conflict. The entire print and online coverage of these newspapers was taken into account. Any Sunday editions were not taken into account, as not all of the newspapers examined have such. In total, 381 newspaper articles met the stated criteria.

In a first step, the articles were classified according to their properties into the following groups:

  1. Agencies : Reports from news agencies (with agency code)
  2. Mixed : Simple reports (with author names) that are based in whole or in part on agency reports
  3. Reports : Editorial background reports and analyzes
  4. Opinions/Comments : Opinions and guest comments
  5. Interviews : interviews with experts, politicians etc.
  6. Investigative : Investigative research that reveals new information or context

The following Figure 1 shows the composition of the articles for the nine newspapers analyzed in total. As can be seen, 55% of articles were news agency reports; 23% editorial reports based on agency material; 9% background reports; 10% opinions and guest comments; 2% interviews; and 0% based on investigative research.

Figure 1: Types of articles (total; n=381)

The pure agency texts – from short notices to the detailed reports – were mostly on the Internet pages of the daily newspapers: on the one hand, the pressure for breaking news is higher than in the printed edition, on the other hand, there are no space restrictions. Most other types of articles were found in both the online and printed editions; some exclusive interviews and background reports were found only in the printed editions. All items were collected only once for the investigation.

The following Figure 2 shows the same classification on a per newspaper basis. During the observation period (two weeks), most newspapers published between 40 and 50 articles on the Syrian conflict (print and online). In the German newspaper Die Welt there were more (58), in the Basler Zeitung and the Austrian Kurier , however, significantly less (29 or 33).

Depending on which newspaper, the share of agency reports is almost 50% (Welt, Süddeutsche, NZZ, Basler Zeitung), just under 60% (FAZ, Tagesanzeiger), and 60 to 70% (Presse, Standard, Kurier). Together with the agency-based reports, the proportion in most newspapers is between approx. 70% and 80%. These proportions are consistent with previous media studies (e.g., Blum 1995, Johnston 2011, MacGregor 2013, Paterson 2007).

In the background reports, the Swiss newspapers were leading (five to six pieces), followed by Welt , Süddeutsche and Standard (four each) and the other newspapers (one to three). The background reports and analyzes were in particular devoted to the situation and development in the Middle East, as well as to the motives and interests of individual actors (for example Russia, Turkey, the Islamic State).

However, most of the commentaries were to be found in the German newspapers (seven comments each), followed by Standard (five), NZZ and Tagesanzeiger (four each). Basler Zeitung did not publish any commentaries during the observation period, but two interviews. Other interviews were conducted by Standard (three) and Kurier and Presse (one each). Investigative research, however, could not be found in any of the newspapers.

In particular, in the case of the three German newspapers, a journalistically problematic blending of opinion pieces and reports was noted. Reports contained strong expressions of opinion even though they were not marked as commentary. The present study was in any case based on the article labeling by the newspaper.

Figure 2: Types of articles per newspaper

The following Figure 3 shows the breakdown of agency stories (by agency abbreviation) for each news agency, in total and per country. The 211 agency reports carried a total of 277 agency codes (a story may consist of material from more than one agency). In total, 24% of agency reports came from the AFP; about 20% each by the DPA, APA and Reuters; 9% of the SDA; 6% of the AP; and 11% were unknown (no labeling or blanket term "agencies").

In Germany, the DPA, AFP and Reuters each have a share of about one third of the news stories. In Switzerland, the SDA and the AFP are in the lead, and in Austria, the APA and Reuters.

In fact, the shares of the global agencies AFP, AP and Reuters are likely to be even higher, as the Swiss SDA and the Austrian APA obtain their international reports mainly from the global agencies and the German DPA cooperates closely with the American AP.

It should also be noted that, for historical reasons, the global agencies are represented differently in different regions of the world. For events in Asia, Ukraine or Africa, the share of each agency will therefore be different than from events in the Middle East.

Figure 3: Share of news agencies, total (n=277) and per country

In the next step, central statements were used to rate the orientation of editorial opinions (28), guest comments (10) and interview partners (7) (a total of 45 articles). As Figure 4 shows, 82% of the contributions were generally US/NATO friendly, 16% neutral or balanced, and 2% predominantly US/NATO critical.

The only predominantly US/NATO-critical contribution was an op-ed in the Austrian Standard on October 2, 2015, titled: "The strategy of regime change has failed. A distinction between ‚good' and ‚bad' terrorist groups in Syria makes the Western policy untrustworthy."

Figure 4: Orientation of editorial opinions, guest comments, and interviewees (total; n=45).

The following Figure 5 shows the orientation of the contributions, guest comments and interviewees, in turn broken down by individual newspapers. As can be seen, Welt, Süddeutsche Zeitung, NZZ, Zürcher Tagesanzeiger and the Austrian newspaper Kurier presented exclusively US/NATO-friendly opinion and guest contributions; this goes for FAZ too, with the exception of one neutral/balanced contribution. The Standard brought four US/NATO friendly, three balanced/neutral, as well as the already mentioned US/NATO critical opinion contributions.

Presse was the only one of the examined newspapers to predominantly publish neutral/balanced opinions and guest contributions. The Basler Zeitung published one US/NATO-friendly and one balanced contribution. Shortly after the observation period (October 16, 2015), Basler Zeitung also published an interview with the President of the Russian Parliament. This would of course have been counted as a contribution critical of the US/NATO.

Figure 5: Basic orientation of opinion pieces and interviewees per newspaper

In a further analysis, a full-text keyword search for "propaganda" (and word combinations thereof) was used to investigate in which cases the newspapers themselves identified propaganda in one of the two geopolitical conflict sides, USA/NATO or Russia (the participant "IS/ISIS" was not considered). In total, twenty such cases were identified. Figure 6 shows the result: in 85% of the cases, propaganda was identified on the Russian side of the conflict, in 15% the identification was neutral or unstated, and in 0% of the cases propaganda was identified on the USA/NATO side of the conflict.

It should be noted that about half of the cases (nine) were in the Swiss NZZ , which spoke of Russian propaganda quite frequently ("Kremlin propaganda", "Moscow propaganda machine", "propaganda stories", "Russian propaganda apparatus" etc.), followed by German FAZ (three), Welt and Süddeutsche Zeitung (two each) and the Austrian newspaper Kurier (one). The other newspapers did not mention propaganda, or only in a neutral context (or in the context of IS).

Figure 6: Attribution of propaganda to conflict parties (total; n=20).

Conclusion

In this case study, the geopolitical coverage in nine leading daily newspapers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland was examined for diversity and journalistic performance using the example of the Syrian war.

The results confirm the high dependence on the global news agencies (63 to 90%, excluding commentaries and interviews) and the lack of own investigative research, as well as the rather biased commenting on events in favor of the US/NATO side (82% positive; 2% negative), whose stories were not checked by the newspapers for any propaganda.

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English translation provided by Terje Maloy.

[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 Maté (@aaronjmate) May 14, 2019

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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."

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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 14, 2019] iJews and the Left-i by Philip Mendes A Review, by Brenton Sanderson - The Unz Review

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... While promoting pluralism and diversity and encouraging the dissolution of the racial and ethnic identification of Europeans, Jews have simultaneously endeavored to maintain precisely the kind of intense group solidarity they decry as immoral in others and the great majority support an ethno-nationalist Israel. They have initiated and led movements that have discredited the traditional foundations of Western society: patriotism, the Christian basis for morality, social homogeneity, and sexual restraint. At the same time, within their own communities, they have supported the very institutions they have attacked in Western societies. This is ruthless, uncompromising Darwinian group competition played out in the human cultural arena. ..."
"... Jewish writer David Cole recently questioned the wisdom of this strategy of using non-Whites as “golem” to protect the Jews from a recrudescence of National Socialism. He notes that many of the Jews’ non-White pets (like Ilhan Omar) have a disconcerting tendency to turn on their Jewish masters ..."
"... In the minds of Jewish leaders and activists nurtured since birth on the cult of “the Holocaust,” White nationalism is still the most ominous threat to Jewish survival. This is reflected in the unquestioning commitment of the vast majority of Jewish activists and intellectuals (Cole excepted) to mass non-White immigration and multiculturalism in all historically White nations. ..."
May 14, 2019 | www.unz.com

Despite the Jewish domination of the American Left in the post-War period, Mendes notes that "most Americans do not appear to have adhered to the same anti-Semitic assumptions about Jewish links with communism that dominated public opinion in parts of Europe." [80] Ibid ., 229.
(Philip Mendes, Jews and the Left: The Rise and Fall of a Political Alliance (Melbourne, Victoria; Palgrave MacMillian, 2014), 250.)
As evidence of this, Mendes cites the decidedly muted public response to the conviction and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for selling atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Despite the recognizably Jewish identity of the couple (given their name) and of all of their co-conspirators (David Greenglass, Ruth Greenglass, and Morton Sobell), and the fact the Rosenberg spy network consisted almost exclusively of Jews from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the case "provoked remarkably little overt anti-Semitism." [81] Ibid ., 230.
Nor, he observes, did the "significant number of Jews -- including teachers and Hollywood actors -- who were victims of anti-communist purges" and the prominence of Jews amongst those subpoenaed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, lead to a significant reaction. All public opinion polls conducted during this period showed a consistent decline in "anti-Semitism," and only a small minority of those surveyed (about 5 percent) identified Jews with communism. [82] Ibid .

The lack of any real backlash to Jewish prominence in the New Left is ascribed to various factors: that many members of the public were not aware of the Jewish background of many of the radical leaders; that these Jewish radicals were ostensibly "not campaigning about any specifically Jewish issues that would have focused attention on Jews per se;" and to the "general decline in anti-Semitism since World War Two." [83] Ibid ., 257. This latter shift in public opinion (unsurprisingly) coincided with the Jewish seizure of the commanding heights of American (and Western) culture in the 1960s, and the growing emergence of the culture of "the Holocaust." The combined effect was to banish overt critical discussion of Jewish power to the margins of public discourse. While Americans rejected communist activities during the Cold War, unlike in Europe, they did not widely equate communism with Jews (at least publicly), or view Jewish participation in leftist politics with particular concern.

Neoconservatism

Neoconservative leaders were among those who feared that the Jewish prominence in the New Left of the late 1960s and early 1970s would fuel a conservative backlash against Jewish radicalism. For example, Norman Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary magazine, attacked leading Jewish leftists as alleged self-hating Jews and completely unrepresentative of the Jewish community. [84] Ibid ., 22.

Mendes ascribes the defection of many Jews from the radical left to neoconservatism in the 1970s to a growing misalignment between modern Leftist politics and Jewish ethnic interests: the key factor being "the creation of the State of Israel which transformed Jewish dependence from international to national forces." [85] Ibid ., viii.
With the advent of the state of Israel, Jewish interests were no longer exclusively represented by the universalistic agendas of the Left. According to Mendes: "Most Jews have lost their faith in universalistic causes because they do not perceive the Left as supportive of Jewish interests, and have turned instead to nationalist solutions." [86] Ibid ., 235.

The creation of a Jewish national entity featuring (thanks to US taxpayers) a strong and powerful army meant that Jews all over the world could look to the Zionist state to safeguard their interests, rather than depending on internationalist movements and ideologies (i.e. communism and the Soviet Union) which had often proven to be unreliable allies. Even many left-wing Jews, who might have been anti-Zionist prior to World War Two, shifted their position after the birth of Israel. For example, the long-time Austrian Jewish leftist Jean Amery commented in 1976:

There is a very deep tie and existential bond between every Jew and the State of Israel Jews feel bound to the fortunes and misfortunes of Israel, whether they are religious Jews or not, whether they adhere to Zionism or reject it, whether they are newly arrived in their host countries or deeply rooted there The Jewish State has taught all the Jews of the world to walk with their head high once more Israel is the virtual shelter for all of the insulted and injured Jews of the earth. [87] Ibid ., 236-37

The perceived anti-Zionism of the New Left from the 1967 onwards served to alienate many Jews and confirm their commitment to nationalist, rather than internationalist solutions. An additional factor was the 1967 Six Day War in the Middle East, which provoked fears of "another Holocaust," and galvanized even non-Zionist Jews in support of Israel. There were rallies in support of Israel throughout the Western world accompanied by large donations. American Jews held massive fundraising campaigns and reportedly raised 180 million dollars. Numerous volunteers travelled to Israel to support the Jewish State. In Australia, more than 20 per cent of a total Jewish population of 34,000 in Melbourne -- attended a public rally to express their support for Israel, and 2500 attended a youth rally. 750 young Jews volunteered to go to Israel. According to Taft,

there was a widespread, almost universal, absorption in the Middle East Crisis of June among the Jews of Melbourne. This absorption took the form of extreme concern about the safety of Israel, emotional upsets, obsessive seeking of news, constant discussion of events and taking spontaneous actions to support Israel's cause. [88] Ibid ., 238.

The rise of left-wing anti-Zionism after the Six Day War furthered alienated sections of Western Jewry from the social democratic Left. Another factor that pushed American Jews in a neoconservative direction, identified by Mendes, was the decline in Black–Jewish relations. The emergence of the Black Power movement in the mid-1960s led to the removal of Jews from the leadership of organizations like the NAACP. Black hostility was viewed by some Jews as evidence of the failure of the strategy of courting non-White groups to advance Jewish interests. This ostensible failure prompted many Jews to concentrate on a narrower ethnic self-interest in the future. [89] Ibid ., 243.

This, in turn, contributed to the creation of "pragmatic alliances" with conservative political parties such as the Republicans and evangelical groups such as Christians United for Israel which "have been consistent supporters of Israel in the USA." An associated factor was that pro-Israel perspectives within Western countries increasingly emanated from mainstream conservatives, rather than from the moderate or radical Left. This occurred despite "many in these groups hold socially conservative views on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, the environment, multiculturalism, state support for the poor and disadvantaged, and refugees, which are anathema to many Jews." [90] Ibid ., 287.

Mendes makes the point that "These alliances were based solely on the latter's position of support for Israel, irrespective of their conservative views on social issues such as abortion, homosexuality and the welfare state, which were often sharply at odds with the more liberal opinions of most Jews." [91] Ibid ., 239.

Despite the defection on many Jews from the radical left to neoconservatism, the great majority of American Jews still see their ethnic interests as basically aligning with the Democratic Party. Their willingness to prioritize their ethnic interests over their personal economic interests is reflected in the fact that "high numbers of affluent Jews compared to others of the same socioeconomic status still vote for moderate left parties that do not seem to favor their economic interests." Today, the structural factors which historically drew many Jews to the Left no longer exist. Most Jews sit comfortably in middle- or even higher-income categories. This "middle-classing" of Jews throughout the West has meant that the "Jewish proletariat that motivated Jewish identification with left-wing beliefs no longer exists." [92] Ibid ., 239. Consequently, "the specific link between Jewish experience of class oppression and adherence to left-wing ideology has ended." [93] Ibid ., 241.

Most Western Jews still support parties on the Left

Despite the widespread break with the radical Left over support for Israel, Jews nevertheless remain a “massively significant presence” in the Left in terms of their numbers and fundraising, their organizational capacity, and their impact on popular culture.[94]Ibid., 287. It was estimated that about a quarter of the world’s leading Marxist and radical intellectuals in the 1980s were still Jews, including Ernest Mandel, Nathan Weinstock, Maxime Rodinson, Noam Chomsky, Marcel Liebman, Ralph Miliband, and the founder of deconstructionism, Jacques Derrida. Despite continuing to comprise much of the intellectual and financial backbone of the Left, today’s Jews, “an influential and sometimes powerful group, with substantial access to politics, academia and the media,” no longer must “rely on the Left to defend their interests and wellbeing.”[95]Ibid., 286.

The primary reason most Western Jews still vote overwhelmingly for parties on the left is the perceived threat posed by the “social conservatism” of parties further to the right of the political spectrum in nations whose majorities are European-derived and nominally at least Christian:

With the possible exception of ultra-orthodox groups, Jews seem to prefer social liberal positions on issues such as religious pluralism, abortion, feminism, illicit drugs, same-sex marriage, the science of climate change and euthanasia. Another significant factor is the long history of Christian anti-Semitism has led Jews to remain suspicious of any attempts by Christian religious groups to undermine the separation of church and state. This fear of organized religion [and of the White people who practice it] seems to explain the continued strong support of American Jews for the Democratic Party in presidential elections. A further complicating factor is the growing universalization of Jewish teachings and values, including the lessons of the Holocaust, in support of social liberal perspectives. … For example, Berman (2006) presents evidence that the younger Jewish generation in Australia have been influenced by the experience of the Holocaust into taking a strong stand against any forms of racial or religious discrimination. Many are active in campaigns for indigenous rights, and to support refugees from Afghanistan, Sudan, and Middle Eastern countries seeking asylum in Australia.[96]Ibid., 288-89.

This advocacy is, of course, entirely hypocritical and cynical. While promoting pluralism and diversity and encouraging the dissolution of the racial and ethnic identification of Europeans, Jews have simultaneously endeavored to maintain precisely the kind of intense group solidarity they decry as immoral in others and the great majority support an ethno-nationalist Israel. They have initiated and led movements that have discredited the traditional foundations of Western society: patriotism, the Christian basis for morality, social homogeneity, and sexual restraint. At the same time, within their own communities, they have supported the very institutions they have attacked in Western societies. This is ruthless, uncompromising Darwinian group competition played out in the human cultural arena.

The ideological preoccupations of organized Jewry today are reflected in comments by Boston Globe writer, S.I. Rosenbaum, who insisted the main lesson of “the Holocaust” is “that white supremacy could turn on us at any moment,” and the strategy of appealing to the White majority “has never worked for us. It didn’t protect us in Spain, or England, or France, or Germany. There’s no reason to think it will work now.” The central question of Jewish political engagement in Western societies, she insists, is “how we survive as a minority population,” where the one great advantage American Jewry enjoys is that “unlike other places where ethno-nationalism has flourished, the U.S. is fast approaching a plurality of minorities.” Presiding over a coalition of non-Whites groups to actively oppose White interests is the Jewish ethno-political imperative: “If Jews are going to survive in the future, we will have to stand with people of color for our mutual benefit.”

Jewish writer David Cole recently questioned the wisdom of this strategy of using non-Whites as “golem” to protect the Jews from a recrudescence of National Socialism. He notes that many of the Jews’ non-White pets (like Ilhan Omar) have a disconcerting tendency to turn on their Jewish masters:

For decades, leftist Jews have been flooding the West with Third World immigrants, “Hey here’s a plan—lets dump a hundred thousand Somalis in the whitest parts of the U.S. That’ll save us from Fargo Hitler!” Inundating the West with non-White immigrants is seen by Jews as an insurance policy against “white supremacy.” The idea is that these immigrants will act as a wedge, diluting “white power” while remaining small enough to be manageable.

Jews have done this everywhere—playing two groups against each other as a way of assuring Jewish security. Let’s play Hamas against the Palestinian authority. Let’s play ISIS against Assad. … But today we live in a world in which even the lowliest bark-eater in the Kalahari can have internet access. It’s not as easy to fool entire groups anymore (individuals, sure, but not an entire race, ethnicity or faction). …

And now we Jews, so worried that Minnesota might become the Frozen Fourth Reich if left in the hands of evil whites, have created for ourselves a good old-fashioned golem in Ilhan Omar (and a bunch of the other Third World freshman congressthingies). Yeah, Omar hates whites. Yeah, she thinks white supremacy lurks behind every glass of milk and “OK” finger sign. But she hates Jews a hell of a lot more…

In a perfect world, the Rabbinical Rain Men would finally get the fuck over the Holocaust and end their war of hostility against the West. They’d see that whites are no longer the enemy, but indeed the opposite. They’d see that importing foreign mud to mold golem in traditionally white regions of the U.S is bad strategy.

Here Cole vividly restates Kevin MacDonald’s point in Culture of Critique that: “Although multiculturalist ideology was invented by Jewish intellectuals to rationalize the continuation of separatism and minority-group ethnocentrism in a modern Western state, several of the recent instantiations of multiculturalism may eventually produce a monster with negative consequences for Judaism.”[97]Kevin MacDonald, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth‑Century Intellectual and Political Movements, (Westport, CT: Praeger, Revised Paperback edition, 2001), 313. The creation of this “monster” is ostensibly regarded by Jewish leaders and activists as a risk worth taking to demographically, politically and culturally weaken threatening White populations.

In the minds of Jewish leaders and activists nurtured since birth on the cult of “the Holocaust,” White nationalism is still the most ominous threat to Jewish survival. This is reflected in the unquestioning commitment of the vast majority of Jewish activists and intellectuals (Cole excepted) to mass non-White immigration and multiculturalism in all historically White nations.

Conclusion

While Jews and the Left offers a useful catalogue of Jewish involvement in radical political movements throughout the world over the last two centuries, it recycles many of the same apologetic tropes that permeate the work of other Jewish historians and intellectuals. Mendes mischaracterizes the Jewish identity and affiliations of important Jewish communist leaders (like Lazar Kaganovich), and offers no examination of their often-murderous actions. He provides feeble apologies for the Jewish practices that engendered hostility among the native peasantry in the Pale of Settlement. The inherent weakness of his position necessitates specious argumentation and desperate resort to that evergreen of Jewish apologetic historiography: the innate irrationality and malevolence of the European mind and character. This is the invariable fallback position in any quest to exculpate Jews from responsibility for the crimes of communism in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe. Though less inclined than Brossat and Klingberg in Revolutionary Yiddishland to glorify Jewish communist militants, Mendes is equally keen to evade, whitewash and excuse disproportionate Jewish involvement in some of the worst crimes of the twentieth century.

[May 14, 2019] Why Everyone in the U.S. Who Counts Wants Julian Assange Dead naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... The film also shows war crimes that implicate the entire structure of the U.S. military, as everyone involved was acting under orders, seeking permission to fire, waiting, then getting it before once more blasting away. The publication of this video, plus all the Wikileaks publications that followed, comprise the whole reason everyone in the U.S. who matters, everyone with power, wants Julian Assange dead. They also want him hated. Generating that hate is the process we're watching today. ..."
"... "Everyone" in this case includes every major newspaper that published and received awards for publishing Wikileaks material; all major U.S. televised media outlets; and all "respectable" U.S. politicians -- including, of course, Hillary Clinton, who was rumored (though unverifiably) to have said, "Can't we just drone this guy?" ..."
"... Please watch it. The footage shows not only murder, but bloodlust and conscienceless brutality, so much of it in fact that this became one of the main reasons Chelsea Manning leaked it in the first place. As she said at her court-martial : "The most alarming aspect of the video for me, was the seemingly delight of bloodlust they [the pilots] appeared to have. They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging with, and seemed to not value human life in referring to them as 'dead bastards,' and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers." ..."
May 14, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. Even though this post covers known territory, it seems worthwhile to encourage those of you who haven't watched the "Collateral Murder" footage to view the full version. It's important not only to keep the public (and that includes people in your personal circle) focused on what Assange's true hanging crime is in the eyes of the officialdom .and it ain't RussiaGate. That serves as a convenient diversion from his real offense. That effort has a secondary benefit of having more people watch the video.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!

Before and after images of the van that came to pick up the bodies of eleven men shot to death by circling American helicopters in Iraq in 2007. Both children in the van were wounded. "Well, it's their fault for bringing their kids to a battle," said one of the pilots. "That's right," replies another. From the video Collateral Murder .

Below is a full video version of Collateral Murder , the 2007 war footage that was leaked in 2010 to Wikileaks by Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning. This version was posted to the Wikileaks YouTube channel with subtitles. It will only take about 15 minutes of your life to view it.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/HfvFpT-iypw

It's brutal to watch, but I challenge you to do it anyway. It shows not just murder, but a special kind of murder -- murder from the safety of the air, murder by men with heavy machine guns slowly circling their targets in helicopters like hunters with shotguns who walk the edges of a trout pond, shooting at will, waiting, walking, then shooting again, till all the fish are dead.

The film also shows war crimes that implicate the entire structure of the U.S. military, as everyone involved was acting under orders, seeking permission to fire, waiting, then getting it before once more blasting away. The publication of this video, plus all the Wikileaks publications that followed, comprise the whole reason everyone in the U.S. who matters, everyone with power, wants Julian Assange dead. They also want him hated. Generating that hate is the process we're watching today.

"Everyone" in this case includes every major newspaper that published and received awards for publishing Wikileaks material; all major U.S. televised media outlets; and all "respectable" U.S. politicians -- including, of course, Hillary Clinton, who was rumored (though unverifiably) to have said, "Can't we just drone this guy?"

Yes, Julian Assange the person can be a giant douche even to his supporters, as this exchange reported by Intercept writer Micah Lee attests. Nevertheless, it's not for being a douche that the Establishment state wants him dead; that state breeds, harbors and honors douches everywhere in the world . They want him dead for publishing videos like these.

Please watch it. The footage shows not only murder, but bloodlust and conscienceless brutality, so much of it in fact that this became one of the main reasons Chelsea Manning leaked it in the first place. As she said at her court-martial : "The most alarming aspect of the video for me, was the seemingly delight of bloodlust they [the pilots] appeared to have. They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging with, and seemed to not value human life in referring to them as 'dead bastards,' and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers."

The Wikileaks page for the video is here . A transcript is here .

This was done in our name, to "keep us safe." This continues to be done every day that we and our allies are at "war" in the Middle East.

Bodies pile on bodies as this continues. The least we can do, literally the least, is to witness and acknowledge their deaths.

[May 14, 2019] The tanker damage in the Gulf was probably a "provocation" aimed at Iran.

May 14, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump's national security adviser. They do not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops, officials said.

The development reflects the influence of Mr. Bolton , one of the administration's most virulent Iran hawks, whose push for confrontation with Tehran was ignored more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush.

It is highly uncertain whether Mr. Trump, who has sought to disentangle the United States from Afghanistan and Syria, ultimately would send so many American forces back to the Middle East. " NY Times

"It is also unclear whether the president has been briefed on the number of troops or other details in the plans. On Monday, asked about if he was seeking regime change in Iran, Mr. Trump said: "We'll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake."

There are sharp divisions in the administration over how to respond to Iran at a time when tensions are rising about Iran's nuclear policy and its intentions in the Middle East." NY Times

-------------

IMO the armed forces (persons unknown therein) leaked the base information in this article to the NY Times to warn Trump of the wild eyed foolishness of the crew he has allowed to run US foreign policy.

In the information briefing (as opposed to a decision briefing) described in this article concerning military options, Trump was not even present.

What has happened once again is that Bolton asked DoD for options for the president/CinC's contemplation. As I have written in the last days, neither Bolton nor Pompeo has any command authority over the armed forces. Neither does Haspel at CIA. Only the president can command them. Only he has the constitutional authority to do so.

IMO the neocon squeeze with regard to Iran is in high gear. The aim is probably to pressure Iran until they lash out somewhere against US forces or interests.

Trump would then be urged by the madmen in the White House to order the armed forces to attack. pl

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/13/world/middleeast/us-military-plans-iran.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

[May 14, 2019] Despite a $ 22 Trillion National Debt, America Is on a Military Spending Spree. 800 Overseas US Military Bases by Masud Wadan

Highly recommended!
Trump provided to be another Obama -- master of "bait and switch". His promise to disengage from foreign wars remains an unfulfilled promise. Due to thefact that he is owned by pro-Israel lobby he broung into his administrations such rabid neocons as chickenhawk Bolton and smug ruthless careerist masquerading as far-right zealot as Pompeo (and before them Haley). His promises to raise the standard of living of middles class (which is impossible without cutting the military budget) remains fake. He is a fake. The second fake after obama -- Republican Obama.
Notable quotes:
"... While the national debt of the United States was recorded at 22.03 trillion as of April 2019, Washington's going ahead with its hawkish policies worldwide with recent NATO summit pushing for further unity against China, Russia and Iran. NATO's annual overall military budget was US$ 957 billion in 2017 where the US's share was US$ 686 billion, accounting for 72 percent of the total. This number is pressed by the US to rise in the years to come. ..."
"... According to The Guardian, Trump takes more than $1tn in taxpayer money and allocates $750bn to the military. In other words, out of every taxpayer dollar, 62 cents go to the military and Department of Homeland Security and seven cents to Veterans affairs. It leaves just 31 cents for all the rest: education, job training, community economic development, housing, safe drinking water and clear air, health and science research and the prevention of war through diplomacy and humanitarian aid. ..."
"... In 2017, US spent US$ 685,957 billion with 3.6 of its GDP on military spending while the UK stood second at US$ 55,237 billion with 2.1 per cent of GDP. France and Germany allocated US$ 45,927 billion and 45,472 billion respectively with 1.8 and 1.2 percent of their GDPs. The NATO member states are pressured for raising their defense spending to 2 percent and gradually up to 4 percent in five years. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

While the national debt of the United States was recorded at 22.03 trillion as of April 2019, Washington's going ahead with its hawkish policies worldwide with recent NATO summit pushing for further unity against China, Russia and Iran. NATO's annual overall military budget was US$ 957 billion in 2017 where the US's share was US$ 686 billion, accounting for 72 percent of the total. This number is pressed by the US to rise in the years to come.

According to The Guardian, Trump takes more than $1tn in taxpayer money and allocates $750bn to the military. In other words, out of every taxpayer dollar, 62 cents go to the military and Department of Homeland Security and seven cents to Veterans affairs. It leaves just 31 cents for all the rest: education, job training, community economic development, housing, safe drinking water and clear air, health and science research and the prevention of war through diplomacy and humanitarian aid.

The Trump budget finds vast billions for militarization, while it cuts "smaller" poverty alleviation projects and other programs, claiming the goal is to save money.

Rutherford Institute's founder and director John W. WhiteHead writes in his institute's website that the American nation is being preyed upon by a military industrial complex that is propped up by war profiteers, corrupt politicians and foreign governments. He remarks:

"Don't be fooled into thinking that your hard-earned tax dollars are being used for national security and urgent military needs".

He writes "you know what happens to tax dollars that are left over at the end of the government's fiscal year? Government agencies – including the Department of Defense – go on a 'use it or lose it' spending spree so they can justify asking for money in the next fiscal year".

"We are talking about $97 billion worth of wasteful spending"

He maintains that the nation's educational system is pathetic, the infrastructure is antiquated and growing more outdated by the day and the health system is overpriced and inaccessible to those who need it most.

The tax cuts on super-rich, outflow of huge sums in interest payment for debt and more spending are plunging the US economy into a new crisis, according to many authors. The US economy faces a deficit which means the spending especially on military and defence is far exceeding the tax revenues.

In 2017, US spent US$ 685,957 billion with 3.6 of its GDP on military spending while the UK stood second at US$ 55,237 billion with 2.1 per cent of GDP. France and Germany allocated US$ 45,927 billion and 45,472 billion respectively with 1.8 and 1.2 percent of their GDPs. The NATO member states are pressured for raising their defense spending to 2 percent and gradually up to 4 percent in five years.

According to a study regarding world powers' overseas military bases

In other words, the US possesses up to 95 per cent of the world's military bases . The Department of Defense says that its locations include 164 countries. Put another way, it has a military presence of some sort in approximately 84 percent of the nations on this planet.

The US Military Bases Abroad Are Disrupting the World Order

The annual cost of deploying US military personnel overseas, as well as maintaining and running those foreign bases, tops out at an estimated US$ 150 billion annually. The US bases abroad cost upwards of US$ 50 billion only for building and maintenance, which is enough to address pressing needs at home in education, health care, housing and infrastructure.

In 2017 and 2018, the world's largest military spenders were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and India. The UK took over France as sixth largest spender in 2018 while Japan and Germany stood at eighth and ninth positions.

In early 2018, Pentagon released a report saying that Afghan war costs US$ 45 billion to taxpayers in the preceding year. Of this amount, US$ 5 billion has been spent on Afghan forces, US$ 13 billion towards US forces in Afghanistan and the rest on economic aid.

But these costs are far lower than the time when the US military was highly engaged in Afghanistan. With nearly 100,000 soldiers in the country from 2010 to 2012, the price for American taxpayers surpassed US$ 100 billion each year. For now, there are around 16,000 US troops in Afghanistan. Despite hundreds of billions of dollars have gone into Afghanistan, the US admits it failed in war against militants in Afghanistan.

In November 2018, another study published by CNBC reported that America has spent US$ 5.9 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001 including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The study also reveals that more than 500,000 people have been killed in the wars and nearly 10 million people have been displaced due to violence.

The US has reportedly spent US$ 1.07 trillion in Afghanistan since 2001 which include Overseas Contingency Operations funds dedicated to Afghanistan, costs on the base budget of the Department of Defense and increase to the budget of the Department of Veteran Affairs.

In Afghanistan, the US costs of war in 2001 commenced with US$ 37.3 billion that soared to US$ 57.3 billion in 2007 and US$ 100 billion in 2009. The year with record spending was 2010 with US$ 112.7 billion that slightly plummeted to US$ 110.4 billion in 2011 but took downwards trend in the later years.

Due to skyrocketing military costs on the US government, Trump Administration recently decided to pack up some of its military bases in Afghanistan and Middle East to diminish expenditures, though it doesn't mean the wars would end at all.

According to Afghanistan Analysts Network, the US Congress has appropriated more than US$ 126 billion in aid for Afghanistan since financial year 2002, with almost 63 percent for security and 28 percent for development and the remainder for civilian operations, mostly budgetary assistance and humanitarian aid. Alongside the US aid, many world countries have pumped millions of dollars in development aids, but what is evident for insiders and outsiders is that a trickle of those funds has actually gone into Afghanistan's reconstruction.

With eighteen years into Afghan war, the security is deteriorating; Afghan air force is ill-equipped; poppy cultivation is on the rise; roads and highways are dilapidated or unconstructed; no mediocre hospital and health care has been established; weekly conflict causalities hit 150-250; electricity is still imported from Central Asian countries; economy remains dependent upon imports; unemployment rate is at its peak; more than three quarters of population live under poverty line and many, many more miseries persist or aggravate.

The US boasts of being the largest multi-billion dollar donor for Afghanistan, but if one takes a deeper look at the living standards of majority and the overall conditions, it can be immediately grasped that less than half of that exaggerated fund has been consumed. The US-made government of Afghanistan has deliberately been left behind to rank as the first corrupt country in the world. Thanks to the same unaddressed pervasive corruption, a hefty amount of that fund has been either directed back to the US hands or embezzled by senior Afghan officials.

Afghanistan's new Living Conditions Survey shows that poverty is more widespread today than it was immediately after the fall of Taliban regime, or in other words, in the early days of US invasion.

Next month, Kabul will host a Consultative Loya Jirga attended by around 2,000 representatives from Afghanistan which will cost the Afghan Ministry of Finance AF 369 million (equivalent to five million US$). Even as the past has proved that these events are only symbolic and further complicating the achievement of peace, a country with great majority under poverty line doesn't deserve to organize such costly gatherings.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Masud Wadan is a geopolitical analyst based in Kabul. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Salon.com

The original source of this article is Global Research Copyright © Masud Wadan , Global Research, 2019

[May 14, 2019] Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War. The Role of Osama bin Laden and Zbigniew Brzezinski - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Ce

May 14, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War. The Role of Osama bin Laden and Zbigniew Brzezinski Part II By Janelle Velina Global Research, May 08, 2019 Region: Asia Theme: History , Intelligence , US NATO War Agenda In-depth Report: AFGHANISTAN

Read Part I from the link below.

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War

By Janelle Velina , April 30, 2019

Below is the second half and conclusion of "Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War". While the previous sections examined the economic roots of imperialism, as well as the historical context of the Cold War within which to situate the Mujahideen, the following explores the anatomy of proxy warfare and media disinformation campaigns which were at the heart of destabilizing Afghanistan. These were also a large part of why there was little to no opposition to the Mujahideen from the Western 'left', whose continued dysfunctionality cannot be talked about without discussing Zbigniew Brzezinski. We also take a look at what led to the Soviet Union's demise and how that significantly affected the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and many other parts of the world. The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for four decades now, and it will reach its 40th year on July 3, 2019. The original "moderate rebel"

One of the key players in the anti-Soviet, U.S.-led regime change project against Afghanistan was Osama bin Laden , a Saudi-born millionaire who came from a wealthy, powerful family that owns a Saudi construction company and has had close ties to the Saudi royal family. Before becoming known as America's "boogeyman", Osama bin Laden was put in charge of fundraising for the Mujahideen insurgents, creating numerous charities and foundations in the process and working in coordination with Saudi intelligence (who acted as liaisons between the fighters and the CIA). Journalist Robert Fisk even gave bin Laden a glowing review, calling him a " peace warrior " and a philanthropist in a 1993 report for the Independent . Bin Laden also provided recruitment for the Mujahideen and is believed to have also received security training from the CIA. And in 1989, the same year that Soviet troops withdrew, he founded the terrorist organization Al Qaeda with a number of fighters he had recruited to the Mujahideen. Although the PDPA had already been overthrown, and the Soviet Union was dissolved, he still maintained his relationship with the CIA and NATO, working with them from the mid-to-late 1990s to provide support for the secessionist Bosnian paramilitaries and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the destruction and dismantling of Yugoslavia.

The United States would eventually turn Bin Laden into a scapegoat after the 2001 terrorist attacks, while still maintaining ties to his family and providing arms, training, and funding to Al Qaeda and its affiliates (rebranded as "moderate rebels" by the Western media) in its more recent regime change project against Syria, which started in 2011. The Mujahideen not only gave birth to Al Qaeda, but it would set a precedent for the United States' regime-change operations in later years against the anti-imperialist governments of Libya and Syria.

Reagan entertains Mujahideen fighters in the White House.

With the end to the cycle of World Wars (for the time being, at least), it has become increasingly common for the United States to use local paramilitaries, terrorist groups, and/or the armed forces of comprador regimes to fight against nations targeted by U.S. capital interests. Why the use of proxy forces? They are, as Whitney Webb describes , "a politically safe tool for projecting the U.S.' geopolitical will abroad." Using proxy warfare as a kind of power projection tool is, first and foremost, cost-effective, since paid local mercenaries or terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda will bear the burden of combat and casualties rather than American troops in places like Libya and Syria. For example, it costs much less to pay local paramilitaries, gangs, crime syndicates, terrorist groups, and other reactionary forces to perform the same military operations as U.S. troops. Additionally, with the advent of nuclear weapons it became much more perilous for global superpowers to come into direct combat with one another -- if the Soviet Union and the United States had done so, there existed the threat of "mutually assured destruction", the strong possibility of instantaneous and catastrophic damage to the populations and the economic and living standards of both sides, something neither side was willing to risk, even if it was U.S. imperialism's ultimate goal to destroy the Soviet Union. And so, the U.S. was willing to use any other means necessary to weaken the Soviet Union and safeguard its profits, which included eliminating the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan even if it had neither the intent nor the means of launching a military offensive on American soil. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union had the means of producing a considerably large supply of modern weapons, including nuclear deterrents, to counter the credible threat posed by the United States. To strike the Soviet Union with nuclear missiles would have been a great challenge for the United States, since it would have resulted in overwhelming retaliation by the Soviet Union. To maneuver this problem, to assure the destruction of the Soviet Union while protecting the U.S. from similar destruction, the CIA relied on more unconventional methods not previously thought of as being part of traditional warfare, such as funding proxy forces while wielding economic and cultural influence over the American domestic sphere and the international scene. Furthermore, proxy warfare enables control of public opinion, thus allowing the U.S. government to escape public scrutiny and questions about legal authorization for war. With opposition from the general public essentially under control, consent for U.S.-led wars does not need to be obtained, especially when the U.S. military is running them from " behind the scenes " and its involvement looks less obvious. Indeed, the protests against the war on Vietnam in the United States and other Western countries saw mass turnouts.

And while the U.S.-led aggression in Vietnam did involve proxy warfare to a lesser degree, it was still mostly fought with American "boots-on-the-ground", much like the 2001 renewed U.S.-led aggression against Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In contrast, the U.S. assault on Afghanistan that began in 1979 saw little to no protest. The Mujahideen even garnered support from large portions of the Western left who joined the chorus of voices in the Western mainstream media in demonizing the PDPA -- a relentless imperialist propaganda campaign that would be repeated in later years during the U.S. wars on Libya and Syria, with the difference being that social media had not yet gained prominence at the time of the initial assault on Afghanistan. This leads to the next question: why recruit some of the most reactionary social forces abroad, many of whom represent complete backwardness?

In Afghanistan, such forces proved useful in the mission to topple the modernizing government of the PDPA, especially when their anti-modernity aspirations intersected with U.S. foreign policy; these ultra-conservative forces continue to be deployed by the United States today. In fact, the long war on Afghanistan shares many striking similarities with the long war on Syria, with the common theme of U.S. imperialism collaborating with violent Sunni extremists to topple the secular, nationalist and anti-imperialist governments of these two former 'Soviet bloc' countries. And much like the PDPA, the current and long-time government of the Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party in Syria has made many strides towards achieving national liberation and economic development, which have included: taking land from aristocratic families (a majority of whom were Sunni Muslims while Shia Muslims, but especially Alawites, traditionally belonged to the lower classes and were treated as second class citizens in pre-Ba'athist Syria) and redistributing and nationalizing it, making use of Syria's oil and gas reserves to modernize the country and benefit its population, and upholding women's rights as an important part of the Ba'athist pillars.

Some of these aristocratic landlords, just like their Afghan counterparts, would react violently and join the Muslim Brotherhood who, with CIA-backing, carried out acts of terrorism and other atrocities in Hama as they made a failed attempt to topple the government of Hafez al Assad in 1982.

The connection between the two is further solidified by the fact that it was the Mujahideen from which Al Qaeda emerged; both are inspired by Wahhabist ideology, and one of their chief financiers is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (as well as Israel, a regional imperial power and a key ally of the United States). In either case, these Wahhabi-inspired forces were vehemently opposed to modernization and development, and would much rather keep large sections of the population impoverished, as they sought to replace the PDPA and the Ba'athists with Sunni fundamentalist, anti-Shia, theological autocracies -- Saudi-style regimes, in other words.

These reactionary forces are useful tools in the CIA's anti-communist projects and destabilization campaigns against independent nationalist governments, considering that the groups' anti-modernity stance is a motivating factor in their efforts to sabotage economic development, which is conducive to ensuring a favourable climate for U.S. capital interests. It also helps that these groups already saw the nationalist governments of the PDPA and the Syrian Ba'ath party as their 'archenemy', and would thus fight them to the death and resort to acts of terrorism against the respective civilian populations.

Zbigniew Brzezinski stated in a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in response to the following question:

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

[Brzezinski]: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Once again, he makes it clear that the religious extremism of the Mujahideen fighters was not an issue for Washington because the real political value lay in eliminating the PDPA and putting an end to Soviet influence in the Greater Middle East, which would give the U.S. the opportunity to easily access and steal the country's wealth. And in order to justify the U.S. imperialist intervention in Afghanistan, as well as to obscure the true nature of the Mujahideen fighters, the intervention needed to be accompanied by a rigorous mass media campaign. The Reagan administration -- knowing full well that American mainstream media has international influence -- continued the war that the Carter administration started and saw it as an opportunity to "step up" its domestic propaganda war, considering that the American general public was still largely critical of the Vietnam War at the time.

As part of the aggressive imperialist propaganda campaign, anyone who dared to publicly criticize the Mujahideen was subjected to character assassination and was pejoratively labelled a "Stalinist" or a "Soviet apologist", which are akin to labels such as "Russian agent" or "Assadist" being used as insults today against those who speak out against the U.S.-backed terrorism in Syria. There were also careful rebranding strategies made specifically for Osama bin Laden and the Mujahideen mercenaries, who were hailed as "revolutionary freedom fighters" and given a romantic, exoticized "holy warrior" makeover in Western media; hence the title of this section. The Mujahideen mercenaries were even given a dedication title card at the end of the Hollywood movie Rambo III which read, "This film is dedicated to the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan"; the film itself added to the constructed romantic image as it portrayed the Mujahideen fighters as heroes, while the Soviet Union and the PDPA were portrayed as the cartoonish villains. The Rambo film franchise is well known for its depiction of the Vietnamese as "savages" and as the aggressors in the U.S. war on Vietnam, which is a blatant reversal of the truth .

The Hollywood blockbuster franchise would be used to make the Mujahideen more palatable to Western audiences, as this unabashed, blatantly anti-Soviet propaganda for U.S. imperialism attracted millions of viewers with one of the largest movie marketing campaigns of the time. Although formulaic, the films are easily consumable because they appeal to emotion and, as Michael Parenti states in Dirty Truths , "The entertainment industry does not merely give the people what they want: it is busy shaping those wants," (p. 111). Rambo III may not have been critically acclaimed , but it was still the second most commercially successful film in the Rambo series, grossing a total of $189,015,611 at the box office . Producing war propaganda films is nothing new and has been a long staple of the Hollywood industry, which serves capitalist and imperialist interests. But, since the blockbuster movie is one of the most widely available and distributed forms of media, repackaging the Mujahideen into a popular film franchise was easily one of the best ways (albeit cynical) to justify the war, maintaining the American constructed narrative and reinforcing the demonization campaign against Soviet Russia and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Now, outside of the cinema, CBS News went as far as to air fake battle footage meant to help perpetuate the myth that the Mujahideen mercenaries were "freedom fighters"; American journalists Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, although decidedly biased against the Soviet Union and its allies, documented this ruse in which the news channel participated. In terms of proxy warfare, these were just some of the ways used to distract from the fact that it was a U.S.-led war.

The dedication title card as it originally appeared at the end of the film Rambo III.

In Afghanistan, proxy forces provided a convenient cover because they drew attention away from the fact that U.S. imperialism was the root cause of the conflict. The insurgents also helped to demonize the targets of U.S. foreign policy, the PDPA and the Soviet Union, all the while doing the majority of the physical combat in place of the American military. In general, drawing attention away from the fact that it has been the United States "pulling the strings" all along, using proxy forces helps Washington to maintain plausible deniability in regard to its relationship with such groups. If any one of these insurgents becomes a liability, as what had happened with the Taliban, they can just as easily be disposed of and replaced by more competent patsies, while U.S. foreign policy goes unquestioned. Criminal gangs and paramilitary forces are thus ideal and convenient tools for U.S. foreign policy. With the rule of warlords and the instability (namely damage to infrastructure, de-industrialization, and societal collapse) that followed after the toppling of the PDPA, Afghanistan's standard of living dropped rapidly, leading to forced mass migrations and making the country all the more vulnerable to a more direct U.S. military intervention -- which eventually did happen in 2001.

Zbigniew Brzezinski: godfather of colour revolutions and proxy wars, architect of the Mujahideen

The late Brzezinski was a key figure in U.S. foreign policy and a highly influential figure in the Council on Foreign Relations. Although the Polish-American diplomat and political scientist was no longer the National Security Advisor under Ronald Reagan's presidency, he still continued to play a prominent role in enforcing U.S. foreign policy goals in upholding Washington's global monopoly. The liberal Cold War ideologue's signature strategy consisted of using the CIA to destabilize and force regime-change onto countries whose governments actively resisted against Washington. Such is the legacy of Brzezinski, whose strategy of funding the most reactionary anti-government forces to foment chaos and instability while promoting them as "freedom fighters" is now a longstanding staple of U.S. imperialism.

How were the aggressive propaganda campaigns which promoted the Mujahideen mercenaries as "freedom fighters" able to garner support for the aggression against the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan from so many on the Western left who had previously opposed the war on Vietnam? It was the through the CIA's use of 'soft-power' schemes, because leftist opinion also needed to be controlled and manipulated in the process of carrying out U.S. foreign and public policy. Brzezinski mastered the art of targeting intelligentsia and impressionable young people in order to make them supportive of U.S. foreign policy, misleading a significant number of people into supporting U.S.-led wars.

The CIA invested money into programs that used university campus, anti-Soviet "radical leftist activists" and academics (as well as artists and writers) to help spread imperialist propaganda dressed up in vaguely "leftist"-sounding language and given a more "hip", "humanitarian", "social justice", "free thinker" appeal. Western, but especially American, academia has since continued to teach the post-modernist "oppression theory" or "privilege theory" to students, which is anti-Marxist and anti-scientific at its core. More importantly, this post-modernist infiltration was meant to distract from class struggle, to help divert any form of solidarity away from anti-imperialist struggles, and to foster virulent animosity towards the Soviet Union among students and anyone with 'leftist' leanings. Hence the phenomenon of identity politics that continues to plague the Western left today, whose strength was effectively neutered by the 1970s. Not only that, but as Gowans mentions in his book, Patriots, Traitors and Empires: The Story of Korea's Struggle for Freedom :

"U.S. universities recruit talented individuals from abroad, instill in them the U.S. imperialist ideology and values, and equip them with academic credentials which conduce to their landing important political positions at home. In this way, U.S. imperial goals indirectly structure the political decision-making of other countries." (pp. 52-53)

And so we have agencies and think-tanks such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which has scholarly appeal and actively interferes in elections abroad -- namely, in countries that are targets of U.S. foreign policy. Founded in 1983 by Reagan and directed by the CIA, the agency also assists in mobilizing coups and paid "dissidents" in U.S.-led regime change projects, such as the 2002 failed attempt against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, as well as helping to create aggressive media campaigns that demonize targeted nations. Another instance of this "soft power" tactic of mobilizing U.S.-backed "dissidents" in targeted nations are the number of Sunni Islamic fundamentalist madrassas (schools) sponsored by the CIA and set up by Wahhabi missionaries from Saudi Arabia in Afghanistan -- which started to appear in increasing numbers during the 1980s, reaching over 39,000 during the decade. Afghanistan's public education institutions were largely secular prior to the fall of Kabul in 1992; these madrassas were the direct, ideological and intellectual antitheses to the existing institutions of education. The madrassas acted as centres for cult-like brainwashing and were essentially CIA covert psychological operations (psy-ops) intended to inspire divisiveness and demobilize younger generations of Afghans in the face of imperial onslaught so that they would not unite with the wider PDPA-led nationalist resistance to imperialism.

The NED's founding members were comprised of Cold War ideologues which included Brzezinski himself, as well as Trotskyists who provided an endless supply of slurs against the Soviet Union. It was chiefly under this agency, and with direction provided by Brzezinski, that America produced artists, "activists", academics, and writers who presented themselves as "radical leftists" and slandered the Soviet Union and countries that were aligned with it -- which was all part of the process of toppling them and subjugating them to U.S. free market fundamentalism. With Brzezinski having mastered the art of encouraging postmodernism and identity politics among the Western left in order to weaken it, the United States not only had military and economic might on its side but also highly sophisticated ideological instruments to help give it the upper hand in propaganda wars.

These "soft power" schemes are highly effective in masking the brutality of U.S. imperialism, as well as concealing the exploitation of impoverished nations. Marketing the Mujahideen mercenaries as "peace warriors" while demonizing the PDPA and referring to the Soviet assistance as an "invasion" or "aggression" marked the beginning of the regular use of "humanitarian" pretexts for imperialist interventions. The Cold War era onslaught against Afghanistan can thus be seen as the template for the NATO-led regime change projects against Yugoslavia, Libya, and Syria, which not only involved the use of U.S.-backed proxy forces but also "humanitarian" pretexts being presented in the aggressive propaganda campaigns against the targeted countries. It was not until 2002, however, that then-American UN representative Samantha Powers, as well as several U.S.-allied representatives, would push the United Nations to officially adopt the "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P) doctrine into the Charter -- which was in direct contradiction to the law that recognizes the violation of a nation's sovereignty as a crime. The R2P doctrine was born out of the illegal 78-day NATO air-bombing of Yugoslavia from March 24 to June 10, 1999. And although plans to dismantle Yugoslavia go as far back as 1984, it was not until much of the 1990s that NATO would begin openly intervening -- with more naked aggression -- starting with the funding and support for secessionist paramilitary forces in Bosnia between 1994-1995. It then sealed the 1999 destruction of Yugoslavia with with the balkanization of the Serbian province of Kosovo . In addition to the use of terrorist and paramilitary groups as proxy forces which received CIA-training and funding, another key feature of this "humanitarian" intervention was the ongoing demonization campaigns against the Serbs, who were at the centre of a vicious Western media propaganda war. Some of the most egregious parts of these demonization campaigns -- which were tantamount to slander and libel -- were the claims that the Serbs were " committing genocide " against ethnic Albanians. The NATO bombing campaign was illegal since it was given no UN Security Council approval or support.

Once again, Brzezinski was not the National Security Advisor during the U.S.-led campaign against Yugoslavia. However, he still continued to wield influence as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a private organization and Wall Street think tank. The Council on Foreign Relations is intertwined with highly influential NGOs who are essentially propaganda mouthpieces for U.S. foreign policy, such as Human Rights Watch, which has fabricated stories of atrocities allegedly committed by countries targeted by U.S. imperialism. Clearly, unmitigated U.S. imperial aggression did not end with the destruction of the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, nor with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The post-Cold War years were a continuation of U.S. imperialism's scramble for more spheres of influence and global domination; it was also a scramble for what was left of the former 'Soviet bloc' and Warsaw Pact. The dismantling of Yugoslavia was, figuratively speaking, the 'final nail in the coffin' of whatever 'Soviet influence' was left in Eastern Europe.

The demise of the Soviet Union and the "Afghan trap" question

Image on the right: Left to right: former Afghan President Babrak Karmal, and former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Karmal took office at around the same time (December 1979) the PDPA requested that Moscow intervene to assist the besieged Afghanistan.

The sabotage and subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union meant that only one global hegemon remained, and that was the United States. Up until 1989, the Soviet Union had been the barrier that was keeping the United States from launching a more robust military intervention in Afghanistan, as well as in Central and West Asia. While pulling out did not immediately cause the defeat of Kabul as the PDPA government forces continued to struggle for another three years, Mikhail Gorbachev's decision to withdraw Soviet troops arguably had a detrimental impact on Afghanistan for many years to come. Although there was no Soviet military assistance in the last three years of Najibullah's presidency, Afghanistan continued to receive aid from the USSR, and some Soviet military advisers (however limited in their capacity) still remained; despite the extreme difficulties, and combined with the nation's still-relatively high morale, this did at least help to keep the government from being overthrown immediately. This defied U.S. expectations as the CIA and the George H.W. Bush administration had believed that the government of Najibullah would fall as soon as Soviet troops were withdrawn. But what really hurt the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan's army was when the Soviet Union was dismantled in 1991; almost as soon as the dissolution happened and Boris Yeltsin (with U.S. backing) took over as Russia's president, the aid stopped coming and the government forces became unable to hold out for much longer. The U.S. aggression was left unchecked, and to this day Afghanistan has not seen geopolitical stability and has since been a largely impoverished 'failed state', serving as a training ground for terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda. It continues to be an anarchic battleground between rival warlords which include the ousted Taliban and the U.S. puppet government that replaced them.

But, as was already mentioned above, the "Afghan trap" did not, in and of itself, cause the dismantling of the Soviet Union. In that same interview with Le Nouvel Observateur , Brzezinski had this to say in response to the question about setting the "trap":

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

[Brzezinski]: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Likewise with Cuba and Syria, the USSR had a well-established alliance with the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, one of mutual aid and partnership. Answering Kabul's explicit request for assistance was a deliberate and conscious choice made by Moscow, and it just so happened that the majority of Afghans welcomed it. For any errors that Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary at the time, may have made (which do deserve a fair amount of criticism, but are not the focus of this article), the 1979 decision to intervene on behalf of Afghanistan against U.S. imperialism was not one of them. It is true that both the Soviet and the U.S. interventions were military interventions, but the key difference is that the U.S. was backing reactionary forces for the purposes of establishing colonial domination and was in clear violation of Afghan sovereignty. Consider, too, that Afghanistan had only deposed of its king in 1973, just six years before the conflict began. The country may have moved quickly to industrialize and modernize, but it wasn't much time to fully develop its military defenses by 1979.

Image below: Mikhail Gorbachev accepts the Nobel Peace Prize from George H.W. Bush on October 15, 1990. Many Russians saw this gesture as a betrayal, while the West celebrated it, because he was being awarded for his capitulation to U.S. imperialism in foreign and economic policy.

United States War Crimes. A Historical Review

Other than that, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the Soviet Union imploded due to an accumulating number of factors: namely, the gradual steps that U.S. foreign policy had taken over the years to cripple the Soviet economy, especially after the deaths of Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov. How Gorbachev responded during the U.S.-led onslaught against Afghanistan certainly helped to exacerbate the conditions that led to the dissolution. After the deaths of Brezhnev and Andropov, the Soviet Union's economy became disorganized and was being liberalized during much of the 1980s. Not only that, but the Reagan administration escalated the arms race, which intensified after they had scrapped the 'detente' that was previously made in the mid-1970s. Even prior to Reagan's hardline, bombastic rhetoric and escalation against the USSR, the Soviet Union was already beginning to show signs of strain from the arms race during the late-1970s. However, in spite of the economic strains, during the height of the war the organized joint operations between the Soviet army and the Afghan army saw a significant amount of success in pushing back against the Mujahideen with many of the jihadist leaders either being killed or fleeing to Pakistan. Therefore, it is erroneous to say that intervening in Afghanistan on behalf of the Afghan people "did the Soviet Union in."

In a misguided and ultimately failed attempt to spur economic growth rates, Gorbachev moved to end the Cold War by withdrawing military support from allies and pledging cooperation with the United States who promised "peace". When he embraced Neoliberalism and allowed for the USSR to be opened to the U.S.-dominated world capitalist economy, the Soviet economy imploded and the effects were felt by its allies. It was a capitulation to U.S. imperialism, in other words; and it led to disastrous results not only in Afghanistan, but in several other countries as well. These include: the destruction of Yugoslavia, both wars on Iraq, and the 2011 NATO invasion of Libya. Also, Warsaw Pact members in Eastern Europe were no longer able to effectively fight back against U.S.-backed colour revolutions; some of them would eventually be absorbed as NATO members, such as Czechoslovakia which was dissolved and divided into two states: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Without Soviet Russia to keep it in check, the United States was able to launch an unrestrained series of aggressions for nearly two decades. Because of his decision to withdraw from the arms race altogether, in a vain attempt to transform the Soviet Union into a social democracy akin to those of the Nordic countries, Gorbachev had deprived the Russian army of combat effectiveness by making significant cuts to its defense budget, which is partly why they were forced to evacuate. Not only that, but these diplomatic and military concessions with the United States gave them no benefit in return, hence the economic crisis in Russia during the Yeltsin years. Suffice to say, the Gorbachev-Yeltsin years are not remembered fondly in Russia and many regard Gorbachev as a traitor and Western agent who helped to bring the Soviet Union to its collapse. In more recent years, efforts are being made to assess the actions taken by Gorbachev with regards to Afghanistan; this includes going against and revising the resolution put forth by him which suggested that the USSR intervention was "shameful".

In short, Afghanistan did not cause the Soviet Union's demise even if it required large military spending. More accurately: it was Gorbachev's impulsive decision to quickly discard the planned economy in favour of a market economy in order to appease the United States, who made the false promise that NATO would not expand eastward. If there was a real "trap", it was this and Gorbachev played right into the hands of U.S. imperialism; and so, the Soviet Union received its devastating blow from the United States in the end -- not from a small, minor nation such as Afghanistan which continues to suffer the most from the effects of these past events. For many years, but especially since the end of WWII, the United States made ceaseless efforts to undermine the USSR, adding stress upon stress onto its economy, in addition to the psychological warfare waged through the anti-Soviet propaganda and military threats against it and its allies. Despite any advances made in the past, the Soviet Union's economy was still not as large as that of the United States. And so, in order to keep pace with NATO, the Soviet Union did not have much of a choice but to spend a large percentage of its GDP on its military and on helping to defend its allies, which included national liberation movements in the Third World, because of the very real and significant threat that U.S. imperialism posed. If it had not spent any money militarily, its demise would most likely have happened much sooner. But eventually, these mounting efforts by U.S. imperialism created a circumstance where its leadership under Gorbachev made a lapse in judgment, reacting impulsively and carelessly rather than acting with resilience in spite of the onslaught.

It should also be taken into account that WWII had a profound impact on Soviet leadership -- from Joseph Stalin to Gorbachev -- because even though the Red Army was victorious in defeating the Nazis, the widespread destruction had still placed the Soviet economy under an incredible amount of stress and it needed time to recover. Meanwhile, the convenient geographical location of the United States kept it from suffering the same casualties and infrastructural damage seen across Europe and Asia as a result of the Second World War, which enabled its economy to recover much faster and gave it enough time to eventually develop the U.S. Dollar as the international currency and assert dominance over the world economy. Plus, the U.S. had accumulated two-thirds of the world's gold reserves by 1944 to help back the Dollar; and even if it lost a large amount of the gold, it would still be able to maintain Dollar supremacy by developing the fiat system to back the currency. Because of the destruction seen during WWII, it is understandable that the Soviet Union wanted to avoid another world war, which is why it also made several attempts at achieving some kind of diplomacy with the United States (before Gorbachev outright capitulated). At the same time, it also understood that maintaining its military defenses was important because of the threat of a nuclear war from the United States, which would be much more catastrophic than the Nazis' military assaults against the Soviet Union since Hitler did not have a nuclear arsenal. This was part of a feat that U.S. imperialism was able to accomplish that ultimately overshadowed British, French, German, and Japanese imperialism, which Brzezinski reveals in his book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives : an unparalleled military establishment that, by far, had the most effective global reach which allowed the U.S. to "project forces over long distances", helping it to assert its global domination and impose its "political will". And what makes the American Empire distinct from the Japanese Empire, British Empire, and other European empires is that one of the bases for its ideology is the socially constructed international hierarchy of nations, and not races as was the case with the other aforementioned empires. This constructed international hierarchy of nations is more effective because it means not only greater expansionism, but also the greater ability to exercise global primacy and supremacy. More specific to Central Asia and the Middle East, the Wahhabist and Salafist groups propped up by the CIA were always intended to nurture sectarianism and discord in order to counter a mass, broad-based united front of nations against imperialism -- an example of divide-and-conquer, which is an age-old tradition of empire, except this time with Neoliberal characteristics.

Therefore, the Mujahideen against Afghanistan should not be thought of simply as "the Afghan trap", but rather as the U.S. subjugation and plundering of West and Central Asia and an important milestone (albeit a cynical one) in shaping its foreign policy with regards to the region for many years to come. If one thing has remained a constant in U.S. foreign policy towards West and Central Asia, it is its strategic partnership with the oil autocracy of Saudi Arabia, which acts as the United States' steward in safeguarding the profits of American petroleum corporations and actively assists Western powers in crushing secular Arab and Central Asian nationalist resistance against imperialism. The Saudi monarchy would again be called on by the U.S. government in 2011 in Syria to assist in the repeated formula of funding and arming so-called "moderate rebels" in the efforts to destabilize the country. Once again, the ultimate goal in this more recent imperial venture is to contain Russia.

Cold War 2.0? American Supremacy marches on

The present-day anti-Russia hysteria is reminiscent of the anti-Soviet propaganda of the Cold War era; while anti-communism is not the central theme today, one thing remains the same: the fact that the U.S. Empire is (once again) facing a formidable challenge to its position in the world. After the Yeltsin years were over, and under Vladimir Putin, Russia's economy eventually recovered and moved towards a more dirigiste economy; and on top of that, it moved away from the NATO fold, which triggered the old antagonistic relationship with the United States. Russia has also decided to follow the global trend of taking the step towards reducing reliance on the U.S. dollar , which is no doubt a source of annoyance to the U.S. capitalist class. It seems that a third world war in the near future is becoming more likely as the U.S. inches closer to a direct military confrontation against Russia and, more recently, China. History does appear to be repeating itself. When the government of Bashar al Assad called on Moscow for assistance in fighting against the NATO-backed terrorists, it certainly was reminiscent of when the PDPA had done the same many years before. Thus far, the Syrian Arab Republic has continued to withstand the destabilization efforts carried out by the Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups and Kurdish militias at the behest of the United States, and has not collapsed as Libya, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan did.

But what often gets overlooked is the repeated Brzezinskist formula of funding highly reactionary forces and promoting them as "revolutionaries" to Western audiences in order to fight governments that defy the global dictatorship of the United States and refuse to allow the West to exploit their natural resources and labour power. As Karl Marx once said , "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past." Such a phenomenon is no accident or a mere mistake. The geopolitical instability that followed after the overthrow of the PDPA ensures that no sound, united, and formidable opposition against U.S. imperialism will emerge for an indefinite number of years; and it seems that Libya, where the Brzezinskist-style of regime change also saw success and which is now a hotbed for the slave trade, is on the same path as Afghanistan. This is all a part of what Lenin calls moribund capitalism when he discussed the economic essence of imperialism; and by that, he meant that imperialism carries the contradictions of capitalism to the extreme limit . American global monopoly had grown out of U.S. foreign policy, and it should go without saying that the American Empire cannot tolerate losing its Dollar Supremacy, especially when the global rate of profit is falling. And if too many nations reject U.S. efforts to infiltrate their markets and force foreign finance capital exports onto their economies in order to gain a monopoly over the resources, as well as to exploit the labour of their working people, it would surely spell a sharp decline in American Dollar hegemony. The fact that the United States was willing to go as far as to back mercenaries to attack the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and fight the Soviet Union, as well as to spend billions of dollars on a highly elaborate but effective propaganda campaign, shows a sign of desperation of the American Empire in maintaining its global hegemony.

Since the end of World War II the United States has been, and is by and large still, the overwhelming world-dominating power. It is true that the American Empire is in decline, in light of increasing trends towards "de-Dollarization," as well as the rise of China and Russia which pose as challenges to U.S. interests. Naturally, Washington will desperately try to cling on to its number one position in the world by accelerating the growth of its global monopolies -- whether it is through placing wholly unnecessary tariffs against competitors such as China, or threatening to completely cut Venezuelan and Iranian oil out of the global market -- even if it means an increasing drive towards World War III. The current global economic order which Washington elites have been instrumental in shaping over the past several decades reflects the interests of the global capitalist class to such an extent that the working class is threatened with yet another world war despite the unimaginable carnage witnessed during the first two.

When we look back at these historical events to help make sense of the present, we see how powerful mass media can be and how it is used as a tool of U.S. foreign policy to manipulate and control public opinion. Foreign policy is about the economic relationships between countries. Key to understanding how U.S. imperialism functions is in its foreign policy and how it carries it out -- which adds up to plundering from relatively small or poorer nations more than a share of wealth and resources that can be normally produced in common commercial exchanges, forcing them to be indebted; and if any of them resist, then they will almost certainly be subjected to military threats.

With the great wealth that allowed it to build a military that can "project forces over long distances," the United States is in a unique position in history, to say the least. However, as we have seen above, the now four decade-long war on Afghanistan was not only fought on a military front considering the psy-ops and the propaganda involved. If anything, the Soviet Union lost on the propaganda front in the end.

From Afghanistan we learn not only of the origins of Al Qaeda, to which the boom in the opioid-addiction epidemic has ties, or why today we have the phenomenon of an anti-Russia Western "left" that parrots imperialist propaganda and seems very eager to see that piece of Cold War history repeat itself in Syria. We also learn that we cannot de-link the events of the 2001 direct U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and what followed from those of 1979; Afghanistan's colonial-feudal past, its break from that with the 1978 Saur Revolution, and the U.S.-led Mujahideen are all as much of a part of its history (and the Greater Middle East, by extension) as the events of 2001. It cannot be stressed enough that it is those historical conditions, particularly as they relate to U.S. foreign policy, that helped to shape the ongoing conflict today.

Obviously, we cannot undo the past. It is not in the interests of the working class anywhere, in the Global South or in the Global North, to see a third world war happen, as such a war would have catastrophic consequences for everyone -- in fact, it could potentially destroy all of humanity. Building a new and revitalized anti-war movement in the imperialist nations is a given, but it also requires a more sophisticated understanding of U.S. foreign policy. Without historical context, Western mass media will continue to go unchallenged, weaning audiences on a steady diet of "moderate rebels" propaganda and effectively silencing the victims of imperialism. It is necessary to unite workers across the whole world according to their shared interests in order to effectively fight and defeat imperialism and to establish a just, egalitarian, and sustainable world under socialism. Teaching the working class everywhere the real history of such conflicts as the one in Afghanistan is an important part of developing the revolutionary consciousness necessary to build a strong global revolutionary movement against imperialism.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Originally published by LLCO.org on March 30, 2019. For the full-length article and bibliography, click here .

Janelle Velina is a Toronto-based political analyst, writer, and an editor and frequent contributor for New-Power.org and LLCO.org . She also has a blog at geopoliticaloutlook.blogspot.com .

All images in this article are from the author; featured image: Brzezinski visits Osama bin Laden and other Mujahideen fighters during training. The original source of this article is Global Research Copyright © Janelle Velina , Global Research, 2019

[May 14, 2019] How Madeleine Albright Got the War the U.S. Wanted - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Centre for Research on Globalization

Notable quotes:
"... Bombing Yugoslavia was meant to solidify the new role for NATO as an offensive military force, acting on behalf of U.S. imperial interests. Since that time, NATO has attacked Libya, and engaged in military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a variety of nations in Africa. Despite NATO's claim that it is "committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes," the record shows otherwise. ..."
"... Gregory Elich is a Korea Policy Institute associate and on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute. He is a member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, a columnist for Voice of the People , and one of the co-authors of Killing Democracy: CIA and Pentagon Operations in the Post-Soviet Period , published in the Russian language. He is also a member of the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific. His website is https://gregoryelich.org . Follow him on Twitter at @GregoryElich ..."
May 14, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

How Madeleine Albright Got the War the U.S. Wanted By Gregory Elich Global Research, May 13, 2019 Region: Europe , USA Theme: History , US NATO War Agenda

Twenty years have passed since the U.S.-orchestrated NATO attack on Yugoslavia. As the United States readied its forces for war in 1999, it organized a peace conference that was ostensibly intended to resolve differences between the Yugoslav government and secessionist ethnic Albanians in Kosovo on the future status of the province. A different scenario was being played out behind the scenes, however. U.S. officials wanted war and deliberately set up the process to fail, which they planned to use as a pretext for war.

The talks opened on February 6, 1999, in Rambouillet, France. Officially, the negotiations were led by a Contact Group comprised of U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill , European Union envoy Wolfgang Petritsch , and Russian diplomat Boris Mayorsky . All decisions were supposed to be jointly agreed upon by all three members of the Contact Group. In actual practice, the U.S. ran the show all the way and routinely bypassed Petritsch and Mayorsky on essential matters.

Ibrahim Rugova , an ethnic Albanian activist who advocated nonviolence, was expected to play a major role in the Albanian secessionist delegation. Joining him at Rambouillet was Fehmi Agani , a fellow member of Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright regularly sidelined Rugova, however, preferring to rely on delegation members from the hardline Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which had routinely murdered Serbs, Roma, and Albanians in Kosovo who worked for the government or opposed separatism. Only a few months before the conference, KLA spokesman Bardhyl Mahmuti spelled out his organization's vision of a future Kosovo as separate and ethnically pure:

"The independence of Kosovo is the only solution We cannot live together. That is excluded." [i]

Image result for kosovo liberation army

Source: Independent Balkan News Agency

Rugova had at one time engaged in fairly productive talks with Yugoslav officials, and his willingness to negotiate was no doubt precisely the reason Albright relegated him to a background role. Yugoslav Minister of Information Milan Komnenić accompanied the Yugoslav delegation to Rambouillet. He recalls,

"With Rugova and Fehmi Agani it was possible to talk; they were flexible. In Rambouillet, [KLA leader Hashim] Thaçi appears instead of Rugova. A beast." [ii]

There was no love between Thaçi and Rugova, whose party members were the targets of threats and assassination attempts at the hands of the KLA. Rugova himself would survive an assassination attempt six years later.

The composition of the Yugoslav delegation reflected its position that many ethnic groups resided in Kosovo, and any agreement arrived at should take into account the interests of all parties. All of Kosovo's major ethnic groups were represented in the delegation. Faik Jashari , one of the Albanian members in the Yugoslav delegation, was president of the Kosovo Democratic Initiative and an official in the Provisional Executive Council, which was Yugoslavia's government in Kosovo. Jashari observed that Albright was startled when she saw the composition of the Yugoslav delegation, apparently because it went against the U.S. propaganda narrative. [iii] Throughout the talks, Albright displayed a dismissive attitude towards the delegation's Albanian, Roma, Egyptian, Goran, Turkish, and Slavic Muslim members.

U.S. mediators habitually referred to the Yugoslav delegation as "the Serbs," even though they constituted a minority of the members. The Americans persisted in trying to cast events in Kosovo as a simplistic binary relationship of Serb versus Albanian, disregarding the presence of other ethnic groups in the province, and ignoring the fact that while some ethnic Albanians favored separation, others wished to remain in multiethnic Yugoslavia.

After arriving at Rambouillet, the secessionist Albanian delegation informed U.S. diplomats that it did not want to meet with the Yugoslav side. Aside from a brief ceremonial meeting, there was no direct contact between the two groups. The Yugoslav and Albanian delegations were placed on two different floors to eliminate nearly all contact. U.S. mediators Richard Holbrooke and Christopher Hill ran from one delegation to the other, conveying notes and verbal messages between the two sides but mostly trying to coerce the Yugoslav delegation. [iv]

Luan Koka, a Roma member of the Yugoslav delegation, noted that the U.S. was operating an electronic jamming device.

"We knew exactly when Madeleine Albright was coming. Connections on our mobile phones were breaking up and going crazy." [v]

It is probable that the U.S. was also operating electronic listening equipment and that U.S. mediators knew everything the delegations were saying in private.

Albright, Jashari said, would not listen to anyone.

"She had her task, and she saw only that task. You couldn't say anything to her. She didn't want to talk with us and didn't want to listen to our arguments." [vi]

One day it was Koka's birthday, and the Yugoslav delegation wanted to encourage a more relaxed atmosphere with U.S. mediators, inviting them to a cocktail party to mark the occasion.

"It was a slightly more pleasant atmosphere, and I was singing," Koka recalled. "I remember Madeleine Albright saying: 'I really like partisan songs. But if you don't accept this, the bombs will fall.'" [vii]

According to delegation member Nikola Šainović ,

"Madeleine Albright told us all the time: 'If the Yugoslav delegation does not accept what we offer, you will be bombed.'" Šainović added, "We agreed in Rambouillet to any form of autonomy for Kosovo," but sovereignty remained the red line. [viii]

From the beginning of the conference, U.S. mediator Christopher Hill "decided that what we really needed was an Albanian approval of a document, and a Serb refusal. If both refused, there could be no further action by NATO or any other organization for that matter." [ix] It was not peace that the U.S. team was seeking, but war.

As the conference progressed, U.S. negotiators were faced with an alarming problem, in that the Yugoslav delegation had accepted all of the Contact Group's fundamental political principles for an agreement, balking only at a NATO presence in Kosovo. On the other hand, the secessionist delegation rejected the Contact Group's political principles. Something had to be done to reverse this pattern.

On the second day of the conference, U.S. officials presented the Yugoslav delegation with the framework text of a provisional agreement for peace and self-rule in Kosovo, but it was missing some of the annexes. The Yugoslavs requested a copy of the complete document. As delegation head Ratko Marković pointed out,

"Any objections to the text of the agreement could be made only after an insight into the text as a whole had been obtained."

Nearly one week passed before the group received one of the missing annexes. That came on the day the conference had originally been set to end. The deadline was extended, and two days later a second missing annex was provided to the Yugoslav delegation.[x]

When the Yugoslavs next met with the Contact Group, they were assured that all elements of the text had now been given to them. Several more days passed and at 7:00 PM on February 22, the penultimate day of the conference, the Contact Group presented three new annexes, which the Yugoslavs had never seen before. According to Marković, "Russian Ambassador Boris Mayorsky informed our delegation that Annexes 2 and 7 had not been discussed or approved by the Contact Group and that they were not the texts drafted by the Contact Group but by certain Contact Group members, while Annex 5 was discussed, but no decision was made on it at the Contact Group meeting." The Yugoslav delegation refused to accept the new annexes, as their introduction had violated the process whereby all proposals had to be agreed upon by the three Contact Group members. [xi]

At 9:30 AM on February 23, the final day of the conference, U.S. officials presented the full text of the proposal, containing yet more provisions that were being communicated for the first time. The accompanying note identified the package as the definitive text while adding that Russia did not support two of the articles. The letter demanded the Yugoslav delegation's decision by 1:00 PM that same day.[xii] There was barely time enough to carefully read the text, let alone negotiate. In essence, it was an ultimatum.

Quite intentionally, U.S. mediators included provisions in the final version of the text that no sovereign nation could be expected to accept. Neoliberal economic interests are always front and center when U.S. officials are involved, and they surely were not unaware of Kosovo's abundant reserves of mineral resources, ripe for exploitation. The first point in Article 1 of the Economic Issues section of the text states:

"The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles."

Western investors were favored with a provision stating that authorities shall "ensure the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital to Kosovo, including from international sources." [xiii] One may wonder what these stipulations had to do with peace negotiations, but then the talks had far more to do with U.S. interests than anything to do with the needs of the people in the region.

Twitter and the Smearing of Corbyn and Assange: A Research Note on the "Integrity Initiative"

The document called for a Western-led Joint Commission including local representatives to monitor and coordinate the implementation of the plan. However, if commission members failed to reach consensus on a matter, the Western-appointed Chair would have the power to impose his decision unilaterally. [xiv] Local representatives would serve as little more than window-dressing for Western dictate, as they could adopt no measure that went against the Chair's wishes.

The Chair of the Implementation Mission was authorized to "recommend" the "removal and appointment of officials and the curtailment of operations of existing institutions in Kosovo." If the Chair's command was not obeyed "in the time requested, the Joint Commission may decide to take the recommended action," and since the Chair had the authority to impose his will on the Joint Commission, there was no check on his power. He could remove elected and appointed officials at will and replace them with handpicked lackeys. The Chair was also authorized to order the "curtailment of operations of existing institutions." [xv]Any organization that failed to bend to U.S. demands could be shut down.

Chapter 7 of the plan called for the parties to "invite NATO to constitute and lead a military force" in Kosovo. [xvi]The choice of words was interesting. In language reminiscent of gangsters, Yugoslavia was told to "invite" NATO to take over the province of Kosovo or suffer the consequences.

Yugoslavia was required "to provide, at no cost, the use of all facilities and services required" by NATO. [xvii]Within six months, Yugoslavia would have to withdraw all of its military forces from Kosovo, other than a small number of border guards. [xviii]

The plan granted NATO "unrestricted use of the entire electromagnetic spectrum" to "communicate." Although the document indicated NATO would make "reasonable efforts to coordinate," there were no constraints on its power. [xix] Yugoslav officials, "upon simple request," would be required to grant NATO "all telecommunication services, including broadcast services free of cost." [xx]NATO could take over any radio and television facilities and transmission wavelengths it chose, knocking local stations off the air.

The plan did not restrict NATO's presence to Kosovo. It granted NATO, with its "vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY [Federal Republic of Yugoslavia]." [xxi] NATO would be "granted the use of airports, roads, rails, and ports without payment of fees, duties, dues, tools, or charges." [xxii]

The agreement guaranteed that NATO would have "complete and unimpeded freedom of movement by ground, air, and water into and throughout Kosovo." Furthermore, NATO personnel could not be held "liable for any damages to public or private property." [xxiii] NATO as a whole would also be "immune from all legal process, whether civil, administrative, or criminal," regardless of its actions anywhere on the territory of Yugoslavia. [xxiv]Nor could NATO personnel be arrested, detained, or investigated. [xxv]

Acceptance of the plan would have brought NATO troops swarming throughout Yugoslavia and interfering in every institution.

There were several other objectionable elements in the plan, but one that stood out was the call for an "international" (meaning, Western-led) meeting to be held after three years "to determine a mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo."[xxvi] It was no mystery to the Yugoslav delegation what conclusion Western officials would arrive at in that meeting. The intent was clearly to redraw Yugoslavia's borders to further break apart the nation.

U.S. officials knew the Yugoslav delegation could not possibly accept such a plan.

"We deliberately set the bar higher than the Serbs could accept," Madeleine Albright confided to a group of journalists, "because they needed a little bombing." [xxvii]

At a meeting in Belgrade on March 5, the Yugoslav delegation issued a statement which declared:

"A great deceit was looming, orchestrated by the United States. They demanded that the agreement be signed, even though much of this agreement, that is, over 56 pages, had never been discussed, either within the Contact Group or during the negotiations." [xxviii]

Serbian President Milan Milutinović announced at a press conference that in Rambouillet the Yugoslav delegation had "proposed solutions meeting the demands of the Contact Group for broad autonomy within Serbia, advocating full equality of all national communities." But "agreement was not what they were after." Instead, Western officials engaged in "open aggression," and this was a game "about troops and troops alone." [xxix]

While U.S. officials were working assiduously to avoid a peaceful resolution, they needed the Albanians to agree to the plan so that they could accuse the Yugoslav delegation of being the stumbling block to peace. U.S. mainstream media could be counted on to unquestioningly repeat the government's line and overlook who the real architects of failure were. U.S. officials knew the media would act in their customary role as cheerleaders for war, which indeed, they did.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook revealed the nature of the message Western officials were conveying to the Albanian delegation when he said,

"We are certainly saying to the Kosovo Albanians that if you don't sign up to these texts, it's extremely difficult to see how NATO could then take action against Belgrade." [xxx]

Western officials were practically begging the secessionists to sign the plan. According to inside sources, the Americans assured the Albanian delegation that disarmament of the KLA would be merely symbolic and that it could keep the bulk of its weaponry so long as it was concealed. [xxxi]

Albright spent hours trying to convince Thaçi to change his mind, telling him:

"If you say yes and the Serbs say no, NATO will strike and go on striking until the Serb forces are out and NATO can go in. You will have security. And you will be able to govern yourselves." [xxxii]

That was a clear enough signal that the intent was to rip the province away from Yugoslavia and create an artificial state. Despite such assurances, Thaçi feared the wrath of fellow KLA members if he were to sign a document that did not explicitly call for separation. When U.S. negotiators asked Thaçi why he would not sign, he responded:

"If I agree to this, I will go home and they will kill me." [xxxiii]

This was not hyperbole. The KLA had threatened and murdered a great many Albanians who in its eyes fell short of full-throated support for its policy of violent secession and ethnic exclusion.

Even NATO Commander Wesley Clark , who flew in from Belgium, was unable to change Thaçi's mind. [xxxiv] U.S. officials were exasperated with the Albanian delegation, and its recalcitrance threatened to capsize plans for war.

"Rambouillet was supposed to be about putting the screws to Belgrade," a senior U.S. official said. "But it went off the rails because of the miscalculation we made about the Albanians." [xxxv]

On the last day at Rambouillet, it was agreed that the Albanian delegation would return to Kosovo for discussions with fellow KLA leaders on the need to sign the document. In the days that followed, Western officials paid repeated visits to Kosovo to encourage the Albanians to sign.

So-called "negotiations" reconvened in Paris on March 15. Upon its arrival, the Yugoslav delegation objected that it was "incomprehensible" that "no direct talks between the two delegations had been facilitated." In response to the Yugoslavs' proposal for modifications to the plan, the Contact Group informed them that no changes would be accepted. The document must be accepted as a whole. [xxxvi]

The Yugoslav position, delegation head Ratko Marković maintained, was that "first one needs to determine what is to be implemented, and only then to determine the methods of implementation." [xxxvii]The delegation asked the Americans what there was to talk about regarding implementation "when there was no agreement because the Albanians did not accept anything." U.S. officials responded that the Yugoslav delegation "cannot negotiate," adding that it would only be allowed to make grammatical changes to the text. [xxxviii]

From the U.S. perspective, the presence of the Yugoslav delegation in Paris was irrelevant other than to maintain the pretense that negotiations were taking place. Not permitted to negotiate, there was little the Yugoslavs could do but await the inevitable result, which soon came. The moment U.S. officials obtained the Albanian delegation's signatures to the plan on March 18, they aborted the Paris Conference. There was no reason to continue engaging with the Yugoslav delegation, as the U.S. had what it needed: a pretext for war.

On the day after the U.S. pulled the plug on the Paris talks, Milan Milutinović held a press conference in the Yugoslav embassy, condemning the Paris meeting as "a kind of show," which was meant "to deceive public opinion in the whole world." [xxxix]

While the United States and its NATO allies prepared for war, Yugoslavia was making last-ditch efforts to stave off attack, including reaching out to intermediaries. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos contacted Madeleine Albright and told her that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević had offered to engage in further negotiations. But Albright told him that the decision to bomb had already been made. "In fact," Pangalos reported, "she told me to 'desist, you're just being a nuisance.'" [xl] In a final act of desperation to save the people from bombing, Milutinović contacted Christopher Hill and made an extraordinary offer: Yugoslavia would join NATO if the United States would allow Yugoslavia to remain whole, including the province of Kosovo. Hill responded that this was not a topic for discussion and he would not talk about it. [xli]

Madeleine Albright got her war, which brought death, destruction, and misery to Yugoslavia. But NATO had a new role, and the United States further extended its hegemony over the Balkans.

In the years following the demise of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, NATO was intent on redefining its mission. The absence of the socialist bloc presented NATO not only with the need to construct a new rationale for existence but also with the opportunity to expand Western domination over other nations.

Bosnia offered the first opportunity for NATO to begin its transformation, as it took part in a war that presented no threat to member nations.

Bombing Yugoslavia was meant to solidify the new role for NATO as an offensive military force, acting on behalf of U.S. imperial interests. Since that time, NATO has attacked Libya, and engaged in military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a variety of nations in Africa. Despite NATO's claim that it is "committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes," the record shows otherwise.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Gregory Elich is a Korea Policy Institute associate and on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute. He is a member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, a columnist for Voice of the People , and one of the co-authors of Killing Democracy: CIA and Pentagon Operations in the Post-Soviet Period , published in the Russian language. He is also a member of the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific. His website is https://gregoryelich.org . Follow him on Twitter at @GregoryElich

[May 14, 2019] US Accuses Iran Of Attack On Saudi Tankers

May 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

US Accuses Iran Of Attack On Saudi Tankers

by Tyler Durden Mon, 05/13/2019 - 19:45 0 SHARES

Update: Just as everyone with half a frontal lobe had expected, the WSJ reported late on Monday that according to an initial U.S. assessment, "Iran was likely behind the attack" on the two Saudi Arabian oil tankers and two other vessels damaged over the weekend near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. official said, a finding that, whether confirmed or not, will certainly inflame military tensions in the Gulf and likely result in a global proxy war that drags in the US, China and Russia. Oh, and that would be the Persian Gulf for those wondering, not the Gulf of Tonkin, which is where another famous False Flag naval incident occurred.

Furthermore, as we predicted would happen on Sunday, this "official assessment", was the first suggestion by any nation that Iran was responsible for the attack and follows a series of U.S. warnings against "aggression" by Iran or its allies and proxies against military or commercial vessels in the region. Some more details from the WSJ:

The U.S. official, who declined to be identified, didn't offer details about what led to the assessment or its implications for a possible U.S. response. The U.S. has said in the past week that it was sending an aircraft carrier, an amphibious assault ship, a bomber task force and an antimissile system to the region after it alleged intelligence showed Iran posed a threat to its troops.

"If they do anything, they will suffer greatly. We'll see what happens with Iran," President Trump said while meeting with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House earlier on Monday.

The assessment, predictable from a mile away, squares perfectly with CIA veteran Mike Pompeo's warning from just two days before the alleged attack, in which he said that " The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against US interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive US response," the US Secretary of State wrote in a statement warning that Iran should not mistake US "restraint" for a "lack of resolve," and criticizing Iran for "an escalating series of threatening actions and statements in recent weeks."

Two days later Iran - according to US officials - staged the most brazen attack on oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz in years.

Of course, Iran would have to be utterly irrational to provoke such a sequence of events that culminates with a US campaign against it; so irrational in fact, as to be on par with the false flag chemical attacks staged by the "democratic powers" in Syria on various occasions, whose only purpose was to provoke the Trump administration into launching what were ultimately unsuccessful "regime change" air strikes.

That said, at this point we would urge readers to go long Brent call spreads, or outright calls, as it now appears that the Trump administration is fully intent on launching a "limited" military confrontation with Iran. Which, considering that Iran's biggest geopolitical backers are China and Russian, will be anything but limited.

* * *

Despite now near daily anti-Iran bluster coming out of Washington, fueling rising US-Iran tensions, and now with a major "incident" involving the reported "sabotage" attack on Saudi and UAE-docked oil tankers from an unknown perpetrator, leaders in Tehran do not see war on the horizon . Interestingly, the incident involving the Saudi tankers at the Emirates' port of Fujairah on Sunday came a mere days after the US warned that "Iran or its proxies" could attack commercial vessels in the region -- though there's yet to be blame officially cast over the latest mysterious incident.

Instead, Iran does see possible desperate attempts at a Psyop in the works: "The US military forces' deployment in the Persian Gulf is more of the nature of psychological warfare . They are not ready for a war, specially when Israel is within our range," Iranian Parliament's Vice-Speaker Ali Motahhari said on Sunday after a closed door session with MPs, according to FARS news agency.

But the specific mention of Israel as being "within our range" marks a significant counter-threat which could easily make war a reality, now also given the Persian Gulf region is on edge after Saudi Arabia said overnight that two of its oil tankers were attacked while headed near the Strait of Hormuz. Meanwhile the US Department of Energy says it's "monitoring the oil markets, and is confident they remain well-supplied" amid fears there are efforts to "disrupt shipping," according to Bloomberg .

Norwegian oil tanker Andrea Victory, one of the four tankers damaged in alleged "sabotage attacks." Via the AFP

The Saudis said in the aftermath of the still mysterious incident there was "significant damage to the structures of the two vessels" -- identified by shipping monitors as the Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah . Other tankers were also reported damaged in the UAE's Fujairan port.

Later in the day Monday, images and footage began to appear online via Middle East news sources purporting to show damage from the "sabotage attack" of unknown origin on multiple international vessels.

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And in predictable fashion, the Gulf Sunni dominated Arab League jumped in to back Saudi Arabia's use of "all measures" to safeguard their security, per the AP :

The head of the Arab League has condemned attacks that targeted vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates the previous day, including two Saudi oil tankers, as "criminal acts."

Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said in a statement on Monday that these acts are a "serious violation of the freedom and integrity of trade and maritime transport routes."

He says the Arab League stands by the UAE and Saudi Arabia "in all measures taken to safeguard their security and interests."

Senior State Dept. official Brian Hook responded with "no comment" when asked if Iran was to blame for the alleged attacks on the commercial vessels near the vital Strait of Hormuz.

Hours after, President Trump weighed in by warning Iran against any "provocation" or else the country "will suffer greatly" if conflict breaks out with the US. Trump told reporters while meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House :

"We'll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything it'll be a very bad mistake, if they do anything."

Though so far it appears minor, the sabotage incident could signal the start of a Gulf of Tonkin type incident in the Persian Gulf, which would ultimately force Iran into a direct confrontation with the US and its regional allies, given also the ease with which any major event which disrupts shipping -- and impacting global oil markets -- would immediately be blamed on Iran , and uncritically spread through global and western media.

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Seeming to be well aware of such a possibility, Iran on Monday urged caution and even directly suggested the events could be false-flag provocations designed to draw regional enemies into conflict. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Monday the incidents were "alarming and regrettable," and urged that more details were needed.

He further warned against "plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security" and called for "vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements ."

via The Daily Mail

Last week the US deployed a carrier strike group to the region and further has a B-52 bomber group monitoring the skies over the Persian Gulf from al Udeid airbase in Qatar.

While the Iran's Revolutionary Guard has also dismissed the recent US military build-up as "nothing but psychological warfare", saying that "the US lacks power and does not dare to start a war against Iran," it has also said its finger is on the trigger, ready to respond to any aggressive acts.

[May 14, 2019] Transcript Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Face the Nation

What is funny is that MARGARET BRENNAN is to the right of Pompeo. That's a real achievement. Pompeo probably was surprised that he was put on the defensive from his right-wing position by this warmongering female neocon.
May 05, 2019 | www.cbsnews.com
MARGARET BRENNAN: You've got the whole world as your portfolio so let's move on to Venezuela and Russia. There was this phone call between Vladimir Putin and President Trump that just happened. The president described it to us in an Oval Office spray. Why didn't he bring up election interference on this phone call when he said he did discuss the findings of the Mueller Report which found sweeping and systematic Russian interference in 2016?

SEC. POMPEO: Well you'll have to ask the White House that question. The president's been very clear. The administration has taken great action. I wish the previous one had stopped the election interference that took place in 2016. They failed to do so. Between 2017 when President Trump came into office and 2018, we had a successful election year, a set of midterm elections. We're working diligently to ensure that the elections in 2020 aren't interfered with by Russia, by Iran, by North Korea or anyone else. We have enormous resource deployed against that challenge. And the American people should be sure that their government is working hard to keep our election safe and secure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said, this week, that Moscow has hundreds of people in Venezuela and you were very clear that you think it was Russia that convinced Nicolas Maduro not to get on a plane and to flee the country. Here's what the president said during his- after his phone call with Vladimir Putin.

*Take SOT*

MARGARET BRENNAN: There seems to be a difference in how the president described the situation and how you and Ambassador Bolton have described it.

SEC. POMPEO: No, no difference, no difference. The- the president has said, I think he in fact tweeted, that the Russians must leave Venezuela. We've asked every nation that is in- interfering with Venezuelan democracy- you've seen this. I- I was down on the border. We saw mothers who couldn't feed their children, fleeing the country. We saw families that had sick kids but couldn't get medicines, all sitting, was sitting within 50 miles of where we were located. And Maduro won't allow it to come in. The president's been very clear, we want the Cubans out. There are Iranians on the ground there. We want the Russians- we want everyone out so that the Venezuelan people can get the democracy they deserve. That includes Mr. Maduro leaving.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So when he says, the president says, "Putin is not looking to get involved at all in Venezuela," that is not the president accepting him at face value?

SEC. POMPEO: You'll- you'll have to leave- you'll have to look at--

MARGARET BRENNAN: He knows that that's not the case?

SEC. POMPEO: The- the president has tweeted that he wants the Russians out of Venezuela.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So he was just putting a positive spin on things in that moment?

SEC. POMPEO: We- we are working very diligently to ensure that Maduro leaves and we get free and fair elections in Venezuela. That will require the 2,300 Cuban security personnel, the- frankly, the people closest to Maduro who are protecting the in- tight security for Maduro, they've got to leave. We're working on that as well. We're working with the Cubans to try and get an outcome that will let the Venezuelans have this opportunity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: On this, I know you'll be meeting with the Russian foreign minister in the coming days. Is there a deal to be struck with Russia on this front? I mean, Russia benefits, right, by having Venezuelan oil off the market, by having a level of influence in America's backyard. Is the U.S. going to negotiate a deal with Russia on Venezuela?

SEC. POMPEO: I'll certainly bring up Venezuela, be one of many topics that Foreign Minister Lav- Lavrov and I speak about- speak about. Whether there's a particular deal that can be reached? Only time will tell.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina who I know you know well tweeted this week, "Cuba, Russia sent troops to prop up Maduro in Venezuela while we talk and have sanctions. Where's our aircraft carrier?" He seems to be calling a bluff here on your mention and mention from others that military options aren't off the table. What is actually being considered here because you can't refer to the use of military force lightly. Is there an actual option that you are considering deploying in the coming days?

[May 13, 2019] Barr Appoints US Attorney To Investigate FBI-DOJ Spying On Trump; Has Investigated FBI Before

Notable quotes:
"... According to Fox , Barr is "serious" and has assembled a team from the DOJ to participate in the probe, adding that Durham is known as a "hard-charging, bulldog" prosecutor according to their source. ..."
"... Sources familiar with matter say the focus of the probe includes the pre-transition period -- prior to Nov. 7, 2016 - - including the use and initiation of informants , as well as potential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses. ..."
"... An informant working for U.S. intelligence posed as a Cambridge University research assistant in September 2016 to try extracting any possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia from George Papadopoulos, then a Trump foreign policy adviser, it emerged earlier this month. Papadopoulos told Fox News the informant tried to "seduce" him as part of the "bizarre" episode. ..."
"... Durham has a history of serving as a special prosecutor, investigating wrongdoing among national security officials - including the FBI's ties to a Boston crime boss, as well as accusations of CIA detainee abuse. ..."
"... According to the report, Durham's review would run in parallel with the ongoing DOJ probe by Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz. Meanwhile, Republicans have been seeking answers from US Attorney for Utah, John Huber, who was appointed by former AG Jeff Sessions to review FBI and DOJ surveillance abuses, as well as authorities' handling of the probe into the Clinton Foundation . ..."
"... As part of the FBI's FISA application on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, the FBI cut-and-pasted from a disputed Washington Post article which suggested that the Trump campaign may have been compromised. The agency also repeatedly told the FISA court that it "did not believe" UK ex-spy Christopher Steele was the source of a Yahoo News article written by Michael Isikoff which implicated Page in Russian collusion. ..."
"... London court records , however, reveal that contrary to the FBI's statements, Steele had briefed Yahoo News and other media outlets in the fall of 2016 at the urging of his employer Fusion GPS - which the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had paid for anti-Trump opposition research. This information was withheld from FISA judges during the application to surveil Page. ..."
"... Steele told Kavalec that Russia had a "technical/human operation run out of Moscow targeting the election," which recruited US emigres to "do hacking and recruiting. Steele added that "Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian consulate in Miami." ..."
"... Except that's a lie - as Kavalec debunked the assertion in a bracketed comment: " It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami. " ..."
"... Could it be that Mueller was in charge of the Boston mobster thing, and he ended up with a giant promotion to head of the agency? So what exactly happened as a result of that "investigation"? ..."
"... So, Huber was Sessions' special stooge put in place to help smother the truth? ..."
"... Catch 22. They all have the same paymaster. Kinda like asking whores to testify against their pimps. ..."
"... Alexander Downer also funnelled millions in Australian tax dollars to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary's election campaign ..."
May 13, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Attorney General William Barr has appointed US Attorney John H. Durham of Connecticut to examine the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation to determine if the FBI's spying on the Trump campaign was "lawful and appropriate," according to Fox News .

The move comes as the Trump administration has demanded answers over the use of "informants" on his 2016 campaign.

According to Fox , Barr is "serious" and has assembled a team from the DOJ to participate in the probe, adding that Durham is known as a "hard-charging, bulldog" prosecutor according to their source.

Sources familiar with matter say the focus of the probe includes the pre-transition period -- prior to Nov. 7, 2016 - - including the use and initiation of informants , as well as potential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses.

An informant working for U.S. intelligence posed as a Cambridge University research assistant in September 2016 to try extracting any possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia from George Papadopoulos, then a Trump foreign policy adviser, it emerged earlier this month. Papadopoulos told Fox News the informant tried to "seduce" him as part of the "bizarre" episode.

Durham previously has investigated law enforcement corruption, the destruction of CIA videotapes and the Boston FBI office's relationship with mobsters. He is set to continue to serve as the chief federal prosecutor in Connecticut. - Fox News

Of note - in January House Republicans Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows wrote to Durham , saying that they had "discovered" he was "investigating former FBI General Counsel James Baker" over unauthorized leaks to the media, adding "We know the DOJ and FBI departed from traditional investigative and prosecutorial practices, and insufficiently adhered to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Durham has a history of serving as a special prosecutor, investigating wrongdoing among national security officials - including the FBI's ties to a Boston crime boss, as well as accusations of CIA detainee abuse.

According to the report, Durham's review would run in parallel with the ongoing DOJ probe by Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz. Meanwhile, Republicans have been seeking answers from US Attorney for Utah, John Huber, who was appointed by former AG Jeff Sessions to review FBI and DOJ surveillance abuses, as well as authorities' handling of the probe into the Clinton Foundation .

Not much has come of Huber's investigation, while Republicans have cautioned that he has spoken with few key witnesses and whistleblowers.

Durham's appointment comes about a month after Barr told members of Congress he believed "spying did occur" on the Trump campaign in 2016. He later said he didn't mean anything pejorative and was gathering a team to look into the origins of the special counsel's investigation.

Democrats have pummeled Barr in frustration following revelations in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russian actors , despite numerous offers by Russians to assist the campaign. Mueller's final report has led to a bitter D.C. battle over the limited number of redactions in the report, which the DOJ says are legally necessary because they pertain to grand jury matters. - Fox News

As part of the FBI's FISA application on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, the FBI cut-and-pasted from a disputed Washington Post article which suggested that the Trump campaign may have been compromised. The agency also repeatedly told the FISA court that it "did not believe" UK ex-spy Christopher Steele was the source of a Yahoo News article written by Michael Isikoff which implicated Page in Russian collusion.

London court records , however, reveal that contrary to the FBI's statements, Steele had briefed Yahoo News and other media outlets in the fall of 2016 at the urging of his employer Fusion GPS - which the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had paid for anti-Trump opposition research. This information was withheld from FISA judges during the application to surveil Page.

What's more, the FBI could not verify the dodgy dossier Steele assembled . Speaking Fox on 'Sunday Morning Futures,' Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said "There's a document that's classified that I'm gonna try to get unclassified that takes the dossier -- all the pages of it -- and it has verification to one side," adding "There really is no verification, other than media reports that were generated by reporters that received the dossier."

Graham cited a recent report from The Hill 's John Solomon which reveals that the FBI was specifically informed that Steele had admitted he was "keen" to influence the 2016 election with his document.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec's written account of her Oct. 11, 2016, meeting with FBI informant Christopher Steele shows the Hillary Clinton campaign-funded British intelligence operative admitted that his research was political and facing an Election Day deadline . - The Hill

Solomon also reported last week that a high-ranking government official who met with Christopher Steele in October 2016 determined that information in the Trump-Russia dossier was inaccurate , and likely leaked to the media.

Ten days before the FBI used the now-discredited dossier to apply for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, Steele met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec, who took handwritten notes of the encounter.

Steele told Kavalec that Russia had a "technical/human operation run out of Moscow targeting the election," which recruited US emigres to "do hacking and recruiting. Steele added that "Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian consulate in Miami."

Except that's a lie - as Kavalec debunked the assertion in a bracketed comment: " It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami. "

What makes this particularly damning is that the FBI swore on October 21, 2016 to the FISA judges that Steele's "reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings," and that the FBI deemed him to be "reliable" and was "unaware of any derogatory information pertaining" to the former British spy who was working for Fusion GPS - the firm paid by the DNC and the Clinton campaign to come up with dirt on Donald Trump.

And now U.S. Attorney John Durham will sort out exactly what happened, we can only hope.


sgorem , 2 minutes ago link

that rank stench hitting your nostrils is the clinton criminal syndicate. they have, from their beginning days in arkansas, killed, bribed, extorted, blackmailed, stole, and fucked their way through the political system. if you wonder why they aren't in Leavenworth, think of ALL the "government employees, i.e., representatives, diplomats, congressmen/women, etc., protecting these vermin from the light of the truth. they have found "the way" to find and keep friends in the deep state. they make you an offer you can't refuse............

deFLorable hillbilly , 4 minutes ago link

Something doesn't smell right on this one. Could it be that Mueller was in charge of the Boston mobster thing, and he ended up with a giant promotion to head of the agency? So what exactly happened as a result of that "investigation"?

This guy Durham has a very suspicious looking mustache. Comey may end up as Biden's VP. Just sayin'.

LEEPERMAX , 5 minutes ago link

As the sun sinks on the horizon . . .

PANIC MODE settles in across the Washington Swamp !!!

Chuck Walla , 5 minutes ago link

So, Huber was Sessions' special stooge put in place to help smother the truth?

VWAndy , 6 minutes ago link

Catch 22. They all have the same paymaster. Kinda like asking whores to testify against their pimps.

DeepThoughts , 7 minutes ago link

As a 45-year old man, I hope that they get to the bottom of this by the time my unborn grandkids grow old.

Md4 , 7 minutes ago link

"Steele told Kavalec that Russia had a "technical/human operation run out of Moscow targeting the election," which recruited US emigres to "do hacking and recruiting. Steele added that "Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian consulate in Miami."

Except that's a lie - as Kavalec debunked the assertion in a bracketed comment: " It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami. "

Russian hacking...

...still no presented, credible evidence...

Herp and Derp , 7 minutes ago link

Great. Who is prosecuting Hillary? Who is going after Schiff for brains and the dozen other democrat congressional leakers?

Teamtc321 , 8 minutes ago link

Mueller Time is Over ... It's time to pay the BARR tab...............

IvannaHumpalot , 8 minutes ago link

INVESTIGATE AUSTRALIA

Alexander Downer former foreign minister is the one who was meddling - Australia's high commissioner to the UK in 2016

Started whole Russiagate investigation against Trump's campaign by telling the FBI that a drunken George Papadopoulos had said Russia had dirt on Hillary. Because of his diplomatic standing the FBI took Downer seriously and it was a major factor in their decision to investigate.

Alexander Downer also funnelled millions in Australian tax dollars to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary's election campaign

https://thepoliticalinsider.com/alexander-downer-clinton-foundation/

"Downer is suspected of helping to "dishonestly" obtain $25 million from the Australian government for the Clinton Foundation's Clinton HIV/AIDs Initiative (CHAI). Michael Smith (former Australian police detective) says that he gave materials to the FBI containing evidence that shows "corrupt October 2006 backdating of false tender advertisements purporting to advertise the availability of a $15 million contract to provide HIV/AIDS services in Papua New Guinea on behalf of the Australian government after an agreement was already in place to pay the Clinton Foundation and/or associates."

Smith also found evidence of a "$10 million financial advantage dishonestly obtained by deception between April 1, 2008, and Sept. 25, 2008, at Washington, D.C., New York, New York, and Canberra Australia involving an MOU between the Australian government, the 'Clinton Climate Initiative,' and the purported 'Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute Inc.'"

Lord Raglan , 3 minutes ago link

I agree with you. It is about branding. Coke versus Pepsi but more committed. I don't think that way but Democrats seem to. The ones I know are filled with hate. The real paradigm is World Government v. Nation States, not Dem v. Repub.

hxc , 1 minute ago link

The real fight is world government vs self-government.

Tapeworm , 13 minutes ago link

Congreff could have done some little thing about the DS aholes that lied in testimony, but a fat zero. Clapper was a slam dunk as they say at this time of year in bubble bouncing. Come to thing of it, and sing along with the bouncing ball----"I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles"......

Where is fabulous Q?

Md4 , 13 minutes ago link

They say the wheels of justice grind slowly.

Fine.

As long as they do so in the direction of truth...and consequences.

Proceed...

frankthecrank , 3 minutes ago link

if you have the guts and the stamina and push long enough and hard enough, you can make it happen.

DEDA CVETKO , 17 minutes ago link

Hillary will plea not guilty on account of having to escape nonexistent Sarajevo snipers.

Seal Team 6 , 16 minutes ago link

Barring (no pun intended) the images of Hillary and Obama being lead in cuffs into a black Tahoe on the 6 oclock news, I don't think it will go anywhere as the MSM won't report it.

steverino999 , 20 minutes ago link

Don't make me say it, Willie!

Willie the Pimp , 18 minutes ago link

Oh you will because you are a bitch. Go for it bitch. This is your life's work right here loser! HAHAHAA! Dumbass.

Tapeworm , 4 minutes ago link

steverino666 has it right. The likelihood of anything exhumed out of the slime in DC is a fat zero...

Blue Boat , 24 minutes ago link

All you people who recently said, "Nothing will happen. Wake me if anyone gets indicted." SEE? We told you the tide had turned with a new sheriff, Russia hoax investigation over. Now, the gauntlet drops. Talk about needing to buy some popcorn!

Blue Boat , 20 minutes ago link

Boston FBI .... https://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/24/us/trial-ending-for-boston-fbi-agent-accused-of-mob-ties.html

Mike Rotsch , 11 minutes ago link

Hey - the world is a giant toilet. And the laws of probability favor pessimism.

847328_3527 , 27 minutes ago link

Feinstein is looking for Durham's high school yearbook as we speak....

SenatorBlutarsky , 10 minutes ago link

+1!

[May 13, 2019] Not Just Ukraine; Biden May Have A Serious China Problem As Schweizer Exposes Hunter s $1bn Deal

Highly recommended!
Neoliberal corruption in full display. As we see forms of nepotism evolve with time...
Notable quotes:
"... Two years of investigations by journalist Peter Schweizer has revealed that Joe Biden may now have a serious China problem. And just like his Ukraine scandal , it involves actions which helped his son Hunter, who was making hand over fist in both countries. ..."
"... Schweizer, the author of Clinton Cash and now Secret Empires discovered that in 2013, then-Vice President Biden and his son Hunter flew together to China on Air Force Two - and two weeks later, Hunter's firm inked a private equity deal for $1 billion with a subsidiary of the Chinese government's Bank of China , which expanded to $1.5 billion, according to an article by Schweizer's in the New York Post . ..."
"... Hunter Biden and his partners created several LLCs involved in multibillion-dollar private equity deals with Chinese government-owned entities. ..."
"... Perhaps most damning in terms of timing and optics, just twelve days after Hunter and Joe Biden flew on Air Force Two to Beijing, Hunter's company signed a "historic deal with the Bank of China ," described by Schweizer as "the state-owned financial behemoth often used as a tool of the Chinese government." To accommodate the deal, the Bank of China created a unique type of investment fund called Bohai Harvest RST (BHR). According to BHR, Rosemont Seneca Partners is a founding partner ..."
"... It was an unprecedented arrangement: the government of one of America's fiercest competitors going into business with the son of one of America's most powerful decisionmakers . ..."
"... It doesn't stop there. While Hunter Biden had "no experience in China, and little in private equity," the Chinese government for some reason thought it would be a great idea to give his firm business opportunities instead of established global banks such as Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs. ..."
"... The following August, Rosemont Realty, another sister company of Rosemont Seneca, announced that Gemini Investments was buying a 75 percent stake in the company. The terms of the deal included a $3 billion commitment from the Chinese, who were eager to purchase new US properties. Shortly after the sale, Rosemont Realty was rechristened Gemini Rosemont. ..."
"... "We see great opportunities to continue acquiring high-quality real estate in the US market," said one company executive, who added: "The possibilities for this venture are tremendous." ..."
"... Then, in 2015, BHR partnered with a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned military aviation contractor Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) in order to purchase American precision-parts maker Henniges - a transaction which required approval from the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the same rubber-stamp committee that approved the Uranium One deal. ..."
"... The vice president was bringing with him highly welcomed terms of a United States Agency for International Development program to assist the Ukrainian natural-gas industry and promises of more US financial assistance and loans. Soon the United States and the International Monetary Fund would be pumping more than $1 billion into the Ukrainian economy. ..."
"... The next day, there was a public announcement that Archer had been asked to join the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural-gas company. Three weeks after that, on May 13, it was announced that Hunter Biden would join, too. Neither Biden nor Archer had any background or experience in the energy sector. - New York Post ..."
"... Then Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in US loan guarantees to Ukraine unless President Petro Poroshenko fired his head prosecutor, General Viktor Shokin, who was leading a wide-ranging corruption investigation into natural gas firm Burisma Holdings. ..."
"... Biden bragged about the threat last year, telling an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations: "I said, ' You're not getting the billion .' I'm going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ' I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money, '" bragged Biden, recalling the conversation with Poroshenko. ..."
"... As we head into the 2020 elections, it will be interesting to see how Joe Biden dances around his son's lucrative - and very potentially daddy-assisted deals around the world. ..."
May 13, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Mon, 05/13/2019 - 14:30 111 SHARES

Two years of investigations by journalist Peter Schweizer has revealed that Joe Biden may now have a serious China problem. And just like his Ukraine scandal , it involves actions which helped his son Hunter, who was making hand over fist in both countries.

Schweizer, the author of Clinton Cash and now Secret Empires discovered that in 2013, then-Vice President Biden and his son Hunter flew together to China on Air Force Two - and two weeks later, Hunter's firm inked a private equity deal for $1 billion with a subsidiary of the Chinese government's Bank of China , which expanded to $1.5 billion, according to an article by Schweizer's in the New York Post .

" If it sounds shocking that a vice president would shape US-China policy as his son -- who has scant experience in private equity -- clinched a coveted billion-dollar deal with an arm of the Chinese government, that's because it is " - Peter Schweizer

Perhaps this is why Joe Biden - now on the 2020 campaign trail - said last week that China wasn't a threat.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/sD9d3TUYHNo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a shot at Biden's comment during a speech at the Claremont Institute's 40th anniversary gala, saying "Look how both parties now are on guard against the threat that China presents to America -- maybe except Joe Biden."

Back to Hunter...

Schweizer connects the dots, writing that "without the aid of subpoena power, here's what we know :"

It was an unprecedented arrangement: the government of one of America's fiercest competitors going into business with the son of one of America's most powerful decisionmakers .

Chris Heinz claims neither he nor Rosemont Seneca Partners, the firm he had part ownership of, had any role in the deal with Bohai Harvest. Nonetheless, Biden, Archer and the Rosemont name became increasingly involved with China.

Archer became the vice chairman of Bohai Harvest, helping oversee some of the fund's investments. - New York Post

National Security implications

As Schweizer also notes, BHR became an "anchor investor" in the IPO of China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN) in December 2014. The state-owned energy company is involved with the construction of nuclear reactors.

In April 2016, CGN was charged by the US Justice Department with stealing nuclear secrets from the United States , which prosecutors warned could cause "significant damage to our national security." CNG was interested in sensitive, American-made nuclear components that resembled those used on US nuclear submarines, according to experts.

More China dealings

It doesn't stop there. While Hunter Biden had "no experience in China, and little in private equity," the Chinese government for some reason thought it would be a great idea to give his firm business opportunities instead of established global banks such as Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs.

Also in December 2014, a Chinese state-backed conglomerate called Gemini Investments Limited was negotiating and sealing deals with Hunter Biden's Rosemont on several fronts. That month, it made a $34 million investment into a fund managed by Rosemont.

The following August, Rosemont Realty, another sister company of Rosemont Seneca, announced that Gemini Investments was buying a 75 percent stake in the company. The terms of the deal included a $3 billion commitment from the Chinese, who were eager to purchase new US properties. Shortly after the sale, Rosemont Realty was rechristened Gemini Rosemont.

Chinese executives lauded the deal. - New York Post

"Rosemont, with its comprehensive real-estate platform and superior performance history, was precisely the investment opportunity Gemini Investments was looking for in order to invest in the US real estate market," said Li Ming, chairman of Sino-Ocean Land Holdings Limited and Gemini Investments. "We look forward to a strong and successful partnership."

That partnership planned to use Chinese money to scoop up US properties.

"We see great opportunities to continue acquiring high-quality real estate in the US market," said one company executive, who added: "The possibilities for this venture are tremendous."

Then, in 2015, BHR partnered with a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned military aviation contractor Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) in order to purchase American precision-parts maker Henniges - a transaction which required approval from the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the same rubber-stamp committee that approved the Uranium One deal.

Tying it back to Ukraine

While we have previously reported on the Bidens' adventures in Ukraine, Schweizer connects the dots rather well here ...

Consider the facts. On April 16, 2014, White House records show that Devon Archer, Hunter Biden's business partner in the Rosemont Seneca deals, made a private visit to the White House for a meeting with Vice President Biden. Five days later, on April 21, Joe Biden landed in Kiev for a series of high-level meetings with Ukrainian officials . The vice president was bringing with him highly welcomed terms of a United States Agency for International Development program to assist the Ukrainian natural-gas industry and promises of more US financial assistance and loans. Soon the United States and the International Monetary Fund would be pumping more than $1 billion into the Ukrainian economy.

The next day, there was a public announcement that Archer had been asked to join the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural-gas company. Three weeks after that, on May 13, it was announced that Hunter Biden would join, too. Neither Biden nor Archer had any background or experience in the energy sector. - New York Post

Hunter was paid as much as $50,000 per month while Burisma was under investigation by officials in both Ukraine and elsewhere.

Then Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in US loan guarantees to Ukraine unless President Petro Poroshenko fired his head prosecutor, General Viktor Shokin, who was leading a wide-ranging corruption investigation into natural gas firm Burisma Holdings.

Biden bragged about the threat last year, telling an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations: "I said, ' You're not getting the billion .' I'm going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ' I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money, '" bragged Biden, recalling the conversation with Poroshenko.

" Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time."

Joe Biden says that he had no idea Hunter was on the board of Burisma (for two years after he joined), and that the two never spoke about the Burisma investigation. The former VP claims that Shokin's removal was required due to his mishandling of several cases in Ukraine.

As we head into the 2020 elections, it will be interesting to see how Joe Biden dances around his son's lucrative - and very potentially daddy-assisted deals around the world.


Bastiat , 2 minutes ago link

Stick a fork in Creepy Uncle Sniffy.

Feel it Reel it , 8 minutes ago link

Biden is another scumbag Democrat Lawyer who's the original 'pay for play' politician...A 40+ year history in Political Office with Zero accomplishments except enriching himself and his family...A complete fraud and hypocrite liar.....Lawyers should have never been allowed to run for Office at any level.....Look at all the corruption that has been and is being exposed at the different bureaucracies...Virtually all the corruption has been willfully committed by Lawyers....Pathetic....

LOL123 , 16 minutes ago link

Interesting.... I put: "The Steele Dossier has so many British agents involved it sounds like a British failed coup to overthrow an elected President because he stands in " the way of "profiting goals of " international goals" of global monopoly run by unelected councils and retired instigators as facilitators of discord.

But came out:The Steele Dossier has so many British agents involved it sounds like a British failed coup to overthrow an elected President because he stands in the profiting goals of " international goals" of global monopoly run by unelected councils and retired instigators as facilitators of discord.

To make it sound as if it is Trump profiting.... By no means is that true... Its the " long term" Washington officals that have been profiting. Not a possible 8 year President.

My phone also wont let me thumbs up people i would like to but only a few and also replying is " verboten".

These algorhythms and blocks and censorship is an abuse of constitutional rights which is bad enough, but even worse is that these rights got monopolized by various corporations who bought stock in facebook/ googles options that was stolen from Leader technologies source code ( which Mark zukerberg couldnt write on a good day... He is a front guy and again we have British privy council involed with Clegg head of facebook now voice for Mark... Because Mark is a cut out).

This whole social media internet thing has been hijacked and weaponized by Washingtons same people as Dossier scandel... James Chandeler attorney and backstaber of Leader technology.

See leader technology vs facebook..... But i digress.

We have lost control of the internet.

https://www.fbcoverup.com/docs/library/Michael-T-McKibben-AFI-backgrounder.html

Michael T. McKibben's career spans two phases: international Christian music ministry, and technology innovation. In 2006, he was awarded U.S. Patent No. 7,139,761 for what is now called "social networking."

Psadie , 21 minutes ago link

Biden & Kerry aren't the only ones with a China problem. "Secret Empires" also listed Mitch McConnell having a huge China problem through his wife's shipping company. I bet he doesn't run for re-election. Winning.

Bricker , 23 minutes ago link

Biden thinks he knows something about trade. If thats the case how did America get here?

We got here from career politicians selling America for votes.

#FuckBiden

cleg , 46 minutes ago link

China owns the Clintonista mob.

onewayticket2 , 43 minutes ago link

they all own one another - that's the essence of the problem in politics. and why they have tried so hard to get that outsider, trump, out of the country club.

Koba the Dread , 30 minutes ago link

China funded Bill Clinton's election campaigns through James Riady, an Indonesian Chinese man involved in hard drug smuggling and arms trafficking. The money was laundered through Little Rock banks and corporations. (See Victor Thorn's Hillary and Bill , all three volumes.)

JamcaicanMeAfraid , 48 minutes ago link

"Come on man! This is a joke! He's my son and he's a great buddy. I mean yeah he was drummed out of the Naval Reserve because of his cocaine habit, but come on man, you know, everybody does it! Just ask my good friend Barack, he's a clean, good looking darkie whose done his share of blow. And yeah Hunter fucked his dead brother's widow, but come on man! Have you seen her **** and ***. I might have made a move on her myself, but hey man I'm married."

Joe Biden, From the endless Fear and Mongering Presidential campaign of 2020.

JibjeResearch , 49 minutes ago link

How can a deal of such magnitude escape the Treasury FINCEN?

Get on it ... you IRS/SEC/FBI people!

Koba the Dread , 25 minutes ago link

IRS/SEC/FBI are not investigatory agencies. They are barrier agencies. They protect the anointed, letting them do as they wish, and stomp on anyone else who tries to get in on the gravy train.

Rico , 55 minutes ago link

ah, sociopaths in action...from an earlier post:

//

Sociopaths are the reason all governments, regardless of the particular 'ism', eventually fail...

Looking at human history, fascism is the most common form of government for humans. At least it is the most honest - that the sociopaths are ******* everyone else.... These days we try to hide it by lofty idealism that is incompatible with a predator/prey real world.....

Representative democracy, socialism and communism all fail and all fail for the same reason - sociopaths...

We should be honest with ourselves that there is a small, but statistically significant percentage of the human population that are sociopaths (and more are being born every generation). We can call them predators and we are the prey...any concentration of power attracts sociopaths regardless of the fancy label we put on the political system. Within a short time the system is inundated with sociopaths who invariably game the system to death for their own individual benefit....

Don't like the reality in which you find yourself? Stop voting for sociopaths, stop giving them power...

What political party or system even acknowledge the sociopath problem? That's right, none...so don't expect anything to change after the reset...the pleubs will chose a new sociopath for their leader, who will **** them, and things will go on as they always have...

Only way to combat this is to decentralize power as much as possible...this doesn't solve the sociopath problem, but it does spread them out and keeps them from ganging up together to **** over the peasants...but I won't hold my breath....

Fish Gone Bad , 1 hour ago link

I bet Hunter's tax records must be VERY interesting. Someone really needs to step up and show those bad boys.

pilager , 1 hour ago link

Yes, selling America out again.

TeethVillage88s , 52 minutes ago link

Is this a good time to take a look at 1) Front Men 2) Front Companies 3) Shell Companies 4) Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV/SPE) 5) Offshore Accounts, Offshore Donations, Offshore Campaign or PAC or Party Contributions, Paradise Papers, Panama Papers 6) USA as Tax Haven for foreign accounts 7) USA as an Empire 8) The Rise Of The Fourth Reich notes in book by Jim Marrs

[May 13, 2019] Crappy little countries

This was true about Iraq war. This is true about Venezuela and Syria.
Notable quotes:
"... In a rather odd article in the London Review of Books , Perry Anderson argued that there wasn't, and wondered aloud why the U.S. war on Iraq had excited such unprecedented worldwide opposition - even, in all places, within the U.S. - when earlier episodes of imperial violence hadn't. ..."
"... Lots of people, in the U.S. and abroad, recognize that and are alarmed. And lots also recognize that the Bush regime represents an intensification of imperial ambition. ..."
"... Why? The answers aren't self-evident. Certainly the war on Iraq had little to do with its public justifications. Iraq was clearly a threat to no one, and the weapons of mass destruction have proved elusive. The war did nothing for the fight against terrorism. Only ideologues believe that Baghdad had anything to do with al Qaeda - and if the Bush administration were really worried about "homeland security," it'd be funding the defense of ports, nuclear reactors, and chemical plants rather than starting imperial wars and alienating people by the billions. Sure, Saddam's regime was monstrous - which is one of the reasons Washington supported it up until the invasion of Kuwait. The Ba'ath Party loved to kill Communists - as many as 150,000 according to some estimates - and the CIA's relationship with Saddam goes back to 1959 . ..."
"... Iraq has lots of oil , and there's little doubt that that's why it was at the first pole of the axis of evil to get hit. (Iran does too, but it's a much tougher nut to crack - four times as big, and not weakened by war and sanctions.) ..."
Apr 30, 2003 | www.leftbusinessobserver.com

Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small c rappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.
- Michael Ledeen , holder of the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute

Actually, the U.S. had been beating Iraq's head against the wall for a dozen years, with sanctions and bombing. The sanctions alone killed over a million Iraqis, far more than have been done in by weapons of mass destruction throughout history. But Ledeen's indiscreet remark, delivered at an AEI conference and reported by Jonah Goldberg in National Review Online , does capture some of what the war on Iraq is about.

And what is this "business" Ledeen says we mean? Oil, of course, of which more in a bit. Ditto construction contracts for Bechtel. But it's more than that - nothing less than the desire, often expressed with little shame nor euphemism, to run the world. Is there anything new about that?

The answer is, of course, yes and no. In a rather odd article in the London Review of Books , Perry Anderson argued that there wasn't, and wondered aloud why the U.S. war on Iraq had excited such unprecedented worldwide opposition - even, in all places, within the U.S. - when earlier episodes of imperial violence hadn't. Anderson, who's edited New Left Review for years, but who has almost no connection to actual politics attributed this strange explosion not to a popular outburst of anti-imperialism, but to a cultural antipathy to the Bush administration.

Presumably that antipathy belongs to the realm of the " merely cultural ," and is of no great political significance to Anderson. But it should be. U.S. culture has long been afflicted with a brutally reactionary and self-righteous version of Christian fundamentalism, but it's never had such influence over the state. The president thinks himself on a mission from God, the Attorney General opens the business day with a prayer meeting, and the Pentagon's idea of a Good Friday service is to invite Franklin Graham , who's pronounced Islam a "wicked and evil religion," to deliver the homily, in which he promised that Jesus was returning soon. For the hard core, the Iraq war is a sign of the end times, and the hard core are in power.

Lots of people, in the U.S. and abroad, recognize that and are alarmed. And lots also recognize that the Bush regime represents an intensification of imperial ambition. Though the administration has been discreet, many of its private sector intellectuals have been using the words "imperialism" and " empire " openly and with glee. Not everyone of the millions who marched against the war in the months before it started was a conscious anti-imperialist, but they all sensed the intensification, and were further alarmed.

While itself avoiding the difficult word "empire," the Bush administration has been rather clear about its long-term aims. According to their official national security strategy and the documents published by the Project for a New American Century (which served as an administration-in-waiting during the Clinton years) their goal is to assure U.S. dominance and prevent the emergence of any rival powers. First step in that agenda is the remaking of the Middle East - and they're quite open about this as well. We all know the countries that are on the list; the only remaining issues are sequence and strategy. But that's not the whole of the agenda. They're essentially promising a permanent state of war, some overt, some covert, but one that could take decades.

Imperial returns?

Why? The answers aren't self-evident. Certainly the war on Iraq had little to do with its public justifications. Iraq was clearly a threat to no one, and the weapons of mass destruction have proved elusive. The war did nothing for the fight against terrorism. Only ideologues believe that Baghdad had anything to do with al Qaeda - and if the Bush administration were really worried about "homeland security," it'd be funding the defense of ports, nuclear reactors, and chemical plants rather than starting imperial wars and alienating people by the billions. Sure, Saddam's regime was monstrous - which is one of the reasons Washington supported it up until the invasion of Kuwait. The Ba'ath Party loved to kill Communists - as many as 150,000 according to some estimates - and the CIA's relationship with Saddam goes back to 1959 .

Iraq has lots of oil , and there's little doubt that that's why it was at the first pole of the axis of evil to get hit. (Iran does too, but it's a much tougher nut to crack - four times as big, and not weakened by war and sanctions.)

It now looks fairly certain that the U.S. will, in some form, claim some large piece of Iraq's oil. The details need to be worked out; clarifying the legal situation could be very complicated, given the rampantly illegal nature of the regime change. Rebuilding Iraq's oil industry will be very expensive and could take years. There could be some nice profits down the line for big oil companies - billions a year - but the broader economic benefits for the U.S. aren't so clear. A U.S.-dominated Iraq could pump heavily and undermine OPEC, but too low an oil price would wreck the domestic U.S. oil industry, something the Bush gang presumably cares about. Mexico would be driven into penury, which could mean another debt crisis and lots of human traffic heading north over the Rio Grande. Lower oil prices would be a boon to most industrial economies, but they'd give the U.S. no special advantage over its principal economic rivals.

It's sometimes said that U.S. dominance of the Middle East gives Washington a chokehold over oil supplies to Europe and Japan. But how might that work? Deep production cutbacks and price spikes would hurt everyone. Targeted sales restrictions would be the equivalent of acts of war, and if the U.S. is willing to take that route, a blockade would be a lot more efficient. The world oil market is gigantic and complex, and it's not clear how a tap could be turned in Kirkuk that would shut down the gas pumps in Kyoto or Milan.

Writers like David Harvey argue that the U.S. is trying to compensate for its eroding economic power by asserting its military dominance. Maybe. It's certainly fascinating that Bush's unilateralism has to be financed by gobs of foreign money - and he gets his tax cuts, he'll have to order up even bigger gobs. But it's hard to see what rival threatens the U.S. economically; neither the EU nor Japan is thriving. Nor is there any evidence that the Bush administration is thinking seriously about economic policy, domestic or international, or even thinking at all. The economic staff is mostly dim and marginal. What really seems to excite this gang of supposed conservatives is the exercise of raw state power.

Jealous rivals

And while the Bushies want to prevent the emergence of imperial rivals , they may only be encouraging that. Sure, the EU is badly divided within itself; it has a hard enough time picking a top central banker , let alone deciding on a common foreign policy. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is already semi-apologizing to Bush for his intemperate language in criticizing the war - not that Bush has started taking his calls. But over the longer term, some kind of political unification is Europe's only hope for acting like a remotely credible world power. It's tempting to read French and German objections to the Iraq war as emerging not from principle, but from the wounded narcissism of former imperial powers rendered marginal by American might. Separately, they'll surely hang. But a politically united Europe could, with time, come to challenge U.S. power, just as the euro is beginning to look like a credible rival to the dollar.

(Speaking of the euro, there's a theory circulating on the net that the U.S. went to war because Iraq wanted to price its oil in euros, not dollars. That's grossly overheated speculation. More on this and related issues when LBO begins an investigation of the political economy of oil in the next issue.)

An even more interesting rivalry scenario would involve an alliance of the EU and Russia. Russia is no longer the wreck it was for most of the 1990s. The economy has been growing and the mildly authoritarian Putin has imposed political stability. Russia, which has substantial oil interests in Iraq that are threatened by U.S. control, strongly opposed the war, and at least factions within the Russian intelligence agency were reportedly feeding information unfriendly to the U.S. to the website Iraqwar.ru . There's a lot recommending an EU-Russia alliance; Europe could supply technology and finance, and Russia could supply energy, and together they could constitute at least an embryonic counterweight to U.S. power.

So the U.S. may not get out of Iraq what the Bush administration is hoping for. It certainly can't want democracy in Iraq or the rest of the region, since free votes could well lead to nationalist and Islamist governments who don't view ExxonMobil as the divine agent that Bush seems to. A New York Times piece celebrated the outbreak of democracy in Basra, while conceding that the mayor is a former Iraqi admiral appointed by the British. The lead writers of the new constitution are likely to be American law professors; Iraqis, of course, aren't up to the task themselves.

Certainly the appointment of Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner (Ret.) - one of the few superannuated brass not to have enjoyed a consulting contract with a major TV network - to be the top civilian official guiding the postwar reconstruction of Iraq speaks volumes. A retired general is barely a civilian, and Garner's most recent job was as president of SY Technology , a military contractor that worked with Israeli security in developing the Arrow antimissile system. He loves antimissile systems; after the first Gulf War, he enthused about the Patriot's performance with claims that turned out to be nonsense. He's on record as having praised Israel's handling of the intifada. If that's his model of how to handle restive subject populations, there's lots of trouble ahead.

lightness

In the early days of the war, when things weren't going so well for the "coalition," it was said that the force was too light. But after the sandstorm cleared and the snipers were mowed down, that alleged lightness became a widely praised virtue. But that force was light only by American standards: 300,000 troops; an endless rain of Tomahawks, JDAMs, and MOABs; thousands of vehicles, from Humvees to Abrams tanks; hundreds of aircraft, from Apaches to B-1s; several flotillas of naval support - and enormous quantities of expensive petroleum products. It takes five gallons of fuel just to start an Abrams tank, and after that it gets a mile per gallon. And filling one up is no bargain. Though the military buys fuel at a wholesale price of 84¢ a gallon, after all the expenses of getting it to the front lines are added in, the final cost is about $150 a gallon. That's a steal compared to Afghanistan, where fuel is helicoptered in, pushing the cost to $600/gallon. Rummy's "lightness" is of the sort that only a $10 trillion economy can afford.

The Bush gang doesn't even try to keep up appearances, handing out contracts for Iraq's reconstruction to U.S. firms even before the shooting stopped, and guarding only the oil and interior ministries against looters. If Washington gets its way, Iraq will be rebuilt according to the fondest dreams of the Heritage Foundation staff, with the educational system reworked by an American contractor, the TV programmed by the Pentagon, the ports run by a rabidly antiunion firm, the police run by the Texas-based military contractor Dyncorp , and the oil taken out of state hands and appropriately privatized.

That's the way they'd like it to be. But the sailing may not be so smooth. It looks like Iraqis are viewing the Americans as occupiers, not liberators. It's going to be hard enough to remake Iraq that taking on Syria or Iran may be a bit premature. But that doesn't mean they won't try. It's a cliché of trade negotiations that liberalization is like riding a bicycle - you have to keep riding forward or else you'll fall over. The same could be said of an imperial agenda: if you want to remake the world, or a big chunk of it, there's little time to pause and catch your breath, since doubt or opposition could gain the upper hand. Which makes stoking that opposition more urgent than ever.

Losing it all

There's a feeling around that Bush is now politically invulnerable . Certainly the atmosphere is one of almost coercive patriotism. That mood was nicely illustrated by an incident in Houston in mid-March. A teenager attending a rodeo failed to stand along with the rest of the crowd during a playing of Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American," a dreadful country song that has become a kind of private-sector national anthem for the yahoo demographic, thanks to its truculent unthinking jingoism. A patriot standing behind the defiantly seated teen started taunting him, tugging on his ear as an additional provocation. The two ended up in a fight, and then under arrest.

There's a lot of that going around, for sure. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins get disinvited from events, websites nominate traitors for trial by military tribunal, and talk radio hosts organize CD-smashings. But things aren't hopeless. A close analysis of Greenwood's text might suggest why. The song's core argument is contained in its two most famous lines: "I'm proud to be an American/where at least I know I'm free." But the oft-overlooked opening reads: "If tomorrow all the things were gone/I'd worked for all my life," the singer would still be a grateful patriot. That's precisely the condition lots of Americans find themselves in. More than two million jobs have disappeared in the last two years. Millions of Americans have seen their retirement savings wiped out by the bear market, and over a million filed for bankruptcy last year. Most states and cities are experiencing their worst fiscal crises since the 1930s, with massive service cuts and layoffs imminent. In the song, such loss doesn't matter, but reality is often less accommodating than a song.

As the nearby graphs show, W's ratings are much lower than his father's at the end of Gulf War I, and his disapproval ratings much higher. Their theocratic and repressive agenda is deeply unpopular with large parts of the U.S. population. Spending scores of billions on destroying and rebuilding Iraq while at home health clinics are closing and teachers working without pay is potentially incendiary. Foreign adventures have never been popular with the American public (much to the distress of the ruling elite). An peace movement that could draw the links among warmongering, austerity, and repression has great political potential. Just a month or two ago, hundreds of thousands were marching in American streets to protest the imminent war. Though that movement now looks a bit dispirited and demobilized, it's unlikely that that kind of energy will just disappear into the ether.

[May 13, 2019] Not the men we thought we were ...

Notable quotes:
"... The neocon imperialists present in both parties are riding high in the foreign policy apparatus of the United States. As part of their program of gaining a thinly disguised global hegemony they are steadily squeezing Iran into a smaller and smaller "box." ..."
"... The abandonment of JCPOA and the demand for a new agreement that would require Iran to abandon any effort to be a regional power is at the core of that effort. The insistence that Hizbullah, Hamas and the IRGC are terrorist groups that may not be maintained or supported is a direct challenge to Iranian sovereignty. ..."
May 13, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"... Not the men we thought we were ..."

Newt Gingrich once explained to me whilst sitting in my map room in the Pentagon how it was that Japan decided to go to war against the United States in World War II.

He recounted that the decision had much to do with US embargoes of sales to Japan of strategic commodities such as; scrap steel, rubber and oil. Japan in the late 30s was resource poor and skills rich. The government was then in the hands of a clique of militaristic nationalists intent on winning lebensraum for their island empire. To accomplish that, the Tojo government needed the instruments of war as well as a lack of effective US and British resistance to their ambitions.

The embargoes of the materials needed for Japanese industry were seen by the government as a major obstacle to territorial expansion and a profound indication of the permanent hostility of the United States, a country that was the only other serious Pacific Ocean naval power as well as the possessor of a major land base in the Philippine Islands, then an American territory. With these beliefs as background, the Imperial War Council met in 1941 to consider options. The Navy tended to believe that it could not win a protracted struggle with the US, but the Army insisted that whatever the risk Japan must fight the US to find its place "in the sun." After long discussion the council recommended war to the Emperor in the belief that unless they were willing to fight the US and Britain they "would not be the men they had thought they were."

IMO we are creating an analogous situation in US-Iranian relations. The neocon imperialists present in both parties are riding high in the foreign policy apparatus of the United States. As part of their program of gaining a thinly disguised global hegemony they are steadily squeezing Iran into a smaller and smaller "box."

The abandonment of JCPOA and the demand for a new agreement that would require Iran to abandon any effort to be a regional power is at the core of that effort. The insistence that Hizbullah, Hamas and the IRGC are terrorist groups that may not be maintained or supported is a direct challenge to Iranian sovereignty. As I have previously written, the terrorist designation of these groups makes them legal targets for military action under the US AUMF. Add to these things, the effort to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero and you may well have a situation in which the Iranians decide that they must hit back or accept that they are not the men they thought they were. pl


EEngineer , 13 May 2019 at 11:45 AM

I see the parallels, but not that one. I think the neocons hope to force the Iranians into making that "all-in" call though. Perhaps as the neocons see it, such a strike would magically rally the American populous to the war they so desire. Imperial conquest performed as a defensive reflex. So they needle nearly everyone in the hopes of triggering a replay of the WW2 saga which has taken on a mythical good vs evil aura in the US. Ironically, I would say it is the neocons who think they need to start a war with the Iranians so that they can be the men they think they are. The only thing still holding them back is the passive-aggressive need to make it look like someone, anyone, else started it so they can play the victim card once the body bags start coming home.
Ed Lindgren , 13 May 2019 at 11:51 AM
USN CDR A. H. McCollum was the man who conceived the so-called "Eight Action Plan" which he outlined in his Oct 7, 1940 memo. This was his proposal for the U.S. and Britain to initiate actions which would essentially force Japan into making a decision to wage war against the United States.

The key elements of the plan, as outlined in McCollum's memo, include the following:

A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore
B. Make an arrangement with the Netherlands for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies
C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang-Kai-Shek
D. Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore
E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient
F. Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet now in the Pacific[,] in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands
G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil
H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire

Not too terribly different from the squeeze currently being placed on Iran by the team of Pompeo/Boton.

The text of the McCollum memo can be found here:

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/McCollum_memorandum


turcopolier , 13 May 2019 at 12:09 PM
Lindgren

Was this plan approved by Roosevelt? the embargoes had been in effect for some time by then.

blue peacock , 13 May 2019 at 12:21 PM
Col. Lang

It would seem that the best strategic option for Iran is to lay low and absorb the economic squeeze. The Chinese are unlikely to support the oil sanctions, so they'll be able to continue to sell them until the US navy starts to interdict their tankers. But oil is fungible.....

It would also seem that their best military strategy is a defensive one. Obtaining the best air defense systems and significant medium-range missiles with high payload capacity and accuracy. At the very least they'll be able to give a black-eye while going down.

Of course the question is how the Ayatollah controls his fire breathing, martyrdom loving hawks who bristle at their treatment by the US, Israel & the Saudis. My sense is Bibi will get more itchy than the Ayatollah to take advantage of his perception of complete control of Trump.

EEngineer said in reply to blue peacock... , 13 May 2019 at 01:01 PM
I've wondered if the Chinese will use their own tankers to pick up Iranian oil or re-flag Iranian ones with Chinese colors as the US did for Kuwait during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's.

I can see the neocons wanting open conflict with Iran, but I don't know if they would risk war with China.

turcopolier , 13 May 2019 at 12:23 PM
BP Merely logical
Tidewater said in reply to turcopolier ... , 13 May 2019 at 04:15 PM
Sir,

Nice map, I assume it can't be considered a chart. Maps make me think. Anyway, when I heard about the four tankers at Fujairah damaged by "sabotage" I took a look up at Qeshm island in front of Bandar Abbas (it looks to me like a shark) and wondered how far it was down to Fujairah. I get about 140 nautical miles.

I know that there are hardened sub-pens on the land side of Queshm Island probably out to the western end. Recently I have read comments speculating what the Iranian class of mini- or midget subs would be useful for. One learns that one use would be to deliver a sea-mine; another to launch the one torpedo it can carry; and another would be as a transport for naval commandos, or swimmers trained in demolition and mine warfare.

Then I remembered something. I took a look at the last place down on the right side of the map on the Iranian mangrove shore, Trask, once an old fishing port. Trask is also where the pipeline down from the CIS countries will end, and a large refinery, manufacturing, and shipping complex is planned. Since 2008, Trask has been developed for a number of military uses. First as a naval base which berths fast motor patrol boats of the kind that can launch missiles like the Qader, a sea-skimmer carrying a warhead of 200 kilos which can reach out to 186 miles; also as a drone base, complete with a rail launcher which could indicate proficiency in big stay-aloft reconnaisance drones, soon enough to be weaponized, if not already. Significantly, it is also a base for littoral-class submarines, which would include mini-subs design based on the North Korean Yono class, submarines that would be similar to the one that is thought to have sunk the ROKS Cheonan in 2011 with a torpedo. Travelling at nine or ten knots, the Iranian model of the Yono, the Ghadir, could make the crossing to Fujairah in about twelve hours. That's a distance of 127 miles or so.
It looks to me as if the stern location of the tanker the news videos show would not have been hit unless the ship backed into a mine. And it doesn't look like the kind of damage a naval mine would do. A naval mine would have made an enormous ten or twenty foot cavernous dent in that stern, at the least. What it looks like to me was that a swimmer or swimmers placed a sticky explosive or satchel charge. (?) I think it is meant as a warning. 'We can get you any time..."

There's another message. Fujairah and also the ports of Salalah, Sohar, and Duqm, in Oman, have been billing themselves as "the Gateway to the Arabian Gulf." (For that historical and scholarly insult alone they should pay.) Fujairah is the only one of the UAE that is on the eastern side of the Musandam Peninsula. It has been advertised as the emirate that would not be involved in a Gulf war. Out of range. Think again me buckaroos.

The United States has just signed an agreement in late March with Oman which allows US naval and air forces to use the new state- of-the art port facilities and airport at Duqm, down in the middle of the Oman coast, and also Salalah. Sultan Qaboos, a very impressive leader, one of the best, who happens to be gay (but the father of his country), balances carefully between the various powers he must deal with. Iran is already there in Oman and has the right to establish companies and to store materiel there, and to ship cargoes. Just as Iran does in Qatar, where two hundred trucks come across from Bushire every day and have since June 2017 since Trump the Brain gave the OK to Mohammed Bin Salman to lay siege to Qatar. Consider this: "Sohar Freezone has options for leasing pre-built warehouses and commercial offices, as well as 100% foreign ownership...and a One-Stop-Shop for all relevant permits and clearances." (From Overview--SOHAR Port and Freezone.) As to how you get this cargo to points south, that is an interesting question...

Russia will come in if push comes to shove. Russia will not countenance the idea of an America naval and drone base on the Caspian, which is what will happen if Iran is bombed flat. Russia will second pilots to the Iranians and will send bombers like the Tu-95 Bear or the Backfire capable of carrying the KH-101 which will carry Iranian markings etc. These bombers, with enormous range, could wreck havoc on Diego Garcia, and could destroy a carrier group.

The Iranians show us now that they were the ones who invented the game of chess. Trump can look at China, and then he can look at Fujairah, and he can see the American economy going down... The Iranian move is worthy of a grand master...

eaken , 13 May 2019 at 01:29 PM
Iran should publicly invite Trump to Tehran without his posse.
ted richard , 13 May 2019 at 01:37 PM
If the true goal of the neocons is war, provoked upon Iran then any naval battle group which includes a USA carrier sent into the Persian gulf is the match the neocons are looking for once they decide to ''remember the Maine'' to it sending it to the bottom, then use that false flag as their pretext.

If its obvious to me wouldn't you suppose its obvious to the pentagon?

O'Shawnessey , 13 May 2019 at 01:39 PM
An apt comparison, no doubt, to "The Day of Deceit."

Then there is the high probability that, even if Iran shows restraint and plays the long game, a provocation in the manner of "Assad gasses his own people" will be arranged for them.

Even so, time is not on the side of the US Entity. How much longer can the Fed's fraudulent T-bill scheme keep running? My sense is that they wouldn't be weaponizing the dollar if they had other actual weapons to hand.

Jack , 13 May 2019 at 01:58 PM
Sir

What real choices do the Iranians have? It would be foolish on their part to launch any kind of military action.

catherine , 13 May 2019 at 01:59 PM

No sooner 'warned' then done. Who did it?

Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and described it as an attempt to undermine the security of crude supplies amid tensions between the United States and Iran.

The reports come as the US warned ships that "Iran or its proxies" could be targeting maritime traffic in the region, and as the US is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf to counter what it called "threats from Tehran".

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/saudi-oil-tankers-sabotaged-ships-uae-coast-190513055332524.html

ancientarcher , 13 May 2019 at 01:59 PM
Exceptionally good argument. I would also posit that the element of religious belief makes the argument even more potent.

I can't help but think back to more recent instances where the neocons were basically daring the other party to do something - anything. Ukraine in 2014 and Syria later on, come to mind. They had been waiting for the Russians to send in their troops to Ukraine after which they could have totally choked the economy. They also waited for mistakes from Assad, which he wisely avoided.

Similarly, Iran will be wise to avoid reacting in any way to these provocations. Since these provocations are meant to provoke a reaction, if the Iranians bite their lips and hold their hands, they would do more to hurt the neocons than by reacting blindly as the situation and their nature perhaps goads them towards.

D , 13 May 2019 at 03:08 PM
I humbly suggest you watch this series. Unfortunately, I don't know Persian so I can't help with translation. I watched these series with my sister in law who is a Persian Jew with an excellent command of Farsi; the videos are pretty informative.

https://youtu.be/LUHY17zF-9g?t=789

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LersWbaymTM
2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUHY17zF-9g
3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abODp1BeuAg
4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePDXnAe_zm4
5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNboW6WcC3U

Rocketrepreneur , 13 May 2019 at 03:08 PM
Pat,
I share your concern, but for the neocons I fear that they see that backing Iran into a position where it has nothing to lose with a war is a feature, not a bug.
~Jon
walrus , 13 May 2019 at 03:43 PM
Time is not on America's side

In my opinion, the critical element is the forthcoming deployment of advanced Russian and Chinese systems such as the Sarmat heavy ICBM, scheduled I think for 2021, new submarines, etc., etc. and I am not even talking about joint Russo/sino developments.

As Col. Lang/Gingrich explained, we are talking economics here. But unlike Japan, the Russian, Iranian, Syrian, Chinese and associated economies under the stimulus of OBOR are only going to get stronger if left to themselves. The American economy, in my opinion, is no longer capable of replacing ageing infrastructure, matching Russo Chinese military technical capabilities, fielding a million man Army and supporting allies like Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Poland, etc. without beggaring its population.

To put that another way, the American economic marvel of military production came off a low base with millions of underemployed work hungry people available as a result of the depression. I don't think those conditions obtain today.

Hence the Washington logic of picking off the weakest of the Axis - Iran, right now.

LJ , 13 May 2019 at 04:09 PM
The chances of war diminished?

https://ejmagnier.com/2019/05/13/from-karbala-to-al-fujairah-an-act-of-sabotage-may-end-prospects-of-a-summer-war-in-the-middle-east/

Eliot , 13 May 2019 at 04:30 PM
Walrus,

"The American economy, in my opinion, is no longer capable of replacing ageing infrastructure, matching Russo Chinese military technical capabilities"

I was in Russia for the first time last summer. I loved it, but I was surprised by how poor they are. Our debt load aside, they have do have more limited resources.

[May 13, 2019] It's time for Trump to stop John Bolton and Mike Pompeo from sabotaging his foreign policy Mulshine

Bolton power over Trump is connected to Adelson power over Trump. To think about Bolton as pure advisor is to seriously underestimate his role and influence.
Notable quotes:
"... But I always figured you needed to keep the blowhards under cover so they wouldn't stick their feet in their mouths and that the public position jobs should go to the smoothies..You, know, diplomats who were capable of some measure of subtlety. ..."
"... A clod like Bolton should be put aside and assigned the job of preparing position papers and a lout Like Pompeo should be a football coach at RoosterPoot U. ..."
"... "Once he's committed to a war in the Mideast, he's just screwed," ..."
"... Not only Trump, at the same time the swamp creatures risk losing control over the Democrat primaries, too. With a new major war in the Mideast, Tulsi Gabbard's core message of non-interventionism will resonate a lot more, and that will lower the chances of the corporate DNC picks. A dangerous gamble. ..."
"... The other day I was thinking to myself that if Trump decides to dismiss Bolton or Pompeo, especially given how terrible Venezuela, NKorea, and Iran policies have turned out (clearly at odds with his non-interventionist campaign platform), who would he appoint as State Sec and NS adviser? and since Bolton was personally pushed to Trump by Adelson in exchange for campaign donation, would there be a backlash from the Jewish Republican donors and the loss of support? I think in both cases Trump is facing with big dilemmas. ..."
"... Tulsi for Sec of State 2020... ..."
"... Keeping Bolton and Pompeo on board is consistent with Trump's negotiating style. He is full of bluster and demands to put the other side in a defensive position. I guess it was a successful strategy for him so he continues it. Many years ago I was across the table from Trump negotiating the sale of the land under the Empire State Building which at the time was owned by Prudential even though Trump already had locked up the actual building. I just sat there, impassively, while Trump went on with his fire and fury. When I did not budge, he turned to his Japanese financial partner and said "take care of this" and walked out of the room. Then we were able to talk and negotiate in a logical manner and consumate a deal that was double Trump's negotiating bid. I learned later he was furious with his Japanese partner for failing to "win". ..."
"... You can still these same traits in the way that Trump thinks about other countries - they can be cajoled or pushed into doing what Trump wants. If the other countries just wait Trump out they can usually get a much better deal. Bolton and Pompeo, as Blusterers, are useful in pursuing the same negotiation style, for better or worse, Trump has used for probably for the last 50 years. ..."
"... I have seen this style of negotiations work on occasion. The most important lesson I've learned is the willingness to walk. I'm not sure that Trump's personal style matters that much in complex negotiations among states. There's too many people and far too many details. ..."
"... Having the neocons front & center on his foreign policy team I believe has negative consequences for him politically. IMO, he won support from the anti-interventionists due to his strong campaign stance. While they may be a small segment in America in a tight race they could matter. ..."
"... Additionally as Col. Lang notes the neocons could start a shooting match due to their hubris and that can always escalate and go awry. We can only hope that he's smart enough to recognize that. I remain convinced that our fawning allegiance to Bibi is central to many of our poor strategic decision making. ..."
"... I agree that this is Trump's style but what he does not seem to understand is that in using jugheads like these guys on the international scene he may precipitate a war when he really does not want one. ..."
"... "Perhaps the biggest lie the mainstream media have tried to get over on the American public is the idea that it is conservatives, that start wars. That's total nonsense of course. Almost all of America's wars in the 20th century were stared by liberal Democrats." ..."
"... Exceptions are: Korea? (Eisenhower); Grenada? (Reagan); Iraq? (Bush Sr.) ..."
"... So what exactly is Pussy John, then, just a Yosemite Sam-type bureaucrat with no actual portfolio, so to speak? I defer to your vastly greater knowledge of these matters, but at times it sure seems like they are pursuing a rear-guard action as the US Empire shrinks ..."
"... If were Lavrov, what would I think to myself were I to find myself on the other side of a phone call from PJ or the Malignant Manatee? ..."
May 12, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com
It's time for Trump to stop John Bolton and Mike Pompeo from sabotaging his foreign policy | Mulshine

"I put that question to another military vet, former Vietnam Green Beret Pat Lang.

"Once he's committed to a war in the Mideast, he's just screwed," said Lang of Trump.

But Lang, who later spent more than a decade in the Mideast, noted that Bolton has no direct control over the military.

"Bolton has a problem," he said. "If he can just get the generals to obey him, he can start all the wars he wants. But they don't obey him."

They obey the commander-in-chief. And Trump has a history of hiring war-crazed advisors who end up losing their jobs when they get a bit too bellicose. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley comes to mind."

" In Lang's view, anyone who sees Trump as some sort of ideologue is missing the point.

"He's an entrepreneurial businessman who hires consultants for their advice and then gets rid of them when he doesn't want that advice," he said.

So far that advice hasn't been very helpful, at least in the case of Bolton. His big mouth seems to have deep-sixed Trump's chance of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. And that failed coup in Venezuela has brought up comparisons to the failed Bay of Pigs invasion during the Kennedy administration." Mulshine

--------------

Well, pilgrims, I worked exclusively on the subject of the Islamic culture continent for the USG from 1972 to 1994 and then in business from 1994 to 2006. I suppose I am still working on the subject. pl

https://www.nj.com/opinion/2019/05/its-time-for-trump-to-stop-john-bolton-and-mike-pompeo-from-sabotaging-his-foreign-policy-mulshine.html


JJackson , 12 May 2019 at 04:11 PM

What is happening with Trump's Syrian troop withdrawal? Someone seems to have spiked that order fairly effectively.
tony , 12 May 2019 at 05:12 PM
I don't get it I suppose. I'd always thought that maybe you wanted highly opinionated Type A personalities in the role of privy council, etc. You know, people who could forcefully advocate positions in closed session meetings and weren't afraid of taking contrary positions. But I always figured you needed to keep the blowhards under cover so they wouldn't stick their feet in their mouths and that the public position jobs should go to the smoothies..You, know, diplomats who were capable of some measure of subtlety.

But these days it's the loudmouths who get these jobs, to our detriment. When will senior govt. leaders understand that just because a person is a success in running for Congress doesn't mean he/she should be sent forth to mingle with the many different personalities and cultures running the rest of the world?

A clod like Bolton should be put aside and assigned the job of preparing position papers and a lout Like Pompeo should be a football coach at RoosterPoot U.

turcopolier -> tony... , 12 May 2019 at 06:55 PM
No. I would like to see highly opinionated Type B personalities like me hold those jobs. Type B does not mean you are passive. It means you are not obsessively competitive.
ex-PFC Chuck said in reply to tony... , 12 May 2019 at 08:06 PM
What do you expect when the boss himself is a loud-mouthed blowhard?
rho , 12 May 2019 at 06:34 PM
"Once he's committed to a war in the Mideast, he's just screwed,"

Not only Trump, at the same time the swamp creatures risk losing control over the Democrat primaries, too. With a new major war in the Mideast, Tulsi Gabbard's core message of non-interventionism will resonate a lot more, and that will lower the chances of the corporate DNC picks. A dangerous gamble.

E Publius , 12 May 2019 at 06:55 PM
Interesting post, thank you sir. Prior to this recent post I had never heard of Paul Mulshine. In fact I went through some of his earlier posts on Trump's foreign policy and I found a fair amount of common sense in them. He strikes me as a paleocon, like Pat Buchanan, Paul Craig Roberts, Michael Scheuer, Doug Bandow, Tucker Carlson and others in that mold.

The other day I was thinking to myself that if Trump decides to dismiss Bolton or Pompeo, especially given how terrible Venezuela, NKorea, and Iran policies have turned out (clearly at odds with his non-interventionist campaign platform), who would he appoint as State Sec and NS adviser? and since Bolton was personally pushed to Trump by Adelson in exchange for campaign donation, would there be a backlash from the Jewish Republican donors and the loss of support? I think in both cases Trump is facing with big dilemmas.

My best hope is that Trump teams up with libertarians and maybe even paleocons to run his foreign policy. So far Trump has not succeeded in draining the Swamp. Bolton, Pompeo and their respective staff "are" indeed the Swamp creatures and they run their own policies that run against Trump's America First policy. Any thoughts?

Rick Merlotti said in reply to E Publius... , 13 May 2019 at 10:17 AM
Tulsi for Sec of State 2020...
jdledell , 13 May 2019 at 09:23 AM
Keeping Bolton and Pompeo on board is consistent with Trump's negotiating style. He is full of bluster and demands to put the other side in a defensive position. I guess it was a successful strategy for him so he continues it. Many years ago I was across the table from Trump negotiating the sale of the land under the Empire State Building which at the time was owned by Prudential even though Trump already had locked up the actual building. I just sat there, impassively, while Trump went on with his fire and fury. When I did not budge, he turned to his Japanese financial partner and said "take care of this" and walked out of the room. Then we were able to talk and negotiate in a logical manner and consumate a deal that was double Trump's negotiating bid. I learned later he was furious with his Japanese partner for failing to "win".

You can still these same traits in the way that Trump thinks about other countries - they can be cajoled or pushed into doing what Trump wants. If the other countries just wait Trump out they can usually get a much better deal. Bolton and Pompeo, as Blusterers, are useful in pursuing the same negotiation style, for better or worse, Trump has used for probably for the last 50 years.

Jack said in reply to jdledell... , 13 May 2019 at 02:14 PM
I have seen this style of negotiations work on occasion. The most important lesson I've learned is the willingness to walk. I'm not sure that Trump's personal style matters that much in complex negotiations among states. There's too many people and far too many details. I see he and his trade team not buckling to the Chinese at least not yet despite the intense pressure from Wall St and the big corporations.

Having the neocons front & center on his foreign policy team I believe has negative consequences for him politically. IMO, he won support from the anti-interventionists due to his strong campaign stance. While they may be a small segment in America in a tight race they could matter.

Additionally as Col. Lang notes the neocons could start a shooting match due to their hubris and that can always escalate and go awry. We can only hope that he's smart enough to recognize that. I remain convinced that our fawning allegiance to Bibi is central to many of our poor strategic decision making.

rho said in reply to jdledell... , 13 May 2019 at 04:33 PM
jdledell

Just out of curiosity: Did the deal go through in the end, despite Trump's ire? Or was Trump so furious with the negotiating result of his Japanese partner that he tore up the draft once it was presented to him?

turcopolier , 13 May 2019 at 11:17 AM
jdledell

I agree that this is Trump's style but what he does not seem to understand is that in using jugheads like these guys on the international scene he may precipitate a war when he really does not want one.

Outrage Beyond , 13 May 2019 at 11:51 AM
Mulshine's article has some good points, but he does include some hilariously ignorant bits which undermine his credibility.

"Jose Gomez Rivera is a Jersey guy who served in the State Department in Venezuela at the time of the coup that brought the current socialist regime to power."

Wrong. Maduro was elected and international observers seem to agree the election was fair.

"Perhaps the biggest lie the mainstream media have tried to get over on the American public is the idea that it is conservatives, that start wars. That's total nonsense of course. Almost all of America's wars in the 20th century were stared by liberal Democrats."

Exceptions are: Korea? (Eisenhower); Grenada? (Reagan); Iraq? (Bush Sr.)

O'Shawnessey , 13 May 2019 at 01:21 PM
So what exactly is Pussy John, then, just a Yosemite Sam-type bureaucrat with no actual portfolio, so to speak? I defer to your vastly greater knowledge of these matters, but at times it sure seems like they are pursuing a rear-guard action as the US Empire shrinks and shudders in its death throes underneath them, and at others it seems like they really have no idea what to do, other than engage in juvenile antics, snort some glue from a paper bag and set fires in the dumpsters behind the Taco Bell before going out into a darkened field somewhere to violate farm animals.

If were Lavrov, what would I think to myself were I to find myself on the other side of a phone call from PJ or the Malignant Manatee?

turcopolier , 13 May 2019 at 01:21 PM
O'Shaunessy - He is an adviser who has no power except over his own little staff. The president has the power, not Bolton.

[May 13, 2019] Russiagate Zealotry Continues To Endanger Western National Security

It is true that "Russiagate is the worst, most corrosive, and most fraudulent political scandal in modern American history."
Notable quotes:
"... But equally alarming, Russiagate continues to endanger American national security by depriving a US president, for the first time in the nuclear age, of the diplomatic flexibility to deal with a Kremlin leader in times of crisis. ..."
"... A major subject of the conversation was unavoidably the growing conflict over Venezuela, where Washington and Moscow have long-standing economic and political interests. Trump administration spokespeople have warned Moscow against interfering in America's neighborhood, ignoring, of course, Washington's deep involvement for years in the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia. Kremlin representatives, on the other hand, have warned Washington against violating Venezuela's sovereignty. Increasingly, there is talk, at least in Moscow policy circles, of a Cuban Missile–like crisis, the closest the United States and Russia (then Soviet Russia) ever came to nuclear war. ..."
"... To the extent, however remote, that Venezuela might grow into a Cuba-like US-Russian military confrontation, would Trump be sufficiently free of Russiagate allegations to resolve it peacefully, as President John Kennedy did in 1962? Judging by mainstream media commentary on the May 3 phone conversation, the answer seems to be no. Considering the mounting confrontation in Venezuela, Trump was right, even obligated, to call Putin, but he got no applause, only condemnation. ..."
"... Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Eric Swalwell, both candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, also expressed deep suspicion regarding the Trump-Putin phone talk. Swalwell was sure it meant that Trump "acts on their behalf," that he "is putting the Russians' interests ahead of the United States' interests." (Voters may wonder if these candidates and quite a few others who continue to promote extremist Russiagate allegations are emerging American statesmen.) ..."
"... Russiagate's unproven allegations are an aggressive malignancy spreading through America's politics to the most vital areas of national security policy. A full nonpartisan investigation into their origins is urgently needed, but US intelligence agencies were almost certainly present at their creation, which is why I have long argued that Russiagate is actually Intelgate . If so, James Comey, then FBI director, was present at the creation, though initially in a lesser role than were President Barack Obama's CIA Director John Brennan and intelligence overlord James Clapper. ..."
"... Comey recently deplored Attorney General William Barr's declaration that US intelligence agencies resorted to "spying" on the Trump campaign. (In fact, Barr mischaracterized what happened: The agencies, first and foremost Brennan's CIA, it seems, ran an entrapment operation against members of the campaign.) Comey warned Barr that he will discover that Trump "has eaten your soul." ..."
"... It would be more accurate to say -- and certainly more important -- that baseless Russiagate allegations are eating America's national security. ..."
"... That, doc, is the raison d'etre of Russiagate. That's how far this coup d'etat in Washington has gotten. The showrunners/secret coupsters finally going public with the previously surmised fact that they, not Trump, are running the show and that DJT is just their official tweetsman. ..."
"... So fake news and fake collusion now rule the country? NOT! The President has more power now then he had prior to the Mueller Report being released, the report shows clear obstruction from the Mueller team as they failed to do the basics in investigation, ..."
"... the Mainstream Media has become a threat to democracy and the number one enemy of the American People while "endangering national security" for us all. ..."
"... The mainstream media is a wholly controlled subsidiary of the Military-Industrial complex, via secret government programs such as Operation Mockingbird and doubtless several others. ..."
May 13, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Russiagate Zealotry Continues To Endanger Western National Security

by Tyler Durden Sun, 05/12/2019 - 23:30 3 SHARES Authored by Stephen Cohen via The Nation,

If Venezuela becomes a Cuban Missile–like Crisis, will Trump be free to resolve it peacefully?

Now in its third year, Russiagate is the worst, most corrosive, and most fraudulent political scandal in modern American history. It rests on two related core allegations: that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an "attack on American democracy" during the 2016 presidential campaign in order to put Donald Trump in the White House, and that Trump and his associates willfully colluded, or conspired, in this Kremlin "attack." As I have argued from the outset -- see my regular commentaries posted at TheNation.com and my recent book War With Russia? -- and as recently confirmed, explicitly and tacitly, by special prosecutor Robert Mueller's report, there is no factual evidence for either allegation.

Nonetheless, these Russiagate allegations, not "Putin's Russia," continue to inflict grave damage on fundamental institutions of American democracy. They impugn the integrity of the presidency and now the office of the attorney general. They degrade the many Democratic members of Congress who persist in clinging to the allegations and thus the Democratic Party and Congress. And they have enticed mainstream media into one of the worst episodes of journalistic malpractice in modern times .

But equally alarming, Russiagate continues to endanger American national security by depriving a US president, for the first time in the nuclear age, of the diplomatic flexibility to deal with a Kremlin leader in times of crisis. We were given a vivid example in July 2018, when Trump held a summit with the current Kremlin occupant, as every president had done since Dwight Eisenhower. For that conventional, even necessary, act of diplomacy, Trump was widely accused of treasonous behavior, a charge that persists. Now we have another alarming example of this reckless disregard for US national security on the part of Russiagate zealots.

On May 3, Trump called Putin. They discussed various issues, including the Mueller report. (As before, Putin had to know if Trump was free to implement any acts of security cooperation they might agree on. Indeed, the Russian policy elite openly debates this question, many of its members having decided that Trump cannot cooperate with Russia no matter his intentions.)

A major subject of the conversation was unavoidably the growing conflict over Venezuela, where Washington and Moscow have long-standing economic and political interests. Trump administration spokespeople have warned Moscow against interfering in America's neighborhood, ignoring, of course, Washington's deep involvement for years in the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia. Kremlin representatives, on the other hand, have warned Washington against violating Venezuela's sovereignty. Increasingly, there is talk, at least in Moscow policy circles, of a Cuban Missile–like crisis, the closest the United States and Russia (then Soviet Russia) ever came to nuclear war.

To the extent, however remote, that Venezuela might grow into a Cuba-like US-Russian military confrontation, would Trump be sufficiently free of Russiagate allegations to resolve it peacefully, as President John Kennedy did in 1962? Judging by mainstream media commentary on the May 3 phone conversation, the answer seems to be no. Considering the mounting confrontation in Venezuela, Trump was right, even obligated, to call Putin, but he got no applause, only condemnation. To take some random examples:

None of these "opinion leaders" mentioned the danger of a US-Russian military confrontation over Venezuela or elsewhere on the several fraught fronts of the new Cold War. Indeed, retired admiral James Stavridis, once supreme allied commander of NATO forces and formerly associated with Hillary Clinton's campaign, all but proposed war on Russia in retaliation for its "attack on our democracy," including "unprecedented measures" such as cyberattacks.

Russiagate's unproven allegations are an aggressive malignancy spreading through America's politics to the most vital areas of national security policy. A full nonpartisan investigation into their origins is urgently needed, but US intelligence agencies were almost certainly present at their creation, which is why I have long argued that Russiagate is actually Intelgate . If so, James Comey, then FBI director, was present at the creation, though initially in a lesser role than were President Barack Obama's CIA Director John Brennan and intelligence overlord James Clapper.

Comey recently deplored Attorney General William Barr's declaration that US intelligence agencies resorted to "spying" on the Trump campaign. (In fact, Barr mischaracterized what happened: The agencies, first and foremost Brennan's CIA, it seems, ran an entrapment operation against members of the campaign.) Comey warned Barr that he will discover that Trump "has eaten your soul."

It would be more accurate to say -- and certainly more important -- that baseless Russiagate allegations are eating America's national security.


Real Estate Guru , 16 minutes ago link

President Trump Calls Out FBI Director Christopher Wray: "the director is protecting the coup gang"
Posted on May 12, 2019 by sundance
This is good to see. Finally President Trump indicates he is well aware of the intents and motives of FBI Director Christopher Wray covering for the illegal coup effort:

President Trump may have been aware of Chris Wray's corrupt disposition prior to today; however, this is the first visible indication he understands the internecine organization of it. Hopefully we can start the countdown clock to Wray's exit.

Next up, Chris Wray's #1 strategic hire, current FBI Legal Counsel Dana Boente.

Real Estate Guru , 20 minutes ago link

President Trump Calls Out FBI Director Christopher Wray: 'The FBI Has No Leadership; The Director is Protecting the Same Gang That Tried to Overthrow the President Through an Illegal Coup'....

He will be fired soon.

francis scott falseflag , 25 minutes ago link

Russiagate deprives ... a US president, for the first time in the nuclear age, of the diplomatic flexibility to deal with a Kremlin leader in times of crisis

That, doc, is the raison d'etre of Russiagate. That's how far this coup d'etat in Washington has gotten. The showrunners/secret coupsters finally going public with the previously surmised fact that they, not Trump, are running the show and that DJT is just their official tweetsman.

Sounds right to me.

would Trump be sufficiently free of Russiagate allegations to resolve it peacefully, as President John Kennedy did in 1962?

But Trump wouldn't be the one peacefully resolving anything. He was deprived of it by more important powers that be. So he'll only get an award from the MSM for his portrayal/impression of a 21st Century American statesman/politician.

Which will set the bar quite high for future Trumps-to-come.

VWAndy , 1 hour ago link

Corruption is the biggest threat to mankind. All this other stuff is just for show.

TeethVillage88s , 51 minutes ago link

GWB seized all kinds of power after 911, Bill Clinton got big power for Fast Track of WTO & NAFTA, Presidential Signing Orders or Executive Powers become Increased as I remember under GWB then expanded under Obama, Bill Clinton took extended time in bombing campaign in Balkans above congressional war powers act, but GWB seemed to have complete war powers in his admin, Dirty War Powers included,... Point is that Democrats & Republicans, the Money Party, the One Party conveniently forget that powers granted to Dems or GOP... are then available in corrupt universe of USSA...

Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Eric Swalwell, both candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, also expressed deep suspicion regarding the Trump-Putin phone talk

How will Dims feel when the Next Obama get in and people want to witch hunt all his first phone calls for foreign leaders?

HopefulJoe , 1 hour ago link

So fake news and fake collusion now rule the country? NOT! The President has more power now then he had prior to the Mueller Report being released, the report shows clear obstruction from the Mueller team as they failed to do the basics in investigation, they also purposefully ignored the obvious to continue with the fake investigation in order to impede the President. The President is now more powerful as ever as the slow and methodical take down of the left deep state continues. In the coming weeks it will become more and more evident to the masses that the President was clearly correct and the attempted coupe of the President was real and has failed. The mainstream media will become even less relevant despite all of their efforts.

Congress will soon have no choice but to act in protecting free speech and the hand of all the CIA controlled media will be tied and bound for generations to come...

libtears , 1 hour ago link

The real Russia Gate is the Russians got all the classified emails from Hillarys server

VWAndy , 1 hour ago link

Everyone saw them except the US genpop. Russia,China,Israeli, UK everyone. Thats what she was selling is my guess. Prolly had the whole fn country up for sale. Like a ebay for selling off everything. Cops, judges, senators and congress people. Who is to say they were not just selling it off by the slice like pizza?

CaptainObvious , 1 hour ago link

And the Chinese, and the Koreans. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised to find the Nigerian scammers got a piece of that action.

LEEPERMAX , 2 hours ago link

THE RUSSIAGATE SCAM has shown us . . .

the Mainstream Media has become a threat to democracy and the number one enemy of the American People while "endangering national security" for us all.

IntercoursetheEU , 1 hour ago link

Christoper Steele is still at work: https://twitter.com/PoliPsyche/status/1127015531654070277

r0mulus , 1 hour ago link

The mainstream media is a wholly controlled subsidiary of the Military-Industrial complex, via secret government programs such as Operation Mockingbird and doubtless several others.

It is likely that the MIC, long puppeteered by shadowy financial forces through the Federal Reserve and Bank of England, is doing everything it can to prevent Trump from disturbing it's long running plans to encircle and subdue Russia via Mackinder's "Heartland" theory. Preventing Trump from reaching across the divide to constructively engage with Putin and Russia to break the economic stranglehold on their country is paramount to their strategy.

One would be right to wonder why the British government is so intimately engaged in all of these provocations. Could it be that they fear a loss of power and influence that could result from a continental Europe more closely aligned with Russian interests? This question is central to our current dilemma here in the states, unfortunately.

It's absolutely vital that the American people learn of the treachery of the British elites before it is too late. Perfidious Albion, indeed...

Real Estate Guru , 2 hours ago link

Compared to Nadler, Pelosi, Schiff, Waters, Comey, Hillary, Obama, Mueller, the MSM, CNN, PMSNBC, and all the rest of the loonatic left, Uncle Vladmmir Putin looks pretty good!

Dasvadaniya comrades!! (of course I am kidding you schmucks!)

LMAO!! what a joke these people are.

Do the declass Trump! And the IG Report!!! NOW!!!

[May 13, 2019] US Foreign Policy as Bellicose as Ever by Serge Halimi

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Historians will study this period when there was a convergence in the objectives of the US intelligence agencies, the leaders of the Hillary Clinton wing of the Democratic Party, the majority of Republican politicians and the anti-Trump media. That common objective was stopping any entente between Moscow and Washington. ..."
"... Each group had its own motive. The intelligence community and elements in the Pentagon feared a rapprochement between Trump and Putin would deprive them of a 'presentable' enemy once ISIS's military power was destroyed. The Clinton camp was keen to ascribe an unexpected defeat to a cause other than the candidate and her inept campaign; Moscow's alleged hacking of Democratic Party emails fitted the bill. And the neocons, who 'promoted the Iraq war, detest Putin and consider Israel's security non-negotiable' ( 8 ), hated Trump's neo-isolationist instincts. ..."
"... This is why the Democratic Party data hack, which the US intelligence services allege is the work of the Russians, obsesses the party, and the press. It strikes two targets: delegitimising Trump's election and stopping his promotion of a thaw with Russia. Has Washington's aggrieved reaction to a foreign power's interference in a state's domestic affairs, and its elections, struck no one as odd? Why do just a handful of people point out that, not long ago, Angela Merkel's phone was tapped not by the Kremlin but by the Obama administration? ..."
"... Now the Times is in the vanguard of those preparing psychologically for conflict with Russia. There is almost no remaining resistance to its line. On the right, as the Wall Street Journal called for the US to arm Ukraine on 3 August, Vice-President Mike Pence spoke on a visit to Estonia about 'the spectre of [Russian] aggression', encouraged Georgia to join NATO, and paid tribute to Montenegro, NATO's newest member. ..."
"... At this stage, it doesn't matter any more what Trump thinks. He is no longer able to get his way on the issue. Moscow has noted this and is drawing its own conclusions. ..."
May 10, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

... ... ...

Trump was after a good deal from Russia. A new partnership would have reversed deteriorating relations between the powers by encouraging their alliance against ISIS and recognising the importance of Ukraine to Russia's security. Current US paranoia about everything Kremlin-related has encouraged amnesia about what President Barack Obama said in 2016, after the annexation of the Crimea and Russia's direct intervention in Syria. He too put the danger posed by President Vladimir Putin into perspective: the interventions in Ukraine and the Middle East were, Obama said, improvised 'in response to a client state that was about to slip out of his grasp' ( 5 ).

Obama went on: 'The Russians can't change us or significantly weaken us. They are a smaller country, they are a weaker country, their economy doesn't produce anything that anybody wants to buy, except oil and gas and arms.' What he feared most about Putin was the sympathy he inspired in Trump and his supporters: '37% of Republican voters approve of Putin, the former head of the KGB. Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave' ( 6 ).

By January 2017, Reagan's eternal rest was no longer threatened. 'Presidents come and go but the policy never changes,' Putin concluded ( 7 ). Historians will study this period when there was a convergence in the objectives of the US intelligence agencies, the leaders of the Hillary Clinton wing of the Democratic Party, the majority of Republican politicians and the anti-Trump media. That common objective was stopping any entente between Moscow and Washington.

Each group had its own motive. The intelligence community and elements in the Pentagon feared a rapprochement between Trump and Putin would deprive them of a 'presentable' enemy once ISIS's military power was destroyed. The Clinton camp was keen to ascribe an unexpected defeat to a cause other than the candidate and her inept campaign; Moscow's alleged hacking of Democratic Party emails fitted the bill. And the neocons, who 'promoted the Iraq war, detest Putin and consider Israel's security non-negotiable' ( 8 ), hated Trump's neo-isolationist instincts.

The media, especially the New York Times and Washington Post, eagerly sought a new Watergate scandal and knew their middle-class, urban, educated readers loathe Trump for his vulgarity, affection for the far right, violence and lack of culture ( 9 ). So they were searching for any information or rumour that could cause his removal or force a resignation. As in Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, everyone had his particular motive for striking the same victim.

The intrigue developed quickly as these four areas have fairly porous boundaries. The understanding between Republican hawks such as John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the military-industrial complex was a given. The architects of recent US imperial adventures, especially Iraq, had not enjoyed the 2016 campaign or Trump's jibes about their expertise. During the campaign, some 50 intellectuals and officials announced that, despite being Republicans, they would not support Trump because he 'would put at risk our country's national security and wellbeing.' Some went so far as to vote for Clinton ( 10 ).

Ambitions of a 'deep state'?

The press feared that Trump's incompetence would threaten the US-dominated international order. It had no problem with military crusades, especially when emblazoned with grand humanitarian, internationalist or progressive principles. According to the press criteria, Putin and his predilection for rightwing nationalists were obvious culprits. But so were Saudi Arabia or Israel, though that did not prevent the Saudis being able to count on the ferociously anti-Russian Wall Street Journal, or Israel enjoying the support of almost all US media, despite having a far-right element in its government.

Just over a week before Trump took office, journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the Edward Snowden story that revealed the mass surveillance programmes run by the National Security Agency, warned of the direction of travel. He observed that the US media had become the intelligence services' 'most valuable instrument, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials.' This at a time when 'Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing -- eager -- to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry and damaging those behaviours might be' ( 11 ).

The anti-Russian coalition hadn't then achieved all its objectives, but Greenwald already discerned the ambitions of a 'deep state'. 'There really is, at this point,' he said 'obvious open warfare between this unelected but very powerful faction that resides in Washington and sees presidents come and go, on the one hand, and the person that the American democracy elected to be the president on the other.' One suspicion, fed by the intelligence services, galvanised all Trump's enemies: Moscow had compromising secrets about Trump -- financial, electoral, sexual -- capable of paralysing him should a crisis between the two countries occur ( 12 ).

Covert opposition to Trump

The suspicion of such a murky understanding, summed up by the pro-Clinton economist Paul Krugman as a 'Trump-Putin ticket', has transformed the anti-Russian activity into a domestic political weapon against a president increasingly hated outside the ultraconservative bloc. It is no longer unusual to hear leftwing activists turn FBI or CIA apologists, since these agencies became a home for a covert opposition to Trump and the source of many leaks.

This is why the Democratic Party data hack, which the US intelligence services allege is the work of the Russians, obsesses the party, and the press. It strikes two targets: delegitimising Trump's election and stopping his promotion of a thaw with Russia. Has Washington's aggrieved reaction to a foreign power's interference in a state's domestic affairs, and its elections, struck no one as odd? Why do just a handful of people point out that, not long ago, Angela Merkel's phone was tapped not by the Kremlin but by the Obama administration?

The silence was once broken when the Republican representative for North Carolina, Tom Tillis, questioned former CIA director James Clapper in January: 'The United States has been involved in one way or another in 81 different elections since World War II. That doesn't include coups or the regime changes, some tangible evidence where we have tried to affect an outcome to our purpose. Russia has done it some 36 times.' This perspective rarely disturbs the New York Times 's fulminations against Moscow's trickery.

The Times also failed to inform younger readers that Russia's president Boris Yeltsin, who picked Putin as his successor in 1999, had been re-elected in 1996, though seriously ill and often drunk, in a fraudulent election conducted with the assistance of US advisers and the overt support of President Bill Clinton. The Times hailed the result as 'a victory for Russian democracy' and declared that 'the forces of democracy and reform won a vital but not definitive victory in Russia yesterday For the first time in history, a free Russia has freely chosen its leader.'

Now the Times is in the vanguard of those preparing psychologically for conflict with Russia. There is almost no remaining resistance to its line. On the right, as the Wall Street Journal called for the US to arm Ukraine on 3 August, Vice-President Mike Pence spoke on a visit to Estonia about 'the spectre of [Russian] aggression', encouraged Georgia to join NATO, and paid tribute to Montenegro, NATO's newest member.

No longer getting his way

But the Times, far from worrying about these provocative gestures coinciding with heightened tensions between great powers (trade sanctions against Russia, Moscow's expulsion of US diplomats), poured oil on the fire. On 2 August it praised the reaffirmation of 'America's commitment to defend democratic nations against those countries that would undermine them' and regretted that Mike Pence's views 'aren't as eagerly embraced and celebrated by the man he works for back in the White House.'

At this stage, it doesn't matter any more what Trump thinks. He is no longer able to get his way on the issue. Moscow has noted this and is drawing its own conclusions.

... ... ...

[May 13, 2019] "EU statement today is why JCPOA is where it is: the US has bullied Europe -- and rest of world -- for a year and EU can only express 'regret'.

May 13, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 11, 2019 9:07:12 PM | link

< Iranian FM Zarif> said the following on Thursday :

"EU statement today is why JCPOA is where it is: the US has bullied Europe -- and rest of world -- for a year and EU can only express 'regret'.
Instead of demanding that Iran unilaterally abide by a multilateral accord, EU should uphold obligations - incl normalization of economic ties."

Khamenei's Twitter's been silent. Machine translation of what Rouhani Tweeted on the 7th :

"Iran has no obligation to keep its enrichment of uranium reserves and its produced absinthe. = = = = Iran = = = = the following acts of Iran will be in Iran if they can't fulfill their obligations in the day and supply the interests of Iran. The win-win conditions will be agreed."

Otherwise, lots of silence due to VE-Day celebrations. Syrian operations in Hama and Idlib are going very well.

Here's my Wednesday comments about Iranian and Russian statements about Iran's JCPOA announcements that weren't twisted by BigLie Media.

Uncle Jon , May 12, 2019 12:57:07 AM | link

@ Hoarsewhisperer 73

Javad Zarif put it best: "Negotiations and treaties are not about trust, but about respecting your signature".

[May 13, 2019] John Bolton is the problem

May 10, 2019 | www.unz.com

Sunburst says: May 10, 2019 at 3:22 am GMT

U.S. Foreign Policy used to have only two instruments in dealing with rest of the world, namely carrots and sticks. Since the fall of Soviet Union and certainly after 9/11, only sticks remain. Now the World including the so-called allies are getting tired of the threats and start ignoring the Empire, hence the diminishing effectiveness, paving the way for polymorphic World. This transition is fraught with dangers as pointed out by the Author.

SeekerofthePresence , says: May 10, 2019 at 11:18 pm GMT

Lovely post by Ret. Col. Douglas Macgregor on the end of empire:
"John Bolton is the problem"
"Trump's national security adviser is getting dangerous particularly to the president's ideals"
Douglas Macgregor
https://spectator.us/john-bolton-problem/

Could also be titled, "How to Exhaust an Empire."
Sun Tzu warned of the same demise in the "Art of War."
Didn't they used to teach that book at West Point?

FB , says: Website May 11, 2019 at 12:44 am GMT
@El Dato And also the 90 minute Trump-Putin phone call, where Venezuela was the main subject

From the way I understand Trump's comments afterward, it seems the military option is off the table the two presidents agreed that humanitarian aid is the priority

This is great news I have to give Trump credit here Justin Raimondo presciently opined a week ago that Trump may have been giving the 'walrus' just enough rope on Venezuela to hang himself

I have to wonder what Vlad whispered in carrot top's ear

'Come on man you can do it BE A BOSS '

LOL

J. Gutierrez , says: May 11, 2019 at 10:23 am GMT
When we take a close look at the American Government and it's elected officials, we can only come to one conclusion. The US is a thriving criminal enterprise that uses force to get what they want. The military's role is that of enforcers and the US President is no different than a Mafia Don. In no other time in US history has Government and Organized Criminal Gangs been so indistinguishable. George H.W. Bush with his New World Order announcements, his CIA drug dealing operations and military invasion of Panama to steal the drug cartel's money deposited in that county's banks, came close. Bill Clinton working with George H.W. Bush protecting drug shipments smuggled into Mena, AK, the cover up of murdered witnesses and numerous sexual assault allegations also came pretty close.

But when George W. Bush, Dick Chaney, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld came into power, that was a Mafia if there was ever one. That group of criminals stole more money and murdered more people than any criminal organization in history. They even conned the American people into believing some rag-heads in Afghanistan hiding in caves did it. It was the first time since Pancho Villa that anyone attacked the US on its own soil. Not only did they steal all the gold stored in bank vaults located in the Twin Towers, but they put money on the stock market. In true gangster fashion the next move was to retaliate against the Muslim Mafia who was fingered by Mayer Lanski (Benjamin Nuttenyahoo) and their own paid snitches (MSM). It was time to hit mattresses and send their enforcers to get payback so the Purple Gang (Israel) can take over their territory.

There is a big difference between the US Government and the Mafia when it comes to war, the Mafia adheres to a strict code of ethics, they do not target their enemies families.

In 2016 the American people elected a true gangster from New York city. A known con man, a swindler, a tax evader and known associate of the criminal underground. A man with numerous court cases and 23 accusations of sexual assault. A man who was screwing a porn star while his wife was given birth. A man who's mentor was Roy Cohen a mob attorney and practicing homosexual who died of AIDS. A man that surrounded himself with the most perverted group of people in New York such as: Roger Stone a well known swinger and gay pride participant. Paul Manafort a convicted criminal and swinger who attended the same clubs as Stone along with their wives. They liked to watch their wives get screwed by other men. Lets not forget John Bolton who was exposed by Larry Flint for also being a swinger. His ex-wife accused him of forcing her to perform sex acts with multiple men at the same clubs the other 2 cuckolds attended. A Russian agent once commented that the best place to find government people to blackmail was the New York swingers scene.

Jeffery Epstein tops the list of perverted friends of Donald Trump. Epstein is the worst kind of perverted human being. The predator pedophile that uses his money to lure young girls into his sick world. Epstein holds the key to uncovering the nation wide pedophile ring that include some of the most famous people in the US. This is Trump's Mafia, a Mafia not like the Gambinos or Luchesis. A Mafia full of Perverts, Criminals, Pedophiles and Cuckolds. These are just a few of the people in Trump's circle of friends. If these are your leaders, what does that say about the American people!

My dad used to tell me tell me who you hang around with, and I'll tell you who you are! Every single person in DC government is compromised! And this incompetent Mafia of Perverts want you to believe that Madurro is a corrupt leader and Iran is a threat to the US!

[May 13, 2019] Something about Bolton past and sexual preferences

May 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

FB , says: Website May 11, 2019 at 4:46 pm GMT

@J. Gutierrez Thanks for putting together this commentary J

Bolton a swinger ?

LOL that's a mental picture that's deeply disturbing yet funny at the same time

J. Gutierrez , says: May 11, 2019 at 10:42 pm GMT
@FB Yeah brother that POS was called out during his confirmation hearings during baby bush's presidency. Larry Flint had offered a Million dollars to anyone who had proof of republican sexual exploits. He was quickly fingered by someone who attended those clubs. He was forced to accept a temporary position and quietly resigned after a few months so as to avoid facing questions.

Someone said they saw him proposition a teenage girl outside one of the swinger clubs he frequented.

Glad you enjoyed the piece take care brother

J. Gutierrez , says: May 12, 2019 at 1:05 am GMT
@SeekerofthePresence Thank you your comment is very much appreciated. But I'm definitely not a spokesman for moral truth, just the truth. I just watch in amazement from Mexico at what the US government has become. A den of the most vile people ever assembled in the world far worse than the people that demanded the crucification of Jesus Christ. We just went through a serious political conversion, but the people had to hit the streets for it to succeed. I just don't think the American people feel they are in a do or die situation, and they couldn't more wrong.

[May 13, 2019] Pompeo is a real piece of work

There were some reports quoted in Alexander Mercouris has a much rosier view of Trump's intentions that the US military brass are vigorously apposed to the Bolton and Pompeo efforts to provoke war against Iran. The Pentagon has found its niche pounding upon third world countries which can't defend themselves, and that's not Iran.
May 12, 2019 | www.unz.com

Republic , says: May 12, 2019 at 11:37 am GMT

@El Dato

Pompeo is a real piece of work

This thug is Secretary of State. He doesn't do diplomacy, he only issues threats.

follyofwar , says: May 12, 2019 at 12:58 pm GMT
@Republic Seems that Pomp-ass Pompeo is from the Queen Hitlary school of diplomacy.
KA , says: May 12, 2019 at 1:02 pm GMT
@Endgame Napoleon Americans probably don't understand Russia. Americans don't even mostly understand their own history. "

and they inquire why they hate us .

Don Bacon | May 11, 2019 11:56:00 AM | 23

@ ToivoS 16

the US military brass are vigorously apposed to the Bolton and Pompeo efforts to provoke war against Iran.

Yes, for the reasons I noted in my 4 above. The Pentagon has found its niche pounding upon third world countries which can't defend themselves, and that's not Iran. The recent US defeats in Iraq and Syria also sent a message. So the Pentagon is now content with aerial bombing of Afghanistan and Somalia while spending big bucks to (supposedly) contend with Russia and China, which of course is also out of the question when it comes to execution.

The Pentagon materiel acquisition system is riddled with corruption and poor management, the army is handicapped by low recruiting, drugs and obesity, the navy suffers from performance and maintenance problems, and the air force has been decimated by personnel problems and by an overly zealous procurement of useless F-35 prototypes. So bombers dropping bombs on villages in poor countries is as far as the Pentagon can go.

Taffyboy | May 11, 2019 5:07:56 PM | 62

On May 14/2019 Pompeo is to meet Lavrov in Sochi! ..."Pompeo is scheduled to meet with Putin and Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, in Sochi on May 14 to “discuss the full range of bilateral and multilateral challenges.” Before that, he will meet with officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow."...

A messenger boy on the errant trip overseas from his handlers. Something to tell in person, mano a mano no less.

..."“On May 13, he will arrive in Russia to meet with his team at U.S. Embassy Moscow before meeting with U.S. business leaders and U.S. exchange alumni. Secretary Pompeo will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said."... That's rich, a nobody faces an unknown.

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/443071-pompeo-to-travel-to-russia-meet-with-putin-next-week

Anyway...have a pleasant weekend, sir(B).

[May 12, 2019] Why Further U.S.-China Economic War Seems Certain by Alan Tonelson

May 12, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

Trade, however, doesn't represent the only U.S.-China economic activity whose profile has lowered recently. For example, since 2016, two-way foreign direct investment (purchases of so-called hard assets, like factories and real estate, as opposed to financial assets, like government bonds) has cratered by fully 70 percent. Most of the drop is due to an 80 percent decrease in Chinese investment in the United States, and the bulk of that decline came in 2018. But American direct investment in China peaked back in 2008, as the recession struck, hasn't come close to recovering since, and is also down slightly since 2012.

U.S.-China economic flows are still so great that they won't dry up completely. Nor should anyone expect the current unwinding to continue at its current pace. After all, China still boasts advantages in many manufacturing industries (which dominate bilateral trade) sure to sustain sales to American households and businesses. Chief among them are the scale of existing production complexes in China and the efficiencies that result, along with the wide range of cost-reducing subsidies these sectors receive from Beijing. Further, China can't expect to find foreign markets capable of replacing its sales to the United States, and therefore supporting its own ability to grow and maintain the employment levels vital for political stability. Nor will American businesses be able to totally blow off the enormous Chinese market and its own still-impressive growth.

.... ... ...

Nonetheless, the days are over when the United States -- or at least its political and business leaders -- saw mushrooming commerce with China as an expressway to greater national prosperity and higher profits, not to mention a powerful contributor to global well-being, security, and stability, and a means of democratizing China itself. With all these hopes dashed, Washington and the American business community will find ample reasons to keep looking for exits.

Alan Tonelson is the founder of RealityChek, a public policy blog focusing on economics and national security, and the author of The Race to the Bottom.

R. Arandas an hour ago ,

I do not necessarily support his course of action...but I feel that sometimes, doing the unexpected and unconventional thing can lead to new doors and new possibilities.

BigMike 17 hours ago ,

China's internal debt situation is so precarious that it can ill-afford a trade war with US. China has a trade surplus of $325 billion with the US. This kind of skewed number is totally unacceptable. By reneging on the provisional agreements over IP and other hurdles, China is playing with fire.

I am not a Trump supporter but I think his policy on China is right on the money. No other US president had the courage to address this issue.

[May 12, 2019] Is rabid warmonger, neocon chickenhawk Bolton a swinger? That s a mental picture that s deeply disturbing yet funny at the same time

Highly recommended!
In this case he looks like Bill Clinton impersonalization ;-) That's probably how Adelson controls Bolton ;-)
Notable quotes:
"... Larry Flint had offered a Million dollars to anyone who had proof of republican sexual exploits. He was quickly fingered by someone who attended those clubs. He was forced to accept a temporary position and quietly resigned after a few months so as to avoid facing questions. ..."
May 12, 2019 | www.unz.com

FB , says: Website May 11, 2019 at 4:46 pm GMT

@J. Gutierrez Thanks for putting together this commentary J

Bolton a swinger ? LOL that's a mental picture that's deeply disturbing yet funny at the same time

J. Gutierrez , says: May 11, 2019 at 10:42 pm GMT

@FB Yeah brother, that POS was called out during his confirmation hearings during baby Bush's presidency. Larry Flint had offered a Million dollars to anyone who had proof of republican sexual exploits. He was quickly fingered by someone who attended those clubs. He was forced to accept a temporary position and quietly resigned after a few months so as to avoid facing questions.

Someone said they saw him proposition a teenage girl outside one of the swinger clubs he frequented.

Glad you enjoyed the piece take care brother.

[May 12, 2019] Charting a Progressive Foreign Policy for the Trump Era and Beyond

Highly recommended!
A really interesting discussion. the problem with discussion on new direction of the USA foreign policy is that forces that control the current forign policy will not allow any changes. Russiagate was in part a paranoid reaction of the Deep State to the possibility of detente with Russia and also questioning "neoliberal sacred truth" like who did 9/11 (to suggest that Bush is guilty was a clear "Red Flag") and critical attribute to forrign wars which feed so many Imperial servants.
BTW Trump completely disappointed his supporters in the foreign policy is continuing to accelerate that direction
May 10, 2019 | www.youtube.com

darren alevi 2 months ago

Here is how you chart a Progressive foreign policy stop treating the US intelligence agencies of the CIA and FBI as orgs of integrity. Ban all foreign lobbying so no foreign government can influence foreign policy.

Disband the Veto powers that the US holds over the UN security council. Prosecute former Presidents and Government officials for the illegal regime change wars.

Connect with other progressive politicians around the world such as Jeremy Corbyn, Jean Luc Melenchon and Moon Jae In. End the arms race and begin a peaceful space race to colonize the moon diverting funds from the military industrial complex into something fulfilling.

Peter Knopfler 2 months ago

What BULL while world under the fog of Berlin wall down, USA VP Bush attacks Panama 8000 Marines kills 3500 panamanians , gives the banks to CIA, therefore Panama papers. Another coup in Latin America. When V.P. Bush "we had to get over the Vietnam Syndrome". So Killing 3500 people , to get over the loser spirit, suicidal influence from Vietnam. SHAME USA more hate for Americans. And Now Venezuela, more Shame and Hate for Americans. Yankee go home, Gringo stay home is chanted once more.

Ron Widelec 2 months ago

We need an Anti-imperialist league like 100 ago. And an anti-war caucus in congress!

Michael 26CD 2 months ago

The audio is a little off especially for a couple speakers but this discussion is great. Trump ran on a non-interventionist platform, but in his typical dishonest fashion, he appointed people who are developing usable nukes like characters out of Dr. Strangelove. Nuclear weapons and climate change are both existential threats that all the world needs to act together to address.

asbeautifulasasunset 2 months ago

17 plus years later some people are finally starting to talk about the $6 trillion wars and the $750 billion annual Defense Department Budget.... Please consider giving Tulsi Gabbard at least a $1 contribution so she can be part of the debate between Democratic presidential candidates. She has made ending the wars on terrorism and regime change the primary issue of her candidacy. She is an Iraq vet and currently in the National Guard. Her rank is Colonel. She needs $62,500 and contributions from 200 people in each of 20 states. Thanks for anything you can do.

Jim R2 months ago

President Eisenhower's farewell address warned us of the very thing that is happening today with the industrial military complex and the power and influence that that entity weilds.

chickendinner2012, 2 months ago

End the wars, no more imperialism, instead have fair trade prioritizing countries that have a living wage and aren't waging war etc. No more supporting massive human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia, Israel, UAE etc. and we need to get three of the most aggressive countries the F UK US coalition that constantly invades and bombs everyone they want to steal from to stop doing war, stop coups, stop covert sabotage, stop sanctions.

asbeautifulasasunset, 2 months ago

17 plus years later some people are finally starting to talk about the $6 trillion wars and the $750 billion annual Defense Department Budget.... Please consider giving Tulsi Gabbard at least a $1 contribution so she can be part of the debate between Democratic presidential candidates. She has made ending the wars on terrorism and regime change the primary issue of her candidacy. She is an Iraq vet and currently in the National Guard. Her rank is Colonel. She needs $62,500 and contributions from 200 people in each of 20 states. Thanks for anything you can do.

carol wagner sudol2 months ago

Israel today has become a nazi like state. period. That says it all. This is heart-breaking. Gaza is simply a concentration camp.

Tom Hall, 2 months ago

All our post WWII foreign policy has been about securing maintaining and enhancing corporate commercial interests. What would seem to progressives as catastrophic failures are in fact monumental achievements of wealth creation and concentration. The billions spent on think tanks to develop policy are mostly about how to develop grand narratives that conceal the true beneficiaries of US foreign policy and create fear, uncertainty and insecurity at home and abroad.

[May 12, 2019] I have wondered for some time why the US was so reluctant to shell Iran, surely the US could protect Israel and after all, the US have shelled just about everyone in the neighborhood.

May 12, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

frances , May 11, 2019 7:35:12 PM | link

< reply to>
" https://militarywatchmagazine.com/article/iran-may-have-the-s-400-in-all-but-name-what-russia-really-delivered-in-2016-and-why-it-matters "
Posted by: RenoDino | May 11, 2019 4:23:36 PM | 58

Excellent article! I have wondered for some time why the US was so reluctant to shell Iran, surely the US could protect Israel and after all, the US have shelled just about everyone in the neighborhood.

NOW I better understand their reluctance. Even if the possible Iranian S-400 are few in number, if they are shown to be as capable as they are believed to be, it is game over for US military sales and that is the bread, butter and gold of the empire.

[May 12, 2019] Trump about to dump Bolton caucus99percent

May 12, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

Speaking of getting led around by the nose, we come to one Gina Haspel's great deceptions. This deception plays directly into the hands of Russiagaters. This woman, supposedly brought into CIA leadership in order to demolish the agency, is proving quite adept in perpetuating its reign of terror. Again, we have a neocon undermining Trump's prestige and authority.

[May 12, 2019] Gina Haspel Conned Trump with British Lies into Expelling Russian Diplomats over Skripal Case

Apr 17, 2019 | larouchepub.com

(EIRNS) -- The New York Times ran a story yesterday titled, "Gina Haspel Relies on Spy Skills To Connect with Trump. He Doesn't Always Listen." Based on interviews with former and current CIA agents who worked with CIA Director Haspel (but not interviewing her), the Times praises her skills and attempts to denigrate Trump, but they also retail a story about her and Trump which could cost Haspel deeply.

Following the March 2018 breaking of the Skripal poisoning story in England, the Times writes, Trump had initially "written off the poisoning as part of legitimate spy games, distasteful but within the bounds of espionage." Haspel, on the other hand, was backing London's demand for Trump to blame Russia immediately and expel dozens of Russian diplomats.

Writes the Times:

"During the discussion, Ms. Haspel, then deputy CIA 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."

This appeal reportedly swayed Trump to go along with Haspel's advice.

If it sounds like the British "White Helmet" terrorists in Syria faking pictures of children being hit with chemical weapons to convince Trump to bomb Syrian targets, it is indeed precisely the same.

Former British Ambassador Craig Murray, an outspoken critic of these British imperial lies and atrocities, posted a response today to the Times garbage on his blog. He states first that yet another truth behind the Skripal lies was revealed recently by police, acknowledging that "the perfume bottle Charlie Rowley found was sealed and could not have been the container used on the Skripals." He goes on: "It took nine months for us to learn that, by a truly wonderful coincidence, the first person to find the Skripals ill on the bench was the Chief Nurse of the British Army."

But on the Haspel story in the Times, Murray is furious. "The problem is," he writes,

"there were no hospitalized children. No children have been reported as becoming ill following their duck feeding with the Skripals. We have heard from one of the parents that they were shown by the police extremely clear [closed-circuit surveillance] CCTV footage of the duck feeding, which has never been made public. Surely if the child had been hospitalized, the parent would have mentioned it?"

He quotes Dr. Stephen Davies of Salisbury Hospital, who wrote to the New York Times on March 14 stating clearly that no children had been hospitalized, and that every person who came to the hospital fearing they had been contaminated had no symptoms and tests turned out negative. Murray states:

"We also know that the duck feeding was the time that Boshirov and Petrov [the alleged Russian culprits] were physically closest to the Skripals. But this is the first time there has ever been any mention of any harm to the ducks. Dead ducks would have been noticed by the public."

It appears that the British Empire is the dead duck in this myth.

[May 11, 2019] From Russiagate to Gunboat Diplomacy by Branko Marcetic

Notable quotes:
"... Particularly shameless was Florida Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, who went on Tucker Carlson's show to peddle half-baked innuendo as brazen as anything claimed in the lead up to the Iraq War. If Maduro's government survived, he claimed, it would be "a green light, an open door for the Russians and for the Chinese and for others to increase their activity against our national security interest right here in our hemisphere." ..."
May 11, 2019 | jacobinmag.com

Russiagate hysteria is already being used to push Trump into an act of armed aggression against Venezuela. It's a disastrous result of a pointless delusion.

One of the things Russiagate skeptics found unsettling about the frenzy over supposed "collusion" was that it made war more likely. Not only did the now-debunked conspiracy theories and resulting political climate push officials into a more aggressive posture toward Russia, but once the Kremlin was returned to its status as the foreign policy elite's Big Bad, it was easy to imagine a situation where the threat of a Russian bogeyman could be used to justify any number of unrelated foreign adventures. This appears to be exactly what's happening with Venezuela right now.

First there was Fareed Zakaria, who two months ago tried to goad Trump into attacking Venezuela by pointing to Russia's support for Maduro. "Putin's efforts seem designed to taunt the United States," he said (it might also have something to do with the billions of dollars Russia sank into the country), making reference to the Monroe Doctrine. He asked if Washington would "allow Moscow to make a mockery of another American red line," warning that "if Washington does not back its words with deeds" the country could become another Syria. Zakaria concluded: "will Venezuela finally be the moment when Trump finally ends his appeasement?"

More recently, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo charged that Russia had "invaded" Venezuela before claiming the Kremlin had dissuaded Maduro from fleeing the country at the last moment, something Pompeo has provided no evidence for but much of the media has treated as fact since.

National Security Advisor John Bolton has said that "this is our hemisphere" and "not where the Russians ought to be interfering." Democratic Sen. Doug Jones echoed this sentiment on CNN, praising the Trump administration for saying "all options are on the table" to deal with Venezuela, something he suggested may have to be acted on "if there is some more intervention [by] Russia."

The national press, taking a break from warning about Trump being a dangerous authoritarian, has been demanding to know why he hasn't been more aggressive toward the country over this.

Particularly shameless was Florida Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, who went on Tucker Carlson's show to peddle half-baked innuendo as brazen as anything claimed in the lead up to the Iraq War. If Maduro's government survived, he claimed, it would be "a green light, an open door for the Russians and for the Chinese and for others to increase their activity against our national security interest right here in our hemisphere."

He went on to claim that Russia had already placed nuclear missiles in the country, and that it could lead to a Cuban missile crisis-like conflict. There is no evidence this is true, and Díaz-Balart didn't provide any.

Of course, no coverage of the Trump administration's relations with Russia would be complete without a trip into Rachel Maddow's fractured psyche. After Trump repeated Putin's personal assurances that he wasn't interested in getting involved in Venezuela -- contradicting Pompeo and Bolton -- Maddow addressed the two officials :

Hey John Bolton, hey Mike Pompeo, are you guys enjoying your jobs right now? You each thought your job this week was to name and shame and threaten and counter Russian government involvement in Venezuela while saber-rattling about how everybody else better get out of the way because the US is really mad about it. Guys, turns out your actual job is figuring out how and why you work for a president who says whatever Vladimir Putin tells him.

Maddow went on to express her sympathy for one of the most unhinged warmongers in a city teeming with them ("I mean, John Bolton, God bless you"), and again seemed to suggest that Bolton's "job" of "push[ing] Russia back because of what they're doing in Venezuela" was the correct course of action.

It's now clear there is nothing -- not Trump's years-long belligerence toward Russia's Venezuelan ally, not his near-constant bellicosity toward Russia since taking office, not Robert Mueller's failure to indict a single person for conspiring with Russia, not even his report's explicit and implicit denial that any such conspiracy existed -- that will make these people give up the talking point that Trump is secretly in bed with Putin. If Mueller himself denied it, they would claim he was a Russian in disguise. It's simply too convenient an attack line, and too professionally embarrassing to admit otherwise.

There is also an Orwellian level of doublethink going on here. Russia, a Venezuelan ally, has sent personnel and equipment to the country with the consent of its government at a time when it's being threatened by multiple hostile regional powers. Meanwhile the US, one of those hostile powers, has for years been laying siege to the country and killing its people, trying to destabilize and oust its leadership, and even threatening to invade it.

Yet according to the media and political class, it's Russia's actions that are an unacceptable intrusion into another country's affairs -- an "invasion," even. They are holding up four fingers to your face and telling you you're seeing five.

Meanwhile, these same quarters, after spending close to three years hyperventilating about Russia's meddling in domestic US affairs -- an "act of war," in some minds -- have now seamlessly pivoted to cheering Trump as he attempts to engineer a change of Venezuela's government, even calling for him to possibly attack the country. This is glaringly hypocritical, but the Russiagate frenzy was never about principled outrage or any sort of moral consistency.

Lastly and most significantly, the rhetoric around Venezuela is now taking on an explicitly imperialistic character, in the most literal sense of that word. Zakaria invoked the Monroe Doctrine to urge Trump to intervene in Venezuela; National Security Advisor John Bolton "proudly proclaim[ed]" upon launching a fresh round of sanctions that "the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well," and one MSNBC guest insisted the Trump administration was "right in being completely flabbergasted" at Russia's presence in the country because "this is our hemisphere," echoing Bolton .

When these figures talk about "our hemisphere," they don't mean the hemisphere in which the US happens to be located; they mean this is literally their hemisphere. The US is the imperial power with dominion over this part of the world, and only it has the right to interfere in the countries that populate it.

Their objection is not that an outside power is involving itself in a Latin American country's business, but that this outside power isn't the one in Washington. The fact that the US has been doing this very thing for years in Russia's part of the world -- expanding NATO right up to its border, sending weapons to Ukraine -- goes conveniently unmentioned.

Russiagate skeptics were criticized for being hyperbolic in comparing that scandal to the bogus WMD tale that led to the Iraq War; the latter, after all, killed hundreds of thousands and destabilized an entire region. But the full consequences of Russiagate will not be felt immediately; they will unfold over time. And while floating the specter of Russia might not work this time, expect it to be used over and over in the coming years to justify all manner of military aggression .

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