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Posts Tagged ‘Russians’

Rising to the Bait – Again

Posted by M. C. on May 12, 2022

By eric

How much more baiting will the Russians abide?

And will Americans tolerate it? Will they be fooled by it, if the bear takes the bait?

They will certainly be the ones paying for it, if he does.

$40 billion is still a great deal of money – even in the Biden Thing’s America. Except it’s not going to help Americans. Rather, the Biden Thing has taken $40 billion out of the pockets of Americans, to finance all-but-war with nuclear-armed Russia by arming and abetting Ukraine.

When the government – and the corporations that own the government – want war, they  usually get what they want.

Some 108 years ago, the government of Woodrow Wilson and the arms peddlers and financial interests behind Wilson wanted war with Germany – something few if any Americans wanted as they’d be the ones paying for it, in blood and treasure. To drag them into what was then styled the “war to end all wars,” Wilson’s government colluded with Britain’s government and the interests that owned both of them to arrange a pretext. A passenger liner called the Lusitania was loaded with war materiel and provocatively sailed into the war zone. The Germans rose to the bait. A submarine fired a couple or more torpedoes into the Lusitania’s flanks and she quickly sank – resulting in the drowning of about 1,198 “innocent civilians,” which they were.

But the governments of America and Britain weren’t.

They knew that, by goading the Germans into sinking Lusitania, they could feign outrage and cause Americans to actually be outraged. Sufficiently so as to drown out any voices who might raise a hand and ask why Lusitania, a passenger liner (loaded with war material from America meant to help Germany’s foe in the war) was sailed into the war zone, right in front of German subs.

Instead, Americans were roused to blood lust over “the hun” and sent to die (and kill) in a war that was as relevant to them as a wall phone is a to a Millennial.

Some twenty years after the “war to end all wars,” another war began. The government – and corporate interests – of the United States were, once again, extremely interested in getting Americans to fight in it. But – chastened by the carnage of the prior war – few Americans were interested.

How to fix that?

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Send In The Clown

Posted by M. C. on March 17, 2022

Making his entrance again with his usual flare.

https://thegoodcitizen.substack.com/p/send-in-the-clown?s=

Good Citizen

The clown of Ukrainian Oligarchs and American politicians’ sons is wrapping up his transatlantic tour of victimhood and grievance through the sacred halls of empire corruption. The western empire loves a victim with an evil oppressor to paint their animosities upon, especially if he’s a white male from Russia.

The clown used all the usual American buzzwords to stroke the neoconservative and neoliberal war mongers of the blood thirsty western hyena war den known as District of Counterglobalwarfareintoperpituity. He gave them the full reach around experience complete with Pearl Harbor and 9/11 references and even threw in a Martin Luther King Dream reference just before they climaxed.

War and death and suffering really gets them off when they’re not transferring the next ten generations’ of American taxpayer money to the corporate assholes who pay them back millions to get them elected.

The poor janitors of the Congressional hyena auditorium will be cleaning for weeks. The blood that was dripping from their mouths will require all the seats be reupholstered. Of course, they’ll just bill the taxpayers again.

For them it was worth it. It was worth every minute of the Clown’s performance. They acted like they didn’t know him, like he was a stranger in a strange land, like half of them haven’t visited him or him them in their hyena dens, on the cocktail circuit, at the cocaine clubs in Miami.

The clown played his role well. He pretended he didn’t know his audience. He made it clear that his handlers want more missiles and rockets and toys that will require more thank-you cards from Putin.

The clown put on his happy face by saying the skies should be closed over Ukraine. How noble. How heroic.

He’s not only willing to sacrifice a few thousand more Ukrainian civilians, he’s willing to turn the entire continent into rubble for the sake of his ego and pride. Both of which are directly connected to the aims of global management who own him and are negotiating a continuation of the war by all means because it is they who need a world war from which nothing will be left standing. Ashes and dust, the perfect conditions from which to ‘build back better’.

The latest negotiations were a hysterical farce. They’re so hellbent on keeping the war going, Putin could offer them all of Russia on a gold platter with a side of his own head and they’d refuse because they need more bodies, more shelled out buildings, more dead journalists killed by Ukrainian militias to be pinned on evil Russians. Most importantly they need Putin.

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Facebook OKs Calls for Violence Against Russians

Posted by M. C. on March 12, 2022

http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/peace-and-prosperity/2022/march/10/facebook-oks-calls-for-violence-against-russians/

Written by Daniel McAdams

Anyone following social media’s “Community Standards” knows how selectively they are enforced. Your humble writer was permanently banned from Twitter in 2019 for using a word to describe Sean Hannity’s mental slowness that is otherwise used perhaps millions of times per day by others with full impunity. Likewise, calls for violence against Sen. Rand Paul are also made routinely with impunity, in direct violation of the stated “Community Standards.”

But even the hypocrisy and cynicism we have seen to this point by Big Social Media does not prepare one for a shocking development today, as first reported by Reuters and then picked up by the Washington Post: Facebook (and Facebook-owned Instagram) have “updated” their “Community Standards” guidelines and will now allow calls for violence against Russians.

Yes that’s right. Russians – not the Russian government or the Russian economy, or even top Russian political figures but just plain old Russians – are now subject to new guidelines that ALLOW rather than forbid “Hate Speech” and even actual calls for violence!

EXCLUSIVE Facebook and Instagram to temporarily allow calls for violence against Russians https://t.co/dhcObdoDk6 pic.twitter.com/QVokunNzyx — Reuters (@Reuters) March 10, 2022

For those who felt that Japanese internment camps and “colored” drinking fountains were a disgusting chapter, thankfully relegated to the dustbin of history, who were sure that we’ve moved far beyond such primitive racism and violence, here’s a reminder that lurking just below the surface and subject to re-activation by the powers-that-be in the propaganda machine is that same old violent hatred of others. And social media is more than happy to accommodate the wishes of its governmental masters.

It is very clear that we are not progressing as a society toward ever-more liberal values. We are regressing to a violent, feral state. Endlessly looking inward for enemies to destroy. “Anti-vaxxers,” Trump voters, and now just plain old everyday Russians. Kill them. They are evil. Is this OK?

Facebook, a de facto arm of government, is now encouraging calls for violence against innocent people who happen to be of a particular race or ethnic background or linguistic group.

Race-hate of an unpopular ethnic and religions group? Haven’t we seen this horrific movie before?


Copyright © 2022 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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So, Are Putin and the Russians as Good as These Guys? You Decide – – –

Posted by M. C. on March 5, 2022

Wars are good if you are the “good guy”.

By L. Reichard White

April, 2004: In the attack on Fallujah, which ended after 3 weeks in defeat of the “coalition”:

Forces bombed the power plant at the beginning of the assault; …The town was placed under siege; the ban on bringing in food, medicine, and other basic items was broken only when Iraqis en masse challenged the roadblocks. … After initial instances in which people were prevented from leaving, U.S. forces began allowing everyone to leave except for what they called ‘military age males,’ men usually between 15 and 60. Keeping noncombatants from leaving a place under bombardment is a violation of the laws of war.

The main hospital in Fallujah is across the Euphrates from the bulk of the town. Right at the beginning, the Americans shut down the main bridge, cutting off the hospital from the town. … This hospital closing (not the only such that I documented in Iraq) also violates the Geneva Convention.

In addition to the artillery and the warplanes dropping 500, 1000, and 2000-pound bombs, and the murderous AC-130 Spectre gunships that can demolish a whole city block in less than a minute, the Marines had snipers criss-crossing the whole town. For weeks, Fallujah was a series of sometimes mutually inaccessible pockets, divided by the no-man’s-lands of sniper fire paths. Snipers fired indiscriminately, usually at whatever moved. Of 20 people I saw come into the clinic … only five were ‘military-age males.’ I saw old women, old men, a child of 10 shot through the head…

One thing that snipers were very discriminating about every single ambulance I saw had bullet holes in it. Two I inspected bore clear evidence of specific, deliberate sniping. Friends of mine who went out to gather in wounded people were shot at. When we first reported this fact, we came in for near-universal execration. Many just refused to believe it. Some asked me how I knew that it wasn’t the mujahedin. Interesting question. Had, say, Brownsville, Texas, been encircled by the Vietnamese and bombarded … and Brownsville ambulances been shot up, the question of whether the residents were shooting at their own ambulances, I somehow guess, would not have come up. Later, our reports were confirmed by the Iraqi Ministry of Health and even by the U.S. military.

The best estimates are that roughly 900-1000 people were killed directly, blown up, burnt, or shot. Of them, my guess, based on news reports and personal observation, is that 2/3 to 3/4 were noncombatants.

Fallujah and the Reality of War,” –Rahul Mahajan, CounterPunch, Nov. 6, 2004

Act II

A hospital has been razed to the ground in one of the heaviest U.S. air raids in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Witnesses said only the facade remained of the small Nazzal Emergency Hospital in the center of the city. … A nearby medical supplies storeroom and dozens of houses were damaged as US forces continued preparing the ground for an expected major assault.

U.S. strikes raze Fallujah hospital,” BBC, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2004

In a series of actions over the weekend, the United States military and Iraqi government destroyed a civilian hospital in a massive air raid, captured the main hospital, and prohibited the use of ambulances in the besieged city of Fallujah.

Fallujah: U.S. Declares War on Hospitals, Ambulances,” by Brian Dominick, Antiwar.com, Nov. 10, 2004

NEAR Fallujah, Iraq Nov. 12, 2004 — Hundreds of men trying to flee the assault on Fallujah have been turned back by U.S. troops following orders … ‘We assume they’ll go home and just wait out the storm or find a place that’s safe,’ one 1st Cavalry Division officer, who declined to be named, said Thursday. … Army Col. Michael Formica, who leads forces isolating Fallujah, admits the rule sounds ‘callous.’ But he insists it’s key to the mission’s success.

Tell them ‘Stay in your houses, stay away from windows and stay off the roof and you’ll live through Fallujah,’ [Army Col. Michael] Formica, of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade, told his battalion commanders in a radio conference call Wednesday night. …

Troops have cut off all roads and bridges leading out of the city. Relatively few residents have sought to get through …On Wednesday and Thursday, American troops sunk boats being used to ferry people … across the river. …

— “GIs Force Men Fleeing Fallujah to Return,” Associated Press, Nov. 16, 2004

Insurgent attacks across Iraq stretched American forces to their limits yesterday when rebels appeared to be in control of at least two cities, and the operation in Fallujah entered its most dangerous phase. … Some of the toughest street fighting encountered so far erupted during the day as rebels reemerged in areas already secured by U.S. Marines in the north of the city. Gunmen resumed positions on the roofs of mosques which had earlier been cleared…

‘I’m supposed to shoot into the houses before our troops go in,’ said Marine Cpl. Will Porter…

— “U.S. troops stretched to limit as insurgents fight back,” Robin Gedye, Nov. 13, 2004

Her shins, shattered by bullets from U.S. soldiers when they fired through the front door of her house, are both covered by casts. Small plastic drainage backs filled with red fluid sit upon her abdomen, where she took shrapnel from another bullet.

Fatima Harouz, 12 years old, lives in Latifiya, a city just south of Baghdad. Just three days ago soldiers attacked her home. Her mother, standing with us says, ‘They attacked our home and there weren’t even any resistance fighters in our area.’ Her brother was shot and killed, and his wife was wounded as their home was ransacked by soldiers. ‘Before they left, they killed all of our chickens,’ added Fatima’s mother, her eyes a mixture of fear, shock and rage.

Slash and Burn, Dahr Jamail, November 17, 2004

Journalists with the troops speak of a city that is gradually being devastated. Scarcely a single house does not bear some form of weapons scar and many have been rendered uninhabitable.

Tactics handed down from years of urban warfare in Israel mean that troops sometimes search rows of buildings by punching holes through walls with high velocity bullets rather than moving from house to house through doors, thus reducing the risk of booby traps and increasing the element of surprise.

— “The Telegraph: U.S. troops stretched to limit as insurgents fight back,” Robin Gedye, Nov. 13, 2004

The 33-year-old Associated Press photographer [Bilal Hussein] stayed behind to capture insider images during the siege of [Fallujah] … In the hours and days that followed, heavy bombing raids and thunderous artillery shelling turned Hussein’s northern Jolan neighborhood into a zone of rubble and death. The walls of his house were pockmarked by coalition fire.

‘Destruction was everywhere. I saw people lying dead in the streets, wounded were bleeding and there was no one to come and help them. … U.S. soldiers began to open fire on the houses, so I decided that it was very dangerous to stay in my house,’ he said. … Hussein moved from house to house — dodging gunfire — and reached the river. … ‘I decided to swim … but I changed my mind after seeing U.S. helicopters firing on and killing people who tried to cross the river.’

He watched horrified as a family of five was shot dead as they tried to cross. …’I kept walking along the river for two hours and I could still see some U.S. snipers ready to shoot anyone who might swim.’

— “AP Photographer Flees Fallujah,” Katarina Kratovac, Nov. 14, 2004

No outside aid has reached civilians in the city since the offensive began last Monday, and yesterday U.S. forces kept an Iraqi Red Crescent aid convoy of seven trucks and ambulances waiting at the main hospital near a bridge on the edge of the city. … Reports from within Fallujah yesterday said bodies lay in the streets, homes and mosques were destroyed, and power and telephone lines were down. …

However, [Marine] Col. [Mike] Shupp said the Red Crescent did not need to deliver aid to civilians in Fallujah and questioned whether there were any. He said: “There is no need to bring supplies in because we have supplies of our own for the people. …

[U.S.-chosen Iraqi Prime Minister] Mr. [Iyad] Allawi also said he doubted reports of civilians in the city. This contradicted accounts from residents inside the city …

‘Our situation is very hard,’ said one resident [Abu Mustafa] contacted by telephone in the central Hay al Dubat neighborhood. ‘We don’t have food or water. My seven children all have severe diarrhea.’

‘One of my sons was wounded by shrapnel last night and he’s bleeding, but I can’t do anything to help him.’

It is thought about half of Fallujah’s 300,000 people fled the fighting in the city. … In April, 2,000 U.S. Marines fought for three weeks and failed to take Fallujah. This time, six times that number were sent … Major General Richard Natonski of the U.S. Marine Corps: ‘We had the green light this time and we went all the way.’ … [M]ore than 20 different types of planes were used in bombing swarms … as U.S. soldiers began clearing weapons and fighters from every one of Fallujah’s 50,000 buildings, bands of insurgents were still roaming freely in some neighborhoods.

— “Bodies litter streets in rubble of Fallujah,” Calum MacDonald, Nov. 15, 2004

[T]he command in Baghdad thought there were at least 2,000 insurgents, and perhaps as many as 5,000. But the coalition forces have failed to find large clusters and now think that there might have been less than 1,000, military sources said yesterday. The senior defense official said some generals now think there might have been 600 or fewer.

U.S. suspects many insurgents have fled,” Rowan Scarborough, Nov. 12, 2004

Fallujah has been under relentless aerial and artillery bombardment and without electricity since Monday. Reports have said residents are running low on food. An officer here said it was likely that those who stay in their homes would live through the assault, but agreed the city was a risky and frightening place to live.

U.S. military says it does all it can to prevent bombing buildings with civilians inside them.

— “GIs Force Men Fleeing Fallujah to Return,” Associated Press, Nov. 16, 2004

You read about precision strikes, and it’s true that America’s GPS-guided bombs are very accurate when they’re not malfunctioning, the 80 or 85 percent of the time that they work, their targeting radius is 10 meters, i.e., they hit within 10 meters of the target. Even the smallest of them, however, the 500-pound bomb, has a blast radius of 400 meters.

Fallujah and the Reality of War,” –Rahul Mahajan, CounterPunch, Nov. 6, 2004

Once the battle ends, military officials say all surviving military-age men can expect to be tested for explosive residue, catalogued, checked against insurgent databases and interrogated about ties with the guerrillas. U.S. and Iraqi troops are in the midst of searching homes, and plan to check every house in the city for weapons.

— “GIs Force Men Fleeing Fallujah to Return,” Associated Press, Nov. 16, 2004

[A]ll the excuses Mr. Bush gave for attacking the people of Iraq were either wrong or lies. … We’ll only mention in passing that the domestic price for ‘our’ sarkar attacking Iraq, a country with no WMD, no al-Qaeda links, and no connections to 9/11 so far has been $87 billion, a good chunk of our civil liberties — and 1,239 or so American soldier’s lives, not to mention a minimum of approximately 8,000 more wounded and/or maimed.

— L. Reichard White, “The Only Way to Make Your Vote Count,” Oct. 31, 2004

So, are Putin and the Russians as good at invading countries and murdering men, women and children as these guys?

>HERE for updates, additions, comments, and corrections.

AND, “Like,” “Tweet,” and otherwise, pass this along!

L. Reichard White [send him mail] taught physics, designed and built a house, ran for Nevada State Senate, served two terms on the Libertarian National Committee, managed a theater company, etc. For the next few decades, he supported his writing habit by beating casinos at their own games. His hobby, though, is explaining things he wishes someone had explained to him. You can find a few of his other explanations listed here.

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Russia and China Aren’t the Natural Allies Many Assume Them to Be

Posted by M. C. on February 26, 2022

As Russia’s population has declined, the Chinese side of the border looks increasingly like a source of political instability and ethnic incursion into Russian territory. Beyond the near term, this is likely to lead to more conflict over the exact location of the border and who dominates the region.

https://mises.org/wire/russia-and-china-arent-natural-allies-many-assume-them-be

Ryan McMaken

In the wake of mounting tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine, one now finds countless media stories on the “China-Russia axis” and the “bond between Russia and China.” The ideological benefit of connecting Russia to China is undoubtedly clear to anti-Russia hawks. Russia is a relatively weak state with a small economy. China, on the other hand, tends to look more formidable. By connecting Russia to China in a new version of George W. Bush’s “axis of evil,” it becomes easier to downplay calmer voices noting the many limitations Russia faces in terms of its geopolitical ambitions. 

But just how secure is this supposed Sino-Russian friendship? While the two states may broadly agree on the need to limit US hegemonic power, the two are likely to also find many reasons to view each other as more immediate sources of conflict. 

In his book Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower, China scholar Michael Beckley notes there are many issues mitigating China-Russia “unity”:

Russia and China currently maintain a strategic partnership, but this relationship is unlikely to become a genuine alliance…. In parts of the world that matter most to them, Russia and China are more rivals than allies…. For every example of Sino-Russian cooperation, there is a counterexample of competition. For instance, Russia sells weapons to China, but it recently reduced sales to China while increasing sales to China’s rivals, most notably India and Vietnam. Russia and China conduct joint military exercises, but they also train with each other’s enemies and conduct unilateral exercises simulating a Sino-Russian war. The two countries share an interest in developing Central Asia, but Russia wants to tether the region to Moscow via the Eurasian Economic Union whereas China wants to reconstitute the Silk Road and link China to the Middle East and Europe while bypassing Russia.

The potential for an ongoing border dispute between Russia and China remains as well. For its part, China has as many as eighteen border disputes going on right now, and Russia continues to deal with several border issues with both Ukraine and Georgia. In Siberia, however, Russia and China face a low-intensity conflict over their border that is an ongoing source of division between the two states. While unlikely to lead to violent conflict in the near future, this border situation does provide an informative example of one of many ways that the Russia-China “partnership” faces many pitfalls. 

What Is Russia’s Far East Problem? 

As Russia’s population has declined, the Chinese side of the border looks increasingly like a source of political instability and ethnic incursion into Russian territory. Beyond the near term, this is likely to lead to more conflict over the exact location of the border and who dominates the region. 

Many have noted this. In 2008, for example, the Hudson Institute’s Laurent Murawiec published “The Great Siberian War of 2030,” which explored the possibility for rising tensions along the Russia-China border. Murawiec notes that as Russia’s population continues to decline and withdraw from Siberia—a term in this context meaning everything east of the Ural Mountains—relative Chinese geopolitical strength in the region will continue to decline:

A hollowed out Siberia will be similar to a vacuum hole sucking in outside forces to make up for the vanishing Russian presence. Conflict is neither inexorable nor prescribed by some mechanical inevitability, but the likelihood that disequilibrium may lead to turmoil must be taken into account as a realistic possibility.

A similar thesis appeared inthe New York Times in 2015 in an article titled “Why China Will Reclaim Siberia.” The author, Frank Jacobs, lays out the basic dynamics: 

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Bob Dylan and the Ukraine Crisis – Antiwar.com

Posted by M. C. on February 23, 2022

By the time legendary foreign-policy sage George F. Kennan issued his unequivocal warning in 1997 – “expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post-Cold War era” – the expansion was already happening.

As Cockburn notes, “By 2014, the 12 new members had purchased close to $17 billion worth of American weapons.”

by Norman Solomon

Fifty-nine years ago, Bob Dylan recorded “With God on Our Side.” You probably haven’t heard it on the radio for a very long time, if ever, but right now you could listen to it as his most evergreen of topical songs:

I’ve learned to hate the Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side

In recent days, media coverage of a possible summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin has taken on almost wistful qualities, as though the horsemen of the apocalypse are already out of the barn.

Fatalism is easy for the laptop warriors and blow-dried studio pundits who keep insisting on the need to get tough with “the Russians,” by which they mean the Russian government. Actual people who suffer and die in war easily become faraway abstractions. “And you never ask questions / When God’s on your side.”

During the last six decades, the religiosity of U.S. militarism has faded into a more generalized set of assumptions – shared, in the current crisis, across traditional political spectrums. Ignorance about NATO’s history feeds into the good vs. evil bromides that are so easy to ingest and internalize.

On Capitol Hill, it’s hard to find a single member of Congress willing to call NATO what it has long been: an alliance for war (Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya) with virtually nothing to do with “defense” other than the defense of vast weapons sales and, at times, even fantasies of regime change in Russia.

The reverence and adulation gushing from the Capitol and corporate media (including NPR and PBS) toward NATO and its US leadership are wonders of thinly veiled jingoism. About other societies, reviled ones, we would hear labels like “propaganda.” Here the supposed truisms are laundered and flat-ironed as common sense.

Glimmers of inconvenient truth have flickered only rarely in mainstream US media outlets, while a bit more likely in Europe. “Biden has said repeatedly that the US is open to diplomacy with Russia, but on the issue that Moscow has most emphasized – NATO enlargement – there has been no American diplomacy at all,” Jeffrey Sachs wrote in the Financial Times as this week began. “Putin has repeatedly demanded that the US forswear NATO’s enlargement into Ukraine, while Biden has repeatedly asserted that membership of the alliance is Ukraine’s choice.”

As Sachs noted, “Many insist that NATO enlargement is not the real issue for Putin and that he wants to recreate the Russian empire, pure and simple. Everything else, including NATO enlargement, they claim, is a mere distraction. This is utterly mistaken. Russia has adamantly opposed NATO expansion towards the east for 30 years, first under Boris Yeltsin and now Putin…. Neither the US nor Russia wants the other’s military on their doorstep. Pledging no NATO enlargement is not appeasement. It does not cede Ukrainian territory. It does not undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

Whether or not they know much about such history, the USA’s media elites and members of Congress don’t seem to care about it. Red-white-and-blue chauvinism is running wild. Yet there are real diplomatic alternatives to the collision course for war.

Speaking Monday on Democracy Now, Katrina vanden Heuvel – editorial director of The Nation and a longtime Russia expert – said that implementing the Minsk accords could be a path toward peace in Ukraine. Also, she pointed out, “there is talk now not just of the NATO issue, which is so key, but also a new security architecture in Europe.”

Desperately needed is a new European security framework, to demilitarize and defuse conflicts between Russia and US allies. But the same approach that for three decades pushed to expand NATO to Russia’s borders is now gung-ho to keep upping the ante, no matter how much doing so increases the chances of a direct clash between the world’s two nuclear-weapons superpowers.

The last US ambassador to the Soviet Union before it collapsed, Jack Matlock, wrote last week: “Since President Putin’s major demand is an assurance that NATO will take no further members, and specifically not Ukraine or Georgia, obviously there would have been no basis for the present crisis if there had been no expansion of the alliance following the end of the Cold War, or if the expansion had occurred in harmony with building a security structure in Europe that included Russia.”

But excluding Russia from security structures, while encircling it with armed-to-the-teeth adversaries, was a clear goal of NATO’s expansion. Less obvious was the realized goal of turning Eastern European nations into customers for vast arms sales.

A gripping chapter in “The Spoils of War,” a new book by Andrew Cockburn, spells out the mega-corporate zeal behind the massive campaigns to expand NATO beginning in the 1990s. Huge Pentagon contractors like Lockheed Martin were downcast about the dissolution of the USSR and feared that military sales would keep slumping. But there were some potential big new markets on the horizon.

“One especially promising market was among the former members of the defunct Warsaw Pact,” Cockburn wrote. “Were they to join NATO, they would be natural customers for products such as the F-16 fighter that Lockheed had inherited from General Dynamics. There was one minor impediment: the [George H. W.] Bush administration had already promised Moscow that NATO would not move east, a pledge that was part of the settlement ending the Cold War.”

By the time legendary foreign-policy sage George F. Kennan issued his unequivocal warning in 1997 – “expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post-Cold War era” – the expansion was already happening.

As Cockburn notes, “By 2014, the 12 new members had purchased close to $17 billion worth of American weapons.”

If you think those weapons transactions were about keeping up with the Russians, you’ve been trusting way too much US corporate media. “As of late 2020,” Cockburn’s book explains, NATO’s collective military spending “had hit $1.03 trillion, or roughly 20 times Russia’s military budget.”

Let’s leave the last words here to Bob Dylan, from another song that isn’t on radio playlists. “Masters of War.”

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good?
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could?

Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and the author of a dozen books including Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State, published this year in a new edition as a free e-book. His other books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions. Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

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Ukraine War Inevitable?

Posted by M. C. on February 14, 2022

The US continues to insist that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could come “at any moment,” while the Russians insist they have no interest in an invasion. Is Russia about to call Biden’s bluff? Also today: Trudeau claims extraordinary powers to clear out Freedom Truck protesters. And…what happened to Covid?

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Luongo: Breaking The Empire Means Breaking With The Saudis | ZeroHedge

Posted by M. C. on September 5, 2021

The Saudis, however, for their part have learned the lessons well what happens when you get into a price war with Russia. You lose. So, instead of fighting Russia for market share, they’ve decided to coordinate production for the big win-win for everyone while the U.S. continues to grapple with the reality that its empire is not only crumbling, but being actively dismantled from within.

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/luongo-breaking-empire-means-breaking-saudis

Tyler Durden's Photoby Tyler Durden

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, ‘n Guns blog,

For more than fifty years the Saudis have helped prop up U.S. foreign policy by exporting their oil to the world and taking only dollars in return.

Their currency, the Riyal, has been pegged to the U.S. dollar since then Secretary of State under President Nixon, Henry Kissinger, brokered that deal that built the so-called petrodollar system.

Now, in the intervening decades the petrodollar has been a buzzword thrown around by many, including myself, to explain the architecture of the U.S.’s imperial ambitions. In many ways, it has served a crucial part of that, at times. But, it was most needed during the early years of the dollar reserve standard, helping to legitimize this new currency regime and provide a market for U.S. debt around the world to replace gold.

After that it was just one aspect of a much bigger game built on the ever-expanding Ponzi scheme of fake funny money. In reality, the eurodollar shadow banking system is just a lot bigger than the petrodollar.

That said, I don’t discount it completely, as I understand this is real money changing hands for real goods, rather than the vast quantities of dollars out there supporting an increasingly creaky financialized system. Real trade matters and what currency that trade occurs in, also matters.

The U.S. closely defended the petrodollar famously going to war with any country that dared to offer oil on international markets in any currency other than the dollar, c.f. Iraq under Saddam Hussein. But, times change and so do the structure of capital markets.

So, when evaluating the health of the petrodollar system and its importance today it’s important to realize that the oil market is far more fragmented in payment terms than its been since the early 1970’s.

As a system, the petrodollar was always going to die a death of a thousand cuts. To my reckoning the first inklings of this began in late 2012 after President Obama finally used the financial nuclear weapon, expulsion from the SWIFT payment system, on Iran for pretty much no reason.

Earlier this year I wrote a piece describing why in negotiations you never go nuclear and how Obama made the biggest strategic blunder, possibly in U.S. history, by first threatening the Swiss over bank secrecy and then Iran.

The fact that the Obama administration politicized SWIFT when it did ended an era of international finance. The world financial system ended any illusions it had over who was in charge and who dictated what terms.

The problem with that is once you go there, there’s no going back, which was {Jim} Sinclair’s point over a decade ago.

Threatening Switzerland with SWIFT expulsion wasn’t a sign of strength, however, it was a sign of weakness. Only weak people bully their friends into submission. It showed that the U.S. had no leverage over than the Swiss other than SWIFT, a clear sign of desperation.

And that’s what the U.S. did when it pushed the big red ‘history eraser’ button.

The Swiss knuckled under. Its vaunted banking privacy is now a part of history.

Iran, however, in 2012, facing a similar threat from Obama, didn’t knuckle under and forced Obama to make good on his threat. Once you uncork the nuclear weapon you can’t threaten with lesser weapons, they have no sway. This is a lesson Donald Trump would learn the hard way since 2018.

Iran bucked the petrodollar to sell its oil by making a goods-for-oil swap arrangement with India. Iran was laughed at by U.S. foreign policy wonks at the time. Then we found out that Turkey was laundering oil sales for Iran through its banks using gold.

Its currency, the Rial, since then has been under constant attack by the U.S., most viciously under President Trump who sought to do what Obama couldn’t do, drive Iran’s oil exports to zero. The goal was regime change.

I chronicled this in detail, over these past four years, saying explicitly that the strategy was stupid and short-sighted. It didn’t work. It couldn’t work.

Iran’s resistance to Trump’s bullying only further entrenched the existing power structures there and hardened the Iranian people to become more disagreeable, more disdainful of America and, likely, Americans.

All it did was force Iran to develop alternate plans and find new markets. Those alternatives meant courting better relations with China, Russia and Turkey, which the U.S. tried hard to sabotage. As long as Iran was as good as its word, supplying oil and acting as a reliable partner in diplomacy, eventually deals would come to them.

See the rest here

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Erie Times E-Edition Article-Agency: Russians hacked prosecutors

Posted by M. C. on August 1, 2021

“The Associated Press previously reported that SolarWinds hackers gained access to email accounts of then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and members of the department’s cybersecurity staff, whose jobs included hunting threats from foreign countries.”

Homeland Security cybersecurity gets hacked. Like all the other inept government agencies that fail-watch their budgets get increased.

I am betting the proof that is so elusive shows the real hacker is a small Mediterranean country.

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=2824c8434_1345e95

Alan Suderman and Eric Tucker

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON – The Russian hackers behind the massive SolarWinds cyberespionage campaign broke into the email accounts of some of the most prominent federal prosecutors’ offices around the country last year, the Justice Department said.

The department said 80% of Microsoft email accounts used by employees in the four U.S. attorney offices in New York were breached. All told, the Justice Department said 27 U.S. attorney offices had at least one employee’s email account compromised during the hacking campaign.

The Justice Department said in a statement Friday that it believes the accounts were compromised from May 7 to Dec. 27, 2020. Such a timeframe is notable because the SolarWinds campaign, which infiltrated dozens of private- sector companies and think tanks as well as at least nine U.S. government agencies, was first discovered and publicized in mid-December.

Jennifer Rodgers, a lecturer at Columbia Law School, said office emails frequently contained all sorts of sensitive information, including case strategy discussions and names of confidential informants, when she was a federal prosecutor in New York.

“I don’t remember ever having someone bring me a document instead of emailing it to me because of security concerns,” she said, noting exceptions for classified materials.

The Administrative Office of U.S. Courts confirmed in January that it was also breached, giving the SolarWinds hackers another entry point to steal confidential information like trade secrets, espionage targets, whistleblower reports and arrest warrants.

The list of affected offices include several large and high-profile ones like those in Los Angeles, Miami, Washington and the Eastern District of Virginia.

The Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, where large numbers of staff were hit, handle some of the most prominent prosecutions in the country.

“New York is the financial center of the world and those districts are particularly well known for investigating and prosecuting white-collar crimes and other cases, including investigating people close to the former president,” said Bruce Green, a professor at Fordham Law School and a former prosecutor in the Southern District.

The department said all victims had been notified and it is working to mitigate “operational, security and privacy risks” caused by the hack. The Justice Department said in January that it had no indication that any classified systems were affected.

The Justice Department did not provide additional detail about what kind of information was taken and what impact such a hack may have on ongoing cases. Members of Congress have expressed frustration with the Biden administration for not sharing more information about the impact of the SolarWinds campaign.

The Associated Press previously reported that SolarWinds hackers gained access to email accounts of then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and members of the department’s cybersecurity staff, whose jobs included hunting threats from foreign countries.

Russian hackers behind a massive cyberespionage campaign broke into email accounts of prominent federal prosecutors’ offices around the country last year, the Department of Justice said Friday. PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP

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The Trump Ban: The Only Free Speech Zone for American Conservatives Is Russia — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on January 19, 2021

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2021/01/18/trump-ban-only-free-speech-zone-for-american-conservatives-russia/

Tim Kirby

This is the moment Russia has been waiting for but it is unknown if those in the halls of the Kremlin even know that it is happening.

The only side that is going to really benefit from Big Tech’s war on free speech will be the Russians. In fact, it is really the Western elite’s deep hubris that has given Russia so many opportunities to become “russurgeant” after being crushed in the Cold War. Decades of questionable wars of “convenience” along with unending threats of destruction for anyone who dares question Washington have created a diverse group of scorned nations all willing to shake hands with Moscow. Making international agreements is a lot easier when no ideological strings are attached and no submission demanded. Thanks to incremental anti-Russian sanctions imposed because the pro-Washington Maidan didn’t take 100% of the territory of Ukraine, 1990s import addict Russia is now living a sober West-free lifestyle actually producing the things it needs to survive under Capitalism. And now, the blanket ban of Right Wing/Conservative figures over Social Media including the President of the United States himself is opening the door for Russian Social Media to explode onto the English-language online space. Without pettiness from within the American elite itself Russia could have never create this #migration of non-Russian speaking users to their sphere of electronic influence. But the big question is will the Russians actually understand this and jump on this truly unique opportunity?

Image: A now iconic screenshot about the state of the 1st Amendment.

It seems impossible to believe but the present “leader of the free world” Donald Trump has been completely banned from the big Social Media giants for his role in the recent storming of Capitol Hill by the MAGAmen. It is important to note that Trump has never admitted to organizing the aggressive protest nor has he been convicted of inciting a riot in a court of law. Twitter, Facebook and others believe he did this and that is good enough evidence for them. For the morally self-righteous accusation is now as good as guilt. Furthermore, this ban extends to “allies of Trump” which could be anyone of the ~80 million who voted for him and foreign people who like his memes. Noted Conservative speaker Ron Paul was temporarily and inexplicably blocked for “violating community standards” which has become coded language for “we don’t like what you have to say on our platform”. Long story short, anyone for any reason at all, real or fake, can be completely and totally banned from the largest public spaces on the internet and the key victims of these purgings will be those with morals that conflict with Big Tech and the Beltway.

Image: Flagrant hypocrisy is the new normal.

The obvious quick fix for Trump, who feels he is battling to save Democracy from a rigged 2020 electoral “loss”, would be to jump to alternative Social Media platforms across the “free market”. No one is stopping famous rich individuals like him from creating competitors to the big dogs right? Sadly for him, growing FB alternative Parler has been removed from the App Store because some people have used it to incite violence or something. The obvious irony of this is that on every platform there are people who say horrible things and call for the deaths of their enemies. But if a platform is big enough, and they agree with the given fatwa then it’s A-okay.

This complete lack of opportunity on America’s diverse free market has given the Russians the chance of a lifetime to pull every English-speaking conservative into their Social Media space. In fact within just 72 hours of this ban madness starting, Russian Social Media/Messenger Platform “Telegram” gained 25 million new users. This is unlikely to be a fluke or coincidence. Furthermore, this new member surge brings the total user base to healthy 500 million. It is important to note that there are only some 250 million+ Russian speakers on the planet and not all of them like to follow intellectual feeds and memes on Telegram. This means that the majority of Telegram’s audience are now not connected to Russia in any way. The platform has reached the critical mass needed to become a mainstay of daily life across the globe.

Image: Telegram needs to add “freedom from woke political repression” as their 4th selling point.

The Telegram product combines the ability to make feeds of content like a Facebook group, make big statements like Twitter and message easily like on Whatsapp. It is a program that stands on its own merits, but it’s promise of complete privacy and offer of freedom of speech to 21st century dissidents on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall Museum is what made it explode. It is the absurd hypocritical policies and witch hunts of Western elites that are handing Russia the hearts and minds of the EU/USA on a platter. If you want privacy, and the right to share the opinions of the American President online, as of today you can only go through Russia.

This is similar to the rise of RT. Most people want to hear their own news from within their own culture, but when the Mainstream Media preaches utter madness that even children find mental in it is not surprising that Russian news media became such a hit. People want high quality, professional, reasonable news media and you are 100 times more likely to see that on a given day on RT than CNN, the BBC or the other big boys. Those media giants had the ball in their hands, and they somehow managed to drop it right into their own end zone for the Russians to just fall on.

Image: Ron Paul shutdown: accident or warning?

During the Cold War, thanks to the dismal state of Soviet media, the youth of the USSR was listening to Radio Freedom and doing anything that it could to jump into the Western media sphere of influence. It was simply the better alternative that gave them breathing room to think about life without a framed Lenin picture in the background. Now it looks like Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, and Donald Trump will be forced onto an expanding Russian side of a social media geopolitical space. This will act like the same type of media “beachhead” that America had in the Soviet Union during the Reagan years.

Telegram is a massive messenger that can replace WhatsApp and Twitter for many users. The Russian equivalent of Facebook, VK.com has been more reluctant to accept its destiny. I have approached their management personally bringing to their attention the fact that a massive Western Convservative audience is being repressed and will jump to a new platform for freedom of speech given the knowledge that such a platform exists. Especially when that platform can and does do everything that Facebook is capable of. My words were met with the usual hopeless pessimism that defines the Russian nation. In America we say “if you build it they will come” in Russia the logic is “if it has not been built, it can’t be and we shouldn’t think about it”. Perhaps with this new development they will reconsider my offer. I could use a percentage of a massive advertising campaign to attract the hordes of Conservative shows and blogs that have been deplatformed. VK, now is your time, they are giving you millions of English-speaking subscribers, just fall on the damn ball.

In terms of YouTube Russia does have an equivalent called RuTube (and some Netflix-like services) but it is not even that popular inside of the country itself. This would really be a good time for gents in the Kremlin to invest in a free speech video platform to win hearts and minds in the countries that threaten to kill them most often. As someone who has been deplatformed I would much appreciate the opportunity to make some fair and square ad revenue without the fear of using YouTube no-no words like “Depression”, “Brazil” and “Idaho”.

This is the moment Russia has been waiting for but it is unknown if those in the halls of the Kremlin even know that it is happening. The powers that be are not exactly filled with people from the media. Hopefully some of them will read this and realize just what a glorious opportunity Big Tech and the Democrats have given them. And since everything I write is banned anyways I’d be more than happy to run any attempts to absorb Western dissidents. It is not like these words are allowed to be posted on FB anyways.

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