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Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

Is Macron Right? Is NATO, 70, Brain Dead? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on November 27, 2019

Do we truly believe that if Russia marched into Estonia, the U.S. would start attacking the ships, planes and troops of a nation armed with thousands of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons?  Would NATO allies Spain, Portugal and Italy declare war on Russia?

Under NATO, we are now committed to go to war for 28 nations. And the interventionists who took us into Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen want U.S. war guarantees extended to other nations even closer to Russia.

NATO is a CIA tool. As long as that remains the case NATO is not going anywhere soon.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/11/patrick-j-buchanan/is-macron-right-is-nato-70-brain-dead/

By

A week from now, the 29 member states of “the most successful alliance in history” will meet to celebrate its 70th anniversary. Yet all is not well within NATO.

Instead of a “summit,” the gathering, on the outskirts of London, has been cut to two days. Why the shortened agenda?

Among the reasons, apprehension that President Donald Trump might use the occasion to disrupt alliance comity by again berating the Europeans for freeloading on the U.S. defense budget.

French President Emanuel Macron, on the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice, described NATO as having suffered “brain death.” Macron now openly questions the U.S. commitment to fight for Europe and is talking about a “true European Army” with France’s nuclear deterrent able to “defend Europe alone.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose nation spends 1.4% of GDP on defense and has relied on the U.S. and NATO to keep Russia at bay since the Cold War began, is said to be enraged at the “disruptive politics” of the French president.

Also, early in December, Britain holds national elections. While the Labour Party remains committed to NATO, its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is no Clement Attlee, who took Britain into NATO at its birth in 1949.

Corbyn has questioned NATO’s continued relevance in the post-Cold War era. A potential backer of a new Labour government, Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party, is demanding the closing of Britain’s Trident submarine base in Scotland as a precondition of her party’s support for Labour in Parliament.

Also present in London will be NATO ally Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan.

Following the 2016 coup attempt, Erdogan has purged scores of thousands from his army and regime, jailed more journalists than any other authoritarian, purchased Vladimir Putin’s S-400 missile system as Turkey’s air defense, and ordered the U.S. forces out of his way as he invaded northern Syria, killing Kurdish fighters who did the bleeding and dying in the U.S.-led campaign to crush the ISIS caliphate.

During the Cold War, NATO enjoyed the widespread support of Americans and Europeans, and understandably so. The USSR had 20 divisions in Germany, surrounded West Berlin, and occupied the east bank of the Elbe, within striking distance of the Rhine.

But that Cold War is long over. Berlin is the united free capital of Germany. The Warsaw Pact has been dissolved. Its member states have all joined NATO. The Soviet Union split apart into 15 nations. Communist Yugoslavia splintered into seven nations.

As a fighting faith, communism is dead in Europe. Why then are we Americans still over there?

Since the Cold War, we have doubled the size of NATO. We have brought in the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania but not Finland or Sweden. We have committed ourselves to fight for Slovenia, Croatia, Albania and Montenegro but not Serbia, Bosnia or North Macedonia.

Romania and Bulgaria are NATO allies but not Moldova or Belarus.

George W. Bush kept us out of the 2008 Russia-Georgia clash over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. And Barack Obama refused to send lethal aid to help Ukraine retrieve Crimea, Luhansk or Donetsk, though Sen. John McCain wanted the United States to jump into both fights.

In the House Intel Committee’s impeachment hearings, foreign service officers spoke of “Russian aggression” against our Ukrainian “ally” and our “national security” being in peril in this fight.

But when did Ukraine become an ally of the United States whose territorial wars we must sustain with military aid if not military intervention?

When did Kyiv’s control of Crimea and the Donbass become critical to the national security of the United States, when Russia has controlled Ukraine almost without interruption from Catherine the Great in the 18th century to Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 20th century?

Among the reasons Trump is president is that he raised provocative questions about NATO and Russia left unaddressed for three decades, as U.S. policy has been on cruise control since the Cold War.

And these unanswered questions are deadly serious ones.

Do we truly believe that if Russia marched into Estonia, the U.S. would start attacking the ships, planes and troops of a nation armed with thousands of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons?

Would NATO allies Spain, Portugal and Italy declare war on Russia?

In 1914 and 1939, in solidarity with the mother country, Britain, Canada declared war on Germany. Would Justin Trudeau’s Canada invoke NATO and declare war on Putin’s Russia — for Estonia or Latvia?

Under NATO, we are now committed to go to war for 28 nations. And the interventionists who took us into Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen want U.S. war guarantees extended to other nations even closer to Russia.

One day, one of these war guarantees is going to be called upon, and we may find that the American people were unaware of that commitment, and are unwilling to honor it, especially if the consequence is a major war with a nuclear power.

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NATO

 

 

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SOROS AND OBAMA – LOOKS LIKE WE UNDERESTIMATED THEM BADLY – Pickering Post

Posted by M. C. on November 22, 2019

https://www.pickeringpost.com/howellwoltz/14210/alec-ross-soros-and-obama/

By

Howell Woltz

We Undershot this Story by a Mile

We do our best here at the Pickering Post to dig up the facts that others won’t tell but we grossly under-reported the magnitude of this one.

While focusing so diligently on the Ukraine pimple of U.S. diplomatic corruption, we missed 800 pustules where the seeds of revolution had been intentionally sown – by the same Shadow Government players.

We’ve established who put Obama in the White House, but could not show ‘why’ until now.

I won’t bore you again with that backstory, but for new readers, according to Human Events and other sources previously cited, without George Soros, small-time Socialist Community organiser, Barack Obama, would have remained just that.

“Change We Can Believe In” – You’d Better Believe It

Obama said he would ‘fundamentally transform America’ we just didn’t realise in what diabolical direction and how successfully. Now we know why Soros funded putting him in the Senate and then the White House.

Unfortunately for the Western World, their union has birthed gremlins across the globe, perverting the framework of my nation’s foreign policy. These Gremlins were unseen and unheard – until this very moment.

Their plan was not only put into action, it was turbocharged. These termites are under the floorboards of every outpost of the United States – living and thriving in its embassies abroad – designed to survive regardless of who is president like cockroaches in nuclear war.

Who Really Runs the Country

You think Donald Trump runs U.S. Foreign Policy? Think again

Alex Ross, State Department fixer
Senior advisor Alec Ross-the U.S. State department/Soros evangelist for World revolution

The young man in the picture above, Alec Ross, was inserted into the Obama campaign as early as 2008 and is credited with developing then-Senator Barack Obama’s ‘technology and innovation plan’.

He convened more than 500 loyal advisors ‘in the process of cultivating the candidate’s innovation agenda’ becoming Senior Advisor on Innovation in the Obama State Department to Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton described his work by saying that “Alec Ross has been my right hand on all that we’re doing for internet freedom.” Personally, I think ‘freedom’ was the last thing they planned. Quite the opposite, in fact, as this story unfolds.

Wikipedia adds that “Alex (sic) helped institute a solid Democratic base in the State Dept that would last long after he and Hillary left.”

Their plan was successful, as we are seeing today in the attempts by those same stalwarts to destroy my home nation’s form of government and remove its sitting President through a calculated coup.

Ukraine Was Just the Tip of a Rotten Iceberg…

Here

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Rethinking National Security: CIA and FBI Are Corrupt, but What About Congress? — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on November 22, 2019

First of all, Ukraine was no American ally in 2014 and is no “critical ally” today. Also, the Russian reaction to western supported rioting in Kiev, a vital interest, only came about after the United States spent $5 billion destabilizing and then replacing the pro-Kremlin government.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/11/21/rethinking-national-security-cia-and-fbi-are-corrupt-but-what-about-congress/

 Philip Giraldi

The developing story about how the US intelligence and national security agencies may have conspired to influence and possibly even reverse the results of the 2016 presidential election is compelling, even if one is disinclined to believe that such a plot would be possible to execute. Not surprisingly perhaps there have been considerable introspection among former and current officials who have worked in those and related government positions, many of whom would agree that there is urgent need for a considerable restructuring and reining in of the 17 government agencies that have some intelligence or law enforcement function. Most would also agree that much of the real damage that has been done has been the result of the unending global war on terror launched by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, which has showered the agencies with resources and money while also politicizing their leadership and freeing them from restraints on their behavior.

If the tens of billions of dollars lavished on the intelligence community together with a “gloves off” approach towards oversight that allowed them to run wild had produced good results, it might be possible to argue that it was all worth it. But the fact is that intelligence gathering has always been a bad investment even if it is demonstrably worse at the present. One might argue that the CIA’s notorious Soviet Estimate prolonged the Cold War and that the failure to connect dots and pay attention to what junior officers were observing allowed 9/11 to happen. And then there was the empowerment of al-Qaeda during the Soviet-Afghan war followed by failure to penetrate the group once it began to carry out operations.

More recently there have been Guantanamo, torture in black prisons, renditions of terror suspects to be tortured elsewhere, killing of US citizens by drone, turning Libya into a failed state and terrorist haven, arming militants in Syria, and, of course, the Iraqi alleged WMDs, the biggest foreign policy disaster in American history. And the bad stuff happened in bipartisan fashion, under Democrats and Republicans, with both neocons and liberal interventionists all playing leading roles. The only one punished for the war crimes was former CIA officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou, who exposed some of what was going on.

Colonel Pat Lang, a colleague and friend who directed the Defense Intelligence Agency HUMINT (human intelligence) program after years spent on the ground in special ops and foreign liaison, thinks that strong medicine is needed and has initiated a discussion based on the premise that the FBI and CIA are dysfunctional relics that should be dismantled, as he puts it “burned to the ground,” so that the federal government can start over again and come up with something better.

Lang cites numerous examples of “incompetence and malfeasance in the leadership of the 17 agencies of the Intelligence Community and the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” to include the examples cited above plus the failure to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union. On the domestic front, he cites his personal observation of efforts by the Department of Justice and the FBI to corruptly “frame” people tried in federal courts on national security issues as well as the intelligence/law enforcement community conspiracy to “get Trump.”

Colonel Lang asks “Tell me, pilgrims, why should we put up with such nonsense? Why should we pay the leaders of these agencies for the privilege of having them abuse us? We are free men and women. Let us send these swine to their just deserts in a world where they have to work hard for whatever money they earn.” He then recommends stripping CIA of its responsibility for being the lead agency in spying as well as in covert action, which is a legacy of the Cold War and the area in which it has demonstrated a particular incompetence. As for the FBI, it was created by J. Edgar Hoover to maintain dossiers on politicians and it is time that it be replaced by a body that operates in a fashion “more reflective of our collective nation[al] values.”

Others in the intelligence community understandably have different views. Many believe that the FBI and CIA have grown too large and have been asked to do too many things unrelated to national security, so there should be a major reduction-in-force (RIF) followed by the compulsory retirement of senior officers who have become too cozy with and obligated to politicians. The new-CIA should collect information, period, what it was founded to do in 1947, and not meddle in foreign elections or engage in regime change. The FBI should provide only police services that are national in nature and that are not covered by the state and local jurisdictions. And it should operate in as transparent a fashion as possible, not as a national secret police force.

But the fundamental problem may not be with the police and intelligence services themselves. There are a lot of idiots running around loose in Washington. Witness for example the impeachment hearings ludicrous fact free opening statement by House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (with my emphasis) “In 2014, Russia invaded a United States ally, Ukraine, to reverse that nation’s embrace of the West, and to fulfill Vladimir Putin’s desire to rebuild a Russian empire.”

And the press is no better, note the following excerpt from The New York Times lead editorial on the hearings, including remarks of the two State Department officers who testified, on the following day: “They came across not as angry Democrats or Deep State conspirators, but as men who have devoted their lives to serving their country, and for whom defending Ukraine against Russian aggression is more important to the national interest than any partisan jockeying…

“At another point, Mr. Taylor said he had been critical of the Obama administration’s reluctance to supply Ukraine with anti-tank missiles and other lethal defensive weapons in its fight with Russia, and that he was pleased when the Trump administration agreed to do so

“What clearly concerned both witnesses wasn’t simply the abuse of power by the president, but the harm it inflicted on Ukraine, a critical ally under constant assault by Russian forces. ‘Even as we sit here today, the Russians are attacking Ukrainian soldiers in their own country and have been for the last four years…’ Mr. Taylor said.”

Schiff and the Times should get their facts straight. And so should the two American foreign service officers who were clearly seeing the situation only from the Ukrainian perspective, a malady prevalent among US diplomats often described as “going native.” They were pushing a particular agenda, i.e. possible war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine, in furtherance of a US national interest that they fail to define. One of them, George Kent, eulogized the Ukrainian militiamen fighting the Russians as the modern day equivalent of the Massachusetts Minutemen in 1776, not exactly a neutral assessment, and also euphemized Washington-provided lethal offensive weapons as “security assistance.”

Another former intelligence community friend Ray McGovern has constructed a time line of developments in Ukraine which demolishes the establishment view on display in Congress relating to the alleged Russian threat. First of all, Ukraine was no American ally in 2014 and is no “critical ally” today. Also, the Russian reaction to western supported rioting in Kiev, a vital interest, only came about after the United States spent $5 billion destabilizing and then replacing the pro-Kremlin government. Since that time Moscow has resumed control of the Crimea, which is historically part of Russia, and is active in the Donbas region which has a largely Russian population.

It should really be quite simple. The national security state should actually be engaged in national security. Its size and budget should be commensurate with what it actually does, nothing more. It should not be roaming the world looking for trouble and should instead only respond to actual threats. And it should operate with oversight. If Congress is afraid to do it, set up a separate body that is non-partisan and actually has the teeth to do the job. If the United States of America comes out of the process as something like a normal nation the entire world will be a much happier place.

 

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The Question that Is Never Asked About U.S. Military Aid to Ukraine – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on November 19, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/11/laurence-m-vance/the-question-that-is-never-asked-about-u-s-military-aid-to-ukraine/

…Typical is an article on Vox that calls Trump’s suspension of military aid to Ukraine his “latest and greatest scandal.” Twice in the article the question is asked: Exactly why did Trump withhold the military aid in the first place?

This is the wrong question.

Here is a much more important question: Should the United States be giving military aid to Ukraine?

For those of us who believe that a Jeffersonian foreign policy of “peace, commerce, honest friendship with all nations—entangling alliances with none” is the best course for America to take, the answer is a simple one: Of course not…

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From Reagan to Obama: Secrecy and Covert Operations in the ...

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When Did Ukraine Become a ‘Critical Ally’? – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on November 15, 2019

“One would think, listening to this,” writes Barbara Boland, the American Conservative columnist, “that the U.S. had always provided arms to Ukraine, and that Ukraine has relied on this aid for years. But this is untrue and the Washington blob knows this.”

Indeed, Ukraine has never been a NATO ally or a “critical ally.”

https://original.antiwar.com/buchanan/2019/11/14/when-did-ukraine-become-a-critical-ally/

On hearing the State Department’s George Kent and William Taylor describe President Donald Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine, The New York Times summarized and solemnly endorsed their testimony:

“What clearly concerned both witnesses wasn’t simply the abuse of power by the President, but the harm it inflicted on Ukraine, a critical ally, under constant assault by Russian forces.”

“’Even as we sit here today, the Russians are attacking Ukrainian soldiers in their own country, and have been for four years,’ Taylor said. ‘I saw this on the front line last week; the day I was there a Ukrainian soldier was killed and four more wounded.’”

Kent compared Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s intervention on the side of the Donbass secessionists to “our own Minutemen in 1776.”

“More than 13,000 Ukrainians have died on Ukrainian soil defending their territorial integrity and sovereignty from Russian aggression. … American support in Ukraine’s own de facto war of independence has been critical.”

Kent went on:

“The American colonies may not have prevailed against British imperial might without help from transatlantic friends after 1776. In an echo of Lafayette’s organized assistance to General George Washington’s army and Admiral John Paul Jones’ navy, Congress has generously appropriated over $1.5 billion over the past five years in desperately needed train and equip security assistance to Ukraine…”

“Similar to von Steuben training colonials at Valley Forge, U.S. and NATO allied trainers develop the skills of Ukrainian units at Yavoriv near the Polish border, and elsewhere. They help rewrite military education for Ukraine’s next generation, as von Steuben did for America’s first.”

“One would think, listening to this,” writes Barbara Boland, the American Conservative columnist, “that the U.S. had always provided arms to Ukraine, and that Ukraine has relied on this aid for years. But this is untrue and the Washington blob knows this.”

Indeed, Ukraine has never been a NATO ally or a “critical ally.”

Three decades ago, George H.W. Bush implored Ukraine not to set out on a course of “suicidal nationalism” by declaring independence from the Russian Federation. Despite constant pressure from Sen. John McCain and our neocons to bring Ukraine into NATO, wiser heads on both sides of the Atlantic rejected the idea.

Why? Because the “territorial integrity and sovereignty” of Ukraine is not now and has never been a vital interest of ours that would justify a U.S. war with a nuclear-armed Russia…

Civil war broke out. We backed the new regime. Russia backed the rebels. And five years later, the war goes on. Why is this our fight?

During the Obama years, major lethal aid was denied to Ukraine.

The White House reasoned that arming Ukraine would lead to an escalation of the war in the east, greater Russian intervention, defeat for Kyiv, and calls for the U.S. to intervene militarily, risking a war with Russia.

Not until Trump became president did lethal aid begin flowing to Ukraine, including Javelin anti-tank missiles.

So where are we?

Despite dramatic depictions of Ukraine as our embattled ally, Ukraine has never been an ally. We are not now nor have we ever been obligated to fight for its sovereignty or territorial integrity. Efforts to bring Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia into NATO have been repeatedly rebuffed in the United States and by our European NATO allies.

Kent and Taylor are honorable men. But they are career diplomats of the Department of State and veteran advocates of a foreign policy that sees Russia as an enduring aggressor and Ukraine as a fighting ally entitled to U.S. military assistance.

They have, in the old phrase, gone native. They champion the policies of yesterday and the embattled countries to which they are accredited and to whose causes they have become converted.

But Trump was elected to overturn the interventionist policies America has pursued since the century began. He was elected to end Cold War II with Russia, to reach a modus vivendi as Reagan did, and to extricate us from the endless wars into which Presidents Bush and Obama plunged the nation.

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Mike Mazurski – Ukrainian contribution to American cinema

 

 

 

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RAY McGOVERN: Ukraine For Dummies – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on November 15, 2019

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/11/14/ray-mcgovern-ukraine-for-dummies/

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

At Wednesday’s debut of the impeachment hearings there was one issue upon which both sides of the aisle seemed to agree, and it was a comic-book caricature of reality.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff led off the proceedings with this: “In 2014, Russia invaded a United States ally, Ukraine, to reverse that nation’s embrace of the West, and to fulfill Vladimir Putin’s desire to rebuild a Russian empire…”

Five years ago, when Ukraine first came into the news, those Americans who thought Ukraine was an island in the Pacific can perhaps be forgiven. That members of the House Intelligence Committee don’t know — or pretend not to know — more accurate information about Ukraine is a scandal, and a consequential one.

As Professor Stephen Cohen has warned, if the impeachment process does not deal in objective fact, already high tensions with Russia are likely to become even more dangerous.

So here is a kind of primer for those who might be interested in some Ukraine history:

  • Late 1700s: Catherine the Great consolidated her rule; established Russia’s first and only warm-water naval base in Crimea.
  • In 1919, after the Bolshevik Revolution, Moscow defeated resistance in Ukraine and the country becomes one of 15 Republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
  • In 1954, after Stalin’s death the year before, Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian, assumed power. Pandering to Ukrainian supporters, he unilaterally decreed that henceforth Crimea would be part of the Ukrainian SSR, not the Russian SSR. Since all 15 Republics of the USSR were under tight rule from Moscow, the switch was a distinction without much of a difference — until later, when the USSR fell apart..
  • Nov. 1989: Berlin wall down.
  • Dec. 2-3, 1989: President George H. W. Bush invites Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to summit talks in Malta; reassures him “the U.S. will not take advantage” of Soviet troubles in Eastern Europe. Bush had already been pushing the idea of a Europe whole and free, from Portugal to Vladivostok.

A Consequential Quid Pro Quo

  • Feb. 7-10, 1990: Secretary of State James Baker negotiates a quid pro quo; Soviet acceptance of the bitter pill of a reunited Germany (inside NATO), in return for an oral U.S. promise not to enlarge NATO “one inch more” to the East.
  • Dec. 1991: the USSR falls apart. Suddenly it does matter that Khrushchev gave Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR; Moscow and Kyiv work out long-term arrangements for the Soviet navy to use the naval base at Sevastopol.
  • The quid pro quo began to unravel in October 1996 during the last weeks of President Bill Clinton’s campaign when he said he would welcome Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO — the earlier promise to Moscow notwithstanding. Former U.S. Ambassador to the USSR Jack Matlock, who took part in both the Bush-Gorbachev early-December 1989 summit in Malta and the Baker-Gorbachev discussions in early February 1990, has said, “The language used was absolute, including no ‘taking advantage’ by the U.S. … I don’t see how anybody could view the subsequent expansion of NATO as anything but ‘taking advantage,’ particularly since, by then, Russia was hardly a credible threat.” (From 16 members in 1990, NATO has grown to 29 member states — the additional 13 all lie east of Germany.)
  • Feb. 1, 2008: Amid rumors of NATO planning to offer membership to Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warns U.S. Ambassador William Burns that “Nyet Means Nyet.” Russia will react strongly to any move to bring Ukraine or Georgia into NATO. Thanks to WikiLeaks, we have Burns’s original cable from embassy in Moscow.
  • April 3, 2008: Included in Final Declaration from NATO summit in Bucharest: “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.”
  • Early September 2013: Putin helps Obama resist neocon demands to do “shock and awe” on Syria; Russians persuade President Bashar al-Assad to give up Syrian army chemical weapons for destruction on a U.S. ship outfitted for chemical weapons destruction. Neocons are outraged over failing to mousetrap Obama into attacking Syria.

Meanwhile in Ukraine

  • Dec. 2013: In a speech to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland says: “The United States has supported Ukraine’s European aspirations. … We have invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.”
  • Feb. 4, 2014: Amid rioting on the Maidan in Kiev, YouTube carries Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s last minute instructions to U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt regarding the U.S. pick for new Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk (aka “Yats”) and other plans for the imminent coup d’etat in Kiev. When Pyatt expresses concern about EU misgivings about mounting a coup, Nuland says “Fuck the EU.” She then apologizes to the EU a day or two later — for the profanity, not for the coup. She also says that Vice President Joe Biden will help “glue this thing together”, meaning the coup.
  • Feb. 22, 2014: Coup d’etat in Kyiv; appropriately labeled “the most blatant coup in history” by George Friedman, then President of the widely respected think-tank STRATFOR.
  • Feb. 23, 2014: The date that NATO, Western diplomats, and the corporate media have chosen – disingenuously – as the beginning of recent European history, with silence about the coup orchestrated in Kyiv the day before. President Vladimir Putin returns to Moscow from the winter olympics in Sochi; confers with advisers about Crimea, deciding — unlike Khrushchev in 1954 — to arrange a plebiscite to let the people of Crimea, most of whom strongly opposed the coup regime, decide their own future.
  • March 16, 2014: The official result from the voters in Crimea voted overwhelmingly for independence from Ukraine and to join Russia. Following the referendum, Crimea declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation. On March 18, the Russian Federal Assembly ratified the incorporation of Crimea into Russia.
  • In the following days, Putin made it immediately (and publicly) clear that Yatsenyuk’s early statement about Ukraine joining NATO and – even more important – the U.S./NATO plans to deploy ABM systems around Russia’s western periphery and in the Black Sea, were the prime motivating forces behind the post-referendum re-incorporation of Crimea into Russia.
  • No one with rudimentary knowledge of Russian history should have been surprised that Moscow would take no chances of letting NATO grab Crimea and Russia’s only warm-water naval base. The Nuland neocons seized on the opportunity to accuse Russia of aggression and told obedient European governments to follow suit. Washington could not persuade its European allies to impose stringent sanctions on Russia, though, until the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 over Ukraine.

Airplane Downed; 298 Killed

  • July 17, 2014: MH 17 shot down
  • July 20, 2014: Secretary of State John Kerry told NBC’s David Gregory, “We picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing. And it was exactly at the time that this aircraft disappeared from the radar.” The U.S., however, has not shared any evidence of this.
  • Given the way U.S. intelligence collectors had been focused, laser-like, on that part of the Ukrainian-Russian border at that time, it is a near certainty that the U.S. has highly relevant intelligence regarding what actually happened and who was most likely responsible. If that intelligence supported the accusations made by Kerry, it would almost certainly have been publicized.
  • Less than two weeks after the shoot-down, the Europeans were persuaded to impose sanctions that hurt their own businesses and economies about as much as they hurt Russia’s – and far more than they hurt the U.S. There is no sign that, in succumbing to U.S. pressure, the Europeans mustered the courage to ask for a peek at the “intelligence” Kerry bragged about on NBC TV.
  • Oct. 27, 2016: Putin speaks at the Valdai International Discussion Club.

How did the “growing trust” that Russian President Putin wrote about in his September 11, 2013 New York Times op-ed evaporate?

How did what Putin called his close “working and personal relationship with President Obama” change into today’s deep distrust and saber-rattling? A short three years later after the close collaboration to resolve the Syrian problem peacefully, Putin spoke of the “feverish” state of international relations and lamented: “My personal agreements with the President of the United States have not produced results.” And things have gone downhill from there.

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The Blob Strikes Back | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on October 26, 2019

Reflexively taking the side of Ukraine does not serve American interests any more than trying to pummel it for political favors.

https://nationalinterest.org/feature/blob-strikes-back-90471

by Hunter DeRensis

President Donald Trump campaigned and was elected on a platform of improved relations with Russia. Yet, three years after his election, no real improvement has materialized and, if anything, they have deteriorated. Why?

One reason is that those who seek to repair the damage caused by a thirty-year deterioration in trust and cooperation face an uphill battle against what recently has been given the colloquial name, “the Blob.” The term, coined by Obama White House staffer Ben Rhodes, refers to the foreign-policy establishment, mostly located in Washington, DC and constantly focused on the putative decline of American influence abroad. It has been distinguished by its unwillingness, or inability, to reconsider or reprioritize national interests that were first defined after World War II, and then continued, by and large, on auto-pilot after the end of the Cold War. Now Trump is taking a wrecking ball to this world order. But a self-anointed mandarin class or, if you prefer, deep state, that has largely operated unmolested until the advent of Trump now appears to believe that it can foil, or even subvert, the policies of a president it deems unfit for office, a development that should worry Democrats and Republicans alike.

Another reason is that Trump himself has been largely indifferent to who assumes positions in his administration, calculating that by sheer force of will he, and he alone, can be the decider. In September, Trump referred to his search for a fresh national security adviser in the following terms: “It’s great because it’s a lot of fun to work with Donald Trump, and it’s very easy, actually, to work with me. You know why it’s easy? Because I make all the decisions. They don’t have to work.” This insouciant approach has now boomeranged on Trump.

Enter William B. Taylor, Jr. Taylor has been the U.S. Chargé d ‘Affaires Ukraine since June of this year (having previously held the position of ambassador 2006–2009), and yesterday he testified behind-closed-doors as part of the House impeachment inquiry into Trump. Taylor, as his testimony made clear, was able to observe first-hand many of the Trump administration’s ham-fisted moves to extract, in one form another, concessions from Ukraine. But however clumsy and counterproductive Trump’s moves may have been, Taylor offered an overly simplistic survey of events in the region. Indeed, his Manichean introductory and concluding remarks suggested that he views Russia as an inveterate enemy of America and Ukraine as a white knight.

In his opening statement, Taylor emphasized that Ukraine is a strategic partner of the United States that is “important for the security of our country as well as Europe,” as well as a country that is “under armed attack from Russia.” Well, yes. But this sweeping description occludes more than it reveals. Foreign policy is rarely a morality play and the fairy-tale that Taylor presented was more redolent of a post–Cold War cold warrior who, like too many of his colleagues at the foreign desk, are committed to retrograde thinking, than of an official offering an incisive look at a complex and troubled region. It is not as though Ukraine, where Taylor served as ambassador during the George W. Bush administration, has ever been free from the plague of corruption or murky machinations by local competing factions. Reflexively taking the side of Ukraine does not serve American interests any more than trying to pummel it for political favors. The testimony of Taylor and other State Department witnesses before the House Intelligence Committee is a case in point.

“The four U.S. diplomats [Taylor, former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, former special representative Kurt Volker, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George P. Kent] are all wedded to a policy maximally supportive of Ukraine’s ‘Revolution of Dignity’ and all that implies. That is the policy we arrived at in the previous administration, for better or worse, and it continues to be the ‘official’ policy given strong bipartisan support in Congress,” explains John Marshall Evans, a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer who previously served as ambassador to Armenia. Evans adds that Taylor “did a great job running the assistance programs for the former USSR. Everyone respected him highly, and liked him.”

The narrative in the lengthy opening statement by Taylor, however, tends to obfuscate the reality of the turmoil in Ukraine, where street protests in 2014, at least partially cheered on by the Obama administration, most notably Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, toppled the democratically elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych. Russia responded swiftly by annexing the Crimean Peninsula, where a military base has been located for decades.

Taylor emphasized that in the aftermath of these dramatic events, he favored the sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine, which the Obama administration demurred on. President Barack Obama was cautious about committing to Ukraine—and the visible presence of neo-Nazi, white supremacist militias did not help.

During his testimony, Taylor recounted that on a visit to eastern Ukraine, “Ambassador Volker and I could see the armed and hostile Russian-led forces on the other side of the damaged bridge across the line of contact. Over 13,000 Ukrainians had been killed in the war, one or two a week. More Ukrainians would undoubtedly die without the U.S. assistance.” What goes unmentioned is that many of the dead are Eastern Ukrainians with deep language and cultural connections to Russia, who acted upon secessionist impulses only after the emergence of the new regime in Kiev.

A New York Times article yesterday described Taylor as a “model diplomat,” and used favorable quotes only from those associated from the same doctrinaire foreign-policy establishment. Even the phrase “model diplomat” was provided by Strobe Talbott, President Bill Clinton’s deputy secretary of state (and former roommate at Oxford) who was the architect of the post–Cold War NATO expansion which kickstarted the trend of souring relations with Russia.

The New York Times also published, in the fall of 2018, an anonymous op-ed from a “senior official in the Trump administration” who wrote that he and others were “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” with the premier example given as Russian-American relations. Now this figure, who apparently remains ensconced in the Trump administration that he or she so reviles, is about to publish a “tell all” book about the administration next month, still anonymously.

“President Trump obviously wants better relations with Moscow, but Ukraine is an obstacle to that, and he has the entire Blob against him. It is not a crime to advocate for a change of policy, or, if one is president, to change the policy, but Trump probably hasn’t a clue how to do that correctly, so he sought to work around the existing structures, which must frustrate him,” Evans observes.

Others take an outright critical view of Taylor and Co. “Taylor’s testimony shows he believes that the constitutionally elected head of the executive branch is supposed to serve unelected officials like himself. He personifies what Obama administration officials characterized as ‘the blob,’” says Daniel McCarthy, a columnist for SpectatorUSA.

Will anything change now that the fight between Trump and the permanent bureaucracy is now in the open? On Tuesday night, Vice President Mike Pence told Laura Ingraham, host of Fox’s The Ingraham Angle, “There is no question when President Trump said we were going to drain the swamp, but an awful lot of the swamp has been caught up in the State Department bureaucracy and we’re just going to keep fighting it. And we are going to fight it with the truth.” For his part, Evans thinks that there is a modicum of hope for improved relations with Moscow. “Taylor will have to resign now,” he says. “We might even see a moderation of the uncritical support for Ukraine, as some of the ugly underside starts to emerge, although anti-Russian sentiment is the mother’s milk of Congress.”

Hunter DeRensis is a reporter at the National Interest.

 

 

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DC’s Atlantic Council raked in funding from Hunter Biden’s corruption-stained employer while courting his VP father | The Grayzone

Posted by M. C. on October 17, 2019

Addressing the parliament in Kiev, Biden declared that “corruption can have no place in the new Ukraine,” stating that the “United States has also been a driving force behind the IMF, working to provide a multi-billion package to help Ukraine..”  

That same month, Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of Burisma.

https://thegrayzone.com/2019/10/13/dcs-atlantic-council-raked-in-funding-from-hunter-bidens-corruption-stained-employer-while-courting-his-vp-father/

By Max Blumenthal

With its relentless focus on corruption in Russia and Ukraine, the Atlantic Council has distinguished itself from other top-flight think tanks in Washington. Over the past several years, it has held innumerable conferences and panel discussions, issued a string of reports, and published literally hundreds of essays on Russia’s “kleptocracy” and the scourge of Kremlin disinformation.

At the same time, this institution has posed as a faithful partner to Ukraine’s imperiled democracy, organizing countless programs on the urgency of economic reforms to tamp down on corruption in the country.

But behind the curtain, the Atlantic Council has initiated a lucrative relationship with a corruption-tainted Ukrainian gas company, the Burisma Group, that is worth as much as $250,000 a year. The partnership has paid for lavish conferences in Monaco and helped bring Burisma’s oligarchic founder out of the cold.

This alliance has remained stable even as official Washington goes to war over allegations by President Donald Trump and his allies that former Vice President Joseph Biden fired a Ukrainian prosecutor to defend his son’s handsomely compensated position on Burisma’s board.

As Biden parries Trump’s accusations, some of the former vice president’s most ardent defenders are emerging from the halls of the Atlantic Council, which featured Biden as a star speaker at its awards ceremonies over the years. These advocates include Michael Carpenter, Biden’s longtime foreign policy advisor and specialist on Ukraine, who has taken to the national media to support his embattled boss.

Even as Burisma’s trail of influence-buying finds its way into front page headlines, the Atlantic Council’s partnership with the company is scarcely mentioned…

NATO’s think tank in Washington

The Atlantic Council functions as the semi-official think tank of NATO in Washington. As such, it cultivates relationships with well-established policymakers who take a hard line against Russia and support the treaty organization’s perpetual expansion.

Biden has been among the think tank’s most enthusiastic and well-placed allies.

In 2011, then-Vice President Biden delivered the keynote address at the Atlantic Council’s distinguished leadership awards. He returned to the think tank again in 2014 for another keynote at its “Toward A Europe Whole and Free” conference, which was dedicated to expanding NATO’s influence and countering “Russian aggression.” Throughout the event, speakers like Zbigniew Brzezinski sniped at Obama for his insufficiently bellicose posture toward Russia, while former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright fretted over polls showing low public support for US interventionism overseas.

In his own comments, Biden emphasized the need to power Europe with non-Russian sources of natural gas. This provided a prime opportunity to Ukrainian suppliers like Burisma and US energy titans. Many of these energy companies, from Chevron to Noble Energy, also happen to be top donors to the Atlantic Council.

“This would be a game-changer for Europe, in my view, and we’re ready to do everything in our power to help it happen,” Biden promised his audience.

At the time, the Atlantic Council was pushing to ramp up the proxy war against pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. In 2015, for instance, the think tank helped prepare a proposal for arming the Ukrainian military with offensive weaponry like Javelin anti-tank missiles.

Given that the Atlantic Council has been funded by the two manufacturers of the Javelin system, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, this created at least the appearance of a conflict of interest. In fact, the think tank presented its Distinguished Business Leadership Award to Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson that same year.

Dubious arrangements like these are not limited to arms manufacturers. Anders Aslund, a neoliberal economist who helps oversee the Atlantic Council’s programming on Russia and Eastern Europe, was quietly paid by a consortium of Latvian banks to write an October 2017 paper highlighting the supposed progress they had made in battling corruption…

Biden made his first visit to the post-Maidan government of Ukraine in April 2014, just as Kiev was launching its so-called “anti-terrorist operation” against separatists who broke off from the new, NATO-oriented Ukraine and its nationalist government and formed so-called people’s republics in the Russophone Donbass region. The fragmentation of the country and its grinding proxy war flowed directly from the regime-change operation that Biden helped oversee.

Addressing the parliament in Kiev, Biden declared that “corruption can have no place in the new Ukraine,” stating that the “United States has also been a driving force behind the IMF, working to provide a multi-billion package to help Ukraine..”

That same month, Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of Burisma.

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Helterskelter to World War Three

 

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Expert: Hunter Biden Likely Still Has Millions in China-Backed Investment Fund

Posted by M. C. on October 14, 2019

If nothing else the current plethora of revelations shows that Trump is a relative newborn in the Swamp.

Russiagate is his to lose.

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/10/13/expert-hunter-biden-likely-still-has-millions-in-china-backed-investment-fund/

by Charlie Spiering

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden announced Sunday that he was stepping down from his board position at BHR Equity Investment Fund Management, but he likely still has millions of dollars of value in the company.

Hunter Biden has a 10 percent stake in BHR, which he acquired through a company he created named Skaneateles LLC in 2017.

Although Hunter Biden’s lawyer has said that his client’s stake in the company is only valued at $420,000, a FactCheck.org analysis estimates it’s value to be millions.

“It is difficult to imagine, if not incomprehensible, that a 10% stake in those economics is worth only $420K,” Steven Kaplan of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business told FactCheck.org. “The distinction they appear to be making is they capitalized the management company with $4.2 M even if the fund manages $2 B. The value of that management company is likely far in excess of $4.2 M if they are managing $2 B.”

FactCheck.org cited Kaplan estimating that Hunter Biden’s share in the investment company could be valued at around $20 million and up to “hundreds of millions of dollars” over the investment lifetime.

Hunter Biden’s lawyer said that if Joe Biden won the race for president, he would agree “not to serve on boards of, or work on behalf of, foreign-owned companies,” but did not mention his current foreign investments in BHR.

President Donald Trump continues to target Hunter Biden’s foreign investments as corrupt, questioning Vice President Joe Biden’s knowledge of his son capitalizing on his father’s specific diplomacy with China and Ukraine on behalf of former President Barack Obama’s administration.

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Foggy Bottom, Washington DC Neighborhood And Area Information

 

 

 

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