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Posts Tagged ‘Vladimir Putin’

Concern Troll Is Concerned, Elbe Day Edition – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on April 27, 2020

https://original.antiwar.com/thomas-knapp/2020/04/26/concern-troll-is-concerned-elbe-day-edition/

On April 25, 2020, US president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement commemorating the 75th anniversary of “Elbe Day” – the day, presaging the end of World War 2 in Europe, when Russian and US troops met near the German towns of Strehla and Torgau.

The Wall Street Journal reports that this congenial interaction between the two presidents “stirs concern among” members of Congress and officials at the US Departments of State and Defense.

What’s inherently controversial about the Trump/Putin statement that wasn’t controversial about the similar 65th anniversary message from Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev?

The supposed concern appears to have little, if anything, to do with actual foreign policy matters.

Yes, the US is still at odds with Russia on various issues – Russian support for new states which seceded from Ukraine after a US-backed coup in that country, and Russian support for Syria’s government against US-backed rebels, to name two.

But it’s not like US-Russian relations were particularly great in 2010, either. The Obama-Medvedev statement came less than two years after Russian troops kicked US-allied Georgian invaders out of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and after Medvedev’s announcement that he intended to respond in kind to proposed US missile deployments in Poland.

The supposed “concern” seems to be that playing nice with Russia might undermine “stern messages” the US government keeps sending to the Russian government in the form of sanctions.

What we’re seeing here is not “concern,” but “concern trolling”: Per Oxford Dictionaries, “the action or practice of disingenuously expressing concern about an issue in order to undermine or derail genuine discussion.”

There’s a deep divide within the US political establishment at the moment over whether the next US Cold War should pit Americans against Russia or China. Iran and Venezuela are dark horse contenders, but ever since the 2003 Iraq fiasco it’s become a lot more difficult to portray smaller regional players as convincing “threats.”

The growing Trump faux-populist wing of the establishment prefers China, at least for the moment, because the faux-populists already have a trade war going with the Chinese, and because they have a temporary “COVID-19 as a manifestation of the Yellow Peril” gravy train of nonsense they can hitch a ride on.

Establishment Democrats and Republicans prefer Russia as perpetual Enemy of the Week because they’re conservative. It’s been Russia most of the time since shortly after that first Elbe Day. Why change horses in mid-saber-rattle? They’re concern trolling Trump because he’s not reading from their script (it doesn’t help that he beat their favored 2016 presidential candidate, another thing they blame on Russia).

So, why not eschew Cold War altogether, relax, and enjoy a long overdue “peace dividend?”

Unfortunately, that’s not one of the options that the “all options are on the table” crowd of “serious people” (read: “Concern trolls whose political and financial interests require constant Cold War”) are willing to even put on said table.

Thanks to Cold War concern trolls, world peace remains further away today than it got in April 1945.

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Trump is right about who’s to blame for bad relations with Russia

Posted by M. C. on March 23, 2020

The Chinese and Russians (and most of the rest of the world) simply cannot process the notion that the United States is run by clueless amateurs who stumble from one half-baked initiative to another, with no overall plan (except, of course, to persuade the Persians to become America’s friends rather than enemies).

People who were with Putin that night report his anger and disbelief at the unfolding ‘Orange’ revolution in Ukraine. ‘They lied to me,’ Putin said bitterly of the United States. ‘I’ll never trust them again.’ The Russians still can’t fathom why the West threw over a potential strategic alliance for Ukraine. They underestimate the stupidity of the West.”

http://www.atimes.com/article/trump-is-right-about-whos-to-blame-for-bad-relations-with-russia/

By DAVID P. GOLDMAN

July 17, 2018

US President Donald Trump offended the entire political spectrum with a tweet this morning blaming Washington for poor relations with Russia. “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of US foolishness and stupidity,” the president said, and he is entirely correct…

Full disclosure: I was a card-carrying member of the neoconservative cabal that planned to bring Western-style democracy and free markets to Russia after the fall of Communism. As chief economist for the supply-side consulting firm Polyconomics, I got an appointment as an adviser to Boris Yeltsin’s finance ministry and made several trips to Moscow.

Of course, the finance ministry really was a family office for Yeltsin’s oligarch friends, who were too busy stealing Russia’s economy to listen to advice. The experience cured me of the neoconservative delusion that democracy and free markets are the natural order of things.

Unfortunately, the delusion that the United States would remake Russia in its own image persisted through the Bush and Obama administrations. I have no reason to doubt the allegations that a dozen Russian intelligence officers meddled in the US elections of 2016, but this was equivalent of a fraternity prank compared to America’s longstanding efforts to intervene in Russian politics…

The Maidan coup was the second American attempt to install a Ukrainian government hostile to Moscow; the first occurred in 2004, when Condoleezza Rice was Secretary of State rather than Hillary Clinton. As I wrote in Asia Times a decade ago, “On the night of November 22, 2004, then-Russian president – now premier – Vladimir Putin watched the television news in his dacha near Moscow. People who were with Putin that night report his anger and disbelief at the unfolding ‘Orange’ revolution in Ukraine. ‘They lied to me,’ Putin said bitterly of the United States. ‘I’ll never trust them again.’ The Russians still can’t fathom why the West threw over a potential strategic alliance for Ukraine. They underestimate the stupidity of the West.”

American efforts to promote a democratic opposition to Putin have failed miserably, and as John Lloyd wrote recently at Reuters, the Russian president remains genuinely popular. This remains a source of perpetual frustration for the neoconservatives, who cannot fathom why dictatorships still exist…

Thanks to President Trump, Russia (as well as China) now understands that America’s intervention in Iraq was not a deliberate effort to destabilize the region, and that its support for Sunni jihadists in Syria was not a deliberate effort to create an Islamist monster with which to destabilize Russia. Under the headline “They’ll never believe we’re that stupid,” I wrote in May 2015:

“Beijing and Moscow made up their minds some time ago that the United States had deliberately unleashed chaos on the Levant as part of a malevolent plan of some kind. The Chinese and Russians (and most of the rest of the world) simply cannot process the notion that the United States is run by clueless amateurs who stumble from one half-baked initiative to another, with no overall plan (except, of course, to persuade the Persians to become America’s friends rather than enemies).

Incompetence has consequences. One of the consequences will be that our competitors and adversaries will take us for knaves instead of fools, or even worse, will recognize that we are fools after all.”

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Dems: please list all of Trump's ties to Russia here ...

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Russia Strikes Back Where It Hurts: American Oil | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on March 23, 2020

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/russia-strikes-back-where-it-hurts-american-oil/

Russia Strikes Back Where It Hurts: American Oil

Amid mounting sanctions aimed at crippling Moscow’s economy, Putin seems resolved to do the same to Trump’s re-election.

Russia and Saudi Arabia are engaged in an oil price war that has sent shockwaves around the world, causing the price of oil to tumble and threatening the financial stability, and even viability, of major international oil companies.

On the surface, this conflict appears to be a fight between two of the world’s largest producers of oil over market share. This may, in fact, be the motive driving Saudi Arabia, which reacted to Russia’s refusal to reduce its level of oil production by slashing the price it charged per barrel of oil and threatening to increase its oil production, thereby flooding the global market with cheap oil in an effort to attract customers away from competitors.

Russia’s motives appear to be far different—its target isn’t Saudi Arabia, but rather American shale oil. After absorbing American sanctions that targeted the Russian energy sector, and working with global partners (including Saudi Arabia) to keep oil prices stable by reducing oil production even as the United States increased the amount of shale oil it sold on the world market, Russia had had enough. The advent of the Coronavirus global pandemic had significantly reduced the demand for oil around the world, stressing the American shale producers. Russia had been preparing for the eventuality of oil-based economic warfare with the United States. With U.S. shale producers knocked back on their heels, Russia viewed the time as being ripe to strike back. Russia’s goal is simple: to make American shale oil producers “share the pain”.

The United States has been slapping sanctions on Russia for more than six years, ever since Russia took control (and later annexed) the Crimean Peninsula and threw its weight behind Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The first sanctions were issued on March 6, 2014, through Executive Order 13660, targeting “persons who have asserted governmental authority in the Crimean region without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets.”

The most recent round of sanctions was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on February 18, 2020, by sanctioning Rosneft Trading S.A., a Swiss-incorporated, Russian-owned oil brokerage firm, for operating in Venezuela’s oil sector. The U.S. also recently targeted the Russian Nord Stream 2 and Turk Stream gas pipeline projects.

Russia had been signaling its displeasure over U.S. sanctions from the very beginning. In July 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that U.S. sanctions were “driving into a corner” relations between the two countries, threatening the “the long-term national interests of the U.S. government and people.” Russia opted to ride out U.S. sanctions, in hopes that there might be a change of administrations following the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections. Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear that he hoped the U.S. might elect someone whose policies would be more friendly toward Russia, and that once the field of candidates narrowed down to a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Putin favored Trump.

“Yes, I did,” Putin remarked after the election, during a joint press conference with President Trump following a summit in Helsinki in July 2018. “Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”

Putin’s comments only reinforced the opinions of those who embraced allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election as fact and concluded that Putin had some sort of hold over Trump. Trump’s continuous praise of Putin’s leadership style only reinforced these concerns.

Even before he was inaugurated, Trump singled out Putin’s refusal to respond in kind to President Obama’s levying of sanctions based upon the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia had interfered in the election. “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” Trump Tweeted. Trump viewed the Obama sanctions as an effort to sabotage any chance of a Trump administration repairing relations with Russia, and interpreted Putin’s refusal to engage, despite being pressured to do so by the Russian Parliament and Foreign Ministry, as a recognition of the same.

This sense of providing political space in the face of domestic pressure worked both ways. In January 2018, Putin tried to shield his relationship with President Trump by calling the release of a list containing some 200 names of persons close to the Russian government by the U.S. Treasury Department as a hostile and “stupid” move.

“Ordinary Russian citizens, employees and entire industries are behind each of those people and companies,” Putin remarked. “So all 146 million people have essentially been put on this list. What is the point of this? I don’t understand.”

From the Russian perspective, the list highlighted the reality that the U.S. viewed the entire Russian government as an enemy and is a byproduct of the “political paranoia” on the part of U.S. lawmakers. The consequences of this, senior Russian officials warned, “will be toxic and undermine prospects for cooperation for years ahead.”

While President Trump entered office fully intending to “get along with Russia,”  including the possibility of relaxing the Obama-era sanctions, the reality of U.S.-Russian relations, especially as viewed from Congress, has been the strengthening of the Obama sanctions regime. These sanctions, strengthened over time by new measures signed off by Trump, have had a negative impact on the Russian economy, slowing growth and driving away foreign investment.

While Putin continued to show constraint in the face of these mounting sanctions, the recent targeting of Russia’s energy sector represented a bridge too far. When Saudi pressure to cut oil production rates coincided with a global reduction in the demand for oil brought on by the Coronavirus crisis, Russia struck.

The timing of the Russian action is curious, especially given the amount of speculation that there was some sort of personal relationship between Trump and Putin that the Russian leader sought to preserve and carry over into a potential second term. But Putin had, for some time now, been signaling that his patience with Trump had run its course. When speaking to the press in June 2019 about the state of U.S.-Russian relations, Putin noted that “They (our relations) are going downhill, they are getting worse and worse,” adding that “The current [i.e., Trump] administration has approved, in my opinion, several dozen decisions on sanctions against Russia in recent years.”

By launching an oil price war on the eve of the American Presidential campaign season, Putin has sent as strong a signal as possible that he no longer views Trump as an asset, if in fact he ever did. Putin had hoped Trump could usher in positive change in the trajectory of relations between the two nations; this clearly had not happened. Instead, in the words of close Putin ally Igor Sechin, the chief executive of Russian oil giant Rosneft, the U.S. was using its considerable energy resources as a political weapon, ushering in an era of “power colonialism” that sought to expand U.S. oil production and market share at the expense of other nations.

From Russia’s perspective, the growth in U.S. oil production—which doubled in output from 2011 until 2019—and the emergence of the U.S. as a net exporter of oil, was directly linked to the suppression of oil export capability in nations such as Venezuela and Iran through the imposition of sanctions. While this could be tolerated when the target was a third party, once the U.S. set its sanctioning practices on Russian energy, the die was cast.

If the goal of the Russian-driven price war is to make U.S. shale companies “share the pain,” they have already succeeded. A similar price war, initiated by Saudi Arabia in 2014 for the express purpose of suppressing U.S. shale oil production, failed, but only because investors were willing to prop up the stricken shale producers with massive loans and infusion of capital. For shale oil producers, who use an expensive methodology of extraction known as “fracking,” to be economically viable, the breakeven price of oil per barrel needs to be between $40 and $60 dollars. This was the price range the Saudi’s were hoping to sustain when they proposed the cuts in oil production that Russia rejected.

The U.S. shale oil producers, saddled by massive debt and high operational expenses, will suffer greatly in any sustained oil price war. Already, with the price of oil down to below $35 per barrel, there is talk of bankruptcy and massive job layoffs—none of which bode well for Trump in the coming election.

It’s clear that Russia has no intention of backing off anytime soon.  According to the Russian Finance Ministry, said on Russia could weather oil prices of $25-30 per barrel for between six and ten years. One thing is for certain—U.S. shale oil companies cannot.

In a sign that the Trump administration might be waking up to the reality of the predicament it faces, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin quietly met with Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov. According to a read out from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two discussed economic sanctions, the Venezuelan economy, and the potential for “trade and investment.” Mnuchin, the Russians noted, emphasized the “importance of orderly energy markets.”

Russia is unlikely to fold anytime soon. As Admiral Josh Painter, a character in Tom Clancy’s “The Hunt for Red October,” famously said, “Russians don’t take a dump without a plan.”

Russia didn’t enter its current course of action on a whim. Its goals are clearly stated—to defeat U.S. shale oil—and the costs of this effort, both economically and politically (up to and including having Trump lose the 2020 Presidential election) have all been calculated and considered in advance. The Russian Bear can only be toyed with for so long without generating a response. We now know what that response is; when the Empire strikes back, it hits hard.

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How Turkey Lost a Battle of Wills, and Force, to Russia  | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on March 11, 2020

Putin seems to be able to keep things more under control in his back yard when there is no one putting obstacles in his path.

Some think he is today’s leading statesman.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-turkey-lost-a-battle-of-wills-and-force-to-russia/

Erdogan talked tough, but in the end had to surrender gains to Moscow and Damascus.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and President of Russia Vladimir Putin (R) shake hands at the end of a joint news conference following an inter-delegation meeting at Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia on March 5, 2020. (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

When the history of the Syrian conflict is written, the fighting that took place between the Syrian Army and its allies on the one side, and the Turkish military and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels on the other, from early February through early March 2020 in and around the Syrian town of Saraqib, will go down as one of the decisive encounters of that war.

Representing more than a clash of arms between the Syrian and Turkish militaries, the Battle for Saraqib was a test of political will between Turkish President Recep Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. History will show Turkey lost on both accounts.

The Battle for Saraqib had its roots in fighting that began back in December 2019, in the form of an offensive carried out by the Syrian Army, supported by the Russian Air Force, against pro-Turkish opposition forces in and around Idlib province. The Syrian-Russian offensive represented the collapse of the so-called Sochi Agreement of September 17, 2018, which established what were known as “de-escalation zones” separating the Syrian Army from anti-government rebel forces in Idlib. As part of the Sochi Agreement, Turkey set up a dozen “observation posts”—in reality, fortified compounds housing several hundred troops and their equipment—throughout the Idlib de-escalation zone.

In exchange for legitimizing the existence of fortified Turkish observation posts, the Sochi Agreement mandated specific actions on Turkey’s part, including overseeing the establishment of a “demilitarized zone” within the de-escalation zone where tanks, artillery and multiple rocket launchers were to be excluded, and from which all “radical terrorist groups” would be removed by October 15, 2018. Moreover, Turkey was responsible for restoring transit traffic on two strategic highways linking the city of Aleppo with Latakia (the M4 highway) and Damascus (the M5 highway.)

While Turkey established its fortified observation posts, it failed to live up to any of its commitments under the Sochi Agreement—no demilitarized zones were created, no heavy equipment evacuated, and no “radical terrorist groups” removed from the de-escalation zone. This last point was of particular note, since the most prominent of these “radical terrorist groups”—Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS—was also the largest and most effective of the anti-Assad groups operating in Idlib province.

The objective of the December 2019 Syrian military offensive was to achieve through force of arms what Turkey had failed to do—restore transit traffic capability for both the M4 and M5 highways and, in doing so, evict HTS and other anti-Assad rebel groups from the de-escalation zones. By early February 2020 the Syrian Army had, through its advances, surrounded a number of Turkish observation posts, putting Turkey in the politically difficult situation of sitting and watching while the anti-Assad forces it had helped create, train and equip were being defeated on the field of battle.

Turkey sought to blunt the Syrian advance on Feb. 3, by reinforcing its observation post located near the strategic town of Saraqib, which overlooked the juncture of the M4 and M5 highways. Whomever controlled Saraqib likewise controlled both highways. When a large Turkish military convoy heading toward Saraqib was brought under Syrian artillery fire, killing five Turkish soldiers and three Turkish civilian contractors, Turkey responded by shelling Syrian Army positions, killing scores of Syrian soldiers. This was the opening round of what would become the Battle for Saraqib and represented the first large-scale combat between the Syrian and Turkish militaries since the Syrian crisis began in 2011.

The Syrian attack on the Turkish Army in Idlib was a red line for President Erdogan, who in a statement made before Turkish parliamentarians on Feb. 5, warned that “if the Syrian regime will not retreat from Turkish observation posts in Idlib in February, Turkey itself will be obliged to make this happen.” Erdogan backed up his rhetoric by deploying tens of thousands of Turkish troops, backed up by armor and artillery, to its border with Syria, while continuing to dispatch reinforcements to its beleaguered observation posts inside Idlib.

On Feb. 6, the Syrian Army captured Saraqib. Four days later, on Feb. 10, Turkish-backed rebels, backed by Turkish artillery, launched a counterattack against Syrian Army positions around Saraqib, which was beaten back by heavy Syrian artillery fire. In the process, the Turkish observation near the village of Taftanaz was hit by Syrian shells, killing five Turkish soldiers and wounding five others. The Turks responded by striking Syrian Army positions throughout Idlib province with sustained artillery and rocket fire.

Speaking to Turkish parliamentarians after the attack on Taftanaz, Erdogan declared that “we will strike regime forces everywhere from now on regardless of the Sochi deal if any tiny bit of harm comes to our soldiers at observation posts or elsewhere,” adding that“We are determined to push back (regime forces) behind the borders of the Sochi deal by the end of February.”

The capture of Saraqib and the vital M4-M5 highway juncture allowed the Syrian Army to seize control of the entire M5 highway for the first time since 2012. The Syrian Army then proceeded to push west, toward the city of Idlib, closing to within eight miles of the provincial capital. In order to blunt the Syrian advances, Turkey deployed hundreds of Special Forces who integrated into the ranks of the anti-regime units, helping coordinate their attacks with Turkish artillery and rocket supporting fires. Starting Feb. 16, the rebel fighters, supported by Turkish Special Forces, launched a relentless attack against Syrian Army positions in and around the village of Nayrab, located mid-way between Idlib and Saraqib. Nayrab eventually fell on the night of Feb. 24. The cost, however, was high—hundreds of rebel fighters were killed, along with two Turkish soldiers.

The Turks and their rebel allies then turned their sights on Saraqib itself, pushing out of Nayrab and securing a foothold in Saraqib’s eastern suburbs and cutting the M5 highway in several locations. The Syrian Army had shifted most of its offensive power to the southwest, where they were advancing toward the M4 highway. The Syrians called in fighters from Hezbollah and pro-Iranian militias to help stabilize the Saraqib front. The Turkish military, in an effort to break up Russian and Syrian aerial attacks, began employing man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), firing more than 15. While none of these hit their targets, they did cause the Russians and Syrian to abort their attacks and leave the area.

In retaliation for the Turkish employment of MANPADS, Russia and Syrian aircraft struck a Turkish mechanized battalion operating in southern Idlib on Feb. 27, killing more than 33 Turkish soldiers, and wounding some 60 more. This attack sent shock waves through Turkey, with Erdogan threatening to punish all parties responsible, including the Russians (who denied their involvement in the attack, despite evidence to the contrary.)

On March 1 President Erdogan ordered Turkish forces to carry out a general offensive in Idlib, named Operation Spring Shield, intended to drive Syria and its allies back to the positions they held at the time of the Sochi Agreement in September 2018. The combined Turkish-rebel offensive immediately stalled in the face of steadfast Syrian resistance, backed by Russian air strikes. The Syrian Army recaptured Saraqib and took control of the entire M5 highway, reversing the earlier Turkish gains.

By March 4, the situation facing the Turkish-backed rebel fighters was so dire that they gave up all pretense of independent operations, and instead intermixed themselves within the Turkish outposts to avoid being targeted by the Russian Air Force. Erdogan, recognizing that the game was up, flew to Moscow on March 5 for an emergency summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where they negotiated the terms of a new ceasefire agreement.

The Moscow Summit was a bitter pill for Erdogan to swallow. Although formulated as an “additional protocol” to the existing September 2018 Sochi Agreement, the deal struck between Erdogan and Putin in Moscow was very much a document of surrender for the Turks. His fiery rhetoric and threats to push the Syrian Army and its allies out of Idlib the contrary, Erdogan was compelled to accept a new “de-escalation” zone defined by the frontlines as they stood on March 6.

Moreover, the Turks were now compelled to share enforcement and monitoring of a 12-kilometer “demilitarized zone” straddling the M4 highway with Russian military patrols. Lastly, adding insult to injury, the Turks were denied a no-fly zone over Idlib, ceding control of the air to the Russian Air Force, while still being required to disarm and remove all persons belonging to terrorist organizations, which in this case meant HTS, the most numerous and effective of the anti-Assad rebel groups. In short, Russia secured for Syria all its hard-won victories, while ceding nothing to Turkey save a face-saving ceasefire.

For Syria and Russia, the Battle of Saraqib was about restoring Syrian sovereignty over the totality of Syrian territory; for Turkey, it was about securing lasting Turkish control and influence over the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib. Turkey lost on both accounts. While Turkey has been allowed to maintain its chain of fortified “observation posts”, the vast majority of these are surrounded by the Syrian Army, and of no military value.

Moreover, the dismal performance of the Turkish Army and its anti-Assad allies against the Syrian Army and its allies, including the Russian Air Force, in the Idlib campaign as a whole, and the Battle of Saraqib in particular, have put to rest any thoughts Erdogan might have retained about imposing Turkey’s will on either Damascus or Moscow; Turkey now knows that there will not be a Turkish military solution to the problem of Idlib.

 

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Which target after Syria?, by Thierry Meyssan

Posted by M. C. on March 11, 2020

The option of attacking Saudi Arabia rather than Turkey from now on has been activated by the Pentagon, it is believed to be known in Riyadh, although President Trump is imposing delirious arms orders on it in exchange for its protection. The dissection of Saudi Arabia had been envisaged by the Pentagon as early as 2002 [3].

Turkey has an actual army, has Russian missile systems that would be difficult to defeat and is home to US nukes.

Saudi Arabia it is?

An empire builders work is never done.

https://www.voltairenet.org/article209439.html

by Thierry Meyssan

Events in the “Broader Middle East” since 2001 have followed a relentless logic. The current question is whether the time has come for a new war in Turkey or Saudi Arabia. The answer depends in particular on the resumption of hostilities in Libya. It is in this context that the Additional Protocol negotiated by Presidents Erdoğan and Putin to resolve the Idleb crisis must be interpreted.

| Damascus (Syria)

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The initial map of the “reshaping of the Broader Middle East”, published by Colonel Ralph Peters.

19 years of “war without end”

President George W. Bush decided to radically transform the Pentagon’s missions, as Colonel Ralph Peters explained in the Army magazine Parameters on September 13, 2001. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appointed Admiral Arthur Cebrowski to train future officers. Cebrowski spent three years touring military universities so that today all general officers have taken his courses. His thoughts were popularized for the general public by his deputy, Thomas Barnett.

The areas affected by the US war will be given over to “chaos”. This concept is to be understood in the sense of the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, i.e. as the absence of political structures capable of protecting citizens from their own violence (“Man is a wolf to man”). And not in the biblical sense of making a clean slate before the creation of a new order.

This war is an adaptation of the US Armed Forces to the era of globalization, to the transition from productive capitalism to financial capitalism. “War is a Racket,” as Smedley Butler, America’s most decorated general, used to say before World War II [1]. From now on, friends and enemies will no longer count; war will allow for the simple management of natural resources.

This form of war involves many crimes against humanity (including ethnic cleansing) that the US Armed Forces cannot commit. Secretary Donald Rumsfeld therefore hired private armies (including Blackwater) and developed terrorist organizations while pretending to fight them.

The Bush and Obama administrations followed this strategy: to destroy the state structures of entire regions of the world. The US war is no longer about winning, but about lasting (the “war without end”). President Donald Trump and his first National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn, have questioned this development without being able to change it. Today, the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski thinkers pursue their goals not so much through the Defence Secretariat as through NATO.

After President Bush launched the “never-ending war” in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003), there was strong contestation among Washington’s political elites about the arguments that had justified the invasion of Iraq and the disorder there. This was the Baker-Hamilton Commission (2006). The war never stopped in Afghanistan or Iraq, but it took five years for President Obama to open new theatres of operation: Libya (2011), Syria (2012) and Yemen (2015).

Two external actors interfered with this plan.
- In 2010-11, the United Kingdom launched the “Arab Spring”, an operation modeled on the “Arab Revolt” of 1915, which allowed Lawrence of Arabia to put the Wahhabi in power on the Arabian Peninsula. This time it was a question of placing the Muslim Brotherhood in power with the help not of the Pentagon, but of the US State Department and NATO.
- In 2014, Russia intervened in Syria, whose state had not collapsed and which it helped to resist. Since then, the British – who had tried to change the regime there during the “Arab Spring” (2011-early 2012) – and then the Americans – who were seeking to overthrow not the regime, but the state (mid-2012 to the present) – have had to withdraw. Russia, pursuing the dream of Tsarina Catherine, is today fighting against chaos, for stability – that is to say, for the defence of state structures and respect for borders.

Colonel Ralph Peters, who in 2001 revealed the Pentagon’s new strategy, published Admiral Cebrowski’s map of objectives in 2006. It showed that only Israel and Jordan would not be affected. All other countries in the “Broader Middle East” (i.e., from Morocco to Pakistan) would gradually be stateless and all major countries (including Saudi Arabia and Turkey) would disappear.

Noting that its best ally, the United States, was planning to cut its territory in two in order to create a “free Kurdistan”, Turkey unsuccessfully tried to get closer to China, and then adopted the theory of Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu: “Zero problems with its neighbours”. It distanced itself from Israel and began to negotiate peace with Cyprus, Greece, Armenia, Iraq etc. It also distanced itself from Israel. Despite the territorial dispute over Hatay, it created a common market with Syria. However, in 2011, when Libya was already isolated, France convinced Turkey that it could escape partition if it joined NATO’s ambitions. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a political Islamist of the Millî Görüş, joined the Muslim Brotherhood, of which he was not a member, hoping to recoup the fruits of the ’Arab Spring’ for his own benefit. Turkey turned against one of its main clients, Libya, and then against one of its main partners, Syria.

In 2013, the Pentagon adapted the “endless war” to the realities on the ground. Robin Wright published two corrective maps in the New York Times. The first dealt with the division of Libya, the second with the creation of a “Kurdistan” affecting only Syria and Iraq and sparing the eastern half of Turkey and Iran. It also announced the creation of a “Sunnistan” straddling Iraq and Syria, dividing Saudi Arabia into five and Yemen into two. This last operation began in 2015.

The Turkish General Staff was very happy with this correction and prepared for the events. It concluded agreements with Qatar (2017), Kuwait (2018) and Sudan (2017) to set up military bases and surround the Saudi kingdom. In 2019 it financed an international press campaign against the “Sultan” and a coup d’état in Sudan. At the same time, Turkey supported the new project of “Kurdistan” sparing its territory and participated in the creation of “Sunnistan” by Daesh under the name of “Caliphate”. However, the Russian intervention in Syria and the Iranian intervention in Iraq brought this project to a halt.

In 2017, regional president Massoud Barzani organised a referendum for independence in Iraqi Kurdistan. Immediately, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran understood that the Pentagon, returning to its original plan, was preparing to create a “free Kurdistan” by cutting up their respective territories. They coalesced to defeat it. In 2019, the PKK/PYG announced that it was preparing for the independence of the Syrian ’Rojava’. Without waiting, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran once again joined forces. Turkey invaded the “Rojava”, chasing the PKK/YPG, without much reaction from the Syrian and Russian armies.

In 2019, the Turkish General Staff became convinced that the Pentagon, having temporarily renounced destroying Syria because of the Russian presence, was now preparing to destroy the Turkish state. In order to postpone the deadline, it tried to reactivate the “endless war” in Libya, then to threaten the members of NATO with the worst calamities: the European Union with migratory subversion and the United States with a war with Russia. To do this, it opened its border with Greece to migrants and attacked the Russian and Syrian armies in Idleb where they bombed the Al Qaeda and Daesh jihadists who had taken refuge there. This is the episode we are living through today.

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Robin Wright’s “Reshaping the Broader Middle East” map, published by Robin Wright.

The Moscow Additional Protocol

The Turkish army caused Russian and Syrian casualties in February 2020, while President Erdoğan made numerous phone calls to his Russian counterpart, Putin, to lower the tension he was causing with one hand.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged to curb the Pentagon’s appetites if Turkey helped the Pentagon restart the “endless war” in Libya. This country is divided into a thousand tribes that clash around two main leaders, both CIA agents, the president of the Presidential Council, Fayez el-Sarraj, and the commander of the National Army, Khalifa Haftar.

Last week, the UN Secretary General’s special envoy to Libya, Professor Ghassan Salame, was asked to resign for “health reasons”. He complied, not without expressing his bad mood at a press conference. An axis has been set up to support al-Sarraj by the Muslim Brotherhood around Qatar and Turkey. A second coalition was born around Haftar with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, but also Saudi Arabia and Syria.

It is the great return of the latter on the international scene. Syria is the culmination of nine years of victorious resistance to the Brotherhood and the United States. Two Libyan and Syrian embassies were opened with great pomp and circumstance on 4 March, in Damascus and Benghazi.

Moreover, the European Union, after having solemnly condemned the “Turkish blackmail of refugees”, sent the President of the Commission to observe the flow of refugees at the Greek-Turkish border and the President of the Council to survey President Erdoğan in Ankara. The latter confirmed that an arrangement was possible if the Union undertook to defend the ’territorial integrity’ of Turkey.

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With keen pleasure, the Kremlin has staged the surrender of Turkey: the Turkish delegation is standing, contrary to the habit where chairs are provided for guests; behind it, a statue of Empress Catherine the Great recalls that Russia was already present in Syria in the 18th century. Finally, Presidents Erdoğan and Putin are seated in front of a pendulum commemorating the Russian victory over the Ottoman Empire.

It was thus on this basis that President Vladimir Putin received President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Kremlin on March 5. A first, restricted, three-hour meeting was devoted to relations with the United States. Russia would have committed itself to protect Turkey from a possible partition on the condition that it signs and applies an Additional Protocol to the Memorandum on Stabilization of the Situation in the Idlib De-Escalation Area [2]. A second meeting, also of three hours duration but open to ministers and advisers, was devoted to the drafting of this text. It provides for the creation of a 12-kilometre-wide security corridor around the M4 motorway, jointly monitored by the two parties. To put it plainly: Turkey is backing away north of the reopened motorway and losing the town of Jisr-el-Chogour, a stronghold of the jihadists. Above all, it must at last apply the Sochi memorandum, which provides for support only for the Syrian armed opposition, which is supposed to be democratic and not Islamist, and for combating the jihadists. However, this “democratic armed opposition” is nothing more than a chimera imagined by British propaganda. In fact, Turkey will either have to kill the jihadists itself, or continue and complete their transfer from Idleb (Syria) to Djerba (Tunisia) and then Tripoli (Libya) as it began to do in January.

In addition, on March 7, President Putin contacted former President Nazerbayev to explore with him the possibility of deploying Kazakh “blue chapkas” in Syria under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). This option had already been considered in 2012. Kazakh soldiers have the advantage of being Muslims and not orthodox.

The option of attacking Saudi Arabia rather than Turkey from now on has been activated by the Pentagon, it is believed to be known in Riyadh, although President Trump is imposing delirious arms orders on it in exchange for its protection. The dissection of Saudi Arabia had been envisaged by the Pentagon as early as 2002 [3].

Missiles were fired this week against the royal palace in Riyadh. Prince Mohamed ben Salmane (known as “MBS”, 34 years old) had his uncle, Prince Ahmed (70 years old), and his former competitor and ex-heir prince, Prince Mohamed ben Nayef (60 years old), as well as various other princes and generals arrested. The Shia province of Qatif, where several cities have already been razed to the ground, has been isolated. Official explanations of succession disputes and coronavirus are not enough [4].

Translation
Roger Lagassé

 

 

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Anonymous sources and the guys and gals who made the Iraq war a reality are now claiming that the Kremlin is at it again! — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on February 28, 2020

Nuland is perhaps best known for her role in spending $5 billion in U.S.
taxpayer money to overthrow the legitimate government of Ukraine. She
is married to leading neoconservative Robert Kagan, which Sanger fails
to mention, and is currently a nonresident fellow at the liberal
interventionist Brookings Institution. She also works at former Clinton
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s consultancy, presumably for the
Benjamins. Albright, one might recall, thought that killing 500,000
Iraqi children through U.S. sanctions was “worth it.”

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/02/27/anonymous-sources-and-the-guys-and-gals-who-made-the-iraq-war-a-reality-are-now-claiming-that-the-kremlin-is-at-it-again/

Philip Giraldi

 

Those hapless individuals who run the United States are again slipping into a fantasy world where Americans are besieged by imaginary threats coming from both inside and outside the country. Of course, it is particularly convenient to warn of foreign threats, as it makes the people in government seem relevant and needed, but one might recommend that the tune be changed as it is getting a bit boring. After all, there are only so many hours in the day and Russian President Vladimir Putin must pause occasionally to eat or sleep, so the plotting to destroy American democracy must be on hold at least some of the time.

Yes, anonymous sources and the guys and gals who made the Iraq war a reality are now claiming that the Kremlin is at it again! Hints over the past year that Putin might try to replay 2016 in 2020 only do it better this time have now been confirmed! Per one news report the enemy is already at the gates: “U.S. intelligence officials told lawmakers last week that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election campaign by aiming to cast doubt on the integrity of the vote and boost President Donald Trump’s re-election.”

And there’s more! In a New York Times article headlined “Same Goal, Different Playbook: Why Russia Would Support Trump and Sanders: Vladimir Putin is eager both to take the sheen off U.S. democracy and for a counterpart who is less likely to challenge his territorial and nuclear ambitions,” it was revealed that the Kremlin is intending to also help Bernie Sanders, so whichever way the election goes they win.

According to the Times Bernie has been “warn[ed]… of evidence that he is the Russian president’s favorite Democrat.” The article then goes on to explain, relying on its anonymous sources, that “…to the intelligence analysts and outside experts who have spent the past three years dissecting Russian motives in the 2016 election, and who tried to limit the effect of Moscow’s meddling in the 2018 midterms, what is unfolding in 2020 makes perfect sense. Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders represent the most divergent ends of their respective parties, and both are backed by supporters known more for their passion than their policy rigor, which makes them ripe for exploitation by Russian trolls, disinformation specialists and hackers for hire seeking to widen divisions in American society.”

The Times article was written by David Sanger, the paper’s venerable national security correspondent. He is reliably wedded to Establishment views of the Russian threat, as is his newspaper, and strikes rock bottom in his assessment when he cites none other than “Victoria Nuland, who in a long diplomatic career had served both Republican and Democratic administrations, and had her phone calls intercepted and broadcast by Russian intelligence services.” Nuland, clearly the victim of a nefarious Russian intelligence operation that recorded her saying “fuck the EU,” opined that “Any figures that radicalize politics and do harm to center views and unity in the United States are good for Putin’s Russia.” Nuland is perhaps best known for her role in spending $5 billion in U.S. taxpayer money to overthrow the legitimate government of Ukraine. She is married to leading neoconservative Robert Kagan, which Sanger fails to mention, and is currently a nonresident fellow at the liberal interventionist Brookings Institution. She also works at former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s consultancy, presumably for the Benjamins. Albright, one might recall, thought that killing 500,000 Iraqi children through U.S. sanctions was “worth it.”

Given the fact that Russia will have very limited resources in their effort to corrupt American democracy, which is, by the way, doing a very good job of self-destruction without any outside help, how exactly will they do it? Sanger explains “As they focus on evading more vigilant government agencies and technology companies trying to identify and counter malicious online activity, the Russians are boring into Iranian cyberoffense units, apparently so that they can initiate attacks that look as if they originate in Iran — which itself has shown interest in messing with the American electoral process… And, in one of the most effective twists, they are feeding disinformation to unsuspecting Americans on Facebook and other social media. By seeding conspiracy theories and baseless claims on the platforms, Russians hope everyday Americans will retransmit those falsehoods from their own accounts. That is an attempt to elude Facebook’s efforts to remove disinformation, which it can do more easily when it flags ‘inauthentic activity,’ like Russians posing as Americans. It is much harder to ban the words of real Americans, who may be parroting a Russian story line, even unintentionally.”

So those wily Russians are making themselves look like Iranians and they are planning on “feeding disinformation” to “unsuspecting Americans” consisting of “conspiracy theories” and “baseless claims.” Sounds like a plan to me as the various occupants of the White House and Congress have been doing exactly that for the past twenty years. That we had a national election in 2016 in which a reality television personality ran against an unindicted criminal would seem to indicate that the effort to brainwash the American people has already been successful.

The usual bottom feeders are also piling on to the Russian interference story. Jane Harman, former congresswoman who once colluded with Israeli intelligence to lobby the Department of Justice to drop criminal charges against two employees of AIPAC in exchange for Israel’s support to make her chair of the House Intelligence Committee, warns “How dangerous it would be if we lose the tip of the spear against those who would destroy us.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan also has something to say. He is “very disturbed” by his conviction that Russia is actively meddling in the 2020 campaign in support of President Trump. He said “We are now in a full-blown national security crisis. By trying to prevent the flow of intelligence to Congress, Trump is abetting a Russian covert operation to keep him in office for Moscow’s interests, not America’s.” Brennan is best known for having orchestrated the illegal campaign to vilify Trump and his associates prior to, during and after the 2016 election. He also participated in a weekly meeting with Barack Obama where he and the president would add and remove names from a “kill list” of U.S. citizens residing overseas. He and his boss should both be in prison, but they are instead fêted as American patriots. Go figure.

Time to take a step back from the developing panic. As usual, the U.S. government intelligence agencies have produced no actual evidence that Moscow is up to anything, and there are already reports that the Office of National Intelligence briefer “overstated” her case against the Kremlin in her briefing of the House Intelligence Committee. Sure, the Russians have an interest in an American election and will favor candidates like Trump and Sanders that are not outright hostile to them, but to claim as the NY Times does that Russia has incompatible “territorial and nuclear interests” is a stretch. And yes, Moscow will definitely use its available intelligence resources to monitor the nomination and election process while also clandestinely doing what it can to improve the chances of those individuals they approve of. That is what intelligence agencies do.

In American Establishment groupthink there is one standard for what Washington does and quite a different standard for everyone else. Does it shock any American to know that the United States has interfered in scores of elections all over the world ever since the Second World War, to include those in places like France and Italy well into the 1980s? And in somewhat more kinetic covert actions, actually removing Mohammed Mossadeq in Iran, Salvador Allende in Chile, Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and Mohamed Morsi in Egypt just for starters, not even considering the multiple plots to kill Fidel Castro. And it continues to do so today openly in places like Iran and Venezuela while also claiming hypocritically that the U.S. is “exceptional” and also a “force for good.” That anyone should be genuinely worrying about Russian proxies buying and distributing a couple of hundred thousands of dollars’ worth of ads in an election in which many billions of dollars’ worth of propaganda will be on the table is ridiculous. It is time to stop blaming Russia for the failure of America’s ruling class to provide an honest and accountable government and one that does not go around the world looking for trouble. That is what the 2020 election should really be all about.

 

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madeleine-albright

 

 

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The Russia Hoax Continues and Both Dems and Republicans Push It – My Corner by Boyd Cathey

Posted by M. C. on February 17, 2020

President Vladimir Putin remarked at a recent Kremlin meeting that some countries are replacing the word “mother” out of concerns for political correctness, something he hoped ‘would never happen in Russia’. Putin was referring to a law passed in France earlier this year which mandates that schools refrain from using ‘father’ and ‘mother’ and instead use ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’.

https://boydcatheyreviewofbooks.blogspot.com/

Friends,

Although the farcical Mueller Commission is now ended and even the results it came up with, practically speaking, effectively exonerated the president, to listen to various members of the media, including many Fox pundits, most Democrats and many Republicans, it was if there was no “investigation” at all. The same “Russia Hoax” narrative continues: just listen to Representative Adam Schiff spiel on for a while. For such national personalities nothing has really changed.

This template, despite what we now know and always have known, continues frenetically and unabated before our eyes. It’s why Roger Stone faces prison time, essentially because he was convicted for lying about non-existent Russian subversion in America elections.

“Russia is bad,” we are told, and its president, Vladimir Putin, is really, really bad. Why, he may be as bad as, let’s see, maybe those old Commies prior to 1991, or maybe he IS a Commie? Certainly, say Fox interviewees like Representatives Dan Crenshaw and Adan Kinzinger, or Neoconservative publicists such as Jonah Goldberg. Communism, it seems, still rampages and “Russia is still our Number One Enemy” (remember Mitt Romney saying that?).

My friend Dr. Paul Gottfried just recently sent me a news article; it concerns something President Vladimir Putin recently said and was quoted by Reuters news service (February 13), specifically, that in no uncertain terms he totally ruled out homosexual marriage in Russia. In reference to discussions over modifications to the Russian constitution he declared: “As far as ‘parent number 1’ and ‘parent number 2’ goes, I’ve already spoken publicly about this and I’ll repeat it again: as long as I’m president this will not happen. There will be dad and mum.”

Indeed, back in December, addressing a meeting in the Kremlin Putin forcefully reaffirmed his nation’s commitment to traditional matrimony:

President Vladimir Putin remarked at a recent Kremlin meeting that some countries are replacing the word “mother” out of concerns for political correctness, something he hoped ‘would never happen in Russia’. Putin was referring to a law passed in France earlier this year which mandates that schools refrain from using ‘father’ and ‘mother’ and instead use ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’. According to government MP Valérie Petit, the change was necessary because using ‘father’ and ‘mother’ is “old fashioned” and doesn’t meet the needs of “social equality.” Don’t expect to see Russia following suit.

During a meeting of the Council for Interethnic Relations, a Kremlin advisory group, Putin told delegates, “You said the word mother ‘can’t be replaced.’ It turns out, perhaps, it can; in some countries, they now have ‘parent number one’ and ‘parent number two.’ I hope we will never have that (in Russia). I will do everything to stop it.”

Back in June, Vladimir Putin commented on a similar topic, asserting that liberalism was in its death throws thanks to forced multiculturalism. “The ruling elites have broken away from the people,” Putin told the Financial Times, adding that the “so-called liberal idea has outlived its purpose.”

This is not new; Putin’s statements and vision for Russia are not secret. Yet, to listen to the American media, very little of what he has said and very little of the legislative action of the Russian Duma (parliament) is reported by the American press. Or, if it is reported, it is done in such a way as to portray the Russian president and his country in an extremely negative and hostile light. Russia, it is repeated daily, is “authoritarian,” anti-democratic, does not respect human rights and persecutes minorities (e.g., homosexuals, lesbians, etc.); it is aggressive and has “invaded” its neighbors (e.g., Ukraine, Georgia). And Putin is a “KGB thug” who “wants to restore the Soviet Union” (cf., Representative Kinzinger).

Over the past six or so years I have written extensively about this narrative. Very simply it is the iron-cage ideological framework that now dominates both Democratic and Republican parties, with a few exceptions. There are voices raised in objection to it: Professors Stephen Cohen (Princeton University) and Paul Robinson (University of Ottawa), and Tucker Carlson on his nightly television program (with guests like former colonel and consultant Douglas MacGregor), and maybe Senator Rand Paul in Congress. But those voices are few in the spectrum of political opinion here in the United States.

The major media, including to a large extent Fox, simply avoid actually quoting Putin, and every action taken in Russia is a perceived threat to America, or to “the sanctity of our democratic elections.”

When was the last time, for instance, that you heard a major American news outlet actually cite something Putin said, a speech, an official statement of Russian policy? Just to take one example—there are many—back on September 20, 2013 he spoke to the annual International Valdai Forum. Here is just a portion of that speech, made before a gathering of representatives from around the world:

“…We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilisation. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.

“The excesses of political correctness have reached the point where people are seriously talking about registering political parties whose aim is to promote paedophilia. People in many European countries are embarrassed or afraid to talk about their religious affiliations. Holidays are abolished or even called something different; their essence is hidden away, as is their moral foundation. And people are aggressively trying to export this model all over the world. I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.

“What else but the loss of the ability to self-reproduce could act as the greatest testimony of the moral crisis facing a human society? Today almost all developed nations are no longer able to reproduce themselves, even with the help of migration. Without the values ​​embedded in Christianity and other world religions, without the standards of morality that have taken shape over millennia, people will inevitably lose their human dignity. We consider it natural and right to defend these values​​. One must respect every minority’s right to be different, but the rights of the majority must not be put into question.”

I have cited these remarks previously; they are not unique. For Putin has been saying the same thing for years—and enacting legislation mirroring what he says that also reflects the desires and aspirations of the great majority of Russia’s citizenry.

Back a little over five years ago I authored a longish researched essay on Vladimir Putin and what has been and is going on in Russia since the fall of Communism in the fall of 1991. Although the essay could use some updating, the essential information I provide remains accurate and, I believe, useful.

I am passing it along today:… Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Both Republicans and Democrats Want Russia to Become the Enemy of Choice — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on February 7, 2020

Schiff also unleashed one of the most time honored but completely lame excuses for going to war, claiming that military assistance to Ukraine that had been delayed by Trump was essential for U.S. national security. He said “As one witness put it during our impeachment inquiry, the United States aids Ukraine and her people so that we can fight Russia over there, and we don’t have to fight Russia here.”

Schiff, a lawyer who has never had to put his life on the line for anything and whose son sports a MOSSAD t-shirt, is one of those sunshine soldiers who finds it quite acceptable if someone else does the dying.

All this because Russia offered a MUCH better financial deal to bankrupt Ukraine than the EU.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/02/06/why-both-republicans-and-democrats-want-russia-to-become-the-enemy-of-choice/

 Philip Giraldi

One of the more interesting aspects of the nauseating impeachment trial in the Senate was the repeated vilification of Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. To hate Russia has become dogma on both sides of the political aisle, in part because no politician has really wanted to confront the lesson of the 2016 election, which was that most Americans think that the federal government is basically incompetent and staffed by career politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell who should return back home and get real jobs. Worse still, it is useless, and much like the one trick pony the only thing it can do is steal money from the taxpayers and waste it on various types of self-gratification that only politicians can appreciate. That means that the United States is engaged is fighting multiple wars against make-believe enemies while the country’s infrastructure rots and a host of officially certified grievance groups control the public space. It sure doesn’t look like Kansas anymore.

The fact that opinion polls in Europe suggest that many Europeans would rather have Vladimir Putin than their own hopelessly corrupt leaders is suggestive. One can buy a whole range of favorable t-shirts featuring Vladimir Putin on Ebay, also suggesting that most Americans find the official Russophobia narrative both mysterious and faintly amusing. They may not really be into the expressed desire of the huddled masses in D.C. to go to war to bring true U.S. style democracy to the un-enlightened.

One also must wonder if the Democrats are reading the tea leaves correctly. If they think that a slogan like “Honest Joe Biden will keep us safe from Moscow” will be a winner in 2020 they might again be missing the bigger picture. Since the focus on Trump’s decidedly erratic behavior will inevitably die down after the impeachment trial is completed, the Democrats will have to come up with something compelling if they really want to win the presidency and it sure won’t be the largely fictionalized Russian threat.

Nevertheless, someone should tell Congressman Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, to shut up as he is becoming an international embarrassment. His “closing arguments” speeches last week were respectively two-and-a-half hours and ninety minutes long and were inevitably praised by the mainstream media as “magisterial,” “powerful,” and “impressive.” The Washington Post’s resident Zionist extremist Jennifer Rubin labeled it “a grand slam” while legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called it “dazzling.” Gail Collins of the New York Times dubbed it “a great job” and added that Schiff is now “a rock star.” Daily Beast enthused that the remarks “will go down in history” and progressive activist Ryan Knight called it “a closing statement for the ages.” Hollywood was also on board with actress Debra Messing tweeting “I am in tears. Thank you Chairman Schiff for fighting for our country.”

Actually, a better adjective would have been “scary” and not merely due to its elaboration of the alleged high crimes and misdemeanors committed by President Trump, much of which was undeniably true even if not necessarily impeachable. It was scary because it was a warmongers speech, full of allusions to Russia, to Moscow’s “interference” in 2016, and to the ridiculous proposition that if Trump were to be defeated in 2020 he might not concede and Russia could even intervene militarily in the United States in support of its puppet. Schiff insisted that Trump must be removed now to “assure the integrity” of the 2020 election. He elaborated somewhat ambiguously that “The president’s misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box, for we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won.”

Schiff also unleashed one of the most time honored but completely lame excuses for going to war, claiming that military assistance to Ukraine that had been delayed by Trump was essential for U.S. national security. He said “As one witness put it during our impeachment inquiry, the United States aids Ukraine and her people so that we can fight Russia over there, and we don’t have to fight Russia here.”

Schiff, a lawyer who has never had to put his life on the line for anything and whose son sports a MOSSAD t-shirt, is one of those sunshine soldiers who finds it quite acceptable if someone else does the dying. Journalist Max Blumenthal observed that “Liberals used to mock Bush supporters when they used this jingoistic line during the war on Iraq. Now they deploy it to justify an imperialist proxy war against a nuclear power.” Aaron Mate at The Nation added that “For all the talk about Russia undermining faith in U.S. elections, how about Russiagaters like Schiff fear-mongering w/ hysterics like this? Let’s assume Ukraine did what Trump wanted: announce a probe of Burisma. Would that delegitimize a 2020 U.S. election? This is a joke.”

Over at Antiwar Daniel Lazare explains how the Wednesday speech was “a fear-mongering, sword-rattling harangue that will not only raise tensions with Russia for no good reason, but sends a chilling message to [Democratic Party] dissidents at home that if they deviate from Russiagate orthodoxy by one iota, they’ll be driven from the fold.”

The orthodoxy that Lazare was writing about includes the established Nancy Pelosi/Chuck Schumer narrative that Russia invaded “poor innocent Ukraine” in 2014, that it interfered in the 2016 election to defeat Hillary Clinton, and that it is currently trying to smear Joe Biden. One might add to that the growing consensus that Russia can and will interfere again in 2020 to help Trump. Absent from the narrative is the part how the U.S. intervened in Ukraine first to remove its government and the fact that there is something very unsavory about Joe Biden’s son taking a high-paying sinecure board position from a notably corrupt Ukrainian oligarch while his father was Vice President and allegedly directing U.S. assistance to a Ukrainian anti-corruption effort.

On Wednesday, Schiff maintained that “Russia is not a threat … to Eastern Europe alone. Ukraine has become the de facto proving ground for just the types of hybrid warfare that the twenty-first century will become defined by: cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, efforts to undermine the legitimacy of state institutions, whether that is voting systems or financial markets. The Kremlin showed boldly in 2016 that with the malign skills it honed in Ukraine, they would not stay in Ukraine. Instead, Russia employed them here to attack our institutions, and they will do so again.” Not surprisingly, if one substitutes the “United States” for “Russia” and “Kremlin” and changes “Ukraine” to Iran or Venezuela, the Schiff comment actually becomes much more credible.

The compulsion on the part of the Democrats to bring down Trump to avoid having to deal with their own failings has brought about a shift in their established foreign policy, placing the neocons and their friends back in charge. For Schiff, who has enthusiastically supported every failed American military effort since 9/11, today’s Russia is the Soviet Union reborn, and don’t you forget it pardner! Newsweek is meanwhile reporting that the U.S. military is reading the tea leaves and is gearing up to fight the Russians. Per Schiff, Trump must be stopped as he is part of a grand Russian conspiracy to overthrow everything the United States stands for. If the Kremlin is not stopped now, it’s first major step, per Schiff, will be to “remake the map of Europe by dint of military force.”

Donald Trump’s erratic rule has certainly dismayed many of his former supporters, but the Democratic Party is offering nothing but another helping of George W. Bush/Barack Obama establishment war against the world. We Americans have had enough of that for the past nineteen years. Trump may indeed deserve to be removed based on his actions, but the argument that it is essential to do so because of Russia lurking is complete nonsense. Pretty scary that the apparent chief promoter of that point of view is someone who actually has power in the government, one Adam Schiff, head of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

 

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Putin in Israel | The Nation

Posted by M. C. on February 4, 2020

Looking ahead, Putin has invited Trump to join him on Red Square on May 9, Russia’s “Victory Day,” a sacred commemoration of immense importance to the Kremlin and for most of Russia’s people. Certainly, President Trump should accept, if only to honor the estimated 27 million Soviet citizens who died in World War II. But here, too, will Washington politics and media discourage him from doing so?

https://www.thenation.com/article/world/putin-in-israel/

By Stephen F. Cohen

As with its 40-year predecessor, the new US-Russian Cold War has characteristic features, including sharply conflicting historical memories. Some of them are absurdly inaccurate and politically dangerous. Consider a recent ramifying example.

On January 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Israel to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet (mostly Russian) army. Representatives of many other countries also attended the solemn events, including US Vice President Mike Pence, but according to the Times of Israel, Putin was “the most formidable and dominant presence.” The reason, widely acknowledged in Israel though scarcely in the United States today, is that the Soviet army, more than any other, saved the surviving Jews of Europe as it defeated Nazi Germany in route from Stalingrad to Berlin.

Ukrainians, most of them then Soviet citizens, played a large role in those historical events, both as Holocaust victims and as soldiers in the Soviet army. Nonetheless, at about the same time as the ceremonies in Israel were underway, the inveterate bipartisan anti-Russian lobby in Washington—notably at this moment Democratic Representative Adam Schiff and a predictable slew of other lawmakers and impeachment witnesses—were declaring Ukraine today’s front line against Russia’s “new aggression.” Among other things, this was not the peace with Russia promised, and indeed sought since his election, by Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky.

At the very moment when peace between Ukraine and Russia is within reach, and with it the possibility of saving many lives, warmongering—an ugly but appropriate word—intensifies in Washington. On December 4, for example, in a formulation rarely heard since the early 1950s, a pro-impeachment witness, not known for any Russia, Ukraine, or related expertise, told Congress that the United States must make “sure that the Ukraine remains strong and on the front lines so they fight the Russians there and we don’t have to fight them here.” By January 22, this had become a warfare mantra in Congress, with Democratic Representative Jason Crow, an impeachment manager, also assuring members that America must “fight Russia over there so we don’t have to fight Russia here.” Whatever the merits of the impeachment process, its legacy, as I have warned from the outset, is likely to be an ever-worsening new Cold War and thus conceivably something even more dire.

Yet these fateful issues cannot be candidly discussed in Washington because they are widely regarded, as NBC’s Chuck Todd mindlessly characterized them, as “Russian talking points” and “disinformation.” By implication, and sometimes in direct accusations, anyone who does raise them is a “Kremlin apologist.”

Such continues to be the state of American discourse about this new and more perilous Cold War. Will any of the current Democratic presidential candidates change the discourse­­—or be permitted to do so by “moderators” of their debates? Or must we rely almost entirely on President Trump’s continuing, and substantially thwarted, effort to implement his campaign promise to “cooperate with Russia”?

Looking ahead, Putin has invited Trump to join him on Red Square on May 9, Russia’s “Victory Day,” a sacred commemoration of immense importance to the Kremlin and for most of Russia’s people. Certainly, President Trump should accept, if only to honor the estimated 27 million Soviet citizens who died in World War II. But here, too, will Washington politics and media discourage him from doing so?

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What’s the Point of NATO If You Are Not Prepared to Use It Against Iran? — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on January 18, 2020

…there are certain things that NATO does that are not really defensive  
in nature but are rather destabilizing. Having expanded NATO right up to
the border with Russia, which the U.S. promised not to do and then
reneged, military exercises staged by the alliance currently occur right
next to Russian airspace and coastal waters.

In short-A CIA foreign policy tool.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/01/16/whats-the-point-of-nato-if-you-are-not-prepared-to-use-it-against-iran/

Philip Giraldi

Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance commits all members to participate in the defense of any single member that is attacked. An attack on one is an attack on all. Forged in the early stages of the cold war, the alliance originally included most of the leading non-communist states in Western Europe, as well as Turkey. It was intended to deter any attacks orchestrated by the Soviet Union and was defensive in nature.

Currently NATO is an anachronism as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but the desire to continue to play soldier on an international stage has granted it a measure of life support. Indeed, the alliance is regularly auditioning for new members. Its latest addition is Montenegro, which has a military consisting of 2,000 men and women, roughly one brigade. If Montenegro should be attacked, the United States is obligated to come to its assistance.

It would all be something like comic opera featuring the Duke of Plaza Toro but for the fact that there are certain things that NATO does that are not really defensive in nature but are rather destabilizing. Having expanded NATO right up to the border with Russia, which the U.S. promised not to do and then reneged, military exercises staged by the alliance currently occur right next to Russian airspace and coastal waters. To support the incursions, the myth that Moscow is expansionistic (while also seeking to destroy what passes for democracy in the West) is constantly cited. According to the current version, Russian President Vladimir Putin is just waiting to resume control over Ukraine, Georgia, Poland and the Baltic States in an effort to reconstitute the old Soviet Union. This has led to demands from the usual suspects in the U.S. Congress that Georgia and Ukraine be admitted into the alliance, which would really create an existential threat for Russia that it would have to respond to. There have also been some suggestions that Israel might join NATO. A war that no one wants either in the Middle East or in Europe could be the result if the expansion plans bear fruit.

Having nothing to do beyond aggravating the Russians, the alliance has gone along with some of the transnational abominations initially created by virtue of the Global War on Terror initiated by the loosely wrapped American president George W. Bush. The NATO alliance currently has 8,000 service members participating in a training mission in Afghanistan and its key member states have also been parts of the various coalitions that Washington has bribed or coerced into being. NATO was also actively involved in the fiasco that turned Libya into a gangster state. It had previously been the most developed nation in Africa. Currently French and British soldiers are part of the Operation Inherent Resolve (don’t you love the names!) in Syria and NATO itself is part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

NATO will now be doing its part to help defend the United States against terrorist attack. Last Wednesday the alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke with President Donald Trump on the phone in the wake of the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport. The killing was apparently carried out using missiles fired by a U.S. Reaper drone and was justified by the U.S. by claiming that Soleimani was a terrorist due to his affiliation with the listed terrorist Quds Force. It was also asserted that Soleimani was planning an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and would have killed “hundreds” of Americans. Evidence supporting the claims was so flimsy that even some Republicans balked at approving the chain of events.

Nine Iraqis also died in the attack, including the Iraqi General who headed the Kata’Ib Hezbollah Militia, which had been incorporated into the Iraqi Army to fight against the terrorist group ISIS. During the week preceding the execution of Soleimani, the U.S. had staged an air attack that killed 25 Iraqi members of Kata’Ib, the incident that then sparked the rioting at the American Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.

Bearing in mind that the alleged thwarted terrorist attacks took place seven thousand miles away from the United States, it is hard to make the case that the U.S. was directly threatened requiring a response from NATO under Article 5. No doubt the Mike Pompeo State Department will claim that its Embassy is sovereign territory and therefor part of the United States. It is a bullshit argument, but it will no doubt be made. The White House has already made a similar sovereignty claim vis-à-vis the two U.S. bases in Iraq that were hit by a barrage of a dozen Iranian missiles a day after the killing of Soleimani. Unlike the case of Soleimani and his party, no one was killed by the Iranian attacks, quite possibly a deliberate mis-targeting to avoid an escalation in the conflict.

In spite of the fact that there was no actual threat and no factual basis for a call to arms, last Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke by phone with President Donald Trump “on developments in the Middle East.” A NATO press release stated that the two men discussed “the situation in the region and NATO’s role.”

According to the press release “The President asked the Secretary General for NATO to become more involved in the Middle East. They agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism.” A tweet by White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere later confirmed that Trump had “emphasized the value of NATO increasing its role in preventing conflict and preserving peace in the Middle East.” Prior to the phone call, Trump had announced that he would ask NATO “to become much more involved in the Middle East process.”

As the Trumpean concept of a peace process is total surrender on the part of the targeted parties, be they Palestinians or Iranians, it will be interesting to see just how the new arrangement works. Sending soldiers into unstable places to do unnecessary things as part of a non-existent strategy will not sit well with many Europeans. It should not sit well with Americans either.

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NATO

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