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Cheating Moscow: NATO’s Dangerous Expansion

By Jonathan Power | Dissident Voice | July 7, 2016

NATO has just announced a plan to send troops to the alliance’s eastern flank, close to the Russian border. NATO says it is attempting to deter potential Russian aggression.

The UK, the US, Canada and Germany will lead four battle groups to be based in Poland and the Baltic states. Diplomats say the troops will be a deterrent to Russian aggression by acting as a “tripwire” that would trigger a full response from the alliance if necessary

On Sunday the foreign minister of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, condemned Western “sabre-rattling and war cries”. He said, “Anyone who believes the symbolic tank parades on the Alliance’s eastern border will increase security is wrong”.

Apart from the appalling fact that the West is contemplating all out war against Russia there is the plain fact that it has expanded NATO in contravention of the solemn understandings given the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War.

The deal was straightforward: The Soviet Union would agree to the reunification of East and West Germany and accept that East Germany would become part of NATO in return for a non-expansion promise.

It is the breaking of this promise that, more than any other one thing, has fuelled the resurgence of hostile Russian opinion against the West and prompted President Vladimir Putin to become increasingly determined to put the West in its place.

Now with this move the Russians, understandably, are livid.

There are a number of scholars and politicians from that era, including President H.W. Bush’s secretary of state, James Baker, who did most of the negotiating at that time with the Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, who have since tried to re-write history and say there were no promises made.

But neither Baker nor the scholars can deny – and they do not try to – that in Moscow, on February 9th 1990, Baker told Gorbachev that “there will be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction or NATO’s forces one inch to the East”, if Gorbachev agreed to German reunification.

To reinforce this message the next day the West German chancellor, Helmut Kohl and the foreign minister, Hans Deitrich Genscher offered the Soviet leaders similar terms. Later Baker confirmed publically at a State Department press conference that he agreed with Genscher. The US ambassador to Moscow at the time, Jack Matlock, who was in the room with Gorbachev and Baker, confirmed these words were said by Baker to Gorbachev.

But revisionist scholars have tried to obfuscate this understanding. It has been argued that US leaders saw these terms as being raised “speculatively” as part of an ongoing negotiation and far from a final deal. Thus the US was free to revise the offer and Gorbachev was made no final promise.

This is as Machiavellian an interpretation as one could dream up.

Common sense suggests that Gorbachev was not going to radically revise 45 years of East German and Soviet history without a very big quid pro quo. Since no other subject was on the table it is obvious that there was a quid pro quo and this was it. Say no more.

One scholar, Mary Sarotte, writes that the Soviet leaders failed to obtain “written assurances” against NATO expansion. That is right. But why should Gorbachev demand them when the Cold War was coming to an end so amicably and the widespread feeling was that there would never be enmity again and that the Soviet Union would become close to NATO, and maybe even seek future membership of it?

There is another political “scandal” from that period.

Behind Gorbachev’s back, as the US negotiators “were stressing limits on NATO’s future presence in the east, the US was privately planning for an American-dominated post-Cold War system and taking steps to achieve this objective”, according to Joshua Shifrinson, writing in the new issue of Harvard University’s quarterly, International Security:

In July 1990 Baker stated that a revamped CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) which had Soviet membership would provide a ‘half-way house’ for those countries who want out of the Warsaw Pact but can’t join NATO and the European Union.

Somewhat paradoxically, Baker did not want to see a CSCE that overshadowed NATO. By October 1990 detailed discussions about the future expansion of NATO were underway in the State Department, albeit with the belief this would only happen if the Soviet Union behaved “badly”.

Contradictorily, the State Department in an internal study on NATO wrote that “we are not in a position to guarantee the future of these Eastern countries and do not wish in any case to organize an anti-Soviet coalition whose frontier is the Soviet border. Such a coalition would be perceived very negatively by the Soviets and could lead to a reversal of current positive trends in Eastern Europe”.

Over the last 25 years an anti-Soviet/Russian coalition is what evolved and that is why Russia has ended up confronting the West.

Jonathan Power is a TFF Associate and international affairs columnist, formerly with the International Herald Tribune, now syndicating to leading newspapers on all continents.

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

US military strategy could culminate in nuclear conflict

By John V. Walsh | RT | July 4, 2016

German Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s recent criticism of NATO behavior is that of a man watching a tidal wave of destruction gathering force, similar to ones that have engulfed his country twice before in the 20th century.

What we shouldn’t do now is inflame the situation further through saber-rattling and warmongering… Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance’s eastern border will bring security is mistaken… We are well-advised to not create pretexts to renew an old confrontation… [It would be] fatal to search only for military solutions and a policy of deterrence. – German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, commenting on NATO’s recent military exercises in Poland and the Baltics.

His dread is not to be dismissed since it comes from a man who is in a position to know what the US is up to. His words reflect the fears of ever more people across all of Eurasia, from France in the West to Japan in the East.

Under the euphemism of “containment,” the US is relentlessly advancing its new Cold War on Russia and China. Its instrument in the West is NATO, and in the East, Japan, and whatever other worthies can be sharked up.

It is a Cold War that grows increasingly hotter, with proxy wars now raging in Eastern Ukraine and Syria and with confrontations in the South China Sea. There is an ever-growing likelihood that these points of tension will flare up into an all-out military conflict.

In the West, this conflict will begin in Eastern Europe and Russia, but it will not stop there. All the European NATO countries would be on the front lines. In the East, the conflict will take place in the Western Pacific in the region of China’s coast and in the peninsulas and island countries in the region, including Japan, the Philippines, and Indochina.

In each case the US will be an ocean away, “leading from behind,” as Barack Obama would put it, or engaged in “offshore balancing” as some foreign policy “experts” might term it.

No matter the “victors” – all of Eurasia, from France in the West to Japan in the East – would be devastated. No matter the outcome, the US could escape unscathed and “win” in this sense. And all Eurasian nations would lose. It would be World War II redux.

One can get a sense of what this means in the case of economic conflict by looking at the minimal economic warfare now being waged on Russia in the form of sanctions. Those sanctions are hurting both Russia and the rest of Europe. The US is untouched.

The same is also true for military conflict. Want to know what it would look like? Look at Eastern Ukraine. All of Eurasia could come to resemble that sorry nation in the event of a military conflict pitting the US and its allies against Russia and China. Eurasia, be forewarned!

The goal of the US foreign policy elite would clearly be for Russia and China to “lose,” but even if they “won,” they would be brought low, leaving the US as the world’s greatest economic and military power as it was in 1945.

Europe is beginning to awaken to this. We have Steinmeier’s plea above. But it is not only Germany that is worried. The French Senate wants an end to the sanctions imposed on Russia. Business people in many Western European countries, most notably in Germany and Italy, European farmers who export to Russia and tourist entrepreneurs like those in Turkey and Bulgaria, also want an end to sanctions and military exercises. Parties of the Right want an end to domination by NATO and Brussels, both controlled by the US. The Brexit is just one rumbling of such discontent.

All these nations are growing increasingly aware of the fate that awaits them if overt conflict erupts with Russia. The people of Germany want none of it. Likewise, the people of Japan are stirring against the US effort to goad Japan into fighting China. All remember the devastation of WWII.

Let’s recall the casualty figures, i.e., deaths, among the principal combatants of WWII:

Soviet Union – 27,000,000 (14 percent of the population);
China – 17,000,000 (3.5 percent);
Germany –7,000,000 (8.5 percent);
Japan – 2,800,000 (4 percent).

By comparison, for the US, safely far offshore, the number was 419,000 (0.32 percent)!

And for a few other countries that “got in the way” of the major adversaries:

Yugoslavia – 1,500,000 (9 percent)
Poland – 6,000,000 (17 percent)
French Indochina – 1,600,000 (6.11 percent)
Philippines – 527,000 (3.29 percent)

One wonders what the leaders of Poland or the Philippines or some elements in Vietnam are thinking when they take a belligerent attitude to Russia or China in order to please the US.

The problem with this US strategy is that it could easily spill over into a nuclear conflict. Then the US too would be reduced to radioactive rubble. The Western policy elite must be betting that Russia and China would not respond to a conventional war with a nuclear response.

However, Vladimir Putin has made it clear that in any war with the West, the US will feel the impact at once. The neocons and the rest of the US foreign policy elite must be betting that Putin is bluffing and that he would never use nuclear weapons. So, the US is safe and the suffering will be confined to Europe and Asia.

But that assumption is a dangerous one. Russia and China might respond with a conventional weapons attack on US cities. In WWII, Germany was able to wreak considerable devastation using conventional bombs on England delivered by airplanes and V-2 rockets. Similarly, the US was able to do enormous damage to Germany and to Japan with conventional weapons, especially firebombing as in Tokyo and Dresden.

Today, technology has advanced greatly, and US cities have nuclear power plants nearby. What is the likely outcome of a conventional war waged against US cities? Do we wish to find out? And once it begins, where is the firewall against an all-out nuclear exchange? Where are the neocons and the rest of the US foreign policy elite taking us? Certainly, the damage will begin with Eurasia, but Americans would do well to worry that great swarms of chickens might come home to roost in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. This is not the 20th Century.

For some, the scenario above might seem unduly alarmist. They might doubt that the US elite would be capable of consciously unleashing such a vast bloodletting. For those, it is useful to recall the words of President Harry S. Truman, who said in 1941, when he was still a Senator and before the US had entered WWII: “If we see that Germany is winning the war, we ought to help Russia; and if that Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and in that way let them kill as many as possible…”

Is that not what happened?

People of Eurasia, beware.

Read more:

Germany’s natural ally is Russia, not Washington

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bolivia to Expand Gas Production 33% by 2020 – Energy Minister

Sputnik — 07.07.2016

Bolivia will expand gas extraction by more than 20 million cubic meters daily or more than 33 percent by 2020, Minister of Hydrocarbons and Energy Luis Alberto Sanchez said Thursday.

The discovery of new gas fields was announced jointly by the Spanish company Repsol and the Bolivian state-owned oil and gas company YPFB this February, which increased the country’s gas reserves by 40 percent.

“The total gas production now is approximately 60 million cubic meters per day. By 2020, through putting important projects into operation aimed at preventing a drop of gas fields reserves and guaranteeing supplies to domestic and foreign markets, the production is expected to grow for more than 20 million cubic meters,” Sanchez said as quoted by ABI News Agency.

As of 2013, Bolivia’s gas reserves were estimated at about 302 billion cubic meters. According to the Repsol Bolivia President Diego Diaz, gas deposits on the Caipipendi block are assessed as additional 115 billion cubic meters.

Russian gas giant Gazprom also expressed interest in work in Bolivia. During the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in June, Gazprom, Bolivian Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energy and YPFB signed a road map on the implementation of projects in the country, in particular, exploration, production and transportation of hydrocarbons, as well as the use of the liquefied natural gas (LNG).

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Phony Scarcity | , | 3 Comments

Trump advisor censures US for regime change attempts overseas

Press TV – July 7, 2016

The United States proactively gets engaged in regimes change attempts throughout the world, says a top foreign policy advisor to Republican presumed nominee Donald Trump on a visit to Russia.

Addressing Russian students at Moscow’s New Economic School, Carter Page accused Washington of taking “proactive steps to encourage regime change overseas.”

“This may understandably advance a certain level of insecurity,” Page said, adding, the post-Soviet world had also suffered from of the West’s double policies.

8b0e4f8f-7fd3-4af0-b5d0-a1780a7d49a0Page (pictured) did not comment about ties between Washington and Moscow after the 2016 vote.

He also declined to say if he was visiting any officials of the Russian government.

In an interview with CNN last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow will “work with any president that the American people will vote for.”

“I know that there are complex economic and political processes in the United States. At the moment, the world needs a country as strong as the US is. And we do need the US, too,” Putin said.

Putin also praised Trump for being “bright” as well as for proposing to “restore full-fledged Russian-American relations.”

Relations between Washington and Moscow are in tatters largely due to the Ukraine crisis. The US and its allies accuse Moscow of sending troops into eastern Ukraine in support of the pro-Russian forces. Moscow has long denied involvement in Ukraine’s crisis.

In an interview with Carter in March, Bloomberg described him as “a globe-trotting American investment banker who’s built a career on deals with Russia .”

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

US Missile Defense Test Failed Miserably, and the Pentagon Lied About It

Sputnik – July 7, 2016

After spending billions of dollars, the US government is having trouble getting its state-of-the-art homeland missile defense system to function according to plan, and it’s driven the Pentagon to lie about the program’s success rate.

On January 28, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency conducted the first test flight of new so-called divert thrusters, to be used on anti-missile interceptors. A military statement deemed this a “successful test flight,” claiming the thrusters allowed the interceptors to stop a mock warhead.

“On this flight, we validated key design improvements in the divert and attitude control system, demonstrating improved performance, reliability and productibility,” said Michael Bright of Aerojet Rocketdyne, maker of the thrusters, in a statement.

“The overall goal of the Missile Defense Agency is to make a more capable and reliable system, and this successful test demonstrated significant progress toward reaching that goal.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, however, these claims were falsified. During the test, one of the thrusters failed. This caused the interceptor to lose control and the mock missile to slip through the defense shield.

“The mission wasn’t successful,” a project scientist, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the LA Times. “Did the thruster perform as expected? No, it did not provide the control necessary for a lethal impact of an incoming threat.”

A second scientist said that claims of success were “hyperbole, unsupported by any test data.”

Other engineers indicated that the faulty thrusters caused the interceptor to miss its target by “a distance 20 times greater than what was expected,” the LA Times reported.

The program, known as Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD), has cost US taxpayers over $40 billion since 2004. It was designed as a means to prevent a potential nuclear attack, and involves 30 interceptors that can be launched from various terrestrial locations across the United States.

The thrusters have come under scrutiny before. Two unsuccessful tests in 2010 were attributed to the component, and ultimately led to the creation of the latest model. An earlier test of the new thrusters occurred in 2013 and resulted in failure.

According to a report from the US Government Accountability Office, these failures were the result of rushed engineering work and “omitting steps in the design process.”

When asked for comment by the LA Times, the Missile Defense Agency acknowledged that problems had occurred during the “successful” test.

“There was an observation unrelated to the new thruster hardware that has been investigated and successfully root-caused,” the agency said. “Any necessary corrective actions will be taken for the next flight test.”

The agency maintained that “the new thrusters performed as designed” and within “critical performance parameters.”

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Militarism | | 1 Comment

Imagining a Different Europe: Brexit and the Future of NATO

By Gary Leupp | CounterPunch | July 7, 2016

Everyone’s talking about the future of the European Union after the Brexit. Should we not also be wondering about the future of NATO?

The two organizations substantially overlap. Twenty-two countries are members of both; that is, the twenty-two nations are both military allies of the U.S. (which pays two-thirds of the alliance’s cost and controls its politics) and members of an economic union, which—while it of course does not include the U.S., which is 5000 miles away—is of much interest to the world’s only surviving superpower.

Of course the EU and NATO have very different purposes. As we all know, the EU represents an effort to create a common market throughout the continent, allow for free travel and employment between member-states, the formation of common standards, policies etc. We know there have been major downsides for some member countries, involving reduced sovereignty, uncontrolled immigration, indebtedness and austerity programs, etc. But the stated goal, to spread general affluence, and therefore prevent war, has been stated since the EU’s forerunner, the European Coal and Steel Community, was formed in 1951.

Thus, while it’s arguably none of the U.S.’s business, U.S. leaders express opinions on EU composition. (You might think that, as leaders of a competing trading bloc, with the same relationship to the EU that Boeing has to Airbus, they would maintain a politic silence. But both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have urged the EU to admit NATO ally Turkey’s admission. And Obama recently raised a ruckus in the United Kingdom when he urged its electorate to reject Brexit.)

The purpose of NATO is less clear than that of the EU. Formed in 1949 in line with the “Truman Doctrine” pledging that the U.S. would fight communism wherever it threatened the “Free World,” it was supposed to be a defensive alliance between the U.S. and its European client states versus some future (imagined) Soviet aggression against those states.

That aggression needless to say never happened. In retrospect the Cold War appears a long period of stability, with the exception of the horrific wars the U.S. inflicted on Korea and Vietnam while the Soviets stood aside, and the war the Soviets waged in Afghanistan to suppress the rebels opposed to the secular Soviet-backed government (who were then backed by the CIA, because they were so anti-communist, that being the main thing), who went on to became the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Europe itself was actually remarkably stable during that Cold War, from 1945 to 1989. Since then there’s been horrific violence, especially in southeastern Europe, much of it exacerbated by the U.S. and NATO.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact (formed in 1955 in belated response to NATO, after NATO decided to include West Germany) in 1991, you might have thought that NATO would dissolve too. But no; it redefined its mission as maintaining “security” in a newly insecure situation. Its purpose is in fact stated in the vaguest terms. Its real function is to preserve U.S. hegemony over post-Soviet Europe, expand to surround Russia and ultimately create the conditions for a Yugoslavia-type fracturing of the Russian state—which for some reason U.S. military leaders keep referring to as the “number one threat” or even “existential threat” to the U.S.!

How the U.S. Uses the EU

The U.S. attempts to use the EU for its own geopolitical ends, particularly for this confrontation with Russia.

For example: from late 2013 to February 2014 the U.S. State Department spent $5 billion in Ukraine in order to (in the words of Under Secretary of State for Eurasia Victoria Nuland, a former Dick Cheney aide, neocon married to neocon Robert Kagan and key Hillary crony) “support the Ukrainian people’s European aspirations”—meaning the hopes of many Ukrainians for their country to join the EU.

But what Nuland, the Pentagon and NATO leaders in Europe really wanted to do was to pull Ukraine into NATO, completing the creeping encirclement of Russia that had begun with NATO’s expansion to include Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary in 1999.

NATO now already includes 11 countries formerly part of the Soviet bloc (Warsaw Pact) or Yugoslavia, most added during Bush’s administration but two (Albania and Croatia) admitted since. In all cases, by the way, these states first received admission into NATO, then into the EU.

Bulgaria: joined NATO 2004, EU 2007

Croatia: NATO 2009, EU 2013

Czechoslovakia: NATO 1999, EU 2004

Estonia: NATO April 2, 2004, EU May 1, 2004

Hungary: NATO 1999, EU 2004

Latvia: NATO April 2, 2004, EU May 1, 2004

Lithuania: NATO April 2, 2004, EU May 1, 2004

Poland: NATO 1999, EU 2004

Romania: NATO 2004, EU 2007

Slovakia: NATO, March 29, 2004, EU May 1, 2004

Slovenia: NATO, March 29, 2004, EU May 1, 2004

Notice a pattern? First a country commits itself to an anti-Russian alliance with the U.S., committing 2% of its GDP to military expenses and pledging to go to war against Russia when called upon to do so. Then it gets access to the benefits of EU membership.

Back to Ukraine. Ukraine in early 2014 included the Crimean Peninsula, home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet from the 1780s, a vital naval port for the Russian state that has only a few warm-water ports. (Crimea had been turned over from the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic by half-Ukrainian Premier Nikita Khrushchev in 1954. After the break-up of the USSR in 1991, Russia retained its traditional military presence on the peninsula by a treaty with the Ukrainian leaders.)

But the U.S. would like to expel the Russians and make Sevastopol a NATO port. (This is not only Vladimir Putin’s nightmare; it would be a nightmare for any Russian leader. Look at a map.)

In 2013 the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, democratically elected in an internationally monitored election in 2010, negotiated with the EU for his country’s eventual entry into the union. A substantial portion of the population, especially in the western part of the country, favored this. But when Yanukovych realized that steps towards admission would involve accepting an austerity regime comparable to that inflicted on Greece, he opted out, instead accepting a generous Russian aid offer.

Nuland & Co. depicted this as a pro-Russian leader’s capitulation to Russian pressure; again, their talking point was “Ukrainian people’s European aspirations.” (In fact, Ukrainians were divided on the issue, with fewer than 50% in favor of EU membership.)

Ukraine is ethnically divided between ethnic Ukrainians (who speak a language related to Russian, although the two languages are not mutually intelligible) and ethnic Russians who have always spoken Russian. (Russian has always been a recognized official language in the country.) There has been much intermarriage between the two, but among the ethnic Ukrainians there are many Russophobes including neo-fascists who glorify Stepan Bandera, an anti-Russian Ukrainian leader who worked with the Nazis to round up Jews and fight the Soviets in 1941.  (He was declared a “national hero” by Yanukovych’s predecessor Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-U.S. advocate of NATO admission. Yanukovych withdrew this award, but it has been reinstated by the current regime.)

Taking advantage of this Russophobia, the U.S. depicted Yanukovych’s change of mind as a betrayal of “European” dreams. Working with the neo-fascist Svoboda Party, among others, it assisted in the brutal putsch of February 22, 2014, that caused the president to flee for fear of his life. A new, pro-NATO government was immediately installed, with Arseniy Yatsenyev as prime minister.

“Fuck the EU!” …and then Use It!

This is where the story gets interesting, because it reveals what the EU means to the U.S., and what it doesn’t. In an intercepted phone conversation between Nuland and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine a month before the coup, they discuss who will succeed Yanukovych once he’s toppled. She favors NATO proponent “Yats.” The ambassador mentions the the EU favors a different candidate, whom she thinks is inappropriate. They discuss how Yatsenyev will be legitimated by a UN official sent by Ban Ki-moon.

“So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it,” she concludes, “and, you know, Fuck the EU.” (In other words, this is not about any European’s aspirations. It’s about ours.)

So the coup comes off as planned. The obviously prominent role of neo-fascists in the new regime, and the immediate revocation of the existing law protecting language rights frightened and angered the primarily Russian inhabitants of the Donbass region (where Yanukovych had his base of support). They refused to accept its legitimacy. (Their resistance is invariably represented by the U.S. press in the service of the State Department as a Moscow-inspired rebellion or even Russian “invasion.”)

Russia refused to recognize the new government and quickly moved to re-annex its historical territory of Crimea. The Russian-majority population of Crimea overwhelmingly voted in a credible referendum to reunite with Russia. The U.S. media often refers to this as another “invasion” although it was nothing of the sort; there were tens of thousands of Russian troops in place by longstanding agreement, who simply secured government buildings and the borders.

Hillary Clinton, among others, likened this move to Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938. That is to say: something that must not meet with appeasement. And so (people are taught to believe), the practical Russian response to U.S. efforts to complete the expansion of NATO is the problem, not NATO’s relentless advance against Russia itself. Russia under Putin is the worrisome aggressor, not the U.S. leaders who invade a new country like clockwork every few years, boasting that they need to do it because theirs is the “exceptional” nation.

Some in the Obama administration favored a military response to the separatists in the east; they wanted to further arm the new regime and encourage it to assert control over the Donbass if not Crimea. It is clear this was the view of U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove, the “Supreme Allied Commander” of “NATO Allied Command Operations” in Europe. We know from intercepted emails exchanged between him and Nuland (whom he refers to affectionately as “Toria”) that he was frustrated by the failure of Obama to order the Ukrainian puppets to more forcefully invade the east. (Initial efforts to do this had resulted in mass desertions, or soldiers retreated in the face of unarmed citizens including old women shaming them into abandoning their mission. It was a tremendous embarrassment to the Kiev regime.)

Obama decided not to heed Breedlove. In place of hot warfare he chose economic warfare. Here is where the EU comes in. In July 2014 the union (that Nuland wanted to fuck) dutifully voted to impose economic sanctions on Russia. (Again, 22 of the 28 EU members are also NATO members; the only ones that aren’t are Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta.)

The U.S. is of course not an EU member but it had a reliable surrogate within the union: the United Kingdom, which has strongly argued for sanctions, their expansion and extension to the present. (Frank Holmes, managing editor of US Global Investors, calls Britain “the bloc’s strongest supporter of restrictions.” The conservative Washington D.C. website The Daily Caller calls it the U.S.’s “strongest E.U. ally against Russia”).

The UK, which had far less to lose from the sanctions than many other EU nations, was urging its partners to shoot themselves in the foot. It was asking them to punish Russia (and damage themselves). The continental Europeans went along, some grudgingly.

Regrets (and Maybe Rebellion?)

Many have come to regret it. The Czech and Hungarian leaders have long been questioning the sanctions and expressing displeasure. Of course they want, as new members of the EU and NATO, to be team players. But their people are suffering from lost trade and pressuring them to protest. Thus Czech President Milos Zeman has called the sanctions “not merely inefficient; on the contrary, they are counterproductive.” (Only 35% of Czechs according to a 2015 Gallop poll support the sanctions.)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban calls the sanctions a “risk in the EU… very deep, of a strategic nature.” (European Council president Donald Tusk, a Pole, calls Orban a “Trojan Horse” for Russia while Orban says Tusk is “on the other side” for opposing an easing of sanctions.)

In May, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that his government “definitely cannot accept that a decision [by the EU, on extending sanctions] was made behind the scenes, that is, we are against using an automatic procedure.” (In Hungary, only 29% of those polled favor the sanctions.)

The Polish regime has been among the most supportive of the U.S. position; anti-Russian sentiment is deep in that country for various historical reasons, and 70% of those polled support sanctions. But the Polish farmers are suffering from them. One-third of the apples harvested in Poland two years ago went to Russia; now the trade is forbidden.

Meanwhile in Spain farmers burn EU flags over piles of rotting peaches to protest the collapse of their relations with the Russian marketplace. The European Commission keeps having to pay out millions of euros to partly compensate farmers and merchants for their losses due to sanctions.

French MPs in April this year voted for a resolution to lift EU sanctions on Russia. Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macros has vowed to work towards lifting them. Italian cabinet ministers and the lawmakers in Italy’s Upper House of Parliament also want to rethink them. Maybe they’re all Trojan Horses, but if so, that’s good.

The role of Germany in the EU, as the most populous and wealthiest country in Europe, is more important than ever following the Brexit. While it has been, along with France, a strong supporter of the sanctions and their continuation, public support is waning. In May a German pollster found that 36% of Germans want the sanctions scaled down, while 35% want them scrapped entirely.

The sanctions have had disastrous impact on the German economy. Since they were imposed exports have declined by about 20 billion euros. Alstom has lost a huge contract for the construction of the Beijing-Moscow railway line. The business community generally wants the sanctions dropped.

There appears to be a general feeling that the U.S. (which is feeling few effects from the sanctions it itself imposed on Russia) pressed the EU (especially through Britain) to take measures that are not in Europe’s interest. And some surely realize that what this is all really about is the U.S.’s desire to punish Russia for thwarting its effort to bring Ukraine into NATO—through that cynical device of Victoria (“Fuck the EU”) Nuland of supporting Ukraine’s “European aspirations.

As it happens, 67% of Germans oppose bringing Ukraine into NATO, and 45% oppose bringing it into the EU. Most importantly, German support for NATO has been plummeting; it was 73% in 2009 but was 55% last year. And when asked whether Germany, in the event of a Russian attack on an east European border state that is a NATO member, should fight on the side of that state, only 38% say yes according to a Spring 2015 Pew poll.

According to the same poll, that figure is 40% in Italy, 47% in France, and 48% in both Poland and Spain. In other words, over half the people of these countries oppose the very nature of NATO as “mutual defense” alliance.

This raises the real possibility of countries leaving NATO, as well as the EU. Czech president Milos Zeman has called for referendums on his country’s membership in both. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has criticized the recent joint maneuvers in Poland, in which 14,000 U.S. troops, 12,000 Polish troops, and 800 from Britain participated as “saber-rattling.”

“Whoever believes,” he warns, “that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance’s eastern border will bring security is mistaken. We are well-advised to not create pretexts to renew an old confrontation.” In other words, the U.S. is steering NATO towards war with Russia, which the Germans know is not a good idea.

Who would have imagined a few years ago that the UK would ever leave the EU? Imagine the Czech Republic leaving this confrontational NATO alliance, joining its prosperous neighbor Austria by opting for neutrality. Imagine the Germans (who have many reasons to be angry towards the U.S., including the fact that the NSA spies on all of them) becoming fed up enough to hold their own referendum and quitting the bloc.

There is something of a precedent. France shocked the U.S. when it pulled out of the NATO Integrated Military Command Structures in 1966, in order to, as President Charles DeGaulle put it “preserve French independence in world affairs.” (It remained committed in theory to the defense of alliance members but only rejoined with conditions in 2009.)

France, which has military bases all over the world and deploys troops routinely in Africa and elsewhere (it cooperated with the U.S. in overthrowing Aristide in Haiti in 2004, as if to apologize for having opposed the U.S. war in Iraq), is very different from Germany with its stiff constitutional limits on the use of its military and generally pacifistic population. Within the EU, it is likely to replace the UK as its most important hawkish member, while Germany is likely to urge reconciliation with Russia.

There are contradictions within both the EU and NATO. They are interwoven, and some look irresolvable. That again is a good thing.

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chilcot, Israel and the Lobby

By Gilad Atzmon  | July 7, 2016

It took seven years for Sir Chilcot and his team to reach a set of conclusions that every Brit capable of thought understood back in November, 2013.

The inquiry produced a damning assessment of Blair’s conduct as well as the British military. But the Chilcot Inquiry failed to expose the crucial close ties between Blair’s criminal war, the Jewish Lobby and Israel.

At the time Britain entered the criminal war against Iraq, Blair’s chief funders were Lord ‘cashpoint’ Levy and the LFI (Labour Friends of Israel). The prime advocates for the immoral interventionist war within the British press were Jewish Chronicle writers David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen. The attorney general that gave the green light for the war was Lord Goldsmith.

In 2008 The Guardian revealed that the “Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) successfully fought to keep secret any mention of Israel contained on the first draft of the controversial, now discredited Iraq weapons dossier.”

Israel was conspicuously engaged in the vast production of WMDs. If Britain and America had any genuine concerns about WMDs, bombing Tel Aviv would have been the way to go.

In 2003 some intelligence experts insisted that Iraq’s WMD dossier was initially produced in Tel Aviv and only ‘sexed up’ in London.

Since the Iraq war, the same Jewish Lobby has mounted enormous pressure on western governments, promoting more Zio-centic interventionist wars in Syria, Libya and Iran. So why did the Chilcot Inquiry fail to address this topic?

This crucial failure by Chilcot was to be expected. In 2010, highly respected veteran British diplomat Oliver Miles had something to say about the Jewish make-up of the Chilcot Inquiry. Two out of the five members of the inquiry were Jews, pro war and Blair supporters.

This is what Miles wrote in the Independent :

“Rather less attention has been paid to the curious appointment of two historians (which seems a lot, out of a total of five), both strong supporters of Tony Blair and/or the Iraq war. In December 2004 Sir Martin Gilbert, while pointing out that the “war on terror” was not a third world war, wrote that Bush and Blair “may well, with the passage of time and the opening of the archives, join the ranks of Roosevelt and Churchill” – an eccentric opinion that would seem to rule him out as a member of the committee. Sir Lawrence Freedman is the reputed architect of the “Blair doctrine” of humanitarian intervention, which was invoked in Kosovo and Afghanistan as well as Iraq.

Both Gilbert and Freedman are Jewish, and Gilbert at least has a record of active support for Zionism. Such facts are not usually mentioned in the mainstream British and American media, but The Jewish Chronicle and the Israeli media have no such inhibitions, and the Arabic media both in London and in the region are usually not far behind.”

Miles’ point was valid, and proved correct. The Chilcot Inquiry wasn’t just destined to fail. It was designed to subvert any scrutiny of Israel and its hawkish pro war lobby.

The Chilcot Report gave the British public what it wanted. It blamed Blair for failing in his responsibilities to them. But the report’s focus on Blair, diplomacy, the military and  intelligence failures concealed the Lobby that was pulling the strings.

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli military demolishes two houses, injures five Palestinians with live ammunition in Qalandia Refugee Camp

International Solidarity Movement | July 7, 2016

Qalandia Refugee Camp, Occupied Palestine – The holy month of Ramadan has come to an end. But in Palestine, as in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and too many other places, Muslim families are not able to enjoy this special time of the year in peace and comfort. On Sunday night at 11pm, more than 1000 Israeli soldiers, according to locals’ estimations, entered Qalandia Refugee Camp in the Occupied West Bank. The huge military incursion sparked clashes in which 15 Palestinians were shot. Occupation Forces used live ammunition and rubber coated steel bullets on civilians while firing tear gas and stun grenades at approaching ambulances, preventing Palestinian Red Crescent medics from reaching the wounded.


Red Crescent ambulance damaged by Israeli forces

Among the injured was a 19 year old girl and a 15 year old boy, each shot with live ammunition and brought to the hospital in serious condition. The army entered the camp to demolish the homes of the families of two young men, Anan Habsah and Issa Asaaf, both 21, who carried out knife attacks and killed one soldier in East Jerusalem on December 23rd last year. Both were killed by soldiers while carrying out the attacks, so the demolition of the homes comes only as a form of collective punishment to terrorize the families and the people in Qalandia, who repeatedly suffer from night raids and house demolitions as well as beatings and arrests by the Israeli occupation forces.

Anan’s family first evacuated their home in January when the Israeli high court announced their decision to demolish the houses. The displaced family members lived spread across the area, staying at friends’ and family’s homes in Ramallah and elsewhere in Qalandia for two months until the lawyer suggested they could move back in in March. The father, Abu Saleh, refused to leave his home during the two month period however, staying in a tent outside the building. Three weeks ago the two families were yet again told to evacuate their homes and were informed that the demolition would take place within five days. However, the exact date of the demolition was not disclosed. Sunday night it finally happened without advance notice, and only two days before the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid celebrations.

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In the ruins of his family home

Issa and his family have experienced severe trauma at the hands of occupation forces before, when he and his two younger sisters were brutally assaulted by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near East Jerusalem. The incident left one of Issa’s sisters unable to speak for three months, and caused the Assaf family significant distress and anguish.

Both Issa and Anan were imprisoned for significant periods of time; Anan at age fifteen for a period of eight months, and Issa for seven months in the year before his death.The families’ suffering did not end there, however. In the week following Issa’s release from prison, he was again assaulted at his home in Qalandia when soldiers dragged him from his home in the middle of the night and beat him in the street without justification.

The Habsah family also bears the long lasting scars of pain and trauma. Anan’s imprisonment as a child devastated the family, and they say their boy was never the same afterwards. “I know he did not want to die … but when a boy is put in jail, deprived of sleep, and deprived of his childhood, something in him changes,” said Anan’s uncle.


Inside the Asaaf family home

When we arrived on Monday morning, neighbors and relatives had already begun to gather in support of the families. Anan’s aunt explained to us that this is the third time her family had been forcibly displaced; first in 1948, when the family was expelled from their home in West Jerusalem, and later again in 1975 when their modest home in the refugee camp was destroyed for the first time.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness condemned the demolitions on Monday, stating that punitive home demolitions “inflict distress and suffering on those who have not committed the action which led to the demolition, and they often endanger people and property in the vicinity.” A 2005 study by the Israeli army itself concluded that home demolitions are not effective as a deterrent or punitive measure, but the practice still continues. According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, about fifty thousand residential structures have been destroyed by Israel since 1967.

“This is psychological warfare. In the whole camp of more than ten thousand people, no one slept [last night], and they did not go to work today,” Adnan Habsah, the uncle of Anan said. Qalandia Refugee Camp has long been subjected to various forms of collective punishment by Israeli forces, and is severely affected by all aspects of the Illegal Occupation. The camp is located within area “C” and greater (East) Jerusalem, near the main checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem and beside the apartheid wall. According to the UNRWA, the construction and expansion of the Wall in the early 2000s has drastically affected the economic situation in the camp by isolating it from the Israeli job market and Jerusalem. According to the most recent data, Qalandia’s unemployment rate is as high as 40 percent, compared to Occupied Palestine’s overall rate of 26.6 percent.

The Camp was originally established to house some 5,000 Palestinians who were displaced by the 1948 Nakba. Today, according to Afaq Environmental Magazine, the population of Qalandia Refugee Camp has reached about 14,000. Under the 1993 Oslo Agreement, the whole territory of Qalandia Refugee Camp is classified as area “C,” where Israel retains full control over security and administration related to the territory; however, Qalandia camp, like other Palestinian refugee camps, is under the administrative control of UNRWA.

As the uncle of Anan said when we spoke to him on Monday, “This is a UN refugee camp. The whole world owns this place. You cannot destroy it.”


Abu Saleh, father of Anan Habsah

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Suspected of Hacking French Prime Minister’s Phone – Reports

Sputnik — 07.07.2016

French authorities suspect that Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ cellphone may have been tampered with during his recent visit to Israel, French media outlets reported Thursday.

Valls visited Israel on May 21-24 for talks with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a bid to revive the reconciliation process between Israelis and Palestinians.

The prime minister and his staff were asked to submit their cellphones before attending the high-level talks, according to the French newspaper L’Express.

Upon retrieving them, French officials were “shocked” to find that many devices showed signs of an “anomaly,” the outlet claimed. One of the phones later broke down.

The suspicious cellphones were handed over for inspection to the National Agency for Computer Security (ANSSI), which declined to comment on the possibility that they had been hacked. A government official told the outlet the security check was standard procedure.

Israel responded to the accusations, saying it considered France a friendly nation who it would never spy on. It denied having tampered with the phones of the French delegation.

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Deception | , | 3 Comments

An unholy alliance of leftists supporting a pro-NATO course against Russia

By Susann Witt-Stahl and Denis Koval | Junge Welt* | June 25, 2016

The Rosa-Luxemburg Foundation and the ‘new left’ in Ukraine have forged a pro-NATO course directed against Russia.

The Die Linke (Left Party)-affiliated Rosa Luxemburg Foundation wants to play it safe. It relies not on historical pro-Soviet or Marxist left traditions but instead promotes a “new left”. The foundation is named after a world-renowned icon of anti-capitalist movements whose identity is bound with communist and anti-imperialist ideas. But the members of the Foundation’s leadership recommend to the left a convergence with the ‘liberal imperialism’ of the global hegemon, the USA.

Understandably, this requires some political flexibility. Progressive forces should not plant themselves on one side or the other of competing imperialist powers, says the Facebook page Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Ukraine. It demands that the “independent left” distance itself from the NATO-EU bloc, on the one hand, and from Russia on the other hand.

Rosa Luxembourg FoundationThis agenda is followed by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (RLF) with its Ukrainian partners. But it never explicitly speaks out against the accelerated expansion of the Western powers to the very borders of the Russian Federation. Instead, it consistently warns about “Great Russian chauvinism” and denounces the former Soviet Union and the anti-imperialist left.

In Ukraine, the Foundation cooperates principally with the small ‘Left Opposition’ group (not to be confused with the political front of the same name in which the Ukrainian Communist Party participates). In April 2014, the Left Opposition (LO) along with the “independent” trade Union ‘Zachist Prazi’ (Labor Defence) of Oleg Vernik merged into the ‘Social Movement’. The aim was to create an alliance (so far without any success) to be a Ukrainian version of Syriza.

One of the founders of the ‘LO’ is Zakhar Popovich, who in 2003 together with Oleh Vernik was expelled from the Trotskyist Committee for a Workers’ International (reported in Junge Welt) because of a lengthy fraud they perpetuated. They had collected donations for non-existent left-wing organizations in Ukraine.

According to its self description, LO stands for a politics of peace, beyond the “nationalist polarisation” of pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces. But it doesn’t dare to criticize Ukrainian ultranationalists. LO has openly supported the assaults by Euromaidan. Zakhar Popovich and his comrade Vitaly Dudin, the lawyer of the Kiev Center for Social and Labor Research, are also RLF partners. They marched in Maidan Square with a red EU flag side-by-side with the ultra-right.

The LO also welcomed the political section of the EU Association agreement, which includes clauses providing for military cooperation of Ukraine with the West.

Accordingly, LO has nothing to do with the “opposition” anymore. In March of 2014, Zakhar Popovich characterised the Yatsenyuk coup government as “legitimate” and appealed “to all governments in the world and Russia to recognize it”. He announced that his support was only “practical”, not political, because of the numerous, Goebbels-type followers from the Svoboda Party who were in the government.

LO’s demand to end the civil war in eastern Ukraine is expressed by the fact that in 2014, Fedor Ustinov, a member of its organizing committee, voluntarily joined the Ukrainian extremist ’ battalion ‘Shachtarsk’ in order to participate in the “punitive expedition” against the insurgents in the unrecognized people’s republics of Donbass. The “American anti-imperialist response” to  the “imperialist aggression of Russia” needed to be strenghthened. In this way did Ustinov understand the “balancing to be done against the two rival “imperialist” camps.

The LO is not only in the pro-NATO camp with both feet, it is also in the rightwing quagmire. The ‘Social Movement’–that is, LO and Zachist Prazi–view the organisation ‘Autonomous Resistance’ as not only “comrades. In Odessa, they have gone so far as to hold a joint rally with fascists who organize memorial marches for Stepan Bandera’s Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) which committed massacres during WWII (especially of the Polish civilian population) and collaborated with Nazi Germany.

The LO member and co-organizer Andriy Ishchenko was until 2004 the chairman of the Odessa cell of the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self-Defence (UNA-UNSO), a fascist party and the core organization of the Right Sector. The UNA-UNSO’s paramilitary force contributed to the 2004 ‘Orange Revolution’ of the famous Atlanticist Viktor Yushchenko, who became Ukraine’s president in 2005.

Perhaps Andriy Ishchenko is now an ‘ex’ neo-Nazi? Hardly. Until today, he still welcomes his former comrades as “friends”. “I am not ashamed of my membership in this organization. We were in the forefront of the struggle of the Ukrainian people for their rights and the the social struggles of the’ 90s,” said Ishchenko in 2014, speaking about his unfinished past.

The fact that Andriy Ishchenko wants to help the Right Sector to become “left wing” is enough for RLF, apparently, to present him in its pages as a “left activist”. Moreover, to whitewash the pro-Maidan ‘Autonomous Resistance’, Nelia Vakhovska, the project co-ordinator of the RLF in Ukraine, and Ivo Georgiev, from the centre for International Dialogue and Cooperation of the RLF, call Autonomous Resistance a “citizens ‘ movement” in a published post titled The life of left activists in Ukraine is dangerous. The RLF Facebook page provides weblinks to these neo-Nazi Banderites.

Although LO has a maximum of two dozen activist members, conferences and other events with speakers from the LO are promoted by RLF and LO’s positions are uncritically disseminated. This also applies to other structures from the spectrum of the ‘new left’ in Ukraine, for example, the magazine Prostory of the ‘Autonomous Workers’ Union’. The members of AWU regularly mobilize against “pro-Putin fascists” (their term for opponents of Maidan) and believe that there is “no alternative” to the “Anti-Terrorist Operation” taking place in Donbass.

Ukraine’s ‘decommunization’ law and other repressive measures against the Ukrainian Communists have opened space for what some critics call a “fake left” in Ukraine. The fact that this left holds a long-time monopoly on the funds of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation is being hushed up.

The ‘new left’ is used to whitewashing the alliance of the Western powers with the fascists in Ukraine. They approve the cooperation of the NATO-oriented, Ukrainian economic elite with the Western neocons that took place on the Maidan and approve a new escalation against Russia.

* Translation to English by New Cold

Background: “Peace is War”

The Rosa-Luxemburg Foundation was involved in the creation of the pro-Maidan ‘left‘. In April 2014, for example, it promoted a conference ‘The Left and Maidan‘ organized by its Ukrainian partners.

The conference also served as a founding Congress of the ‘Social Movement‘ − initiated predominantly by the Left Opposition. The results of a survey were presented at the conference, according to which 93 per cent of Maidan-activists were presented as “apolitical” and only seven per cent (including the socialists) were organized politically. Accordingly, the proportion of fascists and other radical Right involved inMmaidan was said to be very low.

In December 2015, the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation supported the event ‘Aspects of the media coverage of the military conflict‘ organized by the Centre for Labour and Social Research, including experts “reporting from the ATO-zone” (‘Anti-Terrorist Operation‘ is  the Kyiv government’s official name for the military offensive of the Ukrainian army in eastern Ukraine). As stated in the event announcement, the participants included Yana Salakhova from George Soros’ ‘Renaissance Foundation‘ and Igor Burdyga, a journalist, member of the LO and militant of the ‘AutoMaidan who believes the arsonists of Odessa on May 2, 2014 were “patriots” while the protests of the victims’s relatives were “ukrainophobic”.

The RLF also supports projects of the Visual Culture Research Center in Kiev. For example, in 2014, it staged a series of benefits named ‘Peace Is War‘ which featured pro-Maidan propaganda films that encourage the viewer to understand that the militarisation of Ukrainian society is a “consequence of Russian aggression beginning in March 2014″.

The Foundation similarly promotes moderate nationalists from the artist scene. Sergiy Zhadan, according to the RLF, is a “leftist writer”, but he will participate in the ‘Banderstad Festival‘, a large gathering of Ukrainian fascists taking place in August 2016.

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Where’s the US Chilcot Report? Blame Obama, Hillary, Biden and Kerry

By John Stauber | CounterPunch | July 7, 2016

Nothing exposes the fraud of so-called “peace candidate” Barack Obama more than his handling of the illegal government propaganda campaign and eventual war on Iraq. As the UK reads and debates the Chilcot report investigating the Blair government’s role in lying that country into the war, there is no notice in the US that Obama announced before taking office in late 2008 there would be no similar investigation in the US.

It was of course George Bush and his neocons from the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) gang that seized on the September 11, 2001 attacks to manipulate events into an opportunity to wage offensive war on Iraq.  And it was the Democrats in the U.S. Senate, led by Clinton, Kerry, Biden et. al., who provided the votes a year after 9/11 that green-lighted the war.

We can know because of a rather small number of journalists including this writer the extent and depth of the massive propaganda campaign, coordinated with and exploiting a willing corporate news media, that greased the skids for the war.  I co-authored books in 2003 and 2006 summarizing what was known at the time, and in 2008 David Barstow released his mind-blowing and Pulitzer winning investigation of the Pentagon Pundits program that turned the major TV networks, beginning in 2002, into third party advocates for Cheney and Rumsfeld, through puppetry using retired military analysts who were fed and regurgitated the Bush talking points.

But the overwhelming majority of Americans never received this information and are still awash in the continuing propaganda campaign. The last time I looked at a poll most Americans were so duped by the bipartisan and major media propaganda that a majority still believe the non-existant Weapons of Mass Destruction were found.

Obama of course won election to the White House in 2008 by beating Hillary Clinton over the head, and over and over and over, because she voted for war. Obama had the good fortune to still be stuck in state politics in Illinois, not even in the Congress, when Hillary voted for war in 2002. Who knows how he would have voted had he actually been there, but he was never put to that test.

I have written previously about how beginning in 2006 the Democrats progressive front group MoveOn, who had the money and PR to position themselves as the leading antiwar organization, worked with Nancy Pelosi to co-opt the movement into a campaign vehicle for the party, making sure the war was funded all the while Bush was in office, and using it like a gift to attack Republicans in 06 and 08.

In the pathetic giddiness that overtook progressives after Obama’s election, there was little notice given to his announcement that there would be no investigation of how America was led to and lied into war, that page would be turned and we would move forward.  After all, the war was a bipartisan venture, and his soon to be cabinet members Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton, and future Secretary of State Kerry were all pro-war culprits.

In late 2011, Obama pulled a George Bush type PR stunt, and declared the Iraq war had ended, welcoming home the troops. That news story now reads like the front page of The Onion.

So no Chilcot type investigation for America, the source of the war. Thirteen years after the launch of the illegal, first-strike offensive attack that created ISIS and has killed and displaced millions, some are asking why not. Blame Obama the peace poser and his pro-war Democrats. American Exceptionalism strikes again.

John Stauber is an independent writer, activist and author.  His books include Toxic Sludge Is Good for YouMad Cow USA and Weapons of Mass Deception

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

FBI Investigation Produces No Indictment, But Proves Hillary Clinton’s a Serial Liar

By Dave Lindorff | This Can’t Be happening! | July 6, 2016

Hillary Clinton may or may not be a crook. That remains to be proven, though the sheer magnitude of the wealth that she and husband Bill have amassed since leaving the White House, and while she was serving as Secretary of State — nearly a quarter of a billion dollars earned by two people with no known skills capable of producing that kind of income — should raise questions. What can be stated now as fact though, is that Hillary is a serial liar.

If this wasn’t clear already from her long history of distortion and prevarication — like her false claim that she had to “duck to avoid sniper fire” during a state visit to Bosnia — it is clear now from FBI Director James Comey’s 11-page public report on his agency’s year-long investigation into her use of a private server for all her private and official emails during her term as Secretary of State.

That report has exposed her serial lying to both Congress and the public about that illegal use of private email service to handle her public business.

As the Associated Press reports, Clinton lied in March 2015 when she declared in one of her rare news conferences, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.”

But as Comey reports, she did. Quite often in fact. The FBI in its exhaustive investigation found at least 113 email chains –some of which had to be uncovered after they had been erased by Clinton’s private lawyers — contained material that was classified at the time of sending, including some that were classified Top Secret and that referred to a “highly classified special-access program.”

She lied again at that same press conference when she asserted, “I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work related” to the State Department.

Not true, according to the FBI, and also, of course, to the Inspector General of the State Department, with whose own investigation of her actions, Clinton simply refused to cooperate.

Clinton lied when she said earlier this month, in an NBC interview, “I never received nor sent any material that was market classified.” Comey says that in fact her system did handle emails that bore specific markings indicating they were classified.

Clinton lied when she tried, as she explained more than once, including in that same March 15 news conference addressing the issue, to claim that she had used her own Blackberry phone rather than a State Department secure phone, simply because she “thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for personal emails instead of two.” In fact, Comey said his agents determined that Clinton had “used numerous mobile devices to view and send email,” all using her personal account. So much for wanting to use “just one device”! Comey said she also had used different non-government servers, all of them vulnerable to hacking.

Clinton lied again when she claimed that her private server was on “property guarded by the Secret Service and there were no security breaches.” She lied again when she added, “The use of that server, which started with my husband, certainly proved to be effective and secure.” Her campaign website adds the equally false assertion that “There is no evidence there was ever a breach.”

In fact, all Comey will say is that the FBI did not uncover a breach, but he adds that because of the sophisticated abilities of “hostile” forces (i.e foreign countries’ intelligence services) that would be engaging in any such hacking, “We assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.” They would just not leave any “footprints,” he explains.

We also know Clinton was lying when she said, “I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department.” The falsity of that particular lie was exposed by the State Department Inspector General, who in his own report on her private server scandal, found that she had never “sought or received approval” to operate a private server for her State Department communications, and added that as Secretary of State, she “had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business with State Department offices.”

Some of these violations that Clinton has objectively lied about may not be crimes. Others clearly are. At a minimum, Clinton deliberately sought to violate the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, which make all but classified documents public records that are supposed to be made available on request to journalists and the public on request (and even many secret documents upon appeal). By conducting her official business on a private server, Clinton was assuring that no FOIA requests could touch her.

The question of Clinton’s “trustworthiness” is a huge issue among the public, with all but her die-hard supporters — a minority within the Democratic Party.

Maybe some people don’t care in these cynical times when it’s simply assumed that “all politicians lie,” but one hopes that those lies will relate to personal foibles and sins, not official business. A nation that celebrates great leaders like George Washington, who at least according to the national mythology once said, “I cannot tell a lie,” and Abraham “Honest Abe” Lincoln, for their integrity and forthrightness, surely can demand at least a semblance of truthfulness in its top leader.

Clearly Hillary Clinton has failed that test of leadership, and in a big way.

I’m concerned that the FBI and the State Department’s own Office of Inspector General, as well as Republicans in Congress, have missed the real import of Clinton’s lying. It is not that she violated rules and standards that may have led to national security secrets being hacked, serious though that may be. For one thing, powerful intelligence agencies like those of the Russians and Chinese, just like the US’s own National Security Agency, have the capability to hack even the government’s most secure servers.

What should really be getting asked, by government investigators, political critics and by any real journalists left out there, is why Clinton, as Secretary of State, was so insistent — even to the point of violating laws and State Department policies — on avoiding the reach of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The answer to that has to take us back to the reality of the Clinton’s phenomenal success at vacuuming up vast sums of money from wealthy individuals, corporations, and even foreign potentates, both for their personal accounts as when either Clinton speaks at gatherings of bankers, pharmaceutical executives or military industry leaders, and for their Clinton Foundation, reportedly the recipient of over $2 billion in corporate and foreign government largesse.

Their success at raking in such piles of cash reeks of influence peddling, probably much of it conducted by phone and by email — and it’s the kind of thing that, if it were done by a Secretary of State on a government electronic device, would be vulnerable to a FOIA request.

On a private server, it’s the type of communications activity that Hillary Clinton’s private attorneys would have “wiped” from her hard drive to escape scrutiny when they erased thousands of emails they determined, with no official backstopping, to have been “private.”

Comey was wrong to recommend no prosecution of Clinton for her email practices, since some of her own State Department employees, as well as employees of the CIA and other agencies have been charged with and convicted of felonies for the same and even lesser infractions. But Clinton, as a Secretary of State and as the likely Democratic Party candidate for president, clearly lives on a higher plane that operates under a different set of rules. Only the “little people” get called to account for such crimes in the United States.

If the severely compromised US “Justice” Department cannot step up and issue an indictment based upon the findings of the FBI about Clinton’s email violations, it is up to the people of the United States to decide whether we want such a greedy woman — a confirmed serial liar ready to say anything necessary to obtain power — to be our next president.

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | 2 Comments