Aletho News


Russia-gate’s Totalitarian Style

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 2, 2017

It is a basic rule from Journalism 101 that when an allegation is in serious doubt – or hasn’t been established as fact – you should convey that uncertainty to your reader by using words like “alleged” or “purportedly.” But The New York Times and pretty much the entire U.S. news media have abandoned that principle in their avid pursuit of Russia-gate.

When Russia is the target of an article, the Times typically casts aside all uncertainty about Russia’s guilt, a pattern that we’ve seen in the Times in earlier sloppy reporting about other “enemy” countries, such as Iraq or Syria, as well Russia’s involvement in Ukraine’s civil war. Again and again, the Times regurgitates highly tendentious claims by the U.S. government as undeniable truth.

So, despite the lack of publicly provided evidence that the Russian government did “hack” Democratic emails and slip them to WikiLeaks to damage Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump, the Times continues to treat those allegations as flat fact.

For a while, the Times also repeated the false claim that “all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies” concurred in the Russia-did-it conclusion, a lie that was used to intimidate and silence skeptics of the thinly sourced Russia-gate reports issued by President Obama’s intelligence chiefs.

Only after two of those chiefs – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan – admitted that the key Jan. 6 report was produced by what Clapper called “hand-picked” analysts from just three agencies, the Times was forced to run an embarrassing correction retracting the “17 agencies” canard.

But the Times then switched its phrasing to a claim that Russian guilt was a “consensus” of the U.S. intelligence community, a misleading formulation that still suggests that all 17 agencies were onboard without actually saying so – all the better to fool the Times readers.

The Times seems to have forgotten what one of its own journalists observed immediately after reading the Jan. 6 report. Scott Shane wrote: “What is missing from the public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. … Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”

However, if that was the calculation of Obama’s intelligence chiefs – that proof would not be required – they got that right, since the Times and pretty much every other major U.S. news outlet has chosen to trust, not verify, on Russia-gate.

Dropping the Attribution

In story after story, the Times doesn’t even bother to attribute the claims of Russian guilt. That guilt is just presented as flat fact even though the Russian government denies it and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he did not get the emails from Russia or any other government.

Of course, it is possible the Russian government is lying and that some cut-outs were used to hide from Assange the real source of the emails. But the point is that we don’t know the truth and neither does The New York Times – and likely neither does the U.S. government (although it talks boldly about its “high confidence” in the evidence-lite conclusions of those “hand-picked” analysts).

And, the Times continues with this pattern of asserting as certain what is both in dispute and lacking in verifiable evidence. In a front-page Russia-gate story on Saturday, the Times treats Russian guilt as flat fact again. The online version of the story carried the headline: “Russian Election Hacking Efforts, Wider Than Previously Known, Draw Little Scrutiny.”

The Times’ article opens with an alarmist lede about voters in heavily Democratic Durham, North Carolina, encountering problems with computer rolls:

“Susan Greenhalgh, a troubleshooter at a nonpartisan election monitoring group, knew that the company that provided Durham’s software, VR Systems, had been penetrated by Russian hackers months before. ‘It felt like tampering, or some kind of cyberattack,’ Ms. Greenhalgh said about the voting troubles in Durham.”

The Times reported that Greenhalgh “knew” this supposed fact because she heard it on “a CNN report.”

If you read deeper into the story, you learn that “local officials blamed human error and software malfunctions — and no clear-cut evidence of digital sabotage has emerged, much less a Russian role in it.” But the Times clearly doesn’t buy that explanation, adding:

“After a presidential campaign scarred by Russian meddling, local, state and federal agencies have conducted little of the type of digital forensic investigation required to assess the impact, if any, on voting in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers, according to interviews with nearly two dozen national security and state officials and election technology specialists.”

But was the 2016 campaign really “scarred by Russian meddling”? For instance, the “fake news” hysteria of last fall was actually traced to young entrepreneurs who were exploiting the gullibility of Donald Trump’s supporters to get lots of “clicks” and thus make more ad revenue. The stories didn’t trace back to the Russian government. (Even the Times discovered that reality although it apparently has since been forgotten.)

‘Undermining’ American Democracy

The Jan. 6 report by those “hand-picked” analysts from CIA, FBI and the National Security Agency did tack on a seven-page appendix from 2012 that accused Russia’s RT network of seeking to undermine U.S. democracy. But the complaints were bizarre if not laughable, including the charge that RT covered the Occupy Wall Street protests, reported on the dangers of “fracking,” and allowed third-party presidential candidates to state their views after they were excluded from the two-party debate between Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama.

That such silly examples of “undermining” American democracy were even cited in the Jan. 6 report should have been an alarm bell to any professional journalist that the report was a classic case of biased analysis if not outright propaganda. But the report was issued amid the frenzy over the incoming Trump presidency when Democrats – and much of the mainstream media – were enlisting in the #Resistance. The Jan. 6 report was viewed as a crucial weapon to take out Trump, so skepticism was suppressed.

Because of that – and with Trump continuing to alarm many Americans with his erratic temperament and his coy encouragement of white nationalism – the flimsy Russian “hacking” case has firmed up into a not-to-be-questioned groupthink, as the Times story on Saturday makes clear:

“The assaults on the vast back-end election apparatus [i.e. voting rolls] … have received far less attention than other aspects of the Russian interference, such as the hacking of Democratic emails and spreading of false or damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. Yet the hacking of electoral systems was more extensive than previously disclosed, The New York Times found.”

In other words, even though there has been no solid proof of this “Russian interference” – either the “hacking of Democratic emails” or the “spreading of false or damaging information about Mrs. Clinton” – the Times reports those allegations as flat fact before extending the suspicions into the supposed “hacking of electoral systems” despite the lack of supporting evidence and in the face of counter-explanations from local officials. As far as the Times is concerned, the problem couldn’t be that some volunteer poll worker screwed up the software. No, it must be the dirty work of Russia! Russia! Russia!

The Times asserts that “Russian efforts to compromise American election systems … include combing through voter databases, scanning for vulnerabilities or seeking to alter data, which have been identified in multiple states.” Again, the Times does not apply words like “alleged”; it is just flat fact.

Uncertainty Acknowledged

Yet, oddly, the quote used to back up this key accusation acknowledges how little is actually known. The Times cites Michael Daniel, the cybersecurity coordinator in the Obama White House, as saying:

“We don’t know if any of the [computer] problems were an accident, or the random problems you get with computer systems, or whether it was a local hacker, or actual malfeasance by a sovereign nation-state. … If you really want to know what happened, you’d have to do a lot of forensics, a lot of research and investigation, and you may not find out even then.’”

Which is exactly the point: as far as we know from the public record, no U.S. government forensics have been done on the Russian “hacking” allegations, period. Regarding the “hack” of the Democratic National Committee’s emails, the FBI did not secure the computers for examination but instead relied on the checkered reputation of a private outfit called Crowdstrike, which based much of its conclusion on the fact that Russian lettering and a reference to a famous Russian spy were inserted into the metadata. Why the supposedly crack Russian government hackers would be so sloppy has never been explained. It also could not be excluded that these insertions were done deliberately to incriminate the Russians.

Without skepticism, the Times accepts that there is some secret U.S. government information that should bolster the public’s confidence about Russian guilt, but none of that evidence is spelled out, other than ironically to say what the Russians weren’t doing.

The Times cited the Jan. 6 report’s determination that “The Russians shied away from measures that might alter the ‘tallying’ of votes, … a conclusion drawn from American spying and intercepts of Russian officials’ communications and an analysis by the Department of Homeland Security, according to the current and former government officials.”

But this seems to be the one U.S. government conclusion that the Times doubts, i.e., a finding of Russian innocence on the question of altering the vote count.

Again accepting as flat fact all the other U.S. government claims about Russia, the Times writes: “Apart from the Russian influence campaign intended to undermine Mrs. Clinton and other Democratic officials, the impact of the quieter Russian hacking efforts at the state and county level has not been widely studied.”

There’s, of course, another rule from Journalism 101: that when there is a serious accusation, the accused is afforded a meaningful chance to dispute the allegation, but the Times lengthy article ignores that principle, too. The Russian government and WikiLeaks do not get a shot at knocking down the various allegations and suspicions.

Deep-seated Bias

The reality is that the Times has engaged in a long pattern of anti-Russia prejudice going back a number of years but escalating dramatically since 2013 when prominent neoconservatives began to target Russia as an obstacle to their agendas of “regime change” in Syria and “bomb-bomb-bombing” Iran.

By September 2013, the neocons were targeting Ukraine as what neocon National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman deemed the “biggest prize” and an important step toward an even bigger prize, neutralizing or ousting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

When neocon U.S. officials, such as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Sen. John McCain, encouraged a coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych, the Times served as a cheerleader for the coup-makers even though the violence was spearheaded by neo-Nazis and extreme Ukrainian nationalists.

When ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine and Crimea resisted the Feb. 22, 2014 coup, the Times collaborated with the State Department in presenting this rejection of an unconstitutional transfer of power as a “Russian invasion.”

For instance, on April 21, 2014, the Times led its print editions with an investigative story using photos provided by the coup regime and the State Department to supposedly show that fighters inside Ukraine had previously been photographed inside Russia, except that the two key photographs were both taken inside Ukraine, forcing the Times to run a half-hearted retraction two days later.

Here is the tortured way the Times treated that embarrassing lapse in its journalistic standards: “A packet of American briefing materials … asserts that the photograph was taken in Russia. The same men are also shown in photographs taken in Ukraine. Their appearance in both photographs was presented as evidence of Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine.

“The packet was later provided by American officials to The New York Times, which included that description of the group photograph in an article and caption that was published on Monday. The dispute over the group photograph cast a cloud over one particularly vivid and highly publicized piece of evidence.”

In other words, U.S. officials hand-fed the Times this “scoop” on a Russian “invasion” and the Times swallowed it whole. But the Times never seems to learn any lessons from its credulous approach to whatever the U.S. government provides. You might have thought that the Times’ disgraceful performance in pushing the Iraq-WMD story in 2002 would have given the newspaper pause, but its ideological biases apparently win out every time.

Two Birds, One Stone

In the case of the Russian “hacking” stories, the anti-Russia bias is compounded by an anti-Trump bias, a two-fer that has overwhelmed all notions of journalistic principles not only at the Times but at other mainstream news outlets and many liberal/progressive ones which want desperately to see Trump impeached and view Russia-gate as the pathway to that outcome.

So, while there was almost no skepticism about the Jan. 6 report by those “hand-picked” analysts – even though the report amounts only to a series of “we assess” this and “we assess” that, i.e,, their opinions, not facts – there has been a bubbling media campaign to discredit a July 24 memo by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

The memo, signed by 17 members of the group including former NSA technical director for world geopolitical and military analysis William Binney, challenged the technological possibility of Russian hackers extracting data over the Internet at the speed reflected in one of the posted documents.

After The Nation published an article by Patrick Lawrence about the VIPS memo (a story that we re-posted at ), editor Katrina vanden Heuvel came under intense pressure inside the liberal magazine to somehow repudiate its findings and restore the Russia-gate groupthink.

Outside pressure also came from a number of mainstream sources, including Washington Post blogger Eric Wemple, who interviewed Nation columnist Katha Pollitt about the inside anger over Lawrence’s story and its citation by Trump defenders, a development which upset Pollitt: “These are our friends now? The Washington Times, Breitbart, Seth Rich truthers and Donald Trump Jr.? Give me a break. It’s very upsetting to me. It’s embarrassing.”

However, in old-fashioned journalism, our reporting was intended to inform the American people and indeed the world as fully and fairly as possible. We had no control over how the information would play out in the public domain. If our information was seized upon by one group or another, so be it. It was the truthfulness of the information that was important, not who cited it.

A Strange Attack

But clearly inside The Nation, Pollitt and others were upset that the VIPS memo had undercut the Russia-gate groupthink. So, in response to this pressure, vanden Heuvel solicited an attack on the VIPS memo by several dissident members of VIPS and she topped Lawrence’s article with a lengthy editor’s note.

Strangely, this solicited attack on the VIPS memo cites as its “first” point that the Jan. 6 intelligence report did not explicitly use the word “hack,” but rather “cyber operation,” adding: “This could mean via the network, the cloud, computers, remote hacking, or direct data removal.”

That uncertainty about how the emails were extracted supposedly undercut the VIPS argument that the download speeds prohibited the possibility of a “hack,” but this pretense that the phrase “cyber operation” isn’t referring to a “hack” amounts to a disingenuous word game. After all, senior U.S. intelligence officials, including former FBI Director James Comey, have stated under oath and in interviews with major news outlets that they were referring to a “hack.”

These officials also have cited the Crowdstrike analysis of the DNC “hack” as support for their analysis, and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta has described how he was the victim of a “spear-phishing” scam that allowed his emails to be hacked.

After all these months of articles about the Russian “hack,” it seems a bit late to suddenly pretend no one was referring to a “hack” – only after some seasoned experts concluded that a “hack” was not feasible. Despite the latest attacks, the authors of the VIPS memo, including former NSA technology official Binney, stand by their findings.

Russia scholar Stephen Cohen.

However, when the cause is to demonize Russia and/or to unseat Trump, apparently any sleight of hand or McCarthyistic smear is permissible.

In Post blogger Wemple’s article about The Nation’s decision to undercut the VIPS memo, he includes some nasty asides against Russia scholar Stephen Cohen, who happens to be Katrina vanden Heuvel’s husband.

In a snide tone, Wemple describes Cohen as providing “The soft-glove treatment of Russian President Vladimir Putin,” calling it Cohen’s “specialty.”

Wemple also repeats the canard about “a consensus finding of the U.S. intelligence community” when we have known for some time that the Jan. 6 report was the work of those “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies, not a National Intelligence Estimate that would reflect the consensus view of all 17 agencies and include dissents.

What is playing out here – both at The New York Times and across the American media landscape – is a totalitarian-style approach toward any challenge to the groupthink on Russia-gate.

Even though the Obama administration’s intelligence chiefs presented no public evidence to support their “assessments,” anyone who questions their certainty can expect to be smeared and ridiculed. We must all treat unverified opinions as flat fact.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Hassan Nasrallah: Hezbollah is a danger to the Israeli occupation, Israel’s appetites

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on 31 August 2017, on the occasion of the commemoration of Lebanon’s “Second Liberation” against terrorist groups


[…] We need to know, O my (dear) brothers and sisters, that the opposing (US-Israeli) project in the region is crumbling and falling apart, and that US and Israeli dreams that were built on Daesh and its sisters and fellow takfiri and terrorist groups, these dreams and hopes collapse, and that the Axis of Resistance is the one who inflicted a defeat on this project, with the help of Russia, to be quite frank and honest.

And as with any victory, there is a price (to pay). If you lose, the price (to pay) is clear. But even when you win, there is a price to pay (but way less than when you lose). It is natural that the victorious Lebanon will be subjected to pressures. And the same for the Resistance, which certainly is subject and will be subject to (even more) pressures.

Today, a huge (propaganda) machine works (day and night) to present Hezbollah as a threat, a destructive group, a problem (you), the Lebanese, the Lebanese people must try to resolve. Tomorrow, they will create you a (new artificial) problem now that we are done with Daesh and Al Nosra. Someone cynical might say: so that your turn does not come, you should let Daesh and Al-Nosra (stay in Lebanon); why are you in a hurry (to finish them off and become thus again the main target of USA)? If one wants to think cynically. But if we think about the national interest, people’s safety, our loved ones’, their happiness and their tranquility, we think differently.

So the Americans will return once again and say for the benefit of Israel: “O government, State, parties and people of Lebanon, you have a (major) problem called Hezbollah. How are you going to solve it? Hezbollah’s power increases (by the day), the accumulation (of weapons)… ” It is you who are talking about the increase of our power. “His power grows, he can do well and prepare, etc. This is a (big) problem. We must solve it.” But they want to resolve it in the interest of whom? In the interest of Israel. Certainly not in the interest of Lebanon.

Hezbollah does not represent a danger, neither for Lebanon nor the Lebanese people, nor the Lebanese State. Certainly, Hezbollah is a danger to the Israeli occupation, Israel’s appetites, and American hegemony and the takfiri project. So we will be under pressure. And we will be presented as the danger, when in truth it is indeed the United States that constitute the danger today. It is this administration, the Trump administration that is the danger.

Who is it who is currently bringing the world to the brink of a global nuclear war with North Korea? Today (the fate) of the world is suspended between two people, regardless of what one thinks of the one and the other: Trump and Kim-Jong-Un. The fate of the world lies in the hands of these people. God knows what they will do. How will they act, where will they lead the world, God only knows. This is the real danger.

Today, the Trump administration led the relations with Russia at the worst level, and relations with China at the worst level, they are on the brink of war with China, as a result of tensions in the South China Sea. The continuous threats of war against Venezuela, the relaunch of the war in Afghanistan, threats to cancel the nuclear agreement with Iran, rekindling the inter-Arab disagreements… Are there people (gullible enough) to believe that the crisis between the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, the UAE (and Bahrain also) on one hand, and Qatar on the other hand, the United States are not able to resolve it? By God, they can resolve it in an hour, half an hour, a wink from Trump or his entourage, and the crisis would be resolved. No ! The United States wants these struggles, these wars, etc.

They are the ones who represent the danger. This administration, this mentality that wants to reinstate the hegemony and monopolize the oil, money and gas, and to protect Israel, (who is now) worried and scared. It is they who are a danger, not Hezbollah.

Today, the continuation of the war against Yemen, and the intensification of the assault, especially in recent weeks, the horrible massacres committed by the Saudi air force against unarmed Yemeni civilians, and we can only condemn it. This war is an American war par excellence. If the United States wanted this war to stop, it would stop in half an hour. This is not an issue for them.

Those who represent a threat to the region today are the United States. Even Pakistan, a US historic ally, this administration has lobbied hard on them, insulted their army, insulted their people and insulted their State, and that’s why they demonstrated by the millions in the last few days to protest against US policy, American bullying and insults against Pakistan and the Pakistan Army.

Who is giving free rein to Israel in the region, if not the US? And more dangerous, we may be faced with the formulation of a new American policy to impose a new model after the end of Daesh, a new model of terrorism, under new titles, new names and new slogans.

We must face these pressures, whatever they are and wherever they come from. How to cope as Lebanese? It is through steadfastness, convergence and unity that we will overcome this stage. […]


September 2, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

OHCHR’s Venezuela Report is Terrible and May Incite More Violence

By Joe Emersberger | ZNET | September 1, 2017

The OHCHR put out a press release a few weeks ago about violent protests in Venezuela in which the following words leapt off the page to anybody who has been following the situation without blinders on:

“security forces are allegedly responsible for at least 46 of those deaths, while pro-Government armed groups, referred to as ‘armed colectivos’ are reportedly responsible for 27 of the deaths. It is unclear who the perpetrators of the remaining deaths may be.” [my emphasis]

It was “unclear” to the OHCHR if protesters had killed a single person!

The OHCHR’s full report, which was just released, does not go to that extreme but is still an embarrassingly shoddy and biased report. In a section with the subheading “Violent anti-Government protesters”, the OHCHR report concedes that four murders have been perpetrated by protesters but hastens to add that protester violence has been a “reaction to the disproportionate use of force by security forces” and that the “level of violence by these groups increased as the use of force by security forces rose”.

Four is less preposterous than zero, but is still wildly off the mark. See the detailed timeline provided by

Direct victims of opposition political violence: 23
Bryan Principal, Oliver Villa Camargo, Niumar Jose Sanclemente, Almelina Carrillo, Paola Ramirez, Jesus Leonardo Sulbaran, Luis Alberto Marquez, Efrain Sierra, Rexol Navas, Gerardo Barrera, Anderson Dugarte, Jorge David Escandon, Pedro Josue Carrillo, Danny José Subero, Orlando Figuera, Douglas Acevedo Sánchez, Ronny Alberto Parra, Alexander Rafael Sanoja Sanchez, Jose Luis Bravo, Ramses Martinez, Hector Anuel, Oneiver Quiñones Ramirez, Felix Pineda Marcano, Ronald Ramirez

Deaths indirectly linked to opposition barricades*: 8
Ricarda Gonzalez, Ana Colmenarez, Maria de los Angeles Guanipa, Angel Enrique Moreira Gonzalez, Carlos Enrique Hernández, José Amador Lorenzo González, Luis Alberto Machado, Miguel Angel Villalobos Urdaneta

Additionally, how were the murders of unarmed civilians like Orlando Figuera and Almelina Carrillo by protesters a “reaction” against the security forces? Similarly, how is the burning of food warehouses and ambulances, which the OHCHR also concedes took place, a reaction against the security forces?

Moreover, the first person killed by opposition protesters was the civilian bystander Brayan Principal on April 12, only eight days after the protests began. The VenezuelAnalysis timeline shows that, right from the beginning of the protests, when security forces have perpetrated crimes they have been arrested and charged. That’s quite a contrast with what frequently occurs in the United States which is not faced with violent foreign-backed protesters trying to oust the government. It was only four days after the protests began, on April 8, when protesters torched a Supreme Court building.

I would not advise Black Lives Matter protesters in the United States to torch a Supreme Court building and expect to have their actions excused by the OHCHR or any other high profile outfit as a “reaction to the disproportionate force by police”.

The extremely well documented case of Orlando Figuera also exposed some inexcusable sloppiness in the OHCHR report. It falsely stated that Figuera died the same day he was attacked. He actually died in hospital few weeks later. He claimed from his hospital bed that he had been killed for being a suspected Chavista.

Why were the protesters brazen enough to murder Figuera in broad daylight in front of numerous witnesses?

There have apparently been no arrests in the case though the government has identified one of the perpetrators (who was in hiding).

Here are a few reasons:

  • 1)      People in opposition strongholds – like the one where Figuera was murdered – would likely be afraid to name the perpetrators or, sadly, even supportive of the crime in some cases.
  • 2)      The Attorney General at the time, Luisa Ortega Diaz (who has now been fired and is who now collaborating with US prosecutors to target the Maduro government), was preoccupied with weakening the government and maneuvering to save her own skin should the opposition seize power.
  • 3)      Biased reporting promotes impunity.  When the United States government wants to vilify a government and have it overthrown – which has been the case in Venezuela for the past fifteen years – numerous natural allies reflexively offer a helping hand: private media companies around the world, high profile NGOs and of course UN bodies like the OHCHR. The destruction of Iraq since 1990 does not happen without UN complicity even though neocons demand that the UN be even more subservient to the US.

There is a section in the OHCHR report on “Violations of the right to freedom of expression” and “Smear campaigns against journalists”. The OHCHR included a throwaway remark that “journalists were also targeted by demonstrators and supporters of both the opposition and the government.“

Prominent opposition supporters tried to get Abby Martin and Mike Prysner lynched by spreading allegations that they were working as informants for the government. Watching their report on the violent protesters the OHCHR whitewashed is something I highly recommend. The OHCHR’s bias not only makes opposition violence more likely, it makes honest journalism about it more dangerous.

The report “recommends” that opposition leaders condemn all violence by its supporters when the OHCHR itself goes out of its way to ignore that violence and deflect responsibility away from the perpetrators. The OHCHR also didn’t think to “recommend” that opposition leaders stop calling on the military to overthrow the government. An organization not at the service of the US Empire would also have “recommended” that the US government not violate international law by imposing economic sanctions or threatening the use of force against Venezuela. Have OHCHR investigators not reviewed the UN Charter recently?

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Why North Korea’s Latest Missile Test Was a Humiliating Blow to US Missile Defense

Sputnik – 02.09.2017

Russian military observer Alexander Khrolenko explains how North Korea’s testing of more and more sophisticated missile systems is putting the US’s vast array of expensive missile defense systems to shame.

Last week, North Korea test launched its new Hwasong-12 intermediate range ballistic missile. The missile flew over Japan before falling into the Pacific Ocean, some 733 miles (1,180 km) east of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.

Several days later, the Japanese Ministry of Defense requested a record defense budget for the 2018 fiscal year, asking for some 5.25 trillion yen ($48.6 billion) for new ground and ship-based anti-air missiles, fighters, patrol ships and a submarine. The Ministry’s request includes a major push for the modernization of the country’s air defense network, and its anti-land and anti-ship missile capabilities.

Commenting on the missile test, and Japan’s response, RIA Novosti military observer Alexander Khrolenko wrote that Pyongyang’s latest test has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that all the sophisticated US missile defense systems in and around the Asian country are next to useless.

“Today,” the analyst explained, “Japan’s missile defense is provided by ships equipped with the American Aegis system (which features the SM-3 missile for exoatmospheric interception). In addition, Japan has ground-based Patriot-3 (PAC-3) systems for the destruction of missiles within the atmosphere.”

“However, all these means proved useless on August 29, when the North Korean ballistic missile flew over Japanese territory and fell 1,180 km from Cape Erimo in Hokkaido. In 14 minutes, the missile flew a total of 2,700 km, reaching a maximum altitude of 500 km.”

Although Japan reported no damage to any ships or aircraft from the test, Khrolenko noted that it was highly curious that they didn’t even attempt to shoot the rogue missile down. “They could have at least attempted to shoot it down, if only for training purposes,” the analyst wrote. “The world community would not condemn such a move, and Washington would have certainly supported Tokyo. However, US and Japanese missile defense systems only ended up tracking Hwaseong-12’s trajectory.”

“What’s even more interesting, of course, is how Japan may have intended to shoot down the North Korean missile flying at an altitude of 550 km, when the longest-range US SM-3 guided missile has a 250 km flight ceiling. With a target lock radius of 500 km, the Aegis system would not have been able to reach the missile even during its descent, either. All the more so, given that the target separated into three parts (possibly three warheads).”

With these facts in mind, Khrolenko suggested that the “record request by the Japanese Defense Ministry [actually] reflects the degree of panic within the camp of US allies; after all, this wasn’t the first time that a reason to doubt the omnipotence of US weapons, and specifically its ABM systems, presented itself.”

Last month, for instance, following threats from Pyongyang that they were prepared to stage a massed missile strike against Guam, the Pentagon responded that any such missile launch would be detected in a matter of minutes, and would lead to the prospect of full-scale war.

It was interesting, however, according to Khrolenko, that the Pentagon “did not specify whether the North Korean missiles would be intercepted. And this is fundamentally important when it comes to predicting losses and the outcome of a war (which would not leave Japan unaffected, either).”

Moreover, according to the analyst, the North Korean missile launch proved particularly humiliating in light of the fact that the same day the launch took place, Japanese troops were conducting air defense drills at the Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo, where they practiced the deployment of Patriot-3 interceptors.

“From a military perspective, the exercises coincided successfully with the test of North Korea’s new ballistic missile. Pyongyang ‘played ball’, but Washington did not accept the unexpected ‘pitch’. Servicemen looked on anxiously into the skies, and continued to practice the speedy deployment and setup of the PAC-3’s components, as if the motions were more important than the actual result.”

Factually, Khrolenko wrote, the true effectiveness of the US’s numerous and costly missile defense systems has yet to be proven in conditions resembling those on a battlefield.

“Only once, in February 2013, did an SM-3 interceptor, launched from the USS Lake Erie missile cruiser, destroy USA-193, a defective US satellite at an altitude of 247 km. The target simulated a medium-range ballistic missile (even though the latter do not fly along an orbit). The test was simplified as much as possible, the parameters of the flight were known in advance, as was the target sector. External target designation was provided from the STSS-D tracking satellite, which may not be handy in a real combat situation.”

“One more example: tests of the US missile defense system during NATO’s Maritime Theater Missile Defense drills in 2015 showed that… numerous alliance ships equipped with the Aegis combat information management system were capable of knocking out only a single, less than perfect short range ballistic missile – the Terrier Orion, and probably only at subsonic speed. The degree of effectiveness of such missile defenses in conditions of a mass strike remains unknown, but the degree of simplification involved for the testing suggests it’s rather low.”

In effect, Khrolenko noted that North Korea’s latest missile test has “created a paradoxical parity of forces in that country’s confrontation with the United States.” In these circumstances, he noted, Washington would be advised to avoid subjecting its regional allies to danger.

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 2 Comments

US ambassador not taking Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands for fact

Press TV – September 2, 2017

United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has used the word “alleged” to refer to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Friedman referred to the situation in the Palestinian lands as “alleged occupation” in an interview with Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post, which was published on Friday. It was his first major interview with Israeli media.

Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds during the Six Day War in 1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem al-Quds in a move not recognized by the international community. In November 1967, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 242, under which Israel is required to withdraw from all territories seized in the war.

US politicians, as high in ranking as President Donald Trump himself, have in the past exhibited a loose relationship with facts. But it is unlikely that Friedman used the phrase in the Friday interview unwittingly. He is a hawkish politician known for his hard-line stance against Palestinians. His remark did contradict both US foreign policy and international opinion on the issue, however.

According to The Guardian, a Palestinian official, whom the British paper did not name, demanded clarification from the US regarding Friedman’s comment.

“Our understanding is that when someone has an official position, like being an ambassador, this person does no longer speak in a personal capacity. Mr. Friedman should realize that denying facts doesn’t mean that they don’t exist,” the Palestinian official said.

The official said the US envoy “has an extensive record of attacks against the national rights of the Palestinian people, including funding illegal colonial-settlements and participating in celebrations of the Israeli occupation.”

Palestinian officials say they want the decades-long conflict with Israel resolved based on the so-called two-state solution along the pre-1967 boundaries. However, Israel seeks to maintain its grip on the Palestinian lands and has been building settlements deep within territory.

Before taking up his post as the US ambassador to Israel, Friedman had voiced opposition to the two-state solution, which envisages the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

He is also a vociferous advocate of Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian lands, another issue opposed by the international community and the UNSC.

Friedman is the president of American Friends of Beit El Institutions, which raises millions of dollars each year for the Israeli Beit El settlement in the West Bank.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has been by and large vague about its stance on the potential establishment of a Palestinian state.

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Raqqa: A hellhole created by the regime-changers of the West

© Morukc Umnaber / Global Look Press
By Neil Clark | RT | September 2, 2017

As Jan Egeland, the UN humanitarian adviser on Syria, has stated, if there’s a worse place to be in the world at the moment than the Syrian city of Raqqa, then it’s hard to imagine.

This week, the UN estimated that the battle to capture the de facto ISIS capital is costing the lives of 27 civilians a day.

It’s not just the almost non-stop aerial bombardment and shelling from the mainly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces that the 25,000 or so citizens in ISIS-held parts of the city have to endure. “Access to safe drinking water, food and other basic services is at an all-time low with many residents relying on food they had stored up earlier to survive,” says UN public information officer David Swanson.

Both ISIS snipers and the US-led coalition have been targeting people trying to flee from the Middle Eastern hellhole. The UN notes that coalition forces have even been attacking boats on the Euphrates River, described as “one of the remaining escape routes for civilians.”

We can only imagine the headlines if Russia was doing all this. But because it’s the US and its allies, the international reaction has been muted to say the least. It’s revealing to compare the “humanitarian” concern voiced by pro-war Western politicians and mainstream media outlets when Russia began its military operations in Syria in September 2015, with the lack of concern over what’s been happening in Raqqa.

The claim that Russia was fighting terrorists was widely ridiculed. The US and its allies issued a statement saying that Russia’s actions, which included a strike on a ISIS training camp near Raqqa, would “only fuel more extremism and radicalization.”

On October 2, 2015, the claim made by then-US President Barack Obama that Russian strikes would only “strengthen ISIS” made Western news headlines.

Accusations that Russia was committing war crimes also received prominent coverage.

But when the US-led coalition bombs ISIS, the reporting from mainstream outlets is different. Then, the operation is presented much more positively, with little or no talk about how it will “strengthen” the enemy or “fuel more extremism and radicalization.” There is also little or no talk of war crimes.

A meticulously-researched Alert from Media Lens earlier this summer compared the coverage of the sieges of Aleppo and Mosul.

“When Russian and Syrian forces were bombarding ‘rebel’-held East Aleppo last year, newspapers and television screens were full of anguished reporting about the plight of civilians killed, injured, trapped, traumatised or desperately fleeing…

By contrast, there was little of this evident in media coverage as the Iraqi city of Mosul, with a population of around one million, was being pulverised by the US-led ‘coalition’ from 2015; particularly since the massive assault launched last October to ‘liberate’ the city from ISIS, with ‘victory’ declared a few days ago.”

As I noted here in an earlier Op Edge, it was deemed a ‘Thought Crime’ by Imperial Truth Enforcers to actually refer to the recapture of eastern Aleppo by Syrian government forces as a ‘liberation.’ Pro-war Labour MP John Woodcock even went so far as to call the left-wing Morning Star newspaper “traitorous scum” for daring to defy the gatekeepers and use the ‘L’ word.

But of course, if it’s the US and its allies doing the bombing, then using the word ’liberation’ is de rigueur, regardless of how much death and destruction the ‘liberation’ causes.

There have been no calls from ‘Inside the Bastille’ Western politicians or media pundits for people to protest outside US embassies about the number of civilians killed by coalition airstrikes in Raqqa – as there were over Aleppo. And absolutely no likening of coalition actions to those of the Nazis.

It’s worth noting, too, that while the US and its allies repeatedly called for a “humanitarian pause” in the fighting for Aleppo, they’ve rejected the UN calls for one in Raqqa. “Going slower only delays the liberation and subsequently costs more civilians their lives,” US Colonel Joe Scrocca, director of public affairs for combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, told Middle East Eye.

What makes the double standards even more outrageous is that without the warmongering actions of the US and its allies in the Middle East, there would be no ISIS/ISIL in the first place. The ‘Coalition’ is fighting in Raqqa a monster that – like Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s famous novel – they helped to create. The terrorist organization known by the names of ‘Islamic State,’ ‘ISIS/ISIL,’ or ‘Daesh,’ grew out of the chaos that Bush and Blair’s illegal invasion of Iraq had unleashed. As Patrick Cockburn, author of the book ‘The Rise of Islamic State,’ puts it, “ISIS is the child of war.”

Furthermore, the spread of IS to Syria was actually welcomed by the US and its allies as a way of weakening the secular Ba’athist government in Damascus, which Western neocons were desperate to see toppled because of its friendly links with Iran and Russia.

“If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran),” – declared a secret US intelligence report, which was declassified in 2015.

In 2016, a leaked tape conversation between US Secretary of State John Kerry and anti-government Syrian activists revealed how the US was pleased to see Islamic State gain territory. “The reason Russia came in is because ISIL was getting stronger,” Kerry admits, flatly contradicting the claims made publicly by the State Department in October 2015 that Russia wasn’t targeting ISIS/ISIL.

“Daesh was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus and so forth,” Kerry went on. “We were watching. We saw that Daesh was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage. You know, that Assad might then negotiate,” he said.

The US and its allies didn’t just watch with pleasure as ISIS expanded – they aided the process. They did this not only by giving money and weaponry to ‘moderate rebels’ who then – surprise, surprise – defected to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s head-chopping outfit, but by targeting forces that were opposed to Islamic State. Israel, for instance, has bombed Syria on countless occasions in the last few years, but each time its attacks have been against those fighting ISIS. “An aspect of the conflict in Syria that has not received the attention it undoubtedly deserves, has been the role of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) in acting as the de facto air force of Daesh [ISIS] and sundry other Salafi-jihadi and rebel groups fighting in the country,” notes John Wight.

We must not forget too that if Washington’s Endless War Lobby had got their way in August 2013, and the US and its allies launched a full-scale military assault on the Syrian government – then Islamic State and its affiliates would probably now be in charge of the entire country. Yet the failure to bomb Assad four years ago is still openly regarded as a tragedy by Western regime-change hawks.

Of course, the key role that the US and its coalition have played in the rise – and expansion – of the forces they are now bombing, is never mentioned in the mainstream reporting of the ‘Battle for Raqqa.’ We’re meant to believe that ISIS fighters appeared – like Mr. Benn’s shopkeeper “as if by magic” – and took control of Syria’s seventh largest city by complete accident. And, we’re certainly not meant to ask questions such as “From where did these terrorists obtain their weapons?” or, “Under what legal authority do the US and its allies carry out air strikes in Syria?”

My 1987 Lonely Planet Guide to Jordan and Syria, says of Raqqa: “There’s really nothing to do or see but it can be a good base from which to visit Lake Assad and the walled city of Rasafah, 30km to the south.”

The city is most definitely not a “good base” for tourists today.

One person who did manage to get out of “the worst place on Earth” earlier this year told RT’s Ruptly news agency: “The streets are full of dead bodies. The schools were targeted, the bridges, and mosques. The [dead] people are lying on the streets; some people were dragged by cars… Dogs were eating the [dead] bodies for there was no one to pick them up.”

The bombed-out ruins of Raqqa and the rotting corpses lying on its streets are a testament to a ‘liberal interventionist’ neo-con foreign policy, in all its bloodstained, hypocritical, ‘humanitarian’ glory.

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia vs US Economic War: Who’s Going to be the Ultimate Loser?

By Phil Butler – New Eastern Outlook – 02.09.2017

Full scale economic war in between America and Russia is underway. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said so, and the US administration and the American congress voted it in with new sanctions. The only question that remains is “who will win?” Here’s a look at the future of US-Russia relations and the ultimate loser in this new type of Cold War.

A fact most people are not aware of is that the United States is at risk of repaying its debt if anything major happens. The $20 trillion that America owes is by far the largest of any single country, and about as much as the 28 members of the European Union owe altogether. The sum is greater than what America produces in one year, or twice the debt to DGP ratio of 1988. But now let’s look at the makeup of this staggering debt.

This debt-to-GDP ratio tells investors that the country might have problems repaying the loans. And Baby Boomers are by far the biggest domestic investors via social security and other trust funds. In short, recent administrations have mortgaged the legacy of a generation. President Barack Obama holds the record for piling up the biggest US debt, just so the reader knows. The Bush administration comes in second where piling up debt is concerned, and tax cuts piled on top of the expensive “War on Terror” emptied American coffers at a staggering rate after 2001 and the 9/11 event. Social Security, which will have to pay Baby Boomer retirees their pensions soon, was gutted by Bush and Obama. If these funds are not propped up, 75 million Americans will be robbed of their hard-won retirement. But Social Security and the trusts are only used to cover other US government departments. But what about foreign debtors?

Countries like China, Japan, and Great Britain buy treasuries as investments and in order to guarantee American trade (especially in China’s case). Buying “treasuries” also helps China and other countries keep their currencies strong versus the US dollar. But in 2016 the pattern of purchasing huge US debts altered when China lowered its holdings of U.S. debt. Furthermore, as the debt-to-GDP ratio increases, the nations that hold US debt might demand higher interest payments to compensate for the increased risk. After this happens diminished demand will cause interest rates to rise further. This situation will create a downward spiral that puts pressure on the dollar, and that will eventually increase interest payments to unsustainable levels. Once the US government can no longer sustain social security and other programs, it’s fair to assume the whole house of cards will fall. Currently, Social Security costs more than $1 trillion per year, and payroll taxes no longer cover the fund. So, Congress can no longer “borrow” from the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for other federal programs.

For fiscal year 2018 the interest on the debt is $315 billion, and this will double by the year 2027. But there’s no need for an economics lesson here, so I’ll proceed to Russia’s situation by comparison.

Debt Free by Comparison – Russia

Russia’s national debt is by far the lowest in Europe and the lowest in the former G8 countries. In fact, before the Ukraine crisis took shape Russia’s growth was astounding compared to the US, Germany, France, Japan, and the other G8 nations. Reuters reported Russia’s growth rate of 2.5 times that of the US in quarter 4 of 2011. Russian President Vladmir Putin’s repaying almost all of the country’s foreign debt, high energy prices combined with Russia’s exports to Europe were creating a Russia powerhouse economy. If the truth is ever told of the new “Red Scare” it will reveal fear as the motivator for a new Cold War waged by western powers.

When US President Donald Trump was elected many of his supporters believed there would be a “reset” to normal in US-Russia relations. These hopes were quickly dashed when the technocracy and the globalist control mechanism attacked Trump with a vengeance over his Russia narrative. Allegations of some form of collusion between the new American president and Putin’s Russia became the flavor of the day for corporate and government controlled media. When Trump and Putin met in Hamburg there was renewed hope, but this was quickly dashed when the US Congress hurriedly pushed through a new sanctions law that rolled Russia in with Iran and North Korea. The Israel lobby (AIPAC) put the squeeze on its constituency in congress and on Trump, and a new economic war was waged. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said “the US had declared full-scale economic war”.

Putin’s Russia having already made the “shift” eastward to Asia, the only logical reaction to the Trump reversal was to head full steam in the direction of Beijing. For a couple of years both Russia and China have been hoarding gold and taking steps to separate from the dollar currency. Where Russia’s natural gas is concerned, the blockages thru Ukraine and Syria to Europe created by the NATO nations have been circumvented. The Turkish South Stream project is back in full swing and Russia’s armed forces have helped signal the end of ISIL in Syria. Trump signing this new sanctions bill will end up costing Americans and Europeans the future if I am right.

Further evidence that America has big trouble come from China‘s inviting Guinea, Mexico, Tajikistan and Thailand to the upcoming BRICS summit. Meanwhile Putin is creating a Ministry of the Future headed by economic whiz kid Maxim Oreshkin, who was recruited from the ranks of VTB Capital. According to Bloomberg Oreshkin is creating an informal group known as the “office of changes” bent on improving the structure of the ministry. The ministry will be staffed by renowned gurus like; “Ekaterina Vlasova, poached from Citigroup Inc, Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ Zoya Viktorova and Yulia Urozhaeva from McKinsey & Co.”

The Real Bear Market

An interesting aspect of Oreshkin’s emergence is his role in bringing about a pet project of Putin, in ramping up Russia’s place in the so-called “digital economy”. To this end the Russian president already demanded a final version of this “digital economy development program” be set in place by October. According to the Kremlin the new initiative should create a support mechanism for the development of key end-to-end digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum computing, development of information and telecommunications and computing infrastructure, and financial incentives.

In conclusion, it’s abundantly clear that Dmitry Medvedev was right in finally giving up the ghost of hope for US-Russia reconciliation. One reason for this is the clear desperation western leaders and business exhibit in their all-out war on Putin. In fact, the only logical reason for trashing west-east relations has to be fear the system of banking and business in the US and Europe will fail. As for Russia’s play I am reminded of a report I made some months back on Putin’s “Third Way” for society. It’s been obvious for some years now the Putin administration has been battling to change Russia’s business and government ecosystem. But economic and geo-strategy assault from western powers has interrupted this plan. I believe Putin had intended to meld Russia’s new initiative into the existing G20 economic structure. But Trump’s turnabout forced a new direction. In the long view we can only watch and see if the staggering giant of American globalist capitalism can overcome a new power structure in world economics. If the Eurasian Union separates from the dollar, the world will certainly enter a time of dire crisis. We may soon witness a real bear in the world marketplace, one unwelcomed by Wall Street.

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe.

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

US actions against Russian diplomatic and consular property are illegal–here’s why

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | September 2, 2107

The United States has once again seized diplomatic and consular properties belonging to the Russia Federation and is in the process of conducting raid style searches of the properties which are set to formally begin on the 4th of September.

These actions which first took place in the final full month of Barack Obama’s Presidency and are now taking place at additional Russian diplomatic and consular facilities in the United States under Donald Trump’s Presidency, violate clearly codified international laws which are contained in documents known as the Vienna Conventions.

The following are the provisions of the Vienna Conventions that are presently being violated by the United States.

From the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations

Article 22

1. The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents
of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of
the head of the mission.

2. The receiving State is under a special duty to take all
appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any
intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the
mission or impairment of its dignity.

3. The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other
property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be
immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

From the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations

Article 31

Inviolability of the consular premises

1.Consular premises shall be inviolable to the extent provided in this article.

2.The authorities of the receiving State shall not enter that part of the consular premises which is
used exclusively for the purpose of the work of the consular post except with the consent of the head of the consular post or of his designee or of the head of the diplomatic mission of the sending State. The consent of the head of the consular post may, however, be assumed in case of fire or other disaster requiring prompt protective action.

3.Subject to the provisions of paragraph 2 of this article, the receiving State is under a special
duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the consular premises against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the consular post or impairment of its dignity.

4.The consular premises, their furnishings, the property of the consular post and its means of
transport shall be immune from any form of requisition for purposes of national defence or public utility.

If expropriation is necessary for such purposes, all possible steps shall be taken to avoid impeding the performance of consular functions, and prompt, adequate and effective compensation shall be paid to the sending State.

In summary, these statues of international law codified by the United Nations in 1961 (Diplomatic) and 1963 (Consular) mean that irrespective of the condition of relations between the sending state (in this case Russia) and the receiving state (in this case the US), the diplomatic and consular properties in question must remain free from any kind of molestation including searches, raids, property seizures and the infringement of normal and dignified working practices.

Each of these items of law has been clearly violated by the United States. The US has prohibited diplomatic and consular workers from pursuing their work under normal circumstances. The US molested the peace and freedom of such workers and their families on a personal level and the US is in the process of preparing to raid the diplomatic and consular properties which the law states are clearly inviolable.

Even in times of conflict that run much deeper than the current political disputes between Washington and Moscow, the Vienna Conventions have a precedent of being adhered to.

In 1984, an individual inside the Libyan Embassy in London shot and killed a UK police officer. The shots were fired from inside the embassy onto the street below.

Although many  called for the suspect to be brought to trail in an English court, the UK government at the time, a government that had generally poor relations Libya in any case, observed the Vienna Conventions and allowed the embassy workers to return to Libya safely after being named persona-non-grata, something which is sanctioned by the Vienna Conventions.

The US itself raised a claim in the International Court of Justice against the Islamic Republic of Iran over an incident involving the taking of US hostages at the US Embassy in Tehran in 1980.

In 2005, during the second term of George W. Bush, the United States withdrew from an optional provision of the Vienna Conventions allowing for disputes arising between states on matters involving diplomatic and consular facilities and individuals to be dealt with by the International Court of Justice.

This means that if Russia wanted to take legal action against the US for violating its protections under the Vienna Conventions, Russia would have to file the complaint in a US court which is subject to accusations of bias vis-a-vis an international court dealing with a dispute between sovereign states.

The aggregate effect of this means that the US is breaking international law with impunity while giving the victim of this anti-diplomatic aggression few realistic options to deal with the issue, other than to attempt some sort of equivalent retaliation.

Instead of scrutinising the United States for a flagrant violation of international law, the mainstream media is instead pontificating on why smoke is coming out of the chimney at the soon to be closed Russian Consulate in San Francisco, even though such a matter has no real legal implications. Until the premises is involuntarily vacated, the Russian consular staff have the right to use their facilities as they fit.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova issued the following statement to the conspiracy theorists who have taken an interest in the smoke,

“Now in San Francisco, another circus begins – a new round of baiting called ‘What are you doing there?’.

After giving 2 days for the emergency conservation of the building and deciding to conduct a search in the premises, which had for many years had diplomatic immunity, a search involving FBI employees, the “host party” in the afternoon of September 1 “accidentally noticed” smoke above the building. The truth is that they also did not happen to notice that the [smoke] was coming from a  pipe.

Immediately there were prepared photo reports about the “emergency situation”, and, as the top of sadism, fire protection was called. Just in case. Suddenly, Russians need help: they still had a couple of hours left to clear the premises.

And then the questions of American journalists poured down about what kind of trickle of smoke rose over the Russian consulate general.

I answer: measures are being taken to preserve the building. In this regard, the windows can be closed, the curtains can be lowered, the light may turn off, water may come down, the doors may be locked, garbage can be disposed of, heating devices must be switched off, life support systems switched on, and much more.

It is unbearably embarrassing to monitor the actions of the US authorities and the entire information campaign. Later everything will be like it always happens in the USA: there will be those who stood behind all this Russophobic hysteria, another mistake will be recognized, perhaps we will hear miserable apologies. But all this will be, as always, later. And now, at this very minute, instead of the celebrations on the occasion of September 1 and the labor routine for issuing passports and visas, the employees of the Consulate General professionally oriented towards the development of bilateral relations are engaged in the conservation of the building…

The wider truth of the matter is that the only thing up in flames is the American government’s respect for international law.

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment