Aletho News


Nunes Memo Reports Crimes at Top of FBI & DOJ

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | February 2, 2108

The long-awaited House Intelligence Committee report made public today identifies current and former top officials of the FBI and the Department of Justice as guilty of the felony of misrepresenting evidence required to obtain a court warrant before surveilling American citizens. The target was candidate Donald Trump’s adviser Carter Page.

Former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page

The main points of what is widely known as the “Nunes Memo,” after the House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), have been nicely summarized by blogger Publius Tacitus, who noted that the following very senior officials are now liable for contempt-of-court charges; namely, the current and former members of the FBI and the Department of Justice who signed off on fraudulent applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court: James Comey, Andy McCabe, Sally Yates, Dana Boente and Rob Rosenstein. The following is Publius Tacitus’s summary of the main points:

  • The dubious but celebrated Steele Dossier played a critical role in obtaining approval from the FISA court to carry out surveillance of Carter Page according to former FBI Deputy Director Andy McCabe.
  • Christopher Steele was getting paid by the DNC and the FBI for the same information.
  • No one at the FBI or the DOJ disclosed to the court that the Steele dossier was paid for by an opposition political campaign.
  • The first FISA warrant was obtained on October 21, 2016 based on a story written by Michael Isikoff for Yahoo News based on information he received directly from Christopher Steele — the FBI did not disclose in the FISA application that Steele was the original source of the information.
  • Christopher Steele was a long-standing FBI “source” but was terminated as a source after telling Mother Jones reporter David Corn that he had a relationship with the FBI.
  • The FBI signers of the FISA applications/renewals were James Comey (three times) and Andrew McCabe.
  • The DOJ signers of the FISA applications/renewals were Sally Yates, Dana Boente and Rod Rosenstein.
  • Even after Steele was terminated by the FBI, he remained in contact with Deputy Attorney General Bruce Our, whose wife worked for FUSION GPS, a contractor that was deeply involved with the Steele dossier.

From what Michael Isikoff reported in September 2016 it appears that the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence (as well as the FBI) are implicated in spreading the disinformation about Trump and Russia. Isikoff wrote:

“U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether an American businessman identified by Donald Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials — including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue. […]

“But U.S. officials have since received intelligence reports that during that same three-day trip, Page met with Igor Sechin, a longtime Putin associate and former Russian deputy prime minister who is now the executive chairman of Rosneft, Russian’s leading oil company, a well-placed Western intelligence source tells Yahoo News.”

Who were the “intelligence officials” briefing the select members of the House and Senate? That will be one of the next shoes to drop. We are likely to learn in the coming days that John Brennan and Jim Clapper were also trying to help the FBI build a fallacious case against Trump, adds Tacitus.

Indeed, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has already indicated that his disclosures in the Nunes Memo represent just “one piece of a probably much larger mosaic of what went on.”

The Media Will Determine What Comes Next

As for Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, it is now abundantly clear why he went to ridiculous lengths, as did the entire Democratic congressional leadership, to block or impugn the House Intelligence Committee report.

Until the mid-December revelations of the text messages between FBI lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page turned Russia-gate into FBI/DOJ-gate, Schiff had been riding high, often hiding behind what he said “he could not tell” the rest of us.

With the media, including what used to be the progressive media, fully supporting the likes of Adam Schiff, and the FBI/CIA/NSA deep state likely to pull out all the stops, the die is now cast. We are in for a highly interesting time over the next months.

Ray McGovern works with the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Savior in inner-city Washington. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bill Browder, the Magnitsky Act, and Russophobia: Interview with Alex Krainer

Sott Media | November 27, 2017

Interview with Alex Krainer, hedge fund manager and author of The Killing of William Browder: Deconstructing Bill Browder’s Dangerous Deception.

Bill Browder is the man responsible for much of the anti-Russian sentiment in the West in recent years through his lobbying for the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions individuals believed to have been involved in the death of Russian “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky in 2009.

Browder told his story in a book called Red Notice, in which he paints himself as a totally innocent victim of a Russian campaign to destroy him. But Krainer dissects Browder’s account piece by piece, showing that he was anything but an innocent businessman.

In addition to deconstructing Browder’s self-serving lies and rampant Russophobia, Krainer gives a concise history of the crisis Russia went through in the 90s, how a handful of Russian oligarchs and Westerners like Browder siphoned the country’s wealth, and how Putin turned all that around in the years after he came to power in 1999.

Due to pressure from Browder’s legal team, Amazon censored the book by delisting it. Krainer has made it available for free here and here.

Krainer maintains a blog at

Running Time: 01:32:11

Download: OGG, MP3

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

US deploys troops to occupied territories for joint war games with Israel

Press TV – February 2, 2018

The US has deployed military forces to the Israeli-occupied territories ahead of a joint war game with Tel Aviv as the regime ramps up its threats of a new war against Lebanon.

Israeli media outlets announced the arrival of the American troops on Thursday in preparation for the so-called Juniper Cobra biennial military drills, which will start next week.

The last edition of the drills enlisted more than 3,000 forces from the two sides.

The sources said the maneuvers simulate engagement with the countries lying to the north and south of the occupied territories, including Lebanon.

Israel and Lebanon are technically at war since 1967 when the regime occupied the country’s Shebaa Farms.

Israel staged two wholesale wars against Lebanon in 2000 and 2006 to defeat the country’s resistance movement of Hezbollah, which is Lebanon’s de facto military power.

Tel Aviv fell short of the ambition in both cases in the face of strong resistance by Hezbollah, backed by the national army, and instead saw its myth of invincibility being dealt a serious blow.

On Wednesday, the Israeli minister for military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, renewed the threat of a new war against Lebanon, saying Beirut would “pay the full price” for its ties with Tehran in a future military offensive.

Lieberman also warned companies not to engage in oil and gas exploration activities with Lebanon.

Hezbollah responded by saying the group would “decisively confront any assault on our oil and gas rights.”

Prime Minister Sa’ad al-Hariri and other Lebanese statesmen also reacted, with Hariri saying Lieberman’s remarks were one of several “threatening messages” from Israel over the previous days.

Hariri had on January 25 called Israel the greatest threat to Lebanon’s stability amid similar indications that the regime could be contemplating new military offensive against his nation.

“The only threat I see is Israel taking some kind of action against Lebanon, out of a miscalculation,” Hariri told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “And this is the real threat, I believe. I think the other issues are challenges, yes … But when Israel decides to launch a war against Lebanon, this is something that is unexplainable,” he added.

Lieberman suggested that a war with Lebanon would also likely involve Syria.

“Israel’s northern front extends to Syria; it is not just Lebanon. I am not sure that the Syrian government can resist Hezbollah’s attempts to drag them into a war with Israel,” he said.

Hezbollah and Syria enjoy years-long experience of counter-terrorism cooperation. Hezbollah has been successfully lending battleground support to Syria during the latter’s operations against Takfiri militants.

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Treasury fears new sanctions on Russian debt could hit US hard

RT | February 2, 2018

The US Treasury has warned that imposing new sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt market could cause massive repercussions for the US, a new unclassified document warns.

The memo, obtained by Bloomberg, outlines the risks of expanding existing sanctions on Russia to include new sovereign debt and derivatives. The Treasury did not release the report publicly.

The memo warns that sanctions “could hinder the competitiveness of large US asset managers” and have “negative spillover effects into global financial markets.” This could lead to a “Russian retaliation against US interests.”

The report concludes that given the size of Russia’s economy and its “prevalence in global asset markets,” the effects of sanctions would be damaging to the US. The Russian sovereign debt and derivatives market is one of the largest among emerging markets.

Congress had ordered the report on the impact of potential sanctions on Russian sovereign debt amid sweeping sanctions against Moscow passed last August. This was in response to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

On Tuesday, the US Treasury published its ‘Kremlin’s List,’ featuring the entire Russian government among some 114 other top officials, as well as 96 prominent business figures. The list was strongly condemned by politicians in Moscow, with Russian MP Irina Yarovaya likening the step to the US opening “an ‘economic Guantanamo’ for global business.”

Read more:

European investors warn of potential damage from US Treasury ‘Kremlin List’

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Economics | | 1 Comment

EU Imposes Anti-Union Law on Greece

By Will Podmore | CounterPunch | February 2, 2018

Under instructions from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the Greek government pushed through the most anti-union legislation in Europe on Monday 15 January.

The move was demanded, along with other draconian measures, as a condition of the latest tranche of what is called Greece’s bailout but which in reality is bailing out the European financial institutions which recklessly encouraged Greek borrowing.

The key concession required from the Syriza government was that industrial action would now require a yes vote from more than half of the total number of union members in a workplace, regardless of the actual turnout. This is even worse than the provisions in the Trade Union Act which came into law in the UK in March 2016.

Astonishingly – or perhaps not – there has been not one word about this from the TUC, which continues its scaremongering about the effect of Brexit on workers’ rights. While it prattles on, the European Union is turning the screw on the most fundamental of all workers’ rights, the right to strike, and using Greece as a test bed for policies it would like to see across all member states.

Without the right to take effective strike action, workers have no protection save the courts, and capitalist courts consistently favour the employers.

The European Court of Justice ruled (in the Laval case, 18 December 2007), that employers have the right to bring workers from a low-wage EU state to a higher-wage EU state on the wages payable in the cheaper country, regardless of any collective bargaining agreements in the higher-wage state. It has also ruled (in the Viking case, 11 December 2007) that effective industrial action to stop outsourcing to cheaper countries is illegal.

In the Alamo­–Herron case (18 July 2013), involving Unison members transferred out of local authority employment, it ruled that whatever their contracts said, benefits collectively negotiated for local authority workers could be ignored by their new employers. “This case is an appalling attack on collective bargaining and is at least as serious as Viking and Laval,” wrote Britain’s leading employment barrister, John Hendy.

Hendy went on to say, “The EU has become a disaster for the collective rights of workers and their unions.”

As we have consistently said, strong trade union organisation backed up by effective industrial action if need be is the only way to secure and defend advances in the workplace. The EU murmurs about “rights” while consistently attacking the basis of workplace organisation.

Not one line of the Trade Union Act introduced by the Cameron government, or the even worse White Paper that preceded it, was contrary to EU law. The sooner Britain leaves the EU, the better it will be for trade union members (though some so-called leaders will resent being kicked off the Brussels gravy train). At least then we will just have our own employers to deal with.

Will Podmore is a librarian and writer living in London.

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

U.S. Media’s Objectivity Questioned Abroad

By Andrew Spannaus | Consortium News | February 2, 2108

Pick up a major newspaper or watch the television news in a European country, and it’s more likely than not you’ll quickly find a reference to the New York Times, the Washington Post, or CNN in reporting about the United States. In the era of Donald Trump, this mainstream media “Triad” continues to set the agenda for many foreign news organizations following events in the U.S., providing them with a viewpoint that is promptly transmitted to their readers and viewers as the authoritative interpretation of what’s going on in America.

A funny thing is starting to happen though: well-known public figures and journalists are beginning to point out the obvious, that these important news outlets no longer look objective. Rather, it seems they see themselves as part of the “resistance” against the President.

In just the past month, this writer has heard radio hosts, political analysts and even diplomatic personnel in Italy and Switzerland couch their public remarks about Trump with the observation that the U.S. mainstream media can no longer be considered objective. This is a notable shift, because even among those who are decidedly anti-Trump, the Triad is increasingly seen as representing the voice of a certain “establishment,” a grouping that does not speak for the majority of the American people.

Across Europe, many follow U.S. politics closely, due to a mix of cultural fascination and the fact that decisions in America continue to have a major impact around the world, of course. People look to the United States as an example and an indicator of economic and social trends, whether they approve of them or not. And in terms of news, they look in particular to the newspapers “of record”, long considered to provide quality and influential reporting and opinions on both domestic and foreign affairs.

Some news organizations take this veneration for the Triad to extreme lengths. In Italy, where I live, the references to the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN are constant, often presented as key interventions likely to shift the political situation in the U.S. A new revelation in one of those outlets regarding Russiagate, for example, might be considered a game changer, bringing us closer to impeachment.

The concentration on these publications has gotten to the point that it heavily limits the perception of what’s going on in the country. In the past, this distortion was harder to detect; getting direct news meant reading a few major newspapers – often delivered late in the day – without having many points of comparison. Yet now, in the era of the internet, an American abroad can follow whatever news and events he or she wants, without suffering from a limitation on direct sources or the filters of a foreign press organization.

This new situation led me to the following realization some years ago: many foreign news outlets get much of their news from the Triad, rather than from their own direct reporting. Often I could read the Washington Post and the New York Times online, and already know what would be reported to Italians on the major evening news programs.

For journalists it is of course essential to be aware of how the news is reported in the country they are covering; but if one does only that, information becomes limited by what certain outlets report, and also by their editorial line. There appear to be two different kinds of foreign correspondents covering the United States: those who spend their time in New York or Washington and dedicate most of their attention to establishment sources and events, and those who attempt to get a fuller sense of what’s going on outside of those venues as well.

By way of example, consider the difference between a correspondent from the major television networks whose contacts are mostly other journalists and opinion leaders in the principal power centers, and a correspondent who periodically takes trips to other areas of the country.

I saw a positive example recently when a journalist from RSI (Swiss Italian Radio and Television) spent several days in the former steel town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; the opinions he gathered from residents of that area gave a different view than the more common interviews of Fifth Avenue shoppers or financial analysts in New York. Everyone’s opinion counts, of course, but if you never get out of the bubble, you tend to miss what’s going on in the rest of society.

This blindness was the dominating characteristic of the 2016 election campaign, when major media outlets around the world failed to recognize the deep currents that led to the strong support for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and ultimately carried the former to the White House. The same inability to grasp the depth of the revolt of the voters against the political and financial elites expressed by pro-establishment media outlets was almost automatically transferred abroad, due to the slavish imitation of the Triad by foreign news outlets.

The 2016 presidential election was a jolt to the system. Suddenly everyone was forced to confront the fact that almost all of the respected media and commentators had gotten it wrong, clearly failing to understand how so many could vote for a candidate considered dangerously unprepared and offensive.

Outside of the United States, people were forced to reassess whose news and opinions they could trust, leading to a period of more serious discussion of the economic and social dynamics in the United States and beyond. If half of the voters – combining the support for Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and others with that for Trump – were willing to give their vote to outsiders promising deep changes in the system, then clearly things must not be going as well as the media had been saying.

Never fear, the same media outlets and commentators quickly came up with a new narrative that papered over their previous mistakes: the Russians did it. Thus, in addition to the allegedly racist and ignorant voters outside of urban areas, the fault for Hillary Clinton’s embarrassing loss was pinned on Vladimir Putin. A convenient way to forget the reasons why so many Americans rejected the political establishment.

So rather than a discussion of decades of favoring finance over the real economy, and how “free trade” policies have caused a race to the bottom, the debate focuses on the perils of protectionism, and how important it is to defend globalization. And instead of stigmatizing the disastrous policies of continuous war, we are treated to a steady stream of neocon narratives, including from the numerous representatives of the interventionist camp who have found their way into the Trump administration.

The most recent example of this phenomenon is the sudden return to essentially the same economic narrative heard before the elections. In recent weeks media outlets and experts in Europe have begun to once again sing the praises of the U.S. economy. The stock market is doing great, and unemployment is low, so boom times must be back.

The coverage seems eerily familiar to that during the end of the Obama administration, which of course many people didn’t believe. It’s easy to imagine how Americans who rejected such talk before will react if they don’t see a tangible improvement in their lives in the coming months and years. A low official unemployment rate and modest wage growth is better than the alternative, but far from sufficient to deal with structural problems such as harsh inequality, unstable employment, the lack of social welfare protections and low purchasing power.

The White House is now complicit in this narrative, of course, as Trump wants to believe, and declare, that his policies are making things better. The mainstream media’s obfuscation of the truth should be a lesson to the President, lest he find himself on the wrong end of the revolt before long.

Andrew Spannaus is a journalist and strategic analyst based in Milan, Italy. He is the founder of, that provides news and analysis to Italian institutions and businesses.

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

A Never-Trump Press in Near Panic

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • February 2, 2018

“All the News That’s Fit to Print” proclaims the masthead of The New York Times. “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” echoes The Washington Post.

“The people have a right to know,” the professors at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism hammered into us in 1962. “Trust the people,” we were admonished.

Explain then this hysteria, this panic in the press over the release of a four-page memo detailing one congressional committee’s rendering of how Trump-hate spawned an FBI investigation of Republican candidate and President Donald Trump.

What is the press corps afraid of? For it has not ceased keening and caterwauling that this memo must not see the light of day.

Do the media not trust the people? Can Americans not handle the truth?

Is this the same press corps that celebrates “The Post,” lionizing Kay Graham for publishing the Pentagon Papers, top-secret documents charging the “Best and the Brightest” of the JFK-LBJ era with lying us into Vietnam?

Why are the media demanding a “safe space” for us all, so we will not be harmed by reading or hearing what the memo says?

Security secrets will be compromised, we are warned.

Really? Would the House Intelligence Committee majority vote to expose secrets that merit protection? Would Speaker Paul Ryan and White House chief of staff Gen. John Kelly, who have read and approved the release of the memo, go along with that?

Is Gen. Kelly not a proven patriot, many times over?

The committee’s ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff, who earlier warned of a threat to national security, now seems ready to settle for equal time. If the majority memo is released, says Schiff, the minority version of events should be released.

Schiff is right. It should be, along with the backup behind both.

This week, however, FBI Director Chris Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein slipped into the White House to plead with Kelly to keep the Republican memo secret. Wednesday, both went public to warn the White House against doing what Trump said he was going to do.

This is defiant insubordination. And it is not unfair to ask if Rosenstein and Wray are more alarmed about some threat to the national security than they are about the exposure of misconduct in their own agencies.

The memo is to be released Friday. Leaks suggest what it contends:

That the Russiagate investigation of Trump was propelled by a “dossier” of lies and unproven allegations of squalid conduct in Moscow and Trumpian collusion with Russia.

Who prepared the dossier?

The leading dirt-diver hired by the Clinton campaign, former British spy Christopher Steele. In accumulating his Russian dirt, Steele was spoon-fed by old comrades in the Kremlin’s security apparatus.

Not only did the FBI use this dirt to launch a full investigation of Trump, the bureau apparently used it to convince a FISA court judge to give the FBI a warrant to surveil and wiretap the Trump campaign.

If true, the highest levels of the FBI colluded with a British spy digging dirt for Hillary to ruin the opposition candidate, and, having failed, to bring down an elected president.

Is this not something we have a right to know? Should it be covered up to protect those at the FBI who may have engaged in something like this?

“Now they are investigating the investigators!” comes the wail of the media. Well, yes, they are, and, from the evidence, about time.

In this divided capital, there are warring narratives.

The first is that Trump was compromised by the Russians and colluded with them to hack the DNC and Clinton campaign to destroy her candidacy. After 18 months, the FBI and Robert Mueller probes have failed to demonstrate this.

The second narrative is now ascendant. It is this:

In mid-2016, James Comey and an FBI cabal, including Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, lead investigator Peter Strzok and his FBI paramour Lisa Page, decided Clinton must not be indicted in the server scandal, as that would make Trump president.

So they colluded and put the fix in.

This alleged conspiracy is being investigated by the FBI inspector general. His findings may explain last week’s sudden resignation of McCabe and last summer’s ouster of Strzok from the Mueller probe.

If true, this conspiracy to give Hillary a pass on her “gross negligence” in handling secrets, and take down Trump based on dirt dug up by hirelings of the Clinton campaign would make the Watergate break-in appear by comparison to be a prank.

Here we may have hit the reason for the panic in the media.

Trump-haters in the press may be terrified that the memo may credibly demonstrate that the “Deplorables” were right, that the elite media have been had, that they were exploited and used by the “deep state,” that they let their detestation of Trump so blind them to reality that they made fools of themselves, and that they credited with high nobility a major conspiracy to overthrow an elected president of the United States.

Copyright 2018

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Can the Impending Collapse of Russiagate Halt the Slide Toward a Nuclear 1914?

By James George JATRAS | Strategic Culture Foundation | 02.02.2018

In the period preceding WWI how many Europeans suspected that their lives would soon be forever changed – and, for millions of them, ended? Who in the years, say, 1910 to 1913, could have imagined that the decades of peace, progress, and civilization in which they had grown up, and which seemingly would continue indefinitely, instead would soon descend into a horror of industrial-scale slaughter, revolution, and brutal ideologies?

The answer is, probably very few, just as few people today care much about the details of international and security affairs. Normal folk have better things to do with their lives.

To be sure, in that bygone era of smug jingoism, there was always the entertainment aspect that “our” side had forced “theirs” to back down in some exotic locale, as in the Fashoda incident (1898) or the Moroccan crises (1906, 1911). Even the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 seemed less a harbinger of the cataclysm to come than local dustups on the edge of the continent where the general peace had not been disturbed even by the much more disruptive Crimean or Franco-Prussian wars.

Besides, no doubt level-headed statesmen were in charge in the various capitals, ensuring that things wouldn’t get out of hand.

Until they did.

A notable exception to the prevailing mood of business-as-usual, nothing-to-see-here-folks was Pyotr Durnovo, whose remarkable February 1914 memorandum to Tsar Nicholas II laid out not only what the great powers would do in the approaching general war but the behavior of the minor countries as well. Moreover, he anticipated that in the event of defeat, Russia, destabilized by unchecked socialist “agitation” amid wartime hardships, would “be flung into hopeless anarchy, the issue of which cannot be foreseen.” Germany, likewise, was “destined to suffer, in case of defeat, no lesser social upheavals” and “take a purely revolutionary path” of a nationalist hue.

When the great powers blundered into war in August 1914, each confident of its ability speedily to dispatch its rivals, the price (adding in the toll from the 1939-1945 rematch) was upwards of 70 million lives. But the cost of a comparable mistake today might be literally incalculable – if there’s anyone left to do the tally.

During the first Cold War between the US and the USSR, there was a general sense that a World War III was, in a word, unthinkable. As summed up by Ronald Reagan: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Then, it was understood that all-out war, however it started, meant massed ICBMs over the North Pole and the “end of civilization as we know it.”

Not anymore. What was unthinkable in the old Cold War has become all-too-thinkable in the new one between the US and Russia. As described by veteran arms control inspector Scott Ritter, in analyzing a draft of the 2018 US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the US threshold for the use of nuclear weapons has become dangerously low:

‘The 2018 NPR has a vision of nuclear conflict that goes far beyond the traditional imagery of mass missile launches. While ICBMs and manned bombers will be maintained on a day-to-day alert, the tip of the nuclear spear is now what the NPR calls “supplemental” nuclear forces – dual-use aircraft such as the F-35 fighter armed with B-61 gravity bombs capable of delivering a low-yield nuclear payload, a new generation of nuclear-tipped submarine-launched cruise missiles, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles tipped with a new generation of low-yield nuclear warheads. The danger inherent with the integration of these kinds of tactical nuclear weapons into an overall strategy of deterrence is that it fundamentally lowers the threshold for their use. […]

‘Noting that the United States has never adopted a “no first use” policy, the 2018 NPR states that “it remains the policy of the United States to retain some ambiguity regarding the precise circumstances that might lead to a US nuclear response.” In this regard, the NPR states that America could employ nuclear weapons under “extreme circumstances that could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks.” … The issue of “non-nuclear strategic attack technologies” as a potential precursor for nuclear war is a new factor that previously did not exist in American policy. The United States has long held that chemical and biological weapons represent a strategic threat for which America’s nuclear deterrence capability serves as a viable counter. But the threat from cyber attacks is different. If for no other reason than the potential for miscalculation and error in terms of attribution and intent, the nexus of cyber and nuclear weapons should be disconcerting for everyone. […]

‘Even more disturbing is the notion that a cyber intrusion such as the one perpetrated against the Democratic National Committee and attributed to Russia could serve as a trigger for nuclear war. This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. The DNC event has been characterized by influential American politicians, such as the Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, as “an act of war.” Moreover, former vice president Joe Biden hinted that, in the aftermath of the DNC breach, the United States was launching a retaliatory cyberattack of its own, targeting Russia. The possibility of a tit-for-tat exchange of cyberattacks that escalates into a nuclear conflict would previously have been dismissed out of hand; today, thanks to the 2018 NPR, it has entered the realm of the possible.’

The idea that a first-strike Schlieffen Plan could knock out the Russians (and no doubt similar contingencies are in place for China) at the outset of hostilities reflects a dangerous illusion of predictability. Truth may be the first casualty of war, but “the plan” is inevitably the second. That’s because war planners generally don’t consult the enemy, which – annoyingly for the planners – also gets a vote.

Recently US Secretary of State James Mattis declared that “great power competition – not terrorism – is now the primary focus of US national security,” specifying Russia and China as nations seeking to “create a world consistent with their authoritarian models, pursuing veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic and security decisions.” At least we can drop the pretense that US policy has been to fight jihad terrorism, not to use it as a policy tool in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere. And of course Washington never, ever meddles in “other nations’ economic, diplomatic and security decisions”. ..

There is much anticipation that release of a House Intelligence Committee memo “naming names” of those in the FBI and elsewhere inside and outside of government to thwart the election of Donald Trump and cripple his administration with a phony Russian “collusion” probe will be a silver bullet that upturns the Mueller probe and cleans the Augean stables of the Deep State. Even in that unlikely case, the damage is already done. The primary purpose of Russiagate was always to ensure Trump could not reach out to Moscow, as seems to be his sincere desire. Even as the narrative began to boomerang against those who launched it, Trump’s defenders (such as fanatical Russophobe Nikki Haley) are as adamant as his detractors that Russia is and will remain the main enemy: Russia was behind the Steele Dossier, Russia tried to “corner the market” on “the foundational material for nuclear weapons” with the Uranium One deal, etc. Hostility toward Russia is not a means to an end – it is the end.

At this point Trump is fastened to the neocons’ and generals’ axle, and all he can do is spin. Echoing Mattis, in his State of the Union speech Trump lumped “rivals like China and Russia” together with “rogue regimes” and “terrorist groups” as “horrible dangers” to the United States. (Note: The word “horrible” does not appear in the posted text. That evidently was Trump’s adlib.) The recently issued “name and shame” list of prominent Russians is a veritable Who’s Who of government and business, ensuring that there’s no American engagement with anyone within screaming distance of the Kremlin.

To be fair, the Russians and Chinese are making their own war preparations. Russia’s “Kanyon,” a doomsday nuclear torpedo carrying a massive warhead, is designed to obliterate the U.S east and west coasts, rendering them inhabitable for generations. (Wait a minute. Is it any coincidence, Comrade, that the coastal cities are just where the Democrats’ electoral strength is? Talk about “collusion!” Somebody call Bob Mueller!) For its part, China is developing means to eliminate our white elephant carrier groups – handy for pummeling Third World backwaters but useless in a war with a major power – with drone swarms and hypersonic missiles.

Just as in 1914, when Durnovo referred to “presence of abundant combustible material in Europe,” there are any number of global flashpoints that could turn Mattis’s “great power competition” into a major conflagration that probably was not desired by anyone. However, if the worst happens, and the lamps go out again – maybe this time forever – Americans will not again be immune from the consequences as we were in the wars of the 20th century. The remainder of our lives, however brief, might turn out very differently from what we had anticipated.

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

‘Vain Effort’: US’ Kremlin Report by the Eyes of International Observers

Sputnik | February 2, 2018

International observers have voiced their skepticism over the publication of the US Treasury’s Kremlin Report in their interview with Sputnik. According to the analysts, the document contradicts the norms of international law and is likely to prove inefficient as an instrument of pressure on Russia’s foreign partners and domestic elite.

The so-called Kremlin Report, released by the US Treasury Department on January 29, has stirred up a heated debate among international observers. Analysts from Iran, Italy and Turkey shared their views on the document with Sputnik.

Iran: Kremlin Report Violates International Norms

“Instead of pursuing a policy of widening and strengthening friendly ties, peace and stability, the [Americans] have chosen the path of aggression, interference, scandal and conflict-mongering, confrontation and destabilization,” Hossein Sheikholeslam, head of the Iranian social organization “Freedom to Holy Jerusalem” and a former adviser of Iran’s minister of foreign affairs, told Sputnik, dubbing Washington’s approach “stupid” and in contradiction to international laws and norms.

Drawing the parallel between the Kremlin Report and the anti-Iranian sanctions policy the former official noted that the US intimidating strategy has repeatedly failed: “If their sanctions were that effective, they would have been able to destroy Iran. But that did not happen. On the contrary, the sanctions stimulated the development of our country.”According to Sheikholeslam, “sanctions are for the weak, for those who cannot fairly face challenges.”

Maryam Jalavand, an international law specialist and a teacher at Payame Noor University in Tehran, echoed Sheikholeslam by stating that the US’ recent decision is illegal and violates international law.

The academic drew attention to the fact that to date the US has unilaterally introduced more than 61 types of sanctions against 35 countries. “And this is at least 40 percent of the world’s population,” Jalavand remarked.

“In the meantime, from the point of view of international law, such unilateral actions by the US towards countries such as Russia are considered a violation and a direct intervention in the country’s internal affairs. Because, according to international law, imposing sanctions is a measure that forces one’s counterpart to abide by certain restrictions, which creates a number of problems,” she stressed.

The academic explained that the inclusion of a large number of Russia’s top ranking officials in the list directly violates international law as it envisages the potential freezing of their assets: “This, in turn, means freezing the assets and credits of the state,” the specialist pointed out. “This is the reason why such a measure from the US is considered a violation of international law.”

She highlighted that “it violates the principle of freedom of movement, principle of sovereignty, principle of justice and the principle of freedom of human rights.”

Italy: It Looks Like a One-Sided Cold War of a New Type

Italian journalist and political analyst Giulietto Chiesa, a regular contributor to Sputnik, notes that the Kremlin Report includes officials “belonging to all political trends, from pro-Western to ardent patriots.”

“This is not just an ominous gesture addressed to Russian influential figures,” Chiesa noted, “I emphasize that the decree of the president of the United States dated December 21… gave the Treasury truly universal rights, granting it the capability to sequester all the assets of the persons mentioned in it, thus creating a kind of a new planetary legislation, under which the United States unilaterally obtains the right to decide the fate of political and economic figures of the rest of the world.”

According to the Italian journalist the whole spectrum of relations between the two countries has been put at risk while all the existing opportunities for holding a dialogue have been undermined.

“So far, Moscow has no choice but to take a step towards a further deterioration of ties, which looks like a one-sided cold war of a new type which could lead to a complete severance of relations,” he warned.

Turkey: US Actions Won’t Undermine Russia’s Relations With West Asian States

Volkan Ozdemir, chairman of the Ankara-based Institute for Energy Markets and Policies (EPPEN), and Yunus Soner, deputy chairman of Turkey’s left-wing Vatan Party (the Patriotic Party), believe that Washington’s actions are doomed to failure.

According to Soner, the Kremlin Report is nothing but a US attempt to maintain its hegemony amid the swift rise of Eurasian nations.

“The US actions are directed not only against Russia, but also against the countries of the Eurasian and Asian region interacting with Russia,” Soner suggested, adding that “Washington is concerned that the Eurasian Economic Union is emerging as a real alternative to American dominance.”

However, the politician assumed that the release of the report will produce little if any effect on the world affairs.”This US step would once again demonstrate to the world the ineffectiveness of instruments of pressure used by the US since the Cold War,” Soner said. “The United States should abandon the tools of imposing its will unilaterally and take its place in the modern multipolar world system.”

For his part, Ozdemir suggested that Washington’s major goal is to sow discord among the Russian elite which US politicians want to use as a bargaining chip in its game with Moscow.

According to the scholar, the White House is sending an unambiguous message to Russia’s influential circles: “Either act against your leadership, or reap the fruits of inaction.”

“We are witnessing how finance and economics are used as a political tool,” Ozdemir noted warning that the US recent move may “lead to increased tensions in the relationship,” and “even become a reason for financial war.”

The Kremlin Report contains a list of persons related to Russia’s leadership and are presented as potential targets for the US’ new anti-Russia sanctions. The document which was created in compliance with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) and signed into law by President Donald Trump on August 2 names 114 Russian politicians and 96 businessmen.

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | | Leave a comment