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US to impose ‘additional sanctions’ on Russia over Skripal poisoning claim

RT | November 6, 2018

Washington will move to impose additional sanctions against Russia, saying Moscow did not meet its demands by the deadline set by the US and accusing Moscow of a chemical attack against a former spy and his daughter in the UK.

“Today, the Department informed Congress we could not certify that the Russian Federation met the conditions required by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday. “We intend to proceed in accordance with the terms of the CBW Act, which directs the implementation of additional sanctions.”

Those sanctions may include downgrading diplomatic relations, banning the Russian national carrier Aeroflot from flying to the US, and cutting off nearly all imports and exports, already severely curtailed under a series of sanctions since 2014.

In August, the State Department sent Moscow a note claiming that Russia had violated the CBW Act by using “Novichok” nerve agent  against Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

The Skripals were hospitalized in early March, and the British government accused Moscow of using the deadly toxin. The UK government has offered no evidence for its claims, but the US and a number of NATO countries took London’s word for it and expelled over 150 Russian diplomats. Russia has retaliated in kind.

Among the demands from Foggy Bottom was that Russia stop using chemical weapons and provide “reliable” assurances to the US it will not do so again, subject to verification by international inspectors. Moscow was given a three-month deadline to fulfill these conditions.

“Everyone who is at least a little bit familiar with the so-called Skripal case understands the absurdity of the statement contained in the official State Department document,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the time. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said any further US sanctions could be considered a declaration of a trade war.

Russia says the last of its chemical weapons were destroyed in 2017, and that this was verified by international observers.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Economics, False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

Hollywood Stars Raise Record $60m for Israeli Army

MEMO | November 6, 2018

Hollywood celebrities raised a record breaking $60 million for the Israeli military at the Friends of the Israel Defence Forces (FIDF) annual gala last week.

This year’s sold-out Western Region event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel welcomed more than 1,200 supporters of Israel, including prominent actors and singers like Ashton Kutcher, Pharrell Williams, Gerard Butler, and Katharine McPhee.

“We are thrilled that so many members of our community, including major Hollywood figures, are coming together to help us support the brave men and women of the [Israeli army].” said FIDF National Board Member and Chairman of the event, Haim Saban. “Standing behind these heroes is one of my greatest honours in my life.”

The event featured a programme that told the 70-year history of Israel through the accounts of soldiers and the military’s various campaigns against the Palestinians.

It also included several contributions from former and current Israeli soldiers.

Last year, FIDF raised $53.8 million at the same event; contributions have been increasing annually for the past three years. In 2015 the gala raised $31 million, half of this year’s total.

According to a press release by the organisation, the funds raised will be used to “provide much-needed and well-deserved services such as academic scholarships to combat veterans, financial assistance for soldiers in need … crucial aid for wounded veterans and the families of fallen soldiers, weeks of rest and recuperation for entire IDF units, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities.”

Last month, the FIDF’s New York event raised $32 million for members of Israel’s occupation forces, attended by many of the city’s most prominent business people and philanthropists.

Among the biggest donors to the gala were Or Lachayal – an organisation which works to “strengthen the Jewish identity of the Israeli army” – which pledged $2.5 million and Nefesh B’Nefesh – which promotes Jewish immigration to Israel – which pledged $1.3 million.

FIDF has a long history of fundraising for Israel’s occupation forces; it operates 20 offices across the United States and Panama, according to its own website.

Support for the army from US organisations and the US government has been a cornerstone of Israel’s ability to continue its ongoing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In October, the largest ever US military aid package to Israel – worth $38 billion over a ten year period – entered into force.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 10 Comments

Normalizing External Narratives in Palestine’s Spaces for Education

Palestinian students in a school of the UNRWA. (Photo: via Facebook)
By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | November 6, 2018

In collaboration with the Palestinian Ministry of Education, the EU launched a competition across schools in Gaza and the occupied West Bank called “Know Europe”. The aim, according to EU Deputy Representative Tomas Niklasson, is “to introduce ourselves again to students of Palestine: introduce our values, culture, history, and identity” and affirm the bloc’s purported commitment to supporting Palestinians.

This educational endeavor is tantamount to forcing gratitude for symbolic recognition, decades after colonial conquest and entrenchment. Yet the reasoning behind the competition, according to the press release, is that “the European Union has a lot in common with Palestine and the region”. Palestinians know there is no comparison, yet this misconception is now being normalized through education, despite the obvious differences between a bloc of countries and Palestine’s disappearance.

Is it for educational purposes that the EU is introducing a sliver of normalized and depoliticized education for Palestinians? Or is the aim to promote the international agenda of obstructing the colonized population’s right to learn of the international community, in this case, Europe, through its own experience?

The competition is not proof of Europe’s support for Palestine – it is a publicity stunt for the benefit of the EU itself that simply requires Palestinian students as participants. To hold this competition at a time when, more than ever, Palestinians require support for their own narratives to be disseminated internationally shows that international exploitation of Palestine and Palestinians knows no bounds.

In doing so, the colonized population is coerced into a type of learning that promotes a purportedly outward-looking framework, while Palestinians are contending with two violations which the EU has actively ignored: restrictions on freedom of movement, particularly in Gaza where this right has been annihilated, and the Palestinian Right of Return.

Furthermore, why does the EU assume that its founding principles are worthy of dissemination? The competition is labeled “interactive,” yet the interaction follows the traditional formula of a colonized population participating in a decided agenda.

There is no space for Palestinian narratives, yet it is possible to find space for the EU to share its identity with a population that finds its identity bludgeoned by the international community. Will the imparted values include the EU’s insistence on the two-state framework, its support of the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s purported right to defend itself?

Surely there is enough awareness that, at an international level, the colonial depiction of Palestine doesn’t aid Palestinian rights and self-determination. Given the leverage that the EU has over Palestine in terms of politics and diplomacy, this competition will make a spectacle out of participation and Palestinians will gain nothing in terms of their rights.

For an entity that claims to be supportive of the Palestinians, the competition only shows the bloc promoting its self-interests and appeasement of Israel. The EU would have served a better purpose if it had encouraged the celebration of Palestinian history, memory, and narratives. A population that has excelled in education, despite colonial violence and appropriation, deserves more recognition than for its youth to participate in a scheme which continues to deflect focus away from the realities of Palestinian displacement and loss of territory.  The disappearance of Palestine necessitates more attention than the EU and its omniscient presence.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 11 Comments

Lavrov Calls US Sanctions on Iran ‘Illegitimate’, Slams Pressure on SWIFT

Sputnik – 06.11.2018

Washington implemented tough unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic on Monday following President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has condemned Washington’s decision to slap Tehran with sanctions, calling the restrictions “absolutely illegitimate” and deeply disappointing, and saying that it was “unacceptable” to hold dialogue in the language of ultimatums.

“As far as the US measures against Iran are concerned, they are absolutely illegitimate,” Lavrov said on Tuesday in Madrid following a meeting with Spanish officials.

“They are being implemented in flagrant violation of the decisions of the UN Security Council, and the way in which these measures are announced and implemented cannot but cause a deep sense of disappointment. We proceed from the idea that the norms of not only international law, but of international dialogue, have not been repealed,” Lavrov stressed.

“Pursuing a policy based on ultimatums and one-sided demands is hardly permissible in our times,” according to the Russian foreign minister.

Pressure on SWIFT Also Unacceptable

Commenting on suspected US pressure on international financial messaging system SWIFT, which implied Monday that it would comply with US sanctions against Iranian financial institutions, Lavrov said that such pressure was also illegitimate.

“Within the framework of the participants of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement, mechanisms are being developed which will allow for the continued implementation of the provisions of this document, first of all as regards [nations’] economic ties to Iran without US participation, and this is not a simple matter,” the foreign minister explained. “You can see how, using unacceptable methods, pressure has been placed on the operators of the SWIFT system. But experts are actively engaged in these issues, and they have a sufficiently stable understanding that this is possible and that such measures will be found.”

On Monday, Washington followed through with plans to renew sanctions against Iran following President Trump’s exit from the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal. The tough sanctions target Iran’s energy, banking and sea-based transport sectors, and threaten so-called secondary sanctions against foreign companies and countries doing business with the Islamic Republic.

The Belgium-based SWIFT financial messaging service announced that it would be suspending some Iranian banks’ access to the system, making no mention of US sanctions. Calling the move “regrettable,” SWIFT’s statement said it had taken the step “in the interest of the stability and integrity of the wider global financial system.”

All of the JCPOA’s other signatories, including Iran, Russia, China and several European powers, have made an effort to save the landmark nuclear deal and bypass the US sanctions or otherwise limit their impact. This has included the development of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) on trade. China and India, the largest importers of Iranian crude oil, have resisted US secondary sanctions threats, and were granted exemptions along with five other oil-importing countries plus Taiwan.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

Norway Needs to Apologize, Explain Fabricated Bochkarev Arrest – Russian Embassy

Sputnik – 06.11.2018

Moscow is expecting explanations and apologies from the Norwegian authorities over the arrest of Russian citizen Mikhail Bochkarev in Oslo in September on fabricated espionage charges, the Russian Embassy in Norway said Tuesday.

“This provocation involves people who ordered it and those who carried it out. They must be held responsible. Russia is expecting serious explanations and apologies from the Norwegian side,” the embassy said in a statement on its Facebook blog.

On September 21, Mikail Bochkarev, a staff employee of the Russian upper house of parliament, was detained on espionage charges at the Gardermoen airport outside the capital, Oslo, following his participation in an IT conference in Norway’s parliament, arranged by the European Centre for Parliamentary Research and Documentation (ECPRD). He was later released and sent back to Russia.

Bochkarev told reporters waiting for him at the Moscow airport he had expected Norway to drop charges because he was innocent. He called accusations against him “baseless” and “absurd.”

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Pipe Bombs: Frantic Denunciations of the False Flag Concept

By Prof. Graeme McQueen | Global Research | November 1, 2018

Onto the 24-hour reality show that is U.S. politics, 15 package bombs recently made their entrance.

The devices were sent to vocal opponents of Mr. Trump, most of them prominent members of the Democratic Party.  The incident became public on October 25, less than two weeks before the November 6 elections that mark the middle of Trump’s first term.

Now, it is an interesting question as to whether the designated perpetrator, Cesar Sayoc, is a lone wolf terrorist or a patsy acting on behalf of larger forces. I am encouraged to see researchers exploring the second possibility. But my focus in this article is different.

The suggestion that the package bomb incidents might be false flag attacks—attacks by opponents of Trump deceptively imputing the attacks to his supporters to discredit them before the elections—was rapidly put forth. Among the fastest off the mark were right-wing pundits, so it was easy enough for various “liberals” (whatever this term means today in the U.S.) to characterize the false flag suggestion as a variety of right-wing conspiracy theory, and as both intellectually ridiculous and morally disgusting. The evident aim has been to stigmatize the concept and drive it from responsible political discourse.

Among the most prominent of the denunciations appeared in CNN and The New York Times.

The article by CNN Editor-at-large Chris Cillizza’s was entitled, “Debunking the despicable ‘false flag’ theory on the mail bombs.” He quoted Rush Limbaugh’s claim that a “Democratic operative” could be responsible for the attacks in order to make it look as if “the Republicans are a bunch of insane lunatics.” Cillizza noted that although we may be tempted to dismiss such “conspiracy crap” without comment, we must not. To refuse to comment on it is “to let it fester.” We must publicly challenge it. His article, it seems, was meant to be a model of such debunking.

Screengrab from CNN

It was not a good model.

Cillizza concentrated on what he believed to be the logistical impossibilities in Limbaugh’s scenario. He named two steps in the scenario:

1. “Someone or someones who wanted to help Democrats—and the media, I guess, somehow?—would send a series of pipe bombs to prominent Democrats across the country.”

2. “Then Democrats or the media or, again, someone, would have to have coordinated with the state and local police—not to mention federal authorities—so that law enforcement said that these were functional bombs (even though, again, according to this theory, they weren’t).”

He feels that simply to have named these steps is to have shown how ridiculous the hypothesis is.

Really?

There is nothing impossible about Step 1. Surely Cillizza is not saying that the faction of the U.S. intelligence community hostile to Trump—nicely represented by James Clapper and John Brennan, two recipients of the package bombs—is incapable of fashioning a few clumsy devices and sending them through the mail? The material in the 2001 anthrax envelopes was much more sophisticated and difficult to acquire than the non-functional “pipe bombs,” yet the U.S. intelligence community remains a prime suspect in these attacks.

As for the purpose in sending out such bombs, one of the first questions we ask when confronted by a violent event of this sort is, Cui bono? Who benefits? I cannot see how Trump and his supporters benefit, whereas the benefit to mainstream Democrats—of the Clinton variety, no threat to the established order—is obvious. They get to claim the status of nonviolent, sane victim.

What about Cillizza’s Step 2? I confess I am defeated by his prose. I do not know what he is trying to say. But let me speculate that he is claiming this conspiracy theory involves too many people (various levels of police, for example) and that it involves an impossibly complex deception—policing agencies portraying inoperative devices as operative.

Once again we might fruitfully examine the anthrax attacks. There was an impressive amount of coordination involved in these attacks. As far as policing was concerned, this was mainly achieved by the FBI chasing away other levels of police while keeping strict control over its own personnel when they wandered too near the truth.

But the coordination in the anthrax case went far beyond policing. Media were deeply implicated. The media faithfully set out the story they were handed by authorities: the attacks appeared to have been carried out by al-Qaeda, with a strong possibility of Iraqi involvement.  This story was successfully propagated, for example, through a wide variety of newspapers, from The New York Times and Washington Post to the Guardian. By the end of 2001—less than four months after the attacks began—Homeland Security, the FBI and the White House had been forced to admit that neither al-Qaeda, nor Iraq, nor domestic Muslims, appeared to have had anything to do with these attacks. Instead, they came from the heart of the US Military-Industrial-Intelligence community. As to who, precisely, in this community carried out the attacks, there remains disagreement; but even a sketchy familiarity with the anthrax attacks knocks out Cillizza’s Step 2 objections.

A useful rule of thumb is that if a thing has happened it is possible. We know a violent, coordinated and complex false flag attack is possible in the U.S. because it happened.

But if this was the best CNN could do, what about The New York Times? Kevin Roose produced a piece somewhat longer, although not much more thoughtful, than the CNN editor’s.

Screengrab from The New York Times

Roose let us have it with the old chestnut, “conspiratorial thinking has always been with us”, and then proceeded to dance lightly from the grassy knoll to the moon landing to 9/11 without troubling us with sources, evidence or other bothersome material.

If you are like me you will find yourself, in an increasingly bad mood, asking: has this young fellow carefully researched all of these incidents? Has he, in fact, carefully researched a single one of them?

Like the CNN editor, Roose spends his time countering claims that the package bombs sent to prominent enemies of Mr. Trump might have been sent by people wanting to discredit Trump and his allies. He places these “conspiracy theorists” on the political right and associates them with Trump’s presidency. More than this, he uses, and explains, the term “false flag” and tries hard to discredit it. “False flag philosophy—the idea that powerful groups stage threats and tragic events to advance their agendas—is now a bizarrely common element of national news stories.”

This statement is a sign of progress in the opening of the American mind. We should celebrate the good news that the concept of false flag is common in political discourse, common enough that The New York Times feels a need to discredit it. This achievement came through much labour by many people over many years.

That Roose finds the concept “bizarre” is, of course, to be regretted, but this merely testifies to his naivety and his poor knowledge of false flag attacks, of which there have been plenty in human history (see Sources).

As a matter of fact, the particular type of false flag attack being discussed in the present case, where Group A attacks itself and blames Group B, is centuries old. In China it used to be called the Stratagem of Wounded Flesh (see Sources).

The notion that the false flag concept and the conspiracy concept are the exclusive property of the political right is absurd. They are ideas available to, and used by, all those who genuinely care about what is going on around them and wish to have an adequate intellectual toolbox. I am not on the political right and I am not a supporter of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and the like, but I do not for that reason choose to shut down my brain.

Although we may not want to admit it, repetition is half the battle in public fights and debates. Let us use the term “false flag” repeatedly and ensure that it remains where it apparently is at the moment: in the center of U.S. political discourse.

***

Graeme MacQueen is the former director of the Centre for Peace Studies at McMaster University. He is a member of the 9/11 Consensus Panel, former co-editor of the Journal of 9/11 Studies, and an organizer of the 2011 Toronto Hearings, the results of which have been published in book form as The 9/11 Toronto Report. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

Sources

1. The CNN article is as follows:

Chris Cillizza, “Debunking the despicable ‘false flag’ theory on the mail bombs”, CNN, Octo. 25, 2018

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/25/politics/false-flag-theory-mail-bombs-cnn-democrats/index.html

2. The NYT article is:

Kevin Roose, “‘False Flag’ Theory on Pipe Bombs Zooms From Right-Wing Fringe to Mainstream,” The New York Times, Oct. 25, 2018.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/25/business/false-flag-theory-bombs-conservative-media.html?link_id=2&can_id=279a5d1be99466f29caeefa017e74f2e&source=email-disinformation-and-anthrax-mailings-interviews-available&email_referrer=email_443498&email_subject=disinformation-and-anthrax-mailings-interviews-available

3. Most comments on the anthrax attacks in this essay are based on my book, The 2001 Anthrax Deception: The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy. Clarity Press, 2014.

https://www.claritypress.com/MacQueen.html

But see also FBI whistleblower Richard Lambert’s lawsuit, paragraphs 50 ff.:

https://archive.org/stream/RichardLambertLawsuit2015/FBI%20Agent%20Richard%20Lambert%20Lawsuit%20%282015%29%20concerning%20Anthrax%20investigations%20of%202001_djvu.txt

4. For examples of false flags, see the collection by Washington’s blog:

https://www.globalresearch.ca/53-admitted-false-flag-attacks/5432931

5. The Wounded Flesh Stratagem can be found at least as early as the 14th century CE in the novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms (San Guo Yan Yi). It can also be found as one among many stratagems in the later compilation, Thirty-six Stratagems. The Wikipedia article on the latter text offers an interpretative translation of ku rou ji: “inflict injury on oneself to win the enemy’s trust”. If the pipe bomb case is an instance of ku rou ji, the enemy of the perpetrators would be the U.S. population itself.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-Six_Stratagems

Copyright © Prof. Graeme McQueen, Global Research, 2018

Read more: The 9/11 Anniversary: Conspiracy Theory or Critical Thinking?

November 6, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Of the Triggered, by the Triggered, and for the Triggered

The Trump “Resistance”

By Michael K. Smith | Legalienate | November 5, 2018

With election day looming (November 6) Trump “resistance” hysteria is at its shrieking worst. Yet again we face “the most important election of our lifetimes,” or as some prefer to put it, “the second most important,” the first being the election of 2016, when “deplorables” put Donald Trump in the White House. Now, say the Trump haters, these scarcely human degenerates will have a chance to redeem themselves by voting “responsibly,” i.e., according to how their self-appointed betters tell them to vote. The persistence of this incredibly arrogant attitude is a good way to deliver a permanent Trump majority. Just ask Steve Bannon.

Even the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting has been made Trump’s fault, though the shooter was clearly anti-Trump. (Thank God there were no mass shootings in the Obama era!) The toxic brew of Trump “xenophobia,” “racism,” “misogyny” and “Islamophobia” somehow made the shooter a raving anti-Semite. It couldn’t be that decades of Identarian Politics rendering “white male” a dirty word paved the way for Trump’s nationalism, could it? Of course not. It’s that Trump is stained with original sin and must be removed to make way for … utopia?

In short, we are to understand that Trump-the-Monster (Trumpenstein?) single-handedly bred a political climate that produces everything bad directly out of his evil mind while exonerating establishment politicians of both parties whose political wreckage Trump only coincidentally rose out of. But it should be obvious that this makes history entirely irrelevant, since the Devil himself has triumphed. What’s the point of engaging in political action at all?

Liberals and fake radicals are so triggered by Trump that they don’t even notice their descent into madness, much to the delight of a vast swath of middle America that is willing to re-elect Trump on that basis alone. The incredibly misguided “resistance” has somehow convinced itself that boundless indignation over Trump will lead them to victory. They do not see, apparently cannot see, that their indignation is Trump’s rocket fuel: the more they hate him, the higher and farther he flies. Until they can stop being triggered by him, they have no chance of making him go away.

Investigative journalist Allan Nairn, a longstanding critic of the Democratic party, voices the thoughts of many progressives on this election eve:

Democrats are arguably war criminals – not as big as the war criminals on the Republican side, but still war criminals. And they belong in prison. But we are facing such a crisis in this country at this moment that you have to use your head. You have to be tactical. You have to, at this moment, vote in the warmongers who will preserve democracy to block the warmongers would abolish it – and then, the day after the election, go back to the deeper work of creating real, better, more constructive political alternatives and also helping the base of the Democratic Party take back the party from the consultants, from the rich donors. But that’s for the day after the election is completed … Right now, the task is to stop the incipient fascism that Trump and the rightist revolution represents. And you can’t really say that you were working toward an anti-fascist goal if you’re not mobilizing for the Democrats right now. That’s the urgent reality that we’re living.

It is sad to see Nairn falling for the one-sided “fascist” caricature, which we hear practically every five minutes is taking over the country. Nairn’s view of fascism does not include Antifa thugs beating people senseless, “social justice” crusaders rioting to shut down speaking events for views they consider heretical, “always believe the woman” rage brigades jettisoning the presumption of innocence and rules of evidence painfully acquired over centuries of struggle etc. etc. In a gesture to broad-mindedness Nairn concedes that Democrats are warmongers, but wants us to believe that fascist evil is a Republican monopoly. But it’s just not so: the totalitarian impulse runs along the entire political spectrum.

Maybe Juliet Hoffman, presiding judge at the 1969 Chicago conspiracy trial, summed up this totalitarian attitude best: “The substance of the crime is a state of mind,” he said. That’s it. Trump’s mind is criminal. Therefore, our own unethical and criminal conduct just doesn’t matter, since we are acting in heroic “resistance” to evil incarnate. Nor does it matter whether Robert Mueller turns up anything impeachable, since Trump’s very existence is a crime. Tens of millions of Americans are in lockstep with this view, which the late Harry Elmer Barnes would call “totalitarian liberalism.”

Totalitarian liberals seem to have forgotten that we already fell prey to “fascism” under GW Bush. We heard the claim repeatedly in relation to the draconian Patriot Act, the illegal invasion of Iraq, the suspension of habeas corpus, the revival and expansion of administrative torture, and on and on. We even heard talk of American fascism when Arnold Scharzenegger won the recall election for governor in California. (It must have been the Austrian accent.) In any event, Nairn says nothing about the threat to democracy emanating from “resistance” mobs, screeching anti-Trump media (whose removal of Steve Bannon was achieved via pure hysteria), or Robert Mueller’s show-trial-in-the-making, if he can keep people awake long enough to make intermission.

It is ironic that Nairn urges us to be tactical and “use [our] head,” since he himself fails to do so. If we continue to let Trump trigger us into thinking he is an unprecedented evil, we give power to his blue collar base, which loves to stick it to us for having forsaken their interests for so long while sneering at their “unsophisticated” ways. Using our head means recognizing that tens millions of working class Americans hate our guts, and have every reason to do so.

What’s not to loathe in the political messaging on what passes for an American left? If you don’t “always believe the woman,” you’re a MISOGYNIST. If you have a belief in traditional marriage, you’re a HOMOPHOBE. If you think a fetus is alive and abortion is the taking of a human life, you’re waging a WAR ON WOMEN. If you question whether an asthma inhaler can alter the world’s climate, you’re a GLOBAL WARMING DENIER. If you think gender apartheid is as bad as racial apartheid you’re an ISLAMOPHOBE. If you think resources are finite and inviting tens of millions of economic and political refugees from the Third World to live here is harmful, you’re a RACIST XENOPHOBE. Contrast this with Trump’s changed rhetoric towards Kim Jon Un: He now says he’s “in love” with the man he originally denounced as “little Rocket Man.” Such an abrupt transformation is evidence not of a hate-monger, but of a salesman: his rhetoric shifts to fit an opportunistic agenda. Meanwhile, the contemptuous political commentary coming from the supposedly tolerant “left” never changes.

Nairn urges us to vote against our interests today then “go back” to creating better, constructive political alternatives tomorrow. But that’s not how things work. Voting for our castration today so we can have great sex tomorrow cannot possibly produce healthy political offspring. We have done this election after election for decades and have only mushrooming cynicism and self-contempt to show for it. And cynical people don’t act.

We’re in the political dead-end we’re in because of decades of voting for a Democratic Party that eagerly collaborates with the likes of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and now Donald Trump to make any renewal and expansion of still immensely popular New Deal programs impossible. In short, we have surrendered our initiative to ideological traitors, and no longer determine our politics. Why shouldn’t Trump take advantage?

By all means, go out and vote, just not for Trump’s enablers in the Democratic Party. Vote instead for candidates calling for meeting the most pressing needs of working families: Medicare for all, tuition free college, higher wages, and lower housing costs.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | | Leave a comment

Narrative Divergence and Degrees of Blessed Freedom

By Norman Ball | Full Spectrum Domino | November 1, 2018

Today in America, a tug of war rages between two competing visions of the public interest. One vision is indicative of direct democracy as evidenced by the mammoth and spontaneous Trump rallies. The other is the same ole’ top-down imposition orchestrated by managed democracy‘s “invisible rulers”. Look at the obligatory apparatchiks at Obama ‘rallies’. No comparison.

The first vision is both subversive and organic, deriving its strength from the economic populism (Make America Great Again – MAGA) that Donald Trump has so effectively cultivated in his role as anti-establishment outsider. (I’ve suggested elsewhere Trump is supported in this ‘populist crusade’ by an America-First subset of the elite intent on trade normalization and re-industrialization. The plot thickens.)

The second vision is overwhelmingly reactionary, roughly comprising the establishment parties (Democrats and ‘RINO’ Republicans), the Trumanite Military-Industrial-Surveillance-Media-Complex, the US Chamber of Commerce (multinational corporatism), the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and a relative latecomer: Antifa foot soldiers dedicated mostly to Open Society Foundation paychecks. Soon, full employment will hire these Bolshe-vistas away.

Too bad so many decent moderate and left-leaning Americans are effectively caught in the dissonant headlights of the second vision’s media-propagated, out-sized fear of Trumpism.

Managed Democracy has little choice but to ignore the booming economy and satisfy itself with telegenic pratfalls, such as how Trump occasionally walks in front of his wife and sets umbrellas down without closing them. To America’s great credit, the CNN snarks are losing big-time. Trump’s job approval keeps rising despite the relentless whingeing. Even a 92% media negativity onslaught can’t avert the upward ascent of Trump’s numbers (see the Media Research Center and recent Gallup numbers, below).

Then just yesterday Rasmussen released in a report, Is Another Silent Red Wave Coming’, 51% job approval numbers for Trump. Even more foreboding, traditional Republican and Independent voters are not disclosing their voting intentions much as we saw with the stealth Trump wave of 2016. Rabid anti-Trumpism tends to drive many of his followers underground until their votes are required.

Can we talk, please? Antifa is little more than pre-ideological angst frothed up into a Soros-funded ad hominem contempt for Trump, then amplified by a manipulative Corporate Media with zero interest in a leftist agenda. The specter of a genuine leftist threat in America is thus vastly overstated.

(For the best explanation on how the political became the personal and consumer affinities kicked civic rectitude to the curb, see Adam Curtis’ The Century of the Self.)

The Organized American Left, such as it is (and it really isn’t) strikes a delicate balance between ingested false consciousness and battered wife syndrome. The hijack dates back to 1980 when ideologically oblivious DCCC fundraiser and California Congressman Tony Coelho mired the Democratic Party in a Republican-lite quest for corporate dollars (later to be called Clintonism.) The ‘Left’ has been beating itself up in a lesser-of-two-evils cul de sac ever since. False consciousness ‘aspires’ to trapping its ingestees in a cycle of escalating self-injury. Even when Trump unlocks the prison door, they do not run away.

The fact is, there is no Left in America. There is no Center in America. Why? Under the American campaign finance regime three-quarters of the political spectrum has been structurally consigned to penury. Soros is not opposed to feeding them for awhile if they can help usher in his Orwellian nightmare. After that, it will be an easy segue into the faceless proles of the United Oceanian States.

An outhouse with two doors remains an outhouse.

The Conservative Treehouse blog has taken to calling the ensuing monolith the ‘Uniparty’ as there is very little of ideological substance separating the two national organizations. Indeed the relationship between the two might better be described as a corporate-dollar market-carving strategy. HMO executives to the red, trial lawyers to the blue.

Guilds with competing economic interests square off against one another under the respective banners of one or the other party. However, this has nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with securing a ‘finance-able’ political apparatus from which to launch economic warfare against a competitor. That’s the ‘inversion’ in Sheldon Wolin’s inverted totalitarianism versus the classical form as epitomized by Mussolini: economics drives politics, not the other way around.

This leaves us with Trumpism, the most authentic expression of people-power in America today as its battle is as much against RINOs (Republican In Name Only) as the designated-foe-of-record, the Democratic Party. Though it kills half the nation to hear it, Trump’s fighting da System can’t you see? What, you got a better battering ram? As a bonus, Trump enrages Security State luminaries (have you read Brennan’s and Comey’s tweets?) the way 70s era Frank Church Committee lefties only wish they had.

But since you made me bring it up, where is the countervailing force, Trump’s doppelganger on the Left? After all, authentic opposition can only add vigor to the system. And please don’t cite that existentially corrupt carcass, the Democratic Party and its pygmy wannabes, nor the dude whom Chris Hedges accurately characterized in early 2016 as, a gutless war-mongering, sheep-herding, caucus-camp-following and despicable dissipator of leftist energies, Bernie Sanders.

For a time, he was okay for Trump’s running mate. Then he made the kids cry and delivered a whole new generation to cynicism. Creep.

Did you say Trump’s running mate?

With a modicum of jest I did propose a Prosperity Party Trump-Sanders ticket, sort of a labor-management coalition united by an abhorrence of globalism’s darling, the TPP and our shared 99.9% pariah status (this was pre-Deplorables). Alas, ideas not prefigured by the Fox/MSNBC split-screen are cognitive non-starters. In America, television has to believe things first before the People can assemble the requisite imaginative energies to offer their consent. Nobody gets behind anything until TV gets in front. Seminal thinking is reserved to the managers. That’s what decades of managed democracy will do.

Mostly there’s no money for the Left. So no doppelganger.

Lacking an irresistible force (and have I mentioned no money?) a vacuum can fill instead with hyperbolic blather. Witness the attempts to demonize the uncoaxed enthusiasm of Trumpism by equating it to incipient fascism. In the words of former President Obama (okay I’m lying, but darn it, they should be his words), if you can’t match the crowds (and he can’t), you might as well Nazify them. That’s just more of the System fighting back.

On the contrary, Trump is the antidote to Wolin’s inverted totalitarianism as old-school nationalism is a counter-trend to the dystopian telos sought by monistic globalism (the endgame of managed democracy). But nice try there, oh careless readers of Democracy Incorporated.

As I touched upon recently in a Saker article, who are these managers trying desperately to get inverted totalitarianism back on track? In his 1928 landmark book Propaganda, public relations pioneer and Goebbelsian trailblazer Eddie Bernays references them vaguely as, “… invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions… and shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.”

For a large segment of Americans, this alliance ‘feels natural’ as it’s been the prevailing de facto power configuration throughout the post-WW2 era. (Presidents Kennedy, Carter and Reagan are the only real departures from form albeit in vastly differing modes, degrees and outcomes.) For those seeking a time-zero legislative milestone, the 1947 National Security Act will do.

Nonetheless there is a nostalgic desire on the part of many to return to ‘the way things were’ before Trump the Disrupter introduced chaos (creative destruction?) into the body politic. Much of the present chaos is being fomented by reactionary forces desperate to discredit Trumpism by showing all the chaos Trumpism foments. Did you follow that grim Soros circle? This exhausted yearning for renewed false consciousness resembles victims of the Stockholm Syndrome who miss and idealize their former captors.

Bernays, one of corporatism’s (and thus globalism’s) earliest spokesman, offers a disingenuous assertion at best when he says:

It is important that any effort to influence or effect the American public that is not in the public interest be killed by the light of pitiless publicity and analysis.

Immediately, the statement begs two questions that Trumpism, in its own way, hammers away at:

  • What if the American public decides at the ballot box that what passes for the prevailing public interest (really a manufactured imposition) runs counter to its own version of said interest?
  • Who orchestrates the “pitiless publicity” aimed at killing competing visions of the “public interest” and by what authority do they undertake this Fake News mission?

In a prior time just concluded when the efficacy of mass media could be trusted, such a conflict would not represent an intractable impasse so much as a cue for re-calibrating the “conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses” (Bernays).

After all, only intensified propagandizing can correct the People’s ill-informed sense of the public interest. Undemocratic manipulation is “an important element in democratic society” under Bernays’ weirdly circular formulation. In his seminal work Public Opinion (1922) Walter Lippmann covers the same terrain with his conception of ‘guided democracy’.

Bernays would have been better to say manipulation is a vital facet of a smoothly running Republic or Oligarchy, less so a Democracy. His paternalistic subtext clearly reflects the former. Indeed another name for Managed Democracy is Republicanism (not to be confused with the political party of the same name).

Finally, a cautionary to the grubby, sweaty masses: self-determination is neither a path to infallibility nor a vaccine against public policy mistakes. Direct Democracy merely makes the People the masters of their own fate, which is equally to say the captains of their own errors.

But carry on we must, and under the best banners Providence tosses our way. Beggars can’t be tireless comparison shoppers Trump may have to do. Or else show us something better.

Norman Ball can be reached at gspressnow@gmail.com.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

India has historic role in Moscow format on Afghanistan

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | November 6, 2018

Many a slip between the cup and the lip may be possible when it comes to the Afghan peacemaking, but with the caveat added, prospects for the second Moscow conference on Afghanistan slated for coming Friday have significantly improved with the expected participation by officials of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC), a government body responsible for reconciliation efforts with the militants, and a five-member Taliban delegation led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, head of the Taliban’s political council in Qatar attending the event.

This is a signal diplomatic victory for Russia. One may say that an Afghan ‘Astana Process’ (similar to the one on Syria) is taking off.

The Kabul government has done some tight rope walking, given the immense US pressure on it to dissociate from the Moscow event. Afghanistan will now be formally represented by the HPC instead of the foreign ministry. The ‘formula’ is a ‘win-win’ – Kabul has acceded to Moscow’s request without annoying the Americans.

But this is just as well because the foreign ministry in Kabul is virtually defunct and the Ashraf Ghani government has become all but relevant. And it also accommodates the Taliban’s steadfast refusal to sit at a table with the ‘puppet’ government in Kabul.

Among the regional states, Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have apparently confirmed their participation. Delhi seems to be agonizing over a decision. It has hitherto maintained that it will attend only if Afghanistan takes part. The big question is whether Delhi will now take a pragmatic decision, since the HPC is after all a government body.

The decision to sit across a table facing the Taliban representatives may cause some heartburn for the hardliners in the Indian establishment, but then, this is how all insurgencies end.

Of course, for a variety of reasons, it will be extremely short sighted on the part of the Modi government to boycott the Moscow event. One, a truly regional process involving all the major protagonists is taking shape, finally, in the search for an Afghan settlement. India’s interests lie in partaking of it.

Two, the Moscow format is in friendly and trusted hands, because Russia is a close friend and strategic partner and it will never be party to anything that hurts India’s core interests. Moscow’s approach to the fight against terrorism is similar to Delhi’s – unwavering, principled, uncompromising. Indeed, in the joint statement issued after the recent Modi-Putin summit in Delhi, India specifically voiced its support for the Moscow format on Afghanistan.

Three, the forthcoming conference provides a useful occasion for India to interact with the Taliban who are definitely going to be in the power structure in some form or the other in a near future in Afghanistan. Early birds catch the worm, as they say.

Four, it is in India’s interests to contribute to any regional consensus regarding Afghanistan. By now, it is abundantly clear that the US says nice things about India’s role in Afghanistan but does nothing to bring India to the high table.

Five, the Moscow format provides a unique opportunity for India to harmonise with Pakistan and China. Quite obviously, the Moscow format is at its core SCO+2 (Iran and Turkmenistan).

Finally, this pivotal moment is somewhat like the last train leaving the station. It is better to be on board than left stranded on the platform with nowhere to go.

Importantly, the decision-makers in Delhi must be able to anticipate the outcome of the Moscow conference. In a nutshell, an intra-Afghan dialogue is commencing with the regional states acting as facilitators.

In the final analysis, this process is only going to supplement whatever efforts are under way by the Americans to get the Taliban to the negotiating table. Clearly, it isn’t the Russian intention to undercut the peace talks.

Having said that, the HPC is a composite body representing the plural Afghan society and the Americans can never hope to bring about an intra-Afghan dialogue, having been an interventionist power since 2001.

The bottom line is that India has always believed in the raison d’etre of an intra-Afghan dialogue as the pathway leading to a settlement. Any settlement that is imposed on the Afghans by external parties will be unworkable. Therefore, as a stakeholder in the stability, unity and independence of Afghanistan, India must whole-heartedly welcome the dialogue commencing at the Moscow conference.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

America Goes to War

Fighting Russia, China and al-Qaeda simultaneously requires more money

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • November 6, 2018

Some believe that the Cold War ended in 1991, when the Soviet Union fell apart. In retrospect, many observers also believe that a golden opportunity was missed to heal the wounds inflicted by over 45 years to hostility between Washington and Moscow. Rather than encouraging development of a Russia that would adhere to Western European norms for elections, transparency and individual liberties, some in Europe and America instead sought to steal the country’s natural resources and other assets, a process that went on for some years under President Boris Yeltsin. The looting went hand-in-hand with particularly inept political moves on the part of President Bill Clinton, who ignored end of Cold War agreements to not use the break-up of the Soviet Union as an excuse to bring its former member states in Eastern Europe into NATO or any other military alliance hostile to Russia. The process of NATO expansion continues to this day, together with military maneuvers and the placement of new missile systems right along the Russian border, increasing Moscow’s justifiable paranoia about its security.

The military moves have been accompanied by a political deep freeze, particularly ironic as President Donald Trump during his campaign for office pledged to improve relations with Russia. They are now at their lowest ebb since the hottest days of the Cold War, including as they do the totally bogus sanctioning of Russian government officials under the maliciously conceived Magnitsky Act and the ongoing saga of Russiagate, which blames Moscow for interference in America’s 2016 election, so far without any real evidence being provided.

For those who think all of this is theater, think again. Some critics are beginning to recognize that the United States has become a country addicted to war and one need look no farther than the federal budget, where everything is being cut except military spending, which is set to increase even though there is no country or group of countries in the world that genuinely threaten the U.S.

Two recent stories in particular demonstrate just how far Washington has gone towards accepting that war has more-or-less become a natural condition for the United States of America. The first is an articleAfter years of fighting insurgencies, the Army pivots to training for a major war” that has largely been ignored, regarding how the U.S. military is changing its doctrine and training to enable it to fight a major war against a powerful national opponent. Previously, the armed forces were emphasizing countering non-government hostile agents like al-Qaeda and ISIS, the so-called counter-insurgency doctrine or COIN. According to Pentagon spokesmen, the shift is in recognition of the fact that over the horizon major conflicts are no longer as unthinkable as they once were.

According to the article, U.S. commanders are now beginning to emphasize the type of training that prevailed during the Cold War, tanks against tanks, artillery bombardments, and use of close air support. The change in doctrine derives from the 2018 National Defense Strategy assessment, which identified four national players that might go to war with the United States. They are major powers Russia and China, supplemented by nuclear North Korea and conventionally armed Iran.

The transition was discussed by former and current senior officers at the recent annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army, with particular concern being expressed that the “lessons learned” from the past seventeen years of insurgency warfare not be lost as the military returns to a more conventional model. There was also concern that the army is insufficiently resourced to continue to fight insurgencies while also taking on a major conventional component. Some officers believed that the army can handle both jobs simultaneously, but others were not so sure, observing that one really needs two distinct armies, one trained for conventional warfare and the other trained for insurgency operations, which are far more likely to occur and which are more difficult to manage.

Gen. Stephen Townsend, head of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, explained that “The future of war will be a hybrid threat. There’ll be everything from tanks and missiles and fighter-bombers down to criminal gangs, terrorists, suicide bombers and guerrilla cells. … We’re going to have to do all of that, the full spectrum of conflict.”

General David Petraeus, the “very model of a modern major general” i.e. one who never actually experiences combat, put his finger on why the change to conventional warfare is taking place now. It’s all about money, or as he put it, “it’s about getting resources. And big wars get you big resources.”

Retired Lt. General Guy Swan explained the challenge for the Army in military-speak, citing the career of his son, a West Point produced first lieutenant “… who hasn’t deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, and what he’s been doing has been tank gunnery. He is focused on Russians and other high-end competitors.”

Between Petraeus’ comment on “big” resources and Swan’s on enemies to be killed as “high-end competitors” one might well begin to understand what today’s bloated defense establishment is all about. More money and business school jargon to euphemize wars and killing, with little regard for the possible consequences, including those competitors’ possession of nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them on target. Russia has already warned that if it were attacked by a superior force (NATO) it would use tactical nuclear weapons as a first resort to defend itself. So much for learning tank gunnery.

The second article, also little commented on, made plain that the “competitive” army that is now evolving won’t be just some pretty toy sitting on a shelf unused. The former US commander in Europe from 2014-7 retired Lt. General Ben Hodges spoke at the Warsaw Security Forum on October 24th, where he told NATO allies that they would have to increase defense spending because the United States will not be able to protect them against a “resurgent Russia” while it is fighting China. He predicted that the U.S. will probably be at war with China within 15 years to protect its interests in the Pacific region.

Hodges cited increasing tension between Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea, China’s alleged “constant stealing [of] technology,” and Beijing’s perfectly legal purchasing of infrastructure in Africa, Latin America and Europe through the funding of and investment in projects. There was no mention of China actually threatening the United States and those were presumably Hodges’ reasons for going to war against a powerful nuclear armed nation.

Hodges is currently a strategic expert with the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington-based think tank that is heavily funded by globalists, NATO governments, and democracy promoters. Supporters include the U.S. government funded National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Mission to NATO, the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of State, the Lockheed Martin Corporation, the Raytheon Company, the European Defense Agency, the Chevron Corporation, Bell Helicopter, Textron Systems and BAE Systems. Oh yes, and also the neocon heavy United States Institute of Peace. The Center’s “experts” and staff are top heavy with Eastern Europeans who are focused on the threat from Russia, as is the institute. Donations to the Center are fully tax deductible by the IRS.

The awfulness of the two articles should be evident. The Army is only “under-resourced” if one considers its appropriate role to be continuously fighting countries in Asia and Europe that pose no threat to the United States. And the reality is that there is no reason for China and Russia to be viewed as threats at all. They are only turning into enemies due to the actions of the United States in their own neighborhoods, to include the NATO expansion and other provocations in the Middle East. Regarding China, the U.S. clearly believes that it is entitled to a sphere of influence that includes the entire Pacific Ocean while China cannot assert that it has any interests on own doorstep in the South China Sea.

And then there is the Strangelovean General Hodges and his pro-war establishment think tank. I wonder how much he gets paid for being a dependable mouthpiece for continuous aggression? He “predicts” war with China within 15 years. And what are the issues for what would justify risking a nuclear war? China stealing technology and protecting its local interests in Asia. And investing in the third world to acquire access to resources, which is precisely what the United States and Europeans have been doing to their benefit for many, many years. Smedley Butler once opined that “war is a racket.” If he were around today he would probably say that it is in reality a low-risk high-cost business designed to keep “heroes” like Petraeus, Swan, Townsend and Hodges fully employed.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments