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Despite Withdrawal Claims, US Troops Retain ‘Colonial’ Hold on Syrian Kurdish Lands

Sputnik – October 10, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced Ankara’s military offensive against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces just a day after US President Donald Trump announced he would pull troops from Syria. However, with US troops simply shifted in the region, questions remain about Trump’s actual motivation.

On Wednesday, Erdogan announced that Turkey would be carrying out “Operation Peace Spring” in order “to neutralize terror threats against Turkey and lead to the establishment of a safe zone” and combat terrorism in the region.

The move and its intended “safe zone” for refugees have been condemned by the European Union and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who said “it will not work,” in a Wednesday address in Brussels.

Nevertheless, Turkey has pushed forward, and some Washington officials are even defending Ankara’s offensive.

Ambassador Peter Ford, the former UK ambassador to Syria, joined Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear on Wednesday to discuss the Washington’s possible motivation behind moving US troops in the region

“It looks like all the US has done is … pull back 150 guys who [were] sprinkled in that northern safe zone,” Ford told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker. “But they are still there with the rest of the 1,000 occupying that quarter of Syria, which is effectively controlled by the US.”

While the move is minor, the ambassador pointed out that now the Turks are able to make their first move in the region “without having to worry about tripping over US” troops.

Amid both domestic and international backlash for Trump’s decision, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with PBS in a Wednesday interview and said Washington in no way provided Ankara with “a green light.” He went on to defend Turkey’s offensive by asserting they had “legitimate security concerns” and argued that Trump’s decision to move to troops was out of concern for their safety.

Ford highlighted that “the Turks are not actually being threatened by the Kurds [and] there have been virtually nil incursions from the Kurdish side of the Syrian border,” and that Turkey’s claim of respecting “the territorial integrity of all our neighbors” is false.

Instead, Turkish troops have been deployed to “prevent the emergence of a US-protected Kurdish statelet,” Ford said.

According to him, it is likely that the Kurds will “mount a token resistance,” rather than to go all in against Turkey, and “hope the hullabaloo in the US will force the Turks to either stop or withdraw.”

Ford reiterated that while Trump said he wanted to bring the US troops home, the fact remains that they are still in Syria. Prior to this move, part of the rationale given for having a US troop presence in the region was to deter a Turkish attack, but with that no longer being an objective, “the only remaining rationale is to deter the Syrians from regaining control of their own country,” he asserted.

“You have to ask: at the end of the day, what right does America have to prevent a country like Syria [from] establishing control over itself? This is purely colonial, imperialist behavior.”

October 9, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 2 Comments

Pompeo & Biden BOTH have it wrong: ‘Green light’ for Turkey’s Syria invasion wasn’t for the US to give

RT | October 9, 2019

Presidential candidate Joe Biden and US mainstream media insist the White House gave a ‘green light’ to Ankara to invade Syria. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denies it. Neither seem to understand that it’s not up to Washington.

Trump “impulsively gave Turkey a green light to invade Syria, blindsiding our military,” Biden tweeted on Wednesday, accusing President Donald Trump of a “betrayal” of Kurdish fighters that helped the US defeat Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

The “green light” phrasing also found its way to most mainstream media outlets. Later in the day, Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour treated it as an established fact, asking Pompeo to comment on the Turkish operation in northern Syria.

“Does the US take responsibility for whatever the outcome is, because the US has given Turkey a green light?” asked Woodruff.

“Well, that’s just false. The United States didn’t give Turkey a green light,” Pompeo replied.

He’s technically correct. As Turkey launched ‘Operation Peace Spring,’ bombing Kurdish targets in northern Syria on Wednesday, Trump issued a statement calling it “a bad idea” and warning Ankara that it was now responsible not just for the safety of civilians in the area, but the fate of IS prisoners.

However, the real issue isn’t whether Washington did or did not give Ankara the “green light” for its military adventure. The question no one in Washington or the legacy media seems to be asking is whether such permission was up to the US to give – because the obvious answer is “no.”

American politicians and pundits of all stripes love to talk about the “rules-based international order,” but one of the actual, written rules of that order is that the world consists of sovereign nation-states, one of which is Syria. Both the US and Turkey have had troops in Syria for years. Yet neither has been invited by the Syrian government – unlike, say, Russia, which has had an expeditionary force there on request from Damascus since 2015.

Only Damascus, or the UN Security Council, can legitimately give the “green light” for a military intervention in Syrian territory. Neither has done so.

October 9, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Announcement: Purges and Counter-Narratives

By Ron Unz • Unz Review • October 9, 2019

I doubt that any event in human history has been as thoroughly discussed and documented as the Second World War, the gigantic global struggle that ended three generations ago and shaped our modern world. Elements of that conflict have probably been the subject of hundreds of thousands of books over the decades along with countless articles in newspapers and magazines, and they still pervade our electronic media on a daily basis. Moreover, the story told by nearly all of these authors seems generally consistent, thereby appearing to constitute a very solid fabric of historical reality.

Yet there exists strong evidence that this factual consistency is more apparent than real, with those writers who substantially deviate from the accepted framework having long been denied distribution via mainstream channels of information. The growth of the Internet over the last two decades began bringing disturbing anomalies to my attention, and I gradually recognized this broader problem, which became the basis of my American Pravda articles published over the last few years.

As I described in one of my articles, as early as 1940 some of America’s most prominent and highly-regarded journalists and academics were purged from public life because they maintained their intellectual integrity while most of their peer-group bent to the prevailing ideological winds. When those who dispute a particular view of events quickly disappear from all public discussions, this may naturally intimidate the remainder, while any subsequent consistency becomes a synthetic artifact of selection-bias. And since the vast majority of later writers learn their histories within this sharply-restricted framework, the false reality they absorb gradually becomes self-perpetuating over time.

Many of the individuals cast out by the media for their discordant views had once stood at the pinnacle of public influence, and their thoughtful writings often continued long after their national audiences had been eliminated. Taken together, their works provide a perspective radically different from that of our official histories.

Over the last two years, many of my articles have used these sources to reconstruct what may be a more accurate history of the Second World War, and I recently drew upon my findings to publish American Pravda: Understanding World War II. This article is intended to provide a reasonably compact but comprehensive counter-narrative to our official histories of the central event of the twentieth century. Even 20,000 words of text hardly seems excessive when it seeks to challenge and rebut so many tens of millions of pages written on the other side.

The early response to this very long piece has certainly been quite heartening. In just over two weeks it has attracted more readership than almost any of our other website articles have accumulated over the last six months, while also provoking well over 200,000 words of commentary, much of it quite detailed and thoughtful.

Historical analysis is not entirely an intellectual exercise since it may often shed an important light on present-day events of great importance. Once we begin to accept that there is considerable evidence that the history of the twentieth century believed by nearly all Americans may be in serious error and perhaps actually inverted, we naturally become far more willing to question our ongoing official narratives on important foreign and domestic policy matters. Moreover, the past media purges of dissenting academics and journalists allows us to more easily recognize the exact same developments taking place today, sometimes with very grave consequences.

Consider the case of Stephen F. Cohen. With an academic career at Princeton and New York University that stretches back for more than a half-century, Prof. Cohen certainly ranks as one of our most eminent Russia scholars, and his presence had loomed very large throughout the Reagan Era and afterward, with his Sovieticus column being a regular mid-1980s feature of The Nation magazine, America’s left-liberal flagship publication.

Yet with the Cold War against Russia now recently revived in perhaps an even more dangerous and destructive form by his former liberal Democratic Party allies, his views seem almost nowhere to be found in the mainstream media organs that shape the reality of our ruling policy-elites. Instead, the ignorant journalists who function as our unofficial gatekeepers have crudely castigated him as one of Putin’s “American Dupes.”

In recent years, his regular appearances on the John Batchelor Show of WABC radio have represented one of his few remaining public platforms, and I’m very pleased to have recently made arrangements to republish all of these hundreds of broadcasts on our website, together with their brief descriptive summaries and several of Prof. Cohen’s other articles from this same period, thereby making this important material conveniently available to an additional audience at a very dangerous time. With Russiagate having finally collapsed only to be succeeded by Ukrainegate, I would particularly recommend his February interview entitled “How the Russiagate Investigation Is Sovietizing American Politics.”

Along with providing a helpful new distribution channel for such an eminent academic scholar, we have begun doing the same for Whitney Webb of MintPress News, whose remarkable investigative work has begun attracting a great deal of attention over the last year, breaking important new ground in the Jeffrey Epstein case and other controversial matters. Her long, copiously-reported articles have revealed important facts regularly excluded from the mainstream media, setting a new standard of courageous journalism.

October 9, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | 3 Comments

Europe shouldn’t underestimate US software power

By Neil Clark | RT | October 9, 2019

Adobe is to cut Venezuela off because of US sanctions, showing how vulnerable countries in the ‘line of fire’ are, due to their dependence on American computer software products.

We all know about US hard power. We know a lot about US soft power too (think Hollywood, rock-and-roll, and Marvel comics). But there is another way the US tries to maintain a pre-eminent role in world affairs. I call it software power.

The operating system on the computer you own is probably American. It’s odds on that the search engine you use to find things out online is American too. It‘s also very likely that the social media you log into on a daily basis is American. It might be overstating things, but it’s not far off to say that the ‘Computer World’ we all live in, and which Kraftwerk sang about almost forty years ago, is basically an American world, but it’s not far off.

It’s this dependence on US software and the products of Silicon Valley giants which makes countries which want to maintain their independence from Washington so vulnerable. The latest victim of US software power projection is Venezuela. Adobe, the Californian company which provides design tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator, and the document management system Acrobat Reader, announced that on the 28th October all subscriptions in the Bolivarian Republic will be cancelled without refund.

The firm cites President Donald Trump’s executive order from August which, as RT has reported, ‘basically bans all transactions between the countries.’

You can imagine the impact the Adobe ban will have on businesses in Venezuela. A whole country and not just Nicolas Maduro and his government will be hit. We can probably all survive without US food, or US films. But can we really get by in our daily lives without US software?

Here’s a few facts to show us how much we rely on US companies when we log in, or switch on our IPhones.

*Microsoft Windows has a 77.61% share of the world’s operating system market, with Apple, also from the US, in second place.

*In early 2018 Microsoft’s Outlook.com said it had 400m active users.

*As of June 2019 there were over 2.41 billion monthly users of Facebook.

*In Q2 of 2019 there were 139m Twitter users.

*Google has 90.46% of the search engine market share worldwide and receives over 63,000 searches per second every day, amounting to 2 trillion searches per year.

No one is arguing that the US companies named above don’t provide some great services to customers. Often the criticism of them (and particularly of Facebook), is over-the-top and lacks balance.

The problem is that the market dominance of the Silicon Valley giants can be, and has been, exploited by the US government, political agitators, and lobby groups in the US in order to achieve geo-strategic political goals. When the US sanctions a country it knows full well how dependent that country is likely to be on its computer products. It’s an additional and very important hold (and very 21st Century) hold the power elites of the country have over those who resist the writ of Washington.

There’s also the political pressure that can be and has been exerted on these hi-tech companies to withdraw services from users from ‘official enemy’ countries. Look at the way legislators have called on Facebook and Twitter to ban dissident voices and consider the hysteria over Russian ‘bots’ following the US presidential election in 2016.

Before I get wrongly accused here of ‘anti-Americanism’, let me acknowledge that it would probably be the same whoever had such a dominant market position. It just so happened that the computer revolution coincided with the emergence of the US as a global hegemon.

US-backed regime change efforts in Venezuela have, it’s worth noting, been backed enthusiastically by EU poster boy Guy Verhofstadt and other European ‘liberals.’ One assumes they are very happy with Adobe’s withdrawal of services to Venezuelan customers.

But Verhofstadt and co might end up with egg on their faces. Make no mistake, if US software power can be used against countries in Latin America, it can be used against European countries too, if and when it needs to be.

Only last week we saw the US slap 25% tariffs on French wines, Italian cheese, and Scottish whiskey, and announce it would add 10% duties on ’large civilian aircraft.’ The French finance minister said that Europe was ‘ready to react’ with retaliatory tariffs on its own. But if we do get a full-scale US-EU trade war, won’t America’s software power give it the edge and force an EU climbdown?

If Europeans were as smart as their smartphones, they’d be waking up to the fact that they are vulnerable and be planning accordingly.

October 9, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

The New Yorker’s Partisan Attempt to Refute Its Claim of Partisan Disinformation on Biden and Ukraine

By Joe Lauria | Consortium News | October 8, 2019

The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer has gained a reputation as one of the best reporters in Washington, but in her latest piece on Ukraine and former Vice President Joe Biden, Mayer has succumbed to the partisan mania ripping apart this city and much of the country.

There is little subtlety in her argument, as evidenced by the title of the piece: “The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine.” Rather than taking an impartial, non-partisan view—needed now more than ever in journalism—Mayer neglects evidence that would have produced a more nuanced report on this increasingly volatile story.

Such an achievement required the suppression of a seasoned reporter’s natural curiosity. Maybe the other side has evidence worth examining too.

Mayer is not alone in dismissing serious questions about Biden as merely “a repeatedly discredited conspiracy theory involving Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s work in Ukraine.” In doing so, Mayer has joined an unthinking media consensus protecting Biden and the media’s own interests to save itself from the shame of having pushed the now discredited conspiracy theory of Trump’s collusion with Russia. With the Trump Justice Department digging into the origins of that fiasco it was the perfect time to preempt its findings with a trumped up impeachment scandal. The last thing the intelligence agencies and their compliant media need are revelations about how they together duped the country.

Mayer, who distinguished herself on many stories, including a defense of the wrongly accused National Security Agency senior executive Tom Drake—an actual whistleblower—reduced herself to the journalists’ herd that gave Russiagate credence, and in the process undermined scores of media reputations.

Instead of owning up to it, Mayer writes that the media was manipulated in 2016, not by Democrats or intelligence officials, but by Republican partisans.  She produces a line about Ukrainegate that would more credibly describe media accomplices in Russiagate: “News organizations continue to be just as susceptible to manipulation by political partisans pushing complicated and hard-to-check foreign narratives as they were in 2016.”

Mayer’s unwillingness to see the corruption of both major parties is stunning.

She writes: “Anyone trying to track the Ukrainian conspiracy stories that were eventually embraced by President Trump is likely to get mired in the same echo chamber of right-wing news purveyors that misinformed voters in 2016” (except that in 2016 it was an echo chamber aligned with Democrats).

Mayer only blames Republicans who were largely on the defensive during Russiagate. Her exoneration of Democrats then and now for misinforming voters, extends to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s approval of an uranium deal with Russia, after which, Mayer reports, “more than two million dollars in contributions” came to “the Clinton Foundation from the businessmen behind the deal.” She says Clinton is in the clear because other U.S. agencies also approved the deal and the amount of uranium was “negligible.” It was all just a conservative plot, Mayer tells us.

The Biggest Omissions

Mayer attributes the origins of Biden’s appearance of conflict of interest in Ukraine solely to a disinformation campaign run by a shadowy group set up by Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, the right wing activist, Steve Bannon.

This is intended to put a nail in the story at its origins, portraying it as just a nutty conservative conspiracy, and thus no one needs to be concerned about significant evidence that followed. “For nearly two years, conservative operatives have been trying to weaponize the Ukraine-based story that has led Trump to the brink of impeachment,” Mayer wrote.

She takes at face value Bannon’s braggadocio about his so-called Government Accountability Initiative being “key” and the “predicate” to the Biden-Ukraine story, allowing her to easily dismiss an array of facts, including a public admission of corruption by Biden himself, as merely an “unethically seeming morass.”

Of all the evidence missing from Mayer’s piece, perhaps the most important is the opening act of this Washington drama: the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew an elected Ukrainian government in 2014. Without that evidence it is impossible to understand the context of the nauseating Biden/Ukraine impeachment story. She is not alone in this either. The entire elite liberal media and Fox News won’t mention it in a bipartisan cover-up of rapacious American foreign policy.

The press usually takes 25 years, after the declassification of documents, to admit the United States routinely breaks international law by overthrowing sovereign governments, and not in the name of spreading democracy, but in the interests of capital and geo-strategy. That was the case with Ukraine in 2014.

Hunter and Joe Biden at Obama’s 2009 inaugural parade

Can you imagine if the Trump administration finally succeeds in overthrowing the Venezuelan government and a couple of months later Vice President Mike Pence’s son (who wasn’t kicked out of the Navy for drug use) lands a spot on the board of a privatized Venezuelan national oil company?

That is exactly what happened with Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine.

And then imagine that the U.S.-installed government of Juan Guaidó begins an investigation into corruption at the oil company and wants to question Pence’s son. So Pence flies to Caracas and tells Guaidó he won’t get a $1 billion U.S. credit line until the prosecutor is fired. Six hours later the prosecutor begins cleaning out his desk and Pence later brags about it in an open forum at the Council on Foreign Relations.

That is exactly what Biden did in Ukraine.

The fired Venezuelan prosecutor then gives an affidavit under oath that Pence had him fired because he was investigating his son’s company and that the U.S. had taken over the country’s prosecutor’s office.

That is exactly what the Ukrainian prosecutor testified.

But none of these facts are in Mayer’s story. In the face of the affidavit and Biden’s open admission on video, she still somehow calls these “baseless tales claiming that Biden corruptly intervened on behalf of his son’s Ukrainian business interests.”

Instead Mayer attacks the reporter who revealed most of them, John Solomon of The Hill. A partisan reporter attacking another partisan reporter is what passes for journalism these days.  Being non-partisan—a requirement to practice serious journalism—means looking past the politics of a reporter or a news outlet, and even overlooking their partisan motivation, if they present documented evidence. The motive is irrelevant if the evidence is substantiated.

There was no such evidence in the Russiagate farce, but that never stopped partisans in the Democratic media. The same lack of skepticism has accepted now two CIA officials as “whistleblowers” without questioning their motives, while showing no interest in real whistleblowers who challenge the Establishment on behalf of the nation.

If the Department of Justice and its investigation into the origins of Russiagate is serious and reveals wrongdoing by intelligence officials and by extension by the media, the best move those officials and journalists can make is to go on offense as their best defense. It also gives them another crack at Trump after failing with Russiagate. And Trump gave them the opening to do it.

Trump’s Blunder

Trump’s mistake was to get personally involved in the investigations into the origins of Russiagate and the Bidens. By mentioning both in a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, he broke the wall that should exist between the White House and the Justice Department. Though there was no clear quid-pro-quo, Trump hinted that he would release military aid to Ukraine in exchange for the investigations. If Trump did that it is the routine corrupt way the U.S. carries out foreign policy, as Biden openly admitted.

Trump compounded his problems by publicly calling for China to investigate Hunter Biden’s dealings in that country. By getting personally involved, instead of leaving it up to the DOJ to investigate his possible challenger in next year’s presidential election, Trump allowed his enemies in intelligence and the media to portray his conversation as an impeachable offense.

Every move the DOJ or Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, makes in investigating Russiagate or the Bidens’ corruption, including legitimately asking foreign governments for assistance, is now tainted as political because of Trump’s unwise intervention.  He threw a lifeline to intelligence officers and journalists like Mayer, who will continue to make the most of it even if it means turning their backs on their professional commitments.

October 9, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

Sweden’s hunt for Russian sub 5 years ago got its military more cash, but was based on faulty intelligence, new report says

RT | October 9, 2019

The Swedish Navy’s fruitless hunt for a Russian sub was reportedly based on an inconclusive analysis of intelligence which was overstated under pressure from the government. MPs only learned of it after boosting defense spending.

In October 2014, Sweden was gripped by spy fever. People were watching relentlessly as its military was hunting for an elusive Russian mini-sub off Stockholm. The hunters returned empty-handed, but top brass assured the public that it was not for lack of a foreign intrusion. It took months for Swedish officials to acknowledge that the intercepted “Russian submarine distress signal” that triggered the hunt actually came from a local civilian boat. Though some of the failed hunters insisted otherwise.

Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) says some details of how Sweden got into this embarrassment is yet to be revealed and offered information provided by a military insider. According to its source, the analysis of a sound signature, which was touted as definitive evidence of a submarine presence in Swedish waters, was actually preliminary.

“The criteria for a confirmed submarine are rock hard, and they were not fulfilled,” the insider said, explaining that under regular circumstances the military would not go public with such intelligence at all.

SvD’s source suggests that the Swedish military command had been pressured by both the national government and some of its fellow generals to go along with the narrative. Interestingly, when the evidence was properly reviewed and a classified final report into the hunt was compiled in May 2015, nobody rushed to share the conclusions with the Swedish lawmakers.

Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist allegedly waited until September 2015 before reporting to the Swedish Parliament, SvD noted, which conveniently happened after it approved a hefty $700 million hike in defense spending over five years.

If it looks like a ruse to secure extra funding and stir anti-Russian sentiment in a non-NATO nation and swims like a ruse to secure extra funding and stir anti-Russian sentiment in a non-NATO nation, then it’s probably just an honest mistake. No hard feelings.

October 9, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Militarism, Russophobia | | 1 Comment