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Condemning Trump on Syria? It’s “buffet outrage”

By Stephen Kinzer – Boston Globe – October 17, 2019

Several years ago, the United States hired Kurdish fighters to be our mercenaries in Syria. This month we decided we don’t need them anymore, and abandoned them to their fate. Turkey, which considers Kurdish militancy a mortal threat, quickly began bombing them. This set off a veritable orgy of indignation in Washington. It is a classic example of “buffet outrage,” in which one picks and chooses which horrors to condemn.

Among those shedding crocodile tears, often accompanied by vivid threats against Turkey, are politicians and pundits who have never uttered a peep about American bombs laying waste to Yemen or American sanctions devastating lives in Iran. The United States deserves condemnation for abandoning its promise to the Kurds. Much of it, however, is a hypocritical blend of anti-Trump fanaticism and frustration over the emerging reality that we have lost the Syrian war.

Abandoning the Kurds is not a policy that materialized out of thin air. It is the product of two long chains of American error, one dating to the beginning of the Syrian war and the other even further back. The deeper history of our Middle East tragedy begins in 1980, when President Carter declared that any challenge to American power in the Persian Gulf region would be repelled “by any means necessary, including military force.”

A generation later, President George W. Bush recklessly ordered the invasion of Iraq, which set the region afire and led to the creation of ISIS.
The more recent set of causes for our Kurdish misadventure began in 2011, when President Obama ordered President Bashar Assad of Syria to “step aside.” Beyond the arrogance that leads American presidents to think they can and should decide who may rule other countries lay the utter impossibility of achieving that goal.

The head-chopping death cults that fought alongside our partners in Syria, including Jabhat al-Nusra, the local al-Qaeda franchise, and Ahrar al-Sham, which seeks to “build an Islamic State” based on “Allah’s Almighty Sharia,” have as part of their agenda the murder of every Shia Muslim. Since the population of nearby Iran is 90 percent Shia, it should have been obvious from the beginning that Iran would use every ounce of its considerable power to assure Assad’s survival. If Obama had looked at Syria realistically rather than succumbing to fantasy, he would have understood that Assad and his Iranian backers would do whatever necessary to defeat the American project. Instead he plunged ignorantly into a conflict that we had no prospect of winning.

Following the example his predecessor set when invading Afghanistan, Obama looked for “partners” who would fight the anti-Assad war for us. Many of the militias we hired and armed were connected to jihadist terror gangs. That made sense, because the Assad government is resolutely secular and those fanatics hate secularism. We also hired Syrian Kurds. They agreed to fight not because they wanted to commit genocide against Shia Muslims and other infidels, but for a completely different reason. They had watched their Kurdish cousins in northern Iraq establish a mini-state, and dreamed of doing the same in northern Syria. If they supported the American war against Assad, they reasoned, the United States might reward them by helping them turn their piece of Syria into an autonomous region or quasi-independent state.

This was never a realistic possibility. The country that Syrian Kurds wanted to carve out for themselves, which they called “Rojava,” did not have nearly the size, population, or military strength to survive in the unforgiving Middle East. Kurdish leaders understood this, but believed they would thrive anyway because their American friends would defend them. That was a pitifully naive miscalculation. The United States has repeatedly made lavish promises to the Kurds and then betrayed them — most notably in the 1970s, when we encouraged Iraqi Kurds to rebel against Saddam Hussein’s government and then abandoned them when Saddam made an accommodation with our ally, the Shah of Iran.

Yet Kurds never seem to learn. Their childlike trust in American promises brings to mind the cartoon character Charlie Brown, whose so-called friend Lucy pulls the football away at the last moment every time he tries to kick, but who nonetheless keeps believing this time will be different.

Although the Kurds did not foresee this betrayal, Assad did. “We say to those groups who are betting on the Americans, the Americans will not protect you,” he warned in a speech nine months ago. The Kurds should have listened. In fact, seeking Assad’s protection was always their Plan B. Now, very late in the game and after taking thousands of casualties fighting for their alluring but unfaithful American “friends,” they are doing it. They have effectively surrendered to the Syrian army and asked for its help in defense against Turkey, which thought it had a chance to crush them and establish itself as the de facto ruler of “Rojava.” The Kurds’ alliance with the United States was doomed from the start. Alliance with Assad makes more sense. He may not be the world’s most reliable ally, but he is more trustworthy than the feckless United States.

Although the Kurds’ decision to ask pardon from Assad and join him in rebuilding a secular state is years overdue, it is welcome and wise. It brings Syrians a step closer to the only solution that can end their suffering: reunification. This war will only end when the government re-establishes its authority over all of Syrian territory and hostile foreign forces withdraw. Syria Kurds have belatedly recognized this truth. We should do the same.

Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 3 Comments

Truth Is A Kremlin Talking Point

By Caitlin Johnstone | October 17, 2019

In response to a statement during the Democratic primary debates by presidential candidate Andrew Yang that both Russia and the United States have engaged in election interference, liberal pundit Molly McKew tweeted, “I now retract any vaguely nice thing I ever said about Yang knowing technology things because he answered the question on Putin with moral equivalency and a Kremlin talking point.”

If you’re in the mood for some depressing amusement, just type the words “Kremlin talking point” without quotation marks into Twitter’s search engine and scroll through all the results which come up. Just keep on scrolling and observe how this label, “Kremlin talking point”, gets bleated by mainstream empire loyalists to dismiss subjects ranging from the rigging of Democratic primaries to criticism of US regime change wars to endless US warmongering to concerns about new cold war escalations to disliking John McCain to criticism of Nancy Pelosi. Any criticism of the status quo which cannot be labeled false or misleading gets labeled a “talking point” of Russia/Putin/the Kremlin by those who support and defend the status quo of US-centralized imperialist world hegemony.

Yang’s statement about US intervention in foreign elections is indisputably true, of course. Both alternative and mainstream media outlets have thoroughly documented the fact that the US government’s own data shows them to have interfered in scores of foreign elections, far more than any other nation on earth. This includes an interference in Russia’s elections in the nineties that was so brazen they made a Hollywood movie about it. Former CIA Director James Woolsey openly admitted on Fox News last year that the US still interferes in foreign elections to this very day.

These are not conspiracy theories. These are not even secrets. These are facts. But because they are inconvenient facts, they get labeled “Kremlin talking points” by those whose job it is to defend the status quo.
Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard was also branded with the accusation of voicing “Kremlin talking points” for remarks she made during last night’s debate. In her case those “talking points” consisted of the indisputable fact that the bloodshed in Syria can be blamed on US politicians from both parties, and the indisputable fact that the US has armed extremist militias in that nation with the goal of effecting regime change.

“Literally a Kremlin talking point, but whatever,” tweeted #Resistance pundit Leah McElrath in response to Gabbard’s debate comments.

“It is a fact that the Russian talking point for years has been that the United States arms al-Qaeda in Syria. Tulsi Gabbard just said it on national television,” tweeted journalist Scott Stedman.

“How odd to listen to Tulsi Gabbard mouthing Syrian and Russian talking points on the Democratic debate stage… sorry but no one thinks US troops withdrawn by Trump were there as part of a ‘regime change war’ by the US,” tweeted Susan Glasser of CNN and The New Yorker.

So the establishment narrative managers now have an official three-word debunk of any criticism of the establishment which employs them, which applies even when that criticism is fully based in facts and reality. Facts are a Kremlin talking point, and anyone who believes them is Russian. Facts are Russian. Truth is Russian. Skepticism is Russian. Asking questions is Russian. Dissent is Russian. Revolution is Russian.

So let’s all get Russian then, baby. Let’s all fill our heads with objectively true Kremlin talking points and Cossack dance our way to a fact-based relationship with reality. Get as Russian as possible. Get aggressively Russian. Get offensively Russian. Get so Russian it hurts. Get so Russian it curls Louise Mensch’s hair. If they are going to start telling us that truth is Russian, then the only appropriate thing to say in response is dasvidaniya.

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Jeffrey Epstein Again Disappears From View, but What About Mossad?

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 17, 2019

I have long argued that pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was clearly an intelligence agent and that he was most likely working for the Israeli external service Mossad. My belief was based on the nature of his activity, which suggested that he was able to blackmail important Americans using the sex tapes that he had been able to make at his Manhattan mansion. Put that together with the existence of his fake Austrian passport, as well as former Miami federal attorney Alexander Acosta’s comments  and it would seem that an intelligence connection is a sine qua non.

Acosta was particularly damning. When asked “Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?” he replied “…that I had just one meeting on the Epstein case.” He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had “been told to back off,” that Epstein was above his pay grade. “I was told Epstein belonged to intelligence and to leave it alone.”

The answers to those remaining questions about Epstein are still lacking even though he is gone, but one fears that the authorities will be disinclined to further investigate a dead man. It appears that no one in the various investigative agencies or the mainstream media has been interested in what Acosta meant, even though it would be simple enough to ask him. Who told him to back off? And how did they explain it? And then there is Epstein’s Austrian passport. Was the document fake or real, with a real name and photo substitution or alternation of both picture and name? How did he get it? Austrian passports are highly desirable in intelligence circles because the country is neutral and its holders can travel just about everywhere without a visa.

What Epstein did and how he did it was an intelligence operation in support of Mossad. There is no other viable explanation for his filming of prominent politicians and celebrities having sex with young girls. Recruiting and running American movers and shakers like Bill Clinton, with his 26 trips on the Lolita Express, former Governor Bill Richardson, or former Senator George Mitchell are precisely the types of “agents of influence” that the Mossad would seek to coerce or even blackmail into cooperation.

Other compelling evidence for a Mossad connection came from Epstein’s relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell, who reportedly served as his key procurer of young girls. Ghislaine is the daughter of Robert Maxwell, who died or possibly was assassinated in mysterious circumstances in 1991. Maxwell was an Anglo-Jewish businessman, very cosmopolitan in profile, like Epstein, a multi-millionaire who was very controversial with what were regarded as ongoing ties to Mossad. After his death, he was given a state funeral by Israel in which six serving and former heads of Israeli intelligence listened while Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir eulogized: “He has done more for Israel than can today be said.”

Israel and high-profile Jewish players also have continued to turn up like bad pennies in the Epstein case, but no one seems to be interested in pursuing that angle. Epstein clearly had contact with former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak and Epstein patrol Les Wexner also had close ties to the Jewish state and its government.

And now, finally more evidence of the relationship has surfaced even though the mainstream media appears to have lost all interest in the subject. A recent interview given by a former high-ranking official in Israeli military intelligence has inter alia made the claim that Epstein’s sexual blackmail enterprise was from the beginning an Israel intelligence operation involving the entrapment of powerful individuals and politicians in the United States and also abroad.

In an interview with Zev Shalev, former CBS News executive producer, the retired senior executive for Israel’s Directorate of Military Intelligence, Ari Ben-Menashe, claimed not only to have first met Jeffrey Epstein and his alleged procuress, Ghislaine Maxwell, in the 1980s, but that both Epstein and Maxwell were already working with Israeli intelligence prior to that time.

Ben-Menashe, was himself involved in the notorious Iran-Contra arms deals. He claimed that he had been introduced to Jeffrey Epstein by Robert Maxwell in the mid-1980s while Maxwell’s and Ben-Menashe’s were themselves working on Iran-Contra “… he [Maxwell] wanted us to accept him [Epstein] as part of our group …. I’m not denying that we were at the time a group that it was Nick Davies [Foreign Editor of the Maxwell-Owned Daily Mirror], it was Maxwell, it was myself and our team from Israel, we were doing what we were doing.” Ben-Menashe’s account has been corroborated independently by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, describing how Maxwell, Davies and Ben-Menashe arranged the transfer and sale of military equipment and weapons from Israel to Iran on behalf of Mossad and the CIA during that time period.

Ben-Menashe, who would have absolutely nothing to gain by lying, described how Maxwell stated during the introduction that “your Israeli bosses have already approved” of Epstein. Maxwell was involved in an major intelligence network in Israel “which included the then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon…” and was well placed to know that of which he spoke.

Will the three simultaneous investigations currently taking place even seek to ask the right questions now that the target of the investigation is gone and the new Ben-Menashe information has surfaced? Given the high stakes in the game, quite likely there will be a cover-up both of how Epstein lived and how he died and, most importantly, whom he worked for. Unfortunately, but predictably, the media and the inside the Beltway chattering class have lost interest in the story and we the public will most likely never learn what Epstein was all about. Just another instance of Israel spying on the United States… ho hum.

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 4 Comments

Lines Being Drawn By The U.S. in the Eastern Mediterranean

By Paul Antonopoulos | October 17, 2019

Greek-U.S. relations have entered “a new era” with the U.S. Secretary of State stating earlier this month that he has “come to Greece to expand the partnership that’s already at the best level it has ever been.” He followed up this statement in a tweet, saying “A strong and prosperous Greece is good for the Greek people and good for America.”

Why? Well during Pompeo’s trip to Greece, he finalized a new deal with the newly-elected Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for the U.S. to open 3 new military bases in the Aegean country, but most importantly, a naval presence in the port in Alexandroupolis. The port is strategically located close to the Turkish-controlled Dardanelles that connects the Aegean/Mediterranean Seas via also the Bosporus with the Black Sea, and therefore Russia. Therefore, Pompeo is ecstatic as Greece has now been firmly placed in the U.S. camp and has willingly become a NATO stronghold in the eastern Mediterranean.

It is likely that the U.S. is also ‘rewarding’ Greece for its continued and strengthening economic ties with Israel. The Greece-Cyprus-Israel pipeline, GRISCY, has likely pleased Washington, especially as all three states are anti-Turkish and it helps further secure Israel’s place in the region. Andrew Korybko argues that GRISCY is the U.S.’ key to containing multipolarity in the eastern Mediterranean. He continued to explain that the U.S. could try to thwart TurkStream’s possible expansion to Greece en route to Italy, continue cracking down on oligarchic holdings in Cyprus, and try to weaken the Russian-“Israeli” Strategic Partnership, as well as potentially cut off Moscow’s “Levantine Line” trade route between Crimea, Syria, the Sinai, and Eritrea in the event of a crisis.

With Turkish-Russian relations strengthening, the U.S. has turned to Greece as its Plan B to blockade the Russian Navy in the Black Sea as the Dardanelles spills open into the northern Aegean Sea, where there are thousands of islands, making it a naval labyrinth with limited manoeuvrability. With Greece having a respectable Navy and backed by a U.S. naval base, if ever Washington needed to illegally blockade the Dardanelles, it would be able to do so.

This is a major security concern for Moscow, leading the Russian Ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, to warn Greece that the U.S. might abandon it just as it had recently done with the Kurds in Syria, correctly adding that the recent military base deal in Greece was a mistake.

“I think this is wrong, but this is my personal opinion. Of course, you need to ask the Greek side why they made such a decision. But I do not rule out the possibility that they did so amid tensions between the United States and Turkey. However, this does not mean that this decision is well weighed for the future,” he said.

However, a reason why Greece has done this should be simply known to Chizhov, with Athens on a daily basis reporting Turkish air violations in its territory, Turkey threatening to invade Cyprus as recently as August, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivering a speech last month in front of a map that had Greece’s eastern Aegean islands under Turkish control.

When quizzed about the Turkish invasion in northeastern Syria and the US decision to abandon the Kurds, Chizhov commented: “We had warned the Kurds that the Americans will abandon them. And here, […]  I can personally warn the Greeks about it, that they will have the same fate as the Kurds.”

However, this is an unfair comparison considering Greece is a country with full state functions unlike the stateless Kurds. This prompted the Greek government’s national security adviser, Alexander Diakopoulos, to state a day later that “the U.S. bases will not remain in Greece forever. Nowadays, nothing lasts forever.”

Although what he says could be true if a truly anti-American government came to power, something that could be a possibility considering that only 36% of Greeks view the U.S. favourably according to 2018 Pew survey, it remains unlikely since every political party that has come into power turned out to be pro-U.S. despite some pre-election rhetoric.

Although the rhetoric by the Russian and Greek officials was friendly in nature, it does demonstrate that sides are being drawn, even if unwillingly in Moscow’s view, between Turkey and Greece and their relations with the Great Powers. Although Turkey is the most important member of the anti-Russian NATO alliance because of its critical strategic position, delicate and impressive diplomacy by Russian President Vladimir Putin has not only meant the strengthening of relations with his Black Sea neighbour, but has returned the question to whether Turkey will or should leave NATO.

Although both officials were disingenuous with their comments, it remains to be seen whether a war of words will erupt between the two Christian Orthodox countries, however it is unlikely in the short term. Although the current Greek government has not expressed any anti-Russian sentiment, Athens continues to pivot closer to Washington as U.S. officials claim they will protect Greek sovereignty.

Greece’s alliance with the U.S. is not anti-Russian in its view, but rather a guarantee of protection in case armed hostilities breakout with Turkey. However, Greece’s constant search for security because of Turkey’s escalated aggression in recent years has provided the perfect opportunity for the U.S. to exact revenge on Turkey for its purchase of the Russian S-400 system.

The Aegean is becoming increasingly volatile between Greece and Turkey, and the U.S. is leveraging these hostilities to its advantage in a double move to secure a Plan B in strangling the Russian Navy in the Black Sea if needed, and punishing Turkey for its increasing relations with Moscow. Therefore, Russia as the most sensible player has the potential influence to calm the situation between Turkey and Greece, and therefore also secure its sea passages.

With Greece being the original ancient Eurasian civilization and Russia being a giant Eurasian power, commonalities between the two countries can easily be made. Although U.S. military bases are here to stay in the foreseeable future, there is every potential that a new government can emerge in Athens that will expel all U.S. military presence in the country, as indirectly said by Diakopoulos. Therefore, Russia must be ready to take every opportunity that could be opened from this.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Bedouin Mass Eviction is Part of Israel’s Efforts to Drive Palestinians off their Historic Lands

Tens of thousands are to be driven out of their homes because their numbers pose a major demographic threat to a Jewish state

By Jonathan Cook | The National | October 16, 2019

The decades-long struggle by tens of thousands of Israelis against being uprooted from their homes – some for the second or third time – should be proof enough that Israel is not the western-style liberal democracy it claims to be.

Last week 36,000 Bedouin – all of them Israeli citizens – discovered that their state is about to make them refugees in their own country, driving them into holding camps. These Israelis, it seems, are the wrong kind.

Their treatment has painful echoes of the past. In 1948, 750,000 Palestinians were expelled by the Israeli army outside the borders of the newly declared Jewish state established on their homeland – what the Palestinians call their Nakba, or catastrophe.

Israel is regularly criticised for its belligerent occupation, its relentless expansion of illegal settlements on Palestinian land and its repeated and savage military attacks, especially on Gaza.

On rare occasions, analysts also notice Israel’s systematic discrimination against the 1.8 million Palestinians whose ancestors survived the Nakba and live inside Israel, ostensibly as citizens.

But each of these abuses is dealt with in isolation, as though unrelated, rather than as different facets of an overarching project. A pattern is discernible, one driven by an ideology that dehumanises Palestinians everywhere Israel encounters them.

That ideology has a name. Zionism provides the thread that connects the past – the Nakba – with Israel’s current ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the destruction of Gaza, and the state’s concerted efforts to drive Palestinian citizens of Israel out of what is left of their historic lands and into ghettos.

The logic of Zionism, even if its more naive supporters fail to grasp it, is to replace Palestinians with Jews – what Israel officially terms Judaisation.

The Palestinians’ suffering is not some unfortunate side effect of conflict. It is the very aim of Zionism: to incentivise Palestinians still in place to leave “voluntarily”, to escape further suffocation and misery.

The starkest example of this people replacement strategy is Israel’s long-standing treatment of 250,000 Bedouin who formally have citizenship.

The Bedouin are the poorest group in Israel, living in isolated communities mainly in the vast, semi-arid area of the Negev, the country’s south. Largely out of view, Israel has had a relatively free hand in its efforts to “replace” them.

That was why, for a decade after it had supposedly finished its 1948 ethnic cleansing operations and won recognition in western capitals, Israel continued secretly expelling thousands of Bedouin outside its borders, despite their claim on citizenship.

Meanwhile, other Bedouin in Israel were forced off their ancestral lands to be driven either into confined holding areas or state-planned townships that became the most deprived communities in Israel.

It is hard to cast the Bedouin, simple farmers and pastoralists, as a security threat, as was done with the Palestinians under occupation.

But Israel has a much broader definition of security than simple physical safety. Its security is premised on the maintenance of an absolute demographic dominance by Jews.

The Bedouin may be peaceable but their numbers pose a major demographic threat and their pastoral way of life obstructs the fate intended for them – penning them up tightly inside ghettos.

Most of the Bedouin have title deeds to their lands that long predate Israel’s creation. But Israel has refused to honour these claims and many tens of thousands have been criminalised by the state, their villages denied legal recognition.

For decades they have been forced to live in tin shacks or tents because the authorities refuse to approve proper homes and they are denied public services like schools, water and electricity.

The Bedouin have one option if they wish to live within the law: they must abandon their ancestral lands and their way of life to relocate to one of the poor townships.

Many of the Bedouin have resisted, clinging on to their historic lands despite the dire conditions imposed on them.

One such unrecognised village, Al Araqib, has been used to set an example. Israeli forces have demolished the makeshift homes there more than 160 times in less than a decade. In August, an Israeli court approved the state billing six of the villagers $370,000 (Dh1.6 million) for the repeated evictions.

Al Araqib’s 70-year-old leader, Sheikh Sayah Abu Madhim, recently spent months in jail after his conviction for trespassing, even though his tent is a stone’s throw from the cemetery where his ancestors are buried.

Now the Israel authorities are losing patience with the Bedouin.

Last January, plans were unveiled for the urgent and forcible eviction of nearly 40,000 Bedouin from their homes in unrecognised villages under the guise of “economic development” projects. It will be the largest expulsion in decades.

“Development”, like “security”, has a different connotation in Israel. It really means Jewish development, or Judaisation – not development for Palestinians.

The projects include a new highway, a high-voltage power line, a weapons testing facility, a military live-fire zone and a phosphate mine.

It was revealed last week that the families would be forced into displacement centres in the townships, living in temporary accommodation for years as their ultimate fate is decided. Already these sites are being compared to the refugee camps established for Palestinians in the wake of the Nakba.

The barely concealed aim is to impose on the Bedouin such awful conditions that they will eventually agree to be confined for good in the townships on Israel’s terms.

Six leading United Nations human rights experts sent a letter to Israel in the summer protesting the grave violations of the Bedouin families’ rights in international law and arguing that alternative approaches were possible.

Adalah, a legal group for Palestinians in Israel, notes that Israel has been forcibly evicting the Bedouin over seven decades, treating them not as human beings but as pawns in its never-ending battle to replace them with Jewish settlers.

The Bedouin’s living space has endlessly shrunk and their way of life has been crushed.

This contrasts starkly with the rapid expansion of Jewish towns and single-family farming ranches on the land from which the Bedouin are being evicted.

It is hard not to conclude that what is taking place is an administrative version of the ethnic cleansing Israeli officials conduct more flagrantly in the occupied territories on so-called security grounds.

These interminable expulsions look less like a necessary, considered policy and more like an ugly, ideological nervous tic.

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 3 Comments

Why Withdrawing US Troops from Northern Syria is GOOD

By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice | October 17, 2019

The foreign policy elite is in an uproar. They claim “we have abandoned our allies”. They question “how can America be trusted?” They say the decision to withdraw from northern Syria was a “gift” to Russia, Iran, and Assad, even ISIS. It is true that the policy of US/NATO interventionism is failing. But that has been true since the invasion of Iraq or earlier. After the disastrous invasions and attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and the 8 year undeclared war on Syria, isn’t it time to  question the foreign policy elite?

If one believes in restoring international law and the UN Charter, it is GOOD that US military forces have been withdrawn from  northern Syria. Here are some facts and history which explain why.

Basic fact: It’s not our country and US troops were never authorized by the sovereign government. Whether or not Washington likes Damascus is irrelevant. Under international law those troops have no right to be there. Even the overflights of Syria by the US air coalition violate international agreements. It’s up to  Syrians to defend their country against invading Turkey. If they choose to get support from another country, that is their right.

Another fact: President Obama was correct when he said that “putting boots on the ground” in Syria would be a “profound mistake”. Later he said, “We have a very specific objective, one that will not lead into boots on the ground or anything like that.” But the hawks prevailed. There were not only “boots on the ground”, there was a shifting rationale why they had to be there.

The US and allies have done all they could, short of direct invasion, to overthrow the Syrian government. They have spent tens of BILLIONS of dollars in weapons, training, equipment, recruitment, etc. This is in violation of international law. More than one hundred thousand Syrians have died defending their country against a foreign sponsored army of mercenaries and foreign fighters.

An astonishing fact: The US encouraged the emergence of the Islamic State. Why? Because it put pressure on Damascus and because it justified the entry of the US.  While the US carpet bombed Raqqa, it looked the other way as hundreds of trucks conveyed oil from eastern Syria into Turkey to fund the Islamic State. The US air coalition attacked the Syrian Arab Army in the midst of a critical battle against ISIS near Deir Ezzor. In  a secretly recorded conversation in New York with Syrian “activists”, John Kerry admitted they were watching ISIS and hoping to use it to pressure Damascus. In other words, US foreign policy was duplicitous and used terrorism as a tool. This is well documented in the book The Management of Savagery.

After the US-backed “Free Syrian Army” failed, the US looked for another means to destabilize Syria. They started to fund  the Syrian Kurdish militias known as the Peoples Protection Unit (YPG /YPJ). They gave the militias a new name, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and encouraged the secessionist tendency. Meanwhile in Turkey, which has the largest Kurdish community,  most Kurds want to have their rights within Turkey and have formed a political party (Peoples Democratic Party – HDP) which unites progressives of all ethnicities. In the 2015 Turkish election this party emerged as the third most popular party and stopped Erdogan’s election domination. Currently the HDP is campaigning against Turkey’s invasion of Syria. As of 13 October the Syrian Kurdish militias have come to an agreement to work with Damascus to combat the Turkish invasion. The agreement specifies that the Syrian Arab Army will control and defend the entire area from Jarablus on the Euphrates River to the far eastern border with Iraq.

Advocates of US intervention claim that the Kurds were fighting and dying “for us.” That is not true. They were defending their own community. To the extent that they accepted and welcomed US air support, equipment, weaponry, etc. it was for their own benefit. There were two parties trying to use each other.

Whenever the US attacks or occupies a country it needs a rationalization. In 1991 there were false claims about incubators being stolen by Iraqi troops in Kuwait. In 2003 there were false claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In 2011 there were false claims of civilians being threatened by Libyan troops in Benghazi. All these claims were subsequently found to be exaggerated or entirely false.

One of the main justifications for continuing US presence in Syria is “keeping our word” and not “abandoning” the Kurdish forces. This is a favorite rationalization for war. In Cuba, the CIA trained Cuban exiles that attacked Playa Giron “were counting on us.” Fortunately, JFK resisted the pressure and said “No”. In Vietnam, the US continued the war for a decade because we could not let down our “ally”, the government of Saigon. Millions of Vietnamese were killed plus 55,000 US troops because we could not “abandon” a government that in reality was a proxy.

In the Democratic Debates (15 October) Joe Biden said that the  withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria was “the most shameful thing any president has done in modern history in terms of foreign policy.” This is absurd. Over one million died in Iraq including 4500 and at least 100,000 severely injured US soldiers. Joe Biden was an influential supporter of the 2003 Iraq  invasion. Later, as Vice President, he supported the overthrow of the Libyan government. The country is still in chaos with tens of thousands dead.  These two countries were devastated by US actions. It is evidence of shameless unaccountability in media and politics that Joe Biden is a serious candidate for President after he destroyed so many lives at a cost of trillions. In the same Democratic debates Tulsi Gabbard was honest and accurate as she said that the plight of the Kurds in northern Syria is “yet another consequence of the regime change war we’ve been waging in Syria”.

Despite the howls of indignation and disinformation, withdrawing US troops from northern Syria is a step in the right direction.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist who has visited Syria several times since 2014. He lives in the SF Bay Area and can be reached at rsterling1@gmail.com.

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Trump unchained: How the ‘God-Emperor’ is ending American Empire with Syria gambit

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | October 16, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria is drawing fire from Democrats, media and some in his own party as well. He doesn’t seem to care, insisting on his 2016 campaign promise to end the endless wars.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Trump batted away every attempt at criticism – calling out the media for faking footage from Syria; describing the Kurdish militias that worked with US troops against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) as “no angels”; and demanding one good reason why the US should be involved in a centuries-long dispute between Syrians, Kurds and Turks when they could work that out themselves. None was forthcoming.

He even chided the US military-industrial complex that wants to “fight forever,” while making sure to note that he authorized a $2 trillion spending spree to rebuild the “depleted” US military. When reporters brought up the outspoken opposition by some Senate Republicans, Trump shot back that they ought to do their jobs, and he would do his. This was not a president worried about getting impeached, but someone confident in his position after 1,000 days in office.

While 2016 may seem like a long time ago, Candidate Trump did run on the platform of ending endless wars and entangling alliances. His daring to question the sacred cow of NATO, or the US presence in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq caused apoplexies across Washington.

After becoming president – and facing a coordinated effort from every quarter to block, sabotage and “resist” his agenda – he chose to go along with the military and political establishment. So the US did not withdraw from Afghanistan, and sent more troops to Iraq and Syria to fight IS. Trump even launched strikes against the Syrian government on two occasions – both prompted by alleged “chemical attacks” – in 2017 and 2018. Having hired neocon warmongers, he embraced their agenda for regime change in Cuba and Venezuela.

If this was done to appease his domestic critics, it obviously did not work. Neocons and establishment Republicans continued to denounce him and ally with the Democrats seeking Trump’s impeachment. So at some point recently – perhaps when he fired the hawkish adviser John Bolton? – Trump appears to have decided he might as well do what he wanted all along.

Declaring IS defeated, he ordered the pullout of US troops from northern Syria, setting in motion a chain of events that have transformed the situation in the region practically overnight, while his critics could only wail and gnash their teeth in impotent rage.

Trump has always had the uncanny ability to force his foes to defend the indefensible – see the curious case of Democrats and open borders, to name just one example. Now that talent has been leveraged in the area where US presidents have the most influence, and where his critics appear the weakest: foreign policy.

Turns out that getting the US out of Syria was easy, so long as Trump let others do all the hard work. Mainstream media said Trump gave Turkey the “green light” to invade Syria, when he clearly didn’t. They gleefully took up the cause of the “betrayed Kurds” until they got caught faking footage of the Turkish invasion. When it emerged that the “Turkish” troops involved were the very same “moderate rebels” they cheered on, back during the Obama administration – now denounced as “thugs and pirates” – the contortions they had to put themselves through were a sight to behold.

What if Barack Obama had called out the military-industrial complex, told off politicians who wanted to fight “endless wars,” or declared that American soldiers should not be injured or killed in centuries-old sectarian conflicts? It is no stretch to say that he would have been applauded by the same people that now vilify Trump.

Yet Obama didn’t do any of those things, even though he had the “hope and change” mandate. Instead, he allowed himself to be seduced by the promises of glory coming from his ambitious advisers. The result was the rise of IS, as Washington sponsored jihadists in Syria; the destruction of Libya and its transformation into a slave-market anarchy; the coup in Ukraine and the war in Donbass. The “geniuses” behind these fiascos are now shrieking that Trump’s cleanup of their mess is somehow hurting America!

During the 2016 campaign, some of his supporters jokingly referred to Trump as their “God-Emperor,” a science fiction reference that spawned a thousand memes. Yet here he is, single-handedly dismantling the American Empire because he believes it runs counter to the notion of the American Republic its founders had envisioned over two centuries ago.

Meanwhile, his critics are once again forced to defend the indefensible, and the only “argument” they have left is that all of this is somehow “helping Russia.” Trump is either lucky beyond all probability, or truly a “stable genius,” as he once put it himself. In the end, it doesn’t matter.

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | 2 Comments