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Russian military ‘ready to work with US’ after Trump & Putin talk Syria, nuclear arms in Helsinki

RT | July 17, 2018

The Russian military is ready to work with the US colleagues on all the areas discussed by the two presidents during the Helsinki summit, namely cooperation in Syria and mutual reduction of the strategic nuclear arsenals.

“Russian Defense Ministry is ready to implement the agreements on the international security, reached by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump during the Helsinki summit yesterday,” Ministry’s spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Tuesday.

On Monday, Russian and the US leaders agreed to revitalize the military cooperation in several fields. During the press conference in the aftermath of the summit, Trump stated that Russian and US militaries proved to actually get along better than the politicians of the two countries over the past few years, naming deconfliction communication in Syria as an example.

Putin and Trump agreed to work together on returning the people displaced by the Syrian conflict, since several million of refugees are still living in Turkey and Lebanon. These people might take off and head for Europe, the US and other destinations, Putin warned.

“One should not wait until they start moving towards these destinations, the conditions for their return must be created,” Putin stated.

The two agreed also to step up negotiations on the prolonging of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), aimed at mutual reduction and limitation of the strategic nuclear arsenals. The existing third iteration of the START agreement expires in 2021. Putin said Moscow was ready to prolong the deal, while some “details” must be ironed out first.

Konashenkov said the military was ready “to intensify contacts with its American colleagues through the General Staff and other available channels of communication” on all of the aforementioned issues, as well as other outstanding problems of the international security.

‘Step to new multipolar world’?

The Putin-Trump meeting marked an important step toward the emerging multipolar world, where the main actors get together and negotiate, standing by their “national interests,” geopolitical expert Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann told RT.

Such a new approach would likely be more fruitful than the “ancient” US unilateral drive for the forced Westernization and multiculturalism, while the summit itself exemplified “the acceptance from the US of the new multipolar world.”

“I think this is a new process. Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump have shown to the world they want to be in charge,” Thomann said. “They want to start negotiations on the real political basis, and I think this is a good start, because the utopian ideas on the international relations always fail. And they admit they are rivals, they want to identify common grounds for cooperation and try to overcome their differences.”

The Russian-US desire to cooperate on fixing the Syrian conflict will prove to be beneficial not only to the war-torn country itself, but to the whole Middle East region and, ultimately, Europe, Thomann believes.

July 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Helsinki Summit: Trying to Turn the Page on the New Cold War

By Max Forte | Zero Anthropology | July 17, 2018

Finally, on Monday, July 16, 2018, the Helsinki Summit bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump took place, despite shrill demands that it be stopped, canceled, or turned into a platform for more aggression. “President Trump should cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won’t interfere in future elections. Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. Yet there could never be any “proof” of someone not doing something in the future, and to implement the conditions for this specific case would require turning off all the electricity in Russia and seizing all computers everywhere on its territory. It is thus plainly an absurd, irrational, and unrealistic statement that is meant to satisfy partisan emotional needs. As a recipe for international relations, it would be a disaster of a policy. In a desperate effort to maintain the interests vested in the new Cold War, Democrats tried to elbow their way into the summit, to no avail. In the US today, “resistance” means continuing, even escalating, the fabricated Cold War against Russia—resistance has become the catchy buzzword for what Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex, updated to include billionaire tycoons funding “social movements” operating as part of “civil society”.

Thus days before the event, President Trump pointed critically at the shrill media and Democrats for firing up the new Cold War:

“Heading to Helsinki, Finland – looking forward to meeting with President Putin tomorrow. Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia… … over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough – that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition! Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people and all the Dems… … know how to do is resist and obstruct! This is why there is such hatred and dissension in our country – but at some point, it will heal!” (Twitter 1, Twitter 2, Twitter 3).

What united all of the US media, from Fox News to CNN and right across to MSNBC, was the dominance of the America-the-innocent-victim narrative. Joining them was an established band of encrusted “neocons” such as Senator John McCain who asserted, in the usual evidence-free fashion of the kind that brought the US to Iraq, that Putin was guilty of “ongoing aggression towards the United States”. The “no blame” narrative (that permanently shields Americans from the consequences of their actions) was joined by the insistence that the secret police and espionage agencies should just be believed, without doubt, and that such agencies should have primacy over democratically elected representatives. Funny that this is what should issue from the same mouths that claim to warn us against “fascism”.

However, in an amazing press conference featuring Putin and Trump at the close of the summit, virtually everything the Democrats, their neocon associates, the media, and the military-intelligence establishment did not want to hear, is what they were instead forced to hear. Allegations of “collusion” between Trump and Russia faced thorough embarrassment as utter idiocy. Putin tossed back allegations of Russian interference in US elections, and essentially laughed at the bogus “assessment” that has been treated as if it were sacrosanct truth in the US media, such that Trump was expected to perform an auto da fé in front of the new Cold War media’s Grand Inquisition. There was no hint of Russia withdrawing from Syria (there at the Syrian government’s request)—though Trump reiterated the near total defeat of ISIS that had been achieved, which also eliminates the US’ rationale for its illegal intervention in Syria. Russia refused to accept that Crimea did not legally, peacefully, and democratically choose to join Russia, to which it belonged for the majority of its history. On these and other issues, it was as if a stake had been driven through the heart of the new Cold War. Of course, it was also just a beginning, and not an end. In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Putin said that the Helsinki Summit was simply “a good start” to ending a revived Cold War that significantly endangered the world. Trump also said that US-Russia relations had reached a disastrously low point, without precedent, and that had ended with the Helsinki Summit. This was an important diplomatic breakthrough, and a legitimate success. Then how was it turned into a moment of infamy in the US? Just how deep is the addiction to empire?

Misunderstanding the Previews

Any student of international relations will know that such summits leave as little room as possible to spontaneity and chance. Instead, they are preceded by officials meeting and corresponding behind the scenes, in planning the event weeks and months in advance. They collaborate in drafting an agenda, and preparing the process of formulating and articulating what could become points of agreement, to be ironed out when the leaders meet in person. That was true of the Helsinki Summit as it was true of the Singapore Summit, as it has been true of all other major summits in the last three centuries of international diplomacy. The notion that Donald Trump would somehow be “winging” this and that the meeting could produce a “surprise” is something entertained by either those who do not know better, or those who pretend to be ignorant. The fact of months of preparation was confirmed by Vladimir Putin himself, at the opening of his interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News on the evening of the summit, July 16. Unfortunately the media completely missed the significance of these statements.

As such, what Trump did in the lead up to the summit was to begin to widen the path for his point of departure. Speaking of trade relationships with “allies,” days before the Helsinki Summit Trump stated: “Sometimes our friends, when it comes to trade, are treating us worse than the enemies”. A day before the Helsinki Summit, Trump told a journalist that, “I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe”.

Trump’s European counterparts seemed to understand what was coming too: some officials confessed that, as the NATO gathering approached, they were “scared shitless” by Trump. Leon Panetta claimed that the Europeans were “scared to death” that Trump would seriously act on his “America First” strategy. Being “absolutely worried” seemed justified, as NATO members had no good arguments for maintaining NATO and for perpetuating what some astute analyses saw as an obsolete and abusive relationship. On his way to the NATO gathering in Belgium, President Trump said this about the alliance and how it benefited allies: “Frankly it helps them a lot more than it helps us”. The divisions dominating NATO, since Trump took office, were now apparent to anyone willing to pay some attention.

Predictably, The Economist voiced the outcry of liberal imperialist elites for the waning NATO alliance, astonishingly touting it as an anchor for democracy—this, despite all evidence to the contrary, particularly NATO’s disastrous intervention in Libya, and the corrupt and rigged elections which it supervised in Afghanistan. The argument one could not credibly make, is the one about NATO as a support system for democracy. Moreover, the manner in which NATO is upheld, against the wishes of citizens in its member states, who are tired of NATO’s incessant war agenda, and the way NATO leaders try to delegitimize democratically-elected leaders, blasts more holes into the democracy illusion advanced by NATO’s elitist apologists. Indeed, democracy is in decline even among NATO members themselves, albeit according to some questionable analyses. Either way, democracy is the last argument one should ever make in defense of NATO, and is easily one of the worst arguments. As for the notion that the military is the supreme guardian and supervisor of democracy, that is better left with the likes of General Augusto Pinochet and other legitimate “fascists”.

The really significant moment, misinterpreted and misunderstood in every article I have read, concerned Trump’s comments on Germany. Trump expressed acute condemnation of Germany, going as far as calling it a “captive” of Russia, in language evocative of Russiagate conspiracy theories. For those who would use Russiagate conspiracy theories against Trump, provoking a new Cold War, Trump seized on their contrived fears and turned them against the fear-mongers. Some argued, with considerable merit, that NATO itself has helped to cause a new Cold War. Trump’s harangue against Germany’s agreement to be connected via a gas pipeline to Russia, pointed to the German government’s hypocrisy—in demanding the US remain committed to the defense of Germany, presumably against Russia, while doing business with Russia. Implausibly, the German response was that the two matters were separate. Seizing on this contradiction, and using it for his own purposes, Trump himself said this: “I am meeting with President Putin next week and getting along—let me tell you, getting along with Russia and getting along with China and getting along with other countries is a good thing. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing”. Indeed, Trump later altered his message, saying the pipeline deal would not be so bad, if NATO states improved their relations with Russia—which seems to have been his larger point, one that both undermined the new Cold War and NATO’s very own reason for being. As for why Trump is doing all of this, right now, so far the lone genius in the story who has correctly discerned the forces producing the pattern, is the eccentric and entertaining Max Keiser.

How Trump used the new Cold War and its Russiagate conspiracy theory rhetoric against its own purveyors, calling out their hypocrisy and then attaching a price to it, seems to have been missed in most analyses. It was a particularly deft move, similar to his holding neoliberals hostage to their own free trade rhetoric (while they practiced less-than-free trade). In this as in other instances, Trump proved to be more clever than many of his professional critics.

What cannot be said, with any justification, is that “nobody saw this coming”. Trump’s messaging has been consistent in recent weeks and months, taking aim at the European Union, at NATO, at Canada (now a “national security threat”), and even at the UK over Brexit as in his “explosive” interview with The Sun. Finally, Trump also denounced the “foolishness” that prevailed in the US around Russia (as displayed in the reactions in the next section):

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”—Donald J. Trump: @realDonaldTrump

Taken together, all of these positions are united by their divergence from the status quo ante, the neoliberals’ dream of a New World Order, of a “transatlanticism” that married Europe and the US in an imperial alliance that sought to command, and thus exploit, the rest of the planet. In the US, it repaired the apparent belief among neoliberals of the right and left that the political system is one where the FBI/CIA rule at the top, and the President is second.

The Alarmists: Addicted to Imperialism

The US’ foreign policy establishment, and specifically the military-industrial-complex, had been alarmed at least since 2016 that Trump, in seeking to improve relations with Russia, would yank the rug out from underneath their lucrative anti-Russia scare-mongering. True to form, just three days before Trump would meet with Putin and in an obvious attempt to “pressure” Trump, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issued an indictment alleging 12 Russian operatives had attempted to interfere with the US election of 2016. Not facing a realistic prospect that these 12 individuals would ever appear in a US court, the alleged evidence against them would never be tested—the easiest indictment to make, as Glenn Greenwald put it. Under the rules of due process, it also means such operatives were innocent, simply because they had yet to be proven guilty. One can also wonder, if one wants to pretend being naïve, whether the US would ever fork over its intelligence agents if they were indicted by a foreign state.

Of course an onslaught of alarmist, anti-Russia and anti-Trump hyperbole vented from the US media once more, as if oblivious not only to popular distrust of the same media, but the incredible fatigue over everything constantly being likened to Pearl Harbor. Absurdly irrational contradictions continued—the Russians apparently stole DNC emails, and then spread “fake news”…except both of those statements cannot be true at the same time. Either the news was fake, or the emails were real and thus dissemination of their contents was real. Clearly Rosenstein, with the aid of the FBI’s Bob Mueller, was intent on destabilizing Trump’s government and specifically its authority to conduct foreign policy, employing a transparently cheap political stunt that casts Mueller in the worst possible light. (The move backfired somewhat: almost immediately it was announced that Rosenstein would face impeachment, while Trump pointed out that the alleged Russian interference occurred under Obama, which did nothing to stop it.) The indictment also came just one day after a scandalous performance by the FBI’s Peter Strzok in front of cameras in an open Congressional hearing, revealing the level of corruption, bigotry and bias permeating the highest levels of the FBI. Strzok successfully caricatured himself as the classic fascist secret policeman. Meanwhile, Rosenstein’s opportunistic and futile indictment not only failed to present any new information, it left out a great deal about how Republicans were also allegedly targeted.

If the Democrats and the media only suggested opposition to Donald Trump’s summit with Kim Jong-un a month before, they both came out openly against any meeting with Vladimir Putin. In the two days leading up to the event, there were shrill demands that the meeting be canceled outright. As such, the Democrats and their media were sealing their fate as the party of imperialism, the party of the Cold War, and the party of the past. Their denunciations of diplomacy served as a reminder of why they deserved to lose the 2016 elections.

Witness the reactions that came from Democrats:

“Every single day, I find myself asking: what do the Russians have on @realDonaldTrump personally, financially, & politically? The answer to that question is that only thing that explains his behavior & his refusal to stand up to Putin.”—Nancy Pelosi: @NancyPelosi

“In the entire history of our country, Americans have never seen a president of the United States support an American adversary the way @realDonaldTrump has supported President Putin.”—Senator Chuck Schumer: @SenSchumer

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”—John Brennan, CIA Director under Obama: @JohnBrennan

“For the President to side with Putin over his own intelligence officials and blame the United States for Russia’s attack on our democracy is a complete disgrace.”—Senator Mark Warner, in just one message among a torrent of similar denunciations: @MarkWarner

“Once again, @realDonaldTrump takes to the international stage to embarrass America, undermine our institutions, weaken our alliances, & embrace a dictator. Russia interfered in our elections & attacked our democracy. Putin must be held accountable – not rewarded. Disgraceful.”—Elizabeth Warren: @SenWarren

“Today is a good day for Putin and the oligarchs in Russia. It is a bad day for people in the United States and all over the world who believe in democracy and who are trying to understand what world our idiot president lives in.”—Bernie Sanders: @SenSanders

Also, here are some reactions from liberal imperialist Republicans:

“Today’s press conference in #Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”—Senator John McCain: @SenJohnMcCain

“I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful.”—Senator Jeff Flake: @JeffFlake

“Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections. This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves.”—Senator Lindsey Graham: @LindseyGrahamSC

“President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected—-immediately.”—Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: @newtgingrich

The Reactionary Resistance and its Struggle with Reality

Most of the Republicans quoted above are “never Trump” has beens, on their way out of electoral politics because they became so unpopular with constituents, or are no longer involved in elections. The never Trumpers are boiling at their collective failure, having been driven from the Republican Party and thus no longer in a position to dictate its agenda. Like other exiles the US has hosted, they are determined to carry out regime change from another shore.

As for the Democrats, and specifically Bernie Sanders, we have known for years that Sanders is the perfect example of a “progressive” who is an imperialist half-head. Bernie Sanders, whose greatest political acts of courage these days involve pushing for a higher wage for Walmart workers, was already on the record as a supporter of NATO and taking an aggressive stance toward Russia. Had the imperial left seen its dream of a Sanders presidency come true, we already know that it would have just been more of the same. On NATO Sanders himself stated in the Democratic debate in Wisconsin on February 11, 2016:

“Russia’s aggressive actions in the Crimea and Ukraine have brought about a situation where President Obama and NATO—correctly, I believe—are saying we’re going to beef up our troop level in that part of the world to tell Putin that his aggressiveness is not going to go unmatched. We have to work with NATO to protect Eastern Europe against any kind of Russian aggression”.

But what did these people seriously expect of Donald Trump? Did they imagine that President Trump would essentially invalidate his own electoral victory, stripping it of all legitimacy, by affirming that the “Russian collusion” stories were what they are patently not, i.e., serious, credible, evidence-based, truthful representations of reality? Apparently the “logic” at work among his critics is that if Trump fails to agree that his election was the result of a Russian conspiracy, then that means he is the agent of a Russian conspiracy.

Otherwise Trump’s “failures” at Helsinki appear to have been that, (a) he was critical of American spies and secret police, and, (b) that he was diplomatic toward Putin. By criticizing American agencies, Trump diminished the American claim to perpetual victimhood. The US is in the grips of a generalized fever, ruled by a panic that privileges “victims” and which constructs victims everywhere one looks. Trump thus challenged the prevailing fiction that America was without any blame—and here Trump was making a major break with his own narratives. His critics denounced the “moral equivalency” implicit in his remarks at the Helsinki press conference, which is a familiar complaint of American exceptionalists who have long been trained in the arts of hypocrisy and decontextualized self-representation.

Speaking of hypocrisy, Trump’s Democratic critics persisted in their failure to explain what their “reset” with Russia would have looked like, if the little that Trump did so offended them. What exactly did Obama mean in 2012 by his otherwise clever retort to the hawkish Mitt Romney, “the 1980s called and they want their foreign policy back”? Worse yet is the glaring contradiction between opposing an economic Cold War with China, played out on the field of trade, while proposing to escalate a Cold War with Russia. What sort of globalism is that? “Globalization has transformed American universities into a front line for espionage,” argues Daniel Golden, author of the recently published book, Spy Schools. However, The New York Times, having energetically fanned the flames of anti-Russian hysteria and xenophobic paranoia, it now accuses the Trump administration of doing just that, only with reference to China and Chinese researchers on US campuses who may soon face tighter restrictions in gaining access. What media elites obfuscate, of course, is that deglobalization is increasingly a fact. Whether the favourite target is Russia (for Democrats) or China (for Trump’s Republicans), either way the logic, means, and outcomes are the same: diminished international cooperation at the heart of the globalist ethos.

On the other hand, whether they admit it or not, the Democrats (and the EU) are fully on Russia’s side in defending the Iran nuclear agreement, which Russia upholds and which Trump abrogated. How do the Democrats explain this rather strange overlap in interests? Are they secretly colluding with the Kremlin to support Tehran? Would not the Uranium One deal exposed by the New York Times be further evidence of such collusion? When one lowers the threshold for rational thought, the way critics of Trump have done, then any old crazy talk should suddenly sound plausible.

Trump’s critics also expected him to shame and berate Putin, escalating tensions to the breaking point, in what would have been an unprecedented scene of personal aggression on the diplomatic stage. Yet recall how utterly charming and amiable Vice President Richard M. Nixon, an arch anti-communist, was when he publicly met with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev during the famous “kitchen debate”. Trump was hectored for merely shaking hands with Kim Jong-un, taken as a sure sign that he “loves dictators”. The question then becomes: with a domestic opposition so ostensibly debased and pathological, who wouldn’t love foreign dictators instead?

Demonizing Russia: Inventing Fictions to Boost Faith in a Defunct World Order

In an interview with Larry King, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, outlined the issues of importance to Russia—these ranged from a strong critique of the West’s humanitarian imperialism, to its double-standards on the popular referendum in Crimea that saw its Russian majority choose to join Russia (there was no “invasion”), to the continued threat of NATO expansion. Lavrov specifically cited NATO as an “atavism of Cold War times” and criticized the “inertia of Cold War thinking” that dominates the West. As for the much touted “rules based international order,” Lavrov correctly pointed out that it was built on Western double-standards that allowed the US to flout international law with impunity and live by a separate set of norms. Separately, the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitri Peskov, pointed out that it was not Russia that was responsible for initiating the deterioration in relations, and that the US seemed to particularly resent that Russia would not simply bend to its will like a dependent puppet state. In advance of the summit, Peskov made some very reasonable and basic observations on the need for peaceful cooperation, while each state should safeguard the interests of its own citizens. There was nothing here indicative of the fabled Russian “aggression” that seems to preoccupy the shrill, imperialist “resistance” in the US.

But then rational, critical, independent-minded thought is not allowed. We are instead plunged into a free fall to new depths of distortion, exaggeration, and outright invention.

Thus in the US media and political circles (the two being virtually indistinguishable), it has become a matter of fact that “Russia invaded Crimea”. Do they mean like the US invaded Iraq? Fine. Then it should be a very simple matter for the reader to find us photographs and videos of Russian columns pouring into Crimea, seizing buildings, and engaged in gunfire. Also, remind us of the body count resulting from Russia’s “invasion”. The actual reality is that Russia neither invaded nor annexed Crimea, not if words are to have any meaning at all. Acceptance of the notion that Russia invaded Crimea indicates that one is already prepared to accept any sort of fabrication as if it were fact. Nothing has apparently been learned from the great WMDs myth of 2003, except how to repeat it and amplify it. This involves a deeply perverse commitment, and there is no point railing against “alternative facts” when all you do is recite alternatives to facts.

And what exactly is “the solution” to Crimea? Is it about forcing the majority of Crimeans to subjugate themselves to rule by a government that has resolutely persecuted Russian communities within its borders? What sort of idea of justice is this exactly? Let us not forget how that government came into being in Ukraine, which was through a Western-backed coup and violence in the streets, and which has also witnessed the rise to power of actual neo-Nazis.

Then there is the assertion and easy acceptance of the fabrication that Russia aided “the Syrian regime” in its “chemical weapons” attacks on civilians. What chemical attacks? Has the reader noticed the almost total silence in the media about the facts actually found on the ground? After the US, France, and the UK used a “chemical attack” as a justification for attacking Syria, Western media largely ignored the facts that were revealed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, tasked by the UN to conduct an investigation. In a July report, the OPCW stated that it had found “no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties”. That it called the casualties “alleged,” meant it also found none. No nerve agents, no casualties. Again, let me ask: what chemical attacks? Like the Iraq WMD myth, once again Western governments and media perpetrated egregious lies against their own citizens, to justify acts of unlawful military aggression. How many more times do we need to repeat this before you finally learn the lesson? This is a very serious question, because what is being challenged here is your human capacity to learn, and to remember what you learned.

We are also told that Russians subverted US elections. If it had been true, how would you have been able to spot their subversion among all the other subversion? Here I am referring to the persistent subversion of American politics by giant corporations and oligarchic financiers, and of the pervasive influence of the military-industrial complex, to the point that US elections risked degenerating into mere demonstration elections staged by the corporate imperial state, not to mention an impressive array of foreign donors (recall the Clinton Foundation). Logically, the only way one can “subvert” something that is already corrupted, is by fixing it.

Repeatedly we have been instructed that all of the US’ intelligence agencies concluded that there was significant Russian interference in the US elections of 2016. First, it would be useful to consult the resources on Russiagate compiled on Fabius Maximus. Second, it is important to remember that: “The intelligence community as a whole has not been tasked to make a judgment and some key members of that community did not participate in the report that is routinely cited as ‘proof’ of ‘Russian interference’,” as explained in careful detail by Jack Matlock, a veteran of government service with experience on national security matters at the highest levels. Next, remember that US media such as the New York Times have been forced to withdraw statements that all of the US intelligence agencies reached these so-called conclusions about Russian interference, not to mention all of the other “fake news” actually produced by CNN, The Washington Post and others on Russiagate. Third, recall that veterans of US intelligence agencies openly challenged claims that Russians hacked the emails of the DNC. Even this short list should, in the mind of any reasonable adult, provoke at least some misgivings.

Finally, in what became an all too obvious and predictable pattern, shortly before Donald Trump was to finally meet with Vladimir Putin—worrying the globalists and interventionist establishment—another chemical hoax emerged, this time involving a random couple being poisoned not far from the site of the Skirpal attack in the UK. The only thing that was apparent about this attack, according even to The Guardian which usually lusts after anti-Russia conspiracy theories, is that “someone is out to embarrass Vladmir Putin”:

“all we can see are the devious tools of the new international politics. We see the rush to judgment at the bidding of the news agenda. We see murders and terrorist incidents hijacked for political gain or military advantage. Ministers plunge into Cobra bunkers. Social media and false news are weaponised. So too are sporting events”.

That Vladimir Putin should publicly assert, as he did on July 16, that the Russian state has no compromising information about Donald Trump, should have put an end to that story. Why? Simply because if in the future the Russian government should purport to have any such information, it will have been contradicted and thus invalidated by Putin’s prior statement. There is no point in having compromising information, if you challenge its very existence at the outset. Case closed.

Yet, we are instructed that Russia is “untrustworthy”. What makes it so unworthy of trust? The real problem about Russia is twofold. One is that Russia has been cynically exploited by Americans which have used Russia as a cheap political football in their domestic conflicts. The second problem is that Russia is the kind of state that does not immediately bend its knee to Western demands. What Americans describe as “trustworthy” is exactly what describes a puppet, an instrument that bends to the American will. It is thus not terribly flattering to have an American call you a “trusted partner”.

What especially irks Americans in the foreign policy establishment is that Vladimir Putin is an obviously brilliant statesman, and that Russian diplomats have bested their Western counterparts for decades, both in their expertise and professionalism, and in their deep appreciation of international law, sovereignty, and self-determination. These are all qualities to be detested.

In the interview with Wallace, Putin provided a short list of Russian complaints, that rarely get aired by the US media: NATO’s relentless expansion eastward, even after the Cold War had ended, and in violation of promises to Russia in return for its agreement to allow the reunification of Germany. Added to this is the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. Then added to that was the US and European intervention in Yugoslavia, participating in its illegal breakup, and then backing a coup in Ukraine. While freaking out about some emails and Facebook ads, compare it to that list and see which side weighs more.

That Putin should end his interview with Wallace by pointing how US sanctions on Russia have backfired, producing only opportunity for the US’ competitors, is not a simple demonstration of his concern for Americans. It is a reminder to the viewer of just how stupid we have become.

A Bad Day? For Whom?

Probably the single most important achievement for Donald Trump arising from the Helsinki Summit, is that he forced fellow Americans to begin to debate what was previously treated as unquestionable, to debate that faith which has been masked as “facts” and which are used to create a sacred aura around the upholders of empire. Trump’s supporters will be divided between those who supported Trump while they thought they could use him, and his genuine supporters who elected him because of the principles he advanced in the 2016 campaign.

We can look forward to some interesting and embarrassing contradictions. Fox News has a privileged relationship with Donald Trump, but also an ambiguous and contradictory one that contains a lot of latent conflict (hopefully an intelligent study by a calm media analysis scholar will eventually bring this out better). Emblematic of this privilege, Fox News monopolized all of the key interviews arising from the summit: Chris Wallace was granted an exclusive interview with Vladimir Putin; at the same time that was happening, Sean Hannity was interviewing Donald Trump; thirdly, this was to to be followed up by Tucker Carlson’s interview with Trump, to be aired on July 17. Sean Hannity, who until now has been an unquestioning supporter of President Trump, never expressing even the mildest of reservations, is also a close friend of Newt Gingrich who appears frequently on Hannity’s show. Gingrich condemned Trump’s statements in Helsinki. Hannity was apparently unaware of this when he scorched all of Trump’s Republican critics. Hannity’s “Opening Monologue” for July 16, just hours after the summit ended, seemed to show someone who was unable or unwilling to digest what had just happened. Hannity was full of contradictions; he continued, like a broken record, to repeat content that is now many months old; and he praised Trump, but in the way that a neoconservative would, touting Trump’s “toughness” on Russia and belligerence toward Iran, North Korea, etc. Meanwhile, people commenting under Fox News’ reports on the summit are for the most part firmly in support of Trump’s stance at the summit, condemning the neocon elites ousted from the Republican Party. Fox, for its part, has largely tilted against Trump—they risk bringing the relationship with Trump back to what it was in late 2015, when Trump’s arch enemy in the media was not CNN, but Fox News. How some have forgotten already. Trump went as far as boycotting and then upstaging a Fox News Republican primary debate. Since Fox decided to repair relations with Trump, it has tried to use him as an instrument: knowing they have his ear, their commentary has consistently pushed the old neoliberal imperialist orthodoxy, trying to preserve the interests of the status quo ante, while reducing Trump’s ascendancy from a structural shift to a mere partisan switch. All of Fox’s contributors, virtually without a single exception, all presumed to advise Trump from a distance, to treat the meeting with Putin as something like a boxing match and to make sure to bloody Putin’s face. Fox failed. It is actually worth relishing how solidly and totally they have been ignored.

Trump is definitely not a politician, or he would not show this much courage. Seemingly aware of this himself, Trump’s opening comments at the joint press conference with Putin at the summit indicated as much, saying: “I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace, than to risk peace in pursuit of politics”. By politics he clearly meant partisan status and security.

What was especially significant about the Helsinki Summit was not so much anything either Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump said, as much as the hyperbole of knee-jerk reactions—excessive even by American standards—involving a growing, collective, high-pitched scream coming especially from displaced liberal imperialist elites who have still not come to grips with their loss of the US presidency. Witnessing the reactions to the press conference that closed the summit afforded a special, rich, and just pleasure to those of us who just a few years ago saw today’s screamers pompously preside over the razing of Iraq, the military colonization of Afghanistan, the destruction of Libya, and the dismantling of Syria, all while cheerfully preaching the virtues of a neoliberal world “order” that saw the biggest wealth transfer ever recorded in human history. What they did not steal abroad they robbed at home. It was about time that they had (another) bad day.

And it was indeed a very bad day—a bad day for the conspiracy theories pushed by the Democrats, their neoconservative bed partners, and the corporate media who are the instruments of power. It was also a bad day for the interests vested in the way things were before, who had poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the failed campaign of their would-be stewardess, Hillary Clinton. And, it was an especially bad day for orthodox, imperialist reactionaries who in the US gesture as progressives and garb themselves as “the resistance”. These are the same forces that would claim monopoly ownership over “respectability,” “reason,” and “decency,” assuming in turn that the rest of us suffer from a collective amnesia as deep as our generous credulity. If one could rewind and replay a day, then July 16, 2018, was the day worth recording.

To better understand what happened at Helsinki, it is useful to follow the trail of tears to its sources. What took a big blow were the interests of self-styled “transatlanticists,” the elites of a transnational capitalist class that has ardently preached the virtuous necessity of neoliberal empire. This is the class, with all its “responsibility to protect,” its “humanitarian intervention,” and its projects of regime change. We are speaking here of the stalwarts of failure, the abiding defenders of the New World Order which has collapsed in front of their eyes. Keeping this in mind, one sees the pattern that joins the seemingly disparate dots that have dared, in the face of their popular repudiation at the polls, to condemn Trump for moving toward what he promised.

How the imperial national security state will let this stand, is to be seen.

July 17, 2018 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Fake News, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

No Trump, No Clinton, No NATO

By Craig Murray | July 7, 2018

Marina Hyde’s vicious and spiteful attack on Susan Sarandon and the Green Party points to the real danger of anti-Trump protest next week being hijacked by the neo-con warmonger franchise. The idea that those of us who do not want arch warmonger Clinton in power are therefore supporters of Trump is intellectually risible and politically dishonest.

Yesterday the OPCW reported that, contrary to US and UK assertions in the UN security council, there was no nerve agent attack on jihadist-held Douma by the Syrian government, precisely as Robert Fisk was execrated by the entire media establishment for pointing out. The OPCW did find some traces of chlorine compounds, but chlorine is a very commonly used element and you have traces of it all over your house. The US wants your chicken chlorinated. The OPCW said it was “Not clear” if the chlorine was weaponised, and it is plain to me from a career in diplomacy that the almost incidental mention is a diplomatic sop to the UK, US and France, which are important members of the OPCW.

Trump’s reaction to yet more lying claims by the UK government funded White Helmets and Syrian Observatory, a reaction of missile strikes on alleged Syrian facilities producing the non-existent nerve agent, was foolish. May’s leap for British participation was unwise, and the usual queue of Blairites who stood up as always in Parliament to support any bombing action, stand yet again exposed as evil tools of the military industrial complex.

Hillary Clinton, true to form, wanted more aggressive military action than was undertaken by Trump. Hillary has been itching to destroy Syria as she destroyed Libya. Libya was very much Hillary’s war and – almost unreported by the mainstream media – NATO bombers carried out almost 14,000 bombing sorties on Libya and devastated entire cities.

Sirte, Libya, after NATO bombing

The destruction of Libya’s government and infrastructure directly caused the Mediterranean boat migrant crisis, which has poisoned the politics of much of the European Union.

Donald Trump has not started any major war. He has been more restrained in military action than any US President since Jimmy Carter. My own view is (and of course it is impossible to know for sure) that, had Hillary been in power, Syria would already have been totally destroyed, the Cold War with Russia would be at mankind threatening levels, and nuclear tension with North Korea would be escalating.

“He hasn’t destroyed mankind yet” is faint praise for anyone. Being less of an existential danger to mankind than Hillary Clinton is a level achieved by virtually the entire population of the planet. I am not supporting Trump. I am condemning Clinton. I too, like Susan Sarandon, would have voted for Jill Stein were I an American.

So do protest against Trump. But do so under the banner No Trump! No Clinton! No NATO! And if any Clintonite or Blairite gets up to address you, tell them very loudly where to get off. I remember the hijacking of the Make Poverty History campaign by Brown, Darling and Campbell on behalf of their banker friends. Don’t let that happen again.

Or here is an even better idea.

Escape the Trump visit completely. Rather than stand penned in and shouting slogans at a police van parked right in front of you, turn your back on all of that and come join me at the Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival from 13 to 15 July. As our regulars know, this blog has been intimately connected with running the Festival from the start. This year is much bigger, with the Levellers, Akala, Atari Teenage Riot, Peatbog Faeries, and literally scores of other bands, and a great array of other festival activities too, including for kids, who come free and get free drinks.

DTRH has no sponsorship, no advertising, no government money and no rip-offs – beer and cider from £3.50 a pint at the bars. It is very much an alternative lifestyle gathering, and I find spiritual renewal there in the glorious Stirlingshire countryside. (I know that sounds corny, but I do). Tickets are £90 for full weekend including camping, which I think makes it the cheapest festival on this level around. Or you can buy a cheaper day ticket and drop in just for the day. If tickets are too expensive or you fancy a different kind of fun, you can volunteer, including to come and work with me in the bar, though there are a whole range of other tasks to be done if you don’t fancy that. Volunteers get in free and get fed in return for one six hour shift a day.

I really do hope I will see some of you there – it looks set to be a glorious weekend. Forget stress, forget Trump and hang out with nice people!

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US establishment in hysterics that Trump-Putin summit might succeed

RT | July 6, 2018

There are many reasons the bipartisan US establishment hates Trump. His heresies from neoliberal orthodoxies on immigration and trade are prominent. But top among them is his oft-stated intention to improve relations with Russia.

That’s fighting words for the Deep State and its mainstream media arm, for which demonizing Russia and its president Vladimir Putin is an obsession.

The fact that Donald Trump made his intention to get along with Moscow a priority during his 2016 campaign, both against his Republican primary rivals and Hillary Clinton (who has compared Putin to Hitler) was cause for alarm. This is because far more than even the frightening prospect that the 70-year state of war on the Korean Peninsula might end, US reconciliation with Russia would yank the rug out from under the phony justifications for spending hundreds of billions of dollars annually to counter a “threat” that ceased to exist over a quarter century ago. Absent hostility to Russia that money has no reason to keep sustaining the power, privilege, and prosperity of a horde of moochers and profiteers, both at home and abroad.

That’s why when it was reported soon after his January 2017 inauguration that Trump was seeking to open dialogue with the Kremlin and set an early summit with Putin there was a hysterical counteraction. As described just over a year ago by conservative columnist and former presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan:

Trump planned a swift lifting of sanctions on Russia after inauguration and a summit meeting with Vladimir Putin to prevent a second Cold War. The State Department was tasked with working out the details. Instead, says Daniel Fried, the coordinator for sanctions policy, he received ‘panicky’ calls of ‘Please, my God, can you stop this?’. Operatives at State, disloyal to the president and hostile to the Russia policy on which he had been elected, collaborated with elements in Congress to sabotage any detente. They succeeded.

“It would have been a win-win for Moscow,” said Tom Malinowski of State, who boasted last week of his role in blocking a rapprochement with Russia. State employees sabotaged one of the principal policies for which Americans had voted, and they substituted their own.

Back then, constitutional government and the rule of law took a back seat to bureaucratic obstructionism, atop months of a phony “Russian collusion” story that even anti-Russian Republican Congressmen are now calling to “finish the hell up.” But now, in the aftermath of the successful Singapore summit and with the collusion narrative looking ever more threadbare, Trump is back on track. The summit with Putin will finally take place on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland, the site of earlier meetings between American and Russian leaders.

Today the assaults on Trump are no less frenzied than a year ago, but they seem to pack less of a punch with the critics’ glum awareness that, aside from some extraordinary provocation, little can be done to stop the summit from taking place. The Beltway Swamp’s flagship bulletin board Washington Post accused Trump of “kowtowing” to Putin by merely agreeing to meet with him. Trump’s one-on-one with the “autocrat” Putin will be a “meeting of kindred spirits,” warned the conceited New York Times. Putin has “devoured” Trump grumbled über-Russophobe Ralph Peters on CNN. Trump wants to “Finlandize” the US moaned Max Boot. Officials in the United Kingdom, a key culprit in ginning up “Russiagate” in the first place, are particularly scared that – horror! – there could be a “peace deal” between Trump and Putin.

Major worries are voiced by useless freeloader countries we call “allies,” whose governments fret that the US will become “less reliable” – to their rulers’ interests of course, not to those of the American people. This specifically means the members of NATO, whose summit Trump will attend prior to Helsinki. As former US ambassador to Moscow and to NATO Alexander Vershbow suggests, “allies are wondering whether they will be in for nothing more than a tongue lashing by President Trump over insufficient defense spending, further inflaming transatlantic divisions over trade, the Iran deal, and other issues.”

Indeed, Trump’s hammering on the NATO deadbeats’ treating the US as a “piggy bank” that will no longer be at their disposal exposes the biggest fraud at the heart of the long-obsolete alliance: there is no threat of Russian military “aggression” and they all know it. If these countries really thought they were in danger of invasion from Russia (and not from Third World migrants, regarding which NATO is totally worthless) they wouldn’t need Trump to nag them about spending, they’d commit more money because they knew they had to. The proof is in noting which NATO member, after the US, consistently spends the largest GDP share on its military: Greece. Is that because the penniless Greeks are terrified of Russia? No, they’re afraid of a genuine threat from their fellow NATO “ally,” Turkey.

In the absence of an actual military menace from the east, NATO advocates are scrambling to come up with ever more imaginative justifications. As described by one member of Latvia’s parliament on the website of the Atlantic Council, a leading Washington establishment think tank, the real Russian threat comes from “hybrid warfare, with an increased focus on asymmetric and nontraditional military capabilities, has made it considerably more difficult for NATO to counter destabilization efforts, information operations, cyber-attacks, disinformation, propaganda, and psychological operations.” Yeah sure, maybe Trump will fall for that! Anything to save the Atlantic Council’s $30 million budget provided by a Who’s Who of US government agencies, NATO and Gulf Arab governments, and military contractor firms.

However, it should not be thought that the US and NATO establishment’s hostility to Russia is entirely venal. There is also a strong ideological component. Whereas during the first Cold War much of the western establishment, especially on the Left, felt an affinity for the materialist goals of communism (if not its methods), Russia’s reemergence under Putin as a conservative country in which national traditions and the Orthodox Church are respected has led to a bitter sense of betrayal. That makes Putin, as articulated by Hillary Clinton, leader of the worldwide “authoritarian, white-supremacist, and xenophobic movement” who is “emboldening right-wing nationalists, separatists, racists, and even neo-Nazis.” No Soviet leader, not even Joseph Stalin, was ever portrayed in such diabolical fashion in US media and government circles the way Putin is.

It is no coincidence that Trump himself is vilified in the same dire Hitlerian terms once reserved for foreign targets of regime change like Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi. Together with the rising elements of anti-establishmentism in Europe, most recently in the installation of a patriotic Lega/Five-Star government in Rome, the post-modern, neo-liberal elite on both sides of the Atlantic feels its dominance slipping away.

For some Democratic partisans and Never-Trump neo-conservative Republicans, horror at improved US-Russia relations competes with the loathing of Trump personally. But for other Americans, both supporters of the President and people who find him objectionable, the summit should not be seen as a litmus test about their attitudes toward the current occupant of the White House. Rather, the issue is what the summit can mean for Americans’ safety and security – and perhaps our very survival.

Claims of Russian collusion and attitudes toward Trump have obscured the fact that Russia is the only country on the planet with a nuclear establishment on a par with ours. Even during the worst periods of the first Cold War with the USSR, US administrations of both parties kept in mind that a minimum of mutual respect and open communication was not just prudent, it was literally a matter of life and death – for the American people and for the world.

During the past few years as we have entered what has been called a second Cold War, this time with post-communist Russia, the seriousness with which the US used to regard the old Soviet Union has been lacking. The bipartisan foreign policy consensus became a closed, incestuous loop in which Republicans and Democrats vied for who could be most strident in their anti-Russian attitudes: let’s poke the bear and see if he growls!

NATO expansion right in Russia’s face became an end in itself, continuing with induction of Montenegro in 2017, plans to welcome Macedonia (or “North Macedonia” or whatever other silly name is concocted to appease Hellenic pride) – even Ukraine, Georgia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina remain formally on track for joining.

Color revolutions and disastrous wars of regime change toppled Moscow-friendly governments, justified as supposed “democracy promotion.” Risk of confrontation between US and Russian military personnel – studiously avoided during Cold War 1 – takes place with reckless glee in Russia’s Black and Baltic Seas littorals, in Ukraine, and especially in Syria, where earlier this year American forces reportedly slaughtered many Russian contractors – to the delight of some of those now warning darkly against the Trump-Putin meeting. Perhaps most dangerously, the painfully constructed complex of arms control agreements has atrophied as both sides build up stocks of new hypersonic, cyber, and space weapons.

It is perhaps beyond the power of either Trump or Putin to reverse this dangerous trend with one stroke, but maybe they can at least make a start in arresting it. The usual suspects warn of failure, but their real worry is that the summit might be a success. Let’s hope their worst nightmare comes true and peace breaks out.

Jim Jatras is a Washington, DC-based attorney, political analyst, and media & government affairs specialist.

Read more:

‘Trump wants to be his own drummer at Putin meeting after NATO Summit’ – Jim Jatras

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump-Putin Summit Flushes Out the Russophobes

Strategic Culture Foundation | July 6, 2018

Any reasonable person would have to welcome the summit between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to be held on July 16 in Helsinki.

However, what is most telling is the crescendo of scurrilous attempts purveyed by Western news media to spoil the forthcoming meeting. Trump’s political enemies in the US are almost apoplectic that he is willing to engage in a cordial, constructive fashion with the Russian leader.

The anti-Russia tropes are being dredged up to denigrate Putin and by extension Trump for holding the conference. Trump is being lambasted for daring to engage with an alleged “autocrat” who allegedly “annexed Crimea”, who has allegedly aided and abetted a “dictator” in Syria, and who allegedly ordered Kremlin agents to “interfere in US elections.”

On the latter accusation of electoral interference, a recent analysis piece by Jack Matlock, the former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, is both welcome and highly instructive. Matlock, who is a veteran of assessing top-secret files, makes a withering assessment that the so-called US intelligence claims of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections was “politically motivated.” The respected diplomat debunks the “intelligence” and subsequent media mantra as cooked up like the earlier shameful scam over Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. In short, fabricated.

The list of alleged Russian malfeasance has expanded like elastic in recent years. But as Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cogently pointed out in a recent British media interview not one of these attenuated claims has ever produced substantiating evidence.

One suspects that the strange case this week of an English man and woman being allegedly poisoned with a nerve agent is a contrived timely reminder of the Skripal poisoning affair which happened in Salisbury four months ago. As with all Western media campaigns attempting to smear Russia, the alleged poison cases rely on pejorative innuendo and assertions, spun by a dutiful and derelict news media.

Plausibly, the timing of the latest “story” of an alleged Soviet-made chemical weapon being deployed in Britain is a convenient excuse to further undermine the forthcoming Trump-Putin summit.

Next week also sees a major NATO summit in Brussels during which delegates are to dwell – as they ever tediously do – on alleged Russian aggression. The strange case of poisoning this week in England – which the authorities there have used to once again implicate Russian involvement – will no doubt lend added animus to the NATO agenda.

Trump’s political opponents in the US have been bolstered by pro-Atlanticists in Europe who are claiming that his meeting with Putin “makes Europeans very nervous”, to quote former Swedish premier Carl Bildt writing in the Washington Post.

That’s a sweeping claim. More precisely, the people Trump is making nervous are elitist European politicians like Carl Bildt who have made lucrative careers from being cheerleaders for NATO’s military expansion on Russia’s borders. It is a fair assumption that most ordinary citizens of the European Union – some 500 million – are glad to see the leaders of the world’s two biggest nuclear powers open a long-overdue dialogue to reduce fearful tensions and to try to repair badly damaged relations between East and West.

One talking point doing the rounds in Western media is to compare unfavorably Trump’s meeting with Putin to his earlier summit last month with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un. Trump’s detractors in the US and in Europe are claiming that he gave too many easy concessions to Kim over denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. There has been a steady US media campaign – citing anonymous US intel sources – claiming that North Korea is cheating Trump over its promises.

That theme is being applied to Trump’s gathering with Putin in Helsinki. Assorted Russophobic talking heads like former US ambassador Michael McFaul are asserting that Trump will be played and hoodwinked by the wily Putin, as he allegedly was too by Kim Jong-Un. These cynics seem to be more content with conflict and even war, rather than attempts for peace-making.

Such negative views are nothing but cynical opportunism by vested powerful interests among militarists, NATO expansionists, and their European acolytes to derail the Trump-Putin summit, or at least to severely limit the American president’s efforts at engaging normally with Russia.

The two leaders have much to discuss in an effort to begin resolving highly dangerous global security risks. They include settling the conflict in Ukraine and Syria, and trying to de-escalate tensions over the buildup of NATO forces along Russia’s Western flank. Let fester, these issues could ignite into a wider, disastrous conflict between the two nuclear superpowers.

Surely, it is urgently needed for Trump and Putin to engage in direct talks to mitigate the worst tensions since the end of the Cold War more than a quarter-century ago. Since Trump took office nearly 18 months ago, he has met with President Putin only on two fleeting occasions at multilateral forums. It is long overdue that the two leaders should meet in a full summit for in-depth, face-to-face negotiations. To Trump’s credit, he doing just that, despite the naysayers and fantasists claiming “Russian influence” over the American president.

Instead of welcoming this engagement as an important step towards securing world peace, an array of powerful interests both in the US and Europe are trying their best to sabotage the high-level crucial talks.

The Russophobes and their perverse warmongering predilections are being flushed out for the whole world to see, and to condemn as reprehensible, irresponsible wreckers of global peace.

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Real and Fake Threats to U.S. Vital Interests

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald tribune | June 18, 2018

There has been considerable chatter inside the Washington Beltway about the meaning of President Donald Trump’s recent forays into international trade at the G-7 meeting in Canada and his nuclear disarmament tete-a-tete with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore. Depending on where one sits on the ideological spectrum G-7 is being viewed either as a calculated and largely ignorant insult to America’s closest allies or as a long overdue accounting for trade and defense imbalances that have severely damaged the U.S. economy. The most vitriolic analysis came from Republicans like Senator John McCain who accused Trump of betraying America’s allies while also aiding its enemies. McCain was referring in part to the president’s eminently reasonable suggestions that Moscow be allowed to rejoin the G-7 and that it would be beneficial to get together personally with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The meeting with Jong-un likewise is being described as a giveaway to North Korea with nothing in exchange but White House spin or as a brilliant maneuver to break a diplomatic logjam that has prevailed for more than twenty years. Those who are particularly concerned over the issue of a possible nuclear exchange taking place are pleased that the two sides are talking, even if, as The Hill observes, it will now be up to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “put meat on the bones” by initiating a series of confidence building steps that will lead to a program for finally ending the Korean War and denuclearizing the region.

In his analysis of what to expect from Singapore, former Foreign Service Officer Peter Van Buren quotes another FSO Asia hand William Johnson, who describes how diplomacy is a process which “… is often a series of failures, and in the best case, the failures become incrementally less bad, until the least spectacular failure is declared to be success. Diplomacy is a game where the goalposts are supposed to move, and often, to move erratically. Trump needs a plan, with specific goals, each laid out neatly in a set of talking points, not because he will attain those goals, but because he needs to figure out how short of them he can afford to fall or how far beyond them he can push his interlocutor.”

One would hope that in both the case of G-7 and Singapore wiser heads in the Administration will prevail and convince the White House to remain on target about protecting genuine American interests using diplomacy and whatever other tools are at hand.

Above all, a careful assessment of what the actual threats against the United States might be ten or twenty years down the road should be considered to frame appropriate responses. Was the presidential onslaught at G-7 justified in terms of protecting the national interest relating to unfair trade practices? Is a transnational defense strategy beneficial to the United States if it is required to bear most of the burden financially? And finally, what are the real military and political threats that confront the Washington?

The trade issue is perhaps the most complicated to deal with as most countries run surpluses with some trading partners and deficits with others, something called competitive advantage. The Donald Trump claim that that Canada runs a $100 billion surplus with the U.S. is incorrect. In reality, the U.S. has a small surplus in trading with Canada, last year amounting to $2.8 billion. So, is Canada a major source of trade imbalance? The answer would have to be “no,” even though it is demonstrably protectionist regarding food products. But there are other regions that have a large trade advantage vis-à-vis the U.S. The European Union runs a $100 billion surplus and China $375.

Europe aside, does China’s trade advantage have security implications? Yes, it does as China is the world’s most populous nation with the world’s largest economy. Economic power eventually translates into military power and if Beijing is closing its market to American products arbitrarily while selling its own goods in a relative open U.S. marketplace it becomes a vital national interest to correct that. And there are clear indications that Beijing deliberately distorts the marketplace by maintaining an undervalued Yuan and creating hurdles that foreign companies must negotiate to do business in China. China also owns 19% of Washington’s Treasury note issued debt, totaling $1.18 trillion, which it could unload at any time causing an economic crash in the U.S. The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has described the U.S. national debt as the most-grave long-term security challenge facing the country.

Defense policy and military threats from competitors constitute together a single issue as one drives the other. It is ironic that the United States, which is relatively unthreatened by enemies, continues to believe that it must intervene overseas to be safe. The current conflicts with Iran as well as in Syria and in Afghanistan are not vital interests for the United States, instead being driven largely by feckless allies, defense contractors and a sensationalist media. Even North Korea, which is a serious issue, is hardly a major threat to Americans.

The alleged threat from Russia, demonized by both the political left and right, is largely a fiction created to sell newspapers and give aspiring politicians something to talk about. Even if Russia wanted to re-occupy Eastern Europe it does not have the resources to do so. Its army is relatively small and designed for defense, its economy is the same size as Spain’s. It is nuclear armed to be sure, but, unless one is suicidal, nuclear weapons are ultimately defensive rather than offensive, to serve as a deterrent guaranteeing national survival when attacked but hardly usable otherwise.

So realistically Trump should be looking at the over the horizon economic and political problems deriving from Chinese power if he wants to address a real vital national interest. And he should do what he can to keep talking to G-7 about trade imbalances while also doing whatever is possible to hasten the demise of NATO, which has outlived its usefulness both from a fiscal and security point of view. And by all means, he should keep talking to Kim Jong-un and arrange sooner rather than later to meet with Vladimir Putin.

June 18, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Which Door Has Opened? Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump, and the Singapore Summit

By Maximilian C. Forte | Zero Anthropology | June 17, 2018

Both leaders arrived in Singapore, with significant excitement greeting them. Trump, arriving from a bitter G7 meeting, after which he attacked Justin Trudeau personally, flew into Singapore on Sunday, June 10, as did Kim Jong-un, who took serious precautions in his travel arrangements. By this point Trump had already significantly lowered expectations, saying that it would just be a meeting where the two leaders got to start a dialogue: “at least we’ll have met each other, we’ll have seen each other; hopefully, we’ll have liked each other. We’ll start that process….But I think it will take a little bit of time”. The lowered expectations might have been well advised. The usual appeal to authority that is the now customary wail of panic-striken, discredited elites, was evidenced by the scorn heaped on the work of Dennis Rodman, for not being a “professional”—when his work was fundamental to laying the groundwork for the peace talks. Others, with a longer and more considered view of history, pointed out that, “The history of U.S. foreign policy is littered with unsuccessful presidential summits, even when they have been preceded by months of careful preparation and infused by a coherent strategy and clear objectives set by a well-informed and experienced president”.

An Historic Encounter

Just the fact of meeting and talking was significant enough: already there was evidence that the campaign of “maximum pressure” was over and not likely to come back. Sanctions on North Korea were already being loosened, tested, and plans made for a future after the talks. In the meantime, clearly in a deep, quiet panic over the summit, Fox News saturated its coverage with talking heads offering Trump advice from a distance, hoping to pressure him—including advising flatly undiplomatic and plainly rude tactics such as not shaking Kim Jong-un’s hand, or preventing photographs of the two leaders together.

The Summit, televised live around the planet, wrapped up in the the afternoon on Tuesday, June 12 (Singapore time), with the final event being an extended press conference by Donald Trump, and the release of the text of the agreement jointly signed by Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. Also released was the video, “A Story of Opportunity,” prepared by the US side and shown in person to Kim Jong-un, which offered the progressivist American vision of the future.

(See Trump’s 12 tweets on the summit here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.)

Reactions to the Summit

Initial lists of outcomes did not seem to be particularly compelling in terms of the Summit offering either side any real change. Yet North Korean state media reported that the Summit had been a great success. Trump went quickly from lauding the move toward eventual denuclearization, into a full blown cheer for what he said had now been achieved: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea” and “The World has taken a big step back from potential Nuclear catastrophe!”. Trump seemed ready to conclude a process that, at best, would take years and many more significant concessions. Trump also vowed to stop US war games on the Korean peninsula, admitting that they are “very provocative” (a small concession to reality). Not among the naysayers was the UN Secretary General, who immediately issued a statement of support on behalf of the UN. Regional experts called the Summit a “beginning,” and thus noted an absence of details on denuclearization. But there was also confusion, thanks to vice-president Mike Pence, about whether the US was stopping war games, or not.

Early reactions, including one from a former CIA expert, was that “denuclearization,” the way the US envisaged, is not what the Summit agreement affirmed. Others held that at the very least the Summit was a real turning point, that averted war and began a peace process; also set to rest was the trope that Kim and Trump are “madmen”.

One interesting assessment was that the summit had been a significant success for North Korea:

“The joint declaration specifies no timeline for denuclearization nor it does have steps to verify disarmament. It also refers to denuclearization on the entire Korean Peninsula—Pyongyang’s preferred phrasing—and does not include the words ‘verifiable’ and ‘irreversible’ despite months of U.S. statements. Trump also agreed to something North Korea has sought for years: the suspension of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises”.

In some key respects, Trump’s concessions matched what had long been the position of Russia and China (both of which were keen to formally rejoin negotiations on Korea): that the US freeze war games in return for North Korea suspending testing nuclear weapons. The double-freeze approach finally won. In addition, one outcome of the Summit was that China was now pressing for sanctions to be eased, almost immediately, with Trump acknowledging—without criticism on his part—that China had already eroded sanctions enforcement over the last few months. Kim and Trump also promised to personally visit each other’s capitals in the near future.

Another assessment saw the Summit as a victory for all of Korea, and the signed document as simply an aspirational declaration and not an agreement on denuclearization as such:

“The North Korean side played its cards exceptionally well. It built its capabilities under enormous pressure and used it to elevate the country to a real player on the international stage. The ‘maximum pressure’ sanction campaign against it is now defused. China, Russia and South Korea will again trade with North Korea. In pressing for an early summit Trump defused a conflict that otherwise might have ruined his presidency. The losers, for now, are the hawks in Japan, South Korea and Washington who tried their best to prevent this to happen. The winners are the people of Korea, Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. Special prizes go to President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and to Dennis Rodman who did their best to make this happen”.

Others offered well-informed analysis by individuals who were intimately involved in negotiations with North Korea and who argue that North Korea is not intending to “get away” with keeping its nuclear weapons, but that the North instead has real reasons for wanting to denuclearize. The argument here is that North Korea developed nuclear weapons to entice the US to the negotiating table, in order to end the Korean War, remove all sanctions, offer diplomatic recognition, and ending the US military threat to North Korea. In addition, a rapprochement with the US would allow North Korea to diversify its foreign relations, not remaining exclusively dependent on China, when North Korea has traditionally preferred independence. Another view is that the Summit simply resulted in a momentary stabilization. Yet, as Pepe Escobar noted, “by reaffirming the Panmunjom Declaration, the US President has committed to bringing its military back from South Korea and thus a complete denuclearization of the South as well as the North”. The accusation by liberal media was that, somehow, Trump managed to get nothing at all from the summit with Kim Jong-un—though even within this line of attack, there were some thoughtful pieces that at least addressed the facts of the summit in detail, with some showing how one could still take a Democratic, anti-Trump line and yet concede the significant value of the Summit.

US Domestic Politics and Trump’s Foreign Policy

In terms of domestic politics, it became evident that for any country to deal with the US—whether friend or foe—it would enter into a dangerously unreliable relationship: the pattern has now been set where one party’s international agreements are automatically decried, and then rescinded, by the opposing party. While many Republicans praised Trump on North Korea, they viscerally rejected Obama’s similar advances with Cuba and Iran. Likewise, while all for peace with Iran and good relations with Cuba, Democrats reacted as belligerently imperialist war hawks on North Korea, with liberals validating neconservatives and war-mongers. For both parties then, imperialism remains a tool to be used in domestic competition, and it is thus continually reproduced and validated.

Within just 12 hours of the close of the Summit, mainstream media in the US began to move the event off the front pages of their sites (most notably Reuters, where one had to dig to find any report on the event). This fact alone suggested that the anti-Trump opposition itself saw the event as a success, or there would be little to begrudge Trump. However, the opposition was much more serious than that. While only four months earlier much of the media celebrated the role played by Kim Jong-un’s sister at the Winter Olympics in South Korea, and how she diplomatically bested Mike Pence—now the media gave vent to denunciations of North Korea’s “brutality” and “human rights atrocities”. This was an opportunistic use of “human rights,” instrumentalizing allegations of human suffering to score political points at home. This was also domestically-driven virtue signalling at the expense of North Korea—when historically the number one killer of North Koreans has been the US itself, having destroyed every city in the North during the Korean War, while killing at least one out of every nine persons. Current sanctions have also exacted a toll on ordinary North Koreans—so much for the “human rights” lobby. The position was also bizarre for excluding the danger of nuclear war from the scope of “human rights”. If “human rights” do not include the right not to suffer a catastrophic nuclear apocalypse, then surely the concept is of little weight and even less merit, and should probably not be a significant concern. Opposition to Trump was also expressed in terms of resentment of parity shown to North Korea at the Summit, as if anything short of the public humiliation of North Korea on the world stage was somehow a sign of American “weakness,” of “unilateral concessions,” and of course, of Trump’s personal failure. Anything that might show North Korea in a more dignified light than the usual barbarian, torture state, was depicted as mere propaganda.

Similar reasoning could be found in articles such as one in The New Yorker, which reacted with alarm at rumours of Trump wanting a summit with Vladmir Putin. First, why the resort to rumours? Trump has always been very public and very explicit about his desire to meet Putin for a full one-on-one dialogue. There is no mystery about it, and any attempt to make it sound mysterious is an attempt to make it appear sinister. Second, the underlying tone of the article is that Trump is “unbound,” manifesting the continued disregard for the legitimate election of Donald Trump to office, such that he should not be allowed to command—like a president would do. Third, The New Yorker’s Susan B. Glasser is clearly projecting her faction’s anti-Russian hysteria onto Europe—forgetting that it was the US which pressured Europe into anti-Russian sanctions that hurt European economies, and which few European nations want to continue.

One charitable way to look at this situation would follow these lines: “Washington is a liberal town and the media rush to defend the status quo when it’s threatened by an interloper. When outsiders intervene, their influence declines”. Another approach would be a critique of how accusations that Trump is in “bonding sessions” with “brutal dictators,” are the liberal-left’s way of extending, translating, and reinforcing its inherent racism, by maximizing such racist attitudes on the world stage while pretending to challenge racism in discrete social pockets at home.

Rubbing Their Faces In It

On the other hand, Trump really succeeded in taking neoconservatives, professionals in the corporate-funded and government-backed human rights industry, the liberal imperialist media, and vigorously rubbing their faces with his foreign policy. Though many in the corporate media had—just in February—produced articles laced with praise for Kim Yo-jong (the sister of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un) because she had diplomatically upended Mike Pence—now that Trump’s relations with North Korea turned in a positive direction, the media reversed polarity and switched to denunciations of the “brutality” of the North Korean “dictator,” in terms as shrill as they were opportunistic. To add more context to this, Trump declared that it was not North Korea that was the enemy of the US, instead: “Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News”. Remember that within the media some wanted Trump to avoid even shaking hands with Kim Jong-un, at the Summit itself of all places and times—when he did, some called it “disconcerting”. In their faces, Trump rubbed the following admiration for Kim Jong-un: “he is the strong head….He speaks, and his people sit up at attention”. Trump praised Kim Jong-un in no uncertain terms: “He’s smart, loves his people, he loves his country” and that, “really, he’s got a great personality”. On his own relationship with Kim Jong-un, Trump affirmed: “I think we have a very good relationship. We understand each other” and “I think he trusts me and I trust him”. From the start of the Summit, Trump said he and Kim, “got along very well”. In response to charges that Kim Jong-un is a “human rights violator,” Trump’s responses included: “Look, he’s doing what he’s seen done….He’s a tough guy,” adding in another interview, “he has to be a rough guy or he has to be a rough person,” and in another, “he’s a strong guy”. Kim Jong-un, charged by an interviewer with doing some “really bad things,” got this response from Trump: “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people have done some really bad things”. On Kim’s stance regarding his fellow citizens, Trump stated: “I think you have somebody that has a great feeling for them”. Trump added: “He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart, he’s a great negotiator. He loves his people, not that I’m surprised by that, but he loves his people”. In return, the North Korean people love Kim: “His country does love him—his people, you see…the fervor, they have a great fervor”. About saluting a North Korean general at the summit, Trump stated simply: “I met a general. He saluted me. I saluted him back. I guess they’re using that as another sound bite. I think I’m being respectful to the general”. To top it all off, Trump added to his statement about ceasing war games with South Korea, saying he would like to also withdraw all US troops from South Korea: “I would love to get the military out as soon as we can because it costs a lot of money and a lot of money for us. I would like to get them home. I would like to”. Then Trump cheerfully assessed the outcome of his own efforts: “I did a great job this weekend”.

June 18, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

US Media, Democrats, Bolton Form Unholy Alliance to Fight Trump-Kim Nuclear Deal

Sputnik -June 18, 2018

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump’s own National Security Adviser John Bolton, the Democratic Party and the US mainstream media were all trying to derail the US president’s new agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, analysts told Sputnik.

On June 12, Trump and Kim met on the Singaporean island of Sentosa and signed a document showing their commitment to establish new bilateral relations and build a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. Trump also agreed to halt US-South Korea military exercises near the Korean peninsula, while Kim reiterated his country’s commitment to denuclearization.

The Democratic Party in the United States and the media establishment that supported them were cooperating closely to try and discredit Trump’s peace initiative in Korea, University of Illinois Professor of International Law Francis Boyle said.

“As the ancient Chinese proverb says, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, a very positive and encouraging step,” Boyle said. “Regretfully, it [the Singapore agreement] has pretty much been trashed by the Democrats and the mainstream US media who are in cahoots with them.”

The Democrats’ hostility to the new dialogue with Pyongyang flowed directly from their strategy in trying to discredit Trump over the past two years, Boyle pointed out.

“The Democratic strategy has been to bash Trump from the right. That goes back two years now to the conventions that nominated Trump and Hillary Clinton as their parties’ candidates,” he said.

The spectacle of the US media ganging up against the president when he was trying to resolve a potentially dangerous conflict was a depressing one, Boyle commented.

“All these newspapers condemning President Trump, it’s just unimaginably sad,” he said.

The media and the Democrats were misrepresenting Trump’s talks with Kim by falsely alleging that the US president had caved in by agreeing to talk to him when in fact Trump was just fulfilling the obligations placed upon him by the United Nations Charter which the US has signed, Boyle explained.

“Trump did not give Kim Jong-un an unnecessary concession. All he did was fulfill the commitment required of him or any US leader to hold such negotiations that is in the United Nations Charter,” he said.

Under Article 23 of the UN Charter there is a requirement for President Trump to have negotiations with North Korea which he did, Boyle recalled.

“Article 33 clearly requires ‘negotiations’ to maintain international peace and security,” he added.

Far from failing to make any progress, Trump had succeeded in getting Kim’s assent to giving the new negotiating process a promising beginning, Boyle observed.

“Trump did get a commitment on complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula so that’s a good start. It incorporates the Panmunjom Declaration between Chairman Kim and President Moon. It’s a good start. I’m moderately encouraged,” he said.

Trump Rejected Bolton’s Parallel Between Libya, North Korea Talks

Boyle warned that the talks faced another major threat because National Security Adviser John Bolton was likely to try and undermine them.

“Bolton is a hard-line neoconservative (neocon) who publicly bragged about having sabotaged the process [of negotiations] with North Korea. He tried to sabotage these negotiations by going public and saying we are going to go the Libya route,” he said.

Last month, Bolton commented that the US denuclearization talks with North Korea would follow the pattern of previous talks to eliminate weapons of mass destruction in Libya. However, several years after Libya agreed to scrap such programs, its ruler Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in a West-backed rebellion and murdered.

Trump contradicted Bolton and said that model of negotiations with Libya would not apply to North Korea.

Boyle said Bolton was highly intelligent and knew what he was doing when he made such remarks or and when he had encouraged Vice President Mike Pence to make similar ones.

“Bolton is a smart guy. He is a very cunning operator in the bureaucracy. I’m afraid Bolton will try to sabotage the negotiations. He has brought his own hardline people on to the National Security Council. I’m afraid that he will do what he can behind the scenes to sabotage this thing,” he said.

Boyle said he believed Trump needed to fire Bolton and select a new national security adviser who was committed to trying to make the negotiations with North Korea succeed.

“If Trump were smart I think he would fire Bolton and bring in a realpolitik-er,” he said.

Even if the talks with North Korea went well, they would take many months and several years, Boyle cautioned.

“This is going to be a long process. The administration people have conceded to the New York Times that it will take at least two years… However, following the summit, there is momentum,” Boyle concluded.

Military Establishment Tries to Hold on to US Bases in Asia-Pacific

Retired US Army Colonel and historian Doug Macgregor agreed that the Washington establishment opposed Trump’s efforts to achieve a lasting peace agreement with North Korea.

“The swamp [the establishment] will now fight the inevitable withdrawal of US ground troops from Korea because it will lead to the removal of the Marines from Okinawa as well,” Macgregor said.

Trump had made the mistake of surrounding himself with super-hawk figures like Bolton when he needed other kinds of officials who would support his peace plans, Macgregor cautioned.

“President Trump’s current defense [national security] team won’t help him! To achieve his aims the President will need to make new appointments,” he said.

However, the US public felt no commitment to running risks of full-scale war on the Korean peninsula and would support an agreement that could end the US military presence there, Macgregor advised.

“The mood and attitude of the political class in Washington is reminiscent of London’s attitude toward leaving India after World War II,” Macgregor said.

Like the British people then, the American people support the departure, Macgregor added.

June 18, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

This is America: Outrage at Trump is phony, US leaders have praised dictators for decades

By Danielle Ryan | RT | June 15, 2018

Donald Trump’s praise this week of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been presented by much of the Washington political class and US corporate media as an anomaly in history and a stark deviation from political norms.

It is not normal or right, they tell us, for US presidents to meet with and applaud dictators of brutal regimes. This kind of phony virtue-signaling was all over the airwaves and the Twittersphere on Tuesday. It was like a competition with the winner being the person who could publicly register their disgust and dismay in the most dramatic fashion possible.

One former Republican lawmaker tweeted that “never before” in history had a US president “spoken this way of a dictator accused of crimes against his own people” — an outright lie, as pointed out by journalist Glenn Greenwald, who detailed a number of occasions when American presidents and top ranking officials had indeed heaped praise on dictators — from Barack Obama’s praise of the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as a man who had “the courage of his convictions” and who was “dedicated” to his people, to Ronald Reagan’s praise of former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt as “a man of great integrity” — to Hillary Clinton’s description of Hosni Mubarak as a “friend of my family.”

In the real world, even the most mildly politically-aware person knows that meeting with and praising dictators is par for the course in US foreign policy. The United States has a long history of befriending, praising and propping up brutal dictators all over the world — and flattering Kim with a few meaningless comments designed to foster goodwill is absolutely mild in comparison with the tangible support the US lends to other dictatorships.

Curiously though, many of those shouting loudly in protest at Trump’s praise of Kim are unbothered when American presidents — Trump included — lavish praise on those friendly dictators that Washington relies on to help serve its geopolitical interests. While they breathlessly condemn Trump for cozying up to Kim for a few hours in Singapore, they are nonchalant about US support for brutal regimes like Saudi Arabia.

Last year, peace activist and former Green Party candidate for Illinois governor Rich Whitney, compiled research in an effort to dispel the myth that the US opposes dictatorships and champions democracy around the world. What he found would not come as a surprise to any rational observer of global affairs, but would surely shock heavily propagandized Americans who have been led to believe that their country promotes freedom and democracy since they were waddling around in diapers.

Analyzing publicly available data, Whitney found that the US provides military assistance to 36 out of 49 nations that democracy watchdog Freedom House classifies as dictatorships. In other words, the US provides military support to a whopping 73 percent the world’s dictatorships while simultaneously claiming to be the most virtuous and well-intentioned nation on earth.

There is one determining factor when it comes to the decision to lend US support to a foreign government or regime — and it is a simple one: If that government or regime is sufficiently subservient to Washington and serves US global interests in any meaningful way, it will be protected and propped up at almost any cost. Its crimes will be swept under the rug and human rights concerns, along with freedom and democracy, will go straight out the window. Every now and then, some US official may pay lip service to its supposed moral values by expressing “deep concern” over some heinous incident or other before swiftly moving on.

This is the reality, yet we are still told to believe Trump is some kind of historical anomaly and subjected to endless think-pieces and on-air pearl-clutching over his “problematic” affinity for some questionable characters. The narrative goes, that before Trump, US leaders were all going around crushing dictatorships and delivering peace and prosperity to oppressed peoples everywhere. This kind of revisionist commentary is completely disingenuous and utterly at odds with reality and history — yet it is spewed unquestioningly from the mouths of journalists, analysts, various “experts” and regular Americans without so much as a pause to consider whether it has any basis in fact. It would take far too long to list every instance of the US supporting — and indeed installing — brutal dictatorships around the world, but there are some that stand out as particularly shameful moments in American history.

In 1973, the CIA engineered and financed a bloody coup in Chile which installed Augusto Pinochet for a 17-year reign of terror. Declassified documents show that while the Pinochet regime was torturing and murdering its opponents, the US actively sought to downplay and whitewash Chile’s human rights violations — and even put the head of the Chilean secret police, Manuel Contreras, on the CIA payroll.

In the 1960s, the US actively supported the extermination of up to one million suspected communist sympathizers in Indonesia under the leadership of General Suharto. Washington supplied Suharto with financial support, military equipment and lists of communists. Suharto then ruled as a dictator for 35 years until 1998 — with Washington’s support.

Propping up and providing material support for dictatorships has been a central theme of US foreign policy. Trump’s kind words for Kim are not a worrying departure from the norm. In fact, they barely even register in the history of American support for brutality and corruption.

Unfortunately, the notion that the White House supports democracy and crushes dictatorships is a belief system so ingrained in the American psyche that when confronted with reality, rather than admit they’ve been lied to, its adherents instead begin to look for ways to rationalize the inexcusable. At that point, we’re told that even if America does bad things sometimes, it’s all with good intention — or as Hillary Clinton would say, “America is great because America is good”.

The level of delusion required to believe something so demonstrably false and easily debunked is astounding. Then again, it must be difficult to come to terms with the fact that something which made you feel righteous and good for so long was only ever a nonsense fairytale.

Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance journalist. Having lived and worked in the US, Germany and Russia, she is currently based in Budapest, Hungary. Her work has been featured by Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, Russia Direct, teleSUR, The BRICS Post and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ, check out her Facebook page, or visit her website: danielle-ryan.com

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Biggest obstacle to Trump dealing with North Korea is his political foes at home

June 15, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

Pundits Worry Threat of Nuclear War Is Being Reduced

By Gregory Shupak | FAIR | June 14, 2018

Media outlets don’t want America to negotiate with North Korea; they want the US to hold  North Korea for ransom.

MSNBC: Trump & Kim Now Meeting With Staff

MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow (6/12/18) appears dismayed by the manifestation of a US president meeting with an Official Enemy.

On MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, the host was aghast (6/12/18) that the US says it will halt the annual war games it conducts with South Korea on North Korea’s doorstep, because doing so is “an absolute jackpot for the North Korean dictator,” “one of the things he wants most on earth,” and now Washington “has just given them that for free, for nothing.”

Maddow implied that Trump has taken this step out of fealty to Russia, and complained that pausing war games that threaten North Korea benefits Russia and China. She twice called the Kim/Trump summit a “wedding,” twice said that the two leaders “love” each other, and referred to Kim as Trump’s “best friend.” In other words, de-escalation is for wimps, and what’s needed is toughness, even if it risks nuclear war.

Not once did Maddow demonstrate the slightest concern with avoiding war. The message of her segment is that the US should subject all 25 million people in North Korea to the threat of nuclear annihilation until its leaders do what the US says, a threat that necessarily extends to the rest of East Asia, since it would be decimated in any nuclear exchange, to say nothing of the likely devastating effects on the rest of the world.

WaPo: No More Concessions

The Washington Post (6/12/18) warned against trusting “a cruel and unpredictable ruler whose motives and aims are far from clear”.

The editorial board of the Washington Post (6/12/18) says that diplomacy “is certainly preferable to the slide toward war that appeared to be underway last year,” but opposes taking steps to prevent another Korean War—a nuclear one, this time. The editorialists complain that the joint statement issued by the leaders of the US and North Korea makes no mention of “US terms for disarmament”: What the editorial, tellingly titled “No More Concessions,” is saying is that the predetermined outcome of diplomacy should be complete North Korea acquiescence to US demands—which, of course, isn’t diplomacy at all.

Similarly, the New York Times’ editorial board (6/12/18) writes that “after months of venomous barbs and apocalyptic threats of war, the meeting between President Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, was unquestionably a relief.” Trump, they wrote, “seems seized with the need to resolve it peacefully. That is to the good.” Yet the editorial lists measures that Times believes the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea’s official name) needs to take, without saying that America should do anything, and expresses anxiety over the break in war games.

In the same vein, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times (6/12/18) says that “it certainly is better for the two leaders to be exchanging compliments rather than missiles,” but describes the US suspending military exercises with South Korea as a “concession” for which America is getting “astonishingly little” in return. He purports to be against the exchanging of missiles, but thinks it’s a mistake to take steps to minimize the threat of exchanging missiles.

While acknowledging Trump being “snookered” is “far better than war,” NYT’ Nicholas Kristof (6/12/18) fears “the cancellation of military exercises will raise questions among our allies.”

“Astonishingly,” Kristof writes, Trump

even adopted North Korean positions as his own, saying that the United States military exercises in the region are “provocative.” That’s a standard North Korean propaganda line.

The columnist failed to explain how military exercises on North Korea’s doorstep, involving 50,000 South Korean troops and 17,500 of their American counterparts, are anything other than “provocative,” but evidently Kristof would have no problem with joint DPRK/Mexico maneuvers near the US southern border pretending to launch an attack featuring 67,500 soldiers, along with simulated nuclear bomber attacks (FAIR.org, 4/3/13).

The Times’ editorial is as bemused as Kristof, writing that Trump “even endorsed the North Korean view of such joint exercises as ‘provocative.’”

Kristof criticized the joint statement because it says

nothing about North Korea freezing plutonium and uranium programs, nothing about destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles, nothing about allowing inspectors to return to nuclear sites, nothing about North Korea making a full declaration of its nuclear program, nothing about a timetable, nothing about verification, not even any clear pledge to permanently halt testing of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.

At no point did Kristof call on the US to take any remotely comparable steps.

WaPo: Trump and Kim got what they wanted. The rest of the world, not so much.

The Washington Post‘s Anne Applebaum (6/12/18) does not seem to see Trump and Kim ceasing to threaten each other’s countries with nuclear destruction as a “gain” for those countries.

For Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post (6/12/18), provisionally scaling back American hostility to North Korea should be understood as a humiliation. She wrote that

had any previous American president, Republican or Democrat, emerged from an event like this, in which so much was given away with so little to show for it, he would have been embarrassed.

Her article was headlined, “Trump and Kim Got What They Wanted. The Rest of the World, Not So Much.” It’s likely, however, that “the rest of the world” does not want nuclear war, and might want steps that could help avert that danger—such as, say, an end to nuclear-armed America antagonizing another nuclear power by having “tens of thousands of US and [South Korean] troops, aircraft and naval vessels engaged in mock clashes” with that power.

Shining City on a Hill

Under-girding the view that the United States should only negotiate with North Korea when “negotiation” means “forcing the DPRK under nuclear duress to do whatever America says” are entrenched notions of intrinsic US superiority.

Probably the most blatant example of this is the view that the United States is “legitimizing” DPRK by meeting with its leaders. MSNBC’s Maddow seems to find it blasphemous that the summit “billed” North Korea “as a nation equal in stature to the United States.” According to the Times, Kim got a “win” by receiving the “legitimacy of being treated as an equal as a nuclear power on the world stage, country flags standing side by side.” The Post was incensed that Kim was “able to parade on the global stage as a legitimate statesman,” while Applebaum said that “the flags and the handshake will reinforce Kim’s legitimacy and make him harder to depose.”

States, and the parties that govern them, are not granted legitimacy by the United States. Legally, that legitimacy comes from United Nations recognition or its absence; as a practical matter, states and their leaders establish legitimacy through what the Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci described as a combination of coercion and consent. Believing that the US has the power to confer or deny legitimacy on other countries or their leaders is part of the same imperial hubris that makes pundits panic about tentative moves in the direction of curtailing American belligerence toward North Korea, and thus the threat of nuclear war.

Washington Post: 987 people were fatally shot by police in 2017

We would find it absurd if pundits complained that Kim failed to extract a promise from Trump to halt the thousand or so extrajudicial executions that take place in the US every year.

A comparable dynamic is at work in the commentariat concern-trolling about North Korean human rights. Maddow was perplexed that the US would meet with North Korea without the North Korean leadership making any promises about “their behavior toward their own people.” The Times’ editors considered it “startling” that the joint Kim/Trump statement contains no reference to human rights in DPRK.

In this conception, America is the shining city on a hill that must free the people of the DPRK, though these analysts don’t ask who will liberate US citizens living under a regime with the highest incarceration rate in the world, rampant judicial and extrajudicial execution, widespread racism, obscene wealth inequality and an undemocratic political system. Calling for a US government crusade for change inside North Korea while overlooking all of these features of US society is another dimension of the imperial arrogance that insists it’s legitimate to subject the entire population of other nations to crushing sanctions and violent threats until their governments give Washington everything it wants.

Nor do any of these commentators address the possibility that the US ruling class might need to change its global conduct: The hanging of Saddam Hussein and the sodomizing to death of Moammar Gadhafi, neither of whom possessed nuclear weapons with which to deter America from invading and destroying the countries they governed, could be a reason why the leaders of North Korea want nuclear weapons.

For the punditry, the goal of US/North Korea talks isn’t lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, it’s total North Korean submission to US commands. Corporate media appear to be more worried about the United States being successfully defied than it is about nuclear war.

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

When, Where, and How Will the Empire Strike Back?

By James George JATRAS | Strategic Culture Foundation | 09.06.2018

In any analysis of contemporary international politics it pays to be cautiously pessimistic. As the default mode one can generally expect that any way in which things can go wrong to threaten the peace and security of the planet, they will. Anticipation of improvement is a chump’s bet.

That’s why the analyst’s gut instinct rebels at any indication that things overall may be moving in a positive direction, however haltingly or indirectly. But consider:

  • Europe’s anti-Russia sanctions: American pressure on Europe with respect to trade with Iran, added to Trump’s new tariffs, feeds resentment across Europe, especially in powerful Germany, which especially objects to Washington’s threatening sanctions on companies participating in Nord Stream 2. It may be too soon to guess how soon the EU will pull the plug on anti-Russian sanctions, but there’s something in the air when even the likes of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker can say that “Russia-bashing has to be brought to an end.”  Italy’s voice will be key.

At the epicenter of each one of these earthshaking developments is one man: Donald Trump.

It would be inaccurate to say that these are even moves of the US government, of which Trump is only in partial control. With the permanent government – not to mention some of his own appointees – seeking to undermine him at every step, Trump seems to be resorting to the one tool he has at his personal disposal: disruption.

Let’s remember that, especially in the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, those who voted for Trump wanted something radically different from business as usual. They voted for him because they wanted a bull in a china shop, a wrecking ball, a human hand grenade, a big “FU” to the system.

Maybe that’s what we got.

To be sure, none of the foregoing itemized developments is dispositive. But taken together they point to a remarkable confluence of good omens, at least from the point of view of those who wanted to shake up, even shatter, the cozy arrangements that have guided the so-called “liberal global order.”

But those whose careers and privileges, and in some cases their freedom and even lives, depend on perpetuating that order will not go gentle into that good night. They are getting nervous. This means in particular the elements of the US-UK special services, their Democratic and GOP Never-Trump fellow travelers, the Trump-hating fake news media, and the bureaucratic nonentities in Brussels (not only at the European Commission but at NATO headquarters).

If past is prologue, the Empire will strike back – hard and dirty.

One is reminded of the past seven years of war in Syria, where every time the US indicated a willingness to disengage, or when Syrian forces had made major military gains, then – BAM! – a chemical weapons attack immediately and without evidence is attributed to government forces, followed by renewed cries of “Assad is killing his own people! Assad must go!” (This is a ploy that goes back at least to the Bosnian war of the 1990s. Every time a negotiated ceasefire seemed to be taking shape, another “Serb mortar attack” on civilians took place, leading to calls for NATO military action.)

The question is not “if” there will be a provocation, rather it’s one of when, where and how. While it’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future, it’s nonetheless possible to anticipate some possibilities:

  • FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia (June 14 to July 15): Given the huge expense and effort Russia has put into the World Cup as a favorable showcase to the world, it will be a tempting target. Let’s remember that the unconstitutional ouster of Ukraine’s elected government took place as Putin’s attention was presumably distracted by his pride and joy, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The 2008 attack by Georgia’s then-president, Mikheil Saakashvili, on South Ossetia, was launched while the world’s eyes were focused on the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Both initiatives led to a strong counteraction by Moscow, leading in turn to worsened relations between Russia and the west – including Russia’s suspension from the G8 in 2014. (Though in the fevered imagination of western Russophobes, Putin was the one using the games as a cover, not the other way around.) A provocation could be directed against the FIFA events themselves – perhaps a terrorist attack by ISIS operatives reportedly being ferried out of the Middle East to Russia – or something elsewhere timed to coincide with matches being played all over Russia.
  • Ukraine: Regarding President Petro Poroshenko’s actions, everything must be put into the context of upcoming presidential elections in 2019. Poroshenko has to find a way to get into a runoff, presumably against Yulia Tymoshenko. The most beneficial thing he could do would be somehow to pull a rabbit out of his hat and achieve a peace deal in the Donbas. But chances of that are slim to none, as it would require flexibility from Kiev that Poroshenko can’t afford to show lest he be accused of being a Russian puppet. Conversely, he can up the ante with the Russians and hope the West will line up behind him. Perhaps the recent fake news murder fiasco regarding the still very much alive Arkady Babchenko was to have been one such ploy but it misfired. But there are other options, such as a provocation along the line of control in the Donbas (the newly delivered US Javelin missiles are handy, as is the Dutch MH17 report), maybe a covert attack on the Kerch bridge, as well as other less obvious possibilities.
  • Incident between NATO and Russian forcesNATO forces are stepping up provocative maneuvers on Russia’s doorstep in the Baltic and Black seas – purely to deter Moscow’s aggression, mind you. An incident could occur as any time, either by accident or on purpose. Either way, it would be the hostile Russians’ fault for putting their country so close to our bases and the venues of our military exercises.
  • Assassination: One of Putin’s well-known predilections is for killing, or at least attempting to kill, anyone who might displease him. Or like Assad with his chemical weapons, maybe Putin kills just for the sheer, malicious fun of it. The list of victims is long: Babchenko (except, not), the two Skripals (except, not them either), political opponents like Boris Nemtsov and Sergei Yushenkov, muckraking journalists like Anna Politkovskaya and Natalia Estemirova, former chekist Aleksandr Litvinenko, RT network founder Mikhail Lesin, crusading lawyers like Stanislav Markelov and Sergei Magnitsky, oligarch Boris Berezovsky, and so on. A well-timed rub out of a suitably visible figure would have a salubrious impact on any annoying moves towards east-west rapprochement. No evidence is needed – the mere identity of the victim would be irrefutable proof of Putin’s guilt.

Regarding the last item, assassination, it should always be kept in mind that in the end the man threatening to upset the apple cart of the liberal global order isn’t Putin – it’s Trump. That suggests an ultimate solution that might become tempting if The Donald’s continued functioning at higher than room temperature becomes just too much to endure.

As Joseph Stalin is reputed to have remarked, “Death solves all problems. No man, no problem.” Trump, who for many powerful people is quite a problem indeed, has been recklessly compared to Jean-Marie Le Pen, Silvio Berlusconi, Vladimir Putin – even to Hitler and Mussolini. In an American context, to Andrew Jackson, Huey Long, and George Wallace. Let’s note that each of those three Americans was the target of assassination. Jackson (someone Trump is known to admire) survived by a failure of his attacker’s pistols, hailed by some at the time as miraculous. “The Kingfish” was killed. Wallace was crippled for life.

There is reason to think that Trump is well aware of the fate of the last American president who so threatened the habitual order of things and the entrenched, ruthless establishment that profits so mightily from it. He has repeatedly indicated his interest in releasing the full file on Jack Kennedy’s assassination, then backed off from it for undisclosed reasons. The shooting death of the president’s brother Robert Kennedy, who had he been elected president in 1968 would have had the opportunity to reopen the investigation into his brother’s murder, is back in the news with Robert Kennedy, Jr., expressing doubt about the official conclusion that his father was killed by Sirhan Sirhan.

If anyone thinks there is any length to which Trump’s enemies will not go, think again.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

Did Trump and the CIA Strike a Deal on the JFK Records?

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | May 2, 2018

Did President Trump grant the CIA an additional 3 1/2 years of secrecy on its JFK assassination-related records because he truly believed that “national security” was at stake? Or did Trump grant the CIA’s request for continued secrecy as part of a negotiated bargain that Trump reached with the CIA?

Consider the following tweets that Trump sent out the week before October 26, 2017, when the 25-year deadline set by the JFK Records Act was set to expire:

October 21: “Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.”

October 25: “The long anticipated release of the #JFKFiles will take place tomorrow. So interesting!

Notice something important here: Trump makes no mention of any request by the CIA for continued secrecy. How likely is it that the CIA had not made such a request prior to that week? Not likely at all. It is inconceivable that the CIA would wait until October 26, rush into Trump’s office and declare, “Mr. President, we totally forgot about the deadline set 25 years ago and we need an additional time to review the records.” (As an interesting aside, notice that neither Trump, the CIA, nor the National Archives has disclosed to the public any written request by the CIA or any other federal agency for continued secrecy of the JFK assassination-related records.)

There is another possible explanation for what was going on during the week of October 26. As I pointed out my October 27, 2017, article “The JFK Cover-Up Continues,” the possibility exists that Trump was negotiating with the CIA and taking the matter to the brink with his two tweets — that is, that Trump knew that continued secrecy was critically important to the CIA but that he wanted something in return. You know, The Art of the Deal.

If that is what was happening, then Trump was likely communicating to the CIA with his tweets, “Give me what I want or I release the records.” That would mean that at the last minute the CIA caved and gave Trump what he wanted, which would explain why Trump suddenly changed his mind on October 26 and granted another six months of secrecy, contrary to what his two tweets indicated he would do immediately prior to that October 26 deadline.

What was something that would have been important to Trump that the CIA could have given him? As I indicated in my October 27 article, what would have been important to Trump would have been an exoneration in the Russia investigation, at the very least with respect to Congress and maybe, hopefully, even with respect to the investigation being conducted by the special counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller. As part of the deal, Trump would have demanded that the CIA exercise its considerable power and influence to bring one and hopefully both investigations to a satisfactory conclusion.

Why only six months of secrecy back in October? Because as I indicated in my October 27 article, Trump would have wanted a guarantee that the CIA would live up to its end of the bargain. If the CIA didn’t deliver at its end, Trump could still order a release of the records in April. If the CIA delivered, Trump could grant its request for additional secrecy when the April deadline came.

On April 26, the day that the six-month extension expired, Trump granted the CIA another 2 1/2 years of secrecy. Maybe it’s just a coincidence but one day later, April 27, the House Intelligence Committee released its final report exonerating Trump in its investigation into the Russia brouhaha.

May 2, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment