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Acting US Def Sec Miller Formally Announces Plans to Cut Troops in Afghanistan, Iraq to 2,500 Each

By Daria Bedenko – Sputnik – 17.11.2020

Earlier on Monday, CNN reported, citing two US officials, that Pentagon anticipated President Donald Trump to issue an order this week regarding troop withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan by 15 January.

Acting Defence Secretary Christopher Miller announced on Tuesday that President Trump will cut the number of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 2,500 each by 15 January 2021.

“By 15 January, 2021, our forces, their size in Afghanistan will be 2,500 troops. Our force size in Iraq will also be 2,500 by that same day,” Miller told reporters during a Defence Department briefing.

The decision falls in line with Trump’s intention to finish “endless wars”, as Miller said the moves were announced to “bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a successful and responsible conclusion and to bring our brave service members home”.

“This is consistent with our established plans and strategic objectives, supported by the American people, and does not equate to a change in US policy or objectives”, Miller outlined.

Reaction to Troop Reduction Announcement

Shortly after the decision was announced, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Trump hopes to bring all US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan home “safely and in their entirety” by May.

Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnel, reacted to the announcement moments later, warning against any major changes in the US foreign or defence policy, including the troops drawdowns, in the coming months.

“It is extremely important here in the next couple of months not to have any earthshaking changes in regard to defense or for policy”, McConnell said.

Reports about the order to reduce troops in Afghanistan and Iraq emerged earlier on Monday, saying that a “warning order” to start planning the troops reduction was already released by Pentagon, despite warnings by then-Defence Secretary Esper against rapid withdrawal of the US forces from the countries.

Esper was replaced with Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christopher Miller by Trump earlier this month.

Trump vs ‘Endless Wars’

It has been one of the key Trump’s pledges in his campaign to put an end to American “endless wars” in foreign countries, as he vowed to reduce the number of the US military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In October, Trump tweeted that all US troops should be home by Christmas, with US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien later saying that thousands of American servicemen were “on path” to, on the contrary, remain there.

In Iraq, there are estimated 3,000 US troops, and roughly 4,500 American military forces are stationed in Afghanistan.

After Washington reached a deal with the Taliban* in February, Trump began to withdraw troops from the country, with further withdrawal coinciding with September peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Qatar.

November 17, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

US foreign policy elite wants Biden & detests Trump because President failed to launch new NATO missions

By George Szamuely | RT | August 31, 2020

One reason for the extraordinary hostility of the foreign policy insiders’ brigade toward President Trump is that he has not wasted his time conjuring up new missions to justify NATO’s continued existence.

Instead, he has promised to withdraw 12,000 US troops from Germany and, to add insult to injury, he has demanded that NATO member states increase their financial contributions toward the upkeep of the military alliance ostensibly there to “protect” them.

This is sacrilege to a foreign policy elite that have spent the last 70 years worshipping at the altar of NATO.

“US troops aren’t stationed around the world as traffic cops or welfare caseworkers—they’re restraining the expansionary aims of the world’s worst regimes, chiefly China and Russia,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., fumed.

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice expressed alarm about the “continued erosion of confidence in our leadership within NATO, and more efforts that call into question our commitment, and more signals to the authoritarians within NATO and Russia itself that this whole institution is vulnerable.”

Trump, according to Nicholas Burns, former US ambassador to NATO and current adviser to Joe Biden, has cast America’s military allies primarily as a drain on the US Treasury, and he has aggressively criticized Washington’s true friends in Europe—democratic leaders such as France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel—even as he treats Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong Un, and other ‘authoritarians’ around the world with unusual tact.

Seventy former Republican national security officials recently issued a statement accusing Trump of having “disgraced America’s global reputation and undermined our nation’s moral and diplomatic influence.” And—horror of horrors!—Trump “has called NATO ‘obsolete.’ ”

Not only has Trump failed to spell out a new mission for NATO, the one mission of sorts he has come up with—extraction of more funds from NATO member-states—is calculated to cause mutual recriminations within the alliance. Trump regularly boasts that he has cajoled NATO to cough up an additional $130 billion a year “and it’s going to be $400 billion,” he recently warned.

To the denizens of Washington’s foreign policy think-tanks, pressuring NATO member states to come up with more money is a dangerous business. It could have the undesirable effect of forcing them to wonder whether devoting scarce resources to NATO—particularly now following the Covid economic downturn—is a sound investment.

NATO desperate to find reasons to justify its existence 

It is no secret that ever since the fall of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, NATO has been desperately searching for a reason to justify its existence. The alliance has expanded its membership from 16 to 30 in 20 years, while failing to put forward a convincing reason, other than inertia, for staying in business.

To be sure, there were and are threats—cybersecurity, mass migration, human trafficking, narcotics, nuclear proliferation, international terrorism—but it was never clear how a narrowly-focused military alliance would be able to address them unilaterally. NATO has thus been forced to engage in some vigorous head-scratching.

During the 1990s, we had the “humanitarian intervention” craze. This led to the NATO bombing of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1994 and 1995 and, more horrifically, to the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. Neither operation achieved anything that could not have been achieved years earlier—and without the use of force.

In 2001, NATO got in on the Global War on Terror. After 9/11 NATO, for the first time in its history, invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, declaring that the terrorist attack on the US was an attack against every NATO member.

When the United States retaliated by invading Afghanistan in October 2001, NATO was on hand to assist. In December, it established something called the International Security Assistance Force, the nebulous mission of which was to “assist the Afghan Government in exercising and extending its authority and influence across the country, paving the way for reconstruction and effective governance.”

Next came Iraq. Despite the vocal opposition of France and Germany to the 2003 invasion, NATO, in no time got involved. In 2004, it established NATO Training Mission-Iraq, the aim of which was supposedly to “assist in the development of Iraqi security forces training structures and institutions so that Iraq can build an effective and sustainable capability that addresses the needs of the nation.” One of its tasks was to train the Iraqi police. However, as WikiLeaks’ Iraq War Logs disclosure revealed, Iraq’s finely-trained police conducted horrific torture on detainees. Neither NATO’s Afghanistan nor its Iraqi mission covered itself in glory.

With the Democrats returning to power in Washington in 2009, NATO was back in the “humanitarian intervention” business. Its bombing of Libya in 2011 destroyed government, law and public order, institutions that before the intervention had ensured that the people of Libya were able to go about their daily lives free from the fear of death, not to mention the spectacle of slave markets.

The “humanitarian intervention” in Libya having ended in debacle and war crimes (including the execution of Muammar Gaddafi) in which NATO was clearly involved, it was back to the old Cold War mission of “containment.”

Following the February 21, 2014, coup in Kiev and the reincorporation of Crimea into Russia, NATO’s new mission was very much like its old. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen promised that: “We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water, and more readiness on the land. For example, air policing aircraft will fly more sorties over the Baltic region. Allied ships will deploy to the Baltic Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere.”

Six years on, it’s clear that there simply aren’t enough armed conflicts in the world to justify the continued existence, not to mention huge expense, of such a gargantuan military organization. NATO has therefore resorted to seizing on the latest fashionable social and cultural issues to prove how up-to-date it is.

More NATO as solution to Climate change?

For example, NATO has added “climate change” to its repertoire. NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept declared that “Key environmental and resource constraints, including health risks, climate change, water scarcity and increasing energy needs will further shape the future security environment in areas of concern to NATO and have the potential to significantly affect NATO planning and operations.”

One would have thought that the most effective way NATO could contribute to minimizing global warming would be to cut back on armaments, military exercises and naval and air patrols. But no, apparently the solution to “climate change” is more NATO, not less.

Then came the issue gender equality. “Achieving gender equality is our collective task. And NATO is doing its part,” said Mari Skåre, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, in 2013. In March 2016, on International Women’s Day, NATO held a so-called “Barbershop Conference” on gender equality. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg took the opportunity to declare that gender equality was a frightfully important issue for the alliance because “NATO is a values-based organization and none of its fundamental values—individual liberties, democracy, human rights and the rule of law—work without equality….We learned in Afghanistan and in the Balkans that by integrating gender within our operations, we make a tangible difference to the lives of women and children”.

Definitely a “tangible difference to the lives of women and children”: As a result of NATO’s bombing campaigns in Yugoslavia and Libya, thousands of women and children lost their lives. In Libya, for example, NATO helped deliver perhaps thousands of women into the hands of ISIS.

This is how Human Rights Watch in 2017 described the record of ISIS rule in Libya:

“In the first half of 2016, fighters loyal to ISIS controlled the central coastal town of Sirte and subjected residents to a rigid interpretation of Sharia law that included public floggings, amputation of limbs, and public lynchings, often leaving the victims’ corpses on display.”

Trump’s failure to articulate a new mission for NATO, combined with his desire to extract more and more funds from the 29 member nations, puts the military alliance in a very vulnerable position. With no new mission and no obvious threats to Europe on the horizon—or at least none that NATO seems capable of addressing—its member states, sooner or later, are bound to question the value of belonging to an organization, with such high membership fees and so few benefits. No wonder the foreign-policy cognoscenti are fulminating and praying for a Biden presidency.

One of the reasons the foreign policy crowd detests Trump is that he hasn’t wasted his time trying to invent some “new mission” for NATO. Where Trump differs from his predecessors is that he hasn’t bothered trying to invent some new reason for NATO’s continued existence: Clinton had Yugoslavia, Bush Afghanistan & Iraq, Obama Libya. Trump hasn’t identified any “new mission” for NATO. Maybe because there isn’t one.

George Szamuely is a senior research fellow at Global Policy Institute (London) and author of Bombs for Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War on Yugoslavia. Follow him on Twitter @GeorgeSzamuely

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Saudi king suggested ground invasion of Qatar to Trump in June 2017: Report

Press TV – August 9, 2020

A new report has revealed that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud proposed a plan to US President Donald Trump to invade Qatar in the summer of 2017, as a bitter feud between Saudi Arabia and the Doha government escalated.

According to American news magazine Foreign Policy, the Saudi monarch put forward the proposal during a telephone conversation with Trump back on June 6, 2017, suggesting a ground invasion of Qatar.

Trump, however, roundly dismissed the idea, and requested Kuwait to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Qatar to resolve the conflict.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017, after the quartet officially accused Doha of meddling in regional affairs and supporting terrorism.

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry condemned the decision to cut diplomatic ties as unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.

That year, Saudi Arabia and its allies issued a 13-point list of demands, including the closure of al-Jazeera television news network and downgrade of relations with Iran, in return for the reconciliation.

The document also asked Qatar to cut all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah. Qatar rebuffed the demands as “unreasonable.”

Director of the Information Office at the Qatari Foreign Ministry, Ahmed bin Saeed bin Jabor al-Rumaihi, reacted to the report, stating that charges that Saudi Arabia and its allies have been trying to level against his country since June 2017 are meant “only to create justifications to achieve other targets that gamble with the future of the region and its people.”

“The military option, which was considered by the blockading countries, violates international law and all international conventions, which we have approved as a member country of the UN, to resolve disputes peacefully. It also clearly indicates a ‘gambling irresponsible policy’, similar to that which led the region to a state of instability in the beginning of the 1970s,” Rumaihi said in a series of Arabic posts published on his Twitter page.

He underlined that Saudi Arabia’s decision up until now not to deny the report of the US magazine “indicates the reality of what had happened.”

“The military option proposal, as revealed by the magazine, corroborates remarks made by Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah at a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump on September 7, 2017 at the White House, where he said the Kuwaiti mediation successfully stopped military invasion of Qatar,” he pointed out.

Back in May 2019, US daily The Wall Street Journal revealed that the Saudi army prepared in 2017 to invade Qatar.

The newspaper quoted American, Saudi and Qatari officials as saying that the Saudi plan included the seizure of the North Field, which is the largest single, non-associated gas reservoir in the world.

August 9, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Did Trump Just Cancel a Potential Double-War?

The Saker • Unz Review • May 27, 2020

At this time of writing, it is too early to declare the danger over, but at least three out of five Iranian tankers have made it safely to Venezuela (confirmation from TeleSur and PressTV). Furthermore, while we should never say “never”, it appears exceedingly unlikely that the US would let three tankers pass only to then try to impede the arrival of the other two. So it ain’t over until its over, but as of right now things look way better than last week.

Besides, this is mostly a symbolic issue. While these 5 tankers will make a difference, it won’t be a huge one, especially considering the devastating consequences which the US sanctions, sabotage and subversion have inflicted on Venezuela.

Still, symbols are important, if only because they create a precedent. In fact, I would argue that the latest climbdown by Trump is no different than all his other climbdowns: Trump has had a very consistent record of threatening fire and brimstone before quietly deflating and walking away. And since he did that many times now, we have to wonder whether this strategy is effective or not?

One could argue that this strategy could be described by saying that you put the maximum pressure on the other side in the hope that the bluff will entice the adversary to fold. This could be a semi-credible argument were it not for a very simple but crucial problem: so far the other guys have never folded. In other words, Trump’s bluff has been called over and over again, and each time Trump had to quietly deflate.

Some will say that this only proves that Trump is truly a peace-loving President who, unlike his predecessors, does not want to go to war. But then, what about the cruise missile strikes on Syria? What about the murder of Soleimani?

Truth be told, the kindest thing we can say about this strategy (assuming that it is a strategy to begin with, not the evidence of a total lack of one) is that it is tantamount to yelling “fire!” in a crowded movie theater: the fact that Trump did not set any movie theater ablaze hardly justifies his yelling “fire” in such a dangerous environment. The perfect example of this kind of irresponsible behavior is the murder of General Soleimani which truly brought the US and Iran a millimeter away from a real, full-scale war.

Furthermore, while I salute Trump’s climbing down following the Iranian strikes, I also believe that in doing so he hurt the international image of the US. Why? Think about this: this is the first time ever (if I am not mistaken) that the US was the object of a major military strike coming from another state-actor and did not retaliate. In the past and until this Spring, the US always held the view that if anybody dares to mess with it this would result in very serious consequences. Thus the US upheld a world order in which some where a lot more equal than others. Specifically, “others” had to meekly accept US strikes and shut up whereas Uncle Shmuel could strike left and right and expect no retaliation.

By “accepting” the Iranian counter-strike, Trump did essentially place an “equal” sign between Iran and the US. He probably never understood that, but in the region this was understood by all.

Just as Hezbollah destroyed the myth of Israeli impunity, Iran destroyed the myth of US impunity.

Still, I will always prefer the politician who does not start a war (for whatever reason) to one who would. I also have no doubt whatsoever that Hillary would have started one, or even several, wars. But the fact that Hillary would have been even worse than Trump is hardly a reason to start fawning about Trump’s brilliant “5D chess” genius or peace-loving policies…

Trump reminds of a guy pointing a gun a people in the street only to later say “but it was a toy gun, I never meant to really shoot anybody.” This is definitely better than shooting people with a real gun, but this is hardly a sign of maturity or intelligence.

The other problem with this “strategy” (let’s assume for argument’s sake that this is a strategy of some kind): each time the “indispensable nation” and “sole hyperpower” has to climb down, it increasingly looks like a paper tiger. Not looking like such a paper tiger is probably the main reason behind Michael Ledeen’s famous words “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” In a strictly evil and imperialistic sense, Ledeen’s strategy makes a lot more sense than what Trump has been doing.

As Marx famously said, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” The outcome of what some now call the “Battle of Macuto Bay” is a perfect example of this: if the Bay of Pigs was the “root case” then the disaster in Grenada was the tragedy and the Battle of Macuto Bay the real farce.

Humor can be a devastating weapon and anybody who has studied the late Soviet Union (in the late Brezhnev years and after) knows how the Russian people ridiculed the Soviet leaders with literally thousands of jokes.

A real imperialist would much rather be hated than ridiculed, and while Trump himself probably does not realize that he is the laughingstock of the planet, his aides and deep state bosses most definitely do and that is very, very dangerous.

Why?

Because the pressure to, once again, “pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall” increases with each climbdown (see my article “Each “Click” Brings Us One Step Closer to the “Bang!” for a fuller discussion of this).

Besides, finding an even smaller and weaker country than Venezuela will be hard (maybe the Island of Saba? or Grenada again? who knows?). And potentially very dangerous.

The other problem is predictability. Any international system requires that its most powerful actors be predictable. In contrast, when a major international actors acts in what appears to be unpredictable, irrational or irresponsible manner, this puts the entire stability of the system at risk.

This, by the way, is also why it is so disastrous that the US has withdrawn from so many international organizations or treaties: the participation in international organizations and treaties indicate that the US is willing to play by the same rules as everybody else. The fact that the US is ditching so many of its former international obligations only shows that the US has gone rogue and is from now on totally unpredictable.

Finally, there are also lessons for Moscow here, the main one being that when confronted with a determined adversary, the Empire tries to bluff, but eventually folds. True, Moscow has to be much more careful than Tehran simply because the consequences of a US-Russian war would be dramatically worse than even a major conflict in the Middle-East. Yet it is also true that over the past years the Russian armed forces did have the time to prepare for such a conflict and that now Russia is ready for pretty much anything the US could try to throw at her, at least in purely military terms.

In contrast to the military posture of Russia, the political environment in Russia has changed for the worse: there is now a potentially very dangerous “hardline” opposition to Putin which I have christened the “6th column”, as opposed to the liberal and pro-western 5th column. What these two “columns” have in common is that they both will categorically oppose pretty much anything and everything Putin does. The 6th column, in particular, has a seething hatred for Putin which is even more rabid than what the liberal 5th column usually express. Check out this excellent video by Ruslan Ostashko, who prefers the term “emo-Marxists” and who very accurately describes these folks. Whether we think of them as 6th-columnists or emo-Marxists does not matter, what matters is that these folks are eager to act like a soundboard for any and all anti-Putin rumors and fakes. While Putin certainly has his flaws, and while the economic policies of the Medvedev, and now Mishustin, government are a far cry from what most Russians would want, it is also true that these two “columns” are objectively doing the bidding of the Empire, which could present a real problem if the current pandemic-induced economic crisis in Russia is not tackled more effectively by the government.

I have always said that Iran, while being much weaker than Russia, has consistently shown much more courage in its dealings with the Empire than Russia. Furthermore, Iran’s policies are primarily dictated by moral and spiritual considerations (as in the case of Iran’s principled stance on occupied Palestine) while Russian policies are much more “pragmatic” (which is really a euphemism for self-serving). But then, Iran is an Islamic Republic whereas Russia still has to develop some kind of unifying and original worldview.

Conclusion:

For all his innumerable negative character traits and other flaws, it remains true that Trump has not launched a major war (so far). Yes, he has brought the world to the brink several times, but so far he has not plunged the world into a major conflict. How much of the credit for this truly should go personally to him is very debatable (maybe cooler heads in the military prevailed, I think of folks like General Mattis who, reportedly, was the one who stopped the US from seriously attacking Syria and settled for a symbolic strike). Some Russian analysts (Andrei Sidorov) even believe that the US is in no condition to fight any war, no matter how small. Furthermore, most (all?) Russian analysts also believe that the US is fully committed to a full-spectrum information and economic war to try to economically strangle both Russia and China. I think that it would be fair to say that nobody in Russia believes that the relationship with Trump’s US can, or will, improve. The tone in China is also changing, especially since the US has now launched a major anti-China strategic PSYOP. In other words, the US is merrily continuing down its current road which leads it to a simultaneous confrontation with not one, or even two, countries, but with a list of countries which seems to grow every day. So while it is true that in this case Trump appears to have canceled two wars, we should not assume that he won’t soon start one, if only to deflect the blame for his total mismanagement of the COVID19 crisis. Should that happen, we can only hope that all the “resistance countries” and movement will provide as much support as possible to whomever the Empire attacks next.

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 4 Comments

Iranian Strike on US Base Was Modeled After Trump’s Syria Strikes

By Paul Iddon – Offiziere.ch – February 4, 2020

In many ways, the Iranian ballistic missiles attack on U.S. forces in Iraq and the U.S. missile strikes against targets in Syria were strikingly similar in the way they sought to avoid bringing about any serious escalation that could have led to war.

On January 8, Iranian ballistic missiles simultaneously targeted the Al-Asad airbase in Iraq’s Anbar province (see image above) and Erbil International Airport in Iraqi Kurdistan, where U.S. military personnel is housed. While Iran fired at least 22 ballistic missiles, the U.S. did not suffer any fatalities. Tehran said the attack was retaliation for the U.S. assassination of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani on January 3. Washington did not retaliate and fears of a significant escalation, or the dire prospect of a direct US-Iran war, subsequently decreased.

Tehran launched the attack after giving plenty of forewarning. On January 5, Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s military advisor, told CNN that the then-upcoming attack would come directly from Iran, rather than from Tehran’s proxy militias, against U.S. “military sites” in the region. “Our reaction will be wise, well considered and in time, with decisive deterrent effect”, he said. His statement made it unequivocally clear that, rather than attack any U.S. bases or targets in the Gulf states, Iran’s retaliation would come in Iraq, giving U.S. forces based there about three days to prepare themselves.

Five days after the strike, Reuters cited two Iraqi officers based in Al-Asad as saying that American and Iraqi forces began moving troops and hardware to fortified bunkers eight hours before the strike. Reuters also cited another Iraqi intelligence source, who went so far as to say that the U.S. troops seemed “totally aware” that the attack would come “after midnight”. Consequently, the Iranian missiles simply hit “empty bunkers that had been evacuated hours before”. It was later revealed, despite U.S. President Donald Trump dismissing the symptoms as mere “headaches“, that Iran’s missile strike did wound 64 U.S. personnel by giving them traumatic brain injuries.

The way in which Tehran carried out this missile strike was not wholly dissimilar to the two past U.S. cruise missile strikes against Syrian regime targets in April 2017 and April 2018. For example, on the morning of April 7, 2017,  the U.S. responded to the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack [details] carried out three days earlier by hitting Syria’s Shayrat Airbase with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. It did so after giving prior warning to Russia, a major ally and backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Moscow likely gave Damascus some prior warning, and it was also likely the regime knew that particular base would be hit. “Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line”, said Navy Captain Jeff Davis at the time. “US military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield”. Despite that enormous strike package of 59 Tomahawk missiles raining down on the base, Syrian Armed Forces’ remaining Su-22s were able to land and take off from the base hours later. The situation did not escalate into any major confrontation with Damascus.

On April 14, 2018, the United States, this time in a coordinated strike with the United Kingdom and France, fired even more cruise missiles at three targets related to Syria’s chemical weapons program, in response to a [fake] chemical attack in Douma one week earlier. As with the Shayrat attack, the U.S. gave notice to ensure there were no serious casualties or subsequent escalation. The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., published a statement on Facebook in which he explained that: “Before we took action, the U.S. communicated with the RF [Russian Federation] to reduce the danger of any Russian or civilian casualties”. Additionally, a pro-Syrian regime official confirmed that: “We had an early warning of the strike from the Russians… and all military bases were evacuated a few days ago”. These measures were clearly taken to avoid any significant escalation or war.

Later, Trump came close to bombing targets inside Iran following Tehran’s shooting down of a U.S. surveillance drone over the Gulf of Oman on June 20, 2019 (see image right). According to Trump, he approved strikes against three targets but then called it off a mere 10 minutes before it was set to commence. His decision came after the U.S. military gave him its prediction that at least 150 Iranians would have been killed, something Trump deemed wouldn’t have been “proportionate” to the destruction of an unmanned aircraft. Also, more likely than not, the U.S. military made clear to him that a limited strike similar to the previous ones against Syria would be much harder to carry out against Iran itself and escalation or major war would have, therefore, been far more likely.

Tensions between Iran and the United States remain high, and the prospect of war or a major escalation cannot be discounted. Nevertheless, de-escalation measures, however imperfect, taken by Tehran and Washington in these incidents indicate that neither side actually wants a full-blown war.

February 5, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Wallace sounds alarm bell on future UK-US defence ties

Press TV – January 12, 2020

Defence secretary, Ben Wallace, has warned that in future Britain may have to contemplate fighting wars without the United States.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Wallace made the extraordinary claim that the prospect of the United States retreating from a global leadership role under Donald Trump keeps him “awake at night”.

In comments that is bound to raise eyebrows in defence circles around the world, Wallace claimed that the UK needs to “rethink” military assumptions in place since 2010, which have centred on close partnership with US armed forces.

The defence secretary said that the government should use the “upcoming defence review” to purchase new kit to ensure that the British armed forces are less dependent on American air cover and spy planes in future wars.

According to Wallace, the UK is preparing to conduct the “deepest review” of the country’s defence, security and foreign policy since the “end of the Cold War”.

Wallace appears to be worried about Trump’s putative “isolationist” tendencies and its impact on Britain’s military and security posture going forward.

“Over the last year we’ve had the US pull out from Syria, the statement by Donald Trump on Iraq where he said NATO should take over and do more in the Middle East”, Wallace said.

Wallace’s sweeping prediction will strike many defence analysts as odd, at least in immediate terms, and in view of the fact that the UK has given every indication it is prepared to join the US in conducting military operations against Iran.

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

The Kerfuffle War – Trump’s Iran De-escalation Succeeds

By Joaquin Flores | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 9, 2020

Just like that, it was over. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called it ‘a kerfuffle’. A letter was sent to their Iraqi peers that the U.S was repositioning troops out of Iraq in accordance with legislation from Iraq ending the U.S military presence in the war-torn country, and suddenly then it was retracted by higher-ups. Running interference, Mark Esper backed Milley and said it was ‘an honest mistake’. It all went down within a day of the irrational assassination of Iran’s Soleimani.

The immediate termination of Chewning and Sweeney, at the same time as the assassination of Soleimani and Iran’s response raises some big questions. In the near future it will be of critical importance to get to the bottom of any possible relationship that Esper and his subordinates Chewning and Sweeney – who both served as Defense Secretary Esper’s Chiefs of Staff – had to the assassination of Soleimani. The assassination and any number of possible Iranian responses, can push the U.S into a broad and open military conflict with Iran. Such a war would also be Trump’s undoing.

We might otherwise be led to believe that Chewning and Sweeney’s sudden departure has something to do with Ukraine and the recent release of unredacted emails relating to L3Harris Technologies and funding in Ukraine. These of course also relate to the case against Trump and any possible impeachment. But the timing and symbolism of these as concurrent with the provocation against Iran and the blowback, as well as Esper’s backing of the ‘Kerfuffle theory’, lends strong credence to an Iran connection.

The connection to impeachment cannot be denied, but the necessity of uncovering its potential relation to Iran is tremendously important because it directly relates to larger constitutional and practical questions of the president’s ability to have a Department of Defense that works either for or against U.S strategy as formulated and executed by its democratically elected leadership, as opposed to its permanent bureaucratic administration. This is what Trump and his supporters quite rightfully refer to as the ‘Deep State’.

Were elements in the defense department working towards a heightened brinksmanship that the president did not really want? It would be far from the first time in history that such was the case.

Because the proverbial excrement rolls down-hill, was Esper involved in ordering Soleimani’s assassination which Trump was not informed of until it was too late, or until after? Chewning and Sweeney’s fate may be understood here. The ‘kerfuffle’ which was the withdrawal statement would then be a simple ruse to distract from the actual reasons that Chewning and Sweeney were terminated – acting without orders, insubordination, and even treason.

Trump’s Balancing Policy on Iran and America’s leadership crisis

One undeniable point is that a war with Iran works entirely against Trump’s middle-east policy and his prospects for re-election.

What the Trump administration seeks most now is a de-escalation with Iran. Given that Trump has fueled a rumor mill including the possible ending of sanctions if Iran doesn’t respond, or that there will be no further attacks if Iran’s response is ‘reasonable’, all exists in the unspoken framework that Trump inherently recognizes the ‘guilt’ of the U.S in its irrational act, while it is nevertheless politically impossible to frame it overtly as such.

Impeachment against Trump has now been used several times to push him to act aggressively in the middle-east, contrary to his policy and self-interest. On all the ‘impeachment threat – then strike’ occasions, Trump ordered strikes on predictable targets – targets so predictable and oddly executed, that Syrian and Iranian forces barely felt them. There appears to be at the very least an ‘unspoken communication’ at play, where strikes are made to assuage political needs but not to inflict serious damage. If Trump really wanted an excuse to strike Iran, he’s had it before.

There was precisely such an opportunity when subversives in government hatched a plan to push Trump into a war with Iran, when two planes were sent to violate Iranian airspace – one manned, the other unmanned – flying in close proximity. This created the chance that Iran’s downing of either plane could be used as a pretext for a major war-creating strike on Iran.

Despite Trump’s acting reasonably, government actors and media attempted to create a sensation where Trump was ridiculed for ‘calling off’ a planned retaliation in the aftermath of the downed drone. The same liberal media and Democratic Party establishment that attacked Trump’s de-escalation then from a hawkish perspective, today manifest as doves who suddenly oppose Trump’s reckless hawkishness.

Here, in the aftermath of the drone incident, a Trump policy was formulated – and it’s a policy that figures prominently in de-escalation in the aftermath of the assassination of Soleimani and Iran’s measured response.

The policy is this – if Iran kills Americans, then the U.S escalates. If the U.S does something provocative, then Iran is actually allowed to respond militarily, so long as American personnel are not killed.

Iran’s striking of the al-Asad airbase was predictable. That Trump has decided to officially declare that there were no U.S casualties has indicated his real stance. In all reality, the predictability of the target was such that American soldiers would have been repositioned out of that base, so that Iran could assuage its own popular-democratic needs in terms of legitimacy, without forcing the U.S. to respond again further.

Between an AIPAC rock and an Anti-War Hard-spot

A war with Iran would push the anti-war sentiments of independent voters away from Trump, and towards a more revitalized and mobilized Democrat Party anti-war base. Trump needs an anti-war base to be re-elected, and war with Iran pushes that base towards nearly any Democrat candidate.

At the same time, Trump also needs the continued support from America’s Christian Zionist evangelical ‘Israel Firsters’, as well as the infamous AIPAC, not only to be re-elected, but to maintain the support in the senate against impeachment.

That conflict between Trump’s two greatest populist strengths – between Trump’s anti-war base and his Christian Zionist base – largely defines his weakest political spot. That’s why it’s the best place to attack him.

Trump for his part, has a frenemy relationship with AIPAC, and has worked hard to build his profile with Christian Zionist voters even to the extent that this might limit AIPAC’s influence on them. He has purchased a lot of AIPAC support along the way by tearing up the JCPOA and recognizing the Golan Heights and Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This is capital he will have to spend to maintain support in the Senate.

All together this means that while Trump may or may not have personally sought the assassination of Soleimani, he must take credit for it for any number of reasons. In brief, these relate again to the Zionist base and AIPAC, as well as needing to appear in control of the very country that he is nominally the president of. When Trump refused to go to war over the downing of the un-manned drone, the liberal media monopoly accused him of being soft on Iran and indecisive.

Israel for its part is not tremendously happy with either of the two competing U.S policies. They have been pushing a ‘bomb Iran’ line for years, so that Israel’s conquest of Iraq may come to be. They are also not happy that the U.S presence in the region will come to an end. Trump may or may not have green-lit Soleimani’s assassination, but in either event its result will be the purchase of political capital that he can use towards ending the anti-ISIS campaign in Iraq. The reality is that the U.S is being pushed out either way. Soleimani’s assassination has only strengthened that resolve.

Simultaneously, the anti-war sentiment in the U.S. is one that both led to Trump’s election and can lead to Trump’s undoing. Americans love sabre rattling and posturing. They also hate war.

To wit, in the immediate aftermath of the Soleimani assassination, the well-known American communist group – the PSL – and its anti-war front organization ‘ANSWER’ have already received incredible donations from deep-pocketed Democrat Party sponsors at the local party level, to stage the first significant anti-war demonstration since the Bush presidency. While PSL/ANSWER members and activists have been laudable in their consistent opposition to all American wars for capital and empire, they only seem to magically receive the funds for permits, advertising, organizing, and staging anti-war marches when a Republican is president. The secondary slogan of these mobilizations was ‘Dump Trump’. ‘Dump Obama’ was never a slogan seen at the non-existent mass mobilizations against the Libyan, Ukrainian, and Syrian wars.  Trump’s refusal to take the Democrat-laid war bait, means he can pull off an end-run around the Democrat and deep-state plot.

Democrats also don’t want war with Iran, they only want that Trump loses the anti-war vote. They can force him into these compromised positions by coordinating with the ‘permanent administrative military-intelligence bureaucracy’, by coordinating with AIPAC. The Democrat’s plan is therefore pretty simple: use impeachment to force him to strike at Iran (or get Trump to take credit for a strike that the deep-state pulled off), and then use that entanglement to tank his re-election prospects. Then Democrats ride in on an anti-war ticket, restart JCPOA, and move towards integrating Iranian elites into the EU economy. Israel could ultimately guarantee its piece of Iraq and its Greek pipeline deal in due course, with a reformed and EU friendly Iran, ready to make major compromises with Israel. Maybe this is what Biden means by ‘restorationist’ – restoring the traditional left/right political divide which has empowered the Atlanticist status quo.

A Backroom deal? Iran’s Measured Response and Trump’s face-saving

The successful attack on the US’s al-Asad airbase in Iraq was characterized by Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei has characterized as a ‘slap’.

Interestingly, Khamenei’s language used is strategic, and uses a sleight of hand to take the steam from possible opponents. It is clear that Khamenei has said today that while the attack on the airbase is just a slap, and that Iran’s full response will come in the future, he has in fact set up that the solution will be political and diplomatic. He did so in a creative way which appeals to hardliners, saying that any solution could not simply be political and diplomatic, but rather more than this. This sort of double-speak does not reflect any moral lapsus, but is necessary for Iran’s greater geopolitical aims and serves the greater good.

De-escalation requires that both parties save face, and can come away with tangible minor victories and agree that the real underlying dispute is resolved in the future.

This reluctance to engage militarily is beyond the mere politics of justifying American casualties, but points to broader considerations of U.S power projection in the region in the aftermath of the failure of the Obama administration policy of overthrowing the government of Syria.

To understand the events at play requires a multi-dimensional and realist understanding of motivations and relationships, and how relationships work at the level of statecraft. And so in a way that would be popularly understood – as in Game of Thrones – just because you’re invited to the banquet or receive a high-honored appointment, doesn’t mean that are you indispensable or even a friend. Trump’s ‘GoT’ relationship with Israel and even his own cabinet, needless to say any number of Pentagon bosses, is precisely this. Bolton and Pompeo are such frenemies, as have been any number of ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ members of the Trump administration, more or less foisted and forced upon the chief executive by Trump’s opponents in the permanent administration and his partisan opposition, and within the Republican Party itself.

Did Trump make a backroom deal with Iran? Probably not – there was a high public dimension to Trump’s offers, and a recent history where an unspoken language was developed. Iran has demonstrated a high level of intelligence, restraint, intuition, and strategic thinking in its several thousand year-old civilization. There is no reason to think that they wouldn’t have understood and inferred everything explained in this article, and much more, without needing a direct conversation with Trump which no doubt would have led to yet another impeachment fandango.

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Operation Kayfabe: How Trump and Iran avoided war while both claiming victory

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | January 8, 2020

For a moment there, as missiles were flying, it looked like a US-Iran war was inevitable. Then, just as suddenly, both sides walked away. What happened? The key to figuring it out might just lie in professional wrestling.

Last night, Iran launched two volleys of missiles at two bases in Iraq that house US troops and equipment, calling it revenge for the drone strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. US President Donald Trump called him a “terrorist” and a “monster,” but Iranians considered him a beloved war hero, and there was no way the IRGC could let his death go unavenged.

Trump, however, threatened to strike 52 targets in Iran – the same as the number of US embassy staff taken hostage after the 1979 revolution – if any “Americans or American assets” were harmed. Throughout Tuesday, the US president kept oddly quiet on Twitter, choosing only to amplify the anti-Iran messaging of the most hawkish senators, and let the Pentagon and State Department chiefs take the lead in saying there will be no withdrawal from Iraq. It seemed like any Iranian action would guarantee a war.

Democrats, media talking heads and antiwar activists alike were absolutely convinced that Trump was getting into a war with Iran. Everything pointed to it. Any hope that the situation could de-escalate seemed like wishful thinking. Some Hollywood celebs were even pleading with Tehran “please do not kill us,” and asking the Iranian government to hold out till November so Trump can be voted out of office.

So when the US president walked up to the White House podium and addressed the nation on Wednesday – only to announce that his response will be more sanctions and calling for greater NATO involvement, rather than unleash the might of the US military – a lot of people were were left confused, to say the least.

That’s because the American chattering classes forgot what in retrospect seems like a very important detail from Trump’s biography: before he ran for president, before he had a hit reality TV show… he was a superstar of professional wrestling. That’s not surprising, because they believe themselves too elite and too educated for that lowbrow form of entertainment – but Trump’s base does not.

Unlike the internationally known sport, professional wrestling is a specifically North American form of performance art, in which everything is staged but everyone pretends it is real and true. There is even a specific term for maintaining this pretense before the general public: kayfabe.

What if Trump’s threats of bombing Iranian heritage sites or refusing to withdraw from Iraq – even though he campaigned on doing just that – were all part of kayfabe, an act intended to gull the gullible into believing it was all real? Moreover, what if Iran was in on the act and chose to launch the missiles at largely empty warehouses, while giving Americans ample warning via the Iraqis ahead of time, so as to avoid any deaths?

It sounds unbelievable, right? Yet there is no denying that it is precisely how events played themselves out.

Speaking on Wednesday, Trump used standard rhetoric about Iran to bury two very important points that pundits largely missed. One is that the US is now energy independent and therefore far less vulnerable to events in the Middle East than in the 1970s, during the Arab Oil Embargo or the Iran hostage crisis. The other was his direct repudiation of the ‘Albright doctrine’ of US interventionism established in the 1990s with a glib remark.

“The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean that we have to use it,” Trump declared.

Those two things, I am fairly confident, were not kayfabe. Expect both to be largely ignored by the chattering classes, though, as they focus on who “caved” first and slowly get back to routine.

What matters at this moment is that the war that seemed inevitable did not actually happen. The IRGC got to tell the Iranian people that their brave soldiers avenged “martyr Soleimani” by smiting the “Great Satan.” Trump got to tell the American people that, since no lives were lost, he could shrug it off as insignificant and walk away. Both of them ended up looking triumphant, while their hysterical critics and doomsayers ended up looking like fools. And let’s remember, in politics and pro wrestling alike, perception is everything.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

The Terrifying Rise of the Zombie State Narrative

By Craig Murray | January 2, 2020

The ruling Establishment has learnt a profound lesson from the debacle over Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. The lesson they have learnt is not that it is wrong to attack and destroy an entire country on the basis of lies. They have not learnt that lesson despite the fact the western powers are now busily attacking the Iraqi Shia majority government they themselves installed, for the crime of being a Shia majority government.

No, the lesson they have learnt is never to admit they lied, never to admit they were wrong. They see the ghost-like waxen visage of Tony Blair wandering around, stinking rich but less popular than an Epstein birthday party, and realise that being widely recognised as a lying mass murderer is not a good career choice. They have learnt that the mistake is for the Establishment ever to admit the lies.

The Establishment had to do a certain amount of collective self-flagellation over the non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, over which they precipitated the death and maiming of millions of people. Only a very few outliers, like the strange Melanie Phillips, still claimed the WMD really did exist, and her motive was so obviously that she supported any excuse to kill Muslims that nobody paid any attention. Her permanent pass to appear on the BBC was upgraded. But by and large everyone accepted the Iraqi WMD had been a fiction. The mainstream media Blair/Bush acolytes like Cohen, Kamm and Aaronovitch switched to arguing that even if WMD did not exist, Iraq was in any case better off for having so many people killed and its infrastructure destroyed.

These situations are now avoided by the realisation of the security services that in future they just have to brazen it out. The simple truth of the matter – and it is a truth – is this. If the Iraq WMD situation occurred today, and the security services decided to brazen it out and claim that WMD had indeed been found, there is not a mainstream media outlet that would contradict them.

The security services outlet Bellingcat would publish some photos of big missiles planted in the sand. The Washington Post, Guardian, New York Times, BBC and CNN would republish and amplify these pictures and copy and paste the official statements from government spokesmen. Robert Fisk would get to the scene and interview a few eye witnesses who saw the missiles being planted, and he would be derided as a senile old has-been. Seymour Hersh and Peter Hitchens would interview whistleblowers and be shunned by their colleagues and left off the airwaves. Bloggers like myself would be derided as mad conspiracy theorists or paid Russian agents if we cast any doubt on the Bellingcat “evidence”. Wikipedia would ruthlessly expunge any alternative narrative as being from unreliable sources. The Integrity Initiative, 77th Brigade, GCHQ and their US equivalents would be pumping out the “Iraqi WMD found” narrative all over social media. Mad Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council would be banning dissenting accounts all over the place in his role as Facebook Witchfinder-General.

Does anybody seriously wish to dispute this is how the absence of Iraqi WMD would be handled today, 16 years on?

If you do wish to doubt this could happen, look at the obviously fake narrative of the Syrian government chemical weapons attacks on Douma. The pictures published on Bellingcat of improvised chlorine gas missiles were always obviously fake. Remember this missile was supposed to have smashed through ten inches of solid, steel rebar reinforced concrete.

As I reported back in May last year, that the expert engineers sent to investigate by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) did not buy into this is hardly surprising.

That their findings were deliberately omitted from the OPCW report is very worrying indeed. What became still more worrying was the undeniable evidence that started to emerge from whistleblowers in the OPCW that the toxicology experts had unanimously agreed that those killed had not died from chlorine gas attack. The minutes of the OPCW toxicology meeting really do need to be read in full.

actual_toxicology_meeting_redacted

The highlights are:

“No nerve agents had been detected in environmental or bio samples”
“The experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure”

I really do urge you to click on the above link and read the entire minute. In particular, it is impossible to read that minute and not understand that the toxicology experts believed that the corpses had been brought and placed in position.

“The experts were also of the opinion that the victims were highly unlikely to have gathered in piles at the centre of the respective apartments, at such a short distance from an escape from any toxic chlorine gas to much cleaner air”.

So the toxicology experts plainly believed the corpse piles had been staged, and the engineering experts plainly believed the cylinder bombs had been staged. Yet, against the direct evidence of its own experts, the OPCW published a report managing to convey the opposite impression – or at least capable of being portrayed by the media of giving the opposite impression.

How then did the OPCW come to do this? Rather unusually for an international organisation, the OPCW Secretariat is firmly captured by the Western states, largely because it covers an area of activity which is not of enormous interest to the political elites of developing world states, and many positions require a high level of technical qualification. It was also undergoing a change of Director General at the time of the Douma investigation, with the firmly Francoist Spanish diplomat Fernando Arias taking over as Director General and the French diplomat Sebastian Braha effectively running the operation as the Director-General’s chef de cabinet, working in close conjunction with the US security services. Braha simply ordered the excision of the expert opinions on engineering and toxicology, and his high-handedness worked, at least until whistleblowers started to reveal the truth about Braha as a slimy, corrupt, lying war hawk.

FFM here stands for Fact Finding Mission and ODG for Office of the Director General. After a great deal of personal experience dealing with French diplomats, I would say that the obnoxious arrogance revealed in Braha’s instructions here is precisely what you would expect. French diplomats as a class are a remarkably horrible and entitled bunch. Braha has no compunction about simply throwing around the weight of the Office of the Director General and attempting to browbeat Henderson.

We see now how the OPCW managed to produce a report which was the opposite of the truth. Ian Henderson, the OPCW engineer who had visited the site and concluded that the “cylinder bombs” were fakes, had suddenly become excluded from the “fact finding mission” when it had been whittled down to a “core group” – excluding any engineers (and presumably toxicologists) who would seek to insert inconvenient facts into the report.

France of course participated, alongside the US and UK, in missile strikes against Syrian government positions in response to the non-existent chlorine gas attacks on Douma. I was amongst those who had argued from day one that the western Douma narrative was inherently improbable. The Douma enclave held by extreme jihadist, western and Saudi backed forces allied to ISIL, was about to fall anyway. The Syrian government had no possible military advantage to gain by attacking it with two small improvised chemical weapons, and a great deal to lose in terms of provoking international retaliation.

That the consequences of the fake Douma incident were much less far-reaching than they might have been, is entirely due (and I am sorry if you dislike this but it is true) to the good sense of Donald Trump. Trump is inclined to isolationism and the fake “Russiagate” narrative promoted by senior echelons of his security services had led him to be heavily sceptical of them. He therefore refused, against the united persuasion of the hawks, to respond to the Douma “attack” by more than quick and limited missile strikes. I have no doubt that the object of the intended false flag was to push the US into a full regime change operation, by falsifying a demonstration that a declared red line on chemical weapon use had been crossed.

There is no doubt that Douma was a false flag. The documentary and whistleblower evidence from the OPCW is overwhelming and irrefutable. In addition to the two whistleblowers reported extensively by Wikileaks and the Courage Foundation, the redoubtable Peter Hitchens has his own whistleblowers inside OPCW who may well be different persons. It is also great entertainment as well as enlightening to read Hitchens’ takedown of Bellingcat on the issue.

But there are much deeper questions about the Douma false flag. Did the jihadists themselves kill the “chlorine victims” for display or were these just bodies from the general fighting? The White Helmets were co-located with the jihadist headquarters in Douma, and involved in producing and spreading the fake evidence. How far were the UK and US governments, instrumental in preparing the false flag? That western governments, including through the White Helmets and their men at the OPCW, were plainly seeking to propagate this false flag, to massively publicise and to and make war capital out of it, is beyond dispute. But were they involved in the actual creation of the fake scene? Did MI6 or the CIA initiate this false flag through the White Helmets or the Saudi backed jihadists? That is unproven but seems to me very probable. It is also worth noting the coincidence in time of the revelation of the proof of the Douma false flag and the death of James Le Mesurier.

Now let me return to where I started. None of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, the Guardian nor CNN – all of which reported the Douma chemical attack very extensively as a real Syrian government atrocity, and used it to editorialise for western military intervention in Syria – none of them has admitted they were wrong. None has issued any substantive retraction or correction. None has reported in detail and without bias on the overwhelming evidence of foul play within the OPCW.

Those sources who do publish the truth – including the few outliers in mainstream media such as Peter Hitchens and Robert Fisk – continue to be further marginalised, attacked as at best eccentric and at worse Russian agents. Others like Wikileaks and myself are pariahs excluded from any mainstream exposure. The official UK, US, French and Spanish government line, and the line of the billionaire and state owned media, continues to be that Douma was a Syrian government chemical weapons attack on civilians. They intend, aided and abetted by their vast online propaganda operations, to brazen out the lie.

What we are seeing is the terrifying rise of the zombie state narrative in Western culture. It does not matter how definitively we can prove that something is a lie, the full spectrum dominance of the Establishment in media resources is such that the lie is impossible to kill off, and the state manages to implant that lie as the truth in the minds of a sufficient majority of the populace to ride roughshod over objective truth with great success. It follows in the state narrative that anybody who challenges the state’s version of truth is themselves dishonest or mad, and the state manages also to implant that notion into a sufficient majority of the populace.

These are truly chilling times.

In the next installment I shall consider how the Establishment is brazening out similar lies on the Russophobe agenda, and sticking to factually debunked narratives on the DNC and Podesta emails, on the Steele Dossier and on the Skripals.

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump: US military companies against bringing troops home from Syria

Press TV – October 22, 2019

US President Donald Trump says his plans to bring American troops home from Syria and other countries have been met with strong opposition from “military companies,” arguing that it is easier for him to let the soldiers get killed and sent back in coffins instead.

Trump said Monday that ending American military presence overseas was one of his two key campaign pledges — besides building a wall — and that he was intent to fulfill that promise despite facing opposition in Washington.

“We’re bringing our troops back home,” he told a cabinet meeting at the White House. “I got elected on bringing our soldiers back home. Now, it’s not very popular within the beltway because, you know, Lockheed doesn’t like it. And these great military companies don’t like it. It’s not very popular.”

Earlier this year, a report from the Security Assistance Monitor project of the Center for International Policy found that the Trump administration in coordination with US weapons manufacturers made $78.8 billion in arms deals in 2018 alone.

A quarter of those deals involved the production of American weapons overseas, the report stated.

Trump said bringing back the troops was what his supporters asked him when he appeared before a large crowd of 25,000 during a campaign rally in Dallas on Thursday.

“When I said we’re bringing our soldiers back home, the place went crazy,” the president said. “But within the beltway, you know, people don’t like it. It’s much tougher for me. Be much easier for me to let our soldiers be there, let them continue to die.”

He said “the most unpleasant thing” he has to do is meeting with the families of the soldiers who have been killed or sustained injuries while deployed abroad.

“I see that big cargo plane open and I see those coffins get rolled off,” he said.

He referred to his administration’s decision to redeploy forces from Syria to Iraq and said while he did not want to leave any soldiers behind, they should deploy elsewhere before returning to the United States.

“Well, they’re going to be sent initially to different parts and get prepared. Then ultimately we’re bringing them home,” Trump said.

In a major U-turn in the US military policy, the White House announced on October 6 that the US would be withdrawing its forces from northeastern Syria, clearing the path for an expected Turkish incursion into the region.

Three days later, Turkey launched the offensive with the aim of purging the northern Syrian regions near its border of US-backed Kurdish militants, whom it views as terrorists linked to local autonomy-seeking militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday that the nearly 1,000 American troops pulling out of northeastern Syria following a military invasion of the area by Turkey would move to western Iraq.

News agencies reported that US troops had in fact crossed into Iraq from Syria through the Sahela border crossing in the northern province of Dohuk on Monday.

Footage was released of US armored vehicles carrying troops into Iraq, with Iraqi Kurdish sources confirming that American troops had crossed into the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region.

Trump has announced similar troop withdrawal plans for Afghanistan but his administration has yet to take a step towards fulfilling that promise.

October 22, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | 3 Comments

Trump on Offense

By William Stroock | October 17, 2019

Republican political guru Karl Rove, often derisively called ‘Bush’s Brain’, managed George W. Bush’s two successful presidential campaigns in the 2000s. Rove focused on defending the red, Republican leaning states and maximizing conservative turnout in battleground purple states like Florida and Ohio. However, the Bush-Rove brand of free-trade and open-borders conservatism was unpopular with white working-class voters in Rust Belt states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states no Republican presidential candidate had won since 1988. As such, Rove’s strategy was inherently defensive. The Rust Belt became the Democrat’s Blue Wall, invincible against Republicans. Republican nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney stood little chance in these states in 2008 and 2012. In 2008 McCain’s campaign publicly gave up on Michigan.

In the 1990’s and 2000’s defensiveness became the GOP’s default rhetorical setting. Under leaders like Rove and former House Speaker Paul Ryan, the GOP allowed the Democrats to set the terms of the debate, and were always fending off accusation of heartlessness and even racism. During the Valerie Plame scandal, where Plame said Bush Administration officials outed her covert CIA status in retaliation for her husband contesting Bush’s Iraqi WMD claims, Republicans simply said they respected the independent counsel’s investigation and wanted the process to play out. Meanwhile Democrats savaged Bush and the GOP.

In 2016 candidate Donald Trump did not campaign by Rove’s rules. Instead of defending red states, Trump made an aggressive play for the Rust Belt, breached the Blue Wall, and won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. When NBC published a tape in which Trump made lewd remarks about women in 2005, Trump fought back. Instead of genuflecting, Trump pointed out Bill Clinton’s sexual foibles and even brought four of Clinton’s victims to the first debate with Hillary Clinton. A conventional, establishment candidate like Florida Governor Jeb Bush (!), whom Trump ran roughshod over in the Republican primaries, would have played by the Democrat’s rules.

Trump fights back against the Democrats impeachment inquiry. He routinely criticizes the head of the Democrat’s impeachment effort, House Judiciary chair Adam Schiff. He mocks Schiff at rallies calling him ‘pencil neck’ and ‘shifty Schiff’. In the wake of the Mueller independent council investigation, in which no collusion whatsoever was found between the Trump campaign and Russia, Trump’s justice department is looking into the origins of the collusion hoax. As of this writing Inspector General John Durham ranges far and wide across the globe gathering evidence. His report is said to be, so far, the size of a phone book.

Already Trump is out on the campaign trail. In September Trump spoke to a packed stadium in Fayetteville, North Carolina the night before two special House elections. In a long, rambling pep-talk Trump defended his record, savaged the Democrats and declared, ‘With your support, tomorrow we take the first steps to firing Speaker Pelosi and winning back the House.’ The next day both Republican candidates won their races, one in a landslide, the other by a mere two points. Trump almost certainly dragged the latter candidate across the finish line. Last weekend he filled an arena in Lake Charles Louisiana for that state’s ‘jungle primary’ against Democrat incumbent governor John Bel Edwards. The end result was Edwards got only 46.6 percent of the vote, forcing a November runoff against Republican Eddie Rispone. Locally the GOP wiped out the Democrats, and won a super majority in the Louisiana state senate.

North Carolina and Louisiana are states Trump won in 2016. But he is also campaigning in states won by Hillary Clinton. In September Trump held a rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, a state with a large Hispanic population. Trump won 29% of the Hispanic vote in 2016, beating Romney by two points, actually. Increasing Trump’s share of the Hispanic vote is a top priority in 2020. At Rio Rancho he slammed the Democrats and touted the benefits of his economic record to New Mexico and Hispanics. Trump’s biggest target is Minnesota, which he lost by a mere point or 45,000 votes. Minnesota is also home to Representative Ilhan Omar, one of the members of the ‘Squad’ of leftist House members. Trump hopes to use Omar as a foil to turn Minnesota red and flip several of the state’s congressional districts. The GOP only needs to capture eighteen seats to retake the House of Representatives. The Trump campaign is opening up field offices and hiring campaign workers in both states.

In a contentious meeting at the White House this week, Nancy Pelosi told the president that she wished Trump were a politician. The truly gifted politicians have coattails, their victories win races down ticket. So far this year Trump has shown he can do that. In campaign 2020, Trump will be the Republican Party’s greatest weapon.

October 18, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

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

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | October 16, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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