Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Psychoanalysing NATO: Gaslighting

By Patrick ARMSTRONG | Strategic Culture Foundation | 17.07.2018

NOTE: Because “NATO” these days is little more than a box of spare parts out of which Washington assembles “coalitions of the willing”, it’s easier for me to write “NATO” than “Washington plus/minus these or those minions”.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has called on Russia to explain “exactly what has gone on” after two people were exposed to the Novichok nerve agent in Wiltshire. (BBC)

The Russian state could put this wrong right. They could tell us what happened. What they did. And fill in some of the significant gaps that we are trying to pursue. We have said they can come and tell us what happened. I’m waiting for the phone call from the Russian state. The offer is there. They are the ones who could fill in all the clues to keep people safe. (UK security minister Ben Wallace)

Leaving aside their egregious flouting of the elemental principle of English justice, note that they’re uttering this logical idiocy: Russia must have done it because it hasn’t proved it didn’t. Note also, in Javid’s speech, the amusing suggestion that Russia keeps changing its story; but to fit into the official British story “novichok” must be an instantly lethal slow acting poison which dissipates quickly but lasts for months.

This is an attempt to manipulate our perception of reality. In a previous essay I discussed NATO’s projection of its own actions onto Russia. In this piece I want to discuss another psychological manipulation – gaslighting.

The expression comes from the movie Gaslight in which the villain manipulates her reality to convince his wife that she is insane. Doubt the official Skripal story and it is you – you “Russian troll” – who is imagining things. Only Russian trolls would question Litvinenko’s deathbed accusation written in perfect English handed to us by a Berezovskiy flunky; or the shootdown of MH17; or the invasion of Ukraine; or the cyber attack on Estonia. Only a Russian troll would observe that the fabulously expensive NATO intelligence agencies apparently get their information from Bellingcat. Argumentum ad trollem is everywhere: count the troll accusations here or admire the clever anticipatory use of the technique there.

This is classic gaslighting – I’m telling the truth, you’re the crazy one.

We may illustrate the eleven signs of “gaslighting” given in Psychiatry Today by Stephanie A. Sarkis with recent events.

They tell blatant lies.

The Skripals were poisoned by an incredibly deadly nerve agent that left them with no visible symptoms for hours but not so deadly that it killed them; at least not at Easter; nor the policeman; a nerve agent that could only have been made in Russia although its recipe was published in the open media; that poison having been administered on a doorknob that each had to have touched at the exact same minute that no one else touched; a nerve agent so deadly that they only bothered to clean up the sites 51 days later. And so on: a different story every day. But your mind must be controlled by Putin if you smell a falsehood at any point. And, now we have it all over again: apparently the fiendishly clever Russian assassins smeared the doorknob and then, rather than getting out of town ASAP, sauntered over into a park to toss the container. (Remember the fiendishly clever Russian assassins who spread polonium everywhere?)

And, speaking of proven, long term, repeating liars: remember when accusing the British government of complicity in torture renditions was a conspiracy theory? Well, it turns out the conspiracy was by the other side. “Conspiracy Theorist” is the perfect gaslighting accusation, by the way: you’re the crazy one.

They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.

The Skripal case gives a perfect illustration: here’s the UK Foreign Secretary saying Porton Down told him it was Russian (“absolutely categorical”) And here’s the UK Foreign Office disappearing the statement: We never said Porton Down confirmed the origin. It’s rare to get such a quick exposure of a lie, so it’s useful to have this example. Here is an obvious fake from BellingcatAlready the Douma story is being re-polished now that the OPCW has said no organophosphates.

Most of the time it takes years to reveal the lie: gaslighters know the details will be forgotten while the impression remains. 64 years later we learn the “conspiracy theorists” were right about the CIA/UK involvement in the Iran coup. It’s rather amazing how many people still believe the proven liars this time around.

They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.

Russians cheat at the sports you follow, scatter nerve agents and radioactive material in places you could be in, sneak into the voting booth with you, blow up airplanes you might be on and tear up the “very fabric of our democracy.” Your favourite actor tells you “we are at war with Russia“.

And the children! The boy on the beachThe boy in the ambulanceBana from AleppoMiraculous recoveries.  Dramatic rescues with camera! Dead children speaking. And finally, the little girl, Trump and the Time cover.

If it’s a child, they’re gaslighting you.

They wear you down over time.

Skripal story fading? How about a CW attack in Syria? No? Back to MH17: same story with one new obviously suspicious detail. Pussy Riot is forgotten and Pavlenskiy an embarrassment, but “Russian bear in Moscow World Cup parade video sparks PETA outrage“! This is what is known as a Gish Gallop: the gaslighter makes 47 assertions, while you’re thinking about the first, he makes 20 more: in former times it was recognised by the the folk saying that “a fool can ask more questions than ten wise men can answer”. But the fools quickly come up with more: dead dogs in Russia: without tuk-tukswith tuk-tuks; your choice.

You are worn down by ten new fake outrages every month: all expressed in simplistic terms. How much context is stuffed into this imbecilic headline? The Plot Against Europe: Putin, Hungary and Russia’s New Iron Curtain. How many thousand words, how many hours to discuss it intelligently? Too late! Time for “Trump and Putin’s Too-Friendly Summit” (NYT 28 June). Forget that! “Sexism at Russia World Cup the worst in history as female fans and broadcasters are harassed“. (Telegraph 30 June). Gone! “We already gave Syria to Putin, so what’s left for Trump to say?” (WaPo 5 July) Stop wondering! “Amesbury poisoning: Here’s what we know about the novichok victims” (Sky News 6 July). No! Trumputin again! “Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?” (NY Mag 8 July). Gish Gallop. The sheer volume of easily-made accusations forces two conclusions: they’re right and you’re wrong (smoke: fire) or, more simply, eventually you – you crazy one! – give up.

Their actions do not match their words.

They bomb hospitals on purposewe bomb them by accident. Discussed further here but the essence of the point is that

it would be physically impossible for Russia to be more destructive than NATO is.

If you want a single word to summarize American war-making in this last decade and a half, I would suggest rubble.

They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.

There are direct rewards of course: cue Udo Ulfkotte; many benefits to swimming with the stream; swimming the other way, not so many. It’s only after they retire that British generals question the story, the cynic observes. German generals too. Maybe even US generals.

But for the rest of us, NATO bathes us in gush: “NATO’s Enduring Mission – Defending Values, Together“. Together, our values: we – you and I – have the good values. NATO loves to praise itself “the Alliance also contributes to peace and stability through crisis management operations and partnerships.” Remember Libya? “A model intervention” said the NATO GenSek of the time. Here is the view on the ground. Most of the “migrants” tearing Europe apart are fleeing the destruction of NATO’s wars. NATO backs (plus/minus minions) the intervention in Mali, a country destabilised by its destruction of Libya. Cue the positive reinforcement: “Projecting Stability: an agenda for action“. In NATOland the gaslight burns bright: “Nato chief: Vladimir Putin ‘weaponising’ refugee crisis to ‘break’ Europe“. NATO keeps pouring butterscotch sauce on the rubble: “NATO is based on some core values – democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty” (25 June).

All I can say, over and over again, is Libya. NATO destroyed Libya, weird as it was, killed Qaddafi, weird as he was, and smugly congratulated itself: “NATO’s Victory in Libya: The Right Way to Run an Intervention“. Ubi solitudinum faciunt pacem appelant. But should that thought occur to you, you’re part of “Russia’s secret plan to destroy EU and NATO“.

They know confusion weakens people.

Remember PropOrNot? Sites that do not agree with the Establishment are Russian bots! Authenticated experts! 100% reliable! The WaPo published the list; when under attack even from proponents of the Putindunnit hysteria, it feebly backtracked: it “does not itself vouch for the validity”. Vermont power grid hack? WaPo fell for that one too. Confusion from the endless Gish Gallop about Putin: in December 2015 I compiled a number: Aspergers, pychopath, slouching and on and on and on.

You may be confused but the gaslighter isn’t: Russia’s to blame for whatever-it-was!

They project.

NATO projects all the time and this headline from the NYT is classic: “Russia’s Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression“. I discuss NATO’s projection here.

They try to align people against you.

NATO exerts a continual pressure for unanimity. Again, the Skripal story is a good example: London accused Russia and, “in solidarity“, Russian diplomats were expelled all over the world. Allies took its word for it. Now the doubts: in Germany especially. Sanctions must be imposed on Russia because we must be in solidarity with Kiev. “Solidarity” on migrants. “Solidarity” is perhaps the greatest virtue in NATOland. We will hear more pleas for solidarity as NATO dies: when mere “solidarity” is the only reason left; there’s no reason left.

They tell you or others that you are crazy.

It also must be said that when elected officials — including members of Congress — and media platforms amplify propaganda disseminated by Russian trolls, they are aiding the Russians in their efforts.

The goal is to undermine democracy. So you want America to look unstable and Americans not to trust each other.

How Russian Trolls Won American Hearts andMinds

An “existential threat posed by digitally accelerated disinformation“. So no forgiveness to you, crazy Putin trolls. And don’t dare doubt that American democracy is so feeble that it can be directed by a few Facebook ads. Never forget that NATO’s opponents are crazy: Putin is a “madman“; Qaddafi was “crazy“; Saddam Hussein “insane“; Milosevic “rabid“. Only crazy people would defend crazy people.

They tell you everyone else is a liar.

Honest people don’t have to tell you they’re trustworthy, and neither, once upon a time, did the BBC. The Atlantic Council smoothly moves from “Why Is the Kremlin So Fixated on Phantom Fascists?” in May 2017 to “Ukraine’s Got a Real Problem with Far-Right Violence (And No, RT Didn’t Write This Headline)” in June 2018. But it still calls Russia the liar: “Why the Kremlin’s Lies Stick” (May 2018). The Atlantic Council hopes you’re dumb enough not to notice that Russia hasn’t changed its line but the gaslighters have. (Remember O’Brien and two plus two?)

Russian Federation is not the USSR.

I said it the last time: the USSR did lots of things in its time – influencing, fiddling elections, fake news, gaslighting and so on. But, in those days the Communist Party was the “leading and guiding force” but today it’s the opposition. Things have changed in Moscow, but NATO rolls on.

Some hope, though.

While many people are still taken in by the gaslighters, there are hopeful signs. Once upon a time Internet versions of the mass media allowed comments. Gradually, one by one, they shut down their comments sections because of “trolls”, “fake news” and offended “standards” but really because of disagreement. Perhaps the most famous case is that of the Guardianan entire website, has been created by people whose comments were rejected because they violated “community standards”. I always read the comments in the Daily Mail, especially the best rated, and on the Skripal stories, the comments are very sceptical indeed of the official story. For example.

This is rather encouraging: for gaslighting really to work, the gaslighter either has to be in such a position of power that he can completely control the victim’s surroundings or in such a position of authority that the victim cannot imagine doubting what he says. Those days are gone.

July 17, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Helsinki: What did Trump want from Putin, really?

By Denis Rancourt | Dissident Voice | July 16, 2018

I just did a live Sputnik International radio interview about the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki. This is the essence of my answers.

Trump is the USA and the USA mainly wants two things from Russia.

First, it wants Russia’s credibility. In the words of Trump: “I really think the world wants to see us get along.”

USA world credibility has crashed after Iraq-Afghanistan-Libya. The USA is known to abandon its allies and to work for gain even at the price of making long-term enemies.

The USA is habituated to being the most powerful and the most powerful can afford to make enemies. But the world is changing. The new multipolarity is accompanied by greater risks if the USA insists on maintaining the same degree of dominance.

In the words of Trump “We have a world to run”. This means the USA can gain much from collaboration with Russia. But, as usual, this does not mean that Russia can draw benefit from any such collaboration, only avoid some otherwise imposed punishment (sanctions, blockades, military pressures).

Second, the USA desperately “needs” to prevent democratization of effective weapons that can defend against its military intimidation and destruction campaigns.

The USA needs to prevent the emerging nations that it traditionally exploits by military force and intimidation from acquiring air-defence systems, ballistic missiles capable of retaliation, and weapons that can target large ships such as aircraft carriers. Aircraft carriers are the main hardware of USA military projection.

North Korea, Iran and Russia itself represent possible vectors of the said democratization of military technology. An example is seen in Yemen, where ground-to-air defence missiles are transformed into ground-to-ground retaliatory missiles. If Yemen had secured better such technologies, it would be defending itself more effectively.

The same is true for Gaza. Increased military technology would allow proper defence and a balance that could produce negotiation rather than bulldozer displacement policies and genocidal destruction campaigns.

The USA and Israel are terrified at such prospects. Israel’s approach would be all-out USA-backed war against Iran. The USA approach is to threaten war but extract collaboration from Russia to control and prevent military advancement of the nations the USA wants to control, which resist its bribes and threats.

In all of this, the USA (the elite faction supporting Trump) has come to understand that it must revitalize the domestic USA and its middle-class, that a strong empire cannot have an empty core. Trump will do anything to achieve this, including ruffle allies and break long-standing agreements.

The USA wants a strong NATO that it controls. It wants more commitment from NATO members. That was Trump’s main message. It needs NATO to legitimize any “needed” military destruction campaigns in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. And it is prepared to use these strong NATO-club ties to extract relative advantages to re-build its domestic economy.

NATO is about: securing Europe against trade and co-development with Russia, legitimizing criminal wars of aggression in the service of the empire, and projecting power into Africa, the Middle East and Asia, for the benefit of the NATO-club members but mostly the USA. It also forces Russia to spend enormous resources on defence.

This is what Trump is doing with NATO, which has nothing to do with pleasing Putin.

Election interference, whether true or not, is just an ancillary USA domestic matter. Everyone knows it’s bullshit. Putin did not write the Clinton emails. Democracies claim to want “transparency”.

Crimea is also a non-issue. Crimea folks overwhelmingly wanted incorporation into Russia, following the Ukrainian meltdown and military violence. Everybody knows that. Compare Russia’s actions in Crimea to the NATO mass-crime that is Libya. There is no comparison.

Finally, whether our goodiness brains allow us to see it or not, from a geopolitical perspective, Trump is the “progressive” here that wants domestic development rather than solely all-out hawkish globalism irrespective of domestic hollowness. He also wants to negotiate with Russia to limit Iran rather than risk long-term world and USA consequences from a large-scale regional war, which the Clintonite crazies say they want.

Two related prior articles are:1 and2

  1. Denis Rancourt. “Cause of USA Meltdown and Collapse of Civil Rights”, Dissident Voice, September 7, 2017.
  2. Denis Rancourt. “Social Animals have Two Modes of Being”, Dissident Voice, July 2, 2018.

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

‘US Needs Russia More Than Russia Needs US’ – Academic on Trump-Putin Summit

Sputnik – July 16, 2018

In a historic bilateral summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin met his US counterpart Donald Trump in the Finnish capital. In an interview with Sputnik, Dr. Denis Rancourt, a civil rights advocate and social theorist, provided his insight into the importance of the meeting.

Sputnik: Could you share your feelings as to how significant this is; how significant is the timing of this? What do you expect to be accomplished?

Dr. Denis Rancourt: I don’t think the timing is that important, I mean it had to happen because Trump and the US want it to happen and also Russia wants it to happen. It’s going to happen anyway. The US wants things from Russia and to some degree, the US needs Russia more than Russia needs the US, because the United States in the world has lost a lot of credibility and Russia has credibility. It has a coherent diplomacy, which the US no longer has.

So it needs that credibility… Trump uses the expression “We need to run the world”: what he means by that is that he wants to be able to acquire the benefits of having a collaboration with Russia on certain issues. I think that credibility is one; but there is another important issue that clearly is of concern to Trump and the United States and that is the question of weapons; the democratizing of missiles, especially.

The US would have a lot to lose if more and more nations acquire the possibility of defending themselves against US threats and attacks. And so, the possibility of missiles being given to people who need them, by Korea or by Iran, or even indirectly, or directly, by Russia itself, is a great threat to the United States, because the US system relies on military intimidation and its projection of power in the world.

So, for that to be removed would take away many of its acquired territories and ability to coerce and intimidate economies and large parts of the world. I think those are the things, it’s in that sense that the United States wants kind of a weapons management and understanding that they are going to limit this […] spread of weapons; because it’s not just nuclear weapons. Technology is advancing, and we now have more and more accurate missile that can hit cities that are estimated to be the source of military intimidation. For example, Tel Aviv can be hit by missiles and so on. It’s illustrated by what’s happening in Yemen now.

The Yemenis have rudimentary missiles that are able to hit targets in Saudi Arabia and have demonstrated their ability to take our ships. So, the US is more and more vulnerable to this advancing technology. It relies on projection of power through aircraft carriers, which are themselves, by their nature, vulnerable to missile attacks and to the kind of technology that can easily hit large ships. They need to be able to protect themselves and they’ve lost credibility, especially after the total destruction that they have made in Iraq and Libya. The world has seen this and understands how vicious NATO and the United States can be. I think it’s a combination of those two things that brings Trump and the US to the table, to try to negotiate with Russia.

Sputnik: […] Trump has virtually dismissed reports, even from his own intelligence, on the alleged Russian meddling. What do you think about this?

Dr. Denis Rancourt: […]Of course this is a global war. Of course, RT and Sputnik exist now and that’s a reality, and it influences opinions and outlooks in the world, and that’s not going to change, it’s not going to go away. This is all largely a domestic issue, whether it’s true or not, it’s still just a domestic issue.

July 16, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US ready for direct talks with Afghan Taliban: Top commander

Press TV – July 16, 2018

The United States has expressed readiness to initiate direct talks with the Taliban in an attempt to end a 17-year-old war in Afghanistan, a significant shift in American policy in the conflict-ridden country.

General John Nicholson, the top commander of US forces in Afghanistan, made the announcement on Monday, saying the move was intended to bring the Afghan government and the militants closer and culminate in formal peace negotiations to end the long-running war.

“Our Secretary of State, Mr. (Mike) Pompeo, has said that, we, the United States, are ready to talk to the Taliban and discuss the role of international forces,” Nicholson said. “We hope that they realize this and that this will help to move the peace process forward.”

Earlier, the New York Times reported that President Donald Trump’s administration had ordered diplomats to seek direct talks with the Taliban in a bid to jump-start peace negotiations.

Reaffirming Nicholson’s comments, US officials said the talks would start without any preconditions and that the future of US and NATO forces would be discussed.

Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an end when the US and its allies invaded the Asian country on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban regime from power, but ever since, the group has been involved in widespread militancy, killing thousands of civilians as well as Afghan and American forces and displacing tens of thousands of people across the country.

Back in February, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called on the Taliban to join peace talks “without preconditions.”

Speaking at a peace conference in Kabul, Ghani proposed measures, including a ceasefire and prisoner swaps.

In return, Ghani said the Taliban would need to recognize the Afghan government and respect the rule of law.

The Taliban have repeatedly declared that they would not enter talks until US-led foreign troops left the country.

July 16, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

NATO Wants to Use Turkish Territory to Encircle Iran – Turkish Analysts

Sputnik – 15.07.2018

It is the Kurdish YPG forces and their US sponsors, not the Syrian army, that pose the main threat to Turkey’s southern borders, Turkish political analysts told Sputnik when commenting on the parts of a NATO declaration directly pertaining to their country.

In a statement released on Wednesday following its summit in Brussels, NATO vows to protect Turkey’s southern border.

The statement also says that NATO “continues to monitor and assess the ballistic missile threat from Syria,” and that “tailored assurance measures for Turkey to respond to the growing security challenges from the south contribute to the security of the Alliance as a whole, and will be fully implemented.”

“We have increased the strength of the NATO Response Force, and the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) is ready to deploy on short notice,” the statement adds.

In an interview with Sputnik, Hasan Unal, a foreign relations expert at Atylym University in Ankara, criticized the vague notion of “threat” mentioned in the declaration, adding that the main threat to Turkey comes from Kurdish YPG forces and their “sponsors in the US.”

“There is no threat to southern Turkey coming from the Syrian army. The missiles launched at our territory from Syria came from territories controlled either by Daesh or militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party even before the start of the Turkish military operation in Afrin. This means that the biggest threat to Turkey in the south comes from the Kurdish units and their US supporters. Turkey should have rejected such a vague description of this threat contained in the NATO summit’s declaration,” he said.

He added that by approving the declaration’s provisions, Turkey finds itself in the position of a country which supports NATO’s plans of encircling and pressuring Iran.

Cahit Armagan Dilek, a political scientist and the head of the university “Turkey in the 21st Century,” pointed to the declaration’s openly anti-Turkish slant, aimed at “encircling Iran and bringing pressure to bear on it by using Turkish territories and the introduction of an additional military contingent into Turkey.”

“In future, we may see NATO forces deploying along our southern border with Syria. It looks like NATO and Turkey look differently at what a ’terrorist threat’ is all about. The declaration says that at least three missiles fired at Turkey from Syria had actually been launched by the Syrian army and Iran. In the final account, the ‘terrorist threat,’ as it is termed in the NATO declaration, may transform into an ‘Iranian threat,’” the expert noted.

Dr. Dilek said that the Rapid Response task force that NATO plans to deploy, ostensibly to ensure Turkey’s security in the south, may in fact target Iran.

He added that to consolidate its positions in the region, NATO could deploy its forces east of the Euphrates and use them as a buffer between Turkey and YPG units.

READ MORE: Turkey’s Presidential Candidate Says NATO Fails to Ensure Nation’s Security

“Some of the NATO forces may be stationed to the west of the Euphrates, inside Turkey. With the Syrian army poised to advance on Idlib in August, the local jihadists may move towards Turkey and Afrin, thus destabilizing the situation in the region. In this case, NATO is likely to offer us help. However, we should also bear in mind the fact that the NATO forces deployed inside Turkey may be used against Iran. Turkey should take its time before it agrees to let foreign forces in, because we have absolutely no idea exactly when these forces will move out,” he explained.

He mentioned NATO’s naval forces deployed in the Aegean Sea as part of an EU-Turkish agreement on refugees in order to stem the tide of Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe.

“If, in addition to this, we have NATO land forces coming in, we may eventually have problems sending them back. We have a similar situation with the Incirlik base. But this time there may be more foreign troops stationed on our territory. Before the start of Operation Euphrates Shield, the Americans kept saying they needed 30,000 soldiers to secure the border between the [Syrian cities of] Jarabulus and Azaz,” Dr. Dilek noted.

July 15, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

The world ‘knows’ bin Laden did 9/11 — so why isn’t there any evidence?

By Geoffrey O’Neill | Truth and Shadows | July 14, 2018

He is arguably the most notorious person in the 21st century.

The world takes for granted that Osama bin Laden was the architect of the “terror attacks” of Sept. 11, 2001. But why was this man singled out for this horrific crime? How did we learn of his alleged guilt? And what is the evidence used to support his guilt?

These questions are critical because the allegation against bin Laden led, less than a month later (on Oct. 7, 2001), to the launching of the Global War on Terror with the invasion of Afghanistan. The mission, called Operation Enduring Freedom and ordered by President George W. Bush, and was supposedly intended to capture or kill bin Laden.

This is what we know about the claims of evidence against bin Laden:

Just hours after the World Trade Center towers were destroyed, a man by the name of L. Paul Bremer appeared on an NBC affiliate in Washington D.C. Less than a minute into the interview with host Jim Vance, Bremer mentioned bin Laden as potentially being the mastermind of the event. It appears that the bin Laden myth was created at this point, and it soon went viral.

Who is L. Paul Bremer, and what was he doing in Washington at the time?

Bremer, like Bush, is a graduate of Yale and, like Bush, is also a member of the notorious Skull and Bones fraternity. After leaving government in 1989, he became managing director of Kissinger Associates, a consulting firm owned by Henry Kissinger. (It’s worth noting that Kissinger was the original choice to head the 9/11 Commission.)

In May 2003, following the introduction of “shock and awe” in Iraq, Bremer was named director of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Without question, he was a Republican insider. He was supposed to be on his way to New York City, to his office in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept., 11 but his plane was diverted due to the events of that morning.

In addition to speculating in the interview about bin Laden’s complicity, Bremer said that “terrorists declared war on the United States, and we declared war on the terrorists.” What was this supposed to mean? Would it follow that the United States would have carte blanche to invade any country anywhere if a terrorist or terrorists were thought to be living there? Would that include Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, or France?

Bremer also said, “We can’t throw away democratic freedoms and civil liberties that are the heart of our society.”

But those liberties were not thrown away; they were taken away by Bremer’s colleagues in the Bush administration. This happened through the passage of the Patriot Act, the creation of the Transportation Security Administration, the spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, the prosecution of whistleblowers, and the stifling our 1st and 5th Amendment rights. The list is long.

Bremer continued: “There will be consequences. In fact, I hope the most severe military consequences we can come up with.”

In this he was prescient. Using the justification of 9/11, the United States invasion of Afghanistan was followed by the invasion and destruction of Iraq, the bombing of Libya into the Stone Age, the arming and aiding of Saudi Arabia in their mission to destroy Yemen, and the instigation and perpetuation of the Syrian horror. Add in drone wars and proxy wars in God-knows-how-many countries, and Bremer must have swelled with pride over the level of carnage.

Bush names bin Laden

On the evening of Sept. 11, President Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office of the White House and said this: “Today was the Pearl Harbor of the 21st century. We think it’s Osama bin Laden.” For the second time on that day we hear the name bin Laden from a national bully pulpit.

Without a shred of evidence to support their claim, two high-profile government officials, speaking to Americans, put bin Laden in the crosshairs. He instantly became America’s public enemy number one, guilty by government decree.

The accusation was further reinforced by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who appeared on the BBC the morning of 9/11 (even before the buildings came down) and pointed to bin Laden and al-Qaeda as likely being behind the event. He called for the U.S. to launch an “operational, concrete war on terror.”

Before the dust had settled from the destruction of the towers, Bremer and Bush, along with Barak and the worldwide media, implicated bin Laden without offering any evidence. A little more than a week later, on Sunday, Sept. 23, Colin Powell made it official. With host Tim Russert on Meet the Press, Powell named bin Laden the architect of 9/11.

Russert asked Powell for evidence, and he responded: “We are hard at work bringing all of the information together, intelligence information, law enforcement information. And I think, in the near future, we will be able to put out a white paper, a document that will be able to describe quite clearly the evidence we have linking him [bin Laden] to this attack.” He told Russert he would make it available to him once it was completed.

Fleischer slams the door

The day after Powell’s promise, the New York Times devoted a front page article to the evidence that it believed was forthcoming, citing statements by government officials that “the evidence reaches from the southern tip of Manhattan to the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan.”

But the same afternoon, Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer met with the media and said Powell’s statement of a white paper had been “misinterpreted.” There was no plan to release the information. “It is classified.”

A reporter had the audacity to ask, “Is there any plan to present to the public evidence so the average citizen, not just Americans but people all over the world, can understand the case against bin Laden”?

Fleischer’s response was predictably condescending: “In a democracy it is always important to provide the maximum amount of information possible. But I think American people understand that there are going to be times when that information cannot immediately be forthcoming.”

On one issue, Fleischer spoke truthfully: the white paper was not immediately forthcoming. In fact, it has never been produced. No white paper exists in the public domain containing forensic evidence linking Osama bin Laden to the 9/11 attacks.

The arrogance, hypocrisy, and disregard for human life of this man and the entire Bush administration cannot be overstated. American troops were about to be sent to war. Many would die or be seriously injured for life. Afghan civilians, considered collateral damage, would be killed in large numbers as always happens in war. Yet no soldier, American citizen, or Afghan citizen was allowed to see the evidence cited to justify why the United States was about to invade one of the poorest countries in the world.

It gets worse.

The NATO alliance was formed following WWll, ostensibly to protect East European countries from naked aggression by the Soviet Union. Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which states that an attack against any member nation is an attack against all member nations, was invoked for the first time on Sept. 11, 2001. And it wasn’t a small NATO country that needed help; it was the United States of America, the most powerful country in the world.

On Sept. 12, 2001, NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson summoned the North Atlantic Council to meet in Brussels. All 19 members agreed that the attack on the U.S. was an attack from abroad. All Robertson needed to invoke Article 5 was the responsible party with evidence to wage war on the perpetrators. He soon got what he needed, or so he thought.

U.S. State Department representative Frank Taylor met in secret with all NATO representatives on Oct. 2, 2001 and provided documents that supposedly contained “clear and compelling” evidence of bin Laden’s guilt to the Secretary General. After the meeting, Robertson met with the press and predictably said the evidence provided by Taylor was classified. In all, 29 countries joined the U.S. in the invasion of Afghanistan, including Britain, France, and Canada. They joined in the invasion of this tiny impoverished country based on “evidence” that the public could not see.

It gets even worse.

A revelation from the FBI

On June 5, 2006, investigative reporter Ed Haas from the Muckraker Report noticed from bin Laden’s Most Wanted Page on the FBI’s website that he was wanted for several crimes but not for 9/11. He eventually spoke with Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity of the FBI and the exchange went like this:

Haas: “Why is there no mention of 9/11 on Osama bin Laden’s Most Wanted web page?”

Tomb: “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama bin Laden’s web page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.”

Haas: “How is this possible”?

Tomb: “The FBI gathers evidence. Once evidence is gathered it is turned over to the Department of Justice who then decides whether it has enough evidence to present to a grand jury. In the case of bin Laden he has not been formally indicted and charged because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.”

So how does this work? Bremer, hours after the towers were destroyed, blamed bin Laden. Bush, later that day, blamed bin Laden. Powell days later on national television claimed to have solid evidence of bin Laden’s guilt. Taylor supposedly turned over “clear and compelling evidence” of bin Laden’s guilt to the head of the NATO Alliance a few weeks after 9/11. Yet, the chief law enforcement agency in the United States, the FBI, admitted years later that they have “no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.”

It should also be mentioned that a “confession video” by bin Laden was found in Afghanistan in December 2001, which was immediately used to bolster the claim of bin Laden’s guilt. The video was soon debunked by a leading expert on bin Laden, professor Bruce Lawrence of Duke University, who called the tape “bogus.”

This also begs the question as to why, if authentic, the tape was not used on bin Laden’s Most Wanted Page in the FBI file. One also has to wonder why this evidence, unlike all the other evidence the Bush administration claimed to have in its possession, was widely disseminated to the public while the rest remained classified.

And it gets worse yet!

Bush refuses to show proof

The evidence presented to NATO by Frank Taylor was in document form and immediately classified by U.S. and NATO authorities.

Before the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan, the country’s Taliban government offered to extradite bin Laden pending receipt of evidence of his guilt. But Bush refused the offer.

Could Bush have avoided the Global War on Terror by turning over the “clear and compelling” evidence in the Frank Taylor documents? The simple answer is no. There was no evidence to turn over.

The State Department documents were declassified in 2008 with little fanfare. Dr. Niels Harrit, a former professor of chemistry at the University of Copenhagen—now a researcher and writer active in the 9/11 Truth Movement—found them, and in an article on the Global Research website exposed them for public scrutiny.

According to Harrit’s assessment, “There is absolutely no forensic evidence that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated from Afghanistan.” He goes on: “Only a small part of the introductory text deals with 9/11. The main body of the text deals with the alleged actions of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the nineties.”

There isn’t now, nor was there ever, any evidence to connect Osama bin Laden to 9/11!

An addendum to the story, and certainly red meat for conspiracy theorists, seems to make the government’s case against bin Laden even more contrived. In a segment on NBC Nightly News with Dan Rather on Jan. 28, 2002, foreign correspondent Barry Peterson, standing in front of a military hospital in Pakistan, reported that bin Laden was getting a dialysis treatment on Sept. 10, 2001, a day prior to 9/11. According to Peterson, “He [bin Laden] arrived at the hospital in Rawalpindi under heavy security provided by the Pakistan secret service (ISI).”

If the report is accurate, it would be reasonable to wonder how an NBC News crew tracked down bin Laden while George Bush with 19 intelligence agencies at his disposal, never had a clue about his whereabouts.

We might also ask why Pakistan, an ally of the United States, didn’t turn bin Laden over to U.S. authorities after escorting him to one of his hospital visits. And we might wonder how bin Laden commuted from the mountains in Tora Bora to a hospital and back three times a week for kidney dialysis treatments.

And, years later, we might wonder why there is not a shred of evidence that supports the claim that bin Laden was killed in a Navy Seals raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011, as was reported and heralded by the Obama administration.

Public enemy number one

In a press conference at the White House on Sept. 13, 2001, President Bush said, “The most important thing for us is to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority, and we won’t rest until we find him.” It is important to note that by that date the government had still not declared publicly that there was evidence against bin Laden. He was guilty by decree only.

On March 13, 2002, less than seven months after the beginning of the Global War on Terror, justified by 9/11 and the accusations against bin Laden, Bush said this: “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It is not our priority.”

Then, in a speech delivered to a group of military officers on Sept. 5, 2006, Bush compared bin Laden to Lenin and Hitler. He said: “The world had ignored the writings of Lenin and Hitler and paid a terrible price. Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them.

Imagine if Winston Churchill had said that, “I really don’t care, it’s not that important, he is not our priority” when speaking about Hitler during the Battle of Britain? The absurd comparison to Hitler and the disparity, going back and forth from monster to afterthought and back to monster when speaking about bin Laden, in my view, speaks volumes.

Most citizens of the United States are decent and law abiding. Most pay their taxes willingly in a timely fashion. Most try to raise their families and teach them the difference between right and wrong. Most Americans are patriotic. Most would never harm anyone unless provoked. Most have integrity, decency, and values. Many have worn the uniform and taken an oath to serve and protect. So is it inappropriate to ask why our government and the press treat all of us like children? The bin Laden story is a testament to this along with the entire Global War on Terror, a complete fraud that has caused so much devastation to our reputation in the world and to the lives of millions in the Middle East and elsewhere.

If there is no clear, compelling evidence against the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, would it be fair to say that the Global War on Terror in its entirety, including the invasions, the bombings, the drone strikes, the millions killed, the tens of millions of refugees, all of the families destroyed, all of the despair and loss of hope the United States has brought to bear in so many parts of the world, is a fraud?

One would think.

Geoffrey O’Neill is a former Marine officer, Vietnam veteran, former business owner, and unexceptional American citizen who believes in the right of all people to live in peace and with dignity with their families. Geoffrey can be reached at goneill460@gmail.com

July 14, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

Evidence Will Probably Never Be Produced in Indictments of ‘Russian Agents’

By Joe Lauria | Consortium News | July 14, 2018

Charges against 12 Russian intelligence agents for allegedly hacking emails from the Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential election were announced by the U.S. Justice Department on Friday at the very moment President Donald Trump was meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle and just days before a summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

A central claim of Russia-gate has been that the Russian government with help from the Trump campaign stole emails from the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign and then gave those emails to WikiLeaks for publication to damage Clinton’s quest for the White House.

Until Friday however, the investigation into the allegations had produced no formal indictment of Russian government interference in the election. Like previous U.S. government accusations against Russia for alleged election meddling, the indictment makes assertions without providing evidence. Under U.S. law, indictments are not considered evidence. And it is highly unlikely that the government will ever have to produce any evidence in court.

Friday’s indictments do not include any charges against Trump campaign members for allegedly colluding with the Russian government to carry out the hacks. That has been at the core of allegations swirling in U.S. media for two years. If the alleged co-conspirators “known” to the DOJ were on the Trump team, the indictments do not say. There is only a hint that “unknown” persons might be.

In announcing the indictments at a press conference Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said: “The conspirators corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the internet. There’s no allegation in this indictment that the Americans knew they were corresponding with Russian intelligence officers.”

The indictment alleges that Russian agents, posing as Guccifer 2.0, communicated on Aug. 15, 2016 with “a person who was in regular contact with senior members” of the Trump campaign, mostly like advisor Roger Stone, who has spoken about communicating with Guccifer 2.0. The indictment says Guccifer offered to “help u anyhow,” apparently indicating that Stone did want Guccifer 2.0’s help.

Clinging to ‘Collusion’

The lack of evidence that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia has never stopped Democrats and their media outlets from believing unnamed U.S. intelligence sources for two years about such collusion. “Collusion” is the title of a best-selling book about the supposed Trump-Russia conspiracy to steal the election, but such a charge is not to be found.

The indictment excluding collusion also undermines the so-called Steele dossier, a work of opposition research paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign masquerading as an intelligence document because it was compiled by a former MI6 agent. The memos falsely claimed, it turns out, that Trump’s people started colluding with Russia years before he became a candidate.

But even after Friday’s indictments failed to charge anyone from Trump’s team, the Democratic media continued to insist there was collusion. A New York Times story, headlined, “Trump Invited the Russians to Hack Clinton. Were They Listening?,” said Russia may have absurdly responded to Trump’s call at 10:30 a.m. on July 27, 2016 to hack Clinton’s private email server because it was “on or about” that day that Russia allegedly first made an attempt to hack Clinton’s personal emails, according to the indictment, which makes no connection between the two events.

If Russia is indeed guilty of remotely hacking the emails it would have had no evident need of assistance from anyone on the Trump team, let alone a public call from Trump on national TV to commence the operation.

Instead of Trump operatives, the indictments name 12 Russians, allegedly agents from the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency. The agents “knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other, and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury (collectively the ‘Conspirators’), to gain unauthorized access (to ‘hack’) into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the 29-page indictment says.

“Starting in at least March 2016, the Conspirators used a variety of means to hack the email accounts of volunteers and employees of the U.S. presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton (the ‘Clinton Campaign’), including the email account of the Clinton Campaign’s chairman,” the indictment says.

Obvious Timing

The timing of the announcement was clearly intended to embarrass Trump as he was meeting the Queen and to undermine his upcoming meeting with Putin on July 16. The indictments may also have been meant to embarrass Russia two days before the World Cup final to be held in Moscow.

Pressure was immediately brought on Trump to cancel the summit in light of the indictments, which may have been the main aim in the timing of their announcement. “Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy,” Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement less than an hour after the indictments were announced. “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,” Schumer said.

With no apparent irony, The New York Times reported, “The timing of the indictment … added a jolt of tension to the already freighted atmosphere surrounding Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. Putin. It is all but certain to feed into the conspiratorial views held by the president and some of his allies that Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors are determined to undermine Mr. Trump’s designs for a rapprochement with Russia.”

Russia Denies

The Russian government on Friday strongly denied the charges. In a statement, the Foreign Ministry called the indictments “a shameful farce” that was not backed up by any evidence. “Obviously, the goal of this ‘mud-slinging’ is to spoil the atmosphere before the Russian-American summit,” the statement said.

The Ministry added that the 12 named Russians were not agents of the GRU.

“When you dig into this indictment … there are huge problems, starting with how in the world did they identify 12 Russian intelligence officers with the GRU,” said former CIA analyst Larry Johnson in an interview with Consortium News. Johnson pointed out that the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency was not allowed to take part in the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment on alleged interference by the GRU. Only hand-picked analysts from the FBI, the NSA and the CIA were involved.

“The experts in the intelligence community on the GRU … is the Defense Intelligence Agency and they were not allowed to clear on that document,” Johnson said.

“When you look at the level of detail about what [the indictment is] claiming, there is no other public source of information on this ,and it was not obtained through U.S. law enforcement submitting warrants and getting affidavits to conduct research in Russia, so it’s clearly intelligence information from the NSA, most likely,” Johnson said.

CrowdStrike’s Role

The indictment makes clear the evidence of an alleged hack of the DNC and DCCC computers did not come from the FBI, which was never given access to the computers by the DNC, but instead from the private firm CrowdStrike, which was hired by the DNC. It is referred to as Company 1 in the indictment.

“Despite the Conspirators’ efforts to hide their activity, beginning in or around May 2016, both the DCCC and DNC became aware that they had been hacked and hired a security company (“Company 1”) to identify the extent of the intrusions,” the indictment says.

The indictment doesn’t mention it, but within a day, CrowdStrike claimed to find Russian “fingerprints” in the metadata of a DNC opposition research document, which had been revealed by DCLeaks, showing Cyrillic letters and the name of the first Soviet intelligence chief. That supposedly implicated Russia in the hack.

CrowdStrike claimed the alleged Russian intelligence operation was extremely sophisticated and skilled in concealing its external penetration of the server. But CrowdStrike’s conclusion about Russian “fingerprints” resulted from clues that would have been left behind by extremely sloppy or amateur hackers–or inserted intentionally to implicate the Russians.

One of CrowdStrike’s founders has ties to the anti-Russian Atlantic Council raising questions of political bias. And the software it used to determine Russia’s alleged involvement in the DNC hack, was later proved to be faulty in a high-profile case in Ukraine, reported by the Voice of America.

The indictment then is based at least partially on evidence produced by an interested private company, rather than the FBI.

Evidence Likely Never to be Seen

Other apparent sources for information in the indictment are intelligence agencies, which normally create hurdles in a criminal prosecution.

“In this indictment there is detail after detail whose only source could be intelligence, yet you don’t use intelligence in documents like this because if these defendants decide to challenge this in court, it opens the U.S. to having to expose sources and methods,” Johnson said.

If the U.S. invoked the states secret privilege so that classified evidence could not be revealed in court a conviction before a civilian jury would be jeopardized.

Such a trial is extremely unlikely however. That makes the indictment essentially a political and not a legal document because it is almost inconceivable that the U.S. government will have to present any evidence in court to back up its charges. This is simply because of the extreme unlikelihood that arrests of Russians living in Russia will ever be made.

In this way it is similar to the indictment earlier this year of the Internet Research Agency of St. Petersburg, Russia, a private click bait company that was alleged to have interfered in the 2016 election by buying social media ads and staging political rallies for both Clinton and Trump. It seemed that no evidence would ever have to back up the indictment because there would never be arrests in the case.

But Special Counsel Robert Mueller was stunned when lawyers for the internet company showed up in Washington demanding discovery in the case. That caused Mueller to scramble and demand a delay in the first hearing, which was rejected by a federal judge. Mueller is now battling to keep so-called sensitive material out of court.

In both the IRA case and Friday’s indictments, the extremely remote possibility of convictions were not what Mueller was apparently after, but rather the public perception of Russia’s guilt resulting from fevered media coverage of what are after all only accusations, presented as though it is established fact. Once that impression is settled into the public consciousness, Mueller’s mission would appear to be accomplished.

For instance, the Times routinely dispenses with the adjective “alleged” and reports the matter as though it is already established fact. It called Friday’s indictments, which are only unproven charges, as “the most detailed accusation by the American government to date of the [not alleged] Russian government’s interference in the 2016 election, and it includes a litany of [not alleged] brazen Russian subterfuge operations meant to foment chaos in the months before Election Day.”

GRU Named as WikiLeak’s Source

The indictment claims that GRU agents, posing as Guccifer 2.0, (who says he is a Romanian hacker) stole the Democratic documents and later emailed them to WikiLeaks, named as “Organization 1.” No charges were brought against WikiLeaks on Friday.

“After failed attempts to transfer the stolen documents starting in late June 2016, on or about July 14, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent Organization 1 an email with an attachment titled ‘wk dnc linkl.txt.gpg,’” the indictment says. “The Conspirators explained to Organization 1 that the encrypted file contained instructions on how to access an online archive of stolen DNC documents. On or about July 18, 2016, Organization 1 confirmed it had ‘the 1Gb or so archive’ and would make a release of the stolen documents ‘this week.’”

WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange, who is in exile in the Ecuador embassy in London, has long denied that he got the emails from any government. Instead Assange has suggested that his source was a disgruntled Democratic Party worker, Seth Rich, whose murder on the streets of Washington in July 2016 has never been solved.

On Friday, WikiLeaks did not repeat the denial that a government was its source. Instead it tweeted: “Interesting timing choice by DoJ today (right before Trump-Putin meet), announcing indictments against 12 alleged Russian intelligence officers for allegedly releasing info through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0.”

Assange has had all communication with the outside world shut off by the Ecuadorian government two months ago.

Since the indictments were announced, WikiLeaks has not addressed the charge that GRU agents, posing as Guccifer 2.0, were its source. WikiLeaks’ policy is to refuse to disclose any information about its sources. WikiLeaks’ denial that the Russian government gave them the emails could be based on its belief that Guccifer 2.0 was who he said he was, and not what the U.S. indictments allege.

Those indictments claim that the Russian military intelligence agents adopted the personas of both Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks to publish the Democratic Party documents online, before the Russian agents, posing as Guccifer 2.0, allegedly supplied WikiLeaks.

The emails, which the indictment does not say are untrue, damaged the Clinton campaign. They revealed, for instance, that the campaign and the Democratic Party worked to deny the nomination to Clinton’s Democratic Party primary challenger Bernie Sanders.

The indictments also say that the Russian agents purchased the use of a computer server in Arizona, using bitcoin to hide their financial transactions. The Arizona server was used to receive the hacked emails from the servers of the Democratic Party and the chairman of Clinton’s campaign, the indictment alleges. If true it would mean the transfer of the emails within the United States, rather than overseas, presumably to Russia.

Some members of the Veterans’ Intelligence Professionals for Sanity argue that metadata evidence points to a local download from the Democratic computers, in other words a leak, rather than a hack. They write the NSA would have evidence of a hack and, unlike this indictment, could make the evidence public: “Given NSA’s extensive trace capability, we conclude that DNC and HRC servers alleged to have been hacked were, in fact, not hacked. The evidence that should be there is absent; otherwise, it would surely be brought forward, since this could be done without any danger to sources and methods.”

That argument was either ignored or dismissed by Mueller’s team.

The Geopolitical Context

It is not only allies of Trump, as the Times thinks, who believe the timing of the indictments, indeed the entire Russia-gate scandal, is intended to prevent Trump from pursuing detente with nuclear-armed Russia. Trump said of the indictments that, “I think that really hurts our country and it really hurts our relationship with Russia. I think that we would have a chance to have a very good relationship with Russia and a very good chance — a very good relationship with President Putin.”

There certainly appear to be powerful forces in the U.S. that want to stop that.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Wall Street rushed in behind Boris Yeltsin and Russian oligarchs to asset strip virtually the entire country, impoverishing the population. Amid widespread accounts of this grotesque corruption, Washington intervened in Russian politics to help get Yeltsin re-elected in 1996. The political rise of Vladimir Putin after Yeltsin resigned on New Year’s Eve 1999 reversed this course, restoring Russian sovereignty over its economy and politics.

That inflamed American hawks whose desire is to install another Yeltsin-like figure and resume U.S. exploitation of Russia’s vast natural and financial resources. To advance that cause, U.S. presidents have supported the eastward expansion of NATO and have deployed 30,000 troops on Russia’s border.

In 2014, the Obama administration helped orchestrate a coup that toppled the elected government of Ukraine and installed a fiercely anti-Russian regime. The U.S. also undertook the risky policy of aiding jihadists to overthrow a secular Russian ally in Syria. The consequences have brought the world closer to nuclear annihilation than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

In this context, the Democratic Party-led Russia-gate appears to have been used not only to explain away Clinton’s defeat but to stop Trump — possibly via impeachment or by inflicting severe political damage — because he talks about cooperation with Russia.


Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe .

July 14, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NATO Is the Model Entangling Alliance

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | July 13, 2018

Suppose I had an unlimited power of attorney to sign your name as a co-signer on any loan I made with the bank. Every time I went to the bank and borrowed money, I could legally obligate you to pay my loan if I defaulted.

How would you like that? My hunch is that you wouldn’t be too excited about that arrangement.

That is precisely the authority that NATO has over the American people, only the obligation is much worse than a financial one. The obligation involves killing and dying. That is, NATO has the authority to obligate young Americans, both men and women, to kill and die for whatever overseas regime that NATO decides to admit as a member of the organization.

How does NATO work? If another nation attacks any member of NATO, the United States is automatically bound to come to its defense.

That is not the type of system on which the United States was founded when the U.S. Constitution called the federal government into existence. The founding principle was that it would be up to Congress to decide whether the country would, in fact, go to war against another nation. There would be nothing automatic about it. If Congress declared war, then it would be the president’s responsibility to wage war. But if Congress failed to declare war, the government could not legally go to war.

Unfortunately, the Constitution did not limit war to the defense of the United States. That means that if Congress decided to declare war against, say, Uruguay, simply because they didn’t like that country’s ruler, there was nothing in the Constitution that would preclude such a war.

However, as a practical matter, a founding principle was that the United States did not involve itself in wars in faraway countries. That foreign policy of “non-interventionism” was encapsulated in John Quincy Adams’s Fourth of July address in 1821, where he observed that America does not go abroad in “search of monsters to destroy.”

U.S. membership in NATO nullifies those founding principles. NATO now decides when the United States goes to war and, equally important, decides which countries the American people are obligated to defend. No congressional declaration of war is required. If, say, Russia were to invade Latvia, the American people, thanks to NATO’s decision to admit Latvia as a member, would be automatically bound to go to war against Russia.

NATO is a blank, signed check which the American people have handed to NATO bureaucrats, a check by which they have obligated the lives of American youth and America’s money in the defense of some faraway nation that NATO has decided to admit as a member.

Of course, it’s easy for people to say, “Jacob, this doesn’t really involve my children, my siblings, or me. We have a professional army.”

But let’s not forget something: Mandatory draft registration. The Pentagon requires every man to register for the draft when he reaches the age of 18. That’s not just some esoteric exercise. It is a very real, practical device that enables the Pentagon to seize millions of young men, if necessary, to wage a NATO war (or any other war that the Pentagon deems is important to get involved in).

Moreover, even though young American women are not forced to register for the draft, there is no doubt that they are as subject to being drafted to go fight, kill, and die in the defense of Latvia, Montenegro, Turkey, and every other member of NATO as young American men are.

Isn’t it amazing that Americans would object to granting someone a power of attorney to obligate them on loans but have no reservations about giving the president, the Pentagon, and NATO bureaucrats the unfettered power to seize their children, spouses, brothers and sisters, and even themselves and the authority to force them to kill and die in the defense of faraway nations, some of which, by the way, are quite autocratic and dictatorial?

Of course, it hasn’t always been that way. George Washington, the father of our country and the first U.S. president, declared “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world.” Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and America’s third president, echoed Washington’s sentiments: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.”

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

NATO is a Con Game

By Raúl Ilargi Meijer | The Automatic Earth | July 11, 2018

Okay, well, Trump did it again. Antagonizing allies. This time it was Germany that took the main hit, over the fact that it pays Russia billions of dollars for oil and gas while relying on the US for its defense … against Russia. And yes, that is a strange situation. But it’s by no means the only angle to the story. There are many more.

For one thing, The US has by far the largest military industry. So it makes a lot of money off the billions already spent by NATO partners on weaponry. Of course Raytheon, Boeing et al would like to see them spend more. But once they would have done that, they would clamor for even more after.

At some point one must ask how much should really be spent. How much is enough, how much is necessary. The military-industrial complex (MIC) has every reason to make the threat posed by ‘enemies’ as big as they possibly can. So knowing that, we must take media reports on this threat with tons of salt.

And that is not easy. Because the MIC has great influence in politics and the media. But we can turn to some numbers. According to GlobalFirePower, the US in 2018 will spend $647 billion on its military, while Russia is to spend a full $600 billion less, at $47 billion. And the US Senate has already voted in a $82 billion boost recently.

There are other numbers out there that suggest Russia spends $60 billion, but even then. If Moscow spends just 10% of the US, and much less than that once all NATO members’ expenditure is included, how much of a threat can Russia realistically be to NATO?

Sure, I’ve said it before, Russia makes weapons to defend itself, while America makes them to make money, which makes the latter much less efficient, but it should be glaringly obvious that the Russia threat is being blown out of all proportions.

Problem with that is that European nations for some reason love playing the threat card as much as America does. After all, Britain, France and Germany have major weapons manufacturers, too. So they’re all stuck. The Baltic nations clamor for more US protection, so does Sweden, Merkel re-focused on Putin just days ago, the game must go on.

Another way to look at this is to note that UD GDP in 2017 according to the IMF was $19.3 trillion, while Russia’s was $1.5 trillion. NATO members Germany France, Britain, Italy and France all have substantially higher GDP than Russia as well. European Union GDP was $17.3 trillion in 2017.

If this economically weak Russia were really such a threat to NATO, they would be using their funds so much better and smarter than anyone else, we’d all better start waving white flags right now. And seek their help, because that sort of efficiency, in both economics and defense, would seem to be exactly what we need in our debt-ridden nations.

The solution to the problems Trump indicated this morning is not for Germany et al to spend more on NATO and their military in general, but for the US to spend less. Much less. Because the Russian threat is a hoax that serves the interests of the MIC, the politicians and the media.

And because America has much better purposes to spend its money on. And because we would all be a lot safer if this absurd theater were closed. To reiterate: developments in weapons technology, for instance hypersonic rocket systems make most other weapons systems obsolete. Which is obviously a big threat to the MIC.

Russia attacking NATO makes as much sense as NATO attacking Russia: none whatsoever. Unwinnable. Russia attacking Germany and other European countries, which buy its oil and gas, makes no sense because it would then lose those revenues. From that point of view, European dependence on Russian energy is even a peacemaker, because it benefits both sides.

Can any of the Russiagate things be true? Of course, Russia has ‘bad’ elements seeking to influence matters abroad. Just like the US does, and France, Britain, Germany, finish the list and color the pictures. How about the UK poisoning stories? That’s a really wild one. Russia had no reason to poison a long-lost double spy they themselves let go free years ago, not at a time when a successful World Cup beckoned.

342 diplomats expelled and risking the honored tradition of exchanging spies and double agents from time to time. Not in Moscow’s interest at all. Britain, though, had, and has, much to gain from the case. As long as its people, and its allies, remain gullible enough to swallow the poisoned narrative. Clue: both poisonings, if they are real, occurred mere miles from Porton Down, Britain’s main chemical weapons lab.

And c’mon, if Putin wants his country strong and independent, the last thing he would do is to risk his oil and gas contracts with Europe. They’re simply too important, economically and politically. Trump may want some of that action for the US, understandably, but for now US LNG can’t compete with Russian pipelines. Simple as that.

Let’s hope Trump and Putin can talk sense in 5 days. There’s a lot hanging on it. Let’s hope Trump gets his head out of NATO’s and the US and EU Deep State’s asses in time. There’s no America First or Make America Great Again to be found in those dark places. It’s time to clear the air and talk. America should always talk to Russia.

Funny thing is, the more sanctions are declared on Russia, the stronger it becomes, because it has to learn and adapt to self-sufficiency. Want to weaken Russia? Make it depend on your trade with it, as opposed to cut off that trade. Well, too late now, they won’t trust another western voice anymore for many years. And we’re too weak to fight them. Not that we should want to anyway.

We’re all captive to people who want us to believe we’re still stuck in the last century, because that is their over-luxurious meal ticket. But it’s all imaginary, it’s an entirely made-up narrative. NATO is a con game.

July 12, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Hardcore Hitler on Hitler in Helsinki

CJ Hopkins | Consent Factory | July 10, 2018

Here it comes, the moment we’ve been waiting for, when Trump and Putin meet in Helsinki to officially launch the Destruction of Democracy, and very possibly the Apocalypse itself. That’s right, folks, once again, it appears we’re looking at the end of everything, because according to the corporate media, on July 16, 2018, Trump is probably going to disband NATO so that Putin can invade the Baltic states, then Germany, then the rest of Europe, and then presumably order an all-out thermonuclear strike on the United States, which will pretty much end civilization as we know it. Or perhaps the plan is to do away with NATO, withdraw all American troops from Poland, let Putin rape and pillage Western Europe, and then have North Korea nuke both coasts of the US mainland (and Canada, of course) so that a Putin-Nazified Middle Amerika will have carte blanche to exterminate the Mexicans and make women wear those “Handmaid” costumes, or some other ridiculously paranoid scenario, possibly involving Susan Sarandon as some kind of Putin-Nazi triple agent.

Tragically, the global neoliberal establishment is completely powerless to stop Trump and Putin from carrying out this evil scheme (whatever it turns out to be in the end), because even the US Intelligence Community has to obey the law, after all, and not do anything sneaky, or unethical, not even with the fate of democracy at stake. No, unlike the Russians, who go around blatantly poisoning people with novichok oatmeal more or less whenever they like, the global capitalist ruling classes’ hands are tied by their own integrity. All they can do is watch in horror as these two Hitlerian megalomaniacs destroy their entire global empire and establish a thousand-year Putin-Nazi Reich.

Thank God at least the corporate media are raising their collective voices in protest. In a recent piece in The Washington Post, Max Bergmann of the Center for American Progress warns that “this is a summit about appeasement, and we should be terrified that Trump is going to sell out America and its allies.” According to Bergmann, Trump might “accidentally” share state secrets with Putin, or promise to reduce support for our freedom-loving Ukrainian Nazis, or stop trying to overthrow the Syrian government so that Syria, with the help of Russia and Iran, can launch a sneak attack on Israel and drive “the Jews” into the sea. Worse still, Bergmann speculates, he might make “secret agreements” with Putin without telling the editors of The Washington Post, which … God help us all if that ever happened.

Not to be out-apocalypsed by The Post, Roger Cohen of The New York Times published a full-blown dystopian vision wherein Trump, Putin, Marine Le Pen, the AfD, and a variety of other globalist-hating Hitler-alikes form “the Alliance of Authoritarian and Reactionary States” (the “AARS”), disband the European Union and NATO, impose international martial law, and start ethnically cleansing the West of immigrants. Matteo Salvini and Horst Seehofer, decked out in full Putin-Nazi regalia, personally supervise the genocidal purges, which frightened Europeans come to support after Putin’s irresistible “fake news” bots brainwash them into believing that a little Russian girl named “Tatiana” has been abducted by Moroccan migrants off a beach along the Costa del Sol.

And as if that wasn’t horrifying enough to whip folks up into a mindless frenzy, The New York Times (which, let’s remember, is an extremely distinguished and respected newspaper, and not at all a cheap propaganda rag) produced this charming little animated film depicting Putin and Trump as … well, a couple of tongue-sucking, titty-pinching homos. I found this kind of weird at first, as I had thought such ugly anti-gay sentiment had disappeared from liberal society, but apparently it’s fine in Resistance circles to stigmatize your enemies as butt-humping queers in order to render them more repulsive in the eyes of your sophisticated, liberal audience. I did a little research, and it appears this “Hitler on Hitler” porno The Times produced is just the latest in a rather long line of Trump on Putin “homo” jokes, which are perfectly harmless when told by liberals, but when told by conservatives are homophobic hate crimes.

Look, I’m not a fan of poofter humor, or the corporate media, or the so-called “Resistance,” but neither am I a fan of Trump, nor am I, technically, an employee of Putin. What I am is a student of propaganda, media manipulation, and mass hysteria, and though I experienced the roll-out of the War on Terror, and assorted other propaganda campaigns (like Obama’s “Hope and Change” routine, Reagan’s “Morning in America” schtick, George H.W. Bush’s “New World Order,” and Bill Clinton’s “Third Way” happy horseshit), I have never witnessed anything like this. Most of those other propaganda campaigns at least bore some vague resemblance to reality. What we’re experiencing now is more akin to the kind of behavior that goes on in cults … where people are conditioned to surrender their reason (and, ultimately, to conform their perception) to whatever paranoid official narrative the leader of the cult has invented, and eventually to direct their fear and hatred, not only at the cult’s official enemy, but at anyone who questions the cult’s “reality.”

If you believe cults work because people are gullible, or stupid, you need to do some research. Cults work because their members are gradually conditioned to detach from “society” (i.e., the social body that conditioned them as children) and conform to the social body of the cult. This conditioning happens systematically, often over the course of years. Scientology cult members are not introduced to the “body thetans” story the day they walk in. Nor were the Manson girls ready to butcher a house full of people for Charlie at first … it took months of orgies, acid trips, and other de- and re-programming techniques to get them to buy into his paranoid prophecy of Imminent Racist Hippie Apocalypse.

Which is what I find so disturbing, presently. The ease with which the neoliberal ruling classes have programmed millions of Western consumers to believe a narrative no less ridiculous than Scientology’s “body thetans,” Manson’s “Helter Skelter” … or take your pick of any number of other cult narratives. The speed at which they switched from the War on Terror narrative to the Putin-Nazi narrative attests to the power of the corporate media and the neoliberal propaganda machine, generally. It really is an amazing achievement. In less than two years, they managed to condition a significant portion of the Western masses to forget about “the Islamic terrorists” that they had been conditioned to live in fear of, and to transfer their fear and hatred to Trump, and Putin, and anyone who appears to support them, or doesn’t sufficiently hate and fear them.

The ruling classes have achieved this feat by generating an ongoing series of episodes of mass hysteria. Most of them last a week or two, but their cumulative effect is powerful and enduring. Fake news, bots, travel bans, Confederate statues, neo-Nazi rallies, “novichok” attacks, kids in cages … anything the corporate media can use to channel more hatred toward Trump and Putin. None of these episodes are generated out of whole cloth. Obviously, the Russians are pursuing their interests, there is a white supremacist subculture in the United States, as there always has been, those kids were put in those cages, and so on … none of which began with Trump, or has anything exclusively to do with Putin, or triggered mass protests and widespread outrage until the neoliberal ruling classes and corporate media decided it should.

The upcoming summit is next on the list. It won’t be as juicy as the baby concentration camps, but it will do as far as reminding people that Trump is a secret Russian operative, or traitor (or quisling, as Paul Krugman would have it), conspiring with Putin to destroy democracy … that is, when they’re not fellating each other. Once the summit has come and gone, and democracy has miraculously survived, they will generate another round of Hitler hysteria, and Resistance cultists will spring into action like salivating Pavlov’s dogs, denouncing whatever unspeakable horror they had completely ignored for the previous eight years, jabbering about concentration camps, and ripping MAGA hats off teenagers. Purely for the sake of entertainment, I’m hoping it will be the secret Nazi code the Department of Homeland Security is embedding in its press materials, presumably to alert the Underground Network of Putin-Nazi Militias to stand by for imminent government takeover, the “securing of the future for white people and their children,” and the weeks of homosexual Odinist orgies that are sure to follow.

Seriously, though, the absolute genius of the ruling classes’ Putin-Nazi narrative (which rational people are underestimating) is that it is virtually impossible to criticize it without being labeled a Trump supporter, a Putin apologist, or a crypto-Nazi. Like Scientology’s Suppressive Persons (i.e., those who criticize Scientology), Putin-Nazi narrative deniers “seek to upset, continuously undermine, spread bad news about and denigrate” the cult. These are typically ex-cult members who no longer subscribe to official cult teachings, and are thus an existential ideological threat. Such persons are to be stigmatized and shunned, “so that others will know not to associate with them.” (Those quotes are from the Scientology website, but the same rules apply in every cult.)

Glenn Greenwald is probably the best example of a prominent Putin-Nazi narrative denier (and he is harassed for it on an daily basis), but an hour or two of research on Twitter will reveal the same dynamic at work against much less famous “pillow biting traitors.” Nor is it just fanatical cultists on Twitter. If you happened to google your humble narrator at any point during the last nine months, and were concerned that the people “People Also Search For” in my “Knowledge Panel” are mostly anti-Semites and “alt-right” types … well, I wrote about that in November of last year. (I have since repeatedly written to Google and advised them to occasionally alternate the anti-Semites they are associating me with, as using the exactly the same ones for months is lazy, and makes it rather difficult to blame their “search results” on some innocent algorithm.)

But what do I know? Maybe I’m just paranoid, and Google isn’t out to get me. Or maybe they know me better than myself, and I really am a crypto-Nazi, or some other kind of Suppressive Person, and democracy really is on the brink of disaster. After all, Glenn Greenwald just flew over to Moscow, and was selfied in the company of Edward Snowden, and Putin is poisoning random people in Amesbury for no apparent reason, and Susan Sarandon hacked the election, or dropped a Sarin bomb on Douma, or else Putin did, or maybe it was Xenu, or the Russians are about to take down the entire American fiberoptic network, and I almost forgot those four hundred white supremacist idiots who are planning to gather and bellow Nazi slogans at each other in Lafayette Square on August 12, and who are already receiving international coverage, because we can’t afford to ignore a few hundred racist morons in polo shirts … if we did, well, who knows what that might lead to? People might actually have a moment to pause and think about what’s going on, and why it’s going on, and who it serves, and try to put it all into some kind of perspective, before they react to the next Pavlovian stimulus the media waves in their faces. Ready? Good. Because here it comes …

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant.

July 10, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia and UAE Return to Afghanistan

By Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR | Strategic Culture Foundation | 10.07.2018

The 17-year old Afghan war is entering a new phase, as the Pentagon co-opts as allies the two Gulf Arab states that used to be the Taliban regime’s friend, guide and philosopher in the 1990s – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It’s a double whammy for Pentagon – sheikhs usually carry moneybags, and secondly, the exasperating war is getting outsourced.

A conference of the ulema (religious scholars) drawn from 30 Muslim countries is taking place in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina on July 9-10. The host is notionally the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), who is not known to act except at the bidding of Saudi Arabia.

The agenda is to issue a fatwa effectively de-legitimizing the Taliban’s ‘jihad’, sowing seeds of ideological disarray amongst the insurgents and encouraging defection from their ranks. The tantalizing idea to hold such conferences in various Muslim countries was an American brainwave, which took shape during the visit by US Defence Secretary James Mattis to Riyadh in February when he sought a proactive Saudi role in Afghanistan after a prolonged period of absence since 2001.

Mattis reached an understanding with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during the latter’s visit to the US in end-March. Alongside, Washington hosted a meeting in March of top security officials of the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Afghanistan to draw up a coordinated strategy whereby NATO will also be inducting Emirati military contingents to join the operations against the Taliban. Kabul has duly given formal approval.

Prima facie, all this is packaged as a new resolve on the part of the two Gulf Arab regimes to fight international terrorism. This is the first time that the Emiratis will be wading into the killing fields of the Hindu Kush. It is a poignant moment since Saudi Arabia and the UAE were the only two countries (other than Pakistan) to recognize the Taliban regime in the 1990s.

Curiously, this time around, their compass is reset to counter the Taliban’s expansion in Afghanistan. But appearances can be deceptive in the Hindu Kush. A deep American game plan could be unfolding with multiple objectives in view.

The US commanders cannot be unaware that if the stalemate in the war cannot be broken and sooner rather than later, a clamor will begin in Washington to disengage from the futile war and withdraw troops.

But then, they visualize open-ended military presence and preservation of the bases in Afghanistan as imperative for the US’ global strategies.

Hence the innovative approach to try to fragment the Taliban and buy off the reconcilable elements through the Saudis and Emiratis. The Saudi imprimatur is useful, given the prestige of the office of the Custodian of Holy Places. The UAE is already a battle-scarred veteran of hybrid wars.

Of course, there are sub-plots. It is a masterstroke that the OIC stamp is put to de-legitimize the Taliban’s ‘jihad’. This will put Pakistan in some quandary, but that is also the US intention. The Taliban has reacted strongly to the conference in Mecca and Medina, branding it as another “absolute anti-Islamic” plot by Washington, which has not only mooted this idea but also handled “logistical support and implementation”.

A Taliban statement on July 7 said, “The US wants through these conferences to find justification for their military occupation, legitimize their stooge Kabul Administration and thus weaken the Jihadic resistance of Afghan Muslim nation being put up against them. But, Americans and their allies should understand that as they have failed in fighting, political sphere and in the field of propaganda, likewise, Allah, the Almighty will stymie this scheme of invaders as well.”

It will be interesting to see how the Emirati special forces hunt down Taliban fighters under NATO supervision. On a broader plane, though, the Gulf regimes’ formal partnership with the NATO’s war carries much symbolism.

The disconcerting part of this new American enterprise is that the very same Gulf states, which have been responsible for fuelling the Syrian conflict, are being cast in a revamped role in a new theatre where the Islamic State of Khorasan is steadily expanding its presence. Ironically, Afghanistan is beckoning both the fighters who were defeated in Syria and their mentors for new adventures.

No doubt, Washington hopes to pit the two Gulf Arab regimes against Pakistan with a view to pressure the latter to cave in to the American demand to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Although the kinship between the Saudi regime and Pakistani ulema is deep-rooted, there is only scant representation from Pakistan at the conference in Saudi Arabia. On July 5, Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman rejected the US call that Pakistan should take “sustained and decisive action” to bring the Taliban to peace talks.

Equally, it is in US interest to trigger a vicious proxy war on Afghan soil between these two Sunni Arab states and Iran, which fits in perfectly with Washington’s containment strategy against Tehran. The Islamic State’s Afghan wilayat, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan, is an enigma wrapped in mystery. But that may not remain so for long if Iran enters the fray.

NATO has been notably passive toward the vanquished IS fighters from Syria regrouping in Afghanistan. There have been accusations that NATO’s remarkable passivity reflected a deliberate policy to justify its long-term occupation of Afghanistan. All in all, therefore, the return of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in a newfound role to weaken the Taliban looks an ominous development for regional security and stability.

July 10, 2018 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment