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Britain on the Leash with the United States – but at Which End?

By James George JATRAS | Strategic Culture Foundation | 13.10.2018

The “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom is often assumed to be one where the once-great, sophisticated Brits are subordinate to the upstart, uncouth Yanks.

Iconic of this assumption is the mocking of former prime minister Tony Blair as George W. Bush’s “poodle” for his riding shotgun on the ill-advised American stagecoach blundering into Iraq in 2003. Blair was in good practice, having served as Bill Clinton’s dogsbody in the no less criminal NATO aggression against Serbia over Kosovo in 1999.

On the surface, the UK may seem just one more vassal state on par with Germany, Japan, South Korea, and so many other useless so-called allies. We control their intelligence services, their military commands, their think tanks, and much of their media. We can sink their financial systems and economies at will. Emblematic is German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s impotent ire at discovering the Obama administration had listened in on her cell phone, about which she – did precisely nothing. Global hegemony means never having to say you’re sorry.

These countries know on which end of the leash they are: the one attached to the collar around their necks. The hand unmistakably is in Washington. These semi-sovereign countries answer to the US with the same servility as member states of the Warsaw Pact once heeded the USSR’s Politburo. (Sometimes more. Communist Romania, though then a member of the Warsaw Pact refused to participate in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia or even allow Soviet or other Pact forces to cross its territory. By contrast, during NATO’s 1999 assault on Serbia, Bucharest allowed NATO military aircraft access to its airspace, even though not yet a member of that alliance and despite most Romanians’ opposition to the campaign.)

But the widespread perception of Britain as just another satellite may be misleading.

To start with, there are some relationships where it seems the US is the vassal dancing to the tune of the foreign capital, not the other way around. Israel is the unchallenged champion in this weight class, with Saudi Arabia a runner up. The alliance between Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) – the ultimate Washington “power couple” – to get the Trump administration to destroy Iran for them has American politicos listening for instructions with all the rapt attention of the terrier Nipper on the RCA Victor logo. (Or did, until the recent disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Whether this portends a real shift in American attitudes toward Riyadh remains questionableSaudi cash still speaks loudly and will continue to do so whether or not MbS stays in charge.)

Specifics of the peculiar US-UK relationship stem from the period of flux at the end of World War II. The United States emerged from the war in a commanding position economically and financially, eclipsing Britannia’s declining empire that simply no longer had the resources to play the leading role. That didn’t mean, however, that London trusted the Americans’ ability to manage things without their astute guidance. As Tony Judt describes in Postwar, the British attitude of “superiority towards the country that had displaced them at the imperial apex” was “nicely captured” in a scribble during negotiations regarding the UK’s postwar loan:

In Washington Lord Halifax
Once whispered to Lord Keynes:
“It’s true they have the moneybags
But we have all the brains.”

Even in its diminished condition London found it could punch well above its weight by exerting its influence on its stronger but (it was confident) dumber cousins across the Pond. It helped that as the Cold War unfolded following former Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s 1946 Iron Curtain speech there were very close ties between sister agencies like MI6 (founded 1909) and the newer wartime OSS (1942), then the CIA (1947); likewise the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, 1919) and the National Security Administration (NSA, 1952). Comparable sister agencies – perhaps more properly termed daughters of their UK mothers – were set up in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This became the so-called “Five Eyes” of the tight Anglosphere spook community,infamous for spying on each others’ citizens to avoid pesky legal prohibitions on domestic surveillance.

Despite not having two farthings to rub together, impoverished Britain – where wartime rationing wasn’t fully ended until 1954 – had a prime seat at the table fashioning the world’s postwar financial structure. The 1944 Bretton Woods conference was largely an Anglo-American affair, of which the aforementioned Lord John Maynard Keynes was a prominent architect along with Harry Dexter White, Special Assistant to the US Secretary of the Treasury and Soviet agent.

American and British agendas also dovetailed in the Middle East. While the US didn’t have much of a presence in the region before the 1945 meeting between US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Saudi King ibn Saud, founder of the third and current (and hopefully last) Saudi state – and didn’t assume a dominant role until the humiliation inflicted on Britain, France, and Israel by President Dwight Eisenhower during the 1956 Suez Crisis – London has long considered much of the region within its sphere of influence. After World War I under the Sykes-Picot agreement with France, the UK had expanded her holdings on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, including taking a decisive role in consolidating Saudi Arabia under ibn Saud. While in the 1950s the US largely stepped into Britain’s role managing the “East of Suez,” the former suzerain was by no means dealt out. The UK was a founding member with the US of the now-defunct Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) in 1955.

CENTO – like NATO and their one-time eastern counterpart, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) – was designed as a counter to the USSR. But in the case of Britain, the history of hostility to Russia under tsar or commissar alike has much deeper and longer roots, going back at least to the Crimean War in the 1850s. The reasons for the longstanding British vendetta against Russia are not entirely clear and seem to have disparate roots: the desire to ensure that no one power is dominant on the European mainland (directed first against France, then Russia, then Germany, then the USSR and again Russia); maintaining supremacy on the seas by denying Russia warm-waters ports, above all the Dardanelles; and making sure territories of a dissolving Ottoman empire would be taken under the wing of London, not Saint Petersburg. As described by Andrew Lambert, professor of naval history at King’s College London, the Crimean War still echoes today:

“In the 1840s, 1850s, Britain and America are not the chief rivals; it’s Britain and Russia. Britain and Russia are rivals for world power, and Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, which is much larger than modern Turkey — it includes modern Romania, Bulgaria, parts of Serbia, and also Egypt and Arabia — is a declining empire. But it’s the bulwark between Russia, which is advancing south and west, and Britain, which is advancing east and is looking to open its connections up through the Mediterranean into its empire in India and the Pacific. And it’s really about who is running Turkey. Is it going to be a Russian satellite, a bit like the Eastern Bloc was in the Cold War, or is it going to be a British satellite, really run by British capital, a market for British goods? And the Crimean War is going to be the fulcrum for this cold war to actually go hot for a couple of years, and Sevastopol is going to be the fulcrum for that fighting.”

Control of the Middle East – and opposing the Russians – became a British obsession, first to sustain the lifeline to India, the Jewel in the Crown of the empire, then for control of petroleum, the life’s blood of modern economies. In the context of the 19th and early 20th century Great Game of empire, that was understandable. Much later, similar considerations might even support Jimmy Carter’s taking up much the same position, declaring in 1980 that “outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” The USSR was then a superpower and we were dependent on energy from the Gulf region.

But what’s our reason for maintaining that posture almost four decades later when the Soviet Union is gone and the US doesn’t need Middle Eastern oil? There are no reasonable national interests, only corporate interests and those of the Arab monarchies we laughably claim as allies. Add to that the bureaucracies and habits of mind that link the US and UK establishments, including their intelligence and financial components.

In view of all the foregoing, what then would policymakers in the United Kingdom think about an aspirant to the American presidency who not only disparages the value of existing alliances – without which Britain is a bit player – but openly pledges to improve relations with Moscow? To what lengths would they go to stop him?

Say ‘hello’ to Russiagate!

One can argue whether or not the phony claim of the Trump campaign’s “collusion” with Moscow was hatched in London or whether the British just lent some “hands across the water” to an effort concocted by the Democratic National Committee, the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, the Clinton Foundation, and their collaborators at Fusion GPS and inside the Obama administration. Either way, it’s clear that while evidence of Russian connection is nonexistent that of British agencies is unmistakable, as is the UK’s hand in a sustained campaign of demonization and isolation to sink any possible rapprochement between the US and Russia.

As for Russiagate itself, just try to find anyone involved who’s actually Russian. The only basis for the widespread assumption that any material in the Dirty Dossier that underlies the whole operationoriginated with Russia is the claim of Christopher Steele, the British “ex” spy who wrote it, evidently in collaboration with people at the US State Department and Fusion GPS. (The notion that Steele, who hadn’t been in Russia for years, would have Kremlin personal contacts is absurd. How chummy are the heads of the American section of Chinese or Russian intelligence with White House staff?)

While there are no obvious Russians in Russiagate there’s no shortage of Brits. These include (details at the link):

  • Stefan Halper, a dual US-UK citizen.
  • Ex-MI6 Director Richard Dearlove.
  • Alexander Downer, Australian diplomat (well, not British but remember the Five Eyes!).
  • Joseph Mifsud, Maltese academic and suspected British agent.

At present, the full role played by those listed above is not known. Release of unredacted FISA warrant requests by the Justice Department, which President Trump ordered weeks ago, would shed light on a number of details. Implementation of that order was derailed after a request by – no surprise – British Prime Minister Theresa May. Was she seeking to conceal Russian perfidy, or her own underlings’?

It would be bad enough if Russiagate were the sum of British meddling in American affairs with the aim of torpedoing relations with Moscow. (And to be fair, it wasn’t just the UK and Australia. Also implicated are Estonia, Israel, and Ukraine.) But there is also reason to suspect the same motive in false accusations against Russia with respect to the supposed Novichok poisonings in England has a connection to Russiagate via a business associate of Steele’s, one Pablo MillerSergei Skripal’s MI6 recruiter. (So if it turns out there is any Russian connection to the dossier, it could be from Skripal or another dubious expat source, not from the Russian government.) Skripal and his daughter Yulia have disappeared in British custody. Moscow flatly accuses MI6 of poisoning them as a false flag to blame it on Russia.

A similar pattern can be seen with claims of chemical weapons use in Syria: “We have irrefutable evidence that the special services of a state which is in the forefront of the Russophobic campaign had a hand in the staging” of a faked chemical weapons attack in Douma in April 2018. Ambassador Aleksandr Yakovenko pointed to the so-called White Helmets, which is closely associated with al-Qaeda elements and considered by some their PR arm: “I am naming them because they have done things like this before. They are famous for staging attacks in Syria and they receive UK money.” Moscow warned for weeks before the now-postponed Syrian government offensive in Idlib that the same ruse was being prepared again with direct British intelligence involvement, even having prepared in advance a video showing victims of an attack that had not yet occurred.

The campaign to demonize Russia shifted into high gear recently with the UK, together with the US and the Netherlands, accusing Russian military intelligence of a smorgasbord of cyberattacks against the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and other sports organizations, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Dutch investigation into the downing of MH-17 over Ukraine, and a Swiss lab involved with the Skripal case, plus assorted election interference. In case anyone didn’t get the point, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson declared: “This is not the actions of a great power. This is the actions of a pariah state, and we will continue working with allies to isolate them.”

To the extent that the goal of Williamson and his ilk is to ensure isolation and further threats against Russia, it’s been a smashing success. More sanctions are on the way. The UK is sending additional troops to the Arctic to counter Russian “aggression.” The US threatens to use naval power to block Russian energy exports and to strike Russian weapons disputed under a treaty governing intermediate range nuclear forces. What could possibly go wrong?

In sum, we are seeing a massive, coordinated hybrid campaign of psy-ops and political warfare conducted not by Russia but against Russia, concocted by the UK and its Deep State collaborators in the United States. But it’s not only aimed at Russia, it’s an attack on the United States by the government of a foreign country that’s supposed to be one of our closest allies, a country with which we share many venerable traditions of language, law, and culture.

But for far too long, largely for reasons of historical inertia and elite corruption, we’ve allowed that government to exercise undue influence on our global policies in a manner not conducive to our own national interests. Now that government, employing every foul deception that earned it the moniker Perfidious Albion, seeks to embroil us in a quarrel with the only country on the planet that can destroy us if things get out of control.

This must stop. A thorough reappraisal of our “special relationship” with the United Kingdom and exposure of its activities to the detriment of the US is imperative.

October 13, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Good” Bombing: NATO Op Against Yugoslavia Was a War Crime – Lawyer

By Ekaterina Blinova – Sputnik – 10.10.2018

Jens Stoltenberg’s claim that NATO “protected” Yugoslavia from the government of Slobodan Milosevic is nothing but propaganda, Christopher C. Black, a Toronto-based international criminal lawyer told Sputnik, stressing that NATO had no legal reason to attack Yugoslavia and de facto committed a war crime against the sovereign nation.

“The NATO attack on Yugoslavia has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting anyone since the claims made by NATO against the government of Yugoslavia were false and were just a pretext for their aggression,” says Christopher C. Black, a Toronto-based international criminal lawyer with 20 years of experience in war crimes and international relations.

Black’s comment comes in response to a statement made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who told Serbia’s RTS: “We are aware in NATO that many people in Serbia still have bad memories about the bombing, the airstrikes in 1999. I stress that we did this to protect civilians and stop the Milosevic regime,” the NATO chief said.

“NATO countries had no legal right to bomb anyone for any reason as that is a violation of international law, the UN Charter, Nuremberg Principles etc.,” the scholar underscored. “Their attack was aggression and therefore a war crime and they committed war crimes during the attack.”

The NATO military campaign against sovereign Yugoslavia codenamed Operation Allied Force kicked off amid the Kosovo war (February, 1998 — June, 1999) between the country’s government forces and Albanian separatists. The alliance’s 78-day air raids resulted in 5,700 civilian deaths, infrastructural damages and contamination of the part of the region with depleted uranium.

Rambouillet Diktat: The Trigger for War

“The real reason NATO attacked is set out in the Rambouillet diktat presented by [then Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright to [then President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Slobodan] Milosevic in early 1999 that Yugoslavia must surrender its sovereignty and allow its total occupation by NATO forces and give up its socialist system for a free enterprise one,” Black said. “If Yugoslavia refused NATO promised to attack. The Yugoslav government had to refuse such a diktat and so NATO attacked.”

Rambouillet Accords envisaged the creation of a de facto independent entity in Kosovo which violated Yugoslavia’s independence and sovereignty.While the refusal to accept the unacceptable accord was used by the alliance as a trigger for the attack, there were several reasons behind NATO’s invasion, the lawyer explained.

“NATO wanted to establish a base in the Balkans against Russia, to take over mineral resources at the Trepca Mine complex in Kosovo and to destroy the last socialist state in Europe,” the legal practitioner said. “To justify their aggression they concocted the same types of lies against the government as they are now doing against Russia.”

Almost two decades after the NATO bombing, the Trepca mining and metallurgical complex in Kosovo still remains a bone of contention between Pristina and Belgrade. The complex is split between ethnic lines, however, in October 2016 the parliament of the self-proclaimed state of Kosovo voted to take control over the complex despite Serbia’s protests.

When commemorating the enterprise’s 90th anniversary in December 2017 — Europe’s largest lead-zinc and silver ore mine — Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stressed that Belgrade would continue to fight for it, dubbing the complex “a part of family and national heritage, a part of tradition,” as quoted by Serbian news outlet RTV B92.

NATO’s Expansion in the Balkans

Besides claiming that NATO bombed Yugoslavia to “protect it,” Stoltenberg drew attention to the “close partnership” between NATO and Serbia. Although he noted that the alliance respected Belgrade’s neutrality, the question arises whether that the North Atlantic military bloc is seeking to absorb Serbia in the long run, after admitting Montenegro and signaling readiness to let Macedonia join.

Commenting on the issue, the lawyer recalled that “the Yugoslav and Serbian government was overthrown in 2000 in a putsch organized by NATO forces and their fascist agents in the group called OTPOR and the DOS organizations which were NATO assets.”

He said that “the president [was] arrested on false charges and the government [was] taken over by the Quislings of the DOS group.” According to Black, these groups are still powerful in Serbia. They do not represent aspirations of the Serbian people, he stressed.

Manipulating the Judgments

Black, who has long criticized the imprisonment of Slobodan Milosevic at the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, stressed that the tribunal “manipulated the judgments to put out different stories as it suits them.”

“As I said above the NATO claims were pure propaganda. It was NATO that used force and massive force to destroy a nation that resisted its diktats,” the lawyer highlighted, calling the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) “a NATO tribunal under UN guise.”

“The point is that the charges against Milosevic were bogus, he proved it in his trial,” Black said.

The former Yugoslav president died in his prison cell on March 11, 2006 while on trial for war crimes at the ICTY. Although it was officially stated that Milosevic died from a heart attack the lawyer does not rule out that the ex-Yugoslav leader could have been killed, since “they did not want to release him and could not convict him.”

October 10, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Bombing to protect? RT documentary looks at reality of NATO’s attack on Yugoslavia

RT | October 8, 2018

NATO’s Secretary General has boldly defended the alliance’s 1999 bombing of former Yugoslavia as an act of humanitarianism, despite the dubious motives and devastating aftermath. RT took a more thorough look at the conflict.

Jens Stoltenberg told a group of students from Belgrade University that NATO bombed their country to “protect civilians and to stop the Milosevic regime,” adding that many Serbs have an incomplete picture of the bombing campaign.

But the truth may be a bit more complicated – and less flattering.

To mark the 15th anniversary of the bombing campaign, in 2014 two RT journalists – Anissa Naouai and Jelena Milincic – travelled across the former Yugoslavia and met with people who survived the 3-month bombing. In the process, they revealed the very different ways in which the war was portrayed – and perceived – in Serbia and abroad.

In contrast to Stoltenberg’s rosy description of the bombing campaign, Naouai and Milincic’s resulting documentary about their journey, ЗАШТО? (Why?), presents the unsettling truths about a 78-day bombardment that left hundreds of civilians dead.

October 8, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Lies of our (Financial) Times

By James Petras | Dissident Voice | October 4, 2018

The leading financial publications have misled their political and investor subscribers of emerging crises and military defeats which have precipitated catastrophic political and economic losses.

The most egregious example is the Financial Times (FT) a publication which is widely read by the business and financial elite.

In this essay we will proceed by outlining the larger political context that sets the framework for the transformation of the FT from a relatively objective purveyor of world news into a propagator of wars and failed economic policies.

In part two we will discuss several case studies which illustrate the dramatic shifts from a prudent business publication to a rabid military advocate, from a well-researched analyst of economic policies to an ideologue of the worst speculative investors.

The decay of the quality of its reportage is accompanied by the bastardization of language. Concepts are distorted; meanings are emptied of their cognitive sense; and vitriol covers crimes and misdemeanors.

We will conclude by discussing how and why the ‘respectable’ media have affected real world political and market outcomes for citizens and investors.

Political and Economic Context

The decay of the FT cannot be separated from the global political and economic transformations in which it publishes and circulates. The demise of the Soviet Union, the pillage of Russia’s economy throughout the 1990s and the US declaration of a unipolar world were celebrated by the FT as great success stories for ‘western values’. The US and EU annexation of Eastern Europe, the Balkan and Baltic states led to the deep corruption and decay of journalistic narratives.

The FT willingly embraced every violation of the Gorbachev-Reagan agreements and NATO’s march to the borders of Russia. The militarization of US foreign policy was accompanied by the FT conversion to a military interpreter of what it dubbed the ‘transition to democratization’.

The language of the FT reportage combined democratic rhetoric with an embrace of military practices. This became the hallmark for all future coverage and editorializing. The FT military policies extended from Europe to the Middle East, the Caucasus, North Africa and the Gulf States.

The FT joined the yellow press in describing military power grabs, including the overthrow of political adversaries, as ‘transitions to democracy’ and the creation of ‘open societies’.

The unanimity of the liberal and right-wing publications in support of western imperialism precluded any understanding of the enormous political and economic costs which ensued.

To protect itself from its most egregious ideological foibles, the FT included ‘insurance clauses’, to cover for catastrophic authoritarian outcomes. For example they advised western political leaders to promote military interventions and, by the way, with ‘democratic transitions’.

When it became evident that US-NATO wars did not lead to happy endings but turned into prolonged insurgencies, or when western clients turned into corrupt tyrants, the FT claimed that this was not what they meant by a ‘democratic transition’ – this was not their version of “free markets and free votes”.

The Financial and Military Times (?)

The militarization of the FT led it to embrace a military definition of political reality. The human and especially the economic costs, the lost markets, investments and resources were subordinated to the military outcomes of ‘wars against terrorism’ and ‘Russian authoritarianism’.

Each and every Financial Times report and editorial promoting western military interventions over the past two decades resulted in large scale, long-term economic losses.

The FT supported the US war against Iraq which led to the ending of important billion-dollar oil deals (oil for food) signed off with President Saddam Hussein. The subsequent US occupation precluded a subsequent revival of the oil industry. The US appointed client regime pillaged the multi-billion dollar reconstruction programs – costing US and EU taxpayers and depriving Iraqis of basic necessities.

Insurgent militias, including ISIS, gained control over half the country and precluded the entry of any new investment.

The US and FT backed western client regimes organized rigged election outcomes and looted the treasury of oil revenues, arousing the wrath of the population lacking electricity, potable water and other necessities.

The FT backed war, occupation and control of Iraq was an unmitigated disaster.

Similar outcomes resulted from the FT support for the invasions of Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

For example the FT propagated the story that the Taliban was providing sanctuary for bin Laden’s planning the terror assault in the US (9/11).

In fact, the Afghan leaders offered to turn over the US suspect, if they were offered evidence. Washington rejected the offer, invaded Kabul and the FT joined the chorus backing the so-called ‘war on terrorism which led to an unending, one trillion-dollar war.

Libya signed off to a disarmament and multi-billion-dollar oil agreement with the US in 2003. In 2011 the US and its western allies bombed Libya, murdered Gaddafi, totally destroyed civil society and undermined the US/EU oil agreements. The FT backed the war but decried the outcome. The FT followed a familiar ploy; promoting military invasions and then, after the fact, criticizing the economic disasters.

The FT led the media charge in favor of the western proxy war against Syria: savaging the legitimate government and praising the mercenary terrorists, which it dubbed ‘rebels’ and ‘militants’ – dubious terms for US and EU financed operatives.

Millions of refugees, resulting from western wars in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq fled to Europe seeking refuge. FT described the imperial holocaust – the ‘dilemmas of Europe’. The FT bemoaned the rise of the anti-immigrant parties but never assumed responsibility for the wars which forced the millions to flee to the west.

The FT columnists prattle about ‘western values’ and criticize the ‘far right’ but abjured any sustained attack of Israel’s daily massacre of Palestinians. Instead readers get a dose of weekly puff pieces concerning Israeli politics with nary a mention of Zionist power over US foreign policy.

FT: Sanctions, Plots and Crises — Russia, China and Iran

The FT like all the prestigious media propaganda sheets have taken a leading role in US conflicts with Russia, China and Iran.

For years the scribes in the FT stable have discovered (or invented) “crises” in China’s economy- always claiming it was on the verge of an economic doomsday. Contrary to the FT, China has been growing at four times the rate of the US; ignoring the critics it built a global infrastructure system instead of the multi-wars backed by the journalist war mongers.

When China innovates, the FT harps on techno theft — ignoring US economic decline.

The FT boasts it writes “without fear and without favor” which translates into serving imperial powers voluntarily.

When the US sanctions China we are told by the FT that Washington is correcting China’s abusive statist policies. Because China does not impose military outposts to match the eight hundred US military bases on five continents, the FT invents what it calls ‘debt colonialism” apparently describing Beijing’s financing large-scale productive infrastructure projects.

The perverse logic of the FT extends to Russia. To cover up for the US financed coup in the Ukraine it converted a separatist movement in Donbass into a Russian land grab. In the same way a free election in Crimea is described as Kremlin annexation.

The FT provides the language of the declining western imperial empires.

Independent, democratic Russia, free of western pillage and electoral meddling is labelled “authoritarian”; social welfare which serves to decrease inequality is denigrated as ‘populism’ —linked to the far right. Without evidence or independent verification, the FT fabricates Putinesque poison plots in England and Bashar Assad poison gas conspiracies in Syria.

Conclusion

The FT has chosen to adopt a military line which has led to a long series of financially disastrous wars. The FT support of sanctions has cost oil companies billions of dollars, euros and pounds. The sanctions, it backed, have broken global networks.

The FT has adopted ideological postures that threaten supply chains between the West, China, Iran and Russia. The FT writes in many tongues but it has failed to inform its financial readers that it bears some responsibility for markets which are under siege.

There is unquestionably a need to overhaul the name and purpose of the FT. One journalist who was close to the editors suggests it should be called the “Military Times” – the voice of a declining empire.

October 5, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NATO Coordinates Information War on Russia

Strategic Culture Foundation | 05.10.2018

The US, Britain and other NATO allies upped the ante this week with a coordinated campaign of information war to criminalize Russia. Moscow dismissed the wide-ranging claims as “spy mania”. But the implications amount to a grave assault recklessly escalating international tensions with Russia.

The accusations that the Kremlin is running a global cyberattack operation are tantamount to accusing Russia of “acts of war”. That, in turn, is creating a pretext for NATO powers to carry out “defensive” actions on Moscow, including increased economic and diplomatic sanctions against Russia, as well as “counter” cyberattacks on Russian territory.

This is a highly dangerous dynamic that could ultimately lead to military confrontation between nuclear-armed states.

There are notably suspicious signs that the latest accusations against Russia are a coordinated effort to contrive false charges.

First, there is the concerted nature of the claims. British state intelligence initiated the latest phase of information war by claiming that Russian military intelligence, GRU, was conducting cyberattacks on infrastructure and industries in various countries, costing national economies “millions of pounds” in damages.

Then, within hours of the British claims, the United States and Canada, as well as NATO partners Australia and New Zealand followed up with similar highly publicized accusations against Russia. It is significant that those Anglophone countries, known as the “Five Eyes”, have a long history of intelligence collaboration going back to the Cold War years against the Soviet Union.

The Netherlands, another NATO member, added to the “spy mania” by claiming it had expelled four members of Russian state intelligence earlier this year for allegedly trying to hack into the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), based in The Hague.

There then followed predictable condemnations of Russia from the NATO leadership and the European Union. NATO was holding a summit in Brussels this week. It is therefore plausible that the timing of the latest claims of Russian “malign activity” was meant to coordinate with the NATO summit.

More sanctions against Moscow are expected – further intensifying tensions from already existing sanctions. More sinister were NATO warnings that the military alliance would take collective action over what it asserts are Russian cyberattacks.

This is creating a “casus belli” situation whereby the 29 NATO members can invoke a common defense clause for punitive actions against Russia. Given the rampant nature of the claims of “Russian interference” and that certain NATO members are rabidly Russophobic, it is all too easily dangerous for cyber “false flags” to be mounted in order to criminalize Moscow.

Another telltale factor is that the claims made this week by Britain and the other NATO partners are an attempt to integrate all previous claims of Russian “malign activity”.

The alleged cyber hacking by Russia, it is claimed, was intended to disrupt OPCW investigations into the purported poison-assassination plot against Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy living in Britain; the alleged hacking was also claimed to be aimed at disrupting investigations into alleged chemical weapons atrocities committed by the Syrian government and by extension Syria’s ally Russia; the alleged Russian hacking claims were also linked to charges of Olympic athletes doping, as well as “interference in US elections”; and even, it was asserted, Russia trying to sabotage investigations into the downing of the Malaysian civilian airliner over Ukraine in 2014.

Up to now, it seems, all such wildly speculative anti-Russia narratives have failed to gain traction among world public opinion. Simply due to the lack of evidence to support these Western accusations. The Skripal affair has perhaps turned into the biggest farce. British government claims that the Kremlin ordered an assassination have floundered to the point of ridicule.

It is hardly coincidence that Britain and its NATO allies are compelled to shore up the Skripal narrative and other anti-Russian narratives with the ramped up “global cyberattack” claims made this week.

Photographs of alleged Russian intelligence operatives have been published. Potboiler indictments have been filed – again – by US law enforcement agencies. Verdicts have been cast by NATO governments and compliant news media of Russian state culpability, without Moscow being given a fair chance to respond to the “highly likely” claims. Claims and narratives are being accelerated, integrated and railroaded.

It is well-established from the explosive disclosures by Edward Snowden, among other whistleblowers, that the American CIA and its partners have the cyber tools to create false “digital fingerprints” for the purpose of framing up enemies. Moreover, the vast cyber surveillance operations carried out by the US and its “Five Eyes” partners – much of which is illegal – is an ironic counterpoint to accusations being made against Russia.

It is also possible in the murky world of all foreign states conducting espionage and information-gathering that attribution of wrongdoing by Russia can be easily exaggerated and made to look like a campaign of cyberattacks.

There is a lawless climate today in the US and other Western states where mere allegations are cited as “proof”. The legal principle of being innocent until proven guilty has been jettisoned. The debacle in the US over a Supreme Court judge nominee is testament to the erosion of due process and legal standards.

But what is all the more reprehensible and reckless is the intensification of criminalization of Russia – based on flimsy “evidence” or none at all. When such criminalization is then used to “justify” calls for a US-led naval blockade of Russian commercial oil trade the conditions are moving inevitably towards military confrontation. The blame for belligerence lies squarely with the NATO powers.

A further irony is that the “spy mania” demonizing Russia is being made necessary because of the wholly unsubstantiated previous claims of Moscow’s malfeasance and “aggression”. Illusions and lies are being compounded with yet more bombastic, illusory claims.

NATO’s information war against Russia is becoming a self-fulfilling “psy-op”. In the deplorable absence of normal diplomatic conduct and respect for international law, NATO’s information war is out of control. It is pushing relations with Russia to the abyss.

October 5, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Russophobia | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Hacking Charges, Sharing Cyberweapons With NATO Inflame Danger of ‘Real War’

Sputnik – 05.10.2018

US, UK and Dutch authorities levied heavy accusations against Russian intelligence officials Thursday, alleging that seven Russians had hacked various agencies, organizations and institutions. The accusations come just one day after the US announced it would share offensive cyberwar technology with NATO allies “if asked.”

“We announce an indictment charging seven Russian military officers with violation of several US criminal laws for malicious cyber activities against the United States and its allies,” US Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers told reporters Thursday. Four of the accused are allegedly GRU agents, Russian military intelligence, who were previously expelled from the Netherlands, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Alleged targets include the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Westinghouse nuclear power company and the World Anti-Doping Agency, the keepers of drug-testing data on Olympic athletes. Demers also claimed the Russians attacked a Swiss lab that was analyzing the toxic substance believed to have been used to poison the Skripals in Salisbury, UK, earlier this year, and of course he also renewed the perennial accusation of Russia having attempted to sway the US 2016 elections.

The LA Times noted the accusations are backed by digital fingerprints and on-the-ground surveillance of alleged Russian spy teams.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded to the accusations Thursday by saying the US was on a “dangerous path” and that the Trump administration was “poisoning” the atmosphere of US-Russia relations. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said the US was struggling to keep the “old fiction about ‘Russian interference into 2016 US elections'” alive, Sputnik reported.

“We regret to see how the US authorities continue to poison the atmosphere of Russia-US relations with new portions of baseless accusations against Russia, which some other NATO countries rush to repeat on orders from Washington,” Ryabkov said. “The Western public is being intimidated again with ‘Russian hackers,’ this time allegedly involved in ‘breaking into’ computer networks almost all over the world.”

US Defense Secretary James Mattis, at a meeting with NATO allies in Brussels, said Russia would “have to be held to account.”

“Basically, the Russians got caught with their equipment, people who were doing it, and they have got to pay the piper,” Mattis said. He did not elaborate on the nature of that retaliation or response.

The previous day, Mattis promised US allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) the use of its offensive cyberwarfare technology if they so desired.

“We will formally announce that the United States is prepared to offer NATO its cyber capabilities if asked,” Katie Wheelbarger, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Wheelbarger also said the US offering its cyber capabilities “sends a message primarily aimed at Russia.”

Journalist and author Daniel Lazare told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear Thursday that since some of the DOJ’s accusations date several years back, the timing of the twin announcements was probably intended to provide a pretext for going on the cyberwar offensive.

​But that’s dangerous, he noted, because “cyberwar can lead to real war very easily.”

“We’re seeing a dramatic, dramatic heating up in the international temperature, and cyberwar is turning into a really increasingly important part of that escalation. It’s very dangerous,” he said. “The US, especially, is being very aggressive.”

Lazare noted the “supposedly pro-Russian Trump administration” is being very “aggressive at targeting Russia and trying to mobilize NATO against Russia — and they’re probably succeeding.”

Lazare focused primarily on the alleged hacking of medical records of nearly 250 athletes from 30 countries, many of whom had been granted exemptions from Olympic rules regarding therapeutic use of drugs. Russia’s entire Olympic team was barred from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, this past February, due to extensive and repeated findings by the International Olympic Committee. However, individual Russian athletes were still allowed to compete, just not under the Russian flag. Russian athletes had previously been individually barred from past Olympic games for infractions of the policy. In addition, the IOC stripped Russia of 41 of its Olympic medals retroactively for failed doping tests.

“Maybe the Russians are trying to dig up ammunition to use to counter American charges that they’re abusing the rules. It’s very hard to say. It’s difficult to say how much substance there is to these indictments. All we can say, though, is the US is really leading the charge; it’s really being aggressive, and the whole situation is very dangerous. And I have zero confidence in the responsibility or the sobriety of the people who are leading this offensive — or their honesty.”

“An indictment that will never come to trial is worth very little,” Lazare said, noting that like most other US and UK indictments of Russian intelligence operatives, none of them will likely ever see the inside of a courtroom.

“The Trump administration has announced a huge cyberwar offensive in which they will be much more aggressive than the Obama or Bush II administrations were, in what they say is countering Russian or Chinese threats but will really mean being proactive, to knock them out before they can attack the US, assuming that’s even what they intended to do.”

October 5, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

More Cold War extremism and crises

By Stephen F. Cohen | The Nation | October 4, 2018

Overshadowed by the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, US-Russian relations grow ever more perilous.

Emphasizing growing Cold War extremism in Washington and war-like crises in US-Russian relations elsewhere, Cohen comments on the following examples:

Russiagate, even though none of its core allegations have been proven, is now a central part of the new Cold War, severely limiting President Trump’s ability to conduct crisis-negotiations with Moscow and further vilifying Russian President Putin for having ordered “an attack on America” during the 2016 presidential election. The New York Times and The Washington Post have been leading promoters of the Russiagate narrative even though several of its foundational elements have been seriously challenged, even discredited.

Nonetheless, both papers recently devoted thousands of words to retelling the same narrative, on September 20 and 23 respectively, along with its obvious fallacies. For example, Paul Manafort, during the crucial time he was advising then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, was not “pro-Russian” but pro-European Union. And contrary to insinuations, General Michael Flynn did nothing wrong or unprecedented in having conversations with a representative of the Kremlin on behalf of President-elect Trump. Many other presidents-elect had instructed top aides to do the same. The epic retellings of the Russiagate narrative by both papers, at extraordinary length, were riddled with similar mistakes and unproven allegations. (Nonetheless, a prominent historian, albeit one seemingly little informed both about Russiagate documents and about Kremlin leadership, characterized the widely discredited anti-Trump Steele dossier—the source of many such allegations—as “increasingly plausible.”)

Astonishingly, neither the Times nor the Post give any credence to the emphatic statement made at least one week before by Bob Woodward—normally considered the most authoritative chronicler of Washington’s political secrets—that after two years of research he had found “no evidence of collusion” between Trump and Russia.

For the Times and Post and other mainstream media outlets, Russiagate has become, it seems, a kind of cult journalism that no counter-evidence or analysis can dint and thus itself is a major contributing factor to the new and more dangerous Cold War. Still worse, what began nearly two years ago as complaints about Russian “meddling” in the US presidential campaign has become for the New Yorker and other publications an accusation that the Kremlin actually put Trump in the White House. For this reckless charge, with its inherent contempt for the good sense of American voters, there is no convincing evidence—nor any precedent in American history.

Meanwhile, current and former US officials are making nearly unprecedented threats against Moscow. NATO ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchinson threatened to “take out” any Russian missiles she thought violated a 1987 arms treaty, a step that would risk nuclear war. The Secretary of the Interior threatened a “naval blockade” of Russia. In a perhaps unprecedented, undiplomatic Russophobic outburst, UN ambassador Nikki Haley declared that “lying, cheating and rogue behavior” are a “norm of Russian culture.”

These may be outlandish statements by untutored appointed political figures, though they inescapably raise the question: who is making Russia policy in Washington—President Trump with his avowed policy of “cooperating with Russia,” or someone else?

But how to explain, other than as unbridled extremism, statements by a former US ambassador to Moscow and longtime professor of Russian politics, who appears to be the mainstream media’s leading authority on Russia? According to him, Russia today is “a rogue state,” its policies “criminal actions,” and the “world’s worst threat.” It must be countered by “preemptive sanctions that would GO into effect automatically”—indeed, “every day,” if deemed necessary. Considering the “crippling” sanctions now being prepared by a bipartisan group of US senators—their actual reason and purpose apparently unknown even to them—this would be nothing less than a declaration of war against Russia: economic war, but war nonetheless.

Several other new Cold War fronts are also fraught with hot war, but today none more than Syria. Another reminder occurred on September 17, when Syrian war planes accidentally shot down an allied Russian surveillance plane, killing all fifteen crew members. The cause, it was generally agreed, was subterfuge by Israeli warplanes in the area. The reaction in Moscow was highly indicative—potentially ominous.

At first, Putin, who had developed good relations with Israel’s political leadership, said the incident was an accident, an example of the fog of war. His own Ministry of Defense, however, loudly protested, blaming Israel. Putin quickly retreated, adopting a much more hardline position, and in the end vowed to send to Syria Russia’s highly effective S-300 surface-to-air defense system, a prize both Syria and Iran have requested in vain for years.

Clearly, Putin is not the ever “aggressive Kremlin Kremlin autocrat” so often portrayed in US mainstream media. A moderate by nature (in the Russian context), he governs by balancing powerful conflicting groups and interests. In this case, he was countered by longstanding hardliners (“hawks”) in the security establishment.

Second, if the S-300s are installed in Syria (they will be operated by Russians, not Syrians), Putin can in effect impose a “no-fly zone” over that country, which has been torn by war due, in no small part, to the presence of several major foreign powers. (Russia and Iran are there legally, the United States and Israel are not.) If so, it will be a new “red line” that Washington and Tel Aviv must decide whether or not to cross. Considering the mania in Washington, it’s hard to be confident that wisdom will prevail.

All of this unfolded on approximately the third anniversary of Russia’s military intervention in Syria, in September 2015. At that time, Washington pundits denounced Putin’s “adventure” and were sure it would “fail.” Three years later, “Putin’s Kremlin” has destroyed the vicious Islamic State’s grip on large parts of Syria, all but restored President Assad’s control over most of the country, and has become the ultimate arbiter of Syria’s future. President Trump would do best by joining Moscow’s peace process, though it is unlikely Washington’s mostly Democratic Russiagate party will permit him to do so. (For perspective, recall that, in 2016, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promised to impose a US no-fly zone over Syria to defy Russia.)

There is also this. As the US-led “liberal world order” disintegrates, not only in Syria, a new alliance is emerging between Russia, China, Iran, and possibly NATO member Turkey. It will be a real “threat” only if Washington makes it one, as it has Russia in recent years.

Finally, the US-Russian proxy war in Ukraine has recently acquired a new dimension. In addition to the civil war in Donbass, Moscow and Kiev have begun to challenge each other’s ships in the Sea of Azov, near the vital Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. Trump is being pressured to supply Kiev with naval and other weapons to wage this evolving war, yet another potential tripwire. Here too the president would do best by putting his administration’s weight behind the long-stalled Minsk peace accords. Here too, this seemed to be his original intention, but it has proven to be yet another approach, it now seems, thwarted by Russiagate.

Stephen F. Cohen is a professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University and a contributing editor of The Nation.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

US Openly Threatens Russia with War: Goodbye Diplomacy, Hello Stone Age

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 04.10.2018

US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison is a highly placed diplomat. Her words, whatever they may be, are official, which includes the ultimatums and threats that have become the language increasingly used by US diplomats to implement the policy of forceful persuasion or coercive diplomacy. Bellicose declarations are being used this way as a tool.

On Oct. 2, the ambassador proved it again. According to her statement, Washington is ready to use force against Russia. Actually, she presented an ultimatum — Moscow must stop the development of a missile that the US believes to be in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). If not, the American military will destroy it before the weapon becomes operational. “At that point, we would be looking at the capability to take out a (Russian) missile that could hit any of our countries,” Hutchison stated at a news conference. “Counter measures (by the United States) would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty,” she added. “They are on notice.” This is nothing other than a direct warning of a preemptive strike.

It is true that compliance with the INF Treaty is a controversial issue. Moscow has many times claimed that Washington was in violation, and that position has been substantiated. For instance, the Aegis Ashore system, which has been installed in Romania and is to be deployed in Poland, uses the Mk-41 launcher that is capable of firing intermediate-range Tomahawk missiles. This is a flagrant breach of the INF Treaty. The fact is undeniable. The US accuses Moscow of possessing and testing a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km (310-3,417 miles), but there has never been any proof to support this claim. Russia has consistently denied the charges. It says the missile in question — the 9M729 — is in compliance with the provisions of the treaty and has never been upgraded or tested for the prohibited range.

This is a reasonable assertion. After all, there is no way to prevent such tests from being detected and monitored by satellites. The US could raise the issue with the Special Verification Commission (SVC). Instead it threatens to start a war.

This is momentous, because the ambassador’s words were not a botched statement or an offhand comment, but in fact followed another “warning” made by a US official recently.

Speaking on Sept. 28 at an industry event in Pennsylvania hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke suggested that the US Navy could be used to impose a blockade to restrict Russia’s energy trade. “The United States has that ability, with our Navy, to make sure the sea lanes are open, and, if necessary, to blockade… to make sure that their energy does not go to market,” he said, revealing that this was an option. The Interior Department has nothing to do with foreign policy, but Mr. Zinke is a high-ranking member of the administration.

Two bellicose statements made one after another and both are just short of a declaration of war! A blockade is a hostile act that would be countered with force, and the US is well aware of this. It is also well aware that Russia will defend itself. It’s important to note that no comments or explanations have come from the White House. This confirms the fact that what the officials have said reflects the administration’s position.

This brings to mind the fact that the Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act has passed the House of Representatives. The legislation includes the authority to inspect Chinese, Iranian, Syrian, and Russian ports. Among the latter are the ports of Nakhodka, Vanino, and Vladivostok. This is an openly hostile act and a blatant violation of international law. If the bill becomes law, it will likely  start a war with the US acting as the aggressor.

Trident Juncture, the largest training event held by NATO since 2002, kicks off on October 25 and will last until November 7, 2018. It will take place in close proximity to Russia’s borders. Russia’s Vostok-2018 exercise in September was the biggest seen there since the Cold War, but it was held in the Far East, far from NATO’s area of responsibility. It’s NATO, not Russia, who is escalating the already tense situation in Europe by holding such a large-scale exercise adjacent to Russia’s borders.

Russia is not the only country to be threatened with war. Attempts are being made to intimidate China as well. Tensions are running high in the South China Sea, where US and Chinese ships had an “unsafe” interaction with each other on Sept. 30. A collision was barely avoided. As a result, US Defense Secretary James Mattis had to suspend his visit to China when it was called off by Beijing [*]. The security dialog between the two nations has stalled.

Perhaps the only thing left to do is to give up on having a normal relationship with the United States. Ambassador Hutchison’s statement is sending a clear message of: “forget about diplomacy, we’re back to the Stone Age,” with Washington leading the way. This is the new reality, so get used to it. Just shrug it off and try to live without the US, but be vigilant and ready to repel an attack that is very likely on the way.

It should be noted that Moscow has never threatened the US with military action. It has never deployed military forces in proximity to America’s shores. It did not start all those unending sanctions and trade wars. When exposing the US violations of international agreements, it has never claimed that the use of force was an option. It has tried hard to revive the dialog on arms control and to coordinate operations in Syria. But it has also had to issue warnings about consequences, in case it were provoked to respond to a hostile act. If the worst happens, we’ll all know who is to blame. Washington bears the responsibility for pushing the world to the brink of war.


* China says Washington canceled military talks, not Beijing

Press TV – October 4, 2018

China has rejected an allegation by the United States that Beijing has canceled security talks with Washington planned for this month, saying that US officials have “distorted the facts.”

An unnamed US official had told Reuters on Sunday that China had canceled the security meeting between American Secretary of Defense James Mattis and his Chinese counterpart, alleging that China had been unable to make its defense secretary available for the scheduled talks.

On Wednesday, Beijing effectively said that that assertion was a lie. … continue

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | 5 Comments

Russian Embassy in London: UK Claims About Russian Hack Attacks – Disinformation

Sputnik – 04.10.2018

UK authorities earlier claimed “with high confidence” that the Russian military intelligence service, GRU, was “almost certainly” responsible for a series of cyber attacks on political institutions, media, and infrastructure in various countries, including the United Kingdom, vowing to respond.

“This statement is irresponsible. As usual, it is not supported by any evidence and is just another element of the anti-Russian campaign conducted by the British government,” the spokesman for the Russian Embassy in the UK told Sputnik.

According to the embassy, the statement was intentionally published during the NATO summit in Brussels, as many countries in the bloc have announced plans to establish cybersecurity forces.

He also mentioned that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had offered to provide expert consultations for the UK back in 2017, during a visit of then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to Moscow. London, however, did not respond to the offer, as it had “nothing to say on the subject,” the diplomat concluded.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

NATO Supports UK, Dutch Cyberattack Accusations Against Russia – Stoltenberg

Sputnik – 04.10.2018

NATO stands in solidarity with London and Amsterdam in their accusations against Russia of conducting cyberattacks and urges Moscow to change its behavior, the alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, stated.

“NATO Allies stand in solidarity with the decision by the Dutch and British governments to call out Russia on its blatant attempts to undermine international law and institutions. Russia must stop its reckless pattern of behavior, including the use of force against its neighbors, attempted interference in election processes, and widespread disinformation campaigns,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.

In response, NATO will continue to strengthen its defense against hybrid threats and cyber attacks, he stressed.

“Today, Defence Ministers discussed the progress we are making in setting up a new Cyber Operations Centre, integrating national cyber capabilities into our missions and operations, and bolstering our cyber resilience,” the secretary general concluded.

Earlier in the day, the UK Foreign Office accused Russian foreign intelligence service GRU of cyber attacks on political institutions, enterprises, media and sports, saying the GRU was “almost certainly” involved in the theft of confidential medical documents of several athletes published in August 2017 by WADA.

Also on Thursday, Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld said that four Russian citizens had been expelled from the Netherlands on April 13 on the suspicion of an attempted cyber attack on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), noting that the suspects had diplomatic passports.

A NATO defense ministers’ meeting is being held in Brussels on October 3-4.

Western officials put forward accusations against “Russian hackers” on a regular basis. Russia has repeatedly refuted allegations of interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and elections.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

‘We’d take out Russia’s nukes,’ US NATO envoy says, claiming ‘banned’ missiles are being developed

RT | October 2, 2018

The US would look into ways of “taking out” new Russian missiles if they become operational, the US envoy to NATO said, accusing Moscow of developing a weapon that “violates” the Soviet-US nuclear arms treaty.

US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison didn’t miss an opportunity to fire a warning shot in the direction of Russia when accusing it of building new nuclear missiles that would allegedly be pointed at Europe. Should such missiles be completed, she said at the Tuesday briefing, “at that point, we would be looking at the capability to take out a [Russian] missile that could hit any of our countries.”

Hutchison then doubled down on the threat, saying: “Counter measures [by the United States] would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty.” She added: “They are on notice.”

Hutchison was referring to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which bans the use of all nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, that have ranges of between 500km and 5,500km. The US has claimed that Moscow is not complying with the INF treaty, an accusation that Russia has repeatedly rejected.

“We have been trying to send a message to Russia for several years that we know they are violating the treaty, we have shown Russia the evidence that we have that they are violating the treaty,” Hutchison maintained.

The Russian Foreign Ministry blasted the statements made by the US envoy as “aggressive and destructive,” adding that they will get a detailed response from Russian military experts. NATO doesn’t understand the degree of its responsibility and the danger posed by such aggressive rhetoric, the ministry said.

Hutchison’s comment came several weeks after President Donald Trump signed the US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2019. The document contains, among other things, allegations that Moscow violated the INF Treaty.

Moscow, in turn, accuses the US and “some of its allies” of knowingly violating the INF by deploying Mk-41 launching systems close to Russian borders. These can be easily repurposed for firing banned ground-based cruise missiles, it says, while Washington denies the accusations.

Under the 2019 NDAA, US legislators allocated $58 million to counter Russia’s alleged non-compliance with the INF Treaty. The measures to counter the alleged activities include a “research and development program on a ground-launched intermediate-range missile,” which, somehow, should not itself violate the treaty.

Russian lawmakers have also promised countermeasures. “If the missile announced by Congress indeed makes it into the American arsenal, we will have to develop and adopt the same thing. Russia has the military and technical capacities for that,” Viktor Bondarev, the head of the defense committee of Russia’s Federal Council, has said.

October 2, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

One Click Closer to Annihilation

Last week Washington threatened Iran, Syria, China, Venezuela and Russia

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • October 2, 2018

The nuclear war doomsday clock maintained on the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists website has advanced to two minutes before midnight, the closest point to possible atomic apocalypse since the end of the Cold War. In 1995 the clock was at fourteen minutes to midnight, but the opportunity to set it back even further was lost as the United States and its European allies took advantage of a weakened Russia to advance NATO into Eastern Europe, setting the stage for a new cold war, which is now underway.

It is difficult to imagine how the United States might avoid a new war in the Middle East given the recent statements that have come out of Washington, and, given that the Russians are also active in the region, a rapid and massive escalation of something that starts out as a minor incident should not be ruled out.

President Donald Trump set the tone when he harangued the United Nations last Tuesday, warning that the United States would go it alone in defense of its perceived interests, with no regard for international bodies that exist to limit armed conflict and punish those who commit war crimes.

Trump’s 35-minute speech featured an anticipated long section targeting Iran. He commented that:

“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond… We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants ‘Death to America,’ and that threatens Israel with annihilation, to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth.”

There are a number of things exaggerated or incorrect in Trump’s description of Iran as well as in the conclusions he draws. The Middle East and other adjacent Muslim countries are in chaos because the United States has destabilized the region starting with the empowering of the Islamist Mujadeddin in the war against Soviet Afghanistan in the 1980s. It then invaded Afghanistan in 2001 followed by Iraq in 2003, enabling the rise of ISIS and giving local al-Qaeda affiliates a new lease on life, before turning on Damascus with the Syria Accountability Act later in the same year and then destroying the Libyan government under Barack Obama. These were, not coincidentally, policies promoted by Israel that received, as a result, bipartisan support in Congress.

The emotional description of disrespecting “neighbors, borders and sovereign rights” fits the U.S. and Israel to a “T” rather than Iran. The U.S. has soldiers stationed illegally in Syria while Israel bombs the country on an almost daily basis, so who is doing the disrespecting? Washington and Tel Aviv are also the principal supporters of terrorists in the Middle East, not Iran, – arming them, training them, hospitalizing them when they are injured, and making sure that they continue their work in attacking Syria’s legitimate government.

And as for “most dangerous weapons,” Iran doesn’t have any and is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel and the U.S. have not signed. Nor would Iran have any such weapons in the future but for the fact that Trump has backed out of the agreement to monitor and inspect Iranian nuclear research and development, which will, if anything, motivate Tehran to develop weapons to protect itself.

Trump also elaborated on the following day regarding Iran’s alleged but demonstrably non-existent nuclear program when he indicated to the Security Council that Washington would go after countries that violate the rules on nuclear proliferation. He clearly meant Iran but the comment was ironic in the extreme, as Israel is the world’s leading nuclear rogue nation with an arsenal of two hundred nuclear devices, having stolen the uranium and key elements of the technology from the United States in the 1960s.

Trump’s new appraisal of the state of the Middle East is somewhat a turnaround. Five months ago he said that he wanted to “get out” of Syria and bring the soldiers home. But in early September, the secretary of state’s special representative for Syria engagement, James Jeffrey, indicated that the U.S. would stay to counter Iranian activities.

And John Bolton has also recently had a lot to say about Iran, Syria and Russia. Last Monday he confirmed that Washington intends to keep a military presence in Syria until Iran withdraws all its forces from the country. “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders, and that includes Iranian proxies and militias.” On the following day, speaking at a Sheldon Adelson funded United Against Nuclear Iran Summit, he said the “murderous regime” of “mullahs in Tehran” would face serious consequences if they persist in their willingness to “lie, cheat and deceive. If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens there will indeed be hell to pay. Let my message today be clear: We are watching, and we will come after you.”

John Bolton also warned the Russians about their decision to upgrade the air defenses in Syria in the wake of the recent Israeli bombing raid that led to the shooting down of a Russian intelligence plane. He said absurdly and inaccurately “The Israelis have a legitimate right to self-defense against this Iranian aggressive behavior, and what we’re all trying to do is reduce tensions, reduce the possibility of major new hostilities. That’s why the president has spoken to this issue and why we would regard introducing the S-300 as a major mistake.”

Bolton then elaborated that “We think introducing the S-300s to the Syrian government would be a significant escalation by the Russians and something that we hope, if these press reports are accurate, they would reconsider.” And regarding who was responsible for the deaths of the Russian airmen, Bolton also has a suitable explanation “There shouldn’t be any misunderstanding here… The party responsible for the attacks in Syria and Lebanon and really the party responsible for the shooting down of the Russian plane is Iran.”

Bolton’s desire to exonerate Israel and always blame Iran is inevitably on display. He is curiously objecting to the placement of missiles that are defensive in nature, presumably because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked him to do so. The only way one can be threatened by the S-300 is if you are attacking Syria, but that might be a fine point that Bolton fails to grasp as he was a draft dodger during the Vietnam War and has since that time not placed himself personally at risk in support of any of the wars he has been promoting.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also spoke on Monday, at the Pentagon. His spin on Iran was slightly different but his message was the same. “As part of this overarching problem, we have to address Iran. Everywhere you go in the Middle East where there’s instability you will find Iran. So in terms of getting to the end state of the Geneva [negotiations] process, Iran, too, has a role to play, which is to stop fomenting trouble.”

To complete the onslaught, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at the same United Against Nuclear Iran Summit as Bolton, accused European nations seeking to avoid U.S. sanctions over the purchase of Iranian oil as “solidifying Iran’s ranking as the number-one state sponsor of terrorism. I imagine the corrupt ayatollahs and IGRC [Revolutionary Guards] were laughing this morning.”

Even the U.S. Congress has figured out that something is afoot. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, who were carefully briefed on what to think by the Israeli government, warned after a trip to the Middle East that war between the United States and Iranian proxies is “imminent.”

Iran is fun to kick around but China has also been on the receiving end of late. Last Wednesday the U.N. Security Council meeting was presided over by Donald Trump, who warned that Beijing is “meddling” in U.S. elections against him personally. It is a bizarre claim, particularly as the only country up until now demonstrated as having actually interfered in American politics in any serious way is Israel. The accusation comes on top of Washington’s latest foray into the world of sanctions, directed against the Chinese government-run Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Central Military Commission and its director Li Shangfu for “engaging in significant transactions” with a Russian weapons manufacturer that is on a list of U.S. sanctioned companies.

The Chinese sanctions are serious business as they forbid conducting any transactions that go through the U.S. financial system. It is the most powerful weapon Washington has at its disposal. As most international transactions are conducted in dollars and pass through American banks that means that it will be impossible for the Chinese government to make weapons purchases from many foreign sources. If foreign banks attempt to collaborate with China to evade the restrictions, they too will be sanctioned.

So if you’re paying attention to Trump, Bolton, Mattis, Pompeo and Haley you are probably digging a new bomb shelter right now. We have told Iran that it cannot send its soldiers and “proxies” outside its own borders while Syria cannot have advanced missiles to defend its airspace, which Russia is “on notice” for providing. China also cannot buy weapons from Russia while Venezuela is also being threatened because it has what is generally believed to be a terrible government. Meanwhile, America is in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to stay while nearly all agree a war with Iran is coming soon. Everyone is the enemy and everyone hates the United States, mostly for good reasons. If this is Making America Great Again, I think I would settle for just making America “good” so we could possibly have that doomsday clock go back a couple of minutes.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org .

October 2, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | 3 Comments