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Useful Idiot or Trojan Horse? Belarusian opposition figure Tikhanovskaya’s links to NATO’s Atlantic Council adjunct raise eyebrows

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | October 16, 2020

‘Accidental politician’ Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has captured the West’s imagination, her lack of political experience presenting an ideal blank canvas for news-narrative weaving – and all too easily manipulated by malign forces.

From the moment she announced her candidacy for the Belarusian presidency after her husband Sergey was spuriously jailed for electioneering activities that would be considered normal in the rest of Europe, Tikhanovskaya has been a darling of the Western media. With her improbable ascension from stay-at-home mother to leading opposition figure, then proto-revolutionary leader-in-exile, documented on an almost daily basis.

Along the way, Tikhanovskaya has been keen to stress the upheaval in Belarus is neither pro-Western nor pro-Russian in character, but pro-democracy, a key message reiterated uncritically over and again by mainstream journalists. However, not a single one has deigned to mention, much less question, the fact that one of her key confidantes, Franak Viacorka, is a ‘non-resident fellow’ at Atlantic Council, a think tank that aggressively propagandizes in support of NATO, and wider American financial, political, military and ideological interests in Europe and beyond.

This position isn’t mentioned in his Twitter bio, and it’s unclear precisely when he became Tikhanovskaya’s ‘international relations advisor.’ Viacorka’s Atlantic Council appointment was announced on August 15 – in a Washington Post op-ed published the same day, he and Melinda Haring, deputy director of the council’s Eurasia Center, painted a glowing, provocative portrait of the would-be president of Belarus, framing her as part of a wider feminist uprising against the country’s “deeply patriarchal” elite, an upheaval central to the radical shakeup of the country.

The council billed Viacorka as a “journalist from Belarus,” which is true, to an extent. A long-time anti-Lukashenko activist, his campaigning as a teenager in the run-up to the 2006   presidential election was even the subject of an award-winning documentary. Subsequently, he spent seven years at US government-controlled media outlets Radio FreeEurope and Radio Liberty, before moving to Washington DC in August 2018 to serve as Digital Media Strategist   for the US Agency for Radio Free Europe’s parent company US Agency for Global Media (USAGM), a role which ended just before he joined the Atlantic Council. In August 2018, USAGM’s then-CEO acknowledged its media outlets’ “global priorities reflect US national security interests.”

Founded in 1961, the council is best understood as NATO’s intellectual wing-cum-propaganda arm. Just as the alliance’s paradoxical purpose is, in the phrase of academic Richard Sakwa, “to manage the security risks created by its existence,” so too the organization exists to promote the notion of a Russian threat, in order to justify NATO’s post-Cold War endurance.

In this sense, the Atlantic Council is no different from most other ‘think tanks’ in that its raison d’etre is to defend and further the concerns of its financiers – in pursuit of that goal, as with most other lobby groups of this nature, it often publishes highly dubious, biased ‘research’ under the guise of objective academic inquiry, and recruits to its ranks individuals who advance its objectives in some way, promoting these as ‘independent experts.’

Some clue as to the council’s concerns and aims can be found in the publicly-available list of its key donors, which includes the US embassies of UAE and Bahrain, Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, defense giant Raytheon, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), and the US State Department. From 2006  to 2016, the council’s annual revenue leaped ten-fold, from $2 million to $21 million – a period in which, concurrently and not coincidentally, corporate and state budgets typically reserved for lobbying firms were increasingly directed to think tanks. Its board of directors is likewise highly illustrative, a veritable ‘who’s who’ of warmongers, comprising Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Robert Gates, Michael Hayden, David Petraeus, and many others.

Despite a host of council apparatchiks frequently popping up in media reporting, and in turn influencing debate, public perceptions and government policy, one would be hard-pressed to find a single mainstream article making even passing reference to the organization’s politically-charged agenda and funding sources. Indeed, the Atlantic Council’s press relations strategy has been astonishingly effective, its in-house ‘fellows’ and Digital Forensics Lab (DFRLab) operatives universally positioned as experts in an array of fields, ever-ready to provide insight on pressing issues in the form of op-eds, marketable quotes and more.

There’s no more palpable example of this phenomenon than former DFRLab chief Ben Nimmo, who for years has been widely-touted as an eminent authority on Moscow’s ‘information warfare’ and ‘cyber operations,’ as well as on Kremlin strategy and thinking – despite boasting zero discernible acumen in Russian politics, data analysis, information technology, or social media. Despite his palpable lack of relevant skills, Nimmo’s tour of duty at DFRLab saw him appear in a panoply of articles, reports and academic papers on the threat posed to the world by Russian ‘disinformation,’ in the process disseminating a vast amount of damaging untruths himself.

He was also a pivotal player in the council’s ‘anti-fake news’ partnership with Facebook. Launched in May 2018, DFRLab was granted exclusive and unprecedented access to the social media giant’s private data, in order to identify and study “disinformation networks,” before earmarking particular accounts and pages for deletion and banning. That an effective wing of Western state power was afforded such capacity failed to provoke any mainstream alarm, even when the initiative got off to a highly inauspicious start – a number of accounts Nimmo identified as Kremlin-directed ‘bots’ and ‘trolls’ and which were subsequently banned by social networks turned out to be real people.

Since then, at intermittent intervals this partnership has led to the purging of untold numbers of pages and accounts from the social network, among them many alternative media outlets, independent journalists, political groups, and other legitimate information sources, highlighting issues and events the mainstream media consistently downplays or ignores, including US interventionism, drug legalization, police brutality and more.

Viacorka’s work for the Atlantic Council to date hasn’t been quite so destructive, authoring articles for its website, and making appearances on major news networks, promoting Tikhanovskaya as the legitimate president of Belarus and perpetuating disputed and extremely questionable claims that she’d received up to 70 percent of the vote in that country’s recent election – key messages the council itself began aggressively advancing the day after the election.

Ever since, Tikhanovskaya has repeatedly appealed to US and EU leaders to recognize her as the winner and duly-elected president of Belarus, claiming she’ll step aside within six months of taking office, but her call has been ignored by international bodies and every government in the world, bar that of Lithuania.

Instead, typically at most an election re-run has been called-for, a somewhat odd display of reticence, given Washington, London, Berlin and Paris have priors in formally recognizing individuals with far less legitimate claims than she as de-facto leaders of countries, such as Juan Guaido in Venezuela. This may suggest Western governments aren’t actually as convinced of her alleged landslide victory as they publicly profess to be, and fear Lukashenko’s removal from office by external and internal force and/or without a viable, stable alternative in place could mean the country descends into further chaos, and in turn becoming a fresh flashpoint in Europe.

Viacorka himself acknowledged the disorganized nature of the protests in an Atlantic Council article – while taking as inevitable Lukashenko’s ouster and Belarus’ transition to democracy, he bemoaned how “a lack of coordination between the different elements within the protest movement” had left it “vulnerable to the divide-and-conquer tactics of authorities.”

Viacorka went on to note that, in a bid to address this “absence of leadership,” Tikhanovskaya had founded a Coordination Council to serve as the country’s effective government in waiting. He dubbed the endeavor “the main threat to Lukashenko” and “the first attempt to create a credible alternative,” but his description raises serious questions about whether it’s a legitimate attempt to provide a coherent, tangible face to the movement, or an opportunistic hostile takeover.

“The Coordination Council provides a degree of clarity for government officials and international observers looking to gain a better understanding of who represents the diverse opposition movement… The Council must occupy the political vacuum at the forefront of Belarus’s democratic uprising. Leaderless street protests have shaken the Lukashenka regime to its foundations, but they are not enough to bring about the kind of historic transition to democracy millions of Belarusians now expect… The Council features a number of members drawn from the professional classes… who are expected to play important roles in the attempt to move beyond today’s mass protests towards a national political transition,” Viacorka wrote.

One wonders whether the coordination council was an idea Viacorka himself presented to Tikhanovskaya in his capacity as her ‘international relations advisor’ – and if, in turn, his thinking was in any way influenced by the Atlantic Council.

Whatever the truth of the matter, it’s almost certain the Atlantic Council’s meddling in Belarusian politics has a clandestine element, given the organization’s key role in the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) initiative Open Information Partnership (OIP). Officially, under its auspices DFRLab, Bellingcat, Zinc Network and Media Diversity Institute “work together through peer-to-peer learning, training and working groups to pioneer methods to expose disinformation,” in collaboration with a sizable network of NGOs across Europe.

However, leaked documents make clear the endeavor is, in fact, a secret UK government information warfare outfit seeking to covertly further Whitehall’s global policy objectives, by, among other things, influencing “elections taking place in countries of particular interest to the FCO.” A file setting out the terms of the project indicates Belarus is one of a dozen “high impact, priority countries” for the OIP, strongly suggesting this year’s presidential vote was very much “of interest” to the project.

The same document indicates DFRLab, Bellingcat, Zinc Network and Media Diversity Institute had conducted a secret operation in Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus in 2018, “delivering audience insights and recommendations to increase reach and resonance of selected independent media outlets.”

While innocent-enough sounding, examples offered of the organization’s work offered elsewhere in the file indicate OIP has engaged in numerous ‘astroturfing’ initiatives across Eastern Europe, helping organizations and individuals to produce flashy, FCO-funded propaganda masquerading as independent citizen journalism, which is then amplified globally via its NGO network and other channels.

For instance, in Ukraine the Open Information Partnership worked with a 12-strong group of online ‘influencers’ “to counter Kremlin-backed messaging through innovative editorial strategies, audience segmentation, and production models that reflected the complex and sensitive political environment,” in the process allowing them to “reach wider audiences with compelling content that received over four million views.”

In Russia and Central Asia, OIP established a covert network of ‘YouTubers,’ helping them create videos “promoting media integrity and democratic values.” Participants were also taught how to “make and receive international payments without being registered as external sources of funding” and “develop editorial strategies to deliver key messages,” while the consortium minimized their “risk of prosecution” and managed “project communications” to ensure the existence of the network, and indeed OIP’s role, were kept “confidential.”

Were similar efforts undertaken in Belarus at some point subsequently, and if so, how many of the citizen journalists on the ground covering the protests this year have received funding and training from OIP, and what role has the organization and its extensive pan-European NGO matrix played in promoting their “compelling content” the world over?

At the very least, another leaked FCO file indicates a number of organizations in the country had exploratory discussions with OIP, including the Belarusian Association of Journalists, and Euroradio – both were said to have “expressed an eagerness to be part of the network,” and to be operating in “the most vital space in the entire network.”

It may be significant that Franak Viacorka has been a prominent amplifier of Euroradio’s “fearless” coverage of the unrest that has engulfed the streets of Minsk for the past two months.

October 16, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

The Yugoslav Wars: Biden’s Belligerent Militarism Revisited

By Nauman Sadiq | Global Research | October 11, 2020

Ironically, while three US presidents have been accused of impeaching the Constitution for relatively minor offenses, including Bill Clinton for perjury and Donald Trump for using political influence to discredit opponents, no US president has ever been charged, let alone convicted, of waging devastating wars of aggression.

Unless impeachment proceedings are initiated against war criminals, including George Bush and Dick Cheney for invading Afghanistan and Iraq and Barack Obama and Joe Biden for waging proxy wars in Libya and Syria, the impeachment provisions in the US Constitution would serve as nothing more than a convenient tool for settling political scores.

The fact is not only the domestic law enforcement and judicial systems of the Western powers but also international institutions, such as International Criminal Court, have been used as tools of perception management for solely prosecuting alleged “war criminals” of former Yugoslavia and impoverished African nations and real war criminals have never been prosecuted for the crimes of destroying entire nations with their militarism and interventionism.

Before being elected as Obama’s vice president in 2008, as a longtime senator from Delaware and subsequently as the member and then the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, alongside inveterate hawk Senator Joe Lieberman, was one of the principal architects of the Bosnia War in the Clinton administration in the nineties.

Reflecting on first black American president Barack Obama’s memorable 2008 presidential campaign, with little-known senator from Delaware, Joe Biden, as his running-mate, Glenn Kessler wrote for the Washington Post [1] in October 2008:

“The moment when Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. looked Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in the eye and called him a ‘damned war criminal’ has become the stuff of campaign legend.

“The Democratic vice presidential nominee brings up the 1993 confrontation on the campaign trial to whoops of delight from supporters. Senator Barack Obama mentioned it when he announced he had chosen Biden as his running mate.

“During vice presidential debate with his counterpart on the Republican ticket, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Biden twice gave himself credit for shifting US policy on Bosnia. The senator from Delaware declared that he ‘was the catalyst to change the circumstance in Bosnia led by President Clinton.’ At another point he noted: ‘My recommendations on Bosnia — I admit I was the first one to recommend it. They saved tens of thousands of lives.’”

Instead of “saving tens of thousands of lives,” the devastating Yugoslav Wars in the nineties in the aftermath of the break-up of the former Soviet Union and then the former Yugoslavia claimed over 130,000 fatalities, created a humanitarian crisis and unleashed a flood of millions of refugees for which nobody is to blame but the Clinton administration’s militarist policy of subjugating and forcibly integrating East European states into the Western capitalist bloc.

Regarding Washington’s modus operandi of waging proxy wars in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, since the times of the Soviet-Afghan jihad during the eighties, it has been the fail-safe game plan of master strategists at NATO to raise money [2] from the oil-rich emirates of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait; then buy billions of dollars’ worth of weapons from the arms markets [3] in the Eastern Europe; and then provide those weapons and guerilla warfare training to the disaffected population of the victim country by using the intelligence agencies of the latter’s regional adversaries. Whether it’s Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Libya or Syria, the same playbook was executed to the letter.

Raising funds for proxy wars from the Gulf Arab States allows the Western executives the freedom to evade congressional scrutiny; the benefit of buying weapons from unregulated arms markets of the Eastern Europe is that such weapons cannot be traced back to the Western capitals; and using jihadist proxies to achieve strategic objectives has the advantage of taking the plea of “plausible deniability” if the strategy backfires, which it often does. Remember that al-Qaeda and Taliban were the by-products of the Soviet-Afghan jihad, and the Islamic State and its global network of terrorists were the blowback of the proxy war in Syria.

Nevertheless, smugly oblivious to the death and destruction caused by Washington’s global domination agenda, national security shill Glenn Kessler further noted in the aforementioned Washington Post article:

“Biden focused on deficiencies in US policy toward Bosnia, he called for NATO expansion before it became fashionable and most recently prodded the Bush administration to back a $1 billion package to rebuild Georgia after the Russian invasion.

“As the incident with Milosevic shows, Biden is hardly shy about emphasizing his own role in world affairs. Biden’s book portrays him frequently confronting Clinton and bucking him up on Bosnia when the president had doubts about his own policy. But the hard legislative work was left to others. Biden did take an early stab at prodding action, writing an amendment in 1992 — opposed by George H.W. Bush’s administration — that authorized spending $50 million to arm the Bosnian Muslims.

“In April 1993, Biden spent a week traveling in the Balkans, meeting with key officials, including a three-hour session with Milosevic. The trip was detailed in 15 pages of the senator’s autobiography.

“By all accounts, the meeting was tense. Milosevic spent a lot of time poring over maps and expressing concerns with peace proposals crafted by a group of international mediators. Milosevic denied he had much influence over the Bosnian Serbs, but then immediately summoned Radovan Karadzic, their leader, with a curt phone call.

“According to Biden’s book, Milosevic asked the senator what he thought of him. ‘I think you’re a damn war criminal and you should be tried as one,’ Biden said he shot back. Milosevic, he said, did not react.

“Upon his return to the United States, Biden issued a 36-page report on the trip, laying out eight policy proposals, including airstrikes on Serb artillery and lifting the arms embargo on Bosnian Muslims.

“Biden continued to make fiery statements on Bosnia, demanding action. Richard C. Holbrooke recalled that when he was nominated as assistant secretary of state for Europe in late 1994, Biden ‘in no uncertain terms made it clear to me that the policy on Bosnia had to change and he would make sure it did. He believed in action, and history proved him right.’

“’When you look back, Senator Biden got Bosnia right earlier than anyone. He understood that a combination of force and diplomacy would revive American leadership and avoid a disaster in Europe,’ said James P. Rubin, a Biden aide at the time who later became spokesman for Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.”

It’s pertinent to mention that though touted as a “collective defense pact,” the trans-Atlantic military alliance NATO and its corollary economic alliance European Union were conceived during the Cold War to offset political and economic influence of the former Soviet Union which was geographically adjacent to Europe.

Historically, the NATO military alliance at least ostensibly was conceived as a defensive alliance in 1949 during the Cold War in order to offset conventional warfare superiority of the former Soviet Union. The US forged collective defense pact with the Western European nations after the Soviet Union reached the threshold to build its first atomic bomb in 1949 and achieved nuclear parity with the US.

But the trans-Atlantic military alliance has outlived its purpose following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and is now being used as an aggressive and expansionist military alliance meant to browbeat and coerce the Central and Eastern European states to join NATO and its corollary economic alliance, the European Union, or risk international isolation.

It was not a coincidence that the Soviet Union was dissolved in December 1991 and the Maastricht Treaty that consolidated the European Community and laid the groundwork for the European Union was signed in February 1992.

The basic purpose of the EU has been nothing more than to entice the former communist states of the Eastern and Central Europe into the folds of the Western capitalist bloc by offering financial incentives and inducements, particularly in the form of foreign direct investment and grants and loans to the tune of billions of dollars, and by abolishing internal border checks in the common European market, allowing free movement of workers from Eastern European nations seeking employment in prosperous Western European economies.

Naively giving credit to former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden for his supposed “humanitarian interventionism” and for creating a catastrophe in the Balkans in the nineties, Paul Richter and Noam N. Levey, writing for the LA Times [4] in August 2008, observed:

“Biden has frequently favored humanitarian interventions abroad and was an early and influential advocate for the US military action in the Balkans in the 1990s.

“Biden considers his most important foreign policy accomplishment to be his leadership on the Balkans in the mid-1990s. He pushed a reluctant Clinton administration first to arm Serbian Muslims and then to use U.S. air power to suppress conflict in Serbia and Kosovo.

“In his book, ‘Promises to Keep,’ Biden calls this one of his two ‘proudest moments in public life,’ along with the Violence Against Women Act that he championed.

“In 1998, he worked with McCain on a resolution to push the Clinton administration to use all available force to confront Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, a move designed to force the president to use ground troops if necessary against Serb forces in the former Yugoslavia, which was beset by fighting and ethnic cleansing.

“In addition, Biden, who claims close relationships with many foreign leaders, has demonstrated a readiness to cooperate with Senate Republicans in search of compromise — a trait that meshes with Obama’s pledge to reduce the level of partisan conflict and stalemate in Washington.

“He has called his new adversary, presumed Republican presidential nominee in the 2008 elections, Senator John McCain of Arizona, a ‘personal and close friend.’”

Birds of a feather flock together. Not only did Joe Biden collaborate with Joe Lieberman in the Clinton administration to create a humanitarian crisis in the Balkans in the nineties but he also shared the hawkish ideology of late Senator John McCain.

Though a decorated Vietnam War veteran who died battling cancer in 2018, McCain was a highly polarizing figure as a senator and was regarded by many Leftists as an inveterate neocon hawk, who vociferously exhorted Western military interventions not only in the Balkans in the nineties but also in Libya and Syria in 2011.

McCain was a vocal supporter of the 2011 military intervention in Libya. In April 2011, he visited the anti-Gaddafi forces and National Transitional Council in eastern Libyan city Benghazi, the highest-ranking American to do so, and said that the rebel forces were “my heroes.”

Regarding Syria’s proxy war that began in 2011, McCain repeatedly argued for the US intervening militarily in the conflict on the side of the anti-government forces. He staged a visit to rebel forces inside Syria in May 2013, the first senator to do so, and called for arming the Free Syrian Army with heavy weapons and for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria.

Following reports that two of the terrorists he posed for pictures with had been responsible for the kidnapping of eleven Lebanese Shia pilgrims the year before, McCain disputed one of the identifications and said he had not met directly with the other.

In the aftermath of a false-flag chemical weapons attack in Ghouta in 2013, McCain vehemently argued for strong American military action against the government of Bashar al-Assad, and in September 2013, cast a Foreign Relations Committee vote in favor of then-President Obama’s request to Congress that it authorize a military response, though the crisis was amicably resolved after seasoned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov staged a diplomatic coup by persuading Damascus to ship its alleged chemical weapons stockpiles out of Syria under Russian supervision.

***

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism. He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Notes

[1] Biden Played Second Fiddle to Joe Lieberman in Bosnia Legislation:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/06/AR2008100602681.html

[2] U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/world/middleeast/us-relies-heavily-on-saudi-money-to-support-syrian-rebels.html

[3] Billions of dollars weapons flowing from Eastern Europe to Middle East.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/27/weapons-flowing-eastern-europe-middle-east-revealed-arms-trade-syria

[4] On foreign policy, he’s willing to go his own way:

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2008-aug-24-na-foreignpol24-story.html

October 12, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

NATO refuses to commit to withdrawal from Afghanistan

Press TV – October 9, 2020

NATO has dismissed US President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement to pull out all of US forces from Afghanistan by the end of the year, saying that members of the military alliance will decide together on when to withdraw forces from the war-ravaged country.

Trump announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he was going to bring all US troops home from Afghanistan by Christmas.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reacted to the president’s remarks on Thursday, saying that the military alliance will end its mission in Afghanistan only when conditions on the ground permit.

“We decided to go into Afghanistan together, we will make decisions on future adjustments together, and when the time is right, we will leave together,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference.

NATO deployed forces to Afghanistan following the 2001 US-led invasion to topple the Taliban-run government, on the pretext of fighting terrorism following the September 11 attacks in New York.

Afghanistan has been gripped by insecurity since the US and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called ‘war on terror’ 19 years ago. Many parts of the country remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of US-led foreign troops.

American forces have since remained bogged down in the country through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now, Donald Trump.

In an interview on Thursday Trump also said that US forces are “down to 4,000 troops in Afghanistan. I’ll have them home by the end of the year. They’re coming home, you know, as we speak. Nineteen years is enough.”

Analysts say Trump, trailing in polls just weeks ahead of the November 3 presidential election, made the withdrawal announcement to show he is making good on his 2016 promise to end “endless wars.”

Stoltenberg, however, said NATO would only leave Afghanistan when it could do so without the risk of the country once again becoming a haven for militants.

“We will make decisions based on the conditions on the ground, because we think it is extremely important to continue to be committed to the future of Afghanistan, because it is in our interest to preserve the long-term security of Afghanistan,” he added.

Trump’s announcement was, however, welcomed by the Afghan Taliban militant group on Thursday.

A spokesman for the group, Mohammad Naeem, described Trump’s announcement as “a positive step towards the implementation of [the] Doha agreement.”

In a deal reached between the US and the Taliban earlier this year in the Qatari capital, Doha, the United States promised to pull out all its troops by mid-2021 in return for the Taliban to stop their attacks on US-led occupation foreign forces in Afghanistan.

Some 4,500 American troops are currently on the ground in Afghanistan, reduced from over 12,000 when the deal was signed in February.

The Taliban also agreed to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula with the Afghan government.

The Afghan government and Taliban last month opened peace talks in Qatar, even as key differences, including over a ceasefire, remain between the two sides.

NATO’s recent refusal to commit to withdrawal, according to observers, puts the complicated peace negotiations in jeopardy at a time when Afghanistan continues to suffer from a series of attacks — claimed either by the Taliban or the Daesh terrorist group — which took dozens of civilians’ lives.

In the meantime, Daesh has also been securing a foothold in Afghanistan.

The US has been largely blamed for relocating remnants of the terrorist group to Afghanistan following their defeat in Iraq and Syria.

The US-led military alliance and NATO are also blamed for turning Afghanistan into one of the world’s main opium producers over the last two decades, as opium has become a source for terrorist financing in the war-ravaged country.

According to the United Nations, more than 80 percent of the world’s opium is produced in Afghanistan and that the bulk of narcotics produced in the country is destined for European states.

A high-ranking Iranian official said earlier this year that the production of narcotic drugs has seen a fifty-fold increase over a span of 17 years in Afghanistan.

Director general of the Iran Drug Control Headquarters, Eskandar Momeni, said American planes as well as those belonging to the US-led military alliance and NATO are engaged in transporting illicit drugs.

Iran, located at the crossroad of international drug smuggling from Afghanistan, has long been fighting armed drug smugglers in its eastern and southeastern borders. Thousands of Iranian security forces have lost their lives in the clashes.

Analysts believe Washington, which has repeatedly named Iran, Russia and China as its enemies, intends to create insecurity and trouble on the borders of these countries through Afghanistan.

October 9, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 3 Comments

NATO increased warship presence in Black Sea by 33% compared to 2019

By Paul Antonopoulos | October 7, 2020

By strengthening the presence of warships from non-Black Sea NATO members in the Black Sea, the military bloc is attempting to demonstrate its dominance in the region and the Alliance’s desire to neutralize and pressurize Russia’s influence in the area. Moscow’s Black Sea influence significantly increased after Crimea’s 2014 reunification with Russia. NATO’s military presence in the Black Sea is significantly strengthening, especially as warships in the area increased by 33% from January to September compared to the same period time last year. In 40% of cases, these ships are equipped with high-precision long-range weapons. This can be seen as a NATO attempt to intimidate Russia.

NATO is undeniably trying to put pressure on Russia by demonstrating its power. However, another important goal of the Alliance is to conduct intelligence operations against Crimea and Russia’s south. The Alliance is trying to locate Russian facilities, communication links, navigation systems, electronic warfare systems and other related military assets. There is of course the additional goal of training by simulating a battle with the Russian military.

After the reunification of Crimea, Russia gained a huge strategic advantage in the Black Sea region as it prevented NATO warships from being able to go to Sevastopol and turning it into a powerful pivot point that hypothetically could block Russia’s access to the Sea of Azov in the event of war. The Sea of Azov is critical to the security of Russia’s south as it is the beginning of the Volga–Don Canal.

Officially, the increased presence of NATO warships is in support of the Ukrainian navy. They are constantly participating in manoeuvres, such as the “Sea Breeze” exercises held in July. The number of military exercises is even growing. Countries far from the region, such as Canada and the Scandinavian states, are appearing in the Black Sea. Even this year, despite COVID-19 and all the restrictions, a large number of NATO warships arrived in the Black Sea. The last recorded case of non-Black Sea navy ships entering the Black Sea was recorded on Sunday when a British torpedo destroyer sailed in.

Warships of non-Black Sea countries can only be in the Black Sea for a limited time in accordance to the 1936 Montreux Convention. Therefore, that Convention is actually an obstacle for NATO today. Without this treaty, American and British warships could be permanently stationed in the Black Sea. The significance of this convention is based on guaranteeing the free passage of civilian ships through the Black Sea during peacetime and restricting the passage of warships of non-Black Sea states. According to the Convention, countries that do not border on the Black Sea are not allowed to keep their ships in the Black Sea region for more than 21 days. In addition, there are restrictions when it comes to the tonnage and number of warships belonging to non-Black Sea countries – no more than 30,000 tons and nine ships. This means that no aircraft carrier can enter the Black Sea, since they weigh between 45,000 to 100,000 tons.

Also, according to the Montreux Convention, Turkey must not close access to and from the Black Sea via the Bosporus and the Dardanelle Straits during peacetime. During a war in which Turkey does not participate, the sea must be closed to the passage of warships of any country participating in the war. Turkey, as a Black Sea state and member of NATO, can stay in the Black Sea as long as it wants and send as many ships as it wants, and has always participated in NATO Black Sea manoeuvres.

Although NATO countries do not recognize Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, this does not correspond with the reality on the ground and they know that the Russian Black Sea Fleet is in a state of combat readiness and will respond to any threat. This increasing pressure in the Black Sea also corresponds with pressure against Russia in the seas in the Arctic, the Baltic and the Pacific. The presence of NATO warships in the Black Sea is just a show of strength and it is highly unlikely that this will intimidate the Russian military in the region or make it withdraw from Crimea. For now NATO are respecting the 1936 Montreux Convention but this has not reduced any pressure that is being applied against Russia.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

October 7, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Will Lebanon be the next US-NATO humanitarian war?

By Steven Sahiounie | Mideast discourse | October 2, 2020

The waters off Lebanon are the scene of a gathering Armada of French and American naval ships. What appeared at first to be a humanitarian response to the devastating Beirut Port explosion on August 4, is now feared to be the prelude of the next US-NATO humanitarian war.

French President Emmanuel Macron blamed Hezbollah and all of the Lebanese politicians Sunday and warned of a new civil war. I’m ashamed of the Lebanese political leaders. Ashamed,” Macron repeated.

He accused them of “collective betrayal” while putting their parties and personal greed above the needs of the Lebanese people.

Some political observers now believe that Lebanon may well be going the way of Somalia, as evidenced by the characteristics of a failing state, such as lack of governance, corruption and incompetence, chronic humanitarian problems, and persistent social tensions.

Prime minister-designate Moustapha Adib stepped down September 26, and Lebanon’s Central Bank reserves may soon dry up and the government would no longer be able to subsidize basic goods such as fuel, medicine, and wheat.

Macron has been pressing Lebanese politicians to form a Cabinet made up of technocrats that can work on urgent reforms, and Macron has traveled twice to Beirut since August 4, while making it a personal mission to try to repair the devastated country, which some see as a neo-colonial farce.

Macron criticized the Lebanese system of sectarian politics, “as if competence was linked to religious confession.”

He lambasted Hezbollah demanding to know its characteristics and identity, and he criticized Lebanese political leaders from all parties and dynasties. Each Lebanese faction has found a foreign godfather and has ended up as a pawn in a regional and international chess game. Tens of billions of dollars have reportedly been looted by politicians and deposited in European and American banks.

US-NATO Humanitarian wars

In 1999 NATO updated its ‘Strategic Concept to allow members to defend not only other members but also conduct ‘non-Article 5 Response Operations’. It would be under this mechanism that a US-NATO military operation, along with an Arab Gulf coalition, would be used to attack, invade and defeat Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Since 2002, it was agreed that NATO forces could be sent “wherever they are needed,” regardless of the location, and in 2006 the NATO Response Force (NRF) of 25,000 troops has been fully operational.

US President Bill Clinton and NATO waged the humanitarian war on the former Yugoslavia, which broke a larger nation into ‘bite-sized’ pieces.

Critics of the US-NATO bombing of Yugoslavia have argued that certain attacks forming part of the campaign violated international humanitarian law. Noam Chomsky argued that the main objective of the US-NATO war was to force Yugoslavia into the Western economic system since it was the only country in the region that stood alone in defiance of the US world domination.

Hezbollah targeted by US-NATO war machine

Hezbollah’s prominence in the Lebanese government caused foreign donors and investors to stay away, because of US sanctions targeted on anyone with ties to the group, based on their designation as a terrorist group.

Hezbollah’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said on Tuesday, “We welcomed President Macron when he visited Lebanon and we welcomed the French initiative, but not for him to be judge, jury and executioner, and ruler of Lebanon.”

Nasrallah has headed the group since 1992 as Secretary-General; however, its military wing is considered as a terrorist organization in 21 countries, as well as by the Arab League and the European Union.

Hezbollah’s 1985 manifesto listed its objectives as the expulsion of “the Americans, the French and their allies definitely from Lebanon, putting an end to any colonialist entity on our land”.

In 2008, the Lebanese government unanimously recognized Hezbollah’s existence as an armed organization and guarantees its right to “liberate or recover occupied lands”.

Hezbollah is an armed resistance group, as well as a political party that has seats in Parliament through free and fair elections.  Their ally in Parliament is the ‘Amal Movement, and together they hold the majority of Parliamentary seats. In a democracy, the majority rules and this is why recently Hezbollah and Amal insisted on choosing the Finance minister, which became a conflict point in the view of Macron.

Hezbollah is resisting the Israeli occupation of Shebaa Farms, an area in the far south of Lebanon. Moreover, Hezbollah also is resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.  At one time, all of the Arab world demanded the rights for the Palestinian people, who have lived under brutal military occupation since 1948, and the UN has ratified resolutions calling for a 2-state solution, where Palestine would be given the land of the 1967 borders, and both Israel and Palestine would live side by side in peace.

In 2017, Ron Prosor, former Israeli ambassador to the UN said Hezbollah was then “10 times as strong now as it was in 2006, and its military infrastructure permeates Lebanon.” He added that Lebanese President Michel Aoun has also “embraced” Hezbollah’s arsenal as “a principal element of Lebanon’s defense.”

Many critics tried to blame Hezbollah for the Beirut Port blast on August 4, but the Lebanese officials and locals admitted that Hezbollah had no access to the Port, or authority over it.  Even officials known to be antagonistic of Hezbollah admitted that the blame would not plausibly stick on Hezbollah. The exact cause is not known, but it may have been an accident borne of corruption and ineptitude, or it could be sabotage, according to President Michel Aoun. MP Machnouck, member of the Sunni-led ‘Future Party’ stated he was convinced Israel was responsible.

The elimination of Hezbollah is Israel’s top priority

A former director of Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau, Brig. Gen. Nitzan Nuriel, said that another war between Israel and Hezbollah was “only a question of time.”

Hezbollah is the only force that Israel has faced that has caused the Israeli Defense Forces to retreat without success. Defeating Hezbollah is a top Israeli priority.

Under the Obama Administration’s Middle Eastern policy, Iran became a negotiations partner, while pressuring Israel to conclude a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu recently gave a virtual speech to the UN Security Council, in which he displayed a detailed map of Beirut, and he predicted the location of where a future explosion would occur, and he blamed Hezbollah for having a weapons factory and warehouse at the location, which was a residential area.  During the Netanyahu speech, Nasrallah was also giving a live televised speech in Lebanon and was told what Netanyahu had claimed.  He immediately invited all media to go to the location that Netanyahu portrayed in his map, and inspect for themselves if there were any weapons or warehouse present.  Later, the media arrived, and live local TV coverage showed that in fact, the location was a cooking gas canister factory. This confirmed the Israeli accusation was false and led experts to assume a direct connection between the Port blast, and the Israeli proposed blast in Netanyahu’s map.

The Israeli occupation of Lebanon 

Israel occupied the south of Lebanon for 23 years, during which men, women, and children were imprisoned in Khiam Prison, where they were routinely tortured, abused and many died. Hezbollah aligned with many other Lebanese resistance groups, who resisted the occupation vociferously until Israel gave up and left in 2000. The south of Lebanon is populated by both Shite Muslims and Christians. The steadfastness of Hezbollah is remembered by those Lebanese citizens. However, the North of Lebanon was never occupied and lived free of fear, oppression, and intimidation which may have influenced many Lebanese citizens to either support or reject Hezbollah. As they say, “Your view depends on where your seat is.”

Using ISIS as ground troops by US-NATO

Recently, the Lebanese Army fought fierce battles against Radical Islamic terrorists near Tripoli in the north, in the area of Wadi Khalid.

In 2016, Efraim Inbar, an Israeli scholar, and the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies wrote, “The continuing existence of ISIS serves a strategic purpose,” and added that ISIS “can be a useful tool in undermining” Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, and Russia and should not be defeated. He wrote, “Stability is not a value in and of itself. It is desirable only if it serves our interests,” and stressed that the West’s “main enemy” is not ISIS; it is Iran.

Saudi Arabia part of the Coalition against Hezbollah

The King of Saudi Arabia rarely gives speeches; however, he made a televised speech in which he accused Hezbollah of the Beirut Port blast, apparently unaware that that accusation has been debunked. This is the same King who summoned Prime Minister Saad Hariri from Lebanon to be kidnapped and forced to resign in Saudi Arabia. It was President Macron who personally negotiated Hariri’s freedom.

It appears that Saudi Arabia will be among the first Arab countries to send support for a US-NATO attack on Lebanon to eliminate Hezbollah.

Steven Sahiounie is an award-winning journalist and political commentator.

October 4, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Time of Troubles in Transcaucasia – Part 2

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | October 3, 2020

Part-1 of the three-part essay is here.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin on October 2 that the European Union seeks a “constructive dialogue and a positive agenda” with Turkey. She had just returned to the German capital after a 2-day summit meeting of the EU countries in Brussels. Germany played a key role at the summit in steering the EU-Turkey relationship away from a confrontationist path to which it was drifting lately. (See my blog EU marks distance from Indo-Pacific strategy.)

Merkel said, “We had a very long, detailed discussion about our relations with Turkey. We came to the conclusion that we would like to enter into a constructive dialogue with Turkey, we want to have a positive agenda,” adding that the Brussels summit had opened a “window of opportunity” for closer cooperation with Ankara.

Merkel disclosed that talks for closer cooperation between the EU and Turkey in the coming months would focus on migration issues, trade, modernising the Customs Union, and liberalised visa regime. In effect, Merkel has made a huge case for Turkish President Recep Erdogan at a particularly sensitive juncture for the latter when there is growing criticism in Europe regarding his regional policies.

In particular, there has been a nasty incident recently involving the Turkish and French navies in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was a rare, if not unprecedented, incident involving two NATO powers in the 7-decade old history of the western alliance.

Again, the US recently strengthened its military bases in Greece and has repeatedly called for restraint on the part of Turkey over its maritime disputes with Greece and vowed to intervene both politically and militarily in the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey and France support opposite sides in the Libyan civil war, while the US is aligned with militant Kurdish groups in Syria whom Turkey regards as terrorists. And as conflict erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey witnesses the US, France and Russia swiftly drawing close in a phalanx to push back at Erdogan’s robust backing for Azerbaijan, including pledges of military help.

To be sure, Merkel spoke with great deliberation. Before leaving for Brussels, Merkel had addressed the German Parliament where she referred to complaints against Turkey’s human rights records, but went on to praise Turkey’s “amazing and remarkable” performance in hosting refugees, highlighting that Turkey is hosting four million refugees.

Interestingly, Merkel compared Greece to Turkey in a poor light. “We have to weigh very carefully how to resolve the tensions and how to strengthen our co-operation on refugees and on the humane treatment of refugees,” she said and proceeded to condemn the manner in which Turkey’s archetypal enemy Greece is handling the migrant camp in Lesvos (Greece).

With biting sarcasm, Merkel noted, “in recent days we have seen horrible images regarding the treatment of refugees. And not from Turkey, I would like to emphasise, but from Lesvos (Greece), from an EU member state.”

Without doubt, Germany has stood up to be counted as Turkey’s friend at a time when the latter faces growing isolation within the NATO and from the EU.

Seminal events

The well-known American professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Stephen Walt once penned an essay titled Great Powers Are Defined by Their Wars where he pointed out that explaining a great power’s foreign policy is a perennial question for scholars of international politics. He argued that major wars have powerful and long-lasting effects on a nation’s subsequent foreign or military policy.

Prof. Walt explained that wars are seminal events from which a great power’s subsequent behaviour follows, independent of its relative power, regime type or its leadership. In his words, “Those who fight in these wars are often scarred by the experience, and the lessons drawn from victory or defeat will be etched deeply into the nation’s collective memory. The experience of past wars is central to most national identities… If you want to understand the foreign policy of a great power, therefore (and probably lesser powers as well), a good place to start is to look at the great wars it has fought.”

Isn’t it a poignant historical memory for Berlin that the Ottomans were Germany’s allies in two world wars when it was hopelessly isolated by the the western powers?

On the other hand, take Russia and Turkey. Russia fought a series of twelve wars with the Ottoman Empire between the 17th and 20th centuries — one of the longest series of military conflicts in European history — which ultimately ended disastrously for the latter and led to its decline and eventual disintegration.

Russia had often fought the Ottomans at different times, often in alliance with the other European powers. Importantly, these wars helped to showcase the ascendancy of Russia as a European power after the modernisation efforts of Peter the Great in the early 18th century. In the Turkish Muslim psyche, however, Russia has figured as a protagonist which had played an historical role in the weakening of the Ottoman Empire in Central Europe, the Balkans and Transcaucasia.

The Russian conquest of the Caucasus mainly occurred between 1800 and 1864. In that era the Russian Empire expanded to control the region between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, the territory that is present-day Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia (and parts of today’s Iran and Turkey) as well as the North Caucasus region of modern Russia. Multiple wars were fought against the local rulers of the regions as well as the Ottoman Empire until the last regions were brought under Russian control by 1864 with the expulsion to Turkey of several hundred thousand Circassians.

Then followed the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78) when Russia seized the the province of Kars and the port of Batumi on the Black Sea. In World War I, aligned with Germany, the Ottomans pushed against Russia as far east as Baku (capital of Azerbaijan) but then withdrew, lacking the strength to advance further, and subsequently in the post-war confusion, somehow contrived to regain Kars.

Suffice to say, in 1991 following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, when Transcaucasia became independent as the states of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, a lot of blood-soaked history involving Russia and Turkey provided the backdrop. Incidentally, Erdogan’s family originally hailed from Rize Province in the eastern part of Turkey’s Black Sea region (where he grew up as a child), which was a site of battles between the Ottoman and Russian armies during the Caucasus Campaign of World War I and was occupied by Russian forces in 1916-1918, to be finally returned to the Ottomans under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918. The Soviet Union returned Rize to Turkey in 1921.   

‘Past is never dead’

Amidst all this, an interesting feature of the flow of history has been that from the days of the Roman Empire, Transcaucasia was usually a borderland between Constantinople (Istanbul) and Persia. Areas would shift from one empire to the other, their rulers would have varying degrees of independence and were often vassals of one empire or the other, depending on the size and proximity of the suzerain’s army. By around 1750 the area was divided between the Turkish and Persian vassals. The western two thirds were inhabited by Georgians, an ancient Christian people, and the eastern third mostly by Azeris, Turkic Muslims. And Russia of course was pushing close to the Black Sea and the Caspian against the Ottoman and Persian empires.

Professor Walt in his essay cited a famous quote from the American novelist William Faulkner, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Indeed, for Russia, Turkey or Iran, the current developments in Transcaucasia form part of a vast collective event that shapes their perceptions of danger and definitions of heroism, sacrifice, and even their identity.

In fact, the current line-up in the developing situation around Turkey speaks for itself: Germany voices sympathy for Turkey and offers an enhanced partnership; France lambasts Turkey and seeks EU sanctions against Turkey; France alleges Ankara’s dispatch of Syrian fighters to Nagorno-Karabakh; Germany appreciates Turkey’s big hand in addressing the refugee crisis gripping Europe; France coordinates with Russia at the highest level of leadership to pressure Turkey over Nagorno-Karabakh; the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the US join Russia and France’s call for cessation of fighting in Transcaucasia; Iran maintains neutrality and suggests a joint effort with Turkey and Russia to resolve the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, Moscow has shed its initial ambivalence and is stepping into the arena on the side of Armenia, expressing “serious concern in connection with incoming information about the involvement in hostilities of gunmen from illegal armed units from the Middle East” — plainly put, censuring Turkey’s backing for Azerbaijan. And President Vladimir Putin underscores that he is voicing a common stance along with “the presidents of the countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group” (Russia, France and the United States). Simply put, Russia’s “competitive rivalry” with Turkey is surging.

Interestingly, Turkish President Recep Erdogan has openly drawn attention to the broader regional and geopolitical context in which the various unnamed powers are jockeying and covertly coordinating to encircle Turkey. Erdogan said on October 2, “If we connect the crises in the Caucasus, in Syria and in the Mediterranean, you will see that this is an attempt to surround Turkey.”

It doesn’t require much ingenuity to figure out the identity of the foreign powers he would have had in mind who are attempting to “surround” Turkey — France, the US and Greece (all NATO powers) and Russia, the scourge of the Ottoman Empire.

October 3, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

NATO boss Stoltenberg tells Georgia to ‘prepare for membership’ – influential Russian senator says it’s a ‘signal’ to Moscow

By Jonny Tickle | RT | September 30, 2020

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has urged Georgia to prepare to become a member of the US-led military bloc. On Tuesday, the premier of the former Soviet state Giorgi Gakharia was in Brussels to discuss closer cooperation.

Georgia’s effort to join NATO began in 2005, just six years after it left the Russian-dominated CSTO. The integration of the Caucasus nation is seen by NATO leaders as having substantial strategic benefits, including extra Black Sea ports close to Russia. Earlier this year, an agreement between Tblisi and the bloc included joint exercises in the Black Sea and the sharing of more traffic radar data.

“I urge [Georgia] to continue making full use of all the opportunities for coming closer to NATO and to prepare for membership,” Stoltenberg said, in a press conference. “This is important for Georgia, and for NATO.”

The secretary-general also noted that the bloc “supports Georgia’s territorial integrity,” calling on northern neighbor Russia to “end its recognition of the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.” Abkhazia and South Ossetia are two de-facto states, recognized by most of the world as part of Georgia. According to Tbilisi, the two regions are actually occupied by Moscow.

Speaking to RT, veteran Russian senator Aleksey Pushkov said that the potential induction of Georgia as a member means that NATO sees Russia as its main opponent. Pushkov, a member of the pro-Putin United Russia party, is the former chairman of the Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee and is widely considered to be close to the Kremlin.

“In 2008, Paris and Berlin were against Georgia’s accession. But the situation has since changed, and it might be that the advocates for Georgia inside NATO now have the upper hand,” he explained. “It is also a signal to Russia: the alliance sees it as the main and actually the sole adversary.”

In 2008, then-US President George W. Bush pushed for Georgia to join the Membership Action Plan, a mechanism that allows for a continuous review of aspiring members, providing feedback and advice. However, Bush was defeated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was concerned that admitting Georgia would increase tensions with Russia.

September 30, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | | 1 Comment

Turkish claims that the PKK is operating in Artsakh set dangerous precedent

By Paul Antonopoulos | September 28, 2020

Conflict sparked up again yesterday in Artsakh, or more commonly known as Nagorno-Karabakh, when Azerbaijan launched an offensive against Armenian forces. Although the Republic of Artsakh is not recognized by any state, including Armenia, and it is still internationally recognized as occupied Azerbaijani territory, it achieved a de facto independence in 1994.

As acting Commissar of Nationalities for the Soviet Union in the early 1920’s, future Soviet leader Joseph Stalin granted the Armenian-majority region of Artsakh to the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic. The Azeris, the dominant ethnic group of Azerbaijan, are cultural and linguistic kin with the Turks. It is said that the Turks and Azeris constitute “one nation in two states.” The defining difference is that Azeris are Shia Muslims unlike Turks who are mostly Sunni. The Soviets had hoped that by granting Artsakh to Azerbaijan instead of Armenia, they could court the newly founded Republic of Turkey to closely align with Moscow, or perhaps even become a Soviet Republic, by appeasing their ethnic Azeri kin.

In 1921, it was estimated that Artsakh was 94% Armenian. However, according to the 1989 census, Artsakh’s population was approximately 75% Armenian and 25% Azeri. Former Soviet Azerbaijani leader Heydar Aliyev, father of current President Ilham Aliyev, said in 2002: “I tried to change demographics there […] I tried to increase the number of Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh and the number of Armenians decreased.” The collapse of the Soviet Union unsurprisingly led to the Artsakh War, which only ended after a ceasefire in 1994 when Armenian forces achieved a decisive victory.

Despite Azerbaijan’s defense budget ($2.267 billion) being about five times larger than Armenia’s, they have failed to capture Artsakh on numerous attempts, particularly during the 2016 April War and another major attempt in July of this year. Azerbaijan’s resumption of hostilities yesterday could be passed off as just another skirmish that will subside in a few days. However, the current conditions are far different and much more dangerous than in previous situations.

Although it is well established that the Turkish economy is struggling, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is maintaining a policy of constant crises in the vain attempt to distract the public from the Turkish lira as it continues breaking new record lows to the US dollar and Euro, even as recently as this morning. As the military provocations and rhetoric of war against Greece and Cyprus in the East Mediterranean begins to subside in Ankara, it only took a few days for a new crisis to emerge.

Reports began emerging last week that Turkey was transferring terrorists from northern Syria to Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani leadership in Baku flatly denied the allegations last week and today. However, despite the denials from Baku, it must be remembered that Ankara openly announced its transfer of Syrian fighters to Libya earlier this year and the Azerbaijani’s have undoubtedly used international terrorists from Afghanistan, Chechnya and Turkey during the first Artsakh war in the 1990’s. Photos, videos and voice recordings have emerged that show Syrian terrorists on their way to or already in Azerbaijan. Vardan Toghanya, the Armenian Ambassador to Moscow, said in a statement today that 4,000 militants from Syria already arrived in Azerbaijan, while according to the Armenian intelligence agency, 80 fighters from Syria have already been killed or wounded.

Turkey’s transfer of militants in support of Azerbaijan, which was also done in the 1990’s, is not what makes the current conflict more dangerous compared to previous battles and skirmishes. Starting from last week, Turkey and Azerbaijan have increased their campaign in claiming that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), considered a terrorist organization by both Ankara and Baku, was operating in Artsakh. Neither Ankara and Baku provided any evidence for their claims. This sets a dangerous narrative as it could be used as a way for Turkey to “legitimize” a direct intervention against Armenia and in support of Azerbaijan.

Erdoğan justified his invasion and occupation of large areas of northern Syria and northern Iraq in 2018, 2019 and this year on the pretence that they were fighting against the PKK. Although Armenia denies PKK are operating in Artsakh, this will be ignored by Ankara and Baku.

However, unlike Syria and Iraq, Armenia is a member state of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), alongside Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. A direct Turkish attack on Armenia could activate the CSTO. This would be a dangerous scenario as in turn this could activate NATO in defense of Turkey. It is highly unlikely that the situation in Artsakh will dissolve into a CSTO-NATO faceoff. But the risk still remains, especially if Erdoğan decides to directly intervene under the guise of expelling the PKK from Artsakh.

Just as Erdoğan unleashed a migrant crisis in February and March of this year against Greece, sent Syrian terrorists to Libya in May, conducted a military operation in northern Iraq against the PKK in June, and created a new crisis with Greece by sending warships into its territorial waters in August and for most of September, it appears the new crisis to dominate headlines for the next few weeks will revolve around Artsakh.

Although it is unlikely that Turkey will directly militarily intervene, a dangerous precedent has already been established by pushing the narrative, without publicly available evidence, that the PKK are operating in Artsakh alongside Armenian forces. With the Turkish economy and lira collapsing, Erdoğan in the future may very well use the narrative that the PKK are in Artsakh to foment public furore and distract them from the declining economic situation.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

September 28, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US troops to stay longer in Lithuania: Defense minister

Press TV – September 22, 2020

A new battalion of US military forces, equipped with tanks and other armored vehicles, is to be deployed to Lithuania in November and will remain there until next June, the country’s defense minister says.

Lithuania’s Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis made the announcement on Tuesday, though he said the deployment was “not connected at all to the situation in Belarus.”

He said the new battalion would replace an American troop contingent that was stationed in the country near Belarus’ border earlier this month for a two-month tour.

NATO activity has picked up near the borders of Belarus, where there has been unrest after the re-election in August of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Lukashenko has said Western countries seek to destabilize Belarus and has put the country’s military on high alert and shut its borders with Poland and Lithuania.

The US battalion currently deployed in Lithuania arrived earlier and is staying longer than the government had indicated before the outbreak of protests in neighboring Belarus.

Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin warned in a recent televised interview that an American armor battalion had redeployed its tanks to a location in Lithuania close to the Belarusian border.

Lukashenko also accused the US of organizing the post-election protests in Belarus through social media platforms. He said Americans, acting through centers in Poland and the Czech Republic, were controlling the social media platforms that are playing a leading role in the unrest.

Earlier this month, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry issued a statement saying that the US would deploy 500 troops to the country to engage in war games near the border with Belarus.

September 22, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

On Russia, Joe Biden’s mouth is writing checks the US can’t afford to cash

By Scott Ritter | RT | September 18, 2020

Joe Biden’s tough rhetoric on Russia, fueled by politically motivated FBI testimony alleging continued Russian electoral interference, may play well to his base. But if US allies act on it, it could mean war.

Joe Biden talks a good show. “I believe Russia is an opponent, I really do,” he said at a CNN town hall Thursday night. Biden’s statement was in response to a question from the moderator, Anderson Cooper, as to whether Biden viewed Russia as “an enemy.”

In the world of politicized semantics as used by Joe Biden, the difference between an “opponent” (someone who competes against or fights another; a rival or adversary) and an “enemy” (a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something) knows no differentiation between mens rea (the intention or knowledge of wrongdoing), as opposed actus reus (the actual action or conduct). Both are elements of a crime and, according to Biden, Russia’s actions violate both principles.

“Putin’s overwhelming objective is to break up NATO,” Biden told the made-for-television audience, “to fundamentally alter the circumstance in Europe so he doesn’t have to face an entire NATO contingent.”

Mens Rea.

Biden also called Russia’s alleged election meddling, which FBI Director Christopher Wray recently testified before Congress was “ongoing,” as a “violation of our sovereignty.”

Actus Reus.

The problem here is that while Biden seeks to soften his hardline stance on Russia by using the lesser descriptor “opponent,” the actions he is accusing Russia and its leader, President Vladimir Putin, of committing are de facto elements of a crime, meaning that to anyone listening to Biden’s words, Russia is transformed into an “enemy.”

“Opponents” engage in genteel debates; “enemies” seek to undermine your security and destroy your democracy.

Biden can play fast and loose with words, but at the end of the day, words have meaning, and the picture painted by Biden in his town hall meeting is of a Russian threat to America, and a Russian threat to him personally. “There will be a price to pay,” Biden said of Russia’s actions. “And Putin knows – the reason he doesn’t want me as president, he knows me, and he knows I mean it.”

The personalization of actions which, if true, could be construed as constituting an attack on the United States, is itself disturbing, since it links the political fate of Biden to America’s willingness to stand idle in the face of such perfidy.

Biden is not alone in making such claims. FBI Director Wray appeared to be channeling the Democratic nominee when he told Congress that Russia’s interference in the 2020 presidential race relies heavily on disinformation and agitation designed to make some Americans so angry they support a preferred candidate (Trump) and others so angry and disaffected they don’t vote for another (Biden).

Biden and Wray are both playing to a domestic American audience, and both for political reasons. Biden’s motives are that of a seasoned politician seeking to exploit a predisposition amongst a certain element of the American electorate to accept at face value anything negative said about Russia and/or its president.

Christopher Wray’s motives are more complicated, rooted as they are in the need to restore the FBI’s reputation in the aftermath of the Mueller Report fiasco, the Christopher Steele disaster, and the FISA warrant scandal. By reasserting as fact allegations of Russian political interference in the 2020 presidential election, and claiming ongoing Russian “active measures” in the form of unspecified “disinformation”, Wray seeks to soften the blow of FBI incompetence and malfeasance by resurrecting the Russian threat in a manner designed to make Americans believe that the FBI’s past errors were at least made in good faith while confronting a real enemy… or opponent.

The danger here is not that the United States under a Biden administration would do anything precipitous when it came to dealing with Russia. As Biden himself stated, he knows Russia, and he knows President Putin, and as such he knows the reality of the limits to which Russia can be pushed. Russia is not some petulant child to be punished haphazardly, but a grown man capable of giving as good, or better, than it takes. Joe knows.

But others are listening to the rhetoric who might be fooled into believing that there is substance behind the bluster. Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Georgia – all of these lesser powers today play an oversized role in shaping the US-Russian dynamic, whether by anointing a “true president” in Belarus, dragging their feet on peace in the Donbas, or reigniting the dream of NATO membership by playing host to US forces in large scale military exercises designed to mimic a NATO-like reality.

All it would take in the early weeks and months of a future Biden administration would be for one of these lesser powers to overplay their hand, transitioning the rhetoric of “opposition” into the reality of “war” by pushing Russia too hard. Then Joe Biden would be left holding the bag, having talked the talk, and now being called upon to walk the walk.

But the reality is, Joe Biden’s mouth is writing checks the United States can ill afford to cash. “I don’t mean war,” he told the town hall when talking about how he would respond to alleged Russian perfidy. “But they’ll pay a price… There’ll be an economic price.”

Not if Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and Georgia can help it.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of ‘SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.’ He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

September 19, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 3 Comments

New initiative to expose Kosovo Liberation Army crimes to the world

By Paul Antonopoulos | September 15, 2020

Veterans from the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) terrorist organization feel confident that because they were once supported and backed by the US and Western Europe in their campaign to violently separate Kosovo from Serbia, they are immune from prosecution and believe that their crimes can remain hidden. However, Milovan Drecun, the president of the Working Group of the Assembly Committee for Kosovo and Metohija, will soon launch a drive aimed at international audiences to highlight the brutal crimes committed by the KLA during the Kosovo War of 1998-1999, and have those responsible prosecuted.

Drecun, a Member of the Serbian Parliament since 2012 for the Serbian Progressive Party, has been collecting facts and evidence with the working group to shed light on crimes against not only the Serbian minority in Kosovo, but also against other national communities like the Roma, Gorani (Slavic Muslims in southern Kosovo) and Bosnian Muslims. He also refutes allegations made by the Secretary of the Association of KLA War Veterans, Faton Klinaku, that the facts and evidence collected were from interviews conducted in Serbia under pressure and from threats of death.

“First, the representatives of that association are lying when they talk about the manner of questioning witnesses. Our authorities can mediate in establishing contact with our citizens with whom the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office wants to talk,” said Drecun.

Statements are taken by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, and that is a major inconsistency in the claims made by the KLA veterans association. The Specialized Prosecutor’s Office was formed on the basis of law adopted by the Pristina Parliament. Drecun highlights that his group do not hide that they “have an extremely important database and documents” and “have the names of potential witnesses for crimes committed by the criminal KLA.”

Authorities in Serbia meticulously collected all data on crimes committed during and after the 1998-1999 conflict. The findings were made available to the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office to try and establish the truth about criminal allegations and to punish perpetrators if found guilty.

“However, we now have a completely different situation here, where terrorists from the criminal KLA are trying to hide the truth and compromise the evidence available to Serbia. We have never hidden our cooperation with the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office,” said the Serbian MP.

The Republic of Albania, for example, knows a lot about KLA crimes, not only against Serbs, but also against Albanians. Drecun’s Working Group has made available the data that the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office was interested in, and if there are lawsuits, they will be verified and accepted as evidence in court.

“We will present all the documentation at our disposal, and I will present a lot of things to the entire international public through the Working Group, because we will launch an international campaign to show the extent of the criminal activities of the terrorist KLA,” Drecun announced.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić was due to meet Kosovo leader Hashim Thaçi in June for a historic meeting at the White House at the behest of US envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Richard Grenell. However, this meeting ended before it could even begin as Thaçi became indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity for actions he allegedly undertook during the Kosovo War.

Thaçi in 1993 became a prominent member of the “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA) and became responsible for the finances and armaments of the terrorist organization. The KLA financed its activities by turning Kosovo into a drug smuggling hub to distribute heroin and cocaine throughout Europe.

A 2008 report by German intelligence service BND accuses Thaçi of having deep involvement in organized crime, saying that “The key players (including Thaçi) are intimately involved in inter-linkages between politics, business, and organised crime structures in Kosovo,” and that Thaçi is leading a “criminal network operating throughout Kosovo.” The charges laid against him by the prosecutor’s office in the Hague include murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture. He has also been accused of organ harvesting and drug trafficking by other reports and institutions.

Thaçi has not been found guilty yet, but it is well established that the KLA engaged in such activities under the watchful eye of NATO who were satisfied to allow such a prevalence of criminality to occur in order to weaken Serbia, which especially in this period, was extremely pro-Russia. However, by ignoring such illicit activities, Kosovo has become a cemented crime hub of Europe that is now difficult to control as Western Europe continues to be flooded with narcotics and human trafficking.

Although the Working Group has ambitions to broadcast internationally the crimes of the KLA, it is likely that their finding will be ignored by the Western press. This is not only to cover their own embarrassment for supporting a drug trafficking terrorist organization, but also because Yugoslavia has already been dismantled and Kosovo is no longer a top priority for the West, even when considering the recent Belgrade-Pristina economic deal made in the US just days ago.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst .

September 15, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Unipolar Spin: Why Imperial Leftists Vilify Russia’s Social Democracy

By Joaquin Flores | Strategic Culture Foundation | September 14, 2020

A lie told a thousand times becomes the truth. In reading countless articles from the Atlantic Council press outlets (NYT, WaPo, VICE News, et al), we take for granted that modern Russia is a right-wing regime controlled by an authoritarian personality bent on total domination. As a result, the debate then gets framed on why or whether its right for leftists to attack it as such, since this is used to further justify collective punishment (sanctions) against a whole people.

What escapes us is why creating propaganda that will result in collective punishment is in any way the business of self-declared leftists in the first place. Historically, it hadn’t been, which raises big questions about who is really controlling the narrative and providing career paths and publishing opportunities for those who posture on the radical, even ‘anarchist’ left. We all know what happened to the self-imploded reputation of the Trotskyist Christopher Hitchens, that war-criminal scoundrel who offered some kind of left-cover for the crown’s imperial pretensions in Iraq. Millions died in part as a direct product of his work. Those who didn’t attend his funeral will tell you why.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that Russia is a social democracy, a fact erased from the collective understanding as a result of the insidious psychological operation being carried out on western audiences and Russians alike.

The End of Globalization: Unipolar Panic at the Rise of Multipolarity

The broader geopolitical problem for unipolar trans-Atlanticism is that much of the rest of the world has nearly caught up to the U.S. The unipolar moment is over, and multipolarity has arrived. This is a growing success and a great achievement for the people of Asia, Latin America, the Middle-East, and Sub-Saharan Africa. All wars and coups the U.S. has engaged in since the end of WWII were aimed at suppressing this multipolar eventuality. And yet multipolarity, as explained through the Atlantic Council and its imperial leftist scribes, is deceitfully presented as a neo-fascist threat to the people of the world, and one promoted uniquely by Russia. This would come as a surprise to the BRICS countries, and all those in their peripheries. It would defy the logic of Mercosur and the Sucre that these were established by sovereign state in Latin America at great cost, through the decades of surviving Washington Consensus dictatorships and the rule of U.S. Steel and the United Fruit Company, only to hand it to Moscow for now particular reason.

And yet this stands at the heart of vilifying Russia’s social democracy.

That multipolarity is a ‘Russian project’ is truly the most incoherent and chauvinistic geopolitical conspiracy theory in modern times, reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Narcissist Gaslighting

The rampant xenophobia that is allowed in the toxic Atlanticist press will no doubt be the subject of debate when those individuals soon lose their careers and livelihoods, because being a talentless hack makes one highly expendable. And this border-line racism and national chauvinism against a whole people and their representative government is increasingly being aired in broad daylight.

No, the waters won’t part, up will not become down, and the elites promoting a soft-power war on Russia won’t be overthrown. But their replaceable media-minions, who become too much of a liability with all the bad PR, will certainly be disappeared and erased.

We can set aside that Russophobic hate scribbling performed concertedly appears like an Operation Mockingbird psy-op, and yes, we can even ignore that over forty years ago the Church Commission revealed that the legacy newspapers have the international sections and editorials of their publications reviewed, approved, and even directly written by CIA agents and assets.

We can leave even alone that these are seemingly managed through a network of seemingly independent news and opinion outlets which nevertheless parrot each other’s talking points on the righteousness of NATO expansionism, the evils of Russia and Putin, and are organized under an Atlantic Council mandate.

What a perfect match, one no doubt made in heaven – to posture as some holier than thou concerned citizen of abuses around the world while in fact doing little more than feeding a crypto-nationalist media ecosystem bent on weapons sales and big ticket contracts for the U.S. military industrial complex. With enough self-delusion or narcissistic supply, they can even imagine that this is not what’s going on. One would imagine that it’s Russia, not the U.S. with 800 bases around the world. This is truly sick gaslighting, and all the well-paid flying monkeys are deployed with the named aim of doing just that.

Follow the Money – Promote Russophobia, Win Prizes

The Atlantic Council related publications which continue these Operation Mockingbird-like methods, have employed a number of ethically compromised imperial left-wing radicals to do the dirty work of gaslighting the American public on the political and socio-economic nature of countries being targeted by the U.S.

We can see from the evidence that the motley crew of imperial leftist Russophobes are those who aspire to be blue-check mark people on twitter and have regular opportunities at Atlantic Council approved publications. They want to be fast-tracked to full tenure in the increasingly partisan humanities and social sciences departments of various colleges and universities, and do the book writing and speaking tour gig. This is a relatively easy formula: virtue signal on domestic wedge issues like gender and race while ignoring class issues that would otherwise cause discomfort for their financiers, simultaneously doubling down on Atlantic Council approved Russophobia using those wedge issues – meanwhile ignoring or obfuscating the larger socioeconomic and geopolitical questions that provide more context and clarity.

After this storm has passed, it will be the subject of many books written by numerous historians, how and why it came to be that in the climate of virtue signaling political correctness, the only approved form of national chauvinism and borderline-racist conspiracy theories was Russophobic in nature. Those who engaged in it, while being creatures of their time and place, will be condemned and marginalized for the xenophobes that they were.

Their method, which is as dangerous to the left as it is misinformative to the public at large, is to use radical left criticisms of countries the U.S. is targeting for regime change and sanctions, even though there are effectively no countries (including most obviously the plutocratic U.S.) that meet their anarchoid standard. But by arbitrarily using an anarchist yard stick to measure the political correctness of some other country, they can issue these leftoid fatwas and make it so appear that Russia is uniquely problematic.

And the personal motivations of egomania aside, we only need to follow the money. And for our purposes today, just a fraction of it. Between George Soros’ Open Societies Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy’s lucrative grants, The MacArthur Foundation, there are hundreds of millions of dollars being thrown at this soft-power endeavor.

Outside of philanthropy are the huge sums paid to ‘journalists’ and ‘authors’ directly by the billionaire blogs themselves, no doubt doing their part for Operation Mockingbird. You can bet your bottom dollar that the life of a collective-punishment-advocating ‘leftist’ in the employ of empire is neither a difficult nor impoverished one. They may appear homely, bookish, even shabby in their social media presentation, but that is part of the illusion, the veneer. Within the demented aesthetic-sphere of Anglophone left-radicalism, projecting depressiveness is akin to projecting virtue – an odd carryover from Puritanism. But in truth, they are neither hungry nor intellectual. They are well paid actors, and those who believe them have been duped.

Russia is the target of an ongoing campaign to vilify its leadership, with no shortage of tropes and dog whistling that this is an inherent feature of Russian culture itself. Like black-face, comedic ethnic impersonations are all but banned in the public sphere, unless it is of a Russian. The trope is so pervasive that even those trying to speak in the name of decreasing tensions, often frame their commentary in the name of peace by accepting that premise; that Russianness is inherently corrupt, misogynistic, authoritarian, and aggressive.

It is this very premise which must be challenged. The funny thing is, this task isn’t too difficult.

The Elastic Overton Window

By which rubric, by which method, do we compare the reality of a targeted country like Russia to what is possible or even desirable?

Anarchist theory is ‘fantastic’ because anything one compares it to will necessarily fall short. It is reminiscent of Trotskyist criticisms of nominally socialist states, or Salafist criticisms of countries already within the Ummah. These societies, by definition, have to fall short because the self-declared ‘revolutionary’ nature of these belief systems must characterize anything short of their unattainable ideal as being a critical failure.

When it comes to assessing the reality of Russia’s cultural and sociopolitical system, the Overton Window of social acceptability is magically moved to the radical end of the anarchist left when Russia is the subject, for the forced result that we find Russia to be double-plus ungood, despite that those penning these pieces come from a country (the U.S.) far to the right on the socioeconomic matters which effect real working people.

The U.S. is Far to the right of Russia? Yes, we’ll explain

The fact that ski mask wearing anarchists are not free to run naked whilst flinging frozen chickens through kindergartens or Easter church services, is presented as evidence that Russia is an authoritarian state. The fact that Russia is a country, with a culture and history it finds worthy of being taught in schools, and with borders, and a standing army (!!) are taken as proof positive that Russia fulfills most of Umberto Eco’s ’14 Signs of Fascism’. And yet until last Tuesday, these were just understood of part of the fabric that makes a UN member-state … a UN member-state.

Every other country on earth has a school curriculum, has laws on public decency, and teaches the country’s narrative in its school system. When every other country is looked at, we are encouraged to see ‘normal’, and we apply a non-anarchist yard stick to measure it up. When it’s Russia, everything is problematized using every epithet from the critical school glossary. It is interesting, but upon close examination not strange, that these writers are able to get away with it. They do after all have the full support of the world’s last unipolar empire behind them.

The job of these writers is to misinform the left, and to turn the politics of class struggle into the politics of xenophobic national rivalry – a quintessential aspect of classical fascism. That they use apparently politically correct talking points couched within the framework of human rights, and terms borrowed from the vocabulary of the new-left is beside the point.

We must look instead at the perennial meta-political essence of that endeavor and not the particular forms it takes based upon the political or linguistic fashions of the day. The fact that we are better informed to understand fascism through the lens of a meta-political essence, points to a very big theoretical problem in the work of both Umberto Eco and Roger Griffin, as their entire composite heuristic explanatory paradigm is challenged in so doing.

It probably escapes people after that barrage of disinformation and national chauvinism parading as left-wing critique, that Russia is a social-democratic society.

It is Russia, not the United States that has universal healthcare and university education, vast public housing and useful programs for the disadvantaged, a multi-party parliamentary democracy, early retirement (60 m, 55 f), nearly two years leave with pay for new mothers. Russia, like any other social democracy also has strong workplace protections against discrimination, a vigorous labor movement (35% union density in a formal workforce of 70 million), and codified rights for ethnic, linguistic and religious groups, and a no-holds barred private/citizen media complex that regularly attacks the country’s leaders and exposes the inevitable corruption that comes with large-scale societies and market systems.

Putin Serves the Russian Oligarchy Poorly – A Question of Democracy

While less-than-honest critics would say that Russia’s social democracy is merely a ‘carry-over’ from Russia’s former Soviet system, it begs the question: why nearly thirty years later, twenty-some of which being under Putin’s ‘right-wing oligarchy’, are these still soundly in place?

We are pressed with a difficult dilemma in the Russophobic narrative: Either Putin is the tyrannical tool of a rapacious oligarchy that has nevertheless failed to destroy Russia’s social democracy in 20 years, or Putin uses his vast powers to maintain its progressive social system against the right-wing oligarchy. In either event, the Swiss cheese that is the imperial left’s Russophobic narrative is evidently pungent.

Putin has been elected – and continues to win elections – for the past two decades. Isn’t this indicative of some large problem in the narrative? This is a question we have to turn on its head: why, in the U.S., have we taken for granted that our elected leaders should expectedly let us down and fail in their mandate with such prejudice that we want to throw them out every four or eight years? Why, in the west, has democracy been defined as dissatisfaction built upon betrayal?

How would a democratic society respond to a government that has, on the balance, solved and continued to solve the problems arising from the collapse of its former authoritarian self? Would they respond by throwing that government out, or by re-electing it?

This is not to view Russia through rose-tinted glasses, or to ignore the problems that it has: largely similar problems that face the world in the context of global capitalism. Russia has problems in wealth inequality, as well as too high an incarceration rate – though still one that pales in comparison to the U.S. by nearly half. But our view is offered knowing that such criticisms are so vast in their abundance, and so mandatory in every western publication, that not fixating on these here in no way obstructs audiences from accessing them elsewhere. What we bring is some balance and perspective.

What characterizes Russia’s social democracy are things which the left-most wing of the Democrat Party in the U.S., led by figures like Bernie Sanders, would consider absolute victories to achieve. And yet nevertheless we are confronted with a media barrage that blindsides us with misinformation to the extent that this basic truth is lost upon us. Fortunately, that tide is turning and will turn all the faster as we understand the reality of modern Russia through a sober and honest lens.

September 14, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment