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Biden has pledged that ‘America is back.’ But as peace shatters in the Balkans, does that mean yet more US misadventures?

KFOR forces patrol near the border crossing between Kosovo and Serbia in Jarinje, Kosovo, October 2, 2021. © REUTERS / Laura Hasani; Inset © REUTERS / Evelyn Hockstein
By Julian Fisher | RT | October 24, 2021

With warnings that fresh tensions between Serbia and Kosovo could unravel the decades-old peace deal that put an end to bloody fighting in the Balkans after the breakup of Yugoslavia, the US is increasingly split on what to do.

Earlier this month, the SOHO forum in New York City hosted a debate between Scott Horton, long-time libertarian and anti-war radio host, and Bill Kristol, the neoconservative thinker and one of the ideological architects of America’s post-9/11 world order. The subject of the debate was US interventionism, its merits and historical record.

Predictably, Kristol offered vague niceties that attempt to recast America’s legacy as that of the “benevolent global hegemony”, a term which he himself coined in 1996 when describing the country’s role in the world. Reflecting on the wars in Iraq, Kristol simultaneously said that America “didn’t push democracy enough” and also “may have been too ambitious.” In short, he acknowledged mistakes were made, which is an admission that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago, and yet still falls short of accountability.

However, whereas American actions in the Middle East leave a lot to be desired for Kristol, he insists that the US intervention in the Yugoslav Wars during the 1990s was a success. As he put it, the Balkans was “one case of a war that was worth it and that I think had pretty good consequences.” As if on cue, the Balkan pot is beginning to boil once again.

An unresolved conflict

Kosovo has been a potential tinderbox in Southern Europe ever since the end of the war of 1998/1999. A recent row with Serbia, from which it unilaterally declared independence, has led to a new escalation in tensions.

Beginning in September 2021, Serbs living in Kosovo launched protests against authorities hassling travelers who enter the territory with Serbian-issued license plates, prompting a mobilization of armed Kosovo police forces, roadblocks, and traffic jams near the border. Two vehicle registration offices were vandalized.

The EU mediated a temporary fix in September that involves covering up national insignia on license plates with stickers, until a special working group in Brussels determines a more permanent solution sometime within the next six months. Whether this will be sufficient in bringing about immediate calm remains to be seen, however. Since then, further clashes have erupted between police and protesters near Mitrovica.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the use of violence by Kosovo police against ethnic Serbs. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in mid-October, calling for talks between Pristina and Belgrade and a diplomatic solution to be respected by all sides.

As the situation heated up, NATO quickly ramped up patrols throughout Kosovo, including the North. “KFOR [Kosovo Force] will maintain a temporary robust and agile presence in the area,” the US-led military bloc said in an official statement earlier this month, intended to support the implementation of the EU-brokered solution. Last week, Kosovo’s minister of defense, Armend Mehaj, flew to Washington to meet with Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl at the Pentagon. The subject of the discussions was “bilateral security cooperation priorities”.

These moves are only the latest instance of US-led posturing in Kosovo. It was with American support that Kosovo launched its campaign for international recognition in 2008. Many major countries, representing most of the world’s population — including Russia, China, and India — have not recognized it as a sovereign state. Kosovo’s persistent claim to independence is what makes an issue as seemingly benign as license plates a question of war and peace.

In the background is still the 1999 Kosovo War, which was the site of NATO’s infamous bombing campaign against Serbia that led to the deaths of at least 489 civilians, according to Human Rights Watch. In April of 1999, NATO deliberately targeted Serbia’s Radio Television station, killing 16 civilians, according to Amnesty International. At one point, the US “mistakenly” bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, killing three and wounding some 20 more, in what turned out to be the only target picked by the CIA over the course of the war.

To this day, the US maintains a military base, Camp Bondsteel, near Urosevac, Kosovo, as part of the international Kosovo Force (KFOR).

Two states in one 

To the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has also reappeared in international news coverage. Against the backdrop of the EU’s Western Balkan Summit in early October, the Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said last week that the parliament of the Serb Republic, one of two entities that together make up BiH, would soon vote to undo some of BiH’s state institutions. He included the military, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) and the tax administration. These and others were established after the signing of the 1995 Dayton Peace accords and are not enshrined in the constitution.

Dodik wants an independent Serb Republic without compromising the territorial integrity of BiH, and he claims he has the support of seven EU member states, though he has not said which ones.

The genesis of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s recent headache is an amendment to the Criminal Code that makes various forms of inflammatory speech a punishable offense. The law was enacted in July of this year by the Office of the High Representative, an international “viceroy” with the power to impose binding decisions and remove public officials.

Russia has maintained that this appointed position is outdated, with a statement from the Foreign Ministry saying it was high time to “scale down the institute of foreign oversight over Bosnia-Herzegovina, which only creates problems and undermines peace and stability in that country.” Moscow also remains critical of attempts to integrate the country into NATO, insisting there is no consensus among the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina when it comes to joining the US-led bloc.

Playing to a different tune, already last month Washington tried to reprimand Dodik for his “secessionist rhetoric”. In a meeting just a few weeks ago, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar warned of “nothing but isolation and economic despair” for the people of the Serb Republic. According to a transcript that Dodik shared with the press, he told Escobar that he doesn’t “give a damn about sanctions,” adding, “I’ve known that before. If you want to talk to me, don’t threaten me.”

In the US, various Balkan-American organizations have released a joint statement calling on Congress and the Biden administration “to immediately initiate steps to rebuff the attempts by the government of Serbia to unravel the region’s peace and security”. Citing both aforementioned developments in Kosovo and the Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the statement demands a reinvigoration of “NATO enlargement as a priority for the region.” It suggests that what’s at stake in the Balkans is America’s legacy: “America invested too much of its own resources into this region to allow revanchist actors to decimate nearly a quarter century of progress.”

However, what does America investing its resources actually look like? In early 1992, before the war that scarred Bosnia and Herzegovina, all parties involved had already come to an agreement, the Carrington–Cutileiro plan, to divide Bosnia and Herzegovina into cantons along Serb, Croat, and Bosniak lines.

At the last minute, however, the then-US ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmermann, met with the leader of the Bosniak majority, Alija Izetbegovic, in Sarajevo, reportedly promising him full recognition of a single Bosnia and Herzegovina. Izetbegovic promptly withdrew his signature from the partition agreement, and shortly thereafter the US and its European allies recognized Izetbegovic’s state. War ensued a month later, in April 1992. The US eventually worked its way back to new partition negotiations that echoed the talks held prior.

As the New York Times reported in 1993, “tens of thousands of deaths later, the United States is urging the leaders of the three Bosnian factions to accept a partition agreement similar to the one Washington opposed in 1992.”

Zimmermann is quoted as saying at the time that “Our hope was the Serbs would hold off if it was clear Bosnia had the recognition of Western countries. It turned out we were wrong.”

Returning to the Horton-Kristol debate from earlier, Horton cited America’s underhanded opposition to the Carrington-Cutileiro plan, and the devastating consequences, as a case in point of US interventions impeding, rather than promoting, peace and stability.

President Joe Biden declared at the start of his administration that “America is back.” Taking a look at the history of US interventions, this could spell trouble for the Balkans.

Julian Fisher is a policy analyst at the Russian Public Affairs Committee (Ru-PAC). He writes about Russia-U.S. relations, American foreign policy, and national security

October 24, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

NATO’s new secret plan for nuclear war & space battles with Russia risks spiraling into a new arms race

By Paul Robinson | RT | October 24, 2021

Tensions between Russia and NATO are at an all-time high. But instead of seeking a way off the ladder of escalation, the US-led bloc’s new plan for hybrid war risks accelerating an already dangerous lethal arms race with Moscow.

There’s a concept in international relations, almost one of the first that students learn, called the ‘security dilemma’. It’s hardly rocket science, but it’s something governments and armed forces planners seem to consistently forget when it comes to making policy.

The idea is basically this: Country A feels threatened by country B; it therefore takes some measures – such as increasing its defence spending – to make itself more secure; but when country B sees what country A is doing, it in turn feels threatened, and so takes reciprocal measures of its own. The result is that country A ends up less safe than it was to start with.

The dilemma is that if you do nothing to strengthen your defences, you’ll be insecure, but if you do something you’ll end up worse off because of the counter-measures the other side will take. What do you do? If countries A and B both take action to defend themselves, they will find themselves in an ever-escalating process – what theorists like to call the ‘spiral model’, but which in public parlance is often called an arms race.

The obvious way out is to break the spiral. Avoid escalating and resort to other measures, such as negotiation and arms control. All it may take is for one side to unilaterally step back, and the vicious circle will turn into a virtuous one.

It’s pretty basic stuff, but again and again, state leaders choose to ignore it and prefer instead to march down the path of the spiral. So it is today in the case of Russian-NATO relations, which are as classic an example of the security dilemma as you could possibly hope to find. Deep down, there’s no fundamental reason for conflict, but mutual suspicion leads to a continuing ramping up of reciprocal measures that deepen the suspicion, leading to more measures, more suspicion, and so on, seemingly ad infinitum.

For instance, earlier this year, the Russian military undertook a series of exercises close to its Western borders. From a Russian perspective, these were purely defensive. From a Western perspective, they appeared potentially threatening, justifying in turn Western exercises that NATO claims are entirely for defence, but which Russia considers a threat, prompting further Russian measures.

The latest round in this dangerous process is the announcement this week that NATO has developed a new ‘masterplan’ to defend against a possible Russian attack. The plan itself is secret, so we don’t know its contents, but it’s said to focus on non-conventional war, including nuclear strikes, cyberwarfare, and even war in space. Geographically, it covers the whole spread of NATO’s border with Russia, from the Baltic to the Black Seas inclusive.

In part, this is just what military institutions do: They plan for possible future conflicts. The Russian military almost certainly also has similar contingency planning in place for a potential war with NATO. It would be very odd if it didn’t. In this sense, NATO’s new masterplan shouldn’t in theory be seen as a cause for alarm. Moreover, NATO insists that its purpose is not aggressive. Rather, the plan’s aim is deterrence, thus its formal title: ‘Concept for Deterrence and Defence in the Euro-Atlantic Area’.

However, as students of the spiral model know, reality is much less important than perception. Deterrence is a matter of signals. One sends a message to potential enemies that if they attack, they will suffer devastating consequences. The problem is that although this message may be clear to the one doing the signalling, it may not be so clear to the one to whom it is sent. You think you are deterring, but they think you are threatening. They therefore respond in kind. In this way, deterrence ends up being counter-productive.

This doesn’t always happen, but in this instance, it seems to be the case. Some aspects of NATO’s announcement seem unnecessarily escalatory, in particular the references to nuclear war. We’ve come a long way from the musings of nuclear strategists like Herman Kahn and Bernard Brodie, who tried to calculate how it was possible to fight and win a nuclear war. One shouldn’t be surprised that when other people hear such talk being revived, they’re not deterred but alarmed.

Unsurprisingly, Russia’s reaction to NATO’s new military concept has been decidedly negative. “There is no need for dialogue under these conditions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, continuing: “this alliance was not created for peace, it was conceived, designed and created for confrontation.”

From the Russian point of view, NATO’s actions justify Russia’s recent decision to sever ties with the Atlantic alliance. Rather than bringing Russia to heel, NATO may merely be driving it into an ever more hostile position.

In this way, the West’s perception of Russia as a threat becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The same, of course, could be said the other way around. For if the West perceives Russia as threatening, it is because of things that Russia has done – as it sees it, for its own defence. For instance, NATO argues that what has made its new plan necessary is Russia’s strengthening of its armed forces and its recent advances in military technology.

The more Russia defends itself, the more it incites NATO. And the more NATO defends itself, the more it incites Russia. A security dilemma par excellence. The risk both parties run is that the situation will continue to spiral further and further into ever more dangerous territory. Already this spring, Europe passed through a period of high tension in which it looked entirely possible (although unlikely) that war might erupt between Ukraine and Russia. Anything that contributes to a further worsening of the situation is therefore thoroughly undesirable. NATO’s new military plan, it seems fair to say, runs the risk of doing just that.

Paul Robinson, a professor at the University of Ottawa. He writes about Russian and Soviet history, military history and military ethics, and is the author of the Irrussianality blog.

October 24, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

NATO, Not Russia, Perpetuates Cold War Logic… It is a Relic Best Ignored

Strategic Culture Foundation | October 22, 2021

It was the end of an era this week when Russia announced that it was severing diplomatic links with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. For the past 30 years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation has engaged with the US-led military bloc in a bid to establish partnership and secure peace.

The incipient detente culminated in the NATO-Russia Founding Act in 1997 which demarcated certain boundaries for peaceful coexistence. Those boundaries were subsequently flouted as NATO doubled its members over the ensuing years to stand at the current membership of 30 countries, including states that share a border with Russia.

There was also established in 2002 a NATO-Russia Council which in principle provided a forum for dialogue between delegations hosted in the Belgian capital Brussels where NATO has its headquarters.

But the truth is initial promises of partnership have waned. For several years now, at least since the 2014 Ukraine crisis, NATO’s relations with Russia have been characterized more and more with an imperious attitude of lecturing Moscow over a litany of alleged transgressions. These allegations are more accurately described as slanders because they are never substantiated beyond bald accusation.

Russia is routinely accused of posing a threat to Europe and plotting to sabotage Western democracies. This week the NATO defense ministers held a summit in which it was breathlessly claimed that Russia is becoming an even greater threat to the transatlantic alliance. On the back of that hysterical claim, NATO has now moved to implement  a “master plan” to “defend” Europe from a “potential Russian attack on multiple fronts”.

Reality check. Moscow has repeatedly stated that it has no intent of aggression towards the United States, NATO, Europe or anyone else for that matter. Despite this categorical assurance, the Western bloc has persisted in talking up tensions with Russia.

It is the United States that has abrogated several arms-control treaties and introduced new missile systems into Europe. It is NATO that is encroaching on Russia’s territory. Reality is turned on its head by Western accusations.

Indeed there have been conflicts over Georgia in 2008 and ongoing in Ukraine. But in each case, there are substantial grounds for laying the blame of these conflicts on NATO. How did the coup d’état in Kiev happen in 2014, who supported it? And why did the people of Crimea vote in a constitutional referendum to secede from Ukraine to join the Russian Federation with which they have centuries of shared history and culture?

In any case, if there were proper partnership and dialogue between NATO and Russia then such concerns and disputes could have been appropriately aired and discussed in the assigned forum. But the fact is there was never any genuine attempt at dialogue by NATO. Russia has become an object of harangue and hostility. The supposed partnership envisaged some three decades ago became a travesty. Instead of dialogue and debate there was simply disdain. Instead of equality there was vilification, opprobrium, and sensationalized smears without the slightest due process afforded to Russia (the Skripals, Navalny, Novichok, electoral interference, cyberattacks, shooting down a Malaysian airliner, and so on and so on, like an old skipping vinyl record incapable of moving on.)

The supposed diplomatic channels were nothing but echo chambers for NATO propaganda talking points, rather than being used as a means to resolve misapprehensions through mutual dialogue and presentation of evidence.

As the Russian foreign ministry noted this week in explaining the severance of diplomatic ties, it is NATO that systematically destroyed relations and “chose the Cold War logic”.

Alexander Grushko, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, commented that normal relations were not possible amid unfriendly steps taken by NATO “sliding into Cold War schemes”.

The last straw was the expulsion earlier this month by NATO of Russian diplomats from the NATO forum in Brussels. The Russian staff were accused of being “undeclared spies” allegedly working for military intelligence. No evidence was provided, as usual, by the accusers. It was the familiar high-handed approach of fait accompli and Russia “guilty until proven innocent”.

Everyone recognizes that relations between the Western states and Russia are at their lowest since the end of the former Cold War. Thus it may be put to Moscow that it is being reckless to close down channels of communication at this precarious time.

Russia has not ruled out pursuing a more productive relationship in the future. It has said, however, that it is up to NATO to make the first move towards improving relations. Until then, henceforth, any communications can be submitted through Russia’s ambassador to Belgium.

It is our view that Russia has made the correct call to drop diplomatic channels with NATO. Russia will pursue bilateral relations with individual nations as it does already, for example, with the United States on the vital issues of arms control and cybersecurity. NATO has proven to be incapable of progressive negotiations owing to an organizational “groupthink” that is encumbered with Russophobia and Cold War ideology.

By engaging directly with individual nations, it may be more productive for mutual understanding to be advanced because the noise of “groupthink” and of competing group negativity is removed.

Unfortunately, it has to be noted that the original purpose of NATO when it was formed in 1949 was rooted in Cold War hostility towards the Soviet Union. Such animosity has not abated even though the Soviet Union no longer exists.

Fundamentally, NATO is an organization in search of enemies in order to justify the militarism that is essential for the functioning of Western capitalism. There is a pivotal contradiction between NATO and today’s emerging world of multipolar cooperation and peaceful development. Its disgraceful, diabolical destruction of Afghanistan alone debars that organization from having any progressive role in today’s world.

Russia is right to disabuse the illusion of “partnership” with NATO. It is a relic of Cold War hostility that belongs in a war museum not in a modern forum for diplomacy.

October 23, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , , , | 2 Comments

Russia to suspend direct diplomatic ties with NATO from November

RT | October 18, 2021

Moscow has announced that it will completely suspend the operations of its mission to NATO, two weeks after the US-led bloc expelled eight Russian diplomats for alleged ‘undisclosed espionage’ at its Brussels headquarters.

Speaking on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also revealed that the NATO information bureau in Moscow will be forced to shut down as part of retaliatory measures.

Earlier this month, NATO officials decided to slash the size of the permanent Russian delegation to the bloc, revoking the credenitals of eight envoys, in response to what it called “suspected malign Russian activities.”

Following NATO’s decision, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that Moscow would work on a response.

Now, if the US-led bloc wants to talk to Russia, it must deal with the embassy in Belgium, Lavrov said.

“As a result of purposeful steps by NATO, we do not have the right conditions for elementary diplomatic activities,” he told TASS news agency.

“In response to NATO’s actions, we are suspending the work of our permanent mission, including the work of our chief military representative.”

“The NATO International Secretariat has already been notified.”

“If NATO members have any urgent matters, they can contact our ambassador in Belgium, who ensures bilateral relations between Russia and the Kingdom of Belgium,” the minister said.

October 18, 2021 Posted by | Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

Nuclear Weapons and Europe

By Brian Cloughley | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 12, 2021

On October 5 the U.S. State Department announced that the U.S. military’s arsenal of nuclear weapons numbered 3,750 as of September 30, 2020. It was stated with satisfaction that “This number represents an approximate 88 percent reduction in the stockpile from its maximum (31,255) at the end of fiscal year 1967”, although it wasn’t mentioned that the reduction since 2018 was only 35.

On the same day, the U.S. Defense Department publication Stars and Stripes reported that “an Air Force fighter jet slated to debut later this year in Europe passed a milestone when it dropped mock nuclear bombs during training flights designed to ensure its ability to fulfil NATO’s nuclear deterrence mission . . . The successful test of the F-35A Lightning II came as the 48th Fighter Wing, based at Britain’s RAF Lakenheath, reactivated the 495th Fighter Squadron last week for a new mission in Europe. [Emphasis added.] Ahead of the fighter model’s arrival at Lakenheath, two F-35As that took off from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, completed a full weapon system demonstration, regarded as a graduation flight test for achieving nuclear certification.”

In February 2021 U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva that “President Biden has made it clear: the U.S. has a national security imperative and a moral responsibility to reduce and eventually eliminate the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction” and President Biden pledged to “take steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy,” but it has not been made clear how elimination of the threat from nuclear weapons or reduction of their role in U.S. military strategy can be achieved by training more combat aircraft pilots in the use of nuclear weapons and then deploying them to Europe with their strike aircraft.

The United Kingdom has an equally interesting perspective in what it describes as its “leading approach to nuclear disarmament” and is increasing its arsenal of nuclear weapons. As the Royal United Services Institute noted in March, the UK’s 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy states that the UK is “raising a self-imposed limit on its overall nuclear warhead stockpile” of the current 225 warheads.

The Review, headed “Global Britain in a Competitive Age”, explains that in 2021 it had been announced as national policy that there would be a reduction in “our overall nuclear warhead stockpile ceiling from not more than 225 to not more than 180 by the mid-2020s. However, in recognition of the evolving security environment . . . this is no longer possible, and the UK will move to an overall nuclear weapon stockpile of no more than 260 warheads.” Then it assured the international community that in spite of increasing the number of its nuclear weapons delivery systems the United Kingdom is “strongly committed to full implementation of the NPT in all its aspects, including nuclear disarmament.”

It is intriguing that the present British government would have us believe that more nuclear weapons and deployment of 27 U.S. nuclear-capable F-35 aircraft to the UK’s Royal Air Force base at Lakenheath are in some fashion compatible with nuclear disarmament, but what is consistent is their linkage with the stockpiles of U.S. nuclear bombs already in Europe.

It is not known if there are or will be any U.S. nuclear weapons kept at Lakenheath, and no doubt the UK government would be comfortable with such storage which would add comparatively few bombs to the hundred or so already stored in vaults in air bases at Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Büchel in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi in Italy, Volkel in the Netherlands, and Incirlik in Turkey. It is regrettable that while the U.S. and Britain insist that they are trying to reduce the threat of nuclear war they are actually increasing and expanding numbers, locations and strike capabilities of nuclear weapons’ systems.

The U.S.-Nato military alliance policy is that “nuclear weapons are a core component of NATO’s overall capabilities for deterrence and defence,” resting almost entirely on U.S. nuclear delivery capabilities which are to be expanded at vast expense, with the new generation of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Systems, now referred to as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, likely to cost 95 billion dollars — if there are no cost overruns.

As stated by the Congressional Budget Office, it is “required by law to project the 10-year costs of nuclear forces every two years” and its latest paper, “Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2021 to 2030” makes sobering reading because it is projected that U.S. taxpayers, in this era of fiscal crises, will be required to pay sixty billion dollars a year for nuclear forces over the next ten years. The Office estimates that “about $188 billion of the $551 billion total over the 2021–2030 period would go toward modernizing nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Of that amount, $175 billion would go toward modernizing the strategic nuclear triad, and $13 billion would be for modernizing tactical nuclear weapons and delivery systems.” And this does not include funding of such massive projects as the F-35 strike aircraft which will cost some $1.6 trillion.

The political justification for massive military spending on conventional and nuclear weapons by the governments in London and Washington is their contention that Russia and China pose a threat and that, in the words of the 2021 U.S. Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, Russia, for example, is “determined to enhance its global influence and play a disruptive role on the world stage.” (Presumably Washington means the sort of disruption that Associated Press reported on October 7 when “Europe’s soaring gas prices dropped . . . after Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested his country could sell more gas to European spot buyers via its domestic market in addition to through existing long-term contracts.”)

The surge in deployment of nuclear systems and the overall tenor of nuclear weapons developments in Europe do not meet with approval in the European community. For example, a survey published in January revealed that 74% of Italians, 58% of Dutch and 57% of Belgians and 83% of Germans want U.S. nuclear weapons removed from their countries, and another poll (albeit by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) found that 77% of Britons favour a total ban on nuclear weapons.

Europe is in a state of flux, and not only because of the economic and social effects of the pandemic. For example, the Warsaw government’s recent refusal to abide by European Union laws could result in Poland leaving the EU (which would be greeted with approval by most EU citizens) but this would have no effect on the U.S.-Nato military buildup — the “Enhanced Forward Presence” along Russia’s borders, backed to the hilt by nuclear weapons.

U.S. deployment of a further squadron of nuclear strike aircraft to the UK, for a “new mission in Europe”, combined with its existing stocks of nuclear weapons in Europe and Britain’s undebated decision to increase its nuclear weapons’ arsenal are signals to continental European nations that planning for nuclear war against Russia is accelerating. While these countries prefer to engage with Washington and London in a balanced fashion and wish to maintain cordial relations, it would be advisable to question the motives behind the growing emphasis on nuclear war and insist on reduction in confrontational deployments.

October 12, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

This week’s elections could pave way for Prague to Czech out of EU

By Paul A. Nuttall | RT | October 4, 2021

The elections in the Czech Republic later this week have largely been ignored, but the political situation in the country is not only compelling, it could have ramifications for the rest of Europe, and in particular for the EU.

Czechs go to the polls on Friday and Saturday in legislative elections that will determine who will lead the country for the next four years. These elections have been getting little attention in the international press, mainly because the focus has been on the elections taking place in Germany.

The Czech Republic has been led by a coalition government since 2017. The senior partner in the coalition is the ANO 2011 party, and its leader is the current Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

Babis’ party is described as ‘populist’. An ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, he recently attended the Demographic Summit in Budapest, where Babis and his counterparts from Poland, Serbia and Slovenia announced their intention to oppose further mass immigration in Europe.

Babis is also opposed to further EU integration and determined not to see the euro replacing the country’s current official currency, the koruna. He claims his party “will not hand over the sovereignty of the Czech Republic to the European Parliament or the European Commission.”

Recent polls put the ANO 2011 party in the lead with 27%. The main opposition parties, SPOLU (an alliance of liberals and conservatives) and the bizarrely named Pirates and Mayors party are polling around 21%. Both are committed to combining their votes in an alliance to force Babis from power.

Indeed, some commentators, who it must be said are firmly opposed to Babis’ politics, are predicting that the Czech Republic could be heading towards a constitutional crisis. However, it is expected that President Milos Zeman will use his constitutional powers to appoint the leader of the largest party as prime minister.

In all likelihood, this will be Babis, and it will give him the first opportunity to form a coalition. However, even if this is the case, he will be facing a big problem, as his current coalition partners have seen their support fall off a cliff recently.

The Social Democrats, who share power with Babis, are only polling between 4% and 6% and may not even make the 5% threshold to have candidates elected to parliament. And this puts Babis in a difficult position because, devoid of his main coalition partner, he will be forced to look elsewhere.

The ‘elsewhere’ in this case is most likely to be the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party (SPD), which is the most Eurosceptic political party in the country and is polling around 11%. The SPD is committed to a direct democracy law that will allow citizens to force referendums, and the one the party wants most is a referendum on Czech membership of the European Union.

SPD leader Tomio Okamura has made it clear that any negotiations for his party to join a future coalition will be conditional on holding such a referendum: “One of the fundamental conditions is for the government manifesto… to include a referendum law including the possibility of a referendum on leaving the EU or potentially NATO.”

Now this places Babis in a difficult position because, although he is a Eurosceptic, he does not envisage the Czech Republic leaving the EU anytime soon. Moreover, he is opposed to the idea of citizen-led referendums, or at least he would like prohibitive barriers implemented, such as a requirement for a huge number of signatories to force a referendum.

Another problem is that a direct democracy law would require the support of a three-fifths majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. However, the upper house, which is elected for a six-year term, is dominated by a pro-EU majority.

Nevertheless, the fact that an EU referendum is on the agenda could be seen as an outlier to where the Czech Republic is eventually headed. And let us not forget, the Czechs are not alone here. Recently, there have been noises in Budapest about the need for a referendum on EU membership in Hungary.

Although largely ignored, the elections in the Czech Republic this weekend will be fascinating, but even more enthralling could be the political “horse trading” that follows – the outcome of which could have ramifications for the rest of the EU.

Paul A. Nuttall is a historian, author and a former politician. He was a Member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019 and was a prominent campaigner for Brexit.

October 4, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , | 1 Comment

Latvian military apologizes for NATO war games gunfire in busy streets of Riga which left civilians terrified

RT | September 13, 2021

Latvia’s capital RIga briefly turned into a warzone at the weekend, with heavily armed soldiers firing weapons among startled civilians. The firefight turned out to be an exercise that had somehow not been marked or cordoned off.

Multiple videos of the incident surfaced online on Saturday, promptly going viral. Footage from the scene shows multiple soldiers in the middle of a street, crouching behind cars and firing their weapons at a building.

One of the solders discharged his assault rifle as a woman with her baby was passing by, another video shows. The woman was left visibly shaken, while the baby began crying.

There were no visible cordons or markings that the area was being used for drills, with pedestrians walking right next to the heavily armed troops. The exercise looked very lifelike, with only an unarmed supervising officer casually moving among the troops serving to indicate that the street had not turned into an actual warzone.

The incident has drawn an overwhelmingly negative reaction, with the comment sections of the videos full of angry remarks. Some said that residents of the city should have at least been given clear notice via SMS, while others argued that the area should have been completely cordoned off.

Following the outcry, the military gave a lackluster apology, stating that it uses only blank cartridges for such events, and insisting that no harm was caused.

“During such drills, we only use blank cartridges, which make noise but do not pose any danger to the health and life of others. In this case, blank cartridges were also used, and this situation was a bitter misunderstanding, for which we apologize. The Defense Ministry calls on the public to show understanding for the exercises,” the ministry said in a statement cited by the TVnet website.

The Riga ‘firefight’ came as a part of the NATO Namejs 2021 war games, which are running from August 30 to October 3 across multiple locations in Latvia. The exercises involve some 9,300 soldiers from different countries of the bloc. Three soldiers were injured during the drills in a separate unspecified accident on Saturday, with the Defense Ministry stating that two servicemen from the “allied armed forces” had ended up hospitalized in “stable” condition.

September 13, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Beijing concerned about NATO’s ‘China nuclear threat theory’

Press TV – September 7, 2021

China has expressed concern about NATO’s assertions about an alleged nuclear threat from Beijing, stressing that the country is not involved in any arms race and its nuclear activities are for national security purposes.

“China is gravely concerned about and firmly opposes the ‘China nuclear threat theory’ NATO has been hyping up lately. China follows a self-defensive nuclear strategy, with nuclear forces always kept at the minimum level required to safeguard national security,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news briefing in the capital, Beijing, on Tuesday.

“We are committed to no first use of nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstances and pledge unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. China has never taken part in any form of nuclear arms race, nor has it deployed nuclear weapons overseas,” Wang added.

The remarks came after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged China at a NATO conference a day earlier to join international efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons and said Beijing’s nuclear capability allegedly lacked transparency.

Stoltenberg also claimed that China was rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal, including through large-scale building of new nuclear missile silos.

Wang said China posed no threat to any country unless it was targeted or threatened, saying, “No country will be threatened or should feel threatened by China’s national defense capability as long as it does not intend to threaten or harm China’s sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity.”

Wang hit out at NATO for its lack of nuclear transparency, saying the alliance should abandon the policy for the sake of arms control and avoiding nuclear conflicts.

“What the international community should be really concerned about is NATO’s nuclear sharing policy. NATO has the largest nuclear arsenal… and some NATO members are ramping up efforts to modernize nuclear power,” the Chinese spokesman said.

“Many countries share the view that NATO’s nuclear sharing arrangements violate the stipulations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT and that its nuclear capability lacks transparency, which exacerbate risks of nuclear proliferation and conflicts,” he added.

Wang said, “It is typical double standard when NATO chooses to be evasive about its own issue while trying to mislead the public and hyping up the so-called ‘China nuclear threat.’ If NATO truly cares about nuclear arms control, it should abandon the Cold War mentality, abolish nuclear sharing arrangements, and pull out the large number of nuclear weapons deployed in Europe.”

The Chinese official also called on NATO to ask the US to earnestly fulfill its responsibilities in nuclear disarmament and substantively reduce its nuclear stockpile so as to create conditions for the realization of comprehensive and complete nuclear disarmament.

China insists that its nuclear arsenal is overshadowed by those of the US and Russia, and says it is prepared for dialog on the issue on the condition that Washington reduces its nuclear weapons stockpile to Beijing’s level.

The US Defense Department estimated in a 2020 report to Congress that China’s operational nuclear warhead stockpile was in “the low 200s.” This is while the United States, as stated in a fact sheet prepared by the State Department, maintained 1,357 deployed nuclear warheads as of March 1 of this year.

The US and Russia remain the world’s largest holders and developers of nuclear weapons, followed by Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and the Israeli regime.

US-China relations have grown increasingly tense in recent years, with the world’s two largest economies clashing over everything from trade and human rights to Chinese Taipei and military activities in the South China Sea.

September 7, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

BOMBS AWAY, APPLEBAUM!

By Paul Robinson | IRRUSIANALITY | August 22, 2021

There’s no war so badly lost, it seems, that someone can’t be found to say that it was all a good idea and the problem was not that the war was fought but that it wasn’t fought hard enough. This was once perhaps the purview of conservatively-minded national security types. But since the end of the Cold War it’s been increasingly the opinion of the keyboard warriors in the democracy-promoting intelligentsia who want nothing more than to bomb the world into oblivion for the sake of liberalism and human rights.

So we should hardly be surprised that the debacle in Afghanistan has brought the liberal interventionists out of their closets to argue that America’s never ending wars aren’t the problem – the real problem is that Westerners are lilly-livered softies who are too decadent to stand up and fight against the forces of evil that surround them, and that if we don’t step up the bombing then democracy, liberalism and all the rest of it will collapse in a tsunami of assaults from the liberty-hating Russians, Chinese and Islamists, who together have formed common front designed to destroy us all.

And so it is that Anne Applebaum (who else?) has stepped up to the plate with a little piece in The Atlantic with the catchy title “Liberal Democracy is Worth a Fight.” Of course, the rotten regime that just fell in Afghanistan was hardly a “liberal democracy,” but I guess it was more liberal and more democratic than the Taliban are likely to be, so we’ll let that one slip. The point is clear: liberal democracy is in peril, and Applebaum wants to issue a call to arms: We must fight. Fight, fight, fight. If not, we’re doomed!

And indeed, her article gets off to a fighting start with the following words:

Of all the empty, pointless statements that are periodically repeated by Western politicians, none is more empty and pointless than this one: “There can be no military solution to this conflict.”

Because, you see, as the Taliban have just shown, there are military solutions. As Applebaum says, “In many conflicts, probably Syria and certainly Afghanistan, there is a military solution: The war ends because one side wins.”

The problem is that it’s the wrong side that keeps on winning. And that bugs Applebaum. She tells us:

The need to prevent this from happening in other places—to prevent violent extremists from invading places where people would prefer to live in peace and in accordance with the rule of law—is precisely why we have armies, weapons, intelligence agencies, and spies of various kinds, despite all of the mistakes they make and the ugly things they sometimes do. The need to prevent violent extremists from creating structures like al-Qaeda or rogue, nuclear-armed regimes is precisely why North Americans and Europeans get involved in distant and difficult conflicts.

That’s also why the phenomenon of liberal internationalism—or “neocon internationalism” if you don’t like it—exists: Because sometimes only guns can prevent violent extremists from taking power. Yet many people in the liberal democratic world, perhaps most people, don’t want to believe this. … They pretend that … that “solidarity” with the women of Afghanistan, without a physical presence to back it up, is a meaningful idea.

Whoa, there, Anne. That’s not actually “why we have armies, weapons,” and all the rest of it. At least, not historically speaking. Historically, we had them to defend our homelands from attack, or, in the more aggressive periods of our past, so that we could attack other peoples’ homelands and take them from them. Armies aren’t social workers whose aim is “to spread solidarity with the women of Afghanistan.” They’re not suited for that sort of thing. What they’re good for is killing people and blowing stuff up. So if there’s a physical threat out there that can be dealt with by killing people and blowing stuff up, then there’s a role for the military. But “building democracy,” “showing solidarity,” and all that guff – not suitable.

Anyway, Applebaum believes that we are in danger. Now Kabul has fallen, our enemies will have others in their sights: South Korea, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Japan, Taiwan – they are all in peril. Applebaum tells us:

Afghanistan provides a useful reminder that while we and our European allies might be tired of “forever wars,” the Taliban are not tired of wars at all. The Pakistanis who helped them are not tired of wars, either. Nor are the Russian, Chinese, and Iranian regimes that hope to benefit from the change of power in Afghanistan; nor are al-Qaeda and the other groups who may make Afghanistan their home again in future. More to the point, even if we are not interested in any of these nations and their brutal politics, they are interested in us. They see the wealthy societies of America and Europe as obstacles to be cleared out of their way. To them, liberal democracy is not an abstraction; it is a potent, dangerous ideology that threatens their power and needs to be defeated wherever it exists, and they will deploy corruption, propaganda, and even violence to do so. They will do it in Syria and Ukraine, and they will do it within the borders of the U.S., the U.K., and the EU.

Yikes!

Let’s unravel this a bit, as it’s kind of silly.

First, it makes no sense to lump Russia, China, and Iran together as if they are all one thing, and even less sense to put them all together with non-state actors like al-Qaeda.

Second, it just isn’t true that the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians see liberal democracy as “A potent, dangerous ideology that … needs to be defeated,” if necessary through violence. I’m no expert on China and Iran, so I’ll leave that to others, though I suspect that their attitude is not dissimilar to that of the Russians. But as far as Russia is concerned, there is precisely no evidence to suggest that the country’s leadership gives a damn about what form of government or political/social/economic system other nations have. What it cares about is that those nations are prepared to be friendly. If they are, then Russia is friendly back. Thus, the Russian Federation has very good relations with a number of liberal democracies. Armenia is a notional liberal democracy; its recent enemy, Azerbaijan, is not. But Russia is an ally of Armenia, not of Azerbaijan.

Simply put, Applebaum is talking out of her hat.

But on she goes. For she’s keen to persuade us that liberal interventionists are just not wooly-eyed idealists. They’re hard-headed realists. It’s their opponents who are naïve and don’t understand the harsh truths of the real world. She tells us:

In the real world, the battle to defend liberal democracy is sometimes a real battle, a military battle, not merely an ideological battle. It cannot always be fought with language, arguments, conferences, or diplomacy, or by deploying human-rights organizations, UN declarations, and fierce EU statements of concern. Or rather, you can try to fight it that way, but you will lose.

Well, here’s the thing, Ms Applebaum my friend, for the past 20 years, Western states, led by the USA, have not been fighting just by using language, arguments, conferences, and all the rest of it, but by invading countries and blasting them from the sky with real hard ordnance. And guess what, they’ve lost that way too!

And here is where the Applebaumian thesis falls down even according to its own internal logic. For even if Applebaum is right that liberal democracy is under threat from extremists, hard experience shows that military power is not an effective way of dealing with the problem. Our militaries are built to fight other militaries. We’re really good at destroying tanks and planes and all the rest of it. But fighting “extremism” – that’s ultimately an ideological problem and bullets and bombs don’t help a lot; indeed, they often make things worse. The proposed solution doesn’t actually solve the alleged problem.

In Applebaum’s world, our repeated failures in the past 20 years are just a matter of a lack of will and insufficient firepower. If only it were so easy. Would another 20 years and double the firepower have made Afghanistan more secure? What reason do we have to imagine that it would? None at all. Did an all-out invasion of Iraq – and let’s admit it, you can’t have a more in-your-face use of massive military power – solve the problem of extremism in Iraq? Or did it sow the seeds that made the rise of ISIS possible? (You know the answer).

So it’s not like Applebaum’s methods haven’t been tried. They have been, and found repeatedly wanting. So why does she think that it will work next time around? And why do the likes of The Atlantic keep giving people such as Applebaum space to write this nonsense? Now, there’s an interesting question. If we could solve that one, we’d all be a lot better off.

August 24, 2021 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 1 Comment

American Military Cities in Germany

Tales of the American Empire | August 5, 2021

Soon after World War II ended, the US military began building massive military bases in Europe and shipped families to Europe to accompany servicemen. These bases grew into American cities that are great fun, but very costly and reduce the readiness of units. Should war occur in Europe, military units there will remain dysfunctional for weeks until their families are safely back in the United States. This assumes children are not killed or maimed by missile or commando attacks since these bases would be the main enemy target during a war. Generals know this, but European tours are too much fun and those who profit from this racket have political clout to derail efforts at reform.

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“Cut Army Fat in Europe”; Carlton Meyer; G2mil; 2013; https://www.g2mil.com/wiesbaden.htm

“Closing Spangdahelm”; Carlton Meyer; G2mil; 2012; https://www.g2mil.com/spangdahlem.htm

DODEA Europe website; details on the massive American school complex in Europe. https://www.dodea.edu/Europe/index.cfm

US Army Corps of Engineers Europe website; details on construction projects in Europe; https://www.youtube.com/user/usaceEur…

“Germany spent far less than other major allies on cost-sharing for US bases last year”; John Vandiver; Stars and Stripes; March 12, 2021; https://www.stripes.com/news/europe/g…

“Milley is right – the U.S. should reevaluate its military commitments”; Dan DePetris; Defense News; December 10, 2020; https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/2…

“US Army building up force in Europe with two new units”; Jen Judson; Defense News; April 13, 2021; https://www.defensenews.com/land/2021…

August 7, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 4 Comments

Shocking leaked files once again expose BBC as insidious UK foreign policy tool

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | July 20, 2021

A newly released raft of government papers has revealed the British Broadcasting Corporation’s extensive involvement in spreading pro-London, pro-EU, and pro-NATO messaging across the Balkans.

In February, classified documents revealed that BBC Media Action (BBCMA), the ‘charitable arm’ of the British state broadcaster, was embroiled in a number of clandestine operations to “weaken the Russian state’s influence,” funded by the UK Foreign Office.

The exposure raised serious questions about the BBC’s international reputation as a ‘neutral’, ‘objective’ purveyor of news, and what implications its murky relationship with Whitehall has for its output more widely. A further tranche of leaked files, related to covert UK actions in the Balkans, amply reinforces that the organization serves as a cloak-and-dagger device for achieving London’s foreign policy goals.

The papers indicate that BBCMA has been operating across the region since 1996, conducting a wide variety of “media capacity-building, reform and change management” projects. Cited examples of its initiatives include “reforming [the] institutional structures” of Montenegro’s state broadcaster RTCG, working with Macedonian media to “effectively cover elections” and act as a “watchdog,” and supporting the development of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Public Broadcasting System.

The organization also targeted youth audiences in five separate Balkan countries with “an innovative multi-platform media project,” which aimed to “build young people’s capacity for civic participation.” The centrepiece was “social media-based educational web drama” #SamoKazem (Just Saying). Strikingly, viewers were directed to “offline activities to translate awareness into action for change,” strongly suggesting stirring teenagers to activism was the program’s ultimate objective.

Details of BBCMA’s extensive meddling in Serbia greatly reinforces the overtly political nature of its Balkan ventures. From 2007 to 2017 alone, it delivered “four large-scale projects” in the country, such as “a challenging undertaking” with Radio Television Serbia (RTS) over the course of two years “to assist in its transition from state to public service broadcaster,” and working to “professionalise” five local radio stations “to develop their capacity to hold local government to account.”

The organization also delivered a huge three-year project for the European Union, which “strengthened media capacities for improving objective public information about all aspects of EU integration” ­– in other words, it assisted in the production of pro-Brussels propaganda.Vital work indeed, considering Serbian citizens remain by far the most skeptical about bloc membership.

Under the program’s auspices, BBCMA distributed a two-million-euro grant to 25 Serbian media platforms, and helped produce a staggering 174 separate TV programs, including the 15-part RTS series ‘What’s in It for Me?’ – which averaged 500,000 viewers per episode and won a national award for best EU-related documentary – and human trafficking docudrama ‘Sisters’, which was shown at the United Nations and won “numerous” awards.

Other files explicitly confirm that there is little meaningful distinction between the BBC and its charitable arm. In service of a Foreign Office effort to counteract allegedly falling levels of independence in Macedonian and Serbian media, which ran from November 2016 to March 2019, BBCMA created “a pool of local media professionals with the skills, knowledge and willingness to ensure digital media plays an effective role in fostering debate and accountability.”

Beneficiaries were said to have benefited from the British state broadcaster’s “wealth of experience and talent in creating quality journalism and compelling programmes,” with BBC journalists embedded in the organizations for which they worked in order to provide “mentoring/on-the job training, production support and co-production.” They were also granted access to the BBC Digital Lab, BBC studios, and BBC Blue Room.

The organization asserted in its Whitehall submissions that it considered the production of content to be a fantastic opportunity to “have [an] impact with Serbian and Macedonian audiences.” The consequences of its machinations aren’t certain, although it could be significant that one veteran BBC journalist assigned to the project was in charge of “masterminding” coverage of UK elections during their many years at the Beeb.

After all, the endeavor concluded not long before North Macedonia’s 2019 presidential vote, which pitted pro-EU, pro-NATO candidate Stevo Pendarovski against Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, a more skeptical, pro-Russian figure. While the first round of the election produced a virtual tie, precipitating a runoff, Pendaraovski was comfortably elected in the second. What’s more, previously leaked files make abundantly clear that the Foreign Office sought to interfere directly in the process in other ways.

That the UK government is engaged in multiple cloak-and-dagger initiatives to influence politics and perceptions in the Balkans is sinister enough, without even considering the covert and overt role played by London in the blood-spattered breakup of Yugoslavia, the non-aligned, independent republic that once comprised most of the region. Given this history, BBCMA’s restructuring of RTS is rendered particularly disquieting.

On April 23, 1999, in the midst of the West’s protracted bombing campaign against Serbia, RTS’ headquarters in Belgrade, along with several radio and electrical installations throughout the country, were targeted for destruction by NATO missiles. In all, 16 journalists were killed in the strike and 16 more wounded, with many trapped in the rubble for days afterward.

In the face of significant international condemnation, high-ranking US and UK officials rushed to declare the bombing entirely justified. Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair defended it on the basis the station was part of “the apparatus of dictatorship and power” of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

“The responsibility for every single part of this action lies with the man who has engaged in this policy of ethnic cleansing and must be stopped,” he added.

Of course, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), a UN body established to prosecute crimes committed during the Yugoslav wars and their perpetrators, would eventually conclude Yugoslav troops had not in fact pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing, and Milosevic, who died in a UN prison in 2006, was posthumously exonerated of all charges.

The ICTY also considered whether the RTS bombing constituted a war crime, ultimately ruling that while its pro-government transmissions didn’t make the station a military target, as the action aimed to disrupt the state’s communications network, it was still legitimate.

Amnesty International branded the tribunal’s findings a miscarriage of justice, and contradictorily too, the judgment quoted NATO General Wesley Clark, who oversaw the overall campaign, as saying it was well-understood that the attack would only interrupt RTS broadcasts for a brief period, but “we thought it was a good move to strike it and the political leadership agreed with us.” In the event, it was off the air for a mere three hours.

Another motive for the hideous incident unexplored by the ICTY could well be that the station’s reporting on NATO’s almost-daily attacks on civilian and industrial infrastructure in Serbia was overly problematic for the military alliance, given its intervention was sold on humanitarian grounds. Nine days prior to the RTS bombing, as many as 85 innocent civilians were killed when NATO jets bombed a Kosovan refugee convoy.

While spokespeople initially claimed the tragedy was an “accident”, RTS subsequently broadcast a chilling recording of the pilot who delivered the deadly payload being repeatedly ordered to strike the convoy on the basis it was a “completely legitimate” target, despite them protesting that they couldn’t see any tanks or military hardware on the ground, just cars and tractors. If truth is the first casualty of war, purveyors of truth are surely the second.

n a perverse irony, though, the ICTY did record that NATO had warned Yugoslav authorities weeks prior that RTS may be caught in the crossfire, unless it acquiesced to broadcasting six hours of uncensored Western media reports per day to balance its coverage, thus making it an “acceptable instrument of public information.”

With the troublesome socialist federation of Yugoslavia now irrevocably smashed into pieces, Whitehall needn’t threaten the use of military force to compel Balkan media outlets to transmit pro-Western propaganda. It simply dispatches BBC staffers to their offices, under the bogus aegis of promoting media diversity, free expression, democracy, civic participation, and fostering debate, to ensure they remain “acceptable” instruments of public information.

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. 

July 20, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Alternative for Germany Party Leader Wants Exit From EU, More Cooperation With Moscow

By Ilya Tsukanov – Sputnik – 12.07.2021

The popularity of the nationalist Alternative for Germany (Alternative fur Deutschland – AfD) party shot up dramatically from a state of virtual obscurity in the mid-2010s as Germans struggled to deal with the migrant crisis of 2015-2016, with the party winning 94 seats and becoming the third largest party in the Bundestag in the 2017 elections.

Germany has no choice but to leave the European Union and to create a “new European space” in which Russia will also have a place, AfD parliamentary group co-chair Tino Chrupalla has said.

“Germany should exit today’s European Union, which simply cannot be reformed, and establish a new European economic and interest group,” Chrupalla said in an interview with Welt published on Sunday.

The politician lamented that Germany’s post-World War 2 national identity and culture had been heavily influenced by the “psychological warfare of the Allies, especially the Americans,” which he compared to the Nazis. As an example of such malign influence, the politician cited Washington’s strategy of trying to torpedo the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project between Germany and Russia, suggesting that the US was pursuing “strategic interests” via a “deliberate strategy of disinformation and the manipulation of public opinion” in Germany.

Chrupalla went into greater detail on his party’s vision of a new association of European nations to replace the EU in an op-ed in the Junge Freiheit newspaper, rejecting the concept of an EU “superstate” in favour of a ‘Europe of fatherlands’. The EU, he suggested, had failed utterly in tackling several major emergencies, including the euro crisis, and the migrant and coronavirus crises.

The politician also clarified that instead of the concept of a UK-style ‘Gexit’, AfD’s policy was to support ‘Neustart’, or ‘Reset’ – a “common reset for Europe” which includes an invitation for all AfD’s European sister parties “to join us.”

On the prospect of improved ties with Moscow, Chrupalla emphasized in his op-ed that “a good relationship with Russia is not negotiable,” and that Russia is “an integral part” of Europe economically, politically and culturally.

The politician accused EU elites of “sticking to old Cold War thought patterns” about Russia, and noted that while “communism in Eastern Europe has long been defeated, European opinion leaders were importing new Western ideologies from the US ‘New Left’,” such as identity politics and its promotion of positive discrimination, resulting in social unrest which he stressed “must be overcome.”

“With Russia, a large European state and an important trade partner has been excluded from the European Union. Furthermore, at the insistence of our US partners, we are constantly imposing new trade sanctions on the Russians for new reasons,” Chrupalla wrote.

According to the politician, these restrictions ultimately come back and hit the German economy and medium-sized businesses, causing them to lose out as Russia replaces its imports from Germany with new trade ties with Asia. “Trade between Germany and Russia fell by 25 percent between 2013 and 2019, and in Saxony by 70 percent. It cannot go on like this!” Chrupalla argued.

Ultimately, the politician suggested that both countries would benefit if sanctions are lifted and new ones are ruled out. “Russia is also an integral part of Europe culturally and politically, and Germany always does well when it has good relations with Russia,” Chrupalla stressed.

Chrupalla’s views on foreign policy aren’t representative of the AfD as a whole, with party co-chair Jorg Meuthen recently suggesting that a German exit from the EU is a “poorly thought out idea.” The party is also traditionally in favour of close ties to the US and Israel, and of keeping Germany a member of NATO. Since its emergence as a major political force in the Bundestag following the 2017 elections, the party has experienced an intense internal debate regarding these and other policies.

Germans will go to the polls on 26 September for general elections to the Bundestag and multiple state parliaments. Longtime German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to retire after the elections. A recent INSA/YouGov poll indicated that Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union alliance enjoys a plurality of 28 percent support at the moment, with the Social Democratic Party and the Greens second with 17 percent support each. 12 percent of respondents said they plan to support the Free Democratic Party, 11 percent said they would vote for the AfD, and 8 percent said they plan to give their vote to the democratic socialist Die Linke. Like the AfD, Die Linke supports an improvement in Germany’s relations with Russia. The party also has a firm policy of opposition to NATO and proposes to replace the alliance with a new collective security system for Europe with Russia as a member. Despite their ideological differences, AfD and Die Linke occasionally cooperate on certain issues.

July 13, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment