Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

US Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill Barring Any American President From Leaving NATO Alliance

By Gaby Arancibia – Sputnik – 16.04.2021

Under the Trump administration, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a measure in an effort to prevent a sitting US president from withdrawing the nation from a military alliance, specifically NATO. However, the December 2020 initiative was never taken up for a vote by the full US Senate, which was then under Republican control.

A bipartisan group of US senators reintroduced a measure on Thursday that would effectively prevent any sitting American president from removing the Land of the Free from the decades-old NATO military alliance.

The bill was reintroduced into the Democrat-controlled Senate chamber by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), congressional members who both serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The legislation has been sponsored by several Republicans, Democrats and an independent.

The measure’s stipulations indicate that should a president want to withdraw from the alliance, they would need to get at least two-thirds approval from the US Senate.

However, in the event that the commander-in-chief attempts to jump ship without said approval, the bill would then prohibit funding for the withdrawal and authorize the Congressional Legal Counsel to challenge the matter in court.

“NATO has been a critical alliance for nearly 75 years,” Kaine remarked in a statement. “It has ably served the US, our NATO allies, and the world. This bill expresses clear congressional support for the continuing value of NATO and clarifies that no president acting alone can sever the bonds of the alliance.”

In an accompanying statement of his own, Rubio highlighted the importance of the alliance, noting that the military partnership “is more important than ever” in light of “Moscow’s growing subversive aggressions.”

“We must ensure no US president withdraws from NATO without the advice and consent of the Senate,” the lawmaker stressed.

Most recently, Russia’s military build-up along the Ukrainian border has remained under the spotlight, with the troop deployments being labeled a “provocation.” Moscow has rejected claims that the development is an incitement, explaining that the movements are meant to ensure the nation’s national security as NATO has undertaken its own build-up in the region.

A similar measure regarding a potential pullout from the NATO partnership was introduced in December 2019 as a response to former US President Donald Trump’s repeated criticism of the NATO alliance. At the time, Trump blasted NATO allies for not contributing enough funding to the organization, vowing to part ways from the defense block. However, Trump never delivered on the promise and instead referred to the potential withdrawal as “unnecessary.”

At present, any NATO member seeking to withdraw from the group must give a one-year “notice of denunciation” before being able to exit the treaty.

April 16, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

How Bellingcat Launders National Security State Talking Points into the Press

By Alan Macleod | MintPress News | April 9, 2021

AMSTERDAM — Investigative site Bellingcat is the toast of the popular press. In the past month alone, it has been described as “an intelligence agency for the people” (ABC Australia ), a “transparent” and “innovative” (New Yorker ) “independent news collective,” “transforming investigative journalism” (Big Think ), and an unequivocal “force for good” (South China Morning Post ). Indeed, outside of a few alternative news sites, it is very hard to hear a negative word against Bellingcat, such is the gushing praise for the outlet founded in 2014.

This is troubling, because the evidence compiled in this investigation suggests Bellingcat is far from independent and neutral, as it is funded by Western governments, staffed with former military and state intelligence officers, repeats official narratives against enemy states, and serves as a key part in what could be called a “spook to Bellingcat to corporate media propaganda pipeline,” presenting Western government narratives as independent research.

Citizen journalism staffed with spies and soldiers

An alarming number of Bellingcat’s staff and contributors come from highly suspect backgrounds. Senior Investigator Nick Waters, for example, spent three years as an officer in the British Army, including a tour in Afghanistan, where he furthered the British state’s objectives in the region. Shortly after leaving the service, he was hired by Bellingcat to provide supposedly bias-free investigations into the Middle East.

Former contributor Cameron Colquhoun’s past is even more suspect. Colquhoun spent a decade in a senior position in GCHQ (Britain’s version of the NSA), where he ran cyber and Middle Eastern terror operations. The Scot specializes in Middle Eastern security and also holds a qualification from the U.S. State Department. None of this, however, is disclosed by Bellingcat, which merely describes him as the managing director of a private intelligence company that “conduct[s] ethical investigations” for clients around the world — thus depriving readers of key information they need to make informed judgments on what they are reading.

Bellingcat fails to inform its readers of even the most glaring conflicts of interest

There are plenty of former American spooks on Bellingcat’s roster as well. Former contributor Chris Biggers, who penned more than 60 articles for the site between 2014 and 2017, previously worked for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency — a combat support unit that works under the Department of Defense and the broader Intelligence Community. Biggers is now the director of an intelligence company headquartered in Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington (close to other semi-private contractor groups like Booz Allen Hamilton), that boasts of having retired Army and Air Force generals on its board. Again, none of this is disclosed by Bellingcat, where Biggers’s bio states only that he is a “public and private sector consultant based in Washington, D.C.”

For six years, Dan Kaszeta was a U.S. Secret Service agent specializing in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and for six more he worked as program manager for the White House Military Office. At Bellingcat, he would provide some of the intellectual ammunition for Western accusations about chemical weapons use in Syria and Russia’s alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal.

Kaszeta is also a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank funded by a host of Western governments as well as weapons contractors such as Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Its president is a British field marshal (the highest attainable military rank) and its senior vice president is retired American General David Petraeus. Its chairman is Lord Hague, the U.K.’s secretary of state between 2010 and 2015.

Bellingcat Sergei Skripal

A Bellingcat article covering the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a story covered heavily by the organization. Alexander Zemlianichenko | AP

All of this matters if a group is presenting itself as independent when, in reality, their views align almost perfectly with the governments funding them. But yet again, Bellingcat fails to follow basic journalism ethics and inform readers of these glaring conflict of interests, describing Kaszeta as merely the managing director of a security company and someone with 27 years of experience in security and antiterrorism. This means that unless readers are willing to do a research project they will be none the wiser.

Other Bellingcat contributors have similar pasts. Nour Bakr previously worked for the British government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office while Karl Morand proudly served two separate tours in Iraq with the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division.

Government and intelligence officials are the opposite of journalists. The former exist to promote the interests of power (often against those of the public) while the latter are supposed to hold the powerful to account on behalf of the people. That is why it is so inappropriate that Bellingcat has had so many former spooks on their books. It could be said that ex-officials who have renounced their past or blown the whistle, such as Daniel Ellsberg or John Kiriakou, have utility as journalists. But those who have simply made the transition into media without any change in positions usually serve only the powerful.

Who pays the piper?

Just as startling as its spooky staff is Bellingcat’s source of funding. In 2016 its founder, Eliot Higgins, dismissed the idea that his organization got money from the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) as a ludicrous conspiracy theory. Yet, by the next year, he openly admitted the thing he had laughed off for so long was, in fact, true (Bellingcat’s latest available financial report confirms that they continue to receive financial assistance from the NED). As many MintPress readers will know, the NED was explicitly set up by the Reagan administration as a front for the CIA’s regime-change operations. “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” said the organization’s co-founder Allen Weinstein, proudly.

Higgins himself was a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, NATO’s quasi-official think tank, from 2016 to 2019. The Atlantic Council’s board of directors is a who’s who of state power, from war planners like Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell to retired generals such as James “Mad Dog” Mattis and H.R. McMaster. It also features no fewer than seven former CIA directors. How Higgins could possibly see taking a paid position at an organization like this while he was still the face of a supposedly open and independent intelligence collective as being at all consistent is unclear.

Bana Alabed, an outsoken anti-Assad child activist, promotes Bellingcat at an Atlantic Council event. Photo | Twitter

Other questionable sources of income include the Human Rights Foundation, an international organization set up by Venezuelan activist Thor Halvorssen Mendoza. Halvorssen is the son of a former government official accused of being a CIA informant and a gunrunner for the agency’s dirty wars in Central America in the 1980s and the cousin of convicted terrorist Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez in turn was a leader in a U.S.-backed coup in 2002 and a wave of political terror in 2014 that killed at least 43 people and caused an estimated $15 billion worth of property damage. A major figure on the right-wing of Venezuelan politics, Lopez told journalists that he wants the United States to formally rule the country once President Nicolas Maduro is overthrown. With the help of the Spanish government, Lopez escaped from jail and fled to Spain last year.

Imagine, for one second, the opposite scenario: an “independent” Russian investigative website staffed partially with ex-KGB officials, funded by the Kremlin, with most of their research focused on the nefarious deeds of the U.S., U.K. and NATO. Would anyone take it seriously? And yet Bellingcat is consistently presented in corporate media as a liberatory organization; the Information Age’s gift to the people.

The Bellingcat to journalism pipeline

The corporate press itself already has a disturbingly close relationship with the national security state, as does social media. In 2019, a senior Twitter executive was unmasked as an active duty officer in the British Army’s online psychological operations unit. Coming at a time when foreign interference in politics and society was the primary issue in U.S. politics, the story was, astoundingly, almost completely ignored in the mainstream press. Only one U.S. outlet of any note picked it up, and that journalist was forced out of the profession weeks later.

Increasingly, it seems, Bellingcat is serving as a training ground for those looking for a job in the West’s most prestigious media outlets. For instance, former Bellingcat contributor Brenna Smith — who was recently the subject of a media storm after she successfully pressured a number of online payment companies to stop allowing the crowdfunding of the Capitol Building insurrectionists — announced last month she would be leaving USA Today and joining The New York Times. There she will meet up with former Bellingcat senior investigator Christiaan Triebert, who joined the Times’ visual investigations team in 2019.

The Times, commonly thought of as the United States’ most influential media outlet, has also collaborated with Bellingcat writers for individual pieces before. In 2018, it commissioned Giancarlo Fiorella and Aliaume Leroy to publish an op-ed strongly insinuating that the Venezuelan state murdered Oscar Perez. After he stole a military helicopter and used it to bomb government buildings in downtown Caracas while trying to ignite a civil war, Perez became the darling of the Western press, being described as a “patriot” (The Guardian ), a “rebel” (Miami Herald ), an “action hero” (The Times of London ), and a “liberator” (Task and Purpose ).

Until 2020, Fiorella ran an opposition blog called In Venezuela despite living in Canada. Leroy is now a full-time producer and investigator for the U.K.-government network, the BBC.

Bad news from Bellingcat

What we are uncovering here is a network of military, state, think-tank and media units all working together, of which Bellingcat is a central fixture. This would be bad enough, but much of its own research is extremely poor. It strongly pushed the now increasingly discredited idea of a chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, attacking the members of the OPCW who came forward to expose the coverup and making some bizarre claims along the way. For years, Higgins and other members of the Bellingcat team also signal-boosted a Twitter account purporting to be an ISIS official, only for an investigation to expose the account as belonging to a young Indian troll in Bangalore. A leaked U.K. Foreign Office document lamented that “Bellingcat was somewhat discredited, both by spreading disinformation itself, and by being willing to produce reports for anyone willing to pay.”

Ultimately, however, the organization still provides utility as an attack dog for the West, publishing research that the media can cite, supposedly as “independent,” rather than rely directly on intelligence officials, whose credibility with the public is automatically far lower.

Oliver Boyd-Barrett, professor emeritus at Bowling Green State University and an expert in the connections between the deep state and the fourth estate, told MintPress that “the role of Bellingcat is to provide spurious legitimacy to U.S./NATO pretexts for war and conflict.” In far more positive words, the CIA actually appears to agree with him.

“I don’t want to be too dramatic, but we love [Bellingcat],” said Marc Polymeropoulos, the agency’s former deputy chief of operations for Europe and Eurasia. “Whenever we had to talk to our liaison partners about it, instead of trying to have things cleared or worry about classification issues, you could just reference [Bellingcat’s] work.” Polymeropoulos recently attempted to blame his headache problems on a heretofore unknown Russian microwave weapon, a claim that remarkably became an international scandal. “The greatest value of Bellingcat is that we can then go to the Russians and say ‘there you go’ [when they ask for evidence],” added former CIA Chief of Station Daniel Hoffman.

Bellingcat certainly seems to pay particular attention to the crimes of official enemies. As investigative journalist Matt Kennard noted, it has only published five stories on the United Kingdom, 17 on Saudi Arabia, 19 on the U.S. (most of which are about foreign interference in American society or far-right/QAnon cults). Yet it has 144 on Russia and 244 under its Syria tag.

In his new book “We Are Bellingcat: An Intelligence Agency for the People,” the outlet’s boss Higgins writes: “We have no agenda but we do have a credo: evidence exists and falsehoods exist, and people still care about the difference.” Yet exploring the backgrounds of its journalists and its sources of funding quickly reveals this to be a badly spun piece of PR.

Bellingcat looks far more like a bunch of spooks masquerading as citizen journalists than a people-centered organization taking on power and lies wherever it sees them. Unfortunately, with many of its proteges travelling through the pipeline into influential media outlets, it seems that there might be quite a few masquerading as reporters as well.

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles.

April 15, 2021 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russian-Ukrainian War: Tragedy For People, Chance For Elites

South Front – April 10, 2021

Against the backdrop of ongoing political provocations and bellicose rhetoric from all parties involved in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, military escalation is constantly growing. Local forces, as well as the OSCE observers, report about more and more ceasefire violations in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. There are daily statements on casualties on both sides of the conflict among the military and local civilians.

Now, when all the global media are closely following the situation in the eastern regions of Ukraine, the international community is wondering whether Donbass will become the point of the next military conflict, and what its scale will be. The main question is “Cui Prodest”?

The answer is unambiguous: the administration of Ukrainian President is a real stakeholder in the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. In the current Ukrainian reality, there are plenty of circumstances that determine the pattern of conduct of Volodimir Zelensky.

First, the current economic situation in Ukraine is disastrous. The Ukrainian state is on the way to lose the ability to fulfill its social obligations. According to the data for 2020, its GDP in real terms suffered about 4% drop. According to the IMF, this drop will be at least 7%. If for the United States, China or Russia, a 4% drop in GDP is a big problem, for Ukraine it is almost a disaster, as GDP indicators were low even before the crisis.

Secondly, the economic situation in Ukraine was aggravated by the coronacrisis. The number of those contaminated by COVID-19 per day there is one of the biggest among the European countries, and even in the whole world. The death rate is also disproportionately high. The country’s economy is suffering, as most regions are still under lockdown, and since April 5, restrictions have been tightened again.

The fall in national budget income was caused by a complex of reasons, including pure management of national economy and the extremely high level of corruption that caused the destruction of the industrial complex, drop in already low per capita income, accompanied by a decreasing revenue gained from gas and cargo transit from East to West.

Third, the Zelensky administration is now facing a rapid decrease in people’s support. The national disappointment in his political program is caused by the rejection of his campaign promises to stop the war in Donbass.

Fourthly, it is increasingly difficult for NATO allies to fuel Kiev’s anti-Russian hysteria in the absence of any actual changes of the issue. The military conflict in the Eastern Ukraine is already 7 years old, and the only alarming statements no longer contribute to the increase in financial support from the US and its allies.

The last but not least is a political request from a part of the American elite, who are interested in various forms of pressuring Russia. They support blocking of the Nord Stream 2 project by any means; destruction of bilateral relations between Russia and leading European countries, up to war outbreak along its borders.

On the other hand, such a policy of the United States does not fully coincide with the national interests of leading European countries. However, new war in Eastern Ukraine would define Russian status as enemy for years while the US will strengthen its weight in European security.

The position of the Zelensky administration and the interests of the United States represent sufficient set of reasons to outbreak war in Eastern Ukraine.

Indeed, official Kiev does not need to care about the actual result of the conflict, but its very existence.

There are only 3 scenarios of the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

  • The Ukrainian army wholly or partially occupies the territory of the DLPR.
  • The forces of both sides remain in their current positions.
  • The DLPR forces, with Russian support, advance on the Ukrainian territory for several dozens of miles.

There is almost a zero probability that Ukraine will suffer a crushing defeat and the DLPR forces will occupy the territory to the Dnieper River. Russia now has neither the strength nor the ability to gain control over such a vast territory, and the collective West, in its turn, would not let this happen.

If any of the above scenarios are implemented, Zelensky and his supporters among the US elites will benefit.

For many years, the US and European media have shaped Russia as the aggressor, the enemy of democratic values and the authoritarian tyrannical regime that must be contained. The idea of an external military threat, which being sequentially built up by the West, serves as a pretext for its increasing military funding both in defense industry and army itself amid inevitable unification under the US leadership.

In its turn, Ukraine, positioning itself as the Eastern European Shield against “Asian Barbarians”, receives significant and steadily growing support from NATO countries, gaining momentum to development and further nazi-like ideology originally rooted in Western Ukraine.

Unleashing the war, Zelensky has a chance to reclaim his status as the national leader. In case of the conquest of the self-proclaimed republics, or the preservation of the current troops’ positions, he will become a hero who saved Ukraine from “evil Russians”.

Even after having lost the war, he would claim that the entire country was saved with little blood and only a small piece of land that was temporary lost, taking on the role of a good strategist who defended the sovereignty in the furious fighting shoulder to shoulder with his NATO allies.

Zelensky’s policy can only fail if Russia captures half of Ukraine, which de facto is not possible.

Thus, almost whatever may happen during the conflict, Ukraine can be sure that it will receive stable financial flows from its Western allies for years ahead. Having become a “real” Eastern Shield of Europe, Ukraine may finally get the coveted NATO membership.

Finally yet importantly – the hot military conflict will undoubtedly divert public attention from the economic problems inside the country.

Unleashing a war in Donbass will allow Zelensky to solve his main problems, albeit at the cost of lives of thousands of Ukrainians.

Today, many analysts assure that there will not be a full-scale war, since Ukraine is weak, and Zelensky must assess the country’s military strength in front of the Russian power. Let’s hope this is the case, while remembering who the beneficiary of the conflict is.

In its turn, the United States, at the cost of Ukrainian soldiers’ lives, can resolve a good part of its problems in the European region, while Russia seems to lose strategically in any of these war scenarios.

Definitely, the war in Ukraine will lead to the closure of the Nord Stream 2 project, which is already at the final stage of construction. Key contacts between Russia and NATO countries will be frozen, no more significant bilateral cooperation in the economy will be possible.

A new war near the Russian borders that involves national armed forces will have an important impact on the internal situation in the country. It is not clear to what extent the Russian society, which has suffered the break of economic relations with Western countries and numerous sanctions, is ready to support the struggle for Donbass.

April 10, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 3 Comments

Russia: US Military Activity in Arctic Region Source of Escalating Tensions

Al-Manar | April 9, 2021

Russia stressed on Friday that tensions in the Arctic region only escalate due to the US military activities.

Commenting on US reports about Russia’s “unprecedented military might in the Arctic,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow’s action in the region do not pose any threat and do not violate international laws.

“Russia does not do anything in the Arctic that would contradict international law or pose a threat to other countries,” Zakharova said at a briefing.

“If we talk about possible sources of the escalating regional tensions, it would be logical to say that this is the military activity of the US and its allies in the Arctic, which is accompanied by belligerent rhetoric. NATO and its member states, including non-Arctic nations, stage provocations there, and it happens on an increasingly regular basis,” she was quoted as saying by Sputnik news agency.

Washington has already said it plans to send a vast number of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and F-22 Raptors to Alaska, adding that the US is determined to “protect its interests in the Arctic Ocean”. The Pentagon also said that the US Navy will begin South China Sea-style patrols in the Russian Arctic maritime zones as it attempts to challenge both Moscow and Beijing.

April 9, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

For What Should We Fight Russia or China?

By Patrick Buchanon | Unz Review | April 6, 2021

Last Monday, in a single six-hour period, NATO launched 10 air intercepts to shadow six separate groups of Russian bombers and fighters over the Arctic, North Atlantic, North Sea, Black Sea and Baltic Sea.

Last week also brought reports that Moscow is increasing its troop presence in Crimea and along its borders with Ukraine.

Joe Biden responded. In his first conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Biden assured him of our “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbass and Crimea.”

Though Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and we have no treaty obligation to fight in its defense, this comes close to a war guarantee. Biden seems to be saying that if it comes to a shooting war between Moscow and Kiev, we will be there on the side of Kiev.

Last week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov answered that if the U.S. sends troops to Ukraine, Russia will respond.

Again, is Biden saying that in the event of a military clash between Ukrainians and Russians in Crimea, Donetsk or Luhansk, the U.S. will intervene militarily on the side of Ukraine?

Such a pledge could put us at war with a nuclear-armed Russia in a region where we have never had vital interests, and without the approval of the only institution authorized to declare war — Congress.

Meanwhile, off Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea, which Beijing occupies but Manila claims, China has amassed 220 maritime militia ships.

This huge Chinese flotilla arrived after Secretary of State Anthony Blinken put Beijing on notice that any attack on Philippine planes or ships challenging Beijing’s claim to rocks and reefs of the South China Sea that are in Manila’s exclusive economic zone will be backed by the U.S.

Our 70-year-old mutual security treaty with Manila covers these islets and reefs, said Blinken, though some are already occupied and fortified by China.

Apparently, if Manila uses force to assert its claims and expel the Chinese, then we will fight beside our Philippine allies. This amounts to a war guarantee of the kind that forced the British to declare war on Germany in 1939 over the invasion of Poland.

Two weeks ago, 20 Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in the largest incursion yet by Beijing over the waters between Taiwan and Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands. As national security correspondent Bill Gertz writes in today’s Washington Times:

“China is stepping up provocative activities targeting regional American allies in Asia … with an escalating number of military flights around Taiwan and the massing of more than 200 fishing ships near a disputed Philippines reef.

“China also raised tensions with Japan, announcing last week that Tokyo must drop all claims to the disputed Senkaku Islands, an uninhabited island chain that Japan has administered for decades but that Beijing recently claimed as its territory.

“The most serious provocation took place March 29. An exercise by the People’s Liberation Army air force that included 10 warplanes flew into Taiwan’s air defense zone is what analysts say appeared to be a simulated attack on the island. It came just three days after an earlier mass warplane incursion.”

While China appears clear about its aims and claims to virtually all of the islands in the South China Sea and East China Sea as well as Taiwan — it is less clear about its intentions as to when to validate those claims.

As for the U.S., does the present foggy ambiguity as to what we may or may not do as China goes about asserting its claims serve our vital interests in avoiding war with the greatest power on the largest continent on earth?

If red lines are to be laid down, they ought to be laid down by the one constitutional body with the authority to authorize or declare war — Congress. And questions need to be answered to avoid the kinds of miscalculations that led to horrific world wars in the 20th century.

Are the reefs and rocks the Philippines claim in the South China Sea, claims contradicted by China, covered by the U.S. mutual security treaty of 1951? Are we honor-bound to fight China on behalf of the Philippines, if Manila attempts to reclaim islets China occupies?

What is our obligation if China moves to take the Senkakus? Would the United States join Japan in military action to hold or retrieve them?

What, exactly, is our commitment to Taiwan if China attempts to blockade, invade or seize Taiwan’s offshore islands?

John F. Kennedy in the second debate with Richard Nixon in 1960 wrote off Quemoy and Matsu in the Taiwan Strait as indefensible and not worth war with Mao’s China.

With its warnings and threats, China is forcing America to address questions we have been avoiding for about as long as we can.

China is saying that it is not bluffing: These islands are ours!

Time to show our cards.

Copyright 2021 Creators.com

April 6, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 3 Comments

Kremlin calls Donbass situation ‘frightening’ as Ukraine asks NATO & US for support in event of conflict with Russia

A window broken in recent shelling in the village of Vesyoloye in the Donetsk Region, self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Eastern Ukraine. © Sputnik
RT | April 2, 2021

Moscow has warned that fighting is escalating in eastern Ukraine, insisting that the region must avoid a full-scale conflict, as Kiev asks NATO to step up its local combat readiness and says the US would come to its aid in a war.

Speaking to journalists on Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that a series of military clashes in the Donbass region was a cause for concern. “Unfortunately for us,” he said, “the reality on the line of contact is quite frightening, and not just one, but many, provocations by the Ukrainian Armed Forces are taking place.”

Kiev insists that Russia is building up troops near the shared border and blames separatists, who have previously received support from Moscow, for breaking a ceasefire. “Russia’s current escalation is systemic, [the] largest in recent years,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dimitry Kuleba said in a statement issued earlier this week. Kiev officials last week said that four of its soldiers had been killed by shelling during clashes with rebels in the east of the country.

Andrey Rudenko, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, denied that Moscow had anything to gain from an increase in tensions. “I am sure that all the talk about some upcoming conflict between Ukraine and Russia is an example of another fake spread primarily by the Ukrainian authorities,” he said. “Russia is not interested in any conflict with Ukraine, let alone a military one.”

In a statement released on Friday, it was confirmed that an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had proposed that NATO should increase its presence in the country. As part of a call with representatives from two of the US-led military bloc’s member states, Roman Mashovets, deputy head of the Office of the President, said that “such actions of the Russian Federation pose a challenge to the security of Ukraine and NATO, which must be balanced by joint efforts.”

The missive revealed that one option Mashovets put forward was “joint activities, including military exercises of Ukraine and NATO.” These activities, it added “should include land, naval and air components. In addition, it is advisable to increase the level of combat readiness of troops in NATO countries bordering Ukraine.”

April 2, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Why Canada should leave NATO

By Yves Engler | March 31, 2021

NATO is a bad influence. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization strengthens the worst tendencies of our political culture.

Ricochet recently reported on internal government documents regarding a discussion about selling sensors for armed drones to Turkey. Last spring the Trudeau government approved an exemption to an arms export ban to Turkey, allowing Ontario-based L3Harris Wescam to sell its thermal surveillance and laser missile targeting technology. It was subsequently employed in the deadly conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.

In providing the exemption, government officials demonstrated concern about corporate interests and Canadian relations with a NATO ally. “The need for cooperation among NATO partners was a major element of the justification for the carve-out that allowed Canadian tech to be transferred despite the stated ban,” reported Jon Horler.

This is not the first time NATO has been invoked to justify arms sales that fueled a war. In 1967 Prime Minister Lester Pearson responded to calls by opponents of the war in Vietnam to end the Defence Production Sharing Agreement, the arrangement under which Canada sold the US weapons, with the claim that to do so would imperil NATO. Lester Pearson claimed this “would be interpreted as a notice of withdrawal on our part from continental defence and even from the collective defence arrangements of the Atlantic alliance.”

NATO has also had a deleterious impact on nuclear weapons policy. In 2017 the government “hid behind Canada’s NATO membership”, according to NDP foreign critic Hélène Laverdière, when it voted against holding and then boycotted the 2017 UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination. In the lead-up to the resulting Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entering into force, the nuclear armed alliance publicly criticized the TPNW. “As the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, or ban treaty, nears entry into force, we collectively reiterate our opposition to this treaty,” noted a NATO statement. Despite 86 countries signing the treaty, Ottawa continues to refuse to adopt the UN Nuclear Ban.

The alliance also heightens pressure on the federal government to boost socially and ecologically damaging military spending. In 2006 NATO countries adopted a pledge to put 2% of economic output into their military. Militarists regularly cite this arbitrary figure when pushing for greater military spending. Donald Trump and other US officials have repeatedly demanded Canada and other NATO countries spend 2% of GDP on the military. “NATO Members Ramp Up Defense Spending After Pressure From Trump”, noted a recent Bloomberg headline.

NATO has also been used to push weapons procurement. Calling for expanding the jet fleet, senior military officials told the Globe and Mail in 2017 that “Canada’s fighter fleet is not big enough to meet its NORAD and NATO obligations at the same time.” The federal government’s website justifies purchasing 15 Canadian Surface Combatants (CSC) ships – at a cost of $77 billion to acquire and $286 billion over its life-cycle – on the grounds they “will be able to a perform a broad range of missions with” NATO and other alliances. On Lockheed Martin’s site it says the “CSC will be fully interoperable with 5-eyes and NATO nations” and that its ship building “is based on 30+ years’ experience and knowledge of Canadian and NATO naval operations.”

In a history of the first century of the navy Marc Milner describes a series of reports in the mid-1960s concluding that the Royal Canadian Navy was “too small to meet Canada’s NATO obligations” and should be expanded “to meet NATO and North American commitments.”

NATO also draws Canada into foreign expeditions. A Canadian vessel currently leads Standing NATO Maritime Group One that is patrolling approximately 2,000 km from Canadian territory. It operates in the Baltic Sea, North Sea and Norwegian Sea while three other NATO Standing Naval Forces operate in the Black Sea, Mediterranean and elsewhere. Canada provides logistical support to NATO’s Kosovo Force and Canadian soldiers are part of NATO Mission Iraq, which Canada led until recently. About 600 Canadians are part of a Canadian-led NATO mission on Russia’s doorstep in Latvia.

Over the past two decades the alliance has drawn Canada into a number of violent conflicts. A Canadian general lead NATO’s 2011 attack on Libya in which seven CF-18 fighter jets and two Canadian naval vessels participated. Hundreds of civilians were killed by NATO bombers and to this day the country remains divided.

During the 2000s 40,000 Canadian troops fought in a NATO war that left thousands dead in Afghanistan. While the stated rationale of the war was to neutralize al-Qaeda members and topple the Taliban regime, the Taliban remains a major actor in the country and Jihadist groups’ influence has increased.

In 1999 Canadian fighter jets dropped 530 bombs in NATO’s illegal 78-day bombing of Serbia. Over 500 civilians were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in bombing that destroyed critical infrastructure.

Sometimes it is necessary to stop hanging around with people who lead you astray. Get rid of the bad influences in your life. It’s time Canada left the belligerent, militaristic, North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

On the eve of NATO’s 72nd anniversary the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute will be hosting a discussion on “Why Canada should leave NATO”

April 1, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Stoltenberg Comes Clean on China ‘Opportunity’ for NATO

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | March 28, 2021

In an unguarded moment, NATO’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg let the cat out of the bag when he described the rise of China as both a challenge and “an opportunity”. What he was admitting unintentionally is that a confrontational policy toward China gives the military alliance some badly needed new purpose.

Stoltenberg was giving an exclusive interview to Deutsche Welle to mark the first ministerial NATO summit attended by the Biden administration. The two-day summit held on March 23-24 at NATO headquarters in Brussels involved in-person participation of U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken as well as other foreign ministers of the 30-nation military alliance.

The NATO meeting comes as the United States and its European allies are ramping up a coordinated policy of sanctions against China and Russia over alleged human rights issues. This week saw an unprecedented coordination by the U.S., Canada, Britain and the European Union in implementing new sanctions against Beijing and Moscow. It is no coincidence that this provocative development comes after high-profile international meetings, both in-person and via videoconferencing, by the Biden administration calling for allies to adopt a more adversarial and unified position toward China and Russia.

The Biden administration has changed tack from the predecessor Trump “America First” policy to vigorously advocate for a “revitalized” transatlantic relationship. Washington views a more unified U.S.-Europe axis as a more effective strategic way to challenge China and Russia. And NATO is providing a renewed coordinating vehicle.

But in seeking unity, the Biden administration is by necessity having to push a much more aggressive policy toward China and Russia, portraying them as greater threats. This means the American military alliance takes on greater responsibility for spearheading Washington’s policy. A NATO joint statement this week affirmed the alliance’s unity in the face of Russian “aggression”. Moscow slammed the statement, saying that Russia threatened no nation, and that NATO was trying to justify its existence.

Senior Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky said that NATO’s claims about being a defensive alliance are a “blatant lie”, pointing to wars and interventions it has launched in former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

America’s top diplomat Antony Blinken this week claimed that China’s rise and Russia’s attempts to destabilize the West were “threats” that required NATO to come together. Blinken added disingenuously that the U.S. won’t force its allies into making an “us or them choice” with China. That’s exactly what the U.S. is doing.

Jens Stoltenberg and other European leaders have been swooning over the “new chapter” in transatlantic relations under the Biden administration. After four years of dealing with vulgar-mouth Donald Trump and his relentless hectoring over military budgets, some European leaders are sighing with relief at Biden’s seemingly dulcet assurances that “America is back”.

Of course people like Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister who has been the civilian head of NATO since 2014, are reliant on pushing a stronger alliance for their comfy livelihoods and no doubt for future sinecures at corporate-funded think-tanks. Stoltenberg is constantly striving to find a new vision and mission for NATO, an organization founded over 70 years ago at the start of the Cold War, and which has been expanding ever since despite the official end of the Cold War three decades ago. The buzz phrase he uses is to make the alliance “future-proof” – that is to find a permanent pretext for the U.S.-led military organization to continue its existence regardless of real-world security needs.

In his interview with Deutsche Welle this week, Stoltenberg commented on the rise of China. He said, inferring something menacing: “China is coming closer to us, investing in our critical infrastructure.”

Well maybe that’s because China is the world’s biggest trading partner with the European Union and a major foreign direct investor in European nations which have become bankrupt from decades of neoliberal capitalism and austerity.

Stoltenberg went on: “There’s no way we can avoid addressing the security consequences for our regional alliance of the rise of China and the shift in the global balance of power.”

And then the usually cautious, wooden Stoltenberg let it slip: China, he said, provided “a unique opportunity to open a new chapter in the relationship between North America — the United States — and Europe.”

Voila! So the real strategic value of China being presented as a “threat” or an “adversary” is to give a new purpose to the U.S.-led NATO bloc which subordinates Europe to Washington’s geopolitical objective of hegemony. The emphasis here is on China “being presented as a threat” and not what the real relationship actually is, that is, one of a vital economic partner. (Same for Russia and its vast energy partnership with Europe.)

The United States in pursuit of global dominance by its corporations and its capitalist order must, by definition, thwart a multipolar global political economy which the rise of China and Russia embody.

The fiendish political problem, however, is that Washington and its European surrogates cannot justify such a stance based on the normal and natural relations that exist. For in doing that, they would be seen as obnoxious, unwarranted aggressors. It is imperative therefore to conflate China and Russia as “security threats” to the presumed Western “rules-based order”.

Never mind that the Western “rules-based order” has seen NATO powers trashing rules and order by invading countries all around the world, waging criminal wars and subversions, killing millions of people and unleashing terrorism and other security threats stemming from collapsing nations and mass migration.

Forget about China, or Russia, being an alleged threat. They are in actual fact an “opportunity” for NATO and U.S. imperialism, which the alliance ultimately serves, to find an excuse for their criminal existence and conduct. Just ask the secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg (who, as the jokes goes, is more secretary than he is general).

March 28, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , | 4 Comments

Moscow accuses NATO’s Stoltenberg of lying about Russian refusal to speak to alliance, says he ignored Russian proposals

By Jonny Tickle | RT | March 26, 2021

Claims by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that Russia has been unwilling to engage in dialogue with the bloc are completely false, and Moscow is ready for a conversation, according to the country’s Foreign Ministry.

Speaking on Friday, the ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova called on the NATO chief to stop spreading disinformation about Moscow’s position.

“Stoltenberg’s statements that Russia is refusing [to enter] dialogue are not true. They are lies,” she told a press briefing. “A substantive conversation was offered.”

According to Zakharova, Moscow suggested specific discussions involving experts on “a wide range of issues,” with the Kremlin wanting to steer clear of a politicized PR exercise.

During a press conference at this week’s meeting of NATO foreign ministers, Stoltenberg said that the US-led alliance views Russia’s actions in recent years as increasingly aggressive. He also claimed that there had not been a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) since the summer of 2019 because Moscow did not respond to the invitation.

Instead, Zakharova quipped that the proposals for a meeting are on his desk, and he should find them.

“Stop spreading misinformation about Russia allegedly refusing to engage in dialogue,” she said.

The spokesperson also noted that Moscow would take NATO’s “confrontational mindset” into account when making military plans, slamming the bloc for using Russia’s “mythical aggression” as an excuse to increase financing.

The two-day NATO meeting, which took place earlier this week, was held at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels. Before it began, Stoltenberg accused Russia of suppressing “peaceful dissidents at home,” as well as displaying “a pattern of aggressive behavior abroad.”

At the same meeting, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell called Russia a “dangerous neighbor” but encouraged continued dialogue on “common interests,” like the nuclear agreement with Iran or climate change.

March 27, 2021 Posted by | Deception | , | Leave a comment

The ‘Rules-based international order’ is dead

Unless West finds new way to accommodate Russia & China, it will reap a whirlwind

By Glenn Diesen | RT | March 23, 2021

The gloves are off? The hostile exchanges at the China-US meeting in Alaska last week had striking similarities with the combative recent meeting between the EU’s foreign policy chief and the Russian foreign minister in Moscow.

Both disastrous encounters have demonstrated that after years of animosity it is not possible to return to the previous format for cooperation. Rudyard Kipling famously once wrote “east is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet.” That doesn’t have to be true, but it’s a fair summation of where we are now.

Returning to a bygone era?

If you believe the preliminary messaging, the new US government sought a more pragmatic relationship with China as its diplomats went to Alaska, while the EU endeavoured to improve relations with Russia on the trip to Moscow. What was on the agenda to restore more friendly relations?

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced before the talks that the US would “discuss our deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjian, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States, economic coercion of our allies.” In Moscow, the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell similarly sought to lecture Russia about its domestic affairs and various perceived bad behaviours in international affairs.

As both the meetings predictably ended in spectacular failure, China was accused of having “arrived intent on grandstanding” and Russia was charged with having prepared the “humiliation” of the EU.

But why did Washington and Brussels believe it was appropriate to set an agenda that interfered in the domestic affairs of the other and focusing solely on transgressions by one side? The West also has mounting domestic challenges and is hardly innocent in military adventurism, cyber attacks or economic coercion. However, the meetings were not intended to be between equals and cooperation was not meant to establish common rules for mutual constraints.

A liberal international system becomes synonymous with liberal hegemony, and relations are organised between a political subject and a political object, between a teacher and a student, between police and a suspect. Cooperation is defined in pedagogic terms as the one side correcting the “bad behaviour” of the other side.

Liberal hegemony or a rules-based order?

From the Western perspective, a rules-based order requires the West to uphold liberal values and thus become a “force for good”. Blinken cautioned that “the alternative to a rules-based order is a world in which might makes right and winners take all”. For China and Russia, the unipolar era has been one where might makes right and liberal values has merely legitimised unilateralism. For example, witness how Moscow’s concerns about Western military adventures in Iraq, Syria and Libya, all of questionable legality under international law, to various degrees, were ignored.

Liberal hegemony as a value-based international order contradicts the concept of a rules-based order. A rules-based system infers the consistent application of international law, while a values-based system endows the liberal hegemon with the prerogative of selective and inconsistent application of international laws and rules.

The system of liberal hegemony demonstrates that values and power cannot be decoupled. Western states, like all other nations, formulate and pursue foreign policies based on national interests, and values are adjusted accordingly. In Kosovo it was decided that self-determination was more important than territorial integrity, and in Crimea it was decided that territorial integrity was more important than self-determination.

The same rules don’t apply to everybody, equally. It’s “asymmetrical,” not symmetrical. So, when Russia intervened in Syria at Damascus’ request and the US entered Syria, without Syrian or UN permission, Moscow was judged to have broken the rules.

While democracy and human rights should ideally have a place in international relations, the application of these values are always aligned with power interests. Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny is nominated for the Nobel peace price, while Julian Assange rots away in a British cell without such accolades. Washington’s abandonment of a four-decade long One-China Policy in terms of Taiwan, claims of “genocide” in Xinjian and support for the Hong Kong riots are also evidently motivated by geoeconomic rivalry. A rules-based system does not entail mutual constraints, but a system where the West as the political subject will police China and Russia as political objects.

Accommodated or contained?

Were Russia and China accommodated in the post-Cold War international order? This question is rarely asked, yet it should be considered the most important question in contemporary international relations.

Since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger “opened China” in the 1970s, every American administration believed that China has been accommodated in the international political and economic order. Likewise, both the EU and the US believe that they have sought to include Russia in Europe since it emerged as an independent state in 1991.

Yet, both Russia and China consider themselves to have consistently been contained. Answering the aforementioned question should be of the greatest importance. When the Cold War ended, the West enjoyed abundant political legitimacy and the leading foreign policy objective of both Moscow and Beijing was to cultivate friendly relations with Washington – two and a half decades later the two Eurasian giants formed a strategic partnership to construct a Greater Eurasia to reduce reliance on the US.

After the Cold War, both Russia and China were confronted with the dilemma of accepting the role as political objects and perpetual students in the Western-led order, or be contained as enemies of the liberal international order.

In the absence of a common European security architecture, an expansionist NATO and EU filled the vacuum. But Russia’s reaction to Western expansionism and unilateralism subsequently returned Moscow from the role as a compliant, civilising object to an enemy of the liberal international system that had to be contained.

China was in a much more favourable position as it did not face the same revisionism along its borders. China thus implicitly accepted temporarily foregoing a significant role in the international system. Deng Xiaoping famously defined China’s “peaceful rise” as entailing “[to] bide our time and hide our capabilities” by focusing on internal development whilst avoiding provoking the great powers. This approach was always temporary, as China would one day outgrow the US-dominated system. In 2010, China had become too powerful and Barack Obama announced its “pivot to Asia” to contain China, which escalated to an economic war under Donald Trump.

Between unipolarity and multipolarity

The current international disorder is caused by an interregnum – the world is currently stuck between a unipolar and a multipolar format. The West is pushing for a return to the unipolar era that existed before sanctions on Russia and the economic war against China. However, the two Eurasian giants, Russia and China, have spent the past years adjusting to a multipolar system.

The West will insist that on maintaining liberal hegemony due to a commitment and belief in liberal values, among elites (although that is no longer uniform), while Russia and China will reject a value-based system that is instrumental to impose an untenable unipolar order. There is no going back as the world has moved on, although the West is not yet ready to move forward.

Glenn Diesen is a Professor at the University of South-Eastern Norway, and an editor at the Russia in Global Affairs journal. 

March 23, 2021 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Do They Keep Doing It?

By Patrick Armstrong | Strategic Culture Foundation | March 19, 2021

Einstein is said to have observed that insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting a different result. What a perfect description for U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. Two decades in Iraq and Afghanistan is not enough: keep doing it. Sanctions on Russia haven’t made any difference, keep doing them. Beijing is not the least deterred by “freedom of navigation” cruises, keep doing them. Iran won’t bend to Washington’s will, keep doing the same thing.

One of the ur-neocons figured out what the problem is. Even if he didn’t realise he had: “Robert Kagan Diagnosed America’s Biggest Problem: Americans Who Don’t Want To Run the World“. What’s interesting about Kagan’s piece, actually, is the tinge of depression that runs through it – he’s actually at one of the stages of grief. When the PNAC project was announced in 1997, it was very confident indeed: its founding document – also by Kagan – Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy – laid it out:

What should that role be? Benevolent global hegemony. Having defeated the “evil empire,” the United States enjoys strategic and ideological predominance. The first objective of U.S. foreign policy should be to preserve and enhance that predominance by strengthening America’s security, supporting its friends, advancing its interests, and standing up for its principles around the world.

The enormous web of the global economic system, with the United States at the center, combined with the pervasive influence of American ideas and culture, allowed Americans to wield influence in many other ways of which they were entirely unconscious.

And so on. The U.S. was powerful enough to do it; it could do it; it should do it: the ruler of the world – all-benevolent and all-powerful. This was the flavour of the time: History had stopped moving, the liberal order was the future, everybody knew it. Washington “stood taller and saw farther“. It was the indispensable nation.

Kagan’s piece this year – no doubt penned to celebrate the departure of Trump and the return of his wife to power – was titled A Superpower, Like It or Not. The title itself gives a hint of doubt – no longer a proud assertion, it’s a defiance.

The only hope for preserving liberalism at home and abroad is the maintenance of a world order conducive to liberalism, and the only power capable of upholding such an order is the United States.

Two decades earlier it was the promise of a better world, now it’s the fear of a worse. Obviously so – not that Kagan sees it this way – but obviously nonetheless: the past two decades have not been successful for the project. Kagan’s unacknowledged fear of the worse is hammered home again and again:

The time has come to tell Americans that there is no escape from global responsibility… the task of maintaining a world order is unending and fraught with costs but preferable to the alternative.

The U.S. is sitting on a dragon and it daren’t get off or the dragon will kill it. But because it can’t kill the dragon, it must sit on it forever: no escape. And dragon’s eggs are hatching out all around: think how much bigger the Russian, Chinese and Iranian dragons are today than they were a quarter-century ago when Kagan & Co so confidently started PNAC; think how bigger they’ll be in another.

A dispiriting state of affairs – not that Kagan is capable of perceiving it. Past failures – like the Iraq war – are brushed off as “relatively low cost” because their failure cannot be admitted: the wars must trudge on. And what’s Kagan’s advice to his fellow Americans? They must get used to shipping their children off to the forever wars because the alternative is worse. No “benevolent global hegemony” now, just sitting on dragons forever. A very gloomy outlook indeed. Doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different outcome.

Take Russia, for example. I’ve written elsewhere about the American obsession with Putin, its complete ignorance of what’s happening in Russia. Russia and China are listed routinely as Washington greatest enemies/opponents and Russia has been on that list for a long time. NATO has expanded, Russia has been accused, Russia has been sanctioned. But Russia is still there and more powerful than ever – quite a large dragon now. To say nothing of China, a mighty dragon indeed. Here’s their latest piece of wishful thinking – separate Moscow and Beijing, maybe they can bribe Moscow by letting it have Ukraine. Andrei Martyanov eviscerates this bird-brained attempt to emulate Kissinger and Nixon.

Can one venture the thought that the Kagan/PNAC strategy of hegemonic aspirations based on military power isn’t working very well and that U.S. auctoritas is receding? From another ur-neocon source, the Atlantic Council, two writers dare to suggest that Washington should change the way it deals with Moscow: “a reality check” they call it. A minor change; well hardly any change, really. No attempt to use their supposed better vision to ascertain Moscow’s view of things, or try to envision what Moscow might want, no discussion of what Moscow regards as its grievances; no, none of that:

Instead, the Biden administration should seek to build a less aspirational policy toward Russia, minimize the use of sanctions, and look for incentives that might induce Moscow to take steps in line with U.S. interests.

Different means, same ends. Russia is still bad, “human rights” are something from the U.S. Patent Office. (Obviously the authors haven’t seen the video about police violence that Moscow is passing around.) Again the tedious assumption of superiority – indispensability – only a dim realisation that lecturing all the time isn’t working and an occasional carrot should be added to the mix. But Moscow still has to be pushed into line.

But even this milquetoast suggestion outraged twenty-two of their colleagues who issued a rebuff: “misses the mark… premised on a false assumption … disagree with its arguments and values and we disassociate ourselves from the report”. Absolutely no reason to change anything, keep doing the same thing; bound to be a different result this time. Let’s try sanctions again on the latest excuse; didn’t work before, maybe they will this time. But the more sanctions, the stronger Russia gets: as an analogy, think of sanctions on Russia as similar to the over-use of antibiotics – Russia is becoming immune.

Has there ever been a subject on which people have been so wrong for so long as Russia? How many times have they said Putin’s finished? Remember when cheese was going to bring him down? Always a terminal economic crisis. A year ago they were sure COVID would do it. A U.S. general is in Ukraine and Kiev’s heavy weapons are moving east but, no, it’s Putin who, for ego reasons – and his “failing” economy – wants the war. Why do they keep doing it? Well, it’s easy money – Putin (did we tell you he was in the KGB?) wants to expand Russia and rule forever; therefore, he’s about to invade somebody. He doesn’t, no problem, our timely warning scared him off; we’ll change the date and regurgitate it next year. In the meantime his despotic rule trembles because of some-triviality-of-the-moment. These pieces write themselves: the anti-Russia business is the easiest scam ever. And there’s the difficulty of admitting you’re wrong: how can somebody like Kagan, such a triumphantasiser back then, admit that it’s all turned to dust and worse, turned to dust because they took his advice? Much better to press on – it’s not as if anybody in the lügenpresse will call him out or deny him space. Finally, these people are locked in psychological projection: because they can only envisage military expansion, they assume the other guy is equally obsessed and so they must expand to counter his expansion. They suspect everybody of suspecting them. Their hostility sees hostility everywhere. Their belligerence finds belligerence. The hyperpower is forever compelled to respond to lesser powers. They look outside, see themselves and fear; in their mental universe the USA is arrogantly strong and fearfully weak at the same time.

Their learning curve is absolutely flat – the USA must expand into the South China Sea to stop Chinese expansion, expand up to the borders of Russia to stop Russian expansion, expand into the Gulf to stop Iranian expansion, expand into Africa because someone else might want to expand there. All of it wrapped in sickening protestations of innocence – read any State Department briefing on Venezuela – like this one from 25 February:

international champions standing up for democracy… human rights… calling for a return to democracy… accountability for these human rights abuses… millions of Venezuelans are suffering.. support the democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people.

In their minds the USA has to move far away from its borders to defend itself; they cannot comprehend that other powers see Americans at their borders as aggression. The mighty USA is the blameless victim of other countries’ suspicions. Anyone who dares suggest trying something else is de-platformed, scorned and calumniated – we must keep failing because we cannot succeed. It’s repeated by all the West’s rulers: the walking dead.

There’s a historical curiosity here. Five hundred years ago Columbus had an idea that you could sail west to China, and he hawked it around the capitals of Europe looking for someone to bankroll him. He was wrong, as all educated people knew: China was to the west all right, but any ship would have run out of food and water and all the crew died of scurvy long before it travelled 180 degrees of latitude. Finally he found a backer, discovered the Americas (going to his death certain it was China) and all else followed. About fifty years earlier, the Chinese sailor Zheng He made enormous voyages of discovery. But the new Emperor wasn’t interested and that was that. One of the strengths of Europe in those days was its diversity – Columbus failed to sell his idea to Portugal, Genoa, Venice, England but, finally, Spain took the bet. Of the many fish in the European pond, he needed to catch only one. China, centrally ruled, had only one and his no was final.

In the West, and especially the USA, today, we observe an inability to imagine, understand, come to terms with or tolerate difference. The “diversity” being pushed today all over the West is the pseudo-diversity of different faces with the same approved thought. Today it’s the West that insists on the uniformity of the so-called Rules-Based International Order (the West makes the rules and gives the orders) while it’s China that calls for “seeking harmony without uniformity“.

The Kagans dimly perceive that things haven’t gone quite the way they were supposed to but they have no idea of what to do except more of the same. Zombies.

March 20, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

Threatening Syria’s First Lady Shows NATO’s Depravity

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | March 18, 2021

This week marks the 10th anniversary since the United States and its NATO allies launched a devastating covert war of aggression for regime change in Syria. Ten years on, the Arab nation is struggling with war reconstruction, a struggle made all the more onerous because of economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.

Syria and allied forces from Russia, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon’s Hezbollah won the war, defeating legions of mercenary terrorist fighters who were armed and infiltrated into Syria by NATO. Nearly half a million Syrians were killed and half the pre-war population of 23 million was displaced.

But tragically the war is not over yet. It has moved to new hybrid phase of economic warfare in the form of Western sanctions and blockade on Syria.

The barbarity of Western sanctions on Syria have necessitated the cover of distractive media narratives.

This explains the sensation of British media reports that Asma al-Assad, the wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is being investigating by London’s Metropolitan police for war crimes. Asma (45) was born in London, was educated there and holds British nationality. Although she has Syrian heritage.

Now British authorities are mulling stripping her of nationality and seeking her extradition over charges that she aided and abetted war crimes, including preposterously, the use of chemical weapons against civilians. There is practically no chance of a prosecution, but that’s not the British aim. Rather it is all about smearing the Syrian leadership and distracting the world’s attention from the real issues: which are the criminality of NATO’s war on Syria and the ongoing economic warfare to destroy the nation into submission.

Irish peace activist and author Declan Hayes who has travelled extensively in Syria during the past decade commented: “Britain’s legally ludicrous accusations against Asma al-Assad have a number of objectives in mind. They are there to delegitimize Syria’s 2021 presidential elections; they are there to scare expatriate Syrians and British humanitarians; they are there to deflect from NATO’s well documented war crimes; and they are there to deflect from the mercenary collusion of a cast of media, political and NGO characters in NATO’s war crimes in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.”

Asma married Bashar in 2000. Before the war erupted in March 2011, she was eulogized in Western media as the “desert rose” owing to her feminine beauty and quietly spoken graceful persona. The daughter of a cardiologist and having had a career in investment banking before she become Syria’s First Lady, Asma al-Assad later showed herself to be no wilting flower. She refused to leave Damascus and go into comfortable exile with her children when the war was raging.

She remained loyally by her husband’s side and took on the role of consoling the nation, often visiting families of slain soldiers and civilian victims of NATO’s terror gangs.

No doubt the stress resulted in Asma suffering from breast cancer for which she was successfully treated in 2018.

President Assad and his wife stood by the Syrian nation when the jaws of defeat were looming during the early years of the war. When Russia intervened in support of its historic ally in October 2015, the tide of the war turned decisively against the NATO plan for regime change. Assad was singled out for regime change because of his anti-imperialist position against the U.S., Britain, France and Israel. His alliance with Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah put a target on his back for destruction, as former French foreign minister Roland Dumas disclosed. Dumas revealed that the British government had war plans on Syria two years before the violence erupted in March 2011. In this context, the so-called “uprising” was a carefully orchestrated false flag.

The mysterious shootings of police and protesters in the southern city of Daraa – which served to smear the Assad government internationally – were the same modus operandi used by NATO covert forces which carried out the sniper murders in Kiev’s Maidan Square triggering the February 2014 coup d’état in Ukraine.

Western media headlines this week marking the 10th anniversary since the beginning of NATO’s war on Syria have been ghoulish and nauseating.

There is a sense of gloating over the misery and hunger that the nation is facing.

A headline in Associated Press labels Syria as the “Republic of Queues”, reporting almost gleefully on how civilians are struggling with food and fuel shortages.

Nowhere in the media coverage is there a mention of how the American CIA and Britain’s MI6 ran Operation Timber Sycamore to arm and direct mercenaries to terrorize Syrians. Absurdly, Western media still claim that Syria’s war rose out of “pro-democracy uprisings” which were crushed by a “ruthless Assad regime”.

Barely acknowledged too is the fact that the United States, Britain and the European Union are strangling a war-torn nation with barbaric sanctions preventing reconstruction. The criminality of economic terrorism is the corollary of a failed criminal covert war of aggression.

The abominable reality of Western policy towards Syria has to be covered up. Threatening Syria’s First Lady – a national heroine – with prosecution for war crimes is NATO powers reaching into the gutter.

March 20, 2021 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 4 Comments