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Intelligence Contractors Make New Attempt To Provoke Tensions With North Korea

By William Craddick | Disobedient Media | March 8, 2019

It’s the second, but no less ludicrous, attempt in one week to sway the opinion of the public and President Donald Trump against the concept of denuclearization and peaceful dialogue with North Korea.

A March 8, 2019 report from National Public Radio (NPR) follows another by NBC News with sensational and misleading claims that satellite imagery released by private corporations with contractual ties to government defense and intelligence agencies show imminent preparations by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to engage in missile testing or the launch of a satellite from their facilities in Sanumdong, North Korea. An examination of the photos provided shows absolutely no indication of such activity.

I. Satellite Footage Of Sanumdong Facility Shows No Sign Of Imminent Launch

Images provided to NPR by private contractor DigitalGlobe consist of two low resolution images, one of a building in the Sanumdong complex and the other of a train sitting along a rail line. In neither photo is there any discernible amount of unusual activity.

Credit: Image ©2019 DigitalGlobe, Inc. Graphic: Alyson Hurt/NPR

The first image of a “production hall” bears a striking resemblance to a similar photo run by the Washington Post in July 2018 where unnamed intelligence officials claimed that North Korea was building one or possibly two liquid fueled ICBMs which appear to have never materialized or been used in any launch. The claims came one month after President Trump met with Chairman Kim Jong Un in Singapore for a historic summit between the United States and the DPRK.

NPR claims that the imagery shows “vehicle activity” occurring around the facility. Yet close inspection shows that the “activity” consists of a few inert vehicles, which appear to be a white pickup and white dump truck or flatbed parked in a permanent position next to piles of metal. The scene does not appear to be different from any number of sleepy yards of businesses that can be examined by members of the public on Google Maps.

Credit: Image ©2019 DigitalGlobe, Inc. Graphic: Koko Nakajima/NPR

The second image, according to NPR, shows rail cars sitting “in a nearby rail yard, where two cranes are also erected.” The photo simply shows a train car sitting inert with empty flatbed cars and hopper cars that are either filled with coal or empty. A second rail line similarly holds a number of hoppers and flatbed cars. Hopper cars in particular are totally unsuitable for the transportation of military technology such as missiles.

The tracks in the lower left corner are covered in snow, meaning that the train sat for many months through the winter or was backed into its position. Considering that US and international sanctions have caused an extreme scarcity of fuel in the DPRK it is likely that the trains have not moved for quite some time, unless their diesel engines were converted to burn coal or wood.

In short, there is absolutely no indication that several low resolution photos of a facility in North Korea have any activity in them outside of a few rusting vehicles that have sat without moving for some time.

II. NPR’s Sources Of Satellite Imagery Are Contractors For The CIA And Pentagon

The report by NPR lists two sources of satellite imagery – DigitalGlobe, Inc. and Planet Labs, Inc. As Disobedient Media has previously reported, DigitalGlobe is an American vendor of satellite imagery founded by a scientist who worked on the US military’s Star Wars ICBM defense program under President Ronald Reagan. DigitalGlobe began its existence in Oakland, CA and was seeded with money from Silicon Valley sources and corporations in North America, Europe and Japan. Headquartered in Westminster CO, DigitalGlobe works extensively with defense and intelligence programs. In 2016, it was revealed that DigitalGlobe was working with CIA chipmaker NVIDIA and Amazon Web Services to create an AI-run satellite surveillance network known as Spacenet.

Planet Labs is a private satellite imaging corporation based in San Francisco, CA that allows customers with the money to pay for an opportunity to gain access to next generation surveillance capabilities. In February 2016, Federal technology news source Nextgov noted a statement from former CIA Information Operations Center director and senior cyber adviser Sue Gordon that Planet Labs, DigitalGlobe and Google subsidiary Skybox Imaging were all working with the Pentagon’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to provide location intelligence. Planet Labs’ own website also lists press releases detailing past contracts for subscription access to high resolution imagery with the NGA.

The pervasive involvement of intelligence agencies and defense contractors in attempts to undermine negotiations with North Korea does not create confidence in the already shaky claims made by NPR regarding alleged preparations by the DPRK to participate in a missile launch. These contentions are not supported in substance by any tangible facts. As claims and pressure continue to build on President Donald Trump to abandon the peace process, there are multiple factions of the United States government who are running a real risk of behaving in manners which could be interpreted as open sedition or refusal to carry out the stated goals and policies of the President.

March 10, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Here’s why US-North Korea talks will continue to fail

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | RT | February 28, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s failure to make any meaningful progress with North Korea was an expected outcome of the recent summit, but not for the reasons the mainstream media and regular talking-heads want you to believe.

The so-called summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi this week was a predictable flop. According to the US President himself, he ended up walking away from the summit because “it was all about sanctions.”

“Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that,” US President Donald Trump stated.

As Trump also eloquently noted, “sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times.” Though, that being said, he did explain that it “was a friendly walk.” Apparently, the two leaders exited the venue of their talks without even attending a planned lunch together. I’m not sure how friendly the walk can be if you walk in the opposite direction from each other, but if there’s one thing I know about Trump it’s that he is a friendly guy.

Given the current media climate on the issue of North Korea, I can’t say I’m all the surprised with the outcome of the summit. Despite Trump and Kim’s grandiose and laughable compliments towards each other, and despite the fact that NBC reported the US was considering waiving its demand for full accounting of Pyongyang’s nuclear program, we all knew at the end of the day that little could be achieved between these two nations because of the core issues at stake here. Some of us just disagree on the real reasons why this relationship was doomed from the outset (and some of us are just plain lying to you).

For example, former national security adviser under Barack Obama, Susan Rice, has just written an article published in the New York Times (NYT) entitled: “Can Trump Avoid Caving to Kim in Vietnam?” In her opinion piece, and I am not making this up, she actually cites the idea of “further concessions to the North Korean dictator,” like a “peace declaration” as being one of the two main risks of the Hanoi summit, unless the US receives irreversible concessions in return.

Say, what? In what universe is a “peace declaration” a risk, even if there are no concessions made in return? And what does that even mean? If peace is declared, that is a concession in itself, is it not?

Oh, but we need to ensure that North Korea dismantles all of its nuclear weapons and delivery systems first before we can even possibly discuss peace. Or as Rice puts it, not dismantle, but actually “eradicate.”

“To move the needle,” the warmongering hawk writes, “the United States and North Korea will need to agree on a series of incremental, reciprocal steps that would build mutual confidence as part of a road map to full denuclearization. Such steps could combine verifiable constraints on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs with limited sanctions relief and movement toward achieving a final peace agreement. Reasonable constraints would include opening up declared North Korean facilities to international inspectors, halting further production of fissile material and ballistic missiles, codifying Mr. Kim’s announced testing freezes and nonproliferation pledge and obtaining firm commitments from North Korea to declare the totality of its nuclear and missile infrastructure.”

Where have we heard all of this before? It seems as though – and correct me if I am wrong – but that we have already tried these strategies multiple times with varying degrees of ruination. Most famously, the US tried to convince the world that Iraq needed to disarm its non-existent nuclear weapons, only to get increasingly impatient when Iraq couldn’t do the literal impossible and reduced the country to rubble. The same also took place in Libya, a nation which previously held the highest standard of living out of any country in Africa.

In fact, North Korea cites Libya as an example of why it will never give up its nuclear weapons supply. If you dig deeply enough, you will even find proof that the US and the UK, actually gave Libya a “script” indicating what the North African nation needed to do and say in order to rehabilitate itself into the global community. Fast forward just a few years later, and Barack Obama and his NATO cohorts were bombing Libya.

Speaking of concessions, even irreversible concessions, it is actually now quite well-documented (yet hidden from plain sight) that North Korea would make huge concessions in rolling back its nuclear program – but on one condition. As MIT Professor Noam Chomsky once explained, the reason is “that it calls for a quid pro quo. It says in return the United States should put an end to threatening military maneuvers on North Korea’s borders, which happen to include under Trump, sending of nuclear-capable B-52s flying right near the border.”

“Maybe Americans don’t remember very well,” Chomsky also stated, “but North Koreans have a memory of not too long ago when North Korea was absolutely flattened – literally – by American bombing. There was literally no targets left.”

Just so we are clear, Chomsky is not exaggerating that last point in the slightest.

The reason we don’t hear about North Korea’s willingness to make meaningful concessions often can be found in almost any major media outlet, though let’s just use the Washington Post as an example, with statements such as:

“[North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un] has shown no interest in talks — he won’t even set foot in China, his biggest patron. Even if negotiations took place, the current regime has made clear that ‘it will never place its self-defensive nuclear deterrence on the negotiating table, as one envoy recently put it.”

Even a recent NBC scoop appeared to be quite dumb-founded when it advanced the notion that the “Trump administration is hoping to get a significant concession from North Korea on Yongbyon [the Yongbyon nuclear reactor], but it’s unclear if the U.S. can offer something in exchange that Kim would accept.”

It seems to me that there are a lot of things that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un would accept, so it baffles me that the mainstream media are unable to even discuss this issue properly. Though, if you do happen to read far enough some articles here and there, you will find a vague mention of it, as in this piece which says: “While the United States has long demanded that North Korea give up all of its nuclear and missile programmes, the North wants to see the removal of a US nuclear umbrella for its Asian allies such as South Korea and Japan.”

Why are we having a US-North Korea summit anyway? What exactly is the threat that North Korea has demonstrably proven to be? That it fires missiles into the sea on occasion? Trust me, I feel for the fish and the environment, but as far as international human rights conventions are concerned, which as we know the US government loves to pride itself on its ability to attack other nations for a lack of upholding, North Korea’s so-called “rogue” behavior barely even pales in comparison to that of the United States.

So why does the media continue to pander to this idea that the US war machine is in any way, shape or form, bringing North Korea to the table of etiquette and decorum and why does the media give voices to those people who undermine any meaningful progress on the question of avoiding war with Pyongyang?

It pays to remind ourselves that if we are going to hold North Korea to these ridiculous standards, that it has in fact conducted no nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile tests since 2017. The US, on the other hand, is still assisting Israel in its destruction of Gaza, is still assisting Saudi Arabia in its destruction of Yemen, is still bombing the rest of the Middle East into oblivion and is currently threatening war against Venezuela, Iran, all the while reigniting a new and revamped Cold War with Russia and China, just to name a few.

Even as I type, two supposed US allies who do have known and ready nuclear weapons appear to be throwing stones at each other, yet denuclearization seems to be nowhere to be found in media discourse when we examine the history of the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan.

Still, to all those in the corporate media decrying that the Hanoi-based summit was a waste of time, they need not fret. While in Vietnam, the Trump administration managed to ink a deal with Vietnam for 110 Boeing planes worth billions of dollars. Seems to me like it was a very lucrative and fruitful time in Vietnam, particularly for the people who matter the most: corporations that thrive as part of the US war machine.

Coincidentally, these are the same people who benefit the most when any chance of a US-North Korea peace process fails miserably. Go figure.

March 1, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

“Hyperalarming” study cited by WAPO was hype

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | February 11, 2019

Confirmation that the GWPF have sent a formal complaint to PNAS, regarding the paper published by them on insect decline last October:

The scientific paper behind newspaper claims that insect populations were threatened with extinction was based on data known to be unreliable. That’s according to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which today called for the paper to be withdrawn.

The paper, by US scientists Bradford C Lister and Andres Garcia, claimed that a rapid decline in insect populations in a rainforest in Puerto Rico was the result of rising temperatures. The Washington Post called the study “hyperalarming”, while the Guardian discussed climate change causing “insect collapse”.

However, the authors’ evidence that temperatures had, in fact, risen turns out to be based on a single weather station, which was known to be unreliable because of undocumented changes to equipment and location resulting in a substantial and abrupt increase in recorded temperatures in September 1992.

Since 1992, temperatures at this station have actually declined.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation has issued a formal complaint to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the journal that published the article, asking that the paper be withdrawn.

Letter to the editor of PNAS (PDF)

https://www.thegwpf.org/hyper-alarming-study-was-hype/

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Western Anti-Russia Paranoia Reaches Fever-Pitch

Strategic Culture Foundation | February 1, 2019

Western corporate news media have got to be one of the most irresponsible and toxic entities. In particular, their contribution to distorting international relations with Russia and stoking tensions is bordering on incitement.

It is astounding and atrocious that such paranoid thinking is displayed on a massive scale. Western establishment news media, without a hint of irony, proclaim to be independent, critical, free-thinking and defenders of democracy. How delusional. They are increasingly serving up war propaganda like ministries of disinformation in a truly Orwellian scenario. And yet Western media have the arrogant hypocrisy to vilify Russia for malign intent.

German media recently accused Russian news channels of “propaganda” and demanded their shutdown. British media, including supposedly “quality” brands, run sensational reports about Russian warships “menacing” Britain and Europe because those vessels sailed through proximate international waters. Alleged Russian cyberattacks are aiming to destroy civil society and infrastructure. And so on.

But this week, it was American news media that once again excelled in irresponsible anti-Russia paranoia. The CNN news channel “informed” its viewers of how Russia and North Korea were “teaming up” as “two of America’s most dangerous adversaries”. The brief report is worth studying for its sinister use of images and innuendo to convey alleged nefarious intentions imputed to both Russia and North Korea towards US national security.

A day before that report, the Washington Post published an equally hollow article claiming that Moscow had offered Pyongyang a deal to build a nuclear power plant in exchange for North Korea dismantling its ballistic weapons. The alleged deal, according to the Post, “marked an attempt by Moscow to intervene in high-stakes nuclear talks as it asserts itself in a string of geopolitical flash points from the Middle East to South Asia to Latin America.”

That non-entity report was then “cited” by CNN subsequently to make its breathless case that Russia and North Korea were “teaming up” against the US.

This non-stop fingering by Western news media of Russia as a malign nation is not “news information” to the public. It is simply disinformation, distortion and demonization. It is war propaganda. The caricature of Russia as being an evil enemy is not based on facts or evidence. It is based on repetition of lies and innuendo.

Western news media are a disgrace to any claims of being independent “public information”. They are the antithesis of critical journalism.

This incendiary role comes at a time when international relations are acutely strained. Russia’s deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned this week that the world has never been in greater danger in recent decades as it is now of an all-out military confrontation. He was speaking at a conference held in Beijing on nuclear arms controls attended by the US, Russia, Britain and France.

Ryabkov was referring to the threat by the US to abandon the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. If the treaty collapses then international security is gravely weakened.

Russia and the US accuse each other of breaching the INF. Moscow points to the actual installation of short-range US ballistic missile systems in Romania and Poland. For its part, the American side has not provided evidence to back up its claims against Russia.

The point is, however, that the claims and counter-claims should be resolved through negotiations and dialogue. The unilateral abandonment of the INF by the US is reprehensible and reckless.

But such high-handed conduct by Washington is based to a large extent on the sinister imaging of Russia as a “dangerous enemy”.

This is why the Western news media deserve reproach. The Russophobia that they churn out on a weekly, daily basis has directly fomented a prejudice detrimental to international relations.

Western state policies of antagonism towards Russia are being fashioned based on false perceptions. Those policies are partly enabled by public passivity inculcated by Western media constantly portraying Russia as a “bad actor”.

The so-called “Russiagate” scandal has been running for almost two years in the Western corporate media. Yet, there is still no proof to substantiate the sensational claims that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential elections with the aim of getting Donald Trump elected.

Nonetheless, the Western media continue to propagate that threadbare narrative. This week, the top US intelligence official, Dan Coats, claimed that Russia was going to interfere in the 2020 election on a much greater scale that it had allegedly done in 2016. The news media reported without any skepticism or investigation.

Fortunately though, the establishment Western media has come to be seen by many people in Western states and around the world as a farce. The repetition of lies and fiction regarding Russia – by supposedly august titles like the New York Times, London Times, BBC, Der Spiegel and many more – has totally discredited Western so-called news media.

Public trust in what is supposed to be an institution upholding “democracy” appears to be at an all-time low. The baneful condition is correlated with Western media and government anti-Russia paranoia being at an all-time high.

This growing public distrust and contempt is good and a mercy. For if the deranged Western media and governments had their Russophobia fulfilled, the world would be plunged into war.

One thing that emerges clearly is the past Cold War hostility towards the Soviet Union is recycled into animosity towards Russia. In the Cold War, the Western states could at least claim they were fighting against an unwanted ideology. There is no basis for such a claim post-Cold War, yet the aggression continues. That means the hostility emanates from the West. Why? That is a question Western populations should be asking about their media and governments and their foreign policies. What is the immanent need for such hostility?

The Western media’s function is to keep the mass of people drugged from asking searching questions about their condition and the imposition of irrational war-like mentality.

February 1, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

No need to install: Microsoft has controversial fake news filter NewsGuard built into mobile browser

© http://www.microsoft.com
By Igor Ogorodnev | RT | January 23, 2019

Corporate and neocon-backed startup NewsGuard is one step closer to its vision of bringing its “unreliable” news rater to every screen after Microsoft makes it an integral part of its Edge mobile browser.

Rather than having to download an app as before, Edge users on Android and Apple devices can now just click one button to enable its “green-red rating signal if a website is trying to get it right or instead has a hidden agenda or knowingly publishes falsehoods or propaganda.”

Among the green-rated websites: Voice of America, CNN, Buzzfeed, the Guardian, New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as left-leaning upstarts such as Vice News and Refinery 29. Ones that are given the red warning label of “failing to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability”: RT and Sputnik (obviously enough) and the right-wing Daily Mail, Breitbart and the Drudge Report, in addition to hundreds of other non-mainstream news websites such as Wikileaks.

Not only does the integration ensure that NewsGuard is present on every browser, and is easier to use than to ignore, but by making it a fundamental Microsoft-provided feature, the company gives it inherent level of trustworthiness, something akin to a bundled anti-virus feature, only this time the virus targets your brain, not your computer or iPod.

‘Totally transparent’

None of this is the slightest bit alarming if you believe that NewsGuard is an absolutely fair arbiter of what constitutes real news or propaganda.

Its pride of place is its “Nutrition Labels” which ape the precision of a list of calories, carbs, and saturated fats to give a supposedly scientific assessment of media reliability on nine different criteria. Among them: doesn’t repeatedly publish false content, avoids deceptive headlines, gathers and presents information responsibly, handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly.

©  Newsguardtech.com/Media sample

The green-listed media outlets above apparently do not ever engage in these practices, or at least not knowingly. So CNN never misleads with its headlines, the Guardian never dresses up its agendas as news, and Buzzfeed stories are always accurate. One literally doesn’t have to go back three days to find dozens of examples to the contrary, but this would be too mind-numbingly pedantic a task.

Even regular readers of the green-tick media must be able to see these are judgment calls. What is even “presenting information responsibly”?

Perhaps realizing that their pseudo-scientific fancy diagram is insufficient, NewsGuard has stressed that they are not using shadowy methods like tech companies and are open to two-way communication.

“We want people to game our system. We are totally transparent. We are not an algorithm,” company co-founder Steve Brill told the Guardian.

This is how he explained the Daily Mail red warning.

“We spell out fairly clearly in the label exactly how many times we have attempted to contact them. The analyst that wrote this writeup got someone on the phone who, as soon he heard who she was and where she was calling from, hung up. As of now, we would love to hear if they have a complaint or if they change anything.”

On the other hand, RT did answer NewsGuard’s queries in detail. You can guess how much difference that made.

From anthrax scares to Russia fears

But who are these people that the Daily Mail or RT have to impress and why?

Brill himself is a veteran centrist journalist and author, his co-CEO Gordon Crovitz is a former Wall Street Journal columnist. After Brill, its second-biggest investor, along with his father, is Nick Penniman, the liberal publisher, and the third-biggest is Publicis Group, a multinational advertising agency.

Meanwhile, its advisory board includes Tom Ridge, the first-ever Homeland Security chief, and developer of another famous color-coded system, the terror alert, and Michael Hayden, the CIA director, also under George W. Bush. There are also several Obama and Clinton-era figures.

Tom Ridge and George W. Bush in 2004. ©  Reuters

The overall picture emerges of a mix of establishment journalists, hawkish old-school Washington insiders, and so-called ethical businessmen.

They may all be experts in their fields, but if you believe that these are selfless neutral adjudicators you are probably beyond being helped by color charts. And this is not some one-off initiative either: NewsGuard is part of Microsoft’s Defending Democracy program, which combats purported election meddling, presumably primarily from Russia. The frontline of the information war is not customarily the place for impartial news judgment.

But I wasn’t an Edge user…

However much respectability NewsGuard enjoys through Microsoft, Edge has a laughably small – a fraction of a percent – market share on mobiles. In practical terms, even an increase of popularity of several thousand percent will only mean several thousand new users, and other browsers are available.

This would be that, if not for NewsGuard’s self-proclaimed ambition “to expand to serve the billions of people globally who get news online.” This is just a beginning: there is an overarching plan where all public computers, from the school to the university to the library, are automatically equipped with the same “safe browsing” system.

And rather than as an individual warning, NewsGuard plans to make its designations work as an effective financial tool. The company, which has received $6 million in backing, also plans to soon work with advertisers, “keeping ads off unreliable news websites” to ensure “brand safety.” Fall foul of the green ticks, no money for you. Advertising managers are already demonetizing programs with alternative or controversial viewpoints elsewhere, and soon the process can be automated, and Brill is boasting that he is “happy to be blamed” – doing the dirty work for the platforms. No wonder alternative outlets in the US are openly opposed.

So, just like the use of NewsGuard in all public libraries in the faraway state of Hawaii (no money charged), it is best to look at the Edge integration is more of a test, a pilot project, a dry run. Latching NewsGuard onto a popular browser like Chrome, or a social network like Facebook, would stir tremors of public debate, as it has done in the past when similar initiatives have been tried. Instead, first they came for the Edge users.

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Fake news’ is okay if it’s about #RussiaGate: Top 7 fake ‘collusion’ stories the media pushed

RT | January 21, 2019

BuzzFeed’s ‘bombshell’ claim last week that Donald Trump told ex-lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to congress is just the latest in a long line of ‘Russiagate’ stories that have later turned out to be false.

But BuzzFeed’s rubbished article is part of a phenomenon of what could be termed ‘acceptable fake news’ — fake news that gets a pass from the media because it serves a certain narrative. In this case, it furthers the ‘Russiagate’ narrative, which the mainstream media has been pushing breathlessly for two years. Lacking hard proof that Trump ‘colluded’ with Russia to win the 2016 election, they have clung to any shred of fake evidence they can find.

Last week, one astute Twitter user compiled a list of a whopping 42 Russiagate stories which were billed as bombshells but which ended up needing to be retracted or corrected. Here are seven of the most scandalous instances.

1. MSNBC pushed line that WikiLeaks released ‘fake’ Clinton emails

When WikiLeaks published the emails belonging to Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta in 2016, MSNBC sought to actively encourage its viewers to believe the emails were doctored by Russia.

They based that spurious claim on the fact that a fake transcript of a Clinton speech to Goldman Sachs was drifting around Twitter. The fake transcript had not been published by WikiLeaks, however. Rather, it was the creation of a pro-Clinton troll who had intended to trick Trump supporters into believing it was real so he could later embarrass them for their gullibility. MSNBC reporters who used the fake Twitter transcript to tarnish WikiLeaks’ authentic documents never corrected their false claims.

2. WaPo claims Russia ‘hacked’ the Vermont power grid

In one of the most infamous cases of a botched Russia-related story, the Washington Post claimed that Russia had hacked the Vermont power grid. In its zeal to deliver bombshell proof that Russia was attempting to attack the US, the Post reporters didn’t even bother to contact the utility company which could have told them that there had been no hacking or penetration of the power grid at all. The Post admitted later in an editor’s note that the story was fake.

3. CNN fires three journalists over botched story

It’s not often journalists who publish fake Russia-related ‘bombshells’ face real consequences, but last June, three CNN journalists, including the executive editor of a shiny new ‘investigative’ branch had to resign following the retraction of a false story which claimed Congress was investigating a Russian investment fund “with ties” to Trump’s team. The story quoted a single anonymous source and CNN later admitted that its reporters failed to follow “some standard editorial procedures” before publishing it.

4. Oops? CNN gets date on email wrong, causes mass panic

In a rush to prove that the Trump campaign had advance knowledge of and access to hacked DNC emails published by WikiLeaks, CNN (again) got the date of an email wrong. CNN claimed “multiple” sources had told them the email about the documents had been sent to the Trump campaign on September 4, but in reality, it had been sent on September 14 — a day after the WikiLeaks documents were made public — not, as CNN had claimed, nine days before.

5. ABC’s dud on Michael Flynn and ‘contact’ with Russians

Veteran ABC journalist Brian Ross was suspended after reporting last December that Trump had ordered former adviser Michael Flynn to contact Russian officials during the presidential campaign. It turned out, Trump had made this request of Flynn after he had won the election — not an unusual request for someone about to become the president of the US. Ross left ABC for good a while later after a career littered with embarrassing reporting blunders.

6. Russian supersonic tech or…crickets?

MSNBC reported last year that Russia was likely responsible for a supersonic attack on US diplomats stationed in the Cuba embassy. One ‘expert’ appeared on the channel stating that possible Russian “sophisticated microwaves” targeted the diplomats, while a reporter claimed Russian guilt had been “backed up” by interceptions of Russian communications. Meanwhile, intelligence sources told the New Yorker that no such evidence existed. When the Associated Press later released an audio recording, two US scientists deciphered that the sounds the diplomats had heard were more than likely the sounds of a species of Caribbean crickets during mating season.

7. Guardian claims Manafort had ‘secret meetings’ with Assange

WikiLeaks raised more than $55,000 in donations to sue the Guardian after the British newspaper published a story alleging (without corroborated evidence) that Julian Assange had held secret meetings with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where Assange has been living since 2012. The story which WikiLeaks claims is completely false — and which has also been questioned by other journalists — was written by Luke Harding, a Guardian reporter who has been accused before of fabricating stories and who went AWOL after the report was received with serious skepticism.

Unfortunately, the regularity with which these Russiagate stories have turned out to fake still hasn’t raised any red flags with establishment journalists, who seem more eager to bolster a narrative than to uncover actual facts.

January 21, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

A Convenient Killing of US Troops in Syria

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 18.01.2019

With unseemly haste, US news media leapt on the killing of four American military personnel in Syria as a way to undermine President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from that country.

The deadly attack in the northern city of Manbij, on the west bank of the Euphrates River, was reported to have been carried out by a suicide bomber. The Islamic State (ISIS) terror group reportedly claimed responsibility, but the group routinely makes such claims which often turn out to be false.

The American military personnel were said to be on a routine patrol of Manbij where US forces have been backing Kurdish militants in a purported campaign against ISIS and other terror groups.

An explosion at a restaurant resulted in two US troops and two Pentagon civilian officials being killed, along with more than a dozen other victims. Three other US military persons were among those injured.

US media highlighted the bombing as the biggest single death toll of American forces in Syria since they began operations in the country nearly four years ago.

The US and Kurdish militia have been in control of Manbij for over two years. It is one of the main sites from where American troops are to withdraw under Trump’s exit plan, which he announced on December 19.

Following the bombing, the New York Times headlined: “ISIS Attack in Syria Kills 4 Americans, Raising Worries about Troop Withdrawal”. The report goes on, “the news prompted calls from Republicans and Democrats for President Trump to reconsider his plans to withdraw troops from the country.”

A more pointed headline in The Washington Post was: “Killing of 4 Americans in Syria Throws Spotlight on Trump’s Policy”.

The Post editorialized, “the bombing showed that [ISIS] is likely to be a force to be reckoned with in Syria for the foreseeable future.” It quoted politicians in Washington claiming the “bombing deaths… were a direct result of a foolish and abrupt departure announcement [by Trump], and made the case for staying.”

Democrat Senator Jack Reed, who sits on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, said: “From the beginning, I thought the president was wrong [in ordering the withdrawal]. It was a strategic mistake for the whole region.”

With macabre smugness, anti-Trump politicians and news media appeared to exploit the death of US troops in Manbij to score points against Trump.

The president’s claims made just before Christmas of having defeated ISIS were widely replayed following the Manbij attack this week by way of ridiculing Trump’s order to pullout US troops from Syria.

Nevertheless, despite the deaths, Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence stated they were still committed to bring the 2,000 or so US troops home. Some military figures also went on US media to defend Trump’s pullout plan in spite of the terror attack in Manbij.

There clearly is a serious division in Washington over Trump’s policy on Syria. For Democrats and supportive media outlets, anything Trump does is to be opposed. But there are also elements within the military and intelligence nexus which are implacably against, what they see as, his “capitulation to Russia and Iran” in Syria. That was partly why his Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned days after Trump made his announced withdrawal at the end of last month.

Having invested years and money in regime-change machinations in Syria, there are bound to be US military and intelligence cabals which are resistant to Trump’s move to pack up. Not that Trump’s move portends a peace dividend for the region. It is more a “tactical change” for how US imperialism operates in the Middle East, as his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Cairo last week.

That is why Trump’s order to take troops out of Syria may not be a clear-cut withdrawal. His National Security adviser John Bolton on a tour of the Middle East last week has already tried to undermine Trump by attaching all sorts of vague conditions to the troop pullout. Bolton and Pompeo have talked about the need to ensure the total defeat of ISIS and of the countering of Iranian presence in Syria.

This brings up the question of who may have carried out the bombing in Manbij? Was it really a suicide bomber? Was it really ISIS? Several observers have pointed out that ISIS have not had any presence in Manbij for the past two years since the Americans and Kurds took control of the city.

As always, the key question arises: who stands to benefit from the killing of the American troops? The scale of the attack suggests it was carried out with a sharp political message intended for Trump.

One potential beneficiary are the Kurdish militants who are being abandoned by the putative US withdrawal. Without their American sponsor on the ground, the Kurds are in danger of Turkish forces launching cross-border operations to wipe them out, as Ankara has vowed to do. A Machiavellian Kurdish calculation could be to “disprove” Trump about “ISIS being defeated”, and that US forces are needed to prevent any resurgence of the terror group in Manbij and northeast Syria.

Another sinister player is the CIA or some other element of US military intelligence. It is certainly not beyond the realm of plausibility that the CIA could facilitate such an atrocity against American personnel in order to discredit Trump’s withdrawal plan.

Certainly, the way the anti-Trump media in the US reacted with such alacrity and concerted talking points suggests there was something a bit too convenient about the massacre.

It would in fact be naive to not suspect that the CIA could have pulled off such a false flag in Manbij. As in 1950s Vietnam, as told by Graham Greene in ‘The Quiet American’, the CIA have been doing such dirty tricks with bombing atrocities and assassinations for decades in order to precipitate wars in foreign countries that the agency calculates are in America’s geopolitical interests.

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment

US media intensify pretext for ousting Trump

By Finian Cunningham | RT | January 16, 2019

It’s no secret that since his election in 2016, powerful elements in the US political and media establishment have been running a non-stop campaign to remove Trump from the White House. Lately, the stakes have been raised.

Spearheading the media effort to defenestrate Trump are the New York Times and Washington Post. Both have been prominent purveyors of the “Russiagate” narrative over the past two years, claiming that Republican candidate colluded with Russian state intelligence, or at least was a beneficiary of alleged Russian interference, to win the presidency against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Congressional investigations and a probe by a Special Counsel Robert Mueller, along with relentless media innuendo, have failed to produce any evidence to support the Russiagate narrative.

Now, the anti-Trump media in alliance with the Democratic leadership, the foreign policy establishment and senior ranks of the state intelligence agencies appear to have come up with a new angle on President Trump – he is a national security risk.

Ingeniously, the latest media effort lessens the burden of proof required against Trump. No longer has it to be proven that he deliberately collaborated with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump could have done it “unwittingly,” the media are now claiming, because he is a buffoon and reckless. But the upshot, for them, is he’s still a national security risk. The only conclusion, therefore, is that he should be removed from office. In short, a coup.

Over the past couple of weeks, the supposed media bastions have been full of it against Trump. An op-ed in the New York Times on January 5 by David Leonhardt could not have made more plain the absolute disdain. “He is demonstrably unfit for office. What are we waiting for?”

Follow-up editorials and reports have piled on the pressure. The Times reported how the Federal Bureau of Investigation – the state’s internal security agency – opened a counterintelligence file on Trump back in 2017 out of concern that he was “working for Russia against US interests.”

That unprecedented move was prompted partly because of Trump’s comments during the election campaign in 2016 when he jokingly called on Russia to release Hillary Clinton’s incriminating emails. Never mind the fact that Russian hackers were not the culprits for Clinton’s email breach.

Then the Washington Post reported former US officials were concerned about what they said was Trump’s “extraordinary lengths” to keep secret his private conversations with Russia’s Putin when the pair met on the sidelines of conferences or during their one-on-one summit in Helsinki last July.

The Post claimed that Trump confiscated the notes of his interpreter after one meeting with Putin, allegedly admonishing the aide to not tell other officials in the administration about the notes being sequestered. The inference is Trump was allegedly in cahoots with the Kremlin.

This week, in response to the media speculation, Trump was obliged to strenuously deny such claims, saying: “I have never worked for Russia… it’s a big fat hoax.”

What’s going on here is a staggering abuse of power by the US’ top internal state intelligence agency to fatally undermine a sitting president based on the flimsiest of pretexts. Moreover, the nation’s most prominent news media outlets – supposedly the Fourth Estate defenders of democracy – are complacently giving their assent, indeed encouragement, to this abuse of power.

The Times in the above report admitted, in a buried one-line disclaimer, that there was no evidence linking Trump to Russia.

Nevertheless, the media campaign doubled down to paint Trump as a national security risk.

The Times reported on January 14 about deep “concerns” among Pentagon officials over Trump’s repeated threats to withdraw the US from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The reporting portrays Trump as incompetent, ignorant of policy details and habitually rude to American allies. His capricious temper tantrums could result in the US walking away from NATO at any time, the newspaper contends.

Such a move would collapse the transatlantic partnership between the US and Europe which has “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years,” claimed the Times.

The paper quotes US Admiral James Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, calling Trump’s withdrawal whims “a geopolitical mistake of epic proportion.”

“Even discussing the idea of leaving NATO — let alone actually doing so — would be the gift of the century for Putin,” added Stavridis.

The Times goes on to divulge the media campaign coordination when it editorialized: “Now, the president’s repeatedly stated desire to withdraw from NATO is raising new worries among national security officials amid growing concern about Mr Trump’s efforts to keep his meetings with Mr Putin secret from even his own aides, and an FBI investigation into the administration’s Russia ties.”

Still another Times report this week reinforced the theme of Trump being a national security risk when it claimed that the president’s Middle East policy of pulling troops out of Syria was “losing leverage” in the region. It again quoted Pentagon officials “voicing deepening fears” that Trump and his hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton “could precipitate a conflict with Iran”.

That’s a bit hard to stomach: the Pentagon being presented as a voice of sanity and peace, keeping vigilance over a wrecking-ball president and his administration.

But the New York Times, Washington Post and other anti-Trump corporate media have long been extolling the military generals who were formerly in the administration as “the adults in the room.”

Generals H.R. McMaster, the former national security adviser, John Kelly, Trump’s ex-chief of staff, and James Mattis, the former defense secretary until he was elbowed out last month by the president, were continually valorized in the US media as being a constraining force on Trump’s infantile and impetuous behavior.

The absence of “the adults” seems to have prompted the US media to intensify their efforts to delegitimize Trump’s presidency.

A new House of Representatives controlled by the Democratic Party has also invigorated calls for impeachment of Trump over a range of unsubstantiated accusations, Russian collusion being prime among them. But any impeachment process promises to be long and uncertain of success, according to several US legal and political authorities.

Such a tactic is fraught with risk of failing, no doubt due to the lack of evidence against Trump’s alleged wrongdoing. A failed impeachment effort could backfire politically, increase his popularity, and return him to the White House in 2020.

Given the uncertainty of impeaching Trump, his political enemies, including large sections of the media establishment, seem to be opting for the tactic of characterizing him as a danger to national security, primarily regarding Russia. Trump doesn’t have to be a proven agent of the Kremlin – a preposterous idea. Repeated portrayal of him as an incompetent unwitting president is calculated to be sufficient grounds for his ouster.

When the Washington Post editorial board urges a state of emergency to be invoked because of “Russian meddling in US elections”, then the national mood is being fomented to accept a coup against Trump. The media’s fawning over the Pentagon and state intelligence agencies as some kind of virtuous bastion of democracy is a sinister signal for a military-police state.

January 16, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

The US Mainstream Media Prefer Confrontation to Cooperation

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.01.2019

The Washington Post is a noisily anti-Russian newspaper which every weekday by email produces for subscribers (of whom I am one) the Daily 202 (“Power Post — Intelligence for Leaders”) which covers US politics, a little international stuff, and a section called “There’s a Bear in the Woods” aimed at denigrating, belittling and generally insulting Russia.

The Post is intent on convincing citizens of the United States and the world in general that nothing good is ever done by, in or with the government of Russia, and a favourite target is President Putin. A typical Editorial was headed “Trump just colluded with Russia. Openly” and dealt savagely with the Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki last year. Much of the world believes that such discussions between nations’ leaders are better than hostile rhetoric, and most reasonable people are pleased and even relieved when meetings take place. They prefer amicable dialogue to venomous confrontation.

But the Post ended its comment on the meeting by asserting that “Mr Trump in fact was openly colluding with the criminal leader of a hostile power.”

That’s the ‘hostile power’ that has cooperated for twenty years with the United States in operating the International Space Station.

The Post doesn’t like such news as “[Russian space agency] Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin and Bill Gerstenmaier, head of NASA’s human explorations and operations, said after a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the International Space Station that their agencies plan to collaborate on developing a moon orbiting outpost. Russia is working on a heavy booster rocket and a new spacecraft to complement American projects intended for a future moon mission, Rogozin said. ‘We absolutely trust each other, and political winds haven’t touched us.’ Gerstenmaier spoke in kind, noting that partnership in space exploration could be ‘an example to the outside world. It has been a blessing that our governments have both seen the wisdom of what we are doing and both our governments have avoided placing sanctions on us or getting us caught up in the political things’.”

It is most gratifying that the United States and Russia can cooperate so closely on such an important endeavour. As noted by CNN, “since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011 the US has depended on Roscosmos to transport astronauts to the space station.” In other words, the space station could not exist without Russia’s no-strings collaboration.

But most western media play down, ignore or deplore such instances of harmony and amity. The UK’s Daily Telegraph, for example, is entirely negative, and grudgingly reported last December that the most recent “launch of the MS-11 ship was a closely watched test for Russia’s space industry, which has suffered several high-profile failures in recent years but remains the only reliable way to deliver crew to the orbiting station.” There had been an accident in the course of a previous launch but, to the regret of many in the West, Russia’s emergency procedures were flawless and there was no loss of life.

In spite of this example of outstandingly successful bilateral cooperation, a meeting scheduled for February between the space professionals of Russia and the United States was cancelled “after mounting pressure from Capitol Hill.” Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin had hosted his NASA counterpart, Jim Bridenstine, in October last year, so his February visit was to be a combination of practicality and courtesy — but this isn’t the way the US Senate sees or does things.

Senator Bob Menendez of the Foreign Relations Committee declared that “to welcome Mr Rogozin to the United States and provide him a platform to speak is an affront to our sanctions regime and will further undermine the Trump Administration’s limited credibility on Russia policy,” and Senator Jeanne Shaheen of the Senate panel that funds NASA said the planned meeting “undermines the United States’ core national security objectives” and “weakens the US’s global standing by demonstrating the ease by which Russian officials can get around transatlantic sanctions.”

The Senate’s pressure on NASA is part of the campaign of petulant and spiteful attacks on Russia which show that Washington is intent on destruction of even the slightest efforts to bring the US and Russia closer.

Which brings us back to the Washington Post which distinguished itself by getting just a little mixed up during one of its anti-Russia forays when it enthusiastically seized on a faulty piece in the New York Times.

It all started when the Times breathlessly revealed that during the 2016 election campaign, Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort “and his Russian associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, discussed a plan for peace in Ukraine.” This dastardly anti-America, pro-Russia activity could not be tolerated by the US mainstream media which reported that one of Mr Manafort’s menacing machinations involved sharing “political polling data with a business associate tied to Russian intelligence.”

(As an aside, it is difficult to believe that notification of political polling data is in some fashion a national security risk. Most of us know that poll results can be made public without release conditions. Every foreign mission in Washington analysed them.)

The Times continued, in a version of the report that has been deleted, that Manafort wanted the data passed on to “Oleg V Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin,” and in its ‘202’ the Washington Post went to town about this supposedly sinister character. It began by stating that “several experts said the Deripaska connection makes this news a huge deal” and quoted Steven Hall, a former head of Russia operations at the CIA, as tweeting “Remember, the polling info Manafort passed to Kilimnik was headed to Deripaska, who is close to Putin… The margins the Russians needed to change in key states during the 2016 elections [were] pretty small. Now we know how they were able to be so precise: Paul Manafort was providing polling data to Russia.” Shock! Horror!

Another expert shaken by such disclosures was Post columnist Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who declared “This is potentially very significant evidence of collusion… Why would Manafort share polling data with the Russians unless it was to help them target their pro-Trump social media campaign?”

On it went for over 400 words recounting how the dastardly Deripaska was up to his ears in conspiracy, although a cautionary note was sounded by former ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul who like a good diplomat injected the phrase “if proven” in his tweet before agreeing “this is serious.”

Yes, it was serious. But not as serious as the downplayed low-profile admission by the Washington Post that its chatter allegations were not “proven”. The Post noted that “the New York Times corrected a story we included in yesterday’s 202: ‘A previous version of this article misidentified the people to whom Paul Manafort wanted a Russian associate to send polling data. Mr. Manafort wanted the data sent to two Ukrainian oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov, not to Oleg V Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin’.”

So much for the Washington Post’s Bear in the Woods, but a sad indicator of how determined are some of the US media to help destroy any movement towards rapprochement with Russia. Fortunately, in spite of their malevolent efforts and the spiteful Senate shenanigans, the International Space Station cooperation will continue, which shows, thank goodness, that there are still some grown-ups in the woods.

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

WaPo recycles old Russiagate memes in latest gossip piece about Trump-Putin secret collusion

RT | January 13, 2019

Donald Trump’s reluctance to provide unfettered access to his conversations with Vladimir Putin has upset nameless American officials, the Washington Post has revealed. The US president dismissed the story as absurd and offensive.

According to the revered paper, Trump has “gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details” of his face-to-face conversations with Putin. During a meeting with the Russian leader in Hamburg in 2017, Trump even purportedly confiscated the notes of his own interpreter, who was then instructed not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials.

Various (and of course nameless) US officials have now apparently complained to the Washington Post about how they’ve been left in the dark about five conversations that Trump had with the Russian leader, colorfully described by the newspaper as “one of the United States’ main adversaries.”

The story’s thinly veiled assumption is of course that Donald Trump has used his handful of private meetings with Putin to receive secret instructions from Moscow – impose new sanctions on Russia, bomb Syria, send lethal weapons to Ukraine, shred the Iran deal and missile treaties, and so forth.

The creatively framed story suffers from a few other inconvenient plot holes. The super-secret meeting with Putin in Hamburg was also attended by then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson. Does this mean that Tillerson is also a deep-cover KGB agent? Tillerson even released a readout after the meeting – following completely standard, but apparently unsatisfactory protocol.

The self-contradictory report goes on to explain how, as part of Trump’s obsession with ultra-secret Putin pow-wows, the president “generally has allowed aides to listen to his phone conversations” with the Russian leader.

Trump “allies” interviewed by the Post said that the president’s caution when it comes to meeting with Putin may be “driven by embarrassing leaks that occurred early in his presidency.” This theory is of course way less fun than the airtight idea that Trump is actually a Russian agent – that’s why WaPo only gave it one sentence.

Responding to the report, Trump told Fox News that there was nothing scandalous about his talks with the Russian leader. When Fox News host Jeanine Pirro asked if he is or has ever been working on behalf of the Kremlin, Trump responded: “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.” Among hardcore Russiagaters, his answer was naturally interpreted as an explosive non-denial.

“Credit to Jeannine Pirro for asking Trump if he’s a Russian Agent. The President, notably, never actually answered that question,” Colby Hall, founding editor of Mediaite, tweeted.

Rehashing months-old Russiagate news, the Washington Post also disclosed that Democratic lawmakers are still demanding details about Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki last summer. House Democrats reportedly plan to form a subcommittee which aims to obtain State Department records of Trump’s various encounters with the Russian president.

January 13, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Guns or Butter: Neocons Want More Weapons less Government Services

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | December 30, 2018

It is one of the great ironies that the United States, which is not actually threatened by any foreign power, maintains a ruinously expensive and globally destructive national security policy that is based on fear. It can be argued that Washington was at least briefly a force for stability and good governance in the aftermath of the Second World War when much of Europe and Asia were in ruins, but America’s interference in the internal politics of other nations has, most particularly in the past twenty years, borne bitter fruit. The argument being made that the U.S. national security mandates “forward defense” by maintaining a string of overseas bases and outdated alliances has been proven wrong again and again as allies have proven feckless and countries that would otherwise be friendly have chafed and then rebelled under America’s imposed leadership role.

President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warned in 1961 about the developing military-industrial-complex (MIC), which he had originally dubbed the military-industrial-congressional complex before accepting that he would need legislative help if he were to reverse the seemingly inexorable spending on weapons and expansion of overseas military bases. In the event, Ike’s warning went unheeded and, more recently, the expected “peace dividend” that might have developed from the end of the Cold War in 1991 was wasted when the Clinton Administration recklessly enabled the looting of the former Soviet Union’s natural resources while also expanding the no longer needed NATO alliance up to the Russian border.

Many politicians and industrialists who directly benefit from the spending on the military are largely to blame for propagating the myth that the United States is vulnerable to enemy attack. One only has to recall the panic when Moscow launched a satellite into orbit in 1957 and then there was the essentially fraudulent “Soviet Estimate” by the intelligence community which persisted in overrating Russian military capabilities and the strength of the Soviet Union’s economy. Having a powerful enemy was a sine qua non for those who wished to profit from “defense” spending.

The situation currently is somewhat different than that which prevailed during most of the post-World War 2 era. To be sure, the spending on weapons has continued at a ruinous level but the enemy has changed. Russia is back as a major threat due to the seemingly endless investigations into the 2016 election that have been dubbed “Russiagate,” but it has been joined by China, which is being seen at the major “over the horizon” enemy. And there is also the ubiquitous non-state player “Islamic terrorism” as well as Iran for good measure to keep the money flowing.

It would not be completely fatuous to suggest that the list of all of America’s presumed enemies is at least somewhat contrived. And it is also important to note that the identification of enemies for most Americans depends on the mainstream media, which is now closely linked to corporate and government interests so as to be incapable of independent inquiry or investigation. The impact of a tame media is significant: during the Vietnam War the press was highly critical and hammered the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration. Since then, reporters are embedded and the stories they are allowed to write, are generally puff pieces because to report the truth would make them lose their access.

A recent article that appeared in The Washington Post perfectly illustrates how the newspaper is selling a product that fearmongers to sustain more military spending. It is entitled Wake up. America’s military isn’t invincible, written by regular columnist Robert J. Samuelson.

The article begins with “The most uncovered story in Washington these days is the loss of U.S. military power — a lesson particularly important in light of recent events: the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; President Trump’s rash decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria; North Korea’s announcement that it will keep nuclear weapons after all; and alleged massive computer hacking by Chinese nationals.”

Now, right off the bat, Samuelson’s argument can be challenged. “Loss of U.S. military power” if it can be quantified at all has nothing to do with Mattis or Syria, nor with North Korea or China. Or even with Donald Trump, who has increased the armed services budget, though one should presume that the president is the ultimate target of the article given that it has appeared in the Post.

Samuelson makes his case by citing defense modernization programs in China and Russia and “advances” in Iran and North Korea that undercut U.S. military capabilities. He refers to a recent report of the congressional National Defense Strategy Commission (NDSC), which identifies specific areas in which Russia and China have upgraded their capabilities and quotes “If the United States had to fight Russia in a Baltic contingency or China in a war over Taiwan . . . Americans could face a decisive military defeat.” The report concludes that “America has reached the point of a full-blown national security crisis.”

The possible armed conflicts cited by Samuelson are, of course, carefully chosen to produce a desired result. Confronting Russia or China in their home waters thousands of miles away from the U.S. gives all the advantage to the defense, which will be able to operate on interior lines and maximize available land, sea, and air forces. And the NDSC report itself is suspect, designed to promote a certain point of view. Its authors are top heavy with retired senior military officers and defense industry “experts” who have a personal interest in more spending on weapons.

Samuelson also cites fellow Post columnist Max Boot, writing that he had “done a great favor by publicizing the report.” He quotes Boot: “Air superiority, which the United States has taken for granted since World War II, is no longer assured. And, without control of the skies, U.S. ships and soldiers would be [highly] vulnerable.” Boot,  sometimes referred to as the Man Who Has Never Been Right About Anything is, of course, a neocon mouthpiece who is in favor of war all the time and nearly everywhere, particularly if Israel is involved. He characteristically, like Samuelson, fancies himself as an expert on national security even though he has never served in the armed forces. His “air superiority” mantra is ridiculous as it would seem to suggest that the U.S. should be able to “control the skies” everywhere simultaneously, which is impossible. And he ignores the fact that the United States uniquely has 19 aircraft carriers which can project air power to anywhere in the world.

Samuelson goes on to condemn what he calls “unwise cuts in defense spending” and cites a 12% decline in spending on the military between 2010 and 2015 as well as a decline in the “defense” share of the GDP from 1960 until 2017. Both figures come from the NDSC report. He does not, however, mention that the current defense budget is larger than the military spending of the next eight countries combined, to include both China and Russia.

Samuelson, doing a great impersonation of ex-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, blames the lack of money for the Pentagon on “the American welfare state — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and the like.” He advocates cutting “welfare” to buy more and better weapons. He then goes on to liken the current situation to that existing before World War 2, when Adolph Hitler’s Germany rearmed while England and France did nothing. The analogy is not exactly correct as, when war broke out, France alone fielded an army greater than Germany’s, but it’s always reassuring to have Hitler cited yet again in a neocon op-ed.

Samuelson concludes with the obligatory slap at Trump: “We need to keep our commitments — Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from Syria devalues our word. And we need to repair our alliances,” but one might well opine that there is something seriously wrong with that kind of thinking, where guns always take precedence over butter. Government exists to benefit the citizens that together make up the state, not to meddle in the affairs of other nations and peoples worldwide.

The selling of America the All-Powerful is a bit of a con job promoted by neocons like Samuelson and Boot but we do not need to send tens of thousands of young Americans overseas to give “value to our word.” We do not need to enter into pointless wars in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. We do need an America that is at peace with itself and which is willing to be strong and brave enough to realize that real security will come when the United States is no longer the world’s designated bully. Let’s consider a New Year’s wish to see a 2019 where the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen finally come home and where scribblers like Samuelson and Boot find themselves unemployed.

December 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

Syria Withdrawal Enrages the Chickenhawks

A Christmas present for the American and Syrian people

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • December 25, 2018

President Donald Trump’s order to withdraw from Syria has been greeted, predictably, with an avalanche of condemnation culminating in last Thursday’s resignation by Defense Secretary James Mattis. The Mattis resignation letter focused on the betrayal of allies, though it was inevitably light on details, suggesting that the Marine Corps General was having some difficulty in discerning that American interests might be somewhat different than those of feckless and faux allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia that are adept at manipulating the levers of power in Washington and in the media. Mattis clearly appreciates that having allies is a force multiplier in wartime but fails to understand that it is a liability otherwise as the allies create an obligation to go to war on their behalf rather than in response to any actual national interest.

The media was quick to line up behind Mattis. On Friday, The New York Times featured a lead editorial entitled “Jim Mattis was right” while neocon twitter accounts blazed with indignation. Prominent chickenhawk mouthpieces David Frum and Bill Kristol, among many others, tweeted that the end is nigh.

During the day preceding Mattis’s dramatic announcement, the press went to war against the Administration over Syria and also regarding other reports that there would be troop reductions in Afghanistan. The following headline actually appeared on a Reuters online article the day after the announcement by the president: “In Syria retreat, Trump rebuffs top advisers and blindsides U.S. commanders.” It would be difficult to imagine stuffing more bullshit into one relatively short sentence. “Retreat,” “rebuffs” and “blindsides” are not words that are intended to convey any sort of even-handed assessment of what is occurring in U.S. policy towards the Middle East. They are instead meant to imply that “Hey, that moron in the White House has screwed up again!”

Consider for a moment the agenda that Reuters is apparently pushing. It is supporting an illegal and unconstitutional invasion of Syria by the United States that has a stated primary objective of removing a terrorist organization which is already mostly gone and a less frequently acknowledged goal of regime change for the legitimate government in Damascus and the expulsion of that government’s principal allies. Reuters is asserting that staying in Syria would be a good thing for the United States and also for its “allies” in the region even though there is no way to “win” and no exit strategy.

Reuters is presumably basing its assessment on the collective judgments of a group of “top advisers” who are warmongers that the rest of the world as well as many Americans consider to be psychopaths or possibly even insane. And then there are the preferences of the “blindsided” generals, like Mattis, who have a personal interest in career terms for maintaining a constant state of warfare. If you want to really know how what the military thinks about an ongoing war ask a sergeant or a private, never a general. They will tell you that they are sick of endless deployments that accomplish nothing.

The New York Times lead story headline on Thursday also let you know that its Editors were not pleased by Trump’s move. It read “U.S. Exit Seen as a Betrayal of the Kurds, and a Boon for ISIS.” They also editorialized “Trump’s Decision to Withdraw From Syria Is Alarming. Just Ask His Advisers.”

The Washington Post was not far behind. It immediately ran an op-ed by the redoubtable neocon chickenhawk Max Boot, whom Caitlin Johnstone has dubbed “The Man Who Has Been Wrong About Everything.” The piece was entitled Trump’s surprise Syria pullout is a giant Christmas gift to our enemies making a twofer with an incredible “Fuck the EU” Victoria Nuland’s piece entitled “In a single tweet Trump destroys U.S. policy in the Middle East,” which appeared simultaneously. That anyone would regard Boot and Nuland as objective authorities on the Middle East given their ultimate and prevailing loyalty to Israel has to be wondered at, but then again Fred Hiatt is the editorial/opinion page editor and he is of the same persuasion, both ethnically and philosophically. They are all, of course, devoted Zionists and the big lie about what is going on in the region is apparently always worth repeating. As Joseph Goebbels put it in 1941 “… when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it… even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”

Comments relating to the articles, op-eds and editorials in the Post and Times bordered on the hysterical, sometimes suggesting that readers actually believe that Trump was following orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin. And what was stirring at Reuters, The Times, and the Post was only the tip of the iceberg. The mainstream television news providers united in condemning the audacity of a president who might actually try to end a war while the only favorable commentary on Trump’s having taken a step that is long overdue came from the alternative media.

One might profitably recall how Trump has only been praised as “presidential” by the Establishment twice – when he staged cruise missile attacks on Syria based on faulty intelligence. The Deep State wants blood, make no mistake about it and it is not interested in “retreat.” And Trump will also get almost no support from Congress, with only longtime critics of Syrian policy Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee as well as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard praising the move initially.

The arguments being made to criticize the Trump initiative were essentially cookie cutter neocon soundbites. The Reuters piece in its first few lines of text asserts that the reversal of policy “stunned lawmakers and allies with his order for U.S. troops to leave Syria, a decision that upends American policy in the Middle East. The result, said current and former officials and people briefed on the decision, will empower Russia and Iran and leave unfinished the goal of erasing the risk that Islamic State, or ISIS, which has lost all but a sliver of territory, could rebuild.” The article goes on to quote an anonymous Pentagon source who opined that “… Trump’s decision was widely seen in the Pentagon as benefiting Russia as well as Iran, both of which have used their support for the Syrian government to bolster their regional influence. Iran also has improved its ability to ship arms to Lebanese Hezbollah for use against Israel. Asked who gained from the withdrawal, the defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, replied: ‘Geopolitically Russia, regionally Iran.’”

Another so-called expert Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute was also cited in the article, saying “It completely takes apart America’s broader strategy in Syria, but perhaps more importantly, the centerpiece of the Trump administration policy, which is containing Iran.”

Israel is also turning up the heat on Trump, claiming that the move will make it more insecure. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to increase air attacks on Iranian targets in Syria as an added security measure to make up for the American betrayal. Normally liberal American Jews have joined the hue and cry against Trump on behalf of Israel. Filmmaker Rob Reiner tweeted on Thursday that the president is a “childish moronic mentally unstable malignant narcissist” who is “committing Treason” against the United States.

The real story, lost in the wailing and gnashing to teeth, is that even after conceding that Donald Trump’s hyperbolic claim that the United States had defeated ISIS as the motive for the withdrawal is nonsense, there is still no good reason for Washington to continue to keep troops in Syria. The U.S. in reality did far less in the war against the terrorist groups infesting the region than did the Russians, Iranians or the Syrians themselves and, as a result, it will have less say in what kind of Syria emerges from the carnage. That is almost certainly a good thing for the Syrian people.

But let’s assume for sake of argument that the U.S. invasion really was about ISIS. Well, ISIS continues to hold on to a small bit of territory near the Euphrates River and is reported to have between one and two thousand remaining fighters. There are other estimates suggesting that between 10,000 and 20,000 followers have dispersed and gone underground awaiting a possible resurgence by the group. The argument that ISIS will reorganize and re-emerge as a result of the American withdrawal assumes that it is the 2,000 strong U.S. armed forces that are keeping it down, which is ridiculous. The best remedy against an ISIS recovery is to support a restored and re-unified Syria, which will have more than enough resources available to eliminate the last bits of the terrorist groups remaining in its territory.

So we go to fallback argument B, which is “containing Iran.” “Containment” was a U.S. policy devised by George Kennan in 1947 to inhibit the expansion of a powerful and sometimes aggressive soon-to-be nuclear armed Soviet Union, which was rightly seen as a serious threat. Iran is a second world country with a small military and economy with no nuclear arsenal and it neither threatens the United States nor any of its neighbors. But Israel supported by Saudi Arabia does not like Iran and has induced Washington to follow its lead. Withdrawing from Syria recognizes that Iran is no threat in reality. Positioning American military forces to “counter” Iran does not reduce the threat against the United States because there was no threat there to begin with.

And then there is the argument that the U.S. departure empowers Iran and Russia. Staying in Syria is, on the contrary, a drain on both those countries’ limited resources. The more money and manpower they have to commit to Syria the less they have to become engaged elsewhere and it is hard to imagine how either country would exploit the “victory” in Syria to leverage their involvement in other parts of the world. Both would be delighted if a final settlement of the Syrian problem could be arrived at so they can get out.

And as for the United States, the military should only be deployed anywhere to defend the U.S. itself or vital interests. There is nothing like that at stake in Syria. So, is American national security better or worse if the U.S. leaves? As Russian and American soldiers only confront each other directly in Syria, U.S. national security would in fact be greatly improved because the danger of igniting an accidental war with Russia would be dramatically reduced. There have reportedly already been a dozen incidents between U.S. and Russian troops, including some involving shooting. That has been a dozen too many. Even the possibility of starting an unintended war with Iran would potentially be disastrous for the United States as well as for everyone else in the region, so it is far better to put some distance between the two sides.

And finally, it is necessary to go to the argument for disengagement from Syria that is too little heard in the western media or from the usual bonehead politicians named Graham and Rubio who pronounce on foreign policy. How has American intervention in the Middle East and south and central Asia benefited the people in the countries that have been invaded or bombed? Not at all. By some estimates four million Muslims have been killed as a consequence of the wars since 2001 and millions more displaced. More than eight thousand U.S. military have died in the process in wars that had no purpose and no exit strategy. And the wars have been expensive – $6 trillion and counting, much of it borrowed. War without end means killing without end and it has to stop.

Withdrawing from Syria is the right thing to do, though one has to be concerned that there might be some secret side deals with Israel or Turkey that could actually result in more attacks on Syria and on the Kurds. Donald Trump is already under extreme pressure coming from all directions to reverse his decision to leave Syria and it is quite possible that he will either fold completely or bend at least a bit. It is to be hoped that he will not do so as a Christmas present to the American people. And he might want to think of a Christmas present for 2019. One might suggest a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

December 26, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment