A Realist’s View of the US Presidential Contest

A Realist’s View of the US Presidential Contest
ERIC ZUESSE | 20.10.2016 | WORLD

A Realist’s View of the US Presidential Contest

Because the viewpoint expressed here will be a controversial one not frequently expressed or encountered, links are provided in order to enable the reader quickly to access the documentation wherever a particular allegation might seem to be dubious on the basis of false assertions that any particular reader might have read elsewhere; but, otherwise, the links that are provided here are intended to be simply ignored, especially because so many of the allegations here are highly contentious and therefore require providing ready access to the documentation (and because no reader should waste his time to read documentation at a linked item that the reader already believes to be true):

The rape-allegations that have been raised recently against Donald Trump, turned the US Presidential contest so drastically, that a Hillary Clinton victory now appears to be all but certain. Morning Consult headlined on October 18th“Donald Trump Has a Growing Problem With Men”, and reported: “Before the first debate, Trump led his Democratic counterpart, Hillary Clinton, by 8 points among men in a Morning Consult survey of likely voters. After the second debate and nine women making sexual assault allegations against Trump, those numbers have nearly flipped: Clinton now leads Trump among men by 6 points.”

That’s a 14% swing away from Trump, among half of the electorate, during a time-interval extending from 24 September to 15 October — 21 days — with only 22 days left until voting ends (hardly enough time to reverse that plunge and then to rise into the lead). Rape allegations couldn’t get Bill Clinton forced out of office, but they likely will force Hillary Clinton into office. Future historians might say that the biggest issue in the 2016 US Presidential contest was rape — more important to voters than the economy, the wars, the income-stagnation of the bottom 99%, trade-policy, criminal-justice reform, or any other public-policy issue. But, if this turns out to be so, then is America at all a functioning democracy? Might it instead be a sick society, whose values are so out-of-kilter, so plainly stupid, that it fits more the stereotype of a backward culture, than of a successful and forward-looking one?

Some of the issues that are actually at stake in this election — especially nuclear war — could quickly end all civilization as we know it; but the voters’ main issue seems instead to be rape. Does this reflect democracy, or rather a lack of democracy, or a manipulation of democracy? Should a personal crime, which isn’t a crime of government, actually be an issue in elective politics? Should it be an issue even if there has been no court-ruling and conviction in the case? And, if it should, then should it dominate an election, such as it is in 2016 America? If it should be an issue at all, then, given the enormous stakes in the current US election, it should be an extremely minor one, notwithstanding how repulsive any rapist is, but especially because there hasn’t even been legal process about any of the allegations, and because even a Presidential candidate who is publicly accused of a personal crime is supposed to be innocent until a court rules “guilty.”

Joachim Hagopian is correct to report, at Global Research, on October 18th, that, “The current threat level to every human life on this planet even surpasses the October Cuban Missile Crisis of 54 years ago as the earth today is in more peril by manmade [nuclear] destruction than any previous time in human history.” However, even if that outcome will fortunately be avoided, the sheer war-stakes in this Presidential election are enormous, and they appear to have little impact upon the voters, other than for them perhaps to fear placing a possible rapist (such as Bill Clinton also was) in charge of US (if not also of other nations’) national security.

Micah Zenko, of the overwhelmingly pro-Hillary-Clinton, neoconservative (pro-invasion)Council on Foreign Relations, headlined, on 29 July 2016, in the neoconservative Foreign Policy magazine (which denies that it’s neoconservative but cannot cite even a single article that it has published attacking neoconservatism), “Hillary the Hawk: A History”, and he documented that, “She has consistently endorsed starting new wars and expanding others.” He closed by saying: “Those who vote for her should know that she will approach such crises with a long track record of being generally supportive of initiating US military interventions and expanding them.”

I have independently reviewed her performance as the US Secretary of State, and have found nothing in her record that would contradict Zenko’s statement (other than his single false word there, ‘generally’), though I wrote clearly as a warning, and not merely (like Zenko did), to describe what her policies have been; I have (on many and diverse occasions) explicitly condemned those invasions as violations not only against the victim-nations but against the American public, whom the US Secretary of State is supposed to represent. International aggression does not represent the interests of the American public. If she becomes America’s President, then clearly there will be war, lots of it.

Hillary Clinton not only ardently championed George W. Bush’s kicking the U.N.’s weapons inspectors out of Iraq in 2003 so that we could invade, but as Secretary of State in the Obama Administration led in every aggressive policy, and her protégés in the State Department after she left, such as Victoria Nuland, oversaw the carrying-out of those acts of aggression, and her former boss President Obama even sometimes overrode his new Secretary of State John Kerry (as Obama never did to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) and approved the aggressive policies of Hillary’s (now Kerry’s) underlings (which humiliated Kerry). Whereas Obama is a quiet neoconservative, Hillary is a loud and proud one. Her support of invading Iraq in 2003 was no ‘mistake’ or ‘aberration’ on her part; it reflected her fundamental orientation toward foreign policy. That’s what her voters will be voting for, if they are intelligent and accurately informed (as opposed to “voting for the first woman President” or other irrelevancies); because that’s what America and the world will importantly get if she becomes the next US President. (After all: Margaret Thatcher was also a woman; gender is irrelevant.) This is clear.

Donald Trump has no record in public office; and, up against Hillary Clinton’s demonstrated catastrophic record in public office, that lack of governmental experience alone constitutes a major reason to prefer him over her in this Presidential election. Whether he would start wars is unknown, but he has spoken forcefully of the need for the US to improve its relations with Russia. Hillary Clinton (like all other neoconservatives) criticizes him for that. (And the US ‘Defense’ industry has poured money into Hillary’s campaign but given almost nothing to Trump’s.)

Perhaps the main reason why the main criticisms of Trump have concerned his private life, not his policy-record in public office, is because he has no policy-making record at all. The issues that have been raised in support of Hillary (since her positive achievements in public office have been virtually nil) have mainly focused on Trump’s personal affairs, and on his alleged acts of bigotry and even rape, because these are matters that distract voters from the real and urgent issues, which weigh so heavily and so substantially against her candidacy.

Rape has become the chief focus during the campaign’s closing days, because polls have indicated clearly that voters are more concerned about whether their President is a rapist than about whether he or she is a warmonger. Though they weren’t so concerned about such allegations when Bill Clinton was President, Trump’s often-crude speech makes such accusations against him far more credible than in Bill Clinton’s case — even though that ought not to be so.

No one except the women who have accused Bill Clinton and Donald Trump of rape can know, or can even think they know, whether a court would have convicted the alleged rapist if a court had been enabled to issue such a decision; but there can be no doubt whatsoever, that Hillary Clinton has been actively supporting the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US invasion of Libya in 2011, and is now supporting a far more aggressive US invasion of Syria (which would mean war against Russia) — supporting it consistently. She also has actively supported the 2009 coup in Honduras (which replaced the progressive democratically elected President there by a string of fascist tyrants and the world’s highest murder-rate), and the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014 (which was immediately followed by a break-up of the country and a plunge into depression and soaring debt).

Each one of these invasions and coups produced even worse conditions in the invaded or overthrown country afterward; but, only in the single case, of the invasion of Iraq by George W. Bush, which subsequently became overwhelmingly condemned by the Democratic Party itself, did Hillary Clinton (with whatever sincerity an intelligent person can attribute to her, which is whatever the person thinks it to be) admit that she had made a ‘mistake’ on that one occasion. She doesn’t apologize for any of the other cases, because there is no such political requirement for her to do so.

How many times does a high public official need to repeat essentially the same ‘mistake’ (actively as a public official pushing for horrific invasions), before the voters in that person’s political party (in this case, Democrats) come to recognize that they’ve been consistently lied-to by that person, and that they’ve been that politician’s suckers by voting for that catastrophically war-mongering person? After all, no sane voter wants America to go to war against Russia. But that’s the direction in which we’re currently heading. And Hillary Clinton wants to go farther there.

America’s Presidential choice will be either Hillary Clinton, a proven and repeated warmonger who has left a lengthy trail of death and destruction behind her as her blood-soaked clear and consistent record in public office (and Zenko made special note that “She also has developed close relations with retired military officers like Gen. Jack Keane, who has rarely seen a country that cannot be improved with US ground troops and airstrikes. As Bob Woodward wrote of a 2009 meeting between the two to discuss the Afghan surge: ‘Clinton greeted Keane with a bear hug, astonishing [US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard] Holbrooke because — and he should know — Hillary rarely bear-hugged anyone.” (Here is Jack Keane being praised by the prominent super-neocon Republican Paul Wolfowitz, who will vote for Hillary Clinton, against Donald Trump.)

Or else it will be a possible rapist, like her husband also was, who served two terms in the White House, but this time it would be a man of the opposite political party: Donald Trump. No matter how gross Mr. Trump is: he, unlike Hillary Clinton, cannot be intelligently evaluated by an abysmal record in public office, because he simply has no record at all in public office, nothing whatsoever; but he has only strings of public statements, most of which contradict each other. (As Zenko said: “Unlike Donald Trump, who has wildly shifting positions and alleged ‘secret’ plans to defeat the Islamic State, Clinton has an extensive track record upon which one can evaluate her likely positions.”) What Hillary Clinton’s public statements contradict is her actual record in public office, which is as far right-wing (pro-international-corporate), especially in foreign affairs and US trade policy (including NAFTA, TTIP, etc.) (and the common term for this in the military sphere is “neoconservative”), as any of her many financial backers on Wall Street could realistically hope for from any potential future US President — which is why she’s backed by almost all of America’s billionaires.

One of those two persons will be the next US President. Anyone else who alleges that he or she wants to be, and whose name will also appear on the Presidential ballot, is just a fake there, because, for example, Ralph Nader never ever won even so much as a single one of the 50 states in the Electoral College in any of his contests for the Presidency (not to mention a majority of all the EC votes, such as each of these spoilers lies, or lied, to claim to be his or her goal, but really just being a bad joke on that person’s voters). Nor will any of the current aspiring Presidential spoilers win even a single state.

It’s going to be either the possible rapist, or else the definite and serial warmonger. The next US President will be one of those two people. On the one side is, maybe, a rapist. On the other side is certainly a warmonger.

Each voter must make his/her own choice: either drink possibly cyanide, or drink definitely arsenic. Those are the only two choices left in America’s ‘democracy’, and neither of them was the top choice of the most Americans during the primaries-season: the top choice was Bernie Sanders, and the second choice was John Kasich. In a truly democratic system, those two would be the final contestants.

Each and every American voter in this existing contest will either select and drink his/her cup, or else simply allow all the other US voters in this contest collectively to select the cup that he/she and all other Americans will then be drinking during the next four years.

That’s a realistic view of this contest. But this is only one person’s analysis. Anyone who finds fault in it, is welcomed to provide and document a counter-argument below, as a reader-comment, or anywhere else this commentary is published.

Meanwhile, here is my answer to a person who, in a prior reader-comment, said that I am trying to ‘herd’ America’s voters into one or the other of America’s rotten political parties: I voted for Bernie Sanders, but I’m no such fool as to think that anyone like that still has a chance to win the US Presidency in 2016. I didn’t do the ‘herd’ing here; the US political system does it, when the political primary season ends and the general-election contest starts. If Jill Stein had wanted to reform the Democratic Party, she missed her chance to do that when she failed even to enter the Democratic primaries.

And, unlike the Whig Party, which had already become so widely rejected by the electorate by the time of 1860, so that a former Whig, Abraham Lincoln, was able virtually to start its successor, the Republican Party in 1860 (which got shot dead and taken over by the aristocracy when he was shot dead, in 1865), America’s voters haven’t yet reached the point where they’re willing to replace the Democratic Party with the Green Party or any other (much less to protect it if yet another assassination kills the progressive replacement-party like Lincoln’s Republican Party was). No matter what any third-party proponent might say, there’s no chance that 2016 is going to be some repeat of 1860. America is, and (like any nation that has a Presidential system) can only be, a two-party political system. The Founders didn’t know that, but we’ve now got hundreds of years all proving it to be so.

I mention that particular objection because it’s the one I most commonly have gotten in the past.

One final observation here: The reality of politics and governmental policymaking is incredibly ugly, and anyone who makes voting decisions on the basis of a politician’s mere private and personal life is a fool, because public policy really is, in the deepest sense, a very different and vastly more consequential and important moral sphere, having shockingly little to do with the person’s private behavior. The only intelligent way to judge any candidate is by that person’s past record of actual policy-decisions in public office, not at all by either the person’s mere words, or his private life (such as described in this example).

Even for Abraham Lincoln, who (along with FDR) is considered by historians to have been the greatest President, only his actions on policy made him that, and even his greatness as a rhetorician possesses relevance for historians only insofar as it was a part of that policy-record. Furthermore: both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned and ordered slaves, but neither man was a lesser President for having done that (even if historians do debate whether such Presidents were lesser persons for having done it).

To evaluate a politician by either his personal life or his mere rhetoric is not only foolish but petty. History proves this on thousands, if not millions, of occasions. Policy-actions are the only factor that’s important when evaluating a politician. It has been true throughout human history. A politician who has no record of policy-actions is thus a zero (like a mere coin-flip: presuming one side to be positive, the other negative); a politician who has a bad policy-record is thus a negative, and a politician who (like Bernie Sanders) has a positive policy-record is thus a positive. No intelligent estimation of America’s immediate political future can be positive; it’s either zero (like Trump) or else negative (like Hillary). That’s where we are (somewhere between zero and negative), and that’s the real choice we’ve been presented: either it’s Trump (zero), or else it’s Hillary (negative). I, a Sanders-voter, am choosing Trump, in preference to Clinton.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.


American writer and investigative historian


Turkey and USA Consolidate Terror Assets from Iraq to Syria

Turkey and US Consolidate Terror Assets from Iraq to Syria

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 18.10.2016 |

This week Western news media were full of reports on the “epic” battle for Mosul where US-backed forces are supposedly set to defeat the Islamic State terror group besieging the northern Iraqi city.

There is little doubt that the Iraqi army aided by Iranian Shia militia and Kurdish Peshmerga are intent on routing the militants from Iraq’s second city, which has been under a reign of terror since June 2104.

But the intentions of other protagonists are decidedly more dubious. The US is providing air strikes supposedly to aid the ground forces penetrating Mosul, as are NATO members France and Turkey. Turkish air strikes on the city have reportedly begun despite objections from the Iraqi government, which is urging Ankara to stay out of the battle.

The Iraqi authorities have a long-running dispute with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government since Turkish military invaded northern Iraq last year, claiming that it had a deal with Baghdad to train Arab militias to fight the Islamic State (IS, also known as Daesh). Baghdad insists it gave no such permission and has time and again reiterated demands for Turkish troops to withdraw from its territory, but to no avail.

Far from withdrawing, Erdogan is pointedly ignoring the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, asserting that his troops will march on Mosul. The launch of air strikes by Turkey serves to emphasize Erdogan’s determination to shape the battle for the city.

With typical bluster, Erdogan dismissed the Iraqi premier as nothing more than an “administrator of a Shia army”, and added: “If we say we want to be both at the table and in the field, there is a reason.”

As Hurriyet newspaper reported, Erdogan’s ambitions are more about gaining military and administrative control over Mosul in conjunction with the Syrian city of Raqqa, rather than liaising with the Iraqi government to eliminate IS.

Erdogan also stridently called on the US to side with Turkey in its ambitions rather than with Iraq. Addressing Washington, he said: “Do you have a NATO partnership with Iraq? No. Then you can’t put us in a position of preference against Iraq.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed concerns that jihadi extremists could flee from Mosul into neighboring Syria, presenting a greater challenge to the Syrian-Russian campaign to defeat terror groups there. Lavrov said that Russia would exercise military force to stop this from happening.

Intriguingly, Lavrov added: “The city [Mosul] is surrounded, but not completely. I do not know why. Possibly, they’ve just failed. It is to be hoped they just failed, and not were reluctant to do so.”

It is notable that in previous US-Turkish assaults on IS-held towns there have been unconfirmed reports of large numbers of the jihadists being covertly afforded safe passage out of harm’s way. This has been suspected of happening in US-backed offensives on Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, and in the northern Syrian town of Manbij.

As the offensive on Mosul gets underway, there are similar suspicions that the US, Turkey and Saudi military objective is not about crushing the IS hold-outs, but rather evacuating these mercenaries from the city.

Said Mamuzini of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Iraq believes that up to 7,000 militants belonging to the IS will be given safe passage out of Mosul to reconsolidate with other jihadist mercenaries already in Syria.

This of course negates Washington and Ankara’s official claims of fighting against IS. But it is fully consistent with the critical assessment that the US and its allies have all along been covertly sponsoring various terror groups to wage a war for regime change in Syria. The latter being a strategic ally for Russia and Iran in the pivotal Middle Eastern region.

Across Syria and Iraq there are three main strongholds remaining for al Qaeda-associated terror groups, whether they go by the name of IS, Jabhat al Nusra, Ahrar al Shams, Jaysh al Fatah or some other nom de guerre. These terror bases are Aleppo city in Syria, Mosul in Iraq and positioned roughly halfway between those two sites is Raqqa located in central Syria.

It seems significant that as Syrian and Russian forces bear down on the militants besieging the eastern quarter of Aleppo that Washington and its allies have escalated a media campaign decrying “war crimes” in order to halt that offensive. This has been accompanied by vociferous efforts from the US, Britain and France to implement no-fly zones around Aleppo. This all strongly suggests that the Western powers are trying to extricate their proxy insurgents from the Aleppo crucible.

More than coincidently, it seems, while the drama of Aleppo has been underway, the Turkish and US military launched a major campaign in August to effectively annex large swathes of northern Syria, due east from Aleppo and stretching nearly 100 kms back to the city of Jarablus on the Euphrates, proximate to the Turk border.

Indeed, Turkish forces occupying Jarablus have begun erecting the national flag of Turkey on public buildings, much to the consternation of the Syrian government which has denounced it as a violation of its sovereign territory.

All the while, Turkey and the US have claimed that the northern Syrian operations are aimed at “cleansing” the area from IS terrorists. But more troubling are reports that the militants whom Turkey in particular has been mentoring during these operations are indistinguishable from IS in terms of brutish ideology towards any local people deemed to be “infidels”.

In the Turk-led capture this week of the northern Syrian border city of Dabiq, the Western media portrayed this as a “liberation” from IS terrorists. But it was evident from France 24 news footage that the new gun-toting militants were shouting out Islamist slogans. Syrian sources say that the residents are fearful of having to live under yet another reign of terror as before.

There are also reports of Turkish military forces this week firing artillery at the Syrian villages of Sourkeh in Efrin district and Deir Ballout, causing civilians, women and children to flee, and prompting Syrian sources to comment that Turkey is actually mounting a campaign of “ethnic cleansing”.

This is important context to underscore the wider implications of the battle at Mosul. It could be a case of all jihadist safe corridors leading to Raqqa.

Turkey and the US have been mulling military plans for several weeks now to extend their northern Syrian security curtain down to Raqqa. This concurs with what Erdogan was boasting about this week when he indicated that the US-backed offensive on Mosul should be integrated with broader plans to militarily take Raqqa.

If the jihadist mercenaries can be shunted safely into Raqqa from either Aleppo or Mosul, they would then be able to consolidate there under the safety of a Turkish and US de facto no-fly zone if the latter NATO forces do actually proceed with plans to take Raqqa, as Erdogan bragged about.

Moreover, because of the US-Turk annexed territory straddling the Syrian borders, the jihadists sheltered in Raqqa would once again be plugged into a Turk lifeline as never before, and therefore be able to live to fight another day.

Russia needs to make sure Aleppo falls with no terrorist breakout; and, as Lavrov hinted, Moscow must make sure too that there is no influx of jihadists from Mosul into Syria. Russia should also demand that Turkey and the US do not take any steps towards a military takeover of Raqqa, as Erdogan is calling for.

That battle, in the future, to clear illegally armed insurgents from their final bastion in Raqqa should be the prerogative of the Syrian army and its trusted allies.


Former editor and writer for major news media organizations. He has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages

UK – Does Boris “the clown” Johnson Want a War With Russia?

UK – Does Boris Johnson Want a War With Russia?


RUSSIA INSIDER – Calls for intervention in the Syrian conflict are growing louder in Britain, with more and more MPs demanding ‘something must be done’. Last week, the London Evening Standard quoted a cabinet minister (who did not wish to be named) who was coming round to the idea of a no-fly zone or a ‘no-bombing zone’. Shortly after, it became clear that the unnamed minister was the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.

But what does that mean, to enforce a ‘no-bombing zone’ or a ‘no-fly zone’? It means shooting down Russian and Syrian warplanes. Of course, this is fraught with risks, Johnson says. Fraught with risks? The Russian Ministry of Defence has said that any attack on the Syrian military will be treated as an attack on Russian military personnel. Russia has moved anti-missile systems into Syria, as well as on ships in the Mediterranean, following the breakdown of the latest Russian-US ceasefire. Is the prospect of war with nuclear-armed Russia what Johnson means by ‘fraught with risks’?

Last Tuesday, Andrew ‘Plebgate’ Mitchell called an emergency debate in parliament on the situation in Aleppo. Of course, no one wants to get into a shootout with Russia, he said, but if it happens, so be it. The parliamentary debate was full of talk of appeasement and similar nonsense – just a little intervention should do it, and all will be well. Johnson, who has stressed to the House of Commons that Saudi Arabia will not do anything nasty with the British warplanes it has bought, said that Russia risked becoming a pariah state, and has urged people to protest outside the Russian embassy in London.

For the past 25 years, war has been used to weaken nations, a game played by Western political elites for their own sense of moral superiority. It started in Yugoslavia over Bosnia, and then with high-altitude bombing in Kosovo. Western elites chose time and again to intervene for the sake of human rights. Okay, so several states have been utterly destroyed in the process, with hundreds of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands more displaced, but, drunk on a sense of moral righteousness, we did it again, and again. British politicians, and we the public, have become too hardened to bombing faraway places that we know little about. At no point do politicians grasp the fact that killing more people for the sake of protecting human rights is an act of barbarity.

Firstly, intervention does not work. Just look at the destruction of Iraq. Iraq is an example of possibly the most disastrous foreign-policy act post-1945 – from there, all chaos has flowed, including the current crisis in Syria. The British political establishment has spent years embroiled in inquiries about this unmitigated disaster in Iraq. Nonetheless, we went back and did the same thing in Libya. The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) has just released a very good, and very damning, report of the Libyan intervention, which argues that the UK has done the same thing in Libya that it did in Iraq: intervened without any knowledge of the reality of the situation, or any idea of where to go. Libya has since been thrown into chaos, and has become home to a thriving ISIS offshoot. ‘We came, we saw, he died’, as Hillary Clinton laughed about Gadaffi’s torture and murder at the hands of so-called rebels.

The ink is hardly dry on the FAC report and yet some MPs are debating another catastrophic intervention. It’s as if Libya or Iraq didn’t happen. It’s as if our own parliamentary committees haven’t pointed out what disasters these interventions have been. How many more must there be? Entertaining the idea of further intervention is fundamentally wicked, on a scale much larger than the acts of authoritarians such as Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad.

However, Syria is not Yugoslavia, or Iraq, or Libya. The difference is that, in this situation, Russia has returned to world politics and is protecting Assad. Russia began using military force to protect Assad last year, at a stage in the Syrian conflict in which it was clear that Assad was about to collapse. There is no mystery about why Russia is involved, whatever the Western media say, and it’s got nothing to do with a great love for Assad. When it began its intervention, Russia explicitly said it would not allow another situation like Iraq to happen, and that it was prepared to act ruthlessly and viciously to make sure it prevented such a thing.

So, let’s get this straight. There are some British politicians advocating a policy of shooting down Russian planes in Syria. That they are claiming this can be done without consequences reveals how totally detached from reality they have become. A decade and a half of high-altitude so-called humanitarian bombing, which doesn’t affect us at home in the West at all, and these politicians think that’s all there is to war? Politicians like Mitchell and Johnson seem to think that a bit of a shootout is all that’s needed to show the Russians who’s boss.

What, in the end, would we be fighting for? Terrible as the situation is in East Aleppo, it’s only a part of the city. Life carries on much as normal in the rest of government-controlled Aleppo, apart from the bombing carried out by rebels, which is hardly mentioned in the press. The choice is not Assad or democracy, but Assad or ISIS. Given that there is no public appetite for the UK to intervene in Syria, I wonder what the British public would say if the reality of the situation were put to them. Shall we go to war in Syria to topple Assad and let the jihadis rule? Do we want a World War Three that might end up protecting ISIS?

Thankfully, there were some sensible arguments at last week’s parliamentary debate. Emily Thornberry, the Labour shadow foreign secretary, argued that the last thing Syria needs is more belligerents in a hideously multilevel war. She also made the point that Britain itself was supporting a deadly war in Yemen. It’s of note that Britain is not just selling arms to Saudi Arabia – British military personnel are actually directing airstrikes, too. We should protest outside our own Foreign Office, against Johnson, and force him to explain why British military personnel are directing Saudi airstrikes on hospitals, schools and funerals in Yemen.

One positive sign was that the debating chamber was three-quarters empty, suggesting many MPs are not eager to threaten Russia with war. Nonetheless, the debate itself was a terrifying display of the fact that there seems to be little understanding of the reality and consequences of what is being suggested. Shooting down Russian planes in Syria? It’s a terrible, dangerous idea.


Obama’s confession: Post-Gaddafi Libya is a mess, but it doesn’t stop him wanting the same for Syria

Obama’s confession: Post-Gaddafi Libya is a mess

Obama's confession: Post-Gaddafi Libya is a mess

Claiming a lack of planning for the aftermath of the Libya revolution, US President Barack Obama has called it the “the biggest mistake” during his Presidency

World Bulletin / News Desk

Should the West have intervened in Libya to overthrow the “Kafkaesque” regime of strongman Moamer Kadhafi?

Surveying the chaos in the north African country five years on, with rival authorities and factions vying for power, many now concede a disastrous lack of planning.

US leader Barack Obama has cited the Libya intervention as the worst mistake of his presidency, telling Fox News that he regretted having failed “to plan for the day after, what I think was the right thing to do, in intervening in Libya”.

In Britain, a scathing parliamentary report last month found former prime minister David Cameron “ultimately responsible for the failure to develop a coherent Libya strategy”. 

Nicolas Sarkozy, who is angling to win back the French presidency next year, has defended France’s role in Kadhafi’s ouster, while admitting that after the country held elections in 2012 “we let Libya drop”.

A European diplomat who was in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in 2011 said “there was no doubt” that Libya’s second city would have suffered a bloodbath without the intervention.

“There was a real revolution. People did not want to live a minute more under Kadhafi’s Kafkaesque regime,” he said.

Today, the UN-backed unity government is struggling to assert its authority nationwide since arriving in Tripoli in March, with a rival parliament in the east refusing to cede power to it.

In the aftermath of Kadhafi’s overthrow, the dictator’s arsenals were looted, fighters fanned out through neighbouring Niger, Mali and Tunisia, and ISIL gained a foothold on Europe’s doorstep.

A major operation is still under way to oust IS fighters from Sirte, Kadhafi’s hometown, which the rebels seized in June last year, with fears that they will regroup elsewhere in the country.

 Broad support 

In March 2011 the West, led by Britain and France and backed by NATO, enjoyed broad support for the intervention to support the revolution.

After taking up arms in February on the heels of the uprising in Libya’s northwestern neighbour Tunisia, the rebels faced a vicious backlash from Kadhafi.

The entourage of the strongman who had been in power for 42 years promised “rivers of blood”, especially in Benghazi, the birthplace of the revolt.

A UN Security Council resolution with Arab backing — Russia abstained — authorised the use of “all necessary means” to protect civilians and enforce a ceasefire and no-fly zone against Kadhafi’s forces.

It opened the way to Western and Arab air strikes, leading eight months later to the overthrow and death of Kadhafi, who was lynched after his convoy was hit by a NATO air strike.

By then, the conflict had claimed more than 30,000 lives, according to the former rebel National Transitional Council (NTC).

 No follow-up 

The NTC transferred power to an elected national assembly in August 2012, the first peaceful transition in Libya’s modern history, but rival forces have failed to coalesce into a single authority.

Regional powers jockeying for influence have also added to the instability.

Five years on, Chadian President Idriss Deby is just one of the regional leaders to accuse the West of failing to follow up on the overthrow of Kadhafi.

“You forgot about after-sales service,” he has often said.

A European diplomat said: “In retrospect, we… should not have washed our hands of it collectively. There was a sort of guilty detachment.”

But he said the new leadership “made it clear that they didn’t want foreign forces, including UN peacekeepers” in the country.

Libya expert Mattia Toaldo recalls that the Libyans repeatedly turned down Western offers of help, “saying they could manage on their own”.

Mahmoud Jibril, who was part of the rebel NTC, remembers the early post-Kadhafi days differently, telling AFP: “We warned them we needed them to rebuild our institutions after Kadhafi’s death, but everyone told us ‘our mission is accomplished’.”

 What about Syria? 

 Many point to the devastating war in Syria as a counter-example.

“War is claiming hundreds of thousands of lives in that country,” Toaldo said. “In Libya it is ‘only’ tens of thousands. And a political process is under way, however difficult it is.”

The repercussions are also felt in relations with Russia, with President VladimirPutin defending Moscow’s role in Syria where it backs strongman Bashar al-Assad.

“Some of the responsibility for what is happening… lies especially with our Western partners, above all the US and its allies,” Putin told French television.

“Remember how everyone rushed to support the Arab Spring? Where is that optimism now?” he asked. “Remember what Libya or Iraq looked like before these countries and their organisations were destroyed as states?”

President Assad’s Swiss SRF 1 TV Interview, October 19, 2016

The Syria Times

H.E. President Bashar Al-Assad stressed that protecting civilians in Aleppo necessitates getting rid of the terrorists.

Speaking in an interview with the Swiss SRF 1 TV channel, President Assad said “Of course, it’s our mission according to the constitution and the law. We have to protect the people, and we have to get rid of those terrorists in Aleppo. That’s how we can protect civilians.”

He added that it goes without saying that the way to protect the civilians in Aleppo is to attack the terrorists who hold the civilians under their control and are killing them.

 Following is the full text of the interview, as published by SANA:

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you very much for having welcomed Swiss Television and our program Rundschau here in Damascus.

President Assad: You are most welcome in Syria.

Question 1: First, please, allow me to clarify one thing: may I ask you every question?

President Assad: Every question, without exception.

Question 2: I’m asking because one of your conditions is that interview is being broadcast in its full version. Are you afraid that we might manipulate your statements?

President Assad: You should answer that question, but I think we should build this relation upon the trust, and I think you are worried about the trust of your audience, so I don’t think so. I think you have good reputation in conveying the truth in every subject you try to cover.

Question 3: Do you see it as a lie, that the world considers you as to be a war criminal?

President Assad: That depends on what the reference in defining that word. Is it the international law, or is it the Western agenda or the Western political mood, let’s say, that’s being defined by vested-interests politicians in the West? According to the international law, as a President and as government and as Syrian Army, we are defending our country against the terrorists that have been invading Syria as proxies to other countries. So, if you want to go back to that word, the “war criminal,” I think the first one who should be tried under that title are the Western officials; starting with George Bush who invaded Iraq without any mandate from the Security Council. Second, Cameron and Sarkozy who invaded and destroyed Libya without mandate from the Security Council. Third, the Western officials who are supporting the terrorists during the last five years in Syria, either by providing them with political umbrella, or supporting them directly with armaments, or implementing embargo on the Syrian people that has led to the killing of thousands of Syrian civilians.

Question 4: But we are here to talk about your role in this war, and the US

Secretary of State John Kerry called you “Adolf Hitler” and “Saddam Hussein” in the same breath. Does it bother you?

President Assad: No, because they don’t have credibility. This is first of all. Second, for me as President, what I care about first and foremost is how the Syrian people look at me; second, my friends around the world – not my personal friends as President, I mean our friends as Syrians, like Russia, like Iran, like China, like the rest of the world – not the West, the West always tried to personalize things, just to cover the real goals which is about deposing government and getting rid of a certain president just to bring puppets to suit their agenda. So, going back to the beginning, no I don’t care about what Kerry said, at all. It has no influence on me.


Question 5: You’re the President of a country whose citizens are fleeing, half of your fellow citizens. The people are not only fleeing because of the terrorists, of ISIS, or the rebels, but also because of you.

President Assad: What do you mean by me? I’m not asking people to leave Syria, I’m not attacking people; I’m defending the people. Actually, the people are leaving Syria for two reasons: first reason is the action of the terrorists, direct action in killing the people. The second one is the action of the terrorists in order to paralyze the life in Syria; attacking schools, destroying infrastructure in every sector. Third, the embargo of the West that pressed many Syrians to find their livelihood outside Syria. These are the main reasons. If you can see that the second factor and the third factor are related, I mean the role of the terrorists and the West in undermining and hurting the livelihoods of the Syrians, is one and, let’s say, is commonality between the terrorists and Europe.

Question 6: When you speak of terrorists, who do you mean by that? Surely ISIS, but also the “Free Syrian Army” or the Kurds?

President Assad: What I mean is like what you mean as a Swiss citizen, if you have anyone who carries machineguns or armaments and killing people under any titles, and committed vandalism, destroying public or private properties; this is a terrorist. Anyone who adopts a political way in order to make any change he wants, this is not a terrorist. You can call him opposition. But you cannot call somebody who is killing people or holding armaments, you cannot call him opposition, in your country, in my country as well.

Question 7: Well, you don’t have any free opposition in your country.

President Assad: Of course we have, of course we have. We have real opposition, we have people who live in Syria, whom their grassroots are the Syrian people, they’re not opposition who were forged in other countries like France or UK or Saudi Arabia or Turkey. We have them, and you can go and meet them and deal with them with your camera. You can do that yourself.

Question 8: How do you explain to your three children what is happening in

Aleppo? I’m sure that you are discussing about it at the family table.

President Assad: Yeah, of course if I’m going to explain to them, I’m going to explain about what is happening in Syria, not only in Aleppo, taking into consideration that my children are full-grown now, they understand what is going on Syria. But if you want to explain to them or to any other child what is happening, I’m going to explain about the role of the terrorists, about the role of Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia in supporting those terrorists with money, with logistic support, and the role of the West in supporting those terrorists either through armament or through helping them with the propaganda and the publicity. I’m going to explain to them in full what’s going on.

Question 9: Do you, as a father, also say that you have nothing to do with the bombardments of the hospitals in Aleppo?

President Assad: Look, when they say that we are bombarding the hospitals, it means that we are killing civilians. That is the meaning of the word. The question is why would the government kill civilians, whether in hospitals or in streets or schools or anywhere? You are talking about killing Syrians. When we kill Syrians, as a government, or as army, the biggest part of the Syrian society will be against us. You cannot succeed in your war if you are killing civilians. So, this story, and this narrative, is a mendacious narrative, to be frank with you. Of course, unfortunately, every war is a bad war, in every war you have innocent victims, whether children, women, elderly, any other civilian, any other innocent who is not part of this war, he could pay the price, this is unfortunately. That’s why we have to fight terrorism. When we don’t say that, it’s like saying – according to that question or that narrative, that you may reflect in your question – that the terrorists, Al Qaeda, al-Nusra, ISIS, are protecting the civilians, and we as government are killing the civilians. Who can believe that story? No one.

Question 10: But who else got airplanes or bunker-busting bombs besides your army?

President Assad: It’s like you’re saying that everyone who is killed in Syria was killed by the airplanes or aircrafts, military aircrafts! The majority of the people were killed by mortars shelled by the terrorists on them while they’re at schools, in their hospitals, in the streets, anywhere. It’s not related to the aerial bombardment. Sometimes you have aerial bombardment against the terrorists, but that doesn’t mean that every bomb that fell somewhere was by airplane or by the Syrian Army. If you are talking about a specific incident, let’s say, we have to verify that specific incident, but I’m answering you in general now.

Question 11: But you have the power to change the situation also for the children in Aleppo.

President Assad: Of course, that’s why-

Journalist: Will you do that?

President Assad: Exactly, that’s our mission, according to the constitution, according to the law; that we have to protect the people, that we have to get rid of those terrorists from Aleppo. This is where we can protect the civilians. How can you protect them while they are under the control of the terrorists? They’ve been killed by them, and they’ve been controlled fully by the terrorists. Is it our role to sit aside and watch? Is that how we can protect the Syrian people? We need to attack the terrorists, that’s self-evident.

Question 12: May I show you a picture?

President Assad: Of course.

Journalist: This young boy has become the symbol of the war. I think that you know this picture.

President Assad: Of course I saw it.

Journalist: His name is Omran. Five years old.

President Assad: Yeah.

Journalist: Covered with blood, scared, traumatized. Is there anything you would like to say to Omran and his family?

President Assad: There’s something I would like to say to you first of all, because I want you to go back after my interview, and go to the internet to see the same picture of the same child, with his sister, both were rescued by what they call them in the West “White Helmets” which is a facelift of al-Nusra in Aleppo. They were rescued twice, each one in a different incident, and just as part of the publicity of those White Helmets. None of these incidents were true. You can have it manipulated, and it is manipulated. I’m going to send you those two pictures, and they are on the internet, just to see that this is a forged picture, not a real one. We have real pictures of children being harmed, but this one in specific is a forged one.

Question 13: But it’s true that innocent civilians are dying, in Aleppo.

President Assad: Of course, not only in Aleppo; in Syria. But now you are talking about Aleppo, because the whole hysteria in the West about Aleppo, for one reason; not because Aleppo is under siege, because Aleppo has been under siege for the last four years by the terrorists, and we haven’t heard a question by Western journalists about what’s happening in Aleppo that time, and we haven’t heard a single statement by Western officials regarding the children of Aleppo. Now, they are talking about Aleppo recently just because the terrorists are in a bad shape. This is the only reason, because the Syrian Army are making advancement, and the Western countries – mainly the United States and its allies like UK and France – feeling that they are losing the last cards of terrorism in Syria, and the main bastion of that terrorism today is Aleppo.

Question 14: Everything is allowed in this war for you.

President Assad: No, of course, you have the international law, you have the human rights charter, you have to obey. But in every war, every war in the world during the history, you cannot make sure a hundred percent that you can control everything in that direction. You always have flaws, that’s why I said every war is a bad war. But there’s difference between individual mistakes and the policy of the government. The policy of the government, to say that we are attacking civilians, we are attacking hospitals, we are attacking schools, we are doing all these atrocities, that’s not possible, because you cannot work or go against your interests. You cannot go against your duty toward the people, otherwise you are going to lose the war as a government. You cannot withstand such a ferocious war for five years and a half while you are killing your own people. That’s impossible. But you always have mistakes, whether it’s about crossfire, it’s about individual mistakes… bring me a war, a single war in the recent history, that it was a clean war. You don’t have.

Question 15: Do you have made any mistakes too in this war?

President Assad: As President I define the policy of the country, according to our policy, the main pillars of this policy during the crisis is to fight terrorism, which I think is correct and we will not going to change it, of course, to make dialogue between the Syrians, and I think which is correct, the third one which is proven to be effective during the last two years is the reconciliations; local reconciliations with the militants who have been holding machineguns against the people and against the government and against the army, and this one has, again, proven that it’s a good step. So, these are the pillars of this policy. You cannot talk about mistakes in this policy. You can talk about mistakes in the implementation of the policy, that could be related to the individuals.

Question 16: You still believe in a diplomatic solution?

President Assad: Definitely, but you don’t have something called diplomatic solution or military solution; you have solution, but every conflict has many aspects, one of them is the security, like our situation, and the other one is in the political aspect of this solution. For example, if you ask me about how can you deal with Al Qaeda, with al-Nusra, with ISIS? Is it possible to make negotiations with them? They won’t make, they’re not ready to, they wouldn’t. They have their own ideology, repugnant ideology, so you cannot make political solution with this party; you have to fight them, you have to get rid of them. While if you talk about dialogue, you can make dialogue with two entities; the first one, political entities, any political entities, whether with or against or in the middle, and with every militant who is ready to give in his armament for the sake of the security or stability in Syria. Of course we believe in it.

Question 17: There are news from Russia about a short humanitarian pause in Aleppo on Thursday, what does it mean this humanitarian pause, can you explain?

President Assad: It’s a short halting of operations in order to allow the humanitarian supply to get into different areas in Aleppo, and at the same time to allow the civilians who wanted to leave the terrorist-held areas to move to the government-controlled area.

Question 18: This is really a step, an important step?

President Assad: Of course, it is an important step as a beginning, but it’s not enough. It’s about the continuation; how can you allow those civilians to leave. The majority of them wanted to leave the area held by the terrorists, but they won’t allow them. They either shoot them or they kill their families if they leave that area.

Question 19: Russia is on your side, what does it mean for you?

President Assad: No, it’s not on my side. It’s on the international law’s side. It’s on the other side which is opposite to the terrorists’ side. This is the position of Russia, because they wanted to make sure that the international law prevails, not the Western agenda in toppling every government that doesn’t fit with their agendas. They wanted to make sure that the terrorism doesn’t prevail in that area, that would affect negatively the Russians themselves, Russia itself as a country, and Europe and the rest of the world. That’s what it means for Russia to stand beside the legitimate Syrian government and the Syrian people.

Question 20: Mr. President, you use chemical weapons and barrel bombs in Syria against your own population, these are UN reports, you can’t ignore it.

President Assad: You are talking about two different issues. The chemical issue, it was proven to be false, and they haven’t a shred of evidence about the Syrian Army using chemical weapons, particularly before we give up our arsenal in 2013, now we don’t have it anyway. Before that, it was fiction because if you want to use such mass destruction armaments, you’re going to kill thousands of people in one incident, and we didn’t have such incidents. Beside that, we wouldn’t use it because you’re going to kill your own people, and that’s against your interest. So, this is a false allegation. We don’t have to waste our time with it. You live in Syria, there is a traditional war, but there is nothing related to mass destruction armaments.

Journalist: But the UN report is not a fiction.

President Assad: The UN report never has been credible, never, and because they put reports based on allegations, based on other reports, on forged reports, and they say this is a report. Did they send a delegation to make investigation? They sent one in 2013, and it couldn’t prove at all that the Syrian Army used chemical weapons. This is first. The second, which is more important, the first incident happened at the beginning of 2013 in Aleppo, when we said that the terrorists used chemical weapons against our army, and we invited the United Nations to send a delegation. We, we did, and at that time, the United States opposed that delegation because they already knew that this investigation – of course if it’s impartial – is going to prove that those terrorists, their proxies, used chemical armaments against the Syrian Army. Regarding the barrel bombs, I want to ask you: what is the definition of barrel bomb? If you go to our army, you don’t have in our records something called “barrel bomb,” so how do you understand – just to know how I can answer you – what a barrel bomb is? We have bombs.

Journalist: The destruction… it’s the destruction, and it is against humanitarian law.

President Assad: Every bomb can make destruction, every bomb, so you don’t have bomb to make nothing. So, this is a word that has been used in West as part of the Western narrative in order to show that there is an indiscriminate bomb that has been killing civilians indiscriminately and that opposes the Western narrative, I’ll show you the contradiction: in other areas they say that we are bombarding intentionally the hospitals, and you mentioned that, and they are targeting intentionally the schools, and we targeted intentionally the convoys to Aleppo last month, those targets need high-precision missiles. So, they have to choose which part of the narrative; we either have indiscriminate bombs or we have high-precision bombs. They keep contradicting in the same narrative, this is the Western reality now. So, which one to choose? I can answer you, but again, we don’t have any indiscriminate bombs. If we kill people indiscriminately, it means we are losing the war because people will be against us; I cannot kill the Syrian people, either morally or for my interest, because in that case I’m going to push the Syrian community and society towards the terrorists, not vice versa.

Question 21: I would like to mention the subject of torture prisons, Mr. President. Amnesty speaks of seventeen thousands dead. Regarding the prison of Saidnaya, there are still horrible reports. When will you allow an independent observer into that prison?

President Assad: Independent, and Amnesty International is not independent and it is not impartial.

Journalist: ICRC?

President Assad: We didn’t discuss it with the Red Cross, we didn’t discuss it. It should be discussed in our institutions, if you want to allow… if there is allegation, it could be discussed. We don’t say yes or no, but the report you have mentioned, it was a report made by Qatar, and financed by Qatar. You don’t know the source, you don’t know the names of those victims, nothing verified about that report. It was paid by Qatar directly in order to vilify and smear the Syrian government and the Syrian Army.

Journalist: But there are a lot of eyewitnesses.

President Assad: No one knows who are they. You don’t have anything clear about that. It’s not verified. So, no.

Journalist: Then open the door for organizations like Red Cross.

President Assad: It’s not my decision to tell you yes or no. We have institutions, if we need to discuss this part, we need to go back to the institutions before saying yes or no.

Question 22: Why are you sure that you are going to win this war?

President Assad: Because you have to defend your country, and you have to believe that you can win the war to defend your country. If you don’t have that belief, you will lose. You know, part of the war is what you believe in, so, it’s self-evident and very intuitive that you have to have that belief.

Question 23: If you walk through Damascus, your picture is everywhere, in every shop, in every restaurant, in every car, a symbol for a dictator, is this your way to fix your power?

President Assad: There is a difference between dictator and dictatorship. Dictator is about the person. I didn’t ask anyone to put my picture in Syria, I never did it. This is first. Second, to describe someone as a dictator, you should ask his people, I mean only his people can say that he is a dictator or he is a good guy.

Journalist: Thank you Mr. President for having answered our questions for Swiss Television and the Rundschau.

President Assad: Thank you for coming to Syria.

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Clinton Emails Reveal Direct USA Sabotage Of Venezuela


By Telesur,

man voting on elections in venezuela in front of flag

As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton led a team committed to delegitimizing the politics of the late Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution.

While Hillary Clinton publicly welcomed improved relations with Venezuela as secretary of state, she privately ridiculed the country and continued to support destabilization efforts, revealed her emails leaked by WikiLeaks.

In 2010, Clinton asked Arturo Valenzuela, then assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, how “to rein in Chavez.” Valenzuela responded that, “We need to carefully consider the consequences of publicly confronting him but ought to look at opportunities for others in the region to help.”

His answer was in line with the U.S. embassy strategy in 2006, also revealed in WikiLeaks intelligence cables: “Creative U.S. outreach to Chavez’ regional partners will drive a wedge between him and them,” said the confidential cable from the embassy. “By refusing to take each of Chavez’s outbursts seriously, we frustrate him even more, paving the way for additional Bolivarian miscalculations. We also allow room for other international actors to respond.”

Spain was among the countries willing to help the U.S. in its subversive foreign relations strategy. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright passed on a message from the administration of conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in 2012 expressing intentions “to re-orient Spanish foreign policy so that it can work with the U.S. in Latin America, especially on Venezuela and Cuba … As a transition in Cuba and something significant in Venezuela (and possibly the Andes) loom, a stronger working relationship between the U.S. and Spain could be very helpful.”

When keeping an eye on regional meetings, Clinton was especially concerned with Venezuela. Responding to a United Nations statement against the coup in Honduras in 2009—that she supported—Clinton shifted the attention to Venezuela: “Ok—but have they ever condemned Venezuela for denying press freedom?” she wrote to Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan.

He responded “I highly doubt it. And that is just the tip of the iceberg,” to which Clinton wrote, “Ah, the proverbial iceberg.”

Clinton was cautious not to respond to all of Hugo Chavez’s “antics,” but her staff insisted that Venezuelan politics were a threat to U.S. interests.

An email advising how to spend USAID funds strongly suggested refraining from backing leftist states like Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cuba because the money “could undermine real democratic development to hand over ‘ownership’ to populist centralizers.”

Clinton should use language like “‘local ownership’ in a nuanced way” to avoid having her words “used against her by demagogues and kleptocrats,” said the email. Any funds channeled into such unreliable states, it added, must be accompanied by “(h)uman behavioral changes.”

International aid to Venezuela was siphoned off, but broadcasts to counter local “propaganda” were amplified.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors—which runs the Marti stations, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks—requested more funding in a 2010 email forwarded to Clinton to “combat the public diplomacy efforts of America’s ‘enemies,’ which he (chairman Walter Isaacson) identifies as Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and China.”

 The BBG, with a US$700 million annual budget—now increased to over US$750 million, though not because of Clinton—was “facing increased competition from other governments’ forays into international broadcasting … including Venezuela’s teleSUR.”

A month later, when the board was facing cuts, Cuban-born Florida Senator Ileana Ros-Lehtinen suggested focusing resources on high-priority countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador.

“Let the fun begin—and let’s keep going w(ith) our plans,” responded Clinton.

Another leaked email from Stratfor described the BBG as “responsible for the radio and TV aggressions against Cuba,” which received its own category of state funding of nearly US$40 million. The board separated from State Department control in 1999, officially becoming an independent agency. “Congress agreed that credibility of U.S. international broadcasting was crucial to its effectiveness as a public diplomacy tool,” according to Congress’s 2008 budget on foreign operations.

While giving the cold shoulder to Venezuela, Clinton was cozy with Latin American players that opposed the country’s leftist politics.

Her counselor and chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, forwarded her a recommendation for Mari Carmen Aponte to be appointed as U.S. ambassador to El Salvador. Aponte, noted the email, “has consistently fought Cuba and Venezuela’s efforts to gain influence in Central America and as a result of her negotiating skills, the U.S. and El Salvador will open a new, jointly-funded, electronic monitoring center that will be an invaluable tool in fighting transnational crime.”

She won the appointment and later became assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Clinton also drew fire for saying, “We’re winning!” when the Venezuelan opposition won a majority of seats in parliament in 2015 and for serving as secretary of state while the National Security Administration regularly spied on Venezuela.

Is the USA Election Rigged is like asking is the Pope a Catholic?

Is the US Election Rigged?By Barry Grey,

Clinton Trump

The US media and political establishment have been consumed over the past two days with denunciations of Republican candidate Donald Trump’s allegations that the presidential election is “rigged” in favor of his rival, Hillary Clinton.

There is an increasingly racist and fascistic character to Trump’s charges, which combine attacks on the media for pushing allegations of sexual abuse with sweeping claims of vote-rigging, particularly in minority neighborhoods. Trump is urging his supporters to turn out en masse to “monitor” the polls, creating the possibility of violence on Election Day.

As always, Trump’s statements are a mixture of half-truths and lies. While there is no doubt that the media establishment has lined up behind Clinton, Trump is using the “rigged election” claim to lay the basis for declaring the election to have been stolen. He is preparing to use the “stolen election” as the rallying cry for the development of an extra-parliamentary, far-right movement after November 8.

This does not, however, lend the slightest credibility to the self-righteous and hypocritical response of the Democratic Party and the political establishment in general. Their indignation over any suggestion that something could be amiss with the pristinely democratic American electoral system is absurd.

Trump’s charges resonate well beyond the relative minority of his supporters who respond to racist agitation because his claims correspond to the bitter experience of broad masses of people with what passes for American democracy. This is, after all, a country that had a stolen election. The US Supreme Court shut down a vote recount in Florida and awarded the 2000 election to George W. Bush, who had lost the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore.

This was followed by the 2004 election, when George W. Bush was reelected based on disputed voting in Ohio and widespread charges of voter suppression.

The question, however, goes far beyond vote-rigging. Even by the standards of other major capitalist countries, the electoral system in the United States is among the least democratic. The two-party system is institutionalized, enforcing a political monopoly of two right-wing parties entirely beholden to the financial aristocracy—this in a vast and diverse country of 320 million people!

State ballot access and election laws impose prohibitive requirements, including the collection of tens of thousands of signatures, making it virtually impossible for “third party” and independent candidates to mount an effective campaign.

This political duopoly is reinforced by the unrestricted role of corporate money in US elections, corrupting the entire process to a degree, and with a brazenness, unmatched by any other major industrialized country. It is estimated that campaign spending by presidential and congressional candidates this year will hit a new record of more than $7.3 billion. For all practical purposes, to win high office in America one must either have billionaire backers or be a multi-millionaire oneself.

The corporate-owned media does its anti-democratic part, depriving coverage to alternative parties. In this election, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party, who are respectively polling 7 percent and 3 percent nationally, are excluded from the televised presidential debates, not to mention Jerry White, the candidate of the Socialist Equality Party.

The result is a political system that is increasingly unviable because it is unable to address any of the concerns of the vast majority of the population. The fact that barely half of the electorate bothers to vote is a devastating commentary on the US electoral system.

The bitter experience of the Obama administration, brought to power on a wave of popular hatred for Bush and revulsion over his wars and attacks on working class living standards, has further convinced tens of millions of people that neither their needs and concerns, nor their votes, have any impact on the policies pursued by the government. The candidate of “hope” and “change,” mistakenly believed to be an agent of progressive change because of his ethnicity, continued and deepened the policies of war and corporate plunder of his predecessor.

In the current election, the internal rot resulting from decades of economic decay and political reaction, presided over by both parties, has erupted onto the surface, placing a question mark over the survival of the two-party system. One measure of the system’s bankruptcy is the fact that an election cycle in which millions of people cast votes for a candidate who claimed, falsely, to be a socialist and opponent of Wall Street, Bernie Sanders, now presents the people with the “choice” between a billionaire quasi-fascist and a corrupt stooge of Wall Street and the military/intelligence establishment.

The transcripts of Hillary Clinton’s speeches to Goldman Sachs, released by WikiLeaks, show the real relationship that exists between the politicians and Wall Street. They are the paid servants of the financial oligarchs who run the country.

The fundamental and gigantic fraud that dominates the election is the total disconnect between the populist claims of both candidates and the reality of the programs they intend to implement. The real agenda, regardless of which one wins in November, is war, austerity and repression.

Is the election rigged? Of course it is—to produce an outcome acceptable to the ruling class. The entire political system is rigged and fundamentally undemocratic because capitalism is a system of class exploitation in which real political power is concentrated in the hands of a corporate-financial oligarchy.

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