Hyping North Korea To Relaunch Reagan’s Star Wars?

By Moon Of Aalabama

August 15, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  Since Trump issued “fire and fury” threats against North Korea (the DPRK), sanity has taken over among serious people. The talk of preventive strikes on North Korea within the expert community has largely ended. It was never a seriously possibility. North Korea has many options to retaliate to any strike and all would come with catastrophic damage to South Korea and Japan and thereby to U.S. interests in Asia.

North Korea can be successfully deterred in the same way that all other nuclear weapon states are deterred from using their weapons. Unfortunately the National Security Advisor McMaster has not yet received that message:

STEPHANOPOULOS: But your predecessor Susan Rice wrote this week that the U.S. could tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea the same way we tolerated nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union far more during the Cold War. Is she right?

MCMASTER: No, she’s not right. And I think the reason she’s not right is that the classical deterrence theory, how does that apply to a regime like the regime in North Korea? A regime that engages in unspeakable brutality against its own people? A regime that poses a continuous threat to the its neighbors in the region and now may pose a threat, direct threat, to the United States with weapons of mass destruction? A regime that imprisons and murders anyone who seems to oppose that regime, including members of his own family, using sarin nerve gase (sic) — gas in a public airport?

Classical deterrence worked against the Soviet Union as well as against Mao’s China. (Vice versa it also worked against the United States.) Both were arguably, like North Korea, brutal against internal dissidents, threatening to their neighbors and military opponents of the United States. If they could be deterred than North Korea can also be deterred.

To set the Trump crew straight. China re-issued its guarantee for North Korea’s security. The Global Times, a party owned but unofficial mouthpiece, wrote in an editorial:

“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” [..].

“If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.

Any unprovoked war against North Korea would thereby escalate into a war with China and no one is seriously interested in that adventure. The only reasonable course is to negotiate some new level of balance between North Korean and U.S. interests.

The U.S. continues to run large scale maneuver together in South Korea and to fly nuclear capable strategic bombers near the North Korean borders. These actions necessitate that North Korea’s military stays in expensive high alert against potential surprises. One aim of North Korea’s nuclear armament is to lessen the necessity for such conventional preparedness.

North Korea has offered several times to stop all missile and nuclear testing if the U.S. stops its large maneuvers near its borders. The Trump administration rejected that offer but North Korea increased the pressure with its recent tests.

Last week North Korea again offered to decrease its own actions if the U.S. stops some of its provocations. It announced a possible test of four missiles targeted into the vicinity of the U.S. base on Guam. The strategic U.S. bombers flying near North Korea usually take off from Guam. Few noticed that the announcement was conditional and came with an offer:

Typically, the nuclear strategic bombers from Guam frequent the sky above south Korea to openly stage actual war drills and muscle-flexing in a bid to strike the strategic bases of the DPRK. This grave situation requires the KPA to closely watch Guam, the outpost and beachhead for invading the DPRK, and necessarily take practical actions of significance to neutralize it.

In the morning of August 8 the air pirates of Guam again appeared in the sky above south Korea to stage a mad-cap drill simulating an actual war.

[The US] should immediately stop its reckless military provocation against the state of the DPRK so that the latter would not be forced to make an unavoidable military choice.

In other words: Stop the overflights from Guam or we will have to test our missiles by targeting areas near to the island. The U.S. has no reliable defense that could guarantee to destroy four missile simultaneously coming towards Guam. If North Korea would indeed test near Guam the U.S. will lose face. If it tries to defend against the incoming missile and fails it will lose even more face. I am confident that the strategic bomber overflights from Guam will soon end.

Several commentators claimed that the U.S. is giving false alarm over North Korean abilities. That the intelligence confirmation of miniaturized North Korean war-heads is a lie, that the North Korean missiles can not reach the continental U.S. or that the reentry vehicle cap North Korea used in recent tests is not strong enough to protect its nuclear payload. But it was North Korea that showed off a miniaturized war-head in March 2016; the reach of a missile is variable and largely dependent on payload size and burn time, and the discussed RV cap failure was caused by the unusual trajectory North Korea chose for the test. The chance of North Korea being correct when it claims to be able to hit the U.S. is higher than 50%. For any practical consideration one thereby has to accept that North Korea is a nuclear weapon state that can successfully target the continental U.S. with multiple nuclear armed missiles.

The claim that the U.S. intelligence agencies are exaggeration North Korean capabilities is likely false. But it is also reasonable. The Trump administration, the Pentagon and weapon salesmen will of course use the occasion to further their aims.

One missile defense marketing pundit claimed today that the North Korean missile engines used in the recent tests were bought from factories in Ukraine or Russia. The usual propagandist at the New York Times picked up on that to further their anti-Russian theme:

Mr. Elleman was unable to rule out the possibility that a large Russian missile enterprise, Energomash, which has strong ties to the Ukrainian complex, had a role in the transfer of the RD-250 engine technology to North Korea. He said leftover RD-250 engines might also be stored in Russian warehouses.

But the engines in question are of different size and thrust than the alleged R-250 engines and the claimed time-frame does not fit at all. The Ukrainian government denied any transfer of missiles or designs. The story was debunked with in hours by two prominent experts. But implicating Russia, however farfetched, is always good if one wants to sell more weapons.

One Pentagon hobby horse is the THAAD medium range missile defense systems that will now be stationed in South Korea. This even as it is incapable to defend South Korea from short range North Korean missiles. It is obviously targeted at China.

The Reagan wannabe currently ruling in the White House may soon revive Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, aka “Star Wars”, which was first launched in 1984. SDI was the expensive but unrealistic dream of lasers in space and other such gimmicks. Within the SDI the U.S. military threw out hundreds of billions for a Global Ballistic Missile Defense which supposedly would defend the continental U.S. from any incoming intercontinental missile. The program was buried in the early 1990s.  One son of Star Wars survived. It is the National Missile Defense with 40 interceptors in Alaska and California. It has never worked well and likely never will. If NMD would function as promised there would be no reason to fear any North Korean ICBMs. Missile defense is largely a fraud to transfers billions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers to various weapon producing conglomerates.

I expect that the North Korean “threat” will soon be used to launch “SDI – The Sequel”, another attempt to militarize space with billions thrown into futuristic but useless “defense” projects. It will soothe the Pentagon’s grief over the success North Korea had despite decades of U.S. attempts to subjugate that state.

This article was first published by Moon Of Alabama 

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The World on the Brink. The Danger of Nuclear War Looms

Global Research, August 13, 2017

The world is daily and hourly edging closer to the brink of nuclear war, as US President Donald Trump maintains a constant stream of extraordinarily inflammatory and reckless threats against North Korea. Such bellicose language coming from the man in charge of the most powerful military force on the planet is generating increasing shock and fear that war with nuclear weapons could break out at any moment.

Having tweeted yesterday morning that the military option is now “locked and loaded should North Korea act unwisely,” Trump followed up with images of B-1 strategic bombers and a message from US Pacific Command that these warplanes were ready to fulfill their “Fight Tonight” mission in Korea.

Just hours later, Trump rebuked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for criticising the “escalation of rhetoric,” declaring, “I hope they understand the gravity of the situation of what I said, and what I said is what I mean.” The US president again menaced North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, warning that if he utters one more overt threat, “he will truly regret it.”

With the danger of war looming with ever greater menace over the world’s population, it is natural to think, or at least hope, that what is involved is just a war of words, and that somehow a means will be found to pull back from the precipice. It is necessary, however, to look reality in the face.

Comparisons are being made to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962—the closest the world has come to nuclear war. But that tense and precarious confrontation was finally resolved and nuclear arsenals stood down because neither the American nor the Russian leader wanted to unleash a nuclear exchange.

The same cannot be said today. At least one side, the Trump administration, is primed and prepared to engulf the other side in “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Moreover, whether intentionally or not, Trump is recklessly goading North Korea into making a desperate military move.

Trump has said absolutely nothing to reassure North Korean leader Kim that the US wants a negotiated settlement or anything short of complete and abject capitulation. And as the prospect of conflict increasingly seems inevitable, military logic increasingly takes over. If the highly unstable Pyongyang regime believes that a massive US attack is imminent, it could decide to launch its own pre-emptive strike rather than have its capacity to retaliate completely destroyed.

In its recklessness, the Trump administration is proceeding with indifference and disregard for what would be unleashed by a war against North Korea. Unlike the Korean War of 1950–53, which cost the lives of millions on both sides of north-south border, a new conflict would be unlikely to be confined to the Korean Peninsula.

The threat of nuclear war is not simply the product of a fascistic madman in the White House, but arises out of immense geo-political tensions fueled by the deep economic crisis of American and global capitalism. Trump has the backing of powerful sections of the military and political elites in Washington who have been pressing for the US to challenge and if necessary go to war with China, regarded as the chief obstacle to American global dominance.

The present crisis is the outcome of the political climate prepared by a quarter-century of continuous wars by US imperialism in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, as Washington sought to use its military might to overcome its historic economic decline. It has become a virtual article of faith in American ruling circles that all of their problems on the international arena can be resolved through military action.

The ground was prepared for war against North Korea by the Obama administration, which, as part of its “pivot to Asia” against China, authorised a huge military build-up throughout the Indo-Pacific. The US military has now stationed its most advanced weaponry in Asia, along with 60 percent of its air and naval forces, and secured new basing agreements throughout the region.

The Pentagon could immediately call on more than 28,000 Air Force, naval, Marine and Special Operations personnel based in South Korea as well as many more forces from its bases in Japan and Guam. Moreover, in the event of a war with North Korea, the US would assume operational control of the South Korean military, with its 625,000 personnel and 3,100,000 reservists.

Any war on the Korean Peninsula poses great dangers not only for China, but also for Russia, as both countries share borders with North Korea. The criminal irresponsibility of the Trump administration is underscored by the fact that it is prepared to initiate a war in what has been a dangerous flashpoint throughout the past century.

It cannot be assumed that China or Russia will simply sit by while the US starts a firestorm in their backyard that will grossly undermine their own security. Having just voted in the UN Security Council for harsh new sanctions on North Korea, Beijing and Moscow can only regard Trump’s warmongering this week as a betrayal.

China intervened in the first Korean War as American troops approached its border, and it could do so again. An editorial in the state-owned Global Times, reflecting the more militarist sections of the Chinese regime, insisted that Beijing had to “respond with a firm hand” to defend its interests. While urging that China remain neutral if North Korea launches a first strike, it warned:

“If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime… China will prevent them from doing so.”

It cannot be ruled out that a way will be devised to defuse the immediate crisis on the Korean Peninsula, at least temporarily. However, the Rubicon has been crossed. The US has made clear that it is no longer constrained by previous understandings on the use of nuclear weapons and is willing to wage nuclear war—in this case against an impoverished, backward and poorly armed enemy. Around the world, rivals and allies alike will be compelled to alter their strategic and military planning accordingly to ensure they can defend their vital interests.

The greatest danger in this situation is the lack of political understanding and preparation on the part of the working class in the US, Asia and internationally for the crisis that now confronts humanity. While the monstrous threats emanating from Trump have evoked a great deal of anxiety, fear and hostility, workers lack their own political strategy and party to end the danger of war. What is required now is the building of an international anti-war movement of the working class based on socialist principles and the International Committee of the Fourth International and its sections as the mass revolutionary parties needed to lead it.

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Did Hillary Scapegoat Russia to Save Her Campaign?

By Mike Whitney

August 01, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The “Russia hacking” flap has nothing to do with Russia and nothing to do with hacking. The story is basically a DNC invention that was concocted to mitigate the political fallout from the nearly 50,000 emails that WikiLeaks planned to publish on July 22, 2016, just 3 days before the Democratic National Convention. That’s what this is really all about. Russia didn’t hack anything, it’s a big diversion that was conjured up on-the-fly to keep Hillary’s bandwagon from going down in flames.

Put yourself in Hillary’s shoes for a minute. She knew the deluge was coming and she knew it was going to be bad. (According to Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, DNC contractor Crowdstrike claimed to find evidence of Russian malware on DNC servers just three days after WikiLeaks announced that it was about “about to publish “emails related to Hillary Clinton.” Clearly, that was no coincidence. The plan to blame Russia was already underway.) Hillary knew that the emails were going to expose the DNC’s efforts to rig the primaries and torpedo Bernie Sanders campaign, and she knew that the media was going to have a field-day dissecting the private communications word by word on cable news or splashing them across the headlines for weeks on end. It was going to be excruciating. She knew that, they all knew that.

And how would her supporters react when they discovered that their party leaders and presidential candidate were actively involved in sabotaging the democratic process and subverting the primaries? That wasn’t going to go over well with voters in Poughkeepsie, now was it? Maybe she’d see her public approval ratings slip even more. Maybe she’d nosedive in the polls or lose the election outright, she didn’t know. No one knew. All they knew was that she was in trouble. Big trouble.

So she reacted exactly the way you’d expect Hillary to react, she hit the panic button. In fact, they all freaked out, everyone of them including Podesta and the rest of the DNC honchoes. Once they figured that their presidential bid could go up in smoke, they decided to act preemptively, pull out all the stops and “Go Big”.

That’s where Russia comes into the picture. The DNC brass (with help from allies at the CIA) decided to conjure up a story so fantastic that, well, it had to be true, after all, that’s what the 17 intel agencies said, right? And so did the elite media including the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN. They can’t all be wrong, can they? Sure, they goofed-up on Saddam’s WMDs, and Iran’s imaginary nukes program, and Assad’s fictional chemical weapons attack, but, hey, everyone makes mistakes, right? And, besides, have I told you how evil Putin is lately and how much he reminds me of Adolph Hitler? (sarcasm)

In any event, they settled on Russia mainly because Russia had rolled back Washington’s imperial project in both Ukraine and Syria, so the media was already in full demonetization-mode and raring to go. All the DNC needed to do was utter the words “Russia meddling” and they’d be off to the races.

Does any of this sound even remotely believable? Former CIA analyst, Ray McGovern seems to think so, because he expounded a very similar scenario about a month ago in an interview on You Tube. Check it out:

Ray McGovern– “What did Hillary do? …Hillary gathered her war council together and one fellow says, “I know what we can do. We’ll blame it on the Russians.”

And someone else says, “But it wasn’t the Russians it was WikiLeaks.”

(Guy number 1 says)”Well, that’s a twofer. We hate them both equally , so we’ll say WikiLeaks is working with the Russians.”

(Ray McGovern) That was two days before the convention.

And someone else says, “What would the rationale be?”

(Guy number 2 says) “C’mon, the Russians clearly want Trump to win.”

(Number 1) “But what about the major media?”

(Number 2) “Well, the major media really want Hillary to win, so if we get the major media on board, well, we really got it wired.”

(Ray McGovern again) “And if you watch the coverage since the WikiLeaks leak, two days before the convention, the media content was not ‘how did Hillary steal the election’ but ‘How did the Russians do it?”’

(“Ray McGovern: The Deep State Assault on Elected Government Must Be Stopped“)

He’s right, isn’t he? Hillary and Co. pulled off the whole ruse without a hitch. The media focused on the “Russia meddling” angle, and the calculating Ms. Clinton slipped away with nary a scratch. It’s amazing!

But there was one glitch to the ‘Blame Russia’ scheme. There was no hard evidence of Russian involvement. And, now, 10 months into multiple investigations of Russian hacking, there’s still no evidence. How can that be?

Well, for one thing, the FBI was never given access to the DNC computers.

Let me repeat that: In the biggest and most politically-explosive investigation in more than a decade, an investigation that has obvious national security implications– alleged cyber-espionage by a hostile foreign power, alleged collusion by high-ranking officials in the current administration, alleged treason or collusion on part of the Chief Executive, and the possible impeachment of a sitting president– the FBI has not yet secured or examined the servers that may or may not provide compelling forensic evidence of cyber-intrusion by Russia.

Why? Why would the FBI accept the analysis of some flunky organization that no one has ever heard of before (Crowdstrike) rather than use all the tools at their disposal to thoroughly investigate whether or not the hacking actually took place or not? Isn’t that their job?

Yer damn right it is. The reason the FBI never insisted on examining the DNC servers, is because they knew the story was baloney from the get go. Otherwise they would have kicked down the doors at the DNC, seized the computers through brute force, and arrested anyone who tried to stop them. Those computers are Exhibit A in the Trial of the Century. They should be under lock and key at FBI Headquarters not collecting cobwebs in the basement of the DNC-HQ. The fact that the servers have not been seized and examined just proves what a joke this whole Russia-deal really is.

You see, when a law enforcement agency like the FBI fails so conspicuously in carrying out its duties, you have to assume that other factors are involved, mainly politics. It’s all politics, right? There is no rational explanation for the FBI’s behavior other than it is following a political script that coincides with the agenda and ambitions of the DNC and other power players behind the scenes. Investigative journalist Gareth Porter summed it up perfectly in a brilliant article titled Foisting Blame for Cyber-Hacking on Russia. He said:

“…the history of the US government’s claim that Russian intelligence hacked into election databases reveals it to be a clear case of politically motivated analysis by the DHS and the Intelligence Community. Not only was the claim based on nothing more than inherently inconclusive technical indicators but no credible motive for Russian intelligence wanting personal information on registered voters was ever suggested.” (“Foisting Blame for Cyber-Hacking on Russia“, antiwar.com)

Right on, Porter. Facts don’t matter in the Russia hacking case. They never have. The whole approach from Day 1 has been to drown the public with innuendo and baseless accusations, while the MSM Carnie barkers pretend that “Russia meddling” is already settled science and that only “Putin puppets” would ever doubt the veracity of the media’s loony claims. Got that?

But facts do matter and so does evidence. And on that score we’re in luck because McGovern’s group, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), released a blockbuster report last week that produced the first hard evidence that Russia most certainly DID NOT hack the DNC servers. It was a DNC insider. Here’s an excerpt from the VIPS article titled “Was the “Russian Hack” an Inside Job?”

“Independent cyber-investigators have now …come up with verifiable evidence from metadata found in the record of the alleged Russian hack. They found that the purported “hack” of the DNC …was not a hack…(but) originated with a copy …by an insider. The data was leaked after being doctored with a cut-and-paste job to implicate Russia….

Key among the findings of the independent forensic investigations is the conclusion that the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack. Of equal importance, the forensics show that the copying and doctoring were performed on the East coast of the U.S.” (“Was the “Russian Hack” an Inside Job?“, CounterPunch)

Capisce? There was no hack. Someone working inside the DNC (a disgruntled employee?) –who had access to the computers, and who worked on the East Coast– copied the data onto a storage device and transferred it to WikiLeaks. That’s what you call a “leak” not a “hack”. There was no hack. Russia was not involved. The official narrative is bullshit. End of story.

Naturally, the MSM has completely ignored the VIPS report just as they ignored Sy Hersh’s brilliant article that proved that Assad DID NOT launch a chemical weapons attack in Syria. That bit of information has been locked out of the MSM coverage altogether as it doesn’t jibe with Washington’s “Assad must go” policy. So too, McGovern’s “verifiable forensic evidence” that the Russians did not hack the DNC servers will likely be consigned to the memory hole like every other inconvenient factoid that doesn’t fit with Washington’s foreign policy objectives.

The fact that the FBI has not seized the DNC computers is just one of many glaring omissions in this farcical investigation, but there are others too. Like this: Did you know that there are two eyewitnesses in the case that have not yet been questioned? That’s right, there are two people who claim to know the identity of the person who gave the stolen emails to WikiLeaks; Julian Assange and Craig Murray.

Murray, who is the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan and a human rights activist, claims he met the person who took the emails from the DNC in a wooded area in Washington DC last year. In other words, Murray can settle this matter once and for all and put an end to this year-long witch-hunt that has consumed the media and Capital Hill, prevented the Congress from conducting the people’s business, and increased the probability of a conflagration with nuclear-armed Russia.

But here’s the problem: The FBI has never interviewed Murray or made any effort to interview him. It’s like he doesn’t exist. In other words, we have a credible witness who can positively identify the person who leaked the emails, gave them to WikiLeaks and set off a political firestorm that has engulfed the Capital and the country for the last year, and the FBI hasn’t interviewed him?

Will someone explain that to me, please?

That’s why I remain convinced that the Russia hacking story is pure, unalloyed bunkum. There’s not a word of truth to any of it.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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America Declares Economic War Against Europe

Global Research, July 31, 2017

On Friday night, July 28th, U.S. President Donald Trump said that he would sign into law the increased economic sanctions (passed by 98-2 in the Senate and 419-3 in the House) against any business that is declared to have “knowingly provided goods or services … for construction, modernisation, or repair of Russia’s energy export pipelines.” 

Russia is the largest energy-supplier to the world’s largest energy-market, which is the European Union (EU). The biggest proportion of that trade is in Europe’s main source of energy, which is gas, which is pipelined into Europe from Russia. So: those pipelines are vitally important not only to Russia’s economy but to Europe’s.

President Trump had gotten Congress to agree to limit the application of this provision only to “The President, in coordination with allies of the United States, may impose five or more of the sanctions described in section 235 with respect to a person if the President determines that the person knowingly, on or after the date of the enactment of this Act, makes an investment described in subsection (b) or sells, leases, or provides to the Russian Federation, for the construction of Russian energy export pipelines, goods, services, technology, information, or support.” 

But the new law still does include “SEC. 232. SANCTIONS WITH RESPECT TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF PIPELINES IN THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION.” That Section punishes “Goods, services, technology, information, or support described in this subsection are goods, services, technology, information, or support that could directly and significantly facilitate the maintenance or expansion of the construction, modernization, or repair of energy export pipelines by the Russian Federation.” That includes the crucial Nord Stream pipeline, which is maintained by Russian and German companies to transport gas from Russia to the EU.

U.S. firms have thus now gotten their stooges in Congress to punish European and Russian companies that will be determined by “The President, in coordination with allies of the United States,” to be working together in these ways, to get Russia’s gas to Europe’s markets.

North Stream, or Nord Stream, “has an annual capacity of 55 billion cubic metres (1.9 trillion cubic feet), but its capacity is planned to be doubled to 110 billion cubic metres (3.9 trillion cubic feet) by 2019, by laying two additional lines.[5] Due to EU restrictions on Gazprom, only 22.5 billion cubic metres (790 billion cubic feet) of its capacity is actually used.[6] The name occasionally has a wider meaning, including the feeding onshore pipeline in the Russian Federation, and further connections in Western Europe.(Wikipedia)

So, already, the U.S. oligarchs have greatly reduced the effectiveness of this enormous European and Russian investment, and this is already war by the U.S. oligarchs (and their congressional agents) against both the European Union and Russia; but, the new sanctions aim to go even further to absolutely cripple Europe and Russia.

President Trump is to be credited for having weakened this provision to such an extent that it will be virtually meaningless; but, the intention of the oligarchs who control the U.S., to force Europe to buy from them, and from their allied Saudi, UAE, Kuwaiti, and the other royal fundamentalist Sunni Arabian families, is clear.

Other highlights from this new U.S. law are well summarized in the July 28th article from Zero Hedge, “Trump Confirms He Will Sign Russia Sanctions Bill”.

The biggest concession that Trump made was to allow that this new law, “H.R.3364 – Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”, “Codifies existing US sanctions on Russia and requires Congressional review before they are lifted.” This is an Executive-Legislative agreement (an agreement between the President and Congress), but the U.S. Constitution doesn’t include any provision allowing an Executive-Legislative agreement to violate the Constitution; and there are a number of provisions in the U.S. Constitution that H.R.3364 might be determined by courts to be violating, as regards relinquishment to Congress of certain Executive powers over the negotiation of treaties, and over the President’s powers as Commander-in-Chief. This is presuming, of course, that key judges cannot be bought-off.

When a country is being ruled by its oligarchs, anything that the nation’s Constitution says, can be viewed as little more than an impediment, not any outright ban, because the actual Constitution, in any such country, is whatever they want it to be. Just how bad the U.S. government has become, can’t yet be determined, but might become clear fairly soon.

Meanwhile, some senior journalists in Europe (such as this) are already beginning to argue that American policy toward Russia is not only draining massive funds from EU countries, but is driving a split in the EU, and also within NATO, which might break Europe apart, into the Eastern European, former Soviet countries, allied with the U.S.; versus the Western European countries, allied with Russia — driving potentially toward the termination of NATO, and of the EU, into an entirely new system of alliances: “Eastern Europe is a powder keg with several, burning lances. Twenty-eight years after the fall of the Soviet Union and the establishment of democracies, the region is sinking into a political crisis,” which has the United States backing the most far-right Eastern European countries, against Russia, but in which the Western European countries become increasingly allied with Russia.

It could happen.

It would not produce an anti-U.S. Western Europe, except to the extent that U.S. policies aim against Russia.

It would thus mean the end of the secret anti-Russia operation that U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush initiated on the night of 24 February 1990, and that has been carried out by the U.S., EU, and NATO, uninterrupted, ever since.  

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.

This article was originally published by Strategic Culture Foundation.

Sanctions against China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. Part of a Global Military Agenda. Pentagon’s World War III Scenario

Global Research, July 29, 2017

Washington announced sweeping sanctions to be imposed on three countries: Russia, Iran and North Korea, following the US House of Representatives vote to impose a three countries’ sanctions “package”.  

While the justifications are diverse and unrelated, all three countries are from a military and geopolitical standpoint on the US nuclear “hit list”. They are considered as de facto rogue states, enemies of America.

The Congressional bill invoked respectively Tehran’s support of terrorism, Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, and North Korea’s ICBM missile tests.

The pretexts with regard to Russia and Iran are largely fabricated. The main sponsor of  Islamic terrorism is US intelligence.

The “package sanctions regime” is intimately related to the Deep State military agenda. Moreover it is worth noting that the legislation included a (rather dangerous) clause to “disapprove of any moves the president makes to end the sanctions… and build a better relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

This clause is visibly intended by the neocon hawks in Washington to constrain the powers of the White House. In the words of Paul Craig Roberts, they are intended to “Put Trump in a box.”

The Congressional bill still requires the endorsement of President Trump, who might exercise his veto.

The China Sanctions Regime

While China was excluded from the Congressional three countries’ “package”, Washington formally intimated in early July that sanctions would also be imposed on China in response to China’s increased bilateral commodity trade with North Korea.

China is described as an ally of North Korea. While the US sanctions regime is not officially directed against the Chinese government, selected Chinese banks and trading companies involved in the financing of China-DPRK commodity trade are potential targets of US reprisals.

Having lost patience with China, the Trump administration is studying new steps to starve North Korea of cash for its nuclear program, including an option that would infuriate Beijing: sanctions on Chinese companies that help keep the North’s economy afloat.

The insinuation is crystal clear: curtail your trade with North Korea, or else…

Washington has visibly opted for a coordinated package of sanctions which is intimately related to its global military agenda. Is this sanctions regime a preamble to military action?

From a US foreign policy perspective, China, Russia and Iran constitute a geopolitical “block”. China and Russia are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement (SCO), allies in the fields of trade, energy as well as military cooperation, Iran is slated to become a full member of the SCO.

Economic sanctions are indelibly tied into military and intelligence planning. In many regards the sanctions “package” (in derogation of international law) constitutes an act of war.

Russia and China have a longstanding comprehensive military cooperation agreement. Ironically, barely acknowledged by the Western media, a month prior to the House of Representatives vote, Beijing and Moscow signed (June 29, 2017) a  so-called roadmap on military cooperation for 2017-2020, which in essence constitutes a rebuttal to US-NATO threats including the US sanctions regime.

Moreover, both China and Russia have economic as well as defense cooperation agreements with North Korea.

Russia signed in November 2015 an “agreement on the prevention of dangerous military activities” with the DPRK, largely directed against the militarization of the Korean peninsula. In turn, China has a bilateral military cooperation agreement with North Korea which is part of the 1979 Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty,

The US sanctions regime is not only directed against those “three plus one” countries, it is also directed against countries which have bilateral trade, investment or military cooperation agreements with China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.

Weakening the European Union

Moreover, the sanctions regime is quite deliberately intended to weaken the European Union, specifically in relation to the sale of Russian natural gas to the EU.

Punitive measures are also envisaged directed against European companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which is used to transport natural gas from North Western Russia to Germany.

What this suggests is that EU member states which enter into trade with Russia would be subjected to sanctions.

France has raised doubts about “the legitimacy of new US sanctions against Iran and Russia, saying they do not conform to international law due to their extraterritorial reach” (Press TV)

The Pentagon’s Military Agenda

This sanctions package directed against four enemies of America is related (and “supportive”) of US and allied military deployments in major regions of the World:

  • Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Balkans (against Russia),
  • Caucasus (against Russia and Iran)
  • Syria and Iraq (against Iran and Russia),
  • Militarization of the Persian Gulf (against Iran)
  • South China Sea (against China as part of the Pivot to Asia)
  • East Asia and the Korean peninsula including the THAAD deployment (against North Korea, China and Russia).

Vigilant Shield 07:

Irmingham [Iran], Nemazee [North Korea], Ruebek [Russia], Churya [China]

From a strategic point of view, the Pentagon’s World War III war “scenarios” which have been conducted on regular basis for more than ten years include these four countries, which are now the object of US sanctions.

The details of these WWIII war games scenarios –which involve the use of nuclear weapons– invariably remain classified. In 2006, the Vigilant Shield 2007 war games involving four fictitious countries were leaked to the Washington  Post in an article by William Arkin

Vigilant Shield exercise (Vigilant Shield 07), which simulated the outbreak of a major war, contemplated four hypothetical enemies: Ruebek (Russia), Churya (China), Irmingham (Iran) and Nemazee (North Korea).

Examine the details below of the World War Scenario (Road to Conflict). Is there a relationship?

Is the US sanctions regime directed against four countries in any way related to the war games and routine World War III scenarios conducted by the Pentagon against these four countries. 

Further analysis is contained in Michel Chossudovsky, Towards a World War III Scenario, The Dangers of Nuclear War, Global Research, (2011) (click cover to order from Global Research)

Irmingham [Iran], Nemazee [North Korea], Ruebek [Russia], Churya [China]

Details and Sequencing: [emphasis added]

“• Road to Conflict (RTC): 11 Sep – 15 Oct 06

 – Initial Irmingham Enrichment I&W [indications and warning]
– Initial Ruebeki & Irmingham Involvement
 – Ruebek I&W, PACFLT [U.S. Pacific Fleet] Sub Deployments
– Initial Nemazee ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] I&W
– Initial MHLD [homeland defense?] I&W
 – Strategic IO [information operations (cyber warfare)] operations (Ruebek & Churya)
– Ruebek & Irmingham Conduct Joint AD [air defense] Exercise

• Phase 1 / Deployment: 4 – 8 Dec 06

 – Rogue LRA [Russian long-range aviation] w/CALCM [conventional air launched cruise missile] Launch
– Continue Monitoring Strategic Situation
– Continue Monitoring Nemazee Situation

  • Possible Nuclear Testing
  • Probable ICBM Preparation

– Continue Monitoring MHLD Situation

• Five VOIs [vessels of interest]
  • Churya Flagged VOI into Dutch Harbor Supports BMDS [ballistic missile defense system] Threat to Ft Greely

 – Continue Monitoring IO Activities
 – Nemazee Conducts SLV [space launch vehicle] Launch – 8 Dec 06

• Phase 2 Minus 42 Days:

 • Additional Nemazee ICBM Shipments to Launch Facilities
• RMOB [Russian main operating bases] Acft Conduct LR Navigation Flights
• AS-15 [nuclear armed cruise missile] Handling at RMOBs

 – Minus 41 Days:
 • Additional Nemazee ICBM Preps at Launch Pad # 2
– Minus 40 Days:
  • Activity at Nemazee Nuclear Test Facilities
– Minus 35 Days:
  • DOS [Department of State] Travel Warning
 – Minus 30 Days:
• Ruebek LRA Deploys Acft to Anadyr & Vorkuta

• Phase 2 Minus 30 Days:

 • Growing International Condemnation of Ruebek
• Ruebek Deploys Submarines

 – Minus 20 Days:
  • Nemazee Recalls Reservists
 – Minus 14 Days:
• DOS Draw-down Sequencing
– Minus 13 Days:
  • Ruebek Closes US Embassy in Washington DC
 – Minus 11 Days:
• Nemazee Conducts Fueling of Additional ICBMs
  • Ruebeki Presidential Statement on Possible US Attack

• Phase 2 Minus 10 Days:

 • POTUS Addresses Congress on War Powers Act

– Minus 6 Days:
  • Ruebek President Calls “Situation Grave”
 – Minus 5 Days:
• CALCM Activity at Anadyr, Vorkuta, and Tiksi
• Ruebeki SS-25 [nuclear armed mobile ICBMs] Conduct out of Garrison Deployments
• Nemazee Assembling ICBM for Probable Launch
– Minus 4 Days:
  • Ruebek Closes US Embassy in Washington DC
  • Ruebek Acft Conduct Outer ADIZ [air defense identification zone] Pentrations
• Mid-Air Collison w/NORAD Acft During ADIZ Penetration

• Phase 2 Minus 4 Days:

 • Nemazee ICBM Launch Azimuth Threatens US

 – Minus 3 Days:
 • NATO Diplomatic Efforts Fail to Diffuse Crisis
 • USAMB to Ruebek Recalled for Consultation
 • POTUS Addresses Nation
 – Minus 2 Days:
 • Nemazee Leadership Movement
 – Minus 1 Day:
 • Ruebek Expels US Mission

• Phase 2 / Execution: 10 – 14 Dec 06

 – Pre-Attack I & W
 – Imminent Terrorist Attack on Pentagon Suggests Pentagon COOP [continuity of operations plan]
– Nemazee Conducts 2 x ICBM Combat Launches Against United States

– Ruebek Conducts Limited Strategic Attack on United States
• Wave 1 – 8 x Bear H Defense Suppression w/CALCM
• Wave 2 – Limited ICBM & SLBM Attack
– 2 x ICBM Launched (1 impacts CMOC [Cheyenne Mountain], 1 malfunctions)
– 2 x SLBM Launched Pierside (1 impacts SITE-R [“Raven Rock” bunker on the Maryland-Pennsylvania border], 1 malfunctions)
– 3 x Bear H from Dispersal Bases w/ALCM (Eielson AFB, CANR, Cold Lake)
– US Conducts Limited Retaliatory Attack on Ruebek
• 1 x ICBM C2 Facility
• 1 x ICBM Against ICBM Launch Location
• Phase 2 / Execution:
 – Ruebek Prepares Additional Attack on United States
• Wave 3 – Prepares for Additional Strategic Attacks
  – 1 x ICBM Movement, NO Launch
– 3 x SLBM PACFLT Pierside Missile Handling Activity (NO Launch)
– 6 x BEAR H (launch & RTB [return to base]) w/6 x ALCM (NO launch)”

 emphasis added

 

America’s Militarized Police – Made in Israel?



By Philip Giraldi

July 25, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The horrific execution by police of an Australian woman in her pajamas that took place last week in Minneapolis has again produced a torrent of criticism over killings initiated by law enforcement in situations in which the officers are in no way threatened. America has always been a violent place relative to much of the rest of the world, but even so there has been a noticeable shift in how, since the trauma of 9/11, some policemen believe themselves to be superior to and detached from the society they are supposed to be protecting. And the public is reciprocating, seeing the police frequently as a force that is no longer there to serve the people and instead something that should be feared. Even in the upper middle class predominantly white county that I live in, residents not infrequently discuss the increasingly visible and aggressive police presence. It is widely believed that arguing with cops or showing even the slightest attitude in contacts with them is done at one’s peril.

Even in low crime parts of the country, the police are able to deploy fully armed and equipped swat teams that are more military than civilian in their threatening demeanor as well in the body armor and weapons they carry. Many cities and counties now have surplus military armored vans for crowd control even if they have no crowds. Armed drones are increasingly becoming part of the law enforcement arsenal and it sometimes appears as if the police are copying the military as a model of “how to do it.”

The various levels of government that make up the United States seem to be preparing for some kind of insurrection, which may indeed be the case somewhere down the road if the frustrations of the public are not somehow dealt with. But there is another factor that has, in my opinion, become a key element in the militarization of the police in the United States. That would be the role of the security organs of the state of Israel in training American cops, a lucrative business that has developed since 9/11 and which inter aliagives the “students” a whole different perspective on the connection of the police with those who are being policed, making the relationship much more one of an occupier and the occupied.

The engagement of American police forces with Israeli security services began modestly enough in the wake of 9/11. The panic response in the United States to a major terrorist act led to a search for resources to confront what was perceived as a new type of threat that normal law-and-order training did not address.

Israel, which, in its current occupation of much of Palestine and the Golan Heights as well as former stints in Gaza, southern Lebanon and Sinai, admittedly has considerable experience in dealing with the resistance to its expansion manifested as what it describes as terrorism. Jewish organizations in the United States dedicated to providing cover for Israeli’s bad behavior, saw an opportunity to get their hooks into a sizable and respected community within the U.S. that was ripe for conversion to the Israeli point of view, so they began funding “exchanges.”

Since 2002 there have been hundreds of all-expenses-paid trips including officers from every major American city as well as state and local police departments. Some have been sponsored by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has also been directly funding trips since 2008, explaining that “As a people living under constant threat of attack, the Israelis are leading experts in security enforcement and response strategies.” The intent? To “learn” and “draw from the latest developments” so the American cops can “bring these methods back home to implement in their communities.”

AIPAC has several pages in its website dedicated to security cooperation between the two countries. It asks “Did you know? In May 2010, 50 retired Generals and Admirals wrote to President Obama, highlighting the value of U.S. Israeli cooperation.” It goes on to cite an Alabama sheriff who enthuses that “There is no other country [Israel] that shares the same values and overarching goal to allow others to live in peace.” Regarding airport security, it also quotes a U.S. “security expert” who states “We should move even closer to an Israeli model where there’s more engagement with passengers…We’ve just stated to do that at TSA…” Indeed. That’s called profiling and pre-boarding interrogations.

Even the federal government has gotten onto the Israel bandwagon, perhaps not a surprise given the number of Israel Firsters in Congress. In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security established a special Office of International Affairs to “institutionalize the relationship between Israeli and American security officials.” The New York City Police Department has a branch in Israel and carries out frequent exchanges.

It should be noted from the git-go that Israel is no more knowledgeable about possible responses to acts of terror than is anyone else. The techniques employed to create physical barriers, to develop sources for intelligence gathering, and to train in tactical responses are quite familiar to anyone who has studied modern-style terrorism since it emerged in Western Europe in the 1970s.

Most countries that have a high or even moderate risk level deriving from terrorists, either domestic or foreign, have recruited and trained special police and paramilitary forces that are familiar with the basic techniques and are quite capable of responding. Ironically, even though the United States government and local police forces have tended to look at the “real pro” Israelis for guidance, state of the art resources for learning about how to deal with terror are available right here at home. JSOC has teams that are every bit as effective – and lethal – as anything the Israelis can muster and the CIA and FBI together know far more about terrorists and how they behave than do the ideologically driven Mossad and Shin Beth.

The American policemen who go on the “exchanges” are probably only dimly aware that what they are being shown is part of Israel’s military justice system, which has nothing to do with Israeli criminals, but instead is designed to keep the lid on the millions of Palestinians who live in what has become a virtual outdoor prison camp. It is an apartheid police state that uses deadly force as a form of crowd control. And the Palestinian former residents of the lands Israel now holds are the “terrorists” that Israel is protecting itself against.

You can bet that the American guests for their part clearly do not realize that they are being trained as prison guards and you also can be sure that they never catch so much as a glimpse of the 300 child prisoners that Israel continues to hold without charges.

Israel’s reputation for “dealing with” terrorism has in any event been glamorized by the Israel-friendly media and entertainment industry while also being promoted by Jewish organizations. It has meant in practical terms that many of the contract security firms operating at airports in the United States and Europe are Israeli. They have also infiltrated state Homeland Security agencies and corporate security in the U.S. Many of the Israeli companies with offices in the United States work closely with Mossad and might reasonably be considered arms of the Israeli government.

Where Israel really excels is in its willingness to kill large numbers of Arabs of all ages and genders using the excuse that they are terrorists. It does so with impunity because Israeli courts almost never hold the army and police accountable for whatever they do. It might reasonably be suggested that when American police officers go through their training in Israel they acquire at least a bit of that attitude from their instructors.

Recognizing that Israel is not exactly a model to be emulated when it comes to the human rights of its Palestinian victims, there is alternative viewpoint which suggests that American law enforcement might just be learning the wrong things when it travels to Israel. Amnesty International asks “With Whom are Many U.S. Police Departments Training? With Chronic Human Rights Violator Israel.” It notes that last August when the Department of Justice documented numerous violations by the Baltimore Police Department the report failed to mention that policemen from that city had received training in Israel.

Amnesty makes clear what we are dealing with when our policemen are being trained – “…military, security and police systems that have racked up documented human rights violations for years…carrying out extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, using ill treatment and torture (even against children). Suppression of freedom of expressions/association, including through government surveillance, and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.”

And actually, it is worse than that. The American visitors will be welcomed to contemplate the Potemkin village miracle of a democratic, multicultural, inclusive, clever Israel. They will not be allowed to see how the soldiers training them, representatives of “the most moral army in the world,” force Palestinian women to give birth at military checkpoints and watch their babies die, shoot Palestinian teenagers as they are running away for throwing stones, drag men and women out of their beds and kill them while terrorizing their children and dragging them off to jail during midnight raids.

Amnesty’s article documents many of the abuses by Israeli security forces and concludes that using “Public or private funds spent to train our domestic police in Israel should concern all of us. Many of the abuses [in the U.S.] parallel violations by Israeli military, security and police officials.” I would also add that the training provided by JINSA, ADL and the AJC is also partly on the American taxpayers’ dime as the organizations are all tax exempt.

Finally, Israel’s ability to market its state sponsored brutality has even become a form of light entertainment. A company in Israel called Caliber 3 that was set up by a reserve colonel in the Israeli army is offering what has been described as a two hour “boot camp” counter-terrorism experience. It includes a life size target consisting of a man in Arab attire holding a cell phone. The mostly Jewish American audience ponders if he should be shot, but the instructors eventually intervene and declare that he does not quite meet the standard for being killed. Visitors are also treated to simulations of Israeli commandos taking down terrorists and can even shoot live rounds from a semi-automatic weapon at a firing range. Ironically, the Caliber 3 gated compound camp is located in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc on the West Bank, land that was stolen from the Palestinians.

This article was first published by Unz Review 

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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US Ends CIA Program in Syria but Continues Preparations for Big War

US Ends CIA Program in Syria but Continues Preparations for Big War

ALEX GORKA | 23.07.2017 | WORLD

US Ends CIA Program in Syria but Continues Preparations for Big War

The news hits headlines. The Washington Post (WP) reports that President Trump has decided to discontinue the CIA’s covert program to arm and train «moderate» Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, according to US officials. The program was authorized by  Trump’s predecessor in 2013. The move is described by media as a major concession to Russia. «This is a momentous decision,» the WP cites an unnamed official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secret program, «Putin won in Syria». Ned Price, a former CIA officer who served as senior director of the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, thinks «The White House appears content to kowtow to Moscow on any number of fronts — including in Syria». Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted that «if true – and I hope it’s not – it would be a complete capitulation to Assad, Russia, and Iran». But is it really a concession or a big policy change?

At first glance, the plans to oust the Assad government in Syria are shelved and there is nothing left but airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) militants and the Defense Department run train-and-equip program to support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) dominated by Kurds. With the de-escalation zones coming into effect, the US is gradually reducing its involvement in the Syrian cauldron. But a deeper look into the matter leads to quite different conclusions.

The suspension of the CIA program is much ado about nothing, it was inefficient anyway. In fact, it does not change anything because the Pentagon program is in place. The US is not curtailing its involvement. To the contrary, it is increasing its military presence in Syria, and also in Iraq, by leaps and bounds.

The Turkish Anadolu Agency published a report on July 17 detailing the military facilities’ whereabouts and, in some instances, the number of special operations forces working there. It said two airfields and eight military outposts in Kobani, Manbij and Rumeilan, among others, are being used to support the Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). One post in Ayn Issah town in northern Raqqa governorate housed around 200 US soldiers and 75 French special forces troops.

US-made armored vehicles, including MRAP, M-ATVs, and up-armored bulldozers have recently reinforced the forces in the area of Qamishli – a city in northeastern Syria on the border with Turkey. Guardian armored trucks and US up-armored Humvees are included in the coalition aid to the SDF, and according to the Defense Department’s fiscal year 2018 request for funds for train-and-equip program for Syrian partner forces, armored bulldozers are also included in aid to «vetted» Syrian groups, Military Times reports.

The source notes that M-ATVs and MRAPs are not part of the package that is divested to the Syrian Democratic Forces. Neither is the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, or CROWs system, which appears mounted on the M-ATVs featured in the photographs spread around by media. The images of heavily armored American combat vehicles entering Syria seem to illustrate that the US is increasing the military presence in the region in general and in Syria in particular.

Last month, US High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems – HIMARS – were moved to al-Tanf base in the southeastern part of the country – one of three official border crossings between Syria and Iraq. HIMARS had already been deployed in northern Syria.

US, British, and Jordanian troops, equipped with tanks and helicopters, have been reportedly positioned in a long strip region across the border zones of Syria’s southern provinces of Dara’a and Suwayda, from Tel Shahab rural area, just a few hundred meters from the Jordanian border, to al-Nasib Border Crossing and Khirbet Awad village. Their presence has also been reported near Ramtha, a Jordanian city, located in the far northwest of the Arab country close to the Syrian border. There are no IS militants in that area, so the forces’ mission is to keep away the Syrian government and pro-Iranian forces.

According to an AP report made public in March, the United States had spent to date more than $11.5 billion on its intervention in Syria. Several hundreds of US special operation forces have been sent to Syria under the pretext of training Kurdish militia fighters.

Actually, American military personnel are not supposed to be present on Syrian soil at all. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 enables the president to act unilaterally in the event of «a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces». Syria has not attacked the United States. The US 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) gives no authority to enter Syria, which had no relation to the 9/11 terrorist act. The Syrian government may be painted as a batch of bad guys doing wrong things in their own country, but the UN charter prohibits the use of military force for retaliation or for reprisal or, punishment.

The administration is pushing Congress for the authority to build new «temporary» facilities in Iraq and Syria. That’s what its recent policy statement says. The president wants Congress to extend existing authorities that only cover the «repair and renovation» of facilities to also encompass «temporary intermediate staging facilities, ammunition supply points, and assembly areas that have adequate force protection».

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of who currently commands Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve and the XVIII Airborne Corps, said the campaign is now expected to expand into the Euphrates River Valley after Iraqi forces retook Mosul. The general acknowledged that a continued US military force presence in the region could include the use of temporary facilities set up on an ad hoc basis, such as those proposed by the administration, but would mostly draw upon existing bases. Little by little, the bird is making a nest in Syria.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is in talks with the Trump administration to keep American troops in Iraq after the fight against the IS in the country is concluded. The parties appear to agree that a longer-term presence of American troops is needed. The US military has about 7,000 troops in Iraq.

As one can see, there are multiple signs that the United States is increasing war preparations in the region. One of the missions is to prepare for a possible conflict with Iran. Another is strengthening the bargaining position at the talks on de-escalation zones in Syria and the talks on crisis management in Geneva. Any scenario can ignite a spark to light a fire.

Russia and the US could put aside all the differences and launch bilateral confidential talks on Syria. An open, honest conversation protected from any leaks to media could help to prevent the worst form happening. Moscow could act as a mediator between the Astana group and the US-led coalition. The mutually agreed proposals could then be submitted to other pertinent actors for discussion and approval. But the refusal to return Russian diplomatic compounds shows the US is not ready for a dialogue. Looks like Washington prefers to balance on the brink of war in the region in an effort to boost its influence and make the situation unfold the way it wants.

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