Sounds very American: Mass hysteria may explain ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba, say top neurologists

Mass Hysteria May Explain ‘Sonic Attacks’ in Cuba, Say Top Neurologists

  • Despite 22 Americans reporting symptoms no evidence of a weapon found
  • Experts suspect a psychosomatic disorder linked to high stress in Havana
Picture of a reflection of the US embassy in Havana. Diplomatic staff have been withdrawn in response to what the US has called ‘sonic attacks’.
Picture of a reflection of the US embassy in Havana. Diplomatic staff have been withdrawn in response to what the US has called ‘sonic attacks’. Photograph: Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images

The unexplained incidents have prompted the US to withdraw most of its embassy staff from Havana and expel the majority of Cuban diplomats from Washington.

The neurologists who talked to the Guardian cautioned that no proper diagnosis is possible without far more information and access to the 22 US victims, who have suffered a range of symptoms including hearing loss, tinnitus, headaches and dizziness.

But US and Cuban investigations have produced no evidence of any weapon, and the neurologists argue that the possibility of “functional disorder” due to a problem in the functioning of nervous system – rather than a disease – should be considered.

“From an objective point of view it’s more like mass hysteria than anything else,” said Mark Hallett, the head of the human motor control section of the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

“Mass hysteria” is the popular term for outbreaks among groups of people which are partly or wholly psychosomatic, but Hallett stressed there should be no blame attached to them.

“Psychosomatic disease is a disease like anything else. It shouldn’t be stigmatised,” said Hallett, who is also president of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology. “It’s important to point out that symptoms like this are not voluntary. They are not a sign of weakness in an individual’s personality.”

Hallett said it was more common for such disorders to affect smaller groups of people, often in families, but he added that it was feasible for larger numbers of individuals to be affected, especially when they were working closely together in a tense and hostile environment.

“There are a very large number of individuals that have relatively vague complaints as far as I can see,” Hallett said. “There has been an exploration of possible causes for this and nothing has been found and the notion of some sonic beam is relatively nonsensical.

“If it is mass hysteria that would clarify all the mystery – and presumably normalise US-Cuban relations again,” said Hallett. “These people are all clustered together in a somewhat anxious environment and that is exactly the situation that precipitates something like this. Anxiety may be one of the critical factors.”

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that it had been provided audio tapes of high-pitched whining noises which some US embassy workers said they heard in Havana, but it is unclear whether the sounds were linked to the health complaints. The report noted that not all the Americans injured in Cuba heard sounds, and of those who did, it is not unclear if they heard the same thing.

Alan Carson, a consultant neuropsychiatrist and former president of the British Neuropsychiatry Association told the Guardian: “Typically what one gets in a functional disorder is some trigger. It is often relatively mild and non-specific, it can be a minor physical injury. But then a combination of a degree of anxiety and also belief and expectation distort that feeling.”

“If there is a strong enough expectation that something is going to happen, that will distort in an entirely real way the incoming information,” Carson said. “In certain circumstances that can be transmitted from person to person… If one person has that experience strongly enough and sets off that train of thought in somebody’s else’s mind, that can happen too.”

Many acoustics experts have said that it is highly unlikely that the range of symptoms reported could have been caused by any kind of sonic weapons.

The US has not directly blamed the Cuban government but said Havana had failed in its obligation to protect foreign diplomats on its territory. The Cuban government has denied conducting any form of attack and has offered its cooperation in discovering the cause of the symptoms.

“I don’t think the Cuban government is behind it,” said Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s foreign policy adviser, who was involved in negotiating the previous administration’s rapprochement with Havana.

“First, these things apparently started in December … At the same time the attacks were starting the Cuban government was frantically concluding agreements with us, signing business deals … in other words trying to preserve the relationship. So the notion that at the same time as doing that, they would initiate something that is so obviously designed to blow up the relationship doesn’t make any sense.”

Asked about the possibility of functional disorders, a state department spokesperson said: “We have no definitive answers on the cause or the source of the attacks on US diplomats in Cuba, and an aggressive investigation continues. We do not want to get ahead of that investigation.”

Donald Trump has struck a markedly more hostile tone towards Cuba than his predecessor, and in June announced a partial rollback of Obama’s rapprochement, tightening travel and trade rules with the island.

Jon Stone, a University of Edinburgh neurologist and the co-editor of a book on functional neurologic disorders, said that such disorders were very common, and the second commonest reason to see a neurologist.

He added that the outbreak could have started with one or two people falling ill with headaches or hearing problems, and those spread in a high-stress atmosphere and then amid talk of a “sonic attack”.

“None of this makes sense until you consider the psychogenic explanation,” said Robert Bartholomew, a medical sociologist and the author of series of books on outbreaks of mass hysteria.

“American intelligence agencies are the most sophisticated in the world, and they reportedly don’t have a clue as to what’s causing the symptoms. I will bet my house that there are agents in the intelligence community who have also concluded that this is a psychogenic event – but their analysis is either being repressed or ignored by the Trump administration because it doesn’t fit their narrative. Mass psychogenic illness is by far the most plausible explanation.”

Advertisements

Have you ever heard anything quite as stupid? CIA head says ‘Iran, Hezbollah & Russians’ involved in Venezuela, pose ‘risk’ to US

CIA head says ‘Iran, Hezbollah & Russians’ involved in Venezuela, pose ‘risk’ to US

CIA head says ‘Iran, Hezbollah & Russians’ involved in Venezuela, pose ‘risk’ to US

CIA Director Mike Pompeo claimed Venezuela is overrun with Iranians, Hezbollah, Cubans and Russians in response to questions about Donald Trump’s statements about US military intervention.

Pompeo appeared on  Fox News Sunday where he responded to comments made by President Donald Trump on Friday, in which he said there was “a possible military option” for Venezuela.

The CIA head said he believes Trump’s comments were an effort to “give the Venezuelan people hope and opportunity to create a situation where democracy can be restored.”  

Pompeo described “continued deterioration” in Venezuela as “[President Nicolas] Maduro is continuing to assert more power, inflict more pain on the people of Venezuela, you can see the beginning of fissures among various groups.”

“The intelligence makes very clear that the Maduro regime continues to put snipers in towers,” Pompeo said with a laugh, “And do things that are horrible, repressive and the American policy is to work with our Latin American partners to try and restore democracy,” he said.

When asked why Venezuela would be the US’s problem, Pompeo responded:

“Venezuela could very much become a risk for the United States of America. The Cubans are there; the Russians are there, the Iranians, Hezbollah are there. This is something that has a risk of getting to a very very bad place, so America needs to take this very seriously.”

In July, Pompeo suggested the CIA is working on regime change in Venezuela during a talk at the Aspen Security Forum.

“America has a deep interest in making sure that it is stable, as democratic as possible. And so, we’re working hard to do that, I am always careful when we talk about South and Central America and the CIA, there’s a lot of stories,” Pompeo said to laughter from the audience. Far from it being a joke, US intelligence has been involved in attempted regime change and coups across Latin America between the 50s and early 90s.

“We are very hopeful that there can be a transition in Venezuela and we the CIA is doing its best to understand the dynamic there, so that we can communicate to our State Department and to others.” he added.

The US imposed sanctions on eight officials in Venezuela this month, including President Nicolas Maduro, in response to the country’s Constituent Assembly elections to draft a new constitution in July, which the US called “illegitimate.”

Too Much Exceptionalism Hath Made the US Elites Mad

Source

 What kind of person really wants to see relations between the world’s biggest nuclear armed countries deteriorate? Who wants to see the situation between the US and Russia, which has become at least as dangerous as the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, get even worse? Or to put it another way, who would not welcome a genuine dialogue between the leaders of these two great countries? The answer to these questions is of course those who have completely lost their ability to reason.

Given the unprecedented propaganda and irrational absurdities coming out of the US over the past year or so, not even the most optimistic of people could have had very high hopes for the Trump-Putin meeting at the G20 Summit on Friday. The toxic atmosphere in the US, plus the fact that Donald Trump seemed to have capitulated to the Deep State within weeks of his inauguration, meant that any real thawing in relations was highly unlikely.

Yet as it turned out, the meeting was far better than even the biggest pessimist could have imagined. Scheduled to speak for just 30 minutes — which itself was a bad joke, given the urgent need for the leaders of these two nations to have serious and constant communication — they actually went on for over two hours and apparently cordially discussed a broad range of issues.

For any normal person, this would be seen as A VERY GOOD THING. But of course there are many who regard it as A VERY BAD THING.

For instance, on the idea of forming a joint Cyber Security unit so that each country could have a guarantee that the other would not “hack” the others’ election, the plan was met with derision in the US. Senator Marco Rubio, for instance, suggested that such an initiative would be like partnering with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on chemical weapons.

This is a particularly funny retort for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Syrian government’s stockpile of chemical weapons was destroyed by a team of US Army civilians and contractors aboard a US vessel, the Cape Ray, in 2013-14. Secondly, the US still has a stockpile of around 3,000 tons of chemical weapons, despite being a signatory to the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, which committed it to the destruction of their entire stockpile of chemical weapons within ten years. The complete destruction of the entire arsenal is now due to be completed around the year 2023. And thirdly, the country that leads the world in cyber-spying, monitoring, election interference and regime change by a wide margin is … none other than the country in which Mr Rubio is a senator. Let’s file his remarks in that fat ‘ole bin marked “Hypocrisy”.

Yet Mr Rubio’s remarks pale into insignificance to those uttered by Nikki Haley, the country’s second most important “diplomat”. Here’s what this “diplomat” had to say after her boss’s boss’s apparently cordial and constructive meeting with Mr Putin:

“We can’t trust Russia, and we won’t ever trust Russia. But you keep those that you don’t trust closer so that you can always keep an eye on them and keep them in check.”

Think about that. Let it sink in. After a period of the worst relations between the two countries since — well since ever — the US President finally got to sit down and talk to his Russian counterpart, and by all accounts it went well. Which would be a cause for any normal person to be thankful. And yet just hours after it finished, the US’s second highest “diplomat” blabs her mouth off that the US will never trust Russia! I shudder to think that when looking for a diplomat, Mr Trump saw Mrs Haley as the best person to represent his country.

It would be pointless to go through all the inanities uttered by the stenographers in the so-called free media. Suffice it to say that predictably, rather than welcoming the potential for a relaxation of tensions, they spent their time chiding Mr Trump for “being soft”, for apparently “being played”, and of Mr Putin “winning”. What is WRONG with these people? Why does everything have to be about winning and losing? Can they not envisage discussions where grown-up people discuss differences and try to work towards resolution without it being about ‘who comes out on top’? Apparently they cannot, for reasons I’ll come to in a moment.

And of course they continued to display the effects of the debilitating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder they’ve been suffering from for almost a year, which compels them to talk incessantly about “hacking” and “meddling”, but without ever asking a single challenging question, such as:

  • Did the 17 intelligence agencies really all agree with a high level of certainty that Russia hacked the election? (Answer: no)
  • Did the FBI actually examine the DNC servers? (Answer: no)
  • Who actually did examine the DNC servers (Crowdstrike) and do they have a reliable track record of such things? (Answer: no)
  • Was there any hard evidence presented of Russian hacking in the January 6th DIA report? (Answer: no)
  • Has the US ever interfered in the elections of other countries, including Russia’s? (Answer: yes — multiple times)

Words almost fail me. Faced with a choice between the two leaders striking up a rapport and finding some common ground, or the two of them squaring up to each other in a confrontation that would only increase tensions and push us closer to a potential nuclear confrontation, many (if not most) leading US politicians, plus their media lackeys, preferred the second option.

Last year, as the United States for the second time broke an agreement that they had signed with Russia to separate the so-called moderate rebels from groups like al-Nusra, the Russian Foreign Minister described the US administration using a word meaning “not agreement capable”. But it now looks far worse than that. It is not just that the US administration is “not capable” of agreement, it appears to be “not rational-thought capable”. Almost the entirety of Congress and the media seem to think that any détente between Mr Trump and Mr Putin, between the US and Russia, between the two biggest nuclear armed countries on the planet is tantamount to treason.

It is abundantly clear that the political and media elites in the United States are out of control. They have long since left the land of rationality, and have driven over the cliff where they are now floundering in the air of unreason before going splat on the rock of total insanity. They have so imbibed the heresy that the United States is “Exceptional” and “Indispensable” that they are now “not rational-thought capable”. They are incapable of conceiving of an agreement which does not either maintain or increase US hegemony. They are incapable of conceiving of talks with another country where their opposite numbers are treated as anything other than subservient. They are incapable of welcoming a thawing of relations between the leaders of two countries that have enough nuclear weapons to wipe out the lives of millions.

And because of their madness, they are driving the US and Russia towards confrontation. Don’t believe it? The Russians do. Here’s what one of their top generals, Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir, said back in April:

“The [US] missile defense system considerably shifts the balance of offensive weapons, allowing the planning of a more efficient pre-emptive strike. Russian military experts believe that the US hopes to gain the capability to strike any region of the world, including Russia and China, with nuclear-tipped missiles with impunity.”

Do you understand what he’s saying and how serious this all is? Unless the leaders of these countries talk to each other, as equals, with a view to reaching tangible agreements, and without their own bureaucracies and media back at home doing all they can to prevent this from happening, then the Russians will continue to view US plans as heading inexorably towards having the capability to launch a pre-emptive strike, with any response neutralised. Only someone that has let the ideology of exceptionalism blind them to what this really means, could fail to welcome the baby steps towards détente that were seen in Hamburg.

In short, too much exceptionalism hath made the US elites mad. They must be stopped.

Another Splendid Little Coup

1usoil

The Rise and Rise of the Regime Renovators

By Greg Maybury

‘It has been a splendid little war, begun with the highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit, favored by that Fortune which loves the brave.’ US Secretary of State John Hay, referencing the Spanish-American War of 1898, in a letter to Theodore Roosevelt, July 27 of that year, the war ushering in America’s Imperial epoch and unambiguously heralding its hegemonic ambitions.

‘…I’ve seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate [people]….We’ve gone there to conquer, not to redeem. It should be our pleasure and duty to make people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way….[I] am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.’ Comments by Mark Twain, anti-imperialist, reflecting on the real objectives of America’s war with Spain.

‘War is the continuation of politics by other means…’ Carl von Clausewitz, Prussian general, military theorist

‘Politics is the continuation of war by other means…’ Michel Foucault, French philosopher, social theorist

‘And the circle goes round and round’. Anon.

Synopsis: For those Americans au fait with their country’s fondness for engineering coups, ousting democratically elected leaders, and interfering in the political affairs of other nations – to all intents the perennial bedrock principle of U.S. foreign policy — Iran is a well-documented exemplar. Given the supreme ironies inherent in the political imbroglio in the U.S. attending Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, along with America’s resolve to seek once again regime change in Russia’s ally Iran, it’s timely we revisit this slice of history. Doing so presents us an opportunity to view the so-called ‘Russia-gate’ furore, the Iran regime change ambitions, and the increasingly bloody war in Syria – itself an ally of both Russia and Iran — within a broader, more nuanced historical context. From there we might derive a more informed perspective on the contemporary geopolitical zeitgeist and the hegemonic forces that have fashioned it. And attending that deeper perspective should be a sure sign of the existential dangers for civilization and humanity at large of allowing our leaders in the West to continue down this path unchallenged, one that is as well-worn as it’s fraught with peril.

 

— In Regime Change, We Trust —

June 30, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – For those folks with the requisite sense of irony and historical perspective, many will be rolling their eyes at the rampant hysteria over the as yet evidence-free accusations of interference by Russia in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Which is to say, one of the manifest realities attending this latest Beltway blockbuster soap opera is that of America’s own track record of interference in the affairs of other countries, comprising as it does so many forms. I say “realities” rather than ironies here as “irony” almost by definition is infused with a measure of nuance and subtlety, neither of which could it be said are in abundance in this utterly contrived, self-serving political fracas.

(For a further measure of just how “contrived” and “self-serving” it is, see hereherehereherehere, and here.)

Insofar as Russia’s alleged meddling in U.S. politics goes and the animus that attends the hysteria, as Oliver Stone discovered during his recent appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert – itself hot on the heels of his much publicised four hour meet ‘n greet with Russian president Vladimir Putin wherein it was earlier raised – he was at pains to impress upon his host that Israel had a much bigger case to answer than did Russia. Of course Stone was on the money here. The unalloyed reality of the power and influence that Israel exerts within and across the morally and ethically desertified landscape that is the nation’s capital is a given, with the Middle East’s only ‘democratic’ settler-colonizer apartheid regime leaving few stones unturned – and exhibiting little discretion and subtlety but equal parts chutzpah and subterfuge — in how it wields then leverages that influence (sometimes treacherously so) to its advantage and against the interests of its principal patron and benefactor.

But that’s clearly a narrative that doesn’t bode well in the Beltway at the best of times, and more rational, clear-eyed folks know the reasons why. For one, the corporate media, for the most part doesn’t entertain such verities. Even if they were inclined, the omnipotent Israel Lobby would cut them off at the knees. And for his part, the ever smarmy Colbert, presumably aware which side his bread is buttered on, was reluctant to take Stone’s bait, much it seemed to his interviewee’s frustration. Beyond just interfering in U.S. politics, along with the parent Empire la perfide Albion, one of America’s steadfast partners-in-crime in the regime renovation business are the ubiquitous and iniquitous Israelis, an observation underscored by Against our Better Judgment author Alison Weir on her blog If Americans Knew.

Long targeted by Israel, for Weir, Iran especially provides an instructive example herein. With the Saudis as back-up, it is Israel — ably supported by its Praetorian Guard AIPAC and its ilk along with its shills in Congress – that’s been the hard-core driver of Washington’s seemingly irrational animus towards all things Iran. Along with underscoring Israel’s clout in Washington, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2015 Congressional dog ‘n pony show fiercely opposing the Iran Nuclear agreement then being negotiated by the Obama administration provides some of the best evidence for this. Indeed, it’s another of Washington’s worst best-kept secrets that – the nuclear agreement aside — Iran remains a high priority on the ‘to do’ list for the Regime Renovators. (See also herehere, and here.) In addition to the relentless propaganda campaign pursued by Israel the aim of which is to paint Iran as the existential threat du jour, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies and others in the know don’t support the allegations about its mythical nuclear weapons program, Weir had the following to say:

‘Israel and the U.S. deployed a computer virus against Iran in what’s been called the world’s first digital weapon. Iranian nuclear physicists [were] assassinated by Israel, and the U.S. instituted a blockade against Iran that caused food insecurity and mass suffering among the country’s civilians. (Such a blockade can be seen as an act of war.) Democratic Congressman and Israel partisan Brad Sherman admitted the objective of the sanctions: “Critics of sanctions argue that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.”’

Most folks then who don’t dine out on the McDonald’s (‘would you like lies with that?’) media diet that is the corporate news are as well aware of Uncle Sam’s recidivistic predisposition towards meddling in the affairs of other nations, engineering coups and colour revolutions, and ousting democratically elected leaders as they are of the bespoke misinformation and disinformation – the ‘real’ fake news – that’s tailored to suit the official narrative that goes with it.

Along with the ongoing Syrian War, the 2014 Ukraine coup is one of the most egregious, more recent example of this, with again Stone’s confab with Putin providing an alternative perspective on both counts. Yet even here the majority of Americans would attribute the Ukraine crisis to “Russian aggression” and the Syrian War largely to Bashir Assad’s ‘despotism’; it’s simply what they are told by the MSM, and insofar as they’re concerned [they] have little reason to doubt this. Much the same goes for the Iran WMD narrative, despite the fact that we’ve heard that one before with Iraq around fifteen years ago.

And all of this mayhem and chaos is premised on exporting freedom, democracy, justice, liberty, human rights, and the rule of law, all of the things that America is purportedly so accomplished in embracing on the home front, albeit more so in the breach than in the observance. What makes U.S. transgressions so much more brazen in this respect is the hypocritical, fraudulent and existentially dangerous nature of the umbrage and pique being directed towards countries like Iran, Syria and, especially Russia and China.

And what makes the righteous animus being served up to the latter nations in particular so frightening and so portentous is that it’s wholly reminiscent of the hegemonic mindset directed towards Germany by the high-minded mandarins of the British Empire in the two decades leading up to the War to End all Wars. By 1914, even for that small cohort of folks who might’ve smelt the imperial rat, it was too late of course, for them and for so many others. In this few other imperially motivated gambits have been more consequential or more far-reaching across time and space, a conclusion we can safely draw with all the benefit one hundred plus years of hindsight brings.

As for today’s “cohort” of news consumers, it is much the same: Such awareness is embraced only by a small minority of people with most blissfully ignorant of their country’s inability or unwillingness to, well, mind its own bloody business. They are as equally oblivious to the economic, social, physical and political havoc, mayhem, and destruction it creates in the process, sometimes catastrophically so. Whilst the events of 9/11 might’ve otherwise provided a visceral reality check in this regard for most Americans of the blowback that frequently attends its own country’s meddling, very few would’ve been prepared or motivated to engage in any ‘cause and effect’ reflection therein, much less act in sync with that. Yet we might opine here that given the frenzied state of America’s own internal affairs – to say nothing of the hysterical incoherence and farcical irrationality of the public discourse that has seemingly become a permanent fixture of U.S. political and media forums, the Russia-gate affair being all the evidence ones needs to underscore this – there’d be numerous benefits to be gained from doing just that. Minding its own “bloody business” that is.

And let there be no mistaking it, what an assuredly “bloody business” regime renovation is. For the ‘cognitive dissidents’ disbelieving or doubtful of the extent or measure of this geopolitical mischief, in a recent PressTV interview focusing on America’s history of interfering in Iran’s political affairs in particular, former NSA intelligence linguist Scott Rickard is one amongst many of his professional ilk who dispels such scepticism or uncertainty with unadorned veracity: ‘[Americans] have been probably one of the most notorious nations behind the United Kingdom in manipulating not only elections but also overthrowing governments around the world for decades.’

ARickard observes, to this day the U.S. continues nation-building in other states, sells weapons in massive scales and pours bombs on other nations in order to ‘carry out its regime-change policy throughout the world.’ This, to say little of the proxy wars and false-flag events to which errant countries are subject (such as in Syria), psy-ops and the like (in Venezuela), and the economic sanctions frequently applied by Washington, of which both Russia and Iran to this day are also subjected to, and which themselves are often part of the renovators ‘tool-box’ used against countries not complying with Washington’s diktats. On the latter, it’s enough to recall how the sanctions imposed during the 90s against Iraq after the Gulf War under the Clinton administration played out. For confirmation of this, one only needs ask Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s then Secretary of State, who in a ‘Kissingeresque’ display of imperial hubris as pitiless as it was asthma-inducing, averred [that], “[yes. we think] it was worth it”.

To be sure then, Uncle Sam’s “track record’ in this respect is as well documented and [as] well known as it’s abhorred by most commentators in the alternative media space and their more enlightened readers. At the same time it’s one subject that doesn’t raise an eyebrow much less a mention from those in the mainstream media (MSM) universe, no matter how pertinent it might be to the narrative in hand. It’s another of what I’ve come to calling the ‘no-fly-zones’ of conventional political discourse and public debate. Given the degree of complicity of the corporate media in facilitating these coups, proxy wars and colour revolutions, then camouflaging them as something entirely different from what they really represent is, whilst reprehensible and indefensible, understandable.

— Kermit’s ‘Sesame Street’ Coup —

Interestingly, Rickard’s remark was prompted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s most recent statements about the U.S. seeking regime change in Teheran as all but a matter of public policy with marginally less fervor than they are accusing Moscow of meddling in their own democratic processes in last year’s election.

Again, for those folks “in the know”, the very mention of the words “regime change” and “Iran” in the same breath will also summon pronto a profound sense of déjà vu. As with the little known 1975 Australian coup (the details of which to be unveiled in a future ‘episode’ of The Regime Renovators), it was Britain (MI6) and the U.S. (the CIA) in a tag team play that cut its teeth in such joint-venture partnerships back in Iran in 1953.

Now the much-cited Iran experience is worthy of further exploration, if only because this exercise in regime change later turned out to be doubly ironic in a ‘reap what you sow’ kinda way, but not necessarily as the received wisdom would have us believe. We’ll return to this point shortly, but for context and perspective, the Iran adventure begs for another trip down memory lane, especially given all the chatter about the U.S. returning to the ‘scene of the crime’. Placing to one side an early dress rehearsal in Syria in 1949, the Iran coup was the first post-War exercise in regime change upon the part of Anglo-American alliance — one which officially at least was only just admitted to by the CIA after decades of not so plausible denial – when they successfully conspired to relieve the democratically elected prime minister of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh from the burdens of power.

The CIA and MI6 then jointly embarked on a plan to stage a coup that would ensure that the West maintained control over the country’s vast oil reserves (shades of things to come). This coup is widely believed to have provided the ‘business model’ and the bravado for future coups by the CIA during the Cold War, including in Guatemala in 1954, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1961, and the ill-fated attempted coup in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs (BOP) in 1961, where the renovators’ business model came spectacularly unstuck. In true CIA custom, in Iran not everything went according to plan. The man who would be Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, by all accounts something of a reluctant usurper, succumbed to ‘stage fright’ at the eleventh hour and did an unexpected runner to Italy. But the CIA quickly recovered its composure and schlepped their ‘under-study’ back in time for the opening night curtain raiser of the new regime. For both the CIA and the Shah, who went on to rule his country with an iron, bloody fist avec unerring American support for almost twenty-five years, in true show business fashion, everything was ‘all right on the night’; the Shah’s show went on to enjoy an extended run with generally positive reviews.

(That most of these “reviews” were written by the Iranian intelligence agency SAVAK, the Shah’s political and security muscle throughout his ‘regime’, is axiomatic, especially since writing was apparently one activity SAVAK agents both excelled at and enjoyed. Their torture manuals were as notorious for their proscribed brutality as for their invention.)

Interestingly, the CIA’s Iranian operation was directed by none other than Kermit (Kim) Roosevelt, the grandson of former Republican president Teddy Roosevelt (he of the “walk softly, carry a big stick” fame), and a not too distant cousin of former Democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). At the time Roosevelt was the senior spook in The Company’s Middle-East station (he’d been recruited by no less a personality than Frank “The Mighty Wurlitzer” Wisner), and was their point man on the ground in overseeing the Iranian adventure, dubbed Operation Ajax. Despite his name, for Teddy’s ‘grand-sprog’ this was no Sesame Street romp. No sirree Bob! This was serious spy shit.

Notwithstanding the apparent success of the mission, the coup was to have profound, far-reaching, and plain scary, geopolitical, economic and national security consequences for the US and the West in general. For starters just ask Jimmy Carter for further confirmation of this, and for any still standing and in control of their metacognitive faculties, go from there president by president! (Although Albright sort of apologised to Iran in 2000 – possibly the closest thing to a mea culpa ever offered by the U.S. for their wayward imperial ways – it didn’t apparently count for much.)

Yet one of the most compelling revelations about Kermit’s coup was the following. According to F William Engdahl, in his must-read book a Century of War, Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, the demise of the Shah (aka the ‘Peacock Potentate’) was engineered by the same forces that brought him into power in 1953. As we know this went on to produce sizable blowback for the U.S. with the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The much reviled Shah had for a variety of reasons outlived his usefulness, with the onset of the 1979 oil crisis presenting said forces both the ideal opportunity and pretext – albeit according to Engdahl, one largely manufactured in this case — to proceed to the next phase of their (ahem) Persian renovation project.

From this then we might safely deduce the subsequent ‘79 Revolution, the storming of the U.S. embassy in Teheran, along with the kidnapping of the embassy personnel (a world changing event by any measure), was not what many have deemed an organic — nor an entirely predictable — development for those who’d decided the Shah has passed his use by date. Moreover, the reality (there’s that word again) of ‘client-dictators’ overstaying their ‘welcome’ will be one familiar to ‘buffs’ of Uncle Sam’s regime change history, with the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2002, again on prefabricated pretexts and for not dissimilar reasons, providing a most consequential exemplar thereof.

According to the author, in 1978, President Carter named diplomat George Ball to head a White House task force under the direction of Carter’s national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, the proud, now recently departed, father of Islamic terrorism and patron saint of jihadists. In doing so, Carter effectively gave Brzezinski the nod on opening another Pandora’s Box in the Greater Middle East, and as the Law of Moral Causation (trade name: ‘karma’) would have it, brought about as we’ll see the president’s own political demise. As Engdahl explains it: 

‘Ball recommended Washington drop support for the Shah and support the fundamentalist Islamic opposition of Ayatollah Khomeini…and the CIA led a coup against the man their covert actions had placed into power 25 years earlier. The coup against the Shah, like that against Mossadegh in 1953, was run by British and American intelligence, with the bombastic Brzezinski taking public ‘credit’ for getting rid of the ‘corrupt’ Shah, while the British characteristically remained safely in the background.’

—*—

Interlude — Robert Newman’s “History of Oil”

Robert Newman gets to grips with the wars and politics of the last hundred plus years. Rather than adhering to the history we were fed at school, he places oil centre stage as the cause of all the commotion. Newman’s truly unique presentation — equal parts standup comedy, performance art, and history lesson — will help explain the backstory behind America’s deliberately antagonistic military and economic provocation of Russia (with similar plans for China, Iran, and now it would seem Qatar), and why this geo-political one-upmanship is such an existentially dangerous gambit for us all.

Newman’s presentation also helps explain why the British Empire was hell-bent on preventing Germany at the turn of the century from becoming a major economic power, an imperial-minded foreign policy gambit which knowingly and deliberately paved the way for World War One — a conflict which not only was Germany later blamed for precipitating, but which paid an enormous price for — shaped the geopolitical world as we know it today in more ways than can be recounted herein. Younger folks — especially those who dozed off in history class wondering what all the fuss was about — prepare to be enlightened.

—*—

— When You’re on a Good Thing (Stick to the Knitting) —

Notwithstanding the blowback from the 1953 Iran coup and the later blowback from the removal of the Shah over a quarter century later, little has changed. The disastrous Bay of Pigs operation in 1961 and the subsequent, near catastrophic Cuban Missile Crisis the following year deriving from the failure of even that monumentally inept regime change maneuver evidently provided few lessons for the Renovators then or their political progeny since. At the same time it underscored in effect what had become the bedrock principle of American foreign policy and Great Power Projection. Which is to say, for its part the U.S. still engages in this tried and true, one-size-fits-all foreign policy gambit, bringing to mind that old adage ‘when you’re on a good thing, stick to it!’

Whilst the motivations for the Iranian coup were nominally economic (the government of the time were making noises about nationalizing the Iranian oil industry), there was also the strategic geopolitical considerations in the U.S. that Iran might come within the sphere of Soviet influence, thereby severely limiting the West’s hegemony in the region, an outcome one imagines would’ve delivered an unacceptable blow to America’s incipient imperial id. There was also a certain amount of fear that Iranian communists might gain control of the political situation, or even that the Soviets might overtake the country, either the stuff of American and British nightmares or over-egged paranoia. Certainly the Americans were never too keen on the Soviets crashing their party anywhere, especially so in this region. Like the British before them, the U.S. has always been quite territorial about other people’s territory, especially when said “territory” involved oil, or any other strategic commodity or geopolitical consideration. Whether this fear was rational given the reality at the time and the available intelligence is a subject many still debate.

As we’ve seen with this and so many others, the reasons for the coup were fuelled less by the ostensibly lofty ideological concerns related to the Cold War (freedom versus tyranny anyone?) than they were to less lofty considerations such as greed, self-preservation and national pride and one or three other Deadly Imperial Sins. To be sure it seems reasonable to assume that the Soviets – cunning devils that they were – were ‘geeing’ the Iranians up to nationalize their oil industry in order to put the wind up the British and the Americans in turn. It’s clear now that the CIA and the British, along with their fellow travellers in the then (Harry) Truman administration in the years leading up the coup, were leveraging the Cold War sentiment of the time in order to camouflage the real reasons for seeking regime change in Iran (shades of things.)

At all events, then president Truman evidently saw the Iranian plot coming from the bottom of the ‘too-risky’ basket and didn’t drag the chain on rejecting it. Whatever his achievements, for his part the former Missouri haberdasher was always going to be known as the man who nodded the dropping of the Big Ones on Japan, and rarely demurred in claiming the bragging rights. Whether he was right or wrong in doing this is a ‘what-if’ moment for another time. Insofar as the Iran “moment” went though, for this reason he might’ve had a keen eye on how said ‘mo’ in history might be judged. Either way, by halting the CIA’s plans we might surmise that in doing so it inspired his oft-quoted dictum ‘the buck stops here’. Because it only delayed the momentum though, his ‘call’ was to no avail; said “buck” remained in play only as long as he was POTUS.

When Dwight D (Ike) Eisenhower became Republican president in early 1953, all bets were suddenly off (or on, depending on your view). Ike was more simpatico than Truman to the Iran coup, and evidently got ‘jiggy’ with it without a lot of arm-twisting. This was especially after the plotters – principally Allen Dulles, the then CIA director, and his big brother Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who was the Cabinet pitchman for the pro-coup team, played the ‘commie’ card with Ike. For his part the elder Dulles played a Richelieu-like role in U.S. affairs of the time, was once quoted as saying that “the USA doesn’t have friends, it has interests”, tantamount to a foreign policy positioning statement, and as we’ve seen one which these days – with the notable exception of Israel — still finds ample favour in and around the Beltway.

In any event, Ike didn’t just take the commie bait hook, line and sinker, by all accounts he swam upstream to chow down on it. With Joe McCarthy and his ilk riding high in the polls and anti-communist fervour at fever pitch, such was the temper of the Cold War times. It wasn’t the first time the ‘commie’ card was played in this game, and it certainly would not be the last; like the one-size-fits-all terrorist threat that followed the Cold War’s end, it was used as cover for a multitude of foreign policy sins and proved a remarkably flexible rationale for the various misadventures of the CIA’s on-going, flagship regime renovation program.

(Interestingly, like JFK was to do with Cuba eight years later, Ike inherited, and eventually agreed to, a CIA-inspired regime transition plot that was hatched during the previous administration, but for one reason or another never got off the ground, this being one of those spooky déjà vu moments in the overall narrative of The Company. Which is to say, when Ike came to power, the principal coup plot du jour was Iran. With JFK, it was Cuba. Needless to say, in a ‘same horse, different cowboy’ kinda way, it underscores how little changes from one administration to the next.)

— Why Do they Hate US So Much? (What’s there Not to Like?) —

As for the Iranian coup, it achieved the dubious distinction of being the first and best example of CIA intervention in the sovereign affairs of another country, an experiment that would be repeated over and over with wildly varying degrees of success (or failure, depending on one’s definition of what “success” entailed in such matters, and one’s perspective on history and political inclinations). The coup not only ushered in almost three decades of despotic, oppressive rule by the Shah propped up by American arms, money and hand-holding. It belatedly ignited the fire of Islamic fundamentalism that itself provided the US with its next great foe after the Soviets eventually threw in the towel, leaving the Americans as the reigning superpower, much like Great Britain after Napolean’s 1815 defeat at Waterloo. That it also provided an answer to a question that few people were asking themselves at the time, which was ‘why do they hate us so much?’, is axiomatic, and one which has since then been a recurring motif throughout the Grand American Narrative.

There are a couple of additional considerations vis a vis the Iranian coup. One is that it was Kermit Roosevelt – scion of one of America’s most famous political dynasties – who was a driving force behind the planning and execution of Ajax. In the process he contributed to one of the U.S.’s biggest foreign policy misadventures, eventually leading to one of its most disastrous national security crises. It’s uncertain what ‘grandpa’ Teddy or ‘cuzzin’ Franklin would’ve thought of the coup, and herein we can only guess. But the knowledge one of their kin had his fingerprints all over it, especially one which ushered in such dire, enduring consequences for the empire, would possibly have at least one spinning furiously in his eternally designated bolthole.

Secondly, in using the ‘monstrous’ threat of communism as a pretext for the coup, the Americans ultimately created an even bigger monster (terrorism), although it was some time before the reality – if not the realisation – was to come home to roost for them and the rest of the world. And for those who might wonder why the US became a pariah in Iran particularly, and in the Middle East generally, one might now begin to understand. To underscore this – the notoriously brutal, vicious, sadistic SAVAK – the Shah’s internal security, secret police and intelligence organization was both feared and hated in equal measure. That SAVAK was like a franchise of the CIA was only part of the story, and on a ‘good day’ it would’ve rivalled the Stasi in East Germany, no mean feat apparently. In fact the Stasi was to the KGB what SAVAK was to the CIA. Both attempted to out-do their respective maestros. As with so many other regimes and juntas, it was CIA (and Mossad) agents who mid-wifed the establishment of SAVAK, and trained their first generation of agents, including in surveillance, torture and interrogation techniques, and other security and intelligence tradecraft. By all accounts, the CIA guys were very good teachers, or the SAVAK folk eager learners. Or both.

When they were eventually shut down, one of the most egregious examples of their sadistic savagery was to be found in how-to manuals, handbooks and training videos highlighting techniques unique to torturing women. Readers can let their imaginations run wild here, but suffice it to say, the SAVAK spooks were indeed nasty, vile, brutal pieces of work. The Iranians who survived the Shah’s wretched rule have long memories and it’s in large part because of the legacy of SAVAK. To this day, many Iranians understandably still have a huge hard-on for all things Uncle Sam (although surprisingly such animus to this day is more directed at the U.S. political establishment than at the American people per se).

In any event, by 1979, the Shah’s standing with the long-suffering Iranian people was a train wreck, and the anti-American vibe was at its most virulent. At this point, the U.S. left the Shah with his (ahem) plucked Persian peacock pecker swinging in the Mediterranean sea-breeze when it was obvious they could no longer keep the store open without a change of management. With little fanfare then, the despised potentate had his gold-leafed throne unceremoniously ‘pulled out’ from under his bling-laden ass which he then barely managed to haul out of Teheran just before the militant ‘mullahs’ surrounded him and presented their soon-to-be former leader with considerably less options than he was used to receiving, nearly all of which would’ve involved, at best, him getting a fleeting glimpse of Allah just outside

With little fanfare then, the despised potentate had his gold-leafed throne unceremoniously ‘pulled out’ from under his bling-laden ass which he then barely managed to haul out of Teheran just before the militant ‘mullahs’ surrounded him and presented their soon-to-be former leader with considerably less options than he was used to receiving, nearly all of which would’ve involved, at best, him getting a fleeting glimpse of Allah just outside jannah on the way to eternal damnation.

Following years then of rampant corruption, hubris, breathtaking extravagance, cronyism, human rights abuses, imperious contempt, political and religious oppression, kidnapping, torture, murder, culminating in increasingly deep-seated unpopularity, the Shah’s time had come, this being a pointer to the fate awaiting other future CIA sponsored and US favoured tin-pot tyrants, demented despots, and cut-rate client-dictators, of whom there’s rarely been any shortage.

For his part, at the height of the crisis, Carter – who’d unwisely signed off on the hated Shah receiving medical treatment in the U.S. after a number of countries refused to accommodate his pleas for sanctuary — had his effigy burned in Tehran streets for his troubles. By the time the smoke coming out of the filmed wreckage on the six o’clock news of one of the Navy Rescue Team choppers that had crashed in the Iranian desert killing eight crewman after an audacious attempt to free the hostages went tragically wrong had cleared, the former Georgian peanut farmer turned Leader of the Free World was a lame duck, shit-out-of-luck, commander-in-chief. A Bay of Pigs Moment then? Almost certainly! But much, much worse, if one is inclined to measure “worse” by the blowback. And the BOP blowback was considerable.

In announcing to the American public and the world at large the failure of the mission, Carter – according to the dictates of the unofficial Truman ‘doctrine’ viz a viz where the ‘buck’ stops – took responsibility for the disaster, and even used eerily similar wording to that of JFK when he publicly revealed the outcome of the BOP fiasco. From then on, The Gipper had Carter by the presidential short’n’curlies. In the view of many pundits at the time, the presidential election was ‘all over Rover’, well before a single vote was cast. And though the Shah’s “ass” was no more with his death in a US hospital in mid-1980, it was ‘all over Rover’ for anyone else still standing. The Embassy ‘squatters’ in Tehran effectively held hostage Carter’s attempt to seek a second term, an outcome facilitated by Ronald Reagan’s campaign team engaging in treasonous back channel finagling with the new Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s henchmen to withhold release of the hostages until after the November presidential election. The objective herein was to preclude an “October Surprise” (an early release of the hostages) that would’ve guaranteed Carter’s re-election. The rest, as they say, is history.

— Burning Down the House (How to Roast a Pig) —

With the Gipper’s inevitable victory then, it was one where not just America, but the world was never to be the same again. None of this is to suggest it ever is in these situations, of which there were few in this case anyway. The Iranian Revolution was more than a revolution then; it was a geopolitical tsunami that swamped a shit-load of people and nations in its wake. In so many respects, the waves are still rippling. And even at this point, one imagines the CIA struggled to understand that blowback of this kind was bad for business, and might continue to undermine its credibility, effectiveness, and morale if it persevered down this path.

As history would have it, this idea never really caught on though. For their part, the Islamic Revolutionaries and their ilk may or may not have had their own version of jihadist karma; if they did they doubtless weren’t averse to providing karma some earthly assistance in order for it to work its magic. The Hostage Crisis was ample evidence of that. And they (or at least their heirs apparent such as ISIS, Al Nusra, et. al.) still are apparently. That is, keen to give karma a helping hand where and whenever possible. Depending very much of course on who their paymaster(s) is/are. Allah be willing of course!

In rounding things up herein, it is perhaps best to return to Bill Engdahl for some insight into the contemporary significance of the preceding narrative. In a recent interview wherein he addressed the developments taking place within and across the Greater Middle East, for him Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel wasn’t just about arms sales, shoring up their respective alliances, and reasserting America’s influence in the region. It was about, ‘setting events into motion in order to fundamentally alter the present balance of power in the entire Middle East to the greater advantage of the United States and US energy geopolitics.’

By any measure that’s a big call, and not just because it would seem that the U.S. has forfeited much of its prestige, influence, and power over the past decades of its political interventions, its wars of aggression (proxy, hybrid or direct), and its unequivocal support of Israel, something that would be required in spades in order to achieve such lofty goals. For Engdahl, Washington has already bitten off more than it can chew, without considering the ructions taking place between the Saudis, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates in their Mexican standoff with Qatar.

This latter development clearly resulted from discussions during Trump’s visit and is one whose significance few observers should underestimate, at least without some understanding of the real backstory, an “understanding” which should include first and foremost the following question: Which country did Trump visit right after Saudi Arabia?

And with Turkey lining up with Iran – the latter already a key ally of Syria, the former a key player in the efforts to relieve Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of the burdens of power during the past five years — on the side of Qatar, the standoff is creating some very strange geopolitical bedfellows.

None of us should be fooled by the rhetoric to be sure, because at the heart of these machinations and maneuvers is energy – both oil and, especially gas — as it always has been. It’s certainly not, nor has it ever been, about freedom, democracy, liberty or any of the usual bromides (perish the thought), or the U.S.’s oft-cited “responsibility to protect”. In terms of the geopolitical actors involved in the Great Game du jour, Engdahl notes, ‘no political power has been more responsible for launching the recent undeclared gas wars than the corrupt Washington cabal that makes policy on behalf of the so-called deep state interests….The Trump Administration policy in the Middle East–and there is a clear policy, rest assured–might be compared to that of the ancient Chinese fable about the farmer who burnt down his house in order to roast a pig. In order to control the emerging world energy market around “low-CO2″ natural gas, Washington has targeted not only the world’s largest gas reserve country, Russia. She is now targeting Iran and Qatar.’

Nor is the “Game” about combatting terrorism per se, as terrorism has always served the interests of the major power players, an observation one will never hear mentioned in mainstream media or political discourse. Of course one of the official pretexts for the demands being placed on Doha by the Saudis and the other Gulf states is Qatar’s support for terrorism, accusations which emanating from either country are as fatuous and as hypocritical as it gets. Engdahl had this to say:

‘We must keep in mind that all serious terrorist organizations are state-sponsored. All [of them]. Whether DAESH or Al Nusra or Mujahideen in Afghanistan or Maute Group in [the] Philippines. The relevant question is which states sponsor which terrorists[?] Today NATO is the one most complicit in sponsoring terrorism as a weapon of their geopolitical designs. And within NATO the United States is sponsor number one, often using Saudi money and until recently, ironically, Qatari funds.’

There should be no surprises here for students of Deep History, as these factors have been the driving forces of ‘full spectrum dominance’ geopolitics and geo-economics forever and a day, with the 1953 Iran narrative as we’ve seen providing hard-core evidence of this reality. It is also about the Regime Renovators pressing on regardless, which in this instance translates to isolating and then destroying Iran (a la Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria et. al.), Washington’s, Riyadh’s, and Tel Aviv’s common bête noir. Of course, these considerations are not mutually exclusive by any means. On the Saudi-Qatari standoff, he had the following to say: ‘Washington wanted to punish Qatar for seeking natural gas sales with China priced not in US dollars but in Renminbi. That apparently alarmed Washington, as Qatar is the world’s largest LNG exporter and most to Asia.’ 

But it’s even much more complex than that. The shape-shifting allegiances, mercurial strategic loyalties, and ‘handshakes under the table’ make for unpredictable scenarios going forward to be sure. Herein Engdahl offers us a summation of situation and circumstance that is as lucid as it is frightening. 

‘The real story behind the rise of so-called Islamic Terrorism is the increasingly desperate attempt of the ‘Anglo-American Deep State to control the rise of Eurasia, especially of China in combination now with Russia, and increasingly with Iran and Central Asian republics as well as South Asian. Without understanding this, none of the recent events in the Middle East make sense. Washington strategists today foolishly believe that if they get choke point control of all Middle East oil and gas, they can, as Henry Kissinger stated back in the 1970’s “control the oil and thus, control entire nations,” especially China and Russia and also Germany and Europe. Their strategy has failed but Washington and the Pentagon refuse to see the reasons for their repeated failed wars. The hidden reality of American global power is that the American “giant” today is a bankrupt superpower, much like Great Britain after their Great Depression of 1873 up to 1914. Britain triggered a world war in 1914 to desperately try to retain their global power. They failed, for reasons I discuss in my Century of War book. Today for much the same reasons – allowing the power of US financial conglomerates [to] supersede the interests of the national industrial economy – America’s debt, national, private, corporate, is out of control. Reagan and Cheney were dead wrong. Debt does matter.’

All of this translates to one simple reality. And at some point in the not too distant future, Russia and China will – not might, not maybe — attempt to call a halt to it all. And it’s reasonable to assume they won’t be on their ‘Pat Malone’, with Iran to be sure seeking also to finally square the ledger with the “Great Satan”. By then it’ll be on for young and old. Of that we can be sure. History has always been and remains our most reliable guide in this respect. Of this we can also be just as certain. Well might we say then that another “splendid little war” is in the offing.

Be that as it may, it almost certainly will qualify as the War to End all Wars.

Greg Maybury is an Australian based freelance journalist, alternative media entrepreneur, filmmaker and blogger, and partially rehabbed history teacher. His broad areas of exploration and analysis are the U.S. political economy, foreign affairs, social and economic history, international relations, the national security state, the media, and American society and culture in general.

Greg Maybury, ©, June 26, 2017

See also – China Tech: Interesting Bits and Pieces

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

 

Click for SpanishGermanDutchDanishFrench, translation- Note- Translation may take a moment to load.

Russia-US Relations: Faint Light at the End of Tunnel

Russia-US Relations: Faint Light at the End of Tunnel

PETER KORZUN | 21.06.2017 | WORLD

Russia-US Relations: Faint Light at the End of Tunnel

The US-Russian tensions have exacerbated after the American military shot down a Syrian warplane. In response, Russia said it was suspending a «de-confliction» communications channel used to avoid accidents in the air in Syria. «Any aircraft, including planes and drones belonging to the international coalition operating west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by Russian anti-aircraft forces in the sky and on the ground and treated as targets», the Russian Defense Ministry warned on June 19. It should be noted that the US-led coalition operates in Syria without neither an invitation of the Syrian government nor a UN resolution. On June 20, the US hit a Syrian drone and Russian jets intercepted a US reconnaissance plane in the Baltic Sea.

These are just some recent events to illustrate the mounting tensions between the two states. It also happens at a time the US Congress is considering an anti-Russia bill, which would spoil the relations for many years if it becomes a law. Russia has begun to prepare its own punitive measures package in response.

Does the US really need the sharp deterioration of relations with Russia at a time the list of challenges keeps growing? America faces stiff competition from China, the concept of «axis of evil» is revived again to include Iran and North Korea, Cuba is to be viewed as a hostile neighbor again etc.

The exacerbation of Russia-US tensions takes place against the background of the arms control and non-proliferation regime being disintegrated. The crisis is looming large while the two powers fail to make progress. This is the first time there is no dialogue on arms control since the signing of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963 – the event to launch the creation of international regime to limit and reduce the existing nuclear arsenals and prevent further proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Indeed, the relations have never been so low since the days of the Cuban Crisis. But not all is doom and gloom as it seems to be. There is some light at the end of the tunnel. It’s dim and few people can see it at all but there is a glimmer of hope.

State Secretary Rex Tillerson is working on a new plan – a classified document – to improve the relations with Moscow. The head of Foggy Bottom has taken it upon himself to shape a coherent policy on Russia. According to him, «The two greatest nuclear powers in the world cannot have this kind of a relationship. We have to stabilize it and we have to start finding a way back».

Setting the existing insurmountable differences aside, the Secretary seeks a constructive working relationship on a set of issues where progress is possible, including the long-running civil war in Syria, North Korea’s rapidly developing nuclear weapons program, cybersecurity and, finally, a range of long-term mutual geopolitical goals.

It happens at a time the State Department is looking for the right person to become the special envoy to deal directly with Russia on Ukraine. A US delegation headed by Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon, the State Department’s number three official, is going to St. Petersburg on June 23 to address the problems hindering the normalization of the US-Russia bilateral relations, including such an irritant as the Russian embassy’s diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland taken away by the Obama administration.

A new Russia-US dialogue forum will be launched this September in Riga, Latvia. Experts and MPs will convene to discuss the thorniest issues and the ways to improve the Russia-US bilateral relationship. The contacts outside the government-to-government framework are the way to institutionalize links between the academic communities and members of parliaments of the countries involved in the process. The initiative has been launched by prestigious think tanks, including the US Atlantic Council, the Russian institutes of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) and of Contemporary Development (INSOR) and the Latvian Baltic Development Forum. Latvia will act as an intermediary. The event will be chaired by Alexander Vershbow, the former US ambassador to Russia and former Deputy Secretary General of NATO. At present, the Atlantic Council is headed by Jon Huntsman, who is expected to head the US embassy in Russia.

The first Russia-US top level meeting will take place on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg on July 7-8. The presidents could agree on some guidelines to steer the relationship but the working groups of experts and parliamentarians could make a significant contribution into improvement of the relations. The previous experience shows that working together they can generate innovative analysis and policy recommendations that better reflect the common ground between the United States and Russia that is so often obscured by mistrust.

These are the first rather small steps to put the relationship back on track. It’s a hard job but it can be done. But all the efforts may go down the drain if the Russia bill tucked into the broader sanctions package against Iran becomes a law. Moscow will have no incentive to discuss anything at all. The bill approved by the Senate is being considered by the House of Representatives now. It can be rejected or amended to leave the door open for both states returning to the policy of constructive engagement. The ball is in the court of US lower chamber of Congress.

No to the US Economic Blockade of Cuba! No to US Violation of Canadian Sovereignty!

Global Research, June 20, 2017

The Canadian Network On Cuba (CNC) denounces the violation of the sovereignty of Canada by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department. OFAC fined the American Honda Finance Corporation (AHFC) $87,255 for approving and financing between February 2011 and March 2014 the leasing by Honda Canada Finance Inc. of 13 cars to the Embassy of Cuba in Canada.

This is an unambiguous act of hostility against Cuba carried out within Canada by Washington. The extraterritorial application of the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba targets not only Canada, as the AHFC is a subsidiary of the American Honda Motor Company, which is itself owned by Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and based in Japan, not the U.S.

Because Honda Canada Finance Inc. is a majority-owned subsidiary company of American Honda Motor Company, Washington insists that it follow U.S. law as demanded by the 1992 Torricelli Act and the 1996 Helms-Burton Act.

In short, U.S. law supplants Canadian law within Canada!

Not only is this a violation of the sovereignty of Canada, it contravenes the Canadian Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act (FEMA).

In response to the Torricelli Act and the Helms-Burton Bill, the Government of Canada specifically amended FEMA in order to protect Canada against the increasing extraterritorial nature of the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba. Thus, FEMA prohibits Canadian corporations from complying with the extraterritorial measures of U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba

This violation of Canadian sovereignty by the U.S. Treasury Department illustrates that Washington not only wages an economic blockade against Cuba but also a diplomatic and political blockade.

Is this extraterritorial interference in Canadian sovereignty a warning that Canada-Cuba relations is now a direct target of the Trump administration?

The CNC calls on the Government of Canada to uphold the country’s sovereignty and reject this or any other effort to implement in Canada the internationally condemned and illegal U.S. economic blockade of Cuba.

The CNC urges the Canadian government and parliamentarians not to allow Canada’s policy towards and relations with Cuba to be targeted or undermined.

Featured image: Tony Seed’s Weblog

Trump threatens Cuba with ‘regime change’

On Friday, speaking to Cuban-American exiles in Miami, Florida, Donald Trump ordered tighter restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba and a clampdown on US businessmen doing business with companies allegedly controlled by the Cuban military.

Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba. Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and the USA,” said Trump.

Trump called Raul Castro’s government brutal and vowed to liberate the island nation. “With God’s help a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve,” he thundered.

It is best for America to have freedom in its hemisphere whether in Cuba or Venezuela,” he added.

The Castro regime has sent arms to North Korea and fueled chaos in Venezuela. It has supported human trafficking, forced labor and exploitation across the globe,” added Trump.

It would be talking to Holy Cow to remind Donald Trump that Washington has been arming Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Egypt which are using them against Palestinian, Syrians, Yemenis and Lebanese. In 2016, Human trafficking in the United States rose 35.7 percent from the previous year.

US, the self-appointed champion for human rights around the globe – is also the worst human rights abuser when it comes to minors. According to the Family Research Council:

Each year, right under our noses, 100,000 American children are victimized by sex traffickers. Make no mistake, this is not a problem that’s just “over there.” These heinous crimes are happening in our own backyards”.

In 2007, UNICEF reported that the US and Britain  are the worst nations for children to live among the industrialized nations.

Cuban-American Israel-Firsters Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) are allegedly the authors of Trump’s anti-Havana rant.

Since Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba in March 2016, a lot of people felt happy believing that finally the five-decade old American crusade against Castro dynasty came to an end. But now they’re disappointed to find out that the ‘crippling sanctions’ against Cuba, like Iran, are still in force.

Washington lifted some travel restrictions against Cuban citizen. The US released the Cuban-Five in exchange for American Jew spy Alan Gross. US State Department even took-off Cuba from list of countries sponsoring terrorism. Iran and N. Korea are still on that list while Israel which had committed most terrorist acts against the US, never made to the list.

Commenting on Trump’s rant, Ellie Schwartz (Jew) at the Latin America Working Group (LAWG) said:

The way forward for US-Cuba relations is to not simply relax travel and trade restrictions, but to end the embargo once and for all. After half a century, it is clear that the embargo is a failed policy. It has done nothing to accomplish its primary goal of regime change. The embargo has not improved Cuban lives; it has succeeded only in further snubbing the Cuban people it claims to help. If Trump truly sought a better deal for the Cuban people, he would support continued engagement, trade, and travel to Cuba, and thereby increase opportunity for all.”

Both Cuba and Venezuela have no diplomatic relations with the Zionist entity. Both countries have recognized a separate Palestinian state. Cuban president Fidel Castro and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez have paid state visits to Iran. Iranian president Dr. Hassan Rouhani has also visited both Cuba and Venezuela.

%d bloggers like this: