Pussy John Bolton and His Codpiece Mustache: Examining the Freak Show

By Fred Reed

February 18, 2019 “Information Clearing House” –   American government has become a collection of sordid and dangerous clowns. It was not always thus. Until Bush II, those governing were never lunatics. Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Obama, Clinton had their defects, were sometimes corrupt, and could be disagreed with on many grounds. They weren’t crazy. Today’s administration would seem unwholesome in a New York bus station at three in the morning. They are not normal American politicians. 

In particular they seem to be pushing for war with Iran, China, Russia, and Venezuela. And–this is important–their behavior is not a matter of liberals catfighting with conservatives. All former presidents carefully avoided war with the Soviet Union, which carefully avoided war with America. It was Reagan, a conservative and responsible president, who negotiated the INF  treaty, to eliminate short-fuse nuclear weapons from Europe. By contrast, Trump is scrapping it. Pat Buchanan, the most conservative man I have met, strongly opposes aggression against Russia. The problem with the current occupants of the White House is not that they are conservatives, if they are. It is that they are nuts.

Donald the Cockatoo

Start with the head cheese, Donald Trump, profoundly ignorant, narcissistic, a real-estate con man who danced just out of reach of the law. His supporters will explode in fury at this. All politics being herd politics, the population has coalesced into herds fanatically pro-Trump and fanatically anti-Trump. Yet Trump’s past is not a secret. Well-documented biographies describe his behavior in detail, but his supporters don’t read them. The following is a bit long, but worth reading.

From The Making of Donald Trump Johnston, David Cay. (p. 23). Melville House. Kindle Edition.

“I always get even,” Trump writes in the opening line of that chapter. He then launches into an attack on the same woman he had denounced in Colorado. Trump recruited the unnamed woman “from her government job where she was making peanuts,” her career going nowhere. “I decided to make her somebody. I gave her a great job at the Trump Organization, and over time she became powerful in real estate. She bought a beautiful home.

“When Trump was in financial trouble in the early nineties…..”I asked her to make a phone call to an extremely close friend of hers who held a powerful position at a big bank and would have done what she asked. She said, “Donald, I can’t do that.” Instead of accepting  that the woman felt that such a call would be inappropriate, Trump fired her. She started her own business. Trump writes that her business failed. “I was really happy when I found that out,” he says.

“She had turned on me after I did so much to help her. I had asked her to do me a favor in return, and she turned me down flat. She ended up losing her home. Her husband, who was only in it for the money, walked out on her and I was glad. Over the years many people have called me asking for a recommendation for her. I always gave her bad recommendation. I can’t stomach disloyalty. ..and now I go out of my way to make her life miserable.“

All that because (if she exists) she declined to engage in corruption for the Donald. That is your President. A draft dodger, a pampered rich kid, and Ivy brat (Penn, Wharton). This increasingly is a pattern at the top: Ivy, money, no military service.

Pussy John Bolton

A particularly  loathsome sort of politician is one who dodges his country’s wars when of military age, and then wants to send others to die in later wars. This is Pussy John, arch hawk, coward, amoral, bully, willing to kill any number while he prances  martially in Washington. Speaking as one who carried a rifle in Viet Nam, I would like to confine this fierce darling for life in the bottom of a public latrine in Uganda.

Pussy John, an Ivy flower (Yale) wrote in a reunion books that, during the 1969 Vietnam War draft lottery,  

“I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost.” In an interview, Bolton explained that he decided to avoid service in Vietnam because “by the time I was about to graduate in 1970, it was clear to me that opponents of the Vietnam War had made it certain we could not prevail, and that I had no great interest in going there to have Teddy Kennedy give it back to the people I might die to take it away from.”

This same Pussy John, unwilling to risk his valuable being in a war he could have attended, now wants war with Iran, Venezuela, Russia, Syria, and Afghanistan. In these wars millions would die while he waggled his silly lip broom in the West Wing. His truculence is pathological and dangerous.  

Here is  PJ on Iran: which has not harmed and does not threaten America: “We think the government is under real pressure and it’s our intention to squeeze them very hard,” Bolton said Tuesday in Singapore. “As the British say, ‘squeeze them until the pips squeak’.”

How very brave of him. He apparently feels sadistic delight at starving Venezuelans, inciting civil war, and ruining the lives of millions who have done nothing wrong. Whence the weird hostility of this empty jockstrap, the lack of humanity? Forgot his Midiol? Venezuela of course has done nothing to the US and couldn’t if it wanted to. America under the Freak Show is destroying another country simply because it doesn’t meekly obey. While PJ gloats.

Bush II

Another rich kid and Yalie, none too bright, amoral as the rest, another draft dodger, (he hid in the Air  National Guard.) who got to the White House on daddy’s name recognition. Not having the balls to fight in his own war, he presided over the destruction of Iraq and the killing of hundreds of thousands, for no reason. (Except oil, Israel, and Empire. Collectively, these amount to no reason.) He then had the effrontery to pose on the deck of an aircraft carrier and say, “Mission accomplished.” You know, just like Alexander the Great. Amoral. No empathy. What a man.

The striking pattern of the Ivy League avoiding the war confirmed then, as it does now, that our present rulers regard the rest of America as beings of a lower order. These armchair John Waynes might have called them “deplorables,” though Hillary, another Yalie bowwow hawk, had not yet made the contempt explicit. This was the attitude of Pussy John, Bushy-Bushy  Two, and Cockatoo Don. Compare this with the Falklands War in which Prince Andrew did what a country’s leadership should do, but ours doesn’t..

Wikipedia: “He (Prince Andrew) holds the rank of commander and the honorary rank of Vice Admiral (as of February 2015) in the Royal Navy, in which he served as an active-duty helicopter pilot and instructor and as the captain of a warship. He saw active service during the Falklands War, flying on multiple missions including anti-surface warfare, Exocet missile decoy, and casualty evacuation”

The Brits still have class. Compare Andrew with the contents of the Great Double-Wide on Pennsylvania Avernus.

Gina

A measure of the moral degradation of America: It is the only country that openly and proudly engages in torture. Many countries do it, of course. We admit it, and maintain torture prisons around the globe. Now we have a major government official, Gina Haspel, head of the CIA, a known sadist. “Bloody Gina.” Is this who represents us? Would any other country in the civilized world put a sadist publicly in office?  

Think of Gina waterboarding some guy, or standing around and getting off on it. You don’t torture people unless you like it. The guy is tied down, coughing, choking, screaming, begging, desperate, drowning, and Gina pours…more water. The poor bastard vomits, chokes. Gina adds a little more water….

What kind of woman would do this? Well, Gina’s kind obviously. Does she then run off to her office and lock the door for half an hour? Maybe it starts early. One imagines her as a little girl, playing with her dolls.  Cheerleader Barbie, Nurse Barbie, Klaus Barbie….

Michael Pompeo

Another pathologically aggressive chickenhawk. In a piece in Foreign Affairs he describes Iran as a “rogue state that America must eliminate for the sake of all that is good.  Note that Pompeo presides over a foreign policy seeking to destroy Venezuela’s economy and threatens military invasion, though Venezuela is no danger to the US and is not America’s business; embargoes Cuba, which  in no danger to the US and is not America’s business; seeks to destroy Iran’s economy, though Iran is no danger to the US and none of Americas business; sanctions Europe and meddles in its politics; sanctions Russia, which is not a danger to the United States, in an attempt to destroy its economy, pushes NATO up to Russia’s borders, abandons the INF arms-control treaty and establishes a Space Command which will mean nuclear weapons on hair trigger in orbit, starts another nuclear arms race; wages a trade war against  China intended to prevent its economic progress; sanctions North Korea; continues a seventeen-year policy of killing Afghans for no discernible purpose; wages a war against Syria; bombs Somalis; maintains unwanted occupation forces in Iraq; increasingly puts military forces in Africa; supports regimes with ghastly human-rights records such as Saudi Arabia and Israel; and looks for a war with China in the South China Sea, which is no more America’s business than the Gulf of Mexico is China’s.

But Pompeo is not a loon, oh no, and America is not a rogue state. Perish forfend.

Nikki Haley

A negligible twit–I choose my vowel carefully–but characterized, like Trump, PJ, and Pompeo, by loyalty to Israel and wild combativeness. She seemed less dangerous than just embarrassing. Like the rest of this administration, she threatened war and retribution against any countries that did not obey the United States–not that she would put her own rounded pink sit-down ion the line n a war. That is for deplorables.

“Mad Dog” Mattis

“After being promoted to lieutenant general, Mattis took command of Marine Corps Combat Development Command. On February 1, 2005, speaking at a forum in San Diego, he said “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling.”

Perhaps in air-to-air combat you want someone who regards killing as fun, or in an amphibious assault. But in a position to make policy? Can you image Dwight Eisenhower talking about the fun of squaring a man’s brains across the ground?  

The Upshot

We have until recently never had government as aggressive, reckless, or psychiatrically fascinating as now. Again, it is not a matter of Republicans and Democrats. No administration of any party, stripe, or ideology has ever pushed to aggressively toward war with so many countries. These people are not right in the head.

Fred, a keyboard mercenary with a disorganized past, has worked on staff for Army Times, The Washingtonian, Soldier of Fortune, Federal Computer Week, and The Washington Times.

He has been published in Playboy, Soldier of Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Harper’s, National Review, Signal, Air&Space, and suchlike. He has worked as a police writer, technology editor, military specialist, and authority on mercenary soldiers. He is by all accounts as looney as a tune. https://fredoneverything.org

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Trump Ran Scared to Iraq, to Avert Coup Against Him

Trump Ran Scared to Iraq, to Avert Coup Against Him

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 30.12.2018 |

Trump Ran Scared to Iraq, to Avert Coup Against Him

Donald Trump’s visit this week to US forces in Iraq has to be seen as a highly peculiar move. Following his announcement to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan, which caused a split with senior Pentagon figures, it seems that Trump was making a desperate bid to reassure the military establishment. Perhaps even to forestall a feared coup against his presidency.

For nearly two years since his election, President Trump had not visited US troops in any active combat zone, unlike all his predecessors in the White House. His apparent indifference to overseas forces had engendered much consternation from political opponents and the media. In a recent editorial, the New York Times admonished: “Put Down the Golf Clubs, Visit the Troops”.

Recall, too, the US media scorn heaped on Trump when, during his trip to France in November to mark the centennial end of World War One, he declined to pay his respects at an American war cemetery “because it was raining”.

Trump is therefore not the sort of person to put himself in discomfort for others. That’s why it seems all the stranger that on Christmas Night, December 25, the president and his wife Melania left the comfort of the White House, and boarded Air Force One for a 6,000-kilometer overnight flight to Iraq.

The journey to Iraq was variously described in US media as a surprise and “shrouded in secrecy”. So secret indeed that the Iraqi government was not even informed in advance of Trump’s arrival. A hastily proposed meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi did not take place because the Iraqis were only given a couple hours notice when the US president landed.

In total, Trump and his delegation spent only three hours in Iraq and a reported 15 minutes talking to troops at Al-Asad Air Base, near the capital Baghdad. The president then flew back to Washington, making a brief refueling stop in Germany. Talk about a whirlwind spin halfway around the globe – and for what?

What this all suggests is that Trump’s visit was a hasty, ad hoc event that appears to have been done on the spur of the moment, in reaction to the news cycle over the past week.

As the New York Times put it: “The trip, shrouded in secrecy, came… less than a week after Mr Trump disrupted the military status quo and infuriated even some of his political allies by announcing plans to withdraw all troops from Syria and about half from Afghanistan. The president’s decision on Syria led to the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.”

Mattis’ resignation, followed by that of another senior Pentagon official, Brett McGurk, showed that there was serious pushback from the military establishment to Trump’s pullout order from Syria and Afghanistan.

Not only that but Trump’s political opponents within his own Republican party and the Democrats were given extensive media coverage for their protests against his order.

As CNN reported: “James Mattis’ resignation triggered an outpouring of anxiety and anger”.

Senators were lining up to condemn Trump for losing “the adult in the room” and a “voice of stability”. Mattis was hailed as “a national treasure” and praised for his “moral compass”. The eulogizing hardly squares with Mattis’ record of war crimes committed while serving as a Marines Corp general during the siege of Fallujah in Iraq in 2004, nor his psychopathic humor extolling the “fun of shooting people”.

Not for the first time, Trump was being denounced as a “traitor” by political enemies in Washington and the media. It was reminiscent of the way he was vilified after holding a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki earlier this year. Trump was again accused of “giving a gift to Putin” with his plan to withdraw US troops from Syria.

This time around, however, the political atmosphere was even more seditious.

By ignoring national security advisors and “the generals” over his Syria and Afghanistan announcements, Trump had crossed swords with the military-intelligence establishment. There was also a strong sense that the usual anti-Trump media were seizing on the opportunity to whip up Pentagon dissent against the president by lionizing Mattis as a “great leader” and whose absence would sap morale in the ranks.

The brooding political and military climate in Washington over Trump’s singlehanded decision-making may be the explanation for why the notorious couch-potato president felt compelled to get off his backside and head to Iraq in the middle of the night – on Christmas Night too.

Donning a bomber jacket and sounding jingoistic, Trump seemed to be grandstanding for militarism while in Iraq. “We like winning against terrorists, right,” he crowed to the troops. “We’re no longer the suckers of the world.”

Significantly, Trump added a new dimension to his pullout plan for Syria and Afghanistan. He pledged that US troops were not leaving Iraq – despite nearly 16 years being there after GW Bush first invaded the country in 2003. He also said that American forces would launch strikes into Syria from Iraq in the future, if and when needed. Presumably, this rapid-reaction force applies to all other Middle Eastern countries.

In other words, Trump is not signaling a peaceful scaling back of US militarism in the region, as some of his critics and supporters have perceived. Trump is simply rationalizing American imperialist power, making it leaner and meaner, to be operated out of stronghold bases like Iraq. Notice how the Iraqi government was not consulted on this Neo-colonial plan, which speaks of Washington’s arrogant hegemony, regardless of who resides in the White House.

Trump’s rushed visit to Iraq seems to have been made in an urgent attempt to let the Pentagon and the military-intelligence establishment know that he is not “going soft” on pursuing America’s self-ordained right to wage wars anywhere it wants for the cause of US capitalism.

In the immediate confusion over Trump’s announcement on December 19 of a troop drawdown in Syria and Afghanistan – and the media deification of “Mad Dog” Mattis – a dangerous period fleetingly opened up for his presidency.

Running scared, Trump dashed to Iraq to let the generals know that this president is still a reliable tool for American imperialism.

Photo: Flickr

دلالات الانسحاب الأميركي من شرق سورية

ديسمبر 27, 2018

زياد حافظ

أثار قرار الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب بالانسحاب من سورية بعد إعلانه انتصار الولايات المتحدة على الدولة الإسلامية في بلاد العراق والشام سلسلة من التعليقات تراوحت بين النقد اللاذع والتشكيك المدروس والترحيب الصريح. فالنخب الأميركية منقسمة في كافة الملفّات المطروحة بما فيها العدوان الكوني على سورية التي قادته الولايات المتحدة بمؤازرة بلاد الحرمين وقطر ودولة الإمارات العربية، وطبعاً بترحيب الكيان الصهيوني. وفي سياق الانقسام بين النخب الأميركية هناك ثلاثة محاور تغطّي تلك الانقسامات.

المحور الأول يقوده المحافظون الجدد، والمتدخلّون الليبراليون الذين شنّوا العدوان على سورية منذ الولاية الأولى للرئيس السابق باراك أوباما بقيادة وزيرة الخارجية آنذاك هيلاري كلنتون، والإعلام المهيمن الذي يسيطر عليه بشكل عام ومطبق اللوبي الصهيوني. هذا المحور يندّد بشدّة بالانسحاب غير المدروس و«المتهور الذي سيخلف فراغاً في شرق سورية يستفيد منه الرئيس السوري بشّار الأسد!!! وكل من الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران وروسيا! وبطبيعة الحال هناك اعتراض على القرار الرئاسي من اللوبي الصهيوني ورموزه داخل الكونغرس الأميركي. فينتقد الشيخ المتشدّد عن ولاية فلوريدا مارك روبيو المرشح للحزب الجمهوري الذي هزمه دونالد ترامب وليندسي غراهام شريك الشيخ الراحل جون ماكين قرار الرئيس الأميركي. غير أن رأيهما لا يمثّل بالضرورة رأي الحزب الجمهوري وبالتالي قد يشكّل فقط عنصر إزعاج لترامب دون إمكانية في الظرف الراهن للضغط عليه لتغيير قراره بالانسحاب.

المحور الثاني يشكّك بجدّية القرار وأهميته وتقوده مجموعة من المعلّقين كباتريك لورنس مراسل في صحيفة الإنترناشيونال هيرالد تريبون والكاتب في الشؤون السياسة الخارجية الأميركية. يعتبر لورنس أن القرار غير جدّي خاصة أن العدد المرتقب للقوّات الأميركية للانسحاب من سورية ليس 2000 بل هناك عديد يتراوح بين 4000 و7000 جندي و«مقاول أي مرتزقة من الشركات الأمنية الأميركية. إضافة إلى ذلك، يشير لورنس إلى التحصينات التي أقامتها القوّات الأميركية في مدينة الرقّة تحت السيطرة الاسمية لقوّات سورية الديمقراطية قسد والتي تدلّ على رغبة التخندق في سورية لفترة طويلة كما صرّح وما زال المسؤول الأميركي عن الملفّ السوري جيمس جيفري الذي فوجئ بالمناسبة بقرار الرئيس الأميركي . فقد استبعد المسؤول الأميركي أي انسحاب طالما لم تنسحب الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران وطالما الرئيس الأسد لم يرحل! فهناك تناقض واضح بين قرار الرئيس الأميركي وبعض المسؤولين.

هناك طيف آخر من المشكّكين الذين يعتبرون القرار الرئاسي مزاجياً وقد يغيّر رأيه بعد موجة الاحتجاجات التي بدأت على ذلك القرار من قبل قوى وازنة في الكونغرس الأميركي والإعلام المهيمن والحلفاء كالكيان الصهيوني. إضافة إلى كل ذلك فهناك التباس في مدى الفترة التي ستنسحب القوّات الأميركية. فالمدّة تتراوح بين شهر وثلاثة أشهر والله أعلم!

المحور الثالث يدعم قرار ترامب بدون تحفّظ ويرحّب به. ويضمّ ذلك المحور مجموعة من الضباط والدبلوماسيين السابقين كروبرت فورد السفير الأميركي في سورية وعدد من الشيوخ والمحلّلين الجمهوريين كباتريك بيوكانان وعدد من ضباّط الاستخبارات كراي مكغوفرن وفيليب جيرالدي على سيبل المثال، ومواقع إلكترونية معادية للحرب كموقع انتي وار. كوم و«قمر الاباما . كما أن خبراء مرموقين كستيفن والط الذي شاركه جون ميرشهايمر في كتابة الكتاب عن دور اللوبي الصهيوني في أميركا يعتبر في مقال نشره على موقع مجلّة فورين بوليسي المحافظة والمملوكة من روبرت مردوك أن لا جدوى في البقاء في سورية. لذلك لا يمكن القول إن هناك إجماعاً على التنديد بقرار ترامب وخلافاً لما يُشاع فإن وزير الدفاع الأميركي الذي استقال بعد قرار ترامب لا يمثّل كل البنتاغون.

في رأينا نعتقد أن القرار الرئاسي جدّي ولم يكن مفاجئاً، كما يعتقد الكثيرون. فهو أوضح ذلك خلال حملته الانتخابية ولم يتراجع عن رأيه خلال السنتين الماضيتين من ولايته. كما أن ذلك القرار ليس جديداً ويعكس رغبة المؤسسة الحاكمة بالخروج من المستنقع في المشرق ووسط آسيا والتركيز على شرق آسيا، وذلك منذ أكثر من عشر سنوات. نتذكّر هنا لجنة باكير هاملتون عام 2006 والتي شكّلت توافقاً جمهورياً وديمقراطياً مدعومة من فعّاليات سياسية وفكرية أميركية بضرورة التوقّف عن التورّط المباشر في المنطقة بعد كارثة الاحتلال الأميركي للعراق من منظور أميركي. كما نذكّر أيضاً قرار الرئيس السابق أوباما الشهير بالتوجّه نحو آسيا بعد الانسحاب من العراق والمحاولة للانسحاب من أفغانستان. وتفيد المعلومات الأخيرة أن الرئيس ترامب يبحث جدّياً بتخفيض عدد القوّات في أفغانستان، إن لم يكن الانسحاب مع بقاء بعض القواعد العسكرية، وذلك بعد تصريح قائد القوّات الأميركية في أفغانستان بأنهم ليسوا في موقع الانتصار. ويشكّل ذلك التصريح تحوّلاً نحو الواقعية بأن الانتصار في أفغانستان وهم. من هنا نفهم مغزى التفاوض مع حركة الطالبان في كل من دولة الإمارات وسلطنة عمان.

تمرّد الرئيس الأميركي على مستشاريه في وزارة الدفاع والخارجية مايك بومبيو والأمن القومي جون بولتون دليل على أنه يملك أوراقاً سياسية داخلية، أي داخل المؤسسة الحاكمة، تسمح له بذلك التمرّد . لقد لفتت نظرنا تسمية الرئيس الأميركي لرئيس هيئة الأركان المشتركة الجنرال مارك ميلي قائد القوّات البريّة منذ بضعة أيام وذلك قبل نهاية ولاية رئيس هيئة الأركان الحالي جوزيف دانفورد، أي قبل الخريف عام 2019، الذي أبدى اعتراضه على العديد من قرارات ترامب العسكرية. وهناك تقدير أن دانفورد سيرحل قبل نهاية ولايته. أما رئيس هيئة الأركان المرتقب مارك ميلي فهو مقرّب من ترامب وقريب من أفكار الرئيس الأميركي. من جهة أخرى يبدو أن داخل القيادة العسكرية في البنتاغون انقسام بين القيادة الوسطى المسؤولة عن شرق الأوسط وقيادة أوروبا المسؤولة عن أوروبا والكيان الصهيوني. فالأخيرة تدعم الانسحاب من سورية حيث الجدوى من البقاء غير واضحة على الأقل بينما القيادة الوسطى تعارض ذلك. إضافة إلى ذلك أجرت صحيفة ميليتري تايمز استطلاعاً منذ فترة أظهرت أن حوالي 55 بالمئة من الضبّاط الذين خدموا في المناطق الساخنة كأفغانستان والعراق على سبيل المثال خلال سبع عشرة سنة الماضية لا يحبّذون مهمة بناء أمّة كما يريده المحافظون الجدد أو المتدخّلون الليبراليون. بمعنى آخر أن الانسحاب من سورية يحظى بتأييد أولئك الضبّاط. أضف إلى كل ذلك فإن كلفة التورّط العسكري الأميركي في المنطقة منذ 2001 تجاوز عتبة ستة تريليونات دولار دون مردود سياسي يذكر وفقاً لمات بربل الكاتب في مجلّة اميريكان كونسرفاتيف أي الأميركي المحافظ وهي من المجلاّت المرموقة المحافظة في الولايات المتحدة الخارجة عن نفوذ اللوبي الصهيوني.

بعض المعلومات المتداولة في بعض المواقع الإلكترونية تفيد أن وراء ترشيح دونالد ترامب للرئاسة عدد من القيادات العسكرية التي لا تشاطر رأي منافسته هيلاري كلنتون ولا تريد وجودها في البيت الأبيض. هذا يعني أن ترامب كان يحظى منذ البداية بدعم من بعض القيادات العسكرية الأميركية المتقاعدة أو التي لم تكن في الصفّ الأوّل. هناك توقّع أنه سيتم تبديل القيادات العسكرية التي تقدّمت في عهد الرئيس بوش الإبن والرئيس أوباما بقيادات عسكرية تفكّر بشكل مختلف عن القيادات الحالية والتي تتفهّم الوضع القائم لميزان القوّة في العالم، ولكن قبل أي شيء ليست مُستوعَبة حتى الآن من المجمّع العسكري الصناعي الذي يقود التوجّهات العسكرية في الولايات المتحدة. الأشهر المقبلة ستظهر ما إذا كانت هذه التوقّعات صحيحة أم مبالغاً بها إذا ما استطاع الرئيس الأميركي تجاوز العاصفة التي أثارها قراره بالانسحاب. وفي رأينا الاحتمال جدّي بتجاوزه للعاصفة، فإن الرئيس ترامب قد يكون بدأ هجومه المضاد على الدولة العميقة التي عرقلت العديد من توجّهاته، وذلك بدعم من قاعدة شعبية لم تتأثر بكل الحملات الدعائية وبدعم بعض الجهات داخل المؤسسة الحاكمة. أحد مؤشّرات ذلك الهجوم يكمن في شخصية مَن سيخلف جون ماتيس في وزارة الدفاع. فمن الواضح أن وزير الدفاع المقبل سيكون منسجماً مع تطلّعات ترامب وليس مع أجندات أخرى. هذا قد يعني في المدى المتوسّط أن السياسة الخارجية الأميركية ستأخذ منعطفاً مختلفاً عن السابق وأن الاهتمام الأميركي سيكون تجاه الداخل الأميركي. هذا لا يعني انعزالية جديدة بل اعترافاً بموازين قوّة لم تعد لصالح الولايات المتحدة وأن على الأخيرة إعادة بناء نفسها لتصبح أميركا مرّة أخرى عظيمة .

في ميزان الربح والخسارة يبدو أن الرئيس الأميركي انتصر على مستشاريه من المحافظين الجدد، وعلى اللوبي الصهيوني عبر تجاوزه لرئيس مجلس وزراء الكيان. فالكيان الصهيوني ليس له القوامة على المصالح الأميركية المباشرة كما يعتقد العديد من المحلّلين والمراقبين. إعلام الكيان كان واضحاً بإعلان القرار صفعة لبنيامين نتنياهو.

الرابح في المشرق العربي هو أولاّ الدولة السورية وشعبها وقيادتها وحلفاؤها في محور المقاومة الذين صمدوا في وجه العدوان الكوني، بل عدّلوا في ميزان القوّة الإقليمي والدولي وأجبروا الرئيس الأميركي على التراجع الاستراتيجي. أما الرابح الثاني فهو الرئيس التركي اردوغان الذي هزم سياسياً الطموحات غير الواقعية للأشقاء الأكراد. نأمل أن يأخذ الأشقاء الأكراد العبرة لعدم جدوى الاتكال على الولايات المتحدة، علماً أن درس إقليم كردستان في العراق لم يكن بعيداً في الزمن ولكن للأسف لم يعتبروا. والرابح الثالث على الصعيد الدولي فهو روسيا التي أصبحت الدولة التي لا يمكن تجاوزها في الإقليم.

أما الخاسر الأكبر فهو الكيان الصهيوني الذي سيواجه ارتدادات القرار الأميركي في الداخل وفي الوطن العربي. فالمجاهرة بالورقة الخليجية التطبيعية قد لا تلقى تجاوباً رسمياً عربياً بعد التراجع الأميركي. حتى الآن، المجاهرة بالتطبيع كانت من الجهة الصهيونية دون صدى رسمي من قبل حكومة الرياض أو أبو ظبي رغم وجود دلائل مادية في الدولتين تغذّي المقولة الصهيونية. فزيارة الرئيس السوداني إلى مطار دمشق والإعلان أن إضعاف سورية هو إضعاف لجبهة المقاومة ليس بالتصريح العابر بغض النظر عن التفسيرات التي أعطيت له. لسنا متأكدين أن مسيرة التطبيع ستستمر بالوتيرة نفسها التي شهدناها في الأشهر الماضية. بالمناسبة، تفيد بعض المعلومات أن الهجوم على ولي العهد في بلاد الحرمين في الكونغرس الأميركي والاعلام المهيمن لا يعود لمسؤوليته بجريمة مقتل الصحافي الخاشقجي بل لاستقلاليته في قراراته. والدليل على ذلك هو اتفاق حكومة الرياض مع روسيا على تخفيض الإنتاج النفطي للحفاظ أو لرفع سعر برميل النفط خلافاً لما كان يحثّ عليه الرئيس الأميركي. فالاستقلالية في القرارات النفطية من الممنوعات عند مراكز القرار في الولايات المتحدة. وبغضّ النظر عن دقّة تلك المعلومات فإن النتيجة ستنعكس على محاولات إنهاء الخلافات العربية وخاصة مع سورية. التضامن العربي أصبح ضرورة إقليمية ودولية ملحّة للتوازن مع صعود الدور التركي إذا ما تمّ إضعاف دور بلاد الحرمين. فمحور المقاومة وروسيا لا يحبّذان المساس ببلاد الحرمين إذا ما اتجهت السياسة الأميركية إلى ذبح البقرة الحلوب . فالعامل الأميركي في التوازن والتأثير لم يعد فاعلاً بالفعّالية نفسها، كما كان عليه قبل إعلان القرار بالانسحاب.

الأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي

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What Can Follow America’s Withdrawal From Syria

December 20, 2018

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

Just before Trump announced that American troops are to leave Syria “immediately”, many compatriots, friends and analysts were wondering what could be the next event that might change the course of future events in northern and eastern Syria. The first reaction to the news of Trump ordering his troops to leave Syria took many by surprise. That said, we have to wait and see if Trump does not wake up tomorrow changing his mind. The reason behind Trump’s decision to withdraw is not very important and as far as this article is concerned, it is irrelevant. If he wants to believe that he is leaving victoriously, that’s fine, for as long as he does leave. That said, the sudden resignation of Mattis clearly indicates that the former top gun does not see it with the same spectacles. Either way, the withdrawal, if it happens, may end up to be a long and protracted process that could take weeks, months and perhaps years, and the manner in which it happens opens the doors for many possibilities and contingencies.

Before Trump’s decision, there were two serious nagging and unresolved problems in Syria standing in the way of ending the war and the commencement of rebuilding the war-ravaged nation; and they were the ongoing presence of the terrorists in Idlib and the presence of American troops in the North East.

Idlib has been the sink hole of Syria, a place where all terrorists ended up. In any major battles, all the way from the battle of Al-Qusayr in 2013 to the most recent battle of Daraa in 2018, all of which ended up with terrorists defeat, negotiations ended up with militants leaving the areas in secure buses and settling in Idlib. No one really knows how many of them are there at the present moment because the overall figure includes those who were bunkered there from the beginning. The estimates run from as low as 10,000 to a high 100,000. The truth is that we don’t know. The figure could well be outside those estimates; but they have to be huge nonetheless.

Regardless of the number, they are the only terrorists left who answer to Erdogan and/or who can be manipulated by him. If they don’t, they either have to fight to death or leave. But given that all of their supply lines come from Turkey, they don’t have much of a choice but to kowtow to the Sultan. The Sultan is using his loyal “troops” as a trump card for two reasons; first of all to continue to have a de-facto military presence in government-controlled areas in Syria, and secondly and most importantly perhaps, is because he regards the terrorists as his Muslim brothers, and it is his “duty” to protect them.

This was why when Russia and Syria were making preparations to go inside Idlib and clean it up, he told them that he could achieve the same objective with negotiations and that they can leave Idlib for him to deal with. A few months later, Russia and Syria are still waiting for him to come true to his word.

So what is Erdogan exactly trying to do in northern Syria and why are Putin and Assad putting up with him?

Before Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria, it was clear that Putin understands Erdogan too well. He knows that Erdogan has an Achilles Heel, two of them in fact; one in each foot. In many previous articles, I have reiterated that Erdogan is incurably both an Islamist and a Turkish nationalist; even though the ideologies are in total contradiction with each other. And even though he is cunning, calculating and prepared to wait for the right moment to act, when it comes to either nationalism or religion, he regresses into a programmed robot that is simply unable to think and act rationally; and Putin has been trying to use this weakness of Erdogan to serve his own objectives.

Erdogan wants to protect Al-Nusra in Idlib, and this is why Putin convinced Assad to leave the Idlib carrot in the hands of Erdogan, not necessarily because he believes that Erdogan will indeed deal with it in the manner that he should, but simply to present to him that Russia regards him like a credible partner.

On the other hand, the simmering tension between Ankara and Washington over the Kurdish issue has been coming to a head for a long time. Ever since America pledged support to Syrian Kurds, Erdogan, in blunt terms, has been clearly saying to his American “allies” that they must choose between Turkey and the Kurds. He has been making serious threats that he will attack Manbij and clean it up from Kurdish militants even if American troops do not leave.

Erdogan’s nationalist Achilles heel has left him in serious discord with his biggest NATO ally.

Given that the nationalist aspect of Erdogan is prepared to risk falling out with NATO and even fighting American troops in Syria just to prevent the creation of an independent Kurdish state south of his border, he was putting himself in the position of the former Afghani Mujahideen who were fighting their own war, and at the same time, serving another purpose for another group. With this stance, Erdogan presented that he was prepared to fight with America at any level, even militarily; because to him, the Kurdish issue was a redline that he was not prepared to see crossed.

For a while, a fair while in fact, Russia and Syria stood back and watched how the American-Turkish impasse morphed. It seemed that any potential fight would not only serve to prevent the creation of an independent Kurdish state, but would also end up with American withdrawal from Syria, and thus serving the objectives of both Syria and Russia.

And even though in theory it is the role and duty of Syria and her army to liberate the North-East from American presence, this course of action did not only risk a major confrontation with NATO and possible widespread bombing all over the country, but this option will also risk a direct confrontation between America and Russia on Syrian soil.

This was the only reason why Russia and Syria seemed prepared to put the resolution of the Idlib dilemma on hold. This is the only rational reason as to why they did not coerce Erdogan to rush into any quick action there before the problem of American presence has been resolved.

Knowingly or inadvertently, the American withdrawal from Syria, if it happens, will take a huge bargaining chip away from the hand of Erdogan in as far as his relationship with Russia is concerned. Erdogan will no longer be able to say to Russia that if Russia wants him to deal with America’s presence, then Russia must accept the deal with Idlib too.

In short and simple terms, the American withdrawal, if it happens, will take the decision of what happens in Idlib out of Erdogan’s hands.

The above sounds good, good for Syria, but the final outcome of this will depend on a number of factors, the most important of which is who is going to replace the American troops and how soon.

If America leaves behind a mercenary army as some speculate, fighting it will be logistically easier in the sense that it will not open the door for direct confrontation with United States army.

Depending on the pattern of withdrawal, the void generated by the retreating American troops can either be filled by the legal national Syrian Arab Army or by an invading Turkish army. But this depends on the location as well as the time table of withdrawal. If America for example leaves Deir Ezzor now, which is in the east and a couple of hundred kilometers south of Turkey’s border, the void will automatically be filled by the Syrian Army. However, if America leaves a northerly position such as Manbij, Turkey will move in before the Syrian Army will have a chance to do so. And such a scenario can spell more problems for Syria.

The problem here is more of a humanitarian nature than territorial, because sooner or later, Turkey will have to leave Syria. That said, if Turkish troops control any Syrian land, even for a short time, they will most likely declare open season on Syrian Kurds, and given Turkish history in dealing with such situations, this can be brutal.

On the other hand, if Erdogan tries to inflict a Kurdish massacre, then his Idlib carrot will turn into a stick lashing his own hide. For years, he had managed to juggle his contradictions of being a nationalist and an Islamist, but he will finally have to choose between his two alter egos. His nationalist ambition of annihilating Kurdish resistance in Syria can endanger his Muslim brothers in Idlib. His split-personality dilemma is finally coming to a head.

Would the man who was prepared to fight America if America supported a Kurdish state be also prepared to fight Russia if Russia attacked his Islamist brothers in Idlib?

Ideally, the best scenario possible for Syria and Russia, a resolution that will uphold Syria’s sovereignty and integrity all the while avert any Kurdish bloodshed, is for Syria and Russia to immediately fill in any gap created by retreating American forces. Erdogan must be kept out of Syria, and once his hands cannot reach Syrian Kurds any longer, he will no longer be able to have any say in Idlib.

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إسرائيل: اللهم احفظنا من أصدقائنا… ومن «الرئيس المزاجي»

 يحيى دبوق

 السبت 22 كانون الأول 2018

واصلت إسرائيل التعبير عن الصدمة وخيبة الأمل، في أعقاب قرار الرئيس دونالد ترامب سحب القوة العسكرية الأميركية من الأراضي السورية. القرار الذي وُصف بـ«الصفعة» و«الهروب الأميركي» و«المزاجية»، عُدَّ في تل أبيب أيضاً إضاعة فرصة كادت أن تكون وحيدة في مواجهة ما تسميه «تمركز» إيران وحلفائها في سوريا. وإضاعة الفرصة يصطفّ إلى جانب تلمُّس إسرائيل إخفاق كل الخيارات الأخرى للحؤول دون تهديد تعاظم إيران المرشَّح، بحسب التعليقات الإسرائيلية، إلى المزيد من «التمركز» بعد الانسحاب الأميركي.

في التجاذب الإسرائيلي حول قرار الانسحاب إرادتان: الأولى تعمل على التخفيف من وطأة القرار وتقليص تداعياته في وعي الإسرائيليين والأعداء على السواء، عبر أساليب وطرق شتّى قادها من اليوم الأول رئيس حكومة العدو، بنيامين نتنياهو، والثانية نقيضة وأكثر انتشاراً بين المعلقين الإسرائيليين، مع توسع حاد في التعبير عن «الصدمة» والتهجم على نتنياهو نفسه، وربما بما يزيد على مستوى سلبيات الانسحاب وحدوده الفعلية.

أمس، برز في التجاذب تراجع في إرادة تخفيف الوطأة عمّا كان عليه، في مقابل زيادة في التعبير عن «المأزق» وتداعياته السلبية، مع اتهام نتنياهو بالسطحية والفشل والإخفاق في كل ما يتعلق بسياسته الخارجية، التي ركزت على «التقاط الصور» مع زعماء الدول بدل النتائج الصلبة على الأرض. في ذلك، شبّه عدد من المعلقين علاقة ترامب بنتنياهو، تماماً كما هي علاقة بوتين به، في أنها متمأسسة على بناء زائف، وبحسب صحيفة «يديعوت أحرونوت»: أخطأ نتنياهو في تزلفه الزائد لترامب وبوتين، كما أخطأ في الثقة الزائدة لديه في قدرته على إدارتهما، لافتة إلى أن القلق من تصرفات وخطوات الإدارة الأميركية هي التهديد الأول الذي يسبق أي تهديد آخر، و«ما يحصل في واشنطن ينبغي أن يُقلق إسرائيل لا أقل مما يجري في سوريا. وعن هذا قيل: اللهم احفظني من أصدقائي، ومع أعدائي سأتدبر أمري».

في توصيف التهديدات ما بعد تنفيذ القرار الأميركي وردت خشية إسرائيلية، جرى التشديد عليها في تعليقات الإعلام العبري أمس، وأيضاً على لسان عدد من المسؤولين: ما تأثير الانسحاب على الحرب الدائرة بين إسرائيل من جهة وإيران وحلفائها من جهة ثانية، سواء في سوريا و/ أو لبنان، أو في الإقليم بصورة عامة. الإجابات لم تكن متفائلة، بل محذرة ومعبّرة عن مستوى مرتفع جداً من خيبة الأمل والتشاؤم من الآتي في ضوء المستجد الاميركي، وبما يفضي إلى «قلب المعادلات واستيلاد أخرى غير مواتية للمصالح الاسرائيلية». بحسب تعبير عضو لجنة الخارجية والأمن في الكنيست، نحمان شاي، «خروج القوات الأميركية من سوريا سيؤثر على المدى القصير والبعيد بمجمل الشرق الأوسط».

هاجمت افتتاحية «هآرتس» نتنياهو و«انصياعه» التام لترامب

في التعبير عن هذا القلق، هاجمت افتتاحية «هآرتس» أمس نتنياهو وسياسته و«انصياعه» التام لترامب من دون أن يحفظ خط الرجعة: «كلام رئيس الحكومة بنيامين نتنياهو عن أن إسرائيل ستواصل العمل بصورة شديدة جداً ضد المحاولات الإيرانية للتمركز في سوريا، لا يمكن وممنوع أن يغطي ويطمس الصفعة المدوية التي تلقتها سياسته المتملّقة أمام ترامب وإدارته. وضع نتنياهو عن سابق إصرار وعمد كل البيض في سلة رئيس أميركي مزاجي بلا مشاعر ويهتم فقط بمصالحه الخاصة. وها هي إسرائيل تدفع ثمن ذلك».

في «هآرتس» أيضاً تحذير من التداعيات السلبية على خيارات إسرائيل في مواجهة التهديد الإيراني في سوريا، مع توقع الفشل في المواجهة، رغم كل المواقف والتصريحات التي حاولت التخفيف من وطأة القرار الأميركي. تشير الصحيفة إلى أن «ترامب أنهى كل خطط مستشاريه وجنرالاته، الذين كانوا قد أوضحوا خلال الأشهر الماضي، ومن بينهم وزير دفاعه المستقيل جيمس ماتيس، وكذلك مستشاره للأمن القومي جون بولتون، في أن الوجود الأميركي في سوريا مخصص لصدّ الانتشار الإيراني وكبح التأثير الروسي في الشرق الأوسط ولتحصين المكانة الدولية للولايات المتحدة». الواضح، تضيف الصحيفة، أن ترامب مسح كل الخطط الموضوعة من فريقه من خلال تغريدة واحدة، ومسح معها الرهان الإسرائيلي: سحب القوة الأميركية من سوريا.

في «تفاخر» نتنياهو بأنه تلقى من ترامب إخباراً عن نية سحب القوات من سوريا، أشارت القناة العاشرة إلى أن المكالمة الهاتفية بين الجانبين، جاءت بمبادرة من نتنياهو الذي اتصل بترامب وحاول إقناعه بالعدول والتراجع عن قراره، لكن ترامب لم يترك أي هامش للمناورة ووضع نتنياهو أمام قرار نهائي لا رجعة عنه، وأبلغه بصورة حاسمة أنه قرر الخروج من سوريا، وعند هذه النقطة أنهى الحديث الهاتفي معه.

في تأثير الخطوة الأميركية على مواجهة إيران، كادت التعليقات تكون متطابقة، ومن بينها ما ورد على شاشة القناة العاشرة: الانسحاب الأميركي من سوريا حدث محزن لإسرائيل، إذ إن هذا الانسحاب سحب بدوره من يد إسرائيل الورقة الوحيدة التي كانت قد بقيت لها في المعركة التي تخوضها لمواجهة «التمركز» الإيراني، كما التمركز الروسي أيضاً، في الساحة السورية.

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Editor’s Picks: US Senate Corners Trump to Stop Supporting Bin Salman’s Crimes, Yemen War

Local Editor

The US Senate delivered an unusual rebuke of President Donald Trump’s response to the murder of Saudi journo Jamal Khashoggi as well as his support of continued Saudi war in Yemen, and signaled new skepticism from Capitol Hill toward the longtime Middle East ally, bringing analysis pieces dealing with the issue on top of the media platform, of which we brought to you some.

The Washington Post’s Editorial Board considered the resolution a powerful repudiation of both Saudi Arabia and Trump.

According to the Post, it was an important step toward holding Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable for the murder of its contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The senate unanimously approved a resolution that assigns responsibility to bin Salman for the killing and said the regime’s “misleading statements” about the case “have undermined trust and confidence” in Saudi-US relations.

The vote was a powerful repudiation of Trump’s refusal to accept, or act upon, the truth about the crown prince — and it should cause the president to reconsider.

The resolution’s passage came on the heels of a 56-to-41 vote in favor of another resolution ending US support for the Saudi war in Yemen under the War Powers Act. House Republicans have already moved to block consideration of that measure. But if Speaker Paul D. Ryan [R-Wis.] wishes to end his congressional career with a touch of honor, he should schedule a vote next week on the Khashoggi resolution. House members should have the opportunity to show whether they stand with US intelligence professionals who have concluded that Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for this act of wanton brutality — or with a president who would bury the facts in service of [largely phantom] weapons sales. They should have a chance to stand up for the American values, including support for human rights that Trump has repudiated.

The evidence connecting Mohammed bin Salman to the killing is overwhelming. According to The Post’s reporting, the 15-member team sent to Istanbul to attack Mr. Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate on Oct. 2 included several of the crown prince’s personal bodyguards. It was headed by another close associate who called a top aide in Riyadh to say that he should “tell your boss” that Mr. Khashoggi was dead. The CIA discovered that the aide, Saud al-Qahtani, and the crown prince exchanged numerous texts during that time period.

Additionally, the Post’s contributor Aaron Blake wrote “The whole Senate just said Trump is wrong.”

Trump and top Cabinet officials have completely obscured and slow-rolled their own intelligence community’s conclusion about the Saudis’ killing of Washington Post Global Opinions columnist Jamal Khashoggi. And on Thursday, every single senator in attendance rebuked them.

Just moments after the Senate passed a resolution calling for an end to US involvement on the Saudi side of the war in Yemen, the GOP-run Senate voted unanimously for Sen. Bob Corker’s, R-Tenn., resolution officially blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi’s death.

Corker’s resolution says, among other things: “The Senate . . . believes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.”

That’s also what the CIA has concluded, but it’s a conclusion that Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and even Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have taken great pains to undermine. A couple weeks back, the latter two briefed senators, with Pompeo saying there was no “direct reporting” of Mohammed’s culpability and Mattis saying there was no “smoking gun.” Those statements may be technically true, but they ignore the fact that CIA assessments aren’t legal documents but did assess Mohammed’s responsibility with “high confidence.” They created an impossible standard.

Meanwhile, Reuters’ Patricia Zengerle penned a piece entitled US Senate hands Trump historic rebuke on Saudi Arabia.

In a historic move, senators voted 56-41 to end US military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s war. The conflict killed tens of thousands of people and spawned what the United Nations calls the world’s most dire human crisis, with the country on the brink of famine.

It was the first time either chamber of Congress had backed a resolution to withdraw US forces from a military engagement under the War Powers Act. That law, passed in 1973, limits the president’s ability to commit US forces to potential hostilities without congressional approval.

For his part, Imad Zafar’s Asia Times said the US Senate’s Yemen move is a message to Saudi royals.

The Yemen conflict is the most tragic event of recent times, where thousands of innocent people have lost their lives in the war between Saudi forces backed by the US and the Houthi rebels backed by Iran. The innocent people living in Yemen are caught in the middle of this fight as on the one side there are Houthi armed groups who are Shiite Muslims, while on the other side, the coalition led by Saudi Arabia is bombing them ruthlessly.

According to Amnesty International, because of this war more than 15,000 people have been killed or injured and it has resulted in a humanitarian crisis. Perhaps this move from the US Senate will help save the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent Yemenis targeted mercilessly by the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi armed groups.

One wonders why it took Jamal Khashoggi’s murder to make the lawmakers realize that the US has been backing Saudi Arabia in killing thousands of civilians in Yemen.

Perhaps this can be seen as a signal to the Saudi kingdom that the US is ready to hold Mohammad bin Salman responsible for Khashoggi’s killing. Anger had been growing in the US over the recent findings of the Central Intelligence Agency that pointed to possible involvement by the crown prince in the killing and Turkey’s claim of a telephonic recording in which the killers were talking to higher Saudi officials about the success of the mission.

Source: Al-Ahed News

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Mattis Tells All Without Any Evidence

By Philip Giraldi
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The insanity runs deep in Washington but it has also briefly surfaced at Simi Valley in California at the Reagan National Defense Forum, which ran through last weekend. United States Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis was the keynote speaker on Saturday. He had a few interesting things to say, the most remarkable of which was the assertion that Russia had again sought to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections, which were completed last month.

Mattis, a Marine general who is sometimes considered to be the only adult in the room when the White House national security team meets, claimed that the bilateral relationship between Washington and Moscow had “no doubt” deteriorated still further due to the Russian activity, which he described as the Kremlin “try[ing] again to muck around around in our elections last month, and we are seeing a continued effort along those lines” with Russian President Vladimir Putin making “continued efforts to try to subvert democratic processes that must be defended. We’ll do whatever is necessary to defend them.”

Mattis did not address President Donald Trump’s cancellation of a meeting with Putin at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a move which he reportedly supported. The cancellation was reportedly based on what has been described as an act of aggression committed by the Russian military against three Ukrainian naval vessels seeking to transit the Kerch Strait, which is since the annexation of Crimea been completely controlled by Moscow. The Ukrainians were aware of the Russian protocols for transiting through the area and chose to ignore them to create an incident, possibly as part of a plan to disrupt the Trump-Putin discussions. If that is so, they were successful.

Mattis was somewhat taciturn relating to his accusation regarding Moscow’s meddling. He provided absolutely no evidence that Russia had been interfering in the latest election and there have been no suggestions from either federal or state authorities that there were any irregularities involving foreigners. There was, however, considerable concern over possible ballot and voting manipulation at state levels carried out by the major political parties themselves, suggesting that if Mattis is looking for subversion of democratic processes he might start looking a lot closer to home.

The U.S. government has issued a general warning that “Americans should be aware that foreign actors — and Russia in particular — continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions intended to sow discord.” Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have reportedly been working with private sector internet social networking companies, to include Twitter and Facebook, to shut down Russian and Iranian accounts in attempt to forestall any interference in either the campaigning or voting processes. Some Russians have even been indicted in absentia based on flimsy evidence but as they are in Russia they cannot be tried. One Russian student, Maria Butina, is still in jail in Virginia based on conflicting and flimsy evidence and it is not clear when she will be able to defend herself in court.

Beyond the general anti-Russia hysteria being encouraged by the media and congress, there are a number of problems with the Mattis assertion. First of all, beyond the fact that no actual evidence has been presented, it is irrational to assume that Russian intelligence services would waste their effort and burn their resources to attempt to accomplish absolutely nothing. Russia was not on the ballot last month and no candidates were running on any platform that would benefit Moscow in the slightest. To get caught “mucking around” would invite more sanctions and justify an increasingly hostile response from Washington, hardly a price that Putin would be willing to pay for little or nothing tangible.

Second, the intense investigations being carried out by the Robert Mueller Special Counsel’s office have to this point developed no information suggesting that Russia did anything in 2016 beyond the low-level probing and manipulating that every major intelligence agency does routinely to get a window into what an adversary is up to. To be sure, several Team Trump associates will likely be going to jail, but their crimes so far have consisted of perjury or tax fraud. Some, like former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen are seeking desperately to find a way to implicate the president in some grander scheme, but if there is anything actually there it has yet to be identified to the public.

Third, based on the evidence produced so far, the only two countries that may have cooperated with either Trump or the Deep State to influence the results of the 2016 election are Israel, which sought Trump intercession at the United Nations, and Britain, which may have engaged in a plot by the British intelligence and security services to conspire with CIA Director John Brennan to elect Hillary Clinton.

So, there we go again. Another vague accusation against Russia to convince the American public that there is a powerful enemy out to get us. And lest there be any shortage of enemies Mattis also mentioned always dangerous Iran, saying “…we cannot deny the threat that Iran poses to all civilized nations.” And, by the way, Mattis in his speech strongly supported an increased “defense” budget to deal with all the threats, saying somewhat obscurely that “Fiscal solvency and strategic solvency can co-exist.” Sure. In the wonderful world of Washington, more money can fix anything.

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