Trade War Hangs Over the G20

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June 29, 2019 © Photo: kremlin.ru

Two words were on the lips of world leaders as the curtain went up on the Group of 20 gathering in the Japanese city of Osaka. On Friday, all the early statements and gossip revolved around the “trade war.”

Xi Jinping set the tone. China’s president warned about the dangers of protectionism at a meeting between the BRICS bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“This is destroying the global trade order … This also impacts the common interests of our countries, overshadows the peace and stability worldwide,” the Chinese president said.

In the past year, Washington and Beijing have been embroiled in a brutal trade conflict involving tit-for-tat tariffs on imports worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Along the way, Chinese companies, such as the telecoms giant Huawei, have been dragged into the dispute, suffering punitive sanctions imposed by Washington.

After trade talks broke down last month and the technology battle intensified between the world’s two largest economies, the shockwaves rippled across the globe.

Now, G20 leaders are praying that US President Donald Trump and Xi can ease tensions when they meet face-to-face on Saturday to discuss the situation.

Although there appears little chance of an immediate deal, they will be hoping a truce can be hammered out.

Trump at least made all the right noises about trade agreements. But they did not appear to include China.

‘Very big deal’

The only real reference about the spat with Beijing came in a remark he also made to Modi.

“We actually sell Huawei many of its parts,” Trump said. “So we’re going to be discussing that and also how India fits in. And we’ll be discussing Huawei.”

Earlier this week, media reports suggested that Xi would not agree to a deal unless Washington lifted its ban on the company, which is recognized as a world leader in 5G technology and a key player in the smartphone sector.

During the opening session, Trump touched on the issue. “We must also ensure the resilience and security of our 5G networks,” he said.

Still, Sino-American trade fiction dominated the conversation after the World Bank released a report earlier this month entitled, Global Economic Prospects: Heightened Tensions, Subdued Investment.

“The trade relations between China and the United States are difficult, they are contributing to the slowdown of the global economy,” Jean-Claude Juncker, the outgoing European Commission president, told a media briefing.

“Today things are made neither in China nor in the United States. They are made globally,” he said.

In his opening address, Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, appealed for unity among bickering nations as well as later touching on the thorny problem of reforming the World Trade Organisation or WTO.

He urged G20 leaders to send a strong message in support of free and fair trade, warning that geopolitical tensions were rising and buffeting the “global economy.”

“With your help, I hope we will realize beautiful harmony in Osaka … rather than highlight our confrontations, let us seek out what unites us,” he said.

“Today, I want to discuss with leaders measures to further enhance momentum towards reform in WTO,” he added.

Eloquent sentiments amid the rhetoric of what is looking like a new economic Cold War between China and the US.

“Bullying practices are on the rise, posing severe threats to economic globalization and international order, and severe challenges to the external environment of developing countries,” Dai Bing, an official from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a veiled attack on Washington’s stance.

Yet behind the scenes, Beijing’s top trade negotiator Vice-Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met at the Imperial Hotel in Osaka, according to an official familiar with the matter who declined to be identified, Bloomberg news agency revealed.

They were trying to lay the groundwork for the Trump-Xi tete-a-tete.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who dined with the US president on Thursday, illustrated the challenges ahead.

“I walked away with the view that this is going to be tough because there are some very serious issues that they’re trying to resolve,” he told Channel 7, the Australian television network.

But then, walking away has been a specialty in the year-long diplomatic confrontation.

asiatimes.com

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.
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The War Crimes That Don’t Get Punished

By Ron Paul
Source

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Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) found himself in hot water recently over comments he made in defense of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who faces war crimes charges over his alleged conduct while serving in combat overseas. Gallagher is charged with stabbing a 15 year old ISIS member while in custody, of taking photos posing with the corpse of the teen, and with killing several civilians.

Defending Gallagher recently, Hunter put his own record up next to the SEAL to suggest that he’s an elected Congressman who has done worse things in battle than Gallagher.

That’s where Hunter’s defense earned him some perhaps unwanted attention. While participating in the first “Battle of Fallujah” in early 2007, by Hunter’s own account he and his fellow soldiers killed hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children. They fired mortars into the city and killed at random.

In the sanitized world of US mainstream media reporting on US wars overseas, we do not hear about non-combatants being killed by Americans. How many times has there been any reporting on the birth defects that Iraqis continue to suffer in the aftermath of US attacks with horrific weapons like depleted uranium and white phosphorus?

Rep. Hunter described his philosophy when fighting in Iraq:

“You go in fast and hard, you kill people, you hit them in the face and then you get out…We’re going to hurt you and then we’re going to leave. And if you want to be nice to America, we’ll be nice to you. If you don’t want to be nice to us, we’re going to slap you again.”

This shows how much Duncan Hunter does not understand about war. When he speaks of hitting people in the face until they are nice to America, he doesn’t seem to realize that the people of Fallujah – and all of Iraq – never did a thing to the US to deserve that hit in the face. The war was launched on the basis of lies and cooked-up intelligence by many of the people who are serving in the current Administration.

And that brings us to the real war criminals. Rep. Duncan Hunter and his fellow soldiers may have killed hundreds of innocent civilians and even felt justified. Their superior officers, after all, established the rules of engagement. Above those superior officers, going up and beyond to the policymakers, the lie was sold to the American people to justify a war of choice against a country that could not have threatened us if it wanted to.

Vice President Dick Cheney knew what he was doing when he kept returning to the CIA headquarters, strong-arming analysts to make the intelligence fit the chosen policy. John Bolton and the other neocons knew what they were doing when they made claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction they knew were false. The Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans played its role in selling the lie. So did the media.

Edward Gallagher will face trial and possibly jail for his actions. Rep. Duncan Hunter may even face punishment – though perhaps only at the ballot box – for his admitted crimes. But until those at the top who continue to lie and manipulate us into war for their own gain face justice, the real criminals will continue to go free and we will continue pursuing a suicidal neocon foreign policy.

Syrian War Report – June 10, 2019: Militants Suffer Large Casualties In Clashes In Northern Hama

South Front

Fierce clashes have been ongoing in northern Hama since June 6 when Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Jaysh al-Izza, the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) and their allies launched an advance on Syrian Arab Army (SAA) positions there.

Initially, militants seized several positions, including Jibeen and Tal Meleh, but then the SAA re-grouped and launched a counter-attack stopping the further militant advance. According to pro-government sources, the recently deployed reinforcements from the 5th Assault Corps, the 3rd Armoured Division and 7th Armoured Division as well as support of the Syrian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces played a role in this counter-attack.

The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that at least 102 militants and 126 pro-government fighters have been killed in the clashes. Both these numbers seem to be overestimated. Nonetheless, if they are even partially true, these are the most intense clashes in the area over the past few months.

On June 9, units of the NFL and the al-Qaeda-affiliated coalition of militant groups, Wa Harid al-Muminin, attacked SAA positions near Turkish border in northern Lattakia. A source in the SAA told SouthFront that the attack, which began in the early hours of the morning, was launched from Turkish territory. The source said that vehicles armed with heavy machine guns supporting the militants were moving on the border line. A salvo of rockets was also launched from the direction of southern Turkey.

Sources close to the NFL and Wa Hariiid al-Muminin claimed that over 50 troops were killed in the attack. Nonetheless, this number remains unconfirmed by any photo or video evidence.

The NFL was formed last August by several Turkish-backed groups after direct pressure from Ankara. Wa Harid al-Muminin was established around the same time by al-Qaeda-affiliated Jamat Ansar al-Islam, Horas al-Din, Jabhat Ansar al-Islam and Ansar al-Tawhid.

Meanwhile, militants started using man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADs) against aircraft supporting the SAA.

On June 7, a Syrian warplane was hit by a surface-to-air missile over northern Hama. A military source told SouthFront that a Syrian Su-22M4 fighter bomber was hit with a MANPAD, but the damaged jet landed in a unspecified airbase in Homs. The pilot survived.

On June 8, the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham news network claimed that a L-39 jet of the Syrian Air Force was targeted by a unspecified air-defense weapon while conducting a sortie over Greater Idlib. However, pro-government sources denied these claims.

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Washington’s Mighty Warriors: Draft Dodgers and Scoundrels

By Philip Giraldi
Source

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Remember Shakespeare’s line “he jests at scars that never felt a wound?” That epithet could have been written with National Security Advisor John Bolton in mind. Bolton was notoriously a draft dodger during the Vietnam War, like his current boss, not due to any scruples regarding what was occurring, but out of concern for his own sorry ass. He is now credibly believed to be the driving force behind the punishment being meted out to Venezuela and, far more dangerously, of the creeping escalation that is taking place in the Middle East that is seeking to draw Iran into a misstep that would lead to war. Bolton, who has received the “Defender of Israel” award, has long been an outspoken advocate for attacking Iran and now he has the power to do just that.

The psychopaths in the White House have been pretending that the United States “and its allies” are being threatened by Iran, a ridiculous conceit in and of itself as the Persians are hugely outgunned by the local U.S. presence as well as by the weapons in place in the region in the hands of the Saudis and Israelis. Israel is, one might recall, armed to the teeth through the beneficence of the United States and is also the region’s only nuclear armed power by virtue of the theft of U.S. technology and enriched uranium. The Saudis, meanwhile, are about to receive another $8 billion American made weapons due to the “Iranian threat.” That Trump has arranged the arms sale on his own questionable authority as an “emergency response” seems to bother some in Washington and the media, but no one will ultimately do anything about it as everyone inside the Beltway hates Iran due to the assiduous work of the Israel Lobby.

Trump has already sent bombers to the Persian Gulf region as well as an aircraft carrier and he is now adding 1500 more troops because the Iranian threat is reportedly increasing. The alleged threat itself is based on generic Israeli intelligence about what the Iranians might do if they choose to react to U.S. pressure. The intelligence reportedly suggests that there might be attacks on American diplomatic missions in Iraq, which has led to the evacuation of dependents and unnecessary staff from the posts in Baghdad and Irbil. It is also claimed that the Iranians were mounting anti-ship missiles on small coastal vessels to deploy against American warships.

The Pentagon claims that it has photographic evidence of the anti-ship missile threat, but Gareth Porter has demolished the analysis that has been produced by the White House, noting that the truly dangerous missiles are largely shore based and hidden.

The reality is that the Executive Branch of the federal government is essentially contriving a phony war supportive of no conceivable national interest that is based on lies and might even include a “false flag” operation that will condemn Iran for something it did not do. Some have compared it to the lead-up to Iraq, which is a fair judgment, but one has to suspect that the current situation is much worse as a war with Iran is potentially far more damaging to actual American interests than Saddam Hussein ever was. Iran will fight back and has capable defenses, which means Americans, not Israelis or Saudis, will die. So too will many thousands of innocent Iranian civilians. And there will be new trillions of dollars to add to the already crippling war debt being amassed Washington with absolutely nothing to show in return.

If there is any hope on the horizon it might be coming from a number of media reports that President Donald Trump has expressed considerable irritation with the advice he is getting from Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He reportedly began to see the light when the attempted coup in Venezuela did not develop as planned, resulting in some comments by the president that he had been misled into thinking that the regime change would be “easy.” He has since that time stated that he does not want war with Iran, though his actions would suggest otherwise, and some news reports suggesting that he is unhappy and at odds with Bolton in particular.

Unfortunately the desktop warriors who are currently calling the shots in Washington have no idea what they might be getting into. The only former soldier among them is Pompeo, who is a West Point graduate. He missed Vietnam and has never been involved in actual combat. He is also is a Christian Zionist who welcomes a major war in the Middle East in hopes that it will bring about the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Neither Pompeo nor Bolton has any real understanding that war means death. If Bolton has his way, many thousands will die and the United States will be reviled by nearly the entire world. President Donald Trump for all his self-proclaimed “genius” status does not appear to understand that reality either. For him, megadeaths and national humiliation might mean little more than the numbers on a balance sheet when one is reckoning up the costs of constructing a building.

This impending tragedy must be stopped. Back in 2003, a hundred thousand Americans gathered at the Washington Mall to protest against the drive to invade Iraq. Nothing like that has developed yet, but the people must rise up to demand that the government cease and desist from doing things in their name that do not help a single American but instead only bring death and destruction. Trump promised to do that when he ran for president. It is past time that he fulfill that promise.

Israel Terror-Bombs Syria With Impunity

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Israel partners with all US wars of aggression, notably against Syria, ruling regimes of both countries waging war on the country without declaring it.

What’s been ongoing since March 2011 is all about seeking regime change, wanting Syria colonized and exploited, Iran isolated, the same objective in play against its government — part of the US/NATO/Israeli aim for regional hegemony, the rule of law ignored, the human toll of no consequence.

Russian good faith efforts since 2012 for peace through Geneva, Astana, and Sochi talks failed because the US, Israel, and their imperial partners reject diplomatic conflict resolution. 

It’s why US-led forever wars rage in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, and elsewhere, no end of them in prospect.

Israel has been terror-bombing Syrian targets on the phony pretext of countering nonexistent Iranian and Hezbollah threats throughout much of the war.

The only threats the US, NATO, and Israel face are invented ones. Real ones don’t exist so they’re invented to unjustifiably justify naked aggression on nations and groups threatening no one.

Israel admitted launching hundreds of preemptive strikes on Syrian targets. Former IDF chief General Gadi Eisenhkot earlier said “(w)e struck thousands of targets (in Syria) without claiming responsibility or asking for credit.”

In response to two reported rockets from Syria striking illegally occupied Golan, falling harmlessly, Israeli warplanes terror-bombed Syrian targets pre-dawn Sunday.

Throughout the war, no evidence suggests Syrian forces ever targeted Israeli territory. Clearly they’d be nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Attacking Israel would escalate war Damascus is winning and wants ended. Clearly its forces had nothing to do with striking occupied Golan on June 1.

Most likely, US/Israeli supported terrorists were to blame for the incident, giving the Netanyahu regime a pretext for a terror-bombing attack even though it needs none to do whatever it pleases — with full US support and encouragement, with the UN and world community failing to hold it accountable.

According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), on Sunday, “Syrian air defenses have confronted an Israeli attack targeted (on) sites in southwestern Damascus and Quneitra, a military source said,” adding:

“The aggression resulted in the martyrdom of three soldiers and the injury of seven others.” Reportedly most Israeli missiles were downed, some striking intended targets.

An IDF statement said Israeli warplanes and attack helicopters struck Syrian air defense, artillery positions, and “a number of observation and intelligence posts on the Golan Heights front.”

According to Israeli military-connected DEBKAfile, Israeli warplanes “struck Iranian-Hizballah concentrations (sic) near Damascus.

DF admitted that no combat operations were ongoing in the area from which rockets were launched at Golan, suggesting it was false flag attack, perhaps jointly US/Israeli planned to wrongfully blame Syrian forces.

The IDF claim about Syria attacking Israeli military targets is belied by no injuries or damage reported, two reported rockets falling harmlessly, likely in open areas.

If Syrian forces wanted to strike Israeli positions, why were only two rockets involved, why not multiple missiles able to hit targeted sites accurately.

The claim about a Syrian attack is clearly phony. The same goes for falsely blaming Damascus for CW incidents. No evidence throughout the war suggests its forces ever used these banned weapons.

Indisputable evidence proved US supported terrorists used them numerous times, nearly always falsely blamed on Damascus for what it had nothing to do with.

War launched by Obama, escalated by Trump, rages in its ninth year with no near-term prospect for resolution because Washington rejects it.

On May 20, nearly 400 bipartisan House and Senate members called on Trump to “(i)ncrease pressure on Iran and Russia with respect to activities in Syria…to counter Iran’s support for Hezbollah as well as Russia’s support for…Assad…”

They urged tougher (illegal) sanctions and other (hostile) actions on these countries and Hezbollah, claiming nonexistent threats.

They want endless war continued, not ended. So do Trump regime hardliners.

US aggression in Syria follows the same pattern as Afghanistan and Yemen, both wars ongoing since October 2001 — raging endlessly with no prospect for resolution any time soon.

Regime Change in Iran: Been There, Done That

By Philip Giraldi
Source

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The failed coup attempt in Caracas in early May brings to mind the techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and British intelligence in Iran in 1953 to overthrow the Mohammad Mossadeq government. It is quite astonishing how that regime-change long-ago operation parallels what is currently taking place in Venezuela and also with regards to Iran yet again.

Mossadeq was the democratically elected prime minister of Iran beginning in 1951, serving in a government in which the Shah with limited authority was the head of state presiding over a parliamentary system. Iran was nominally independent at the time, but it was heavily influenced by the neighboring Soviet Union, which retained control over several Iranian provinces after the Second World War ended, and Great Britain, which exploited the country’s oil resources through the mechanism of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), which was owned by the British government. When Mossadeq, frustrated by lack of progress in negotiations with the British over sharing of oil revenues, eventually declared that he would nationalize the AIOC, London and Washington conspired to remove him.

The new National Iranian Oil Company was immediately attacked by the British, who used the Royal Navy to block export of oil from Iran’s Abadan refinery. Ships carrying Iranian oil were stopped and boarded with their shipments confiscated as “stolen property” in light of the British government’s former ownership claim on the AIOC.

By mid-1952, Britain’s blockade of Iranian oil exports had badly hurt the Iranian economy, which eventually led to government bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the American CIA, which was initially ambivalent about what the proper role in the Anglo-Iranian conflict might be, joined British agents in supporting groups inside Iran that were hostile to Mossadeq. In the Majlis parliamentary election in the spring of 1952, Mossadeq faced serious opposition funded by the Anglo-Americans, and the election eventually was suspended. By early 1953, pro-communist and pro-Shah mobs supported and coordinated by the U.S. and Britain roamed the streets, sometimes fighting each other. Fearing a communist takeover and also under pressure from London, which was threatening to withdraw from the Korean War as a quid pro quo, President Dwight D. Eisenhower agreed to carry out a joint coup d’état.

Losing popular support due to a sinking economy, as early as August 1952 a struggling Mossadeq began ruling by emergency powers and started to jail opponents, which only aggravated the crisis. A rigged referendum to dissolve parliament and grant Mossadeq authority to govern by decree passed with 99.9% approval but led to accusations that the prime minister was seeking “total and dictatorial power.” The New York Times reported, “A plebiscite more fantastic and farcical than any ever held under Hitler or Stalin is now being staged in Iran by Premier Mossadeq in an effort to make himself unchallenged dictator of the country.” The move by Mossadeq also led to the first coup attempt, which was organized by the CIA.

On Aug. 15, 1953, Col. Nemathollah Nassiri, the commander of the Shah’s Imperial Guard, delivered to Mossadeq a decree from the Shah dismissing him. Mossadeq, who had been warned of the plot, had Nassiri arrested, and the Shah and his family fled into exile in Italy. The first coup thus ended with a whimper, but it was lessons learned for the second, better organized successful attempt which followed a few days later, Operation Ajax, coordinated by Kermit Roosevelt of the CIA.

Exploiting pro-Shah sentiment in the military, the CIA and the British turned to their stables of recruited army officers while also exploiting agents infiltrated into the communist party Tudeh, which rose to the occasion by launching mass demonstrations, to include looting and arson, which quickly alienated the public and also provided a pretext for Western support of the coup as it could be promoted as “anti-communist.” Efforts were also made to turn influential clerics against Mossadeq. The Iranian people blamed the government for all their woes and rioting soon led to the calling out of the army to restore order. The army did so and then had Mossadeq arrested. He was condemned to death, but his sentence was later commuted to three years in solitary confinement followed by house arrest. He died in 1967.

End of story, but not quite. All the elements currently being used against Venezuela and Iran were there back in 1953 to bring down Mossadeq and also appear in a detailed 2018 Pentagon plandescribing how to bring about a coup in Caracas. Wrecking the countries’ economies through sanctions and exclusion from the global banking network creates a crisis where one need not have existed. Meanwhile, a sustained campaign of vilification by Western political leaders and the media establishes the narrative that the benevolent intention is to block extremism and restore democracy while also eliminating a threat to the United States. And, as a last resort, the threat or actual use of force to stop the export of commodities to further wreck the economy becomes a clearly stated policy option, currently also employing secondary sanctions for anyone who dares to trade with the designated victim. Recently, America’s unilaterally imposed global ban on the export and sale of Iranian oil began. Venezuela’s oil sales are also being blocked and even its electricity grid is being attacked in an attempt to starve the Venezuelan people into rebelling against their government.

But you also have to have spies, secret agents, to get the ball rolling, just as was true in 1953. One assumes that the CIA has been active in recruiting the agents of influence inside Venezuelan political opposition as well as military circles who will bring out increasingly larger mobs as the situation continues to deteriorate. How successful they have been is difficult to determine, but Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido failed the first time around, reportedly because the Venezuelan government was aware of what was happening and the contacts that CIA was relying on to bring out the army were in fact double agents.

The suffering Iranian and Venezuelan people have yet to rise up in revolt. No matter. It took more than one try to bring down Mossadeq, and National Security Advisor John Bolton has recently warned Iran that its government won’t have any more anniversaries to celebrate if it continues with its “threats.” The Trump administration is also reported to be preparing military options for dealing with Venezuela.

Bolton has even warned the Russians, who are assisting Venezuela’s government: “This is our hemisphere. It’s not where the Russians ought to be interfering. This is a mistake on their part.”  He is seemingly unaware of the irony, that the Russians might make the same claim about Eurasia and the Iranians regarding the Persian Gulf, where Bolton and his neocon friends in Washington have been the source of nearly continuous conflict.

Afghan Children Disabled By War, Victims Twice Over — Rebel Voice

Child victims of war. There can be fewer more abhorrent statements than that. It is terrible to think of any child suffering or dying. But when that pain and death is avoidable, as it is in the case of armed conflict, then surely serious questions must be asked about the overall morality of our species. […]

via Afghan Children Disabled By War, Victims Twice Over — Rebel Voice

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