All in the name of Gas, Oil & Pipelines, Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan Hit New Record High

Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan Hit New Record

UN: War Getting Increasingly Dangerous for Women and Children

The civilian death toll in Afghanistan, some 16 years into the US-led invasion and occupation, continues to rise precipitously, with the most recent figures out of the United Nations showing 1,662 civilians killed in the first half of 2017, the highest civilian toll of the entire war.

Officials had expressed hope civilian deaths had more or less leveled off, when the first half of 2016, the previous record, gave way to a roughly identical figure in the second half. Increased airstrikes and some major suicide bombings drove another increase, however.

The civilian toll was particularly grave for women and children, with casualties among women up 23% and 9% among children. This was exemplified by an early February US airstrike in Sangn District, which killed 26 civilians.

UN officials did however say that overall, the US had killed fewer civilians this year than in the same period of 2016, likely reflective of the change in leadership of the Afghan War, as air raids usually drop temporarily when a new general assumes control of the conflict

Australian Special Forces Killed Afghan Children, Tried to Cover It Up

Aussie Forces Killed Afghan Children, Tried to Cover It Up

Australian Special Forces Killed Afghan Children, Tried to Cover It Up

Killings Reflected Shifting Priorities, Tactics in Afghan War

Adding to evidence of the humanitarian nightmare the Afghan War has become, Australia is now investigating soldiers from their special forces related to evidence that at least twice in raids in Kandahar Province, those troops killed children in rural areas, then tried to cover up their deaths.

“Cover it up” might be overstating it, really. Indeed, the evidence suggests that the Australian forces who were present at the killings just plain never reported them up the chain of command, and it was only because local villagers found the bodies that those deaths became public knowledge.

This comes as Australia’s Inspector General is already investigating the special forces over other unlawful killings, and that those special forces were killing so many civilians they routinely carried spare “drop weapons” with them just to plant on the corpses to make it look like they were combatants.

The investigations serve as just another embarrassment from the perspective of Australia’s military, but also appears to be the result of broad changes in the priorities and tactics of the US and its coalition allies in fighting in Afghanistan, as they moved away from the “clear and hold” tactics of the war’s first decade.

Those familiar with the situation say that once “clear and hold” was abandoned, the collateral damage of raids stopped being a major concern for the troops, since they weren’t going to be there after the operation anyhow, and that often helicopter-based raids became “land, kill, and leave.”

This attitude was plainly in evidence when the Australian forces engaged in the raids in question, heading into rural Kandahar in the middle of the night and shooting anything that moved, even if they weren’t in a combat situation yet. If the slain turned out to be children, the expectation was that this could simply be swept under the rug.

It is this same attitude that has other nations involved in the operations facing similar question, from New Zealand’s probes into “revenge raids” to US special forces desecrating the bodies of slain enemies. It’s also the latest in a long list of reasons why they aren’t “welcomed as liberators” and aren’t anywhere near winning the war.

PeakProsperity interviews The Saker (podcast)

July 11, 2017

Understanding Russia: The Continuum of History

June 20, 2017

by Yameen KhanUnderstanding Russia: The Continuum of History

The United States is actively committed to bring Russia into submission via encirclement and a two pronged attack.

NATO’s expansion of bases in vassal states right up to Russia’s borders, coupled with an attempt at encroachment in Syria, should allow The Hegemon to undermine Russia’s underbelly from the Caucasus to Central Asia.

To understand how Russians usually respond to Western power a little time travel, starting 1219 AD, is more than useful.

This was a time when a cataclysmic event left deep scars on the Russian character; an abiding fear of encirclement, whether by nomadic hordes then or by nuclear missile bases today.

Russia then was not a single state but consisted of a dozen principalities frequently at war with each other. Between 1219 and 1240 all these fell to the Genghis Khan hurricane, whose lightning-speed cavalry with his horse-borne archers, employing brilliant tactics unfamiliar to Europeans, caught army after army off guard and forced them into submission.

For more than 200 years Russians suffered under the Golden Horde of the Mongol – named after their great tent with golden poles. They left the Russian economy in ruins, brought commerce and industry to a halt, and reduced Russians to serfdom. Asiatic ways of administration and customs were superimposed on the existing Byzantine system.

Taking full advantage of its military weakness and of its reduced circumstances, Russia’s European neighbors started to help themselves to its territory, starting with German principalities, Lithuania, Poland, and Sweden. The Mongols couldn’t care less so long as they received their tribute. They were more concerned with their Asiatic dominions.

Still, European cities did not match the riches of Samarkand and Bukhara, Herat and Baghdad, whose incomparable wealth and splendor outshone wooden-built Russian cities.

Russia’s greatest fear begins here – crushed between their European foes to the West and the Mongols to the East. Russians were to develop a paranoid dread of invasion and encirclement which has tormented their foreign relations ever since. Hardly ever has an experience left such deep and ever-lasting scars on a nation’s psyche as this cataclysm did on Russians. This explains, among other things, their stoical acceptance of harsh rule at home.

And then came Ivan III – the man who freed the Russians from the Golden Horde.

Muscovy then was a small provincial town overshadowed by and subservient to its powerful neighbors. In return for allegiance and subservience locals were gradually entrusted with more power and freedom by the unsuspecting Mongols. Over time the Principality of Muscovy grew in strength and size, eventually to dominate all its neighbors.

In 1476 Ivan refused to pay the customary tribute to the grand Khan Ahmed. In a fit of rage Ivan trampled the portrait of Ahmed and put several of his envoys to death.

The showdown came in autumn 1480 when the Khan marched with his army to teach a vassal a lesson, but was astonished to find a large well-equipped force awaiting him on the far bank of the River Ugra, 150 miles from Moscow. For weeks the two armies glowered at one another, neither side wanting to make the first move.

The stakes were clear. Ivan did not need to cross the river. He would change the course of history if he did not lose. A stalemate could become a turning point in history.

For Ahmed Khan there is no choice. He must cross the river and engage. Win or die like Tariq ibin Ziyad in 711 AD, another age and time, when a brilliant Arab general landed on the ‘rock of Hercules’ subsequently called by Arab Historians ‘Jabal Tariq’, meaning the ‘mountain of Tariq’ and later anglicized as Gibraltar.

Tariq, by one master stratagem, with a much smaller force (12,000 against 90,000 Spaniards) at the Battle of Guadalete defeated Roderic and thus opened the road for the subsequent Arab commanders to march all the way to Tours in France.

With the arrival of winter, the river began to freeze. A ferocious battle appeared inevitable. And then something extraordinary happened. Perhaps a miracle. Without warning both sides turned and fled in panic. Despite their inglorious act, the Russians knew that their long subservience was over.

The Khan had lost his stomach for a fight. The once invincible Mongol might had evaporated. Their centralized authority in the West had now collapsed, leaving three widely separated khanates (Kazan, Astrakhan and Crimea) as their last remnants of the once mighty and the largest contiguous land empire in history.

It was in 1553 when Ivan the Terrible, a successor of Ivan III, thirsting for revenge, stormed the fortress of Kazan on the upper Volga, slaughtered its defenders and thus ended the Mongol rule. Two years later the Khanate of Astrakhan, where the Volga flows into the Caspian met with similar fate.

Starving Napoleon’s army

Fast forward to June 1812, and the fateful day, the 24th , when Napoleon’s Grande Armée crossed the Neman River in an attempt to engage and defeat the Russian army.

Napoleon’s aim was to compel Tsar Alexander I of Russia to stop trading with British merchants through proxies and bring about pressure on the United Kingdom to sue for peace. The overt political aim of the campaign was to liberate Poland from the threat of Russia (as the US claims of Eastern Europe today). Thus the campaign was named the Second Polish War to gain favor with the Poles and provide a political pretense for his actions.

The real aim was domination of Russia.

The Grande Armée was massive; 680,000 soldiers. Through a series of marches Napoleon rushed the army rapidly through Western Russia in an attempt to bring the Russian army to battle, and in August of that year winning a number of minor engagements and a major battle at Smolensk.

Any invading army must consider war in Russia as a war at sea. It is futile to occupy land or city or cities. The aim of an invading force must be to destroy the military machine of Russia. The aim of Russian commanders has always been to survive and use its vast land mass to exhaust its enemy, learn from him and defeat and annihilate him with his own tactics and stratagems, only better executed.

Napoleon engaged the Russian army for a decisive battle at Maloyaroslavets. The Russians would not commit themselves to a pitched battle. His troops exhausted, with few rations, no winter clothing, and his remaining horses in poor condition, Napoleon was forced to retreat.

He hoped to reach supplies at Smolensk and later at Vilnius. In the weeks that followed the Grande Armée starved and suffered from the onset of “General Winter”. Lack of food and fodder for the horses, hypothermia from the bitter cold and persistent attacks upon isolated troops from Russian peasants and Cossacks led to great losses in men, and a general loss of discipline and cohesion in the army.

When Napoleon’s army crossed the Berezina River in November, only 27,000 fit soldiers remained. The Grand Armée had lost some 380,000 men dead and 100,000 captured. A riveting defeat.

All those Afghan overt – and covert – wars

Four centuries after the cataclysm of the Mongol invasion, the Russian Empire had been steadily expanding at the rate of 55 square miles a day – or 20,000 square miles a year. At the dawn of the 19thcentury only 2,000 miles separated the British and the Russian empires in Asia.

Both the Russians and the East India Company (as in the British Indian Empire) sent their officers, businessmen in disguise, as Buddhist priests or Muslim holy men, to survey uncharted Central Asia.

One such chap was Captain Arthur Connolly of the 6th Bengal Light Cavalry in the service of the British East India Company. The East India Company was the British version of America’s Halliburton.

Connolly ended up beheaded as a spy by the orders of Alim Khan, the Emir of Bukhara. It was Connolly who coined the expression “The Great Game”, which Kipling immortalized in his novel “Kim”.

By the end of the 19th century the Tsars’ armies had swallowed one Khanate after another and only a few hundred miles separated the two empires. In some places the distance was only twenty miles.

The British feared that they would lose their Indian possessions – the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ – to the Tsar; and two theories emerged to defend the frontiers of British India.

The ‘forward policy’ and its proponents (hawks, today’s US neocons) argued to stop the Russians beyond India’s frontiers by getting there first, either by invasion, or by creating compliant ‘buffer’ states, or satellites, astride the likely invasion route.

But there were those who did not buy this proposition and did not believe that the Russians would invade India. The opponents of the ‘forward policy’ argued that India’s best defense lay in its unique geographical setting – bordered by impassable mountain ranges, mighty rivers, waterless deserts, and above all warlike tribes.

A Russian force which reached India surmounting all these obstacles would be so weakened by then that it would be no match for the waiting British Army. Therefore, it was more sensible to force an invader to overextend his lines of communications than for the British to risk theirs. And above all this policy was cheaper.

NATO today has a forward policy of deploying troops all over Eastern Europe and creating bases around Russia in an effort to encircle it. The final straw for the Russian Federation has been the occupation of Ukraine, by proxy, by Washington.

Guess who won the policy debate in 19th century Britain? The hawks (the US neocons of today), of course.

In 1838 Lord Auckland decides to replace the current Emir of Afghanistan, Dost Muhammad Khan with Shuja-ul-Mulk.

One could easily replace Dost Muhammad of Afghanistan in 1838 with today’s Gaddafi of Libya or Saddam Hussein of Iraq or Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Or Putin of Russia. Or anyone who becomes an obstacle to the West’s geopolitical, geoeconomic domination.

And yet the British suffered a massive defeat after a year’s occupation of Afghanistan. The only soldier who eventually reached Jalalabad was William Brydon. The Afghans may have spared him so he would be able to tell the tale of this horrific defeat.

You would think the British would have learned from history. Not at all. They did it again.

Tension between Russia and Britain in Europe ended in June 1878 with the Congress of Berlin. Russia then turned its attention to Central Asia, promptly sending an uninvited diplomatic mission to Kabul.

Sher Ali Khan, the Emir of Afghanistan (the son of Emir Dost Muhammad Khan) tried unsuccessfully to keep them out. Russian envoys arrived in Kabul on July 22, 1878, and on August 14, the British demanded that Sher Ali accept a British mission too.

The Emir not only refused to receive a British mission under Neville Bowles Chamberlain, but threatened to stop it if it were dispatched. Lord Lytton, the viceroy, ordered a diplomatic mission to set out for Kabul in September 1878 but the mission was turned back as it approached the eastern entrance of the Khyber Pass, triggering the Second Anglo–Afghan War.

After several defeats in various battles except one, and thus abandoning the provocative policy of maintaining a British resident in Kabul, the British were forced to withdraw.

One would think the British would have enough sense to cease with the stupid policy of occupying Afghanistan. Not at all. They tried it for the third time.

The Third Afghan War began on May 6, 1919 and ended with an armistice on August 8, 1919. An Afghan victory, again.

The British finally abandoned their forward policy. It had failed – just as the American neocons “policy” is failing.

And yet, roughly 60 years later the Russians would don the madman’s (British) hat and on December 25th, 1979, launched a vertical envelopment and occupied Kabul.

Their main aim was the airbase at Shindand, about 200 miles as the crow flies from the Straits of Hormuz, the choke point of the Persian Gulf, through which at the time 90% of the world’s oil was flowing.

They placed 200 Bear Bombers – the equivalent of the US B-52’s – as if sending a message to President Carter: “Checkmate”. A certain game was over – and a covert war was about to begin.

As our historical trip takes us from The Great Game to the Cold War, by now it’s more than established that the United States took on the mantle of the British Empire and filled in the power vacuum left by the British. If Connolly were to come back during the Cold War he would be right at home – as the Cold War was a continuation of the Great Game.

In between, of course, there was a guy named Hitler.

After Napoleon, it was Hitler who considered the Russians as barbarians and despite a nonaggression pact invaded Russia.

The Second Great European War (GEW II) was in fact fought between Germany and the USSR. Germany deployed 80% of its economic and military resources on its Eastern Front compared to 20% against the rest of the allies on the Western Front, where it was merely a ‘fire brigade operation’ (Hitler’s words).

Paul Carell describes the moment when, at 0315 on June 22nd 1941, the massive ‘Operation Barbarossa’ over a 900-mile front went under way.

“As though a switch had been thrown a gigantic flash of lightening rent the night. Guns of all calibres simultaneously belched fire. The tracks of tracer shells streaked across the sky. As far as the eye could see the front on the Bug was a sea of flames and flashes. A moment later the deep thunder of the guns swept over the tower of Volka Dobrynska like a steamroller. The whine of the mortar batteries mingled eerily with the rumble of the guns. Beyond the Bug a sea of fire and smoke was raging. The narrow sickle of the moon was hidden by a veil of cloud. Peace was dead.”

Bagration revisited

Russians are masters of Sun Tzu: “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”

These principles were recently applied in Ukraine and Crimea. For background, one just needs to study the battle of Kursk as well as Operation Bagration.

The Soviet military doctrine of maskirovka was developed in the 1920s, and used by Zhukov in the 1939 Battles of Khalkhin Gol against Japan.

The Field Regulations of the Red Army (1929) stated that:

“Surprise has a stunning effect on the enemy. For this reason all troop operations must be accomplished with the greatest concealment and speed.”

Concealment was to be attained by confusing the enemy with movements, camouflage and use of terrain, speed, use of night and fog, and secrecy.

Operation Bagration – the Soviet destruction of the German Army Group Centre – was, arguably, the single most successful military action of the entire war. This vital Soviet offensive is symptomatic of the lack of public knowledge in the West about the war in the East. Whilst almost everyone has heard of D-Day, few people other than specialist historians know much about Operation Bagration.

Yet the sheer size of Bagration dwarfs that of D-Day.

“Army Group Centre was really the anchor of that whole German front,’ writes Professor Geoffrey Wawro, ‘blocking the shortest path to Berlin; and the Russians annihilated it at the same time as we were landing on D-Day and marching on, liberating Paris and then heading towards Germany. But the scope of the fighting was much bigger in the East.

You had ten times as many Russians fighting in Bagration as you had Anglo/American/Canadian troops landing on the Normandy beaches.

And you had three times as many Germans in action fighting trying to hold up the Russian advance as you had defending the Atlantic Wall.

So, it’s a perfect encapsulation of the problem (of lack of appreciation of the scale of fighting on the Eastern Front). I mean, think about it, when D-Day and Bagration jumped off, the allied armies in Normandy and the Russian armies on the Eastern Front were equidistant from Berlin, and in the German view they were sort of equal threats.

After Operation Bagration, Russia is seen as being the principal threat because they just kicked down the door altogether and reoccupied all the ground that was lost in 1941. They take most of Poland and they move into East Prussia and they’re at the very gates of Berlin while we’re still slogging our way through Normandy and towards Paris.”

Operation Bagration was a colossal victory for the Red Army. By the 3rd of July Soviet forces had recaptured Minsk, capital of Belorussia, a city which had been in German hands for three years. And by the end of July the Red Army had pushed into what had been, before the war, Polish territory, and had taken Lwow, the major cultural center of eastern Poland.

Before Operation Barbarossa, the German High Command masked the creation of the massive force arrayed to invade the USSR and heightened their diplomatic efforts to convince Joseph Stalin that they were about to launch a major attack on Britain.

Maskirovka (deception) was put into practice on a large scale in the Battle of Kursk, especially on the Steppe Front commanded by Ivan Konev.

The result was that the Germans attacked Russian forces four times stronger than they were expecting.

The German general Friedrich von Mellenthin wrote, “The horrible counter-attacks, in which huge masses of manpower and equipment took part, were an unpleasant surprise for us… The most clever camouflage of the Russians should be emphasized again. We did not .. detect even one minefield or anti-tank area until .. the first tank was blown up by a mine or the first Russian anti-tank guns opened fire”.

Broadly, military deception may take both strategic and tactical forms. Deception across a strategic battlefield was uncommon until the modern age (particularly in the world wars of the 20th century), but tactical deception (on individual battlefields) dates back to early history.

In a practical sense military deception employs visual misdirection, misinformation (for example, via double agents) and psychology to make the enemy believe something that is untrue. The use of military camouflage, especially on a large scale, is a form of deception.

The Russian loanword maskirovka (literally: masking) is used to describe the Soviet Union and Russia’s military doctrine of surprise through deception, in which camouflage plays a significant role.

There are numerous examples of deception activities employed throughout the history of warfare, such as: feigned retreat leading the enemy, through a false sense of security, into a pre-positioned ambush; fictional units creating entirely fictional forces or exaggerating the size of an army; smoke screen – a tactical deception involving smoke, fog, or other forms of cover to hide battlefield movements; Trojan Horse – gaining admittance to a fortified area under false pretenses, to later admit a larger attacking force; strategic envelopment – where a small force distracts the enemy while a much larger force moves to attack from the rear (that was a favored tactic of Napoleon’s).

And that brings us to Syria, and its importance to Russia.

The deep state in Washington wants to keep the entire spectrum from the Levant to the Indian sub-continent destabilized – shaping it as the platform to send sparks of terrorism North to Russia and East to China. At the same time the US military will keep a physical presence (if China, India and Russia will allow it) in Afghanistan, from where it can survey the Eurasian land mass. As a master geopolitical chess player, Putin is very much aware of all this.

Syria is right at the underbelly of Russia and would be strategically important if it were in the hands of remote-controlled thugs like Ukraine is today. It has the potential to destabilize Russia from the Caucasus to Central Asia – generating as many Salafi-jihadi terrorists as possible. The region from the Caucasus to Central Asia holds about 80 million Muslims. Russia has enough reasons to stop US advances in Syria and Ukraine. Not to mention that in Iraqi Kurdistan the Pentagon is aiming to build a mega base, a springboard to create mischief in Central Asia for both Russia and China, in the form, for instance, of an Uyghur uprising in Western China, like it has done in Ukraine for Russia.

Once again; it may be helpful to look back to the continuum of history. It tells us these current efforts to encircle and destabilize Russia are destined to fail. (edited by Pepe Escobar)

Selected bibliography:

Carell, Paul: Hitler’s War on Russia (George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., London, 1964).
Fraser-Tytler, W.K.: Afghanistan: A Study of Political Developments in Central Asia (Oxford University Press, London, 1950).
Hopkirk, Peter: Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia (First Published by John Murry (Publisher), 1980; First issued as an Oxford University Press, paperback 1980, Oxford).
Tzu, Sun: The Art of War (Edited with an introduction by Dallas Galvin; Translated from Chinese by Lionel Giles, First Published in 1910, Produced by Fine Creative Media, Inc. New Yor
Gibbon, Edward: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume III (Random House Inc. Manufactured in the United States by H. Wolf).
Weatherford, Jack: Genghis Khan and the making of the Modern World (Three Rivers Press, New York).
Wawro, Geoffrey: WW2.com (Professor of Military History at the University of North Texas).

Job well done? Afghan Opium Production 40 Times Higher Since US-NATO Invasion

Afghan Opium Production 40 Times Higher Since US-NATO Invasion

Source: teleSUR

Since the U.S.-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the production of opium in the country has increased by 40 times according to Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service, or FSKN, fueling organized crime and widespread death.

The head of the FSKN, Viktor Ivanov, explained the staggering trend at a March U.N. conference on drugs in Afghanistan. Opium growth in Afghanistan increased 18 percent from 131, 000 hectares to 154, 000, according to Ivanov’s estimates.

“Afghan heroin has killed more than one million people worldwide since the ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ began and over a trillion dollars has been invested into transnational organized crime from drug sales,” said Ivanov according to Counter Current News.

Prior to the invasion of Afghanistan, opium production was banned by the Taliban, although it still managed to exist. The U.S. and its allies have been accused of encouraging and aiding in the opium production and the ongoing drug trafficking within the region. Ivanov claimed that only around 1 percent of the total opium yield in Afghanistan was destroyed and that the “international community has failed to curb heroin production in Afghanistan since the start of NATO’s operation.”

Afghanistan is thought to produce more than 90 percent of the world’s supply of opium, which is then used to make heroin and other dangerous drugs that are shipped in large quantities all over the world. Opium production provides many Afghan communities with an income, in an otherwise impoverished and war-torn country. The opium trade contributed around $US2.3 billion or around 19 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP in 2009 according to the U.N.

Around 43 percent of drugs produced in Afghanistan are moved through Pakistan, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The Islamic State Group is reported to have recently taken over opium production and trafficking. In November, the extremist group was estimated to be earning over $US 1 billion from the opium trade. Profits also go to international drug cartels and money-laundering banks

It’s the Russia, Stupid

It’s the Russia, Stupid

JAMES GEORGE JATRAS | 16.06.2017

It’s another week in Washington and another horror show. This time it was Attorney General Jeff Sessions being grilled by Senators on whether, when, and how he might have met with certain Russians, or any Russian, or someone who might actually know a Russian. In addition to fishing for any inconsistency that could be used to support an accusation of obstruction of justice or perjury – the usual sleazy methodology of politically motivated investigations here – the transparent aim was to further poison the well on any possible initiative to improve ties with Moscow.

The strategy appears to be working. The Russian Embassy in Washington confirms that for the first time since the Russian Federation’s founding the State Department did not send pro forma national day greetings. Perhaps the bureaucrats were afraid they would be tainted and themselves become targets of multiple investigations into «collusion» with the Kremlin. (Luckily, this intrepid Washington analyst has no qualms about such associations.)

Or more likely, they themselves are part of the Russophobic mob undermining the White House. It has been reported that soon after the inauguration Trump sought to open dialogue with the Kremlin and set an early summit with President Vladimir Putin. This produced a hysterical counteraction from the Deep State. As reported by conservative columnist and former presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan:

«The State Department was tasked with working out the details.

«Instead, says Daniel Fried, the coordinator for sanctions policy, he received ‘panicky’ calls of ‘Please, my God, can you stop this?’.

«Operatives at State, disloyal to the president and hostile to the Russia policy on which he had been elected, collaborated with elements in Congress to sabotage any detente. They succeeded.

«‘It would have been a win-win for Moscow,’ said Tom Malinowski of State, who boasted last week of his role in blocking a rapprochement with Russia. State employees sabotaged one of the principal policies for which Americans had voted, and they substituted their own».

So much for constitutional government and the rule of law…

But now it gets even worse. This week Congress moved legislation designed to codify in statute sanctions imposed on Russia by Barack Obama over Ukraine and evidence-free charges of Russian election interference. Provisions for a presidential waiver, which are standard in any sanctions legislation, are unusually narrow. Congressional proponents are clear that their aim is to take the matter out of the president’s hands. Democrats, seemingly devoid of any other policy agenda or ideas, vow to keep banging the Russia drum through the 2018 Congressional elections.

When all is said and done, there are lots of reasons the political class hates Trump. His heresies on immigration and trade are near the top of the list. But make no mistake: for the Deep State and its mainstream media arm, demonizing Russia and Vladimir Putin personally is a dangerous obsession. (There is reason to suspect «Russian collusion» figured in the thinking of a fanatical Leftist’s shooting attack on Republican Congressmen: «The shooter also signed a petition calling for an investigation into Trump-Russia ties, confirming he was radicalized by the mainstream media’s obsession with conspiracy theories about Russia interfering with the election».)

It remains to be seen whether Oliver Stone’s extended interview with Putin on the Showtime network will have any impact. So far the commentary seems to be divided between descriptions of the substance of the discussion and attacks on Stone for talking with such a bad, bad man: «Speaking after the interview, Stone refuted allegations that he became an unwitting messenger of pro-Putin propaganda or of dishonest information given by the president».

With regard to substance, relatively little attention has been accorded in American media to Putin’s flat accusation that U.S. «special services» have supported terrorists, including in Chechnya. Of course anyone paying attention would know that arming jihadists is a standard part of U.S. policy, going back at least to Afghanistan in the 1980s and repeated in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, and today in Syria. Indeed, as early as the 1950s the U.S. had established a very close relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist elements as a weapon against Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and Baathists in Syria and Iraq, who Washington thought were a little too cozy with the Soviet Union and far too socialist and secular for the taste of our pals in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

There is a real symbiosis between the anti-Russian imperative in American foreign policy and support for radical Islamic elements. It did not end when the Soviet Union and communism collapsed but rather was intensified. This is why Moscow’s constant calls for a common front against terrorism are always rebuffed. Such cooperation doesn’t make any sense for anomenklatura whose number one goal is hostility to Moscow and for whom jihadists are at worst «frienemies» – people who may be troublesome but useful.

We can only imagine how completely different the world would be if the U.S. were to recognize that Russia is a country that in many respects is not that different from the United States or Europe and that we had common interests. But for the U.S. Deep State, that would amount to switching sides in a global conflict, where we see jihadists essentially as «freedom fighters» against a geopolitical adversary. These same clueless «elites» are then puzzled when their carefully nurtured, cuddly, «moderate» jihad terrorists attack us back here at home.

This irrational pattern is at the root of the hostility of American policymakers toward Russia and any prospect of normalizing bilateral ties. In large part, it’s what underlies the «soft coup» being directed against Trump, of which the Sessions pillorying was an episode. (A late report based on unreliable, unverified sources suggests that Special Counsel on the Russia probe, Robert Mueller, is expanding his investigation to include potential obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. Mueller, a close personal friend of ousted FBI Director James Comey, has already packed his team with partisan Democrats.)

Those behind this attempted coup think we can continue to treat Russia as though it were a minor power of the magnitude of Serbia, Iraq, Libya, or Syria, or even Iran. They think if we just keep pushing, pushing, pushing, either the Russians will collapse or back down. They will do everything possible to box Trump in and prevent him from pursuing any path other than the disastrous course laid out by Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama. They can see no other outcome than removing Putin and returning Russia to the condition of a Yeltsin-era vassal state – a term Putin used in the Stone interview – or, better yet, its territorial breakup along the lines suggested by the late Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Will the Oliver Stone interview change any minds? It’s too soon to tell. But if the soft coup against Trump succeeds, it might not matter, since then America could not be considered a self-governing constitutional republic even in a residual sense. We may have already passed our own Rubicon and just don’t know it yet.

Tehran Was Always America’s and Thus the Islamic State’s Final Destination

June 10, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Several were left dead and many more injured after coordinated terror attacks on Iran’s capital of Tehran. Shootings and bombings targeted Iran’s parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini.

According to Reuters, the so-called “Islamic State” claimed responsibility for the attack, which unfolded just days after another terror attack unfolded in London. The Islamic State also reportedly took responsibility for the violence in London, despite evidence emerging that the three suspects involved were long-known to British security and intelligence agencies and were simply allowed to plot and carry out their attacks.

It is much less likely that Tehran’s government coddled terrorists -as it has been engaged for years in fighting terrorism both on its borders and in Syria amid a vicious six-year war fueled by US, European, and Persian Gulf weapons, cash, and fighters.

Armed Violence Targeting Tehran Was the Stated Goal of US Policymakers

The recent terrorist attacks in Tehran are the literal manifestation of US foreign policy. The creation of a proxy force with which to fight Iran and establishing a safe haven for it beyond Iran’s borders have been long-stated US policy. The current chaos consuming Syria and Iraq – and to a lesser extent in southeast Turkey – is a direct result of the US attempting to secure a base of operations to launch a proxy war directly against Iran.

In the 2009 Brookings Institution document titled, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran,” the use of then US State Department-listed foreign terrorist organization Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) as a proxy for instigating a full-fledged armed insurgency not unlike that which is currently unfolding in Syria was discussed in detail.

The report explicitly stated:

The United states could also attempt to promote external Iranian opposition groups, providing them with the support to turn themselves into full-fledged insurgencies and even helping them militarily defeat the forces of the clerical regime. The United states could work with groups like the Iraq-based National council of resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its military wing, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), helping the thousands of its members who, under Saddam Husayn’s regime, were armed and had conducted guerrilla and terrorist operations against the clerical regime. although the NCRI is supposedly disarmed today, that could quickly be changed.

Brookings policymakers admitted throughout the report that MEK was responsible for killing both American and Iranian military personnel, politicians, and civilians in what was clear-cut terrorism. Despite this, and admissions that MEK remained indisputably a terrorist organization, recommendations were made to de-list it from the US State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization registry so that more overt support could be provided to the group for armed regime change.

Based on such recommendations and intensive lobbying, the US State Department would eventually de-list MEK in 2012 and the group would receive significant backing from the US openly. This included support from many members of current US President Donald Trump’s campaign team – including Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and John Bolton.

However, despite these efforts, MEK was not capable then or now of accomplishing the lofty goal of instigating full-fledged insurrection against Tehran, necessitating the use of other armed groups. The 2009 Brookings paper made mention of other candidates under a section titled, “Potential Ethnic Proxies,” identifying Arab and Kurdish groups as well as possible candidates for a US proxy war against Tehran.

Under a section titled, “Finding a Conduit and Safe Haven,” Brookings notes:

Of equal importance (and potential difficulty) will be finding a neighboring country willing to serve as the conduit for U.S. aid to the insurgent group, as well as to provide a safe haven where the group can train, plan, organize, heal, and resupply.

For the US proxy war on Syria, Turkey and Jordan fulfill this role. For Iran, it is clear that US efforts would have to focus on establishing conduits and safe havens from Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan province and from Kurdish-dominated regions in northern Iraq, eastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey – precisely where current upheaval is being fueled by US intervention both overtly and covertly.

Brookings noted in 2009 that:

It would be difficult to find or build an insurgency with a high likelihood of success. The existing candidates are weak and divided, and the Iranian regime is very strong relative to the potential internal and external challengers.

A group not mentioned by Brookings in 2009, but that exists in the very region the US seeks to create a conduit and safe haven for a proxy war with Iran, is the Islamic State. Despite claims that it is an independent terrorist organization propelled by black market oil sales, ransoms, and local taxes, its fighting capacity, logistical networks, and operational reach demonstrates vast state sponsorship.

The Ultimate Proxy, the Perfect Conduit and Safe Haven

The Islamic State reaching into Iran, southern Russia, and even as far as western China was not only possible, it was inevitable and the logical progression of US policy as stated by Brookings in 2009 and verifiably executed since then.

The Islamic State represents the perfect “proxy,” occupying the ideal conduit and safe haven for executing America’s proxy war against Iran and beyond. Surrounding the Islamic State’s holdings are US military bases, including those illegally constructed in eastern Syria. Were the US to wage war against Iran in the near future, it is likely these assets would all “coincidentally” coordinate against Tehran just as they are now being “coincidentally” coordinated against Damascus.

The use of terrorism, extremists, and proxies in executing US foreign policy, and the use of extremists observing the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s brand of indoctrination was demonstrated definitively during the 1980’s when the US with the assistance of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – used Al Qaeda to expel Soviet forces from Afghanistan. This example is in fact mentioned explicitly by Brookings policymakers as a template for creating a new proxy war – this time against Iran.

For the US, there is no better stand-in for Al Qaeda than its successor the Islamic State. US policymakers have demonstrated a desire to use known terrorist organizations to wage proxy war against targeted nation-states, has previously done so in Afghanistan, and has clearly organized the geopolitical game board on all sides of Iran to facilitate its agenda laid out in 2009. With terrorists now killing people in Tehran, it is simply verification that this agenda is advancing onward.

Iran’s involvement in the Syrian conflict illustrates that Tehran is well aware of this conspiracy and is actively defending against it both within and beyond its borders. Russia is likewise an ultimate target of the proxy war in Syria and is likewise involved in resolving it in favor of stopping it there before it goes further.

China’s small but expanding role in the conflict is linked directly to the inevitability of this instability spreading to its western Xianjiang province.

While terrorism in Europe, including the recent London attack, is held up as proof that the West is “also” being targeted by the Islamic State, evidence suggests otherwise. The attacks are more likely an exercise in producing plausible deniability.

In reality, the Islamic State – like Al Qaeda before it – depends on vast, multinational state sponsorship – state sponsorship the US, Europe, and its regional allies in the Persian Gulf are providing. It is also sponsorship they can – at anytime of their choosing – expose and end. They simply choose not to in pursuit of regional and global hegemony.

The 2009 Brookings paper is a signed and dated confession of the West’s proclivity toward using terrorism as a geopolitical tool. While Western headlines insist that nations like Iran, Russia, and China jeopardize global stability, it is clear that they themselves do so in pursuit of global hegemony.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

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