Trump and Tehran Shake Up the Middle East الانسحاب الأميركي من سورية والهجوم على أرامكو.. ترامب وطهران يهزّان المنطقة

Smoke rising from the Abqaiq oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia after it was attacked in September.

Smoke rising from the Abqaiq oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia after it was attacked in September.CreditCreditPlanet Labs Inc., via Associated Press

Iran’s airstrike on Saudi oil sites exposed vulnerabilities around the region.

By 

Opinion Columnist

 

I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it bizarre that the Republican leadership is (rightly) going nuts over President Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds in Syria while it’s ignoring his betrayal of the U.S. Constitution at home. If only Lindsey Graham & Co. were as eager to defend our democracy as they are the Kurds. But I digress.

If you think Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria will make the Middle East more explosive, you’re correct. But there’s far more going on. Those troops were also interrupting Iran’s efforts to build a land bridge from Tehran to Beirut to tighten a noose around Israel — and their removal could help bring the Iran-Israel shadow war out into the open. This is the really big story in the Middle East today.

Here’s the background: In the early hours of Sept. 14, the Iranian Air Force launched roughly 20 drones and cruise missiles at one of Saudi Arabia’s most important oil fields and processing facilities. The drones and cruise missiles flew so low and with such stealth that neither their takeoff nor their impending attack was detected in time by Saudi or U.S. radar. The pro-Iranian Houthi militia in Yemen claimed responsibility for the raid. That was as believable as saying that Santa Claus did it.

Some Israeli strategists argue that this surprise attack was the Middle East’s “Pearl Harbor.” An exaggeration? Maybe not.

“Recalculating, recalculating, recalculating.”

Every country is now recalculating its security strategy, starting with Israel. Consider how Uzi Even, one of the founding scientists of Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor, assessed the Iranian strike.

“A total of 20 cruise missiles and drones were used in the attack,” Even wrote in Haaretz on Sunday. “Drone wreckage discovered in Saudi Arabia shows that the Iranians are manufacturing and operating drones so advanced (with jet engines and significant stealth capabilities) that they do not lag behind Israeli capabilities in this field. Seventeen targets incurred a direct hit in this concentrated bombardment. Considering the 20 projectiles whose debris was found at the attack site, that’s an 85-percent success rate, which indicates the very high capability and reliability of the technology that was used.”

Photos of the aftermath, Even added,

“show the precision that was achieved in the attack. Each one of the spherical gas tankers in the picture was hit in the center. The pictures also show that the strike precision was one meter. … The Iranians, or their proxies, showed that they can hit specific targets with great precision and from a distance of hundreds of kilometers. We have to accept the fact that we are now vulnerable to such a strike.”

Even’s conclusion: Operations at Israel’s “Dimona nuclear reactor should be halted. It has now been shown to be vulnerable, and the harm it could cause would likely exceed its benefits.”

Not a bad day’s work for Iran — and Israel wasn’t even the target. Now let’s look at the Arabs. The Saudis and the United Arab Emirates got a double shock from the Iranian attack. It simultaneously exposed Iran’s precision and Donald Trump’s isolationism.

It had to have been quite the cold shower for the Saudis to call Washington to discuss what the U.S. planned as a strategic response only to discover that our president was busy looking for the cellphone number of Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, to see if he could cut the same deal with him that he did with North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un: Give me a photo-op handshake, and we can do business.

Translated into Arabic, Trump was saying to the Gulf Arabs: “I forgot to tell you. I’m only interested in selling you our weapons — not using them in your defense. But don’t forget to stay in my hotel when you’re next in D.C.! Operators are standing by.”

The Saudis and the U.A.E. got the message. They, too, got busy looking for the Iranian leader’s cellphone number — and the number of the pro-Iranian emir of Qatar, too. Time to get right with all the neighbors.

This, in turn, has fractured the tacit U.S.-Sunni Arab-Israel anti-Iran coalition and left Israel feeling more alone than ever to deal with Iran — and its proxies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

Because Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel also got a double dose of Trump reality. After Netanyahu did poorly in the recent Israeli election, Bibi learned how much Trump doesn’t like losers. When asked about Bibi after the Israeli election, Trump said coolly that he hadn’t spoken to him — “our relationship is with Israel.”

President Trump has cooled on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since the Israeli election. CreditRonen Zvulun/Reuters

Translated into Hebrew, Trump was saying: “Bibi? Bibi? I once knew a guy who owned a deli at Lexington and 55th named Bibi.”أكتوبر 11, 2019

And then, after the Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia, Trump declared that when it comes to a war with Iran, “we’d certainly like to avoid it.” Again, translated into Hebrew:

“America is happy to keep oil sanctions on Iran, but it is not going to partner with Israel and the Sunni Arabs to create regime change there or militarily destroy Iran’s capabilities.”

Bibi had completely misread Trump’s mind-set, which was: “We’re awash in oil and gas. We’re not fighting anyone’s wars in the Middle East.” The Iranians don’t even have an embassy in Washington. But they read Trump perfectly.

Recalculating, recalculating, recalculating.

The Gulf Arabs can and will find a way to buy off the Iranians. Israel can’t. Israel has a real Iran problem. Beware.

Iran’s is an awful regime. The ruling clerics have deprived at least two generations of young Iranians the freedom and tools to realize their full potential — one reason that a brain drain and drug addiction are rampant among Iranian youth.

While Iran’s people “aspire to be like South Korea — and they have the talent to be that — Iran’s hard-line leadership prefers to rule like North Korea,” observed Karim Sadjadpour, Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment.

So Iran’s Islamic revolutionaries need constant conflict with America and Israel to justify their ruthless internal repression. But Iran is heir to a great civilization. Even with its brain drain, it’s still got lots of real scientific talent.

توماس فريدمان

أنا متأكد من أنني لست الشخص الوحيد الذي يجد أنه من الغريب أن القيادة الجمهورية تتجاهل خيانة الرئيس ترامب للأكراد في سورية، رغم كونها محقة في ذلك التجاهل، لكنها تتجاهل خيانته للدستور الأميركي في الداخل بغير حق، ويا حبذا لو كان ليندسي جراهام وشركاه فقط متحمّسين للدفاع عن ديمقراطيتنا مثل دفاعهم عن الأكراد.

لكن تعالوا لندقق.

إذا كنت تعتقد أن سحب ترامب للقوات الأميركية من سورية سيجعل الشرق الأوسط أكثر تفجراً، فأنت على حق، لكن هناك الكثير مما يحدث. فهذه القوات كانت تحاول عرقلة جهود إيران لبناء جسر بري من طهران إلى بيروت يهدف لتشديد الخناق حول إسرائيل ، وسحبها يمكن أن يساعد في تسريع إطلاق حرب الظل بين إيران و إسرائيل . وهذه هي القصة الكبيرة حقاً في الشرق الأوسط اليوم.

إليكم الخلفية: في الساعات الأولى من يوم 14 سبتمبر، أطلق سلاح الجو الإيراني حوالي 20 طائرة وصواريخ كروز على واحد من أهم حقول النفط ومنشآت المعالجة في المملكة العربية السعودية، طارت الطائرات بدون طيار وصواريخ كروز منخفضة للغاية وبطريقة الأشباح لدرجة أنه لم يتم اكتشاف إقلاعها أو هجومها الوشيك في الوقت المناسب من قبل الرادار السعودي أو الأميركي. أعلنت ميليشيا الحوثي الموالية لإيران في اليمن مسؤوليتها عن الغارة. كان ذلك معقولاً مثل قول إن بابا نويل فعل ذلك أيضاً، لكن التفصيل هنا حول من فعلها لم يعد مهماً.

يجادل بعض الاستراتيجيين الإسرائيليين أن هذا الهجوم المفاجئ كان «ميناء بيرل هاربر» في الشرق الأوسط، وهو الهجوم الياباني الذي صدم أميركا وفاجأها ودخلت الحرب العالمية الثانية بعده، ربما نعم وربما لا.

أي شخص في إيران توصل إلى فكرة هذه الضربة الجوية الجريئة حصل على التهنئة والترقية، إذ لا يمكن تخيّل القيام بالعمل بشكل أفضل، لأن الصوت الذي تسمعه يصدر من كل عاصمة عربية و إسرائيل هو الصوت نفسه الذي تسمعه من مساعد القيادة الآلي عندما تنحرف سيارتك فجأة عن المسار المحدد:

إعادة الحساب، إعادة الحساب، إعادة الحساب.»

تقوم كل دولة الآن بإعادة حساب استراتيجيتها الأمنية، بدءاً بـ إسرائيل . تأمل كيف قام عوزي إيفين، أحد العلماء المؤسسين لمفاعل ديمونا النووي الإسرائيلي، بتقييم الضربة الإيرانية داعياً إلى الإسراع بإقفال المفاعل بعدما صارت فوائده أقلّ من درجة المخاطر التي يجلبها.

وكتبت صحيفة «هآرتس» يوم الأحد: «تم استخدام ما مجموعه 20 صاروخًا وطائرة بدون طيار في الهجوم». و»حطام الطائرة بدون طيار المكتشفة في المملكة العربية السعودية يُظهر أن الإيرانيين يصنعون ويديرون طائرات بدون طيار متطوّرة للغاية مع محركات نفاثة وقدرات تسلل وتشويش راداريّ كبيرة لدرجة أنهم لا يتخلفون عن القدرات الإسرائيلية في هذا المجال، سبعة عشر هدفًا تلقت ضربة مباشرة في هذا القصف المركز، بالنظر إلى المقذوفات العشرين التي تم العثور على حطامها في موقع الهجوم، فإن ذلك يمثل نسبة نجاح تبلغ 85 بالمئة، مما يشير إلى القدرة العالية والموثوقية العالية للتكنولوجيا التي تم استخدامها. «

نشر في نيويورك تايمز يوم 10-10-2019.

DONALD TRUMP: ‘FUTURE BELONGS TO PATRIOTS NOT GLOBALISTS’

Donald Trump: 'Future Belongs To Patriots Not Globalists'

South Front

On September 24, US President Donald Trump made his third address to the United Nations. Many said that the adress was ‘ordinary’ for Trump. Some parts of the adress are inspiring, while others raise concerns.

Donald Trump at the United Nations General Assembly (full transcript):

Madam President, Mr. Secretary General, world leaders, ambassadors, and distinguished delegates:

One year ago, I stood before you for the first time in this grand hall. I addressed the threats facing our world, and I presented a vision to achieve a brighter future for all of humanity. Today, I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we have made.

In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America is so thrilled. [Laughter] I did not expect that reaction, but that’s okay. [Applause] America’s economy is booming like never before. Since my election, we have added $10 trillion in wealth. The stock market is at an all-time high in history, and jobless claims are at a 50-year low.

Comment: Mr. Trump is right and his ill-wishers cannot deny this. It is important to note that the successes of the US economy took place amid the decline of the global economy. The economic strategy of the Trump administration was designed to support the US national industry and demonstrated own effectiveness. The US nation is lucky that in the current condition the US leader is patriot Trump rather than some creature of the global capital.

African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment have all achieved their lowest levels ever recorded. We have added more than 4 million new jobs, including half a million manufacturing jobs. We have passed the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history. We have started the construction of a major border wall, and we have greatly strengthened border security. We have secured record funding for our military, $700 billion this year and $716 billion next year. Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before. In other words, the United States is stronger, safer, and a richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago. We are standing up for America and the American people.

We are also standing up for the world. This is great news for our citizens and for peace-loving people everywhere. We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace. Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth. That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination. I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.

Comment: Since the very start of the presidency, Mr. Trump has demonstrated that for him such words are not just a colorful rhetoric needed to cover destructive US actions towards other states. However, the life is not rainbows and unicorns. Washington has been demonstrating double standards in its foreign policy for a very long time.

From Warsaw to Brussels to Tokyo to Singapore, it has been my highest honor to represent the United States abroad. I have forged close relationships and friendships and strong partnerships with the leaders of many nations in this room.

Our approach has always yielded incredible change. With support from many countries here today, we have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace. In June, I traveled to Singapore to meet face-to-face with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. We had highly productive conversations and meetings. We agreed that it was in both countries’ interest to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Since that meeting, we have seen a number of encouraging measures that few could have imagined a short time ago. The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction. Nuclear testing has stopped. Some military facilities are already being dismantled. Our hostages have been released. And as promised, the remains of our fallen heroes are being returned home, to lay at rest in American soil. I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done. The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs. I also want to thank the many member states who helped us reach this moment, a moment that is actually far greater than people would understand—far great. But for, also, their support and the critical support that we will all need going forward, a special thanks for President Moon of South Korea, the Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and President Xi of China.

In the Middle East, our new approach is yielding great strides and very historic change. Following my trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Gulf countries opened a new center to target terrorist financing. They are enforcing new sanctions, working with us to identify and track terrorist networks, and taking more responsibility for fighting terrorism and extremism in their own region. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have pledged billions of dollars to aid the people of Syria and Yemen, and they are pursuing multiple avenues to ending Yemen’s horrible, horrific civil war.

Ultimately, it is up to the nations of the region to decide what kind of future they want for themselves and their children. For that reason, the United States is working with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Egypt to establish a regional strategic alliance so that Middle Eastern nations can advance prosperity, stability, and security across their home region.

Comment: These remarks once again demonstrate that the US president is supporter of the traditional system of the international relations. At the same time, the colorful phrase about the right of “the nations of the region to decide what kind of future they want for themselves and their children” is used to hide anti-Iranian intentions and efforts to create and strengthen an anti-Iranian coalition that would include Jordan and Egypt. The goal of this coalition would be to counter Iranian influence and in some cases even to meddle the Iranian internal political situation.

Thanks to the United States military, and our partnership with many of your nations, I am pleased to report that the bloodthirsty killers known as isis have been driven out from the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria. We will continue to work with friends and allies to deny radical Islamic terrorists funding, territory, or support or any means of infiltrating our borders.

The ongoing tragedy in Syria is heartbreaking. Our shared goals must be the de-escalation of military conflict along with a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. In this vein, we urge the United Nations–led peace process to be reinvigorated. But rest assured, the United States will respond if chemical weapons are deployed by the Assad regime.

Comment: Mr. Trump demonstrates a dramatic shift of the US position towards the conflict in Syria. He does not repeat the ‘Assad must go’ mantra and says that the conflict should be settled through “political solutions”. The President also avoids to mention the supposed US support to the Syrian opposition. Even, the cornerstone of the US public agenda in the Syrian conflict, “chemical weapons”, is used just as a warning in for the case if such weapons “are deployed”. This stance is in contrary to the stance of the Obama administration and the Trump administration during its first two years.

I commend the people of Jordan and other neighboring countries for hosting refugees from this very brutal civil war. As we see in Jordan, the most compassionate policy is to place refugees as close to their homes as possible, to ease their eventual return to be part of the rebuilding process. This approach also stretches finite resources to help far more people, increasing the impact of every dollar spent.

Every solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria must also include a strategy to address the brutal regime that is fueled and financed in the corrupt dictatorship in Iran. Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and disruption. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond. The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from Iran’s treasury, seized valuable portions of the economy, and looted the religious endowments, all to line their own pockets and send their proxies to wage war. Not good. Iran’s neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the regime’s agenda of aggression and expansion. That is why so many countries in the Middle East strongly supported my decision to withdraw the United States from the horrible 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose nuclear sanctions.

The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran’s leaders. In the year since the deal has been reached, the military budget grew nearly 40 percent. The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism, and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen. The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda. Last month, we began reimposing hard-hitting nuclear sanctions that have been lifted under the Iran deal. Additional sanctions will resume November 5, and more will follow. We are working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially. We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants “Death to America” and that threatens Israel with annihilation to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth. We just cannot do it. We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues, and we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.

This year, we took another significant step forward in the Middle East in recognition of every sovereign state to determine its own capital. I moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim is advanced, not harmed, by acknowledging the obvious facts. America’s policy of principled realism means that we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong, over the years, time and time again.

Comment: These remarks were expected. They were based on Trump’s vision of Israel as the key US ally in the Middle east. However, attempts to link the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem with the commitment to the “future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians” are surprising. It is unclear how the peace and stability could be achieved through these actions. Nonetheless, Trump once again demonstrated himself as the supporter of hard realpolitik principles and direct actions.

This is true, not only in matters of peace, but in matters of prosperity. We believe that trade must be fair and reciprocal. The United States will not be taken advantage of any longer. For decades, the United States opened its economy, the largest by far on Earth, with few conditions. We allowed foreign goods from all over the world to flow freely across our borders. Yet other countries did not grant us free and reciprocal access to their markets in return. Even worse, some countries abused their openness to dump their products, subsidize their goods, target our industries, and manipulate their currencies to gain unfair advantage over our country. As a result, our trade deficit ballooned to nearly $800 billion a year. For this reason, we are systematically renegotiating broken and bad trade deals. Last month, we announced a groundbreaking U.S.-Mexico trade agreement.

Comment: The strengthening of protectionism policies is generally consistent with Trump’s economic doctrine. Trump focuses on the revision of unfair, “broken and bad” trade deals. If Trump is re-elected, further protectionist measures in the field of the US foreign trade should be expected.

Just yesterday, I stood with President Moon to announce the successful completion of the brand-new U.S.-Korea trade deal. This is just the beginning. Many nations in this hall will agree that the world trading system is in dire need of change. For example, countries were admitted to the World Trade Organization that violate every single principle on which the organization is based.

Comment: The fact that the World Trade Organization does not work is an open secret. The organization de-facto does not pursues goals declared during its creation. Trump is right that the WTO violates “every single principle on which the organization is based.” It is important to note that the WTO gained its current form thanks to actions and policy of the previous US administrations, which were shaped by supporters of the globalists. These very powers were interested in the current state of the WTO. However, the US president that demonstrates different approaches, focusing on protectionism, the national economic development and the rationale nationalism, is not interested in such a state of the WTO.

While the United States and many other nations played by the rules, these countries use government-run industrial planning and state-owned enterprises to rig the system in their favor. They engaged in relentless product dumping, forced technology transfer, and the theft of intellectual property. The United States lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs, nearly a quarter of all steel jobs, and 60,000 factories after China joined the WTO. We have racked up $13 trillion in trade deficits over the last two decades.

But those days are over. We will no longer tolerate such abuse. We will no longer allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated, and our wealth to be plundered and transferred. America will never apologize for protecting its citizens. The United States has just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese-made goods, for a total so far of $250 billion. I have great respect and affection for my friend President Xi, but I have made clear that our trade imbalance is just not acceptable. China’s market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated.

As my administration has demonstrated, America will always act in our national interests. I spoke before this body last year and warned that the UN Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution, shielding egregious human-rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends. Our ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, laid out a clear agenda for reform, but despite reported and repeated warnings, no action at all was taken. So the United States took the only responsible course: We withdrew from the Human Rights Council and we will not return until real reform is enacted.

For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support and recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process.

Comment: Trump once again declares his vision of the United States as an independent sovereign state, which should be governed exclusively by the people of the United States through democratic procedures. He rejects the globalism and demonstrates that he is well aware of the nature and specifics of the processes that take place in a number of international bodies – for example, in the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court. He names the forces that dominate these organizations – the global bureaucracy and the associated global capital – the globalists aiming to establish the so-called New World Order. Trump makes it clear that he is a fierce opponent of this concept.

WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER AMERICA’S SOVEREIGNTY TO AN UNELECTED, UNACCOUNTABLE GLOBAL BUREAUCRACY. AMERICA IS GOVERNED BY AMERICANS. WE REJECT THE IDEOLOGY OF GLOBALISM, AND WE EMBRACE THE DOCTRINE OF PATRIOTISM. AROUND THE WORLD, RESPONSIBLE NATIONS MUST DEFEND AGAINST THREATS TO SOVEREIGNTY NOT JUST FROM GLOBAL GOVERNANCE, BUT ALSO FROM NEW FORMS OF COERCION AND DOMINATION.

Comment: These words are the culmination and the very essence of the address. Globalists will not forgive this. The next US presidential race is expected to be even tenser than the previous one. Trump could be described as a controversial person. But in this very case, he seems to be an island of sanity and a clear vision surrounded by oligarchic clans advocating globalism and the New World Order.

In America, we believe in energy security for ourselves and for our allies. We have become the largest energy producer anywhere on the face of the Earth. The United States stands ready to export our abundant, affordable supply of oil, clean coal, and natural gas. OPEC and OPEC nations are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. Nobody should like it. We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good. We want them to stop raising prices; we want them to start lowering prices. They must contribute substantially to military protection from now on. We are not going to put up with it, these horrible prices, much longer. Reliance on a single foreign supplier can leave a nation vulnerable to extortion and intimidation. That is why we congratulate European states such as Poland for leading the construction of a Baltic pipeline so that nations are not dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs. Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.

Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers. It has been the formal policy of our country since President Monroe that we reject the interference of foreign nations in this hemisphere and in our own affairs. The United States has recently strengthened our laws to better screen foreign investments in our country for national-security threats. We welcome cooperation with countries in this region and around the world that wish to do the same. You need to do it for your own protection.

The United States is also working with partners in Latin America to confront threats to sovereignty from uncontrolled migration. Tolerance for human struggling and human smuggling and trafficking is not humane. It is a horrible thing that is going on, at levels that nobody has ever seen before. It is very, very cruel. Illegal immigration funds criminal networks, ruthless gangs, and the flow of deadly drugs. Illegal immigration exploits vulnerable populations and hurts hardworking citizens and has produced a vicious cycle of crime, violence, and poverty. Only by upholding national borders, destroying criminal gangs can we break the cycle and establish a real foundation for prosperity.

We recognize the right of every nation in this room to set its own immigration policy in accordance with its national interests, just as we ask other countries to respect our own right to do the same, which we are doing. That is one reason the United States will not participate in the new Global Compact on Migration. Migration should not be governed by an international body, unaccountable to our own citizens. Ultimately, the only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again.

Comment: Trump’s United States would continue demonstrate the rationale protectionism and isolationism and defend the right of the nation to decide what kind of future it wants for itself.

Currently, we are witnessing a human tragedy as an example in Venezuela. More than 2 million people have fled the anguish inflicted by the socialist Maduro regime and its Cuban sponsors. Not long ago, Venezuela was one of the richest countries on earth. Today, socialism has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty. Virtually everywhere, socialism or communism has been tried. It has produced suffering, corruption, and decay. Socialism’s thirst for power leads to expansion, incursion, and oppression. All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone. In that spirit, we ask the nations gathered here to join us in calling for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela. Today, we are announcing additional sanctions against the repressive regime, targeting Maduro’s inner circle and close advisers.

We are grateful for all of the work the United Nations does around the world to help people build better lives for themselves and their families. The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world by far of foreign aid. But few give anything to us. That is why we are taking a hard look at U.S. foreign assistance. That will be headed up by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We will examine what is working, what is not working, and whether the countries who receive our dollars and our protection also have our interests at heart. Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends. We expect other countries to pay their fair share for the cost of their defense.

The United States is committed to making the United Nations more effective and accountable. I have said many times that the United Nations has unlimited potential. As part of our reform effort, I have told our negotiators that the United States will not pay more than 25 percent of the UN peacekeeping budget.

Comment: The US president just mocked international bodies in his unique style. He declared support to their actions, but said that he would not give them money.

This will encourage other countries to step up, get involved, and also share in this very large burden. We are working to shift more of our funding from assessed contributions to voluntary so that we can target American resources to the programs with the best record of success. Only when we each of us does our part and contributes our share can we realize the United Nations’ highest aspirations. We must pursue peace without fear, hope without despair, and security without apology.

Looking around this hall, where so much history has transpired, we think of the many before us who have come here to address the challenges of their nations and of their times. Our thoughts turn to the same question that ran through all of their speeches and resolutions, through every word and every hope. It is the question of, what kind of world will we leave for our children and what kind of nations they will inherit. The dreams that fill this hall today are as diverse as the people who have stood at this podium, and as varied as the countries represented right here, in this body, are. It really is something. It really is great, great history.

There is India, a free society over a billion people, successfully lifting countless millions out of poverty and into the middle class. There is Saudi Arabia, where King Salman and the crown prince are pursuing bold new reforms. There is Israel, proudly celebrating its 70th anniversary as a thriving democracy in the Holy Land. In Poland, the great people are standing up for their independence, their security, and their sovereignty.

Comment: The list of ‘successful and democratic’ nations named by Mr. Trump is especially interesting and funny. He said that India is “a free society over a billion people, successfully lifting countless millions out of poverty and into the middle class”. But he somehow forgot to mention that India is the state with one of the highest levels of social inequality. In fact, India is in the list because it’s the main regional competitor of China, the US is draining brains from the Indian nation, and India is a prospective market for the US industry, mainly the military industrial complex.

Saudi Arabia and Israel are the united Middle Eastern family of the traditional US allies. Their economies are incorporated into the US economy.

As to Poland, this state is currently one of the main political and economic competitors of Germany within the EU and thus the US ally. At the same time, Washington sees Poland as a deterrent force against Russia. Besides this, Poland has been acting as an agent working in interests of the Anglo-Saxon world in Europe.

Many countries are pursuing their own unique visions, building their own hopeful futures, and chasing their own wonderful dreams of destiny, of legacy, and of a home. The whole world is richer. Humanity is better because of this beautiful constellation of nations, each very special, each very unique, each shining brightly in its part of the world. In each one, we see also promise of a people bound together by a shared past and working toward a common future.

As for Americans, we know what kind of future we want for ourselves. We know what kind of a nation America must always be. In America, we believe in the majesty of freedom and the dignity of the individual. We believe in self-government and the rule of law. We prize the culture that sustains our liberty, a culture built on strong families, deep faith, and fierce independence. We celebrate our heroes, we treasure our traditions, and, above all, we love our country. Inside everyone in this great chamber today, and everyone listening all around the globe, there is the heart of a patriot that feels the same powerful love for your nation, the same intense loyalty to your homeland, the passion that burns in the hearts of patriots and the souls of nations has inspired reform and revolution, sacrifice and selflessness, scientific breakthroughs and magnificent works of art.

Our task is not to erase it, but to embrace it—to build with it, to draw on its ancient wisdom, and to find within it the will to make our nations greater, our regions safer, and the world better. To unleash this incredible potential in our people, we must defend the foundations that make it all possible. Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all. When we do, we will find new avenues for cooperation unfolding before us. We will find new passion for peacemaking rising within us. We will find new purpose, new resolve, and new spirit flourishing all around us, and making this a more beautiful world in which to live.

Together, let us choose a future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride. Let us choose peace and freedom over domination and defeat. Let us come here to this place to stand for our people and their nations.

Comment: These are great words. Nonetheless, we kindly ask Mr. Trump to reveal the list of nations that would have a right able to achieve this “future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride”, according to his vision.

Forever strong, forever sovereign, forever just. Forever thankful for the grace and the goodness and the glory of God. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the nations of the world. Thank you very much.

***

In the end, it is also interesting to note that Mr. Trump has almost fully ignored the so-called ‘Russian threat’ in his address. He mentioned Russia once when talked about the US interests in the European energy market and the German-Russian relations. However, there was no criticism aimed against Russia in general. Furthermore, the US President fully ignored the Ukraine question demonstrating his real stance towards the conflict.

Over the past days, the Trump administration has sent signals that it is not going to fund Ukraine just because it’s allegedly engaged in the “war with Russia”. Furthermore, Washington demonstrates that it is not interested in the further escalation of the situation in the region.

بعد ثماني سنوات

بقلم د. بثينة شعبان

حين أخذت روسيا والصين أول فيتو مزدوج في مجلس الأمن في 4تشرين الأول2011 ضد المخططات العدوانية الغربية التي تستهدف سورية أرضاً وشعباً غصّ مكتبي بوسائل الإعلام العربية والأجنبية ليسألوني ما شعور القيادة السورية والشعب السوري تجاه هذا الفيتو غير المسبوق في مجلس الأمن.

وأتذكر أنني وبعد شكر الدولتين على موقفهما من سورية ودعمهما للشعب السوري قلت:

لقد تغيّر العالم اليوم، وأثر هذا الفيتو لا يخصّ سورية وحدها وإنما يخصّ العالم بأسره، لأنه الإشارة الأولى لانتهاء هيمنة القطب الواحد والانتقال إلى عالم متعدد الأقطاب، الأمر الذي تصبو إليه معظم شعوب العالم بعد أن عانت من الحروب الكارثية الأميركية.

واليوم وبعد ثماني سنوات تقريباً بالضبط، تستخدم كل من سورية والصين في مجلس الأمن في 19 أيلول 2019 حق الفيتو لإجهاض قرار مبني على الأكاذيب التي روّجها البعض في محاولة أخيرة ومستميتة منهم لحماية ما تبقى من فلول الإرهابيين في إدلب والذين يشكلون آخر ما لديهم من أدوات إرهابية من الخونة والمرتزقة الأجانب للاستمرار في استهداف الشعب السوري الذي تمكّن وبمساعدة الحلفاء والأصدقاء من إحباط كل مخططاتهم التي كلّفتهم المليارات، كما كلّفتهم سمعتهم وكشفت عن جوهر نواياهم العدوانية وحقيقة مقاصد سياساتهم الاستعمارية القائمة على النهب والحروب. أما اليوم وبعد ثماني سنوات من الفيتو الأول المزدوج فما مؤشرات السياسة الدولية وإلى أين تتجه الأمور؟

لقد استمرت الدول الاستعمارية الغربية خلال هذه السنوات بممارسة طرائقها الشيطانية المعروفة من إعلام كاذب ومغرض يقلب الحقائق رأساً على عقب، وبثّ روح الفتنة الطائفية لشق صفوف الشعوب في البلدان المستهدفة، أملاً منها بتفتيت هذه البلدان من الداخل مستخدمين الخونة وضعاف النفوس والوعي. وواكبت خطواتها هذه بفرض عقوبات مجرمة على الشعوب والبلدان تسببت في قتل مئات الآلاف من الأشخاص إما بسبب نقص الغذاء وإما الدواء أو الطاقة، غير آبهة بأي معاناة إنسانية في أي مكان. وكانت العقوبات والتهديدات السمتين الأساسيتين لهذه المرحلة مع استمرار استخدام العصابات الإرهابية المأجورة من الخونة والمرتزقة حيثما أمكن ذلك لتغيير ميزان القوى لصالحها.
ولكن ما النتيجة الحقيقية التي تزداد ثباتاً على الأرض يوماً بعد يوم بعيداً عن تهويل الأكاذيب الزائفة التي تصوغها مخابراتهم معتمدة على مخبريهم من المرتزقة الذين يقومون ببثها على أكبر مساحة في أكبر عدد من وسائل تواصل أصبحت مكشوفة للجميع؟ حقيقة الأمر هي أن هذه السنوات قد كشفت بما لا يقبل الشك حقيقة النظم الاستعمارية الغربية وأنها نظم تهدف أولاً وأخيراً إلى نهب ثروات الشعوب وخاصة النفط العربي، معتمدة على النظم النفطية المتهالكة حيث لا تقيم وزناً لهذه الشعوب ولا للحياة الإنسانية في أي مكان. فسقطت أقنعة ما أسموها «منظمات إنسانية» أو «حقوق إنسان» أو «أطباء بلا حدود» أو «الخوذ البيضاء»؛ لنكتشف أن معظم هذه المنظمات مجنّدة من قبل المخابرات الغربية، إما للتجسس على من هم في أماكن وجودها أو لجمع الأموال لتمويل الإرهاب. كما سقطت بشكل صارخ مقولة «الإعلام الحر» وأصبح واضحاً للجميع أن الإعلام الغربي يخدم دوائر صنع القرار السياسي والمخابراتي والأهداف التي ترسمها هذه الدوائر لزيادة ثروات النخبة الرأسمالية الحاكمة من خلال قمع الآخرين وفرض أقسى العقوبات عليهم، وفي هذا الصدد، والحق يقال، كانت الحرب على سورية أول كاشف لحقيقة هذا النظام الرأسمالي الغربي وأهدافه بعيداً عمّا يروّج له من أكاذيب. كما كان صمود الجيش العربي السوري بدعم من الحلفاء والأصدقاء والأشقاء وبمساعدة المواقف التي اتخذتها روسيا والصين في مجلس الأمن ملهماً للآخرين ومبرهناً على أن ما تخطط له الولايات المتحدة ليس قدراً، وأن الشعوب قادرة وبإمكانات ضئيلة على الانتصار على الباطل مهما كانت قوته وثرواته.

خلال الحرب على سورية أخذت كوريا الشمالية مواقف مهمة في مقارعة الولايات المتحدة وأثبتت أنها قوة لا يستهان بها. وخلال الحرب على سورية أخذت فنزويلا موقفاً جريئاً ومهماً من العقوبات الأميركية وتهديد الولايات المتحدة باجتياح فنزويلا وتغيير الحكم بها، وصمد الشعب الفنزويلي رغم العقوبات الظالمة والتهديدات المستمرة عليه. وفي الحين ذاته انسحبت الولايات المتحدة من الاتفاق النووي الإيراني مع ضجة إعلامية كبرى بأن هذا الانسحاب سينهي إيران وسيجعلها لقمة سائغة لمن يستهدفها من عملاء الولايات المتحدة. كما راهنوا على بثّ الفرقة بين أبناء الشعب الإيراني وسخّروا كل إمكاناتهم لهذا الهدف، ولكن أين هم الآن رغم كل العقوبات المجرمة التي اتخذوها بحق إيران والتي ولا شك سببت مصاعب جمة لكل الإيرانيين ولكنهم صمدوا وتفوقوا بإرادتهم وإصرارهم وكبريائهم على كلّ محاولات الغرب لخرق صفوفهم أو النيل من صمودهم.

اا حرب اليمن فقد ضربت مثلاً في صمود شعب فقير لا يملك إلا النزر اليسير، في وجه قوى مموّلة ومتغطرسة، وقلب هذا الشعب الأبيّ معادلة العدوان ليصبح هو الذي يحدد سير المعركة. ومع أن روسيا الاتحادية نالت نصيباً كبيراً من العقوبات الأميركية فقد استمرت بإثبات ذاتها على الساحتين الإقليمية والدولية كقطب لا يمكن تجاهل آرائه ومواقفه بعد اليوم. وبالتوازي؛ فإن كلاً من الصين وروسيا وإيران وسورية وفنزويلا واليمن والعراق وكوريا تنشر ثقافة العالم المتعدد الأقطاب وتبرهن للعالم مع كل مطلع شمس أن هذه العقوبات لن تؤثر في مسار الدول الرافضة للظلم والهيمنة، وأنها لا تزيد الذين يعانون منها إلا إصراراً، ليس على تجاوزها فقط وإنما على تجاوز النظم التي فرزتها وجعلت منها أداة لكسر إرادة الشعوب وفرض المسار الاستعماري عليها. اليوم وبعد سنوات ثمانٍ من أول فيتو مزدوج تأخذه روسيا والصين في مجلس الأمن، فقد النظام الاستعماري الغربي قدرته على إقناع أحد بالسير على خطاه كما فقد قدرته على إقناع العالم أنه قابل للعيش والاستمرار. اليوم البحث جار في دول كثيرة وعلى مستويات مختلفة عن صيغ ديمقراطية تناسب ثقافة وتاريخ الشعوب والبلدان ولا تمتّ إلى الليبرالية الغربية بصلة.

اليوم يتشكل العالم الجديد على أسس مختلفة عن تلك التي أمسك بها الغرب وفرضها على معظم دول العالم. اليوم بداية مسار تحرر للبلدان والشعوب، تحرر ليس فقط من الهيمنة العسكرية الغربية والنهب الاستعماري، وإنما تحرر من القرار الغربي ومن كلّ تمظهراته، بعد أن انكشف مرة وإلى الأبد بُعد هذا النظام عن المعيار الإنساني الحقيقي. اليوم لا يمكن للغرب أن يتحدث عن نفسه كما اعتاد منذ سنوات قليلة مدعياً أنه الأسرة الدولية، فالأسرة الدولية تتشكل في مكان آخر وعلى أسس وقيم مختلفة جذرياً عمّا اعتاد الغرب فرضه على العالم منذ عقود. لاشك لدي أننا وبعد سنوات قليلة سنكون قد اجتزنا جزءاً مهماً من الدرب الذي بدأ أول مؤشّر له في 4 تشرين الأول 2011.

 

   ( الاثنين 2019/09/23 SyriaNow)

Cynthia McKinney to ST: Peace has a chance only with a peace leader in national security adviser position or no one at all in it

ST

Wednesday, 11 September 2019 12:03

Former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has said that it might be better for the position of the national security adviser to remain vacant, hoping that President Donald Trump is about to begin to keep his campaign promises about the folly of the US fighting wars for Israel.

In a statement to the Syria times e-newspaper on the effect of the defenestration of John Bolton as President Trump’s third national security adviser, McKinney said: “Given the President’s poor staffing choices, it might be better for the position to remain vacant. Any appointment from the swamp will continue the same pro-Israel, warmongering, swamp policies.”

She believes that peace has a chance only with a peace leader in that position or no one at all in it.

“Even then, the Lobby for war spans both sides of the aisles, both Republicans and Democrats. I have repeatedly made suggestions for Trump of individuals who understand the swamp and are repulsed by what it is today,” she added.

Asked about the reason behind the defenestration of Bolton, McKinney replied:

“Bolton blew the President’s peace initiatives with North Korea, Syria, and Afghanistan. Let’s hope that the President is about to begin to keep his campaign promises about the folly of the US fighting wars for Israel.”

Yesterday, President Trump pushed out John R. Bolton, his third national security adviser.

Cynthia McKinney is an international peace and human rights activist, noted for her inconvenient truth-telling about the U.S. war machine. She was held for seven days in an Israeli prison after attempting to enter Gaza by sea and traveled to Libya during U.S. bombing and witnessed the crimes against humanity committed against that country’s people. In addition to Libya, she has traveled to Cuba, Syria, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and as she puts it:

“Wherever U.S. Bombs are dropping or U.S. sanctions are biting.”

She is the author or editor of three Clarity Press books: she has written one book Ain’t Nothing Like Freedom and edited The Illegal War On Libya and the 2018 book, How the U.S. Creates Sh*thole Countries.

In 1992, McKinney won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was the first African-American woman from Georgia in the U.S. Congress. She was the first Member of Congress to demand an investigation of the events of 9/11/2001. McKinney was criticized and as a result, she was defeated in 2002; however, she ran again and was re-elected in 2004.

In December 2008, Cynthia made international headlines when her boat was rammed by the Israeli military as she was attempting to deliver medical supplies to Gaza. In 2009, Cynthia attempted to reach Gaza again, this time armed with crayons, coloring books, and school supplies. Her boat was overtaken in international waters by the Israeli military and she was kidnapped to Israel where she spent 7 days in an Ramleh Prison. Finally, Cynthia entered Gaza by land in July 2009 with George Galloway’s Viva Palestina USA.

She has over 100,000 followers on FaceBook and more than 30,000 followers on Twitter who live in countries all over the world—from Argentina to Zimbabwe, according to Tweetsmap as of January 2019.

Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour

Bolton Gone: Improved Peace Prospects?

Image result for Bolton Gone: Improved Peace Prospects?

September 13, 2019
The departure of John Bolton as US National Security Adviser is a good step towards decreasing international tensions by the Trump administration. But a lot more is needed from President Donald Trump to indicate a serious pivot to normalizing relations with Russia, Iran and others.

When Trump gave Bolton his marching orders earlier this week, the president said he “strongly disagreed” with his erstwhile security adviser over a range of foreign policy issues. Trump had also expressed frustration with Bolton’s incorrigible militarist tendencies.

There is no doubt Bolton was an odious figure in the White House cabinet. One of our SCF authors, Martin Sieff, wrote this excoriating commentary on Bolton’s nefarious record of warmongering dating as far back as the launching of US wars in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, when the mustachioed maverick served then as a chief neocon ideologue in the GW Bush administration.

One wonders why Trump brought such a war hawk into his administration when he appointed Bolton as NSA in April 2018. Perhaps, as another of our writers, Robert Bridge, surmised in a separate commentary this week, Trump was using hardliner Bolton as a foil to deflect opponents from within the Washington establishment who have been trying to undermine the president as “soft on foreign enemies”. A ruse by Trump of keeping “your enemies close”, it is averred.

Bolton certainly did his best to hamper Trump’s seeming attempts at scaling back US foreign military interventions. He opposed the plan to withdraw American troops from Syria. The reckless Bolton also wound up a policy of aggression and regime change against Venezuela, which Trump has latterly seemed to grow wary of as a futile debacle.

In regard to Russia, Bolton carried heaps of Cold War baggage which made Trump’s declared intentions of normalizing relations with Moscow more difficult.

The shameless warmonger Bolton openly advocated for regime change in Iran, which seemed to contradict Trump’s oft-stated position of not seeking regime change in Tehran, despite the president’s own animosity towards Iran.

The former NSA also opposed any attempt by Trump to engage in detente with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Reportedly, it was Bolton who derailed the incipient efforts at opening up dialogue with Pyongyang.

It is also thought that Bolton used his influence to impede Trump’s recent bid to host Taliban leaders at Camp David earlier this month which was aimed at trust-building for a proposed peace deal to withdraw US troops from that country after nearly 18 years of disastrous war.

That said, however, President Trump has not shown himself to be exactly a dovish figure. He has overseen countless sanctions being imposed on Russia, the abandoning of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty, and ongoing military support for the anti-Russia regime in Kiev.

Too, it was Trump who ordered the US collapse of the 2015 international nuclear accord with Iran in May 2018 and the re-imposition of harsh sanctions on Tehran. So, it would be misplaced to paint Bolton as the sole malign actor in the White House. Trump is personally responsible for aggravating tensions with Iran, as well as with Russia, Venezuela and others.

Nevertheless, it is to be welcomed that an inveterate war hawk like Bolton no longer has the president’s ear. Perhaps Trump can be freer to act on his instincts as a pragmatic deal-maker. One thing that the president deserves credit for is his unconventional style of engaging with nations and leaders who are designated as foes of America.

Russia this week gave a reserved response to the sacking of Bolton. The Kremlin said it would make assessments of a positive change in US policy based on actions, not mere announcements, such as the firing of Bolton. Time will tell.

It seems significant that immediately after Bolton was relieved of his post, Trump hinted to reporters that he was considering lifting sanctions off Iran if such a move persuaded Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to hold a face-to-face meeting with Trump at the United Nations general assembly in New York later this month.

Iran has repeatedly stated categorically that there will be no talks with Trump unless his administration revokes sanctions and returns to abiding by the nuclear accord. If there is a serious pivot to normal diplomacy by the White House, then what Trump does about sanctions on Iran will be a litmus test.

The same can be said about US sanctions on Russia. If Trump is earnest about a genuine reset in bilateral relations, then he must get rid of the raft of sanctions that Washington has piled on Moscow since the 2014 Ukraine crisis amid the many spurious allegations leveled against Russia.

Bolton banished is but a small step towards a more diplomatically engaged US administration. But it would be unwise to expect the departure of this one figure as being a portent for progress and a more peaceful policy emerging in Washington.

The Washington establishment, the deep state and the bipartisan War Party, with its entrenched Cold War ideology, seems to have an endemic sway over policy which may thwart Trump’s efforts to direct a less belligerent US.

To illustrate the twisted nature of the US establishment, one only had to read the way sections of the American corporate-controlled media lamented the departure of Bolton. The New York Times, which is a dutiful conduit for deep state intelligence and the foreign policy establishment, actually bemoaned the ouster of Bolton, calling him a “voice of restraint”.

The NY Times commented, with approval, on how Bolton “objected to attempts to pursue diplomatic avenues with players considered American enemies. And he angered Trump with a last-minute battle against a peace agreement with the Taliban… whether it was inviting the Taliban to Camp David or cooperating with Russia, he [Bolton] was the national security adviser who said no.”

In another piece this week, the NY Times commented, again approvingly of Bolton: “Mr Bolton strongly opposed detente with Iran, and his unceremonious ouster has reignited concerns among some Republicans [and Democrats] in Congress about the White House’s declining projection of American military power around the world.”

Can you believe it? The so-called US “newspaper of record” is somehow valorizing an out-and-out warmonger in the form of Bolton, and appears to be advocating “projection of American military power around the world”. The latter phrase being but an Orwellian euphemism for imperialism and war.

The sobering conclusion is that Bolton’s departure hardly heralds a new beginning of diplomacy and engagement by Trump, if we assume to give this president the benefit of doubt for good intentions. Bolton may be gone, but there are formidable political forces in the US establishment which will work to ensure Trump’s room for maneuver remains heavily compressed. The Cold War ideology is so ingrained in Washington, it is much bigger than just one man, whether that is the vile personage of Bolton or the more flexible Trump.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Trump: Bolton Was «Way Out Of Line» On Venezuela

Trump: Bolton Was «Way Out Of Line» On Venezuela

By Staff, Agencies

Speaking for the first time about reasons for firing his national security advisor John Bolton, US President Donald Trump said he was “way out of line” on Venezuela, even as the State Department doubled down on regime change.

“I disagreed with John Bolton on his attitudes about Venezuela. I thought he was way out of line,” Trump told reporters at the Oval Office on Wednesday.

The failed attempt to effect regime change in Caracas – which Bolton has been at the forefront of since January – was only one of the issues the president brought up. Bolton’s sabotage of denuclearization talks with North Korea, earlier this year, was another.

“We were set back very badly when [Bolton] talked about the Libyan model” with North Korea, Trump added. “That’s not a question of being tough, that’s a question of being not smart to say something like that.”

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had agreed to give up his nuclear and chemical weapons programs to the US, only to be violently overthrown and murdered by US-backed groups in 2011.

Bolton also “wasn’t getting along with the people in the administration that I consider very important,” Trump added, making sure to point out that he had opposed the 2003 Iraq War while Bolton was an unapologetic advocate of it.

None of that explains why Trump hired Bolton and kept him on as his principal foreign policy adviser for nearly 18 months, however. Nor does it explain why Trump agreed to appoint Bolton’s colleague Elliott Abrams as Washington’s point man on Venezuela, despite a history of his Trump-bashing public comments.

The Trump administration on Wednesday showed no signs of abandoning the approach to Caracas championed by Bolton and Abrams since January, despite it having failed miserably. Shortly after Trump’s comments, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US has invoked the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), which would give legal framework for military intervention in Venezuela.

Pompeo’s pretext is that this was requested by Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed “interim president” of Venezuela recognized by the US and a handful of its allies, but no one else in the world. Guaido’s repeated attempts to take over power in Caracas since January have failed miserably.

Trump maintained that his policy on Venezuela is “humanitarian” and designed to “help” people there, and blamed “socialism” for the country’s economic woes. He has framed his 2020 re-election bid as stopping the “socialist” Democrats from taking over the US.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Trump said when asked if he would be willing to meet with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. This was in stark contrast to his readiness to meet with the Iranian president, another thing Bolton reportedly opposed.

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The U.S. has the best Congress and White House that money can buy

Philip Giraldi
August 8, 2019

Think tanks sprout like weeds in Washington. The latest is the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, which is engaged in a pre-launch launch and is attracting some media coverage all across the political spectrum. The Institute is named after the sixth US President John Quincy Adams, who famously made a speech while Secretary of State in which he cautioned that while the United States of America would always be sympathetic to the attempts of other countries to fight against dominance by the imperial European powers, “she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

The Quincy Institute self-defines as a foundation dedicated to a responsible and restrained foreign policy with the stated intention of “mov[ing] US foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace.” It is seeking to fund an annual budget of $5-6 million, enough to employ twenty or more staffers.

The Quincy Institute claims correctly that many of the other organizations dealing with national security and international affairs inside the Beltway are either agenda driven or neoconservative dominated, often meaning that they in practice support serial interventionism, sometimes including broad tolerance or even encouragement of war as a first option when dealing with adversaries. These are policies that are currently playing out unsuccessfully vis-à-vis Venezuela, Iran, Syria and North Korea.

The Quincies promise to be different in an attempt to change the Washington foreign policy consensus, which some have referred to as the Blob, and they have indeed collected a very respectable group of genuine “realist” experts and thoughtful pundits, including Professor Andrew Bacevich, National Iranian American Council founder Trita Parsi and investigative journalist Jim Lobe. But the truly interesting aspect of their organization is its funding. Its most prominent contributors are left of center George Soros and right of center and libertarian leaning Charles Koch. That is what is attracting the attention coming from media outlets like The Nation on the progressive side and Foreign Policy from the conservatives. That donors will demand their pound of flesh is precisely the problem with the Quincy vision as money drives the political process in the United States while also fueling the Establishment’s military-industrial-congressional complex that dominates the national security/foreign policy discussion.

There will be inevitably considerable ideological space between people who are progressive-antiwar and those who call themselves “realists” that will have to be carefully bridged lest the group begin to break down in squabbling over “principles.” Some progressives of the Barack Obama variety will almost certainly push for the inclusion of Samantha Power R2P types who will use abuses in foreign countries to argue for the US continuing to play a “policeman for the world” role on humanitarian grounds. And there will inevitably be major issues that Quincy will be afraid to confront, including the significant role played by Israel and its friends in driving America’s interventionist foreign policy.

Nevertheless, the Quincy Institute is certainly correct in its assessment that there is significant war-weariness among the American public, particularly among returning veterans, and there is considerable sentiment supporting a White House change of course in its national security policy. But it errs in thinking that America’s corrupted legislators will respond at any point prior to their beginning to fail in reelection bids based on that issue, which has to be considered unlikely. Witness the current Democratic Party debates in which Tulsi Gabbard is the only candidate who is even daring to talk about America’s disastrous and endless wars, suggesting that the Blob assessment that the issue is relatively unimportant may be correct.

Money talks. Where else in the developed world but the United States can a multi-billionaire like Sheldon Adelson legally and in the open spend a few tens of millions of dollars, which is for him pocket change, to effectively buy an entire political party on behalf of a foreign nation? What will the Quincies do when George Soros, notorious for his sometimes disastrous support of so-called humanitarian “regime change” intervention to expand “democracy movements” as part his vision of a liberal world order, calls up the Executive Director and suggests that he would like to see a little more pushing of whatever is needed to build democracy in Belarus? Soros, who has doubled his spending for political action in this election cycle, is not doing so for altruistic reasons. And he might reasonably argue that one of the four major projects planned by the Quincy Institute, headed by investigative journalist Eli Clifton, is called “Democratizing Foreign Policy.”

Why are US militarism and interventionism important issues? They are beyond important – and would be better described as potentially life or death both for the United States and for the many nations with which it interacts. And there is also the price to pay by every American domestically, with the terrible and unnecessary waste of national resources as well human capital driving American ever deeper into a hole that it might never be able to emerge from.

As Quincy is the newcomer on K Street, it is important to recognize what the plethora of foundations and institutes in Washington actually do in any given week. To be sure, they produce a steady stream of white papers, press releases, and op-eds that normally only their partisan supporters bother to read or consider. They buttonhole and talk to congressmen or staffers whenever they can, most often the staffers. And the only ones really listening among legislators are the ones who are finding what they hear congenial and useful for establishing a credible framework for policy decisions that have nothing to do with the strengths of the arguments being made or “realism.” The only realism for a congress-critter in the heartland is having a defense plant providing jobs in his district.

And, to be sure, the institutes and foundations also have a more visible public presence. Every day somewhere in Washington there are numerous panel discussions and meetings debating the issues deemed to be of critical importance. The gatherings are attended primarily by the already converted, are rarely reported in any of the mainstream media, and they exist not to explain or resolve issues but rather to make sure their constituents continue to regard the participants as respectable, responsible and effective so as not to interrupt the flow of donor money.

US foreign policy largely operates within narrow limits that are essentially defined by powerful and very well-funded interest groups like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Hudson Institute, the Brookings Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), but the real lobbying of Congress and the White House on those issues takes place out of sight, not in public gatherings, and it is backed up by money. AIPAC, for example, alone spends more than $80 million dollars per year and has 200 employees.

So, the Quincy Institute intention to broaden the discussion of the current foreign policy to include opponents and critics of interventionism should be welcomed with some caveats. It is a wonderful idea already explored by others but nevertheless pretty much yet another shot in the dark that will accomplish little or nothing beyond providing jobs for some college kids and feel good moments for the anointed inner circle. And the shot itself is aimed in the wrong direction. The real issue is not foreign policy per se at all. It is getting the corrupting force of enormous quantities of PAC money completely removed from American politics. America has the best Congress and White House that anyone’s money can buy. The Quincy Institute’s call for restraint in foreign policy, for all its earnestness, will not change that bit of “realism” one bit.

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