Trump Putin Up Against US Deep State

By Finian Cunningham

July 09, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  It was pleasing to see Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin greet each other cordially at the G20 summit. After their breakthrough first meeting, one hopes the two leaders have a personal foundation for future cooperation.

At a later press conference in Hamburg, where the G20 summit was held, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he believed there was a chance for restoring the badly frayed US-Russia relations. He praised Trump for being thoughtful and rational. “The TV Trump is quite different from the real life one,” quipped Putin.

Meanwhile, the White House issued a statement hailing the two-hour discussion (four times longer than originally scheduled) between the two leaders as a good start to working together on major world problems.

“No problems were solved. Nobody expected any problems to be solved in that meeting. But it was a beginning of a dialogue on some tough problem sets that we’ll begin now to work on together,” said HR McMaster, Trump’s top national security adviser.

Trump deserves credit for the way he conducted himself. He met Putin on equal terms and with respect. “It’s an honor to meet you,” said the American president as he extended a handshake.

The much-anticipated encounter comes nearly seven months after Trump was inaugurated in the White House. Over that period, large sections of the US media have run an unrelenting campaign accusing Trump of being a Russian stooge and alleging that Putin ordered an interference operation in last year’s US election to benefit Trump.

Apart from innuendo and anonymous US intelligence claims, recycled endlessly by dutiful news organizations, there is no evidence of either Trump-Russia collusion or Putin-sanctioned cyber hacking. Trump has dismissed the claims as “fake news”, while Moscow has consistently rejected the allegations as baseless Russophobia.

Against this toxic background of anti-Russian propaganda, President Trump met Putin at the weekend. The two men were due to talk face-to-face for 30 minutes. As it turned out, their discussions went on for two hours. They reportedly exchanged views on pressing matters of Syria, Ukraine and North Korea among other things. Trump brought up the issue of alleged Russian meddling in the US elections, and Putin responded in detail to assure his American counterpart it was a fabricated brouhaha in which Russia had nothing to do with it.

Only days before the big meeting, US media editorialists and pundits were warning Trump to confront Putin in an aggressive manner. The Washington Post, one of the leading anti-Russia voices, exhortedTrump to rap Putin on “US election meddling” as if the claim was a proven fact. It also urged the president to give notice to Putin that Russia had to accede to regime change in Syria. It was a get-tough order.

To his credit, Trump did not allow the Russophobia in the US media to influence his manner with Putin. He was cordial, respectful and open to listening to the Russian viewpoint on a range of issues. So much so that it appears both leaders have agreed to work together going forward.

The question now is: what next? Trump and Putin have evidently got off to a good start despite the inordinate delay and toxic background. But what does Trump’s willingness to engage positively with Moscow actually mean in practice?

The US Deep State comprising the military-intelligence nexus and their political, media machine in Washington does not want to normalize relations with Russia. Russian independence as a powerful foreign state under President Putin is a problem that rankles US global ambitions. That’s why the Deep State wanted anti-Russia hawk Hillary Clinton to win the election. Trump’s victory upset their calculations.

Under immense pressure, Trump has at times appeared to buckle to the US political establishment with regard to projecting hostility towards Russia, as seen in the prosecution of the covert war in Syria and renewed sanctions on Moscow.

The day before he met Putin in Germany, Trump was in Poland where he delivered a barnstorming speech in Warsaw in which he accused Russia of “destabilizing countries”, among other topics.  The American president also inferred that Russia was undermining “Western civilization”. It was provocative speech bordering on hackneyed Russophobia. It did not bode well for his imminent meeting with Putin. A clash seemed to be coming, just as the US media had been cajoling.

However, the meeting the next day with Putin was surprisingly congenial. And the substance of discussions indicates a genuine desire from both sides to cooperate.

It is good that both presidents have struck up a rapport and personal understanding. Nevertheless, it is important to not bank too much on that.

Immediately following the constructive meeting between the leaders, the US media started cranking up the Russophobia again. The US media are vents for Deep State hostility towards Trump and his agenda for normalizing relations with Moscow.

The New York Times reported another breathless story about Trump’s election campaign having contact with “Kremlin-connected” people. CNN ran opinion pieces on how the president had fallen into a trap laid by Putin.

It is hard to stomach this outlandish confabulation that passes for journalism. And it is astounding that a friendly meeting between leaders of nuclear powers should not be received as a good development.

But it shows that Trump his up against very powerful deep forces within the US establishment who do not want a normalization with Russia. The US Deep State depends on confrontation, war and endless militarism for its existence. It also wants a world populated by vassals over which US corporations have suzerainty. An independent Russia or China or any other foreign power cannot be tolerated because that upends American ambitions for unipolar hegemony.

Trump’s encounter with Putin was commendable because he did not succumb to toxic Russophobia and adopt a stupid, mindless tough-guy posture. Instead, Trump reached out to Putin in a genuine way, as two human beings should do.

The US Deep State is not about humanity or understanding. It is about maintaining perceived dominance over other humans, where anyone seen to be an obstacle is disposed of in the most ruthless way.

President John F Kennedy was assassinated in broad daylight by the US Deep State because he dared to seek a normalization and peaceful coexistence with Moscow. The Deep State does not want normalization or peace with Russia or anyone else for that matter because there are too many lucrative vested interests in maintaining the war machine that is American capitalism.

This is not to predict a violent demise for Trump. The Deep State has other methods, such as the orchestration of media and other dirty tricks.

Trump’s friendly overtures to Russia are at least a promising sign. But given the power structure of the US, and its incorrigible belligerence, it is doubtful that Trump will be allowed to go beyond promises. If he attempts to, we can expect the dark forces to step up.

What needs to change is the US power structure through a democratic revolt. Until that happens, any president in the White House is simply a hostage to the dark forces of the Deep State.

This article was first published by Sputnik News 

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

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Trump-Putin’s Moment of Truth

Trump-Putin’s Moment of Truth

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 02.07.2017 | OPINION

Trump-Putin’s Moment of Truth

The forthcoming meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit has got to be the most anticipated political moment of the year. The handshake, smiles, body language and words will all be scrutinized to parse significance in the encounter between the leaders of the world’s two superpowers.

Sections of the American media will no doubt be looking for secret signals between «agent Trump» and the former «KGB spy Putin» to confirm their suspicions it was the Kremlin that orchestrated the US presidential election to get Trump into the White House. That spy-thriller narrative has been running non-stop in prominent US news outlets – and yet six months after Trump’s inauguration not even a single bit of hard evidence has emerged to support the allegations of collusion. It’s a spy fantasy that has taken on a life of its own, which even the CNN channel – one of the biggest purveyors of the Trump-Russia trope – has recently been caught out disclosing quietly that it’s a «nothing burger».

Nonetheless, on a more serious level, the meeting between Trump and Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit next weekend will have a «moment of truth» quality. It’s their first encounter, although the two leaders have held at least two phone conversations in the past six months.

Confirming that the Trump-Putin one-on-one is scheduled during the Hamburg summit, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that the meeting will «clarify» the state of bilateral relations between Washington and Moscow.

«We expect the Hamburg meeting between our presidents to clarify the prospects for Russian-US cooperation», said Lavrov speaking in Moscow last Friday at the Primakov Readings conference.

The tone of anticipation in Moscow is understandable. As Lavrov pointed out, the relation between the US and Russia is critical for addressing a wide range of pressing global issues. Yet, as he noted, that relation has been distorted into an «abnormal» state because it is «held hostage by domestic political struggles in the US».

When Trump was campaigning for the presidency, he pitched himself as being a leader who would return US-Russia relations to a new normal of friendly cooperation. This contrasted with his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton who was vowing to take a tough confrontational line on Moscow over international issues like Ukraine and Syria. It is a fair assumption that Trump won the election partly because the American electorate preferred his ticket of restoring relations with Russia. After decades of reckless overseas wars, the American voters did not want more of Clinton’s jingoistic posturing.

However, since Trump entered the White House, the promised normalization of US-Russia relations has not materialized. Indeed, with the imposition of new rounds of economic sanctions by Washington and the stepped-up US military intervention in Syria, one could say that relations have deteriorated even further.

Both sides acknowledge that relations between the world’s two largest nuclear powers have sunk to a worrying level. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov openly stated the deplorable situation during their first bilateral meeting in Moscow earlier this year in April.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently said in an interview with American film director Oliver Stone that there has been no discernible improvement in bilateral relations between the US and Russia since Trump became president.

This is in spite of the fact that both the White House and the Kremlin have expressed a desire to seek better relations.

Of course, much of US policy towards Russia is out of Trump’s control. The hawkish Republican and Democrat dominated Congress is pushing through more hostile anti-Russia sanctions independent of Trump’s personal views. The latest bill on increasing sanctions has been tabled in such a way that it curtails Trump’s ability to use his executive power to revoke sanctions.

Also, what we are seeing too are the limits of US democracy. The people may have voted for a president who wants to pursue friendlier relations with Russia, but the American political establishment and its powerful media organizations refuse to accept that democratic expression. The US establishment and large sections of the military-security apparatus wanted Clinton and her Cold War-style foreign policy to win the election. She lost. But the powers-that-be then resorted to Plan B of coercing the new president into adopting its policy goal of hostility toward Russia.

Is Trump being held hostage by the American «deep state» and its influential media machine? No doubt there seems to be a big factor of that at play here. But it is still not clear what Trump’s own intentions are. As well as the Congress slapping on new harsher sanctions against Russia, Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also signed off on a separate round of punitive measures. Surely, if the White House had an intention of normalizing relations with the Kremlin then Trump could have stopped the Treasury from hatching more sanctions?

There is also the question of Trump’s policy on Syria. The ratcheting up of air strikes on Syria under Trump’s watch has escalated tensions with Russia which, rightly, views the American military attacks as a grave violation of Syrian sovereignty and international law. Russia has even intimated that future US air strikes will not be tolerated. Will Trump heed this warning, or is he intent on provoking an all-out confrontation with Syria’s ally, Russia?

Trump’s meeting with Putin in Hamburg will certainly be a moment to watch, if not exactly a vaunted moment of truth. If Trump does adopt a tough-guy posture, then it suggests that the US president is indeed a hostage to reactionary anti-Russia circles in Washington. In a pathetic way, he will be seen has having been cowed by the obsessive Russophobia that is deranging US government.

Alternatively, the bets are that Trump will greet Putin with gusto and a cordial vibe. But in that case the moment will also be telling. In the context of ongoing provocative hostility towards Russia in Washington, the «friendly Trump» shows that he is a non-entity president. Someone who really has no power and ultimately cannot be trusted to make meaningful policy.

Either way, the real moment of truth will be that US democracy is a fiction.

Saudi Hijinks, US Policy Stinks

June 22, 2017

US President Donald Trump - Saudi King Salman

Finian Cunningham

The whimsical Saudi rulers are playing musical chairs again, with the king’s favorite son jumping the succession queue in what some observers have called a “soft coup” to become heir to the oil kingdom throne.

The medieval-like House of Saud has always been a lynchpin in US foreign policy for the Middle East. More so under President Donald Trump who has struck up a chummy relationship with the young Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This relationship is like the blind leading the blind. No wonder US policy is fast becoming a disaster for the restive region.

America’s deepening and reckless military involvement in Syria is a result of Trump cozying up with the Saudi despots. That, in turn, is leading to the US brazenly flying air force cover for Saudi-sponsored terrorists in Syria at the risk of going to war with Russia and Iran. Russia has warned that any more US shoot-downs of Syrian jets will not be tolerated.

This week the obscurantist Saudi rulers decided to shake up their bizarre rules of succession in the kingdom. The ailing King Salman (81) decreed, overnight, that his heir Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef would no longer be the heir. Bin Nayef was pushed aside, to be replaced by the king’s own son, Mohammed bin Salman.

At age 31, the new Crown Prince could soon become the future Saudi ruler who will govern the country for the next half century. On one hand, the shake-up is aimed at giving the impression of stability in a strategic American ally, given that, potentially, Mohammed bin Salman could rule for several decades to come, owing to his youthful age.

On the other hand, however, the upending of Saudi succession rules is fraught with risk that the Arab state could become even more unstable from internal power rivalries and social discontent. Not to mention that the country has already become more embroiled in regional problems with neighbors Yemen, Qatar and Iran. All of which stems from the rapid elevation of the young prince to a position of immense autocratic power.

The United States’ decades-long “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia has always carried major downsides. Yes, the Saudis are a pillar in maintaining the American petrodollar system to prevent the collapse of the US economy; and, yes, the Saudi rulers are lavish spenders on US weapons, which props up the Pentagon military-industrial complex – another lifeline for American capitalism.

However, the Saudi rulers are also longtime sponsors of Wahhabi fundamentalism which has injected deadly sectarian poison into the Middle East region and beyond. Washington is complicit in fomenting sectarianism through its relationship with Saudi Arabia, and the price for that Faustian pact is a world in turmoil from terrorism.

Donald Trump’s presidency is an unfortunate marriage of interests with Saudi Arabia. Trump is capricious, ignorant and impetuous. His understanding of international relations and history seems woefully inadequate. He also appears to be unscrupulous and reckless. It’s all about making money that matters to him.

From the earliest opportunity, the Saudi prince wheedled his way into Trump’s court. He was greeted in the White House back in March, one of the first foreign leaders to do so. Then two months later, Trump ventured on his maiden foreign trip as president in which he made Saudi Arabia his first stop. Trump was royally received by the House of Saud with sword-waving ceremony. And then the Saudis signed record arms deal with the US worth up to $350 billion – the biggest ever in history.

It was during Trump’s Saudi visit that the policy of increased hostility towards Iran and isolation of erstwhile Saudi and American ally Qatar was hatched. This reckless, clueless embrace of Saudi Arabia by Trump has led to a dangerous escalation in tensions across the Middle East, which are seen playing out in Syria and towards Iran and Russia.

Trump the tycoon and the Saudi upstart-prince are a duo who are plunging the world into danger of all-out war. The pair are a match made in hell, both being rash and irresponsible in their behavior.

Nobody outside Saudi Arabia had heard of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman until his father become king in January 2015 on the death of King Abdullah. In the space of two years, the young prince has been made defense minister and de facto chief of Saudi’s oil economy. Now, this week he has been shunted into becoming heir to the throne, sidelining his elder cousin and nephew to the king.

The precocious prince has only enjoyed this meteoric rise in the House of Saud because of his father’s favoritism. Other more senior royals feel ousted and see the new Crown Prince as undeserving of his assigned authority. In short, he is out of his depth.

In the Saudi succession rules, the royal line is supposed to pass from brother to brother. There are still surviving brothers of the Saudi founding king, Ibn Saud, who have been removed from the succession. The present King Salman first broke the rules when he made his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef the Crown Prince back in April 2015. Now he has broken the rules again by making his own son the heir and unceremoniously pushing bin Nayef to the side. Such are the hijinks of despots.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the architect behind the disastrous war in Yemen, which is turning into a Vietnam-style quagmire for Saudi Arabia, costing the kingdom billions of dollars every month. He is also reportedly the architect behind the policy of renewed hostility towards Iran. In an interview before Trump’s Saudi trip, Mohammed bin Salman said he would never talk to Iran and even threatened to unleash violence on Iranian territory. That threat was followed by the deadly terror attack in Tehran on June 7 in which up to 17 people were killed by Daesh suicide squads.

The hiked-up hostile policy towards Iran has, in turn, led to Saudi Arabia blockading Qatar and causing a bitter rift in the Persian Gulf because Qatar is perceived as being too soft on Iran.

The power-struggle antics among the absolute rulers of the House of Saud have promoted a prince who has a reckless outsized ego and lust for dominance. President Donald Trump seems cut from the same cloth. Courting the young Saudi heir may be lucrative for American weapons-dealing and no doubt the Trump business brand in the oil-rich region. But the consequences of such capricious and clueless “leadership” are throwing the region and the world into increasing conflict.

This week the US State Department flatly contradicted Trump’s policy of supporting the Saudi-led blockade on Qatar. It said it was mystified that the Saudis had not presented any evidence to justify the blockade. This is just one example where Trump is being made to look a total fool by following stupid Saudi policy – policy that is made by a prince who has gathered a record for disaster in several other spheres.

What a double act. Saudi despotism marries Trump cluelessness. And the world is reaping the calamity of clowns.

Almanar.com.lb is not responsible for the content of this article. All opinions expressed are solely those of the author

Source: Sputnik

Corbyn’s Labour Triumph Despite UK Election Defeat

 

Corbyn’s Labour Triumph Despite UK Election Defeat

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 10.06.2017 | OPINION

Corbyn’s Labour Triumph Despite UK Election Defeat

Finian CUNNINGHAMAgainst all the odds, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn scored a landmark victory of sorts in the British general election. Under his leadership, he has brought the party back as a major political force with future momentum.

Only a few weeks ago, he was written off as a «loony left» no-hoper who would crash the Labour party into oblivion. This week, however, his confident socialist manifesto has been vindicated as a winner among voters, especially the younger ones. That bodes well for the future.

Granted, Labour did not win the election with an outright majority. But the dramatic gains in new parliamentary seats brings the party into a position where it is able to propose forming a minority government if the ruling Conservatives implode from infighting.

For the Conservative party under Prime Minister Theresa May the result is a «disaster», reported Bloomberg News. The rightwing Sun blasted its front page with one word playing on the premier’s name: ‘Mayhem’. While the more sober pro-Conservative Daily Telegraph headlined gravity of the setback with: ‘May’s gamble backfires’.

Back in April, Theresa May was so confident of thrashing Labour at the ballots she made the extraordinary call to hold a snap election – three years ahead of the scheduled parliamentary cycle. May, who took over from David Cameron last year after his Brexit referendum debacle, wanted to boost her mandate with an election victory carried under her own leadership.

When she called the early election, her party enjoyed a 20-plus point lead ahead of Labour in various opinion polls. However, that lead was slashed over the weeks running up to election held this week, to the point where Labour has managed to increase its national share of the votes to 40 per cent compared with the Conservatives, who won 42 per cent, according to a BBC summary report.

That outcome marks a stupendous personal victory for Corbyn’s style and substance of leadership. It wasn’t just the opposition Conservatives and largely rightwing British media who were denigrating him as a «Marxist» and «terrorist sympathizer». Many of his own parliamentarians on the Blairite right of the Labour party were casting him as a «loser» and dead-end throwback to the party’s traditional socialist policies. It was being predicted that Corbyn would be sacked in the anticipated electoral wipe-out. As it turns out though, Labour under Corbyn has soared with the voters. He has ignited a new political energy across Britain, especially among younger voters, to give socialist ideals a renaissance.

In terms of seat numbers, Labour won some 30 new parliamentarians, while the Conservatives lost 13 seats. Rather than increasing its majority, Theresa May’s party has ended up losing its overall majority. It can only form a minority government if it manages to negotiate a working coalition with one of the fringe parties, such as the Democratic Unionists from Northern Ireland who have 10 seats. It’s hardly a ringing endorsement of stable government.

If the Conservatives fail to produce a working minority government, then in theory Labour could form an alternative administration if it can align with the Scottish Nationalists and the Liberal Democrats in an ad hoc progressive alliance. Corbyn said after the result that his party is «ready to serve the country».

It’s hard to overstate the scale of defeat for Theresa May. The BBC called the result for her «humiliating». And while she might remain as prime minister in the short term in order to maintain a modicum of political stability in British governance, the knives are already out for her ouster among rivals within her party. The gaffe-prone foreign secretary Boris Johnson is being touted as the next Conservative leader and premier.

May gambled that a strong electoral win would give her more leverage to negotiate the Brexit from the European Union on more advantageous terms for Britain. As it transpires, the Brexit process is now thrown into even more disarray because of May’s diminished mandate. Those negotiations between Brussels and London were set to begin later this month. But it seems that the talks will have to be put on hold – much to the annoyance of EU leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel. It can be expected that the EU will drive a tough bargain and not give Britain the concessions on trade and immigration control it was rather arrogantly demanding.

May’s pitch to the voters of electing a «strong leader» to negotiate a super Brexit deal with Brussels just didn’t deliver.

Labour under Corbyn is also committed to leaving the EU as per the referendum result last July, even though the party campaigned on a remain ticket. May’s calculation that voters would view him as unreliable was way off target.

What seems to have mattered most to British voters was not the politics of Brexit, but rather the more traditional issues of socio-economic concerns and class interests.

Corbyn bravely put forward a Labour manifesto which confidently called for socialist policies such as a progressive tax on the wealthy, increased government spending on public services and social welfare, and generally shifting governing power in favor of the working majority of people, the unemployed, the elderly and poor. In many ways, it was a complete repudiation of the neo-liberal capitalist agenda that has dominated British governments for the past four decades, including Labour governments of the Blair and Brown eras.

Corbyn’s socialist manifesto was lambasted as «ludicrous» and «loony left». The Conservatives and the British media arrogantly assumed the electorate would spurn Labour.

But the opposite happened. His courage, humility and tenacity under fire won voters over. Corbyn managed to capture the electorate’s imagination, courage and desire to create a new break from the failed neo-liberal orthodoxy. He dared to make voters hope again for a more democratic politics. And while not winning outright in this election, the dramatic gains made by Labour under Corbyn have put the party back as a serious contender for government.

There are several insights to be drawn from the shock British election this week. One is that the voters have been galvanized by an unabashed socialist vision of Britain. One where the economy is taken under control to serve the «many, not the few».

Another revelation is that the British voters have shown an independence of judgement that is not swayed by the propaganda of elite power, as has happened in the past. This reflects a general demise in establishment politics and oligarchic power, as seen in many other countries.

Corbyn was savagely, relentlessly denigrated for allegedly being a Marxist maverick and of being «soft on terrorism» and towards Russia. The latter because he is opposed to NATO expansion in Europe and refused, despite intense media pressure, to yield on his commitment to nuclear disarmament.

Corbyn, who has been an MP for nearly 35 years, stuck to his socialist principles and his vision for a more just and peaceful British foreign policy (vowing, for example, to cancel weapons sales to Saudi Arabia). The British establishment dismissed his politics and gave him no chance in the election. Well, guess what, the British people are increasingly with Corbyn and his socialist vision.

Theresa May won a Pyrrhic victory, by shooting her party in the head as one Conservative MP put it.

Jeremy Corbyn, by contrast, has returned Labour to being a real political force, with the future on its side. Why? Because, in short, it’s the democratically, morally and intellectually sustainable way to go.

Trump’s Art of the Deal: Selling Wars and Terrorism

The  Man 0f Shalom = Peace for JEWS

By Finian Cunningham

May 25, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – It would be funny if it were not so sickening. US President Donald Trump’s whirlwind tour through the Middle East was a “triumph” of make-believe rhetoric over reality. Donald “the peace-maker” is sowing decades of further violence in the war-torn region.

The horrific repercussions of American foreign policy are all around us, from the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories to the ongoing wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, to the latest terror attack in Britain where 22 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a concert in Manchester.

With a typical inane understanding of the web of international terrorism that American foreign policy has generated over many years, Trump glibly condemned the bombing atrocity in Manchester as the work of “losers.”

Trump – on his first overseas tour as president – regaled Middle East leaders with florid words about peace and prosperity and a faux pretense of historical appreciation, referring to the region as thecradle of civilization,” a sacred land and rich heritage.”

There were minimal details in how Trump would achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, or defeat terrorism in the Middle East. It was all the just feel-good rhetoric that papered over the systemic causes of conflict and terrorism.

The one tangible takeaway was the American president’s mammoth arms deal signed with Saudi Arabia – $350 billion-worth over ten years. It was hailed as the biggest ever weapons contract, with an initial payment of $110 billion. Put in perspective, Trump is selling the Saudi rulers a total three times what Obama managed to achieve over his two administrations – some $115 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, which itself was a record high.

The proposed weapons supply is truly staggering, not least because of their destination to a regime up to its eyes in terror sponsorship.

During his next stop to Israel, Trump’s entourage visited the Wailing Wall abutting East Jerusalem, thus giving Washington’s imprimatur to the creeping annexation of the entire city by the state of Israel. Moves are underway to shift the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in what would sound the death knell for Palestinian aspirations to claim East Jerusalem (al-Quds) as the capital of a future independent state.

That would also signal the abandonment of long-standing US policy avowedly advocating a two-state solution. Something which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rightwing Likud government are lobbying for. Everything about Trump’s kowtowing indicates he is a willing patron to Israeli expansionism.

From Jerusalem, Trump drove to the Israeli-occupied West Bank where he met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem. Families protesting the incarceration of hundreds of hunger-striking Palestinians by Israel were kept at bay, while Trump delivered the ultimatum: “Peace can never take root where violence is tolerated.

Trump would never have the integrity or understanding to deliver the same ultimatum to Saudi and Israeli leaders. Even though the admonishment of “not tolerating violence” there is manifold more pertinent and meaningful.

During the past fifty years since the Six Day War, America has condoned the relentless illegal annexation of land by Israel. The last round of futile “peace talks” ended in failure in 2014, when then US Secretary of State John Kerry adopted the usual policy of turning a blind eye to Israeli settlements and military occupation. The Trump administration is prepared to capitulate even further.

The Saudi and other Arab rulers are also jettisoning any pretense at pursuing a just peace accord for Palestinians.

They utter not a word of protest over Israel’s land grabs and moves to kill off Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem – the site of Islam’s third holy

Trump’s visit to the Middle East – ahead of his trip to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis and then NATO leaders in Brussels – is yet another sign of a geopolitical realignment. It seems an antiquated notion that Saudi Arabia and allied Arab regimes are somehow in opposition to Israel. As if the former are defenders of Arab and Muslim rights.

What’s going down is a tawdry tie-up in the region between American-backed client regimes. This has nothing to do with forging peace and all about consolidating Washington’s hegemony over the oil-rich region. That hegemony is primarily underpinned by Washington’s militarization and saturated selling of weaponry.

Significantly, the $350 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia caused no concern for Netanyahu’s government.

How can it hurt?” Amos Gilad, a former Israel defense official, told the Times of Israel. For now, there’s an alliance between the US and the Arab world against Iran, said Gilad.

The Times also quoted Yaakov Amidror, the former national security adviser to Netanyahu, as saying, Israel has no reason to worry about the massive Saudi-US arms deals.” He added that the latest Saudi arms deal could help pave the way for Israeli-Arab cooperation in the future.

Besides, Washington’s strategic doctrine is that Israel will always be given US priority to retain a so-called qualitative military edge over all other states in the region. That means US arms transfers to its Arab allies will be met with ever-more military aid to Israel, which currently clocks about $3.8 billion a year.

In other words, Trump’s arms dealing are a win-win for the US, more than ever. Mammoth sales to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf Arab monarchies will drive up American weapons business with Israel. But a virtuous circle for Washington is a vicious cycle for the region whereby an already militarized conflict zone is being deluged with American firepower.

Given that the US-backed regimes are in various ways indelibly connected to territorial strife, sectarian conflict and in particular the sponsorship of Wahhabi terror groups it is almost certain that Trump’s reckless weapons trading will fuel more violence. It is well documented that Saudi Arabia serves as a conduit for American weaponry to Al-Qaeda-affiliated terror networks in Syria and elsewhere.

Still more ominous is how Trump’s military racket is pushing the region into a war with Iran. This fatuous president is giving full vent to Israeli and Saudi propaganda accusing Iran of “fueling the fires of sectarian conflict and terror” in the region, citing Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. This is a breath-taking inversion of reality, given the nefarious role of Saudi Arabia in those same countries.

In the Saudi capital, Riyadh, Trump called on assembled Arab regimes to stamp out terror by targeting Iran for regime change.

While in Jerusalem, Trump said:

There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have a common enemy with you in the threat posed by Iran.

Israel premier Netanyahu also remarked that

old enemies [sic] have become allies against a common enemy.

We can be sure that the “common enemy” spoken of is not terrorism, but rather Iran.

Donald Trump, the business tycoon-turned-president, never stops boasting about his prowess on boosting the “bottom line.” He may well boost the profits of American weapons manufacturers by flooding the Middle East with ever-more military arms. But the bottom line for the region and beyond is more wars, destruction, and bloodshed.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

This article was first published by RT

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

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Trump Visits Bethlehem Bearing Gifts to Child Killers

Finian Cunningham

May 20, 2017

US President Donald Trump makes his first overseas visit this weekend, beginning in the Middle East and continuing to Europe. His tour to the “holy land” is being presented with feel-good, messianic spin.

Trump touches down first in Saudi Arabia, then will go Israel and from there make a pilgrimage to Bethlehem in the Palestinian territories. After his stop at the reputed birthplace of Jesus, the American president will then fly to the Vatican, where he will be greeted by Roman Catholic Pope Francis. He will later meet NATO military leaders in Brussels.

resenting the president’s Middle East itinerary like a momentous religious event, Trump’s senior national security adviser General HR McMaster said:

“This trip is truly historic. No president has ever visited the homelands and holy sites of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all on the same trip. And what President Trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity.”

The White House, reported the Washington Post, described it as “an effort to unite three of the world’s leading religious faiths in the common cause of fighting terrorism, reining in Iran and unifying the world against intolerance.”

Hold it. Screech the brakes on this Hollywood-type script of Saint Donald saving the world. What utter claptrap.

The main purpose of his sojourn is to cut a record arms deal with Saudi Arabia and the other closely aligned Gulf Arab monarchies. While in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, addressing regional leaders about “world peace,” Trump is set to sign off weapons deals worth $350 billion. That’s more than double what his predecessor Barack Obama flogged to the Saudi rulers during his presidency.

According to Bloomberg, topping the list of US arms transfers are warships, helicopter gunships, anti-missile systems and tanks.

The THAAD anti-missile system, recently debuted in South Korea, is said to be among the inventory for the Saudis and other Gulf states to the tune of $10 billion. The crisis in Korea provides a convenient sales pitch to the Saudis. Maybe that’s partly why the Trump administration has dangerously provoked the tensions in Asia, precisely to push through their THAAD sales in the Middle East.

In addition to the weapons purchases, the Saudi rulers are also promising to invest $40 billion from their oil-rich sovereign wealth funds in American companies.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and personal adviser, has been instrumental in lining up the mega sales, in conjunction with the Saudi deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The 30-year-old son of King Salman, who is also the defense minister, has been courting the Trump presidency ever since the election last November.

The Saudi prince, known as MBS by the Trump inner circle, is the chief strategist behind the Saudi war on Yemen since March 2015. That war is a blatant aggression on Yemen carried out by Saudi forces supplied by the US and Britain. Thousands of children have been killed in Saudi air strikes, using internationally banned cluster bombs in indiscriminate attacks on civilian centers.

Just days before Trump’s departure to the Middle East, Saudi air strikes reportedly killed 23 civilians, including six children, near the southern Yemeni city of Taiz.

Millions of other Yemeni children are dying from starvation and preventable diseases like cholera because of a naval blockade imposed on the country by Saudi and American forces. No doubt the new warships that Trump is lining up for Saudi Arabia will add to the “efficacy” of the genocide that is underway in Yemen.

With staggering cynicism, the Trump administration is “justifying” this ramped-up military support for Saudi Arabia as an effort to “fight terrorism” and to “counter Iranian meddling” in the region.

It is alleged that Iran is sponsoring militia in Yemen, Syria and Iraq and this is posing a threat to regional stability. Such claims are an insult to common intelligence, when we know that it is the American CIA and their Saudi client regime who have bankrolled and directed terrorism across the entire Middle East over many years in order to serve hegemonic interests of regime change.

But what is disturbing is just how braindead the Trump administration is. Trump is recklessly promoting the ridiculous fantasy that Saudi Arabia and its despotic terror-sponsoring clients are somehow the custodians of law and order. He is also pumping up the surreal Saudi narrative that Iran is largely responsible for the Middle East’s conflicts.

When the American president addresses Saudi and other Muslim leaders in Riyadh this weekend supposedly on the challenges of finding regional peace, two nations are banned from the gathering – Iran and Syria.

Saudi rulers have recently threatened Iran with fomenting a Syria-style proxy war inside Iran. The record arsenal of weapons that Trump is bringing to Saudi Arabia will only embolden its House of Saud tinpot dictators to pursue even more confrontation with Iran. Much of the small-arms weaponry that the Americans supply to Saudi Arabia already ends up in the hands of terror groups like Jabhat al Nusra and Daesh (so-called Islamic State).

There are perplexing signs that the US under Trump is ratcheting up military aggression toward Iran and its ally Syria. This week, US warplanes reportedly attacked Syrian armed forces and Iranian allies Hezbollah in southern Syria. It was the second such direct assault on Syria after Trump ordered Tomahawk missile strikes on the Shayrat airbase in April.

Syrian sources claim that the latest US air strike was carried out to protect militants being trained by American special forces inside Syrian territory. Those militants, known as Maghaweer al Thawra, are part of the Al Qaeda terror network, according to independent journalist Vanessa Beeley in email correspondence with this author.

Seems more than coincidence that the latest US operation was timed with Trump’s departure for Saudi Arabia. This is the kind of military action that the Saudis were constantly pushing the Obama administration to carry out. The strike on Iranian interests too will no doubt endear the new US commander-in-chief even more to his Saudi clients.

Trump’s messianic zeal to visit the Middle East – his first foreign destination being the dubious human rights “haven” Saudi Arabia – is all about flogging ever more deadly weapons to the already explosively-charged region. So desperate is Trump to pimp billions of dollars that he is willing to fuel war with Iran and perhaps Syria’s other ally, Russia, in the pursuit of lucre.

And to add further insult to injury, the whole tour of the “holy land” is being sold by the American government and media as some kind of benevolent religious duty to mankind and world peace.

The only “gifts” that Trump is bringing to Bethlehem and the region are ever more monstrous ways to murder children.

If Pope Francis had any integrity, or even news savvy, he should cancel Trump’s call at the Vatican, and explain exactly that child-killing regimes are not welcome.

Source: Sputnik

The Real WMD in Syria – West’s Weapon of Mass Disorientation

The Real WMD in Syria – West’s Weapon of Mass Disorientation

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 30.04.2017 | OPINION

The Real WMD in Syria – West’s Weapon of Mass Disorientation

A senior Rand analyst, inadvertently, gave the game away in a recent article inculpating Syrian President Bashar al Assad over the alleged toxic massacre of civilians on April 4. The Rand Corporation, a longtime conduit for CIA propaganda, wrote: «The use of chemical weapons today provokes international condemnation… Those who order their deployment risk being charged with war crimes».

The Western objective, as tacitly admitted above, is therefore to brand the Syrian leader and his government as depraved war criminals, deserving pariah status and excommunication by the «international community».

The alleged use of chemical weapons, a particularly odious weapon of mass destruction (WMD), serves as an effective prop to channel Western public outrage against Assad. Allegedly killing civilians with bullets and bombs just doesn’t have the same psychological power to incite public disgust. Poisoning little children with lethal chemicals is a more effective label with which to demonize the alleged perpetrator.

But the more pertinent WMD issue here is Weapon of Mass Disorientation. And in particular how Western governments, their servile corporate-controlled media, like theRand Corp, New York Times, CNN, BBC, Guardian and France 24, and so on, and local proxy mercenaries inside Syria are covertly deploying deadly chemicals in a series of propaganda stunts. Not only deploying deadly chemicals against civilians in a most cynical and callous way, but getting away with their crimes of murder through an audacious distortion of reality. All made possible because of the West’s media weapon of mass disorientation.

By massive manipulation of facts and images, the Western public are disorientated to condone the wider criminal agenda that their governments are pushing – that of regime change. Part of that disorientation involves the Western public suspending critical thinking over what are otherwise highly dubious circumstances and claims; it also involves an abject manipulation of perception and emotions, whereby some victims of violence are the focus for Western public trauma, while many other victims in Syria and elsewhere are unseen or overlooked with callous indifference. Those anomalies surely speak of a phenomenal disorientation of Western public intelligence, emotion and morals.

Immediately following the incident in the militant-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, in northern Idlib Province, on April 4, Western governments and the corporate news media began accusing the Syrian leader of responsibility for a «chemical weapon attack». The US ambassador the UN Nikki Haley made a dramatic presentation at the Security Council on April 5, holding aloft enlarged photos purportedly of children dying from toxic exposure. Two days later, on April 7, US President Donald Trump ordered a full-scale barrage of cruise missile strikes on a Syrian airbase out of «revenge» for the murder of «beautiful babies».

Trump’s decision to attack Syria was reportedly prompted by his disgust at watching videos of the alleged victims, and by the emotional angst that his daughter and special advisor Ivanka Trump felt on also watching the same footage. The video and images were, by the way, released to the Western news media solely by militant-aligned sources, the so-called White Helmets, operating at the location of the alleged chemical weapon attack.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer later said that any one «who gases a baby» can expect more US military retribution. Spicer also made the crass claim that Syrian President Assad was «worse than Hitler» because of his alleged uniquely barbaric use of chemical weapons on civilians.

Meanwhile, US and British warplanes operating in Syria, Iraq and Yemen are slaughtering at the very same time hundreds of civilians. In Yemen, thousands of children are dying from starvation due to a US-backed blockade on that country by Saudi Arabia in its war for regime change there. Why aren’t Donald Trump, his daughter Ivanka, and his spokesman Sean Spicer traumatized by these deaths? Why is the Western public also not outraged, traumatized?

In Syria, on Easter Saturday, April 15, busloads of civilians were murdered by terrorist suicide bombers, whom the Western governments and media refer to as «rebels». Over 120 civilians were massacred including 68 children. Where was the Western outrage at the images of charred children’s bodies hanging out of mangled buses? Indeed, the Western media coverage of that carnage was minimal and was downplayed with insidious words that the victims were «pro-regime supporters».

But the victims of the bus attacks were more numerous than those allegedly killed during the chemical weapons incident two weeks before at Khan Sheikhoun.

President Trump has condemned Syria’s Assad as an «animal» due to the alleged use of chemical weapons. Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has also called Assad a «monster». Clearly, the image-projection here is aimed at demonizing and dehumanizing the Syrian leader. Once that image-making is «successful» – and the saturation pejorative Western media coverage is crucial to that success – then a moral, legalistic mandate is created which allows Washington and its allies to escalate their aggression against Syria. Either through diplomatic sanctions at the United Nations or by military means with direct military force, as seen with Trump’s cruise missile barrage on April 7, or with increased support to proxy militant groups inside Syria.

All the while that Western governments and media have been demonizing Syria over alleged chemical weapons, the political-media campaign has also been directed at smearing Russia for alleged complicity because of its alliance with Syria.

Britain’s Johnson said earlier this month that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had «toxified» Russia’s international reputation by its alliance with Syria. The British diplomat’s choice of words betrayed an overly contrived attempt to push the propaganda theme.

In what should be seen as a transparently crude effort, the Western governments tried to splice Russia’s support for Syria by hyping up the «horror» of chemical weapons. The Western political momentum has since dissipated somewhat, but there was an obvious bid by the West in the days following the incident at Khan Sheikhoun to force an ultimatum on Moscow to abandon the Assad government, and to in effect cede to Western demands for regime change in Damascus.

Russia seems to have succeeded in rebuffing this tawdry tactic by holding firm to principles of international law and objective facts.

Last week, the UN-affiliated Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) issued a statement claiming that there was «incontrovertible evidence» that the lethal chemical weapon sarin was used in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4.

The OPCW did not say who used the alleged sarin. But the inference pushed by Western media was that it was the Syrian government.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov deprecated the OPCW as «discrediting» itself. The supposedly neutral, scientific organization was basing its conclusions on samples supplied by illegally armed groups, in a dubious chain of «evidence» that is neither impartial nor verifiable.

The «sarin conclusion» announced by the OPCW is in accordance with the assertions made by the US, Britain, France and Turkey. They are not disinterested parties. They are protagonists for regime change and sponsors of a covert war against the Syrian government since March 2011. Yet, audaciously, their partisan claims are afforded credibility by Western media.

Russia’s call last week for an impartial, on-site investigation into what actually happened at Sheikhoun was rejected by the Western governments. Russia’s demand for an independent probe was also supported by Iran and the Syrian government.

As Sergey Lavrov noted: «The spreading of false information on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is being used to move away from implementing UN resolutions on finding a peaceful settlement and instead to switch to the long-cherished objective of regime change».

There is abundant evidence that sarin was not the toxic agent used at Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. American MIT professor Theodore Postol, a highly accredited weapons expert, as well as neuroscientist Dr Denis O’Brien, are just two of many sources who have concluded from the observing the symptoms and circumstances that sarin could not have possibly been used.

There is abundant evidence too that the Western-backed regime-change militants in Syria have been involved in fabricating supposed «chemical weapons» incidents, creating media-ready videos which the Western news outlets have avidly disseminated and which Western governments have cited as «evidence» against Assad. That was the conclusion of the Swedish Doctors for Human Rights, among other reputable sources.

Considering that the only «evidence» for the latest chemical weapon incident on April 4 comes in the form of unverifiable videos supplied by terrorist-affiliated groups, it is highly plausible that the narrative put out by these groups, the Western governments and media is false. That narrative is that Syrian warplanes dropped chemical weapons on Khan Sheikhoun, killing over 80 civilians.

By contrast, it is plausible that the entire incident is an orchestrated fabrication. That is, that there was no chemical «weapon of mass destruction» used at Khan Sheikhoun. If a weapon of that sort were used, as alleged, then one would expect the death toll to be in the hundreds, if not thousands, as happened at Halabja in 1988 when up to 5,000 Kurdish civilians were massacred by the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Instead, what likely happened in Syria was simply the murder by intoxication of civilians by militants using lethal chemicals, such as cyanide or chlorine. Why were the supposed aid responders of the White Helmets not also poisoned if highly toxic sarin had been used? Why do the «responders» seem too preoccupied with making videos instead of actually treating victims with due medical care? Why have no sarin antidotes or decontaminants been requested or sent to Khan Sheikhoun in the days and weeks following the alleged attack?

Thus the militants and their media-savvy agents in the White Helmets (who are funded by Western military intelligence) could very well have staged the poisoning of unwitting civilians. The despicable, cynical act of homicide may not have even happened on the alleged date of April 4, or even in the alleged location of Khan Sheikhoun.

Bear in mind that it has been reported in the past that US and other Western military forces have «trained» the so-called Syrian «rebels» (terrorists) on the handling of lethal chemicals. Those Western media reports mendaciously spun the notion that the «rebels» were being trained in the event of Assad’s «chemical weapons arsenal being unleashed».

The Syrian government has repeatedly and categorically denied that its forces used chemical weapons at Khan Sheikhoun earlier this month or in any other incident. It says that all its chemical weapons were destroyed back in 2014 under a Russian-brokered deal, a result that was confirmed at the time by the OPCW.

Tenuously, the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis claimed last week that the Syrian government cheated the OPCW and secretly kept a portion of chemical weapons in reserve.

The Western narrative of chemical weapons (sarin) used by the Syrian government is riven with anomalies if interrogated with critical thinking. Indeed, when looked at with due skepticism, it is apparent that the Western narrative is not merely a misinformed, erroneous perspective. The whole affair is a deliberate, carefully constructed and delivered Western psychological operation, a false-flag propaganda stunt, to demonize and dehumanize the Syrian government in order to propel the Western agenda of regime change. The American CIA and British MI6 have been trying to implement regime change in Syria since 1949 in on-off clandestine projects. The chemical weapon of mass destruction allegation is but the latest ploy in a long-running project.

Western governments, their military intelligence agencies and the propaganda service of the corporate media have been working on this particular psychological operation for several years in Syria, going back to the first major «chemical weapon» incident in East Ghouta, near Damascus, in August 2013. That stunt failed to effectively demonize the Assad government then. But the Western operation has continued and evolved over time until its latest episode at Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. The «chemical weapon» nomenclature is spurious from the nature of the injuries inflicted. It is more likely an incident of mass poisoning by militants carried out on hapless victims, which is conveniently broadcast around the world by Western governments and media as a «chemical weapon of mass destruction» used by the «Assad regime».

What is overlooked, however, is the WMD weapon of mass disorientation being used against Western public. The disorientation of critical thinking, emotions and moral standards is deployed in order to more easily manipulate public consent for the Western governments’ criminal enterprise of regime change in Syria.

There is an abominable charade taking place before our very eyes. A charade in which supposedly «moral», «law-abiding», «democratic» Western governments are colluding with the most vile terror groups using the most vile means of deception and murder. Why this simple glaring truth is not recognized more widely by the Western public is because their own governments have deployed weapons of mass disorientation through dutiful mass media purporting to act as «news services».

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