Making America great… again?

May 16, 2017

by Ghassan KadiMaking America great… again?

The more pre-election, post-election and even post-inauguration promises that President Trump breaks, the harder he makes it for himself to “Make America Great again”. But this narrative herein is not based on the political rhetoric and broken promises, rather, it is about a hypothetical scenario that questions if America is realistically able to bring Trump’s slogan to fruition.

“Make America Great Again” is a catch phrase that implies a restoration process of a bygone station of greatness. So before one explores the chances of success of such an ambition, one ought to go back to the basics of how and when America was great in the first place.

Admittedly, America has historically been a country of dreams for many. The pop culture of the 1960’s has even had songs about wanting to live in America and surfing USA. The dream has been realistic and fathomable, especially for Europeans who wanted to seek a better life, and thus the flow of migration began as soon as settlement began, and that flow was later on mirrored by the rest of the world, and it did not stop as yet.

But historically also, America was never a dream for its native people; quite the contrary. The influx of white migrants into America has resulted in one of the greatest, bloodiest and definitely the longest lasting genocides that spanned for over four whole centuries.

As for the young African men and women, even boys and girls, who were raided and stolen from their tribes and villages, taken away from their parents, loved ones and friends, to be sold and traded as slaves, put to hard labour, raped and killed, there was nothing for them to dream for at all in regard to America.

A dream for some and a nightmare for others, it would be hard to say that defining America as a dream has ever been a description that has been ubiquitously endorsed during its early-mid stages of nation-building. Did the global consensus change later on?

As the new nation that became known as the United States of America became independent in the late eighteenth century, another century later, it suffered from a brutal civil war and the new nation was not really able to stand on its feet and have its place on the global scene until the union was saved and Lincoln managed to pass his 13th amendment.

As a result, America prospered, and later on, late in the nineteenth century, America became the biggest global economy, and in hindsight, the few decades that followed up until WWI, America came the closest ever to being great at different levels. President Woodrow Wilson made it clear that the USA did not join the war for any gain of territory or to build an empire. He was instrumental in setting up the “League of Nations”, the predecessor of the UN.

All the while ignoring that the 13th amendment did not stop racial segregation and we shouldn’t, ignoring that racial inequality persisted and we also shouldn’t, was this short period, the few decades spanned in between the presidencies of Lincoln and Truman enough to classify America as a great nation?

To answer this properly, we must define greatness from a humane perspective. After all, if we allow ourselves to base greatness on wealth, we will have to accept that the Rothschilds, the Soroses and the Rockefellers are the greatest people on earth, but are they? Who is a greater person George Soros or Jonas Salk who invented the anti-polio Salk vaccine and donated it to the world and refused to take any royalties?

The real greatness of people and nations ought to be gauged by their contribution to humanity, easing its pain, spreading knowledge, spearheading liberation and enlightenment, and not by their wealth.

Or is greatness a subject of might?

The post-WWII era in which America was elevated to the level of the world’s first nuclear power and most powerful nation, has left behind a legacy of wars that began in Korea and went on unstopped to Syria and counting, and has left a trail of destruction, tens of millions of civilians killed, mostly from impoverished developing countries. Economies were destroyed, infrastructures decimated, which again begs the question, how and when exactly was America ever great?

Whilst America did offer great opportunity for a great number of select people for a great number of years, based on the proper and relevant criteria of greatness, it can be fair to say that America was never really great.

Surely, many people were attracted to America to go and live there and partake in the big “American Dream”, be able to buy a Chevy, buy a house in the suburbs and send their kids to the best schools and universities in the world, all the while have the best doctors and hospitals at their beck and call. But in reality, what is the percentage of Americans who were able to afford those luxuries even during the years of economic boom?

Whilst it might be true to say that in the 1950’s – 1970’s or so, America might have had a living standard that was higher than most other nations, the standard is shrinking at an alarming rate. With nearly 50 million Americans currently on food stamps, it becomes imperative to realize that today’s USA is a country that is wrought with poverty.

But poverty is not America’s only current problem, and when Trump claims that he wants to” Make America Great Again”, assuming he means it, one wonders if he is simply talking about rebuilding America’s financial prowess.

So if Trump’s take on greatness stops with money, how far can the best ever financial reform process go? Not that there is any sign of it coming from the Trump administration, not that we can see that he is keeping his word by putting America first and stopping all wars, but we must remember that we are looking at a hypothetical situation here, one that has nothing to do with Trump.

In other words, is America able to become great again if Trump was indeed serious about his promise?

The formal and declared American debt stands at nearly $20 trillion dollars, and if calculated on a per capita basis, the figure amounts to $60,000 per every man, woman, and child. But this debt is the tip of the iceberg. With collapsing infrastructure like roads, dams, river levees, schools, airports etc, the restoration of those public facilities constitutes overhead costs that are not budgeted for. They are simply ignored and allowed to decay and rot. These are referred to as “unfunded liabilities”.

It is hard to put an accurate figure on the value of those unfunded liabilities and the estimates vary greatly from a low of $150 trillion to a high of $350 trillion. At the higher estimate figure, the individual debt balloons to nearly $9 million, again, for every man, woman and child. But even at the lower end, the per capita figure is shyly short of $4 million.

When we make balance sheets we have to look not only at liabilities, but also at assets. The estimate of America’s total assets is another elastic figure that also varies from $300 to $550 trillion. That said, if the liabilities figure is indeed in the vicinity of the high $350 trillion figure and that of assets is in the vicinity of the low $300 trillion, then America could well and truly be literally insolvent.

We must remember here that even if the high $550 trillion figure is the correct figure of assets, it does not truly mean much because much of the sub-estimates are based on untapped natural and human resources and are based on today’s value of commodities that can easily crash.

Apart from material assets, there was a time when people around the world talked about “the latest thing from America”. America was the world centre of research and development and innovation in all fields of science and technology, but today’s America does not produce enough engineers, doctors and scientists who can bear the load of a techno-financial revolution that can take America out of the trouble it is facing. When we look today at developments such as China’s massive ultra-fast railway, we can foresee that we are not far from talking about “the latest thing from China”.

On the other hand, the slick, “low budget”, and highly advanced Russian military technology has given America a run for its money. The Russians have been playing their game very smartly, exposing the Americans to a taste of what’s up their sleeve, and –God forbid- in the event of a major escalation between the two super powers, America may find itself with bases and fleets exposed as sitting ducks facing an invisible enemy. It is highly likely that the Russians are not trying to “show off”; as it were, but they are sending strong and clear messages of deterrence to their “American partners”.

Back to economy, it seems likely, as a matter of fact we can safely say that it is highly probable that the demise of the American economy has gone too far and beyond repair. It is also possible that Trump has come to this realization after his inauguration, and that after reaching this realization, he made his U-turn on his promises on the basis that all he has left up his sleeve is a stash of nukes and a mighty war machine.

To reconsider the definition of greatness, does President Trump believe that might alone brings greatness and that by escalating the global bullying role of the United States of America he is going to “Make America Great Again”?

America is certainly a nation that has the highest military budget, largest navy and more off-shore military basis than the rest of the world combined, it has had the world’s biggest economy for many decades and continues to enjoy this status, but has never been a great nation that has spread knowledge and wisdom to the rest of the world. It has used its military might in the past to pillage poor countries and its current financial woes are literally impossible to resolve.

But when it comes to military matters, what is pertinent is that most, if not all, American military ventures have failed to achieve their objectives. After reaching a stale-mate in Korea, a total defeat in Vietnam, after two decades into the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, America is still incapable of gaining the upper hand on the ground.

So if the military is the only trump card left up Trump’s sleeve in order to “Make America Great Again”, on what grounds is he basing his assumption that he can confront and subdue Russia and China combined given that the 125,000 strong American army that invaded Iraq in 2003 was not even able to control the streets of Baghdad?

Ironically, Obama and Trump have both won their campaigns using slogans that are based on desperation; from “Yes We Can” to “Make America Great Again”, the slogans were effectively used to lure in voters who cognize that America is in deep trouble and needs a saviour. Obama has failed and left America with twice the official debt that he inherited on his inauguration day, and Trump will not be able to do much, because like a rusty old car, America is too far gone, and I feel sorry for the good people of America, and there are many of them, including some very good and dear personal friends.

بين عون الجمهورية وباسيل «أشواط»

أبريل 14, 2017

روزانا رمّال

ما من شك في أن التيار الوطني الحر كان يحشد جدياً من أجل النزول إلى الشارع عبر انتظار ساعة صفر قرار سياسي، احتجاجاً على التمديد برفقة القوات اللبنانية بشكل خاص كقوى «سلطة»، ولا أحد يعتبر أن الشارع كان مجرد «تهديد» أو «تحفيز» من قبلهم بل كان قراراً جدياً تحضرت له وسائل الإعلام والاروقة السياسية. ويؤكد على هذا «الحل» الذي صدر عن رئيس الجمهورية أي الجهة «المقربة» من التيار الوطني الحر وهي «الرئاسة»، وبالتالي كان ممكنا عدم التلويح بالشارع من الأساس، طالما ان هناك مخرجاً يتيحه الدستور اللبناني في المادة 59 تقتضي بإمكانية استخدام الرئيس صلاحية لمرة واحدة يوقف فيها عمل مجلس النواب لمدة شهر.

قبل أن يتم ابتكار هذا الحل السليم والقويم، كان كل شيء يوحي أن بيروت مقبلة على انفجار شعبي وسياسي وأن البلاد ستدخل في أزمة سياسية حادة، خصوصاً أن مسألة الميثاقية عند حليفين مسيحيين بدأت تلوح بالأفق «التيار الوطني الحر القوات اللبنانية» أي أن المسألة لم تقتصر على تمرير «التمديد»، بل على أزمة تتعدّاها لما هو أبعد من ذلك بكثير فأي تمديد أو تصويت، في ما لو تمّ كان سيقسم البلاد إلى نوع جديد من الانقسام «الإسلامي المسيحي» بعدما كان هذا الزمن قد ولّى الى غير رجعة باحتساب المسيحيين الحاضرين وتخطّي الأغلبية، وكان ممكناً أن يزيد الأمر تعقيداً، خصوصاً في هذه الأجواء الملتهبة دولياً التي يُراد فيها للمسيحيين التخلّي عمّا يتمسّكون به في هذه المنطقة.

مزيد من الإحساس بالمظلومية «المستجدّة» والتي تمّ افتعالها كانت ستعصف بالبلاد وتفتح ازمة تضاف الى الازمة السياسية الراهنة. افتخر المسؤولون بالقوات اللبنانية، حسب المعلومات «بالاحتجاج برفقة الشريك المسيحي كاشفين انه سيكون هناك إقفال وإضراب عام في المناطق كلها، كما أن هناك تجاوباً كبيراً لأن الناس ترفض التمديد».

أخذُ الشارع الى الفوضى أمر كان مطروحاً من دون أن يرفّ جفن المعنيين، كل شيء كان وارداً في لحظة انعقاد جلسة «فتوش».. قد لا يهمّ القوات اللبنانية كثيراً حسابات من هذا النوع، لكن من المفترض ان تهم التيار الوطني الحر ورئيسه جبران باسيل. الأمر الذي «عرّى» باسيل بالكامل أمام جمهور الحليف وكشف عن تمايز ضخم بينه وبين سلوك العماد عون السياسي، وعن حكمة لا يزال يفتقدها باسيل حتى الساعة وهو بطبيعة الحال ليس مستعداً لإنكار ذلك. فبينه وبين الرئيس عون «أشواط» في العمل الوطني والنضال ومراعاة مسألة التعايش الداخلي والمحافظة على التحالفات و«كظم الغيظ» عشرات السنين بالخارج رفضاً للفوضى في البلاد.

يعوّل جمهور المقاومة كثيراً على رئيس التيار الوطني الحر «باسيل» في السراء والضراء، قد لا تهمّ هذا الجمهور كثيراً حسابات داخلية للتيار بقدر ما يعنيه أن لا يظهر خلاف بينهم وبين جمهور التيار على السطح «مبكراً» وبين القيادتين فلا تزال معركة الرئاسة حاضرة في أذهان هذا الجمهور.

لقد جعل حزب الله العماد ميشال عون «معركته» لرئاسة الجمهورية وأسس لتوافق دولي لا يستطيع أن يؤدّيه ترشيح القوات اللبنانية إليه فتمسّك حزب الله بالعماد عون فرضه مرشحاً قوياً بتوازنات المنطقة التي كان يتوق إليها لاعبوها المباشرون السعودية وإيران لنسج أرضية «نموذج» تكون نقطة انطلاق لباقي التفاهمات بالمنطقة على ما قاله وزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف في مؤتمر دافوس سابقاً. وهذا الخيار لا تتيحه الا تفاهمات بمستوى كباش حزب الله والسعودية في لبنان، فكان أن اقتنعت الرياض باستحالة تخطّي هذا المرشح والميل نحو مرشح وسطي وهي تدرك جيداً أن المرشح سمير جعجع لم يكن خيارها الجدي منذ إعلان قوى 14 آذار ترشيحه قبل سنوات، حيث لم يبذل أي جهد بهذا السياق.

هذه المحطة ضرورية لتذكير الوزير باسيل بحجم الإحباط الذي أرخاه على جمهور حليفه وأرضية كان من المفترض ان تنسج لمستقبل بعيد لا يتعثر عند العاصفة الأولى.

بعد زيارة وفد حزب الله الرفيع لقصر بعبدا طلب من حزب الله الذي طالب بقانون الانتخاب على أساس النسبية إعطاء فرصة للبحث مجدداً بقانون الوزير باسيل الذي لم يلقَ قبولاً من معظم الأطراف ما خلا القوات اللبنانية وهذا يعني استحالة ان يتقدم حزب الله نحوه لأنه لم يمثل حالة جامعة او بالحد الأدنى «غالبة» بين القوى. ومعروف ان حزب الله كان منفتحاً جداً مع الوزير باسيل في الصيغ المطروحة كلها ومع غير الوزير باسيل، وإن أحداً لم يخفِ هذا الأمر.

خرج الرئيس العماد ميشال عون لينقذ البلاد من أزمة ولينقذ تياره أيضاً من «سواد» الوجه والتسرّع نحو الشارع وللتصادم مع حلفائه في موقف بغير محله. خرج العماد عون الذي لا يمانع مناقشة قانون باسيل وغيره كحق للجميع ليقول إنه ليس موافقاً على ما هو أهم من طرح القوانين وهي «الفوضى».

خرج عون ليقول لستُ مستخفاً بحلفائي ولستُ مستعداً للتضحية بما نسجته معهم، ولن أفرط بما تحمّلناه وما تشاركناه سوياً، خرج عون ليقول هذا وقت تحمل المسؤولية ولست موافقاً على مهزلة «الشارع» وما تعنيها من «رسائل» أنا رئيس الجمهورية الذي أقسم بصون البلاد والحفاظ على العيش المشترك كأبٍ للجميع.

عون الجمهورية «حكيم» اللحظة والموقف «كبير» لبنان.

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Trump Confronts New McCarthyism

Trump Confronts New McCarthyism
EDITOR’S CHOICE | 12.02.2017

Trump Confronts New McCarthyism

Gilbert DOCTOROW

The original McCarthyism of the early 1950s appeared with the consolidation of the Cold War. It was a witch hunt over supposed communist subversion of America’s democratic institutions. It was all about the Red Menace and the Russians are coming. Today’s New McCarthyism grew with the onset of a New Cold War and also has been about the Russians, especially the vilification of Vladimir Putin.

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

This anti-Russian hysteria reached a point of near absurdity in the last days of the Obama Administration with its trust-us allegations that the Russians defeated Hillary Clinton by releasing some emails showing how the Democratic National Committee sabotaged Bernie Sanders and other emails revealing what Clinton had told Wall Street banks but didn’t want the voters to know. If you noted that Clinton had previously blamed her defeat on FBI Director James Comey for reopening and re-closing the investigation into her use of a private email server, you risked being labeled a “Putin apologist” or a “Kremlin stooge.”

Of course, the anger toward anyone who resisted the “Russia-did-it” conformism did not come from nowhere. One can trace the current hostility to dissenters against U.S. foreign policy back to the presidency of George W. Bush when he gutted the Bill of Rights in promulgating the Patriot Act with almost no public challenge. In the post-9/11 climate – when any resistance to Bush’s edicts was regarded as close to treason – many of us became uneasy while talking politics on the phone or looking up certain topics on the Internet or taking books out of the library.

This intimidating surveillance did not go away when the Democrats retook the White House and Congress in the 2008 elections, but we stopped thinking about it because supposedly the “right people” now held the levers of power and surely wouldn’t repeat the abuses of Bush-43. However, not only did the surveillance state consolidate its powers under Barack Obama but the former constitutional lawyer sharply escalated the legal persecution of whistleblowers who dared give the American people a look behind the curtain.

Obama’s unprecedented assault on government transparency was compounded by the liberal-chic contempt meted out to anyone who questioned the wisdom of imposing “liberal values”, “human rights”, and “democracy promotion” on countries around the world. “Political correctness” dominated not only domestic U.S. debates but also the formulation of foreign policy.

Vladimir Putin was viewed as a retrograde force in the world, in part, because he aligned himself with Russia’s conservative social values and because he fell short of an ideal notion of what liberal democracy is supposed to be. The fact that the U.S. government also was falling far short of those standards – from ordering targeted assassinations with minimal due process to imprisoning patriotic whistleblowers – was largely ignored by an Obama Administration that saw itself as too wonderful to have flaws.

Blacklisting Dissent

So, when the U.S. confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, Crimea and the Donbas began in the summer of 2013, those of us who did not accept what was becoming the Washington Consensus, which held Putin to blame for everything, began to see ourselves as dissidents in the Soviet sense or at least in the manner of the old McCarthy era. In effect, we were blacklisted, largely excluded from publication in the professional journals, not to mention mainstream print and broadcast media. On campus, we mostly kept our mouths shut fearing for our jobs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Russian government photo)

In the narrow, but politically important field of Russian studies, just how bleak the times had become was revealed in the December 2015 “Christmas issue” of Johnson’s Russia List, an important daily digest of expert and generalist writings about Russia which contained a 40-page propaganda barrage against Putin and his ill-begotten country. But the content of that daily issue merely reflected what was entering the editor-publisher’s in-basket each day. Still, the silence of dissenters should not be confused with agreement.

For all his blustery and egotistical faults, Donald Trump has punched huge holes in the dominant neocon ideology that underlay the Washington Consensus on foreign policy during the presidencies of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Trump’s tweets and campaign messages asked, aloud and repeatedly, what could be wrong with the United States getting along with Russia and cooperating on common interests, starting with a joint campaign against ISIS.

Yet, Trump’s rejection of Washington’s foreign-policy orthodoxy went beyond relations with Russia; Trump was questioning the consensus on how America has conducted its role as global leader and he was challenging the arrogance of intervening in other nations’ affairs, whether by finger-waving lectures or various regime-change schemes.

As noisy and messy as Trump’s political approach has been – with a number of unnecessary diversions and self-inflicted wounds – there is a significant and “revolutionary” side of Trump’s approach. It represents a potential reordering of the two major political parties, a revamped struggle for power within the Right-Left dimension.

He restated this “revolutionary” aspect of his foreign policy in his Inaugural Address when he renounced the idea of endless interference in other countries’ politics and a return to the traditional role of America as an example, not an interventionist. This was an in-your-face condemnation of most of those sitting beside and behind him on the rostrum who favored a “values-based” foreign policy, globalization and American exceptionalism.

Taking on McCain

From the Oval Office, Trump has continued his frontal assault on this foreign-policy orthodoxy with his closely watched and disputed tweets. Much ridicule has been directed at Trump for ruling by tweets since they often reveal a lack of intellectual depth and his facile narcissism. But what they lack in refinement, Trump’s tweets make up for in feistiness and courage.

Sen. John McCain appearing with Ukrainian rightists of the Svoboda party at a pre-coup rally in Kiev

For instance, in a Jan. 30 tweet, Trump urged Republican neocon Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham to “focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III” [emphasis mine]. This was, in its own way, as significant as the pithy and devastating rebuke issued by attorney Joseph N. Welch to Sen. Joe McCarthy on June 9, 1954, after McCarthy attacked the patriotism of a young Army lawyer: “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” Welch asked.

In a way, Trump’s reference to the behavior of McCain and Graham, running around the world advocating for one war after another, including a military confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia, was as precise and cutting as Welch’s putdown of McCarthy. In doing so, Trump broke the decades-long taboo on criticizing McCain despite his behavior as a loose cannon on the deck of foreign affairs, especially during the Obama years.

Behaving as if he had won rather than lost the 2008 election, McCain has traveled to such hot spots as Syria, Georgia and Ukraine with the goal of making U.S. foreign policy in the field, urging militants onward into violent clashes with their own governments or pushing U.S.-client states into conflicts with their neighbors.

Trump began his challenge to McCain during the campaign when he publicly questioned the “war hero” status of the Arizona senator by rhetorically asking in what way spending years in captivity as a Vietnam prisoner of war made McCain a war hero.

McCain took his revenge shortly before the inauguration when he informed the press that he had just handed over to the FBI for follow-up a dubious report generated by a former British intelligence agent accusing Trump of being vulnerable to Russian blackmail because of alleged cavorting with prostitutes during a visit to Moscow years ago.

To stymie any new détente with Russia, McCain also introduced a bill in the Senate calling for new and expanded sanctions against Russia. So, the White House tweet was a direct challenge to McCain for his actions that Trump warned were inviting World War III. In doing so, Trump is at least prying open space for a fuller debate about U.S. foreign policy and the wisdom of neocon interventionism.

So, notwithstanding all the self-righteous exclamations before media microphones by Establishment figures from both parties over the foibles of this populist president and notwithstanding the shouting in the streets by demonstrators, it appears that the President is advancing via his tactic of frontal attack.

A week ago, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump’s bellwether choice to oversee a new foreign policy, was confirmed by the Senate to the surprise and pleasure of those of us who had kept our fingers crossed. It is too early to say how or why Trump won this test of strength. But initial fierce opposition from ranking Republicans John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio was beaten back.

Now, the question is whether Tillerson and Trump’s other foreign policy appointees can achieve genuine change in the direction of U.S. foreign policy.

Outgoing CIA Director Hypes Nonexistent Russian Threat

Global Research, January 18, 2017
U.S. CIA Director Brennan takes part in a conference on national security titled "The Ethos and Profession of Intelligence" in Washington

America needs enemies to advance its imperial agenda. None exist so they’re invented – a pretext for current wars, future ones, color revolutions, old-fashioned coups and assassinations.

It’s been the American way from the republic’s inception, a culture of violence persisting at home and abroad since the 18th century, far more dangerous with today’s super-weapons able to kill us all.

Neocon infest Washington, Trump’s tenure perhaps destined to be the most turbulent in US history since the Civil War, how he’ll fare yet to be determined.

Dark forces far more powerful than the office of the presidency confront him. If he diverges from longstanding practice, especially geopolitically, he may not last a full term, maybe not a full year.

Working with Russia cooperatively, instead of maintaining adversarial relations, could seal his fate.

Interviewed on Fox News Sunday, January 15, host Chris Wallace asked outgoing CIA director John Brennan if disparaging comments by two former agency heads wasn’t just cause for Trump to believe Langley is out to get him.

Former acting CIA director Mike Morell said “(i)n the intelligence business, we would say Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

Former agency head Michael Hayden called Trump a “useful fool…manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but his blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”

Brennan neither “defend(ed) or explain(ed) what they said.” Claiming the intelligence community will support Trump depends entirely on how his agenda unfolds, especially his policy toward Russia.

Hyping its nonexistent threat, Brennan claimed Trump doesn’t have a full appreciation of (its) capabilities, (its) intentions, and actions (it’s) undertaking in many parts of the world.”

Fact: Putin favors world peace and stability,  wants cooperative relations with all nations, deplores America’s imperial madness.

Brennan: Russia must “change (its) behavior, change (its) actions.”

Translation: Russia must play by Washington rules, be subservient to its wishes or else.

Brennan opposes Trump and Putin working together cooperatively. He’s against lifting sanctions, no matter their illegality.

He lied about what’s happening in Ukraine, in Syria, in “the cyber realm.” Trump needs to step back from “absolving Russia of various actions” it never undertook, he said.

No “Russian aggression” exists in Ukraine, Syria or anywhere else. US wars of aggression rage in multiple theaters, responsible for millions of casualties Brennan ignored.

He recited a laundry list of nonexistent threats, ones Washington uses as pretexts for raping and destroying one country after another.

US national security hasn’t been threatened since WW II. Brennan lied claiming otherwise. Asked to name his greatest accomplishments and regrets, he shamelessly expressed pride in being part of an administration involved in “advanc(ing) the interests of peace and stability,” along with related issues.

Obama’s disgraceful record speaks for itself – the most ruthless regime in US history, the most lawless, the most contemptuous of humanity at home and abroad.

As for regrets, Brennan named Syria, shamelessly claiming his “heart…bleeds over what happened” there – ignoring US naked aggression against a sovereign independent country threatening no one, the CIA under his direction playing a major role.

Brennan is an unindicted war criminal, unaccountable for Nuremberg-level crimes of war and against humanity.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Clinton Scheming to Gain White House Through Back Door

Posted on December 2, 2016

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By Robert Bridge

Next month, Donald J. Trump, with hand on Bible, will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Or will he? The recent talk about recounting votes and ‘faithless electors’ suggests this highly contentious power struggle is far from over.

In fact, it may be just beginning.

Anybody who believes Hillary Rodham Clinton has been sent to the political graveyard by a Manhattan real estate developer has forgotten the cruel surprises of recent history (Remember the Greek referendum? Brexit anyone?). Democratic due process has devolved into something like ‘The Hunger Games’ for the rich – a sensational televised spectacle to entertain the elite every four years, while keeping the people believing they can effect real change.

Although it may seem implausible to some, Donald J. Trump may be denied the presidency due to a democratic system that has been corrupted to the bone by excessive wealth, power and collusion at the highest levels.

Countdown to disaster?

As the world media continues to eulogize Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the neocon-liberal establishment is quietly positioning their chess pieces for a power grab of epic proportions. As far as I can tell, there are three stages of this silent coup presently being carried out on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

The first step in the process was to perpetuate the news that although Donald Trump won the Electoral College (306-232), he failed to win the popular vote – reportedly by 2.5 million votes, at last count.

Clinton’s alleged victory in the popular vote count, which continued for three weeks after Nov.9 (keep in mind that most of the vote monitors had already went home as these votes were being quietly tallied), could present serious complications for Trump and his chances of entering the White House, as will become clear a bit later.

Meanwhile, the blatantly anti-Trump media is conducting “thought experiments” to show how Clinton would have, could have, should have won the Electoral College if only the Electoral map had been spliced and diced here and there across the nation. The implicit media message behind all of this tomfoolery, of course, is that Wall Street-approved Clinton deserves her coronation, because, well, that is what the elite want, democratic procedure be damned.

This ongoing campaign on behalf of Clinton is much more than just sour grapes; in fact, it is a war of attrition designed to exert undue pressure on the Electoral College, the rickety institution that got Trump elected in the first place. And although it has never robbed an election from a candidate who has gained the majority of Electoral College votes, there is a possibility – and a very high one in this particular battle – of so-called “faithless electors” tipping this contest in Clinton’s favor.

This represents the second stage of Clinton’s attempt at reversing the results of the presidential election in her favor.

Will the Electoral College go rogue?

The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on December 19 to perform what, under normal circumstances, would be a mere formality of voting for either Clinton or Trump, according to the will of their constituents.

Needless to say, we are not dealing with “normal circumstances.”

The 2016 presidential campaign represents an epic power struggle that will determine the trajectory of US domestic and foreign policy like no other contest in recent history. No surprise, then, that neo-liberal lobbying groups have been exerting immense pressure on these electors to ignore the will of the people and “vote their conscience.”

You’d be very wrong to think this couldn’t work. If 37 Republican electors vote against Trump, it will block him from winning the presidency. The Democrat’s team of lawyers and political consultants are now working around the clock to make this happen.

Micheal Baca, a Denver Democrat and a member of the state’s Electoral College delegation, is one of the individuals working to persuade Republican electors to discard the will of the people and vote for anybody but Trump.

Baca makes no secret about his intentions to override the Constitution and go rogue.

“This is not about Hillary,” he said. “This is about trying to stop Donald Trump.”

Let’s take a moment and perform our own “thought experiment” and consider the repercussions if Hillary Clinton is inaugurated as President instead of Trump. If the country is not completely overwhelmed by coast-to-coast riots and protests, and there is somehow a peaceful transition of power, then Clinton can expect to face four years of the most hostile, uncooperative (Republican) Congress in American history (although given the number of neocons who openly support Clinton and her hawkish tendencies, there could be points of agreement).

In a best-case scenario, it would be a four-year-long government shutdown, aside from performing the necessary task of maintaining ‘law and order’ at home while continuing on a war footing abroad. America would get its first real taste of what martial law feels like.

The American Conservative painted the following picture as to what would happen if Trump’s Electoral College victory were rescinded: “Constitutional government would have broken down, and we would be facing something like a Latin American presidential dictatorship. For several years, Washington’s political debate would be reduced to something like a Hobbesian war of all against all.”

Is that something we really need? Apparently it is for some folks, and not least of all Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein.

And this brings us to the final stage of a possible Clinton coup.

Civil War, anyone?

It is generally assumed that it was Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate who masterminded the call for a recount of votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. That’s not quite right.

New York magazine reported that on November 17 Hillary Clinton was “urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump… The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private.”

Just one day after the above article appeared (Nov. 22), Jill Stein, who came in dead last with about 3 million votes less than Gary ‘What is Aleppo?’ Johnson, announced she would be collecting money to recount votes in the swing states. By the way, one of the odd things about Stein’s choice of swing states is that these are the same places where Trump emerged victorious. Coincidence or conspiracy theory, that alone should have set off some alarms.

In any case, the reason Stein and not Clinton is calling for the recount is evident: Throughout the campaign, the media hounded Trump with a single annoying question never asked of the future loser: Would he accept the results of the election in the event he lost? When Trump said he would take a “wait and see”approach, Clinton assumed a holier than thou position.

“Now make no mistake,” Clinton solemnly told supporters, “by doing that, he is threatening our democracy. The peaceful transition of power is one of the things that sets us apart. It’s how we hold our country together no matter who’s in charge.”

So now that the tables are turned, Stein is in the kitchen doing the dirty work. And the media suddenly can’t get enough of this woman who haunted the 2016 election like a phantom sighting.

Here’s how News Busters tallied her sudden stardom: “When Jill Stein was the Green Party’s candidate for US president, the networks only gave her 36 seconds of coverage. However, as soon as she launched a campaign to contest the presidential election and demand a recount of ballots in several key states, the evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC managed to find 7 minutes and 26 seconds of coverage for her in just four days. That’s more than 12 times as much coverage as in the entire campaign.”

But it gets better. Stein has managed to accumulate a massive war chest to carry out the recount – $7 million at last count (or about seven times what she received during her entire presidential campaign). At one point, her recount drive was pulling in almost $5,000 every minute. Somehow that doesn’t sound like the average Joe Voter digging deep in his Levi’s. Even more mysteriously, when Stein first started passing the hat around, she said $2.5 million would be plenty, thank you very much. Yet every time she hit the target, a higher threshold was introduced. Just can’t keep up with inflation these days!

Is Stein’s campaign simply about collecting some easy money while giving the Green Party some much-needed attention? Or is Stein just trying to shed some much-needed light on the dry rot that is gnawing away at the foundation of US democracy? All that, however necessary, seems very unlikely. After all, the recount plan was initially floated to Hillary Clinton, not Jill Stein. Thus, we must assume this is all part of a major power push for Hillary Clinton to grab the White House from Donald Trump.

As Paul Joseph Watson elegantly put it: “Her entire campaign was backed by an establishment that wouldn’t hesitate to exploit a recount to carry out the vote fraud they thought they didn’t need on Election Day.”

Exactly.

And here is where we can fit the last piece into the puzzle to understand what is really going on here. If the recount effort alone won’t make much of a difference to either Clinton or Stein’s chances of overturning the massive edge that Trump now enjoys, then why are they bothering themselves? Hold onto your seats, folks, this gets interesting.

The answer boils down to simple arithmetic, as well as some monkey play in the system.

Presently, Michigan has already agreed to a recount, which will be carried out this weekend and require hand-counting of ballots in the regions. This process will take many days. Federal law requires the recount to be finished by Dec. 13 – just six days before the Electoral College is expected to cast its votes.

Wisconsin has already agreed to a recount, while Pennsylvania is dragging its feet. In other words, this process will probably take us right up to Dec. 19 – the date the Electoral College is supposed to cast their votes (Why the Electoral College vote isn’t valid without these voters, who could go rogue, is a question for another day).

Keep in mind that the total number of Electoral College Votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania equals 46. Now take Trump’s 306 Electoral votes and subtract that amount. This leaves you with 260, which is below the 270 required for a candidate to be automatically considered the winner of a presidential election. Do you see where this is going?

Now if this recount should start to point toward a Clinton victory in these three swing states, this will present Trump with a very serious quandary. Should he kick up a fuss and protest the recount on the grounds that he won the Electoral College, this could provoke some sort of “constitutional crisis” that prevents the recount from being completed by the Dec. 13 deadline.

Now, if the matter remains unsettled by Dec. 19 this could – technically speaking – give the Electoral College’s “faithless electors” yet more reason for not aligning themselves with their constituents. Or, on the other hand, the Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania votes could be considered forfeited because they failed to resolve the issue by the Dec. 19 deadline.

So if it did come down to this, who do you think will be selected – possibly by the very Supreme Court that Trump hopes to disband once in office – to be the 45th president of the United States?

Yes, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the candidate we have been told got 2.5 million more popular votes than Donald Trump (I would suggest Trump start a serious process to challenge those votes right now).

For those who still doubt this possibility, please consider the two latest failed grassroots movements of our times – Brexit and the Greek referendum – two examples of ‘democracy in action’ that the political elite has de facto canceled or put on hold indefinitely.

Such dramatic setbacks, which are becoming the rule rather than the exception, lend credence to Mark Twain’s famous observation that “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.”

In other words, the elite will always get what they want, regardless how the votes goes.

Clinton seizing the White House through the backdoor would not be the strangest thing to happen in old Washington. Just ask George W. Bush how he got elected president in 2000 by the Supreme Court, not We the People.

A Must See: Deleted 4 times in 24 hours

 

Half of the Turkish army sympathizes with jihadists after Erdogan’s purges

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Syrian Free Press

Interview conducted by Alexander Sivilov with professor Tetsuya Sahara, one of the most prominent Japanese experts on Balkan history and politics. Prof. Sahara teaches political science at Meiji University in Tokyo. From 2008 to 2015 he worked in the Middle East Technical University in Ankara and one of the largest private Turkish universities – Bilkent. He deals with the problems of modern Islamic fundamentalism and the development of terrorist movements in the Balkans, during the civil war in Yugoslavia.

erdogan-surfing-jihadists

Originally appeared at A-specto
translated by Borislav exclusively for SouthFront

Prof. Sahara, who is the really behind the attempted coup in Turkey? The country’s government come up with a particular version, but many analysts point to President Erdogan himself?

According to the official sources, the coup was organized by colonel Muharrem Kose and the “Peace at home council.” According to the same data, the actions of the rioters were driven by general Akin Yozturk, former commander of the Air Force. At the same time, President Erdogan and his government say the coup was inspired by Fethullah Gülen. In fact, neither of the two versions seems credible. The roots of all this are much deeper. The Turkish armed forces are part of NATO, and without the tacit consent of this organization, a similar attempt could not happen at all.

If we look at the extent and depth of commitment, the coup was well prepared and probably organized for several months. This March, the neoconservatives were talking about the likely topple of the government of Turkey, and the entirety of Erdogan’s regime. They even claimed that the West would approve of such a development of events.

The direct actions of the conspirators, were supposed to start a little later, but information came that a preventative operation was to take place on July 16 to 17. This information leaked on July 14, and they had to change their plans. Therefore, their actions seemed poorly organized.

How do you evaluate the attitude of Russia and the US to the coup attempt? Why did Washington not categorically support their ally Erdogan? Are their differences that big?

At the time of the coup, Secretary of State John Kerry was in Moscow, and his first statement was that he hoped that the clashes and political instability would end as quickly as possible. That is strange. Why not condemn the coup? Moreover, many Western leaders repeatedly spoke with concern that the rule of law when arresting the participants in an attempt to overthrow the Turkish president, were not followed. It seems that they are trying to protect the conspirators.

The Russians initially reacted similarly. Then they let information leak that Moscow had warned Ankara about the impending insurrection. The news came from an Iranian news agency, and the spokesman for President Vladimir Putin – Dmitry Peskov, then denied the information. This is a classic escape in diplomacy.

The coup happened at a time when John Kerry was meeting with Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov. They announced that they have reached a general agreement in all major disputes between the two countries, but specific topics and solutions remained secret. Among them is undoubtedly the Peace Process in Syria. They apparently have agreed to destroy the jihadist groups that previously were supported by Turkey. The surest way to guarantee the deal is kept, is the elimination of Erdogan. Washington and Moscow have long had a common interest for that to happen. Even the recent improvements in relations with Russia, can be explained by the Turkish President’s concern that an international conspiracy is prepared against him.

What was the opposition’s attitude toward the coup? Is it true that all parties were united in their support for Erdogan against the army? What is the future of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party? There were news that two days after the clashes, Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish positions and bases in northern Iraq. Does it mean that the president is even preparing for a war with the Kurds that are outside of Turkey?

The junta had no support from major political parties in the country. They were clearly not interested in their support and did not seek it. Therefore, none of the politicians supported them. In fact, all major opposition parties urged their supporters to take to the streets against the military. As for the PKK, they play a double game – they continue their attacks on security forces and the army in eastern Turkey, and at the same time give signals that they want to resume the reconciliation process. Erdogan said that Gülen’s organization is more dangerous than the PKK and Isil, but I do not think he really wants peace with the Kurds.

What is the situation in Turkish secondary and higher education after the start of the purges? Will their secular character be destroyed?

It is absolutely clear that a systematic purge in all universities is taking place. How far will it go is not yet clear, but the Gülenists and unruly part of the Islamists are removed. Currently removed are supporters of peace and secularism. Given that they are the best part of the Turkish academic community, what is happening is a fatal blow to the scientific and educational system.

How do you see Turkey’s future? In a previous interview you said that there will be civil war in the country, even though there were no clues for that?

Civil war has already begun. The question is how far it will go. Hostilities against the Kurds can stop, if the government of the Justice and Development Party contemplates a bit. The war against the jihadists is a different thing. That will end only if Turkey is torn apart, or the terrorists are completely destroyed. On July 15, something unseen happened. After Erdogan called on them, many radical Islamists who were carrying Kalashnikovs took to the streets, and they were the nucleus of the group torturing and beheading soldiers. It has long been rumored that the ruling Justice and Development Party is secretly arming their supporters, and now it is confirmed.

The result of the purge in the army is very scary. After coming to power in 2002, Erdogan’s party cleared the army of Kemalists. Then they replaced them with supporters of Fethullah Gülen. Currently they are cleansing the Gülenists. Who will come in their place? Most likely it will be extreme Islamists. Currently, half of those in the military are sympathetic to jihadists and the idea of a holy war. It’s a disaster.

How do you see the development of relations between Turkey and the European Union? Do you think Brussels leads an adequate foreign policy towards Ankara? What will happen with Bulgaria in this context?

Erdogan’s positions are already consolidated, and he does not need the support of the West, at least in terms of domestic politics. The EU and the European Commission will not be able to make a new restrictive agreement with the dictator.

As history shows, a strong Turkey is always a source of problems and a threat to Bulgaria. Sofia will have to be much more careful in the attempts to maintain normal relations with its arrogant neighbor.

There are rumors about a new coup in Turkey. Initially, they were fueled by Erdogan himself. In this case, its a prerequisite for escalating the crackdown, but there is another aspect of the disseminated information. Turkish Armed Forces are composed of four parts: the army, navy, air force and gendarmerie. The last three were the main participants in the mutiny. It is still not clear why the army did not get involved. For the moment it is protected from the purge, and it has the potential to make changes because it is the largest among the various armed forces.

professor Tetsuya Sahara

professor Tetsuya Sahara

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