The Empire should be placed on suicide watch

March 12, 2017

This article was written for the Unz Review

In all the political drama taking place in the USA as a result of the attempted color revolution against Trump, the bigger picture sometimes gets forgotten. And yet, this bigger picture is quite amazing, because if we look at it we will see irrefutable signs that the Empire in engaged in some bizarre slow motion of seppuku and the only mystery left is who, or what, will serve as the Empire’s kaishakunin(assuming there will be one).

I would even argue that the Empire is pursuing a full-spectrum policy of self-destruction on several distinct levels, with each level contributing the overall sum total suicide. And when I refer to self-destructive behavior I don’t mean long-term issues such as the non-sustainability of the capitalist economic model or the social consequences of a society which not only is unable to differentiate right from wrong, but which now decrees that deviant behavior is healthy and normal. These are what I call “long term walls” into which we will, inevitably, crash, but which are comparatively further away than some “immediate walls”. Let me list a few of these:

Political suicide: the Neocons’ refusal to accept the election of Donald Trump has resulted in a massive campaign to de-legitimize him. What the Neocons clearly fail to see, or don’t care about, is that by de-legitimizing Trump they are also de-legitimizing the entire political process which brought Trump to power and upon which the United States are built as a society. As a direct result from this campaign, not only are millions of Americans becoming disgusted with the political system they were indoctrinated to believe in, but internationally the notion of “American democracy” is becoming a sad joke.

And just to make things worse, the US corporate media is finally showing its true face and now unapologetically shows the entire world that not only is it not in any way “fair” or “objective”, but that it is a 100% prostituted propaganda machine which faithfully serves the interests of the US “deep state”.

A key element of the quasi constant brainwashing of the average American has always been the regular holding of elections. Nevermind that, at least until now, the outcome of these elections made very little difference inside the USA and non at all outside, the goal was never to consult the people – the goal has always been to give the illusion of democracy and people power. Now that the Democrats say that the Russians rigged the elections and the Republicans say that it was the Democrats and their millions of dead voters who tried stealing it, it become rather obvious that these elections were always a joke, a pseudo-democratic “liturgy”, a brainwashing ritual – you name it – but never about anything real.

The emergence of the concept of 1% can be “credited” to the Obama Administration, since it was during Obama that the entire “Occupy Wall Street” movement took off, but the ultimate unmasking of the viciously evil true face of that 1% must be credited to Hillary with her truly historical confession in which she openly declared that those who oppose her are a “basket of deplorables”. We already knew, thanks to Victoria Nuland, what the AngloZionist leaders thought of the people of Europe, now we know what they think of the people of the USA: exactly the same thing.

The bottom line is this: I don’t think that the moral authority and political credibility of the USA have ever been lower than today. Decades of propaganda by Hollywood and the official US propaganda machine have now collapsed and nobody buys that counter-factual nonsense anymore.

Foreign policy suicide: let’s see what options there are to choose from. The Neocons want a war with Russia which the Trump people don’t. The Trump people, however, want, well maybe not a war, although that option is very much on the table, but at least a very serious confrontation with China, North Korea or Iran, and about half of them would also like some kind of confrontation with Russia. There is absolutely nobody, at least at the top, who would dare to suggest that a confrontation or, even worse, a war with China, Iran, North Korea or Russia would be a disaster, a calamity for the USA. In fact, serious people with impressive credentials and a lot of gravitas are discussing these possibilities as if they were real, as it the USA could in some sense prevail. This is laughable. Well, no, it it not. But it would be if it wasn’t so frightening and depressing. The truth is very, very different.

[Sidebar: While it is probably not impossible for the United States to prevail, in purely military terms, against the DPRK in a war, the potential risks are nothing short of immense. And I don’t mean the risk posed by the North Korean nukes which, apparently, is also quite real. I mean the risk of starting a war against a country which has Seoul within conventional artillery range, an active duty army of well over one million people and 180’000 special forces operators. Let us assume for a second that the DPRK has no air force and no navy and an army composed of only 1M+ soldiers, 21k+ artillery pieces and 180k special forces. How do you propose to deal with that threat? If you have an easy, obvious solution, you have watched too many Hollywood movies. You probably also don’t understand the terrain.]

But yes, the DPRK also has major wseaknesses and I cannot exclude that the North Korean armed forces would rapidly collapse under a sustained attack by the US and the ROK. I did not say that I believe that this would happen, only that I don’t exclude it. Should that happen, the US might well prevail relatively rapidly, at least in purely military terms. However, please keep in mind that any military operation has to serve a political goal and, in that sense, I cannot imagine any scenario under which the USA would walk away from a war against the DPRK with anything remotely resembling a real “victory”. There is a paraphrase of something Ho Chi Minh allegedly told to the French in the 1940s which I really like. It goes like this:” we kill some of you, you kill a lot of us, and then we win”. That is how a war with the DPRK would probably play out. I call this the “American curse”: Americans are very good at killing people, but they are not good at winning wars. Still, in the case of the DPRK there is at least a possibility of a military victory, even if at a potentially huge cost. With Iran, Russia or China there is no such possibility at all: a war with any of them would be a guaranteed disaster (I wrote about a war in Iran here and about a war with Russia too many times to count). So why is it that even though out of the 4 possible wars, one is a potential disaster and the 3 others are a guaranteed disaster, why is it that these are discussed as if they were potential options?!

The reason for that can be found in the unique mix of crass ignorance and political cowardice of the entire US political class. First, a lot (most?) of US politicians believe in their own silly propaganda about the US armed forces being “the best” in “the world” (no evidence needed!). But even those who are smart enough to realize that this is a load of baloney which nobody outside the USA still takes seriously, they know that saying that publicly is political suicide. So they pretend, go along, and keep on repetitively spewing the patriotic mantra about “rah, rah, USA, USA, ‘Merica number one, we are the best” etc. Some figure that since the USA spends more on aggression that the rest of the planet combined, that must mean that the US armed forces must be “better” (whatever that means). To the birthplace of “bigger is better” the answer is self-evident. It is also completely wrong.

Eventually, something crazy inevitably happens. Like in Syria were the State Department had one policy, the Pentagon another and the CIA yet another one. The resulting cognitive dissonance is removed by engaging in classical doublethink: “yes, we screwed up over and over, but we are still the best”. Ironically, that kind of mindset is at the core of the American inability to learn from past mistakes. If the choice is between an honest evaluation of past operations and political expediency, the latter always prevails (at least amongst civilians, US servicemen are often far more capable of self-critical evaluation, especially in ranks up to Colonel and below, the problem here is that civilians and generals rarely listen to them).

The result is total chaos: the US foreign policy is wholly dependent on the US ability to threaten the use of military force, but the harsh reality is that every country out there which dared to defy Uncle Sam did that only after coming to the conclusion that the US did not have the means to crush it militarily. In other words, only the weak, which are already de-facto US colonies, fear the USA. Or, put differently, the only countries who dare to defy Uncle Sam are the strong ones (that was all quite predictable, but US politicians don’t know about Hegel or dialectics). And just to make it worse, there is no real US foreign policy. What there is is only the sum vector of the different foreign policies desired by various more or less covert “deep state” actors, agencies and individuals. That resulting “sum vector” is inevitably short-term, focuses on a quickfix approach, and unable to take into account any complexity.

As for the US “diplomacy” it simply doesn’t exist. You don’t need diplomats to deliver demands, bribes, ultimatums and threats. You don’t need educated people. Nor do you need people with any understanding of the “other”. All you need is one arrogant self-enamored bully and one interpreter (since US diplomats don’t speak the local languages either. And why would they?). We saw the most compelling evidence of the total rigor mortis of the US diplomatic corps when 51 US “diplomats” demanded that Obama bomb Syria. The rest of the world could just observe in amazement, sadness, bewilderment and total disgust.

The bottom line is this: there is no “US diplomacy”. The USA have simply let that entire field atrophy to the point were it ceased to exist. When so many baffled observers try to understand what the US policy in the Ukraine or Syria is, they are making a mistaken assumption – that there is a US foreign policy to being with. I would argue that the US diplomacy slowly and quietly passed away, sometime after James Baker (the last real US diplomat, and a brilliant one at that).

Military suicide: the US military was never a very impressive one, certainly not when compared to the British, Russian or German ones. But it did have a couple of very strong points including the ability to produce a lot of technical innovations which made it possible to produce new, sometimes quite revolutionary, weapons. And if the US track record on ground operations was rather modest, the US did prove to be a most capable adversary in naval and aerial warfare. I don’t think that it can be denied that for most of the years following WWII the USA had the most powerful and sophisticated navy and airforce in the world. Then, gradually, things started getting worse and worse as the costs of the very expensive ships and aircraft shot through the roof while the quality of the produced systems appeared to be gradually degrading. Weapons systems which looked nothing short of awesome in the lab and test grounds proved to be almost useless once they to to their end user on the battlefield. What happened? How did a country which produced the UH-1 Huey or the F-16 suddenly start producing Apaches and F-35s?! The explanation is painfully simple: corruption.

Not only did the US military industrial complex bloat beyond any reasonable size, it also cloaked itself in so many layers of secrecy that massive corruption became inevitable. And when I speak of “massive corruption” I am not talking about millions but billions or even trillions. How? Simple – the Pentagon claimed did not have the accounting tools needed to properly account for the missing money and that the money was therefore not really “missing”. Another trick – no bid contracts. Or contracts which cover all the private contractor’s costs, no matter how high or ridiculous. Desert Storm was a bonanza for the MIC, as was 9/11 and the GWOT. Billions of dollars got printed out of thin air, distributed (mostly under the cover of national security), hidden (secrecy) and stolen (by everybody in this entire food chain). The feeding frenzy was so extreme that one of my teachers as SAIS admitted, off the record of course, that he had never seen a weapons system he did not like or which he did not want to purchase. This man, whom I shall not name, was a former director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Yes, you read that right. He was in charge of DIS-armament. You can imagine what the folks in charge of armament (no “dis) were thinking…

With the stratospheric rise of corruption, the kind of US general which had to be promoted went from fighting men who remembered Vietnam (where they often lost family members, relatives and friends) to ass-kissing little chickenshits” like David Petraeus. In less than half a century US generals went from combat men, to managers, to politicians. And it is against this lackluster background that a rather unimpressive personality like General James Mattis can appear, at least to some, like a good candidate for Secretary of Defense.

Bottom line: the US armed forces are fantastically expensive and yet not particularly well-trained, well-equipped or well-commanded. And while they still are much more capable than the many European militaries (which are a joke), they are most definitely not the kind of armed forces needed to impose and maintain a world hegemony. The good news for the USA is that the US armed forces are more than adequate to defend the USA against any hypothetical attack. But as the backbone of the Empire – they are close to useless.

I could list many more types of suicides including an economic suicide, a social suicide, an educational suicide, a cultural suicide and, of course, a moral suicide. But others have already done that elsewhere, and much better than I could ever do myself. So all I will add here is one form of suicide which I believe the AngloZionist Empire has in common with the EU: a

Suicide by reality denial”: this is the mother and father of all the other forms of suicide – the stubborn refusal to look at reality and accept the fact that “the party is over”. When I see the grim determination of US politicians (very much including the people supporting Trump) to continue to pretend as if the US hegemony was here to stay forever, when I see how they see themselves as the leaders of the world and how they sincerely believe that they need to get involved in every conflict on the planet, I can only come to the conclusion that the inevitable collapse will be painful. To be fair, Trump himself clearly has moments of lucidity about this, for example when he recently declared to Congress

Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people — and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America. But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict — not more.

These are remarkable words for which Trump truly deserves a standing ovation as they are the closest thing to a formal admission that the United States have given up on the dream of being the World Hegemon and that from now on the US President will no longer represent the interest of trans-national plutocracies but he will represent the interests of the American people. This sort of language is nothing short of revolutionary, whether Trump truly delivers on that or not. Unlike everybody else, Trump does not appear to suffer from “suicide by reality denial” syndrome, but when I look at the people around him (nevermind the prostitutes in Congress) I wonder if he will ever get to act on his personal instincts.

Trump is clearly the best man in the Trump administration, he seems to have his heart in the right place and, unlike Hillary, he is clearly aware of the fact that the US armed forces are in a terrible shape. But a good heart and common sense are not enough to deal with the Neocons and the US deep state. You also need an iron will and a total determination to crush the opposition. Alas, so far Trump has failed to show either quality. Instead, Trump is trying to show how “tough” a guy he is by declaring that he will wipe out Daesh and by giving the Pentagon 30 days to come up with a plan to do this. Alas (for Trump), there is no way to crush Daesh without working with those who already have boots on the ground: the Iranians, the Russians and the Syrians. It is really that simple. And every American general knows that. Yet everybody is merrily plowing ahead is if there was some kind of possibility for the USA to crush Daesh without establishing a partnership with Russia, Iran and Syria first (Erdogan tried that. It did him no good. Now he is working with Russia and Iran). Will the good folks at the Pentagon find the courage to tell Trump that “no, Mr President, we cannot do that alone, we need the Russians, the Iranians and the Syrians”? I very much doubt it. So, yet again, we are probably going to see a case of reality denial, maybe not a suicidal one, but a significant one nonetheless. Not good.

Who will be the Empire’s kaishakunin?

Alexander Solzhenitsyn used to say that all states can be placed on a continuum which ranges from states whose authority is based on their power to states whose power is based on their authority. I think that we can agree that the authority of the USA is pretty close to zero. As for their power, it is still very substantial, but not sufficient to maintain the Empire. It is, however, more than adequate to protect the interests of the United States as a country provided the United States accept that they simply don’t have the means to remain a world hegemon.

If the Neocons succeed in their attempt to overthrow or, failing that, at paralyzing Trump, then the Empire will have the choice between an endless horror or a horrible end. Since the Neocons don’t really need a war with the DPRK, which they don’t like, but which does not elicit the kind of blind hatred Iran does, my guess is that Iran will be their number one target. Should the AngloZionists succeed in triggering a war between Iran and the Empire, then Iran will end up being the Empire’s kaishakunin. If the crazies fail in their manic attempts at triggering a major war, then the Empire will probably collapse under the pressure of the internal contradictions of the US society. Finally, if Trump and the American patriots who do not want to sacrifice their country for the sake of the Empire succeed in “draining the DC swamp” and finally crack-down hard on the Neocons then a gradual transition from Empire to major power is still possible. But the clock is running out fast.

The Saker

Turkey’s Erdogan Wants Northern Syria and Iraq Annexed

Global Research, March 13, 2017
Erdogan-turquie

His aim is longstanding. In December 2015, heavily armed Turkish forces invaded Iraq, an act of aggression, occupying territory near Mosul, on the phony pretext of combating ISIS he supports.

His real aim is seizing the area’s valued oil fields, a prize he’s long coveted.

Last August, he invaded northern Syria, his aggression code-named Operation Euphrates Shield – aiding anti-government forces, combating Kurdish YPG fighters, not terrorists.

His forces seized Jarabulus in northwestern Syria straightaway, continued advancing east.

Last November, he said his goal is gaining control over “5,000 square km (1,900 square miles) including al-Bab, Manbij and Tell Rifaat, creating a national structure and army for this expanded area to provide solid control and to allow the refugees return to these areas jointly with EU, and after these, focusing on IS’s de facto capital Raqqa and” YPG Kurdish fighters.

In late November, he said he launched cross-border military operations “to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” Days later, he retracted his statement. He can’t undo what he said.

America and other rogue states support his aggression, the Pentagon saying it supports YPG fighters. Obama said Turkey is a “strong NATO ally.” He lied claiming both countries are working to defeat ISIS.

US-installed NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg “welcome(d) Turkey’s increasing efforts to fight against ISIL. Turkey has a right to defend itself,” he said, ignoring his naked aggression in two regional countries, along with his tyrannical homeland rule.

Assad calls Erdogan an “invader.” Russia expressed concern. Putin said his actions didn’t surprise. “Intelligence exists so we face few unexpected developments. We understood what was going on and where things would lead,” he explained.

Erdogan lied, calling his action an act of self-defense. “Our borders must be cleansed of Daesh,” he said – failing to explain he supports the terrorist group and others operating regionally.

Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon made similar comments, supporting aggression instead of denouncing  it.

Intervening on the territory of other nations is naked aggression, longstanding US policy, together with NATO and other rogue allies.

Senior Kurdish Democratic Union party member Ewwas Eli said Erdogan seeks control over Syrian sovereign territory. That’s what his cross-border incursion is all about.

His goals are political, using military means to achieve them. He wants a Kurdish federation in northern Syria prevented.

So he equates the PYD and its People’s Protection Units (YPG) with PKK fighters. Ankara calls them terrorists – a pretext to wage war on Kurds in three countries, besides saying he wants to “ensur(e) the safety of life and property of our citizens who live along our southern borders.”

The best way is by waging peace, not war.

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.

The Politics Behind ‘Russia-gate’

By Robert Parry

The hysteria over “Russia-gate” continues to grow – as President Trump’s enemies circle – but at its core there may be no there there while it risks pushing the world toward nuclear annihilation, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

March 05, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  “Consortium News” – J There may be a turn-about-is-fair-play element to Democrats parsing the words of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other Trump administration officials to hang them on possible “perjury” charges. After all, the Republicans made “lock her up” a popular chant citing Hillary Clinton’s arguably illegal use of a private email server as Secretary of State and her allegedly false claim under oath that her lawyers had hand-checked each of her 30,000 or so emails that were deleted as personal.

But there is a grave danger in playing partisan “gotcha” over U.S. relations with the world’s other major nuclear superpower. If, for instance, President Trump finds himself having to demonstrate how tough he can be on Russia — to save his political skin — he could easily make a miscalculation that could push the two countries into a war that could truly be the war to end all wars – along with ending human civilization. But Democrats, liberals and the mainstream news media seem to hate Trump so much they will take that risk.

Official Washington’s Russia hysteria has reached such proportions that New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman has even compared the alleged Russian hacking of Democratic emails to Pearl Harbor and 9/11, two incidents that led the United States into violent warfare. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, Friedman demanded that the hacking allegations be taken with the utmost seriousness: “That was a 9/11 scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor scale event. … This goes to the very core of our democracy.”

But what really goes to “the very core of our democracy” is the failure to deal with this issue – or pretty much any recent issue – with the sobriety and the seriousness that should accompany a question of war or peace. Just as Friedman and other “star” journalists failed to ask the necessary questions about Iraq’s WMD or to show professional skepticism in the face of U.S. propaganda campaigns around the conflicts in Libya, Syria or Ukraine, they have not demanded any actual evidence from the Obama administration for its lurid claims about Russian “hacking.”

Before this madness goes any further, doesn’t anyone think that the U.S. intelligence community should lay its cards on the table regarding exactly what the evidence is that Russian intelligence purloined Democratic emails and then slipped them to WikiLeaks for publication? President Obama’s intelligence officials apparently went to great lengths to spread these allegations around – even passing the secrets around overseas – but they never told the American people what the evidence is. The two official reports dealing with the issue were laughably short on anything approaching evidence. They amounted to “trust us.”

Further, WikiLeaks representatives have indicated that the two batches of emails – one from the Democratic National Committee and the other from Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta – did not come from the Russians but rather from two different American insiders. That could be wrong – it is possible that Russian intelligence laundered the material through some American cutouts or used some other method to conceal Moscow’s hand – but Obama’s intelligence officials apparently don’t know how WikiLeaks obtained the emails. So, the entire “scandal” may rest upon a foundation of sand.

No ‘Fake News’

It’s also important to note that nothing that WikiLeaks published was false. There was no “fake news.” Indeed, a key reason why the emails were newsworthy at all was that they exposed misconduct and deception on the part of the Democrats and the Clinton campaign. The main point that the DNC emails revealed was that the leadership had violated its duty to approach the primary campaign even-handedly when instead they tilted the playing field against Sen. Bernie Sanders. Later, the Podesta emails revealed the contents of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street bankers, which she was trying to hide from the voters, and the emails exposed some of the pay-to-play tactics of the Clinton Foundation.

In other words, even if the Russians did reveal this information to the American people, how does knowing relevant facts regarding a presidential campaign translate into an attack on “the core of our democracy”? Usually, journalists believe that getting the truth out, even if it embarrasses some politician or some political party, is healthy for a democracy. As an American journalist, I prefer getting information from people who have America’s best interests at heart, but I’m not naïve enough to think that people who “leak” don’t often do so for self-interested reasons. What’s most important is that the information is genuine and newsworthy.

Frankly, I found the WikiLeaks material far more appropriate for an American political debate than the scurrilous rumors that the Clinton campaign was circulating about Trump supposedly getting urinated on by Russian prostitutes in a five-star Moscow hotel, claims for which no evidence has been presented.

Also, remember that no one thought that the DNC/Podesta emails were significant in deciding the 2016 election. Clinton herself blamed FBI Director James Comey for briefly reopening the FBI investigation into her private email server near the end of the campaign as the reason her poll numbers cratered. It’s relevant, too, that Clinton ran a horrific campaign, which included breathtaking gaffes like referring to many Trump supporters as “deplorables,” relying way too heavily on negative ads, failing to articulate a compelling vision for the future, and ignoring signs that her leads in Rust Belt states were disappearing. In other words, the current effort to portray the disclosure of Democratic emails as somehow decisive in the campaign is revisionist history.

Yet, here we are with The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and almost the entire mainstream media (along with leading liberals and Democrats) panting every time they discover that someone from Trump’s circle met with a Russian. We are supposed to forget that the Russian government for many years was collaborating closely with the U.S. government – and particularly with U.S. national security agencies – on vital issues. Russia assisted in supplying the U.S. military in Afghanistan; President Putin played a crucial role in getting Iran to curtail its nuclear program; and he also arranged for the Syrian government to surrender its stockpiles of chemical weapons. The last two accomplishments were among President Obama’s most important foreign policy successes.

But those last two areas of cooperation – Iran and Syria – contributed to making Putin a target for Washington’s powerful neoconservatives who were lusting for direct U.S. military strikes against those two countries. The neocons, along with the Israeli and Saudi governments, wanted “regime change” in Tehran and Damascus, not diplomatic agreements that left the governments in place.

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Neocons inside the U.S. government – including Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, Sen. John McCain and National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman – then took aim at “regime change” in Ukraine, realizing its sensitivity to Russia. Gershman, whose NED is funded by the U.S. government, called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and a key step toward ousting Putin inside Russia; McCain cheered on Ukraine’s ultranationalists who were firebombing police in Kiev’s Maidan square; and Nuland was conspiring with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt on how to “glue” or “midwife” a change in government.

This neocon strategy worked by overthrowing Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych and causing Putin to intervene on behalf of threatened ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. That, in turn, was transformed by the Western media into a “Russian invasion.”

Partisan Interests

Instead of standing up to this neocon troublemaking, Obama fell in line. Later, the Democrats saw political advantage in becoming the super-hawks standing up to Russia, essentially maneuvering to the right of the Republicans, especially when Donald Trump unexpectedly won the nomination, in part, by calling for better relations with Russia.

As the 2016 presidential campaign sank into infamy as one of the ugliest in U.S. history, Clinton hammered Trump over Russia, calling him a Putin “puppet.” But the Russia-bashing didn’t seem to help Clinton very much. Although it was calculated to pull in some “moderate” Republicans, it also alienated many peace-oriented Democrats.

Still, despite the shaky foundation and the haphazard construction, Official Washington is now adding more and more floors to this Russia “scandal.” Obama holdovers slapped together a shoddy pretext for going after Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – citing the never-prosecuted Logan Act of 1799 and then trapping Flynn because he didn’t have total recall of a phone conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 29 while Flynn was vacationing in the Dominican Republic.

Similarly, the mainstream media and Democrats are framing in a “perjury” case against Attorney General Sessions because of a sloppily worded response during his confirmation hearing about contacts with Russians. He had met twice with Kislyak (as many others in Washington have done). The heavy-breathing suspicion is that perhaps Sessions and Kislyak were plotting how the Kremlin could help the Trump campaign, but there is zero evidence to support that conspiracy theory.

What’s actually happening here should be obvious. The Obama administration, the Democrats and the mainstream media were horrified at Trump’s election. They understandably were offended by Trump’s personal behavior and his obvious unfitness for the presidency. Many Clinton supporters, especially women, were bitterly disappointed at the failure of the first female major-party presidential nominee who lost to a lout who boasted about how he could exploit his fame and power by grabbing the genitals of vulnerable women whom he assumed couldn’t do anything to stop him.

There was also alarm about Trump’s policies on the environment, immigration, education and the courts. Among the neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks, there was concern, too, that Trump would not continue their “regime change” strategies in the Middle East and their hostility toward Russia.

So, these anti-Trump forces grabbed at the most potent weapon available, the suspicions that Trump had somehow colluded with Russia. It didn’t matter that the evidence was weak to non-existent. It would be enough to spread the allegations around under the cloak of U.S. intelligence “assessments.”

Nobody important would demand to review the evidence and, surely, with the availability of National Security Agency intercepts, people’s memories could be tested against the transcripts of conversations and be found wanting. Verbal missteps could become perjury traps. There could be a witch hunt against anyone who talked to a Russian. Any pushing back from the Trump people could be construed as a “cover-up.”

Having worked in Washington for nearly four decades, I have seen political investigations before, both in steering away from real crimes of state (such as Nicaraguan Contra cocaine trafficking and Republican collaboration with foreign governments to undercut Democrats in 1968 and 1980) and in fabricating scandals that weren’t there (such as the fictional offenses of Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate, Chinagate, etc. under Bill Clinton who was finally cornered for the heinous crime of lying about sex). So far at least, “Russia-gate” fits much more with the latter group than the former.

What I also have learned over these years is that in Official Washington, power – much more than truth – determines which scandals are taken seriously and which ones are not. “Russia-gate” is revealing that the established power centers of Washington arrayed against Trump – the major news media, the neoconservatives and the Democratic Party – have more power than the disorganized Trump administration.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

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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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Moscow accused Trump of lack of professionalism

Moscow accused Trump of lack of professionalism

March 05, 2017

by Mikhail Moshkin

translated by Eugenia

Source:

Donald Trump, having believed the rumors about the Russian deployment of cruise missiles in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty (INF Treaty), promised to touch upon revision of the previous agreements in the upcoming talks with Putin. His intention “to make America great” in nuclear weapons could start another round of the arms race. Anyway, only four years are left until the Strategic Arms Treaty-III (START-III) expires, which is exactly the period of “the turbulent Trump presidency”.

Russia is vehemently against any possibility of denunciation of START-III, which has been in effect since 2011. This was stated to RIA “Novosti” (News) by the head of the Defense and Security Committee of the Federation Council Viktor Ozerov.

That was the Senator’s comment on the statements made recently by Donald Trump. The US President said that he was unhappy with START-III. The same news reports suggest that Trump also wants to discuss with Putin the issue of another treaty – the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty (INF Treaty). According to Reuters, Trump intends to discuss alleged violations of that treaty by Russia.

In his interview with Reuters, Trump alleged that Russia deployed cruise missiles in violation of INF Treaty. Thus, the US president believed the rumors spread last week by the US media and Senator John McCain. The assertion that “ a combat-ready unit of cruise missiles” has been deployed turned out to groundless, as the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs previously pointed out to Washington.

The same Reuters earlier reported, citing leaks from the White House: Trump believes that START-III was ‘signed to benefit Russia” and was “one of several bad deals of the Obama administration”.

Let us remind the reader that START-III, which was signed by Barak Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2010 and came into force in 2011, includes cutting strategic missiles to 700, with no more than 1550 nuclear warheads. The treaty is in effect until 2021. The INF Treaty was signed in 1998 and does not have the expiration date. That Treaty contains an obligation not to manufacture, test, or deploy land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate (1,000 to 5,500 kilometers) and short (500 to 1,000 kilometers) range.

“Exactly for the period of the turbulent Trump presidency”

As Ozerov stressed, START-III is “the cornerstone of the world security”. The treaty was negotiated in a way to ensure that neither side is the loser, and that is why Russia will insist on its prolongation.

In addition, said the Senator, the denunciation of the Treaty would create a bad precedent for other countries trying to acquire nukes. “If the US ignores START-III, it would open the floodgates for North Korea and several other countries” – warned Ozerov.

The outrageous Trump’s statements are uncalled for, said Ozerov’s deputy Franz Klintzevich. “Looks like the most pessimistic predictions are coming true. I don’t think that Donald Trump has any special knowledge of the strategic offensive weapons. This means that someone, possibly Herbert McMaster, a recently appointed President’s National Security Advisor, managed to express to Trump his viewpoint regarding this very complex issue in the Russian-American relations, and, apparently, convinced him”, – as Klintzevich is cited at the United Russia portal.

“This looks weird. It creates an impression that Trump still remains a hostage to his pre-election rhetoric making shocking statements, which are entirely inappropriate in his current position”, – said the Senator. He stressed that START-III is a very complex matter, and “making hasty conclusions in this area is, at the very least, unprofessional”.

In his turn, the Head of another Federation Council Committee, on International Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, said that START-III does not have a mechanism of automatic renewal. Thus, he explained, it is necessary to start the Russian-American consultations regarding its future fate as soon as possible. “Not much time is left (until 2021 – publisher’s note). Less than four years, exactly the period of the already turbulent Trump presidency” – said Kosachev.

Stable tendency

Kosachev reminded that START-III is based on the absolute parity of the Russian and US nuclear forces, and its objective is to preclude a “nuclear superiority” of either side. The Trump’s election motto “Make America great again”, if it implies superiority in the nuclear area, would return the world to the worst times of the arms race of 1950-60s, when each side tried to assure its national security by achieving military superiority over the adversary”, – cautioned the Senator.

The Americans started the revision of the treaties concluded between the USSR and the USA long before Trump. As the Associate Professor of the Department of Politology and Sociology at the Plekhanov Economic University Alexander Perenjiev commented to “Glance” (“Vzglyad”, the name of the portal – translator’s note), “the US have already done one, to put it mildly, bad thing, by denouncing in 2001-2002 the 1992 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty)”. Let us remind that this happened under George Bush the Junior.

As far as START is concerned, it was Barak Obama who took a hand in undermining it. As the Russian Defense Ministry explained, the deployment of the the American launch systems MK-41 and the anti-missile complexes Aegis Ashore in the Eastern Europe was a violation. This launch and anti-missile systems are already deployed in Romania and are planned to be deployed in Poland, and, again, that decision was made before Trump.

Preparing for the deal

“If Trump intends to denounce START-III, which clearly sets the rules of the nuclear parity, it would seriously undermine nuclear security” says Perenjiev. The experts believe that a new arms race would force Moscow to quickly increase its nuclear arsenal, modernize nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

As noted a former Joint Chief of Staffs four-star General Yury Baluevsky, Russia would respond if the US starts increasing its nuclear forces. “We will seek an asymmetric answer, including in the nuclear area”, – RT cites Baluevsky. The General said that Russia will have as many nukes as needed for the guaranteed containment.

On the other hand, the fact that Trump criticized START-III does not necessarily mean that the revision of that treaty will become the reality. “It is unknown how real are the Trump’s intentions – the thing looks like an information game”, – notes Perenjiev.

He says that it is reasonable to believe that Trump”s statement is the beginning of the bargaining to renegotiate START-III on conditions more favorable to the US. “Trump, being a businessman, looks at treaties as bargains, and, before concluding a beneficial bargain, creates its “informational cover”, – says Perenjiev.

It is cheaper to agree on a new treaty

A former Head of the 4th Research Institute of the Defense Ministry (researches ways to develop the Russian strategic arms and air and space forces) one-star General Vladimir Dvorkin believes that the US are unlikely to denounce START-III. In his interview to Interfax news agency, he expressed hope that Trump “will be brought to his senses”. “Both Republicans and Democrats approved of START-III at the time, and they are unlikely to back its denouncement. Trump can say anything, but he will not be able to do it”, – predicts Dvorkin.

According to him, it would make more sense not to renew START-III, but to agree upon START-IV and cut down warheads and delivery missiles to 1,000 and 500, respectively. The expert explains: “The current treaty allows us to have 700 delivery systems, whereas we have only 508”. If we conclude SAT-IV, Russia won’t need to increase anything, so – “it is cheap and beneficial for us”. According to all existing treaties, the US have to cut their weapons down, whereas on our side everything happens naturally – we are behind in replacing our aging weapons”.

“This Is Watergate”: Trump Accuses Obama of Wiretapping the Trump Tower

Global Research, March 05, 2017
ZeroHedge 4 March 2017
obamatrump1

President Trump on Saturday morning alleged that his predecessor Barack Obama had “wire-tapped” the Trump Tower in October, before the election: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” he wrote.

“Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” he added in subsequent tweets. “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”

Trump compared Obama’s alleged activity to Nixon’s bugging of the Watergate hotel. “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

It was not immediately clear what evidence or report Trump was referencing. On Friday night, Breitbart News reported on radio host Mark Levin’s claim that Obama executed a “silent coup” of Trump via “police state” tactics.

Since Trump has a tendency to tweet about things he has just seen on TV or read in the press, and since there has been no definitive report on that topic, Trump may be referencing an internal report. And since the allegations in his tweets are material, and will surely provoke a response by Barack Obama (at least his twitter account), this may escalate significantly.

Also on Saturday, prior to the wiretapping tweet, Trump had also linked Obama to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s meetings last year with Russia’s U.S. ambassador.

“The first meeting Jeff Sessions had with the Russian Amb was set up by the Obama Administration under education program for 100 Ambs,” he tweeted.

Trump on Saturday also blasted Obama for meeting with Kislyak 22 times while president, as the Daily Caller reported first on Friday, tweeting: “Just out: The same Russian Ambassador that met Jeff Sessions visited the Obama White House 22 times, and 4 times last year alone.”

The Trump administration has sought to push back on accusations of being cozy with Moscow, by pointing out instances of Democrats meeting with Kislyak. Critics have responded that the issue isn’t that Sessions met with the ambassador, but that he falsely told Congress he hadn’t while under oath. So far, according to some media outlets, Trump has failed to “fend off” the Russia questions, which continue to reemerge virtually every night in some new front page story on the WaPo, NYT, in a recurring pattern as described in the following blog post.

* * *

To be sure, Trump didn’t dwell much on the alleged wiretapping and by 8:19 a.m., the president had turned his sights to Arnold Schwarzenegger who succeeded Trump as host of “The Apprentice,” and who has sparred with Mr. Trump over the president’s policies on immigration.

“Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t voluntarily leaving the Apprentice, he was fired by his bad (pathetic) ratings, not by me. Sad end to great show” Trump tweeted. “Sad end to great show,” he concluded.

Syria – Erdogan’s Lost Bet – Trump Likely To Follow A Cautious Strategy

By Moon Of Alabama

March 02, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  “Moon Of Alabama” – The last Syria thread noted:

South of Al-Bab the Syrian army is moving towards the Euphrates. It will cut off the Turkish forces path to Raqqa and Manbij.

That move concluded. The Turkish invasion forces are now blocked from moving further south. They would have to fight the Syrian army and their Russian allies to move directly onto Raqqa. They would have to fight the Syrian-Kurdish YPG and its U.S. allies to move further east.

For the first time since the start of the war the supply lines between Turkey and the Islamic State are cut off!
map by Peto Lucem bigger
map by South Front bigger

Erdogan is still hoping for U.S. support for his plans for Raqqa but I doubt that the U.S. military is willing to give up on their well regarded Kurdish proxies in exchange for an ill disciplined Turkish army in general disarray and with little fighting spirit. Erdogan removed any and all officers and NCOs that he perceived as not being 100% behind his power grab. That has now come back to haunt him. He is lacking the military means to pursue his belligerent policies.

Last year Erdogan had allied with Russia and Iran after a (U.S. supported?) coup attempt against him failed. He felt left alone by the U.S. and its reluctance to support his plans in Syria. After Trump was elected Erdogan perceived a coming change in U.S. policies. He exposed himself as the ultimate turncoat and switched back to a U.S. alliance. His believe in a change of U.S. policy drives his latest moves and announcements.

Elijah Magnier reports that his sources in Damascus have the same impression of Trump as Erdogan. They believe that Trump will strongly escalate in Syria and will support the Turkish moves against the Syrian state.

But it is the U.S. military that drives the strategy in the Trump cabinet. The Pentagon has no appetite for a big ground operation in Syria. The plan it offered Trump is still the same plan that it offered under Obama. It will work with Kurdish forces to defeat the Islamic State in Raqqa. Notable is also that a director of the Pentagon financed think tank RAND Corp publicly argues for better cooperation with Russia in Syria. The old RAND plan of a decentralized Syrian with zones under “international administration” (i.e. U.S. occupied) is probably no longer operative.

Recently Erdogan announced that his next move in Syria would be to towards Manbij, held by the YPK. Shortly thereafter pictures of U.S. troops in Manbij displaying U.S. flags were published on social networks. The message was clear: stay away from here or you will be in serious trouble.

On Monday planes from the Iraqi air force attacked Islamic State positions within eastern Syria. The attack followed from intelligence cooperation between Syria and Iraq. It is easier for Iraq to reach that area than for Syrian planes stationed near the Mediterranean. This cooperation will continue. In western Iraq militia integrated with the Iraqi military are ready to storm Tal Afar. This is besides the besieged Mosul the last big Islamic State position in the area. The U.S. had planned to let the Islamic State fighters flee from Mosul and Tal Afar towards Syrian and to let them take the Syrian government positions in Deir Ezzor. Syrian-Iraqi cooperation blocked that move. The U.S. attempt to separate the war on the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq failed. Any attempt to again use the Islamic State as a means to destroy Syria will meet resistance in Iraq where the U.S. is more and more engaged. U.S. commanders in Iraq will be well aware of that threat.

In my opinion Trump’s more belligerent remarks on Syria, on safe zones and military escalation, are rhetoric. They are his negotiation positions towards Russia and Iran. They are not his policies. Those are driven by more realistic positions. Obama balanced more hawkish views supported by the CIA, Hillary Clinton and the neoconservatives against reluctance in the military to engage in another big war. Trump will, even more than Obama, follow the Pentagon’s view. That view seems to be unchanged. I therefore do not believe that aggressive escalation is the way Trump will go. Some additional U.S. troops may get added to the Kurdish forces attacking Raqqa. But any large move by Turkish or by Israeli forces will not be condoned. The big U.S. invasion of Syria in their support will not happen.

Meanwhile the Syrian army is moving on Palmyra and may soon retrieve it from the Islamic State. A new Russian trained unit, the 5th corps, is in the lead and so far makes a good impression. With Palmyra regained the Syrian army is free to move further east towards Raqqa and Deir Ezzor.

Erdogan may still get some kind of “safe zone” in the area in north Syrian his forces now occupy. But Damascus will support Kurdish and Arab guerilla forces against any Turkish occupation. The Turkish forces in Syria will continue to be in a lot of trouble. Erdogan will not get active U.S. support for further moves to capture Syrian land. His change of flags, twice, was useless and has severely diminished his standing.

Netanyahoo and the Israel lobby also want a “safe zone”. This one in south Syria and under Jordanian command. This would allow Israel to occupy more Syrian land along the Golan heights. But the areas next to the Golan and towards Deera are occupied by al-Qaeda and Islamic State aligned group. These groups are a serious danger for the unstable Jordanian state. There is nothing to win for Jordan in any “safe zone” move. Likewise the U.S. military will have no interest in opening another can of worms in south Syria. Like Erdogan Netanyahoo will likely be left alone with his dreams.

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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The West’s Moral Hypocrisy on Yemen

Exclusive: The West’s “humanitarian interventionists” howl over bloody conflicts when an adversary can be blamed but go silent when an ally is doing the killing, such as Saudi Arabia in Yemen, reports Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

February 23, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  “Consortium News ” -Only a few months ago, interventionists were demanding a militant response by Washington to what George Soros branded“ahumanitarian catastrophe of historic proportions” — the killing of “hundreds of people” by Russian and Syrian government bombing of rebel-held neighborhoods in the city of Aleppo.

Leon Wieseltier, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former New Republic editor, was denouncing the Obama administration as “a bystander to the greatest atrocity of our time,” asserting that its failure to “act against evil in Aleppo” was like tolerating “the evil in Auschwitz.”

Feb 2017 The Starvation in Yemen

 How strange, then, that so many of the same “humanitarian” voices have been so quiet of late about the continued killing of many more innocent people in Yemen, where tens of thousands of civilians have died and 12 million people face famine. More than a thousand children die each week from preventable diseases related to malnutrition and systematic attacks on the country’s food infrastructure by a Saudi-led military coalition, which aims to impose a regime friendly to Riyadh over the whole country.

“The U.S. silence has been deafening,” said Philippe Bolopion, deputy director for global advocacy at Human Rights Watch, last summer. “This blatant double standard deeply undermines U.S. efforts to address human rights violations whether in Syria or elsewhere in the world.”

Official acquiescence — or worse — from Washington and other major capitals is encouraging the relentless killing of Yemen’s civilians by warplanes from Saudi Arabia and its allies. Last week, their bombs struck a funeral gathering north of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, killing nine women and a child and injuring several dozen more people.

A day earlier, officials reported a deadly “double-tap” airstrike, first targeting women at a funeral in Sanaa, then aimed at medical responders who rushed in to save the wounded. A United Nations panel of experts condemned a similar double-tap attack by Saudi coalition forces in October, which killed or wounded hundreds of civilians, as a violation of international law.

The Tragedy of Mokha

On Feb. 12, an air strike on the Red Sea port city of Mokha killed all six members of a family headed by the director of a maternal and childhood center. Coalition ground forces had launched an attack on Mokha two weeks earlier.

Xinhua news agency reported, “the battles have since intensified and trapped thousands of civilian residents in the city, as well as hampered the humanitarian operation to import vital food and fuel supplies . . . The Geneva-based UN human rights office said that it received extremely worrying reports suggesting civilians and civilian objects have been targeted over the past two weeks in the southwestern port city . . . Reports received by UN also show that more than 200 houses have been either partially damaged or completely destroyed by air strikes in the past two weeks.”

The U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator further reported that “scores of civilians” had been killed or wounded by the bombing and shelling of Mokha, and that residents were stranded without water or other basic life-supporting services.

That could be Aleppo, minus only the tear-jerking photos of dead and wounded children on American television. However, unlike Syria, Yemen’s rebels don’t have well-financed public relations offices in Western capitals. They pay no lip service to the United States, democracy, or international human rights. Their foe Saudi Arabia is a friend of Washington, not a long-time adversary. In consequence, few American pundits summon any moral outrage at the Saudi-led coalition, despite findings by a United National Panel of Experts that many of its airstrikes violate international law and, in some cases, represent “war crimes.”

Aiding and Abetting

The United States hasn’t simply turned a blind eye to such crimes; it has aided them by selling Saudi Arabia the warplanes it flies and the munitions it drops on Yemeni civilians. It has also siphoned 54 million pounds of jet fuel from U.S. tanker planes to refuel coalition aircraft on bombing runs. The pace of U.S. refueling operations has reportedly increased sharply in the last year.

The Obama administration initially supported the Saudi coalition in order to buy Riyadh’s reluctant support for the Iran nuclear deal. Over time, Saudi Arabia joined with anti-Iran hawks to portray Yemen’s rebels as pawns of Tehran to justify continued support for the war. Most experts — including U.S. intelligence officials — insist to the contrary that the rebels are a genuinely indigenous force that enjoys limited Iranian support at best.

As I have documented previously, all of the fighting in Yemen has damaged U.S. interests by creating anarchy conducive to the growth of Al Qaeda extremists. They have planned or inspired major acts of terrorism against the West, including an attempt to blow up a U.S. passenger plane in 2009 and a deadly attack on the Parisian newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. The Saudis tolerate them as Sunni allies against the rebels, in the name of curbing Iran.

Though the Obama administration is gone, the Trump administration is flush with ideologues who are eager to take a stand against Tehran through Yemen and look tough on “terrorism.” Within days of taking office, President Trump approved a commando raid targeting an alleged Al Qaeda compound in central Yemen that went awry, killing an estimated 10 women and children. The administration has also diverted a U.S. destroyer to patrol Yemen’s coast.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to his credit, has cited “the urgent need for the unfettered delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout Yemen,” according to a department spokesman. But no amount of humanitarian aid will save Yemen’s tormented people from the bombs made in America and dropped from U.S.-made warplanes, with little protest from Washington’s so-called “humanitarian interventionists.”

Jonathan Marshall is author of many recent articles on arms issues, including “Obama’s Unkept Promise on Nuclear War,” “How World War III Could Start,” “NATO’s Provocative Anti-Russian Moves,” “Escalations in a New Cold War,” and “Ticking Closer to Midnight.”

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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