Pandering to Israel Means War with Iran

Global Research, May 09, 2019

The United States is moving dangerously forward in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to provoke a war with Iran, apparently based on threat intelligence provided by Israel. The claims made by National Security Advisor John Bolton and by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that there is solid evidence of Iran’s intention to attack US forces in the Persian Gulf region is almost certainly a fabrication, possibly deliberately contrived by Bolton and company in collaboration with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It will be used to justify sending bombers and additional naval air resources to confront any possible moves by Tehran to maintain its oil exports, which were blocked by Washington last week. If the US Navy tries to board ships carrying Iranian oil it will undoubtedly, and justifiably, provoke a violent response from Iran, which is precisely what Bolton, Pompeo and Netanyahu are seeking.

It would be difficult to find in the history books another example of a war fought for no reason whatsoever. As ignorant as President Donald Trump and his triumvirate or psychotics Bolton, Pompeo and Elliott Abrams are, even they surely know that Iran poses no threat to the United States. If they believe at all that a war is necessary, they no doubt base their judgment on the perception that the United States must maintain its number one position in the world by occasionally attacking and defeating someone to serve as an example of what might happen if one defies Washington. Understanding that, the Iranians would be wise to avoid confrontation until the sages in the White House move on to some easier target, which at the moment would appear to be Venezuela.

The influence of Israel over US foreign policy is undeniable, with Washington now declaring that it will “review ties” with other nations that are considered to be unfriendly to the Jewish state. For observers who might also believe that Israel and its allies in the US are the driving force behind America’s belligerency in the Middle East, there are possibly some other games that are in play, all involving Benjamin Netanyahu and his band of merry cutthroats. It is becoming increasingly apparent that foreign politicians have realized that the easiest way to gain Washington’s favor is to do something that will please Israel. In practical terms, the door to Capitol Hill and the White House is opened through the good offices of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Israel is desperate to confirm its legitimacy in international fora, where it has few friends in spite of an intensive lobbying campaign. It seeks to have countries that do not have an embassy in Israel to take steps to establish one, and it also wants more nations that do already have an embassy in Tel Aviv to move to Jerusalem, building on the White House’s decision taken last year to do just that. Not surprisingly, nations and political leaders who are on the make and want American support have drawn the correct conclusions and pander to Israel as a first step.

One only has to cite the example of Venezuela. Juan Guaido, the candidate favored by Washington for regime change, has undoubtedly a lot of things on his plate but he has proven willing to make some time to say what Benjamin Netanyahu wants to hear, as reported by the Israeli media. The Times of Israel describes how

“Venezuela’s self-proclaimed leader Juan Guaido is working to re-establish diplomatic relations with Israel and isn’t ruling out placing his country’s embassy in Jerusalem, according to an interview with an Israeli newspaper published Tuesday.”

One would think that Guaido would consider his interview sufficient, but he has also taken the pandering process one step farther, reportedly displaying huge video images of the flags of both Israel and the United States at his rallies.

This deference to Israel’s interests produced an almost immediate positive result with Netanyahu recognizing him as the legitimate Venezuelan head of state, followed by an echo chamber of effusive congratulations from US (sic) Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who praised the Jewish state for “standing with the people of Venezuela and the forces of freedom and democracy.” Donald Trump’s esteemed special envoy for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, also joined in, praising the Israeli government for its “courageous stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan people.”

A similar bonding took place regarding Brazil, where hard right conservative leader Jair Bolsonaro was recently elected president. Netanyahu attended the Bolsonaro inauguration last December and the two men benefit from strong support from Christian Evangelicals. Bolsonaro repaid the favor by promising that Israel would be his first foreign trip. In the event he went to Washington first, but the state visit to Israel took place in April, just before that country’s elections, in a bid to demonstrate international support for Netanyahu.

Brazilian Jews constitute a wealthy and powerful community which reacted positively to Bolsonaro’s pledges to fight corruption and high crime rates while also repairing a struggling economy. They also appreciated his stance on Israel. He committed to moving the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, though he has backpedaled a bit on that pledge. And he also promised to shut the Palestinian embassy in the capital Brasilia. He famously asked and answered his own question,

“Is Palestine a country? Palestine is not a country, so there should be no embassy here. You do not negotiate with terrorists.”

Bolsonaro’s pro-Israel anti-Venezuela credentials also endeared him to Donald Trump on a visit to Washington in mid-March which was described by the media as a “love fest.” The Brazilian leader’s visits to Israel and the US as well as Guaido’s promises to Israel reveal that the foreign policies of Tel Aviv and Washington have become inextricably intertwined, with supplicant nations and politicians wisely seeking to do homage to both regimes to gain favor. It is a development that would shock the Founding Fathers, most particularly George Washington, who warned against entangling alliances, and it means that American interests will be seen through an Israeli prism, a reality that has already produced very bad results.

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Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests.

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Venezuela – Another Failed Coup Attempt – What’s Next?

May 01, 2019

by Peter Koenig  for The Saker Blog

Venezuela – Another Failed Coup Attempt – What’s Next?

In the early morning hours of 30 April, 2019, the self-declare “Interim President”, Juan Guaidó, launched what at first sight appeared to be a military coup – Guaidó calls it “Operation Freedom” (sounds very much like a Washington-invented title) – against the democratically elected, legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro. With two dozen of defected armed military from the Carlota military base east of Caracas (not hundreds, or even thousands, as reported by the mainstream media), Guaidó went to free Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition leader, who was under house arrest, after his 13-year prison sentence for his role in the deadly 2014 anti-government protests, was commuted. They first called for a full military insurrection – which failed bitterly, as the vast majority of the armed forces are backing President Maduro and his government.

As reported straight from Caracas by geopolitical analyst, Dario Azzelli, Guaidó and López rallied from the Plaza Altamira, for the people of Venezuela to rise up and take to the streets to oust President Maduro. According to them, this was the ‘last phase’ of a peaceful coup to bring freedom and democracy back to Venezuela. The nefarious pair issued a video of their “battle cry” which they broadcast over the social media.

They mobilized a few hundred – again not thousands as pers SMS – right-wing middle to upper class protestors and marched towards the Presidential Palace. On the way, they were confronted by the Venezuelan Civil Guard with tear gas – not even the military had to intervene – and only few protestors reached Miraflores which was protectively surrounded by thousands of Chavistas. And that was basically the end of yet another failed coup.

Leopoldo López was seeking asylum in the Chilean Embassy which rejected him, and now, it looks like he found his refuge in the Spanish Embassy. This is a huge embarrassment and outright shame for Spain, especially after the Socialist Party, PSOE, just won the elections with 29%, though not enough to form a government by its own, but largely sufficient to call the shots as to whom should be granted asylum on their territory. Looks like fascism is still alive in Spain, if Pedro Sanchez is not able to reject a right-wing fascist opposition and illegal coup leader of Venezuela to gain refuge on Spain’s territory.

As to Guaidó, rumors have it that he found refuge in the Brazilian Embassy, though some reports say he is being protected by his Colombian friends. Both is possible, Bolsonaro and Duque are of same fascist kind, certainly ready to grant criminals – what Guaidó is – asylum.
——

What is important to know, though, is that throughout the day of the attempted coup, 30 April, the US State Department, in the person of the pompous Pompeo, accompanied by the National Security Advisor, John Bolton, kept threatening President Maduro in a press round. Pompeo directly menaced President Maduro, saying – “If they ask me if the US is prepared to consider military action [in Venezuela], if this is what is necessary to restore democracy in Venezuela, the President [Donald Trump] has been coherent and clear: The military option is available, if this is what we have to do.” – These threats are repeated throughout May 1 – day after the Venezuelan attempted coup defeat by both Pompeo and warrior Bolton.

Pompeo’s audacity didn’t stop there. He went as far as suggesting to President Maduro to flee to Cuba and leave his country to those that will bring back (sic) freedom and democracy.

Let’s be clear. Although this has been said before – it cannot be repeated enough for the world to understand. These outright war criminals in Washington are in flagrant violation of the UN Charter to which the US is – for good or for bad – a signatory.

UN Charter – Chapter I, Article 2 (4), says:
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

We know that the White House, Pentagon and State Department have zero respect for the UN, and, in fact, use the international body for their purposes, manipulating and blackmailing its members into doing the bidding for the US. That is all known and has been documented. What is perhaps newer is that this is now happening, especially in the cases of Venezuela and Iran, openly, in unveiled flagrant disrespect of any international law, against bodies and sovereign countries that do not bend to the whims and will of the United States.

As a result of this open violation of the UN Charter by the world’s only rogue state, some 60 UN member nations, including Russia and China, have formed a solid shield against Washington’s aggressions. The group was created especially in defense of Venezuela, but is also there for Iran and other countries being aggressed and threatened by the US. Hence, the blatant blackmailing and manipulation of weaker UN member countries becomes more difficult.

To be sure, the Russian Foreign Ministry has immediately condemned the coup as illegal and warned the US of any military intervention. This is of course not the first time, but just to be sure – Russia is there, standing by her partner and friend, Venezuela.

——

This Guaidó–Lopez attempted coup was most certainly following instructions from Washington. Super-puppet Guaidó, US-groomed and trained, then self-declared “presidente interino”, would not dare doing anything on his own initiative which might raise the wrath of his masters. But would the US – with all her secret services capacity – seriously launch a coup so ill-prepared that it is defeated in just a few hours with minimal intervention of Venezuelan forces? – I doubt it.

What is it then, other than a planned failure? – A new propaganda instrument, for the corporate MSM to run amok and tell all kinds of lies, convincing its complacent western public of the atrocities produced by the Maduro regime, the misery Venezuelan people must live, famine, disease without medication, oppression by dictatorship, torture, murder – whatever they can come up with. You meet any mainstream-groomed people in Europe and elsewhere, even well-educated people, people who call themselves ‘socialists’ and are leading figures in European socialist parties, they would tell you these same lies about misery caused by the Maduro regime.

How could that be – if the Maduro Government doesn’t even arrest Juan Guaidó for his multiple crimes committed since January, when he self-proclaimed being the ‘interim president’ of Venezuela. Arresting him, for the coup attempts he initiated or was party to since his auto coronation to president. That’s what a dictator would do. That’s what the United States of America, would have done a long time ago. Washington and its internal security apparatus would certainly not tolerate such illegal acts – and to top it off – foreign manipulated political illegality.

Why for example, would the media not point out the real crimes of the US vassals of South America, like Colombia, where over 6 million people are internal and external refugees, where at least 240,000 peasants and human rights activists were massacred and many were burned by US-funded paramilitary groups, atrocities that are ongoing as of this day, despite the November 2016 signed “Peace Agreement” between the then Santos Government and the FARC – for which President Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize. – Can you imagine!

What world are we living in? A world of everyday deceit and lies and highly paid lie-propaganda, paid with fake money – fake as in indiscriminately printed US-dollars – of which every new dollar is debt that will never be paid back (as openly admitted by former FEDs Chairman, Alan Greenspan); dollars that can be indiscriminately spent to produce the deadliest weapons, as well as for corporate media-propaganda lies – also a deadly weapon – to indoctrinate people around the globe into believing that evil is good, and that war is peace.

I have lost many friends by telling them off, by telling them the truth, the truth about Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria – mostly to no avail. It’s actually no loss; it’s merely a repeated confirmation of how far the western society has been veered off the path of conscience into a comfort zone, where believing the propaganda lies of reputed media like The Guardian, NYT, WashPost, BBC, FAZ, Spiegel, Le Monde, Figaro, el País, ABC — and so on, is edifying. They are so convincing. They are so well-reputed and well-known. How could they lie? – No loss, indeed.

Let’s stay on track, comrades. Venceremos!

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.
Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

 

 

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Arrives in ‘Israel’ for Pre-vote Visit

BrazilBolsonaro_netanyahu

Source

March 31, 2019

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro began a visit to the Zionist entity Sunday with a decision pending on fulfilling a promise to move his country’s embassy to occupied AL-Quds (Jerusalem), a policy change opposed by military officers in his cabinet.

The four-day visit by the far-right leader comes a week before the Israeli’s closely contested election in which the right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is battling a popular centrist candidate and corruption allegations, which he denies.

“I love Israel,” Bolsonaro said in Hebrew at a welcoming ceremony, with Netanyahu at his side, at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport.

Netanyahu said he and Bolsonaro would sign “many agreements”, including security deals, and that the Brazilian leader would visit Judaism’s holy Western Wall, “in Jerusalem, our eternal capital.”

A leading Israeli financial news website, Calcalist, reported on Sunday that Brazilian state-run oil firm Petrobras was considering bidding in a new tender to explore for oil and gas offshore occupied Palestine and a final decision would be announced during Bolsonaro’s visit.

Earlier this month, a Brazilian government official told Reuters no decision had been made on the embassy move, but “something will have to be said about the embassy during the trip”.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that a formal announcement might not come during the visit.

Visiting Brazil for the Jan. 1 presidential inauguration, Netanyahu said Bolsonaro had told him that moving the Brazilian embassy in Israel to occupied Jerusalem from Tel Aviv was a matter of “when, not if”.

Source: Agencies

Sorry Mr. Pence, the Venezuelan Military Aren’t Rubes

Sorry Mr. Pence, the Venezuelan Military Aren’t Rubes

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 04.03.2019

Sorry Mr. Pence, the Venezuelan Military Aren’t Rubes

Jim CAREY

Here’s a message to Vice-President Piss, his freak family, Elliott Abrams and the rest of Washington: the Venezuelan military isn’t f*cking stupid.

Last weekend we saw an attempted coup in Venezuela by the US along with local lunatic/self-proclaimed “President” Juan Guaidó. This time, rather than just burning people alive in Caracas, the opposition started their stunt at the Colombian border.

The intent of this stunt was to highlight how the actual Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro refuses to let in “aid” from the United States. This is the same type of “aid” from the earlier stunt by the Trump regime that even the Red Cross and UN have called bullshit.

The plan this weekend was to give Maduro and ultimatum: either let in the aid, or the US will do something; although it’s still not clear what with even the bloated tumor Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has said he’s not interested in any military operations launched from his country.

We all know that this coup attempt by the US and Guaidó failed because we all saw the anti-Maduro thugs on the Colombia-Venezuela border throw a tantrum when they realized their error. Once these CIA stooges realized the trucks of aid weren’t crossing the border they just decided to burn them and blame it on Maduro (which has also failed).

But why did it fail?

In the weeks leading up to the latest coup, multiple US officials spoke publicly (and privately) to members of the Venezuelan military urging them to turn on the Bolivarian Revolution. For the sake of simplifying this argument, let’s focus in particular on the promises made by the Vice President of the US, Mike Pence.

In his pre-coup address to the Venezuelan people, Pence practically begged the military to help the US overthrow – yet another – elected Latin American government. Pence and others such as Mike Pompeo even went so far as to promise any soldiers who defected a chance to ‘live in peace’ after Washington destroys their country if they would just let all the arms disguised as aid enter.

So why didn’t the soldiers do it?

Because, as I’ve already said, they’re not f*cking stupid. The Bolivarian Revolution was built from the ground up when the people of Venezuela (and Latin America as a whole), tired of the neoliberalism enforced by Washington since the 1970s and 80s rose up. In Venezuela, this came exactly 30 years ago with the riots know and the Caracazo.

Prior to the Caracazo, as many libertarian dumbasses will tell you, Venezuela was, in fact, one of the richest countries on the continent but what the free marketeers leave out is that they had massive amounts of poverty and an immoral wealth gap between the richest and poorest citizens. This poverty, the result of neoliberal privatization schemes, set off a chain of events that later helped spawn Venezuela’s communes and a young military leader who attempted to overthrow the crooked puppet state, Hugo Chavez.

The problem for Pence, Pompeo, Trump, Bolton, Abrams and the lot is that this military leader brought the military up with him as a liberatory force. On top of this, not only did Chávez secure the military’s loyalty because he was a military man himself, but also because, they too, had had enough domination from Wall Street.

This military, which is the same one helping Maduro protect Venezuela remembers this but they also remember other parts of history.

Another big reason the military likely won’t turn is that they know people like Pence are lying when they say anyone who supports Maduro, socialism, or even some forms of liberal democracy will never be allowed to live in peace if the US has their way.

Again, the reason they know this to be true is that they know revolutionary history. The Bolivarian military remembers what happened to other socialist movements around Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia once a US-backed anti-communist was in power. A lot of this history they know is still applicable since much of it was also perpetrated by people like Bolton and Abrams in their previous positions.

The Venezuelan military remembers things like Salvador Allende being fairly elected and then overthrown, or the Contras mass murdering civilians. They know that this type of behavior doesn’t end when the US wins. They know Pinochet threw labor leaders, socialists, and anyone who opposed his trash neoliberalism from helicopters after taking power. They know the Contras and other death squads were bayoneting toddlers to prove a point to scared farmers, often while not even actually engaging whatever force they were ostensibly fighting even a single time.

The Bolivarian Revolution and the “Pink Tide” that swept Latin America in the early 2000s were a response to all of this. The Venezuelan military knows there is no peace as long as there is ANY resistance to US financial tyranny. The US, all their intelligence agencies and their various stooges around the continent may have won some fights in countries like Brazil but this won’t be as easy on Venezuela. The Venezuelan military is part of the Bolivarian revolution, they will not be separated, and like the many of the average Venezuelans opposing US intervention, they know what comes next if Washington gets their way.

geopoliticsalert.com

Kashmir, Korea, Venezuela, Iran: hot, cold, hybrid war

Source

March 01, 2019

Kashmir, Korea, Venezuela, Iran: hot, cold, hybrid war

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

Turning and turning in a widening gyre, the geopolitics of the young  21st century resembles a psychedelic mandala conceived by Yama, the Lord of Death.

Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, fresh from a 70-hour train journey, meets in prosperous, communist Hanoi with fellow Nobel Peace Prize contender Donald Trump under the benevolent gaze of Uncle Ho.

This very sentence, if announced not long ago, would have elicited transcontinental howls of derision.

Chairman Kim, owner of a small nuclear arsenal, is deemed worthy of dialogue by the hyperpower while the nuclear-deprived leadership in Iran is not, even as the hyperpower ditched a multilateral, UN-approved, working nuclear deal.

In parallel, the hottest border in Asia reveals itself not to be the DMZ between the Koreas, but once again the Line of Control between nuclear powers India and Pakistan in Kashmir.

Although Islamabad and Delhi might, in theory, escalate to pointing nuclear missiles towards each other, the DPRK won’t point a nuclear-tipped missile at Guam and Tehran points to nothing at all, as it does not hold any nuclear missiles.

In a lighter, Looney Tunes vein, exit regime change in Pyongyang, while regime change in Iran stays, and enter regime change in Venezuela. Iran may still be placed in the Axis of Evil, but the new motto is the troika of tyranny (Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua) as the government in Caracas plays ‘Beep Beep’ to the hyperpower’s Wily Coyote.

An array of dodgy US neocons and shady “foundations” keep the flame of regime change in Iran alive, even fabricating a Tehran-al-Qaeda axis, while in Venezuela a stealth scenario advances. An astonishing briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Moscow this past Friday revealed that “US special forces and tech units will be delivered closer to Venezuela’s borders. We do have information that the US and its NATO partners are organizing for a mass delivery of weapons for the opposition in Venezuela, which will come from an Eastern European country.”

Facts are implacable. NATO, after nearly two decades, was miserably defeated in Afghanistan. The NATO-Gulf Cooperation Council war by proxy in Syria failed. The winners are Damascus, Tehran and Moscow. The conflict in Donbass is frozen. So, a remixed Monroe doctrine is back, even as a humanitarian ploy – reminiscent of the “humanitarian imperialism” that led to the destruction of Libya – may have failed, for now.

Brazilian Vice-President General Hamilton Mourao has introduced a dose of sanity going against the “all options on the table” regime change of his own President, Jair Bolsonaro. Mourao constantly insists “the Venezuela question must be decided by Venezuelans”, adding that US threats sound “more like rhetoric than action” as a military attack would be “purposeless”.

Watch that K

What’s in a name? Pakistan may indeed mean “land of the pure” in Urdu, but the key is in the acronym; K stands for Kashmir – alongside P for Punjab, A for Afghania (actually the Pashtun tribal areas), S for Sindh and T for the “tan” in Balochistan. K is a matter of national identity.

The first Indo-Pak war after Partition in 1947 was over Kashmir. In the following year, Kashmir was divided by the Line of Control (LoC), which remains the de facto Berlin Wall of Asia, way more dangerous than the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the Koreas. Another mini-war across the LoC took place in 1999.

Kashmir is a crucial geostrategic prize. Assuming India would ever own it all, that would represent a direct bridge to Central Asia and a border with Afghanistan while depriving Pakistan of a border with China, thus nullifying to a great extent the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), one of the key projects of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

If Pakistan ever owned it all, that would solve the country’s worries about water security. The Indus River starts in the Himalayas, in Tibet, and skirts through Indian-controlled Kashmir before entering Pakistan and running all the way down to the Arabian Sea. The Indus and its tributaries provide water to two-thirds of Pakistan. New Delhi has just threatened to weaponize the flow of water to Pakistan.

There’s no end in sight to Kashmir being roiled over and over by skirmishes or even partial conflagration between jihadis – protected by Islamabad at different levels – and the Indian army. The Islamist Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) wants the whole of Kashmir annexed to a Pakistan governed by Sharia law.

JeM’s Kashmir obsession is also shared by their de facto allies Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Both are supported – with degrees of nuance – by Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI. Most of all, both are heavily supported, financially, by the Wahhabi House of Saud and the United Arab Emirates.

There’s no solution for Kashmir that does not involve cutting off Saudi proselytizing, financing and weaponizing – the toxic cocktail that nurtured Pakistan’s famous Kalashnikov culture. And there can be no solution when the House of Saud’s ability to have nuclear weapons “on order” from Islamabad remains the number-one open secret in South Asia.

Russia and China as voices of reason

Were this a sensible realm, oblivious of Yama, India and Pakistan would talk, like Prime Minister Imran Khan has just offered, within a framework such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of which both are members, with Russia and China as mediators.

And that brings us to what happened in Yueqing, China, on Wednesday, totally under the Western radar; a de facto, ministerial-level meeting of the “RIC” in BRICS, uniting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Lavrov may have denounced “absolutely brazen attempts” to “artificially create a pretext for military intervention” in Venezuela. But the game-changer should have been what Russia, China and India discussed on Kashmir, which may eventually have a direct impact on both Islamabad and New Delhi attempting to defuse a still explosive scenario.

China and Russia’s coordinated positions were absolutely instrumental in facilitating North Korea’s dialogue with the Trump administration. Yet it’s still a long way away from South Korean President Moon’s dream: Trump officially declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean war, via a peace treaty replacing the current armistice with iron-clad security guarantees. After all, that is the number-one condition for the DPRK to start contemplating denuclearization.

China and Russia, in theory, also have what it takes to bring India and Pakistan to reason – plus the clout to put pressure on Saudi Arabia’s weaponized Wahhabism.

And yet, from Washington’s perspective, China and Russia are “threats” – from the National Security Strategy all the way down to functionaries such as Air Force General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the Northcom commander, who just told a Senate committee that Russia’s “intent to hold the US at risk” presents an urgent threat.

Some more equal than others

China, Russia and Iran are essential nodes of Eurasia integration, which interlock key vectors of the New Silk Roads, via Iran’s trade agreement with the Eurasia Economic Union and expansion of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC). Considering the stakes, Lavrov and Yi could not but be stunned by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif resigning from his post via Instagram.

Sources in Tehran maintained that the key reason for Zarif resigning was that he was not informed – and did not attend – an ultra high-level meeting in Tehran on Monday of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, the IRGC’s Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and President Hassan Rouhani when they discussed strictly Syrian military matters, not diplomacy. Zarif may not have been in the room, but his number two, Abbas Araghchi, was.

In the end, Rouhani rejected Zarif’s resignation, stressing that it was against Iran’s national interests. And crucially, Soleimani said that Zarif had total support from Khamenei. Even as various factions of Iran’s hardliners may be fuming with both Zarif and Rouhani, characterizing them as fools who fell into an American trap, the last thing Tehran needs at the moment – under pressure by hybrid war – is internal division. In parallel, support from both Russia and China won’t waiver.

Washington may deploy variations of Hybrid War but most reflexes remain undiluted Cold War. The mechanism remains the same. A fortune in US taxpayers’ money is showered on the industrial-military complex, with defense contractors and major corporations paying back fabulous campaign contributions to the political class. That’s why someone like Tulsi Gabbard, who is anti-war – hot, cold and hybrid – and anti-regime change, will be smeared to Kingdom Come by the weapons lobby, and prevented from making a run for the presidency.

The Global South has learned that turning and turning in the widening gyre, some countries are indeed more equal than others. Even though some may be relentlessly blasted as terrorist enablers (Pakistan), and nuclear powers as a rule must be appeased (DPRK) and seduced (India as a plank of the “Indo-Pacific” strategy). Chairman Kim is now a “great leader” who can hand his nation a “tremendous future”.

Non-nuclear powers, especially those rich in natural resources and implementing strategies such as bypassing the US dollar, like Iran and Venezuela, face the fate of being regime change targets, slowly and painfully devoured by Yama, the Lord of Death.

Maduro 1: Abrams 0: but this match is far from over…

Maduro 1:  Abrams 0: but this match is far from over…

Source

February 28, 2019

[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

Maduro wins the first round

The standoff between Venezuela and the AngloZionist Empire last week-end has clearly ended in what can only be called a total defeat for Elliott Abrams.  While we will never know what was initially planned by the demented minds of the Neocons, what we do know is that nothing critical happened: no invasion, not even any major false flag operation.  The most remarkable facet of the standoff is how little effect all the AngloZionist propaganda has had inside Venezuela. There were clashes, including some rather violent ones, across the border, but nothing much happened in the rest of the country.  Furthermore, while a few senior officers and a few soldiers did commit treason and joined forces with the enemy, the overwhelming majority of the Venezuelan military remained faithful to the Constitution.  Finally, it appears that Maduro and his ministers were successful in devising a strategy combining roadblocks, a concert on the Venezuelan side, and the minimal but effective use of riot police to keep the border closed.  Most remarkably, “unidentified snipers” did not appear to shoot at both sides (a favorite tactic of the Empire to justify its interventions).  I give the credit for this to whatever Venezuelan (or allied) units were in charge of counter-sniper operations along the border.

Outside Venezuela this first confrontation has also been a defeat for the Empire.  Not only did most countries worldwide not recognize the AngloZionist puppet, but the level of protest and opposition to what appeared to be the preparations for a possible invasion (or, at least, a military operation of some kind) was remarkably high, while the legacy corporate Ziomedia did what it always does (that is whatever the Empire wants it to do), the Internet and the blogosphere were overwhelmingly opposed to a direct US intervention.  This situation also created a great deal of internal political tensions in various Latin American countries whose public opinion remains strongly opposed to any form of US imperial control over Latin America.

In this respect, the situation with Brazil is particularly interesting. While the Brazilian government fully backed the US coup attempt, the Brazilian military was most uncomfortable with this.  My contacts in Brazil had correctly predicted that the Brazilian military would refuse to attack Venezuela and, eventually, the Brazilians even issued a statement to that effect.

Alas, there are still plenty of US puppet regimes in Latin America to mindlessly do whatever Uncle Shmuel wants them to (Colombia would be the worst offender, of course, but there are others).  But that is not the main problem here.

The main problem is that the Neocons cannot accept defeat and that they are likely to do what they always do, double down and make a bad situation even worse.  The head of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, has warned that the US has deployed special forces in Colombia and Puerto Rico in preparation for a possible invasion.  Uncharacteristically, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs made intelligence information public, which described in some detail what kind of plans the Empire and its allies had, even before this past week-end’s confrontation.  See for yourself:

In fact, the leaders of the Empire and their puppets are not making any secrets about their determination to overthrow the constitutional government and replace it with the kind of comprador regime the US already imposed in Colombia.  Pompeo, Abrams and Pence have been particularly hysterical in their threats, but the entire “Lima Group” is still at it:

As for the Russian UN Ambassador, he was very clear on what Russia expects to happen next:

The Neocons are not even content to threaten Venezuela, and John Bolton could not help himself and publicly threatened Nicaragua as being next in line for a US-sponsored regime change.  He even spoke of a “Troika of Tyranny” reminiscent of the famous “Axis of Evil“.

This is all hardly surprising: US politicians always resort to infantile comic-book kind of language when they want to give their threats a special gravitas.  Next we will be told that Maduro is a “New Hitler” and that he is “genociding his own people”, possibly with chemical weapons (“highly likely”, no doubt!).  If not that, then Maduro will be distributing Viagra to his forces to help them rape more women.   To those puzzled by the fact that presumably adult politicians use the kind of language one could find in grade school, I can only say that this just reflects the state of the political discourse in the USA, which has been dumbed-down to an incredibly low level.  Be careful, however, because while US politicians are rather comical in their infantile, ignorant, illiteracy, and while they have an almost perfect record of embarrassing failures, the past decades have also shown that they are quite capable of murderous rampages (in Iraq alone the US invasion resulted in over one million dead Iraqi civilians) or of wrecking even a very prosperous country (which Libya under Muammar Gaddafi definitely was).

Next, the Empire will probably strike-back

There is a small chance that Abrams & Co. will conclude that the situation in Venezuela is a total mess and that the Empire cannot capitalize on it in the short to middle term.  This is possible, yes, but also highly unlikely.

He is back…

The truth is that Mr MAGA and his Neocon puppet-masters have failed, at least so far, at absolutely everything they tried. And if taking on China, Russia, Iran or even Syria is no easy task, Venezuela is by far the most fragile country in what could be called the “Resistance countries”: Venezuela is far away from it’s allies (except Cuba), it is surrounded by more or less hostile countries (especially Colombia), it’s economy is crippled by US sanctions and sabotage and its armed forces are dwarfed by the immense firepower the Empire has available in the region.  Add to this the truly demonic mindset of Neocons like Abrams and the future for Venezuela looks bleak.

The good news is that the Colombians and the rest of the Lima Group “friends of Venezuela” probably don’t have the military power to take on Venezuela by themselves.  The preferred option for the USA would be to use the Colombians like the KLA was used in Kosovo or how al-Qaeda (and derivatives) were used against Syria: as boots on the ground while the US provides airpower, electronic warfare capabilities, intelligence, bomb and missile strikes, etc. The US also has immense naval capabilities which could be used to assist (and, of course, direct) any military operations against Venezuela (I highly recommend this analysis by my friend Nat South who describes in some detail the US naval capabilities and operations in the region).

My gut feeling is that this approach will not work.  As is often the case, the US has all sorts of impressive capabilities except for the main one: a military force capable of providing the boots on the ground (as opposed to a non-US proxy).  The problem for the US military would not be so much getting in, as staying inside and getting something done before leaving – what the US called an “exit strategy”.  And here, there are really no good options for the US.

It is therefore far more likely that the US will use the weapon which it truly masters better than anybody else on earth: corruption.

There is big money, really big money, all around the Venezuelan crisis: not only oil money, but also drug money.  And there are a lot of truly evil and corrupt people involved in this struggle who will use that corruption-weapon with devastating effect against the constitutionally elected government.  And, just to make things worse, Venezuela is already devastated by corruption. Still, there are quite a few factors which might well save Venezuela from being reconquered by the Empire.

First, while US Neocons are too arrogant to bother with anybody’s opinion except their own, and while the various US agencies primarily talk with the immensely wealthy rulers of Colombia and the rest of Latin America, it does appear that a strong majority of Venezuelans support their elected government.  Furthermore, US leaders simply don’t understand how hated the “Yankees” are in Latin America (at least among the masses, not the comprador elites) and how fantastically offensive the appointment of a felon like Elliott Abrams as Envoy to Venezuela is to the vast majority of the people of this continent.

Second, Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro did empower, for the very first time, the masses of the Venezuelan people, especially those who lived in abject poverty when Venezuela was still a US colony.  These people are under no illusion about what a Guaido regime would mean to them.  And while most of the supporters of Chavez and Maduro are not influential or wealthy, there are a lot of them and they will probably fight to prevent a complete reversal of all the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution.

Third, Latin America might well be changing, just like the Middle-East did.  Remember how, for years, the Israelis could attack their neighbors with quasi-total impunity and how poorly the Arab armies performed?  That suddenly changed when Hezbollah proved to the entire region and even the world, that the “Axis of Kindness” (USA, Israel, KSA) could be successfully defeated, even by a comparatively tiny resistance with no air force, no navy and very little armor.  As I never cease to repeat – wars are not won by firepower, but by willpower.  Oh sure, firepower helps, especially when you can fire from far away with no risk to yourself and your victim cannot fire back, but as soon as big firepower is met by big willpower the former rapidly fails.  There is a very real possibility that Venezuela might do for Latin America what the Ukraine did for Russia: act as a surprisingly effective “vaccine” against the AngloZionist propaganda.  An indigenous leader like Evo Morales, who has declared his full and total support for the elected government of Maduro, is an inspiration to the people of Latin America far beyond the borders of Bolivia.  The Russian ambassador to the UN got it right: there are already other leaders after Maduro which the AngloZionists want to eliminate and replace by a pliable puppet à la Guaido or Duque Márquez.  At the end of the day, this is a typical dialectical problem: the more brutal and overt the US aggression against Latin America is, the more successful coups or even invasions the US organizes, the stronger the anti-Yankee feelings generated among the people of the continent.  Think of it this way: the US has already terminally alienated the people of China, Russia and Iran, along with most of the Arab and Muslim world, and thanks to that alienation, the leaders of China, Russia and Iran have enjoyed the support of their people in their struggle against the AngloZionist Empire.  Could something very similar not already be happening in Latin America?

Conclusion: focus on the right question

To defeat the Empire’s plans for Venezuela, it is crucial that we all keep hammering over and over again: the choice is not between Maduro or Guiado, the choice is not between poverty under the Chavistas and prosperity under the AngloZionists.  This is how the agents of the Empire (whether paid or simply stupid) want to frame the discussions.  The real issue at stake here is the rule of law.  The rule of law inside Venezuela, of course, and the rule of law internationally.

First year law students are often taught that the purpose of the law is not “justice” per se, but to provide a mechanism to solve disputes.  That mechanism is, admittedly, a highly imperfect one, but it is understood by civilized people as being preferable to the alternative.  The alternative, by the way, is what happens in every time a so-called “humanitarian intervention” is launched: a humanitarian disaster.

Yet, this is the typical modus operandi of the Neocons (and of all imperialists, really). First, chose a country for destabilization, then use your control of the international financial markets and trade to trigger an economic crisis; then, send your “democracy promoting” spooks and agents of influence to foment protests or, even better, violent disorders; then send some “unidentified snipers” if the legitimate government does not use enough violence to quell the protests, then denounce the leader you want replaced as  “monster” “animal” or even “new Hitler” and threaten to overthrow him.  After that, declare urbi et orbi that it is “highly likely” that the “new Hitler” will massacre his own people, add a false flag op if needed, and then declare a “coalition of the willing” composed of “friends” of the country you want to occupy who will take action due to the “ineffectiveness of the UN”, ditch any thoughts about international law and only speak of “rules-based order“.  Check out how Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov explains the meaning of this substitution:

When you listen to the supporters of Guaido you will always hear them talking about how terrible Maduro is, how horrible the economic situation of Venezuela really is, how corrupt the members of the regime are, etc. etc. etc.  This is all a smokescreen.  Even the accusation that the last elections were stolen by Maduro is just another smokescreen.  Why?  Because even if Maduro did steal the election, Guaido did not have the right to declare himself President, Trump had no right to recognize him as such, and the Empire had no business threatening a military intervention or even a violation of the sovereign border of Venezuela under the ridiculous pretext of bringing in humanitarian aid while, at the same time, keeping the country under draconian (and fully illegal) sanctions.  The solution to a crisis brought about by a violation of law cannot be a wholesale abandonment of the very core principles of law, but such a solution can only be a restoration of law and order by legal means.  Kinda obvious, but so many seem to forget this, that it is worth repeating.  And here, I will again post a graphic which really says it all:

Which elections are legitimate and which are not?

The most powerful tools in the arsenal of the Empire are not it’s nuclear forces or its bloated, if generally ineffective, armed forces.  The most powerful tool in the Empire’s arsenal is its ability to frame the discussion, to set what is focused upon and what is obfuscated.  The Empire’s legacy corporate Ziomedia even dictates what words should or should not be used in a discussion (example: never speak of “illegal aggression” but speak of “humanitarian intervention”).

This is why we must speak of “true sovereignty“, of “international law“, of “constitutional procedures” and of “aggression” and “threat of aggression” as war crimes.  We need to continue to demand that basic fundamental principles of civilized societies (such as the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”) be upheld by governments and by the media.  We need to deny the rulers of the Empire the right to declare that they have the right to completely ignore the most sacred principles of the post-WWII international order.  We need to continue to insist that a just international order can only be a multi-polar one; that a single World Hegemon can never deliver justice and that there shall be no peace if there is no justice.  Finally, we need to ceaselessly demand that each country and each nation live according to its own traditions and beliefs and reject the notion that a single political model must, or even can, be applied universally.

These are all principles which the Neocons hate and which they would love to bundle together under a single all encompassing concept, like George Orwell’s “crimethink“.  Mostly, the Neocons like to use the “anti-Semite” and “anti-Semitic” to dismiss these principles, and when that fails, then “terrorist” is always available for use.  Don’t let them do that: every time they try that trick, immediately denounce it for what it is and continue focusing on what really matters.  If we can force the Neocons to deal with these issues we win.  It is really that simple.

It is impossible for me to guess how this conflict will play itself out.  Will the brazen arrogance of “the Yankees” be enough to seriously red-pill the people of Venezuela and the rest of Latin America?  Maybe.  My hope and my gut feeling is that it might.

The Saker

Russian President warns West that deploying missile launchers in Europe could ignite ‘tit for tat’ response

Source

February 23, 2019Russian President warns West that deploying missile launchers in Europe could ignite ‘tit for tat’ response

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

President Putin’s state of the nation address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow this week was an extraordinary affair. While heavily focused on domestic social and economic development, Putin noted, predictably, the US decision to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty and clearly outlined the red lines in regard to possible consequences of the move.

It would be naïve to believe that there would not be a serious counterpunch to the possibility of the US deploying launchers “suitable for using Tomahawk missiles” in Poland and Romania, only a 12-minute flight away from Russian territory.

Putin cut to the chase: “This is a very serious threat to us. In this case, we will be forced – I want to emphasize this – forced to take tit-for-tat steps.”

Later that night, many hours after his address, Putin detailed what was construed in the US, once again, as a threat.

“Is there some hard ideological confrontation now similar to what was [going on] during the Cold War? There is none. We surely have mutual complaints, conflicting approaches to some issues, but that is no reason to escalate things to a stand-off on the level of the Caribbean crisis of the early 1960s”.

This was a direct reference to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 when President Kennedy confronted USSR’s Nikita Khrushchev over missiles deployed off the US mainland.

The Russian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, has discreetly assured that conference calls with the Pentagon are proceeding as scheduled, every week, and that this bilateral dialogue is “working”.

In parallel, tests of state-of-the-art Russian weaponry such as the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile and the hypersonic Khinzal also proceed, alongside mass production of the hypersonic Avangard. The first regiment of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces will get the Avangard before the end of this year.

And then there’s the Tsircon, a hypersonic missile capable of reaching US command centers in a mere five minutes – leaving the whole range of NATO military assets exposed.

What Putin meant in his address about Russia targeting “centers for decision-making” was fundamentally related to NATO, not the American mainland.

And once again, it’s crucial to underline that none of these disturbing developments mean that Russia would engage in a pre-emptive strike against the deployment of US missiles in Eastern Europe. Putin was adamant that there’s no need for it. Moreover, Russian nuclear doctrine forbids any sort of pre-emptive strikes, not to mention a nuclear first strike.

House of the Rising (Nuclear) Sun

To allow this new paradigm to sink in, I went on a long walk across Zamoskvorechye – “behind the Moskva river” – stopping on the way back in front of the Biblioteka Lenina to pay my respects to the Grandmaster Dostoevsky. And then it hit me; this was entirely connected to what had happened the day before.

The day before Putin’s state of the union address I went to visit Alexander Dugin at his office in the deliciously Soviet, art nouveau building of the former Central Post Office. Dugin, a political analyst and strategist with a refined philosophical mind, is vilified in Washington as Putin’s ideologue. He has also been targeted by US sanctions.

I was greeted in the lobby by his multi-talented daughter Daria – active in everything from philosophy and music to geopolitics. Dugin was being interviewed by RAI correspondent Sergio Paini. After the wrap-up, the three of us immediately engaged in a discussion on populism, Salvini, the Italian politician, and the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests in France), in Italian. (Dugin is fluent in many languages).

Then we picked up on what we had left behind, when I was in Moscow last December and talked extensively with Daria. Dugin was in Shanghai teaching an international relations course at Fudan University (see here and here), and gave lectures at Tsinghua and Peking University. He returned quite impressed by Chinese academia’s interest in populism, plus German philosopher Martin Heidegger and the Gilets Jaunes, as well as the evolving paths of Russia and China’s strategic partnership.

Eurasia debate

So inevitably we delved into Eurasianism – and strategies towards Eurasian integration. Dugin sees China applying a sort of remixed Spykman outlook to the “Road” component of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is maritime, along the rimland. He privileges the “Belt” component, which is overland, with one of the main corridors going through Russia via the upgraded Trans-Siberian railway. I tend to view it as a mix of Halford Mackinder, the famed English academic, and the influential American political scientist Nicholas Spykman; China advancing on the West, simultaneously in the heartland and the rimland.

Dugin’s office has the atmosphere of a revolving think tank. I was trying to inform him on how Brazil – under the ‘leadership’ of Steve Bannon, who walks and talks like he runs the Bolsonaro presidential clan – has been dragged to the frontline in the US in contrast to the Eurasian integration chessboard. Suddenly, none other than Alastair Crooke drops in. Serendipity or synchronicity?

Alastair, with his consummate diplomatic flair, is, of course, one of the world’s foremost experts in the Middle East and Europe – and much else. He’s in Moscow as a guest for one of the Valdai Club’s famed discussions, on the Middle East, along with key figures from Syria and Iran.

Soon the three of us are engaged in an absorbing conversation on the soul of Islam, the purity of Sufism, the Muslim Brotherhood (those fabled friends of the Clinton machine), what President Erdogan and the Qataris are really up to, and the sterility – intellectual and spiritual – of the Wahhabi House of Saud and the Emirates.

We tend to agree that discussions like this, going on in Moscow – and in Tehran, Istanbul, Shanghai – would greatly profit from the presence of a progressive Steve Bannon, capable of organizing and promoting a running, non-ideological debate on multipolarity.

A day before Putin’s stark reminder against any slip towards nuclear Armageddon, we were also discussing the post-INF world, but with emphasis on post-Mackinder (and post-Brzezinski) Eurasian integration. And that includes Russian and Chinese intellectual elites acutely aware that they can’t afford to be isolated by American hyperpower.

I walked Alastair to his hotel, past a gloriously illuminated Bolshoi. I kept going, and as Lubyanka disappeared from view, a sidewalk busker was playing ‘House of the Rising Sun’, the Animals version. In Russian.

Hopefully, it will not feature a rising nuclear sun.

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