US bid to sanction China shows its failed policy toward Iran: Analyst

Source

Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:54AM

A move by the United States to impose sanctions against China for importing crude oil from Iran shows Washington has failed in its “maximum pressure policy toward” the Islamic Republic, says a political analyst.

Senior Donald Trump administration officials are pushing sanctions against China claiming the Asian power defied American sanctions when it imported more than a million barrels of crude oil from Iran last month, according to three US officials.

The US State Department had considered using an Obama-era loophole to issue a waiver allowing Chinese companies to receive Iranian oil as payment for their investment in an Iranian oil field, violating the Trump administration’s earlier pledge to bring Iranian oil exports down to zero. The plan, however, has been discarded.

Now, hawkish officials on the US National Security Council are considering imposing sanctions on Chinese entities amid already worsening ties between the two countries on trade issues, the Politico website reported on Thursday.

This move “illustrates the bankruptcy of America’s maximum pressure policy toward Iran,” James Jatras, a former Senate foreign policy adviser in Washington, told Press TV on Friday.

“Threatening sanctions against china is not a small thing and I think that’s one reason some people within the administration were anxious to avoid it.”

He went on to say that the Trump administration officials “cannot come to grips with is that they are overextending American power and credibility by threatening things that they simply are not in a position to carry out.”

The Trump administration has been trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero to increase “maximum pressure” on Tehran. It has had some success in persuading several of Iran’s largest oil buyers like India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey to curb their purchases but it could not achieve its stated objective of bringing Iran’s crude exports to zero.

As Iran’s largest oil buyer, China has defied the Trump administration’s demand that it gradually bring the imports to zero. Some of the countries, which have robust trade, diplomatic and security relationship with the US, are still buying significant volumes of Iranian oil.

Much of the rhetoric from the State Department has specified that the US is targeting purchases — rather than imports — of Iranian oil, a distinction that will become important under the law if the department decides to give China a pass.

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I’m Jumping Off the Trump Train: Assange Was the Last Straw

I’m Jumping Off the Trump Train: Assange Was the Last Straw

I’m Jumping Off the Trump Train: Assange Was the Last Straw

On March 6, 2016, this Deplorable issued a statement formally endorsing Donald J. Trump for the presidency of the United State.

I now hereby withdraw that endorsement.

No doubt this declaration from your Working Boy will be greeted with the same deafening indifference as my earlier less than earth-shattering announcement of support.

Keep calm. The planet will continue to spin on its axis at a 23.44 degree tilt.

As I tweeted on April 4, when it appeared that Ecuadorian President Lenín [sic] Moreno was going to cough up Julian Assange:

“If this comes to pass & #JulianAssange is brought to #US in chains like a Gaulish chieftain in a Roman triumph can we definitively declare that any possible #Trump revolution is over & the #DeepState won?”

A quick perusal of social media since Assange’s arrest shows that many others have reached a similar conclusion.

But why? To be sure, there have been other betrayals. The two strikes on Syria on phony chemical warfare accusations come immediately to mind. Or Trump’s failure to build the Mexican wall, coupled with repeated humiliating defeats in Congress with the predictability of Charlie Brown’s getting suckered by Lucy into trying to kick the football.

At the same time there were excuses. On Syria, maybe the President was fed false intelligence. Or maybe Ivanka was upsetDaaaddyyy, you have to dooo something! Or maybe Trump knew the CW accusations against Damascus were fake but felt he had to act (an ominous sign in itself) to deflect charges of being Putin’s puppet, hence what could be deemed deliberately pinprick pro forma strikes. On the wall, well you can’t trust lawyers’ advice, he just doesn’t understand his legal authority well enough, or maybe he…

But the Assange arrest and his upcoming renditi– – oops! – extradition to the United States are different.  There’s no nuance. No excuse. No false intel report. No poor legal advice.

It’s plain and simple. The same entities (Deep State, permanent government, the oligarchy, the Borg, whatever term you like) that targeted Trump with the phony Russia collusion narrative  want Assange’s scalp nailed to the wall. It’s one thing for favored outlets like the Washington Post and CNN to disseminate classified information that favors the Deep State, quite another to reveal information contrary to its interests. As the premier dispenser of embarrassing secrets that facilitates online dissidence from the established narrative (also under attack by governments and their tech giant accomplices) an example must be made of Assange pour encourager les autres. He can count on being sentenced to rotting for decades in a nasty Office Space federal prison (the US will gladly waive the death penalty to spare the Brits’ prissy Euro-consciences) but may very well die soon enough of natural causes, perhaps like Slobodan Milošević.

An essential role in Assange’s betrayal by Moreno was played by Trump’s Veep Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Former President Rafael Correa says a direct condition of Moreno’s getting a $4.2 billion IMF loan was Assange’s head on a platter. That’s a lot more plausible than establishment media reports that Assange was ejected for transgressing the Ecuadorians’ fastidious hygiene standards, which (whether based in fact or not) are just cynical defamations to justify his upcoming lynching.

It’s irrelevant whether Trump – who theoretically is the boss of all US agency operatives working with their Brit colleagues to get their mitts on Assange – let the nab go forward because he was unwilling to order his minions to stand down or was powerless to do so. In that regard, it’s similar to pointlessly asking why he has the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad national security team he does. Is it because of “Javanka”? Is it because he’s beholden to a gaggle of oligarchs? (Supposedly his being a self-financed billionaire made him immune from such influences.)  Is it areflection of a personality disorder?

In the end it doesn’t matter why, all that matters is what is. With Assange’s arrest Trump is now exposed as the wholly owned subsidiary of the Swamp he ran against.  He’s now just a wheel fixed to an axle. All he can do now is it spin.

In my 2016 endorsement I asked the questions – only questions, not predictions – of what Trump might hopefully accomplish:

‘Can we trust Trump? Will he build his wall and secure our borders? Renovate our deteriorating infrastructure? Restore our manufacturing base? Audit the Federal Reserve and defenestrate the banksters? Restore the GOP’s long-lost reputation (now hardly remembered by anyone) as the “Peace Party” that got us out of wars the Democrats started? Sign a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, as long as they continue to perform abortions (which they will)? Exclude actual or potential Islamic terroristsDump our freeloading so-called “allies”? Cease the PC trashing of every tradition in which Americans once took pride? Reunite a nation sundered by Barack Obama and the GOP mandarins, with their divide et impera Punch and Judy show of class and racial discord?

‘Can Trump really “Make America Great Again”? Or at least slow our decline and give our country another chance?

‘I don’t know.  But I do know that none of the more mannerly politicians served up by the oligarchy will.

“Trust not in princes…” (Ps. 146:3) Neither Trump nor any other politician should be accepted on blind faith. Who really can say if Trump can win or if he does how he would govern. Who can say what’s really in his mind and heart or if, in God’s eyes, he’s a good man or a bad one. But given the dire warning from the likes of Mitt Romney, I like the odds with Trump better than with any of the available alternatives. When the character of his enemies is considered – particularly Warfare State neoconservatives (some of whom at least have the honesty to defect openly to Hillary) – my willingness to gamble on him only increases.’

Even in retrospect it was then a gamble worth taking, indeed the only responsible choice given the horrifying alternative. More, given what Trump promised that departed from the usual nonsense served up by the GOP, the fact that Trump got the nomination instead of the NPCs on the shelf was itself perhaps a sign of that the historic American nation still had a fighting chance.

As for what we hoped he might deliver to “Make America Great Again,” we can see now that the answers to all of the above questions are and will remain an emphatic No. Sure, we got a marginally better tax bill passed, something that any Republican White House and Congress would have done. He may have made minor progress on trade.  If we are really lucky, he’ll get another Supreme Court pick and Roe v. Wade will be overturned – marvelous to be sure, but it won’t same this country.

Trump has utterly failed to control the border, much less deal with related issues like remittances, birthright citizenship, and aliens illegally voting. As retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor observes: “Surely, Trump should have concluded by now that without an Executive Order that commits the U.S. Army to the defense of the southern border and limits cross-border traffic to legitimate commercial activity, mass illegal immigration will not stop… In a word, Trump refuses to take command and match rhetoric with action, then he will join the pantheon of failed presidents that promised the world only, this time, the American Republic’s existence hangs in the balance.”

Unfortunately, Trump’s appointees – uniformly neoconservatives, Bush-era warmongers, and GOP apparatchiki – have better things for our military to do than defending our own country, to which they are at best indifferent. We can be thankful that Trump hasn’t started any new wars, yet, but his underlings’ dogged commitment to regime change in Venezuela and Iran may change that. His outreach to North Korea hangs by a thread in the face of blatant attempts to sabotage it.

One hopes that at least some animal-level gut instinct will preclude Trump’s crossing that dark river and ruining what’s left of his presidency as George W. Bush did in Iraq. If his lunatics are reckless enough to stumble us into a war with Russia, Trump’s reelection will be the least of anyone’s concerns.

Even without a war his remaining time in office will not be the revival of America that he promised. Let’s keep in mind that for many decades now transformative Democratic presidents have not left this country the same way they found it: FDR, LBJ, Clinton, Obama. By contrast, Republican presidents’ tenures have been at best plateaus along our decline (Eisenhower, Reagan) or positively contributed (Nixon, the two Bushes) to the march of what the Left regards as “Progress” toward their abolition of the historic America and birth of a dystopian Cultural Marxist dictatorship of victims: a borderless, multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious, multisexual, ahistorical, fake country.

Perhaps the saddest thing is that even if he survives in office until the 2020 vote (and he might not) Trump still will almost certainly be the lesser of two evils, in the manner to which we have become accustomed. Despite his no longer representing a threat to the Swamp, the critters will continue to hate him anyway as an avatar of the America they seek to destroy: European ethnicity, Christian (culturally if not spiritually or morally), English-speaking, toxically masculine. He might even win, given the Wall Street and Democratic Socialist Democrats’ ripping each others’ guts out and the solid 35 to 40 percent of the folks who think from Trump’s tweets and stump speeches he’s actually delivering on his promises.

Either way, though, the outcome will be the same. The man who had what is almost certainly to have been the last peaceful, political chance save what’s left of the American republic will thrash around for a few more years, having become little more than a catalyst for our nation’s demise and perhaps its dissolution.

This is not to say that there is no hope. Maybe tomorrow Trump will pardon Assange. Maybe he’ll decide to militarize the Mexican border. Maybe he’ll fire his whole national security team and, for good measure, pull us out of Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq – and NATO. Maybe Barr really will hold the FISA miscreants to account. Maybe…

…maybe there will be an outpouring of miracles that match the one that occurred when Trump improbably was elected in the first place. But as is the case with miracles, the odds are not good.

George Soros Person of the Year?

By Stephen Lendman
Source

The London-based Financial Times (FT) calls itself “the world’s leading global business publication.”

Around the time of its 19th century founding, it described itself as the friend of “The Honest Financier, the Bona Fide Investor, the Respectable Broker, the Genuine Director, and the Legitimate Speculator” when its readership was largely comprised of London’s financial community.

Today its reach is global, publishing business, economic, financial and geopolitical news – polar opposite journalism the way it’s supposed to be.

It supports what demands condemnation, operating like other Western media, using journalism as advocacy for powerful interests, hostile to world peace and the public welfare.

James Petras slammed the way the FT operates, backing US-led NATO wars, endorsing illegal sanctions, supporting powerful political and monied interests.

Petras cited a “journalist who was close to the (FT’s) editors suggest(ing) it should be called the ‘Military Times’ – the voice of a declining empire.”

Annually it chooses a Person of the Year. Earlier ones included Trump, Angela Merkel, ECB president Mario Draghi, Goldman Sach CEO Lloyd (just a banker “doing God’s work,” the money god, of course) Blankfein, Obama, Bush II, Alan Greenspan, Tony Blair, Rupert Murdock, Saudi king Faisal, Margaret Thatcher, Henry Kissinger – you get the picture, a virtual rogue’s gallery of warlords, imperialists, crooks, and other scoundrels.

This year it named neoliberal globalist/international con man George “(As a market participant, I don’t need to be concerned with the consequences of my actions”) Soros. 

The award should have been for the international con man person of the year, glorifying market manipulation, grand theft, economic and political chaos, along with endless imperial wars.

Soros made billions of dollars the old-fashioned way, by all sorts of dirty tricks – including notoriously sabotaging European monetary policy by attacking the European Rate Mechanism (ERM) through a highly leveraged speculative assault on the British pound, forcing its devaluation and ERM breakup, making a billion dollars in short order on this scheme alone.

He made billions more from the 1997 East Asian currency crash, profiting from global turmoil. 

Backing Hillary in 2016, he financed anti-Trump protests, including hooligans disrupting some of his campaign events, using violence and other dirty tricks to turn voters against him – unsuccessfully as things turned out.

All the money and mischief he aimed at Trump failed to put Hillary in the White House where he wanted her, easily bought to serve his interests.

Moscow’s Prosecutor General earlier called his Open Society Institute and Open Society Institute Assistance Foundations “threat(s) to Russian national security and constitutional order.”

MoveOn.org is a Soros front group, involved with other dubious NGOs, their activities serving his interests.

In 1998, he called for a “comprehensive political and military strategy for bring down Saddam Hussein.” Five years later, Bush/Cheney’s aggression obliged him.

He supports global wars for huge profits. He takes credit for “Americaniz(ing) eastern Europe” by exploiting its wealth and people.

He believes “America should be replaced by a world government with a global currency under UN rule.”

He wants national sovereignty replaced by centralized control over money, populations, resources and markets – an undemocratic ruler-serf global society unfit to live in except for rulers and profiteers.

He once said “(w)e need a global sheriff.” Maybe he had himself in mind. He’s one of the world’s worst, profiting from the misery of others.

Naming him person of the year was another black mark on the FT and what it notoriously stands for.

A Decalogue: The Ten Theses of American Empire-Building: A Dialogue

Global Research, November 10, 2018

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

First published by Global Research on August 11, 2018

Introduction

Few, if any, believe what they hear and read from leaders and media publicists. Most people choose to ignore the cacophony of voices, vices and virtues.

This paper provides a set of theses which purports to lay-out the basis for a dialogue between and among those who choose to abstain from elections with the intent to engage them in political struggle.

Thesis 1

US empire builders of all colors and persuasion practice donkey tactics; waving the carrot and wielding the whip to move the target government on the chosen path.

In the same way, Washington offers dubious concessions and threatens reprisals, in order to move them into the imperial orbit.

Washington applied the tactic successfully in several recent encounters. In 2003 the US offered Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi a peaceful accommodation in exchange for disarmament, abandonment of nationalist allies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In 2011, the US with its European allies applied the whip – bombed Libya, financed and armed retrograde tribal and terrorist forces, destroyed the infrastructure, murdered Gaddafi and uprooted millions of Africans and Libyans. . . who fled to Europe. Washington recruited mercenaries for their subsequent war against Syria in order to destroy the nationalist Bashar Assad regime.

Washington succeeded in destroying an adversary but did not establish a puppet regime in the midst of perpetual conflict.

The empire’s carrot weakened its adversary, but the stick failed to recolonize Libya ..Moreover its European allies are obligated to pay the multi-billion Euro cost of absorbing millions of uprooteded immigrants and the ensuing domestic political turmoil.

Thesis 2

Empire builders’ proposal to reconfigure the economy in order to regain imperial supremacy provokes domestic and overseas enemies. President Trump launched a global trade war, replaced political accommodation with economic sanctions against Russia and a domestic protectionist agenda and sharply reduced corporate taxes. He provoked a two-front conflict. Overseas, he provoked opposition from European allies and China, while facing perpetual harassment from domestic free market globalists and Russo-phobic political elites and ideologues.

Two front conflicts are rarely successful. Most successful imperialist conquer adversaries in turn – first one and then the other.

Thesis 3

Leftists frequently reverse course: they are radicals out of office and reactionaries in government, eventually falling between both chairs. We witness the phenomenal collapse of the German Social Democratic Party, the Greek Socialist Party (PASOK), (and its new version Syriza) and the Workers Party in Brazil. Each attracted mass support, won elections, formed alliances with bankers and the business elite – and in the face of their first crises, are abandoned by the populace and the elite.

Shrewd but discredited elites frequently recognize the opportunism of the Left, and in time of distress, have no problem in temporarily putting up with Left rhetoric and reforms as long as their economic interests are not jeopardized. The elite know that the Left signal left and turn right.

Thesis 4

Elections, even ones won by progressives or leftists, frequently become springboards for imperial backed coups. Over the past decade newly elected presidents, who are not aligned with Washington, face congressional and/or judicial impeachment on spurious charges. The elections provide a veneer of legitimacy which a straight-out military-coup lacks.

In Brazil, Paraguay and Venezuela, ‘legislatures’ under US tutelage attempted to ouster popular President. They succeeded in the former and failed in the latter.

When electoral machinery fails, the judicial system intervenes to impose restraints on progressives, based on tortuous and convoluted interpretation of the law. Opposition leftists in Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador have been hounded by ruling party elites.

Thesis 5

Even crazy leaders speak truth to power. There is no question that President Trump suffers a serious mental disorder, with midnight outbursts and nuclear threats against, any and all, ranging from philanthropic world class sports figures (LeBron James) to NATO respecting EU allies.

Yet in his lunacy, President Trump has denounced and exposed the repeated deceits and ongoing fabrications of the mass media. Never before has a President so forcefully identified the lies of the leading print and TV outlets. The NY Times, Washington Post, the Financial Times, NBC, CNN, ABC and CBS have been thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the larger public. They have lost legitimacy and trust. Where progressives have failed, a war monger, billionaire has accomplished, speaking a truth to serve many injustices.

Thesis 6

When a bark turns into a bite, Trump proves the homely truth that fear invites aggression. Trump has implemented or threatened severe sanctions against the EU, China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea and any country that fails to submit to his dictates. At first, it was bombast and bluster which secured concessions.

Concessions were interpreted as weakness and invited greater threats. Disunity of opponents encouraged imperial tacticians to divide and conquer. But by attacking all adversaries simultaneously he undermines that tactic. Threats everywhere limits choices to dangerous options at home and abroad.

Thesis 7

The master meddlers, of all times, into the politics of sovereign states are the Anglo-American empire builders. But what is most revealing is the current ploy of accusing the victims of the crimes that are committed against them.

After the overthrow of the Soviet regime, the US and its European acolytes ‘meddled’ on a world-historic scale, pillaging over two trillion dollars of Soviet wealth and reducing Russian living standards by two thirds and life expectancy to under sixty years – below the level of Bangladesh.

With Russia’s revival under President Putin, Washington financed a large army of self-styled ‘non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) to organize electoral campaigns, recruited moguls in the mass media and directed ethnic uprisings. The Russians are retail meddlers compared to the wholesale multi-billion-dollar US operators.

Moreover, the Israeli’s have perfected meddling on a grand scale – they intervene successfully in Congress, the White House and the Pentagon. They set the Middle East agenda, budget and priorities, and secure the biggest military handouts on a per-capita basis in US history!

Apparently, some meddlers meddle by invitation and are paid to do it.

Thesis 8

Corruption is endemic in the US where it has legal status and where tens of millions of dollars change hands and buy Congress people, Presidents and judges.

In the US the buyers and brokers are called ‘lobbyists’ – everywhere else they are called fraudsters. Corruption (lobbying) grease the wheels of billion dollars military spending, technological subsidies, tax evading corporations and every facet of government – out in the open, all the time and place of the US regime.

Corruption as lobbying never evokes the least criticism from the mass media.

On the other hand, where corruption takes place under the table in Iran, China and Russia, the media denounce the political elite – even where in China over 2 million officials, high and the low are arrested and jailed.

When corruption is punished in China, the US media claim it is merely a ‘political purge’ even if it directly reduces elite conspicuous consumption.

In other words, imperial corruption defends democratic value; anti-corruption is a hallmark of authoritarian dictatorships.

Thesis 9

Bread and circuses are integral parts of empire building – especially in promoting urban street mobs to overthrow independent and elected governments.

Imperial financed mobs – provided the cover for CIA backed coups in Iran (1954), Ukraine (2014), Brazil (1964), Venezuela (2003, 2014 and 2017), Argentina (1956), Nicaragua (2018), Syria (2011) and Libya (2011) among other places and other times.

Masses for empire draw paid and voluntary street fighters who speak for democracy and serve the elite. The “mass cover” is especially effective in recruiting leftists who look to the street for opinion and ignore the suites which call the shots.

Thesis 10

The empire is like a three-legged stool it promotes genocide, to secure magnicide and to rule by homicide. Invasions kills millions, capture and kill rulers and then rule by homicide – police assassinating dissenting citizens.

The cases are readily available: Iraq and Libya come to mind. The US and its allies invaded, bombed and killed over a million Iraqis, captured and assassinated its leaders and installed a police state.

A similar pattern occurred in Libya: the US and EU bombed, killed and uprooted several million people, assassinated Ghadaffy and fomented a lawless terrorist war of clans, tribes and western puppets.

“Western values” reveal the inhumanity of empires built to murder “a la carte” – stripping the victim nations of their defenders, leaders and citizens.

Conclusion

The ten theses define the nature of 21st century imperialism – its continuities and novelties.

The mass media systematically write and speak lies to power: their message is to disarm their adversaries and to arouse their patrons to continue to plunder the world.

*

Prof. James Petras is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Pelosi Prepares ‘Second Pivot’ of Regime Change in the United States

Pelosi Prepares ‘Second Pivot’ of Regime Change in the United States

JAMES GEORGE JATRAS | 10.11.2018 |

Pelosi Prepares ‘Second Pivot’ of Regime Change in the United States

The votes were barely counted before US President Donald Trump fired his Attorney General Jeff Sessions and began to prepare a showdown with the Deep State’s effort to dethrone him. As Patrick Buchanan describes the stakes:

‘For two years, Trump has been under a cloud of unproven allegations and suspicion that he and top campaign officials colluded with Vladimir Putin’s Russia to thieve and publish the emails of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

‘It is past time for Mueller to prove these charges or concede he has a busted flush, wrap up his investigation and go home.

‘And now, in T.S. Eliot’s words, Trump appears to have found “the strength to force the moment to its crisis.”

‘His attitude toward Mueller’s probe is taking on the aspect of Andrew Jackson’s attitude toward Nicholas Biddle’s Second Bank of the United States: It’s “trying to kill me, but I will kill it.”’

But oh wait – the votes aren’t counted yet. In Arizona and, more dangerously, in Florida votes from Democratic precincts seemingly have appeared out of thin air to deny the Republicans additional seats in the Senate. (The governors’ races in Florida and Georgia drag on as well, with Trump mockingly suggesting it’s the Russians’ fault.) In any US election now the side favoring the historic American nation must win big enough to overcome the growing, built-in advantage of an unknown number of illegal votes cast by non-citizens. But even that’s not enough of a handicap, so the Evil Party of Certified Victims also gets to trot out for days and even weeks after election day however many provisional ballots, mail-in ballots, absentee ballots, and any other verkackte concoctions they can. It’s the business end of multiplying measures supposedly designed to “increase voter participation,” like automatic registration, same-day registration, online registration, and at-home voting, the cumulative impact (and no doubt intent) of which is not-quite knowing who’s voting or how often – an old tradition of the Democratic Party. Above all, no ballot security measures can be implemented to require proof of citizenship to vote, as that clearly would be “voter suppression” and, it hardly needs to be added, racist (though demanding documentation of citizenship seems to work just fine in Mexico).

Trimming Trump’s Senate advantage might be the least of his worries, though. Since he took office it’s been clear that large parts of the Executive Branch – nominally under his total control – are instead part of the so-called “Resistance” dedicated to removing him. Most dangerously, this includes much of the Department of Justice and the intelligence agencies. (One can almost hear an audible sigh of relief from the rogues’ gallery of criminal conspirators behind the phony Russiagate collusion story cooked up in the bowels of the US-UK Deep State with the aim of overturning the 2016 election. Now, after two years of the GOP’s dithering in the area of investigations and hearings relevant to how the Trump campaign was put under politically motivated surveillance, those peccadilloes will be forever buried.) The Resistance also includes most of the judiciary, which can be counted on immediately to block any use of Trump’s Executive authority individual judges don’t like, even uses within his plenary Constitutional power, like command of the armed forces (for defending the US? No!) or immigration and border enforcement. Finally, a Senate Democratic block has existed in what is erroneously referred to as the filibuster, with which the GOP majority could dispense with but won’t.

Now, however, with House of Representatives flipped, we are about to see the consolidation in all three branches of what amounts to a rival government under incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Gathering all resistance forces to herself Sauron-like as the focus of rival authority to Trump, she will hope first to render him powerless, then eliminate him. Accordingly, we can be sure that, both with the media’s active complicity and via direct leaks, the House will receive a steady stream of confidential, politically valuable information from within the administration; collusion with the courts to further nullify Trump’s actions will be standard operating procedure.

It’s important to understand that the division of power confronting America in January 2019 will not be the usual circumstance of government divided on a partisan basis, “checks and balances,” “gridlock,” and all that sort of thing familiar from our history but the next phase of a second American civil war (or third, if we count Patriots vs. Loyalists during the War for Independence). Pelosi will lead the next revolutionary phase in which one part of the apparatus of government becomes what Alexander Shtromas called “the Second Pivot,” an alternative, opposing source of official power.

(Contrary to the Marxist myth, revolutions happen not when “The People” rise up spontaneously in righteous anger but when some part of the ruling establishment defects to the revolt (or “Resistance”) and becomes the new conferrer of legitimacy. There are obvious historical examples: Parliament in the English Civil War, the Third Estate’s declaring itself the National Assembly of France, the Petrograd Soviet’s coup against the Provisional Government, Boris Yeltsin’s Russian government when Mikhail Gorbachev’s Soviet government was under threat of the State Committee on the State of Emergency (itself an aspiring second pivot that failed), and the communist cabals in the various Warsaw Pact countries that ousted little Brezhnevs and installed little Gorbachevs.)

In seeking to overthrow the constitutionally elected president who was himself an insurgent against the cozy duopoly in Washington, it might seem the Democrats and their GOP “Never Trump” fellow travelers are actually the counterrevolutionaries against the populist “revolution” two years ago. However true that observation might be in a mechanical sense, it fails to encompass the anti-American, revolutionary – indeed, Leninist – substance of the party that has just captured the House.

Like the bush-league Bolshies they are, the Democrats have already dropped the sotto voce tone they adopted during the closing weeks of the campaign concerning impeaching Trump and now are “all-in” to get rid of him. In doing so, not only can they guarantee the perpetual dominance of their replacement voting bloc, the GOP establishment can purge the Republican party of Trump populism and – dare we say the word! – nationalism once and for all while happily settling in as a permanent, pampered minority with a share of the spoils.

An early test will be if Trump can resist calls for acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from the Mueller probe as Sessions had, leaving in charge Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein – the fox watching the henhouse. Mueller is widely expected to wrap up before the end of the year and he’ll look for some additional scalps to hang to the wall to justify his existence. But the Democrats, now that they’ve taken the House, are more anxious to get on to other things that they can use to justify impeachment. This will of course not be found in any phony Russian collusion (the Democrats will play out the hand, just to keep their base on the edge of hysteria) but the real meat and potatoes will be elsewhere: Trump’s tax returns and his business life back in New York. Contrary to most assurances that a Republican Senate guarantees Trump’s survival, take note that it was Richard Nixon’s own party that threw him to the wolves.

In two months the Second Pivot under Pelosi will rapidly become a state-within-a-state, a Petrograd Soviet at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, with a Provisional Government – alas, that’s all it is – headed by Trump at the other end. Hopefully the rivalry between them will not turn out as bloody as the one in Russia a century ago. But in terms of the gulf in values and identity that separates the two sides, it is no less of another phase of a civil war, a cold one – for the time being.

In any case, the country those of us of middle age grew up in is gone. The question now is what comes next: consolidation of a restored American order or some sort of collapse?

 

DID THE WEST JUST LOSE WORLD WAR III BY FORFEIT?

South Front

22.04.2018

Did the West Just Lose World War III by Forfeit?

Written by James George Jatras; Originally appeared at strategic-culture.org

In the fall of the year 1480, at a point not far from Moscow, two armies faced each other on the opposite banks of the Ugra River.

On the one side were the forces of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, whose ruler, Grand Prince Ivan III (known as “the Great” and the “gatherer of the Russian lands”), had recently rejected further payment of tribute to the Great Horde.

On the other were the forces of Grand Khan Ahmed bin Küchük, who had come to lay waste to Moscow and instruct the impudent Prince Ivan to mend his ways.

For weeks the two assembled hosts glared at one another, each wary of crossing the water and becoming vulnerable to attack by the other. In the end, as though heeding the same inaudible signal, both withdrew and hastily returned home.

Thus ended more than two centuries of the Tatar-Mongol yoke upon the land of the Rus’.

Was this event, which came to be known as “the great standing on the Ugra River,” a model of what happened in Syria last week?

Almost immediately upon reports of the staged chemical attack in Douma on April 7, speculation began as to the likely response from the west – which in reality meant from the United States, in turn meaning from President Donald J. Trump. Would Trump, who had repeatedly spoken harshly of his predecessors’ destructive and pointless misadventures in the Middle East, and who just days earlier had signaled his determination to withdraw the several thousand Americans (illegally) stationed in Syria, see through the obvious deception?

Or, whether or not he really believed the patently untrue accusations of Syrian (and Russian) culpability, would Trump take punitive action against Syria? And if so, would it be a demonstrative pinprick of the sort inflicted almost exactly a year earlier in punishment for an obvious false flag chemical attack in Idlib? Or would we see something more “robust” (a word much beloved of laptop bombardiers in Washington) aimed at teaching a lesson to both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ally, Prince Ivan III’s obstreperous heir Russian President Vladimir Putin?

The answer soon came on Twitter.

Assad was an “animal.” Putin, Russia, and Iran were “responsible” for “many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack” – “Big price to pay.”

Around the world, people mentally braced for the worst. Would a global conflagration start in Syria with an American attack on Russian forces? A grim trepidation reminiscent of the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis gripped the hearts of those old enough to remember those thirteen days when the fate of all life on our planet was in doubt.

Certainly there were enough voices in the US establishment egging Trump on. Besides, at home he still had the relentless pressure of the Mueller investigation, intensified by the FBI’s April 9 raid on his lawyer Michael Cohen. Trump’s only respite from the incessant hammering was his strike on Syria last year.

During the first Cold War both American and Soviet forces took great care to avoid direct conflict, rightly afraid it could lead to uncontrolled escalation. But now, in this second Cold War, western commentators were positively giddy at the thought of killing Russians in Syria…

…or rather killing more Russians, citing the slaughter of a disputed number of contractors (or “mercenaries” as western media and officials consistently called them, implying they deserved to have been exterminated). That’ll teach ‘em not to tangle with us! It was unclear whether the warning from Russian Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov that

Russia would respond against an attack by striking both incoming weapons as well as the platforms that launched would be taken seriously.

After a slight softening of tone by both Trump and Defense Secretary General James “Mad Dog” Mattis on April 12, during which a team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was approaching Douma to conduct an on-site examination, there emerged a slim ray of hope that Trump would step back from acting on the transparently false provocation. (The slimness of any such hope was illustrated by the fact seemingly the most restrained of Trump’s advisers was somebody nicknamed “Mad Dog.”)

When on the evening of Friday the Thirteenth (Washington time) news came that the US had initiated military action, together with France and (the country Russia had accused of staging the Douma fraud) the United Kingdom, many feared the worst. The hasty timing was clearly aimed at preempting the arrival of the OPCW inspectors.

Of greater concern was the extent of the assault?

If Russians were killed, Gerasimov was serious.

As it turned out, the worst didn’t come. World War III didn’t happen. Or hasn’t – yet.

In fact nothing much happened at all. According to the official US reports, something over a hundred missiles were launched at three targets. All missiles reached their targets – “Mission Accomplished!The other side, however, claimed to have shot down roughly 75 percent of the incoming Tomahawks.

In the end, the damage was even less than from the follow-up to Idlib last year. No one was reported killed, neither Syrian nor Russian nor Iranian. Western governments claimed to have struck a serious blow at Syria’s chemical weapons capability. Syrians and Russians scoffed that the missiles had hit empty buildings and that Syria had no CW to hit since 2014, as certified by the OPCW.

In the aftermath of the missile show, media carried unverified reports that Trump had wanted a stronger campaign but deferred to Mattis’s caution, no doubt reflecting the views of professional military men who didn’t want to find out whether Gerasimov was bluffing. Mattis also reportedly wanted Congress to vote on any action before it was taken but was overruled by Trump.

There was even some speculation that the whole thing was a charade worked out in cooperation with the Russians. Even if true (and it’s unlikely) the mere fact that Trump would have to engage in such a ruse speaks volumes about the weakness of his position.

“Whatever Trump says, America is not coming out of Syria,” writes Patrick Buchanan. “We are going deeper in. Trump’s commitment to extricate us from these bankrupting and blood-soaked Middle East wars and to seek a new rapprochement with Russia is ‘inoperative’.”

That’s clear from the comments of US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. She states that America won’t disengage until three objectives have been met: that

ISIS has been defeated (a pretext, since ISIS is on the ropes and remains alive only because of hostile actions taken by the US and others against Syria); Damascus is finally deterred from using chemical weapons (a falsehood, since they don’t have any); and Iran’s regional influence is blocked (which means we’re staying in effect permanently in preparation for a larger war against Iran and perhaps eventually Russia).

The last point is unfortunately true, as plans are underway to beef up a Sunni anti-Iran bulwark in eastern Syria to cut off Tehran’s so-called “land bridge” the Mediterranean. Most Americans in Syria are to be replaced with a so-called Arab force – the “Arab NATO” touted last year in connection with Trump’s maiden foreign trip as president. (As though the one NATO we already have weren’t bad enough!)

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has suggested troops from his country would participate. Aside from whether Riyadh can spare them from their ongoing task of wrecking Yemen, Saudi personnel are likely to become a prime target for Syrians itching to get a crack at their chief tormenters over the past seven years.

So was anything really settled on April 13? On this occasion the West chose not to “cross the river,” much as Khan Ahmed’s force declined to do in 1480. For their part, the Russians in Syria, like their ancestors on the Ugra, were on defense and had no need to risk offensive action.

Unfortunately, unlike the “the great standing on the Ugra River,” which resolved the question of Russian independence and sovereignty in that era, nothing has been resolved now. The question remains: will the US peacefully relinquish its position as the sole arbiter of authority, legality, and morality in a unipolar world in favor of a multipolar order where Russia’s and China’s legitimate interests and spheres of influence are respected? Or will we continue to risk plunging mankind into a global conflict?

Syria remains a key arena where one path or the other will be taken to finally wrap up what US Army Major Danny Sjursen calls “Operation Flailing Empire.” The irony is that peacefully “losing” our pointless and dangerous attempt to rule the world would only be to Americans’ benefit. That’s what Trump promised in 2016. He hasn’t delivered and it’s increasingly doubtful he can.

In the end, the threat of World War III hasn’t vanished. It has just been postponed.

 

America’s Enemies, Who’s On the List?

Prospects and Perspectives

Global Research, November 24, 2017

For almost 2 decades, the US pursued a list of ‘enemy countries’ to confront, attack, weaken and overthrow. 

This imperial quest to overthrow ‘enemy countries’ operated at various levels of intensity, depending on two considerations:  the level of priority and the degree of vulnerability for a ‘regime change’ operation.

The criteria for determining an ‘enemy country’ and its place on the list of priority targets in the US quest for greater global dominance, as well as its vulnerability to a ‘successfully’ regime change will be the focus of this essay.

We will conclude by discussing the realistic perspectives of future imperial options.

Prioritizing US Adversaries

Imperial strategists consider military, economic and political criteria in identifying high priority adversaries.

The following are high on the US ‘enemy list’:

1) Russia, because of its military power, is a nuclear counterweight to US global domination.  It has a huge, well-equipped armed force with a European, Asian and Middle East presence.  Its global oil and gas resources shield it from US economic blackmail and its growing geo-political alliances limit US expansion.

2) China, because of its global economic power and the growing scope of its trade, investment and technological networks.  China’s growing defensive military capability, particularly with regard to protecting its interests in the South China Sea serve to counter US domination in Asia.

3) North Korea, because of its nuclear and ballistic missile capability, its fierce independent foreign policies and its strategic geo-political location, is seen as a threat to the US military bases in Asia and Washington’s regional allies and proxies.

4) Venezuela, because of its oil resources and socio-political policies, challenge the US centered neo-liberal model in Latin America.

5) Iran, because of its oil resources, political independence and geo-political alliances in the Middle East, challenge US, Israeli and Saudi Arabia domination of the region and present an independent alternative.

6) Syria, because of its strategic position in the Middle East, its secular nationalist ruling party and its alliances with Iran, Palestine, Iraq and Russia, is a counterweight to US-Israeli plans to balkanize the Middle East into warring ethno-tribal states.

US  Middle-level Adversaries :

1)  Cuba, because of its independent foreign policies and its alternative socio-economic system stands in contrast to the US-centered neo-liberal regimes in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

2) Lebanon, because of its strategic location on the Mediterranean and the coalition government’s power sharing arrangement with the political party, Hezbollah, which is increasingly influential in Lebanese civil society in part because of its militia’s proven capacity to protect Lebanese national sovereignty by expelling the invading Israeli army and helping to defeat the ISIS/al Queda mercenaries in neighboring Syria.

3) Yemen, because of its independent, nationalist Houthi-led movement opposed to the Saudi-imposed puppet government as well as its relations with Iran.

Low Level Adversaries

1) Bolivia, because of its independent foreign policy, support for the Chavista government in Venezuela and advocacy of a mixed economy;  mining wealth and  defense of indigenous people’s territorial claims.

2) Nicaragua, because of its independent foreign policy and criticism of US aggression toward Cuba and Venezuela.

US hostility to high priority adversaries is expressed through economic sanctions military encirclement, provocations and intense propaganda wars toward North Korea, Russia, Venezuela, Iran and Syria.

Because of China’s powerful global market linkages, the US has applied few sanctions.  Instead, the US relies on military encirclement, separatist provocations and intense hostile propaganda when dealing with China.

Priority Adversaries, Low Vulnerability and Unreal Expectations

With the exception of Venezuela, Washington’s ‘high priority targets’ have limited strategic vulnerabilities. Venezuela is the most vulnerable because of its high dependence on oil revenues with its major refineries located in the US, and its high levels of indebtedness, verging on default.   In addition, there are the domestic opposition groups, all acting as US clients and Caracas’ growing isolation within Latin America due to orchestrated hostility by important US clients, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

Iran is far less vulnerable: It is a strong strategic regional military power linked to neighboring countries and similar religious-nationalist movements.  Despite its dependence on oil exports, Iran has developed alternative markets, like China, free from US blackmail and is relatively safe from US or EU initiated creditor attacks.

North Korea, despite the crippling economic sanctions imposed on its regime and civilian population, has ‘the bomb’ as a deterrent to a US military attack and has shown no reluctance to defend itself.  Unlike Venezuela, neither Iran nor North Korea face significant internal attacks from US-funded or armed domestic opposition.

Russia has full military capacity – nuclear weapons, ICBM and a huge, well-trained armed force – to deter any direct US military threat.  Moscow is politically vulnerable to US-backed propaganda, opposition political parties and Western-funded NGO’s.  Russian oligarch-billionaires, linked to London and Wall Street, exercise some pressure against independent economic initiatives.

To a limited degree, US sanctions exploited Russia’s earlier dependence on Western markets, butsince the imposition of draconian sanctions by the Obama regime, Moscow has effectively counteredWashington’s offensive by diversifying its markets to Asia and strengthening domestic self-reliance in its agriculture, industry and high technology.

China has a world-class economy and is on course to become the world’s economic leader.  Feeble threats to ‘sanction’ China have merely exposed Washington’s weakness rather intimidating Beijing.  China has countered US military provocations and threats by expanding its economic market power, increasing its strategic military capacity and shedding dependence on the dollar.

Washington’s high priority targets are not vulnerable to frontal attack: They retain or are increasing their domestic cohesion and economic networks, while upgrading their military capacity to impose completely unacceptable costs on the US for any direct assault.

As a result, the US leaders are forced to rely on incremental, peripheral and proxy attacks with limited results against its high priority adversaries.

Washington will tighten sanctions on North Korea and Venezuela, with dubious prospects of success in the former and a possible pyrrhic victory in the case of Caracas. Iran and Russia can easily overcome proxy interventions.  US allies, like Saudi Arabia and Israel, can badger, propagandize and rail the Persians, but their fears that an out-and-out war against Iran, could quickly destroy Riyadh and Tel Aviv forces them to work in tandem to induce the corrupt US political establishment to push for war over the objections of a war-weary US military and population. Saudi and Israelis can bomb and starve the populations of Yemen and Gaza, which lack any capacity to reply in kind, but Teheran is another matter.

The politicians and propagandists in Washington can blather about Russia’s interference in the US’s corrupt electoral theater and scuttle moves to improve diplomatic ties, but they cannot counter Russia’s growing influence in the Middle East and its expanding trade with Asia, especially China.

In summary, at the global level, the US ‘priority’ targets are unattainable and invulnerable.  In the midst of the on-going inter-elite dogfight within the US, it may be too much to hope for the emergence of any rational policymakers in Washington who could rethink strategic priorities and calibrate policies of mutual accommodation to fit in with global realities.

Medium and Low Priorities, Vulnerabilities and Expectations

Washington can intervene and perhaps inflict severe damage on middle and low priority countries.  However, there are several drawbacks to a full-scale attack.

Yemen, Cuba, Lebanon, Bolivia and Syria are not nations capable of shaping global political and economic alignments.  The most the US can secure in these vulnerable countries are destructive regime changes with massive loss of life, infrastructure and millions of desperate refugees . . . but at great political cost, with prolonged instability and with severe economic losses.

Yemen

The US can push for a total Saudi Royal victory over the starving, cholera-stricken people of Yemen.  But who benefits?  Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a palace upheaval and has no ability to exercise hegemony, despite hundreds of billions of  dollars of US/NATO arms, trainers and bases.  Colonial occupations are costly and yield few, if any, economic benefits, especially from a poor, geographically isolated devastated nation like Yemen.

Cuba

Cuba has a powerful highly professional military backed by a million-member militia.  They are capable of prolonged resistance and can count on international support.  A US invasion of Cuba would require a prolonged occupation and heavy losses.  Decades of economic sanctions haven’t worked and their re-imposition by Trump have not affected the key tourist growth sectors.

President Trump’s ‘symbolic hostility’ does not cut any ice with the major US agro-business groups, which saw Cuba as a market. Over half of the so-called ‘overseas Cubans’ now oppose direct US intervention.

US-funded NGOs can provide some marginal propaganda points but they cannot reverse popular support for Cuba’s mixed ‘socialized’ economy, its excellent public education and health care and its independent foreign policy.

Lebanon

A joint US-Saudi economic blockade and Israeli bombs can destabilize Lebanon.  However, a full-scale prolonged Israeli invasion will cost Jewish lives and foment domestic unrest.  Hezbollah has missiles to counter Israeli bombs.  The Saudi economic blockade will radicalize Lebanese nationalists, especially among the Shia and the Christian populations.  The Washington’s ‘invasion’ of Libya, which did not lose a single US soldier, demonstrates that destructive invasions result in long-term, continent-wide chaos.

A US-Israeli-Saudi war would totally destroy Lebanon but it will destabilize the region and exacerbate conflicts in neighboring countries – Syria, Iran and possibly Iraq.  And Europe will be flooded with millions more desperate refugees.

Syria

The US-Saudi proxy war in Syria suffered serious defeats and the loss of political assets.  Russia gained influence, bases and allies.  Syria retained its sovereignty and forged a battle-hardened national armed force.  Washington can sanction Syria, grab some bases in a few phony ‘Kurdish enclaves’ but it will not advance beyond a stalemate and will be widely viewed as an occupying invader.

Syria is vulnerable and continues to be a middle-range target on the US enemy list but it offers few prospects of advancing US imperial power, beyond some limited ties with an unstable Kurd enclave, susceptible to internecine warfare, and risking major Turkish retaliation.

Bolivia and Nicaragua

Bolivia and Nicaragua are minor irritants on the US enemy list. US regional policymakers recognize that neither country exercises global or even regional power.  Moreover, both regimes rejected radical politics in practice and co-exist with powerful and influential local oligarchs and international MNC’s linked to the US.

Their foreign policy critiques, which are mostly for domestic consumption, are neutralized by the near total US influence in the OAS and the major neo-liberal regimes in Latin America.  It appears that the US will accommodate these marginalized rhetorical adversaries rather than risk provoking any revival of radical nationalist or socialist mass movements erupting in La Paz or Managua.

Conclusion

A brief examination of Washington’s ‘list of enemies’ reveals that the limited chances of success even among vulnerable targets.  Clearly, in this evolving world power configuration, US money and markets will not alter the power equation.

US allies, like Saudi Arabia, spend enormous amounts of money attacking a devastated nation, but they destroy markets while losing wars.  Powerful adversaries, like China, Russia and Iran, are not vulnerable and offer the Pentagon few prospects of military conquest in the foreseeable future.

Sanctions, or economic wars have failed to subdue adversaries in North Korea, Russia, Cuba and Iran.  The ‘enemy list’ has cost the US prestige, money and markets – a very peculiar imperialist balance sheet.  Russia now exceeds the US in wheat production and exports.  Gone are the days when US agro-exports dominated world trade including trade with Moscow.

Enemy lists are easy to compose, but effective policies are difficult to implement against rivals with dynamic economies and powerful military preparedness.

The US would regain some of its credibility if it operated within the contexts of global realities and pursued a win-win agenda instead of remaining a consistent loser in a zero-sum game.

Rational leaders could negotiate reciprocal trade agreements with China, which would develop high tech, finance and agro-commercial ties with manufacturers and services.  Rational leaders could develop joint Middle East economic and peace agreements, recognizing the reality of a Russian-Iranian-Lebanese Hezbollah and Syrian alliance.

As it stands, Washington’s ‘enemy list’ continues to be composed and imposed by its own irrational leaders, pro-Israel maniacs and Russophobes in the Democratic Party – with no acknowledgement of current realities.

For Americans, the list of domestic enemies is long and well known, what we lack is a civilian political leadership to replace these serial mis-leaders.

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