US Back to ‘Normal’ Imperialism

U.S. Army soldiers prepare to clear and secure a building during exercise Hammer Strike at the Udairi Range Complex near Camp Buehring, Kuwait

Sputnik

By Finian Cunningham

13:09 GMT 24.11.2020

The next US administration is taking shape with President-elect Joe Biden naming his picks to top cabinet posts and national security. It heralds a return to “normal” US imperialism and militarism. That is something to dread not celebrate, as American and European media would have us believe.

The incoming Democrat president, who is due to be inaugurated on January 20, is cheerfully reassuring European and NATO leaders that “America is back” after four years of erratic US foreign policy under the maverick Donald Trump.

Biden said his administration will “reclaim America’s seat at the top of the table”.

US media are also straining with Orwellian euphemisms. CNN says under Team Biden, the US will “reclaim its squandered leadership role”. While the Washington Post said the new Biden administration hails the “return to competent government”.

Other commentators say it is a “return to normalcy”. Former US Assistant Secretary of State PJ Crowley is quoted by the BBC as saying of Biden’s picks: “They have a consistent world view. They are strong believers in American leadership and international alliances”.

Well, what is “normal” and “competent” about wars, death and destruction?

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hold a joint news conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 12, 2017.
© REUTERS / JONATHAN ERNSTU.S. President Donald Trump (R) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hold a joint news conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 12, 2017.

Biden’s cabinet is a rehash of holdovers from the Obama administrations. Several of the people he has nominated or who are tipped to fill vacancies are advocates of warmongering.

The next US Secretary of State – if vetted by the Senate – is Antony Blinken. As part of the previous Obama administration, Blinken was a major proponent of US military intervention in Libya, Syria and Yemen. He also pushes a hard line towards Russia and China.

All the recent media swooning about Blinken being a professional diplomat and fluent in French belie the true, ugly face of American war policy which he instrumented. We only have to look at the misery of starving children in Yemen to realise the horror and criminality of US militarism which the likes of Blinken are responsible for.

Not yet confirmed by Biden for cabinet posts are Obama-era warmongers Susan Rice, Samantha Power and Michèle Flournoy. The latter is hotly tipped to head the Pentagon as Secretary of Defence.

International human rights lawyer Christopher Black dismissively describes the Biden team as “cruise missile liberals”. Meaning they are adept at using righteous rhetoric to justify war.

Flournoy wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine in June that the US military must build up “deterrence” against China by being able to “credibly threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours”.

Blinken and Flournoy co-founded a shadowy political strategy business called WestExec Advisors which connects weapons manufacturers with the Pentagon. Talk about conflict of interest! Or maybe that should be a confluence of interest. These people have a vested interest in promoting conflict and war for profit.

During Trump’s four years in the White House, the chaos in US foreign policy was such that American imperial interests were often frustrated. Not that Trump was a peacemaker. His aggression towards China, Iran and Venezuela and Russia (if you count the Nord Stream-2 sanctions), was apparent. But his erratic egoism and cronyism got in the way of the “vital interests” of the US foreign policy establishment and the military-industrial complex.

Joe Biden receives a national security briefing in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 17, 2020
© REUTERS / TOM BRENNERJoe Biden receives a national security briefing in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 17, 2020

That’s why Biden was so heavily backed during his election campaign by former Pentagon and intelligence chiefs, as well as by Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. He’s their man to get back to business-as-usual. And the team he is forming is meant to deliver Washington to the “top table” of exerting hegemonic ambitions.

That means solidifying the NATO alliance and cohering European allies behind US policy of confronting China and Russia – a move which the European vassal politicians seem to be cooing over.

Trump’s feckless leadership was infuriating and exhausting. He was a destabilising figure in international relations. But so too are all US presidents. They will use massive violence and lawlessness to achieve whatever the “vital interests” demand. Supposed “business genius” Trump was just incompetent and inefficient as the so-called leader of the US-led “free world”.

A Biden administration will bring “competence” back to US imperialism with the deployment of professional warmongers. Absurdly, the brainwashing of US and European media present this dreadful prospect as something to be welcomed.

Susan Rice has blood on her hands: Journalist

Sunday, 15 November 2020 7:25 PM

Video : Former US National Security Advisor Susan Rice speaks at the J Street 2018 National Conference April 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

By Don DeBar

Susan Rice is another one of the recycled Clinton people, and in fact the Democratic Party had her going back even before that.

Her mother has been around. She helped design Pell Grants. She had been with Brookings since ‘92 which is about when Susan graduated into the Clinton administration (in 1993) and went directly to the National Security Council.

She was with Bill Clinton for his administration. Obama had her – first at the UN, and then as his National Security Adviser (I think). She’s about as inside as it gets. She has blood on her hands in Africa, Rwanda.

The people’s understanding of the Rwandan genocide in the United States is exactly upside down. There was a genocide there, but it was the side that the US-backed, not surprisingly, and that was Susan Rice’s project. She was a member of the National Security Council to do international affairs and that was one big act of the Clinton administration – that move to pivot to Africa, around Rwanda.

It was also the enabling of their so-called humanitarian interventions, and in any way that’s her child.

At the United Nations, she helped bring us the destruction of Libya, enabled the situation in Syria to the extent that she could, and tried to sell authority for the US to bomb the hell out of Syria as well.

It’s going to be more war, really.

Let me remind people when Trump took office in January of 2017 the foreign policy that Susan Rice and Barack Obama and the Clintons, and John Kerry had set in motion had us where we were having war games at Russia and China’s borders from the Baltics to the Korean peninsula, on a constant basis, with a number of international incidents – including NATO members shooting down Russian pilots over Syria – any of which could have escalated, and really turning on a dime into a global thermonuclear war.

Trump for all the things he has done does not leave us – if he’s leaving – in that situation. But what they’re doing is installing the very people who created that condition to start from day one to bring us right back to the brink with Russia and China.

I think it’s very scary that Susan Rice is being considered for this. I don’t think it’s a surprise at all. Anyone who knows who Joe Biden is not surprised.

Obama is pushing Susan Rice for secretary of state job: Sources

Obama is pushing Susan Rice for secretary of state job: SourcesBarack Obama is pushing for Joe Biden to nominate Susan Rice for secretary of state, sources say.

Don DeBar is an American journalist and political commentator based in New York. He recorded this article for Press TV website. 


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

PHILIP M. GIRALDI: “RUSSIA-BAITING IS THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN”

Washington again becomes hysterical

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PHILIP GIRALDI • JULY 7, 2020

There is particular danger at the moment that powerful political alignments in the United States are pushing strongly to exacerbate the developing crisis with Russia. The New York Times, which broke the story that the Kremlin had been paying the Afghan Taliban bounties to kill American soldiers, has been particularly assiduous in promoting the tale of perfidious Moscow. Initial Times coverage, which claimed that the activity had been confirmed by both intelligence sources and money tracking, was supplemented by delusional nonsense from former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who asks “Why does Trump put Russia first?” before calling for a “swift and significant U.S. response.” Rice, who is being mentioned as a possible Biden choice for Vice President, certainly knows about swift and significant as she was one of the architects of the destruction of Libya and the escalation of U.S. military and intelligence operations directed against a non-threatening Syria.

The Times is also titillating with the tale of a low level drug smuggling Pashto businessman who seemed to have a lot of cash in dollars lying around, ignoring the fact that Afghanistan is awash with dollars and has been for years. Many of the dollars come from drug deals, as Afghanistan is now the world’s number one producer of opium and its byproducts.

The cash must be Russian sourced, per the NYT, because a couple of low level Taliban types, who were likely tortured by the Afghan police, have said that it is so. The Times also cites anonymous sources which allege that there were money transfers from an account managed by the Kremlin’s GRU military intelligence to an account opened by the Taliban. Note the “alleged” and consider for a minute that it would be stupid for any intelligence agency to make bank-to-bank transfers, which could be identified and tracked by the clever lads at the U.S. Treasury and NSA. Also try to recall how not so long ago we heard fabricated tales about threatening WMDs to justify war. Perhaps the story would be more convincing if a chain of custody could be established that included checks drawn on the Moscow-Narodny Bank and there just might be a crafty neocon hidden somewhere in the U.S. intelligence community who is right now faking up that sort of evidence.

Other reliably Democratic Party leaning news outlets, to include CNN, MSNBC and The Washington Post all jumped on the bounty story, adding details from their presumably inexhaustible supply of anonymous sources. As Scott Horton observedthe media was reporting a “fact” that there was a rumor.

Inevitably the Democratic Party leadership abandoned its Ghanaian kente cloth scarves, got up off their knees, and hopped immediately on to their favorite horse, which is to claim loudly and in unison that when in doubt Russia did it. Joe Biden in particular is “disgusted” by a “betrayal” of American troops due to Trump’s insistence on maintaining “an embarrassing campaign of deferring and debasing himself before Putin.”

The Dems were joined in their outrage by some Republican lawmakers who were equally incensed but are advocating delaying punishing Russia until all the facts are known. Meanwhile, the “circumstantial details” are being invented to make the original tale more credible, including crediting the Afghan operation to a secret Russian GRU Army intelligence unit that allegedly was also behind the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury England in 2018.

Reportedly the Pentagon is looking into the circumstances around the deaths of three American soldiers by roadside bomb on April 8, 2019 to determine a possible connection to the NYT report. There are also concerns relating to several deaths in training where Afghan Army recruits turned on their instructors. As the Taliban would hardly need an incentive to kill Americans and as only seventeen U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan in 2019 as a result of hostile action, the year that the intelligence allegedly relates to, one might well describe any joint Taliban-Russian initiative as a bit of a failure since nearly all of those deaths have been attributed to kinetic activity initiated by U.S. forces.

The actual game that is in play is, of course, all about Donald Trump and the November election. It is being claimed that the president was briefed on the intelligence but did nothing. Trump denied being verbally briefed due to the fact that the information had not been verified. For once America’s Chief Executive spoke the truth, confirmed by the “intelligence community,” but that did not stop the media from implying that the disconnect had been caused by Trump himself. He reportedly does not read the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB), where such a speculative piece might indeed appear on a back page, and is uninterested in intelligence assessments that contradict what he chooses to believe. The Democrats are suggesting that Trump is too stupid and even too disinterested to be president of the United States so they are seeking to replace him with a corrupt 78-year-old man who may be suffering from dementia.

The Democratic Party cannot let Russia go because they see it as their key to future success and also as an explanation for their dramatic failure in 2016 which in no way holds them responsible for their ineptness. One does not expect the House Intelligence Committee, currently headed by the wily Adam Schiff, to actually know anything about intelligence and how it is collected and analyzed, but the politicization of the product is certainly something that Schiff and his colleagues know full well how to manipulate. One only has to recall the Russiagate Mueller Commission investigation and Schiff’s later role in cooking the witnesses that were produced in the subsequent Trump impeachment hearings.

Schiff predictably opened up on Trump in the wake of the NYT report, saying “I find it inexplicable in light of these very public allegations that the president hasn’t come before the country and assured the American people that he will get to the bottom of whether Russia is putting bounties on American troops and that he will do everything in his power to make sure that we protect American troops.”

Schiff and company should know, but clearly do not, that at the ground floor level there is a lot of lying, cheating and stealing around intelligence collection. Most foreign agents do it for the money and quickly learn that embroidering the information that is being provided to their case officer might ultimately produce more cash. Every day the U.S. intelligence community produces thousands of intelligence reports from those presumed “sources with access,” which then have to be assessed by analysts. Much of the information reported is either completely false or cleverly fabricated to mix actual verified intelligence with speculation and out and out lies to make the package more attractive. The tale of the Russian payment of bribes to the Taliban for killing Americans is precisely the kind of information that stinks to high heaven because it doesn’t even make any political or tactical sense, except to Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff and the New York Times. For what it’s worth, a number of former genuine intelligence officers including Paul Pillar, John KiriakouScott Ritter, and Ray McGovern have looked at the evidence so far presented and have walked away unimpressed. The National Security Agency (NSA) has also declined to confirm the story, meaning that there is no electronic trail to validate it.

Finally, there is more than a bit of the old hypocrisy at work in the damnation of the Russians even if they have actually been involved in an improbable operation with the Taliban. One recalls that in the 1970s and 1980s the United States supported the mujahideen rebels fighting against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. The assistance consisted of weapons, training, political support and intelligence used to locate, target and kill Soviet soldiers. Stinger missiles were provided to bring down helicopters carrying the Russian troops. The support was pretty much provided openly and was even boasted about, unlike what is currently being alleged about the Russian assistance. The Soviets were fighting to maintain a secular regime that was closely allied to Moscow while the mujahideen later morphed into al-Qaeda and the Islamist militant Taliban subsequently took over the country, meaning that the U.S. effort was delusional from the start.

So, what is a leaked almost certainly faux story about the Russian bounties on American soldiers intended to accomplish? It is probably intended to keep a “defensive” U.S. presence in Afghanistan, much desired by the neocons, a majority in Congress and the Military Industrial Complex (MIC), and it will further be played and replayed to emphasize the demonstrated incompetence of Donald Trump. The end result could be to secure the election of a pliable Establishment flunky Joe Biden as president of the United States. How that will turn out is unpredictable, but America’s experience of its presidents since 9/11 has not been very encouraging.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is https://councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

Foreign Election Interference: Who is to Blame?

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by MELVIN GOODMAN

Photograph Source: Bill Smith – CC BY 2.0

Ever since the Russian election interference in 2016, the New York Times  has been blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for the new Cold War with the United States.  On July 2, it ran a front-page article that headlined the United States “stands on the sidelines” while the Kremlin conducts a “wave of aggression.” On July 1, the Times ran an oped article by former national security adviser Susan Rice, reportedly on the short list as a possible Biden vice presidential candidate, describing a White House run by “liars and wimps catering to a tyrannical president who is actively advancing our arch adversary’s nefarious interests.”  In view of the blame being assigned to Putin, perhaps it’s time to remind readers of the Times of the U.S. record of intervention in foreign elections.

The New York Times has always taken the view that U.S. election interventions have “generally been aimed at helping non-authoritarian candidates” whereas Russia has “more often intervened to disrupt democracy or promote authoritarian rule.”  Too bad the Times could not interview Iran’s Mohammed Mossadegh, Chile’s Salvador Allende, or the Congo’s Patrice Lumumba, who were targeted by the Central Intelligence Agency and replaced by brutal regimes that ruled for decades.  Allende and Lumumba, moreover, didn’t survive the violence that the CIA orchestrated.  The revelations of assassination plots in Cuba, the Congo, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam finally led to a ban on CIA political assassinations in the mid-1970s.

The grand master of election interference and regime change is, of course, the CIA, which was created in 1947 and immediately began to interfere in elections in Europe.  France and Italy were the primary targets as “bags of money” were “delivered to selected politicians, to defray their expenses,” according to F. Mark Wyatt, a former CIA operative.  The road got much darker in the 1950s, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the overthrow of the democratically elected president of Iran in 1953 and the installation of a brutal military regime in Guatemala in 1954.

The CIA released a small batch of records on the 1954 military coup in Guatemala, but it has not declassified materials on the CIA-assisted Guatemalan security forces responsible for the deaths of an estimated 200,000 Guatemalans since the coup.  The CIA trained and supported notorious security forces throughout Central America, particularly in Honduras, where the Battalion 316 operated brutal detention centers throughout the country.  The United States and the CIA were responsible for installing abusive authoritarians in Nicaragua and El Salvador as well.

American national interests were rarely at stake in any of these interventions.  Henry A. Kissinger, President Richard M. Nixon’s national security adviser, put it best when he facetiously described Chile as a “dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica.”  Kissinger simply could not see “why the United States should stand by and let Chile go communist merely due to the stupidity of its own people.”  The CIA’s installation of the Shah of Iran in 1953 was the original sin that continues to plague U.S.-Iranian relations.

A Carnegie Mellon scholar, Dov H. Levin, examined the historical record and determined that there were more than 80 overt and covert election influence operations by the United States from 1947 to 2000 as opposed to 36 Soviet and Russian operations in the same period.  The United States relied on various clandestine means, including breaking into political offices to steal codes.  In 1996, the Clinton administration intervened overtly and covertly in the Russian election to make sure that Boris Yeltsin was not defeated by an old-fashioned communist bureaucrat.  The United States engineered a $10 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to Russia and assigned American political consultants to Yeltsin’s campaign.

The Russian intervention in the U.S. election in 2016 was merely a technological version of the kind of political influence operations that the KGB and the CIA conducted throughout the Cold War.  The digital interventions were far less costly and risky than the clandestine operations of the CIA and the National Security Agency over many decades.  We may lack a full understanding of the extent of U.S. intervention over the yearsm but we know a great deal about the Russian effort to use social media to attack Hillary Clinton, to boost Donald Trump, and to sow discord in the United States. We still lack information on the nature of the cooperation that existed between the Trump campaign and the Russian influence operation.  I’m sure that my former CIA colleagues would find nothing unusual in these Russian actions.

Too many opinion leaders in the United States still believe that several presidential administrations have failed to take advantage of the so-called U.S. victory in the Cold War.  Self-proclaimed liberals such as Susan Rice even share a point of view with neoconservatives such as John Bolton.  They appear to believe that the “shame of the West” is the failure to capitalize on the winning of the Cold War by not making sure that former Soviet republics such as Georgia and Ukraine be admitted to NATO and that recent events in Crimea and Hong Kong justify a new Cold War.  They have exaggerated the extent of Putin’s risk-taking and ignored Washington’s contribution to the sorry state of Russian-American relations.

Unfortunately, a presidential campaign in the United States doesn’t allow for the time or space to conduct a rational dialogue on the importance of restoring stable and predictable relations between the United States and Russia.

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More articles by:MELVIN GOODMAN

Melvin A. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University.  A former CIA analyst, Goodman is the author of Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA and National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism. and A Whistleblower at the CIA. His most recent book is “American Carnage: The Wars of Donald Trump” (Opus Publishing), and he is the author of the forthcoming “The Dangerous National Security State” (2020).” Goodman is the national security columnist for counterpunch.org.

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