‘Don’t give murderers a free pass’: Outrage as Biden refuses to sanction MBS

Activists and lawmakers say Saudi crown prince must face consequences after US intelligence report confirmed he was responsible for Khashoggi murder

US intelligence assessment revealed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman authorised the assassination (AFP/File photo)

By Ali HarbUmar A Farooq in Washington

Published date: 27 February 2021 00:06 UTC |

The virtual ink on a US intelligence report blaming Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi had not dried when the Biden administration ruled out imposing sanctions on the crown prince – a move that rights groups say would be fundamental for ensuring justice for the slain journalist.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed on Friday that Washington will not take action against the crown prince himself. 

The US State and Treasury departments had announced sanctions against dozens of Saudi individuals over their involvement in the Khashoggi murder and other rights violations without identifying them.

“What we’ve done by the actions that we’ve taken is really not to rupture the relationship but to recalibrate it to be more in line with our interests and our values,” Blinken told reporters.

Earlier on Friday, the State Department unveiled new visa restrictions dubbed the “Khashoggi Ban” that would allow Washington to target “individuals who, acting on behalf of a foreign government, are believed to have been directly engaged in serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities”.

For its part, the Treasury said it imposed sanctions on several Saudi officials, including Ahmed al-Asiri, former deputy head of military intelligence at the time of Khashoggi’s assassination, and members of the hit team that carried out the murder, known as the “Tiger Squad” or Rapid Intervention Force.

However, without sanctions against MBS, who the US government now publicly acknowledges was responsible for the killing, some advocates and lawmakers are saying the mastermind of the assassination is getting away with murder.

‘Unconscionable’

Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch, called failure to impose sanctions on MBS over the killing “unconscionable”.

“The fact that the US has sanctioned so many of MBS’s associates but not him sends a terrible message that the higher up in a government you are, the more likely it is you can commit crimes with impunity,” Prasow told MEE. 

“It also undermines US credibility. It’s hard to see what incentive MBS has to alter his conduct, whether inside Saudi Arabia, in his conduct in the war in Yemen, or in other extraterritorial attacks on dissidents, when he knows he can literally get away with murder.”

Khashoggi, a former Saudi government insider and journalist who wrote for the Washington Post and Middle East Eye, resided in the United States before his death.Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved Khashoggi murder, US report says

Saudi government agents murdered him and dismembered his body at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, while he was trying to retrieve personal paperwork, in October 2018. 

After initially insisting that Khashoggi left the building alive, Saudi officials acknowledged that the journalist was killed more than two weeks after the murder. But Riyadh insists that the assassination was a rogue operation that happened without the approval of top officials.

The murder sent shockwaves throughout Washington, amplifying criticism against the kingdom in Congress, but former President Donald Trump moved to shield Riyadh and particularly the crown prince from the fallout.

The Trump administration had refused a legally binding congressional request to release a report on the US intelligence community’s findings about the involvement of Saudi officials in the murder.

The administration of President Biden, who had called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” as a presidential candidate in 2019, made the report public on Friday, documenting what experts had been saying for years – that the murder, which involved the crown prince’s aides, could not have happened without his blessing.

Saudi Arabia was quick to reject the findings, calling the US assessment “negative, false and unacceptable”.

‘Free pass’

While rights groups hailed the release of the report as a step towards ensuring accountability for the murder, the administration’s failure to impose sanctions on the lead perpetrator left many disappointed.

“The Biden administration is trying to thread the needle. They want to continue to work with a partner that has committed a heinous act against a US resident, while taking some steps toward accountability,” Seth Binder, advocacy officer at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), told MEE.

“But if human rights is really going to be at the center of US foreign policy, as the administration has repeatedly stated, then it can’t give murderers a free pass.”

Before taking office, Biden vowed to “reassess” US-Saudi relations. Since his inauguration, he has paused some arms sales to Riyadh and announced an end to Washington’s support for the kingdom’s “offensive operations” in Yemen.

Still, many rights advocates and lawmakers are demanding a more forceful approach to Riyadh and MBS from Washington.

‘We’re calling on the Biden administration to move ahead with accountability measures to sanction MBS personally’

– Raed Jarrar, DAWN

“We’re calling on the Biden administration to move ahead with accountability measures to sanction MBS personally, along with everyone else who is implicated in that killing,” said Raed Jarrar, advocacy director at Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).

Established last year in Washington, DAWN, a rights group, was envisioned by Khashoggi before his murder.

Speaking at a news conference after the release of the report, Jarrar urged ending US weapons sales to the kingdom. “Transparency is meaningless without accountability,” he said.

Philippe Nassif, advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA, said many rights advocates are “disappointed” in Washington’s decision against sanctioning MBS. 

He added that Congress and the Biden administration should halt offensive arms sales to Saudi Arabia, not only over the murder of Khashoggi, but also for the mistreatment of dissidents at home and war crimes in Yemen.

“And this goes for France. And this

Congress members call for sanctions

Leading Congress members from Biden’s own Democratic Party said on Friday that the president should impose sanctions on MBS.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar announced on Friday that she will be introducing a bill to penalise the crown prince. She called the release of the report a “turning point” in US-Saudi relations.

“To this day, we continue to supply Saudi Arabia with US arms that are used to commit human rights abuses around the world,” the congresswoman said in a statement. 

“To this day, we still cooperate with the Saudi regime on defensive war efforts – including intelligence sharing. These must end. And there must be direct consequences for Mohamed bin Salman and his functionaries.”Will the CIA report cost Mohammed bin Salman his throne?

Congressman Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee who has been pushing for making the report public, hailed releasing the assessment but said the administration should do more to hold MBS accountable.

He decried going after those who carried out the assassination, but not the leader who ordered it.

“The report itself is pretty remarkable in saying in no uncertain terms that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia ordered the capture or killing of an American resident and journalist, that essentially the crown prince has blood on his hands,” Schiff told CNN. 

“I would like to see the administration go beyond what it is announced in terms of repercussions to make sure there are repercussions directly to the crown prince.”

Ron Wyden, a key Senate Democrat, also underscored the need to ensure that MBS is punished for the murder.

“By naming Mohammed bin Salman as the amoral murderer responsible for this heinous crime, the Biden-Harris administration is beginning to finally reassess America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and make clear that oil won’t wash away blood,” he said in a statement.

“There is still far more to do to ensure that the Saudi government follows international laws. There should be personal consequences for MBS – he should suffer sanctions, including financial, travel and legal – and the Saudi government should suffer grave consequences as long as he remains in the government.”

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Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on January 9, 2021, three days after the Capitol riots.


Date: 15 February 2021

Author: lecridespeuples

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on January 9, 2021, three days after the Capitol riots.

Source: https://video.moqawama.org/details.php?cid=1&linkid=2186

Translation: resistancenews.org

Transcript:

[…] My first comment (concerns the Capitol Hill riot), because it would be unwise to ignore an event of such magnitude, namely the major incident that occurred in recent days in the United States, in Washington. Trump called for a protest in Washington, interrupting his New Year’s Holiday to come to Washington and call for a (big) protest, addressing protesters behind a bulletproof glass the same day, and urging them to march on the Congress, and on the Representatives and Senators assembled nearby to (officially) establish the result of the presidential elections.

Image result for trump capitol speech

Then, during the meeting of Representatives and Senators, the two Houses of Representatives and Senators, the demonstrators invaded the Congress building (the Capitol), in a scene [of a coup or “color revolution”] that the United States have the habit of fomenting in other countries of the world to bring down regimes. But now Trump has implemented it in his own country! This is the very thing they have perpetrated in many countries of the world, and which they have been trying to do for a year and a half in Lebanon! Either way, the protesters walked towards the building, passed through the security gates, and entered (the Capitol). There were a number of deaths, dozens of injured, dozens of arrests, bloody clashes… The Representatives and Senators fled, ending their meeting, hiding (where they could)… Then various measures were taken, and clamors (of condemnation) arose from all sides.

Image result for capitol assault

Of course, this is a very important and very dangerous event, which cannot be minimized or considered minor, despite the efforts of some. And its consequences are also (major and) dangerous. In Lebanon and in the Arab world, the darlings (vassals) of the United States have endeavored to downplay the significance of this event, to belittle and underestimate it. But (to know its real scope), it suffices to ask the inhabitants of Mecca, who are the most aware of what is happening at home (Arabic proverb inviting to question those first concerned). Let’s rely on what the people of the United States have said, what Biden said, what his vice-president (Harris) said, what top Democratic Party officials said, within the Republican Party, etc. How did all these people describe this event? What has been the reaction within the Trump administration itself, the resignations etc.? If it were only a minor and marginal incident, under control, it would not have had all of these consequences, which still continue, and can lead to impeachment proceedings against Trump by Congress.

Image result for us capitol jamiroquai

It was not the (intended) topic of my speech, but since this event has occurred, I will say two words about it.

First, this is obviously a (major) event that we must ponder and analyze carefully, and from which we should draw lessons. This event reveals to us the reality of the current (domestic) situation in the United States, and reveals the true face of this (so-called) democracy and its (vain) pretenses. But among the things to stress in this event is that the people of the United States themselves have tasted first-hand the consequences of Trump’s policies, and his willingness to kill even Americans –who he was already killing during the past year during demonstrations [against police brutality and institutional racism]– to stay in power. We have long warned of the dangers of the policies of this assassin, and what Americans and the world have seen is only a small glimpse of what Trump perpetrated over four years in many countries around the world, such as Yemen, Iraq, Syria, the siege imposed on Iran, Venezuela, etc., and his support for Zionist crimes against the Palestinian people. The whole world has remained silent, as have many Americans, in the face of its atrocious crimes against other peoples, in particular its manifest, official and scandalous crime against the two Commanders (who defeated ISIS), Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al- Muhandis. And today, Trump’s criminal truth has been revealed to the eyes of his own people. Trump exemplifies the American political and military arrogance which has long imposed its hegemony on peoples, monopolized their choices and chained their sovereignty.

What has happened in recent days is an example of the sterile and catastrophic nature of this (bogus) American democracy which has no real guarantees, and allows individuals like Trump to come to power. How could an election allow the rise to power of a figure so puffed up with arrogance, so criminal, so mad and so stupid, to rule not only the United States, but the whole world, holding the future of humanity in his hands?! (This experience at least) revealed the true face of this American (pseudo-)democracy that they wanted to impose on the world. And with his allies and accomplices in the Middle East, Trump exemplifies power-hungry tyrants, (ready for anything to cling to power), even at the cost of the blood of their own people. Of course, we must also mention Pompeo, who always urged us to preserve the popular vote, while he and his President did everything possible to impose themselves and alter the outcome of the elections, by force and threats. He was talking to us about the respect due to protesters, and we saw the (unarmed protesters) killed and wounded in the heart of Washington.

I will conclude on this point with two words.

(First, I want to say) that God the Most High and the Exalted has protected the peoples of the world and the whole Earth during these four years (of Trump’s presidency), and we must all pray to Him, invoke Him and intercede with Him so that He continues to preserve us during the days that remain before January 20, because the nuclear codes are still in the hands of this mad, stupid, racist and arrogant character that is Trump, a real tyrant who when he gets angry, he no longer knows what he is doing. May God continue to preserve the world for the few days remaining until January 20.

See Nasrallah: Trump heads for Armageddon

And my last point is this: when I saw Trump’s recorded speech yesterday (it was not broadcast live), and in which he condemned the protesters, those who had engaged in violence, vowing to abide by the law and calling everyone to respect the law, he reminded me of this Quranic verse which says: “They are like Satan when he lures someone to disbelieve. Then after they have done so, he will say ˹on Judgment Day˺, ‘I have absolutely nothing to do with you. I truly fear Allah—the Lord of all worlds.’ ” (Quran, 59, 16).

Up to 4.55 minutes, excerpts from Trump’s speech before the assault on Capitol Hill. From 5.10 minutes, Trump’s repudiation the next day.

It was Trump who organized this demonstration, he is the one who incited them to march on Congress, it is he who sent them there, and when they took the Capitol, he disassociated himself from them, saying he had nothing to do with any of this and was abiding by the law. This is the real face of Trump, the way he behaves with those who support him, let alone his allies.

See Free Speech or incitement to violence? Norman Finkelstein on Trump’s speech before the Capitol Riots

In conclusion, this is a major event, and the developments underway in the United States are very important and will have consequences domestically but also on the whole world. We must follow all of this closely. […]

***

Khamenei: the post-American era has begun

Speech by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Sayed Ali Khamenei, February 7, 2021, commemorating the Iranian Air Force’s allegiance to Imam Khomeini.

Source: https://english.khamenei.ir/news/8337/Iran-s-condition-for-returning-to-JCPOA-commitments-Removing

Imam Khamenei invited those who have unrealistic estimations of US power and that of some other countries to look at recent events in the US. He explained, “The scandalous events that have taken place in the US recently are not minor events, and they should not be considered to be the mere downfall of an incompetent President. Rather, they are a manifestation of the decline of the US reputation, power and social system.”

Referring to statements made by some eminent political personalities in the US, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution said, “They themselves state that the social system of the US has deteriorated from within, and some have even spoken of a post-US era.”

His Eminence added, “If something similar to what occurred in the US had occurred in any other part of the world – particularly in countries with which the US is at odds – they would not have stopped covering it in their news, but the mass media empire is in their control. So they try to show that the conflict has finished, but it is far from over.”

The Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian Armed Forces stated that the reason why some regimes that are dependent on the US – in particular, the Zionist regime – are distressed and stunned and the reason for their recent ranting and raving is their fear and anxiety about the reality of the US decline in international and domestic areas.

Stating that one of the ways for increasing a country’s power is to strengthen the Armed Forces in proportion with regional and international events, Imam Khamenei praised recent military maneuvers and said, “Carrying out such great, impressive maneuvers, despite the existence of sanctions, gives us confidence that national security has been ensured by the children of the country who are in the Armed Forces. This is truly a source of pride.”

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US House: Trump Singularly Responsible for Capitol Assault, Should Be Convicted

US House: Trump Singularly Responsible for Capitol Assault, Should Be Convicted

By Staff, Agencies

The House of Representatives impeachment managers have filed a lengthy pretrial brief, saying former President Donald Trump was “singularly responsible” for the assault on the Capitol last month and that he should be convicted.

The House impeached the ex-president over his role in the invasion on January 6 that left five people dead, including a member of law enforcement.

Trump was blamed for inciting an insurrection when the lawmakers were busy certifying the victory of Joe Biden in the November 3 election.

The House introduced an article of impeachment to the Senate late last month.

In an 80-page brief filed on Tuesday, the impeachment managers – nine House Democrats led by Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin –  outlined the arguments they planned to make when the Senate trial opens next week, arguing that Trump should be barred from holding public office.

“President Trump incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol during the Joint Session, thus impeding Congress’s confirmation of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as the winner of the presidential election,” the House brief reads.

“The framers of the Constitution feared a president who would corrupt his office by sparing ‘no efforts or means whatever to get himself re-elected,’” wrote the nine House Democrats, quoting directly from the 1787 debate in Philadelphia.

“If provoking an insurrectionary riot against a joint session of Congress after losing an election is not an impeachable offense, it is hard to imagine what would be.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s legal team responded to the charges against him, arguing that the Senate “lacks jurisdiction” to try a former president.

“The Senate of the United States lacks jurisdiction over the 45th president because he holds no public office from which he can be removed, rendering the article of impeachment moot and a non-justiciable question,” the lawyers, Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David Schoen, wrote in their 14-page response.

The lawyers also asserted that Trump believed he “won it by a landslide,” and, thus, was within his First Amendment rights to “express his belief that the election results were suspect.”

Trump had told his supporters, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” His lawyers, however, said such remarks were not meant as a call to violent action, but were “about the need to fight for election security in general.”

Trump’s assertions about the election results could not be disproved, the lawyers added, because there was “insufficient evidence.”

Related

NATO Supremacists New Round of Frenzied War Crimes in Syria

MIRI WOOD 

Hasakah people protesting cutting off alouk water

NATO supremacists illegally in Syria have gone into a frenzy of increased war crimes against the Levantine republic, on 17 January: The lame duck Trump forces continue to empty silos in the al Jazeera region of grain; Madman Erdogan forces have again turned off water to one million Syrians living in al Hasakah; Trump cannon fodder SDF terrorists have kidnapped more young Syrian men from al Susa and Hajin, Deir Ezzor countryside.

Featured image above, shows thousands of Syrians demanding their water rights, again turned off by Madman Erdogan’s illegal troops occupying the Allouk water station. Video below is a glimpse of the demonstration.

While the transatlantic stenographers do their belly-bumping phony piety in lamentations over the 6 January invasion of the US Capitol by Trump supporters and various undercovers, and fake rend their clothing over 25,000 National Guard soldiers (to protect 1,435 senators and congress members) they remain arrogantly mute over the ongoing kidnappings, murders, bombings, water deprivation and destruction of essential infrastructure in the Arabic, Muslim-majority country of Syria.

The twenty convoy trucks that smuggled more stolen Syrian grain into Iraq were protected by illegal, armored, US vehicles. NATO supremacy means stealing other people’s foods. This massive theft was a follow up to the massive Syrian barley theft of 10 January, which also had the NATO stenographer supremacists on mute.

Trump forces smuggle stolen Syrian grains to Iraq
Trump forces loot and smuggle Syrian grains to Iraq

Depriving a civilian population of their water is also a war crime. In October 2019, NATO Madman Erdogan bombed the electrical grid at the Alouk station. The Syrian electricity army repairs it, after which Erdogan bombed it again, after which it was again repaired, after which Erdogan’s forces invaded and occupied the water plant. NATO supremacy also means trying to crush other people’s countries by stealing their water.

The demonic SDF separatists were originally created under the NATO supremacist Obama regime, which collected international wetworkers to teach the subsequent cannon fodder how to terrorize the Syrian population. During the Obama years, atrocities against Syria were perpetrated ‘by accident,’ as when he meant to war criminally bomb ISIS but accidentally slaughtered 83 Syrian soldiers defending their homeland.

 

The Trump regime expanded on Obama’s war crimes, intentionally bombed Syrian soldiers for al Qaeda, and set up criminal military bases in Syria (whereas Obama only sent in ‘spec operatives.’ See “Cue the Illegal Orangettes,” here.).

Today, a “weapons shop” run under Madman Erdogan’s al Qaeda forces in Idlib, blew up. It was located in a crowded market, near to a school. Western propagandists have remained silent on this atrocity, also. Imagine such a scene in Paris, London, Berlin, Philly, or Los Angeles being normalized:

Idlib explosion in weapons shop kills one person

Since the “deadly siege” on the US Capitol, 6 January, western supremacists have been aghast, horrified by a small fraction of what those western supremacists do to non-western countries, with impunity, on daily basis. Our unindicted war criminals that drop NATO weapons into the hands of savage beasts in Syria, call the psychopaths “freedom fighters” and cheer the horrors they perpetrate on the Syrian people, in the name of the imperial paraphilia, “democracy.”

Here are some examples of our glorious freedom and democracy, in DC, today, as inauguration day approaches; it does give the appearance of a military occupation, the type of which our terrified politicians in the Capitol on the first Wednesday of the first month of the new year, have imposed on mostly brown-skinned and/or Muslim majority countries for decades.

 

Some of the detritus, hysteria, and shame/lessness of DC may eventually be put into a box labeled “Trump,” and we shall probably return to our collective criminal work as imperial NATO supremacists, entitled to tying up those tedious loose ends of uppity countries refusing to be crushed by western humanitarian democracy.

When that time comes, may we watch Syria’s President Bashar al Assad, walking freely and safely among his fellow countrymen and women, and may we honestly denounce the supremacists among us.

— Miri Wood

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واشنطن تحت وطأة الانقلاب الفاشل وأميركا تتآكل من الداخل..!

محمد صادق الحسيني

لم يعُد هناك أي مجال للشك والترديد أو الارتياب بأنّ ما كان يدّعيه الأميركيون بأنّ ديمقراطيتهم هي نهاية التاريخ كما ادّعى وزعم منظّرهم فوكوياما، باتت اليوم على شفير الهاوية وذاهبة لتأخذ أميركا الى الخراب الشامل..!

وما جرى في واشنطن قبل أيام من أحداث عنف دامية دليل وبرهان قاطع لا يقبل الدحض أو النقض..!

والذي أكد في ما أكد اشتراك شخص الرئيس الأميركي المنتهية ولايته في كلّ ما جرى من خراب…!

وفي هذا السياق فقد أكدت مصادر واسعة الاطلاع من مراكز صنع القرار الأميركي بأنّ الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب قاد كلّ عمليات التظاهر والتمرّد الأخيرة في واشنطن من خلال غرفة عمليات مخصصة لهذا الغرض كانت تضمّه مع بعض من افراد عائلته وعدد من رهطه (الأمن الخاص لديه تقارير مصوّرة عن ذلك) والذي يثبت أنّ ترامب هو شخصياً كان متورّطاً بعملية قيادة الجموع المقتحمة لمجمع الكاپيتول هيل في إطار عملية انقلابية كانت تهدف الى ما يلي:

1

ـ منع الكونغرس من التصديق على انتخاب بايدن.

2

ـ حرق الكونغرس بعد العبث بكلّ محتوياته.

3

ـ أخذ رهائن من مجلسي النواب والشيوخ وتعطيل الكونغرس لفترة طويلة بهدف ضمان بقائه في البيت الأبيض. إن جهاز الشرطة التابع للكونغرس متورط بإدخال المقتحمين.

هذا وقد ثبت من خلال التحقيقات الاولية بأنّ كلاً من ابن سلمان وابن زايد متورّطين بضخ أموال لترامب وأنصاره لعمل هذه الفوضى في الكونغرس وفي الشارع الأميركي لجرّ الشعب الأميركي إلى مربع الصراع ومربع العنف.

ويبدو أنّ هذه المعلومات كانت متوفرة لدى قيادة الحزب الديمقراطي والسيدة نانسي بيلوسي بشكل خاص والتي تعتبر من الرموز المخابراتية من الوزن الثقيل.

وهذا الأمر بالذات هو الذي دفع رئيسة المجلس الى اتخاذ إجراءات سريعة كانت مأخوذة بعين الاعتبار سلفاً، حيث تمّ أخذ كافة الأعضاء في المجلسين الى قاعات آمنة ومن ثم قامت بالاتصال العاجل بالخدمة السريّة للبيت الأبيض وهي قوة تعتبر تابعة للقوة الخفيّة التي تحمي أميركا الدولة القوية وكذلك بالـ وسائر القوى المعنية فقامت بتطويق كل المربع الخاص بالكونغرس والبالغة مساحته نحو 13 هكتاراً واقتحامه وإخلاء القاعات من الرعاع والمتمردين من جماعة ترامب بمهنيّة عالية جداً وإعادة الأوضاع الى ما قبل الاقتحام في مدة لم تتجاوز 4 ساعات..!

تصاعد التوتر داخل مباني الكاپيتول وخوف الدولة العميقة من انفلات الوضع وانتقاله الى سائر الولايات، وهو ما كان يتمناه ترامب هو الذي دفع بالدولة العميقة بالعمل سريعاً لإنقاذ العاصمة واشنطن من خلال الدفع بقوات دعم أمنية وصلت إليها من فرجينيا ونيوجيرسي وميريلاند.. ولما اشتدّ الوطيس وصار الخطر اكبر دخلت قوات «الخدمة السرية» الخاصة على الخط فوراً وهي القوة التي تشكلت في العام 1865 بعد انتهاء الحرب الأهلية الأميركية والتابعة لوزارة الامن الداخلي، والمكلفة بحماية كبار الشخصيات والرؤساء، وذات المهمات الخاصة في الملمات لتطلب من ترامب التوقف فوراً عن مغامرته والقيام بتسجيل صوتي – وليس الظهور الحر على التلفزيون – لسحب جماعاته فوراً تحت طائلة التهديد بالعقاب الصارم، مجبرة إياه على القيام بالمهمة فور انتهاء خطاب الرئيس المنتخب جو بايدن من دون تأخير (والذي طلب منه ايضاً للخروج بخطابه الى الرأي العام للغرض نفسه)…!

وهكذا رضخ ترامب للأمر وقرّر التراجع مكرهاً، ففشل الانقلاب..!

هذا السيناريو الترامبي والسيناريو المضاد الذي قضى على التمرّد وأحبط الانقلاب في واشنطن العاصمة لن يمرّ بشكل عادي على الحياة السياسية الأميركية، بل انّ تداعياته خطيرة جداً وهي التي ربما ستجعل أميركا توضع على جادة إما الحرب الأهلية وإما التآكل من الداخل والانهيار رويداً رويداً…!

ما حصل ليلة الانقلاب الفاشل لم يكن ابن ليلته، بل هو تراكم فعل وفعل مضاد لفساد النظام السياسي الحاكم في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية …!

أميركا بانت على حقيقتها ديمقراطية فاشلة وهشة وكاذبة!

انها إعجاز نخل خاوية وهشيم تذروه الرياح.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

ترامب يخسر آخر حروبه و سيف العزل فوق رأسه

ناصر قنديل

خلال يوم واحد خسر الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب كل أوراقه، ولم تعد ثمة حاجة لمناقشة الاختلال العقلي الذي يصيبه من زوايا ارتكاباته في منطقتنا. فالتعبير طغى يوم أمس على وصف ترامب في وسائل الإعلام الأميركية، وصولاً لما ورد في رسالة نواب ديمقراطيين وجمهوريين في الكونغرس الى نائب الرئيس مايك بنس لبدء مسار عزل ترامب بداعي الاختلال العقلي، ويكفي النظر لوضع ترامب خلال أربع وعشرين ساعة ورؤية حجم الضرر الذي جلبته حماقاته عليه، للتحقق من صدق الوصف بالاختلال العقلي.

كان ترامب قد حصل على حسم الحزب الجمهوري للقبول باعتماد ترشيحه للرئاسة في 2024، وكان ترامب قد نجح بدمج جمهوره المتطرف والغوغائي بجمهور الحزب الجمهوري، وكان ترامب يأمل بفوز المرشحين الجمهوريين بمقعدي مجلس الشيوخ، وكان ترامب يأمل بامتلاك فرصة التحكم بالكثير من البيئة المحيطة بالولاية الرئاسية للرئيس جو بايدن من خلال ما يستطيع فعله خلال ما تبقى من ولايته، لكن ترامب كان يطمح لما هو أكثر، فوضع خطة لقلب الطاولة تبدأ بتحرك حشود مؤيديه نحو الكونغرس لمنع حسم شرعية فوز بايدن التي يتولاها الكونغرس وفقاً للدستور.

ليس واضحاً بعد ما إذا كان الاختلال العقلي لترامب وراء مشهد اقتحام الكونغرس أم أن هناك من نجح باستدراج الاقتحام لإلحاق هذا “العار الديمقراطي” بترامب ودفع الحزب الجمهوري الى واجهة المواجهة معه، لكن الحصيلة هي الأهم في النهاية، فقد حمل ترامب مسؤولية المشهد الذي أصاب صورة الديمقراطية الأميركية المؤسسية بجرح بليغ ورسم شكوكاً حول قدرتها، رغم النجاح بتجاوز الأزمة هذه المرة، لكن السابقة حصلت، وهي تهديد الكونغرس من قبل أحد المرشحين الخاسرين، خارج إطار الاحتكام للمؤسسات الدستورية والقضائية، والسابقة صارت قابلة للتكرار.

الحصيلة أن ترامب وجد نفسه محاصراً داخل الحزب الجمهوري، وقد أجبر على دعوة مناصريه للذهاب الى بيوتهم، وأن نائبه بنس قام بإدارة عملية تثبيت رئاسة بايدن وبات المرشح البديل لترامب لرئاسة 2024، وأن جمهور الحزب الجمهوري قد انفصل كلياً عن جمهور ترامب الذي تحول الى شريحة ضيقة قادرة على المشاغبة، لكنها عاجزة عن صنع السياسة من دون الحزب الجمهوري، وهي الأقلية البيضاء المتطرفة، وأن الحزب الجمهوري خسر مقعدي الكونغرس في جورجيا وصار الديمقراطيون ممسكين بناصية البيت البيض والكونغرس بغرفتيه، ما يُضعف قدرة الجمهوريين على المشاركة في إدارة البلاد، وأن ترامب اضطر الى إعلان قبوله تسليم السلطة لبادين في الـ 20 من الشهر الحالي، والأهم أن سيف العزل بات مسلطاً فوق رقبة ترامب إذا ما غامر بالذهاب إلى اي مغامرة، فالوزراء وخصوصاً نائب الرئيس الذين لا بدّ أن يمر عبرهم أي تصرف احمق لترامب يتربصون به لبدء مسار العزل إذا بدرت ملامح اختلال عقلي جديد.

سيذكّر التاريخ ترامب كرئيس أميركي أحمق، وسيطوي الأكاذيب التي روّج لها بصفته رئيساً تاريخياً، لكن أميركا ستبقى تجرجر أذيال ما فعله داخلياً وخارجياً، فالعالم الذي تركه ترامب من بعده لا يختلف عن أميركا التي يتركها، حيث الخراب يعمّ كل شيء والترميم يحتاج جرأة نادرة ربما ليست متاحة للرئيس الجديد، بحيث تبدو أميركا ويبدو العالم أمام إدارة الخراب أكثر مما يبدوان أمام خطة لإعادة البناء.

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Mind blowing hypocrisy!

Mind blowing hypocrisy!

January 06, 2021

The Saker

I just listened to Trey Gowdy and a few others GOP big-shots condemn the “terrible violations of the law” committed by the protestors today and I take my hat off to these folks: they are truly world class hypocrites.

When cops and mayors refuse to protect the innocent, the rule of law is doing great!

When the letter soup agencies spend millions on a typical witch hunt, the rule of law is doing great!

When the First Amendment is being destroyed by Big Tech, the rule of law is doing great!

When the corporate legacy ziomedia brazenly silences the President, and simply does not report on crucial events, the rule of law is doing great!

When elections are stolen, the rule of law is doing great!

When courts refuse to enforce the law, the rule of law is doing great!

When the Supreme Court refuses to defend the Constitution, the rule of law is doing great!

But when the people, literally, those whom the elected officials are supposed to represent, demonstrate all day peacefully and then a few, not necessarily even Trump supporters (false flags are very easy to organize with crowds!), storm the halls of Congress, then the GOP bigshots take to the air and lament the “tragedy” of the law being violated.

No country and no regime can stand on such truly galactic levels of doublethink, hypocrisy and cowardice.

This is the beginning of the end of this regime.

My thoughts tonight are with the “deplorables”.  In the prophetic words of George Orwell:

“If there was hope, it must lie in the proles, because only there, in those swarming disregarded masses, eighty-five percent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated. The Party could not be overthrown from within. Its enemies, if it had any enemies, had no way of coming together or even of identifying one another. Even if the legendary Brotherhood existed, as just possibly it might, it was inconceivable that its members could ever assemble in larger numbers than twos and threes. Rebellion meant a look in the eyes, an inflection of the voice; at the most, an occasional whispered word. But the proles, if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength, would have no need to conspire. They need only to rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies. If they chose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning. Surely sooner or later it must occur to them to do it.”  

Orwell’s “proles” are our “deplorables”.  And for all the self-evident weaknesses and delusions, they are the only ones left, literally, and they will have to be the soil from which the liberation of the USA will have to begin.

The rest of them make me feel nauseated.

US Senate Reconvenes for Electoral College Vote Count with Heavily Armed Guards After Capitol Siege

US Senate Reconvenes for Electoral College Vote Count with Heavily Armed Guards After Capitol Siege

By Staff, Agencies

American lawmakers gathered to continue certifying Electoral College votes for the 2020 race, reconvening at the Capitol hours after a massive group of demonstrators stormed the building, prompting an evacuation of officials.

The House and Senate made another attempt to certify votes around 8pm on Wednesday night, resuming the process following an eruption of violence in Washington, DC, which saw hundreds of Trump supporters storm the Capitol, occupying the chambers for several hours before they were cleared out by law enforcement.

While a number of GOP lawmakers had planned to object to the vote certification, alleging irregularities in the presidential race, asked about the matter before Congress regrouped, Republican Senator Rand Paul (Kentucky) said he did not expect any serious objections the second time around.

“In consultation with [House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer] and [House Whip Jim Clyburn] and after calls to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Vice President, we have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement ahead of the second effort to certify.

Security forces clad in heavy body armor were stationed near the Senate floor on Wednesday night, with piles of gear seen strewn across the building’s hallways. House Democrat Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries earlier reported that the Capitol had been cleared, and that lawmakers would return “when it is safe.”

Staffers were allowed back inside through underground tunnels, seen in a photo shared on Twitter by NBC correspondent Garrett Haake.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [R-Kentucky] addressed the day’s events when the body reconvened.

“The United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation. We are back at our post, we will discharge our duty under the Constitution and for our nation – and we’re gonna do it tonight,” he said.

One woman was fatally shot as rioters attempted to breach the Senate chamber, captured in disturbing footage circulating online. She was seen leaving the building on a stretcher and later died of her injuries, according to law enforcement sources.

A 6pm curfew was ordered across the nation’s capital amid the chaos, as well as in nearby Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, where Governor Ralph Northam has also declared a state of emergency. DC’s National Guard unit was “fully activated” to assist local police.

Legislators had only just begun the certification process when the violence erupted, part of the formal procedure to transfer power to President-elect Joe Biden. President Trump and his supporters maintain the 2020 race was plagued by extensive voter fraud and had repeatedly called on Republican lawmakers, as well as Vice President Mike Pence, to challenge the Electoral College count. Pence, however, signaled earlier on Wednesday that he would not do so, arguing he lacked the authority to invalidate votes. His refusal, however, did little to calm the swarm of Trump supporters gathered outside the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.

US Congress in Turmoil as Violent Trump Supporters Breach Building

US Congress in Turmoil as Violent Trump Supporters Breach Building

By Staff, Agencies

Violent supporters of US President Donald Trump have breached the Capitol in Washington, as lawmakers met to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s poll win.

In dramatic scenes, demonstrators swarmed the building as Congress members were escorted out by police.

A joint session of Congress had been counting and confirming Electoral College votes but has been suspended and forced into recess.

There are reports of guns drawn in the building and at least one person shot.

A woman was reported to be in a critical condition after receiving a neck injury.

There has been an armed confrontation at the doors of the House of Representatives. Tear gas has also been used.

Members of Congress have been told to evacuate the building or remain where they are. One congresswoman tweeted that she was staying in her office.

Trump urged people to remain peaceful and respect law enforcement officials.

Vice-President Mike Pence called on the rioters to leave the Capitol immediately, saying the violence and destruction “must stop now”.

Trump’s spokeswoman, Kayleigh McEnany, tweeted that the National Guard was being deployed.

Rioters were seen marching through the building chanting “We want Trump” and one was photographed in the Senate president’s chair.

A citywide curfew has been declared from 18:00 to 06:00 [23:00 to 11:00 GMT] by Washington DC’s mayor.

There are also reports of protests at state legislatures in Kansas and Georgia.

Israel’s Power Is Unlimited

Source

PHILIP GIRALDI • NOVEMBER 17, 2020 

Philip Giraldi - Wikipedia
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 i
https://councilforthenationalinterest.org, 
address is P.O. Box 2157,
Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is 
inform@cnionline.org.
← Neocons Poised to Join Ne

Democrats and Republicans bow to force majeure

Even though there was virtually no debate on foreign policy during the recent presidential campaign, there has been considerable discussion of what President Joe Biden’s national security team might look like. The general consensus is that the top levels of the government will be largely drawn from officials who previously served in the Obama administration and who are likely to be hawkish.

There has also been, inevitably, some discussion of how the new administration, if it is confirmed, will deal with Israel and the Middle East in general.

Israelis would have preferred a victory by Donald Trump as they clearly understand that he was and still is willing to defer to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on nearly all issues. Indeed, that process is ongoing even though Trump might only have about nine more weeks remaining in office. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is reportedly preparing to sanction several international human rights organizations as anti-Semitic due to the fact that they criticize Israel’s brutality on the West Bank and its illegal settlement policies. The White House is also prepared to free convicted but paroled Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from travel restrictions so he can move to Israel, where he is regarded as a hero. Pollard was the most damaging spy in U.S. history and any mitigation of his sentence has been opposed by both the Pentagon, where he worked, and also by the intelligence community.

Finally, it is widely believed that before the end of the year Trump will declare that the United States accepts the legitimacy of Israeli intentions to declare annexation of nearly all the Palestinian West Bank. The White House will actually encourage such an initiative reportedly “to sow hostility between Israel and the Biden administration.” One should note that none of the pro-Israeli measures that are likely to come out of the White House enhance U.S. security in any way and they also do nothing particularly to benefit Trump’s campaign to be re-elected through legal challenges.

If Biden does succeed in becoming president, the special place that Israel occupies in the centers of American power are unlikely to be disturbed, which is why Netanyahu was quick off the mark in congratulating the possible new chief executive. Biden has proudly declared himself to be a “Zionist” and his running mate Kamala Harris has been a featured speaker at the annual gatherings of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington. Both are strongly supportive of the “special relationship” with the Israel and will make no effort to compromise America’s apparent commitment to protect and nourish the Jewish state.

Though Israel is central to how the United States conducts its foreign policy, the country was invisible in the debates and other discussions that took place among candidates during the recent campaign. American voters were therefore given the choice of one government that panders to Israel at the expense of U.S. security or another party that does exactly the same thing. To be sure, Biden did state that he would work to reinstate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) relating to Iran’s nuclear program, which was canceled by Trump. But he also indicated that it would require some amendment, meaning that the Iranians would have to include their missile program in the monitoring while also abandoning their alleged propensity to “interfere” in the Middle East region. The Iranian government has already indicated that additional conditions are unacceptable, so the deal is dead in the water. Israel has also privately and publicly objected to any new arrangement and has already declared that it would “save the option” of working through the Republican Senate to thwart any attempts by the Biden Administration to change things.

That Israel would blatantly and openly interfere in the deliberations of Congress raises some serious questions which the mainstream media predictably is not addressing. Jewish power in America is for real and it is something that some Jews are not shy about discussing among themselves. Jewish power is unique in terms of how it functions. If you’re an American (or British) politician, you very quickly are made to appreciate that Israel owns you and nearly all of your colleagues. Indeed, the process begins in the U.S. even before your election when the little man from AIPAC shows up with the check list that he wants you to sign off on. If you behave per instructions your career path will be smooth, and you will benefit from your understanding that everything happening inn Washington that is remotely connected to the interests of the state of Israel is to be determined by the Jewish state alone, not by the U.S. Congress or White House.

And, here is the tricky part, even while you are energetically kowtowing to Netanyahu, you must strenuously deny that there is Jewish power at work if anyone ever asks you about it. You behave in that fashion because you know that your pleasant life will be destroyed, painfully, if you fail to deny the existence of an Israel Lobby or the Jewish power that supports it.

It is a bold assertion, but there is plenty of evidence to support how that power is exerted and what the consequences are. Senators William Fulbright and Chuck Percy and Congressmen Paul Findlay, Pete McCloskey and Cynthia McKinney have all experienced the wrath of the Lobby and voted out of office. Currently Reverend Raphael Warnock, who is running against Georgia Loeffler for a senate seat in Georgia demonstrates exactly how candidates are convinced to stand on their heads by the Israel Lobby. Warnock was a strong supporter of Palestinian rights and a critic of Israeli brutality. He said as recently as 2018 that the Israelis were shooting civilians and condemned the military occupation and settlement construction on the Palestinian West Bank, which he compared to apartheid South Africa. Now that he is running for the Senate, he is saying that he is opposed to the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement due to what he calls the movement’s “anti-Semitic overtones.” He also supports continued military assistance for Israel and believes that Iran is in pursuit of a nuclear weapon, both of which are critical issues being promoted by the Zionist lobby.

There is some pushback in Washington to Israeli dominance, but not much. Recent senior Pentagon appointee Colonel Douglas Macgregor famously has pointed out that many American politicians get “very, very rich” through their support of Israel even though it means the United States being dragged into new wars. Just how Israel gains control of the U.S. political process is illustrated by the devastating insider tale of how the Obama Administration’s feeble attempts to do the right thing in the Middle East were derailed by American Jews in Congress, the media, party donors and from inside the White House itself. The story is of particularly interest as the Biden Administration will no doubt suffer the same fate if it seeks to reject or challenge Israel’s ability to manipulate and virtually control key aspects of U.S. foreign policy.

The account of Barack Obama’s struggle with Israel and the Israeli Lobby comes from a recently published memoir written by a former foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes. It is entitled The World As It Is, and it is extremely candid about how Jewish power was able to limit the foreign policy options of a popular sitting president. Rhodes recounts, for example, how Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel once nicknamed him “Hamas” after he dared to speak up for Palestinian human rights, angrily shouting at him “Hamas over here is going to make it impossible for my kid to have his fucking bar mitzvah in Israel.”

Rhodes cites numerous instances where Obama was forced to back down when confronted by Israel and its supporters in the U.S. as well as within the Democratic Party. On several occasions, Netanyahu lecture the U.S. president as if he were an errant schoolboy. And Obama just had to take it. Rhodes sums up the situation as follows: “In Washington, where support for Israel is an imperative for members of Congress, there was a natural deference to the views of the Israeli government on issues related to Iran, and Netanyahu was unfailingly confrontational, casting himself as an Israeli Churchill…. AIPAC and other organizations exist to make sure that the views of the Israeli government are effectively disseminated and opposing views discredited in Washington, and this dynamic was a permanent part of the landscape of the Obama presidency.”

And, returning to the persistent denial of Jewish power even existing when it is running full speed and relentlessly, Rhodes notes the essential dishonesty of the Israel Lobby as it operates in Washington: “Even to acknowledge the fact that AIPAC was spending tens of millions to defeat the Iran deal [JCPOA] was anti-Semitic. To observe that the same people who supported the war in Iraq also opposed the Iran deal was similarly off limits. It was an offensive way for people to avoid accountability for their own positions.”

Many Americans long to live in a country that is at peace with the world and respectful of the sovereignty of foreign nations. Alas, as long as Israeli interests driven by overwhelming Jewish power in the United States continue to corrupt our institutions that just will not be possible. It is time for all Americans, including Jews, to accept that Israel is a foreign country that must make its own decisions and thereby suffer the consequences. The United States does not exist to bail Israel out or to provide cover for its bad behavior. The so-called “special relationship” must end and the U.S. must deal with the Israelis as they would with any other country based on America’s own self-interests. Those interests definitely do not include funding the Israeli war machine, assassinating foreign leaders, or attacking a non-threatening Iran while continuing an illegal occupation of Syria.

Pompeo, Bolton Made Rich By ‘Israeli’ Lobby – Pentagon Adviser

Pompeo, Bolton Made Rich By ‘Israeli’ Lobby - Pentagon Adviser

By Staff, Agencies

A top adviser at the Pentagon said Iran hawks, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former national security advisor John Bolton, have been taking money and getting rich from the ‘Israeli’ lobby.

Washington’s support for Tel Aviv is the result of the ‘Israeli’ lobby money, said retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, who was appointed this week as senior adviser to newly installed acting War Secretary Christopher Miller, in two media appearances back in 2012 and 2019.

“You have to look at the people that donate to those individuals,” he said in a September 2019 interview when asked if Bolton and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham wanted war with Iran.

“Bolton has become very, very rich and is in the position he’s in because of his unconditional support for the ‘Israeli’ lobby. He is their man on the ground, in the White House. The same thing is largely true for Pompeo, he has aspirations to be president. He has his hands out for money from the ‘Israeli’ lobby, the Saudis and others,” he added.

In another interview in 2012, Macgregor stressed that the ‘Israel’ lobby in the United States has “enormous influence” on Congress and that it wanted to instigate “military strikes” with Iran.

“I think the American ‘Israeli’ Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC] and it’s subordinate elements or affiliated elements that represent enormous quantities of money over many years have cultivated an enormous influence in power in Congress,” he told Russia’s state media network RT.

“I think you’ve got a lot of people on the Hill who fall into two categories. One category that is interested in money and wants to be re-elected, and they don’t want to run the risk of the various lobbies that are pushing military action against Iran to contribute money to their opponents.”

AIPAC is known for being the main architect of US policies throughout the Middle East, and has been criticized repeatedly for wielding disproportionate influence in Congress.

The US State Department declined to comment on behalf of Pompeo in response to Macgregor’s remarks.

Bolton, however, reacted to the disclosure through a spokesman, saying, “I don’t respond to anti-Semites.”

This is while his financial disclosures show he earned thousands of dollars for speaking to pro-‘Israel’ groups prior to his appointment as the White House national security adviser in 2018.

US Election 2020: Muslim Congresswomen Win Re-election

US Election 2020: Muslim Congresswomen Win Re-election

By Staff, Agencies

Muslim-American Democrats Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have won reelection to US House in the 13th District of Michigan and in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District respectively.

According to The Associated Press, Omar 38, defeated her Republican challenger, Lacy Johnson, by 64.6 percent of the vote to 25.9 percent.

Elected as the first Muslim female to Congress in 2018, both politicians comfortably fended off primary challenges in August to secure a second term for their seats.

44 years old Rashida in a recent tweet said “It is an honor to stand against all forms of hate and oppression. Shukran [Thank you]!”

Earlier in an interview Tlaib vowed to push for Palestinian rights. She said Covid-19 relief will be her top priority for her second term in the House.

More Pressure On Russia Will Have No Effect

20 years of Vladimir Putin in power: a timeline.

Source

October 17, 2020

Over the last years the U.S. and its EU puppies have ratcheted up their pressure on Russia. They seem to believe that they can compel Russia to follow their diktat. They can’t. But the illusion that Russia will finally snap, if only a few more sanctions ar applied or a few more houses in Russia’s neighborhood are set on fire, never goes away.

As Gilbert Doctorow describes the situation:

The fires burning at Russia’s borders in the Caucasus are an add-on to the disorder and conflict on its Western border in neighboring Belarus, where fuel is poured on daily by pyromaniacs at the head of the European Union acting surely in concert with Washington.

Yesterday we learned of the decision of the European Council to impose sanctions on President Lukashenko, a nearly unprecedented action when directed against the head of state of a sovereign nation.

It is easy enough to see that the real intent of the sanctions is to put pressure on the Kremlin, which is Lukashenko’s guarantor in power, to compound the several other measures being implemented simultaneously in the hope that Putin and his entourage will finally crack and submit to American global hegemony as Europe did long ago.

The anti-Russia full tilt ahead policy outlined above is going on against a background of the U.S. presidential electoral campaigns. The Democrats continue to try to depict Donald Trump as “Putin’s puppy,” as if the President has been kindly to his fellow autocrat while in office. Of course, under the dictates of the Democrat-controlled House and with the complicity of the anti-Russian staff in the State Department, in the Pentagon, American policy towards Russia over the entire period of Trump’s presidency has been one of never ending ratcheting up of military, informational, economic and other pressures in the hope that Vladimir Putin or his entourage would crack. Were it not for the nerves of steel of Mr. Putin and his close advisers, the irresponsible pressure policies outlined above could result in aggressive behavior and risk taking by Russia that would make the Cuban missile crisis look like child’s play.

The U.S. arms industry lobby, in form of the Atlantic Council, confirms the ‘western’ strategy Doctorow describes. It calls for ‘ramping up on Russia’ with even more sanctions:

Key to raising the costs to Russia is a more proactive transatlantic strategy for sanctions against the Russian economy and Putin’s power base, together with other steps to reduce Russian energy leverage and export revenue. A new NATO Russia policy should be pursued in tandem with the European Union (EU), which sets European sanctions policy and faces the same threats from Russian cyberattacks and disinformation. At a minimum, EU sanctions resulting from hostilities in Ukraine should be extended, like the Crimea sanctions, for one year rather than every six months. Better yet, allies and EU members should tighten sanctions further and extend them on an indefinite basis until Russia ends its aggression and takes concrete steps toward de-escalation.

It also wants Europe to pay for weapons in the Ukraine and Georgia:

A more dynamic NATO strategy for Russia should go hand in hand with a more proactive policy toward Ukraine and Georgia in the framework of an enhanced Black Sea strategy. The goal should be to boost both partners’ deterrence capacity and reduce Moscow’s ability to undermine their sovereignty even as NATO membership remains on the back burner for the time being.

As part of this expanded effort, European allies should do more to bolster Ukraine and Georgia’s ground, air, and naval capabilities, complementing the United States’ and Canada’s efforts that began in 2014.

The purpose of the whole campaign against Russia, explains the Atlantic Council author, is to subordinate it to U.S. demands:

Relations between the West and Moscow had begun to deteriorate even before Russia’s watershed invasion of Ukraine, driven principally by Moscow’s fear of the encroachment of Western values and their potential to undermine the Putin regime. With the possibility of a further sixteen years of Putin’s rule, most experts believe relations are likely to remain confrontational for years to come. They argue that the best the United States and its allies can do is manage this competition and discourage aggressive actions from Moscow. However, by pushing back against Russia more forcefully in the near and medium term, allies are more likely to eventually convince Moscow to return to compliance with the rules of the liberal international order and to mutually beneficial cooperation as envisaged under the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act.

The ‘rules of the liberal international order’ are of course whatever the U.S. claims they are. They may change at any moment and without notice to whatever new rules are the most convenient for U.S. foreign policy.

But as Doctorow said above, Putin and his advisors stay calm and ignore such trash despite all the hostility expressed against them.

One of Putin’s close advisors is of course Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. In a wide ranging interview with Russian radio stations he recently touched on many of the issues Doctorow also mentions. With regards to U.S. strategy towards Russia Lavrov diagnoses:

Sergey Lavrov: […] You mentioned in one of your previous questions that no matter what we do, the West will try to hobble and restrain us, and undermine our efforts in the economy, politics, and technology. These are all elements of one approach.

Question: Their national security strategy states that they will do so.

Sergey Lavrov: Of course it does, but it is articulated in a way that decent people can still let go unnoticed, but it is being implemented in a manner that is nothing short of outrageous.

Question: You, too, can articulate things in a way that is different from what you would really like to say, correct?

Sergey Lavrov: It’s the other way round. I can use the language I’m not usually using to get the point across. However, they clearly want to throw us off balance, and not only by direct attacks on Russia in all possible and conceivable spheres by way of unscrupulous competition, illegitimate sanctions and the like, but also by unbalancing the situation near our borders, thus preventing us from focusing on creative activities. Nevertheless, regardless of the human instincts and the temptations to respond in the same vein, I’m convinced that we must abide by international law.

Russia does not accept the fidgety ‘rules of the liberal international order’.  Russia sticks to the law which is, in my view, a much stronger position. Yes, international law often gets broken. But as Lavrov said elsewhere, one does not abandon traffic rules only because of road accidents.

Russia stays calm, no matter what outrageous nonsense the U.S. and EU come up with. It can do that because it knows that it not only has moral superiority by sticking to the law but it also has the capability to win a fight. At one point the interviewer even jokes about that:

Question: As we say, if you don’t listen to Lavrov, you will listen to [Defense Minister] Shoigu.

Sergey Lavrov: I did see a T-shirt with that on it. Yes, it’s about that.

Yes, it’s about that. Russia is militarily secure and the ‘west’ knows that. It is one reason for the anti-Russian frenzy. Russia does not need to bother with the unprecedented hostility coming from Brussels and Washington. It can ignore it while taking care of its interests.

As this is so obvious one must ask what the real reason for the anti-Russian pressure campaign is. What do those who argue for it foresee as its endpoint?

Posted by b on October 17, 2020 at 16:31 UTC | Permalink

POTUS Punk vs. Dem Dementia

October 15, 2020

POTUS Punk vs. Dem Dementia

by Pepe Escobar and cross posted with Strategic Culture Foundation

The whole planet is enthralled, appalled, shocked and awed by the spectacle of democracy as enacted under the shadow of messianic imperialism – complete with a slew of slimy, smoking gun October Surprises.

We’re in total Frank Underwood territory. And as befits the ultimate “society of the simulacrum” pictured by Baudrillard back in the swingin’ 1980s, all those similarities with a Wrestlemania spectacular are obviously not mere coincidence.

Let’s start with the polls.

All manner of polls are circulating like whirling dervishes. Most highlight myriad Dem paths to victory and an inexorable Highway to Hell for Trump. A poll by The Economist gives Joe “Walking Dead” Biden a whopping 91% chance – remember Hillary in 2016? – of winning the Electoral College.

A Dem-fueled consensus is emerging that Trump – relentlessly depicted as a deranged, lunatic proto-fascist who’s bad for business worldwide – will dispute results in any Republican-led state which he may narrowly lose, as in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Yet on the campaign trail, it’s a completely different story. Evidence shows that on The Walking Dead’s rallies, there are more people from the Biden bus and reporters than flesh-and-blood Dem voters. The Biden-Harris campaign, demonstrating its matchless P.R. skills, spins these rallies as campaign secrets.

Team Trump’s long-shot strategy seems to have been unveiled by the President himself: “We are going to be counting ballots for the next two years (…) We have the advantage if we go back to Congress. I think it’s 26 to 22 or something because it’s counted one vote per state.”

That was a reference to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution: if state electors can’t agree on a president, the decision goes to the House. And then each of the 50 states gets one vote. So picture small GOP-controlled states such as Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming (each with one Republican in the House) having the same weight as California (52 members in the House, 45 of them Democrats.)

Advantage Trump: as it stands, it’s indeed 26 to 22, with two – Pennsylvania and Michigan – basically tied.

Ask the quant

Internal GOP polls show that while the Biden-Harris campaign is not knocking on any doors, Trump volunteers have actually swarmed no less than 20 million homes in swing states.

Combine it with a new Gallup Poll showing that 56% of Americans state they are better off now under Trump than four years ago under Obama/Biden. Call it the return of “It’s the economy, stupid.”

The Trafalgar Group – which correctly called the 2106 election – bets that Trump narrowly wins the Electoral College with 275 votes.

JPMorgan’s top quant Marko Kolanovic has exhaustively mapped changes in voter registration to dismiss virtually every poll showing a Dem sweep. This implies that Trump may well end up winning the Holy Trinity: Pennsylvania (20 votes), Florida (29 votes) and North Carolina (15 votes).

And to top it off, something more exotic than a black hole eating a star has happened in this October Surprise-laden week: CNN decided to practice real journalism and eviscerated Nancy Pelosi on camera.

That may be quite a bad omen for President-in-Waiting Kamala Harris, who very few remember was forged as the heir to the Obama-Pelosi axis in a secret meeting in the Hamptons way back in the summer of 2017.

Follow the money

Now let’s Follow The Money.

That’s a slam dunk. For Republicans, the top bagman is casino schemer Sheldon Adelson – who literally bought Congress

for a paltry $150 million. For Democrats, it’s Haim Saban – who owns his own think tank and is Hillary’s go-to moneyman. The Dem dementia is essentially a bagman op.

To make it even more digestible, both Adelson and Saban are rabid Israeli-firsters. A dissident Beltway intel op cuts all corners: “The Mafia front man Sheldon Adelson financed Trump for Israeli insurance even though Israel was for Hillary.”

Four years ago, selected New York sources I was in touch with correctly called the election result at least 10 days before the fact.

One of these, a New York business tycoon intimate with assorted Masters of the Universe in control of Wall Street, once again goes to the jugular:

The Deep State governs both Republicans and Democrats. Trump has to work within the system. He knows it. I am a friend of Donald and I know he wants to do the right thing. But he is not in charge. He certainly wants to be friends with Russia and China. He is a businessman. He wants to make deals with countries not fight them. We were among those who set the main campaign features for him in 2016: stop rigged currencies destroying domestic industries, stop unlimited immigration destroying the lower classes wages and encourage detente with Russia and China. Largely nothing has happened in four years.”

Still, adds another New York player, “Trump does 90% of what they want anyway. Better to keep a villain at the top to blame and keep the proles running in circles.”

On the financial front, that will never be admitted publicly: but Wall Street, while projecting a mere pro-Dem façade, is not interested in a Democrat “sweep”, because that would tank Wall Street stocks. A contested/protracted election would go the same way – with Goldman Sachs projecting a nightmare scenario of the S&P down to only 3,100 points.

Thus the preferred, hush hush, Wall Street scenario: a Trump win and more juicy tax cuts – in parallel with the sentiment that Wall Street’s priority is for the Fed to keep showering trillions of dollars in helicopter money whatever happens. After all the only “policy” in town is that Wall Street turned the Fed into a hedge fund.

For its part, what Team Trump certainly does not want is the Great Reset – to be officially “launched” at a virtual Davos in January 2021.

And all this while Goldman Sachs, once again, is adamant that the only way to “save” the nation from it humongous, ever-exploding debt is to devalue the U.S. dollar.

Hillary wants a new job

In the shadow play – or Wrestlemania plot – of Trump’s face-off against the Deep State, another of those New York players confirms that, “Trump was not allowed to do much of his agenda. That shows you where the real power is. The military-industrial complex wants Trump in as he is giving them everything they want for a giant military buildup. But Biden will not make that commitment.”

Clapper, Brennan, Comey and Mueller “were just following orders and are being protected.” As for warmongering narcissistic hyena

Hillary Clinton, she needs a Biden/Harris win essentially to stay out of jail, a follow-up to a “secret” deal struck with Obama which had her bow out to the former President as the de facto leader of the vast DNC machinery.

Anyone with a brain across the Beltway knows The Walking Dead was chosen because he does not even qualify as a place mat. Assuming he would be elected president, the real power behind the throne will be the Obama-Pelosi axis – and their usual suspect masters. Welcome to the reign of President Kamala.

Hillary though is leaving nothing to chance, doubling down and taking no prisoners. She has just released a 5,000-word manifesto which reads as an application to become head of the Pentagon.

The fact that with all the plot twists key vectors of the Deep State continue to be untouchable should be read as the proverbial D.C. swamp protecting their flock. More than the possibility that Trump is unqualified when it comes to picking minions, more realistically he was never given any decent options: so he was stuck with nefarious specimens such as Gina “Queen of Torture” Haspel, The Warring Mustache John Bolton, and Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo.

Which bring us to Attorney General William Barr – and a persistent question across many Beltway corridors: how come there have been no indictments as evidence piles up of interlocking Deep State-related shenanigans.

Simple: Barr is CIA, part of the old Daddy Bush gang, recruited when he was still in high school, in 1971. When Daddy Bush became CIA director in 1976, Barr stepped into the CIA’s legal office and started his steady climb, culminating in 1991 as Chief Legal Counsel to Daddy Bush’s presidency.

Needless to add, Barr subsequently squashed every possible investigation on Bush, Clinton and assorted CIA ops, from BCCI to the theft of PROMIS software.

No one will volunteer to be on the record showing how Trump selected Barr – or how the Deep State made it happen. The fact is Barr was appointed shortly after the death of Daddy Bush. It’s unlikely that Team Trump have “turned” CIA asset Barr away from the swamp – with or without Hillary’s 33,000 deleted emails.

And that’s what leads those New York players to bet that Barr won’t go after any star in the Deep State galaxy.

Still the fact remains that the NSA has stored every possible call, chat or email on its massive server farms. Trump has the power to order everything to be released – as he did. Yet, as it stands, the proles have only been offered a WWF-themed sitcom.

“I’m back” on steroids

The total balkanization of culture in the U.S. into bulletproof containers of irrationality is precluding any possibility of civilized debate. What’s left is an endless proliferation of fake actors, paid troll armies, bots, mob outrage packaged as chocolate bars, all out hysteria.

Whatever happens, get ready for some major Kill Bill mayhem ahead.

And into this shooting war – not only metaphorical – steps John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, Sex Pistol legend and a millionaire resident of the tony parts of Venice beach in L.A. He’s voting Trump.

That’s the ultimate crowning of POTUS Punk – except that Trump is more Village People (“Young man/ there’s no nee to feel down”) than the Sex Pistols in Holidays in the Sun or the Dead Kennedys in Holiday in Cambodia.

Cue to POTUS Punk in Florida, “I’m back” on steroids, working an excited crowd of thousands like a pro, complete with YMCA dance moves at the end: “I’ll kiss the guys, and the beautiful women…”

Now compare it to “Sleepy Joe” in Ohio, in front of, well, nobody really: “I’m running as a proud Democrat…for the Senate”.

Last week an astonishing eight people showed up for a Biden-Harris rally in Arizona.

And the racket goes on while a pandemic with an Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) of roughly 0.14% – according to the WHO’s own estimate – has cost the global economy no less than a whopping $28 trillion, according to the IMF.

Oh yes: it ain’t over till slim Britney “I Did It Again” sings.

Two Misfortunes Dissolve the Saudi Crown Prince within a Week

Two Misfortunes Dissolve the Saudi Crown Prince within a Week

By AlKhaleej Today

According to a high-level source to “Saudi WikiLeaks,” the recommendation of the European Parliament to reduce the level of representation at the G20 summit to be hosted by Riyadh, via video link on November 21-22, “was a strong shock to the Crown Prince.”

The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that bin Salman had “gone crazy” and proceeded to smash the contents of his office and shout at his aides.

The source stated that the Crown Prince made several contacts that evening with European personalities. To know the merits of the parliamentary decision, however, these personalities “did not give anything to the prince, who aspires to present his achievements at the next summit.”

The European Parliament called for a reduction in the level of representation at the G20 summit to be hosted by Riyadh, via video link on November 21-22. Because of human rights violations inside and outside the Kingdom.

Parliament issued its statement last Thursday with this recommendation to the European Union and its member states, and said that its goal is to avoid legitimizing impunity for human rights violations and illegal and arbitrary detentions in Saudi Arabia.

Parliament called in a letter to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to place human rights at the center of all discussions of the G20.

The message urged that the summit event be used to demand the release of all prisoners of conscience and women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, and for real accountability for those involved in the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The other disaster, revealed by the “Tactical Report” website, concerned with intelligence affairs, after US President Donald Trump was infected with the Corona virus.

Reports from Riyadh quoted the Saudi crown prince as saying: The kingdom should be prepared for changes in Saudi-American relations if Democratic candidate “Joe Biden” wins over President Trump in the upcoming US presidential elections in November.

Bin Salman added: The election of Biden will turn the situation upside down in the United States, and will force the Kingdom to take new matters into consideration.

He revealed that these concerns increased regarding the results of the US elections after the announcement of President Trump’s infection with the Corona virus. In addition, there are many reports from the Saudi embassy in Washington indicating that Biden’s chances of winning are increasing.

The crown prince recently contacted a number of President Trump’s close aides, particularly his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

“Kushner” assured the Saudi crown prince that the poll results are not confirmed and that the percentage of voters who support “Trump” will increase during the remaining four weeks before the elections. However, Kushner’s assurances did not convince Bin Salman.

Anticipating any “surprises”, bin Salman asked the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Princess Rima Bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, to obtain details from within the Democratic Party regarding the current course of the situation.

Princess Reema was also tasked with inquiring about the opinions of senior Democratic officials about the future of Saudi-American relations in the event Biden becomes president.

The Saudi crown prince was also very concerned about Biden’s recent statements, which pledged to reassess US relations with Saudi Arabia if elected.

Until the past two weeks, bin Salman showed little interest in Biden’s statements, as he relied on President Trump’s confidence and on reports from Washington that claimed that Biden had no chances of winning.

However, recent events in the United States, including Trump’s admission to a military hospital, have changed the views of the Saudi crown prince in this regard.

And the famous American journalist Bob Woodward revealed in his latest book entitled “Anger” that Trump boasted that he had succeeded in “rescuing” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on October 2, 2018, inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul.

The excerpts of the book revealed that Trump boasted, in one of their recorded interviews, that he had succeeded in “saving” bin Salman, whom Congress held responsible for the assassination of Khashoggi.

In his new book, “Anger,” which the Business Insider news site published excerpts from, Woodward recounts how Trump told him in an interview he had on January 22 that “I saved him,” in response to a question about bin Salman’s relationship with the murder.

According to the journalist, Trump made clear in the recorded interview that he had prevented Congress from pursuing bin Salman. Trump said, according to these excerpts: “I succeeded in getting Congress to leave it alone. I succeeded in stopping them.”

When Wall Street flies with Icarus’ wings

When Wall Street flies with Icarus’ wings

October 08, 2020

by Jean-Luc Baslé for The Saker Blog

Wall Street is forever rising. The S&P500 index rose to 3,581 on September 2nd, 2020 – the highest level it has ever reached since its creation. This makes no sense. Wall Street is a reflection of the state of the economy which is in recession since February[1], the worst recession since 1929. How can share prices rise when the economy is falling? To answer this question, let’s analyse the economic policy of the United States these past few years, taking Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s speech of August 27th, 2020 as our starting point. Going back in time, we see that American leaders ignored the fundamental laws of economics. We note that foreign leaders, such as the European Central Bank governors, followed the same path. We conclude that stock prices do not reach the sky, and that the United States is caught in a bind from which the only way it can extricate itself is through a dollar depreciation. This bodes ill for the American Empire. The dollar is one of its main pillars.

Jerome Powell questions the validity of quantitative easing

Depending on their editorial stand, the media understood Powell’s speech as a return to inflation, giving greater attention to unemployment. But this summary ignores the essence of the message which questions the validity of quantitative easing – a policy followed by the Federal Reserve since November 2008. This is what Powell said: “With interest rates generally running closer to their effective lower bound even in good times, the Fed has less scope to support the economy during an economic downturn by simply cutting the federal funds rate.” In short: pushed to its limit, quantitative easing loses its capacity to alter employment and inflation. Quite logically, Jerome Powell and the Federal Open Market Policy (FOMC) call for a softening of the rules governing inflation and employment: “appropriate monetary policy will likely aim to achieve inflation moderately above 2 percent for some time”, and “a strong labor market, particularly for many in low-and moderate-income communities”.[2] This was understood as a return to inflation which it is not. It is an attempt to rescue quantitative easing while waiting for a return to more traditional economic policies.

By dropping surreptitiously quantitative easing, Jerome Powell is sending a message to Congress: economic policy cannot rest solely on monetary policy. Congress has at its disposal another tool: the budget. Over the past thirty years, priority has been given to monetary policy for several reasons. For conveniency reasons: monetary policy is essentially defined by one man, the Federal Reserve Chairman with the FOMC congruence. Budgetary policy, on the other hand, is defined by Congress and the President. It takes time for the two to agree, especially if Congress is split between a Democrat and a Republican majority. For efficiency reasons: changes in monetary policy are felt quite rapidly in the economy: six months to a year. It takes a lot longer (one to two years) for changes in the budget to be felt. For practicality reasons: budgetary measures imply taxation or indebtedness. Taxation is not very unpopular with the electorate, and indebtedness, if overused, leads to higher interest rates and slower economic growth. For all these reasons and the more theoretical ones set out by Milton Friedman and the monetarists, monetary policy became the policy of choice for the last thirty years, with quantitative easing being its most advanced form.

Priority being given to monetary policy with the budget playing second fiddle, the budget deficit should have come down and, with time, turned into a surplus. It did not happen. Worse, it has grown over the last twenty years to reach -4.6% in 2019. The initial figure expected for 2020 (-4.6%) will be substantially larger due to the Covid-19 virus. The $2,200 billion CARES Act approved by Congress in March to provide much needed relief to individuals, families and businesses, will translate into a much higher deficit, and a much higher level of debt.

Quantitative easing and the economy

Excessive money creation by central banks is anathema to financial markets since it is synonymous to inflation, higher interest rates, slower growth and the collapse of the stock market. It must be prohibited at all cost. Yet, that’s what quantitative easing is all about, and quantitative easing saved Wall Street and the economy after the 2008 subprime crisis. How can this be? In the fall of 2008, banks’ balance sheets were loaded with corporate bonds whose market value were well below their face value. To avoid a collapse of the market, the Federal Reserve bought the bonds, in effect replacing junk bonds with cash on banks’ balance sheets. The Fed’s bailout commitment totaled $29 trillion.[3] In view of this amount, it is no wonder that the program worked… to Wall Street’s satisfaction. Trust returned, the economy took off, and shares regained and exceeded their previous values. All is well and good, except the Federal Reserve exceeded its mandate. Its job is to provide the liquidity the economy needs to grow and achieve full employment without generating inflation. Under normal circumstances, the banks whose equity was washed out by bad investments, due to senior management’s poor decisions, should have been allowed to fail. To avoid a collapse of the economy, the government would have bought the banks’ shares at their market value, fired the management, and re-introduced the banks on the stock market once their business was back to normal. But these were no “normal circumstances”. Neither Congress which oversees the Federal Reserve policy, nor Barack Obama who was anxious to move past the crisis, blamed the Federal Reserve for outstepping its legal framework. As for Wall Street, it had every reason to rejoice. Not only was it saved from total collapse, but within five years the market value of its stocks, as measured by the S&P500, exceeded its pre-crisis value. It has more than doubled (graph 1).

The Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing did not result in a depreciation of the dollar, as could have been expected. In fact, the subprime crisis strengthened its value somewhat, as it was perceived by foreign investors as a safe haven to protect their wealth in a tumultuous environment. This strength of the dollar and the relative stability of foreign exchange market is also due to the interconnexion of world’s economies. The subprime crisis first emerged in the United States but spread rapidly around the world. Faced with a potentially damaging economic crisis, world leaders of the largest twenty economies – the G20 – met in Washington DC on November 14-15, 2008, i.e. only two months after Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy. Asian and European central banks agreed to espouse the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy. Money creation around the world being essentially the same in relative terms, currencies retain their value in relation to each other, as shown by graph 2 (note: exchange rates are expressed as an index, and the value of the pound sterling and the euro have been inversed to make them comparable to the yen and yuan).

Money creation saved Wall Street without depreciating the dollar, but what about employment? The United States’ performance is excellent. The December 2019 unemployment rate is 3.5% – a rate lower than all other advanced economies with the exception of Germany and Japan. The picture is less rosy if one looks at it from a different angle: the length of time it takes to return to full employment. It took 15 months after the 1973 recession, 30 months after 1990, 46 after 2001 and 75 months after 2008, i.e. over six years (graph 3). Quantitative easing which served Wall Street so well, did little for Main Street. Of course, as noted by Jerome Powell, there are other factors to be considered besides monetary policy when studying labor issues. Nonetheless, the conclusion is inescapable: quantitative easing worked better for Wall Street than it did for Main Street.

What about inflation? Ever since Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker put a brutal end to stagflation[4] in letting the overnight rate go over 21% in June 1981, inflation has been subdued. Quantitative easing which is an inordinate increase of money in the economy should have, according to the quantity of money theory, led to inflation. It did not. The large quantity of money injected in the economy by the Federal Reserve had no impact on the price level. Graph 4 compares the velocity of money[5] with the Consumer Price Index – the velocity (blue line) is inversed to underline its exceptional rise in the last few years. Full employment did not lead to higher prices either. Jerome Powell observes that “the historically strong labor market did not trigger a significant rise in inflation”, as the Phillips Curve[6] would predict. He then notes that “inflation that is persistently too low can pose serious risks to the economy”. Clearly, the United States is in a peculiar situation where neither money creation nor full employment translates into higher prices, as economic theories tell us. Several hypotheses may explain this abnormality.

The fairly rapid opening up of the American market[7] in the early 1990s, followed by the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994, shaped a new environment in which the procurement of a given product was no longer restricted to the home country. Bilateral trade relations among advanced nations became global to include developing nations, such as China which joined the WTO in 2001. Competition among manufacturers became global, pushing prices down. Corporations offshored their production to take advantage of lower wages in developing nations. This weakened the negotiating power of trade unions who were faced with an unpalatable deal: accept lower wages or lose jobs to the Chinese. The digital revolution also played a role in bringing costs down with many firms “rightsizing” their labor force thanks to the adoption of the personal computer. Finally, Ronald Reagan’s decision to fire 11,000 air controllers in 1981 had a tremendous impact on middle income employees who realized status did not protect them anymore: they could lose their jobs as easily as manual workers could. These events put an end to what was known as cost-push inflation – an overall increase in prices due to higher labor and raw material costs.

Increased energy efficiency, as measured by the ratio of oil consumption to GDP[8], also helped contain inflation. The ratio doubled over the last twenty years. While a barrel of oil produced $450,000 of economic wealth in 2000, it produced $920,000 in 2019. This is why the rapid rise in oil prices over the last fifteen years had little if any impact on the state of the world economy, as opposed to shocks inflicted by the 1973 and 1979 price hikes.

In summary, inflation remained subdued due to globalization, the Reagan and digital revolutions, and energy saving. These watershed events spare the United States a rise in price levels that quantitative easing would normally have brought up. Quantitative easing is not inflation-free, it benefited from exceptional conditions. With respect to employment, the Federal Reserve’s performance is dismal when compared to previous periods. But Wall Street has every reason to be satisfied with it.

The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy in the recent past.

The decoupling of quantitative easing and inflation partially explains why Jerome Powell is distancing himself from this much vaunted but, in truth, inefficient policy. Besides the dual, yet incompatible inflation-employment objective Congress assigned to Federal Reserve, he must also watch over the largest banks’ financial health to make sure it remains strong. In fact, this was the main role the Federal Reserve Act assigned to the Federal Reserve in 1913. This duty is crucial. Economic crises often arise from a bank failure, as was the case with Lehman Bros.’ bankruptcy in September 2008. From this standpoint, Jerome Powell deserves our praise for he averted two crises in the recent past even though one may argue about the reasons they were conducted.

The first rescue took place in September 2019. Without warning, interest rates on the “repo” market shot up to 10% in mid-day on September 17th., 2019.[9] This market is a corner stone in Wall Street’s architecture. If it fails, the whole structure crumbles. The Federal Reserve had to act promptly to calm the market down. This is what it did in injecting $41 billion into the market that very day. Interest rates plummeted. On September 18th, they had returned to their September 16th level. The cause of this ephemeral panic remains a mystery. But the fact that the Federal Reserve had to keep intervening for several months, leads one to conclude that structural causes might have been at work.

This incident was the prelude of a much worse crisis which was averted thanks to the combined effort of the Federal Reserve and Congress. On February 19, the S&P500 reached a new high: 3,386, then dropped abruptly reaching its lowest level in the year: 2,237 on March 23, i.e. a 30% fall in 36 days. This time, the Federal Reserve was slower in reacting. It’s only on March 11th, nearly a month after the stock market began to tumble, that it began injecting liquidity into the economy, propping up the stock market (graph 5). On March 13th, two Congressmen from the Democratic Party offered to help people who lost their job due to the pandemic. It took the form of The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act for short, which was unanimously approved by the Senate on March 25th and signed by Donald Trump on the 27th. It took only 15 days to ratify a law granting $2,200 billion, or about 10% of the gross domestic product – the largest amount ever approved in the history of the United States – to dodge an economic crisis in the making. Considering that by March 11, only 37 people had died from the virus while the S&P500 had already lost 19% of its value, one may question the politicians’ motivation. Was it the Covid-19 or was it Wall Street which led them to act decisively? Generous as it is to the unemployed, the CARES Act is equally generous to corporations which already benefited from the Federal Reserve’s action. Wall Street resumed its rise.

May the stock market rise to the sky? One is tempted to believe it when considering its performance. Could investors be the victim of an “irrational exuberance”? Not so, say some analysts who attribute the market rise to the “big tech” corporations (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft), also known under the acronym GAFAM. They account for about 20% of the market value and they are pooling up the market. But, excluding them from the S&P500 would mean excluding them – as well as other outperformers such as Tesla, Netflix, Nvidia, or Salesforce – from the American gross domestic product. One cannot dissect the market according to one’s view. The market is a reflection of the economy at large: the more profitable the corporations, the higher the value of their shares. Right? Wrong. Over the last few years, the stock market is disconnected from the economy. Net income has been flat since 2017 while share values gained 43% (graph 6). This makes no sense. The market is acting irrationally. It’s a matter of time before it corrects itself.

Returning to orthodoxy

In the 50’s and 60’s, the American government was a paragon of virtue. The budget was in quasi-equilibrium. There was little debt, no inflation, and the workforce was fully employed. Things have changed since then. The deficit is rising, the debt is growing ever-larger, and employment is not what it is purported to be. In the trio it makes up with the Federal Reserve and Wall Street, the federal government is the most important element for it defines the economic policy.

This brings us back to Jerome Powell’s speech. A lesser importance granted to monetary policy, as he posits, means a great one given to budgetary policy, assuming of course that the government has the latitude necessary to do so. This is not the case. The deficit is on a downward slope ever since the late 1960s, with the exception of a four-year gap from 1999 till 2002[10]. The federal debt rose from 40% of GDP in the early 1980s to 107% in December 2019. The combined Federal Reserve/CARES Act rescue package pushed it up to 137% as of June 30th – a level higher than at the end of World War II (119%). Giving a greater role to budgetary policy means either higher taxes or more debt, or both. Taxes have never been very popular with the electorate, and the federal debt reached a level beyond which the United States’ credit rating may fall and the value of the dollar may drop. Authorities are caught between a rock and a hard place: monetary policy lost its effectiveness at a time the budget deficit should be reined in.

With 29.7 million unemployed (including the 13.6 million “gig” workers with no insurance coverage), the situation could quickly become worrisome, politically and socially. Aware of the danger, members of Congress had hoped to prolong the CARES Act for the unemployed, but electoral rivalry with the upcoming presidential election quickly set in and any attempt to maintain some of the benefits of the CARES Act were doomed to failure. On August 8th, Donald Trump signed an Executive Order granting $300 a week to unemployed people – humanitarian and electoral reasons no doubt explain his decision. The Center for Control Disease and Prevention declared a moratorium forbidding tenant evictions until the end of the year, bringing some relief to the most vulnerable families. Praiseworthy as the decision might be, it carries a risk: bankruptcy for real estate owners who, deprived from rental revenues, may not be able to reimburse their bank loans. In turn, this may weaken the banks’ financial health and be the cause of a crisis.

The situation is becoming inextricable. The on-going deterioration of the economy increases the budget deficit and the public debt beyond reasonable levels while monetary policy has lost its effectiveness. The government’s two main levers to direct the country’s economic policy have become ineffectual. Due to the presidential election, no new measures are likely to be implemented between now and February or March – a time lapse during which the economy is likely to deteriorate further.

To prevent such an unwelcome development, Ms. Loretta Master, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland suggested on September 23rd to credit every American’s bank account with “digital dollar” directly from the Federal Reserve. Her proposal was well received. Market analyst Wolf Richter calculates that a $3 trillion transfer would translate into a $28000 sum for a household of two adults. This would prop up consumer spending and pull the American economy out of recession. But it would also create inflation and depreciate the dollar. A digital dollar is a dollar. Ms. Master’s proposal is another form of money creation. The total of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet which amounted to 40% of the gross domestic product in the 1960s, rose to 100% in December 2012. It now stands at 125%. Is the United States on its way to repeating the Wehrmacht Republic’s mistakes of the 1920s? What will happen to the dollar, if the Federal Reserve pursues its money creation policy? And what will happen to the United States’ credit rating?

Icarus’s wax is melting

Whatever measures are eventually agreed upon the public debt will rise. Who will finance it? About 70% of it is presently financed by the American public, federal agencies and the Federal Reserve. The remaining 30% is financed by foreigners. The percentage is dropping. In the summer of 2012, foreign investors held 34% of the public debt. The trend is likely to continue if we use gold prices. Gold is a yardstick of investors’ confidence. For several years, worried investors have been exchanging their dollar-denominated U.S. Treasury holdings for gold, pushing up its price. Graph 7 is most interesting in that it shows the investors’ change of mood. Following the 2008 subprime crisis, they put their financial assets into dollar and gold. Today, they are moving out of the dollar into gold. This is not a good sign for the dollar.

Meanwhile, the stock market is fumbling. After reaching its highest value ever on September 2nd (3,581), it is falling. Share values, like Icarus, do not rise to the sky. If the stock market fall continues which is most likely due to the state of the economy, the American recession will translate into a world recession, since the U.S. economy accounts for 15% of the world economy. In turn, the world recession will aggravate the American recession in a vicious circle analogous of the Great Depression. This could mean the demise of the American Empire.

Jean-Luc Baslé is a former Citigroup (New York) Vice President, Columbia University graduate, Princeton University graduate, 20 years in the United States, author of “The International Monetary System: Challenges and Perspectives” (1982), “L’euro survivra-t-il ?” (2016).

  1. National Bureau of Economic Research. 
  2. “New Economic Challenges and the Fed’s Monetary Policy Review”, Jerome H. Powell – August 27, 2020. 
  3. $29,000,000,000,000: a detailed look at the Fed’s bailout by funding facility and recipient. James Felkerson, Dec. 2001. 
  4. Stagflation is an unusual combination of inflation and recession (unemployment). 
  5. The velocity of money is the ratio of money to the gross domestic product. 
  6. Higher level of employment leads to higher wages and higher inflation. 
  7. In the 1960s, U.S. imports amounted to 5% of gross domestic product. They averaged 16.5% in the last decade. 
  8. Gross domestic product 
  9. A repurchase agreement “repo” is a short-term secured loan: one party (usually a financial institution) sells securities to another and agrees to repurchase them within a short period of time. 
  10. This was due to the “peace dividend”. 

US Lawmakers to Introduce Legislation on Commission to Evaluate Trump’s Mental Capacity

October 9, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] and Maryland Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin announced on Thursday they would be introducing legislation to establish a commission charged with evaluating US President Donald Trump’s mental and physical capacity to hold office.

Pelosi and Raskin said they would hold a press conference on Friday announcing introduction of the Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office Act.

A press notice announcing the conference noted the commission and process are “called for in the 25th amendment to the US Constitution to enable Congress to help ensure effective and uninterrupted leadership in the highest office in the Executive Branch of government.”

The 25th amendment was ratified in 1967 in the wake of the 1963 assassination of US President John F. Kennedy to establish an orderly path of succession in the event the president perishes or becomes unable to perform the duties of office, such as when suffering from an illness.

Section 4 of the amendment describes the process in which other politicians may together determine the president is unfit to perform the duties of office and go about removing them from office, which is set in motion by the “Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide.”

The question of US President Donald Trump’s fitness to hold office has once again come under scrutiny in the aftermath of his contraction of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus last week, which caused him to spend several days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and to receive a slew of drugs and even supplemental oxygen for a brief period of time.

Trump did not pass executive authority to Vice President Mike Pence during that time, but the symptoms of the illness and potential side-effects of the drugs he was taking caused many to question his ability to do his job.

Earlier on Thursday, Pelosi noted that on Friday “We’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment.” Trump replied to the news in furious Tweet.

“Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation,” Trump said. “They don’t call her Crazy for nothing!”

Last year, former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe revealed on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that in May 2017, after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey, he and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein briefly explored using the 25th amendment to remove Trump from office. After Trump appointed Robert Mueller to head the FBI’s Russiagate investigation eight days later, their concern was somewhat assuaged.

SourceAgenceis

Regression as a National Theme

October 2, 2020 

Lawrence Davidson | Author | Common Dreams
Lawrence Davidson is professor of history
emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania.
He has been publishing his analyses
of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy,
international and humanitarian law
and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010.

An Analysis (2 October 2020) by Lawrence Davidson

Part I—Going Backwards

Led by a reactionary, autocratic faction of the Republican Party, the United States has taken another step backward in terms of social progress. This comes with Donald Trump’s nomination of a religiously motivated conservative, Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court. Barrett, a devout Catholic and presently a federal appeals court judge, was nominated specifically at the behest of the president’s fundamentalist Christian supporters. They, in turn, are hell-bent (this term is employed purposely) on enforcing their moral sensibilities through secular law. 

I use the words “another step” because, in multiple different forms, this slippage has been going on for a while. It started with President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) and his confused idea that the problem with American society—a society of now over 300 million people, a poverty rate of at least 10.5%, no mandated health insurance, a place where national and state regulations were the only thing standing between the citizen and environmental degradation, an unhealthy workplace and economic instability—was the size and intrusive nature of the federal government.

With occasional but always temporary pauses, the country has been following this Reaganite campaign for small government ever since. How so? All the “intrusive” rules and regulations that protect the workplace, the environment and the economy, have come under attack from people wrapping themselves in the cloak of conservatism and championing a perverted notion of individual freedom. The whole national domestic orbit has been thrown into retrograde motion.

Donald Trump is the apparent culmination of this self-destructive process. Even before he ran for president on the Republican ticket, Trump was suspected of only masquerading as a conservative to secure a political base. Subsequently, he has been described as a misogynist, narcissist, congenital liar, bully, autocrat, and con man. Nonetheless, Trump was voted into the White House in 2016.

President Trump has turned the Republican Party into a rump affair remade in his own image, essentially purging all moderate Republicans from the party ranks. His singular achievements as president have been to make the rich richer, keep the poor poor, and render most of the population more vulnerable to a range of social, economic and environmental ills. He has also sought to befriend and defend every un-American, potentially criminal outfit in the country, ranging from the Nazis and anarchist armed militias to organized religious fanatics.

In essence, Trump seeks to do to the U.S. as a whole what he has done to the Republican Party. That is why a very large number of government agencies are now headed up by henchmen whose number one job is to cripple their own agencies. For those branches not so easily sabotaged, Trump seeks to find a way to load them up with those he believes will follow his lead. Presently, he is moving to do just that to the Supreme Court.

The unfortunate catalyst for this effort at court stacking is the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg personified for many the nation’s potential to move forward. She was a progressive figure who fought for civil rights, particularly those of women. As such, she became a symbol of resistance to the Trump administration’s efforts to move the Supreme Court to the right. Afflicted with cancer, Ginsburg was, alas, unable to outlive Donald Trump’s presidency. 

Now Trump seeks to replace her on the court with a candidate who, unlike President John Kennedy (a Catholic who was once falsely accused of being a tool of the Papacy), might indeed turn out to be more influenced by “orthodox” Catholicism than the U.S. Constitution. On the one hand, judge Barrett has asserted that legal careers ought to be seen “as a means to the end of serving God.” On the other, she says “I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.” These two statements are in direct contradiction. If the first is true, the second is certainly false. This is not the kind of conflict of interest you want for an arbiter of the U.S. Constitution.

Trump, of course, does not care about religion, nor has he read the U.S. Constitution, and thus is uninterested in a mandated separation of church and state. From Trump’s point of view, Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination was made not an act of religious faith or made on conservative principle, it is rather an act of political opportunism. With it Trump hopes to garner support in the impending election among a host of Christian fundamentalist voters who fantasize that he is an agent of God. For these fanatics, Barrett’s appointment to the court would serve as proof of this absurd conviction.   

America isn’t the only place such dangerous craziness can take place, but that offers little consolation. Just how depressed should we be due to this unfortunate turn of events? It depends on whether you take a long range or short range view. 

Part II—Short Range

Ginsburg’s death was a bad break at a time of serious confrontation between progressive and regressive forces. By this I refer to the next presidential election cycle and the question whether the country will be guided by the concepts of civil and human rights espoused during the 1960s. Will its citizens support the concepts of racial egalitarianism? Will they also uphold same sex-marriage, abortion rights, fair immigration rules, health care for all, and the ongoing struggle for rational gun control? Will they make the issue of climate change a major priority? Will the citizenry even maintain the traditional economic reforms instituted by Franklin Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression? In the short run, Trump’s ascendency, bolstered by millions of fundamentalist Christians (whose loyalty is to an anti-humanist religious ideology) and tens of thousands of libertarians and anarchists, makes these open questions. And now with Ginsburg’s demise, Trump will get another chance to undermine progressive standards with a reactionary appointment to the Supreme Court. 

Some might say that, despite such a court appointment, this retrograde movement will end after the upcoming November election. The assumption here is that Donald Trump and his rump Republican Party will lose the presidency and control of Congress. Then, after overcoming the illicit legal maneuvers and temper-tantrum violence the right attempts, the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, will become president. At that point, presumably, he will begin to put the country back on a progressive path. Certainly, if Biden wins the presidency and the Democrats also win both houses of Congress, the potential for forward movement on all the issues mentioned above becomes possible. However, it is not guaranteed. 

Joe Biden’s present slogan of “Make America America Again”   can mean just about anything, but it seems not to imply making the nation more progressive than it was, say, under Barack Obama. Under Obama there was moderate progress on the issue of health care and the country was dragged out of yet another Republican-facilitated recession. On the other hand, under Obama, immigrants were deported in high numbers and drones were regularly hitting wedding parties and picnics in Afghanistan. 

Can Biden go beyond Obama in a forward direction? When you consider this question keep in mind more than the fact that the country will most likely be burdened by a screwed-up Supreme Court. Joe Biden himself has issues. He is a lifetime institutional politician—a guy who believes in, and plays by, long-established political rules. In this sense, he is Donald Trump’s opposite. Trump is willing to break all such rules, ostensibly to “make America great again.” Biden will reassert the primacy of tradition—that is, play by traditional political rules—and thereby “make America America again.” Doing so will not bring with it an era of greater progress—unless circumstances force Biden and the Democrat’s to take a “great leap forward.”

Part III—Long Range

Historically, what is usually needed to usher in significant progressive change? In our modern era such change usually follows catastrophes—mostly wars, disease and economic downturns. 

Modern wars and related military research are famous for providing leaps forward in technology. Everything from ambulance services, radar, and jet engines to intravenous blood transfusions, microwave ovens and duct tape comes to us through this route. Of course, war is a horrible way of motivating technological development. It is a truly murderous tradeoff. 

Epidemic diseases can spur medical progress. The outbreaks of viral epidemics such as MERS, AIDS and now Covid-19 have encouraged treatment research for virus infections and vaccine development. Again, it is death and debilitation that moves things forward at an accelerated rate. 

And then there is economic depression. In the U.S., progressive steps such as Social Security, collective bargaining and unionization, and various forms of necessary business regulation designed to prevent both corruption and instability followed the Great Depression (roughly 1929 

 to 1941). This catastrophic economic plunge, following decades of “boom and bust” instability, also encouraged the average citizen (minus some Republicans) to accept an activist government working for the interests of society as a whole.

There are other major stimuli to progressive change but they too tend to have their origins in dire circumstances such as long-term inequality, discrimination and exploitation. Over time these conditions spur uprisings that may overcome these socio-cultural evils. Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement is an example of how this works within a democracy. Today’s Black Lives Matter may also have potential to move us in a progressive direction.

Part IV—Going Forward

Assuming Joe Biden’s election to the presidency and Democratic control of both houses of Congress, is there a catastrophic circumstance that might push him to go beyond his stated goal of simply “Making America America Again”? Well we know that Covid-19 will still be with us in 2021 but the discovery process for a vaccine is already going very fast. Here Biden may do little more than relieve us all of Trump’s self-serving confusions and provide a more trustworthy, science-based platform for the curative process to proceed—which is something we should all be thankful for. Still, there might be another potentially catastrophic situation waiting around the corner. That possibility is continued economic breakdown and a painful restructuring process.

The U.S. is presently running a $170.5 billion budget deficit as well as a $63.6 billion trade deficit. The nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) or total worth of all production was down 31.7% in the second quarter of 2020. These figures will eventually necessitate an increase in taxes if the government is to be in a position to assist the citizenry in economic recovery. Trump, of course, has a regressive policy of as little taxation as possible and no help to the states or the citizens. 

The U.S. unemployment rate stands at 8.4%, which is down two percentage points as a marginal recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic took place. However, this proved temporary and the rate is now going up. Covid-19 led to a loss of 22 million jobs in the United States, and only about half of them have been recovered. Until there is an effective vaccine, not much additional progress on this front can be expected. 

Even with a vaccine, it might turn out that the pandemic has permanently changed the structure of the economy, making It unlikely that all of the lost jobs will come back. Even before Covid-19, retail was shifting to on-line sales to the detriment of normal retail stores and malls. The pandemic has greatly accelerated this movement. Work-from-home arrangements are leaving office space unoccupied and city-based luncheon eateries near empty. Overall, the restaurant business is shrinking. All of this will lead to higher levels of bankruptcies and unemployment for the foreseeable future. 

Under President Trump the approach to these changes would be to do nothing while claiming he was doing more than anyone else could or would do. Biden and the Democrats can be expected to be more proactive. This would hopefully go beyond the reestablishment of the programs and regulations Trump has destroyed. 

So what will Joe Biden do if he becomes president? He is not an original thinker. However, the worse the economy gets, the more violence from rightwing individuals and militias will manifest itself, and the more cases of police brutality there are, the more the Democrats will be pressured to institute progressive domestic reform (i.e. infrastructural renewal, debt reduction, police reforms, gun control, universal health care, etc.) I think we can count on these pressures persisting. 

Part V—Conclusion

The reader might have noticed a certain incompleteness in the above reasoning. That is, catastrophe can encourage regression as well as progression. Wars, pandemics and economic depressions have sometimes given rise to dictatorships and repression. Worse yet, quite often, this happens to the sound of cheering crowds.  

Throughout his presidency Trump has retained the support of roughly 35% of the U.S. adult population. Presently the adult population stands at 209,128,094, thus Trump supporters may number over 73 million citizens. That implies that even after four years of destructive behavior, these millions seem to still support the leadership of an incompetent authoritarian personality.

However, the entire adult population never actually votes. In the case of the United States a relatively large number of citizens are, like the permanently unemployed, no longer active in the political marketplace. That is, they pay little attention to electoral politics and don’t show up at the polls. In modern times it is rare that the percentage of eligible voters who actually turn out for presidential elections exceeds 60%. Using this number, that puts the actual voting population at 125,476,856. If we assume that 35% of this number supports Trump consistently, we get 43,916,899.

This may not be enough for Trump to win a second term as president—a fact that may actually save the country’s democracy. Yet this number is still very disturbing. The fact that just about 44 million Americans are willing to risk their democratic traditions and a relatively progressive future to follow a man without a conscience over a political cliff—an action that puts at risk not only their own country but, arguably, the entire planet—is certainly something to lose sleep over. Finally, this picture is not unique to the United States. It is probably true that one-third of any given population is susceptible to the overtures of a cult personality. 

Perhaps this last fact gives some insight into why history is full of civil and international disturbance. A large minority of any population is easily seduced into such engagements, dragging the rest of us along with them. That may help contextualize the choice U.S. citizens have come November 3rd. 

The House of Saud Struggles to Normalize Ties with “Israel” As It Sinks in the Yemeni Swamp

The House of Saud Struggles to Normalize Ties with “Israel” As It Sinks in the Yemeni Swamp

By Staff

The father and son relationship between Saudi King Salman and his son the Crown Prince – Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] – is at crossroads regarding the methods in which normalization with the apartheid “Israeli” entity would occur; though the sand kingdom is over its head regarding the consequences of the brutal war it waged on Yemen.

MBS is interested in a normalization with the entity, while King Salman likes the so-called “Arab Peace Initiative”, but the war in Yemen and threats to the Crown Prince at home are keeping them busy.

In a rare speech this week, Salman said Saudi Arabia still adheres to the so-called “Arab Peace Initiative”, which conditions normalization on an “Israeli” withdrawal to the 1967 lines and the establishment of a Palestinian state. But MBS wants to speed up normalization as part of his strategic and, above all, economic vision.

In his speech, King Salman focused on regional affairs: Iran and the “Israeli”-Palestinian so-called “peace” process – though he never mentioned the “Israeli’ entity’s normalization with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Was he trying to prove that he’s still in control of his kingdom and that he still sets foreign policy? Is this an intergenerational dispute, pitting the son’s project against the father’s traditional attitudes?

Saudi Arabia’s decision-making processes are enigmatic, as are relationships among members of the royal family and the kingdom’s domestic and foreign-policy considerations.

Yet, Saudi-“Israeli” normalization – which Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser announced will be happening very soon – seemed to be delayed.

Moreover, it’s not clear whether the delay is a matter of principle – that is, until a Palestinian state arises, or at least until “Israeli”-Palestinian negotiations resume – as King Salman said, or only a temporary one, until MBS manages to persuade him.

The difference in the two royals’ positions also raises another question. Saudi Arabia has provided an umbrella for the latest “peace” deals. Not only did it not condemn them, it praised the UAE and Bahrain for taking this step, which was coordinated with MBS, and opened its airspace to flights to and from the “Israeli” entity.

Not to mention, the public opinion in Saudi Arabia for a historic turnabout in the sand kingdom’s relationship with the “Israeli” entity is being paved.

Though, one issue stays unresolved.

It’s clear that Riyadh need to make peace with Washington, either before or as part of a deal with the “Israeli” entity. The main dispute between them is the war in Yemen, which began after King Salman was crowned in 2015.

In this war, the Saudi and UAE armies have treated Yemen’s civilian population brutally and used American weapons to do so. More than 125,000 people have been martyred, including 14,000 who were killed in deliberate attacks on civilian targets.

Hence, the Saudis’ aggression on Yemen has reappeared on the Washington agenda due to a partially classified report on US involvement in the conflict written by the State Department’s inspector general. The document’s unclassified sections, which were reported in the American media, reveal the magnitude of war crimes by Saudi and Emirati forces and their mercenaries, to the point that the US faces a risk of prosecution at the International Criminal Court.

Oona Hathaway, a former Department of Defense lawyer and now a Yale professor, told The New York Times: “If I were in the State Department, I would be freaking out about my potential for liability. I think anyone who’s involved in this program should get themselves a lawyer.”

Public and international pressure led Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, to freeze an arms deal with Riyadh in 2016 as a way of pressuring the Saudis to change their tactics in Yemen. One year later, Trump reversed that decision and opened the floodgates of US arms sales to the Saudis.

To Trump, Saudi Arabia, he said, has “nothing but cash,” which it uses to buy American services, protection and other goods. Regarding the slaughter of civilians in Yemen, he said the Saudis “don’t know how to use” American weapons.

Congress didn’t believe Trump’s explanations, and in April 2019, it passed a bipartisan resolution calling for an end to US military involvement in Yemen. Trump vetoed the resolution and circumvented the ban on arms sales to Riyadh by declaring a state of emergency over Iran, which allowed him to continue complying with Saudi requests.

The US government did budget $750 million to train Saudi soldiers and pilots on fighting in populated areas, with the goal of reducing harm to civilians. It also gave the Saudis a list of 33,000 targets they shouldn’t strike. But the Saudis don’t seem to have been overly impressed, and violations continue to this day.

Unlike Saudi Arabia, the UAE understood the dangers of its involvement in the war in Yemen and withdrew its forces, overcoming the ban on selling it F-35 fighter jets and other arms. It then overcame the “Israeli” obstacle by signing this month’s so-called “peace” deal.

MBS, who started the war in Yemen along with his father, is still wallowing in the Yemeni swamp that has complicated his relationship with the US. And that’s on top of his resounding failures in managing the Kingdom’s foreign policy, like forcing then-Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign, imposing a blockade on Qatar, waging an unsuccessful oil war with Russia that sent prices plummeting and abandoning the Palestinian issue.

Domestic issues haven’t gone that well for MBS either. His Vision 2030 is stumbling. The Kingdom’s treasury has had problems funding megalomaniac projects like his city of the future, which is supposed to involve three countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan), diversify Saudi Arabia’s sources of income and reduce its dependence on oil. So far, it remains on paper.

He did boast an impressive achievement in the war on corruption when he detained dozens of billionaires at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and shook them down, but this was more about squeezing his political rivals’ windpipes than fighting corruption.

Accordingly, MBS can only envy his friend, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed [MBZ], the UAE’s de facto ruler who extricated his country from the war in Yemen and became Washington’s darling – not only because he normalized ties with the “Israeli” entity. And above all, he isn’t surrounded by hostile relatives.

So the question arises: Did all this happen in defiance of Salman’s wishes?

MBS who according to US intelligence didn’t hesitate to put his own mother under house arrest and keep her away from his father for fear she would work against him – may also prove to be someone who doesn’t see obeying his parents as a cardinal virtue. King Salman may be able to give speeches in support of the Palestinians, but his son, as defense minister, has the power to stage a coup against his father if he thinks this will serve him or his agenda, which might yet include normalizing ties with “Israeli” entity.

قراءة في المشهد السياسيّ الأميركيّ عشيّة الانتخابات… السيناريوات المرتقبة (2)

زياد حافظ

في الجزء السابق شرحنا عوامل الاضطراب السياسي التي تشهده الولايات المتحدة عشية الانتخابات المقبلة في تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر 2020. وحالة الاضطراب تتفاقم حيث التشنّج الذي يسود الفريقين المتنافسين ينذر بعواقب وخيمة قد تدمّر بنية النظام وحتى أسس الكيان الأميركي. قد يعتبر البعض أن هذا الكلام مبالَغ به، ولكن هذا ما نقرأه في العديد من المواقع الإلكترونية ومن آراء يبديها مسؤولون سابقون وباحثون مرموقون. والخطورة تكمن في السيناريوهات المرتقبة لليوم التالي بعد الانتخابات.

أعرب الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب في أكثر من مناسبة كما أعرب مسؤولون في الحزب الديمقراطي عن عدم تقبّله (تقبّلهم!) لنتائج الانتخابات إذا أدت إلى هزيمته أو هزيمتهم! قد يكون هذا الكلام نوعاً من التهويل لشدّ عصب المناصرين، لكن هناك سيناريوات حقيقية فد تفرض نفسها ليلة الانتخاب وتتراوح في الحد الأدنى بين عدم اعلان من هو الفائز بسبب التأخير في فرز أصوات الناخبين الذين اختاروا الاقتراع عبر البريد وبين حد أقصى يرفض النتائج ويطعن بها في المحاكم الاتحادية ما يكرّس الفراغ في رأس الهرم. هذا من باب الواقع الذي يحظى بشبه إجماع عند مختلف المراقبين والمحلّلين عند الطرفين المتنافسين. فما هي السيناريوات الممكنة في هذه الحال؟

السيناريو الأول هو وجود فراغ في رأس الهرم السياسي. لم يلحظ الدستور الأميركي لآلية لفض نوع كهذا من النزاع لأن الآباء المؤسسين لم يعتقدوا في يوم من الأيام أن الجمهورية الفتية قد تصل إلى هذا المأزق. الدستور الأميركي حدّد آلية لانتقال الحكم في حال حدوث فراغ مفاجئ في رأس السلطة. فنائب الرئيس يتولّى زمام الأمور حتى نهاية الولايات وتقام عندئذ انتخابات. في حال حدوث فراغ في الرئاسة ونيابة الرئاسة يلحظ الدستور أن رئيس مجلس الممثلين يتولّى زمام الأمور. في حال شغور أو غياب ذلك يتولى رئيس مجلس الشيوخ الموقت (رئيس الأكثرية) لأن دستورياً نائب رئيس الجمهورية هو رئيس مجلس الشيوخ الذي يفصل في التصويت في حال تعادل الأصوات في أي ملف أو قضية مطروحة. وفي حال غياب وأو شغور ذلك المنصب يتولى وزير الخارجية المسؤولية وفي حال غياب وزير الخارجية وهناك سلّم من التراتبية بين الوزراء في تولّي المسؤولية في حال الشغور. لكن جميع تلك الإجراءات تفترض أن الكونغرس بغرفتيه أي مجلس الشيوخ ومجلس الممثلين قائم. لكن في الحالة التي ستحصل فإن إمكانية تولّي رئيس مجلس الممثلين، في هذه الحال نانسي بيلوسي، قد لا تحصل لأن الطعن أو الطعون في نتائج الانتخابات قد لا تنحصر في الرئاسة بل أيضاً في مجلس الممثلين ومجلس الشيوخ. حال التشنج التي وصلت إليه الولايات المتحدة تجعل من هذا الاحتمال إمكانية حقيقية. أي بمعنى آخر هناك احتمال حقيقي ومرتقب بأن يحصل الفراغ بسبب عدم حسم أو قبول نتائج الانتخابات.

في السيناريو الثاني، ينحصر التنازع فقط حول منصب الرئاسة ويتولّى عندئذ رئيس مجلس الممثلين الرئاسة الموقتة حتى تحسم المحكمة الدستورية العليا نتائج الانتخاب. المحكمة العليا هي مكوّنة اليوم من خمسة محافظين وأربعة ليبراليين في ميولهم الفكرية. ليسوا منتسبين إلى أي حزب لكن من الواضح أن الميل المحافظ يسيطر عموماً على قرارات وأحكام المحكمة. لكن حكمت المحكمة مؤخراً في قضية مثيرة للجدل حول المتحوّلين جنسياً لصالح الموقف الليبرالي ما أدهش الجميع. الصوت المرجّح كان صوت رئيس المحكمة الذي يُعرف عنه أنه محافظ. وهناك تساؤلات حول ذلك “التصويت” الذي يؤكّد على “استقلالية” القرار بينما البعض يعتبر أن ذلك التصويت هو لمنع الاتهام بالانحياز السياسي في فصل قضية الطعن في الانتخابات الرئاسية. إذاً، في مطلق الأحوال يعود إلى المحكمة الدستورية مسؤولية الفصل. لكن ليس هناك من ضمانة أن المتنافسين سيقبلون بالحكم ونعود عند ذلك الحين إلى السيناريو الأول.

السيناريو الثالث، وهو الأكثر خطورة، هو عدم تقبّل أي من الفريقين النتائج مهما كانت المرجعيات. ماذا في تلك الحال؟ هذا يعني أزمة دستورية، فأزمة نظام، وفي آخر المطاف أزمة كيان. في هذا السياق نشير إلى تحذير بول كريغ روبرتس، مساعد وزير الخزانة السابق في عهد رونالد ريغان، وهو اقتصادي معروف له مؤلفات عدّة وصاحب مدوّنة واسعة الانتشار. تحذير روبرتس واضح: الولايات المتحدة لديها شهران قبل أن تنهار بسبب الفراغ الذي سيحصل بسبب عدم قبول نتائج الانتخابات. كاتب آخر مات اهرهت يذهب أبعد من ذلك ويشير إلى سيناريوات حرب في عدد من مراكز الأبحاث حول احتمالات انقلاب عسكري ضد الرئيس الأميركي في حال رفض خروجه من البيت الأبيض.

مركز “مشروع التماسك الانتقاليّ” مركز أبحاث مستحدث (2019) وتموّله وفقاً للباحثة ويتني واب مجموعة مكوّنة من كلنتون، جورج سوروس، وعدد من رؤساء الشركات الكبرى كفايس بوك وميكروسوفت وغوغل ولينكدين واي باي على سبيل المثال. واجهة ذلك المركز روزا بروكس محاضرة في جامعة جورج تاون والعقيد لورانس ويلكرسون المدير السابق لكولن بأول عندما كان وزيراً للخارجية. أما المساهمون في البحوث لذلك المركز فيه ثلّة من كبار المحافظين الجدد كوليام كريستول ودافيد فروم. أنشئ المركز لمواجهة التحدّيات التي فرضتها الثورة التكنولوجية في التواصل وتأثيرها على المجتمعات. لكن بالفعل أنشئ لغرض واحد وهو لخلق مناخات ثورية ملوّنة ولتهيئة الأجواء لانقلاب عسكري ضد ترامب. وقد تمّت “تجربة” ذلك المشروع عبر نشاط أحد العاملين بها في حملة لإقصاء برني سندرز من الفوز في التسمية الترشيح عن الحزب الديمقراطي. المسؤول عن تلك الحملة الناجحة وفقاً لويتني واب هو ريد هوفمان. كما أن المموّلين الآخرين كاريك شميدت رئيس شركة غوغل وبيار اوميدفار رئيس شركة أي باي من المقرّبين جدّا لبيل وهيلاري كلنتون وكانوا أيضاً وراء الإطاحة ببرني سندرز لمصلحة جوزيف بايدن. والآن يستعدّون للإطاحة بدونالد ترامب.

ما يعزّز فرص ذلك المشروع هو العلاقة الوطيدة بين القيادات العسكرية العليا في البنتاغون ومجمع المؤسسات التابعة للمجمع العسكري الصناعي الأمني والمالي والمعلوماتي. تفيد دراسة أجريت مؤخراً ونشرته محطّة “روسيا اليوم” أن في فترة 2008-2018 تمّ توظيف 380 ضابطاً رفيع المستوى في شركات مقاولة في الدفاع، من بينهم 68 لواء و32 أميرالاً ونائب أميرال. ويضيف الباحث مات اهرهت أن عدداً من القيادات العاملة في الجيش الأميركي معروف بتشدّدهم تجاه الحروب ويعارضون بشكل واضح الرئيس الأميركي لقراراته بالانسحاب من أفغانستان والعراق وسورية. هذا ما دفع الرئيس الأميركي للتصريح الأخير له بحق المؤسسة العسكرية أن القيادة العسكرية تكرهه بينما القاعدة أي الجنود يحبّونه. ويعتبر أن مصلحة القيادات العسكرية هي فوق مصلحة البلاد ويصرّون على التورّط في حروب لا منفعة منها للولايات المتحدة سوى إثراء الشركات المقاولة التي تجني أرباحاً طائلة.

بالتوازي مع تهيئة الأجواء لإجراء انقلاب عسكري في حال استمر الرئيس الأميركي في البيت الأبيض هناك أيضاً خطر آخر يهدّد التماسك الداخلي الأميركي. لقد حذر مدير المكتب الاتحادي للتحقيقات (اف بي أي) في جلسة استماع في الكونغرس من تنامي الميليشيات المسلّحة من البيض والسود وأن الاحتكاكات قد تحصل في أي لحظة. في السياق نفسه عرضت محطة أي تي في البريطانية تقريراً مصوّراً للميليشيات السود التي تنتشر في العديد من المدن الأميركية.

ويعتبر العديد من المراقبين الأميركيين أن تصاعد أعمال الشغب والعنف أعمال مبرمجة هدفها تهيئة مناخ لفرض الأحكام العرفية وتبرير تدخل القوّات المسلّحة لفرض أمر واقع سياسي جديد. هذا ما يحذّر منها أيضاً بول كريغ روبرتس وآخرون خاصة أن التقارير تتكاثر حول محاضرات يلقيها ضبّاط كبار حول ضرورة إمساك الوضع.

سردنا هذه المعلومات وليست كلّها في ذلك الموضوع وفحوى تقارير حول المناخ السائد في الولايات المتحدة للتأكيد أن الخريف سيكون ساخناً للغاية وقديمتد إلى الربيع. ليس بمقدور أحد أن يتكهّن عما ستسفر عليه الأمور وإن كان بعض المحلّلين لا يخفون تشاؤمهم حول تماسك الولايات المتحدة. ليس في الأفق من يستطيع أن يعيد توحيد الولايات المتحدة في ظل أزمة اقتصادية بنيوية وحالة اجتماعية متفسّخة يسودها التعصّب والعنصرية. كما أن الطبقة السياسية في معظمها مرتبطة بالاوليغارشية المالية والمجمع العسكري الصناعي والأمني والمالي وبالتالي التغيير من الداخل قد يصبح مستعصياً. وانهيار الدولة يعني انهيار المجتمع. فالدولة أقوى من المجتمع في الولايات المتحدة وبالتالي المصير سيكون مجهولاً. الولايات المتحدة تدخل اليوم في حقبة لا استقرار بنيوياً قد ينسف مكانتها في العالم إن لم ينسف وجودها في الداخل.

*كاتب وباحث اقتصادي سياسي والأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي.

قراءة في المشهدالسياسي الأميركي عشية الانتخابات (1)

Foreign Interference in Elections: Is it Real or Just Political Noise?

Foreign Interference in Elections: Is It Real or Just Political ...

Philip Giraldi

July 30, 2020

A recently concluded British Parliamentary inquiry has determined that Russia may have interfered in the 2016 Brexit referendum, which resulted in the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union. But, ironically, it also concluded that Russia might not have interfered given the fact that the British government never bothered to try to find out if there had been any attempt made by the Kremlin to manipulate the voting.

The Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee is reportedly perplexed by the lack of official interest in what might have been a foreign intelligence operation that had major impact, all too plausible given that it is assumed that Moscow would have welcomed Brexit as a first step that will eventually put an end to European political and economic unity.

So, no one knows if Russia or anyone else interfered in Britain, which is perhaps just as well as inquiries into voting in the U.S. also in 2016 have likewise created nothing but confusion and no smoking pistol. And, of course there is a question of definitions of interference. Millions of pounds were spent on advertising by those pro- and con-Brexit, just as billions were spent in political adverts in the United States. Much of the “information” provided in that fashion was deliberately misleading, often fearmongering, both in the U.K. and the U.S., suggesting that the problem is much bigger than one country’s possible attempt to influence the vote, if that even took place.

There were similar claims about Russian generated fake news and “a massive hacking attack” in the French presidential election in 2017, while Germany’s Federal Election was notable for a lack of any identifiable Kremlin interference in spite of warnings from some observers that Berlin would be targeted.

So, while claims of Russian interference in elections are fairly common, they are difficult to prove in any serious way. And one should recognize that the “victimized” governments and political parties have strong motives to conjure up a foreign enemy to explain to the public why things are going wrong, be it for coronavirus fumbling or for general political ineptitude. To be sure, as the allure of blaming Russia has faded China is increasingly being targeted by American politicians as a scapegoat, indicating that there must always be a foreigner available to blame for one’s problems.

The most recent nugget to come out of the U.S. Congress on foreign interference in elections originates with Adam Schiff, the sly head of the House Intelligence Committee. In an interview with MSNBC, Schiff revealed that U.S. intelligence has obtained information suggesting multiple nations could be trying to meddle in the 2020 U.S. elections, to include feeding or “laundering” possible disinformation through Congress.

Schiff explained how various nations us different tactics to get “fake news” messages through to the American voters. Some governments openly support a particular candidate or policy, while others like the Chinese provide misinformation during their trade negotiations with Washington. He observed that “The Russians may get involved in hacking and dumping operations or social media campaigns. The Iranians may have their own tactics and techniques like the North Koreans may have theirs.”

letter signed by Schiff, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark Warner, D-Va has asked for a counterintelligence briefing for Congress regarding foreign efforts to interfere in the upcoming election. It includes “We are gravely concerned, in particular, that Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November.”

Democratic Party presidential candidate presumptive Joe Biden also has confirmed that he has received briefings about Russian alleged plans to interfere in November saying “The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. China and others are engaged as well in activities that are designed for us to lose confidence in the outcome.”

Of course, there are a number of things to say about the claims that other nations are possibly planning to meddle in the voting. First, the list of possible players being presented by Schiff and others is all too convenient, kind of like a Congressional dream list of bad boys. Russia pops up because of longstanding claims about it, but China is a new entry in the game because it all ties up into a neat package, including the “Wuhan virus” and its challenges both to American economic supremacy and to U.S. naval power in the South China Sea. And of course, there are Iran and also North Korea.

One should ask what exactly China, Iran and North Korea stand to gain by attempting to “interfere” in the election? What message could they possibly be sending and what would be the mechanisms they would use to get their points of view across to a skeptical American public? In a campaign that will undoubtedly cost hundreds of billions of dollars in advertising and other “messaging,” what exactly is the possible place of Iran and North Korea?

There is also a lack of “realism” in the Schiff comments. By far the country that interferes the most in U.S. politics is Israel. Israel and its domestic Lobby initiate legislation relating to the Middle East and Israeli diplomats, lobbyists and soldiers all have free access both to Capitol Hill and to the Pentagon. If a Congressman dares to speak up against the Jewish state’s crimes he or she is smeared in the media and eventually forced out of office by a well-funded pro-Israel opponent. No other country gets away with all that. As it is highly likely that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be pulling out all the stops to reelect Donald Trump in November, why isn’t the Jewish state included on Schiff’s list?

And then there is the tantalizing bit about concerns over disinformation being “laundered” through Congress. It is difficult to imagine what exactly Schiff is referring to as the corrupt gasbags in Congress already constitute one of the world’s biggest sources of false information, second only to the fully coopted U.S. mainstream media.

In any event, if some countries that are accustomed to being regularly targeted by the United States are taking advantage of an opportunity to somehow diminish America’s ability to meddle globally, no one should be surprised, but it is a politically driven fantasy to make the hysterical claim that the United States has now become the victim of some kind of vast multi-national conspiracy to interfere in its upcoming election.

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