Imam Khamenei’s advisor: US “Barking” Won’t Bear Fruit or Have Any Effect

Imam Khamenei’s advisor: US “Barking” Won’t Bear Fruit or Have Any Effect

By Mokhtar Haddad

Iran – Both US President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remain delusional about re-imposing UN sanctions on Iran after Security Council members and signatories to the nuclear agreement – that the Americans violated and withdrew from – refused to do so.

This leaves Washington faced with a dilemma at a time when Trump is looking for a component of strength to boost his reelection campaign. But the administration has been dealt multiple defeats on the international arena. Meanwhile, the Iranian people are continuing their march to development and prosperity with their legendary steadfastness.

According to senior Iranian official Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati, the Americans “will not be able to wrong or do anything against the Iranian people.”

The international affairs advisor to Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, told Al-Ahed News that if the US “wants to trigger the snapback mechanism as it claims, no one in the world will follow it.”

Velayati, who also serves as the Secretary-General of the World Assembly of Islamic Awakening, added that his country isn’t concerned by the US. 

“We have faced sanctions from the United States and its allies since the victory of the Islamic Revolution, and we are able to preserve our sovereignty, pride, and dignity. We can face sanctions and manage the country’s affairs. We are not concerned about such measures that have no impact on international issues. This is just an American play,” Velayati explains.

“The martyr Haj Qassem Soleimani was proud that he trampled America in dirt and that he defeated the Daesh terrorist organization Since Daesh is the product of an American-Zionist operation, he was able to defeat the American plan and project,” Imam Khamenei’s advisor added. “Hence, the Americans are terrorists, and they carry out government terrorism. The truth and the cause of their misdeeds are known to everyone.”

Velayati concluded by saying that “the spirit of martyr Hajj Qassem Soleimani elevates day after day because of the prayers of the free and Muslim peoples for him. The Iranian people and other nations hold him in a high regard. And the barking of this American dog will not bear fruit.”

Listening to Steve Bannon

Listening to Steve Bannon

September 18, 2020

Friends,

Those who know me know that I have no use for Steve Bannon and his pro-Papist and pro-Zionist agenda (he is what I refer to as a “national-Zionist”).  But let’s not deny that the man is clever and well connected.  He also understands US politics.  He just gave an interview to Tucker Carlson and I have to say that I fully share his analysis of the situation.  So, exceptionally for this blog, I bring you Steve Bannon and his take on what will happen this Fall.
The Saker

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)

Imam Khamenei’s Adviser: Snapback Mechanism Piece of US Propaganda

Imam Khamenei’s Adviser: Snapback Mechanism Piece of US Propaganda

By Staff, Agencies

Washington’s push to trigger the snapback mechanism of the JCPOA for re-imposing sanctions on Iran is nothing but an attempt to attract the American public attention as part of a propaganda game, Adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati said.

In an interview with Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, Velayati slammed the hype over the so-called snapback mechanism of the 2015 nuclear deal as a propaganda game.

Pointing to the US administration’s attempts to attract the public opinion after Donald Trump’s plummeting poll numbers, the member of the Iranian team of JCPOA observers lashed out at the US for reneging on the nuclear deal and refusing to lift the sanctions.

“A one-sided JCPOA has no validity,” Velayati added.

Asked about Iran’s reaction to a possible activation of the snapback mechanism, he said the US, which has already withdrawn from the deal, has no right to make any comment or trigger the mechanism.

On the expectations that Joe Biden would win the US presidential election, Velayati said the weakest diplomacy taken by a country is to pin hopes on the fate of other states, stressing that the Iranian authorities do not care who the next US president will be.

Last month, 13 countries of the 15-member council rejected the US push to trigger the snapback provision in the 2015 nuclear deal, leaving Washington isolated on the issue.

UNSC Resolution 2231, which enshrined the JCPOA, states that if no council member has put forward a draft resolution to extend sanctions relief on Iran within 10 days of a non-compliance complaint, then the body’s president shall do so within the remaining 20 days.

The document, however, says the Security Council would “take into account the views of the states involved.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that all UN sanctions against Iran will be reinstated on September 20 after the US “activated the snapback mechanism.”

However, the claim was strongly condemned by other signatories of the nuclear deal including the EU, Russia and China.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI television, Moscow, September 17, 2020

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI television, Moscow, September 17, 2020

September 18, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Question: I’ll start with the hottest topic, Belarus. President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko visited Bocharov Ruchei. Both sides have officially recognised that change within the Union State is underway. This begs the question: What is this about? A common currency, common army and common market? What will it be like?

Sergey Lavrov: It will be the way our countries decide. Work is underway. It relies on the 1999 Union Treaty. We understand that over 20 years have passed since then. That is why, a couple of years ago, upon the decision of the two presidents, the governments of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus began to work on identifying the agreed-upon steps that would make our integration fit current circumstances. Recently, at a meeting with Russian journalists, President Lukashenko said that the situation had, of course, changed and we must agree on ways to deepen integration from today’s perspective.

The presidential election has taken place in Belarus. The situation there is tense, because the opposition, backed by some of our Western colleagues, is trying to challenge the election outcome, but I’m convinced that the situation will soon get back to normal, and the work to promote integration processes will resume.

Everything that is written in the Union Treaty is now being analysed. Both sides have to come to a common opinion about whether a particular provision of the Union Treaty is still relevant, or needs to be revised. There are 31 roadmaps, and each one focuses on a specific section of the Union Treaty. So, there’s clearly a commitment to continue the reform, a fact that was confirmed by the presidents during a recent telephone conversation. This is further corroborated by the presidents’ meeting in Sochi.

I would not want that country’s neighbours, and our neighbours for that matter, including Lithuania, for example, to try to impose their will on the Belarusian people and, in fact, to manage the processes in which the opposition is unwittingly doing what’s expected of it. I have talked several times about Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s situation. Clearly, someone is putting words in her mouth. She is now in the capital of Lithuania, which, like our Polish colleagues, is strongly demanding a change of power in Belarus. You are aware that Lithuania declared Ms Tikhanovskaya the leader of the Republic of Belarus, and Alexander Lukashenko was declared an illegitimate president.

Ms Tikhanovskaya has made statements that give rise to many questions. She said she was concerned that Russia and Belarus have close relations. The other day, she called on the security and law-enforcement forces to side with the law. In her mind, this is a direct invitation to breach the oath of office and, by and large, to commit high treason. This is probably a criminal offense. So, those who provide her with a framework for her activities and tell her what to say and what issues to raise should, of course, realise that they may be held accountable for that.

Question: Commenting on the upcoming meeting of the presidents of Russia and Belarus in Sochi, Tikhanovskaya said: “Whatever they agree on, these agreements will be illegitimate, because the new state and the new leader will revise them.” How can one work under such circumstances?

Sergey Lavrov: She was also saying something like that when Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin went to Belarus to meet with President Lukashenko and Prime Minister Golovchenko. She was saying it then. Back then, the opposition was concerned about any more or less close ties between our countries. This is despite the fact that early on during the crisis they claimed that they in no way engaged in anti-Russia activities and wanted to be friends with the Russian people. However, everyone could have seen the policy paper posted on Tikhanovskaya’s website during the few hours it was there. The opposition leaders removed it after realising they had made a mistake sharing their goals and objectives with the public. These goals and objectives included withdrawal from the CSTO, the EAEU and other integration associations that include Russia, and drifting towards the EU and NATO, as well as the consistent banning of the Russian language and the Belarusianisation of all aspects of life.

We are not against the Belarusian language, but when they take a cue from Ukraine, and when the state language is used to ban a language spoken by the overwhelming majority of the population, this already constitutes a hostile act and, in the case of Ukraine, an act that violates its constitution. If a similar proposal is introduced into the Belarusian legal field, it will violate the Constitution of Belarus, not to mention numerous conventions on the rights of ethnic and language minorities, and much more.

I would like those who are rabidly turning the Belarusian opposition against Russia to realise their share of responsibility, and the opposition themselves, including Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and others – to find the courage to resist such rude and blatant manipulation.

Question: If we are talking about manipulation, we certainly understand that it has many faces and reflects on the international attitude towards Russia. Internationally, what are the risks for us of supporting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko? Don’t you think 26 years is enough? Maybe he has really served for too long?

Sergey Lavrov: The President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, did say it might have been “too long.” I believe he has proposed a very productive idea – constitutional reform. He talked about this even before the election, and has reiterated the proposal more than once since then. President of Russia Vladimir Putin supports this attitude. As the Belarusian leader said, after constitutional reform, he will be ready to announce early parliamentary and presidential elections. This proposal provides a framework where a national dialogue will be entirely possible. But it is important that representatives of all groups of Belarusian society to be involved in a constitutional reform process. This would ensure that any reform is completely legitimate and understandable for all citizens. Now a few specific proposals are needed concerning when, where and in what form this process can begin. I hope that this will be done, because President Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly reaffirmed carrying out this initiative.

Question: Since we started talking about the international attitude towards Russia, let’s go over to our other partner – the United States. The elections in the US will take place very soon. We are actively discussing this in Russia. When asked whether Russia was getting ready for the elections in the US at the Paris forum last year, you replied: “Don’t worry, we’ll resolve this problem.” Now that the US elections are around the corner, I would like to ask you whether you’ve resolved it.

Sergey Lavrov: Speaking seriously, of course we, like any other normal country that is concerned about its interests and international security, are closely following the progress of the election campaign in the US. There are many surprising things in it. Naturally, we see how important the Russian issue is in this electoral process. The Democrats are doing all they can to prove that Russia will exploit its hacker potential and play up to Donald Trump. We are already being accused of promoting the idea that the Democrats will abuse the mail-in voting option thereby prejudicing the unbiased nature of voting. I would like to note at this point that mail-in voting has become a target of consistent attacks on behalf of President Trump himself. Russia has nothing to do with this at all.

A week-long mail-in voting is an interesting subject in comparing election systems in different countries. We have introduced three-day voting for governors and legislative assembly deputies in some regions. You can see the strong criticism it is subjected to, inside Russia as well. When the early voting in the US lasts for weeks, if not months, it is considered a model of democracy. I don’t see any criticism in this respect. In principle, we have long proposed analysing election systems in the OSCE with a view to comparing best practices and reviewing obviously obsolete arrangements. There have been instances in the US when, due to its cumbersome and discriminatory election system, a nominee who received the majority of votes could lose because in a national presidential election the voting is done through the Electoral College process rather than directly by the people. There have been quite a few cases like that. I once told former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in reply to her grievances about our electoral system: “But look at your problem. Maybe you should try to correct this discriminatory voting system?” She replied that it is discriminatory but they are used to it and this is their problem, so I shouldn’t bother.

When the United States accuses us of interference in some area of its public, political or government life, we suggest discussing it to establish who is actually doing what. Since they don’t present any facts, we simply recite their Congressional acts. In 2014, they adopted an act on supporting Ukraine, which directly instructed the Department of State to spend $20 million a year on support for Russian NGOs. We asked whether this didn’t amount to interference. We were told by the US National Security Council that in reality they support democracy because we are wreaking chaos and pursuing authoritative and dictatorial trends abroad when we interfere in domestic affairs whereas they bring democracy and prosperity. This idea is deeply rooted in American mentality. The American elite has always considered its country and nation exceptional and has not been shy to admit it.

I won’t comment on the US election. This is US law and the US election system. Any comments I make will be again interpreted as an attempt to interfere in their domestic affairs. I will only say one thing that President Vladimir Putin has expressed many times, notably, that we will respect any outcome of these elections and the will of the American people.

We realise that there will be no major changes in our relations either with the Democrats or with the Republicans, as representatives of both parties loudly declare. However, there is hope that common sense will prevail and no matter who becomes President, the new US Government and administration will realise the need to cooperate with us in resolving very serious global problems on which the international situation depends.

Question: You mentioned an example where voters can choose one president and the Electoral College process, another. I even have that cover of Time magazine with Hillary Clinton and congratulations, released during the election. It is a fairly well-known story, when they ran this edition and then had to cancel it.

Sergey Lavrov: Even the President of France sent a telegramme, but then they immediately recalled it.

And these people are now claiming that Alexander Lukashenko is an illegitimate president.

Question: You mentioned NGOs. These people believe that NGOs in the Russian Federation support democratic institutions, although it is no secret to anyone who has at least a basic understanding of foreign and domestic policy that those NGOs act exclusively as institutions that destabilise the situation in the country.

Sergey Lavrov: Not all of them.

Question: Can you tell us more about this?

Sergey Lavrov: We have adopted a series of laws – on public associations, on non-profit organisations, on measures to protect people from human rights violations. There is a set of laws that regulate the activities of non-government organisations on our territory, both Russian and foreign ones.

Concepts have been introduced like “foreign agent,” a practice we borrowed from “the world’s most successful democracy” – the United States. They argue that we borrowed a practice from 1938 when the United States introduced the foreign agent concept to prevent Nazi ideology from infiltrating from Germany. But whatever the reason they had to create the concept – “foreign agent” – the Americans are still effectively using it, including in relation to our organisations and citizens, to Chinese citizens, to the media.

In our law, foreign agent status, whatever they say about it, does not prevent an organisation from operating on the territory of the Russian Federation. It just needs to disclose its funding sources and be transparent about the resources it receives. And even that, only if it is engaged in political activities. Initially, we introduced a requirement for these organisations that receive funding from abroad and are involved in political projects to initiate the disclosure process. But most of them didn’t want to comply with the law, so it was modified. Now this is done by the Russian Ministry of Justice.

Question: Do you think that NGOs are still soft power?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course. In Russia we have about 220,000 NGOs, out of which 180 have the status of a foreign agent. It’s a drop in the ocean. These are probably the organisations, funded from abroad, that are more active than others in promoting in our public space ideas that far from always correspond to Russian legislation.

There is also the notion of undesirable organisations. They are banned from working in the Russian Federation. But there are only about 30 of them, no more.

Question: Speaking about our soft power, what is our concept? What do we offer the world? What do you think the world should love us for? What is Russia’s soft power policy all about?

Sergey Lavrov: We want everything that has been created by nations and civilisations to be respected. We believe nobody should impose any orders on anyone, so that nothing like what has now happened in Hollywood takes place on a global scale. We think nobody should encroach on the right of each nation to have its historical traditions and moral roots. And we see attempts to encroach upon them.

If soft power is supposed to promote one’s own culture, language and traditions, in exchange for knowledge about the life of other nations and civilisations, then this is the approach that the Russian Federation supports in every way.

The Americans define the term “soft power” as an attempt to influence the hearts and minds of others politically. Their goal is not to promote their culture and language, but to change the mood of the political class with a view to subsequent regime change. They are doing this on a daily basis and don’t even conceal it. They say everywhere that their mission is to bring peace and democracy to all other countries.

Question: Almost any TV series out there shows the US president sitting in the Oval Office saying he’s the leader of the free world.

Sergey Lavrov: Not just TV series. Barack Obama has repeatedly stated that America is an exceptional nation and should be seen as an example by the rest of the world. My colleague Mike Pompeo recently said in the Czech Republic that they shouldn’t let the Russians into the nuclear power industry and should take the Russians off the list of companies that bid for these projects. It was about the same in Hungary. He then went to Africa and was quite vocal when he told the African countries not to do business with the Russians or the Chinese, because they are trading with the African countries for selfish reasons, whereas the US is establishing economic cooperation with them so they can prosper. This is a quote. It is articulated in a very straightforward manner, much the same way they run their propaganda on television in an unsophisticated broken language that the man in the street can relate to. So, brainwashing is what America’s soft power is known for.

Question: Not a single former Soviet republic has so far benefited from American soft power.

Sergey Lavrov: Not only former Soviet republics. Take a look at any other region where the Americans have effected a regime change.

QuestionLibya, Syria. We stood for Syria.

Sergey Lavrov: Iraq, Libya. They tried in Syria, but failed. I hope things will be different there. There’s not a single country where the Americans changed the regime and declared victory for democracy, like George W. Bush did on the deck of an aircraft carrier in Iraq in May 2003, which is prosperous now. He said democracy had won in Iraq. It would be interesting to know what the former US President thinks about the situation in Iraq today. But no one will, probably, go back to this, because the days when presidents honestly admitted their mistakes are gone.

QuestionHere I am listening to you and wondering how many people care about this? Why is it that no one understands this? Is this politics that is too far away from ordinary people who are nevertheless behind it? Take Georgia or Ukraine. People are worse off now than before, and despite this, this policy continues.

Will the Minsk agreements ever be implemented? Will the situation in southeastern Ukraine ever be settled?

Returning to what we talked about. How independent is Ukraine in its foreign policy?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think that under the current Ukrainian government, just like under the previous president, we will see any progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements, if only because President Zelensky himself is saying so publicly, as does Deputy Prime Minister Reznikov who is in charge of the Ukrainian settlement in the Contact Group. Foreign Minister of Ukraine Kuleba is also saying this. They say there’s a need for the Minsk agreements and they cannot be broken, because these agreements (and accusing Russia of non-compliance) are the foundation of the EU and the US policy in seeking to maintain the sanctions on Russia. Nevertheless, such a distorted interpretation of the essence of the Minsk agreements, or rather an attempt to blame everything on Russia, although Russia is never mentioned there, has stuck in the minds of our European colleagues, including France and Germany, who, being co-sponsors of the Minsk agreements along with us, the Ukrainians and Donbass, cannot but realise that the Ukrainians are simply distorting their responsibilities, trying to distance themselves from them and impose a different interpretation of the Minsk agreements. But even in this scenario, the above individuals and former Ukrainian President Kravchuk, who now heads the Ukrainian delegation to the Contact Group as part of the Minsk process, claim that the Minsk agreements in their present form are impracticable and must be revised, turned upside down. Also, Donbass must submit to the Ukrainian government and army before even thinking about conducting reforms in this part of Ukraine.

This fully contradicts the sequence of events outlined in the Minsk agreements whereby restoring Ukrainian armed forces’ control on the border with Russia is possible only after an amnesty, agreeing on the special status of these territories, making this status part of the Ukrainian Constitution and holding elections there. Now they propose giving back the part of Donbass that “rebelled” against the anti-constitutional coup to those who declared these people terrorists and launched an “anti-terrorist operation” against them, which they later renamed a Joint Forces Operation (but this does not change the idea behind it), and whom they still consider terrorists. Although everyone remembers perfectly well that in 2014 no one from Donbass or other parts of Ukraine that rejected the anti-constitutional coup attacked the putschists and the areas that immediately fell under the control of the politicians behind the coup. On the contrary, Alexander Turchinov, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and others like them attacked these areas. The guilt of the people living there was solely in them saying, “You committed a crime against the state, we do not want to follow your rules, let us figure out our own future and see what you will do next.” There’s not a single example that would corroborate the fact that they engaged in terrorism. It was the Ukrainian state that engaged in terrorism on their territory, in particular, when they killed [Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic] Alexander Zakharchenko and a number of field commanders in Donbass. So, I am not optimistic about this.

Question: So, we are looking at a dead end?

Sergey Lavrov: You know, we still have an undeniable argument which is the text of the Minsk Agreements approved by the UN Security Council.

QuestionBut they tried to revise it?

Sergey Lavrov: No, they are just making statements to that effect. When they gather for a Contact Group meeting in Minsk, they do their best to look constructive. The most recent meeting ran into the Ukrainian delegation’s attempts to pretend that nothing had happened. They recently passed a law on local elections which will be held in a couple of months. It says that elections in what are now called the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics will be held only after the Ukrainian army takes control of the entire border and those who “committed criminal offenses” are arrested and brought to justice even though the Minsk agreements provide for amnesty without exemptions.

Question: When I’m asked about Crimea I recall the referendum. I was there at a closed meeting in Davos that was attended by fairly well respected analysts from the US. They claimed with absolute confidence that Crimea was being occupied. I reminded them about the referendum. I was under the impression that these people either didn’t want to see or didn’t know how people lived there, that they have made their choice. Returning to the previous question, I think that nobody is interested in the opinion of the people.

Sergey Lavrov: No, honest politicians still exist. Many politicians, including European ones, were in Crimea during the referendum. They were there not under the umbrella of some international organisation but on their own because the OSCE and other international agencies were controlled by our Western colleagues. Even if we had addressed them, the procedure for coordinating the monitoring would have never ended.

Question: Just as in Belarus. As I see it, they were also invited but nobody came.

Sergey Lavrov: The OSCE refused to send representatives there. Now that the OSCE is offering its services as a mediator, I completely understand Mr Lukashenko who says the OSCE lost its chance. It could have sent observers and gained a first-hand impression of what was happening there, and how the election was held. They arrogantly disregarded the invitation. We know that the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is practically wholly controlled by NATO. We have repeatedly proposed that our nominees work there but they have not been approved. This contradicts the principles of the OSCE. We will continue to seek a fairer approach to the admission of members to the organisation, but I don’t have much hope for this. Former OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger made an effort with this for the past three years but not everything depended on him – there is a large bloc of EU and NATO countries that enjoy a mathematical majority and try to dictate their own rules. But this is a separate issue.

Returning to Crimea, I have read a lot about this; let me give you two examples. One concerns my relations with former US Secretary of State John Kerry. In April 2014, we met in Geneva: me, John Kerry, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and then Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andrey Deshchitsa. We compiled a one page document that was approved unanimously. It read that we, the representatives of Russia, the US and the EU welcomed the commitments of the Ukrainian authorities to carry out decentralisation of the country with the participation of all the regions of Ukraine. This took place after the Crimean referendum. Later, the Americans, the EU and of course Ukraine “forgot” about this document. John Kerry told me at this meeting that everyone understood that Crimea was Russian, that the people wanted to return, but that we held the referendum so quickly that it didn’t fit into the accepted standards of such events. He asked me to talk to President Vladimir Putin, organise one more referendum, announce it in advance and invite international observers. He said he would support their visit there, that the result would be the same but that we would be keeping up appearances. I asked him why put on such shows if they understand that this was the expression of the will of the people.

The second example concerns the recent statements by the EU and the European Parliament to the effect that “the occupation” of Crimea is a crude violation of the world arrangement established after the victory in World War II. But if this criterion is used to determine where Crimea belongs, when the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic joined the UN after WWII in 1945, Crimea did not belong to it. Crimea was part of the USSR. Later, Nikita Khrushchev took an illegal action, which contradicted Soviet law, and this led to them having it. But we all understood that this was a domestic political game as regards a Soviet republic that was the home to Khrushchev and many of his associates.

Question: You have been Foreign Minister for 16 years now. This century’s major foreign policy challenges fell on your term in office. We faced sanctions, and we adapted to them and coped with them. Germany said it obtained Alexey Navalny’s test results. France and Sweden have confirmed the presence of Novichok in them. Reportedly, we are now in for more sanctions. Do you think the Navalny case can trigger new sanctions against Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: I agree with our political analysts who are convinced that if it were not for Navalny, they would have come up with something else in order to impose more sanctions.

With regard to this situation, I think our Western partners have simply gone beyond decency and reason. In essence, they are now demanding that we “confess.” They are asking us: Don’t you believe what the German specialists from the Bundeswehr are saying? How is that possible? Their findings have been confirmed by the French and the Swedes. You don’t believe them, either?

It’s a puzzling situation given that our Prosecutor General’s Office filed an inquiry about legal assistance on August 27 and hasn’t received an answer yet. Nobody knows where the inquiry has been for more than a week now. We were told it was at the German Foreign Ministry. The German Foreign Ministry did not forward the request to the Ministry of Justice, which was our Prosecutor General Office’s  ultimate addressee. Then, they said that it had been transferred to the Berlin Prosecutor’s Office, but they would not tell us anything without the consent of the family. They are urging us to launch a criminal investigation.

We have our own laws, and we cannot take someone’s word for it to open a criminal case. Certain procedures must be followed. A pre-investigation probe initiated immediately after this incident to consider the circumstances of the case is part of this procedure.

Some of our Western colleagues wrote that, as the German doctors discovered, it was “a sheer miracle” that Mr Navalny survived. Allegedly, it was the notorious Novichok, but he survived thanks to “lucky circumstances.” What kind of lucky circumstances are we talking about? First, the pilot immediately landed the plane; second, an ambulance was already waiting on the airfield; and third, the doctors immediately started to provide help. This absolutely impeccable behaviour of the pilots, doctors and ambulance crew is presented as “lucky circumstances.” That is, they even deny the possibility that we are acting as we should. This sits deep in the minds of those who make up such stories.

Returning to the pre-investigation probe, everyone is fixated on a criminal case. If we had opened a criminal case right away (we do not have legal grounds to do so yet, and that is why the Prosecutor General’s Office requested legal assistance from Germany on August 27), what would have been done when it happened? They would have interviewed the pilot, the passengers and the doctors. They would have found out what the doctors discovered when Navalny was taken to the Omsk hospital, and what medications were used. They would have interviewed the people who communicated with him. All of that was done. They interviewed the five individuals who accompanied him and participated in the events preceding Navalny boarding the plane; they interviewed the passengers who were waiting for a flight to Moscow in Tomsk and sat at the same bar; they found out what they ordered and what he drank. The sixth person, a woman who accompanied him, has fled, as you know. They say she was the one who gave the bottle to the German lab. All this has been done. Even if all of that was referred to as a “criminal case,” we couldn’t have done more.

Our Western partners are looking down on us as if we have no right to question what they are saying or their professionalism. If this is the case, it means that they dare to question the professionalism of our doctors and investigators. Unfortunately, this position is reminiscent of other times. Arrogance and a sense of infallibility have already been observed in Europe, and that led to very regrettable consequences.

Question: How would you describe this policy of confrontation? When did it start (I mean during your term of office)? It’s simply so stable at the moment that there seems no chance that something might change in the future.

Sergey Lavrov: President of Russia Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken on this topic. I think that the onset of this policy, this era of constant pressure on Russia began with the end of a period that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, a time when the West believed it had Russia there in its pocket – it ended, full stop. Unfortunately, the West does not seem to be able to wrap its head around this, to accept that there is no alternative to Russia’s independent actions, both domestically and on the international arena. This is why, unfortunately, this agony continues by inertia.

Having bad ties with any country have never given us any pleasure. We do not like making such statements in which we sharply criticise the position of the West. We always try to find compromises, but there are situations where it is hard not to come face to face with one another directly or to avoid frank assessments of what our Western friends are up to.

I have read what our respected political scientists write who are well known in the West. And I can say this idea is starting to surface ever stronger and more often – it is time we stop measuring our actions with the yardsticks that the West offers us and to stop trying to please the West at all costs. These are very serious people and they are making a serious point. The fact that the West is prodding us to this way of thinking, willingly or unwillingly, is obvious to me. Most likely, this is being done involuntarily. But it is a big mistake to think that Russia will play by Western rules in any case – as big a mistake as like approaching China with the same yardstick.

Question: Then I really have to ask you. We are going through digitalisation. I think when you started your diplomatic career, you could not even have imagined that some post on Twitter could affect the political situation in a country. Yet – I can see your smile – we are living in a completely different world. Film stars can become presidents; Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook can become drivers of political campaigns – that happened more than once – and those campaigns can be successful. We are going through digitalisation, and because of this, many unexpected people appear in international politics – unexpected for you, at least. How do you think Russia’s foreign policy will change in this context? Are we ready for social media to be impacting our internal affairs? Is the Chinese scenario possible in Russia, with most Western social media blocked to avoid their influence on the internal affairs in that country?

Sergey Lavrov: Social media are already exerting great influence on our affairs. This is the reality in the entire post-Soviet space and developing countries. The West, primarily the United States, is vigorously using social media to promote their preferred agenda in just about any state. This necessitates a new approach to ensuring the national security. We have been doing this for a long time already.

As for regulating social media, everyone does it. You know that the digital giants in the United States have been repeatedly caught introducing censorship, primarily against us, China or other countries they dislike, shutting off information that comes from these places.

The internet is regulated by companies based in the United States, everyone knows that. In fact, this situation has long made the overwhelming majority of countries want to do something about it, considering the global nature of the internet and social media, to make sure that the management processes are approved at a global level, become transparent and understandable. The International Telecommunication Union, a specialised UN agency, has been out there for years. Russia and a group of other co-sponsoring countries are promoting the need to regulate the internet in such a way that everyone understands how it works and what principles govern it, in this International Union. Now we can see how Mark Zuckerberg and other heads of large IT companies are invited to the Congress and lectured there and asked to explain what they are going to do. We can see this. But a situation where it will be understandable for everyone else and, most importantly, where everyone is happy with it, still seems far away.

For many years, we have been promoting at the UN General Assembly an initiative to agree on the rules of responsible behaviour of states in the sphere of international information security. This initiative has already led to set up several working groups, which have completed their mandate with reports. The last such report was reviewed last year and another resolution was adopted. This time, it was not a narrow group of government experts, but a group that includes all UN member states. It was planning to meet, but things slowed down due to the coronavirus. The rules for responsible conduct in cyberspace are pending review by this group. These rules were approved by the SCO, meaning they already reflect a fairly large part of the world’s population.

Our other initiative is not about the use of cyberspace for undermining someone’s security; it is about fighting crimes (pedophilia, pornography, theft) in cyberspace. This topic is being considered by another UNGA committee. We are preparing a draft convention that will oblige all states to suppress criminal activities in cyberspace.

QuestionDo you think that the Foreign Ministry is active on this front? Would you like to be more proactive in the digital dialogue? After all, we are still bound by ethics, and have yet to understand whether we can cross the line or not. Elon Musk feels free to make any statements no matter how ironic and makes headlines around the world, even though anything he says has a direct bearing on his market cap. This is a shift in the ethics of behaviour. Do you think that this is normal? Is this how it should be? Or maybe people still need to behave professionally?

Sergey Lavrov: A diplomat can always use irony and a healthy dose of cynicism. In this sense, there is no contradiction here. However, this does not mean that while making ironic remarks on the surrounding developments or comments every once in a while (witty or not so witty), you do not have to work on resolving legal matters related to internet governance. This is what we are doing.

The Foreign Ministry has been at the source of these processes. We have been closely coordinating our efforts on this front with the Security Council Office, and the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media and other organisations. Russian delegations taking part in talks include representatives from various agencies. Apart from multilateral platforms such as the International Telecommunication Union, the UN General Assembly and the OSCE, we are working on this subject in bilateral relations with our key partners.

We are most interested in working with our Western partners, since we have an understanding on these issues with countries that share similar views. The Americans and Europeans evade these talks under various pretexts. There seemed to be an opening in 2012 and 2013, but after the government coup in Ukraine, they used it as a pretext to freeze this process. Today, there are some signs that the United States and France are beginning to revive these contacts, but our partners have been insufficiently active. What we want is professional dialogue so that they can raise all their concerns and accusations and back them with specific facts. We stand ready to answer all the concerns our partners may have, and will not fail to voice the concerns we have. We have many of them.

During the recent visit by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to Russia, I handed him a list containing dozens of incidents we have identified: attacks against our resources, with 70 percent of them targeting state resources of the Russian Federation, and originating on German territory. He promised to provide an answer, but more than a month after our meeting we have not seen it so far.

Question: Let me ask you about another important initiative by the Foreign Ministry. You decided to amend regulations enabling people to be repatriated from abroad for   free, and you proposed subjecting the repatriation guarantee to the reimbursement of its cost to the budget. Could you tell us, please, is this so expensive for the state to foot this bill?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, these a substantial expenses. The resolution that provided for offering free assistance was adopted back in 2010, and was intended for citizens who find themselves in situations when their life is at risk. Imagine a Russian ambassador. Most of the people ask for help because they have lost money, their passport and so on. There are very few cases when an ambassador can actually say that a person is in a life-threatening situation and his or her life is in danger. How can an ambassador take a decision of this kind? As long as I remember, these cases can be counted on the fingers of my two hands since 2010, when an ambassador had to take responsibility and there were grounds for offering this assistance. We wanted to ensure that people can get help not only when facing an imminent danger (a dozen cases in ten years do not cost all that much). There were many more cases when our nationals found themselves in a difficult situation after losing money or passports. We decided to follow the practices used abroad. Specifically, this means that we provide fee-based assistance. In most cases, people travelling abroad can afford to reimburse the cost of a return ticket.

This practice is designed to prevent fraud, which remains an issue. We had cases when people bought one-way tickets knowing that they will have to be repatriated.

Question: And with no return ticket, they go to the embassy?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, after that they come to the embassy. For this reason, I believe that the system we developed is much more convenient and comprehensive for dealing with the situations Russians get into when travelling abroad, and when we have to step in to help them through our foreign missions.

Question: Mr Lavrov, thank you for your time. As a Georgian, I really have to ask this. Isn’t it time to simplify the visa regime with Georgia? A second generation of Georgians has now grown up that has never seen Russia. What do you think?

Sergey Lavrov: Georgians can travel to Russia – they just need to apply for a visa. The list of grounds for obtaining a visa has been expanded. There are practically no restrictions on visiting Russia, after obtaining a visa in the Interests Section for the Russian Federation in Tbilisi or another Russian overseas agency.

As for visa-free travel, as you know, we were ready for this a year ago. We were actually a few steps away from being ready to announce it when that incident happened with the Russian Federal Assembly delegation to the International Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, where they were invited in the first place, seated in their chairs, and then violence was almost used against them.

I am confident that our relations with Georgia will recover and improve. We can see new Georgian politicians who are interested in this. For now, there are just small parties in the ruling elites. But I believe our traditional historical closeness, and the mutual affinity between our peoples will ultimately triumph. Provocateurs who are trying to prevent Georgia from resuming normal relations with Russia will be put to shame.

They are trying to use Georgia the same way as Ukraine. In Ukraine, the IMF plays a huge role. And the IMF recently decided that each tranche allocated to Ukraine would be short-term.

Question: Microcredits.

Sergey Lavrov: Microcredits and a short leash that can always be pulled a little.

They are trying to use Georgia the same way. We have no interest in seeing this situation continue. We did not start it and have never acted against the Georgian people. Everyone remembers the 2008 events, how American instructors arrived there and trained the Georgian army. The Americans were well aware of Mikheil Saakashvili’s lack of restraint. He trampled on all agreements and issued a criminal order.

We are talking about taking their word for it. There were many cases when we took their word for it, but then it all boiled down to zilch. In 2003, Colin Powell, a test tube – that was an academic version. An attack on Iraq followed. Many years later, Tony Blair admitted that there had been no nuclear weapons in Iraq. There were many such stories. In 1999, the aggression against Yugoslavia was triggered by the OSCE representative in the Balkans, US diplomat William Walker, who visited the village of Racak, where they found thirty corpses, and declared it genocide of the Albanian population. A special investigation by the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found they were military dressed in civilian clothes. But Mr Walker loudly declared it was genocide. Washington immediately seized on the idea, and so did London and other capitals. NATO launched an aggression against Yugoslavia.

After the end of the five-day military operation to enforce peace, the European Union ordered a special report from a group of invited experts, including Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini. She was later involved in the Minsk process, and then she was asked to lead a group of experts who investigated the outbreak of the military conflict in August 2008. The conclusion was unambiguous. All this happened on the orders of Mikheil Saakashvili, and as for his excuses that someone had provoked him, or someone had been waiting for him on the other side of the tunnel, this was just raving.

Georgians are a wise nation. They love life, perhaps the same way and the same facets that the peoples in the Russian Federation do. We will overcome the current abnormal situation and restore normal relations between our states and people.


In addition, if you follow the Minister, follow up on this interview with Sputnik

Exclusive: Sergei Lavrov Talks About West’s Historical Revisionism, US Election and Navalny Case

قراءة في المشهدالسياسي الأميركي عشية الانتخابات (1)

زياد حافظ

يعتبر العديد من المراقبين الأميركيين والدوليين والعرب أنّ الانتخابات الأميركية التي ستجري في مطلع شهر تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر 2020 نقطة تحوّل تاريخية في مسار الأمور سواء كانت على الصعيد الداخلي الأميركي أو على الصعيد الدولي. فعلى الصعيد الداخلي يأمل البعض أن هزيمة الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب أمر حتمي سيعيد الأمور “إلى نصابها” دون التحديد ما هو مقصود بذلك. في المقابل هناك من يعتقد أنّ الرئيس الأميركي ما زال قويّاً ويتمتع بقاعدة صلبة ستمكّنه من الاستمرار في البيت الأبيض لمدة أربع سنوات إضافية. لكن بعيداً عن التكهّنات والتوقّعات من الطرفين المتخاصمين على الساحة الداخلية الأميركية هناك عدّة ملاحظات يمكن إبدائها حول التطوّرات المقبلة.

الملاحظة الأولى هي أنّ انتخابات 2020 هي استكمال لانتخابات 2016 التي لم تنته آنذاك بسبب رفض الحزب الديمقراطي ومعه النسيج الليبرالي والنيوليبرالي للنخب الحاكمة والدولة العميقة المتمثّلة بالمجمّع العسكري الصناعي الأمني المالي والإعلامي لنتائج تلك الانتخابات. فالسنوات الأربع التي مضت لم تشهد إلا محاولات (فاشلة) لخلع أو إسقاط الرئيس الأميركي عبر تلفيق اتهامات بالتواطؤ مع روسيا التي “تدخّلت” في الانتخابات عبر قرصنة البريد الخاص بالمنافسة الديمقراطية هيلاري كلنتون. لم تقبل القيادة الديمقراطية بأنّ المنافِسة كلينتون خاضت معركة سيئة ظهر فيها التعالي والاحتقار لشريحة واسعة من الشعب الأميركي (وصفتهم بالمنبوذين!) بل حاولت تبرير الهزيمة على التدخّل الروسي. ما تبع ذلك من تحقيقات واسعة النطاق أفضت إلى أنه لم يكن هناك أيّ دليل على التدخل. كما أنّ محاولات أخرى للإطاحة عبر محاكمة الرئيس بتهمة سوء استعمال السلطات لم تفض إلى شيء. المهم أنّ حالة الانقسام الحاد سادت في المشهد السياسي الداخلي بل تفاقم إلى حدود قد تصل إلى حرب أهلية داخلية.

الملاحظة الثانية هي أنّ الانتخابات ستجري في مناخ مضطرب للغاية حيث جائحة كورونا أفضت إلى بطالة فاقت 40 مليون وتدهور في الواقع الاقتصادي والاجتماعي ينذر بمآسي الكساد الكبير الذي ساد في الثلاثينات من القرن الماضي، وإلى موجة احتجاجات عنصرية وصلت في العديد من الحالات إلى اعتداءات على الأملاك العامة والخاصة وذلك وسط دعوات لإسقاط دوائر الشرطة وعدم تمويلها ودعوات الدفاع عن النفس من قبل المجموعات التي اعتبرت نفسها مستهدفة من خصومها أياً كانوا!

الملاحظة الثالثة هي أنّ تسييس جائحة كورونا من قبل ترامب وخصومه على حدّ سواء جعلت مواجهة الجائحة من الأمور الصعبة. ففي المراحل الأولى كان موقف الإدارة من الجائحة مائعاً حيث خطورتها لم تكن لتحظى بانتباهها بينما في مرحلة ثانية كان التشدّد في اتخاذ الإجراءات الصارمة لكن في المرحلة الثالثة (الحالية) هناك المزيج من التشدّد والتخفيف في الإجراءات. بات واضحاً أنه ليست هناك قناعة بأنّ الجائحة هي خطر فعلي بسبب تناقض التقارير الطبية والعلمية حولها. هذا حديث آخر لكن في آخر المطاف أصبح جزءاً من الخطاب اليومي والفاصل بين مؤيّد لسياسة الإدارة في مواجهة الجائحة ومعارض لها ليس على قاعدة علمية بل على قاعدة سياسية محض. وهذا الخلاف يساهم في تأجيج الاستقطاب والشحن الداخلي حيث المعركة أصبحت معركة تكسير عظم ليس إلاّ.

الملاحظة الرابعة هي انّ تجمّع الشركات الكبرى والإعلام والحزب الديمقراطي ساهم في تأجيج الخطاب المناهض للعنصرية ضدّ السود ولكن بالتصويب على إدارة ترامب. فالشركات الكبرى كشركة “نايك” للملبوسات الرياضية وشركة “أمازون” على سبيل المثال والمؤسسات التي تحمل شعارات الانفتاح كمؤسسة جورج سوروس دعمت مالياً حركة “بي أل أم” (بلاك لايفز ماتر، أي حياة السود مهمة) ولذلك لتحويل الانتباه عن الاقتصادية والاجتماعية لجائحة كورونا. كما أنّ تشجيع الاحتجاجات ضدّ العنصرية أدّت إلى تصاعد أعمال الشغب ضدّ الأملاك العامة والخاصة وذلك بمباركة الحزب الديمقراطي والمرشّح الرئاسي جوزيف بايدن. لكن ذلك ترافق مع نقض رموز الثورة الأميركية بحجة أنهم كانوا من ملاّكي الرقيق. هذا شكّل صدمة في صفوف بين البيض الأميركيين حيث أصبحوا يعتبرون أنفسهم مستهدفين من قبل عنصرية معاكسة. كما أنّ الحزب الديمقراطي بتبنّيه إعادة النظر في مؤسسات الشرطة جعله يقترن بحزب الفوضى. وتنامي حركات اليسار المتطرّف كحركة “أنتيفا” ساهم في تأجيج الخوف من الفوضى. هذا أدّى إلى تصاعد التأييد للرئيس الأميركي في استطلاعات الرأي العام حيث التعادل الو التفوّق البسيط يسقط التفاؤل المفرط الذي كان سائداً لصالح جوزيف بايدن.

الملاحظة الخامسة هي تراجع الصحّة العقلية للمرشح بايدن حيث حرص الحزب الديمقراطي على تقليل الظهور العلني له والاكتفاء بإلقاء الخطابات المكتوبة وعدم الارتجال. كما أنّ زعيمة الأكثرية الديمقراطية في مجلس الممثلين نانسي بيلوسي دعت إلى إلغاء المناظرات المرتقبة بين الرئيس الأميركي ومنافسه خشية من تحطيم صورة المرشّح أمام الشعب الأميركي. من جهة أخرى، فإنّ اختيار كامالا هاريس كمرشحة لمنصب نائب رئيس لم يساعد الحزب الديمقراطي على زيادة التأييد له في الانتخابات المقبلة بسبب عدم شعبيتها خارج ولاية كاليفورنيا التي تصوّت تلقائياً للمرشح الديمقراطي وخاصة في المدن الكبرى. وبالتالي لن تقدم أيّاً من الولايات المتأرجحة، بينما لو تمّ اختيار حاكمة ولاية ميشيغان غريتشن ويتمر أو الشيخة عن ولاية مينيسوتا امي كلوبشار، لتحسّنت ظروف بايدن بالفوز بالولايتين المتأرجحتين.

هذه الملاحظات تعكس مدى الاضطراب في المشهد الداخلي الأميركي. وما يؤكّد على ذلك التحوّل الذي يجري يوماً بعد يوم في استطلاعات الرأي العام حيث التفوّق الكبير الذي كان يحظى به بايدن في مطلع الصيف تراجع إلى مستوى التعادل وحتى في بعض الأحيان إلى الموقع السلبي. السيولة الفائقة في استطلاعات الرأي العام تعني أنه من الصعب التكهّن من سيفوز بالانتخابات الرئاسية في تشرين الثاني. وما يزيد الطين بلّة هو الانفصام بين القاعدة الشابة للحزب الديمقراطي والقيادة التي شاخت وذلك في للعديد من الملفّات الداخلية والخارجية ما يجعل إقبال الشباب الديمقراطي على الاقتراع مسألة غير محسومة. من جهة أخرى أعرب برني ساندر عن قلقه لمسار الحملة الانتخابية للمرشح بايدن ما يعزّز القلق حول فرص الفوز في تشرين الثاني المقبل.

كاتب وباحث اقتصادي سياسي والأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي

Western Bankocracy: Banks loaned 0.2% of $600 billion in Main Street lending plan

Western Bankocracy: Banks loaned 0.2% of $600 billion in Main Street lending plan

September 18, 2020

By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

Bloomberg reported that the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) has left 99.8% of its $600 billion loan pool untapped. So if you work for one of the just 118 medium-sized businesses who have acquired a loan – congrats, you might just make it through 2020.

Just as the Eurozone was emphatically reminded during its pre-Covid “Austerity Decade”, government-issued Quantitative Easing will never flow down (much less trickle) in the endemically low growth Western bankocracies unless strings are attached. However, the defining feature of the Western neoliberal bankocracy is that there are never any strings to free money for the 1%.

The failure of the MSLP proves yet again that QE is wasted on the rich and their fake FIRE economies.

Or, in this case, QE is not even used because in the Western system governments are only permitted to throw money at the banks and hope that banks use it – they are not permitted to give directly to the people nor to compel banks to loan, unlike in socialist-inspired economies like China, Iran, etc.

Why is MSLP not being used? Short answer: even though the government is backing 95% of the loans, multinational corporate banks refuse to participate with just a 5% risk.

Longer answers: They obviously cannot see the forest for the trees; their shareholders would sue them for acting patriotically; foreign banks are quite happy to foreclose on US assets; major domestic banks are quite happy to foreclose on US assets.

The only people in the Western financial world who even decry the bankocracy I so often describe don’t want to change it – these are the vultures who are quite upset that they can’t happily (but patriotically, they insist) foreclose on assets themselves. This “pure capitalism” they Salafistically aspire to would lead to a vast reduction in inequality to the point where we would talk about the “2%” instead of the current “1%”.

As I wrote from the start and ad infinitum (50 articles in 4 months/1 Groundhog Day), this was an easily-foreseeable disaster because their Great Lockdown attempted to (poorly and hysterically) emulate countries like China even though the West has none of the systemic socioeconomic safeguards socialist-inspired countries use in order to weather these types of disruptive events.

Personally, I’ve been so focused on covering the US election – and reporting on genuinely leftist parties like Party for Socialism and Liberation (Total 2016 presidential votes which were denied to the duopoly and made in favor of a rather spectacular campaign platform: 74,401 (0.05% of the total, and counting!)) – that I’ve neglected to keep documenting what a total catastrophe the Western coronavirus response still is.

The MSLP failure is rather a douse of cold water.

The program was designed to fail’ because Western bankocracy is designed to fail the average citizen

While the Paycheck Protection Program was aimed at small businesses (less than 500 employees) which were in total desperation due to the impeccable logic of quarantining healthy people continent-wide, MSLP was aimed at medium-sized businesses (less than 15,000 employees), which represent 1/3rd of private sector GDP and which employ 50 million Americans.

After being announced in April but not starting until mid-June, it’s now clear that small community banks, who actually may care about their Main Street not collapsing the entire community, are the only ones doing any lending.

Major banks like JPMorgan are sabotaging MSLP by refusing to participate by – per Bloomberg – doing things like asking applicants for terms which go beyond onerous, such as to “pledge real estate it doesn’t have”. JPMorgan reportedly had 2,000 applicants for MSLP – after finding out what JPMorgan demanded in return for a merely 5% risk only around 100 applicants still applied.

This is a doubly big problem, as MSLP was expressly intended for companies who cannot get loans during even normal times. Triply big problem: we should give JPMorgan some credit, I guess, because Wells Fargo, Citigroup and US Bank are refusing to take new customers.

This why applicants lamented MSLP is “designed to fail” – or in socialist terms, designed to increase market concentration and inequality. Governments can take risks, as they can print money, but in Western neoliberalism they cannot force private banks to take risks. The only choice, obviously, is for direct government control over at least some parts of banking but that is verboten in the US.

MSLP is such a catastrophe – and one surely colluded upon beforehand in a smoky backroom “filled” with the heads of the mere handful of top US banks – that one Florida lender accounts for half of all the loans.

The failure of MSLP shows that without lobbying and/or corporate power the “We the people” US government cannot help you. The “people” in a bankocracy is, of course, corporations and shareholders only – the US Supreme Court formally codified this in the 2010 Citizens United case.

For companies which cannot benefit from the Fed-backstopped corporate bond-buying craze ($1.2 trillion since March) and who needed more than just the Paycheck Protection Program, the failure to secure loans will mean more bankruptcies and social disaster.

Given that US culture is so very German-influenced – in the composition of its citizenry, in its evangelical and supremacist fascism, in its anti-socialism, in the original neoliberalism (ordoliberalism) – it’s ironic that the US cannot preserve these medium-sized Mittlestand businesses which are the backbone of German economic strength. Germany, of course, relies much more on local banks than international corporate ones. And, thanks to the money neoliberally/neo-imperialistically (the two are synonymous, of course) bloodsucked from their Eurozone “allies”, their $1.5 trillion coronavirus fiscal stimulus package – the biggest in the West compared to national GDP and a stunningly hypocritical 52% of all coronavirus aid approved by the European Commission – will allow them to only increase their European supremacy amid the Eurozone’s endless stagnation.

From the individual to the medium-big business, those without lobby influence and without credit at the start of the crisis aren’t getting influence or credit now (and this was widely predicted by capitalist-cynics like myself) even with MSLP. The US government has made a show of being independent from high finance, but MSLP is yet another proof that in the Western bankocracy it is banks who decide on socio-economic policy, even amid unprecedented crisis.

In a crisis you have to dance with the girl that brung ya: That is why I wrote so much about the certain suicide of a Great Lockdown in the capitalist-imperialist West. Contrarily, China, due to their very different economic inspirations, will be the only G20 country with positive economic growth – they’ve even doubled their annual projection from (back in only June) 1.8% for 2020 to 3.7%.

MSLP’s failure will only add to US economic woes, and even if they make changes it will be too late to save so very many jobs, assets, companies, households, etc.

I do not get much pleasure to write in September that my prediction that socialist-inspired countries would economically and socially weather the coronavirus better than Western capitalist-inspired ones has been proven correct. The only thing I can say is that Westerners often do not understand the underpinnings of their own system. That helps explain why they delusionally believed a “V-shaped” recovery was not only possible but certain, when an inequality-increasing “K-shaped” has been the clear result of their Great Lockdown. (Get the Nation of Islam’s take on that economy reality here. Interviewing Black Muslim leaders on national, not identity, issues – what a concept! Interviewing Black Muslims at all in the US – what a concept, LOL.)

The West thinks they are a walking, talking “universal value” but it is not like them everywhere. Just call up someone from Party for Socialism and Liberation to learn how There Is No An Alternative.

If the West still insists on not massively switching to the socialist alternative, then they should dance with the girl that brung them – i.e., start sending coronavirus-infected blankets to places rich in natural resources, and then claim it was more advanced intellectual ideas which increased the bottom line.

The problem with that is that the coronavirus has been somewhat serious but not anywhere equal to the hysteria evinced in Western nations, so it won’t really decimate populations like in the good old days.


Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Iran Warns of Decisive Response after Trump Threat

Source

September 15, 2020

Ali Rabiee, spokesperson for the Iranian administration

Iran on Tuesday dismissed as falsified reports to which the US president has referred to threaten Iran with military action, warning Washington against making a “strategic mistake.”

“We hope that they do not make a new strategic mistake and certainly in the case of any strategic mistake, they will witness Iran’s decisive response,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told a televised news conference.

In a tweet on Monday, Trump said any attack by Iran would be met with a response “1,000 times greater in magnitude”, after a Politico report alleged that Iran has plans to avenge the assassination of top commander Lt. General Qassem Suleimani by killing the US ambassador to South Africa.

The Iranian spokesperson deplored such statements as “lame, falsified and maybe even custom-ordered.”

Rabiei expressed regret that “the president of a country who has claims to global management and order would make hasty, agenda-fueled and dubious remarks on such a weak basis.”

He warned that reacting to such reports would “achieve nothing but disruption to the region and to world calm” and advised Trump to “refrain from fresh adventurism… for the sake of winning a new term as president.”

Source: AFP and Tasnim news agencies

Reconsidering the Presidential Election

Reconsidering the Presidential Election

THE SAKER • SEPTEMBER 14, 2020

In early July I wrote a piece entitled “Does the next Presidential election even matter?” in which I made the case that voting in the next election to choose who will be the next puppet in the White House will be tantamount to voting for a new captain while the Titanic is sinking. I gave three specific reasons why I thought that the next election would be pretty much irrelevant:

  1. The US system is rigged to give all the power to minorities and to completely ignore the will of the people
  2. The choice between the Demolicans and the Republicrats is not a choice at all
  3. The systemic crisis of the US is too deep to be affected by who is in power in the White House

I have now reconsidered my position and I now see that I was wrong because I missed something important:

A lot has happened in the past couple of months and I now have come to conclude that while choosing a captain won’t make any difference to a sinking Titanic, it might make a huge difference to those passengers who are threatened by a group of passengers run amok. In other words, while I still do not think that the next election will change much for the rest of the planet (the decay of the Empire will continue), it is gradually becoming obvious that for the United States the difference between the two sides is becoming very real.

Why?

This is probably the first presidential election in US history where the choice will be not between two political programs or two political personalities, but the stark and binary choice between law and order and total chaos.

It is now clear that the Dems are supporting the rioting mobs and that they see these mobs as the way to beat Trump.

It is also becoming obvious that this is not a white vs. black issue: almost all the footage from the rioting mobs shows a large percentage of whites, sometimes even a majority of whites, especially amongst the most aggressive and violent rioters (the fact that these whites regularly get beat up by rampaging blacks hunting for “whitey” does not seem to deter these folks).

True, both sides blame each other for “dividing the country” and “creating the conditions for a civil war”, but any halfway objective and fact based appraisal of what is taking place shows that the Dems have comprehensively caved into the BLM/Antifa ideology (which is hardly surprising, since that ideology is a pure product of the Dems (pseudo-)liberal worldview in the first place). Yes, the Demolicans and the Republicrats are but two factions of the same “Party of Money”, but the election of Trump in 2016 and the subsequent 4 years of intense seditious efforts to delegitimize Trump have resulted in a political climate in which we roughly have, on one hand, what I would call the “Trump Party” (which is not the same as the GOP) and the “deplorables” objectively standing for law and order. On the other hand, we have the Dems, some Republicans, big corporations and the BLM/Antifa mobs who now all objectively stand for anarchy, chaos and random violence.

I have always criticized the AngloZionist Empire and the US themselves for their messianic and supremacist ideology, and I agree that in their short history the United States have probably spilled more innocent blood than any other regime in history. Yet I also believe that there also have been many truly good things in US history, things which other countries should emulate (as many have!). I am referring to things like the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the spirit of self-reliance, a strong work ethic, the immense creativity of the people of the US and their love for their country.

It is now clear that the Dems find nothing good in the US or its history – hence their total support for the wanton (and, frankly, barbaric) destruction of historical statues or for the ridiculous notion that the United States was primarily built by black slaves and that modern whites are somehow guilty of what their ancestors did (including whites who did not have any slave owners amongst their ancestors).

Putin once said that he has no problems at all with any opposition to the Russian government, but that he categorically rejects the opposition to Russia herself (most of the non-systemic opposition in Russia is profoundly russophobic). I see the exact same thing happening here, in the US: the Dem/BLM/Antifa gang are profoundly anti-US, and not for the right reasons. It is just obvious that these people are motivated by pure hate and where there is hate, violence always follows!

To think that there will be no violence if these people come to power would be extremely naive: those who come to power by violence always end up ruling by violence.

For the past several decades, the US ruling elites have been gutting the Constitution by a million legislative and regulatory cuts (I can personally attest to the fact that the country where I obtained my degrees in 1986-1991 is a totally different country from the one I am living in now. Thirty years ago there was real ideological freedom and pluralism in the US, and differences of opinion, even profound ones, were considered normal). Now the apparatus needed to crack down on the “deplorables” has been established, especially on the Federal level. If we now apply the “motive, means & opportunity” criterion we can only conclude that the Dem/BLM/Antifa have the motive and will sure have the means and opportunity if Biden makes it to the White House.

Furthermore, major media corporations are already cracking down against Trump supporters and even against President Trump himself (whom Twitter now threatens to censor if he declares that he won). YouTube is demonetizing “deplorable” channels and also de-ranking them in searches. Google does the same. For a President which heavily relies on short messages to his support base, this is a major threat.

One of Trump’s biggest mistakes was to rely on Twitter instead of funding his own social media platform. He sure had the money. What he lacked was any foresight or understanding of the enemy.

Paul Craig Roberts has been one of the voices which has been warning us that anti-White racism is real and that the United States & Its Constitution Have Two Months Left. I submit that on the former he is undeniably correct and that we ought to pay heed to his warning about what might soon happen next. I also tend to agree with others who warn us that violence will happen next, no matter who wins. Not only are some clearly plotting a coup against Trump should he declare himself the winner, but things have now gone so far that the Chairmen of the JCS had to make an official statement saying that the US military will play no role in the election. Finally, and while I agree that Florida might not be a typical state, I see a lot of signs saying “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic” with the word “domestic” emphasised in some manner. Is this the proverbial “writing on the wall”?

Conclusion:

The Empire is dying and nothing can save it, things have gone way too far to ever return to the bad old days of US world hegemony. Furthermore, I have the greatest doubts about Trump or his supporters being able to successfully defeat Dem/BLM/Antifa. “Just” winning the election won’t be enough, even if Trump wins by a landslide: we already know that the Dem/BLM/Antifa will never accept a Trump victory, no matter how big. I also suspect that 2020 will be dramatically different from the 2000 Gore-Bush election which saw the outcome decided by a consensus of the ruling elites: this time around the hatred is too deep, and there will be no negotiated compromise between the parties.

In 2016 I recommended a Trump vote for one, single, overwhelming reason: my profound belief that Hillary would have started a war against Syria and, almost immediately, against Russia (the Dems are, again, making noises about such a war should they return into the White House). As for Trump, for all his megalomaniacal threats and in spite of a few (thoroughly ineffective) missile strikes on Syria, he has not started a new war.

By the way, when was it the last time that a US president did NOT order a war during his time in office?

The fact is that the Trump victory in 2016 gave Russia the time to finalize her preparations for any time of aggression, or even a full-scale war, which the US might try to throw at her. The absence of any US reaction to the Iranian retaliatory missile strikes against US bases in Iraq in January has shown that US military commanders have no stomach for a war against Iran, nevermind China or, even less, Russia. By now it is too late, Russia is ready for anything, while the US is not. Trump bought the planet an extra four years to prepare for war, and the key adversarie of the US have used that time with great benefit. As for the former world hegemon, it can’t even take on Venezuela…

But inside the US, what we see taking place before us is a weird kind of war against the people of the US, a war waged by a very dangerous mix of ideologues and thugs (that is the toxic recipe for most revolutions!). And while Trump or Biden won’t really matter much to Russia, China or Iran, it still might matter a great deal to millions of people who deserve better than to live under a Dem/BLM/Antifa dictatorship (whether only ideological or actual).

The US of 2020 in so many ways reminds me of Russia in February 1917: the ruling classes were drunk on their ideological dogmas and never realized that the revolution they so much wanted would end up killing most of them. This is exactly what the US ruling classes are doing: they are acting like a parasite who cannot understand that by killing its host it will also kill itself. The likes of Pelosi very much remind me of Kerensky, the man who first destroyed the 1000 year old Russian monarchy and who then proceeded to replace it with kind of totally dysfunctional “masonic democracy” which only lasted 8 months until the Bolsheviks finally seized power and restored law and order (albeit in a viciously ruthless manner).

The US political system is both non-viable and non-reformable. No matter what happens next, the US as we knew it will collapse this winter, PCR is right. The only questions remaining are:

  • What will replace it? and
  • How long (and painful) will the transition to a new US be?

Trump in the White House might not make things better, but a Harris presidency (which is what a “Biden” victory will usher in) will make things much, much worse. Finally, there are millions of US Americans out there who did nothing wrong and who deserve to be protected from the rioting and looting mobs by their police agencies just as there are millions of US Americans who should retain the ability to defend themselves when no law enforcement is available. There is a good reason why the Second Amendment comes right after the First one – the two are organically linked! With the Dem/BLM/Antifa in power, the people of the US can kiss both Amendments goodbye.

I still don’t see a typical civil war breaking out in the US. But I see many, smaller, “local wars” breaking out all over the country – yes, violence is at this point inevitable. It is, therefore, the moral obligation of every decent person to do whatever he/she can do, no matter how small, to help the “deplorables” in their struggle against the forces of chaos, violence and tyranny, especially during the upcoming “years of transition” which will be very, very hard on the majority of the people living in the US.

This includes doing whatever is possible to prevent the Dem/BLM/Antifa from getting into the White House.← Will Hillary and the Dems Get the Civil…

Outcome of a disputed US vote: a ‘Hot Fall’ or an ‘Icy Crusade’?

Source

By Ramin Mazaheri

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This screengrab shows rightwing and left-wing protesters scuffling during protests in Portland, Oregon, on July 1, 2018. (Image via Guardian)
Outcome of a disputed US vote: a ‘Hot Fall’ or an ‘Icy Crusade’?

Friday, 11 September 2020 6:45 PM  [ Last Update: Friday, 11 September 2020 7:21 PM ]

In the 21st century a disputed vote in the US presidential election is almost a 50-50 proposition: if November’s popular and electoral college votes do not correspond, yet again that would mark the third such occurrence in the last six presidential elections.

A disputed vote has produced dramatic changes: the disputed election of Republican Rutherford (also known as “Rutherfraud”) B. Hayes in 1876 forced a political bargain which saw Democrats win the withdrawal of Northern post-Civil War troops, thus ending the Reconstruction Era and the integration of African-Americans after a scant 11 years of efforts. Perhaps the most notable point here is just how long the Republican/Democrat duopoly has dominated the United States – the Democratic Party is the oldest voter-based political party in the world, and the entrenched privileges they and Republicans have colluded to cement preclude the rising of any third-party outsiders.

And yet this year we have Donald Trump, who is a genuine political outsider.

It’s vital to remember that Trump was rejected by the Republican establishment all the way up until the eve of the Republican National Convention in May 2016. While the mainstream media and Democrats immediately and incorrectly assumed Trump was as solid a Republican as Abraham Lincoln – mainly because everything must fit into their simple “us vs. them” straitjacket of a worldview – Trump supporters knew better.

The primary catalyst for Trump’s election was his promise to “drain the Swamp” (not literally, even though Washington D.C. was constructed on former swampland), and that promise was not limited to just “Crooked Hillary” but political creatures of both parties. Indeed, the common lament over the past four years among Trumpers is that he has not fulfilled his campaign promise to lead a China-like drive against corruption because “they won’t let him”, and “they” includes Republicans as well.

Trump still preserves this outsider status because he is still not a real politician – he lacks a coherent ideology and a grassroots base to implement it – and this is why he leads no actual third party threat. This is unlike someone whom Trump hopes to join on Mount Rushmore: Teddy Roosevelt, who in 1912 was able to form the last major third party in the US – the Progressive Party (this party is often referred to as the “Bull Moose Party” in modern America, obviously to hide the party’s leftist basis), which eventually reconciled with the Republicans after the “clearly insane” (per author Mark Twain) and rabidly imperialist Roosevelt sold out already rather right-wing US progressivism.Third party expected to get high returns in 2020 US presidential electionWhile abstention remains the most common form of ballot box resistance in the United States, more and more Americans are turning toward third parties.

What “Trumpism” has proven to be after four years is decidedly not a political party – Republicans co-opted him in order to both contain him and to preserve the American duopoly – but an entirely misguided hero worship, which was resorted to out of the desperation and instability caused by 40 years of neoliberal, unpatriotic and corrupt governance. “Trumpism” is thus not even really an ideology of hero worship but a gestalt cultural feeling, and a quite negative one.

A ‘Hot Fall’ – Trump and Trumpers go down with guns blazing

Many non-Trumpers understand this, and that’s why they echo the talk around the PressTV newsroom, which is that of a “Hot Fall” scenario: Trump loses both the popular and electoral college votes yet refuses to leave office. Trump, cognisant that the past four years has not increased affection for “the Swamp”, and also that his own popularity has endured despite the spectacular and unprecedented Deep State campaigns against him, thus encourages his supporters to rally in the streets in a long-awaited re-enactment of The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral or, in modern right-wing slang, “the Boogaloo”.

It’s a plausible scenario, indeed. The “only in America” scene of 17-year old Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing in the streets with an AR-15 semi-automatic looked like a harbinger to many.

The likelihood of this “Hot Fall”, with Trump eventually leaving but only with the country even more divided than it has been so far in 2020, cannot be discounted. However I don’t predict that will happen.

Being a journalist who simply must query public opinion, I have asked many Americans for their thoughts on the election and about the question of a disputed vote this November. I have been rather swayed by the conservatives point of view, which is: Republicans are simply more reasonable than Democrats, and if they lose the election they will reasonably withdraw in order to preserve the country (as they are more patriotic as well).

I find that analysis – which I am merely relating from American Republicans – very astute. It doesn’t – and cannot – fully take into account the effects of a seriously disputed election, but I think it will hold true.

What I predict to be more likely is the reverse scenario, an “Icy Crusade” led by embittered Democrats: Whether the election is disputed or not, a Trump victory will produce massive anti-Trump demonstrations starting on November 4 and lasting until 2024.

Frankly, I am hopeful this occurs – Trump has pulled the sheet off the face of American fascism, finally, and four years has not produced enough political modernity. America, today’s imperial Rome, has so very much to learn and unlearn, after all. 

An ‘Icy Crusade’ – more of Americans telling others how they must live & feel

It should be remembered that – because half the electorate refuses to participate – Democratic voters are a rather fanatical minority of 25%. This is the same amount of the electorate which France’s Emmanuel Macron genuinely won in 2017, and his supporters are fanatically loyal as well – what else should we term continuing to support the weekly brutality against the Yellow Vests, which only ended with the coronavirus? Indeed, we cannot even compare the recent political repression in the US to that of France.

It must be remembered that partisan Democrats are as arrogant (imperialistic) and evangelistic as any Republican in the Pentagon and always have been: just ask a Southerner after the Civil War, or an American Indian, for that matter.

The modern Democrat does not explicitly evangelise for Protestantism and the racist paternalism of taking care of “our little brown brothers” (a historical term which was applied to the conquest of the Philippines, but which is obviously indicative of the fundamentally imperialistic mentality of even “good Americans”), but they certainly rabidly evangelise for other causes: political correctness, transgender bathrooms, against Trump, etc.

A Trump victory – disputed or not – will thus lead to more outpouring of this same evangelical, self-righteous, “Icy Crusade” which non-White Americans have been subjected to for two centuries. Crucially, the “Icy Crusade” will be just as fake-leftist as the other imperial crusades, with total intolerance of and enmity towards the “other” at its root.

I think this debilitating, annoying, politically feckless Democratic evangelism is the more likely post-election scenario because I think Trump will prevail over a second consecutive awful Democratic candidate.Do Black people get shot by police just to win elections for Democrats?That headline asks a surprising question, yet it’s one which was repeatedly expressed by African-Americans in Kenosha.

Certainly, Democrats’ own machinations have been precisely calibrated so that they could also dispute the election, but perhaps without AR-15s: I refer to the hysterical push for massive mail-in ballots, which are certain to arrive late, take long to count, have “hanging chads” and foment other disputes. The choice was always clear: either hold the election on time, like so many other elections worldwide in 2020, or postpone the election, like so many other elections worldwide in 2020.

In order to hedge their bet regarding whether Deep State machinations and mainstream media campaigns do not succeed in their goal of discrediting/denying the very real “Trumpism” cultural feeling, Democrats have seemingly guaranteed the election will not be resolved on November 3 and that cultural discord will ensue.

An “Icy Crusade” can be avoided in this scenario if Democrats show as much calm reasonableness as many US conservatives often evince and as much concern for the good of the nation. However, what they must also abandon is their often undeserved moral self-righteousness – that is something which goes back to the Civil War in the north and eastern parts of the United States, and this is very unlikely to be easily uprooted.

It should be remembered that America’s 1% appears to have ensured that no matter what happens the country will be divided in order to oust the outsider Trump: unchecked coronavirus hysteria which gutted the economy, the refusal to get a second stimulus bill passed to provide some economic stability, the refusal to provide physical security amid legitimate rebellions and illegitimate looting, undermining trust in the election process by hysterically blaming Russia, and this list can go on and on. Both sides have been divided, and any modern leftist analysis explains this by the fact that under modern Western neoliberalism the 1% divides and conquers at home as well as abroad.

Therefore, there is much grounds for PressTV employees to bandy about the possibilities of either a “Hot Fall” or an “Icy Crusade” scenario around a cup of tea. Certainly, such conversations end with mutual expressions of relief that Iran is not like that.

Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)


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

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

Normalization between some Arab governments and ‘Israel’: Facts and figures

By Khalid Qaddoumi

September 14, 2020 – 16:3

The term itself says that something is not “normal”. It needs to be normalized, or something that was a taboo is converted into permissible. This is the situation of the relations between Arabs and “Israel” since the Palestinians’ catastrophe (Nakba) in 1948 when the “Israeli” occupation started. Hence, no doubt this topic is controversial and paradoxical.

A few ideas on the subject is given below:

(1) Where has the normalization process reached after 42 years of the first attempt at Camp David 1978?

In 1978 the Egyptian government forged its official diplomatic relations with “Israel” brokered by the United States government. On the 20th of January 2000, The Economist published an article titled “Israelis whom Egyptians love to hate.” The article endorsed the negative “Israeli” character portrayed by the cinema producers in Egypt. “Their women are sluttish schemers. Their men scowling thugs, prone to blood-spilling and to strange guttural barking,” the Economist said. Irrespective of decades of relations, the Egyptians still have their “unwelcoming” attitude to the newly imposed and alien “friend.”

In 2016 another study was published where Dr. Abdulaleem, the senior advisor to the Center of Pyramids for political and strategic studies, said, “Egyptians are least interested in any sort of normalization with “Israel”. The paper mentioned that such a relationship is only at the security apparatus level and few desks at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. It is a “cold peace,” it wrote.

Alzaytouna’s study center conducted an opinion poll in 2019 about the popularity of the relations with “Israel” among some Muslim countries. The poll concluded that only 3% of Egyptians, 4% of Pakistanis, 6% of Turkish, and 15% of Indonesians may welcome some sort of relations with “Israel”. Many conditioned it after a just solution for the Palestinians.

The study stated that such a process has nothing to do with any fair demands of the Arab nations nor brought any benefit for peace attempts or any economic interests for the nations that the politicians tried to market their causes.

After Israel protested over a contract to sell American F35 jets to the Emirates, the former chief of the “Israeli” army Gadi Eizenkot told “Israel Hayom”: “in the Middle East (West Asia) your new friends may turn to be your enemy. Hence, the “Israeli” surpassing quality power (over the Arabs) is highly essential.”

An obvious “Israeli” skeptical mentality and policy towards Arabs prevents any type of so-called normalization.

(2) Money talks, or something else?

If we agree to the mentioned pragmatic notion, one may expect some economic boost even at the bilateral level between the Emirates and “Israel.” On the 8th of September 2020, the Minister of “Intelligence” of “Israel”, Eli Cohen, said that “In three to five years the balance of trade between the Emirates and us may reach four billion dollars.”

 First, why should a minister of “Intelligence” announce such economic news?

 Second, let us compare this balance of trade with the balance of trade between the Emirates and a neighboring country like Iran. In that case, the figure may exceed 13.5 billion dollars. Here one may say that something else other than “Money talks.”

 Many analysts refer to such a process as an intense and vital need for the current leaders in “Israel” and the U.S. to get re-elected.

 Netanyahu is facing corruption trials, and many riots and rallies are being held against him that may qualify the situation for a fourth election. On the other hand, Trump faces a series of fiascoes at different levels; his government’s disastrous approach to the COVID- 19 pandemic that infected millions, the racial discrimination, and the people in the streets protesting the police behavior against the civilians.

Bibi and Trump initiated such a process to safeguard their own endangered political future. In conclusion, one cannot bet on the viability of such a deal.

Other analysts see this deal to jeopardize the security and stability of the region.
Some “Israeli” commentators have accused Netanyahu of forging new relations with “countries that have no geopolitical importance like Bahrain and the Emirates but at the same time are neighbors to Iran,” which may lead to more escalation and expected violence in the region.

(3) Finally, what such normalization can benefit the Palestinians as the victims who are supposed to wait for the fruits of peace out of this deal? On the contrary, all the Palestinians, irrespective of their political affiliations, have refused and denounced this deal.

Even those who tried to reach a peace with Israel based on the 1993 Oslo accords, unequivocally rejected the deal to the extent that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party describing the process as “betrayal.” 

Other Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who gathered lately in Beirut, announced their utmost discontent against the deal and consider it as a “reward for the “Israeli” criminals on their crimes.” 

The secretaries General of all Palestinian parties who convened in Beirut protested against the deal and called upon the Arab League to denounce it. 

In conclusion, the so-called “just solution” to the Palestinian issue cannot be achieved through such shortcuts of normalizations between Arabs and “Israel”. The Palestinians are the only side to decide their own destiny and no one else.
 

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هل يفعلها ترامب قبل 3 تشرين الثاني؟

د. عصام نعمان

تباهى دونالد ترامب في مؤتمرٍ صحافي بأنّ لدى الولايات المتحدة «أسلحة رائعة لا يعرف بها أحد (…) أسلحتنا النووية الآن في أفضل حالاتها. لدينا بعض الأنظمة المذهلة».

سبق للرئيس الأميركي أن كشف للصحافي المعروف بوب وودورد، مؤلف كتاب «غضب» الصادر مؤخراً، عن معلومات دفاعية بالغة السرية في واحدة من 17 مقابلة مسجلة أجراها معه. وودورد أوضح أنه تأكّد بشكل منفصل من مصادر لم يسمّها انّ الولايات المتحدة لديها سلاح سري جديد، لكنه لم يذكر ما إذا كان نووياً ام لا.

تصريحات ترامب أثارت جدلاً واسعاً في أوساط المحللين العسكريين في أنحاء العالم حول ما إذا كان السلاح السري الجديد نووياً، لكن خبراء أسلحة أميركيين يقولون إنهم غير متأكدين ما إذا كان الأمر الذي تحدث عنه ترامب صحيحاً أم أنه كان مجرد محاولة جوفاء للتباهي، وهو أمر معروف عن الرئيس الأميركي.

أياً ما كانت حقيقة «هذا السلاح السري الرائع» فإنّ سؤالاً ملحاحاً يجري تداوله في الأوساط السياسية الأميركية، خصوصاً لدى مسؤولي الحزب الديمقراطي الذي ينافس ترامب على الرئاسة بمرشحه جو بايدن. السؤال هو: هل يُقدِم ترامب على استعمال هذا السلاح ضد إيران قبل يوم الاقتراع في 3 تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر المقبل؟

ثمة سببان للتخوّف من أن يفعلها ترامب:

الاول، استماتته للفوز بولاية رئاسية ثانية وتصميمه على البقاء في البيت الأبيض مهما كان الثمن لدرجة أنه شدّد على أنصاره بضرورة التصويت له شخصياً وعدم اللجوء إلى التصويت بالبريد. لماذا؟ لأنه يعتقد بأنّ نتيجة فرز الأصوات الشخصية ستكون لصالحه ما يشجعه على اللجوء – كما يخشى معارضوه الديمقراطيون – الى إعلان فوزه مستبقاً إعلان نتيجة فرز الأصوات البريدية (التي يظنّ هو وغيره كثيرون أنها ستكون لصالح منافسه بايدن) مدّعياً أنها مزوّرة! هذا الاحتمال وارد جداً لدرجة انّ بعضاً من مسؤولي الحزب الديمقراطي تساءلوا عمّا يجب فعله لإخراجه من البيت الأبيض فيما دعا بعضهم الآخر الى تكليف الجيش مهمة إخراجه!

الثاني، لأنّ ترامب طراز من الرجال لا يتورّع عن اللجوء الى القتل للتخلّص من أعدائه ومنافسيه. ليس أدلّ على ذلك من «تعهّده» في الذكرى التاسعة عشرة لهجمات 11 سبتمبر/ أيلول 2001 « باستهداف كلّ من يهدّد حياة الأميركيين مثل قاسم سليماني «قائد «فيلق القدس» في الحرس الثوري الإيراني الذي اغتيل بغارة أميركية قرب مطار بغداد مطلع هذا العام.

اذا كان احتمال استعمال «السلاح السري الرائع» وارداً لدى ترامب، فهل انّ الهدف سيكون إيران؟ وإذا ما جرى استهداف إيران فعلاً، فهل من شأن ذلك توفير رافعة قوية لترامب في جولة الإنتخابات الرئاسية المقبلة؟

لعلّ أمرين أساسيين يجعلان هذا الاحتمال مستبعداً. ذلك انّ كبار مسؤولي «البنتاغون» (وزارة الدفاع) يعرفون بالتأكيد انّ إيران لن تكون لقمة سائغة، خصوصاً بعد التقدّم الهائل الذي أحرزته على الصعيدين العسكري والتكنولوجي في السنوات الخمس الأخيرة. كما يعرف هؤلاء المسؤولون ايضاً انّ للولايات المتحدة عدّة قواعد عسكرية في منطقة غرب آسيا والخليج، وبعضها قريب جداً من إيران، ما يجعلها رهينة لها ويمكّنها من ضربها والقضاء على آلاف الجنود الأميركيين. ذلك كله يجعل خيار ضرب إيران مكلفاً وغير مجزٍ.

ثم انه من المشكوك به جداً ان يتقبّل الرأي العام الأميركي فعلة ترامب الهوجاء هذه المتناقضة مع ما يحرص شاغل البيت الأبيض على الإيحاء به من انه لم يقع على أيّ جدوى من الحروب التي شنّتها الولايات المتحدة في المنطقة وتكلّفت عليها تريليونات الدولارات، وانه لهذا السبب يقوم بخفض عديد الجيش الأميركي في أفغانستان والعراق وسورية وغيرها من دول المنطقة.

هذان السببان وغيرهما قد لا يحولان دون أن يركب ترامب رأسه ويفعل فعلته. الأمر نفسه ينطبق على بنيامين نتنياهو المتخوّف، هو الآخر، من ان يفقد منصبه وسلطته تحت وطأة التظاهرات اليومية التي تحاصر منزله في القدس المحتلة وتتمدّد إلى مدن أخرى، كما بنتيجة محاكمته المنتظرة بتهم الفساد والرشوة والتزوير. لذا قد يرى هذا الرجل المذعور مصلحة له في تحريض ترامب على توجيه ضربة عسكرية خاطفة ومدمّرة لإيران يكون من شأنها – في ظنّه ــ تحصين منصبه في وجه المتظاهرين وأمام القضاة في محاكمته المنتظرة.

نتنياهو سيلتقي ترامب بعد يومين ليحتفلا سويةً مع ملك البحرين بتوقيع اتفاق لتطبيع العلاقات بين الكيانين. هل تراه ينجح رجل «إسرائيل» المذعور في إقناع رئيس أميركا الموتور بارتكاب الفعلة النكراء؟

نائب ووزير سابق

المجمع العسكري ـ الصناعي الأميركي ورسائل ترامب تجاه البنتاغون

معن بشور

في معرض الردّ على تصريحات منسوبة إليه يهاجم فيها الجنود الأميركيين فتح الرئيس الأميركي النار على قادة البنتاغون قائلاً: ربما يكون كبار المسؤولين في البنتاغون لا يحبونني لأنهم لا يريدون فعل شيء سوى خوض الحروب، ولذا فإنّ كلّ تلك الشركات الرائعة التي تصنع القنابل والطائرات وكلّ شيء آخر ستكون سعيدة.”

وجاءت هذه الإشارة السلبية من ترامب تجاه البنتاغون في سياق عملية تجاذب منذ ان هدّد ترامب باستخدام قانون التمرّد للاستعانة بقوات إنفاذ القانون خلال الاحتجاجات التي أعقبت وفاة المواطن من أصول أفريقية جورج فلويد على يد أحد ضباط الشرطة في جريمة وحشية ما زالت تداعياتها مستمرة حتى اليوم.

يومها أعرب الجنرال مايك بيلي رئيس هيئة الأركان المشتركة عن أسفه لانه سار مع ترامب في ساحة لافييت.

ويعتبر هذا السجال المتصاعد بين الرئيس الأميركي وكبار جنرالاته الذين عيّنهم بنفسه، كما عيّن أيضاً وزير الدفاع مارك اسبر (الذي كان مسؤولاً تنفيذياً ومقاول دفاع في شركة “رايثيون” التي تعدّ من أكبر الشركات المتخصصة في أنظمة الدفاع) تعبيراً جديداً عن عمق الأزمة البنيوية التي يعيشها النظام الأميركي، كما كان يردّد دائماً أخي وصديقي الدكتور زياد حافظ منذ عشرين عاماً، والتي يبدو أنها على ملامح انفجار كبير مع الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية في اوائل نوفمبر/ تشرين الثاني المقبل حيث يعلن الطرفان الجمهوري والديمقراطي رفضهما منذ الآن لنتائج الانتخابات اذا لم تأت لصالحه الى درجة انّ أحد كبار المسورلين في الحزب الديمقراطي قد أشار الى دعوة القوات المسلحة الأميركية الى إخراج ترامب من البيت الأبيض في حال رفضه الاعتراف بهزيمته.

لكن هذا السجال المستجدّ بين البيت الابيض والبنتاغون، المضاف الى سلسلة سجالات تملأ الساحة السياسية والشعبية والاقتصادية والاجتماعية الأميركية، يذكر بمقولة ردّدها الجنرال دوايت ايزنهاور رئيس الولايات المتحدة بين عام 1952 -1960، عشية مغادرته البيت الابيض محذراَ من مخاطر “المجمع العسكري الصناعي على الدولة الأميركية وسعيه لانتهاج سياسات حربية تؤمّن لشركات السلاح موارد لا تنضب، فيما تؤمّن هذه الشركات وظائف مجزية لكبار الجنرالات بعد مغادرتهم الخدمة العسكرية.

اليوم يأتي ترامب، وهو رئيس “جمهوري” أيضاً، كما ايزنهاور، ليشير الى هذه العلاقة بين كبار الجنرالات وكبار المقاولين في تعبير عن غضبه من عدم تجاوب البنتاغون مع خططه بإعاد انتشار القوات العسكرية الأميركية خارج الولايات المتحدة (وهو مطلب يرتاح اليه المواطن الأميركي)، كما لعدم تجاوبه مع رغبته بتطبيق قانون التمرّد الذي يضع بنظر أميركيين كثر، أكثريتهم من البيض، حداً للفوضى الأمنية التي تعيشها المدن والبلدات الأميركية منذ أشهر.

لا شك انّ هذه التحوّلات تستحقّ دراسة معمّقة على أكثر من صعيد، ولكن لا بدّ من دراستها على مستوى تداعياتها على حجم النفوذ الأميركي خارج الولايات المتحدة، وخصوصاً في بلادنا، حيث ما زال الكثير من الحكام والمحللين أسرى تحليل قديم يرى بأنّ “واشنطن قدر”، وأنّ سياستها تمتلك من القوة ما لا يسمح لأحد بمواجهتها.

انّ اشارة ترامب الى العلاقة بين كبار الجنرالات وكبار المقاولين، مجدّداً تحذيرات سلفه في الرئاسة والحزب الجمهوري، دوايت ايزنهاور، من تغوّل “المجمع’ الصناعي العسكري، الذي لا يستبعد بعض المحللين دوره في جريمة اغتيال الرئيس الديمقراطي جون فيتزجرالد كنيدي عام ١٩٦٣، وشقيقه روبرت عام ١٩٦٦، ليصبح الأمر تماماً بقبضة “المجمع” الذي لم يتوقف عن شنّ الحروب على شعوب العالم، وبشكل خاص على الشعوب العربية والإسلامية…

انها قراءة من خارج السياق، ولكنها ضرورية لكي نفهم أكثر السياسة الأميركية في منطقتنا او بالأحرى اللاسياسة الأميركية التي لا تحركها إلا مصالح الكيان الصهيوني وأمنه…

انها قراءة ضرورية لكلّ من يضع كلّ أوراقه بالسلة الأميركية وهو التحليل الذي أدخل الأمة كلها منذ عام 1977(زيارة السادات للكنيست) في اتفاقات متعدّدة باسم “السلام” الذي لم ينجب سوى الحروب لهذه المنطقة…

الأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي

Voters can’t see if Biden is senile until the debates in US-style democracy

Voters can’t see if Biden is senile until the debates in US-style democracy

September 10, 2020

By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

US pundits may adore the presidential debates, but political scientists have concluded that “…when it comes to shifting enough votes to decide the outcome of the election, presidential debates have rarely, if ever, mattered.

That’s absolutely not the case in 2020 – politics is not at all a “science”, of course.

The most important issue in the US today is, incredibly, largely banned from corporate media discourse: Has Joe Biden become too senile to be president?

This is the first topic anyone brings up whenever I ask them about Biden, proving that the intelligence of the average American is too often unfairly denigrated: it should indeed be unthinkable to vote for someone who has been unfortunately beset by old-age dementia. The nation’s highest office cannot be held by someone who can be easily manipulated or who needs to be told what to do.

Despite the fact that everyone here is taking about Biden’s mental health, the MSM and 1% is trying to make it seem like this is just another Russian disinformation campaign.

The denizens of “the Swamp” have controversially insisted for four years that Trump was “unfit for office” – ironically, the 2020 debates will be so unprecedentedly critical because they could shockingly prove that their own candidate is indisputably unfit.

Biden certainly shows very worrying signs of having aged out of civil service. It’s well-known that he has to overcome a regular stutter, but Democrat partisans foolishly believe that the average voter can’t tell the difference between a stammer and serious cognitive decline.

At the Democratic National Convention everyone watched Biden’s speech with baited breath – not because he is such an inspiring candidate but because many expected a mental car crash due to his rumoured senility. I thought his speech was delivered in an incredibly grim manner – he was obviously concentrating like mad just to correctly read the teleprompter, which necessarily excluded the space for inspiration and emotion.

The very first note relayed by CNN’s anchor after the speech reflected the dementia concerns – relief that Biden had only one “senior moment”. Viewers were then instructed that this is what constitutes success for a presidential candidate.

The worries over cognitive decline explain why people are not expecting Biden to win the debates, per recent polls. Many expect Trump to run over him. “Victory” for Biden will thus be the same as his convention speech – avoid “senior moments” which would undeniably disqualify him.

One cannot understate how this very uninspirational candidate is contributing to the incredible, deadly, ever-more shocking malaise in the US this year. Biden has been unsuccessfully running for the presidency since 1988 – why would Americans look forward to the next four years with the long-unwanted and now possibly senile Biden?

What also cannot be understated is how appalling it is that the leading US presidential candidate has been so very absent from the public eye, and for so very long, and despite so many legitimate questions about possible dementia. Sequestering Biden is a dangerous game, and not only because isolation has had such a negative effect on countless seniors during this pandemic: Should Biden get elected and we see his senility increase, how can Americans not react with more political alienation and apathy towards a chattering class which would have to be found guilty of covering for Biden?

The debates are going to have such a record impact because it’s the only chance Americans will have to answer urgent and well-founded questions about a “Hiden’ Biden” who has not been intellectually tested in months.

But how can it be that in the so-called “leader of the free world” voters only get to see their future leader three times?

Americans are essentially being told that they should accept the private decision of the political elite which surrounds Biden that he is indeed intellectually capable of being president – this is not “direct democracy” but “indirect democracy”, and a most curious one. “Indirect democracy with American characteristics” not only isn’t exportable, it’s not even a model Americans themselves want.

Pity the poor American: they have fair questions about their leading presidential candidate, but his privileges are so extraordinary that he doesn’t have to deign to respond. Europeans can sympathise, as there is a clear parallel here with the refusal to heed their repeated rejections of right-wing austerity imposed by Brussels.

Some Americans claim that Trump shows the decline of the American and Western model, but could he really be worse than the daily spectacle of a senile president for four years?

No wonder the US is in chaos during this “summer of fear”- the future proposed by their political and intellectual elite looks dangerously feeble.


Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

التمدّد «الإسرائيلي» جنوباً بعد الفشل الشماليّ

ناصر قنديل

من التسطيح ربط التطبيع الخليجي “الإسرائيلي” بتوقيته، المستثمر في الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية أو بمساعدته لرئيس حكومة الاحتلال بنيامين نتنياهو في مواجهة أزماته الداخلية، فالحاجات التكتيكية تحكمت بالتوقيت، لكن المشروع استراتيجي وأبعد بكثير من مجرد لعبة سياسية أو انتخابية، ولكن من الضعف التحليلي الاعتقاد أن هذا التطبيع هو تعبير عن قدرة صعود تنافسي تاريخي أو جغرافي أو استراتيجي لكيان الاحتلال، فهو يشبه سياسة بناء جدار الفصل العنصري حول الضفة الغربية والقدس إيذاناً بفشل مشروع الكسر والعصر، أي الإخضاع بالقوة أو الاحتواء بمشاريع التفاوض، وكيان الاحتلال العاجز عن خوض حرب الشمال التي كانت العمود الفقري لاستراتيجيّته للقرن الحادي والعشرين، والعاجز عن تسوية تُنهي القضيّة الفلسطينيّة برضا ومشاركة أصحاب القضية، وقد كانت العمود الفقري لاستراتيجيته في القرن العشرين، يدخل برعاية أميركيّة مباشرة المشروع الثالث البديل.

المشروع الجديد، يقتضي تبديل وجهة الدورين الأميركي والعربي في صراع البقاء الذي يخوضه كيان الاحتلال، بعد قرابة قرن على انطلاقه واعتقاد القيمين عليه ورعاته قبل ثلاثة عقود أنه يستعد لمرحلة “إسرائيل العظمى” بديلاً من “إسرائيل الكبرى”، أي الهيمنة الاقتصادية والأمنية بدلاً من السيطرة العسكرية والتوسع الجغرافي، لكن صعود مشروع المقاومة وإنجازاته، ونتائج دخول اللاعب الإيراني على معادلات الصراع، أحدثا ثقباً أسود في معادلات الخطة الأميركية الإسرائيلية، بحيث باتت التسوية والحرب مستحيلاً ينتج مستحيلاً، فسقط مبرر دور الراعي التفاوضي الذي كان يتولاه الأميركي لجذب الجزء الأكبر من الشارع العربي خارج خيار المواجهة، ويسقط مبرر بقاء عرب أميركا تحت سقف تسوية يقبلها الفلسطينيون لتجميد انضمامهم إلى خيار المقاومة، لأن كيان الاحتلال بات عاجزاً عن البقاء من دون حماية أميركية لصيقة، تترجمها صفقة القرن التي يعرف أصحابها أنها لن تجد شريكاً فلسطينياً لتكون صفقة قابلة للحياة، لكنها تقدّم الإطار القانونيّ لحماية أميركية لعمليات الضم والتهويد الضرورية لأمن الكيان، وكيان الاحتلال بات عاجزاً عن العيش من دون موارد يجب أن توفرها دورة اقتصادية يكون هو محورها وترتبط بالإمساك بمقدرات الخليج.

يطوي كيان الاحتلال ومن خلفه السياسات الأميركية رهانات السيطرة على الشمال العربي الذي تمثله سورية ومعها لبنان، وصولاً لتأثيراتهما على العراق والأردن والأراضي المحتلة عام 67 من فلسطين التاريخيّة، فيدخل سياساته نحوها في مرحلة إدارة من نوع جديد، مقابل تفرّغ الكيان لتجميد جبهات الشمال وتحصينها، ولو اقتضى الأمر تعزيز الحضور الدولي على الحدود والإقرار بترسيم يناقض تطلعاته التوسعيّة التاريخيّة، وإدارة التخريب الأمني والاقتصادي والاجتماعي في كيانات الشمال من دون بلوغ الاستفزاز حد إشعال الحرب، فتكون الحرب الاستخبارية السرية هي البديل، ويتوجه الكيان نحو الجنوب وجنوب الجنوب، لتظهير العلاقات القائمة أصلاً وشرعنتها، سعياً لحلف اقتصادي أمني يتيح الوصول إلى مياه الخليج كنقاط متقدّمة بوجه إيران، ويُمسك بثروات النفط ويحقق التمدد التجاري كوسيط بين ضفاف المتوسط ومال الخليج وأسواقه.

تتولى واشنطن رعاية منطقة وسيطة بين كيان الاحتلال والخليج، تضم مصر والأردن ويسعون لضم العراق إليها، تحت عنوان الشام الجديد، بعناوين أمنية اقتصادية، بهدف عزل تأثيرات مصادر القوة التي تمثلها سورية ولبنان عن الجبهة الجنوبية، بينما توضع الخطط لتخريب الأمن والاقتصاد وتفتيت الداخل الاجتماعي في كل من سورية ولبنان، لتحقيق فوارق زمنية كبيرة في مستويات الأدوار التي تلعبها بالمقارنة مع الاقتصادات الناتجة عن الحلف الخليجي الإسرائيلي، والتي يجب أن ترث أدواراً تاريخية لكل من سورية ولبنان، وسخافة بعض اللبنانيين وأحقادهم وعقدهم لا تجعلهم ينتبهون أو يعترفون، بأن مرفأ حيفا يستعد لوراثة مرفأ بيروت، وأن هذه الوراثة مستحيلة من دون تدمير مرفأ بيروت، وأن الحروب الاستخبارية تشترط عدم ترك الأدلة، وأن الإنهاك المالي الذي أصاب لبنان ونظامه المصرفي بتشجيع ورعاية من المؤسسات المالية الدولية والغربية، كانت خطة منهجيّة ستتوج لاحقاً بتصدر المصارف الإسرائيليّة لنظام خدمات جديد يُراد له أن يدير أموال النفط والغاز في مصر والأردن والخليج، والتجارة نحو الخليج ومعه العراق إذا أمكن.

دائماً كان إضعاف سورية وإنهاك لبنان شرطين للتمدد الإسرائيلي، ولمن تخونه الذاكرة، نمت دبي والمنامة، كمنظومة خدمات ومصارف وأسواق ومرافئ على أنقاض دور بيروت التي شغلتها الحروب ودمّرتها في السبعينيات والثمانينيات، وما كانت تلك إلا أدواراً بالوكالة كحضانات تستضيف الشركات العالمية الكبرى، آن الأوان ليستردها الأصيل “الإسرائيلي” اليوم لحيفا وتل أبيب، لكن المشكلة تبقى أن حيفا وتل ابيب مطوقتان بصواريخ المقاومة من الشمال في حدود لبنان، والجنوب في حدود غزة، وهذا هو التحدي الذي يسمّيه الاستراتيجيون الإسرائيليون برعب الشمال والجنوب معاً. وهو رعب يتجدّد ويتوسع ويتوحّد، ويتجذّر مع مسارات التطبيع القديمة الجديدة، وبالتوازي رعب شمال وجنوب لممالك وإمارات التطبيع يمثله اليمن حيث الصواريخ والطائرات المسيّرة وفقاً لنموذج أرامكو تهدد أمن مدن الزجاج التي يسعى الإسرائيلي إلى التسيّد عليها.

سقوط الجامعة العربية والمؤتمر الإسلامي معاً بتخليهما عن القضية التي بررت نشوءهما، وهي قضية فلسطين والقدس، لا يعني سقوط التكامل بين جبهات لبنان وغزة واليمن، وعند الحاجة سورية وعند الوقت المناسب العراق، وعند الكلمة الفاصلة إيران.

البحرين والخليج وصفيح ساخن

ليس في البحرين مجرد ديكور تم إنتاجه غبّ الطلب للتشويش على قرار التطبيع الذي قرر النظام الملكي الحاكم بمشيئة أميركية سعودية اللحاق بركبه بعدما دشنته الإمارات، ففي البحرين ثورة حقيقيّة متجذرة وأصيلة عمرها عقود من المعارضة السياسية النشطة المتعددة المنابع الفكرية والسياسية.

النخب البحرينية عريقة في تمسكها بالقضايا القومية والوطنية كعراقة دفاعها عن الديمقراطية، وثورتها كما حركتها السياسية لها في التاريخ جذوراً تمتد إلى خمسينيات القرن الماضي، توّجت خلال العدوان الثلاثي على مصر عام 56 بإضراب عمال مرفأ المنامة وامتناعهم عن ملء الوقود للسفن البريطانية والفرنسية، والانتفاضات المتلاحقة طلباً للديمقراطية وتعزيز دور البرلمان كمصدر لانبثاق الحكومات تلاقي في الستينيات مشاركة شعب البحرين في دعم ثورة ظفار بوجه الاحتلال البريطاني، وتشكل جبهات راديكالية للكفاح المسلح.

التطبيع الذي يسلكه حكام الخليج والذي يتم برعاية سعودية أميركية يعيد الخليج إلى مناخات الستينيات خلافاً لما يعتقده الكثيرون من خمود وخنوع، فانضمام عمان لمسيرة التطبيع سيفجّر استقرار السلطنة، والثورة الشعبيّة الأشد صدقاً بين ثورات الربيع العربي، والتي تضم كل مكونات الشعب في البحرين قد لا تبقى سلميّة لزمن مفتوح في ضوء خيارات بحجم التطبيع والخيانة والتآمر على القضية الفلسطينية.

على حكام الخليج المهرولين نحو تنفيذ الأوامر الأميركية السعودية تذكر أنهم لن ينعموا طويلاً بالسلام مع جارتهم القوية إيران وقد جلبوا لها الإسرائيليين إلى الجيرة، وأن البلد الأكبر عدداً في السكان والذي تتحدر منه كل قبائل الخليج وسكانه الأصليين اسمه اليمن، وهو بلد يملك شعباً همته لا تلين وقدرته لا يُستهان بها، وصواريخه ومسيراته تطال كل مساحات الخليج ومدن الزجاج فيه.

هذه هي لعبة الرقص على الصفيح الساخن

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Serbia SITREP: Kosovo – the endless game

Serbia SITREP: Kosovo – the endless game

September 07, 2020

by Zoran Petrov for The Saker Blog

UPDATE!

Although I tried to predict possible outcomes from White House meeting, the results were more then a surprise! What is obvious from 2 (or 3 days) summit is that stakes of the actual three party meeting were different from those involving Belgrade-Pristina.

Thanks to coming presidential elections in US, Serbia managed to get some concessions that were impossible before (see images from proposed document as well documents signed by Albanians). But there was a price to pay for!

Vucic had rough ride in America mainly because he managed successfully to blackmail US counterparts.

From what is public information, we know that “mutual recognition” was off the proposed agreement. Despite “heroic” battles it is now clear, that “mutual recognition” was just a smoke screen that poor Pristina took it for real! The whole event was for Trump and it served his election campaign. Question of recognition of Jerusalem by the first EU country (Serbia) is important achievement for his evangelist and Jewish voters. Maybe this summit was ignored by major media but it was followed by religious TV and radio shows. The same is for Hezbollah issue.

Vucic paid humiliating price for taking advantage of situation (now famous sitting in the small chair in front of Trump) and blackmailing for changes in an agreement by stopping short of excluding Russia as supplier of gas and China from supplying 5G equipment to Serbia!

Another small revenge was change in text in regard to Jerusalem, by US side that caught Vucic by surprise when Trump announced it on press conference.

What we don´t know is what was real discussion between two delegations, especially between Vucic and Pompeo? What we know for sure, thanks to Vucic lapsus, that there were discussion about who will control sky above Kosovo. After NATO occupation of Kosovo, NATO controlled airspace above Kosovo. That space is divided in upper layer (above 8700 meters) and lower one (up to 8700 meters). In 2014 NATO transferred the authority to control the upper layer to the Hungarian Flight Control. It seems that Serbia was trying to get that control from NATO but obviously talks are not concluded yet. It is of paramount importance to mention that Serbia will, based on this agreement get rail access to deep water port in Albania (Durres -Serbia unsuccessfully tried to purchase port in Bar, Montenegro some years ago). It seems that interesting times are coming!

Bipartisan effort to oust the outsider Trump makes 2nd US stimulus unlikely

September 07, 2020

Bipartisan effort to oust the outsider Trump makes 2nd US stimulus unlikely

By Ramin Mazaheri and by author permission crossposted with Sputniknews.

We are currently experiencing the biggest era of American division in 50 years, but one thing Americans are united in is that they want additional coronavirus stimulus: a poll last week showed 70% of respondents demand a re-routing of taxes back their way.

The reasons for that are too numerous to list here, but it’s not hyperbole to summarise that national economic indicators suggest either “Great Depression II” or “Great Recession-er.”

Yet for months Congress has remained deadlocked on concluding a relief plan which would get scores of millions of Americans to back away from the ledge, the bottle, the prescription pill and the daily conversations they are having with each other about their very serious economic desperation and hopelessness.

The coronavirus seems likely to deal a death blow to the neoliberal form of capitalism, which has always been a faith-based ideology with a terrible track record, anyway: in a major crisis a central government simply must provide services and aid, and simply cannot continue to slash itself into neoliberal-ordered nothingness.

While rational American conservatives are slowly coming around on this, the nation’s top Republican lawmakers are not.

A comparison of the $3.4 trillion Democrat and the $1.1 trillion Republican stimulus plans shows that the biggest disagreement comes on the core neoliberal and libertarian tenet of eliminating government as much as possible: Democrats want $1.1 trillion earmarked for state and local governments, while Republicans propose just $100 billion. More than a few fiscally-reactionary Republicans think the original $2.2 trillion CARES Act overstepped the absurd limits they set on government, but the vast majority of conservatives in Congress are simply not going to allow the coronavirus to roll back their four decades of efforts to reduce government at all levels.

It should be remembered that in the American federal system local government plays – or used to – a much larger role than in most other countries. The coronavirus also seems likely to deal another death blow – to those who insist on a weak central government: the fragmented and chaotic US response to the pandemic is a direct result of their insistence on “states’ rights” over national well-being, which makes a unified response to any type of crisis fundamentally impossible.

So when truly half of the disputed difference between the two plans is over this radical and unusually-American neoliberal issue, we should not expect Republicans to capitulate anytime soon. Yet as the grassroots support for more stimulus reminds us – the Republican elite in Washington are obviously totally out of touch with the economic fears of the average Republican elsewhere.

On the other side of the aisle, one should not assume that Democrats are totally genuine in their desire to extend greater help to American citizens.

After all, if they wanted to re-inflate local and state governments so badly, why didn’t they include greater redistribution in the CARES Act? Every political operator knew that their chances were better at the start of the coronavirus hysteria, and also that the chances for bipartisan agreement (obviously necessary in a Republican-controlled Senate) would decrease closer to election day.

The $1.1 trillion for state and local government looks more like a phony “poison pill” designed to inflame Republican ideological morals when combined with the fact that the Democrat plan contains exactly zero additional aid for small businesses, who have always provided the backbone of the Republican Party. Small-business aid is the second-largest component of the Republican’s second stimulus plan, at $200 billion. Zero for small businesses – which provide over 40% of national economic output – is not only idiotic and guaranteed to perpetuate economic misery, but can easily be perceived by Republicans as an ideological slap in the face.

Many wonder if the plan of the Democratic elite all along was to drag their feet on what they wanted at the start of the coronavirus panic in order to put themselves in a position to accuse Republicans of dragging their feet on a deal closer to November. Allowing an already-festering country to rot for months in order to win an election sounds like bad governance bordering on treason, but the anti-Trump faction among the US 1% is surely willing to do anything to get the rogue politician out of office.

Last month Trump smartly circumvented Congress to extend desperately-needed jobless benefits to tens of millions of Americans – what’s perplexing is why Trump isn’t already talking about doing that again? Aiding suffering constituents shouldn’t be denigrated as corrupt “patronage” or “vote-buying” – it’s good governance. Unfortunately, elite Republicans ideologically insist that “good governance” is an oxymoron.

Trump was elected in 2016 precisely because he defied Republican leadership and ideology – the best way for him to get re-elected would be to revert to that form, and to send another round of direct stimulus to voters.

That may require bypassing Congress again, which seems unlikely to agree on a significant compromise. This allows both sides to blame each other for economic woes all the way up until November 3, but it crucially allows “the swamp” to do something which they emphatically agree on: blaming Trump for every problem in order to get the unprecedented outsider out of office.


Ramin Mazaheri is currently in the US covering their elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

White House Kosovo meeting: crossing the Atlantic, for this?

White House Kosovo meeting: crossing the Atlantic, for this?

by Eric Vögelin[1] for the Saker blog

The President of Serbia and Avdullah Hoti, the Prime Minister (perhaps it would be more correct to say “self-styled Prime Minister”) of NATO’s 1999 war booty, the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo were hosted for a conference at the White House on 3 and 4 September. The ostensible purpose of the meeting was to iron out their economic relations, as if anything were there to iron out given the devastated condition of both their economies. Putting aside the sensible question of why anybody at the White House would even care about this very local issue enough to devote the good part of two days to it, and bearing in mind that nothing in the Balkans is as it appears at first glance, the real agenda was, of course, quite a bit different. It had to do with putting finishing touches on legitimizing Kosovo as a separate state with international attributes, and economic concerns only served to camouflage that intention.

When the dust settled, the Serbian President had signed what must appear as one of the weirdest documents in the history of international relations. Before making any further editorial comments, here it is:

C:\Users\hp\Desktop\Serbia-Kosovo Agreement 2020 - 1.jpg
C:\Users\hp\Desktop\Serbia-Kosovo Agreement 2020 - 2.jpg

What is so bizarre about it? It is a scrap of paper adorned with the signature of a head of state, but without any heading or logo, or place where it was signed. To add insult to injury, the signatory is identified merely as “President.” President of what, the local Rotary Club or Hunters’ Association? Would a statesman who cares about the dignity of his office or the prestige of his country sign something like this? And what is this, anyway? Is it a diplomatic document or the signatory’s private notes, written out to himself? Interesting questions, worth pondering.

For a contrast, here is President Donald Trump’s letter to his Kosovo Albanian guest, Avdullah Hoti, commemorating the occasion:

C:\Users\hp\Desktop\Trump letter to Hothi.jpg

That looks a lot better and more dignified, doesn’t it?

For an economic agreement between two Balkan entities that few in the West have heard of, care about, or could locate on the map, reached with the involvement of President Trump and members of his staff, the strangely laid out document, it must be said, contains some even stranger provisions.

It says, among other things, that the parties will “diversify their energy supplies.” What does this Aesopian language mean? Are the parties unhappy with their current sources of energy and in need of assistance to secure new ones? Hardly. In light of (a) America’s bitter opposition to North Stream 2, and (b) Secretary of State Pompeo’s recent attempts to “diversify” Belarus’ energy supplies by pushing on it US products that would have to be brought from 10,000 miles away in order to block nearby Russian energy supplies, this phrase can mean only one thing. It is an order to Serbia to abandon any thought of relying on convenient and reasonably priced Russian energy supplies. It also puts an end to Serbia’s role in the Russian European energy distribution scheme, and potentially deprives it of its lucrative position as the South Stream distribution hub. What a great deal for Serbia!

Serbia further accepts to “prohibit the use of 5G equipment supplied by untrusted vendors.” Public health advocates would at this point say “Great, the trip to Washington was not in vain after all, because the scourge of 5G will no longer endanger the health of Serbia’s population, already being decimated by dire cancer generating radioactive consequences of the 1999 NATO bombing.” But the removal of this indisputably noxious Chinese equipment (and that is the whole point of this provision) will not end the scourge but will merely lead to “other mediation efforts in a timely fashion,” e.g. to the substitution of US manufactured deadly 5G networks for those of Huawei.

So the “economic normalization agreement with Kosovo” signed by the president of Serbia’s Hunter’s Association is actually a huge slap to both Russia and China, Serbia’s important geopolitical partners, and incidentally a shot in Serbia’s own foot as well.

Next, there is a provision which Ambassador Richard Grenell, who mediated the talks, might have inserted himself: “Both parties will work with the 69 countries that criminalize homosexuality to push for decriminalization.” What has that got to do with economic relations? And why stop there and not also mandate transgender toilets in Serbian grammar schools?

Serbia is also mandated to transfer its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In parallel fashion, “Kosovo” and Israel will establish diplomatic relations, i.e. Israel recognizes Kosovo. Another great deal for Serbia. By moving its embassy to Jerusalem, Serbia will reward Israel for recognizing the illegal separation of 15% of its territory containing some of its most significant cultural and spiritual sites. That would be analogous to Israel ceding Temple Mount and the Wailing wall to the Arabs and opening embassies in their capitals. And, slap number three, this time to the Arab and Muslim world, for reasons that are impossible to rationally fathom, Serbia obliges itself to “implement measures to restrict Hizballah´s operations and financial activities” on its territory. Whatever position one chooses to take toward “Hizballah” there is nothing for Serbia to restrict because that organization does not conduct any activities on Serbian territory, unless the reference is to “Kosovo” which happens to be a Hizballah stronghold. So why aren´t things called by their real name, and why does a person purporting to represent Serbia consent to being strong-armed into signing such a ludicrous provision, needlessly putting his country in a bad light and courting the contempt of hundreds of millions of Muslims throughout the world?

The next to last point of the Agreement is highly indicative of the political context of the entire affair. It says that in return for “Kosovo” not seeking membership in international organizations for a year, Serbia will “agree to a one-year moratorium on its de-recognition campaign, and will refrain from formally or informally requesting any nation or International Organization not to recognize Kosovo as an independent state.” The formulation is ambiguous but it is framed to support the interpretation that Serbia will refrain from obstructing the recognition of “Kosovo as an independent state” without any time limitations. The sentence is cleverly written by Anglo-Saxon lawyers, including tricky punctuation, to obfuscate that point, but the comma after the word “year” gives the game away. The clause that follows is grammatically separate from the language that precedes it. If President Trump was in a hurry and retyping the whole thing was not an option, any prudent signatory on Serbia’s behalf would have quickly inserted in his own hand after the word refrain the phrase “for the duration of one year,” thus clearly matching the period of “Kosovo’s” commitment to refrain. But as the matter stands, “Kosovo’s” duty to refrain will expire in one year, while Serbia’s obligation to do the same will continue indefinitely after that. Pacta sunt servanda.

Did Serbia’s representative at this meeting have a legal team to assist him? Probably not, because he presumes to be a lawyer himself.

What is the political implication of this provision? It is that the US and EU sponsored process of “Kosovo” legitimation as an “independent state” shall continue unabated, culminating in UN membership, with Serbia renouncing in advance the right to oppose it in any effective way. It is a demonically clever scheme. In the end, Serbia’s de iure recognition of “Kosovo” will become irrelevant because there will no longer be a need to seek its consent or opinion on the subject.

The thought that President Trump arranged this meeting because he needed a foreign policy win before the elections is grossly exaggerated. In his press briefing on 4 September, the same day these discussions were concluded, he did not even mention them or intimate that some spectacular accords which might influence his electoral chances were signed in the Oval Office. That is a clue to the significance he attributes to the visit of his Balkan guests.

For the outlaw “government of Kosovo,” however, this is an important phase in the relentless process of legitimation that is being conducted under the auspices of its US deep state sponsors, whether Trump personally is aware of what is going on or not. For Serbia, the trans-Atlantic trip definitely was not worth it. It was another broad strategic retreat and humiliation. It demonstrates the readiness of Serbia’s leadership to needlessly abase themselves and trade the country’s crown jewels for another lease on their political life, betting on the foreign support they now think they have secured by brown-nosing the global powers-that-be. They better think again, however, and analyse realistically the trajectory of their Montenegrin colleagues.

  1. I thank a reader of my previous article for correctly spelling my surname, with the umlaut. I had used the English transliteration in order not to confuse some readers. 

Trump Condemned for Calling US War Dead “Suckers”

Trump Condemned for Calling US War Dead “Suckers”

By Staff, Agencies

Current and former members of the military, elected officials and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden reacted with outrage and sadness on Friday, as ex-Trump administration officials confirmed key details of a bombshell report in which the US president referred to fallen soldiers as “suckers” and “losers”.

The Atlantic magazine published a story on Thursday in which four sources close to US President Donald Trump said he cancelled a visit to pay respects at an American military cemetery outside Paris in 2018 because he thought the dead soldiers were “losers” and “suckers” and did not want the rain to mess up his hair.

Elizabeth Neumann, a former assistant secretary of counter-terrorism in the Department of Homeland Security, and Miles Taylor, a former chief of staff in that department, said the account was true, asserting that Trump’s low opinion of soldiers killed and wounded in combat was well known inside the administration.

The White House moved to deny the report unusually quickly and forcefully. Trump himself dismissed it as a politically motivated “hoax” and claimed 11 current and former officials supported his account.

“There is nobody feels more strongly about our soldiers, our wounded warriors, our soldiers that died in war than I do,” he told reporters at the White House on Friday. “It’s a hoax. Just like the fake dossier was a hoax, just like the Russia, Russia, Russia was a hoax. It was a total hoax: no collusion. Just like so many other things, it’s a hoax. And you’ll hear more of these things, totally unrelated, as we get closer and closer to election.”

Asked why John Kelly, a retired marine corps general and Trump’s former chief of staff, was not among those defending him, the president added: “He was with me, didn’t do a good job, had no temperament and ultimately he was petered out, he was exhausted. This man was totally exhausted. He wasn’t even able to function in the last number of months. He was not able to function.”

The Atlantic’s source, he speculated, “could have been a guy like a John Kelly”.

Trump tweeted that he would not defund the Stars and Stripes newspaper, which serves US servicemen and women worldwide, after a Pentagon memo ordering its closure was reported by USA Today, causing huge controversy.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, also defended Trump, but the denials were met with widespread skepticism because of his past remarks about military veterans.

And in an unusual intervention, the first lady, Melania Trump, also weighed in, tweeting that the Atlantic story “was not true”.

“It has become a very dangerous time when anonymous sources are believed above all else, & no one knows their motivation,” she wrote.

A visibly angry Biden called the alleged comments “disgusting” and said Trump was “not fit to be commander-in-chief”.

“When my son volunteered and joined the United States military – and went to Iraq for a year, won the Bronze Star and other commendations, he was not a sucker,” Biden said, his voice rising, in remarks in Wilmington, Delaware.

His son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, deployed to Iraq in 2008.

“If these statements are true, the president should humbly apologize to every Gold Star mother and father and every Blue Star family,” Biden said. “Who the heck does he think he is?

“I’m always cautioned not to lose my temper,” Biden said. “This may be as close as I come in this campaign. It’s just a marker of how deeply the president and I disagree on the role of the president of the United States of America.”

Veteran Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who saved the lives of 155 people in 2009 when he guided his stricken plane onto the Hudson river, said: “For the first time in American history, a president has repeatedly shown utter and vulgar contempt and disrespect for those who have served and died serving our country.”

“While I am not surprised, I am disgusted by the current occupant of the Oval Office. He has repeatedly and consistently shown himself to be completely unfit for and to have no respect for the office he holds.”

On a press call hosted by Biden’s campaign, the Democratic Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth, who lost both her legs in combat in Iraq, accused Trump of attempting to “politicize and pervert our military to stroke his own ego”.

“This is a man who spends every day redefining the concept of narcissism; a man who’s led a life of privilege, with everything handed to him on a silver platter,” she said.

“Of course, he thinks about war selfishly. He thinks of it as a transactional cost, instead of in human lives and American blood spilled, because that’s how he’s viewed his whole life. He doesn’t understand other people’s bravery and courage, because he’s never had any of his own.

“I take my wheelchair, and my titanium legs over Donald Trump’s supposed bone spurs any day,” she added, referring to one reason Trump received draft deferments during the Vietnam war.

The call also included the congressman Conor Lamb, a marine veteran, and Khizr Khan, a Gold Star father whose son was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004 and who was himself famously attacked by Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Khan said Trump was “incapable – let me repeat it again – he is incapable of understanding service, valor and courage”.

“His soul cannot conceive of integrity and honor. His soul is that of a coward.”

In an interview with the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Mike Pompeo defended the president’s support of the military.

“I’ve never heard that,” the secretary of state said of Trump allegedly calling the war dead “suckers”.

“Indeed, just the opposite. I’ve been around him in lots of settings where there were both active-duty military, guardsmen, reservists, veterans. This is a man who had the deepest respect for their service, and he always, he always interacted with them in that way. He enjoys those times. He values those people.”

The Biden campaign released a video quoting the president, based on the Atlantic story and later corroborating reports by the Washington Post and the Associated Press. Other media outlets, Fox News among them, also corroborated the Atlantic story.

With the tagline “If you don’t respect our troops, you cannot lead them,” the Biden campaign video displayed the alleged Trump quotes over images of military cemeteries.

At Friday’s briefing, Trump was asked about his past mockery of the late senator John McCain, who served in the military and was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. “I say what I say,” he told reporters. “I disagreed with John McCain on a lot of things. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect him. I respected him but I really disagreed with him on a lot of things and I think I was right. I think time has proven me right to a large extent.”

دوافع التحرك الفرنسي في لبنان وحظوظ نجاحه

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

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فجأة يجد لبنان نفسه أمام اهتمام فرنسي غير مسبوق بنوعه وحجمه وعمقه، تحرك يقوده الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون شخصياً، وينفذ وفقاً لخطة عمل واضحة مقترنة بجدول زمني لا يحتمل المماطلة والتسويف، ما يؤكد جدّيتها البعيدة المدى ويظهر انّ صاحبها قرّر ان ينجح ولا يتقبّل فكرة الفشل في التحرك، فرصيده الشخصي في الميزان كما قال. انه الاهتمام الفرنسي بلبنان الذي يثير أسئلة مركزية حول دوافعه، ثم عن حظوظ نجاحه في منطقة يُعتبر العمل فيها صعباً ومعقداً ومحفوفاً بالمخاطر.

ونبدأ بالدوافع والأهداف، ونذكر أنه في العلاقات الدولية ليس هناك ما يسمّى جمعيات خيرية وتقديمات مجانية فلكلّ شيء ثمن ولكلّ عطاء مقابل. وبالتالي عندما نسأل عن دوافع وأهداف فرنسا من التحرك يعني السؤال ضمناً عن المصالح الفرنسية خاصة والغربية عامة التي تريد فرنسا تحقيقها عبر تحركها الناشط هذا.

وفي البحث عن تلك المصالح والأهداف نجد أنها من طبيعة استراتيجية سياسية واقتصادية وامنية، تفرض نفسها على فرنسا في مرحلة حرجة يمرّ بها الشرق الأوسط والعالم. حيث اننا في مخاض ولادة نظام عالمي جديد يلد من رحم الشرق الأوسط، الذي يتعرّض الآن لأكبر مراجعة لحدود النفوذ والسيطرة فيه. وتعلم فرنسا انّ من يمسك بورقة او بموقع في هذه المنطقة يحجز لنفسه حيّزاً يناسبه في النظام العالم الجديد، الذي ستحدّد أحجام النفوذ فيه وترسم حدودها انطلاقاً من فعالية تلك الأوراق التي يملكها الطرف ومساحة النفوذ التي يشغلها وحجم التحالفات التي ينسجها في إطار تشكيل المجموعات الاستراتيجية التي يقوم عليها النظام العالم العتيد.

وفي هذا الإطار تعلم فرنسا انّ ما أخذته من معاهدة التقاسم في سايكس بيكو يلفظ أنفاسه اليوم، وانّ هناك توزيعاً جديداً بين أطراف منهم من جاء حديثاً ومنهم من يريد استعادة دور سقط قبل 100 عام ومنهم من يريد المحافظة على مواقعه التي استقرّ بها بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية. ولأجل ذلك ترى فرنسا انّ لبنان هو المنطقة الأسهل والموقع الأكثر أمناً لتحركها واحتمال النجاح فيه أفضل بعد ان تهدّدت مواقعها في معظم المنطقة. وتراهن فرنسا في ذلك على خصوصية بعض المناطق مشرقياً ولبنانياً ثقافياً وعقائدياً بما يعقد حركة أقرانها الغربيين ويسهّل حركتها بعد ان احتفظت بعلاقات مميّزة مع فئات محدّدة خلافاً للموقف الانكلوسكسوني منهم. (إيران وحزب الله)

كما تعتبر فرنسا انّ لها في لبنان صلات مباشرة او غير مباشرة، قديمة او مستحدثة مع جميع الطوائف والمكونات اللبنانية بشكل يمكّنها من حوار الجميع وليس أمراً عابراً أن تلبّي جميع القوى السياسية الأساسية ذات التمثيل الشعبي والنيابي الوازن في لبنان، أن تلبّي دعوة الرئيس الفرنسي إلى طاولة برئاسته ويضع معهم او يطرح او يملي عليهم خطة عمل لإنقاذ لبنان ويحصل على موافقتهم للعمل والتنفيذ ضمن مهلة زمنية محدّدة.

ومن جهة أخرى نرى انّ فرنسا تريد ان تقطع الطريق في لبنان أمام المشروع التركي لاجتياح المنطقة بدءاً من العراق وسورية ولبنان وصولاً الى لبيبا التي كانت فرنسا أساساً في إسقاط حكمها بقيادة القذافي ثم وجدت نفسها اليوم خارج المعادلات التي تتحكم بالميدان الليبي حيث تتقدّم تركيا هناك على أيّ أحد آخر.

بالإضافة إلى ذلك ترى فرنسا أنّ انهيار لبنان كلياً سيضع الغرب أمام مأزقين خطيرين الأول متصل بطبيعة من يملأ الفراغ ويقبض على البلاد بعد الانهيار، وفي هذا لا يناقش أحد بأنّ المقاومة ومحورها هم البديل، والثاني متصل بالنازحين السوريين واللاجئين الفلسطينيين الذين لن يكون لهم مصلحة في البقاء في بلد منهار لا يؤمّن لهم متطلبات العيش وستكون هجرتهم غرباً شبه أكيدة بما يهدّد الأمن والاقتصاد الأوروبيين.

أما على الاتجاه الاقتصادي المباشر، فانّ فرنسا تعلم عبر شركاتها التي تداولت بملف النفط والغاز المرتقب اكتشافه في لبنان، انّ ثروة لبنان تقدّر بمئات المليارات من الدولارات وانّ حضورها في لبنان يضمن لها حصة من هذه الثروة التي تعتبر اليوم عنواناً من أهمّ عناوين الصراع في شرقي المتوسط.

أضف الى كلّ ما تقدّم الخطر الاستراتيجي الكبير الذي يخشى الغرب من تحوّل أو إمكانية تحوّل لبنان الى الشرق والصين تحديداً ما يحرم الغرب وأوروبا وفرنسا باباً استراتيجياً واقتصادياً عاماً للعبور الى غربي آسيا.

نكتفي بهذا دون الخوض بأسباب تاريخية وثقافية وفكرية إلخ… تربط فرنسا بلبنان وتدفعها الى “شنّ هذا الهجوم” لإنقاذه من الانهيار، وانتشاله من القعر الذي قاده السياسيون اليه. فهل ستتمكن فرنسا من النجاح؟

في البدء يجب لأن نذكر بأنّ أكثر من لاعب إقليمي ودولي يتحرك او يحضر للتحرك او يطمح بالعمل على المسرح اللبناني ذي الخصوصية الاستراتيجية التي ينفرد بها، وبالتالي ان الفشل والنجاح لأيّ فريق يكون وفقاً لإمكاناته ثم لقدراته على الاستفادة من إمكانات البعض دعماً لحركته، وتخطيه لخطط البعض الآخر التي تعرقل تلك لحركة. ففرنسا تعلم انها ليست بمفردها هنا وانّ المكونات السياسية في لبنان ترتبط طوعاً او ضغطاً بمرجعيات خارجية لا تتخطاها. ولذلك نرى انّ حظوظ فرنسا بالنجاح مقترنة بما يلي:

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ـ العامل الأميركي. حتى الآن تعتبر أميركا صاحبة اليد الأقوى في القدرة على التخريب والتعطيل في لبنان، وصحيح انّ أميركا فقدت سلطة القرار الحاسم في لبنان بسبب وجود المقاومة فيه، إلا أنها احتفظت الى حدّ بعيد بالفيتو وبالقدرة على التخريب والتعطيل إما مباشرة بفعل تمارسه أو عبر وكلائها المحليين. وعلى فرنسا ان تتقي خطر التخريب الأميركي ولا تركن الى ما تعلنه أميركا من تطابق الأهداف الفرنسية والأميركية في لبنان، والى قرار أميركا بإنجاح المسعى الفرنسي، فالموقف الأميركي المعلن متصل بالمرحلة القائمة في أميركا والإقليم وحتى الانتخابات الرئاسية فقد تكون أميركا استعانت بفرنسا للتحرك لملء فراغ عارض من أجل تأخير انهيار لبنان ومنع وقوعه في اليد التي تخشى أميركا رؤيته فيها. وقد تكون الحركة الفرنسية بالمنظور الأميركي نوعاً آخر أو صيغة عملية من القرار 1559 الذي صنعاه معاً، ونفذاه معاً ثم استحوذت أميركا على المتابعة فيه. نقول هذا رغم علمنا بتبدّل الظروف بين اليوم والعام 2004، ما يجعلنا نتمسّك بفكرة التمايز بين الموقفين الفرنسي والأميركي وهذا التمايز يضع المسعى الفرنسي في دائرة خطر النسف او التخريب الأميركي الذي احتاطت له أميركا فربطت النزاع فيه من خلال موقف وكلائها من المبادرة الفرنسية بدءاً برفض تسمية مصطفى أديب رئيساً للحكومة.

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ـ عامل المقاومة ومحورها. يجب على فرنسا ان تعلم وتتصرف بموجب هذا العلم انّ المقاومة في لبنان هي الفريق الأقوى بذاتها والطرف الأوسع تمثيلاً في لبنان والجهة الأبعد عمقاً إقليمياً فيه استراتيجيا، وبالتالي لا يمكن لأيّ مسعى في لبنان ان يُكتب له نجاح انْ كان في مواجهة المقاومة او على حسابها. ونحن نرى حتى الآن انّ فرنسا تدرك جيداً هذا الأمر وقد برعت في التعامل معه بواقعية ومنطق، لكن لا تكفي رسائل الطمأنينة بل يجب ان يكون الأمر ملازماً لأيّ تدبير او تصرف لاحق، ونحن نسجل بإيجابية السلوك الفرنسي في هذا المضمار حتى الآن.

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ـ العامل الإقليمي. وهنا ينبغي الحذر والاحتياط في مواجهة أحداث وسلوكيات إقليمية طارئة او عارضة. فعلى فرنسا ان تعلم انّ جزءاً من مبادرتها يتناقض مع السعي التركي والأداء السعودي في لبنان، فضلاً عن الإمارات “المزهوة اليوم بصلحها مع “إسرائيل” وتطمح بفضاء استراتيجي لها في لبنان. لذلك يجب النظر لدور هذه الأطراف التي لها أو باتت لها أياد تخريبية واضحة كما انّ للسعودية قدرة على الضغط لمنع فرنسا من النجاح. ويكفي التوقف عند التناقض الرئيسي مرحلياً بين فرنسا والمعسكر الذي تقوده أميركا ومعها السعودية والإمارات حول حزب الله وسلاحه والعلاقة به لمنع فرنسا من النجاح لأن نجاحها مع تأجيل ملفّ السلاح خلافاً للرغبة السعودية الإماراتية الأميركية لا يروق لهم. ومن جهة أخرى يمكن الاستفادة إيجاباً من الموقف المصري الذي قد يعطي زخماً للتحرك الفرنسي.

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ـ عامل الوقت. ليس أمام فرنسا سنين للتنفيذ بل هي فترة لا تتعدّى الأشهر الثلاثة، فإنْ نجحت كان لها ما أرادت وإنْ فشلت فإنّ متغيّرات ستحصل أميركياً وإقليمياً تجعل من متابعة المبادرة أمراً صعباً وتجعل النجاح مستحيلاً، وعليه إما ان نطوي العام على نجاح في الإنقاذ بيد فرنسية اوان ننسى كل شيء متصل بها.

أستاذ جامعي ـ باحث استراتيجي

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