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Russian Ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin Dies

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 12:43
Just a day before his 65th Birthday:

Vitaly Churkin, who served as Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations since 2006, "died suddenly" in New York, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced. Churkin would have turned 65 on Tuesday.

The announcement "of the untimely passing away of Ambassador Vitaly Churkin this morning" was met with shock when it was delivered during a session at the UN headquarters.
"He was a dear colleague of all of us, a deeply committed diplomat of his country and one of the finest people we have known," a UN official who delivered the news to her colleagues said.
The moment of silence in Churkin's memory was announced at the UN.
Shocking news to hear the passing away of Amb Vitaly Churkin. A brilliant ambassador who served his country & people. May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/pFodXqs5Qm— @kamaNY (@kamapradipta) February 20, 2017"He was an outstanding person. He was brilliant, bright, a great diplomat of our age," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told RT, adding that the news of Churkin's death was "completely shocking."
Before he was appointed to represent Russia at the UN in May 2006, the diplomat served as ambassador to Belgium, ambassador to Canada, and liaison ambassador to NATO and the Western European Union (WEU).
In the 2000s he was ambassador at large at Russia's Foreign Ministry, while in the early 1990s he served as the special representative of the Russian president to the talks on the former Yugoslavia. Sputnik:
Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin was born in Moscow in 1952. He graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1974, beginning his decades-long career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shortly.
Ambassador Churkin served as Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations since 2006. Prior to this appointment, he was Ambassador at Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (2003-2006), Ambassador to Canada (1998-2003), Ambassador to Belgium and Liaison Ambassador to NATO and WEU (1994-1998), Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation to the talks on Former Yugoslavia (1992-1994), Director of the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR/Russian Federation (1990-1992).
Vitaly Churkin held a Ph.D. in history. He is survived by his wife and two children.
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Standing With Israel On Golan Heights- Enhancing Regional Stability?

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Sun, 02/19/2017 - 17:50
Published in Wall Street Journal
 Or  Foundation for the Defense of Democracy
Also The Tower


We can read this entirely at FDD or The Tower- And what a read it is!Recall my mention the other day that when Trump and Netanyahu met, Bibi asked Trump to okay the theft of Syria's territory? I presented my alternative and vastly more sensible idea: The Obvious Safe Zone for Displaced Syrians is Israeli Claimed Golan

Netanyahu asks Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights  WASHINGTON - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked US President Donald Trump on Wednesday to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, territory Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. 

Check the presentation of this"sweet deal" for  Israel:
- Absurdly claiming that condoning Israel’s theft of Golan will ‘enhance stability’? Yah, like sticking Israel in the middle east enhanced stability in that region- Farcical
- Creating the pre conditions to impede the Palestinians in their negotiations for a state

- Prep for a probable attack on Lebanon and Iran


- Send a message to Russia that US and Russia interest regarding Syria don’t coincide- though tolerating this move may serve Russia’s interests regarding Ukraine? Crimea? 
 I'll highlight the interesting bits:
 “Benjamin Netanyahu has achieved his primary objective of resetting ties with the U.S. after eight years of tensions. True, the Israeli prime minister and Donald Trump still need to bridge the gap on issues such as Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy and West Bank settlements. But they seem to be on the same page on a broad range of regional matters.

That could lead to a breakthrough on an issue of strategic importance to Israel. According to reports of the two leaders’ meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu asked for U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The move makes sense for both sides. It would provide the Israeli government with a diplomatic win while helping the Trump administration signal to Russia and Iran that the U.S. is charting a new course in Syria.

Israel captured the bulk of the Golan from Syria in the 1967 war and annexed the territory in 1981. The move was met with international condemnation.

For two successive Assad regimes, first Hafiz and now his son Bashar, restoring full Syrian sovereignty over the Golan has been an axiomatic demand. Israel floated partial Golan withdrawals during several rounds of peace talks with Syria over the past two decades, but the Syrians were never satisfied with the deals on offer.

With the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the facts on the ground have changed. Had Israel ceded the Golan to Syria, Islamic State, al Qaeda or Iran would be sitting on the shores of the Galilee across from the Israeli city of Tiberias. (Israel's terrorists are nicely situated in Golan)

Mr. Netanyahu and other senior Israeli government officials argue that Syria is destined for partition along sectarian, ethnic and regional lines. And while the retaking of Aleppo shifted the tide of war in favor of the Assad government, some Israelis believe it might be time to acknowledge Israel’s hold on the Golan as permanent.

This position has so far found no traction among the major powers, which still say they want to preserve a unitary Syria. Russia, which intervened militarily to shore up Bashar Assad in the name of Syrian territorial integrity, is chief among them.

A disagreement with Russia over Syria is a long time coming. By recognizing Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan, the Trump administration would signal to Russia that, while Washington may now coordinate with Moscow on activities such as fighting Islamic State, it doesn’t share Russia’s goals for Syria.

Moreover, it would show that the U.S. will take a tougher line on the provision of arms and intelligence to Iran and Hezbollah.

Recognition of Israel’s Golan claims would acknowledge that it needs these highlands to hold off a multitude of asymmetric and conventional military threats from Syria—( Israel is the biggest military threat to Syria) and whatever comes after the war there. Israel continues to target Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah to prevent them from establishing a base of operations on the Syrian Golan.

Recognizing Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan would also soften the Palestinians’ core demand for a state within the 1967 borders. If an international border can be revised along the Syrian border, the Palestinians will have a harder time presenting the 1949 armistice line along the West Bank as inviolable. This might pave the way for compromise when Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, begins to make his push for Palestinian-Israeli peace.Recall:  For Jared Kushner, Israel Policy May be Shaped by the Personal

Will we  see more Israeli aggression & expansion shaped by Jared Kushner's personal experiences and indoctrination?
The move will anger the Europeans and the United Nations, but that storm will pass. Syrian opposition groups will also protest. While some might be tempted to break their tenuous ties with Israel, they understand that the real enemy is Mr. Assad.

Similarly, Arab states will express their outrage, but they will likely see the big picture. Mr. Assad has fallen out of favor with the Arab League, and a blow to the Assad regime and its patrons in Tehran will be seen as a win by these regional Arab players, especially if the Trump administration makes it clear that this is the goal.Recall: Saudi Arabia and Shamoon 2-
 We could be looking at a US/Israel thumb screws tactic being employed to encourage Saudi Arabia to be cooperative, in some way.For the Israelis, the risk of internal instability resulting from the move is low. The Druze Arabs of the Golan, who number about 20,000, are unlikely to respond with unrest. While they profess loyalty to Mr. Assad, the carnage inside Syria has made the stability and prosperity of Israel increasingly attractive.

Mr. Netanyahu’s request will come as a surprise to some observers. But the Israeli prime minister clearly studied “The Art of the Deal.” He knows that his counterpart likes to think big and respects those who do the same.
Don't Miss:
  
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"White Helmet" Terrorists Get Visa for Oscars. Trumping the Travel Ban

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 20:17
 The White Helmets must have played their "Trump" card! to get in to the US
a decisive overriding factor or final resource —called also trump card The White Helmets are truly  trump like individuals
a dependable and exemplary personIs the oscar nomination for special effects? Cause the White Helmets cinematographer is attending!  Yup, they have a cinematographer!  What else could on have expected?
 Cinematography = Special Effects= Fooling the audience
Here's a cinematographer who has made a series of brief video demonstrating the ease with which it's done  1st  &  2nd 

White Helmets Get Visa to Travel to US for Oscar Psyop

The White Helmets going to the Oscars is perfect!- Their theatrics and production is pure Hollywood- So why not an Oscar nomination?
Two Syrian rescue workers said they plan to travel to next week's Oscar ceremony, where their documentary "The White Helmets" is nominated for an award, after weeks of uncertainty caused by US President Donald Trump's travel ban. Raed Saleh, the leader of the White Helmets, and cinematographer Khaled Khatib have both obtained visas to travel to the US for the 26 February Academy Award ceremony in Los Angeles, producer Joanna Natasegara said. "They both have valid visas. We remain cautious about the physical part of entering the country. Things had been very unclear until this point, but we are now being told they are welcome to enter," Natasegara said.
theatric production from brand white helmets Yet another theatre like production - that made their fakery obvious


I wrote about these slime balls last year: Little Boy Rescued From Rubble? Coincidentally "White Helmets" Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

White Helmets, Really?


Link:


Have you noticed that since Aleppo was liberated from terrorists, terrorists shipped out,  there have been no more White Helmet "rescue" videos? 
"You live in a world of illusion.Where everything's peaches and cream We all face a scarlet conclusion.But we spend our time in a dream"Steve Miller  Band

From Earlier: A little more illusion for us all to break free of
Encore Presenation:The Weapon of Mass Migration: RCMP aids illegals/McDonalds cares??
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Encore Presenation:The Weapon of Mass Migration- RCMP aids illegals/McDonalds Cares?

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 10:54
This lecture and PDF were first posted here December 1/ 2015- Nearly one and a half years later the topic has become that much more pressing. Ever more relevant. We're being played folks. In Canada and the US. Wake up to the division being created. Wake up to the destruction being planned.  The 'refugee crisis' is a plan.  The news today of the RCMP- the Royal Canadian Mounted POLICE breaking Canada's laws at the border to assist illegal entry to Canada simply left me flabbergasted! It was the impetus for the repost! This news is surreal. To say the least. We Canadians need to understand that our government does not serve us at all. It is beholden to other masters.. 

The RCMP standing at the border as Canada is illegally entered?   When I first saw that news this morning "it blew my mind"! (really surprised me, really amazed me) Illegal entry to Canada has always been a crime and for good reasons. Yet there is the RCMP, assisting persons in breaking laws, the RCMP is supposed to uphold? How surreal is that? And the ever pushing an agenda media is present to commemorate the crime, while creating some heart tugging narrative to sell the crime as acceptable? Media is a weapon of mass mind manipulation. It's never been more obvious.

CTV


A family is helped into Canada by RCMP officers along the U.S.-Canada border near Hemmingford, Que., on Friday, February 17, 2017The usual child prop to manipulate - to tug heart strings.

Staged for maximum PR effect- CBC
Notice all photos of RCMP have children in them- manipulation maximus!
Eight asylum-seekers, including four children, barely made it across the Canadian border on Friday as a U.S. border patrol officer tried to stop them and a Reuters photographer captured the scene.(A Reuter's photographer at the scene)One by one they scrambled across the snowy gully separating the two countries. RCMP officers watching from the other side helped them up, lifting the younger children and asking a woman, who leaned on her fellow passenger as she walked, if she needed medical care.  "Nobody cares about us," he told journalists. ( Who just happened to be there at that exact moment- coincidence- I think not!) He said they were all from Sudan and had been living and working in Delaware for two years.Living and working in Delaware for the past two years!!
The RCMP declined on Friday to confirm the nationalities of the people. (Not doing their job, obviously) A Reuters photo showed that at least one of their passports was Sudanese. The RCMP carried the articles to their vehicles, and the people piled in to be driven to a nearby border office to be interviewed by police and to make a refugee claim.Canada- US agreement 
The Canada-United States Safe Third Country Agreement, which was signed in 2002, requires people to apply for refugee status in the first safe country they arrive in. Any refugee claimant entering Canada at an official border crossing with the U.S., which is the only country that Canada has designated as a safe third country under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, is supposed to be turned away unless they have a blood relative in the country. People who illegally sneak into Canada at unregulated crossings, however, will generally have their asylum cases heard. Because the Safe Third Country Agreement encourages dangerous illegal border crossings, there have been calls for Ottawa to revoke the U.S.’ “safe third country” status. The federal government, however, has expressed no interest in doing this.This reads to me as if this agreement was signed to encourage exactly what is happening!- Notice when it was brought into effect? 2002. Immediately after 9/11 which kicked off the remake the middle east/north africa plan that is still ongoing present day

Chapter 5: Preventing Illegal Entry into Canada- Auditor General Report 2013
Why it’s importantFailure to prevent illegal entry compromises Canada’s border, the immigration program, and the safety and security of Canadians. Illegal entries are a significant burden on taxpayers. In some cases, authorities must spend time, resources, and effort to track down individuals who are considered a significant threat to the safety of Canadians. The government has not estimated the cost of illegal entries, but Citizenship and Immigration Canada estimates that each rejected refugee claimant, some of whom enter Canada illegally, costs taxpayers about $26,000. The Agency and the RCMP spend about $728 million per year combined on their border control activities.Yet, the RCMP is standing at the border helping the illegals- What is really going on here?
Weaponized migration folks 
McDonald's shuts branches across US during 'Day Without Immigrants' protestWeaponized migration. Divide to conquer.

Back to  Professor Kelly Greenhill- the lecture and the pdf from 2015

 This is a must listen lecture- Absolutely a must listen! In fact, listen to it twice. That's how many times I listened last week! But as you absorb the info take note of what is not really mentioned?  This woman doesn't mention that NATO is using forced displacement and coercion on a global level at this time. She mentions state actors, but, fails to mention the global tyranny above the nation state.  Or the ethnic cleansing being engaged in present time: Kurdistan aka “Second Israel”- Ethnic Cleansing the Indigenous of the Middle East

Professor Greenhill examines an understudied, yet relatively common, bargaining tool and method of persuasion: namely, the use of migration and refugee crises as non-military instruments of state-level coercion. Who employs this unconventional weapon, how often it succeeds and fails, how and why this kind of coercion ever works, and how targets may combat this unorthodox brand of coercion will be exploredKelly M Greenhill is Associate Professor at Tufts University and Research Associate and Chair of the Conflict, Security and Public Policy Working Group at Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Belfer Center (BCSIA). Shel also serves as Associate Editor of the journal Security Studies. Much of her research focuses on the use of military force and what are frequently called 'new security challenges', including civil wars; the use of forced migration as a weapon; military intervention and (counter-) insurgency; foreign and defence policy; and international crime as a challenge to domestic governance. She is author of Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion and Foreign Policy (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs), co-author and co-editor of Sex, Drugs and Body Counts: The Politics of Numbers in Global Crime and Conflict (Cornell) and The Use of Force, 8th edition. Her research has also appeared in a variety of other venues, including in the journals International SecuritySecurity StudiesCivil Wars, and International Migration, in media outlets such as the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, and the British Broadcasting Company, and in briefs prepared for the U.S. Supreme Court and other organs of the U.S. government.

Weapons of Mass Migrationmercury.ethz.ch/.../Files/.../ch5_SI_V9_I1_2010_Greenhill_116.pdfWeapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement as an  Instrument of .... To put the prevalence of coercive engineered migration in perspective.


I will try to reconnect the 2015 link if possible, for now, PDF available at link below also:

 http://commons.wikimannia.org/File:Kelly_Greenhill_-_Weapons_of_Mass_Migration_-_Forced_Displacement_as_an_Instrument_of_Coercion.pdf


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Robert Harward Declines National Security Offer - Trump Asks Again

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 18:38
President is trying to persuade ex-navy Seal to change his mind on White House role

Donald Trump is trying to persuade his preferred candidate to succeed Michael Flynn as national security adviser to change his mind after the retired admiral tapped for the role told the US president he could not accept the White House position, according to two people familiar with the situation. Mr Trump asked Robert Harward, a retired navy special forces officer, to succeed Mr Flynn, who was fired as national security adviser on Monday. At a press conference on Thursday, Mr Trump said his decision to replace Mr Flynn had been made easier because he had an “outstanding” candidate to serve as a replacement.
But Mr Harward later told The Associated Press he had turned down the offer. He said: “It’s purely a personal issue. I’m in a unique position finally after being in the military for 40 years to enjoy some personal time.” One person with first hand knowledge of the discussions between Mr Trump and Mr Harward said: “Harward is conflicted between the call of duty and the obvious dysfunctionality.” A second person said Mr Trump had asked Mr Harward to return to the White House for another meeting to try to change his mind. Appointing Mr Harward, a well-liked navy veteran who is close to James Mattis, US defence secretary, would have helped Mr Trump start to reduce some of the turmoil that has rocked his administration in recent weeks. The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the decision by Mr Harward. I'll wait a bit longer to see how this plays out- Is the decline certain? 
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ISIL agents of the Dajjal.

arabwomanblues - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 22:48
For those who have been following my writings, there are countries I have been warning about since the Fall of Baghdad in 2003.

These countries were/are  Yemen, Turkey, PAKISTAN Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
The ones who designed the fall of Iraq into Darkness in 2003, are the same ones who are designing the tearing apart  the dismantling of the above mentioned countries. Do I have to name them for you again and again and again ? THINK.

ISIL is nothing but a weapon, a weapon of mass destruction, a mean to an end.

Still no one knows who ISIL is...you speculate, and you keep speculating, and in these speculations, arms are sold, countries are destroyed and lives are snatched.

ISIL are land mappers, their caliphate is the caliphate of the Anti Christ. Who is the anti Christ ?
Well you got to answer that one, if you can answer that one, you will know who ISIL is. The Anti Christ has many agents working for him by the way, not just ISIL, again you need to THINK.

Myopia requires that one looks at one tree and forgets the forest.  Same with ISIL, they look at the young delinquent recruits averaging an age of not more than 25, dissatisfied, lost in depression, alienation and suddenly latch on to something that gives them meaning and promises them Paradise, Bliss.... You are only seeing one tree you don't see the forest. Myopia.

Who moves ISIL, who orders ISIL, what has ISIL achieved for MUSLIMS, for ISLAM, for MOHAMMED is the Question.

Come on it is so simple....so obvious.
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Trump Offered NSA Job to Robert Harward- Iran Attack?

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 19:00
As mentioned here two days ago! 
If you didn't read it then, you may want to now?
Feb 14/17: Flynn's Ouster Planned? Robert Harward (Attack Iran?) Frontrunner Harward is a most interesting individual particularly when one considers the post of February 10/17: "How America Could Stumble Into War With Iran" ? Elliot Abrams Nixed
"In Donald Trump’s first term there is a serious possibility of a military conflict, whether intentional or inadvertent, between the United States or Israel and Iran. What follows is how it could unfold, and how it might be avoided" If the Trump administration is set to 'stumble' into war with Iran- this is the man for the job From Trump's Press Conference, today:
 "Another mess I inherited. We have imposed new sanctions on the nation of Iran, who has totally taken advantage of our previous administration. And they are the world's top sponsor of terrorism. And we're not going to stop until that problem is properly solved, and it's not now"It's one of the worst agreements I've ever seen drawn by anybody. I've ordered plans to begin for the massive rebuilding of the United States military.
Harward sans hair
 The Hill President Trump has offered the job of national security adviser to retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward following Michael Flynn's resignation earlier this week, according to reports.
It wasn't immediately clear if Harward, who previously served as a Navy SEAL and as deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, had accepted the position
Politico 
 President Donald Trump has asked retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward to succeed Michael Flynn as his national security adviser, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
I'll update the outcome of this Trump offer as soon as possible- Acceptance or Decline? 

Earlier today
Euphrates (Tabqua) Dam, in Syria, at Risk of Failure- Oroville Dam Karma?24 hours earlier The Obvious Safe Zone for Displaced Syrians is Israeli Claimed Golan
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Euphrates (Tabqua) Dam, in Syria, at Risk of Failure- Oroville Dam Karma?

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 18:37
This is one I’ve been following for a while now, but have been tardy in getting the news posted.
Same scenario as Mosul Dam- the flooding of “biblical” proportions would cleanse the area of an Arab population the Kurds/US/Israel have no tolerance, no love, for. All the while ensuring rich rebuilding contracts.
Any damage that may have occurred presently is most probably from coalition (US) airstrikes-
The localized flooding may be due to US proxies “ISIS” terrorizing the locals which works out very well for the YPG/PKK. Rising water levels will definitely come from the winter thaw and spring rains


Rudaw
The Tabqa Dam, already damaged by war, is now at risk of flooding due to rising water levels in the Euphrates River, the UN warned on Wednesday. (Yesterday)

Heavy rain and snowfall combined with ISIS opening three turbines of the dam have resulted in water levels in the Euphrates River rising by about 10 metres in the last three weeks, according to a UN report seen by Reuters.
 Agricultural lands in eastern Deir e-Zor province flood. Photo courtesy of Omar Abu Laila, Deir Ezzor 24
The UN is claiming ISIS opened turbines... Perhaps? How much from snow thaw and rain to opened turbines? I don't know.
“As per local experts, any further rise of the water level would submerge huge swathes of agricultural land along the river and could potentially damage the Tabqa Dam, which would have catastrophic humanitarian implications in all areas downstream,” the report read.

Tabqa Dam has already been damaged by ISIS militants who have deliberately destroyed infrastructure, and in coalition airstrikes carried out in support of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) battling ISIS on the ground in northern Syria.

Earth-filled Tabqa Dam, the largest in Syria, has been under control of ISIS since 2013. The extremist group has used it as a headquarters, prison, and training centre.The SDF are within a few kilometres of the damAtlantic Council
The station has been headed towards disaster over these past years of neglect, complete loss of replacement parts, and the exodus of technical experience. (Thanks to the US backed destabilization) The risk of fighting around the station when the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) makes the danger imminent.

The Euphrates Dam power station protects the dam from collapsing by controlling the water flow from the reservoir and through the turbine generators and the eight spillway gates on the station’s roof.

The portion of the Euphrates flowing from Turkey is 700 cubic meters per second. Since ISIS took control of the dams, this amount reached unprecedented lows. The Euphrates Dam reservoir is about 90 km (60 miles) long, stretching from the city of Tabqa to the Tishrin Dam on the outskirts of Manbij, and an average of 8 km wide. The dam itself is 4 km long and 60 m (197 ft) high, with a width of 512 m (1680 ft) at the base and 20 m (66 ft) on the surface, and is composed of sand and gravel rubble. The dam holds 14.1 billion cubic meters of drinking water as well as a huge wealth of fish, and its reservoir provides irrigation for vast areas of agricultural projects on its banks.There is currently heavy fighting ongoing between the SDF and the Islamic State in the area around the dam. Coalition airstrikes are targeting the Islamic state in the city of Tabqa, near the power station. Tremors from explosions reach the station’s foundations, and are affecting the dam and weakening its integrity.Image from Atlantic Council If the dam or power station is directly targeted, whether intentionally or accidentally, the structure could quickly collapse. It will be coalition airstrikes that will bring this dam down. Same as it will be in Mosul. Same as it was coalition airstrikes that took out all of the Mosul bridges in Iraq. Same as it was coalition airstrikes that destroyed two bridges that crossed the Euphrates- That’s right coalition airstrikes.
 

Link
Deir e-Zor residents and merchants have relied on river barges since late September 2016, when the US-led coalition struck and destroyed two main bridges connecting the western and eastern bank of the Euphrates River, Syria Direct reported at the time.That’s right it was NOT the Syrian government that blew the bridges. It was not Russia or Turkey that blew up the bridges- It was the US led coalition- which is mostly the US- So familiar!
ISIS’ decision to partially open three of the dam’s spillway gates, cause the water level behind the dam to rise, and flood huge areas of agricultural land, is a military strategy to create a natural barrier that would prevent attacking forces from advancing and surrounding the city. The only option the Syrian Democratic Forces are left with is crossing over the dam itself, which is only 20 meters wide, completely exposed, and secured by weaponry. If the dam becomes a battlefield, this could pose an even greater problem, since any aerial assault would damage it, and could even damage the retaining wall on the side of the reservoir, which would allow water to erode the sandy rubble. This process would accelerate rapidly, creating caves behind the dam’s structural reinforcement on the reservoir side, making it unable to hold back the weight and pressure of the water. If this happens, the collapse of the dam would be inevitable.
It would be preferable for SDF forces to attack the city from the west, since their chance of entering it would be less dangerous to the bridge. They appear to have no choice, however, since the battlefront on the west is too wide.

If the bridge collapses in less than ten minutes, it would unleash a rush of water to the Baath Dam, which is 25 km away. The flood of water would join the 90 million cubic meters of water in the Baath Dam’s reservoir, and create a disaster headed for Raqqa at speeds that could reach 120 km / hour.  At this rate, the water would reach Raqqa in less than half an hour, drowning the city. In two hours, it would reach Deir Ezzor, and from there al-Bukamal in Iraq.

The collapse of the dam would not only eliminate all forms of life in the area and change the natural landscape, but would also affect oil wells in Deir Ezzor. Water could mix with crude oil, creating an additional natural disaster. If the Euphrates Dam collapses, it would also affect the areas upstream of the dam, causing droughts and reducing the agricultural output. Was thinking about how the actions of the US have detrimentally affected two dams, Mosul and Tabqua/Euphrates, in two nations Iraq and Syria- While negligence at home, thanks to war making abroad,  has resulted in trouble at a dam in California- All because politicians and coopted scientists preached permanent drought for California- fools! While the upper tier politicians reshaped entire regions of the world instead of taking care of their home turf- Pathetic

Oroville Dam:

A year ago, politicians and experts were predicting a near-permanent statewide drought, a “new normal” desert climate. (thanks to Fake Climate Science) The most vivid example of how wrong they were is that California’s majestic Oroville Dam is currently in danger of spillway failure in a season of record snow and rainfall. That could spell catastrophe for thousands who live below it and for the state of California at large that depends on its stored water.
The poor condition of the dam is almost too good a metaphor for the condition of the state as a whole; its possible failure is a reflection of California’s civic decline.The poor condition of the dam is too good of a metaphor for many things-
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The Obvious Safe Zone for Displaced Syrians is Israeli Claimed Golan

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 18:56
That's right readers!It's the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about!
It would be the most efficient, cost effective and best for the Syrian people.It is already a safe zone- UN peacekeepers are  in the area and more can be deployed! Therefore displaced Syrians can be moved within Syria's territory, back to Golan and quite easily be resettled. The land is rich. Fertile soil. Water and natural resources are abundant. No burden for the EU. Canada. The US.

The international community does NOT recognize Israel's claim on Syria's territorial land.  Therefore the land claimed by Israel is Syrian territory! For the Syrian people!
 

Israel has no legal/lawful claim to the land.
It is Syrian territory. 
Refugee problem solved.
It's as easy as that Donald Trump! 

Netanyahu asks Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights WASHINGTON - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked US President Donald Trump on Wednesday to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, territory Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.

Most of the world considers the Golan, a high plateau between northeastern Israel and southwestern Syria, to be occupied by Israel, which annexed the territory in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally. Don't do it Mr Trump-
UN rejects Israel's claim over Syria's Golan Heights

The UN Security Council has rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claim that the annexed Golan Heights in Syria would "for ever" remain under Israeli control.
The 15-member council agreed on Tuesday that the status of the Golan, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967, "remains unchanged", Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi, who holds this month's council presidency said.

Liu recalled a 1981 resolution which states that Israel's "decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights was nul and void and without any international legal effect."
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#Trumposhti

arabwomanblues - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 09:33
Trumposhti is a term of Arabic endearment that I HAVE COINED (don't go stealing it) to call the new President of the United States of America  - Trump.
I actually like the guy, believe it or not.
First of, he makes me laugh. And I can do with some humor.
Bush was/is a moron and Obama a lousy charlatan snake charmer. So Trump is a breath of fresh air.
Furthermore, I wanted to make sure  I had not fallen into some ideological right wing snare, so I went around and asked people what they thought of Trumposhti.
And to my great surprise, people were fine with him. Not that they really cared about the USA, they don't, understandably so, but they were fine with him.
The overwhelming response I received was ---  " At least he is clear".
And in an age of universal deceit, clarity is not such a bad thing.

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Flynn's Ouster Planned? Robert Harward (Attack Iran?) Frontrunner

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 19:11
Well, well, well... doesn't the resignation of Flynn get more and more interesting ????

White House Said to Prepare for Flynn's Ouster Since Last Week Bloomberg February 14, 2017, 5:54 PM EST White House officials spoke with Robert Harward, a potential replacement for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, as early as last week and again yesterday, a senior administration official said a day after Flynn was dismissed. The official said preparations had been under way to replace Flynn for a long time. The person asked not to be identified discussing a personnel matter. Harward is a retired vice admiral who once served under Defense Secretary James Mattis.Harward is a most interesting individual particularly when one considers the post of February 10/17: "How America Could Stumble Into War With Iran" ? Elliot Abrams Nixed
"In Donald Trump’s first term there is a serious possibility of a military conflict, whether intentional or inadvertent, between the United States or Israel and Iran. What follows is how it could unfold, and how it might be avoided"Let's take a gander at Harward

Robert Harward: Everything you need to know about possible national security adviser 

If the Trump administration is set to 'stumble' into war with Iran- this is the man for the job
Harward served as deputy commander of U.S. Central Command under Gen. James Mattis, now the secretary of defense. Harward is an ABC News contributor. Here’s everything you need to know about the man who could serve as Trump’s chief White House adviser on national security issues. 
U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward shakes hands with U.S. Navy Cmdr....
Name: Robert S. Harward Birthplace: Newport, Rhode Island What he used to do: Harward was appointed in 2011 as the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, serving under then-commander Mattis, until his retirement from the military in 2013. Before that assignment, he was the deputy commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command and commander of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 in Afghanistan. Since Sept. 11, 2001, he led troops in Afghanistan and Iraq for six years. Harward, 60, is now the chief executive officer for Lockheed Martin United Arab Emirates. Career track:Harward enlisted in the Navy and was later awarded a fleet appointment to the U.S Naval Academy, from where he graduated in 1979. He qualified as a surface warfare officer aboard the destroyer USS Scott before joining the Naval Special Warfare community. Harward was the “Honor Man” of his Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL class 128, an award given to the most outstanding member of the training course. Throughout his distinguished career, Harward has been stationed around the world, but also worked for the executive branch in the nation’s capital. He has served on the National Security Council as the director of Strategy and Policy for the office of Combating Terrorism and was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff representative to the National Counterterrorism Center as a member of the Senior Interagency Strategy Team, according to his Navy biography. He holds a master’s degree in international relations and strategic security affairs, served as a federal executive fellow at Rand and completed the Center for International Studies’ foreign policy program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to the biography. Harward was awarded the Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award in 2013 by the U.S. Naval War College for his prominence in the field of national security. In 2012 he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award for individuals “whose accomplishments in their field and inspired service to our nation are cause for celebration,” according to the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, which sponsors the award. Things you might not know about him:Harward grew up the son of a naval officer and spent much of his teenage years in Iran. He graduated from Tehran American High School in 1974 and speaks Farsi.For his retirement ceremony in Coronado, California, in 2013, Harward jumped out of a plane and parachuted in, landing on the beach where the ceremony would take place. Adm. William McRaven, then-commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Mattis, then-commander of Centcom, spoke at his retirement.

Harward’s parachute had the SEAL trident flag along with his three-star flag above it, according to The Coronado Times.
Interesting no? Harward and his family smack dab in Iran during the reign of the Shah
Images from the 1979 revolution


Full Circle? Related
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Saudi Arabia and Shamoon 2

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 18:13
I’m not going to automatically assume that Iran was behind this. We could be looking at a US/Israel thumb screws tactic being employed to encourage Saudi Arabia to be cooperative, in some way.
 
Link :Looking for some thoughts.
Saudi Arabia is warning that a computer virus that destroyed systems of its state-run oil company in 2012 has returned to the kingdom, with at least one major petrochemical company apparently affected by its spread.

Suspicion for the initial dispersal of the Shamoon virus in 2012 fell on Iran as it came after the Stuxnet cyberattack targeting Tehran's contested nuclear enrichment program.

It wasn't immediately clear who could be responsible for the new infection, though the relations between regional rivals remain tense.

A report Monday by Saudi state-run television included comments suggesting that 15 government agencies and private institutions had been hit by the Shamoon virus, including the Saudi Labor Ministry. The ministry said it was working with the Interior Ministry to contain the virus.

Sadara, a joint venture between the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co., shut down its computer network Monday over a disruption.

Company spokesman Sami Amin said its network remained down Tuesday, though it hadn't affected operations at the facility. He declined to comment further.

Sadara is based in Jubail Industrial City, which sits about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of the eastern Saudi city of Dammam in the heartland of the kingdom's oil industry. The $20 billion facility, inaugurated by Saudi King Salman in late November, includes 26 manufacturing units that will produce more than 3 million metric tons of plastics and chemical products.

Another state-run TV report on Tuesday said the Saudi Technical and Vocational Training Corp. was affected, though a spokesman denied the virus did any damage to its network.

Symantec Corp., a California-based security firm, warned in late November that Shamoon had been spotted again in Saudi Arabia. Computers affected had their hard drives erased and displayed a photograph of the body of 3-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, who drowned fleeing his country's civil war, Symantec said.

"Why Shamoon has suddenly returned again after four years is unknown," Symantec said . "However, with its highly destructive payload, it is clear that the attackers want their targets to sit up and take notice."

The November attacks apparently involved previously stolen passwords. Symantec on Monday said the outbreak might be linked to a group it called Greenbug, which previously attacked targets in Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey with emails carrying malicious attachments.

Shamoon, named for a folder in its code, first emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012. In that attack, which hit Saudi Aramco and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas, the virus deleted hard drives and then displayed a picture of a burning American flag on computer screens. The attack forced Saudi Aramco to shut down its network and destroyed over 30,000 computers.

"All told, the Shamoon virus was probably the most destructive attack that the private sector has seen to date," then-U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at the time.

Shortly before Panetta's speech, a former U.S. official told The Associated Press that American officials firmly believed Iranian hackers likely backed by Tehran were responsible for the attack.

Iran denied being responsible for the 2012 Shamoon outbreak. Tehran had no immediate comment on the new outbreak.

The first emergence of Shamoon came as Iran faced international sanctions over its contested nuclear program and after it saw thousands of centrifuges destroyed by the Stuxnet virus, widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation.

Last year, a series of fires at Iranian petrochemical plants and facilities have raised suspicions about hacking potentially playing a role.
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Meet the New "Specially Protected Class"

freedominourtime - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 19:19





Adams Lin literally fainted as he read a court order authorizing federal marshals to confiscate his property. The officers seizedhis car, his designer clothes, a flat-screen television, golf clubs, computer, and even his treasured Samurai sword.

Unlike countless other Americans who have been pillaged by federal law enforcement officials, Lin was not a victim of the officially sanctioned plunder called civil asset forfeiture. His property was confiscated after Lin’s boss failed to make a $200,000 payment toward the $22.4 million civil damage award granted to a man who was left paralyzed through Lin’s occupational misconduct.

Lin’s boss is Palm Beach County, Florida Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, and he has adamantly refused to make payments to Dontrell Stephens, who was shot by Lin after the panicking deputy mistook the 19-year-old’s cell phone for a gun.

“There’s nothing in the rules of engagement that says we have to put our lives in jeopardy to wait and find out what this is and get killed,” whined Sheriff Bradshaw on the day of the shooting. His department quickly exonerated Lin and promoted him – before the public release of video that proved that the victim had never posed a threat to the deputy.

Rather than complying with the court order, Bradshaw filed an appeal. After the award was upheld last May, Bradshaw appealed again – which triggered an injunction leading to the seizure of property from the deputy who was directly responsible for the unlawful shooting of an innocent teenager. Owing to his service as an asset of the state’s punitive apparatus, Lin was able to get his confiscated property back. His victim, of course, remains paralyzed.
Lin continues to be held in high regard by Bradshaw, which is why the sheriff selected him to be one of seven sergeants from his department assignedto the presidential security detail at the Palm Beach Airport during the president’s recent visit.


This obviously wasn’t a reward for Lin’s exceptional valor. The deputy’s pants-wetting meltdown that led to the near-murder of Stephens, and his fainting spell triggered by enforcement of the court order, demonstrate that he’s hardly Horatiusat the bridge in dealing with adversity. It was a gesture of calculated contempt toward those who believe that police officers should be held accountable for personal misconduct, and an assertion of the institutional sense of entitlement that characterizes law enforcement – and that has been reinvigorated by the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Donald Trump has repeatedly describedthe privileged personalities who constitute the state’s punitive caste as “the most mistreated people” in society. In a recent exercise in self-pity publishedby the cyber-journal Law Officer, Major Travis Yates of the Tulsa Police Department embellishes Trump’s claim, complaining that law enforcement officers are the victims of what he calls “The New Discrimination in America.”

“We see police officers being assaulted,” insisted Yates. “We see police officers being murdered. And much of it, is just because they wear a uniform.”

Police officers are occasionally assaulted, and on austerely rare occasions murdered on-duty – much less frequently, as it happens, than they were under the reign of the last self-described law-and-order president, Ronald Reagan. Those who lend credence to Yates’s jeremiad, however, would believe that the desecrated bodies of police officers can be found dangling from hanging trees throughout the length and breadth of this hate-intoxicated, ungrateful land.

“From slavery to the KKK to Jim Crow laws, nothing much has changed in this country,” he intones. “We continue to hate and we continue to kill and the only difference now is we are doing it to those in uniform.”

This ambient violence sometimes leads people to shun police officers in restaurants, or call them “vile and hateful names.” A similarly grievous illustration of what he invites the reader to pretend is unconscionable anti-cop bigotry was an executive order by Barack Obama placing modest limits on the transfer of war-fighting materiel from the Pentagon to local police agencies.

Like many others in the self-described Blue Lives Matter movement, Major Yates confuses a chosen occupation – one involving the state-sanctioned exercise of aggressive violence -- with an innate characteristic. He also ignores the critical distinctions between hateful and spiteful verbal abuse -- on one hand -- and the forceful criticism of officials who are, or at least should be, accountable to the public they claim to serve.

Yates does understand the essential nature of the occupation he has chosen. In a previous essay, he complained that citizens who are urging police to rediscover the lost skill of de-escalation in encounters with citizens are demanding that “police stop being police.”

Yeah, they're just like victims of Jim Crow.
“Follow the commands of a police officer, or risk dying,” Yates snarled, expressing the discretionary power to kill that was not enjoyed or exercised by slaves or those subject to Jim Crow laws.  From his perspective, only aberrant bigotry could motivate those who take issue with the fact that police consider themselves invested with that power, or criticize them when its exercise is manifestly indefensible.

Once clad in the habiliments of the state’s punitive priesthood, police expect and demand deference from Mundanes. Recent studies conducted by a team of cognitive neuroscientists at McMaster University suggest that the mere act of donning the official costume alters the way those thus attired – in this case, students, rather than police officers – view people who are regarded as socially marginal or otherwise “problematic.”

It is incontestable that once an individual swaddles himself in police attire he begins to assess everyone who surrounds him in terms of potential threats to “officer safety.” It is likewise clear that the relatively modest occupational risks of police officers are amplified by the requirement that they enforce measures that are innately illegitimate.

Missouri State Trooper Beau Ryun, to cite a perfectly suitable recent example, was “assaulted” by 22-year-old Jonathan Timmons during a recent traffic stop, and was rescued by the intervention of a motorist named Charles Barney and a 74-year-old woman identified only as “Sandra.” That’s as far as the story will be recounted in most re-tellings: A heroic paladin of public order was viciously attacked, and was rescued by two “civilians,” who have been nominated for “honorary trooper awards.”

Little if any attention will be paid to the prelude of this altercation.

Timmons, a resident of New York State, was not suspected of an actual crime against person or property. He was stopped by Trooper Ryun because of a “lane violation.” If the vehicle had not displayed out-of-state license plates, it’s quite possible that Ryun would have ignored this trivial transgression. Owing to the perverted priorities of prohibition, however, traffic infractions of this kind are coveted, because they provide opportunities for drug arrests and asset forfeiture.

Timmons, unfortunately, was far too cooperative following Ryun’s pretext stop, agreeing to sit in the patrol vehicle while the trooper conducted a consent search. When Ryun reached for the handcuffs, Timmons decided to fight back. His offense was morally indistinguishable from that of an escaped slave who “assaulted” an officer enforcing the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law – Deputy U.S. Marshal James Batchelder, to cite one example.

Batchelder was killed by an abolitionist posse seeking to liberate a man named Anthony Burns, who had been “lawfully” arrested by the marshal for rendition to the Virginia man who claimed to “own” him. Yes, Burns violated the “law” by escaping from involuntary servitude. In similar fashion, Timmons broke the “law” by being in possession of marijuana, and by resisting state-sanctioned abduction by an armed stranger.

Deputy Marshal Batchelder’s name is inscribed on the honor roll of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Those who compile such rosters do not inquire into the legitimacy of the statutes whose enforcement led to the deaths thus tabulated, or consider whether killing or dying to enforce them is justifiable.

Timmons faces six criminal charges, including felonious assault on a “special victim.” Yes, Missouri is among the SSRswithin the American soyuz that formally designate police as a “specially protected class.” Over the past two years, law and order conservatives who otherwise abhor the concept of “hate crimes” have proposed, and sometimes enacted, hate crimes statutes that enhance penalties for crimes against police officers.

In Louisiana, for example, citizens can now be charged with a “hate crime” under that state’s Blue Lives Matter statute, which was signed into law last year. Two bills being reconciled in the Mississippi State Legislature would have the same impact.

House Bill 645, titled the “Back the Badge Act of 2017,” would triple the penalties for committing an act of violence against law enforcement officers or other first responders (who are included in the bill in order to expand its constituency, not because of an outbreak of violence against firefighters or EMTs). A similar measure, Senate Bill 2469, the “Blue, Red, and Med Lives Matter Act,” has passed that chamber of the state Legislature. That bill designates police and other first responders as a specially protected class for the purpose of hate crimes prosecution. Mississippi state law currently doubles penalties for crimes targeting people belonging to specially protected classes.
 Caesar keeps the Praetorians happy.
The Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions have been agitating for federal “hate crimes” legislation for the benefit of law enforcement, and Donald Trump is eager to oblige them. His recent executive order instructs newly installed Procurator General Jeff Sessions to “pursue appropriate legislation … that will define new Federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing Federal crimes, in order to prevent violence against Federal, State, tribal and local law enforcement officers.”

With three exceptions – piracy, counterfeiting, and treason – “federal crimes” do not exist under the constitutional framework, which likewise does not authorize the federal government to investigate and punish violations of state laws. Self-described constitutionalists once regarded such considerations as important.

Just months ago, the “law and order” constituency was denouncing the President of the United States for seeking to “federalize” law enforcement. Now that same cohort is offering full-throated approval of the president’s eagerness to expand federal involvement in local law enforcement – and to federalize prosecution of people accused of criminal offenses resulting from encounters like the one involving Jonathan Timmons and Trooper Ryun.

After spending Barack Obama’s reign denouncing his regime as the distillate of despotism, right-collectivists are eagerly applauding the enhancement of state power under a president with whom they can identify.

Statists of all varieties remain committed to Lenin’s formula, under which the fundamental political question is “who does what to whom.” The “what” in that equation – the exercise of essentially illimitable state power – remains intact; the “who” and “whom” have simply exchanged places. Somewhere in hell, Lenin is kvelling.


The same Regime that promises border security has been known to vet refugees for the purpose of recruiting terrorists -- but what should we expect from a system based on demographic central planning? This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast:



Please be sure to check out the Libertarian Institute.







Dum spiro, pugno!





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For Jared Kushner, Israel Policy May be Shaped by the Personal

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 17:33
Shaped by the Personal? Personal beliefs? Personal agenda? Personal grudges?

Will we  see more Israeli aggression & expansion shaped by Jared Kushner's personal experiences and indoctrination?

NYT’s
Read in full at link above
Mr. Kushner was a high school basketball player, a Billy Joel fan, a quiz team manager and no one’s guess to become a negotiating partner with Mr. Netanyahu. But unlike other students on the trip, he knew the prime minister, who was friendly with his father, a real estate developer and donor to Israeli causes. Mr. Netanyahu had even stayed at the Kushners’ home in New Jersey, sleeping in Jared’s bedroom. (The teenager moved to the basement that night.)

On Wednesday, when the Israeli prime minister visits the White House, Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Kushner will reunite on far different terms from before — and yet their meeting will be imbued with some of the shared ideas of those old encounters. Mr. Netanyahu is on his second stint as prime minister; Mr. Kushner, now 36, is President Trump’s son-in-law and a leading adviser on Middle Eastern affairs with a daunting assignment. Mr. Trump has said that Mr. Kushner will try to “do peace,” which the president has called “the ultimate deal.” Kushner “is a mystery to most Middle Eastern officials. He has no experience in government or international affairs. His up-close exposure to the Arab world amounts to little more than trips to a handful of Persian Gulf countries and a star-studded jaunt to Jordan.

Though Mr. Kushner has visited Israel since childhood, and more recently to do business, he is little known there. He holds strong views about the state of Israel, but he has not been outspoken about them, save for editorials in The New York Observer, the newspaper he owned. His thinking on matters like settlements is not well understood.“Israel wasn’t a political discussion for him; it was his family, his life, his people,” said Hirschy Zarchi, rabbi at the Chabad House at Harvard, where Mr. Kushner was an undergraduate.Mr. Kushner has ties to Israel that are personal and religious. His visit to Auschwitz was stark, but its themes were not new to him. His grandmother survived the Holocaust by crawling through a homemade tunnel in Poland. His grandfather escaped the massacres by hiding in a hole for years. An Orthodox Jew, Mr. Kushner was instructed to protect Israel, remember the genocide and assure the survival of the Jewish people, those close to him say.

He was educated at Jewish schools where second graders were expected to draw maps of Israel from memory and the West Bank was often referred to by its biblical names, Judea and Samaria, a practice that emphasizes Jewish claims to the land. His family used its real estate fortune to donate millions of dollars to American Jewish and Israeli hospitals, schools and other institutions, including a few in settlements, according to public records. In his classes, Palestinians were regarded at a distance, in part as security threats who committed acts of terrorism — including one that killed a sister of a classmate of Mr. Kushner’s.
Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot in New York in 2011. Mr. Kushner is holding the lulav, a palm branch, and the etrog, a citrus fruit, which are used in the celebrations.
When Mr. Trump ran for president, his son-in-law’s stances on Israel helped shape the campaign. Mr. Kushner helped script a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and consulted with Netanyahu officials behind the scenes. When he brought the candidate and the prime minister together for a meeting, his father, Charles Kushner, was invited to join them.

Thanks in part to the younger Mr. Kushner, Mr. Netanyahu will arrive at a White House that has already adopted many of the prime minister’s perspectives on the region. Now Mr. Kushner is helping Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu craft a strategy to recruit Sunni Muslim countries that oppose Iran to help foster an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The approach is a long shot: Negotiations are dead. The Israeli right is pushing for more settlement in the West Bank as talk among Palestinians turns to a single state in which they have equal rights.Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian leader who was involved in peace talks both with Israelis and internally, said Palestinians were skeptical of Mr. Kushner, and Mr. Trump’s team generally, seeing them as close only to the Israeli side. As part of its philanthropy, Mr. Kushner’s family has made donations to the Beit El settlement, which Mr. Barghouti finds particularly worrisome.We need somebody who is really impartial,” Mr. Barghouti said, pointing out that it is unclear whether Mr. Kushner has ever visited a Palestinian area (the White House would not say). “There is no indication he is interested in hearing from the other side.”
Mr. Netanyahu’s list of potential donors, including Mr. Kushner’s father, Charles. Credit Ynetnews.com
Through a White House spokeswoman, Mr. Kushner declined to respond or be interviewedThe major Jewish institutions of Mr. Kushner’s life — school and synagogue — emphasized the connection between religion and Zionism. “In the modern Orthodox community, the state of Israel has an important place in identity, as a religious ideal, not only a political reality,” said Elie Weinstock, rabbi at Kehilath Jeshurun, the Manhattan synagogue Mr. Kushner joined.At his elementary school, the Hebrew Youth Academy in Livingston, N.J., it was impossible to walk the halls “without seeing the flags of Israel and Israeli historical figures and how the kids celebrate Israeli holidays,” said Stephen Flatow

During high school at the Frisch School in northern New Jersey, where Mr. Kushner spent long days attending mandatory prayers (morning and afternoon) and studying in English, Hebrew and Aramaic (the language of the Talmud), every year of his education was interwoven with events in Israel.

But classmates say the environment Mr. Kushner lived in could feel apolitical, because most everyone shared similar views, and Palestinian perspectives were barely considered. Some teachers told students that “Palestinian” was a made-up identity, a label adopted for political reasons. There was little discussion of what it was like to live under occupation, several classmates of Mr. Kushner’s recalled. Many rabbis and teachers seemed comfortable with settlements, and some students said they never learned that Israel’s borders were a highly contested topic.“There was such an assumption that Jews deserve to have this place, that it was theirs for thousands of years by biblical fiat,” said Eli Schleifer, who graduated the year before Mr. Kushner. “There was such a strange blindness to the complexity of the situation.”In 1999, Mr. Kushner left New Jersey for Harvard, where he no longer wore a skullcap to classes, but continued to follow rules of Orthodox Jewish life.

 Soon the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, was setting off criticism of Israel on campus and then responses from students who defended the country, but Mr. Kushner kept his head down.

Instead he spent time at the Chabad House, where Rabbi Zarchi was struck by how Mr. Kushner “never felt the need to apologize for his differences, his religious commitments,” he said.

Mr. Kushner sometimes expressed his views during long Sabbath meals at the house. “He certainly believed that a strong and secure Israel was in America and the world’s best interest,” Rabbi Zarchi said. He didn’t believe that Israel needed “the approval of Europe, the United Nations or even Washington or London,” the rabbi continued.

While Mr. Kushner was at Harvard, Mr. Netanyahu once again visited his father, speaking at his office, kicking a soccer ball at one of the schools that carried the family name and sitting down for a tabbouleh lunch with students, including Jared’s younger brother, Joshua.But Mr. Kushner’s task is formidable. Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Trump want to set in motion a chain of events that could block Iran, redefine Israel’s relationship with the Arab world and create Israeli-Palestinian peace — “the deal that can’t be made,” as Mr. Trump has said.

“The prime minister is coming into the meeting with the hope to forge a common policy with the president, and Jared’s role is critical in that,” said Ron Dermer, the ambassador of Israel, with whom Mr. Kushner has been in close contact. “He’s someone who, in my interactions with him, has really been able to deliver.”

Ron Dermer the ambassador of Israel has been in close contact with Mr Kushner and states. “He’s someone who, in my interactions with him, has really been able to deliver.”
Able to deliver what? For whom?

From Earlier:
America’s “Best Fighting Forces” Rule With an Iron Fist
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America’s “Best Fighting Forces” Rule With an Iron Fist

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 16:59
I dare say the YPG/PKK have been and continue to be the darlings of the main stream media and so called alternative news too. There will be little that is new to long term readers here as I’ve stated these very facts for years now-
The Kurdish YPG recruits fighters at gunpoint, assassinates political opponents, and suppresses the media.I’m excluding wild speculation, exaggeration and what appears to be fallacious and misleading based on my own knowledge of this situation. Example: Claims by YPG/PKK of  not being adequately trained or armed by the US are absurd.  They have NATO special forces embedded among them, bombs are dropped on their word- The US partnered with the YPG/PKK in  their ethnic cleansing/displacement agenda- They've had tons and tons of weapons delivered to them- The US is supposed to be fighting terrorists/ism, not bolstering it

Cutting to the chase:

This is the second of a two-part investigation, which was supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism. Part one can be read here.
The raid began at 3 am in a Syrian village close to the Iraqi border. Kurdish-led military police, many masked, piled out of their pickup trucks, set up roadblocks, drew their weapons, and launched a house-to-house search. It was America’s favorite Syrian militia, the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, at work. Top figures in the Obama administration and even the professional military praised the YPG as the most effective Syrian force against the Islamic State, or ISIS. (The Trump administration hasn’t yet indicated how it plans to work with the YPG.)But its mission last September 10 was nothing to brag about. The northeast Syrian village being stormed, Bani Shkawe, is Kurdish, and the Asayish, or military police, were not scouring for radical Islamists but for Kurdish draft-dodgers. They arrested seven young men, but many others got away, local residents said.    Two weeks later, the Asayish returned with a force of 700. When a group of young men took flight, the Asayish opened fire, killing Hani Khanjar, an 18-year-old Kurd. They captured three young men, but set them free, since they were under 18.   

The YPG regularly raids villages such as Bani Shkawe, and several times a month it sets up roadblocks and checkpoints at the edge of major towns and villages, according to opposition politicians and local human rights monitors.

Measures such as these testify to the unpopularity of the Democratic Union Party, the PYD, the political wing of the YPG, but it’s not the only reason. The PYD runs the region, which it calls Rojava or west Kurdistan, with an iron hand, suppressing political opposition, detaining journalists and shutting down independent media, and expelling tens of thousands of Arabs as it seeks to consolidate control. Forced recruitment is both a cause and an effect of its unpopularity.   

“The PYD has a manpower problem,” said Fabrice Balanche, a French academic expert on Syria with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He estimates that 500,000 Kurds—half the population—have fled northern Syria rather than submit to YPG rule.   

The US military has got wind of the YPG’s forced-recruitment practice. “We’ve heard of it. I don’t know if we’ve confirmed it,” Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for the US Central Command, told The Nation. But, he added, “forced conscription is not something we are in there advising” the YPG to do.    

American demands on the YPG may be driving the number still higher. The problem begins with the YPG itself and its hostile relations with neighbors on two sides, Turkey and Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

In addition, the YPG is the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a group on the US, Turkish, and European Union terrorism lists. While there may be military logic in teaming up the US military machine with a ground force that has a central organization, an officer corps, and combat experience, that’s also the drawback, for the PKK’s combat experience was gained fighting Turkey for some 30 years in an insurgency that flared up again in the summer of 2015.

The State Department claims the YPG is a separate entity from the PKK, a stance viewed throughout the region as fiction. Asked for evidence to prove its point, the department refuses to answer specific questions about US policy.

At US behest, the YPG took a step in late 2015 to broaden its appeal by setting up the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, an umbrella group with a major component of Arab fighters but under YPG control. And that means PKK control.   

“Of course all orders come from Qandil,” said Balanche, referring to the Iraqi headquarters of the PKK. According to PKK defectors interviewed by The Nation, 70 percent of the YPG forces were PKK units based in Qandil. 
Compulsory YPG military service dates back to June 2014, when the PYD-ruled legislative council in the self-styled Jazira canton issued a “law of performing self-defense.” It required every family to provide a male “volunteer” between 18 and 30 years of age to serve for six months. Families without an eligible male were encouraged to send females instead, leading to unrest throughout Jazira and the other cantons, Kobani and Afrin.   

The YPG has been raiding and arresting young men—as well as women and girls—since the beginning of 2014, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reported early this year.   

SNHR has also reported extensive forced recruitment of child soldiers—adolescents under 16. Some 1,876 children were forcibly recruited between 2012 and 2015. “Children have been forced to use and train on guns since 2012 extensively,” SNHR said. Both the Pentagon and the State Department declined to respond to questions from The Nation.   

The YPG agreed in writing in 2014 to halt the recruiting of underage soldiers, according to Geneva Call, an NGO that lobbies armed groups to adhere to international norms in war. As of late 2015, 214 children under 16 had been demobilized and 49 others between 16 and 17 had been discharged from military service, the group said in a report early last year, according to YPG officials.   
Silencing Local Journalists..
“They told me that either I give up journalism and leave or they will kill me.” —Sadun Sino, Orient TV

In the first year of force recruitment, local journalists produced many stories, in part because anxious parents approached them and urged them to report the news. But public protests were quickly suppressed, and independent journalism has been crushed.   

In 2013 Sadun Sino began working for Orient TV, an opposition news outlet in Rojava. After reporting on a series of assassinations of Kurdish opposition figures—all of which he believed were carried out by PYD operatives—Sino began regular coverage of protests, which usually erupted when the YPG seized an underage boy or girl. Sino said he produced at least 15 reports from his hometown of Derbasi, and other reporters in Amudah and Kobani produced even more. The YPG “staged so many roundups in Derbasi that I lost count,” Sino said. “People came to me asking me to report on it,” he pointed out.   

He reported on the conscription of girls, at least two of whom were under-age, and on PKK arrests of young men and women at checkpoints. “On one day in 2014, they took 40 men and boys at one checkpoint,” Sino said. “It was happening every day.” On another day, the YPG issued an order to round up 150 conscripts.   

Finally, the authorities cracked down on the news coverage. “They told me that either I give up journalism and leave or they will kill me,” Sino told The Nation. After being jailed four times, he fled Rojava in January 2015.   

“The PYD and the YPG violently suppressed freedom of assembly and severely limited freedom of speech.” —US State Department
Jason Stern, a researcher with the New York–based Committee to Project Journalists until last week, said CPJ has found that censorship and arrests are routine in Rojava. “Too often the authorities there get glowing coverage for their role in fighting Islamic State, and, as a result, their regular practice of censorship is ignored,” Stern observed in an e-mail.   

“Journalists have been routinely detained for days at a time and then released—each incident sending a clear message to other journalists,” Stern said. Media affiliated with other parties or the Syrian opposition “are targeted” for censorship, he said. And he noted that the PYD withdrew the license of two major news outlets in August 2015, the KRG-based Rudaw news agency and the Syrian opposition station Orient TV. Both were banned permanently in February 2016, according to Saeed Omar Khalil, a human-rights lawyer in Erbil, the KRG capital.   

But this is only part of the picture of repression. In its annual human-rights report last year, the State Department, quoting Kurdish activists and press reporting, said “the PYD and the YPG violently suppressed freedom of assembly and severely limited freedom of speech in areas under their control.”   

In the past two years at least eight journalists have been abducted or arrested, according to Kurdwatch, a Berlin-based watchdog group. It reported a case in early 2015 where a journalist from the website of a news outlet affiliated with the Kurdish Unity Party was abducted by the Asayish military police, beaten with iron bars, and had a finger cut off.   

Lawyer Khalil gave The Nation a list of 57 political activists who had been arrested through last September. Among them was Yunes Assad, the head of the town council in Amudah, who was kidnapped, beaten, and tortured in May 2016.   

The severe political repression has also contributed to the reluctance of Kurds to serve in the YPG, Kurdish refugees said. As of last autumn, according to Kurdwatch researcher Eva Savelsberg, as much as 40 percent of the security forces in Rojava are recruited by force. The rest, mainly young men from poor families, join largely for the salary in a region where there are almost no employment opportunities.   

Despite the forced recruitment, the YPG was still short of fighters last year, so a new rule was issued on October 17 requiring nine months of service, with three more months tacked on for those who don’t register by December 1.   

Rojava opposition politicians claim that the PYD support base is no more than 10 percent of the population; as proof they cite the YPG’s closure of the border with Iraqi Kurdistan since last spring. KRG officials say that if the YPG were to open the borders to Iraqi Kurdistan, three-quarters of the population would flee.   

In Bani Shkawe, the public mood remains defiant. “Our village is surrounded by hills and valleys, and the village people know every valley and stone,” said a resident, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution. “Our youth go into hiding when the village is stormed.”   

“We don’t want anything from the PYD,” said the resident. “We just want them to leave us alone.”    Too bad for the remaining Kurds and Arabs the US has backed this team of terrorists. I'll repeat that which has been stated here on many an occasion- Kurdistan/Israel 2.0 will be just another NATO terror state- It will be Israel 2.0.
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Is the Trump administration trying to drive a wedge between Russia, China and Iran? - Spring, 2017

The Rise of Russia - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 12:44
The Trump administration hasn't wasted much time after last year's historic change-of-power in Washington DC. Since President Trump's momentous inauguration there has been a lot of executive orders undoing a lot of the Obama administration's political legacy. As expected, there has also been a massive push-back by Democrats and establishment Republicans alike. There hasn't been this much excitement and drama coming out of Washington DC in recent memory. Going forward, President Trump will have plenty of foreign and domestic troubles to look forward to. The next four-to-eight years will therefore be very entertaining. It is also very likely that the next few years may also be very frightening. In any case, I like a lot of what the Trump administration is struggling to get done in Washington DC. However, staying faithful to the spirit of this blog, I'd like to ignore President Trump's domestic troubles and instead look at some of the geopolitical challenges that are waiting for him and his team.

The Trump presidency has been full of bombastic rhetoric. That was expected. But there has also been a lot of bluster and threats coming out of the White House recently. Thus far, we have no way of accurately gauging which of it is real and which of it is bluff. Ostensibly, however, the United States seems to be on a path to confrontation. On the surface, China, Iran and North Korea seem to be the primary targets.

What the Obama administration did its best to avoid, the Trump administration appears more than happy to try. We may soon see the American empire moving away from the Obama administration's heavy reliance on economic/financial warfare, covert military operations, drone strikes and the utilization of proxies to pursue the American empire's geostrategic interests around the world. We may also see the Trump administration moving the American empire away from its globalist agenda (the promotion of so-called civil society, multiculturalism and open borders around the world in recent decades) and bring it back to its original calling; a traditional superpower pursuing primarily "Anglo-American", "Anglo-Saxon", "WASP" and of course Jewish interests. This may be why President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May publicly announced recently that they are no longer interested in pursuing nation building and regime changes around the world. Translation: They no longer want to promote globalist agendas around the world. It also means President Trump and company may be trying to restructure political circuitry of the United States to make it resemble a political entity that is based primarily on national idenity. They may be preparing to solve some of the empire's geopolitical problems in this Anglo-American-Jewish framework, and may be preparing to do so by a more hands-on approach - even if it means getting the United States involved into another major war.

Why is this all happening? Because there is a sense of urgency in some circles in the Western world because the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance - and the political/financial order it had been overseeing during the past century - is beginning to face a number of serious challenges around the world.

They now have a situation were Russia, China and Iran are growing closer politically, militarily and economically. Russia's presence in eastern Europe, the south Caucasus and Central Asia is growing. Russia has established a powerful military presence in the Mediterranean Sea and the Levant. The Russian military has helped the Assad government defeat the Anglo-American-Jewish-Turkish-Saudi backed Islamic uprising in Syria. Western sanctions against Russia have not worked and the country is on a fast track to becoming a global power once more. China is on route to overtake the US economically in a couple of decades. China's military debut in Africa is a major signal that Beijing is becoming a dominant power of its own. Iranian power and influence continues to grow as well. Israel is feeling threatened with the sudden appearance of Russians and Iranians in its backyard. NATO's second largest military, Turkey, is becoming increasingly unpredictable and it's facing a number of serious internal problems. Uncle Sam's most important Islamic ally in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, is also in big trouble. Riyadh seems bogged down in a futile war in Yemen as it faces a growing Iranian threat in the Persian Gulf. Two important allies of Uncle Sam, Egypt and Philippines, are signalling they are ready to jump ship if need be. Georgia and Ukraine are feeling abandoned by their Western benefactors. Moldova, Afghanistan and Libya are slipping from their control. Serbs are stirring again and Kosovo is on their minds. All of the Balkans is in fact slowly heating up. North Korea continues developing its nuclear missile capability. Armenia's historic Artsakh province may be on the verge of another war. Although still in its infancy, we are seeing the de-dollarization of trade around the world. Finally, suppressed for decades, nationalism is gripping Europe once again. A series of miscalculations and blunders by Uncle Sam in recent years - coupled perhaps with the inevitable fate all empires eventually face - has brought Western powers to this point -
The United States and The Race for Global Hegemony: http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/12/23/united-states-and-race-global-hegemony.htmlCFR: China and Russia: Gaming the West: http://www.ecfr.eu/publications/summary/china_and_russia_gaming_the_west7166 China Military Power: World's Largest Army to Expand from Asia to Africa: https://verizon.yahoo.com/news/china-military-power-worlds-largest-180932858.html China: Rise, Fall and Re-Emergence as a Global Power: http://www.asia-pacificresearch.com/china-rise-fall-and-re-emergence-as-a-global-power/5450797What’s Behind the New Chinese-Russian-Iranian Alliance?: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-oualaalou/whats-behind-the-new-chin_b_6189306.htmlNoam Chomsky: America is an empire in decline: http://www.salon.com/2016/05/10/noam_chomksy_america_is_a_state_in_decline_partner/ The Liberal, Postwar ‘Order’ Is Dying—and That’s a Good Thing: https://www.thenation.com/article/the-liberal-postwar-order-is-dying-and-thats-a-good-thing/Sorry, America, the New World Order Is Dead: http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/05/06/sorry-america-the-new-world-order-is-dead/The U.S.-Led International Order Is Dead: http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/06/16/the-u-s-led-international-order-is-dead/A Russian-Iranian Axis: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/17/opinion/a-russian-iranian-axis.html?_r=0The aforementioned geopolitical ailments and disorders, as well as others I will not get into at this time, is threatening the now century old political order the Anglo-American-Jews have selfishly benefited from. In other words, the geopolitical status quo we live in today, created as a result of the first and second world wars, is beginning to die. The political and economic landscape around the world is therefore beginning to change and nations like Russia, China and Iran hold the keys to the West's ultimate success or failure.  Faced with setbacks and failures in recent times, Western powers feel the need to formulate a new strategy. The ultimate intent is to remain in the game in the twenty-first century. The Trump administration will therefore have the next four-to-eight years to navigate through the turbulent waters of our time, with the hope of finding a new place for the Western alliance in today's rapidly changing world.

With the left-wing of the Anglo-American-Jewish political order effectively out of power (at least for the next four or eight years) the right-wing of the Anglo-American-Jewish political order seems to be seeking a confrontation with Beijing, Tehran and Pyongyang. I personally think Iran may be the first - and perhaps only - actual victim of the Trump administration.

From Washington to Tel Aviv, talk regarding Iran can be characterized as war rhetoric. In fact, Western powers have already been involved in military operations against Iran through military proxies (i.e. Islamic extremists and Saudi Arabia) in places like Syria and Yemen. This however has not yielded good results for them. Moreover, the Obama administration's lifting of sanctions on Tehran was a measure to at least delay Iran's nuclear project and perhaps lure it Westward. As predicted at the time, that approach has not worked well either. Tehran's nuclear program continues to be developed. Tehran continues to remain close to Moscow. Tehran's footprint in the Middle East continues to grow. The Trump administration may therefore try a more aggressive approach to deal with Tehran political resurgence. As it happened with Iraq prior to its invasion by Western powers in the spring of 2003, I suspect the verbal threats against Iran will reach a fever pitch and tensions between the two opponents will escalate. Iran will face a war sometime in the next four years. To be more exact, Tehran will face a war if it does not give into Anglo-American-Jewish demands and if Western powers calculate that a war with Iran is something they can afford to risk.

The though talk we see over China and North Korea may be for the most part scaremongering and/or a diversion. Western powers know that when it comes to matters pertaining to regional politics, trade and the economy, China is essentially too big to fail and North Korea is essentially a nuclear-armed hornets nest. What's more, any kind of war against China and/or North Korea runs the high risk of engulfing the entire western Pacific rim (militarily and economically a very strategic region for Washington DC) into flames. Besides, similar to how Western powers need NATO to curb the growth of Russian power and influence in the western-end of the Eurasian landmass, they need the presence of a viable China to limit the expansion of Russian power in the eastern-end of the Eurasian landmass. Simply put: Western powers may fear China's rise, but they also know that alienating Beijing won't help. 

Therefore, for Western policymakers, the key to realizing success is not to defeat China in a war but to somehow figure-out a way to drive a wedge between Beijing and Moscow. Doing so will not only help contain Beijing and Moscow but it will also make them both dependent on Western powers.

Western powers will at some point seek a way to contain Beijing's growth. In other words, they will try to stop Beijing from looking far beyond its borders. They have the leverage and the tools to do so. China's economic dependency on the United States is one of the major leverages. American military might is one of the major tools. It should be added that China's Turkic/Muslim Uighurs (a very violent secessionist minority in the country, who have an operational office based in Washington DC) can also be used to put pressure on Beijing. But going to war against China is not something Western military planners would be crazy enough to actually want. There is however the possibility that if need be they may try to get another country in the region like Japan into a conflict with Beijing. The Trump administration's rhetoric about China and his stated desire to develop American industry by curbing the country's economic ties to countries like China and Japan may be related to the above.

With regards to North Korea: As long as Pyonyang remains contained and isolated, Washington DC will not try to alter the status quo. Pyongyang is not as crazy as we are being told it is. North Korean officials know that the most powerful weapon in their disposal is their ability to frighten South Korea, Japan and the United States by acting crazy. Pyongyang acts crazy from time-to-time essentially for three reasons: To keep potential predators away; get attention from the international community; and create an atmosphere it can exploit for economic concessions. In a certain sense, North Korea can also be characterized as China's guard dog. Consequently, I don't think Western military planners would want a direct confrontation with North Korea.

Then again, we are going headlong into uncharted territory in human history. I may therefore be wrong on all accounts.
In any case, to better understand the Trump administration's approach to nations like Russia, China and Iran, I believe we need to look at it within the following framework.
The past several years seems to have finally convinced the right-wing of the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance that Russia will not be defeated through a direct assault, be it political, be it economic, be it military. Despite many efforts to isolate and contain it in recent years, Russia has come on top every time. Russia has responded to aggressive Western inroads against its regional interests by mutilating Georgia and Ukraine, militarily establishing itself in the Middle East like never before and deepening its ties with China and Iran. They may have therefore come to understand that an openly aggressive approach to their Russia headaches have not worked. Moreover, China has been rapidly expanding its influence around the world, including in the Middle East and Africa, as a result of the West's hand off approach with Beijing. Due to Western tolerance China has begun encroaching on Western interests around the world. They have seen that a lenient approach to Beijing has not worked. Finally, Iranian influence has been rapidly expanding throughout the Middle East as a result of Western inaction vis-à-vis Tehran. They were unable to bring Tehran to its knees through sanctions. They were unable to foment an Arab Spring like uprising in Iran. They were unable to lure Tehran into compliance with their more recent so-called "Iran deal". As Uncle Sam reluctantly stood back and watched, and got severely criticized by right wing Jews, Iran kept expanding its influence from western Afghanistan to southern Lebanon. They therefore understand that their lack of forceful action against Tehran has not worked either.
To summarize: Russia has grown stronger and more self-reliant as a result of Western aggression. China and Iran have gotten stronger and more self-reliant as a result of Western inaction and/or acquiescence. The key to solving this conundrum for the West therefore requires the recalibration and/or reversal of certain foreign policy implementation vis-à-vis Moscow, Beijing and Tehran. This, in my opinion, translates as less pressure on Moscow; more pressure on Beijing; and putting Iran on a war notice.

Being that Moscow and Beijing are too big to fight, by lessening pressure on Moscow to lure it Westward and increasing pressure on Beijing to make it retreat inward, they will try to isolate Iran, which is the smaller and the weaker of the three. Ultimately, the agenda is to drive a wedge between all three. If this agenda succeeds, they will have lured Moscow into a renewed dependency on Western powers (which by definition is containment); they will have contained China's expansion far beyond its borders; and they will have rolled back Iran's growing presence throughout the Middle East - perhaps through a war. A lot of this may sound implausible but this is the Trump administration's grand plan in  my opinion. And speaking of geostrategic formulations and calculations, the need to have Sunni Arab states in the region in-line and on-board with the Anglo-American-Jewish plan against Iran will ultimately be the reason why the US embassy in Israel will not be moving to Jerusalem anytime soon.

Nevertheless, with every passing day the war drums are getting louder. It's beginning to feel as if the Trump administration will get the US involved in another devastating war sometime in the next four years. Perhaps sooner than later.
A growing numbers of Americans are beginning to worry about this as well. The US, after all, is a war economy. The US dollar remains strong essentially because of Western military interventions around the world. Therefore, every so often Anglo-American-Jews need to go to war to maintain their economic, financial, political and military dominance in the world - the status quo for over a century now. Every so often, Western powers will have to destroy a nation in some part of the world in order to maintain their standard-of-living at home. In other words, Anglo-American-Jews are like vampires, they need blood to survive. With the aforementioned unholy trinity in remission around the world in recent years, its need for blood to survive is growing more urgent with each passing year. President Trump and company may have been placed in charge to oversee and manage the upcoming bloodletting.
The Trump administration recognizes that there are a number of serious geopolitical problems that need to be solved. In the opinion of many political observers around the world now, President Trump's friendly gestures towards Russia is a strategic ploy to drive a wedge between Moscow, Beijing and Tehran. In other words, it's a classic case of divide and conquer, which will most likely not work. But they will try nonetheless because, as noted above, other methods have already been tried.

The Trump administration's conciliatory approach/formula is upsetting some in the Anglo-American-Jewish political order's Neoconservative and Neoliberal Interventionist camps for two fundamental reasons: First: The aforementioned do not think the Trump administration would be able to drive a wedge between Moscow, Beijing and Tehran. Second: They do not want to see better Russian-American relations for any reason whatsoever. These anti-Russian elements within the Western political apparatus are therefore doing their best to cause problems for the Trump administration. Michael Flynn was their first victim. There may be yet others. They will seek to take out any player in the Trump administration that they believe is trying to better Russian-American relations. Russians must remain "bad guys" at all costs.

With the above, I basically outlined reasons why although I liked Donald Trump the presidential candidate and I continue seeing him as the lesser evil in Washington DC, I could not get myself to support him by voting for him. Needless to say, I don't believe in elections. As I had said in this blog some time ago, Trump's administration seems to be the remaking of George Bush's infamous Neocons that got the United States into devastating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Trump is clearly serving the right-wing of the Anglo-American alliance (i.e. traditional Anglo-American imperialists) and the right-wing of organized Jewry (i.e. Zionists). Therefore, from a global perspective, nothing truly good can come out of his administration. The only thing I can realistically hope for at this point, at least for the short-term, is the warming of relations between the Uncle Sam and the Russian Bear. Such a thing, if it happens, will give Moscow just a little more time to further strengthen the country's military defenses and deepen its economic and financial self-reliance.


Driving a wedge between Russia, China and Iran

It is no longer a theory of mine. A recent article from Wall Street Journal all but admitted that the Trump administration's Russia-friendly stance may be a tactic to drive a wedge between Russia and Iran. A recent RT article suggested that the Trump administration is also trying to drive a wedge between Russia and China. And a recent article by Pepe Escobar predicts that the effort to smash the Russia, China, Iran alliance will fail. Personally, I think these are all accurate assessments. That some in the Neoconservative and Neoliberal Interventionists camps are trying hard to sabotage the Trump administration's said efforts are all together another story. Yes, there are some in the Anglo-American-Jewish political establishment that do not want to see improved relations between Russia and the West for any reason. This is why President Trump is being viciously attacked by them over his non-hostile stance over President Putin and Russia. But others who seem equally influential in the American empire's so-called deep state may have assessed the situation and concluded that, at least temporarily, rapprochement with Russia may be the best way forward for the Western alliance. This tactic is now being openly discussed in public - 

Trump Administration Looks at Driving Wedge Between Russia and Iran: https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-looks-at-driving-wedge-between-russia-and-iran-1486342035Is Trump trying to drive a wedge between Russia and China?: https://www.rt.com/op-edge/376480-trump-china-iran-russia/Trump will try to smash the China-Russia-Iran triangle ... here’s why he will fail: http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/2064005/trump-will-try-smash-china-russia-iran-triangle-heres-why-he-willIn my opinion, those behind the Trump administration have come to this conclusion only because of President Putin's political mastery and the Russian people's tenacity to endure great hardship and still remain faithful to their state. Under President Putin's brilliant leadership the Kremlin has maneuvered Russia into such a powerful position in recent years that some in the Western world, as well as nations in regions affected by Russian statecraft, feel they have no choice but to recognize Russia's importance on the world stage; at least for now, until they figure out what to do with the Bear. They are therefore seeking to negotiate with Moscow. What's more, there are predictions now that even with low oil prices, Russia's economy is set to grow, something Western policymakers thought impossible not too long ago - Sanctions against Russia are already as good as dead, but reverse sanctions from Moscow working just fine: https://www.roguemoney.co/stories/2017/2/9/sanctions-against-russia-are-already-as-good-as-dead-but-reverse-sanctions-from-moscow-working-just-finePoll: Majority of Russians back current foreign policy, shrug off sanctions: https://www.rt.com/politics/381118-most-russians-want-their-country/ “Made in Russia”: http://www.globalresearch.ca/what-does-russia-produce-made-in-russia/5576616Russia Survived Sanctions, And BlackRock Goes Overweight: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2017/01/27/russia-sanctions-putin-economy/#758b04fbe957Russia Is Running on More Than Just the Black Stuff: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-07/russia-is-running-on-more-than-just-the-black-stuff Lifting of Sanctions Could Be Costly To Russia: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/01/27/lifting-sanctions-costly-russia/http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/01/27/lifting-sanctions-costly-russia/ EU Sanctions 'Helped, Rather Than Harmed' Russian Economy: https://sputniknews.com/europe/201702081050469988-eu-sanctions-problems/ Sanctions and the ‘Gold Ruble’: Russia’s Gambit For Full Financial Sovereignty: http://russia-insider.com/en/gold-ruble-russias-struggle-financial-sovereignty/ri18989 Russia's economy grows at $40 per barrel oil: http://www.upi.com/Energy-News/2017/02/09/Russias-economy-grows-at-40-per-barrel-oil/3041486645806/ Not only has the West's multi-pronged campaign to curb Russia's growing power has not worked, Russia has actually gotten stronger politically and militarily, and is growing more self-reliant financially and economically as a result. Moscow stands out as the most powerful and influential member of the developing alliance between Russia, China and Iran. While Russia's economy is no where near that of China's, Russia's military capabilities are significantly better than of China's. Russia, a massive landmass essentially stretching from Europe to the the United States, contains virtually unlimited amounts of natural resources. Scientific research and technology in Russia is much more advanced than in China. Moscow's political reach goes much further than that of Beijing's. What's more, Russian statecraft (drawing on centuries of experience in the field of diplomacy and geopolitics) remains unrivaled. Geopolitically speaking, Russia is by-far the most powerful country in the Moscow-Beijing-Tehran alliance. Compared to Russia and China, Iran is obviously the junior player with the least amount of assets.

Why am I pointing this out? Because I want to help the reader understand that the key to weakening or dismantling the growing alliance between Russia, China and Iran is to somehow take out the Russian factor. Taking out China or Iran as a factor from the said alliance will not have their desired effect.

Western policymakers on both sides of the political divide understand all this. Their greatest fear in recent centuries - as well as their envy - has been Russia and the awesome potential it possesses under its soil. With Russian (as well as Chinese and Iranian) power and influence growing once again Western strategists are justifiably beginning to fear that they may be falling behind. After nearly a century of global hegemony, this is a serious fear for them. Hotheads in the bunch want to maintain or even increase pressure on Russia to keep Moscow contained and on the defensive, whereas sober heads among them seem to have assessed the situation and decided it's time they put aside their overt aggression against Russia, at least temporarily, and try to work with Moscow to tackle other problems.


Enter Trump and company: There are those in the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance that understand that due to the West's 25-plus years of flawed strategic planning, a dangerous alliance is developing between Russia, China and Iran. They also understand that such an alliance, if ever allowed to mature, has the potential to deal a death blow to Western global hegemony. The alliance in question therefore has to be suppressed. It has to be prevented from maturing. They will therefore seek ways to stop it. Since their previous policies have not worked and since they can't wage war against all three, they have to figure out some other plan.
The Trump administration seems to have therefore decided on a different political approach to deal with the situation. 

The key to solving this geostrategic conundrum currently facing the Anglo-American-Jewish political order may require the recalibration and/or reversal of some of their foreign policy calculations vis-à-vis Moscow, Beijing and Tehran. This is why in my opinion President Trump has been signaling his desire for warm relations with Moscow, cold relations with China and hostile relations with Iran. 

In their effort to convince Moscow to take a step back from Beijing and Tehran, I suspect they will promise Moscow the lifting of sanctions, reordering of the world order and perhaps even recognition of Russian Crimea. The Trump administration may very well try the above if Russophobic elements in the Anglo-American-Jewish political order does not sabotaging it. This does not mean those behind President Trump have had a fundamental change-of-heart about Russia. I have no doubt that both sides of the political divide in the American empire continue seeing Russia as a competitor and as an enemy. Ultimately, what they are trying to do is make their geostrategic agenda against all three - Russia, China and Iran - somewhat easier. Since they know they cannot attempt a frontal attack against this growing alliance, they seem to be employing a classical divide and conquer technique. This is why the Trump camp may be employing a tactic to take Russia, the said alliance's most problematic and powerful factor, out of the equation.
To summarize: The Trump administration's approach to dealing with Western setbacks in recent years entails embracing Russia, scaring China and preparing for war against  Iran. By lessening pressure on Moscow they are trying to to lure it Westward, or at least not force it further Eastward. By increasing pressure on Beijing, they are trying to force it to retreat inward or at least get out of the way. Iran, the smaller and weaker of the three, faces a war if it does not heed to Anglo-American-Jewish dictates. Knowing Tehran's ideologically driven government, chances are it wont give into the Trump administration's demands. Iran may therefore, at one point in the next four years, face a coalition comprised of Western powers, Israel, Saudi Arabia and a number of other regional Sunni Arab states. I believe this is the overall calculus being formulated by those who have taken power in the White House today. The only question here is, how will Moscow and Beijing react to a Western-led war against Iran? I have no doubt Western war planners are using back channels as o write this to determine what the Russian and Chinese response will be in case of a Western attack on Iran. In my opinion, the agenda against China is a play coming right out of the Anglo-American playbook and the agenda against Iran is a play coming right out of the Jewish-Zionist playbook.

The Zionist factor

Western powers know they have to stop the budding alliance between Moscow, Beijing and Tehran from deepening. It should also be emphasized that the Jewish/Zionist factor in this equation is quite pronounced. Moscow's deepening relationship with a nuclear weapons capable Iran as well as Russia's growing military presence in Syria is of great concern for Jews because it limits/restricts Israel's military capability in the region. Simply put: A nuclear Iran is looked upon as an existential threat by many Zionist Jews and their supporters in the Western world. The last thing Zionists want to see taking shape in their neighborhood is an Iranian-backed "Shiite Arc" stretching from western Afghanistan to southern Lebanon. Because Tehran has not yet produced nuclear weapons they may be feeling they have a window of opportunity. They also fear the window is shrinking with each passing day. This, therefore, is the urgency they feel. As the reader can see, Israel's main strategic concern in the Middle East today is not Turkey, not Egypt, not Saudi Arabia, not Jordan, not Hamas, not Lebanon, not Syria, not Hezbollah, not ISIS, not Al-Qaeda, not Al-Nusra... but the country of Iran. They don't even try hiding it anymore -Why the Islamic State Isn’t in Any Rush to Attack Israel: http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/.premium-1.605097 ISIS and Israel coexist on the Golan Heights: https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/sam-brennan/isis-and-israel-on-golan-heightsNetanyahu: Israel Fear Iranian Foothold in Syria:http://www.euronews.com/2017/03/09/netanyahu-to-putin-israel-fears-iranian-foothold-in-syriaIran Is Existential Threat to Israel: U.S. General: http://www.theisraelproject.org/iran-is-existential-threat-to-israel-u-s-general/ Israel’s Main Concern in Syria: Iran, not ISIS: http://www.wsj.com/articles/israels-main-concern-in-syria-iran-not-isis-1458207000Israel worried about becoming neighbors with Iran amid ongoing Syrian war: https://www.dailysabah.com/mideast/2017/01/16/israel-worried-about-becoming-neighbors-with-iran-amid-ongoing-syrian-warA New Strategy Against ISIS and al Qaeda: https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-new-strategy-against-isis-and-al-qaeda-1489530107 ISIS, like the matador’s red cape, distracts from the truly mortal danger—a nuclear Iran chanting ‘Death to America’: http://www.wsj.com/articles/by-all-means-take-mosul-but-1477263327 US backed Arab alliance would share intelligence with Israel, with the goal of countering Iran’s influence:  https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-middle-east-allies-explore-arab-military-coalition-1487154600
It is also well known that keeping regional nations embroiled in never-ending wars and sociopolitical and socioeconomic unrest is also a Zionist strategy of survival in the inhospitable region, if not a more sinister plan of expansion -
The Zionist Plan for the Middle East: http://www.globalresearch.ca/greater-israel-the-zionist-plan-for-the-middle-east/5324815 As soon as the Soviet Union stopped being a political factor in the region some twenty-five years ago, Anglo-American-Jews began sowing unrest in the Middle East. With the Soviet Union out of the way, they embarked upon an ambitious plan to redo the map of Middle East. The agenda in question has become increasingly violent in recent years. Consequently, nations like Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Syria are now destroyed and the rest of the region's Muslim majority nations, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Once Israel's staunchest opponents, Syria, Iraq and Libya will henceforth pose no serious challenge for Israel, at least not for a generation or two, if not more. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is too deeply connected with Western powers to pose a real threat to Israel, and Turkey is too intimately connected to Jews in general to turn against Israel. The only Islamic nation in the region that Western powers have not been able to occupy, destroy or contain is a nuclear capable Iran. What's more, the war in Syria has helped elevate Iran's political stature throughout the Middle East and increase its military footprint all the way to the Mediterranean coast. Their fear is now reaching critical levels as a result of Russia's military successes in Syria. Thanks to Moscow, the war in Syria is all but over and the Syrian government has won. Russia and Iran are the undisputed power brokers in Syria. As a result, Zionists are now panicking. The above is essentially why Jews and their supporters in the West world are doing their best to get on the good side of the Russian Bear but, judging from Moscow's reaction, it doesn't seem to be working -
Netanyahu to meet Putin, says Iran seeks permanent foothold in Syria: https://verizon.yahoo.com/news/netanyahu-meet-putin-says-iran-seeks-permanent-foothold-115207162.html President Putin tells Netanyahu to stop living in the ancient world: http://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/putin-shoots-down-netanyahu-effort-to-tie-iran-to-purim-persecution/' Russia Says War In Syria Is Over (and Russia Won): http://observer.com/2017/02/sergei-shoigu-russia-won-syrian-war-over/Western powers now fear that a fully developed Iranian/Shiite Arc, especially one that is backed by Russia, can forever tilt the balance-of-power in the region for it can threaten to diminish Israel's long-standing military superiority in its backward neighborhood. Consider this: An Iranian zone of influence pressed tightly against Israel's borders, like in Lebanon and Syria for instance, will significantly diminish the Zionist state's nuclear deterrence factor. Israel's military bases, airfields, naval ports, power stations, energy storage facilities, ammunition depots as well as its nuclear reactor will be well within the range of various medium-range ballistic missiles in Iran's military arsenal. Iran's position looks pretty good -Iran’s Surprisingly Strong Geopolitical Hand: https://www.theglobalist.com/why-iran-has-the-longterm-regional-upper-hand-saudi-arabia-china/Hezbollah gaining strength from their involvement in Syria: https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/hezbollah-gaining-strength-involvement-syria/ Iran Looks Dominant in Middle East’s Proxy War:  http://www.themedialine.org/more-from-the-media-line/iran-looks-dominant-middle-easts-proxy-war/In other words, the expansion of Iranian power to the borders to Israel threatens Israel's very existence. It should also be mentioned that the prospect of Iranian dominance in the Middle East also threatens the region's Sunni powers. Although Iran's and Turkey's relations are warm today, Ankara, an increasingly Sunni power that also has designs for the region in question, would ultimately prefer a contained Iran. But the main problem Tehran faces in the Sunni-Muslim world is Saudi Arabia, the self-proclaimed leader of the Islamic world.

Riyadh has been and will continue being an integral part of the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance's effort against Iran. When the Saudi Arabian "prince" recently announced that President Trump is a "true friend of Muslims" he was essentially saying the following: We've come to an agreement with the White House on how to solve the Iranian problem. 

Make no mistake about it: Saudi Arabia is preparing to "roll back Iran". It's already engaged in military operation against Iran through its regional proxies (i.e. Islamic extremists). This is why Saudi Arabia is embroiled in the war in Yemen. This is why Tel Aviv is establishing ties with "gulf monarchies". This is why the Western press continues praising the filthy dictatorship responsible for spreading Islamic radicalism around the world -
Obama administration arms sales offers to Saudi top $115 billion: report: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-saudi-security-idUSKCN11D2JQ Israel Is Strengthening Its Ties With The Gulf Monarchies: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/samuel-ramani/why-israel-is-strengthening_b_11946660.htmlYemen Proxy War Adds to Tensions Among US, Iran, Saudi Arabia: http://www.voanews.com/a/proxy-war-in-yemen-adds-to-tensions-among-us-iran-saudi-arabia/3707893.html Saudi Arabia Is Changing: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/saudi-arabia-is-changing_us_58b18da4e4b0e5fdf619727aIran's foes therefore are not only the Angl0-American-Jewish world but also the Saudi-backed Sunni/Wahhabi world. For the aforementioned, Iran's growth in the region must be somehow stopped. But such a thing will be easier said than done. Even taken alone, Iran will be a very difficult nation to defeat. In fact, even on its own, Iran is doing remarkably well. Iran plus Russia plus China would therefore be virtually impossible to defeat. Which brings us back to this: They know that Iran can only be defeated if they are able to somehow eliminate the Russian and Chinese factors in the region. Their goal is to therefore figure out a way to somehow make Moscow and to a lesser extent Beijing put a little distance between them and Tehran.

The Anglo-American factor

If Russia's growing relations with Iran is cause of serious concern for Zionists (and Sunni Arabs), Russia's growing relations with China is cause of serious concern for Anglo-Americans. As noted above, Russia, an expanding global power, has a budding alliance with China, an economic behemoth. What's more, Beijing is rapidly expanding its military capabilities and is now becoming a presence in the world's most important economic trade routes. Moreover, the Beijing's presence is reaching far from China's borders. Not only has Beijing built an artificial island in the middle of the South China Sea to showcase its growing naval power, it is also building a military presence in the Horn of Africa.

Simply put: A Russo-Sino alliance stretching from northwestern Europe to southeastern Asia is therefore as unacceptable to Anglo-Americans as the Iranian Arc is to Jews. From a Western perspective, the Russian Bear therefore cannot be allowed to get too close to the Chinese Dragon.

Western powers fear the growing alliance between Moscow and Beijing for very obvious reasons: Such an alliance can potentially be unstoppable and such an alliance can potentially deal a death blow to Anglo-American economic interests around the world. In geopolitics, one cannot leave anything to chance. Therefore, from an Anglo-American-Jewish perspective, if a threat is seen growing anywhere on earth, everything must be done to prevent it from growing to maturity.
Previously, the Obama administration used an aggressive stance towards Russia and a softer stance towards China with the hopes of keeping the two apart. It was a tactic that did not work, essentially because both Russia and China did not waiver from their agendas and their power and influence - as well as their bilateral ties - continued to grow. This needless to say infuriated the Anglo-American right (i.e. those behind President Trump).
Similarly, in order to encourage Iran to put a halt on its nuclear ambitions and its westward expansion, the Obama administration decreased pressure on Tehran. The hope was to at least delay Tehran's agendas. I talked about this in a previous blog commentary. Again, it was a tactic that did not work. It did not work because both Russia and Iran did not waiver from their respective agendas and their power and influence as well as their bilateral ties continues to grow. And this needless to say infuriated the Anglo-American-Jewish right (i.e. those behind President Trump).

To President Trump's credit, we must recognize the fact that the Western alliance's open hostility towards Russia has not done it any good. Why continue failed policies?

As I have been pointing out, Russia continues to grow in power and influence.  Therefore, why not try a new approach? I must reiterate that the Trump administration's desire to find common ground with Moscow emerged as a direct consequence of Moscow's military and economic successes in recent years. President Putin has placed Russia in a powerful position in the Middle East and elsewhere and because Western sanctions have not worked to reign in Moscow, many in the West are beginning to understand that they have no choice but to accept Russia as a major geopolitical factor throughout Eurasia and neighboring regions. They are as a result using a different approach, with hopes of luring Moscow away from Beijing and Tehran. Similarly, previous Western policies vis-à-vis Beijing has not bore fruit. Beijing is growing increasingly independent and China is on route to by-pass the United States in global trade. From an Anglo-American perspective, Sino-Western relations also needed recalibrating.

The Trump administration's desire to drive a wedge between Moscow, Beijing and Tehran is now well recognized by mainstream observers. This is why there are a growing number of public voices throughout the world claiming it will not work, and this is also why the openly anti-Russian elements in the Western world think President Trump's effort is not only a waste to time but also against American interests -
Why Trump Can't Break Russia Away From China: http://thediplomat.com/2017/02/why-trump-cant-break-russia-away-from-china/Trump’s Attempt to Ally with Russia Against China is Equal Parts Racism and Stupidity: http://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/01/15/trumps-attempt-to-ally-with-russia-against-china-is-equal-parts-racism-and-stupidity/ Trump will try to smash the China-Russia-Iran triangle ... here’s why he will fail: http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/2064005/trump-will-try-smash-china-russia-iran-triangle-heres-why-he-will
Russia, Iran Need Each Other, Despite Disagreements: https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-iran-need-each-other-despite-disagreements-1487241182 The Strategic Convergence of Russia and Iran: https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/the-strategic-convergence-of-russia-and-iran
Why Russia Won't Help Trump On Iran: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2017-02-10/why-russia-wont-help-trump-iran
Pitting Russia against Iran in Syria? Get over it: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/02/15/pitting-russia-against-iran-in-syria-get-over-it.htmlNevertheless, as I previously said, predictions of war with China may be for the most part scaremongering. I do not believe they truly desire a war with China. Western powers know that when it comes to matters pertaining to regional politics, trade and economy, China is essentially too big to fail. What's more, any kind of war against China runs the high risk of engulfing the entire western Pacific rim (militarily and economically a region of paramount importance for Washington DC) into flames. Western powers will at some point seek to contain Beijing's expansion. Ultimately, however, Western powers need a powerful China to limit the growth of Russian power and influence in the eastern end of the Eurasian landmass. The key for Western policymakers therefore is not to defeat or weaken China but to keep it dependent on Western powers and to also somehow figure-out a way to drive a wedge between Moscow and Beijing. Which brings me to Iran: The Anglo-American-Jewish political order's most urgent problem today is Iran (mostly due to the evil trinity's powerful Jewish factor). Which is why I believe the Trump administration will try to go to war against Iran sometime in the next four-to-eight years, if the conditions are right. 

To summarize: As a result of Western political blunders and miscalculations around the world in recent years there is now a growing Russian presence throughout the world; a growing Iranian presence from western Afghanistan to the eastern Mediterranean; and a growing Chinese presence from the South China Sea to Africa. The situation at hand threatens the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance. Enter President Trump: The Trump administration will try to do what the Bush and Obama administrations failed to do: Roll back and/or smash these advances against Western interests. Nevertheless, there remains one fundamental question: How successful will the Trump administration be in its aforementioned agenda? In other words, would Moscow be willing to curb its ties with Beijing and Tehran for better ties with the West?

Will Moscow take the bait?

The proverbial "carrot and stick" approach (the use of rewards and punishment) is used by parents and governments alike around the world to solve various types of problems. Western powers applied this traditional method of problem solving in its dealings with the Soviet Union and its successor, the Russian Federation. During the height of Soviet power, Western powers used the stick approach (i.e. punishment) to suppress Moscow. When the Soviet Union was in its death throes, Western powers used the carrot approach (i.e. reward) to facilitate its demise. Various forms of carrots were used throughout the 1990s when the Russian Federation had a drunk at the helm and the country was essentially ruled by Western-backed Jewish oligarchs. When the Russian Federation began actively pursuing its interests once again back in 2008, Western powers quickly resorted back to the stick approach to contain Moscow's resurgence. Now, some in the West may be coming to the understanding that the stick approach is no longer working. Some among them may have therefore come to the conclusion that Moscow can be once again lured into cooperating with the West.

So, the question: Will Moscow take the bait? In other words, will Moscow willingly take a step back from Beijing and Tehran for better relations with Western powers?

Due to the fluid nature of geopolitics, past history and the very nature of the nations themselves, I cannot in all honesty give a definitive answer to the posed question. Such a question can only be answered by time. In the next four-to-eight years, to be exact.

Why the ambiguity? Why can't I unequivocally say Moscow will not take the Western bait?

It is not a secret that Moscow, ideally, would like better relations with the Western world. After all, psychologically, Russians do identify themselves as Europeans; they do prefer business opportunities in the Western world; and they do enjoy Western products and Western vacation spots as much as any other people (although I admit Russians are less prone to destroy their country in its pursuit). We also know that Moscow would like nothing more than lifting of the sanctions it has been subjected to and having NATO stop its eastward expansion. We also know that Moscow would go to great lengths to have Western powers recognize Crimea's new status as part of the Russian Federation. So, what if the Trump administration put some of these tasty lures - or all of them - on the negotiations table with Moscow? How will the Kremlin react? I'd love to say, I have no doubt Moscow will react to such an offer by Western powers by instead reinforcing its ties with Tehran and Beijing. But I can't.

Although Moscow and Beijing have very good relations today, they both see each other as regional competitors and, therefore, long-term threats. The same can be said of Moscow and Tehran. Western strategists may therefore be trying to exploit flaws and weaknesses that naturally exists in the relationship between Moscow, Beijing and Tehran. Therefore, in my opinion, there is at least a theoretical possibility that Moscow may at least entertain the idea of downgrading its ties with Beijing and Tehran in lieu of bettering relations with Western powers. There are other cultural, historic and geostratgic factors that also come into play in this discussion and should therefore be assessed as well.
As good as it may look on the outside, Russia's relationship with China and Iran is not on the same level as, for example, its relationship with Kazakhstan and Armenia. Geopolitical circumstances in Eurasia - namely Western machinations throughout the region - is basically the reason why Moscow, Beijing and Tehran have come closer in recent history. In essence, European Christians, Middle Eastern Muslims and Asian Buddhists have come together to fend-off Anglo-American-Jews. In other words, the budding alliance between Moscow, Beijing and Tehran is an alliance between three culturally very different nations and an alliance that has developed only out of political necessity. This is why although the relationship between the three Eurasian powers is good and has room for growth, it still remains somewhat at an arms-length. 

Historically, Russia and Iran, much like Russia and Turkey, have been competitors and, at times, enemies. In fact, all of the south Caucasus, including all of Present day Armenia was liberated from Persians by Russian forces two hundred years ago. Few know that Soviet and British forces invaded Iran for a short period during the Second World War to secure oil fields. Russian and Iranian interests in the Caucasus, Caspian Sea and Central Asia, where Moscow and Tehran have vital stakes, have not always converged. Unbeknownst to many, Iran also tried to export its version of Islam into former Soviet space during the 1990s. This needless to say greatly angered Moscow.

Similar comments can be made about Moscow and Beijing. Russia and China are neighboring superpowers and they each have national aspirations and interests that often do not converge and have, as a result, clashed at times. In the big picture, Russia and China are not natural allies but natural competitors. For example: Lack of arable land and energy resources have been and will continue being China's Achilles' heel. China needs continuous and unhindered access to immense amounts of natural gas and oil keep its gargantuan economy alive and growing and vast tracts of arable land to feed its billion-plus population, which has become increasingly affluent in recent years. Beijing has been looking at Russia as a source for energy and food -
China Goes Food Shopping - to Russia: https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-goes-food-shoppingto-russia-1484649046How China trimmed its Opec dependence: https://www.ft.com/content/7ccb173e-9928-11e5-95c7-d47aa298f769 Dependence on foreign nations for strategic resources is essentially why Beijing is seeking to expand its influence in energy rich regions like Central Asia, a territory that is considered to be well inside Moscow's sphere of influence. Moreover, Russia's sparsely populated eastern provinces contain vast tracts of arable land and immense amounts of energy and these regions also have a fast growing Chinese population.

Similar conflicts of interest have led to clashes between Russia and China in the not too distant past. And it was these types of problems between the two Eurasian giants that convinced Western powers in the early 1970s that it was time to jump in and exploit the situation. Uncle Sam's intent was geostrategic: To exploit the problems that existed between Russia and China at the time by playing one side against the other. It worked. By economically tethering China and incorporating it into the Western financial system, Western powers were creating a powerful counter-balance to Soviet influence in the region and securing China's economic/financial allegiance to the Western world. Moreover, by exporting production to China, Western corporations would also enjoy unlimited access to cheep labor for their products and, more importantly, no regulatory restrictions hindering their operations. Establishing intimate economic and financial ties with China was a win-win scenario for Western powers. Ideally, Russia would not like to see a very powerful and/or an expanding China on its eastern frontier, especially since Russia's eastern regions as noted above are sparsely populated and Chinese businesses as well as migrant workers have moved there in large numbers in recent years.

The aforementioned is essentially why Western powers think the budding alliance between Moscow and Beijing is fragile and can be interfered with. We often see this in their assessments. For example: "China has had much more to gain from the U.S.-led international order"; "The big problems in the Russia-China relationship cannot be solved by a gas deal". Similarly, Moscow would rather not see the rise of any major power, let a lone an Islamic one, on its vulnerable southern periphery. The acknowledgement of this aspect of Russian geostrategy regarding Iran is essentially why the following two articles by the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek point out, "there's daylight between Russia and Iran" and "why the Iran-Russia relationship is so uneasy". An article appearing in the Carnegie Endowment's Moscow branch also talks about the "historic mistrust" between Moscow and Tehran.

Consequently, the Trump administration, breaking with the George Bush and Barack Obama administration's failed policies, is trying new ways to manipulate and exploit what it sees as weak-points or flaws in the budding relationship between Russia, China and Iran. As I noted above, there is at least a theoretical possibility that Moscow may take a step back from Beijing and Tehran if, as they say in American parlance, the price if right. If Moscow does so, it would be a serious strategic mistake. If Western powers succeed in luring Moscow Westward once again, they will succeed in weakening not only China and Iran but also Russia itself. If Moscow allows Western powers to drive a wedge between it and Beijing and Tehran, Russia will also be isolating itself. After all, what guarantee will Moscow have that the Trump administration, or one that follows after it, would not turn against it in the future?
Simply put: Russia is more powerful and therefore politically more valuable in an alliance with China and Iran.
Ideally, a superpower, especially one that borders many nations, would rather be surrounded by smaller and/or weaker nations, especially when those nations are not part of its ethno-cultural and/or political orbit. That said, Moscow does not have much to worry about over Iran's expanding power in the Middle East. Iran's growth in the region will naturally be kept in-check by the region's other powerful players, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia. More importantly, the reverse is also true. A powerful Iran in the Middle East will keep Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia in check. The aforementioned three have had too much sway in the region. This has had a very adverse effect on Russia itself, as we saw in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Georgia. Moreover, there isn't any possibility, at least not in the next few generations, that Shiites and Sunnis will unite into a single force. The Islamic world will remain deeply divided well into the foreseeable future. The expansion of Iranian power will therefore bring a true balance-of-power in the region. Similar things can be said about China. A powerful China will be kept in-check by the alliance between US, Japan and south Korea and vice versa. What's more, a powerful Russian military along with robust Russian trade relations with China will keep Beijing looking elsewhere for expansion. The same applies to Iran. A powerful Russian presence in the Caucasus and Central Asia will keep Tehran's attention elsewhere.

Moscow can make Beijing and Tehran look away from its spheres of influence in three ways: By becoming economically self-reliant, strengthening its military capabilities and keeping its relationship with Beijing and Tehran close and constructive.

By doing so Moscow will encourage both China and Iran to look away from Russia's backyard and concentrate their efforts in places like the Middle East, Africa and southeastern Asia, where they will inevitably run into conflict with the Anglo-American-Jewish world. The more Beijing and Tehran are made to expand into areas of Western interests, the better it will ultimately be for Moscow, because such a situation will make Moscow politically more valuable not only for Beijing and Tehran but also for Western powers. Maintaining a close relationship with China and Iran is therefore key to making Russia untouchable, as well as an extremely important geostrategic factor around the world. Moscow's formula to realizing the above is to therefore maintain a powerful military and economic presence throughout Eurasia, maintain a healthy friendship with Beijing and Tehran and always let Western powers know that Russia is ready for dialogue and friendly relations.

But, being that geopolitics is a game of chess, there is a possibility, albeit remote, that the Kremlin may yet make an ill-advised move. In my opinion, the risk of Russians making a wrong move hinges upon what Western powers are genuinely willing to give up in return for Moscow's cooperation over certain geopolitical matters.

Although Moscow will not degrade its ties with Tehran, there is a good possibility however that Moscow may be willing to limit the level of Iran's military presence in Syria. Moscow can do this in two ways: By supporting Sunni and Kurdish self-determination in Syria when the time comes to finally settle the Syrian crisis, and also by covertly giving Western powers and Israel some room to operate inside Syrian territory. Moscow may already be doing the ladder. Limiting Iran's presence in Syria will in-turn weaken (but not totally compromise) the Iranian Arc. How would this be in Moscow's interest? Not allowing a powerful Iranian presence in Syria can work in Moscow's favor because it can use it as a lever to demand major concessions from Anglo-American-Jews in return. By not allowing Iran a bigger footprint in Syria, Moscow will also lessen the possibility of a major war igniting between Iran and its regional antagonists seeking to curb its growth. Moreover, limiting Iran's footprint in Syria can make all parties involved - Western powers, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia as well as Syria and Iran - variably dependent on Moscow. I believe what I described above are the parameters where Moscow might be willing to cooperate with Western powers and Israel. Whether or not such an approach would succeed is altogether another matter.

Ideally, Moscow would rather not see a very powerful Iranian presence (or Western or Turkish or Saudi Arabian or Israeli) on its southern periphery. Moscow will therefore try to manipulate the situation in Syria to become the country's main power-broker. If it can do so by limiting Iran's footprint in Syria, it will do so. By working with all parties involved Moscow will seek to become an indispensable player in Syria. This has already begun. What we are seeing in Syria currently is conflict management Russian style.

Nevertheless, I would like to state once more that Moscow will not sacrifice its hard earned gains in Beijing and Tehran, nor will Beijing and Tehran be interested in down-grading their ties with Moscow. Despite their obvious relationship problems, all three need each other on the global stage. In the big, geostrategic picture we have in the world today, Moscow does not really need the Western world's recognition of Crimea's unification with Mother Russia. It would be nice, but not in any way an absolute necessity. Moreover, Moscow is learning how to live with Western sanctions quite well - as it should. In fact, being that Russia today is developing an internal market, the technological and industrial base - and all the natural resources it could possibly need - it's in Russia's long-term interests to develop economic and financial self-sufficiency. It's in Russia's long-term interests to eliminate any degree of dependence on Western powers. The Western sanctions it has been subjected to in the past few years has been a wonderful opportunity to do all this. The process has in fact started as we are seeing an increasing number of high quality products "made in Russia".

Russians are masters of the grand chessboard. They also have a keen understanding of history. I am therefore quite confident that every possible scenario is being meticulously assessed in the Kremlin, even as I write this. I do not believe Moscow will be successfully baited. The signs we see coming from the Kremlin clearly suggest Russians will eagerly cooperate with the West on a limit number of matters (e.g. Syria, Iraq and North Korea) but they will not distance themselves from Beijing or Tehran. 

Russians have made plenty of mistakes in the past, but they rarely make the same mistake twice. Being that Russians are astute politicians and diplomats and because Russian society is very patriotic - and has in recent years redeveloped a healthy suspicion of Western powers - I expect to see Moscow remain steadfast. The Russian Bear always seems to be a few steps ahead of Uncle Sam in recent years. I therefore see Moscow using its powerful position in the world today to instead mostly toy with Western powers. I see the Kremlin observing, assessing, maneuvering, manipulating, exploiting, advancing in some areas, retreating in some areas. President Trump's antagonists in the Western world will therefore be proven right. The White House will not get far in its effort to lure Moscow Westward. What's more, as we have seen since President Trump's inauguration, regardless of what the Trump administration tries to do with Moscow, Russophobes in the Western world will do their utmost best to ruin any attempt to better Russian-Western relations for any reason what-so-ever. Russophobia, the instinctual fear of Russians, runs in the blood of many Westerners. Those of us who worry about Russia falling into a Trump trap do have not therefore much to worry about. However, those of us who do worry about a major war coming sometime in the near future do have a lot to worry about.
The 20th century world order is dying

When an older political system falls apart in time or is destroyed in a major war, an international struggle begins for the right of establishing a new political order. We are are the precipice of a historic restructuring of the global political order. Western powers will ultimately fail to drive a wedge between Moscow, Beijing and Tehran. Russia, China and Iran will continue to expand their global presence. The political landscape around the world is changing at a faster pace than anyone had predicted. We are in the midst of a historic paradigm shift, which essentially means that the "postwar order is dying". The postwar political order - the geopolitical status quo of the past 70-plus years - is indeed in tatters. Western powers will continue suffering setbacks. New powers will emerge to fill voids. A major war will therefore be inevitable. Everywhere I look I see dire predictions of a world war. Everywhere I look see a sense an urgency. Even men like Mikhail Gorbachev and Henry Kissinger have recently made comments about the dangers facing the world today. 

There was a historic change-of-power in Washington DC. Right-wing sentiments are gripping Britain and continental Europe. Western powers have begun losing their grip over certain strategic areas of the world. There are realignment of alliances. Novorossiya is on the verge of exploding into a new cycle of violence. The war in Yemen has not abated and can very easily burst out of its borders. We may be one incident away from witnessing a full scale war between the US and Iran. The Syria cauldron continues to boil, drawing Turkey into its flames. Tensions along the Armenian-Azeri border remain very high and there are predictions that the dictatorship in Baku may try a renewed military offensive there sometime in the near future. Tension along Israel's border with southern Lebanon has remained high since the war of 2006 and there are renewed fears that Israel will use the next opportunity to outright destroy Hezbollah's fighting capabilities and its ammunition stockpiles. Tensions between Western powers and Russia are as bad as it has ever been. Tensions between the US and China is at an all-time high. There is a NATO buildup in Central Europe. Emerging powers around the world are stretching and diluting Western power and influence. In my opinion, this emerging world order began ten years ago with President Putin's now historic Munich Speech in 2007 -
Putin's prophecy comes true - Munich Speech 2007: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wXMMQIXXEkLess than a year after this speech Russian forces liberated Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the clutches of Anglo-American-Jews. Soon thereafter, Moscow counterattacked Western inroads in Ukraine and Syria by annexing Crimea, Karabakhizing Novorossiya and establishing a powerful military presence in Syria. Moreover, Russia's relations with China and Iran have gotten deeper and more efficient during the past ten years. What's more, Russia's presence in places like Cuba, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan are on the increase once again. Russia and the West have been clashing ever since President Putin's speech in Germany ten years ago. I have outlined much of this struggle which I termed Cold War II in the following blog commentaries -
The world on edge as Moscow and the West face off (February, 2015): http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2014/08/worried-for-its-lose-of-hegemony-west.html Trouble brewing for the self-appointed World's Policeman (December, 2014): http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2014/12/trouble-brewing-for-worlds-policeman.html Worried for its loss of hegemony the West is bent on bringing down Russia (August, 2014): http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-world-on-edge-as-moscow-and-west.html Russia, the menace of Globalism, Democracy and the Political West (July, 2013): http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-menace-of-western-globaism-western.htmlCold War II (May, 2012): http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.am/2012/05/cold-war-ii-heralding-rise-of-bipolar.htmlOn its knees and on the verge of collapse in the 1990s, Russia has, as if overnight, become major global player once again. Moscow is currently filling vacuums left behind in the Middle East, central Asia, eastern Europe, North Africa, south Caucasus and the Balkans. Moscow has worked meticulously to put itself back on the global chessboard.
In my opinion, a major war has been inevitable since 2006 and 2008. It was 2006 when the Iranian-backed Hezbollah fought the mightiest military in the Middle East to a stalemate. It can be argued that the Hezbollah actually defeated the Israeli military. Israel's military high command has ever since been seeking an opportunity to destroy Hezbollah. Their burning desire to destroy Hezbollah and thus Iranian influence in the region was one of the fundamental reasons why Syria was targeted with destruction. The Western-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen is also tied to their desire to roll back Iranian influence in the region. And 2008 was the year when Western powers formally mutilated Serbia by giving the predominantly Muslim Albanians in Kosovo national independence. This set a precedence. Merely months after what Western powers had done in Kosovo, Moscow took the opportunity presented by Saakashvili's militeristic aggression to liberate South Ossetia and Abkhazia. A few year thereafter, Crimea was reunited with Russia. In hindsight, 2008 the year when the Russian Bear, after about a twenty year hibernation, went on the attack. Russia's resurgence became the umbrella under which Iran expanded its influence in the Middle East. This reached its climax in Syria, where Russian and Iranian militaries have been battling Western-backed Islamic terrorists side-by-side.

In an effort to salvage its global hegemony in the face of these changing times, the Anglo-American-Jewish political order is leading humanity into yet another major global conflagration; which is why are facing a third world war. 

Some say we are in the preliminary stages of the war. Some say the war has already begun and that we are in its initial stages. Whatever the case may be, the world is indeed in turmoil and many areas of the world stand on the verge of war. A single unfortunate incident can unleash a torrent of unintended consequences. The spark that may send the current degree of intensity to a higher level can happen at any time and in a number of places. Wars in Syria and Iraq are not the only concerns. The situation regarding Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen, Armenia, Moldova, Serbia, Ukraine, Venezuela, the south China Sea and North Korea are also volatile and can explode at any time. Wars in such nations can also rather easily spill over into neighboring regions. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are experiencing this already.

If Western-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past twenty-five years were imperial wars of expansion, the current wars and the wars that await us in the near-future will be characterized as attempts by Western powers to reverse their setbacks and preserve their power and influence around the world. This is essentially why the Trump administration is trying to get the US on a war footing. The next four-to-eight years will be characterized by an effort to restructure the Western alliance and preserve Western power and wealth. Needless to say, Russia, China and Iran see the writing on the wall -
Steve Bannon Believes The Apocalypse Is Coming And War Is Inevitable: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/steve-bannon-apocalypse_us_5898f02ee4b040613138a951Russia, China, US: Are WW3 and Cold War 2 on the cards?: http://www.news.com.au/world/russia-china-us-are-ww3-and-cold-war-2-on-the-cards/news-story/a3a445dba24ade74c4da76460d4a144aRussia holds massive nuclear war exercise involving 40MILLION people as military tensions rise with US: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1907902/russia-holds-massive-nuclear-war-exercise-involving-40million-people-as-military-tensions-rise-with-us/ Russia expands Pacific bomber patrols near US bases: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37572738Vladimir Putin orders Russian air force to prepare for 'time of war': https://uk.news.yahoo.com/vladimir-putin-orders-russian-air-092700885.htmlThe ‘Inevitable’ War Against Iran and The Decline Of US Hegemony: https://www.mintpressnews.com/inevitable-war-iran-decline-us-hegemony/224644/
Has China Been Practicing Preemptive Missile Strikes Against U.S. Bases?: https://warontherocks.com/2017/02/has-china-been-practicing-preemptive-missile-strikes-against-u-s-bases/Russia sends Syria its largest missile delivery to date: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/02/08/russia-sends-syria-its-largest-missile-delivery-to-date-us-officials-say.html Iran tests first ballistic missile since Trump took office: http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-iran-missile-20170130-story.htmlI would like to once more remind my reader that President Putin set the precedence to much of today's events some seventeen years ago when he unexpectedly ascended to the helm in Moscow. Western powers have been suffering one setback after another ever since. They are even losing their control over strategic regions of the world where they have had an iron grip over since the Second World War. Let's recall that seventeen years ago Russia was on the verge of being a failed state. Today, Russia is registering success-after-success around the world. As the Washington DC based Stratfor reluctantly put it, "Russia is making inroads everywhere" -
Russia is making inroads everywhere — the U.S., Europe and Eurasia:  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/russia-is-making-inroads-everywhere-the-us-europe-and-eurasia-2016-12-01Israeli Ambassador: ‘Russia, Iran and Syria Defeated America’: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/171846 Plans for a “Great Serbia” and the Kremlin’s hybrid war in the Balkans: http://euromaidanpress.com/2017/01/24/plans-for-a-great-serbia-and-the-kremlins-hybrid-war-in-the-balkans/#arvlbdata Serbian pro-Russian president slams outgoing US government: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/01/17/serbian-pro-russian-president-slams-outgoing-us-government.html Moscow Clout Rises as Bulgaria, Moldova Elect Pro-Russia Leaders: http://www.voanews.com/a/analysis-pro-russia-trends-in-bulgaria-moldova/3595445.htmlU.S. commanders concerned over recent outreach between Russia, Egypt: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/1/us-commanders-concerned-over-outreach-russia-egypt/Why Moscow and Manila are ideal allies: http://rbth.com/blogs/continental_drift/2016/09/15/why-moscow-and-manila-are-ideal-allies_630063'It's a pretty disturbing time for Ukraine': Trump's Russia ties unnerve Kiev: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/06/ukraine-trump-presidency-russia-putinWhile Trump Fiddles, Putin Steps Up the War in Ukraine: http://www.newsweek.com/while-trump-fiddles-putin-steps-war-ukraine-550603With EU membership a distant prospect, Moscow fires up its propaganda machine in Tbilisi: www.politico.eu/article/russia-message-to-georgia-you-belong-to-us-eu-allure-waning-tbilisi/Russia Signs Cooperation Agreement With Anti-Immigrant Party in Austria: http://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-signs-cooperation-agreement-with-anti-immigrant-party-in-austria-1482170810After a mere 25 years, the triumph of the West is over: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinionsArmenia Is Literally Joining Forces With Russia: http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/11/29/armenia-is-literally-joining-forces-with-russia/ The rise of nations like Russia, China and Iran signal one thing; the weakening of the Anglo-American-Jewish political order. It was not supposed to be this way. Western powers had found themselves alone on the very top of the world's food-chain in 1991 when the Soviet Union suddenly imploded and ceased to exist as a geopolitical deterrence. Fate (as well as an anti-Soviet conspiracy of the global elite) would hand Western powers the world on a silver platter. With a massive geopolitical vacuum thus created before them, "forces of freedom" began raiding Middle Eastern oil fields with impunity. They also began the systematic invasion of former Soviet nations with "forces of democracy". Without a capable opponent on the other side of the political divide to check their actions, they moved their chess pieces around at will and with great disregard to human suffering. They did this despite persistent complaints from around the world. The Western political establishment had become a monster of global proportions. Now this monster is now finally feeling pressure. It is beginning to fear for its life. This is when the monster will be at its most dangerous. Nevertheless, its future does not look well.
Why Armenians need to remain close to the Russian Bear

The flames ignited by Western powers are slowly getting closer to Armenia's borders. There are troubling signs that the flames will be getting more intense in the coming years. Ukraine, Syria and Iraq will remain very volatile. Turkey, Lebanon, Georgia and Azerbaijan will remain unpredictable, The situation may unexpectedly worsen in any one of these countries. Iran, thus far stable, may find itself in a major war sometime in the next few years. The Azeri leadership will most likely continue its war of attrition, hoping to foment a political uprising inside Armenia. Western-funded activists operating throughout Armenia will continue stirring trouble in the country. The situation around Armenia is highly volatile and it may get much worst before it subsides. Simply put, Armenia's terrible neighborhood is living up to its reputation.

Dangerous neighborhoods, like the south Caucasus, as well as dangerous periods in human history, like the times we are living in, should underscore the paramount importance of maintaining close relations with the Russian Bear for Armenians. Times like this is ultimately why Armenia needs the Russian Bear. Times like this is also why Russia needs Armenia. For Armenians, however, nature of Armenia's ties with Russia is a simple matter of life and death.  The matter for Armenians therefore is existential in nature; so much so that Armenia's ties to Russia is in my opinion more important than its ties to the Armenian Diaspora. In other words, if for instance the Armenian Diaspora (in the western world for instance) becomes an obstacle to Russian-Armenian relations, it would be better for Yerevan to limit its ties to it. I say this as a Diasporan Armenian. I therefore take heart in knowing that Russia and Armenia are as close as they have ever been -
Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan: Russian military base in Armenia is responsible for country’s security matters: https://news.am/eng/news/374787.html

President Sargsyan calls Russia Yerevan's top economic partner: https://sputniknews.com/business/201703141051550076-armenia-russia-to-economic-partner/

Presidential advisor Vazgen Manukyan says development of military industry is moving force of EEU progress: https://www.armenpress.am/eng/news/882157/vazgen-manukyan-says-development-of-military-industry-is-moving-force-of-eeu-progress.html

Russia-based ethnic Armenian entrepreneurs promise to invest $300 million in homeland this year: http://arka.am/en/news/economy

Armenia, Russia to launch joint investment fund: http://www.tert.am/en/news/2017/03/15/fund/2308968

Russia and Armenia may switch to settlements in national currencies: http://tass.com/economy/935670

Armenia is joining forces with Russia: http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/11/29/armenia-is-literally-joining-forces-with-russia/We can in no way give credit to the "people" in this regard. Had it been for the so-called "democratic process" Armenia would have been torn from Russia a long time ago, and the country would have been ravaged as a result. Armenia has stayed under Russia's protection thanks to a handful of people known to Western activists as the "Karabakh clan". Despite the current Armenian leadership's flaws, both real and perceived, they need to be commended for developing Armenia's close alliance with the Russian Bear. Armenia's Republican Party (Հանրապետական Կուսակցություն) continues being the lesser evil in Armenia's decrepit political landscape. Republicans continue being the best choice Armenia has to offer. On the eve of Armenia's parliamentary elections I'd like to say that the popularity enjoyed by characters like Gagik Tsarukyan, Raffi Hovanissian, Levon Petrosian and Nikol Pashinyan is glaring proof that Armenia's electorate remain emotionally unstable and politically illiterate to be trusted with the thing called democracy. Democracy and capitalism for a politically immature and materialistic people like Armenians is a painful road to national suicide. Gradually, more and more people are beginning to understand this. One of these people, Markar Melkonian (Monte Melkonian's brother), has been warning Armenians against democracy, capitalism as well as Russophobia.
Simply put: For reasons I outlined in previous blog commentaries, generally speaking, the Armenian street cannot be trusted to do what is in the best interest of Armenia. Let's not fool ourselves anymore, we Armenians today are a mere shadow of what we used to be. The overall quality of Armenian today is frighteningly low. The Diaspora is worst. We have seen the dangers of allowing the masses to partake in the political process in 2008 and 2013. We don't need a replay in 2018. I am in no way insinuating that the current leadership is ideal. It is however the lesser evil. It is the devil we know. What I hope to see in Armenia someday is an authoritarian government led by well educated, nationalist leaders with very close ties to Moscow. Anything else is a painful road to eventual ruin. This is why I continue to believe that the current leadership remains Armenia's most logical and safest choice, and men like Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan remain the country's only hope.

Armenia has survived the past twenty-five years in the south Caucasus (as well as the past two hundred years to be exact) not because of capitalism, democracy or the "almighty" Armenian Diaspora, but because of its close ties to the Russian nation. Russians laid the foundations of today's Armenia. Russians continue keeping the nation alive. Armenians therefore need to be happy that the Russian Bear needs Armenia, and will continue needing Armenia for as long as the Caucasus region and its surrounding remain Turkic and Islamic. This is why Russian forces cover Armenia's western border. This is why despite Armenia's 25-plus years of flirtations with Western powers and despite the fact that Armenian politicians today cannot be trusted (in fact most Armenian politicians would not think twice about aligning with Western powers if the price is right);despite the fact that a majority of Armenians today are ready to flee their country - Moscow gives Yerevan the economic help (trade, investments, cheep energy, etc.) to keep Armenia afloat and military resources (affordable or free state-of-the-art weaponry, military intelligence and training) to defend itself against regional predators like Turkey and Azerbaijan. Simply put: Armenia exists today not because of the "nation building talents" of Armenians in Armenia or big talking, under-performing Armenians of the "Diaspora" but because of Armenia's close ties to Russia.
Moscow sells weapons to Azerbaijan essentially because it wants to stop Azerbaijan from drifting too far from its orbit. Maintaining ties with Azerbaijan enables Moscow to have some leverage over Baku. This keeps other nations like Turkey and Israel from further deepening their ties with Azerbaijan. Do we Armenians really want Baku to fall fully under Turkish and/or Islamic influences or would we rather have Moscow hold at least some sway over Baku? As long as Russia is providing Armenia the proper military countermeasures (often times free of charge) to defeat what Azerbaijan is purchasing with its petro-dollars from a number of countries around the world, is it really smart for Armenians to throw temper-tantrums every time Moscow sells anything to Baku? By engaging both Yerevan and Baku Moscow manages to maintain control over both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Essentially, it's conflict management, and it's something that is in Armenia's interest. Nevertheless, although there remains some flaws in the relationship (in my opinion mostly due to the absence of Armenian lobbying efforts in Moscow) Russia's goodwill towards Armenia is genuine and long-termed. When it comes to geostrategic matters there is a lot of convergence of interests between Russia and Armenia. Russia and Armenia are therefore NATURAL allies and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Also, while Western powers are in decline, Russia is on the rise politically, militarily and economically - and will remain so for the foreseeable future. On all accounts Russia is therefore a historic OPPORTUNITY for Armenia. However, many Armenians today seem incapable of understanding any of this because there are large numbers of professionals working hard to distort reality and sow Russophobia throughout Armenian society. The following American agent with an Armenian last name is one such individual -
Agent Richard Giragosian: Ունենք գաղտնի «զենք», որը կփրկի Հայաստանը աշխարհաքաղաքական իմաստով. Ռիչարդ Կիրակոսյան: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVGA_cKP5Ss Because Armenian society today is saturated by Western operatives Armenians, generally speaking, seem incapable of fully appreciating Russia as a historic opportunity. Because of Armenian materialism, in addition to its Western agents, Armenian attention is being naturally drawn towards Western countries (US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, etc.), Western goods (cars, electronic gadgets, clothing, music, etc.) and Western concepts (democracy, globalism, feminism, gay rights, etc.). For these people, Western products and Western lifestyles are worth risking life and limb, as well as Armenia's well-being. I found that one of the main concerns about worsening Russian-West relations several years ago among Armenians in Armenia was the fear that Western products, such as American and German cars, would be difficult to import as a result. I would tell such people, why don't you instead drive Russian cars that cost a lot less but are much more reliable? I would get either blank stares or laughs in reply. And they say Armenians are smart?

Related to this discussion is language: It is very worrying for me that the younger generation in Armenia speak better English than Russian (at least from what I see in Yerevan). This serious problem is now being noticed by others as well-
Foreign Language Yerevan: Capitalism Speaks English: http://hetq.am/eng/news/73087/foreign-language-yerevan-capitalism-speaks-english.html/
Political power travels on the coattails of cultural influence. Movies, television programming, music, cuisine, clothing, literature and language are some of the more potent tools of cultural influence found in the Western arsenal. It is through these tools that Western powers are capable of penetrating through even the hardest of national borders. These tools are used to subjugate people around the world. What makes these tools of cultural influences so dangerous is that those who fall victim to them do not know it. Think of it in this way: If we want to sing their songs, watch their films, eat their foods, drive their cars, trade in their money, wear their clothing and speak their language, how can we ever think of them as the enemy? How can we ever stop them from embedding their agents in our society? By importing their culture in any given land, they have already won half the battle. Who today understands this? Sadly, not many.

Again, I want to remind the reader that I am a non-Russian speaker. I am an English speaker because I have lived in the West for most of my life. In fact, I have a better command of the English language than a vast majority of its native speakers. However, my intellectual honesty as well as my ability to think out of my skin helps me see the English language for what it really is: English today is the the catalyst upon which the agendas of globalization (where everybody speaks English, trades in Western money and there are no genders, religions, borders or nationalities) and westernization (the spread of materialism and Anglo-American-Jewish-African pop culture) travels upon around the world. It would be wise to also recognize that language also imparts outlook and mentality. Every language has a value system of its own. Every language is a world of its own. English today maybe the language of international trade, but it is also the language of idiots, perverts and Western financed activists. For a nation like Armenia, English is also the first steppingstone for either leaving the country permanently or working for some Western-financed NGO that is trying to undermine Armenia's statehood.

The most powerful weapon Western powers have in their arsenal is by-far the cultural influence they have over all humanity. And it is we the sheeple, and the choices we make, that give them their power over us.
 
By far, the most important language in Armenia today (after Armenian of course) has to be Russian. Again, I say this as a non-Russian speaker. I look at it logically: Russian is the language of Armenia's largest diaspora, largest investor, largest trade partner, largest energy provider, largest arms supplier and ONLY military ally. Armenia today lives because of its close ties to Russia, yet young people in Armenia are striving to learn English instead?!?!?! And they say Armenians are smart?! 


Russia is Armenia's most important partner and it is home to the world's most affluent Armenian community. In fact, Armenians are disproportionately represented in the highest layers of Russian society, yet there is no discernible agenda to promote Armenian interests in Moscow today. Turks and Azeris on the other hand do their best to lobby Russian officials. Armenians can be in Moscow what Jews are in Washington DC, yet Armenians are too busy begging for handouts and genocide recognition in the West. And they say Armenians are smart?!

After Russian, I believe German, French, Iranian, Chinese, Turkish and Indian should also be taught in Armenian schools. English should be part of this tertiary group of languages. Although English is the language of international trade, it is always more effective to speak with peoples in their native language. In other words, an Armenian businessman will gain a lot more attention and sympathy in places like China, Iran, India, Germany, France, etc., if he converses with them in their languages. When I share these thoughts with Armenians in Armenia, I mostly get blank stares or laughs in reply. And they say Armenians are smart?!

I have come to believe that Armenians can be very capable in many professions, but when it comes to truly understanding politics or planning for Armenia's future Armenians can be very stupid and self-destructive. Study of Armenian history suggests this may be a result of genetic traits and Armenian folk culture. And this is essentially why Russians have to break with diplomatic protocol to talk sense into Armenians -
Head of Russia’s Institute of Oriental Studies: Russia won’t allow anyone to attack Armenia: https://www.armenpress.am/eng/news/882120/russia Russian Lawmaker Advises Caution in Armenia-EU Ties: http://asbarez.com/160801/russian-lawmaker-advises-caution-in-armenia-eu-ties/#comment-65434Fyodor Lukyanov deems Russia-Tukey-Azerbaijan alliance as ‘impossible’:  http://www.panorama.am/en/news/2017/03/13/Lukyanov-Russia-Tukey-Azerbaijan-alliance/1743484  Lavrov: Armenia doesn’t need to fear Russian-Turkish rapprochement: http://www.mediamax.am/en/news/foreignpolicy/22632/ Russian news agency chief: Moscow’s arming Azeris beneficial to Armenia: http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/234333/Moscows_arming_Azeris_beneficial_to_Armenia_Russian_news_agency_chief Ռուսաստանը երբեք թույլ չի տա, որ Արցախի խնդիրը ուժով լուծվի. Վլադիմիր Սոլովյով: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yr_0q9TcvkwTo be frank, it's very embarrassing for me as an Armenian to see Russians publicly explaining the above to our people. These types of talks usually takes place behind closed doors. I find it troubling that we Armenians are so emotional and out-of-touch with reality that Russians have to actually explain to us even the simplest of things. Do we really need Russians to explain to us that EU membership is dangerous for Armenia? Do we really need Russians to explain to us that Russia needs Armenia? Do we really need Russians to explain to us that Russia having good relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan is not a bad thing for Armenia? Do we really need Russians to explain to us that they are protecting Armenia from regional predators? These are things Russians would rather not talk about in public because it can undermine Moscow's regional strategy. This kind of talk therefore has the potential to adversely effect Moscow's relations with Baku. The fact that they feel the need to do so is proof that Armenians are politically ignorant and out-of-tough with reality. It's also proof that the pursuit of democracy in Armenia is a toxic affair.

I think Syria should have shown the entire world, us Armenians in particular, the importance of having the Russian Bear on the global arena today. Recent developments in the Middle East should have again be reminded us Armenians of the cruel and unforgiving nature of the region in which Armenia is unfortunately located in. A reminder to our westernized Russophobes and nationalist chobans: Armenia's neighbors are not Italians, Greeks, Spaniards, Germans, Poles or Swedes. Armenia's neighbors Turks, Azeris, Kurds, Iranians, Islamists and backstabbing Georgians. Any degree of "independence" from Russia will automatically, by-default, increase Armenia's dependence on its Turkic/Islamic neighbors. Armenia therefore does not need "independence" from Russia. Speaking of independence, what has independence from Russia gotten Georgians? After its Western-backed dictator's reign, Georgia today is 20% smaller, no less impoverished and saturated by Turks -
Georgia: Anti-Turkish Sentiments Grow as Election Date Nears:  http://www.eurasianet.org/node/65933Georgians Wary of Turkey’s Rising Influence in Batumi: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/82751Tbilisi is in a terrible situation today. Despite enjoying very good relations with Turks and Azeris; despite enjoying very good relations with Western powers; despite enjoying full access to the Black Sea, Georgia today is hurting economically, politically and demographically - essentially because it ruined its relationship with the Russian Bear to appease Western powers. Imagine how much worst it would have been for Armenians had Armenia fallen victim to its ;pro-Western activists and politicians and their idiotic followers throughout Armenian society. How well would have "independence" from Russia worked out for our tiny, impoverished, remote, landlocked and blockaded nation surrounded by Turks and Muslims?

Simply put: No Russia in Armenia means no Armenia in the south Caucasus. Armenians need Russian boots on the ground in Armenia as much as Armenians need statehood. At the end of the day, Russia is the only choice and hope Armenia has in the south Caucasus. I say only "hope" because if God forbid Armenia is ever threatened by a much larger power in the region, the only nation that is ready and willing to come to its aid is the Russian nation. After Armenians, Russians are the only nation on earth that would willingly spill blood for Armenia. It not me saying these things, Russians have been saying this for many years.

In an article appearing in Russia Today, Mikhail Aleksandrov, a political analyst working for the Institute of CIS made the following comment about Moscow's military presence inside Armenia -
Armenian-Russian ties support a balance of forces. With its presence in the South Caucasus, Russia is creating a counterbalance to Turkey, Iran and preventing the West from getting access to the region, including military. If it wasn’t for Russia, the South Caucasus would be in a similar situation as we are observing in Syria or Libya today. In another article produced by Russia's Pravda, Vice President of the Academy of Geopolitical Issues Konstantin Sivkov is quoted as saying - 
If Turkey attacks Armenia, it will be treated as an attack on Russia. Russia would fight on Armenia's side with all its might. If necessary, Russia could use nuclear weapons against Turkey, both tactical, and if need be, strategic. This is defined in the military doctrine of the Russian Federation. Armenia is fully protected with the Russian umbrella of both conventional forces as well as strategic nuclear forces. Alexsei Arbatov, the former deputy chairman of the Russia State Duma's Defense Committee defined Russian-Armenian relations with the following words - 
Armenia is our only classic military-political ally...Armenia will not survive without Russia, while, without Armenia, Russia will lose all its important positions in the Caucasus...Even though Armenia is a small country, it is our forepost in the South Caucasus.  I would say that Armenia is more important to us than Israel is to the Americans.In describing what Russia's reaction would be to a possible invasion of Armenia by Turkey or Azerbaijan, Alexander Khramchikhin, Director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis said - 
Russian military bases deployed in Gyumri and Yerevan guarantee Armenia’s security in case of war not only against Azerbaijan but also Turkey. If we attack Turkey, it will be war against NATO. However, we will never attack Turkey, it is clear. And if Turkey attacks Armenia and we have to save Armenia, it will be Russia’s and Armenia’s war against Turkey. NATO will not get involved in that war if only we do not start razing Turkey to the ground with strategic arms. This comment by the former Russian ambassador to Armenia,  Vladimir Stupishin - 
In my view, the true settling of the Karabakh conflict suggests complete rejection by Azerbaijan of the primal Armenian lands. It is possible to resolve the problem of the refugees by providing them with opportunities in places where they live now. How come in almost every discussion on Karabakh the only refugees that are being consistently mentioned are the Azeri refugees? Why can’t the Armenians return to Baku, Gyandja, Sumgait, Artsvashen, Getashen, etc.?This comment by a Russian-Muslim political analyst, Ilqar Mammadov -
"When Azerbaijani officials, including the president, predict that Armenia will collapse as a state, they are mistaken. Nobody will let Armenia collapse. Even if only 100,000 people lived in Armenia, Russia would protect it as it regards Armenia as its outpost"This comment by head of Russia's Institute of Oriental Studies, Vitaly Naumkin -
"Russia will never allow Armenia to be harmed or attacked. If anyone attacks Armenia, Russia will take part in defending Armenia, this is absolutely obviousAnd this by Senior researcher of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Viktor Nadein-Rayevsky - 
Russia will never cede Armenia for improving its relations with Turkey. This is a matter of principle. There are things one can sacrifice, but there are things one cannot. The point is not so much that two million Armenians live in Russia and many of them are Russian citizens. For Armenia Russia’s steps must never be bad. The point is that even the Yeltsin Russia perfectly realized that it must not waive Armenia’s interests, not mentioning Putin, who clearly sees the national interests, at least, the clear ones. He is trying to extrapolate them for the future. I simply can’t imagine that Russia may yield Armenia – if Russia does this it will lose all of its positions in the Caucasus. Russia should understand one most important thing – there are partners and allied countries with whom one should keep up the sense of alliance and duty. These influential men in Russia couldn't be more candid or more accurate in their assessments of the current geopolitical situation in the south Caucasus nor could they have been more pro-Armenian in their sentiments. The rhetoric expressed by these people are quite similar to the kind of rhetoric we often hear expressed by American officials about the Zionist state. These men basically outlined the 0geostrategic importance of Russia's presence in the south Caucasus as well as Armenia's strategic importance in the eyes of Kremlin officials.

Regardless of what weapons Russians sell to whom, the Russian quotes I outlined above is more-or-less the prevailing political culture in Moscow today. Russia today is a very fertile ground in which Armenians can but are not promoting their interests. I therefore suggest we stop admiring Jews for their political acumen and start acting like them. We Armenians need to be farsighted enough and intelligent enough to begin exploiting the opportunity the Russian Federation is providing us. We need to be lobbying Armenian matters in the Kremlin as obsessively and as persistently as we pursue Armenian Genocide recognition in the United States. We need to be cultivating deeper Russian-Armenian relations. We need to be laying the foundations of a permanent Armenian presence within the highest offices of the Kremlin. While Armenia's military may be its tactical advantage on the battlefield, Armenia's presence within the walls of the Kremlin must be made its strategic advantage on the global chessboard. We therefore should not be giving any of Uncle Sam's whores in Armenia a political platform to spew their dangerous agendas. We should not allow modern slavemasters such as the IMF or the USAID or sociopolitical troublemakers such a George Soros funded organizations any foothold inside Armenia.

I reiterate: Russian officials see Armenia in the same way Western powers see Israel. Similar to Jews in the United States, the Armenian Diaspora in Moscow is by-far the most affluent in the world. Armenians are disproportionately represented in the highest layers of Russian society -
Sergei Lavrov (Foreign Minister of Russia)

Artur Chilingarov (Duma spokesman, Scientist, Hero of Russia)
Sergey Avakyants (commander of Russia's Pacific Fleet)

Margarita Simonyan (director of Russia Today)

Michael Pogosian (director of Russia's United Aircraft Industry)

Armen Oganesyan (CEO of Voice of Russia radio broadcasts)

Ashot Eghiazaryan (Russian State Duma member)

Karen Shakhnazarov (CEO of Mosfilm, Russia's largest studio)
 

Karen Karapetyan (vice President at Gazprom)

Sergey Galitsky (billionaire owner of Magnit)

Ruben Vardanyan (millionaire former CEO of Troika Dialog Group)

Ruben Aganbegyan (millionaire owner Renaissance Capital Micex)

Danil Khachaturov (millionaire chairman of RosGosStrakh)
Gennady Melikiyan (deputy chairman of Bank of Russia)

Samvel Karapetyan (billionaire owner of Tashir group)

Sarkisov brothers (billionaires RESOGarantia insurance company)

Sergey Khachaturov (billionaire, brother of Danil Khachaturov)
 

Gagik Gevorkyan (millionaire president of Estet Jewelry House and new head of the prestigious Russian Jewelers Guild)

Artur Janibekyan (millionaire television producer and head of Russia's most successful Comedy Club)
Ara Abrahamyan (billionaire business, president of the Union of Armenians in Russia) As I have been saying for over ten years now, Armenians can be in Moscow what Jews are in Washington DC. What's more, I agree with Alexsei Arbatov when he says: Armenia is more important to Russia than Israel is to the United States. Without an Armenia, Russia's position in the already volatile Caucasus will be seriously compromised. The disappearance of Israel, on the other hand, will have no tangible effects on the United States. In fact, the United States can do much better globally without the Israeli or Jewish monkey on its back. If the United States is closer to Israel than Russia is to Armenia, it's only because American Jews are farsighted enough and intelligent enough to have concentrated all their efforts in recent decades on manipulating American officials into adopting an "Israel first" policy. In stark contrast to Jews, Armenians, who number in the millions in Russia and are represented in the highest layers of Russian society, engage in virtually no lobbying efforts inside the Kremlin. The Armenia's diplomatic void in Moscow is so apparent that even Russians are complaining about it now.

The desire to maintain a close relationship with Western powers - essentially for financial handouts - has made official Yerevan neglect its ties with Moscow. Azerbaijan and Turkey on the other hand have been doing their utmost best to lobby Russian officials. The indifference Armenian officials show in regards to Armenia's relations with Russia is very alarming. In the following two television interviews we see Chairman of Union of Armenians in Russia Ara Abrahamyan and former Armenian National Security Council Secretary Arthur Baghdasaryan raising the alarm about the lack of Armenian lobbying efforts inside Moscow and the inability of official Yerevan today to efficiently exploit its strategic relationship with Moscow -
Ara Abrahamyan (watch from 18:25): http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=rpf0iLdCJmU&feature= youtube_gdata_player

Արթուր Բաղդասարյան (watch from 48:30): https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=GARDQ9WCckoSpeaking of geopolitics, lobbying and political incompetence of Armenians, please also read the following two articles about Iran -
Azerbaijan is ahead of Armenia in Iran: http://www.panorama.am/en/news/2016/04/23/Vardan-Voskanyan/1567871Alexander Gusyev: “Iran is building a road through Azerbaijan because of Armenian leadership’s indifference”: http://rusarminfo.ru/alexander-gusyev-iran-is-building-a-road-through-azerbaijan-because-of-armenian-leaderships-indifference/Amazingly, Armenia, a nation today that is desperately dependent on Russia and to a lesser extent Iran for survival, is not actively engaging in any form of organized lobbying efforts in Moscow or Tehran. It seems that Armenians are too busy searching for US dollars and Mercedes-Benzs in the Western world. And they say Armenians are smart? In any case, there is some good news to report. Within days after Vladimir Solovyov's complaints about the absence of Armenian political activity in Moscow, official Yerevan finally decided to make some long overdue changes -
Vardan Toghanyan is new Armenian Ambassador to Russia : http://www.mediamax.am/en/news/politics/22544/Vardan Toghanyan intends to strengthen Armenian lobbying in Russia: http://www.mediamax.am/en/news/politics/22711/ Armenian Ambassador to Russia: No anti-Russian political parties or blocs in Armenia: http://arka.am/en/news/politics Finally! I have been advocating Armenian lobbying in Moscow for well over ten years now. I guess we needed to hear it from them first. But just think about this for a moment. It was Russians themselves that noticed a void in Armenian diplomacy in Moscow and felt compelled to tell us that we needed to do something about it. Doesn't that say a lot?! Doesn't that suggest Russians are the ones keeping Armenia alive? Doesn't that reveal just how politically incompetent we Armenians are? It's so damn embarrassing for me that we had to wait until a Russian came to our country to tell us something we ourselves should have quickly figured out some twenty-five years ago. Nevertheless, better late than never.

But, being that Armenians will remain politically illiterate and out-of-touch with reality, I am under no illusions. Chances are that a majority of Armenians will continue kissing the asses of Western officials either for money or for genocide recognition. Chances are, Armenians by-in-large will continue neglecting the promotion of Armenian interests in Russia. In other words, Western officials will continue having an easy time of manipulating and exploiting Armenians by keeping our idiots preoccupied with nonsense like gay rights, feminism, civil society, free speech and free elections. But allow me to remind the reader once more: While they keep out idiots preoccupied with their bullshit, their ultimate plan is to keep Armenia politically isolated and economically backward. It would therefore be wise to look past the lofty rhetoric of professional mercenaries and street whores serving the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance throughout Armenian society and instead assess their actions in Armenia within the following geostrategic context -George Friedman: “Russian presence in Armenia is bad for Turkey”, "Keep Armenia isolated": http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2010/11/arye-gut-israeli-jewish-expert-in.htmlExpanding NATO-Armenia cooperation to boost Armenia's security - Kenneth Yalowitz: https://armenpress.am/eng/news/853610/expanding-nato-armenia-cooperation-to-boost-armenia’s-security---kenneth-yalowitz.htmlHurriyet Dauily News: Armenian diaspora, focus on Russia rather than Turkey!: http://www.hurriyetdailynews. com/armenian-diaspora-focus- on-russia-rather-than-turkey The ultimate goal of high-level Western officials continues to be either the strangling of Armenia (through their NATO blockade) and/or severing it from Russia. Thus, it could be said that the West's ultimate intention is to either destroy Armenia or place it under the mercy of their Turkic and Islamic allies. After all, the primary reason why Western powers are in the south Caucasus to begin with is to push Russia and to a lesser extent Iran out of the region so that their economic/energy interests can exploit Central Asian gas and oil without Moscow's meddling. Western powers realize that without Russia in the picture in the Caucasus, the strategic region will be their playground. We Armenians however need to be sober enough to realize that without a Russian presence in Armenia there won't be an Armenian presence in the south Caucasus.  
Ultimately, what it all boils down to is this: Anyone today trying to drive a wedge between Russia and Armenia is a traitor to Armenia regardless of his or her intention. With a major war looming on the horizon this is the time to stick as close to the Bear as possible. I'd like to reiterate that Armenia's ties to Russia is immeasurably more important to Armenia's survival in the south Caucasus than Armenia's ties to the Armenian Diaspora. And lobbying Armenian interests in Moscow is incalculably more important to Armenia's long-term welfare than pursuing Armenian Genocide recognition in the Western world.

I realize these words may be very hard for many Armenians to digest. But these words are our reality today. After our nationalist lunatics and Russophobes are done talking their bullshit, the fact remains that a Russian presence in the south Caucasus has been the fundamental historic factor behind why we have an Armenia today. In other words, had Ivan not come down to the south Caucasus some two hundred years ago, our Russophobes would still be herding goats or making donkey saddles in the mountains of eastern Turkey or Iran. 
 
Allow me to put all this in an another way to help the reader better understand: Imagine the south Caucasus as a political/economic table where Russians, Armenians, Persians, Georgians, Turks, Azeris, Islamists and Anglo-American-Jewish energy interests sit and discuss various regional matters. Now imagine this table without its Russian occupant. In another words, imagine the Caucasus without a powerful Russia. Now imagine the challenges our our tiny, impoverished, remote, landlocked, inexperienced, embattled and blockaded homeland would have at that table. To be honest, I find it very difficult imagining an Armenian state in the South Caucasus without having a Russian presence in the south Caucasus. It is very troubling for me that there are many Armenian today, especially in the Diaspora, that do not understand this. So, once more: No Russia in the Caucasus means no Armenia in the Caucasus. Without Russian lordship in the south Caucasus, the region would no doubt be overrun by Turkic and/or Islamic hordes.

In closing, I call on all Armenians to take a good look at what is happening around the world today and finally recognize that the postwar political order has run its course and that we are living though the birth pangs of a new political world.

The West is in decline. There are new powers on the rise. The Bush and Obama administrations proved incapable of advancing Western interests after the turn of the twenty-first century. It was during their time in power that Russia, China and Iran rose to prominence in global affairs. As a result, we have a new group of people at the control board in Washington DC. Regardless of where President Trump and company takes the country and regardless of what happens between United States and Russia, the collapse of postwar American global hegemony is now inevitable. Which is why they will do their best to prevent it or, at the very least, preserve as much of it as possible. This is essentially why we are seeing so much political and economic upheaval around the world in recent years. This is why we are seeing a growing number of conflicts. This is why we are seeing historic displacements of peoples. This is why we are seeing historic realignment of alliances. This is why we are seeing red lines being drawn by various powers. This is why I believe the Trump administration will be tasked with leading the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance and its friends into a war. This war could be sparked in a number of places. Syria, Lebanon, Iran and/or Yemen are the most likely places in my opinion. 

The mess we are in today may go on for many more years to come. During this time, armed conflicts will intermittently ignite in various hot-spots around the world. Their intensity will ebb and flow. As we have seen in places like the Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq in recent years, major powers will have limited exposure on the battlefield, as most of the bloodletting will be done by theirs proxies. In the end, perhaps a decade or more from today, the 20th century world order will be dead. Some nations will have died in the process, some nations will have been born. In the end, however, we will have a new world order. What this new political order will look like is anyone's guess at this time. But it is very likely that Anglo-American-Jews will no longer enjoy global hegemony thereafter. In other words, after this mess is over Western powers will no longer be sitting alone at top of the global food chain.

The coming years may therefore bring with it terrible tribulation to the region where Armenia is located. The fires that are currently burning and the fires that may yet be set in the coming years are dangerously close to Armenia. It would be wise to also understand that the risks Yerevan faces from virtually every side of the geopolitical compass today lessens with a powerful Russian presence inside Armenia. The only way Armenia can survive in an unforgiving place like the south Caucasus and in dangerous times such as this is by remaining as close to the Russian Bear as possible.

With the region where Armenia is located growing more violate with every passing day Armenians can never lose sight of the fact that Russia is critically important to Armenia's survival as a nation-state in the south Caucasus. We should never forget that Russia has been and will continue being the alpha and the omega of Caucasus. We should also never forget that Armenia has been in the "Russian world" for the past two hundred years, and we need to find comfort in knowing that Armenia will continue being in the Russian world for well into the foreseeable future. For better or for worst, Armenia is wed to Russia. For the foreseeable future, or for as long as the Caucasus region retains its Turkic and Islamic demographic and continues to be coveted by Western powers, Armenia will remain within Russia's political orbit and under Russia's protective military umbrella. Russia and Armenia will continue being natural allies. The prudent thing for Armenians to do at this juncture in history is to learn to navigate the turbulent waters of the south Caucasus recognizing the aforementioned geopolitical truths. Recognizing these truths, embracing these realities and exploiting it all as a historic opportunity will not only help Armenia survive the times but also thrive. We must therefore put aside our biases, political ignorance and emotional handicaps and for once recognize that Russia presents a historic opportunity we as a people need to collectively work to derive benefits from.

Arevordi
Spring, 2017

***

Why Trump may already be playing the evil game of the US deep state, without even knowing it


It may looks 'utterly bizarre' the fact that Donald Trump seeks good relations with Russia, but threatens China, as John Pilger mentioned, but it all makes sense finally when you see the whole picture. If your goal is to crush your two biggest rivals, you won't risk doing it simultaneously to both. Which means that, you have to keep some minimum balance. If you behave with an extremely provoking, hostile attitude against the one (China), you have to be very friendly with the other (Russia). And that's exactly what Trump does right now!

It is certain that the establishment mechanisms have studied deeply Trump's persona (they knew him already actually), so that the media can 'play' with him as they please. Therefore, at the time when media focus on Trump, giving him space to perform another 'anti-establishment' show, Obama, in his last days in presidency, proceeds in the most aggressive moves against Russia (troops in Poland and Norway). Putin is not risking to retaliate seriously because he knows that Obama is leaving and, obviously, hopes that Trump will cancel these hostile moves. Our guess is that it won't happen.
At the same time, Trump is extremely hostile to China, provoking the angry reactions of the Chinese officials. He uses the known narrative that 'China is stealing the US jobs' το justify his anti-Chinese behavior, but in reality, he worries mostly about the aggressive Chinese economic expansion which threatens the US big capital interests. The establishment is pushing so much Trump to declare obedience to the anti-Russian agenda that even Putin starts to defend him openly. And while he does that, he must be making the Chinese more angry and worried. So, here is a good start for the break up of the Sino-Russian alliance. Still, our guess is that neither Putin nor the Chinese leadership will bite the bait that easily.

But why the US deep state wants to start with China? Obviously because it's the major economic threat without having yet the military power of Russia. It seems that Taiwan and South China Sea are being used only as a pretext by the US to provoke China continuously. The US ultimate geopolitical interest resides in the Chinese mainland, close to the Russian borders. According to a scenario, the US starts a war that ends quickly, changes the regime in China, puts its puppet, and probably, break China (as they want to do with Russia), using disputed provinces as a pretext (e.g. Tibet, Xinjiang - No surprise that, recently, China responded instantly to Trump, saying that the 'one-China' policy is not negotiable).

The US-friendly regimes will repay the US dollars that they will receive for their 'color revolutions' by allowing US military bases in their territories. With China dissolved and on its knees, Russia will be fully encircled and left with no major allies. It will be the next target. The ultimate goal of the Western neoliberal establishment would be probably to dissolve the vast Russian territory and bring in power Western-friendly puppet regimes, in order not only to conquer the valuable resources, but also to impose permanently the neoliberal doctrine in "unexplored" regions and populations.

Yet, we've seen endless US failures lately. Obama completely failed to fulfill targets in Syria. Situation is still out of control in Syria/Iraq and Libya, not to mention the terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. It is probable that the evil plans of the US deep state for China and Russia will also fail, but this time things are much more serious because we are talking about two major nuclear powers.

From his first moments as US president, Trump should immediately proceed in two key moves, if he wants to prove that he is not the most easily manipulated puppet of the establishment. First, withdraw troops from Eastern Europe and Norway. Second, stop provoking China and start seeking ways of cooperation for the mutual benefit of the two countries. Otherwise, the lunatics who pull his strings, may burn the whole planet through a nuclear war.
Source: http://failedevolution.blogspot.gr/2017/01/why-trump-may-already-be-playing-evil.html


Trump Administration Looks at Driving Wedge Between Russia and Iran


Officials say strategy marries president’s vows to improve relations with Putin and to aggressively challenge Iran’s military presence in Middle East
The Trump administration is exploring ways to break Russia’s military and diplomatic alliance with Iran in a bid to both end the Syrian conflict and bolster the fight against Islamic State, said senior administration, European and Arab officials involved in the policy discussions. The emerging strategy seeks to reconcile President Donald Trump’s seemingly contradictory vows to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to aggressively challenge the military presence of Iran—one of Moscow’s most critical allies—in the Middle East, these officials say. A senior administration official said the White House doesn’t have any illusions about Russia or see Mr. Putin as a “choir boy,” despite further conciliatory statements from Mr. Trump about the Russian leader over the weekend. But the official said that the administration doesn’t view Russia as the same existential threat that the Soviet Union posed to the U.S. during the Cold War and that Mr. Trump was committed to constraining Iran.
“If there’s a wedge to be driven between Russia and Iran, we’re willing to explore that,” the official said.
Such a strategy doesn’t entirely explain the mixed signals Mr. Trump and his circle have sent regarding Moscow, which have unnerved U.S. allies and caught Republican leaders in Congress off guard. Days after the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said a surge in violence in eastern Ukraine demanded “clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions,” Vice President Mike Pence suggested Sunday that Washington could lift sanctions on Moscow soon if it cooperated in the U.S. fight against Islamic State. Mr. Trump himself spoke again about wanting to mend relations with Mr. Putin in an interview that aired before Sunday’s Super Bowl, saying “it’s better to get along with Russia than not.” After Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said Mr. Putin was a “killer,” the president responded: “What, you think our country’s so innocent?” But those involved in the latest policy discussions argue there is a specific focus on trying to drive a wedge between Russia and Iran.
“There’s daylight between Russia and Iran for sure,” said a senior European official who has held discussions with Mr. Trump’s National Security Council staff in recent weeks. “What’s unclear is what Putin would demand in return for weakening the alliance.”
But persuading Mr. Putin to break with Tehran would be immensely difficult and—a number of Russian experts in Washington say—come at a heavy cost likely to reverberate across America’s alliances with its Western partners. Nor would Mr. Trump be the first U.S. president to pursue the strategy: The Obama administration spent years trying to coax Russia away from Iran, particularly in Syria, only to see the two countries intensify their military operations there to bolster the Damascus regime. “If the Kremlin is to reduce its arms supplies to Iran, it is likely to expect a significant easing of sanctions,” said Dimitri Simes, a Russia expert and president of the Center for the National Interest in Washington. “The Russians don’t believe in free lunches.” The Kremlin has said it aims to mend ties with the U.S. under the Trump administration but in recent months has also signaled its intent to continue to build on its cooperation with Iran. Moscow and Tehran have formed a tight military alliance in Syria in recent years. The Kremlin is a major supplier of weapons systems and nuclear equipment to Iran. But the Trump administration is seeking to exploit what senior U.S., European and Arab officials see as potential divisions between Russia and Iran over their future strategy in Syria and the broader Mideast.
“The issue is whether Putin is prepared to abandon [Ayatollah] Khamenei,” said Michael Ledeen, an academic who advised National Security Council Advisor Michael Flynn during the transition and co-wrote a book with him last year. “I think that might be possible if he is convinced we will ‘take care’ of Iran. I doubt he believes that today.”
Russia, Iran and Turkey have been leading talks in Kazakhstan in recent weeks to try to end Syria’s six-year war. Participants in the discussions, which have excluded high-level U.S. diplomats, said Russia has appeared significantly more open than the Iranians to discussing a future without President Bashar al-Assad. A Russian-backed faction in the talks has promoted the creation of a new Syrian constitution and a gradual transition away from Mr. Assad. Moscow has pressed the Trump administration to join the talks at a high-level, an invitation not extended while President Barack Obama was in office. Last week, the administration sent only a lower-level official, its ambassador to Kazakhstan. Mr. Putin largely has succeeded in saving the regime of Mr. Assad from collapse through a brutal air war in Syria over the past 18 months. But the Kremlin is interested in fortifying its long-term military presence in Syria and doesn’t necessarily view Mr. Assad as an enduring partner, these officials said. Iran, conversely, is wholly wedded to Mr. Assad as its primary partner for shipping weapons and funds to Iran’s military proxies in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, including Hezbollah and Hamas. Any future Arab leader in Syria, even one close to Mr. Assad, is unlikely to tie his position so closely to Tehran.
“Russia is fully aware of the corruption and incompetence of the Assad regime…[and] knows that a stable Syria—a country worth having military bases in the long term—is unattainable with Assad at the helm,” said Fred Hof, a former State Department official who oversaw Syria policy during President Obama’s first term. He added: “Tehran knows there is no Syrian constituency beyond Assad accepting subordination to [Iran].”
The Obama administration also pursued a strategy of trying to woo Russia away from Tehran. During his first term, Mr. Obama succeeded in getting then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to support tough United Nations sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities. Moscow also delayed the delivery of antimissile batteries to Tehran, sparking a diplomatic row between the countries.
In return, the Obama White House rolled back missile-defense deployments in Europe that Russia believed weakened its strategic position. Tensions between Russia and the U.S. flared, though, after Mr. Putin regained the presidency in 2012 and seized the Crimean region of Ukraine in 2014. The U.S. and European Union responded with tough financial sanctions on Mr. Putin’s inner circle. A number of Russia experts in Washington say they believe Mr. Putin would demand a heavy price now for any move to distance himself from Iran. In addition to easing sanctions, they believe he would want assurances that the U.S. would scale back its criticism of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine and stall further expansion of North Atlantic Treaty Organization membership for countries near the Russian border. Montenegro is scheduled to join NATO this year. The U.S. Senate still needs to vote to approve the bid.
In a report released Friday, the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, cautioned that even if Moscow were to distance itself from Tehran, it wouldn’t contain the enormous influence that Iran wields over Syria’s economic, military, and political institutions. “Any U.S. effort to subvert Iran’s posture in Syria through Russia will undoubtedly end in failure,” the assessment said. Russia delivered its S-300 antimissile system to Iran after Tehran, the U.S. and five other world powers implemented a landmark nuclear agreement a year ago. The Kremlin since has talked of further expanding its military and nuclear cooperation with Tehran. Mr. Trump, though, campaigned on improving relations with Moscow, a theme that Mr. Putin has publicly embraced. Mr. Trump has suggested he could ease sanctions on Russia if the Kremlin took serious steps to cooperate in fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and addressing other national security threats to the U.S. Mr. Trump and his advisers have made clear since assuming office that constraining Iran would be among their top priorities. They have also privately acknowledged there is no certainty the Kremlin will cooperate.
Last week, the administration declared Iran “on notice” and the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 25 Iran-linked individuals and entities for their alleged roles in aiding Iran’s ballistic missile program and terrorist activities. The Pentagon also dispatched a naval destroyer, the USS Cole, last week to police the waters around Yemen. The Trump administration’s show of force has raised concerns that the U.S. and Iran could stumble into a military conflict. But officials close to the Trump administration said they believed the White House could gain the respect of the Kremlin if it showed a commitment to enforcing its warnings to other governments. “Iran has a continuing operation throughout the region…that is not sustainable, not acceptable, and violates norms and creates instability,” a senior U.S. official said on Friday. “Iran has to determine its response to our actions. Iran has a choice to make.”
Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-looks-at-driving-wedge-between-russia-and-iran-1486342035
 Can Trump Break Up the Russian-Iranian Alliance?

Russia and Iran are currently engaged in unprecedented cooperation. Never in 500 years has the leadership of the two countries been so close. Despite deeply rooted mistrust and a long history as rivals, a number of common interests have brought Russia and Iran together. First among them is the mutual geostrategic goal of zero-sum opposition to the West, especially the United States. Russian-Iranian cooperation may be short-lived. But in the meantime it can inflict lasting damage to U.S. interests. It is going to be difficult to drive a wedge between Russia and Iran in the short-term, but there are certain things the new Trump administration could do to that end. To understand the close ties between Russia and Iran, it's important to understand the complicated history between the two countries.

The Grand Duchy of Muscovy, the precursor of the modern Russian state, and Iran, then called Persia, opened official relations in 1521. Trade was the main reason for the relationship; both countries looked down on each other as inferior, and thus gave little thought to expanding ties. Tsarist Russia, which succeeded the Muscovy in 1547, and then the Russian Empire that Peter the Great proclaimed in 1721, soon began to expand south and southeast into Central Asia and the Caucasus. This is when Russian and Persian interests first clashed. In 1796, Catherine the Great sent troops into the Iranian North Caucasus, and only her death that year may have prevented a full-scale Russian invasion.

In the 19th century, Russia and Iran fought two wars, in 1804-1813 and 1826-1828. Iran lost both and ceded to Russia parts of what are now Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, and Turkmenistan. The wars took a serious financial toll on Iran and anti-Russian sentiment rose on both religious grounds and resentment of the high cost of the war effort. In February 1829, a mob murdered Russian ambassador Alexander Griboyedov with his staff in Tehran. Griboyedov had helped negotiate the Treaty of Turkmenchay, which ended the war in 1828 on what the Iranians saw as humiliating terms. A Russian envoy would not be murdered by foreign nationals in a foreign country again until 2016.

Despite these tensions, commercial and political interests brought Russia and Iran together in the early 1900s. The Kremlin wanted to pull Iran into its sphere of influence and the Iranian shah needed money, which he began borrowing from Russia either at exorbitant rates or with political strings attached. The Iranian public, of course, bore the cost. This opened a rift between the Iranian government's attitude toward Russia and that of its people -- one that remains to this day.

After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Soviet forces sponsored separatist movements in Iranian territory, first in the northern Iranian province of Gilan on the Caspian Sea and later in both Iranian Azerbaijan and Kurdistan. In 1946, Soviet leader Josef Stalin sparked the first real crisis of the Cold War when he briefly refused to withdraw the Red Army from Iran in 1946. To this day, Iranians speak resentfully of the Soviet occupation. Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini disdained both the U.S. and the Soviet Union. His defining slogan was "Neither East nor West but Islamic Republic."

While the Iranian public remained distrustful of Russia, with the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, as well as Khomeini's death and the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, some Iranian officials sought to improve ties with Moscow on pragmatic grounds. Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani even traveled to Moscow. But the Kremlin worried that Iran might export its radical ideology to Russia's large Muslim population or foment unrest in the Caucasus and Central Asia in order to influence Moscow -- after all, this is the traditional Kremlin approach. Yet Tehran sided with Moscow during Chechnya's separatist struggles in the early 1990s. Iran also helped Moscow end Tajikistan's 1992-1997 civil war. By the end of the '90s, despite remaining differences, Russia had emerged as Iran's main conventional arms supplier and began assisting in its nuclear program.

When Vladimir Putin rose to power in Russia in 2000, he began the process of returning to the Middle East. To do so, he worked with everyone in the region, friend and foe alike. Russia's relationship with Iran was part of this effort.

The strategy grew out of Putin's antagonism toward the West and its democratic values. He viewed Russia's foreign policy as a zero-sum game against the West and acted accordingly. He had several reasons to pursue improved ties with Iran, but his desire to reduce Western influence and pull Iran closer to Russia overrode all others. As Prof. Mark Katz of George Mason University wrote, Putin worried that then-Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's "dialogue of civilizations" would bring Iran closer to the U.S. -- and thus out of Russia's sphere of influence.

In October 2000, soon after taking office, Putin publicly repealed the 1995 Gore-Chernomyrdin pact, which limited Russia's sale of conventional arms to Iran. Press reports indicated that in practice the agreement gave Russia "a free pass to sell conventional weapons to Iran" until 1999, but the public cancellation of the deal sent a message that Putin wanted closer cooperation with the Islamic Republic.

Putin also sought to improve ties with Iran for economic reasons. Iran was a lucrative market for Russia's military and the arms trade and nuclear cooperation continued to expand. In addition, the two countries shared a strong opposition to Sunni Islamism. A tough stance against terrorism helped propel Putin into power in March 2000 after a series of apartment bombings shook Moscow and several other cities in September 1999. Putin immediately blamed the Chechens and declared a second war on Chechnya, though much evidence suggests Putin and his main intelligence service, the FSB, may have orchestrated the attacks. In any case, Moscow's human rights abuses in the first Chechen war had already transformed the secular Chechen separatist cause into a radical Islamist one.

The majority of Russia's Muslims are Sunni and countering Sunni extremism was among Putin's official policies from the very beginning. Shia Iran shared this concern. Indeed, Russian experts and officials claim that Iran is a potentially "secular" force that can help counter Sunni Islamism. This has led to a double standard on Sunni versus Shia terrorism. In February 2003, for example, Russia's Supreme Court declared the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, while Shia Hezbollah received no such designation. Though in practice Putin was just as willing to work with Sunni Islamists as anyone else, he took a different stance domestically.

Of course, difficulties remained in the Russia-Iran relationship. Since 2006, Moscow has sought to dilute sanctions against Iran. For its part, Iran would have preferred Russia did not support sanctions at all. Tehran also felt snubbed when, under pressure from the U.S. and Israel, Moscow froze the sale of S-300 air defense missiles to Iran in 2010.

In 2013, however, Russian-Iranian cooperation rose to an entirely new level as the two countries' political interests converged more than ever before.

In 2012, Putin began a third presidential term amidst massive protests against him and his United Russia party. Putin launched a domestic crackdown and blamed the U.S. State Department for "giving a signal" to protestors to take to the streets. He could not even fathom the possibility that people could protest independently. Fear that domestic protest can break out anywhere, anytime now guides much of his domestic policy, which goes hand-in-hand with his foreign policy. In Russia the line between the two is blurred to a degree that is hard to imagine in the West.

Putin believes that the West is behind all protests in the post-Soviet sphere and the Middle East, and that he is next. This is one of the main reasons why he has supported the Assad regime in Syria at all costs. This in turn brought Moscow especially close to Tehran. Putin believes he is in a stronger position to confront the West in the Middle East if he is allied with Iran.

Russia also emerged as a strong voice in the P5+1 group that negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran, especially in the context of Western retreat from the Middle East. Putin pursued his own self-interest in regard to the talks: A deal with Iran would open more possibilities for cooperation. On the one hand, Russia would prefer a non-nuclear Iran; it hardly needed convincing to participate in talks to curb Tehran's nuclear program. On the other hand, Moscow felt less threatened by the program than the West, and ultimately puts its desire to counter the West above all. It may make little sense from a Western perspective, but Moscow often ignores real threats and elevates imaginary ones -- hence its obsession with a perceived threat from NATO.

Russia and Iran also shared a concern about the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan following President Obama's plans to draw down U.S. troops by 2014. Ironically, Putin wanted the U.S. to remain in Afghanistan more than the U.S. wanted to -- albeit on Putin's terms. Russia and Iran were impacted by narcotrafficking coming out of Afghanistan and viewed the Taliban, which is traditionally both anti-Shia and anti-Russian, as a potential enemy.

In spring 2013, according to Russian sources, Russian and Iranian officials discussed the idea of Tehran joining the Moscow-led Eurasian Customs Union at a seminar in Tehran titled "Iran and Regional Cooperation in Eurasia." Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi attended the event and reportedly spoke of Iran's usefulness to the development and expansion of Eurasianism -- Putin's alternative vision to Western liberalism. The Customs Union in particular, and the Eurasian Economic Union that followed it in 2014, are part of Putin's effort to counterbalance the European Union. This may have been just talk, but that the conversation took place at all is significant. Putin never offered to allow any Arab country to join the Customs Union, and Iran was never part of the Soviet Union, as were the other member countries.

In March 2014, Moscow annexed Crimea and began destabilizing activities in Eastern Ukraine. The U.S. and Europe imposed sanctions on Russia in response. U.S.-Russian relations plunged to the lowest levels since the Cold War, intensifying Putin's need for anti-Western allies. Iran fit that role perfectly. That America's allies are traditionally Sunni only adds to Iran's appeal.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Iran in January 2015 and Putin visited in November -- the first such visits in at least a decade. After they met, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei praised Putin for "neutralizing Washington's plots." Putin again brought up the issue of Iranian cooperation with the Customs Union, offered a $5 billion line of credit, and discussed expansion of bilateral trade. He also highlighted Iran's positive role as a "trustworthy and reliable ally," demonstrating once again his true priority of pulling Iran into his sphere of influence. Indeed, Russian Middle East expert Georgiy Mirsky wrote in his blog on the liberal website Echo Moskvy, "Several years ago, I heard from the lips of one MIA [Ministry of Internal Affairs] employee such reasoning: 'For us, a pro-American Iran is worse than a nuclear Iran.'" Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have met several times since 2015, as have their ministers and aides. Subsequent high-level meetings followed and are now almost routine.

As negotiations on the nuclear deal gained traction, the Kremlin highlighted Russia's indispensable role in them. When the agreement was signed in July 2015, Putin praised the deal and emphasized Russia's participation in the process, while the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted that the accord was "based on the approach articulated by President Vladimir Putin." The ink had barely dried on the accord when Putin lifted the freeze on the S-300 sale and deliveries began in April 2015, despite Israel's concerns. In June 2016, Putin called for Iran's admission to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, something -- just as with the Customs Union -- he had never done for any Arab state.

In August 2016, Moscow took the world -- and many in Iran -- by surprise when it reportedly used Iran's Hamadan airbase to bomb targets in Syria. The last time a foreign power had based itself in Iran was during World War II. Russian media was awash with praise for Russia-Iran anti-terrorism cooperation. In the context of public outrage in Iran, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan accused Moscow of "ungentlemanly" behavior for publicizing its use of the base. Nonetheless, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said only days afterwards that "The flights [of Russian warplanes] haven't been suspended. Iran and Russia are allies in the fight against terrorism," though the Hamedan air base, he claimed, was only "used for refueling."

The following month, Putin said that it would be "just" if Iran reached pre-sanctions level of oil production. In November, he began discussing a $10 billion arms deal. In late December, discussions on Iranian admission to the Customs Union continued. A number of Russian sources reported that Iran hopes to move closer to the Union and benefit from free trade with its members. In the same month, Rouhani travelled to Armenia -- a Customs Union member -- ostensibly to improve ties, and signed a number of agreements. It was Rouhani's first visit to Armenia as president. The traditionally more liberal-oriented press outlet Nezavisimaya Gazeta suggested that Armenia might tie Iran to the Customs Union. While it remains unclear whether this will happen, it is significant that the issue remains on the table.

When it comes to the Iranian view of Russia, sources report that the two countries agree on terrorism-related issues and Iran sees Russia's policies in Syria as "wise." Recently, Russian press outlet Izvestiya wrote that, reflecting on the past year, it was Russia that always spoke out for lifting sanctions and maintained dialogue with Tehran. Iranian cinema made its way into Europe, the article claims, because it was widely shown at Russian film festivals. The article concludes, "Dialogue between the two countries has not been interrupted even for a minute. And it is this fact that gives reason for optimism -- whatever the complexities may be, Russia and Iran will find a reason for friendship."

At the moment, it is going to be difficult to drive a wedge between Russia and Iran. Too many interests hold them together and they are likely to continue to put historical mistrust aside even as Tehran's persistent and historically-justified fears that Moscow will throw Iran under the bus continue to undermine the relationship.

From Moscow's perspective, the U.S. has been and will continue to be an enemy, no matter how hard any U.S. president tries to improve relations. Putin needs the U.S. as an enemy to justify domestic problems at home and he sees the current geopolitical order, anchored by the U.S., as disadvantaging him. Nothing short of a rearrangement of that order will satisfy Putin. Nobel Prize-winning author and journalist Svetlana Alexievich observed in October 2015 that Russians "are people of war. We don't have any other history. Either we were preparing for war or we were fighting one. And so all of this militarism has pushed all of our psychological buttons at once." Putin needs allies who share this worldview.

President Trump expressed two contradictory policies during his campaign: being tough on Iran and improving relations with Russia. These two goals are incompatible because Putin wants a partnership with Trump in Syria, but Syria is where Putin is most closely allied with Iran. In order to push Iran and Russia apart, Trump needs to resolve this contradiction. The recent Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan only brought Russia and Iran closer together, if anything, given their pledge to fight "jointly" against ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. This development will also make it even more difficult for Trump to ally with Russia on Syria.

So far, Putin has succeeded in balancing Israeli and Sunni interests with its growing relationship with Iran. But it is unclear how long Putin can sustain this policy. Certainly, Putin did not hesitate to discount Israel's interests when it came to selling S-300 weapons to Iran. Indeed, it is not in Israel's interest for Putin to continue supporting Bashar al-Assad and thereby expand Iran's influence in the Middle East. The Trump administration could encourage and support U.S. allies like Israel in order to make it more difficult for Putin to maintain his balance of good relations with all sides. It should also step up security cooperation with its allies to demonstrate that it is still committed to the region.

In the long term, Russia and Iran diverge somewhat on Syria. Iran perceives Syria as within its sphere of influence, which is not very different from how Putin views the former Soviet Union countries that he does not consider real states. Iran is interested in exacerbating sectarian divisions in Syria so that the Assad regime becomes an Iranian client-state with no independent decision-making. Iran is also closer to Assad himself than Putin, who simply wants Assad or someone else like him to ensure his interests in Syria. He cares more about how he can leverage Syria in his relations with the West than Syria itself. At the same time, Putin also increasingly perceives the Middle East as falling within the Russian sphere of influence, albeit differently than Iran. Historically, Moscow always looked for buffer zones out of its sense of insecurity, and this is precisely how it feels now.

The Trump administration could emphasize to Putin that Russian and Iranian interests in Syria are bound to clash in the future, and therefore an alliance with Iran can only go so far. But most of all, the U.S. needs to be present in the region and regain its leadership position. Putin preys on weakness and has perceived the U.S. as weak for years. He stepped into a vacuum in the Middle East, especially in Syria, that was created by America's absence. By taking an active role in the region, the U.S. would limit Putin's influence, including his alliance with Iran.

Source: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/can-trump-break-up-the-russian-iranian-alliance
Is Trump trying to drive a wedge between Russia and China?

Is the Trump administration embarked on a foreign policy of driving a strategic wedge between Russia, China, and Iran? Given the precedent set by the Nixon-Kissinger strategy of the 1970s vis-à-vis Russia and China, the question is pertinent. Trump’s foreign policy since he assumed office can be boiled down to the simple, if not simplistic, proposition of peace with Russia and conflict with China and Iran. The problem with such a policy, of course, is that any conflict with China or Iran will make peace with Russia hard to achieve given that both are longstanding allies and partners of Moscow, and therefore would place Russia in a difficult position. Regardless, there are those who continue to project faith in Trump based on nothing more concrete than the fact he isn’t Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. This is political illiteracy of the most basic sort, especially in light of the maiden speech of the new president’s Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, to the Security Council over the resumption of conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The United States continues to condemn and calls for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea,” Haley said. “Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.
They are words that could have been lifted verbatim from any number of speeches delivered to the UN Security Council by Haley’s predecessor, Samantha Power. They reveal the Trump administration is intent on continuing the lie that Crimea was ripped from Ukraine against the will of the overwhelming majority of its citizens, and that the Ukrainian government in Kiev has legal authority over those who refuse to accept the legitimacy of the coup, backed by the US and its European allies, which brought it to power in 2014.
Turning to China, the school of thought which contends that Trump is merely setting out a hard bargaining position to reboot trade relations between Beijing and Washington on terms more favorable to the latter is delusional. It is a position that fails to take into account that China is currently preparing for the possibility of military conflict against the US in the near future. Understandably so given Trump’s saber rattling over the ongoing territorial dispute in the South China Sea, and understandably so given Trump’s statement that the One China Policy, under which Washington accepts Beijing’s strongly held position that Taiwan is a breakaway province of China rather than an independent state, may be up for negotiation. Predictably, the prospect has gone down like the proverbial lead balloon in the Chinese capital. East Asia, before Trump’s election, was already a region where tensions had been intensifying in recent years, reflected in a sharp increase in spending on defense by China and Japan, along with Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.
When it comes to Trump’s claim that China is guilty of currency manipulation, it is evident he is living in an upside down world. How has the United States been able to maintain an economic model supported by otherwise unsustainable debt and hyper-consumption if not for the manipulation of its currency? Indeed if it was not for the US dollar’s status as the world’s dominant international reserve currency, and if not for China being willing to buy so many of them, the US economy would have collapsed way before now. Yes, the US has been China’s biggest export market over the years, but the relatively low cost of Chinese imports has helped keep the cost of living down for Americans, especially during the worst years of the global recession, thus enabling them to continue the hyper level of consumption that is key to the US economy.
Rather than devaluing its currency, China has been doing precisely the opposite, offloading US Treasury Bonds over the past year to increase the value of its currency, the yuan, against the dollar. Whether Beijing’s motives in doing so are entirely economic, or if there is a strategic motive involved, given that the US economy is vulnerable in this regard, this is hard to say with certitude. But considering the ongoing territorial dispute, previously mentioned, and China’s growing concern over the build-up of US naval resources in the region, it would be naïve to discount one. When it comes to Iran, the Trump administration is determined to join with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in placing pressure on a country that has been a solid pole of opposition to both Israeli expansionism and US hegemony in the region over many years. Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, recently threatened Iran in response to a missile test that was undertaken, accusing the country of engaging in “destabilizing behavior across the Middle East.”
It is utter nonsense. The states in the region that are most guilty of “destabilizing behavior” are Israel and Saudi Arabia, both longstanding allies of Washington, whose consistent rattling of sabers toward Tehran is the real cause of rising tensions. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen are an offense to any conception of legality or justice, yet in response, Washington continues to turn a blind eye. Michael Flynn, it should be noted, had already been labeled an Islamophobe prior to being appointed Trump’s National Security Advisor. In a video of a speech he gave last year, the National Security Advisor described Islam as a “malignant cancer.”
His ignorance in this regard is both astounding and horrifying, especially when we consider Washington’s role in slaughtering and destroying the lives of millions of Muslims in recent years, its role in destroying Iraq, Libya, and turning the entire region into a mess. The Salafi-jihadist menace that erupted in response has killed more Muslims than members of any other religious or cultural group, and it is Muslims who have been doing the bulk of the fighting on the ground in resistance to it – specifically the Muslim-majority Iraqi Army, Syrian Army, Iranian volunteers, Hezbollah, Kurds, and so on. President Trump’s first few weeks in office have provided enough evidence that it is far too soon to place faith in him ending a Washington foreign policy predicated on US exceptionalism.
Returning to the question posed in the opening chapter, what Russia has to consider when it comes to the foreign policy of the Trump administration at this early stage is the high probability of it being driven by the desire to weaken or indeed split the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), of which Russia and China are founding members. The Nixon-Kissinger strategy of the early 1970s resulted in the United States normalizing relations with China to capitalize on the Sino-Soviet split, thus driving a wedge between both to Washington’s strategic advantage. Back then the strategy worked superbly from Washington’s point of view. Allowing it to do so a second time, and this time allowing the US to normalize relations with Moscow at the expense of Beijing, would constitute a historical blunder of monumental proportions from the standpoint not only of China but also Russia.
Source: https://www.rt.com/op-edge/376480-trump-china-iran-russia/

Kissinger to Advise Trump on Bridging Gaps With Russia to offset China

Former US State Secretary Henry Kissinger has a plan on how to reconcile Moscow and Washington that is of interest to US President-elect Donald Trump, a secret report seen by German media shows. The analysis of information, obtained by western European intelligence from Trump’s transition team and cited by the Bild newspaper, revealed Monday the White House would go for a "constructive cooperation" with the Kremlin. Kissinger has reportedly met with Trump several times in the past couple of months and is rumored to be his informal foreign policy adviser. The veteran diplomat, who served as secretary of state under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, has spelled out how to bring the United States and Russia closer together to offset China’s military buildup. Some of the steps include recognizing Russia’s dominance in former Soviet republics, such as Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Kazakhstan, as well as closing the eyes on Crimea and lifting sanctions from Russia in exchange for its pullout from eastern Ukraine, where it allegedly has troops. US-Russian relations deteriorated under President Barack Obama. During his election campaign, Trump repeatedly pledged to undo Obama’s legacy and mend ties with Moscow. He is to be sworn in as president on January 20.
Source: https://sputniknews.com/politics/201612271049024500-kissinger-trump-russia/
Paul Craig Roberts: What is Henry Kissinger Up To?


The English language Russian news agency, Sputnik, reports that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is advising US president-elect Donald Trump how to “bring the United States and Russia closer together to offset China’s military buildup.” If we take this report at face value, it tells us that Kissinger, an old cold warrior, is working to use Trump’s commitment to better relations with Russia in order to separate Russia from its strategic alliance with China.

China’s military buildup is a response to US provocations against China and US claims to the South China Sea as an area of US national interests. China does not intend to attack the US and certainly not Russia. Kissinger, who was my colleague at the Center for Strategic and International studies for a dozen years, is aware of the pro-American elites inside Russia, and he is at work creating for them a “China threat” that they can use in their effort to lead Russia into the arms of the West. If this effort is successful, Russia’s sovereignty will be eroded exactly as has the sovereignty of every other country allied with the US.

At President Putin’s last press conference, journalist Marat Sagadatov asked if Russia wasn’t already subject to forms of foreign semi-domination: “Our economy, industry, ministries and agencies often follow the rules laid down by international organizations and are managed by consulting companies. Even our defense enterprises have foreign consulting firms auditing them.” The journalist asked, “if it is not time to do some import substitution in this area too?”

Every Russian needs to understand that being part of the West means living by Washington’s rules. The only country in the Western Alliance that has an independent foreign and economic policy is the US.  All of us need to understand that although Trump has been elected president, the neoconservatives remain dominant in US foreign policy, and their commitment to the hegemony of the US as the uni-power remains as strong as ever. The neoconservative ideology has been institutionalized in parts of the CIA, State Department and Pentagon. The neoconservatives retain their influence in media, think tanks, university faculties, foundations, and in the Council on Foreign Relations.

We also need to understand that Trump revels in the role of tough guy and will say things that can be misinterpreted as my friend, Finian Cunningham, whose columns I read, usually with appreciation, might have done.

I do not know that Trump will prevail over the vast neoconservative conspiracy. However, it seems clear enough that he is serious about reducing the tensions with Russia that have been building since President Clinton violated the George H. W. Bush administration’s promise that NATO would not expand one inch to the East. Unless Trump were serious, there is no reason for him to announce Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as his choice for Secretary of State. In 2013 Mr. Tillerson was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship.

As Professor Michel Chossudovsky has pointed out, a global corporation such as Exxon has interests different from those of the US military/security complex. The military/security complex needs a powerful threat, such as the former “Soviet threat” which has been transformed into the “Russian threat,” in order to justify its hold on an annual budget of approximately one trillion dollars. In contrast, Exxon wants to be part of the Russian energy business. Therefore, as Secretary of State, Tillerson is motivated to achieve good relations between the US and Russia, whereas for the military/security complex good relations undermine the orchestrated fear on which the military/security budget rests.

Clearly, the military/security complex and the neoconservatives see Trump and Tillerson as threats, which is why the neoconservatives and the armaments tycoons so strongly opposed Trump and why CIA Director John Brennan made wild and unsupported accusations of Russian interference in the US presidential election.

The lines are drawn. The next test will be whether Trump can obtain Senate confirmation of his choice of Tillerson as Secretary of State. The myth is widespread that President Reagan won the cold war by breaking the Soviet Union financially with an arms race. As one who was involved in Reagan’s effort to end the cold war, I find myself yet again correcting the record. Reagan never spoke of winning the cold war. He spoke of ending it. Other officials in his government have said the same thing, and Pat Buchanan can verify it.

Reagan wanted to end the Cold War, not win it. He spoke of those “godawful” nuclear weapons. He thought the Soviet economy was in too much difficulty to compete in an arms race. He thought that if he could first cure the stagflation that afflicted the US economy, he could force the Soviets to the negotiating table by going through the motion of launching an arms race. “Star wars” was mainly hype. (Whether or nor the Soviets believed the arms race threat, the American leftwing clearly did and has never got over it.)

Reagan had no intention of dominating the Soviet Union or collapsing it. Unlike Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama, he was not controlled by neoconservatives. Reagan fired and prosecuted the neoconservatives in his administration when they operated behind his back and broke the law.

The Soviet Union did not collapse because of Reagan’s determination to end the Cold War. The Soviet collapse was the work of hardline communists, who believed that Gorbachev was loosening the Communist Party’s hold so quickly that Gorbachev was a threat to the existence of the Soviet Union and placed him under house arrest. It was the hardline communist coup against Gorbachev that led to the rise of Yeltsin. No one expected the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The US military/security complex did not want Reagan to end the Cold War, as the Cold War was the foundation of profit and power for the complex. The CIA told Reagan that if he renewed the arms race, the Soviets would win, because the Soviets controlled investment and could allocate a larger share of the economy to the military than Reagan could.

Reagan did not believe the CIA’s claim that the Soviet Union could prevail in an arms race. He formed a secret committee and gave the committee the power to investigate the CIA’s claim that the US would lose an arms race with the Soviet Union. The committee concluded that the CIA was protecting its prerogatives. I know this because I was a member of the committee.

American capitalism and the social safety net would function much better without the drain on the budget of the military/security complex. It is more correct to say that the military/security complex wants a major threat, not an actual arms race. Stateless Muslim terrorists are not a sufficient threat for such a massive US military, and the trouble with an actual arms race as opposed to a threat is that the US armaments corporations would have to produce weapons that work instead of cost overruns that boost profits.

The latest US missile ship has twice broken down and had to be towed into port. The F-35 has cost endless money, has a variety of problems and is already outclassed. The Russian missiles are hypersonic. The Russian tanks are superior. The explosive power of the Russian Satan II ICBM is terrifying. The morale of the Russian forces is high. They have not been exhausted from 15 years of fighting without much success pointless wars against women and children. Washington, given the corrupt nature of the US military/security complex, can arms race all it wants without being a danger to Russia or China, much less to the strategic alliance between the two powers.

The neoconservatives are discredited, but they are still a powerful influence on US foreign policy. Until Trump relegates them to the ideological backwaters, Russia and China had best hold on to their strategic alliance. Anyone attempting to break this alliance is a threat to both Russia and China, and to America and to life on earth.
Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-29/paul-craig-roberts-worries-what-henry-kissinger
Trump will try to smash the China-Russia-Iran triangle ... here’s why he will fail


The hand of Henry Kissinger suggests US foreign policy will use a ‘divide and rule’ strategy with Beijing, Moscow and Tehran. But this could backfire, spectacularly
China, Russia and Iran are the three key players in what promises to be the Eurasian Century. Donald Trump may be The Joker; The Fool; The Ace of Spades; the ultimate trickster. What nobody can tell for sure is how this shifty chameleon will seduce, cajole, divide and threaten these three countries in his bid to “Make America Great Again”. Considering the composition of his cabinet, as well as his motormouth twittering, the world according to Trump sees radical Islam as the No 1 threat, followed by Iran, China and Russia. The strategy of Henry Kissinger, Trump’s unofficial foreign policy guru, is a mix of “balance of power” and “divide and rule”. It will consist of seducing Russia away from its strategic partner China; keeping China constantly on a sort of red alert; and targeting Islamic State while continuing to harass Iran.

All this has the potential to backfire splendidly. Even a real “reset” with Russia, of the non-Hillary Clinton kind, is not exactly assured. Trump’s pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, may in fact be a cipher, a privileged ExxonMobil dealmaker, or a Trojan Horse for Kissinger’s views. Tillerson is a trustee of the hardline Centre for Strategic and International Studies think tank, along with Kissinger. So let’s see how Kissinger’s shadowplay might develop on the new geopolitical chessboard. Trump starts out already pitted against America’s vast and powerful intelligence apparatus. The American “deep state” – the military-industrial complex that survives regardless of what political party is in power – requires an existential threat to operate. And that threat, according to the Pentagon, is Russia.

The ever-shifting “war on terror” is dead. The new normal, as demonstrated by the Obama administration, is the second cold war. It all hinges on how – and if – Trump will be able to inflict pain on the US deep state, and how this might affect its “humanitarian” imperialist leanings. Kissinger’s strategy implies having closer relations with Russia, whilst cajoling Moscow to betray its Eurasian ally Iran. Moscow is unlikely to betray Iran, and pursuing that strategy will only exacerbate Trump’s conflict with the deep state.

A Trumpian trade-off though is already on the cards; no more US sanctions on Russia if Moscow and Washington manage a common mechanism to smash Islamic State, as well as a new framework on nuclear disarmament. There’s guarded optimism in Moscow that Trump’s business acumen will eventually lead him to discard counterproductive containment of Russia, freeing it to profit from the real deal across Eurasia: economic integration, via the Beijing-backed One Belt, One Road trade initiative to link economies into a China-centred trading network, and the Eurasian Economic Union. Sensing a credible opening, Moscow has invited the Trump administration – represented by national security adviser Michael Flynn – to join the Syrian peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, alongside Iran, Turkey and the regime of Bashar al-Assad, due to start on Monday, only three days after Trump’s inauguration.

Russia and Iran are working as one in Syria. Russia has actively campaigned to bring Iran into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the regional security group. Bilateral trade – from energy to railways, mining and agriculture – is booming. Russia and Iran are set to ditch the US dollar and use rials and rubles for trade. This means bypassing the usual US weapon of choice: sanctions. Thus, betraying Tehran is out of the question for Moscow.
Trump, for all his rhetoric, cannot renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal signed by the members of the UN Security Council plus Germany in 2015. Tehran has met all its obligations. Trump also cannot fulfil his campaign promise to smash Islamic State, without Iran. Instead of his army of Iranophobic generals, he would do better to listen to the National Iranian American Council in Washington, which really understands Tehran’s stakes in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the volatile Iran-Saudi cold war. And Trump “getting tough” on China will hit a BRICS wall. The next summit between those five leading emerging market economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) is in Xiamen (廈門), southeast China, next autumn, and the hosts will press for further integration.

Trump’s generals will also have to inform him that America cannot afford a war in the South China Sea or the western Pacific, wars it would have no guarantee of winning. Trump’s advisers – even the Sinophobes – must have told him that Taiwan and the South China Sea are Beijing’s top priorities. As Beijing’s foreign ministry put it: “The one-China principle… is non-negotiable.” Then there’s the 45 per cent tariff that might be slapped on Chinese products, and possible import quotas. Chinese scholars have concluded it is the United States that has most to lose in a trade war. After Xi Jinping’s (習近平) masterclass at Davos, is that all there is? Kissinger, 93, had better get back to the drawing board.
Source: http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/2064005/trump-will-try-smash-china-russia-iran-triangle-heres-why-he-will

Trump’s Attempt to Ally with Russia Against China is Equal Parts Racism and Stupidity

Few people today think much about the George W. Bush Administration prior to 9/11. The collective memory of the early Bush presidency is mostly condensed to the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision, followed by not much of interest until the 9/11 attacks. But it’s important to recall that the Bush Administration floundered on foreign policy during its initial year, including an ill-advised staring contest with China after a Chinese pilot collided with an intrusive U.S. spy plane and died, leading to the detainment of 24 U.S. air crew until the Bush Administration finally apologized to China for the incident. Until terrorism rearranged American foreign policy, increased tensions with China were the lead storyline of Republican foreign policy.

Donald Trump is still six days away from his inauguration and already he and the GOP are ramping up aggressive rhetoric against China. During the same Wall Street Journal interview in which he suggested he would be open to lifting sanctions on Russia, Trump also stated that he might revisit the “One-China” policy regarding Taiwan. This, of course, comes on the heels of Trump speaking directly with the President of Taiwan, which is unprecedented in U.S. foreign policy.

Meanwhile, Exxon CEO and Trump’s pick for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during his confirmation hearing that China should be barred from the islands it has created in the South China Sea. Needless to say, China is reacting angrily, warning Trump that the One-China policy is non-negotiable and that attempts to keep China away from its new South China Sea islands would cause a “devastating confrontation” and would lead to a “military clash.”

All of this is sheer madness. The American relationship with China is complex and problematic for many reasons: China’s human rights record is abysmal and its willingness to steal intellectual property is a significant problem for economies banking on an information economy future. But China is also a crucial trading partner, and the American and Chinese economies depend on one another’s good health.

The Trump team is taking a dogmatic oppositional approach based on very simplistic notions of trade and jobs. The number of jobs being “lost to China” is quite low compared to those being lost to automation, the best way to counter offshoring is to punish companies domestically rather than to threaten China, and the most effective avenue to protect intellectual property from Chinese theft is the very sort of trade deals Trump has consistently opposed. Adopting a hostile military and trade war footing with China threatens to plunge the world into an economic depression or even a brutal military and cyberwar conflict.

Moreover, the Trump team and attempting to create an alliance with the mafia state of Russia to box in China, which is woefully stupid. Russia and China have established a close relationship over the last decade, one that Trump is not going to be able to break apart. Taking sides with Russia against China is a fool’s bargain given that Russia is a declining and unpredictable power, while China is a rising and increasingly well-established one. But Trump sees in Putin a leader in the white supremacist isolationist movement, while China represents the Great Other of the globalized economy.

The choice to pick a fight with China while sidling up to Putin’s Russia is equal parts racism and sophomoric economics, and its consequences are likely to be disastrous. But it’s also a continuation of similarly Republican policy going back at least two decades.
Source: washingtonmonthly.com/2017/01/15/trumps-attempt-to-ally-with-russia-against-china-is-equal-parts-racism-and-stupidity/
Is Kissinger’s Triangular Diplomacy the Answer to Sino-Russian Rapprochement?


To prevent a Sino-Russia security alliance, the U.S. should remember the advice of Henry Kissinger
As has been reported extensively in The Diplomat, China and Russia are increasing their military-to-military ties while simultaneously conducting a diplomatic offensive against U.S. security policies in East Asia and elsewhere. Most recently, Diplomat editor Shannon Tiezzi confirmed that China and Russia will conduct joint land and sea exercises in and around the South China Sea in September. While these developments are not indicative of a Sino-Russian security alliance reminiscent of the Sino-Soviet bloc of the 1950s, they nevertheless should cause U.S. policymakers to reflect on diplomatic and policy options for ensuring the preservation of U.S. security interests and a favorable balance of power in the region.

Geographically, Russia and China occupy respectively what classical geopoliticians called the “heartland” and a significant portion of the East Asian “rimland” of the Eurasian landmass. When Mao’s communists took control of the Chinese mainland in October 1949, and subsequently entered into a security alliance with the Soviet Union and its East European empire, geostrategists warned that such a conglomeration of territory and power could upset the global equilibrium. In the early 1950s, the great French writer Raymond Aron in his book The Century of Total War noted ominously that “Russia has in fact nearly achieved the ‘world island’ which [Halford] Mackinder considered the necessary and almost sufficient condition for universal empire.” Similarly, James Burnham in Containment or Liberation? warned that the political consolidation of the Sino-Soviet bloc would result in the communists “complete world victory.” The classified U.S. national security document that served as the doctrinal foundation for the Cold War containment policy—NSC-68—established Eurasian political pluralism as the overarching goal of American foreign policy.

The geopolitical threat posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc gradually receded when the Sino-Soviet split emerged and was successfully exploited by the Nixon administration with its famous “opening” to China. The current Sino-Russian rapprochement should concentrate the minds of U.S. policymakers on diplomacy designed to prevent a full-fledged Sino-Russian security alliance. A good start would be to reflect on the triangular diplomacy pursued by Nixon as explained by his national security advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

“Triangular diplomacy, to be effective,” Kissinger explained in White House Years, the first volume of his memoirs, “must rely on the natural incentives and propensities of the players.” Kissinger explained that the opening to China and détente with the Soviet Union were pursued as parallel policies designed to enable the United States to “maintain closer relations with each side than they did with each other.” It was always better for the United States, he wrote in Years of Upheaval, “to be closer to either Moscow or Peking than either was to the other.” “America’s bargaining position,” he reiterated in his book Diplomacy, “would be strongest when America was closer to both communist giants than either was to the other.” In his most recent book World Order, he again noted that the design of triangular diplomacy was to balance “China against the Soviet Union from a position in which America was closer to each Communist giant than they were to each other.”

Triangular diplomacy avoided undue moralism. Kissinger, quoting Bismarck, wrote that “a sentimental policy knows no reciprocity.” “[P]redictability,” Kissinger continued, “is more crucial than … idiosyncratic moralistic rhetoric.” Moreover, preserving a global balance of power does not lend itself to simple or permanent solutions. Instead, as Kissinger explained in White House Years:
[T]he management of a balance of power is a permanent undertaking, not an exertion that has a foreseeable end. To a great extent it is a psychological phenomenon; if an equality of power is perceived it will not be tested. Calculations must include potential as well as actual power, not only the possession of power but the will to bring it to bear. Management of the balance of power requires perseverance, subtlety, not a little courage, and above all understanding of its requirements. This does not mean that the United States should accommodate Russian aggression in Ukraine or China’s aggressive moves in the South China and East China Seas. As Kissinger recalled in his memoirs, détente with the Soviets did not prevent Nixon from bombing Haiphong Harbor in North Vietnam, opposing Soviet designs in the Indo-Pakistan War, and ordering a nuclear alert to deter Soviet intervention in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Nor did the opening to China forestall continued defense cooperation with Taiwan. Triangular diplomacy as practiced by Nixon and Kissinger did not mean abandoning U.S. security interests or shrinking from confrontation when those interests were challenged.

Eurasia is still the world’s dominant landmass, home to most of the world’s people and resources. The global balance of power still requires that no major power or alliance of powers controls the key power centers of Eurasia. For the United States, having better relations with China and Russia than either has with each other still makes sense in the post-Cold War world.
Source: http://thediplomat.com/2016/08/is-kissingers-triangular-diplomacy-the-answer-to-sino-russian-rapprochement/

Why Trump Can't Break Russia Away From China

The conditions just aren’t right for Kissinger-style triangular diplomacy
The 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine resulted in Western sanctions and strategic pressure that drove Moscow toward greater cooperation with China. Since then, the mercurial Sino-Russian “marriage of convenience” has evolved into a genuine strategic partnership based on overlapping interests, and mutual antipathy toward the United States. Although Russia and China are unlikely to declare a formal alliance, it is not in America’s strategic interests to confront a de facto Sino-Russian entente.

Donald Trump’s election generated hope in some conservative foreign policy circles that U.S. rapprochement with Russia could create distance between Moscow and Beijing. Proponents of rapprochement hearken back to Nixon and Kissinger’s “triangular diplomacy,” which exploited the Sino-Soviet split to achieve an opening to China, and positioned Washington for better relations with both Communist giants than they had with each other. Cato Institute fellow Doug Bandow espouses this viewpoint in a piece entitled “A Nixon Strategy to Break the Russia-China Axis.” He argues that improving relations with Russia “would have the salutary side effect of discouraging creation of a common Russo-Chinese front against the United States.” America’s leading offensive realist, John Mearsheimer, likewise claims that if “Washington had a more positive attitude toward Moscow,” this would engender better relations that would eventually lead Russia to join “the balancing coalition against China.”

Bandow and Mearsheimer’s arguments are based on a realist explanatory model, wherein relations between America, Russia, and China are conceived as a “strategic triangle.” According to this framework, it is logical for Trump to pursue Kissinger-style triangular diplomacy to seek an opening to the weaker power, Russia, in order to balance and attain leverage over the stronger power, China.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

In the current international context, this approach is problematic for several reasons. First, the deep ideological fissures that drove the Soviet Union and China apart during the late 1950s and 1960s are nonexistent today. Furthermore, Sino-Russian geopolitical competition has lessened because Russia, unlike its Soviet predecessor, is a secondary power in Asia. As a result, there is little indication that Trump, despite his rapport with Vladimir Putin, can drive a wedge between Russia and China. Certainly there is room to improve U.S.-Russia relations from their current nadir, which could yield selective cooperation on mutual challenges such as the Islamic State (ISIS). However, there is little indication that achieving the modest improvements in U.S.-Russia relations that are politically and practically feasible would drive Moscow and Beijing apart.

The situation that Nixon confronted in Asia is not analogous to the one Trump deals with today. Unlike China and Russia at present, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) were locked in an intense ideological battle for leadership of the Communist world. As Lorenz M. Lüthi details in his cogent book, The Sino-Soviet Split: Cold War in the Communist World, the Soviet and Chinese Communist parties developed intractable ideological differences in the 1950s over which socialist development model to pursue. Mao Zedong rejected the Khrushchev era model of Bureaucratic Stalinism in favor of a Revolutionary Stalinist model with Chinese characteristics that produced the catastrophic “Great Leap Forward.” Ideological rivalry contributed to an acute security dilemma, particularly after China conducted a successful nuclear test in 1964. The convulsions unleashed by radical Maoism during China’s Cultural Revolution further exacerbated Sino-Soviet enmity and deeply unnerved the Kremlin, which through 1970 deployed approximately 39 divisions along the Sino-Soviet border. The existential threat of war with the Soviet Union drove Mao to seek rapprochement with America.

Realists give short shrift to the role ideological factors play in fostering comity between Russia and China. In contrast to the days of the Sino-Soviet split, ideology is now a unifying factor in relations. Both countries harbor intense authoritarian nationalist opposition to Western and globalist ideologies, but no longer share the common Marxist-Leninist political orientation that produced the divisive ideological schisms of the Cold War. Despite their distinctive brands of authoritarianism (personalist dictatorship versus one-party Leninist state), Putin and China’s ruling Communist Party have similar views of the threat posed by Western “universal values” such as democracy and human rights. They see “foreign influences,” which they believe have penetrated their societies through globalization, the internet/social media, and NGOs, as the primary threat to their domestic grip on power. For China and Russian governing elites, these influences are a Trojan horse designed to spark destabilizing “color revolutions” that produce regime change in “non-Western” (i.e. authoritarian) political systems.

Since the 2011 Arab Spring, Moscow and Beijing’s perception of this threat has only grown, as movements demanding democracy and reform have swept the globe and reached Russia and China’s doorsteps through Ukraine’s 2013-2014 Maidan protests and Hong Kong’s 2014 “Umbrella Revolution.” Western observers often discount Russian and Chinese state media’s obsession with color revolution as authoritarian propaganda. Nonetheless, as long as Russian and Chinese elites operate under the assumption that the West is subverting their political systems and domestic legitimacy, they will be reticent to put much distance between one another.

Russia-China relations today are geopolitically dissimilar to the relationship in the 1960s and ’70s. During that time, Moscow and Beijing saw each other as major security threats. By contrast, Russia and China’s current strategic objectives are much more impeded by the U.S. and its European and Asian allies than they are by one another. China’s core strategic objectives are focused on East Asia, restoring control over Taiwan and favorably settling maritime territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas. Beijing’s primary obstacle is American naval power, and the web of U.S. bilateral alliances (the “hub and spokes” system) with regional powers such as Japan and Australia. The main obstacle to Russia’s efforts to secure spheres of interest on its Eastern European, and South Caucasian peripheries is the U.S.-led NATO alliance. The European Union Institute for Security Studies recently published a study of China-Russia relations containing an interview with a Chinese security expert that epitomizes this shared threat perception: “China feels pressure in the South China Sea, and Russia feels pressure from NATO in the Baltic Sea. Russia faces anti-ballistic missiles systems in Romania and Poland, and China faces the same in South Korea and Japan. While NATO expands to the East, the U.S. is strengthening its military presence in Asia.”

Driven by ideological and geopolitical fear of the West, Russia-China alignment has engendered close collaboration in mutually beneficial areas. Cooperation intensified following Western imposition of sanctions on Russia in 2014. The most high-profile example came in May 2014, when after nearly a decade of negotiations, Moscow finally cut a deal with Beijing to export Siberian gas to China. This followed the 2013 announcement of a joint venture between Russian oil conglomerate Rosneft and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to develop Eastern Siberian oil and gas fields. In the short to medium term, it will take time to overcome economic and logistical challenges to develop stronger energy linkages. However, over the longer term, the deals should prove mutually beneficial. Russia secures Chinese investment and locks in comparatively high prices; China diversifies its energy mix and gains access to new overland energy supplies, which Beijing considers less vulnerable to geopolitical turmoil and blockade than energy imported from the Middle East via maritime routes.

The arms trade provides another example of symbiosis in Russia-China relations. The trade helps Russia ameliorate its biggest weakness — a feeble and energy export-dependent economy — while helping China sustain its ongoing military modernization efforts. Historically, a major impediment to this trade was Chinese reverse-engineering of Russian/Soviet armaments, most notoriously Chinese development of the J-11B fighter, which is “a direct copy of the Su-27, a one-seat fighter that was developed by the Soviets through the 1970s and 1980s as a match for the U.S. F-15 and F-16.” The problem of Chinese reverse-engineering was so severe that Moscow placed an informal ban on exports of high technology military equipment to China in 2004. However, Putin’s recent approval of advanced weaponry sales to China such as the Su-35 fighter and the S-400 Surface-to-Air Missile system indicates the moratorium has been lifted. Notably, both parties agreed not to include technology transfer licenses in these deals, which should reduce the feasibility (and resultant friction) of Chinese reverse engineering. The trade will remain mutually beneficial so long as Russia’s economy leans on arms exports (defense manufacturing employs 2.5-3 million workers, around 20 percent of Russian manufacturing jobs), and China’s military industrial complex remain suboptimal at indigenously producing key technologies such as high performance jet engines and advanced conventional attack submarines. Russia will also increasingly rely on China as a key customer, as India, long the biggest buyer of Soviet/Russian arms, diversifies its suppliers and develops its domestic defense industry. China’s dependence on Russia for advanced military technology is further reinforced by lack of access to European and American technology due to a Western arms embargo on China in place since 1989.

Western observers often highlight the tensions lurking below the surface of Sino-Russian relations, particularly Chinese economic expansion into Central Asia, and Russian arms sales to China’s regional rivals, primarily India and Vietnam. Nonetheless, these sources of friction are manageable, and, furthermore, the United States has limited ability to exploit them. For example, it would not be in U.S. interests for Sino-Russian competition to intensify in Central Asia, as this would contribute to regional instability and hamstring regional cooperation against Islamist extremism. If the U.S. and Europe succeed in breaking Russian dominance of the arms trade with India and Vietnam, this would actually have the effect of reducing a source of tension between Moscow and Beijing.

Since Washington will have difficulty exploiting divisions between China and Russia, it makes little sense to “freeze out” one party and pursue rapprochement with the other in the hopes of achieving the sort of realignment that Nixon pulled off in the early 1970s. This is evidenced by previous President Barack Obama’s experience with Russia and China. Although relations with both Moscow and Beijing became strained under Obama, the U.S.-China relationship, despite a growing rivalry in the Asia-Pacific region, remained more functional. It could even be said that Washington and Beijing have developed a peculiar sort of “special relationship.” This is best exemplified by continuing high-level engagement through the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), an intensive, routinized series of bilateral summits, where American and Chinese leaders engage on an array of international issues. Despite many disagreements, Beijing has a working relationship with Washington, and Moscow does not. As a result, China now occupies the position that Nixon’s America enjoyed during the 1970s: Beijing enjoys closer relations with the two other powers in the strategic triangle than they have with one another.

An effective strategy for Trump to forestall consolidation of a Sino-Russian bloc would be to opt for selective engagement with both Beijing and Moscow. Obviously, engagement would have to be coupled with continued hedging against intensifying security competition with Russia in Europe, and China in Asia. Nevertheless, the Trump administration should also recognize that the shared perception in Beijing and Moscow that Washington aims to subvert and internally weaken its non-democratic rivals is detrimental to relations with both Russia and China, and strengthens Sino-Russian cooperation. Consequently, special efforts should be made to assure Moscow and Beijing that Washington has no interest in interfering in their internal politics. This, rather than tilting toward Moscow, would go a long way toward assuaging the anxiety that Russian and Chinese elites feel about the United States. If Beijing and Moscow begin to see the United States as a normal state with its own interests and goals, rather than a fading hegemon bent on ideological dominance, it would help make triangular diplomacy possible once again.
Source: http://thediplomat.com/2017/02/why-trump-cant-break-russia-away-from-china/
Israel’s influence and the overall probability of a US war with Iran


The Trump administration’s antagonistic approach to Iran is undoubtedly influenced by Trump’s pivot toward Israel. Trump, along with his staunchly pro-Israel vice president, Mike Pence, and “passionate Zionist” chief strategist, Steve Bannon, have made clear their commitment to combining Israel’s geopolitical goals with their own. This commitment, however, was tempered by Trump’s recent about-face on new Israeli settlements in occupied territory.

During a phone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump late last month, Iran was said to have been the major topic as Netanyahu had previously announced that “stopping the Iranian threat” was the state of Israel’s “supreme goal.” The Gulf monarchies also expressed optimism that Trump would take a hard stance against Iran, with some even praising him as the “second coming” of Ronald Reagan in terms of ties between Washington and Tehran.

However, Israel has made it clear that they plan to do more than just contain Iran. Leaked emails revealed that while Israel has more than 200 nuclear warheads pointed at Tehran, Iran has none. This has drawn little international criticism despite the fact Israel has never signed a nuclear non-proliferation treaty and refuses to admit the existence of its nuclear program.

Further, the pro-Israel lobby has been busy exerting its influence in Congress. In early January, Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Florida Democrat, introduced the Authorization of Use of Force Against Iran Resolution. The bill that would authorize the president to launch a “preemptive” war with Iran without congressional approval and without the precondition that Iran would have committed any action that would otherwise warrant a full-scale invasion.

Specifically, the text of the bill states, “The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as the President determines necessary and appropriate in order to achieve the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.” Hastings, it should be noted, has received $332,000 from the pro-Israel lobby over the course of his career, including more than $72,000 in the 2016 election cycle. If passed, the bill would offer the Trump administration a carte blanche for starting a war with Iran.

Despite the aggressive posturing of the Trump administration and U.S. allies in the Middle East, experts and analysts are divided as to whether Trump and his advisors will actually follow through. Sharmine Narwani, commentator and analyst focused on Middle East geopolitics, told MintPress News that Trump and his advisors’ aggressive stance toward Iran is likely to conflict with his stated goal of eradicating Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group commonly known as ISIS or ISIL in the West).

She explained: “Trump has no national security expertise whatsoever. He currently entrusts that vision with his advisors who probably share his views on a few critical subjects. I don’t see Iran as being one of his personal areas of interest. Let him take the advice of his ‘generals.’ He will hit a brick wall and realize that his vision of a defeated ISIS, al-Qaida, and terrorism can never be a reality by crippling the key ground player that can rout them all.

In the end, Trump is a businessman and he will go where there is more ‘bang for his buck.’ He will not find any particular efficiency in a protracted confrontation with Iran. On the contrary, Iran can be the key to delivering him a domestically-popular ‘ISIS defeat.’ He has to choose one and can’t have both.”

However, anti-war activist and author David Swanson told MintPress that Trump’s support base and decades of anti-Iran propaganda have primed much of the America public to readily accept war with Iran. Even the “average anti-Trump U.S. liberal believes all sorts of false horrors about Iran,” Swanson said, noting that this is in addition to the “40 percent of the country that supports him.” These “longstanding bipartisan lies about nukes and aggression, and heightened anti-Islam bigotry, […] all make the U.S. public more ready to accept any case for a war on Iran.” Swanson further noted that Trump is likely to call for a “limited war” if a military approach is ultimately decided upon. However, in practice, a “limited war” is unlikely to remain within its ideal limits for long.

Source: https://www.mintpressnews.com/inevitable-war-iran-decline-us-hegemony/224644/
Is Trump leading the US on a warpath with Iran?


On a spring morning in 2016, a retired four-star general, who was forced out of his job by then-President Barack Obama, spoke before defence and foreign policy experts gathered just blocks from the White House. The 65-year old speaker, with silver hair and puffy eyes, was blunt. For all the dangers al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) pose in the Middle East, he warned that the Iranian regime "is the single most enduring threat to stability and peace". He recalled that as commander of US troops in the Middle East, the first three questions he would ask his subordinates every morning "had to do with Iran and Iran and Iran".

"We only pray, the rest of us outside this town, that someone good is listening here," he told the Washington crowd, as he issued an ominous prediction: "The future is going to be ghastly", and that "the next president is going to inherit a mess".

Nine months later, James Norman Mattis returned to the US capital as defence secretary of President Donald Trump. As the man who oversees the 1.3 million US troops, manages Pentagon's $582.7bn budget, and directs military policy, Mattis has Trump's ear. The US president fondly calls him "Mad Dog Mattis", although the former general refers to himself as "Chaos", his Marine call sign. Supporters said he is best suited for the defence job because of his combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as his "strategic mind". Former US defence chief Robert Gates called him a "warrior-scholar".

But critics said Mattis' fixation with Iran, combined with the president's hostility towards the oil-rich Gulf state, could lead the United States into a replay of Iraq - only this time with a much more "disastrous" consequence to the region. Media reports had suggested it's the same eagerness for confrontation with Iran that prompted Obama to fire Mattis as Central Command chief in 2013, at a time when the US and other world powers were trying to engage Tehran and secure a nuclear deal.

Now Obama is out and Mattis is back. Already, the war of words between the US and Iran has intensified in the first three weeks of Trump's presidency, with Mattis calling Iran "the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world", after Tehran confirmed it tested mid-range ballistic missiles. Trump himself weighed in on the controversy, posting on social media that Iran "is playing with fire", as he ordered new sanctions on 13 Iranian individuals and 12 companies. When asked if a military action is possible, he replied, "Nothing is off the table". In response, Tehran fired more test missiles, with one commander of the Revolutionary Guard warning that "if the enemy falls out of line, our missiles will pour down on them". Iran also warned of "dark days to come" in the case of a military attack.

Saeid Golkar, an Iran expert at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, told Al Jazeera: "Unfortunately, the relationship between America and Iran is getting very dangerous. "I think people in the Trump administration will try to make Iran do something stupid," he said, warning of further US actions, such as more sanctions and support for regime change in Tehran. What is also alarming is the bluster coming from the Trump White House, Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, told Al Jazeera's Nick Clark.

"If you only have the ability to dial it up, but not dial it down, that is what is most worrisome right now because it could, unfortunately, lead to a military confrontation," he said, as he called on US officials to establish direct contact with Iranian officials to ease the tension. So far, none of the senior Trump officials have made any public effort to talk with Tehran. Like Trump and Mattis, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn - a former military spy chief - is known as an anti-Iran hardliner. Following the recent missile tests, Flynn came out swinging, with the headline-grabbing statement that the White House is "putting Iran on notice".


As Trump's campaign advisor in 2016, Flynn had not been shy in expressing his views on Iran, decrying its "consistent bad behaviour", while calling Obama's nuclear deal as "wishful thinking". Flynn also insisted in his Head to Head interview with Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan, that Iran is "intent on having a nuclear weapon", despite proof to the contrary from Iran experts. Trump's chief strategist, Stephen K Bannon, is no different from Flynn. Before joining Trump's campaign, he ran the right-wing website Breitbart, which regularly publishes articles critical of Iran.

As member of Congress, now-CIA chief Mike Pompeo had also advocated bombing Iran's military facilities, calling Iranian officials "serial nuclear cheaters". Amid this backdrop of hostilities, Mohammad Ali Shabani, Iran Pulse editor of Al-Monitor website, said the possibility of a military standoff "seems far-fetched at this point". "One should understand that statements and tweets do not constitute foreign policy," he told Al Jazeera. Shabani said Tehran's "regional strategic depth" and the "complete lack of an international consensus on such a potentially disastrous adventure" should dissuade Trump and his men from going after Iran militarily.


"This is not to mention the domestic US side, where you have a public that is unlikely to stomach another quagmire that would make Iraq and Afghanistan look like a walk in the park," said Shabani.


As for Iran, it is "trying to be a rational actor in foreign policy", and its officials are "very careful not to give excuse" for the US to launch an attack, said Hamid Reza Gholamzadeh, English editor of Tehran-based Mehr News Agency. "The two sides are just testing each other," he told Al Jazeera. "President Trump is trying to bully Iran to take action. Iran is not going to act radically to cause war between the two countries."


But even without military confrontation, Gholamzadeh said Trump's rhetoric and the recent ban on Iranians entering the US have already alienated many Iranians and united them against the new US president. On Friday, hundreds of thousands of Iranians marched nationwide to mark the 38th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and denounce Trump. Meanwhile, Hillary Mann Leverett, Middle East advisor to Presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton, told Al Jazeera's News Hour that there is a "misimpression" among many American strategic planners that because of US military dominance, it can impose its will "wherever it chooses to", including in Iran.


"But what they don't understand, and what has happened over and over again, whether it's Iraq, Afghanistan, even Vietnam, is that we are not there. We are not in Iran. "We don't have much at stake as those who actually live there. So, even a weaker party like Iran, compared to the United States, it has so much more at stake in the Middle East that it can really repel what the US may try to do it."
Source: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/02/trump-leading-warpath-iran-170203105946707.html

The ‘Inevitable’ War Against Iran And The Decline Of US Hegemony


Only three weeks have passed since Trump’s inauguration, and the U.S. is already closer than ever to a full-scale military conflict with Iran
In the United States, war is business and business is war. As the U.S. dominates global weapons exports, accounting for 33% of the entire market, the profits of war for both the private and public sector have guided U.S. foreign policy and military action for much of the past century. Though modern history is rife with examples of the United States using its military to further business interests and vice versa, nowhere has this been more clear than in Iran. Iran was among the first nations to be subjected to covert CIA coups when its democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh was overthrown for his attempts to nationalize Iranian oil in the 1950s.

In a story that’s repeated itself in numerous other countries, Iran’s democracy was replaced with a brutal dictatorial regime that was pro-United States and pro-United Kingdom. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s brutality, largely made possible by the CIA and Israeli Mossad-trained SAVAK military police, targeted the nation’s Muslim population, leading to the rise of religiopolitical movements. Not surprisingly, it was the growth of this movement that led to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which established an Islamic Republic, and the modern age of antagonistic U.S.-Iran relations.

Since 1979, the United States has followed a policy of “containment” regarding Iran. From arming Iraq to enabling the devastating Iran-Iraq war to attempting to sabotage Iran’s nuclear power program, the United States has sought to covertly subvert, weaken, and isolate the nation – frequently through the use of economic sanctions- as opposed to directly engaging it militarily. Yet, as the latest election cycle got started in earnest, it became clear that the winner would be taking a much more direct approach regarding Iran.

While Hillary Clinton was widely considered to be the most hawkish of the two contenders, Donald Trump shared a similarly aggressive, albeit more muted, stance. As far back as 2013, Trump made plain his discontent with the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran and the controversial nuclear accord, the fate of which remains uncertain with Trump as president. Expressing his disdain for the Obama administration’s handling of the situation, Trump forecast, “We will end up going to war with Iran because we have people who don’t know what the hell they are doing.”

Since Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, his tone has changed rapidly. He’s become as hawkish as his rival in last year’s election, and the groundwork for a full-scale military conflict with Iran is being set. A mere three weeks under the leadership of President Trump, and the United States is closer than ever to a full-scale war with Iran. The timing, of course, is no coincidence.

Trump’s stance on Iran quickly became apparent following his “surprise” victory. Among the first signs that Trump was to take a decidedly aggressive position regarding Iran was his nomination of Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis as secretary of Defense. Though Mattis has been praised as a gifted combat commander and clever military strategist, his animosity for Iran is well-documented. In fact, Mattis’ antagonism with the Middle Eastern power alienated him from former President Barack Obama, who ultimately replaced him as Centcom commander as a result.

Another indicator of Trump’s aggressive stance on Iran came in the nomination of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security advisor. Flynn, like Trump and Mattis, was fiercely critical of the Iran nuclear accord. Despite reports from the CIA and Mossad that Iran has no nuclear weapons program nor has it ever been interested in one, Flynn insisted that “Iran has every intention to build a nuclear weapon.”

Yet it was not until Trump’s inauguration that the possibility of a full-scale military conflict with Iran moved closer to becoming reality. Just hours after the inauguration, the White House website announced a “state of the art” missile defense system aimed at “protecting” the United States against an attack from Iran — a country that has not threatened to attack the United States.

The situation escalated further on Jan. 30, when Iran conducted a ballistic missile test, a military program entirely separate from its controversial nuclear program. Though the missile test did not violate the 2015 nuclear accord, Flynn vowed a forceful response to Iran’s “destabilizing behavior across the Middle East” and said the test proved that Iran “continues to threaten U.S. friends and allies and in the region.”

Trump echoed Flynn, announcing via Twitter that, “Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile.” Neither Flynn nor Trump clarified the practical implications of putting Iran “on notice.” Following these remarks, Iran struck a defiant tone, refusing to yield to the Trump administration’s “useless” threats and vowing to conduct more ballistic missile tests.

From there, the situation has continued to devolve. During Thursday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer argued that Iran had previously attacked a U.S. naval vessel — a contention he used to justify the administration’s bellicose “on notice” remarks. However, this attack was carried out by Iranian-supported Yemeni Houthi rebels against a Saudi vessel, a fact Spicer later admitted.

However, Spicer never addressed his false claim that Iran was responsible for the attack even though the alliance between Iran and the Houthis is tenuous at best. The Intercept and other media outlets quickly noted the similarities between Spicer’s statement and incidents that precipitated past military conflicts such as the Gulf of Tonkin and Iraq’s alleged possession of “weapons of mass destruction.”

The eventful week in U.S.-Iran relations would not be complete, of course, without the announcement of fresh sanctions against Iran. On Friday, new sanctions were officially imposed on 13 individuals and 12 entities for reasons ranging from contributing to the ballistic missile program to having alleged ties to terrorism-related activities. Bloomberg reported that Trump said the sanctions were directly related to the recent missile test and that the Islamic Republic is “playing with fire.” While Reuters claimed that these latest sanctions would avoid violating the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, it will likely serve to further “provoke” Iran as the deal’s partial lifting of long-standing sanctions was a major factor in Iran’s approval of the accord. The re-establishment of sanctions could be viewed as provocation, as Iran’s defense minister warned in December, with the potential to trigger an armed conflict.
Source: https://www.mintpressnews.com/inevitable-war-iran-decline-us-hegemony/224644/
Iranian military official warns US: Stay away from Iran's red lines

Iran warned the US on Monday that any attempt to encroach on the Islamic Republic's ballistic missile program would constitute the crossing of a "red line."  "The US calculations about the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation are fully incorrect," Iranian Deputy Chief of Staff Brig-Gen Maassoud Jazzayeri was quoted by the Fars News Agency as saying.

"The White House should know that defense capacities and missile power, specially at the present juncture where plots and threats are galore, is among the Iranian nation's red lines and a backup for the country's national security and we don’t allow anyone to violate it," Jazzayeri said.

Jazzayeri accused US President Barack Obama of making vows and breaking them by saying removal of sanctions on Iran would be conditioned on the Islamic Republic halting its ballistic missile program. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) test-fired two ballistic missiles last month that it said were designed to be able to hit Israel, defying a threat of new sanctions from the United States.

The launches followed the test-firing of several missiles as part of a major military exercise that the IRGC says is intended to "show Iran's deterrent power and... ability to confront any threat". The IRGC fired two Qadr missiles from northern Iran which hit targets in the southeast of the country 1,400 kms (870 miles) away, Iranian agencies said. The nearest point in Iran is around 1,000 km from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

"The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2000 km is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance," Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by the ISNA agency.

Three months ago, Washington imposed sanctions against businesses and individuals linked to Iran's missile program over a test of the medium-range Emad missile carried out in October 2015. The IRGC, a powerful force that reports directly to the supreme leader, is deeply suspicious of the United States and its allies. It maintains dozens of short and medium-range ballistic missiles, the largest stock in the Middle East.

Washington fears those missiles could be used to carry a nuclear warhead at some point in the future, even after Iran implemented a nuclear deal with world powers in January that imposes strict limits and checks on its disputed nuclear program. Iran's missile program is subject to UN Security Council resolution 2231 that calls on the Islamic Republic not to develop missiles designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Iran says its missiles are solely a conventional deterrent.


Source: http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iran-News/Iranian-military-official-warns-US-Stay-away-from-Irans-red-lines-450191
Chinese official warns that war with US under Trump is becoming a reality'

A Chinese military official has warned that war between the US and China is becoming "a practical reality" following the inauguration of President Donald Trump. On January 20, an official from the People's Liberation Army wrote on its official website that the US's "rebalance" in Asia, its deployments to the region, and its push to arm South Korea with the THAAD missile-defense system were provocative "hot spots getting closer to ignition," The South China Morning Post reported Friday.

Before his inauguration, Trump sparked controversy in China when he took a phone call from the president of Taiwan, going against the US's decades-long protocol to respect a "One China" policy. At the time, Chinese officials lodged a complaint with the White House but referred to the call as a "shenanigan by the Taiwan side." But that hasn't put to rest all of China's concerns. "The Taiwan question" is a core interest to the country, which, two PLA authors wrote in December, could push a more aggressive response as the US supports independence for Taiwan and more exports of weaponry.

"We hope that the US will rein in at the brink of the precipice and avoid going farther and farther down the wrong path," the authors wrote on the Chinese military's official website. For now, China seems to be trying to get a read on what a Trump administration might do, especially in the contested South China Sea. But it is continuing to build up military preparedness and overhaul its ranks, according to SCMP. "As it's highly unlikely that China will compromise its sovereignty claims in the face of US pressure, we can be sure that the dispute will increasingly become a risky point of contention between Beijing and Washington," Ian Storey, a senior fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, told the paper. 

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/chinese-military-official-war-2017-1

Steve Bannon: 'We're going to war in the South China Sea ... no doubt'
 

Only months ago Donald Trump’s chief strategist predicted military involvement in east Asia and the Middle East in Breitbart radio shows
The United States and China will fight a war within the next 10 years over islands in the South China Sea, and “there’s no doubt about that”. At the same time, the US will be in another “major” war in the Middle East. Those are the views – nine months ago at least – of one of the most powerful men in Donald Trump’s administration, Steve Bannon, the former head of far-right news website Breitbart who is now chief strategist at the White House.

In the first weeks of Trump’s presidency, Bannon has emerged as a central figure. He was appointed to the “principals committee” of the National Security Council in a highly unusual move and was influential in the recent travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, overruling Department of Homeland Security officials who felt the order did not apply to green card holders. While many in Trump’s team are outspoken critics of China, in radio shows Bannon hosted for Breitbart he makes plain the two largest threats to America: China and Islam.

“We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years,” he said in March 2016. “There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face – and you understand how important face is – and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.”
 
China says nearly the entire South China Sea falls within its territory, with half a dozen other countries maintaining partially overlapping claims. China has built a series of artificial islands on reefs and rocks in attempt to bolster its position, complete with military-length airstrips and anti-aircraft weapons. Bannon’s sentiments and his position in Trump’s inner circle add to fears of a military confrontation with China, after secretary of state Rex Tillerson said that the US would deny China access to the seven artificial islands. Experts warned any blockade would lead to war. Bannon is clearly wary of China’s growing clout in Asia and beyond, framing the relationship as entirely adversarial, predicting a global culture clash in the coming years.

“You have an expansionist Islam and you have an expansionist China. Right? They are motivated. They’re arrogant. They’re on the march. And they think the Judeo-Christian west is on the retreat,” Bannon said during a February 2016 radio show. On the day Trump was inaugurated, China’s military warned that war between the two countries was a real possibility. “A ‘war within the president’s term’ or ‘war breaking out tonight’ are not just slogans, they are becoming a practical reality,” an official wrote on the website of the People’s Liberation Army.

Aside from conflict between armies, Bannon repeatedly focused on his perception that Christianity around the world is under threat. In one radio show, used to promote an article incorrectly claiming that a mosque had been built at the North Pole, Bannon focused heavily on China’s oppression of Christian groups. “The one thing the Chinese fear more than America … they fear Christianity more than anything,” he said. But China is not the only hotspot Bannon sees, and forecasts another ground war for American troops in the Middle East. “Some of these situations may get a little unpleasant,” Bannon said in November 2015. “But you know what, we’re in a war. We’re clearly going into, I think, a major shooting war in the Middle East again.”

He also branded Islam as “the most radical” religion in the world, and moved swiftly since entering the White House to enact policies hostile to Muslims. Some have called Trump’s central doctrine a “war on Islam”.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/02/steve-bannon-donald-trump-war-south-china-sea-no-doubt 
Kissinger Delivered a Plan for a New World Order to Putin

Henry Kissinger is one of the "bisons" of American politics. One of those who ruined the Soviet Union. It was he who put in a lot of effort to finally tear China away from the USSR and thus, weakening the latter. He is a patriot who put himself on the altar of victory in the "cold war". Even after retiring, he did not give up on the battle throughout his life. He continued to struggle with the remnants of the Soviet Empire. Four years ago, speaking about "the drums of war", which could already be heard, he said:
"The coming war will be so severe that only one superpower can win, and that's us. That is why the EU is in such a hurry to form the superpower, because they know what is coming, and to survive, Europe will have to be one whole cohesive state. This urgency tells me that they know what to expect from us. Oh, how I dreamed of this delightful moment. From the ashes we shall build a new society, there will remain only one superpower, and it will be the global government that wins. Do not forget that the United States has the best weapon, which no other country has, and we will introduce those weapons to the world when the time is right". (Henry Kissinger January 2012).
On January 20th 2012, he arrived in Moscow to give Vladimir Putin an ultimatum and "friendly advice" not to run again for President of Russia. Because otherwise the U.S. will grind Russia into powder: "the third term of Vladimir Putin, this is a war that Russia will lose".
An important guest
It's already been four years. On February 3rd 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin received the former U.S. Secretary of State in his suburban residence in Novo-Ogaryovo. Like the previous encounter, what they said is not known. It is clear that Kissinger arrived on very important business that cannot be trusted with Victoria Nuland, nor Barack Obama. The visits of Henry Kissinger to Moscow have recently become quite frequent. He came twice in 2013 (spring and autumn), most likely trying to convince Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.
His opinion and the opinion of his circles that he is in (the clan of the Rockefellers) is often ignored by the top political leadership of the US, which has become a cause of many geopolitical defeats of Washington. Henry Kissinger never ceases to remind us that the key to American dominance in the world is the disunity of Eurasia. Washington's biggest defeat was the creation of a political and economic alliance between Beijing and Moscow. The accession of Berlin will completely negate the last victory of American diplomacy and will create a condition of rapid decline of the political weight of the United States. But these powers soon will be able to occupy the White House, and it will be time to talk about the future, the future in which Russia and the United States have to live in.
"New world" by Kissinger
Immediately upon returning to the States, Henry Kissinger wrote a column for the magazine The National Interest, in which he outlined his vision for the future of the world. The most significant points being: Firstly, the relationship between the U.S. and Russia is currently probably even worse than they were before the end of the cold war. Experts in both countries believe that Moscow and Washington have entered a new phase of confrontation and are unlikely to be able to cooperate effectively on issues of world order. Secondly, he pointed out that Russia and the U.S. should cooperate. According to him, the country needs to develop a concept of partnership, which will set out the roles each country will play in shaping the new world order and the concept of a coordinated approach to it. Kissinger noted that the U.S. and Russia should cooperate not only among themselves but also with other states. Instability in the world today is unprecedented. Threats arise because of the destruction of state power and the growing number of uncontrolled territories. Such problems cannot be solved by one country, so the United States must continually cooperate with Russia and other world powers. Henry Kissinger did not ignore Ukraine, which, in his opinion should become a bridge between Russia and the West, and not an outpost of one of the parties. Also the diplomat stressed that if the U.S. and Russia were to work together in Syria, along with other major powers, they will be able to create a model for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, not only in the Middle East, but possibly in other areas.
Over the past few years, Washington and Moscow cooperated only sporadically, but great progress was made, which is not surprising: discussions were held outside the agreed strategic format. Therefore, Kissinger stated the need to perceive Russia as an integral element of any new global equilibrium, not only as a threat to the United States.
The forgotten superpower
Let us try to understand the diplomatic lexicon of politics and look at the problem from a great height. How does the U.S (Henry Kissinger) approach problem-solving at the highest, that is, strategic level? This catches the eye. No one in the States (even Kissinger) doubts that the future of the world, at any point, must be addressed with Russia and possibly with even some major countries. Has the rhetoric changed in the last four years? It has long forgotten the concept of a singular global hegemon, which for last 20 years was the USA. Also forgotten are world governments (American), and the strongest army with the most modern weapons.
It should be understood that Russia's "right to decide" was not due to the fact that the United States was flexible, but because the events of recent years and the efforts of the leadership of the Russian Federation has forced Washington to reconsider their opinions and make concessions. An important marker is the desire of the former "masters of the world" to share the burden of responsibility for Ukraine with Moscow, and return it to its dominant period, when this area was once the bridge between Europe and Russia. In fact, the U.S. is ready to retreat and lose half of its influence, until they lose everything.
It's the same thing in Syria. Six months ago it seemed that the days of the Assad regime were numbered, and the entire Middle East would remain not only as eternal pain for Europe and Russia, but also in full orbit of the political power of the United States. Six months later and there has been enormous change. An outpost of the U.S - Saudi Arabia - is on the verge of defeat. Turkey found itself in the situation of Ukraine two years ago, and may simply fall apart. At the same time, Russia and Iran are increasing their presence and influence by leaps and bounds in the Middle East, threatening in the medium term to squeeze the U.S. out of the strategic region.
But because of the mouth of Henry Kissinger, Vladimir Putin has apparently also heard the suggestion to "divide" the region. And this (according to the American political elite) must become a "model" for similar agreements in other parts of Eurasia.
The bridge through Alaska
What did the President of Russia say? I think he said he would think about it for another four years. Through which he will be able to offer Henry Kissinger, or someone else, to make Alaska a "bridge" between Russia and America, and will promise to consider also the interests of Washington and other major powers in Europe. But if they are not satisfied with the American political elite, they will have to wait for the next offer, which is expected in four years. But it seems to me that it will be even worse for them.
Source: http://www.fort-russ.com/2016/02/kissinger-delivered-plan-for-new-world.html
Gorbachev: Trump, Putin Need to Align as 'World Preparing for War'



Aggressive talk from politicians and military leaders worldwide — amped up by media and the "bellicose chorus" of TV commentary — has former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev saying: "It all looks as if the world is preparing for war."

"The nuclear threat once again seems real," Gorbachev wrote Thursday in a Time magazine op-ed. "Relations between the great powers have been going from bad to worse for several years now. The advocates for arms build-up and the military-industrial complex are rubbing their hands. "We must break out of this situation. We need to resume political dialogue aiming at joint decisions and joint action." Gorbachev harkened back to the 1980s and his work with the United States to decommission and destroy 80 percent of nuclear weapons amassed during the Cold War.

"In November 1985, at the first summit in Geneva, the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States declared: Nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought," Gorbachev wrote. "Our two nations will not seek military superiority. This statement was met with a sigh of relief worldwide." President Donald Trump had tweeted some of the tough talk Gorbachev was referring to. "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes," his December tweet read.

Trump, after his inauguration in mid-January, then said he might offer to end sanctions against Russia in lieu of a nuclear arms reduction. Gorbachev, who has been a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin at times, continued a call for peace and arms reduction between the U.S. and Russia, Trump and Putin: "The presidents of two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world's nuclear arsenals and therefore bear a special responsibility."

"There is a view that the dialogue should focus on fighting terrorism," Gorbachev wrote. "This is indeed an important, urgent task. But, as a core of a normal relationship and eventually partnership, it is not enough.


"The focus should once again be on preventing war, phasing out the arms race, and reducing weapons arsenals. The goal should be to agree, not just on nuclear weapons levels and ceilings, but also on missile defense and strategic stability. "In modern world, wars must be outlawed, because none of the global problems we are facing can be resolved by war — not poverty, nor the environment, migration, population growth, or shortages of resources."
Source: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/mikhail-gorbachev-russia-vladimir-putin-donald-trump/2017/01/26/id/770656/

The Global De-dollarization and the US Policies


In its quest for world domination, which the White House has been pursuing for more than a century, it relied on two primary tools: the US dollar and military might. In order to prevent Washington from establishing complete global hegemony, certain countries have recently been revising their positions towards these two elements by developing alternative military alliances and by breaking with their dependence on the US dollar.

Until the mid-twentieth century, the gold standard was the dominant monetary system, based on a fixed quantity of gold reserves stocked in national banks, which limited lending. At that time, the United States managed to become the owner of 70% of world’s gold reserves (excluding the USSR), therefore it pushed its weakened competitor, the UK, aside resulting to the creation of the Bretton Woods financial system in 1944. That’s how the US dollar became the predominant currency for international payments.

But a quarter century later this system had proven ineffective due to its inability to contain the economic growth of Germany and Japan, along with the reluctance of the US to adjust its economic policies to maintain the dollar-gold balance. At that time, the dollar experienced a dramatic decline but it was saved by the support of rich oil exporters, especially once Saudi Arabia began to exchange its black gold for US weapons and support in talks with Richard Nixon. As a result, President Richard Nixon in 1971 unilaterally ordered the cancellation of the direct convertibility of the United States dollar to gold, and instead he established the Jamaican currency system in which oil has become the foundation of the US dollar system. Therefore, it’s no coincidence that from that moment on the control over oil trade has become the number one priority of Washington’s foreign policy. In the aftermath of the so-called Nixon Shock the number of US military engagements in the Middle East and other oil producing regions saw a sharp increase. Once this system was supported by OPEC members, the global demand for US petrodollars hit an all time high. Petrodollars became the basis for America domination over the global financial system which resulted in countries being forced to buy dollars in order to get oil on the international market.

Analysts believe that the share of the United States in today’s world gross domestic product shouldn’t exceed 22%. However, 80% of international payments are made with US dollars. As a result, the value of the US dollar is exceedingly high in comparison with other currencies, that’s why consumers in the United States receive imported goods at extremely low prices. It provides the United States with significant financial profit, while high demand for dollars in the world allows the US government to refinance its debt at very low interest rates.

Under these circumstances, those heding against the dollar are considered a direct threat to US economic hegemony and the high living standards of its citizens, and therefore political and business circles in Washington attempt by all means to resist this process.This resistance manifested itself in the overthrow and the brutal murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who decided to switch to Euros for oil payments, before introducing a gold dinar to replace the European currency.

However, in recent years, despite Washington’s desire to use whatever means to sustain its position within the international arena, US policies are increasingly faced with opposition. As a result, a growing number of countries are trying to move from the US dollar along with its dependence on the United States, by pursuing a policy of de-dollarization. Three states that are particularly active in this domain are China, Russia and Iran. These countries are trying to achieve de-dollarization at a record pace, along with some European banks and energy companies that are operating within their borders.

The Russian government held a meeting on de-dollarization in spring of 2014, where the Ministry of Finance announced the plan to increase the share of ruble-denominated contracts and the consequent abandonment of dollar exchange. Last May at the Shanghai summit, the Russian delegation manged to sign the so-called “deal of the century” which implies that over the next 30 years China will buy $ 400 billion worth of Russia’s natural gas, while paying in rubles and yuans. In addition, in August 2014 a subsidiary company of Gazprom announced its readiness to accept payment for 80,000 tons of oil from Arctic deposits in rubles that were to be shipped to Europe, while the payment for the supply of oil through the “Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean” pipeline can be transferred in yuans. Last August while visiting the Crimea, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced that “the petrodollar system should become history” while “Russia is discussing the use of national currencies in mutual settlements with a number of countries.” These steps recently taken by Russia are the real reasons behind the West’s sanction policy.

In recent months, China has also become an active member of this “anti-dollar” campaign, since it has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange, which resulted in Canada becoming the first offshore hub for the yuan in North America. This fact alone can potentially double or even triple the volume of trade between the two countries since the volume of the swap agreement signed between China and Canada is estimated to be a total of 200 billion yuans.

China’s agreement with Qatar on direct currency swaps between the two countries are the equivalent of $ 5.7 billion and has cast a heavy blow to the petrodollar becoming the basis for the usage of the yuan in Middle East markets. It is no secret that the oil-producing countries of the Middle Eastern region have little trust in the US dollar due to the export of inflation, so one should expect other OPEC countries to sign agreements with China.

As for the Southeast Asia region, the establishment of a clearing center in Kuala Lumpur, which will promote greater use of the yuan locally, has become yet another major step that was made by China in the region. This event occurred in less than a month after the leading financial center of Asia – Singapore – became a center of the yuan exchange in Southeast Asia after establishing direct dialogue regarding the Singapore dollar and the yuan.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has recently announced its reluctance to use US dollars in its foreign trade. Additionally, the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has recently tasked the National Bank with the de-dollarization of the national economy.

All across the world, the calls for the creation of a new international monetary system are getting louder with each passing day. In this context it should be noted that the UK government plans to release debts denominated in yuans while the European Central Bank is discussing the possibility of including the yuan in its official reserves.

Those trends are to be seen everywhere, but in the midst of anti-Russian propaganda, Western newsmakers prefer to keep quiet about these facts, in particular, when inflation is skyrocketing in the United States. In recent months, the proportion of US Treasury bonds in the Russian foreign exchange reserves has been shrinking rapidly, being sold at a record pace, while this same tactic has been used by a number of different states.

To make matters worse for the US, many countries seek to export their gold reserves from the United States, which are deposited in vaults at the Federal Reserve Bank. After a scandal of 2013, when the US Federal Reserve refused to return German gold reserves to its respective owner, the Netherlands have joined the list of countries that are trying to retrieve their gold from the US. Should it be successful the list of countries seeking the return of gold reserves will double which may result in a major crisis for Washington.

The above stated facts indicate that the world does not want to rely on US dollars anymore. In these circumstances, Washington relies on the policy of deepening regional destabilization, which, according to the White House strategy, must lead to a considerable weakening of any potential US rivals. But there’s little to no hope for the United States to survive its own wave of chaos it has unleashed across the world.

Source: http://journal-neo.org/2015/02/02/rus-dedollarizatsiya-i-ssha/

The Petrodollar: The weakest link for the US and Saudi Arabia?


Though the Trump administration, and even the U.S. in general, stands to lose much more than it might gain by entering into a military conflict with Iran, another recent development has left little room for choice in the matter. During a television interview on Jan. 29, the governor of Iran’s central bank, Valiollah Seif, announced that Iran would no longer use the U.S. dollar as its currency of choice in its financial and foreign exchange reports. Seif explained the logic behind the decision, saying that “Iran’s difficulties [in dealing] with the dollar were in place from the time of primary sanctions and this trend is continuing.”

He then noted that “we face no limitations” when it comes to the use of other currencies. The change, set to go into effect on March 21, is set to impact all official financial and foreign exchange reports. Forbes noted that the move is likely to “add a degree of currency risk and volatility and is likely to complicate matters for the authorities.” Though it is true that Iran’s currency may suffer in the short term as a result of the measure, the consequences for the U.S. dollar — and thus, U.S. economic hegemony — are far greater.

In the 1970s, after the United States was no longer able to guarantee the value of the dollar with gold, then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger negotiated a deal that would change both the dollar and U.S. foreign policy forever. In order to keep the U.S. dollar valuable, Kissinger convinced the Saudi monarchy to use U.S. dollars exclusively in the country’s oil transactions, thereby generating artificial demand for dollars and, thus, artificial value for a weakening currency. This deal marked the official birth of what is known as the petrodollar system. The other countries that comprise OPEC, which includes Iran, soon followed suit, ensuring the dollar’s dominance for years to come – a crucial piece of U.S. economic hegemony.

However, some countries have since attempted to distance themselves from the dollar and have suffered the consequences. The most notable example is Saddam Hussein’s decision to dump the dollar for the euro in 2000. Following the decision, Hussein managed to generate a handsome profit for Iraq, sending a clear signal to other oil-producing nations that the petrodollar system was not necessarily in their best interest. However, the subsequent invasion of Iraq sent a clear signal that the United States would not passively allow oil-producing countries to exit the petrodollar system.

The next country that attempted to leave the petrodollar system was Libya. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, also dissatisfied with the petrodollar system, had established the dinar, a gold-backed currency that was set to become Libya’s currency of choice for oil transactions. Gadhafi had also announced plans to make the dinar a pan-African currency to economically empower other African nations. In 2011, the U.S. destroyed the Libyan state and killed Gadhafi, preventing this deal from coming to fruition.

Iran’s decision to dump the dollar could very well force the United States’ hand in the matter. Iran, which holds 13 percent of OPEC’s oil reserves, could drastically affect global demand for dollars once it switches currencies for its oil transactions. The dollar, already on tenuous footing thanks to years of reckless “quantitative easing,” could become significantly devalued rather quickly. Combined with the overall weak health of the U.S. economy, the consequences could be potentially catastrophic.

Source: https://www.mintpressnews.com/inevitable-war-iran-decline-us-hegemony/224644/



Challenging the U.S., Moscow Pushes Into Afghanistan
 
Russian inroads complicate U.S. efforts to strengthen the government, stamp out the Taliban and end America’s longest war

Russia is making fresh inroads into Afghanistan that could complicate U.S. efforts to strengthen the fragile Kabul government, stamp out the resilient Taliban insurgency and end America’s longest war. Moscow last month disclosed details of contacts with the Taliban, saying that it is sharing information and cooperating with the radical movement on strategy to fight the local affiliate of Islamic State, which has gained a foothold in eastern Nangarhar province, on the border with Pakistan.

Moscow’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Alexander Mantytskiy, and other Russian officials said the cooperation with the Taliban didn’t include supplying it with money or materiel. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid described the relationship as “just political.” But the revelation coincides with other Russian moves in Afghanistan that appear aimed, as in the Middle East and Europe, at undermining U.S. influence and seeking regional parity with Washington. The Kremlin held a conference in Moscow last month with China and Pakistan to discuss terrorist threats from Afghanistan and how to combat Islamic State. Since then, Russia has invited the Afghan government to participate in the continuing diplomatic initiative, but not the U.S.

Moscow also has blocked the Afghan government’s efforts to remove Gulbuddin Hekmatyar from a United Nations sanctions list, a crucial condition of an Afghan government peace deal with the warlord’s al Qaeda-linked insurgent group. The deal, strongly supported by the U.S. and its allies, was viewed by the U.S. and other allies of the government as a template for future talks with the Taliban. While the Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani has publicly criticized any support for the Taliban, one of the biggest boosters of Russian moves in Afghanistan is his predecessor, Hamid Karzai. Mr. Karzai, who served as head of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul for more than 12 years, views Russia as a healthy counterweight to America’s dominant presence in his Central Asian nation of 33 million people.

“The fact is that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan has not brought security to us. It has caused more extremism,” Mr. Karzai said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “There has to be a balance of power here now.”

The frequency of the contacts between Russia and the Taliban—and the rank and influence of the officials involved in them—aren’t known. But they are sufficiently worrying to the U.S. that Gen. John Nicholson, the top American military commander in Afghanistan, publicly criticized Russia, Iran and Pakistan last month for their “malign influence” in the country. He singled out Moscow for “overtly” lending legitimacy to the Taliban.

Russia’s claim that it is reaching out to the Taliban because of the failure of the U.S. to curb the rise of Islamic State and other new terrorist groups in Afghanistan is designed to rationalize its policies, Gen. Nicholson said. “Their [Russia’s] narrative goes something like this: that the Taliban are the ones fighting Islamic State, not the Afghan government,” he told reporters last month at the Pentagon briefing.

“This public legitimacy that Russia lends to the Taliban is not based on fact, but it is used as a way to essentially undermine the Afghan government and the NATO effort and bolster the belligerents,” the general said, referring to the 13,000-strong force of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is led by about 8,400 U.S. troops.

Foreign government contact with the Taliban isn’t new. Pakistan is widely seen as a major patron of the movement, and in recent years Chinese and Afghan government officials have held separate talks with Taliban envoys to discuss peace prospects in Afghanistan. But in forging open ties with the Taliban, Moscow is befriending the heirs of the insurgency that dealt the Soviet Union its most humiliating military defeat and helped lead to its collapse. In 1989, rebels—many of them Islamic fundamentalists backed by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Pakistan—drove the Red Army from Afghanistan following a nine-year Soviet occupation. There are few indications of what President Donald Trump’s administration will do in Afghanistan.

In December, Mr. Trump, at the time president-elect, told Mr. Ghani in a telephone call that he would consider sending more American troops, Afghan officials said, in a step to halt the deterioration of the country’s security. Before most foreign troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan at the end of 2014, former President Barack Obama had more than 100,000 U.S. troops in the country. Also, the White House said this week that President Trump would be open to military cooperation with Russia to fight Islamic State. Mr. Karzai said Mr. Trump’s pledge for improved ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin is encouraging.

“I am glad he and Putin are on good terms,” he said. “I hope the two of them will remain friends and work issues out, especially on Afghanistan."
Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/challenging-the-u-s-moscow-pushes-into-afghanistan-1485513002
US-Led International Order is Dead

Long live a new era of America's halting involvement in a world not of its own making
As ISIS forces sweep through Sunni Iraq, whether or not the United States will help Baghdad to bring back its provinces has overtaken "bring back our girls" in Nigeria as the central public concern of U.S. foreign policy. The contrast matters because it marks not the end, but potentially the start, of an era of American exceptionalism. The masterful performance through which Michelle Obama galvanized global opinion on the Nigerian schoolgirls might have been seen at the time, only a month ago, as an affirmation of a U.S. belief in its global destiny: That the schoolgirls really were, for the first lady, and for that intangible sense of U.S. mission and responsibility to the rest of the world, "ours."


From the end of World War II, the world’s destiny has been America’s destiny. Although the U.S. market-based economic model has been imitated globally more than its democratic political institutions, the basic structures of international order have been underpinned by America’s economic, military, and cultural influence. From 1945, to subscribe to the idea of the West, or at least to the economic and cultural aspects of that contested concept, has been to subscribe to a U.S.-led international order. That has been the case for better and for worse, as we are respectively reminded, on the one hand, by the U.S. victory in the Cold War, and on the other by the near collapse of the U.S.-centered international financial system in 2008.

The Western world order is no longer a post-1945 platitude, but a distinctly fragile proposition, the reality of which people across the world need actively to be persuaded of to believe in, as President Barack Obama attempted to do in his recent foreign-policy speech at West Point. Superficially, the president appeared to amplify the first lady’s message of America’s global responsibilities: America was the "indispensable nation," so when "schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria… it is America that the world looks to for help."

But the underlying effect of the president’s speech was to bookmark the end of an era of American intervention; it closed the chapter starting from 2001, and perhaps even the volume from 1945.

"Bring back our girls" may have inoculated the United States against claims that it was not upholding the global rights of young women to an education, and implicitly shifted the burden of proving whose world order gave the better deal to young women across to Boko Haram — which threatened to sell the girls into slavery — and Islamic jihadists worldwide. The Twitter campaign isolated a clear-cut case of right and wrong, and was heard across the world, loud and clear.

But sometimes silence speaks louder than words. The world is virtually silent about the genocide going on this very day in the Central African Republic (CAR). There is no global Twitter campaign about schoolgirls there. They aren’t ours. As if to amplify the silent point in the West Point speech that an era of U.S. intervention is effectively over, CAR even dropped out of the rhetorical consciousness of the speech itself from one paragraph to the next:

"Today, according to self-described realists, conflicts in Syria or Ukraine or the Central African Republic are not ours to solve. And not surprisingly, after costly wars and continuing challenges here at home, that view is shared by many Americans. A different view from interventionists from the left and right says that we ignore these conflicts at our own peril; that America’s willingness to apply force around the world is the ultimate safeguard against chaos, and America’s failure to act in the face of Syrian brutality or Russian provocations not only violates our conscience, but invites escalating aggression in the future."

If the responsibility to protect 276 abducted schoolgirls is alive and well, what’s clear from Syria to the CAR is that the "responsibility to protect" whole populations as a doctrine of international policy is dead in the water; it’s the language of the last era, and to suggest otherwise in the face of one of the biggest humanitarian catastrophes in history in Syria is surely untenable.

ISIS in Iraq is in a completely different league of complexity and geopolitical significance than the Nigerian schoolgirls. Given that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is most to blame for the chaos, having systematically marginalized the Sunni population since 2010, should Washington back Baghdad at all? Given the risk of making an enemy of all of Iraq’s Sunnis, whose reconciliation with U.S. forces and Baghdad was the prime achievement of the 2008 surge, should the United States strike ISIS? Given that Maliki has shown no competence to be able to retake the Sunni provinces, militarily or politically, if the United States does engage in limited strikes, given the risk of being drawn into an open-ended commitment to back up Baghdad, where does that effort end? Should the United States try to keep Iraq together at all, or is this the moment to cut losses and avoid being drawn into a quagmire of sectarian violence, and see Iraq split up?

And how should Washington understand ISIS: Should it accept Maliki’s self-interested argument that they are the same al Qaeda "terrorists" of 9/11, that this is the same fight against common enemies? Or should the United States refrain from grouping together all jihadists as "the terrorists," thus exploiting the various groups’ principal vulnerability — that they fight endlessly with each other, as ISIS’s break with al Qaeda testifies? If it’s the latter, then ISIS is not part of the war the Obama administration refuses to call the war on terror — despite still relying on the 2001 post-9/11 Congressional Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF). And if the 2001 AUMF is not going to be used to fight ISIS, is the administration going to rely on the 2003 Iraq War AUMF, and thus re-open the war? Or will the White House stand back while ISIS takes control of the Sunni provinces?

It is worth remembering in all this that, barely a month ago, resolving the kidnap of the Nigerian schoolgirls was "one of the highest priorities of the U.S. Government," according to the U.S. State Department.

In the context of far more serious and more morally complicated contemporary security problems today, it still bears looking at the fixation on the Nigerian schoolgirls last month. This was hardly an affirmation of international ambition so much as an example of a relatively small and morally clear-cut case that marked the limits of U.S. interventionism in a new era. The reticence to be drawn beyond those limits is clear from the Obama administration’s agony over whether or not to intervene in Iraq.

The transition from one era to the next marked by the West Point speech could not be better captured than by the now-anachronistic competition among commentators to be the most outraged about why the United States had taken so long to declare Boko Haram a terrorist group, or the delay to put pressure on the Nigerian government to bring back our girls. If there is one lesson from the post-2001 wars, it’s that perhaps we should not rush in to complex conflicts that very quickly move away from being clear-cut cases of right and wrong, to entanglement in intractable age-old tribal fights, with no clear boundary between enemy and civilian.

The anachronism of the commentators’ outrage at the delay in intervention in Nigeria — the knee-jerk desire to intervene everywhere and fight every jihadist under the sun — was nonetheless echoed in parts of the president’s speech. The speech worked where it looked forward, and set out the new and critical distinction between the potentially unilateral use of force "when our core interests demand it," but offered a higher bar for using force in relation to broader issues of "global concern that do not pose a direct threat to the United States." The speech failed where it blurred this new and important distinction by rehearsing the language and motifs of the last era, motifs that now sounded tired, and out of tune with U.S. public opinion.

We heard that "America’s support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism — it is a matter of national security," because "democracies are our closest friends and are far less likely to go to war," and that "respect for human rights is an antidote to instability and the grievances that fuel violence and terror." That doesn’t fit with the small print: "In countries like Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests."

We heard that the test of any U.S. drone strike was whether "[we] create more enemies than we take off the battlefield." But the idea of a global battlefield against terrorist enemies is seriously out of date, at least since we worked out that the original Taliban and Saddam Hussein actually had very little to do with al Qaeda. Indeed, the irrational durability of the idea of the world as a battlefield is as anachronistic as Guantanamo Bay.

Paradoxically, the speech itself acknowledged that al Qaeda was decentralized, with many affiliates and extremists having "agendas focused in countries where they operate." But if that is true, why then are they the enemy of the United States? Was the Nairobi Westgate Mall attack, mentioned as an example of a "less defensible target," really an attack against the United States? Five U.S. citizens were wounded, among hundreds of other nationalities. But if that is the threshold for identifying a terrorist group as an enemy of the United States, then Obama’s new distinction is so porous as to be of little practical utility.

The vague and permissive concept of the terrorist enemy that punctuated certain parts of the speech was contradicted by the main direction of the speech, which was about limiting U.S. exposure to open-ended conflicts, not being drawn into other people’s fights and tribal-sectarian wars. Eras of U.S. intervention come and go. Vietnam closed the last one, and Afghanistan will close this one. There will be new eras of U.S. intervention in future, and the closing of the 2001 chapter is not remarkable in the long view, as permanent war is plainly unsustainable. The United States remains the global military superpower, and claims of the end of its military dominance are exaggerated.

If that were the case, why would the speech potentially be closing not just a chapter from 2001 but a volume from 1945?

Consider for a moment President Harry Truman’s inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1949. As cultural historian Nick Cullather has written, by re-framing what would previously have been perceived as colonial intrusion as "development," Truman, as Fortune magazine put it at the time, "hit the jackpot of the world’s political emotions." Cullather notes how leaders of then newly independent states, such as Zahir Shah of Afghanistan and Jawaharlal Nehru of India, accepted these terms, merging their own governmental mandates into the stream of nations moving toward modernity. Development was not only the best, but the only course. As Nehru stated, "There is only one-way traffic in time."

President Obama mentioned the importance of development in the speech, and how American assistance aimed, for example, "to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa so people are connected to the promise of the global economy." A noble thought perhaps, but this is a world away from Truman. The developing states of 1949 are now powerful economies, and they hardly see themselves as little Americas. Westernization in 1949 meant Americanization; now it doesn’t.Westernization in 1949 meant Americanization; now it doesn’t.

The very success of the United States in the Cold War and in the brief period of post-1991 global hegemony was to mold the world in its own image, with the effect that Westernization — at least its economic and cultural dimension — is now so universally accepted in varying forms that it changes the meaning of what being Westernized is: Even ISIS probably uses iPhones. In this new context, despite sympathy with the humanitarian ambition of bringing electricity to sub-Saharan Africa, the very discourse of international development as something Western states engage in seems at best dated: a vexed idea drifting away from its post-colonial moorings towards the post-post-colonial waters in which it has no clear anchor points.

President Obama said that America remains the "indispensable nation." He’s right; it is. But he was wrong to use the examples of "when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help." That is to attach the meaning of America’s role in this new era to being a first responder for a fragmented set of events that don’t fit into a clear narrative. Moreover, most of the world does not want America as a bull in a china shop, rushing to create new terrorist enemies or to chase Joseph Kony around jungles, changing foreign policy in accordance with the latest YouTube or Twitter sensations.

America does not need to seek sensation, precisely because it remains the world’s great democratic nation.

The rest of the liberal world’s relationship with America is not one of love but one of faith. America is the indispensable nation not just to its allies, but to individuals and families around the world who rely on it to uphold some kind of liberal world order: the educated Afghanis whose families will be killed if the Taliban take control again; the Saudi woman who might hope to drive a car one day; the students in Tehran arrested just for singing "Happy;" or any number of others, from Kiev, through Cairo, to Baghdad.

This faith is not the demonstrative faith of the zealot, but the quiet contemplation that, despite America’s moral failures — be it torture or mass surveillance — recognizes that the United States remains the great liberal power. There are still a huge number of people anxious not to see on their horizon a U.S. carrier group replaced with a Chinese one.

Unlike the sensational reaction desired from rescuing schoolgirls, or capturing Kony, the United States can’t expect any thanks or applause for its routine foreign policy from its faithful across the globe. To be effective, Washington needs to be tough and sometimes make ugly compromises, like backing a corrupt regime in Kabul to stop a worse fate for the Afghan people, or the equivalent in Iraq now. No one is going to cheer that, even if they agree with it.

What is remarkable is not the enduring faith of those around the world in the United States, but the enduring faith of the U.S. public in a U.S.-led international order that is massively expensive and for which they receive little thanks.

The idea of a special global destiny is a fragile idea. Britain used to be the indispensable nation; that ended a long time ago. When Britain announced its famous decision to withdraw "East of Suez" in 1967, Dean Rusk, then U.S. secretary of state, said to a colleague how he could not believe that the British viewed that "free aspirin and false teeth were more important than Britain’s role in the world." That shock would be banal today; the welfare state has permanently replaced the warfare state. The idea of Britain’s global destiny, within a generation, has become ancient history.

But the United States still believes in its unique global destiny: "I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being," the president said. The truth, however, is that America has not been the exceptional nation since 1945 because of the extent to which the rest of the world has copied it.

America has lost control of what is means to be Western, as a result of its very success in spreading the idea across the globe since 1945. Perhaps the new era that we are entering will see America attempting to re-claim the legacy of the West as its own, for example by working with, not against, the international institutions it set up after World War II. On the other hand, we might see America assume a more genuinely exceptional path, allowing itself to see a different destiny to that of the West, or perhaps more accurately, Western-ism.

The president’s speech undoubtedly marked the end of one era and the first steps into another. Whether and how Baghdad gets its provinces back will be a more accurate signpost of the direction of American exceptionalism in the twenty-first century than the sorry fate of the Nigerian schoolgirls.
Source: http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/06/16/the-u-s-led-international-order-is-dead/
Why the U.S. Can’t and Shouldn’t Try to ‘Police’ the World


Anders Fogh Rasmussen essentially wants the U.S. to govern the planet:
In this world of interconnections, it has become a cliché to talk about the “global village.“ But right now, the village is burning, and the neighbors are fighting in the light of the flames. Just as we need a policeman to restore order; we need a firefighter to put out the flames of conflict, and a kind of mayor, smart and sensible, to lead the rebuilding. Only America can play all these roles, because of all world powers, America alone has the credibility to shape sustainable solutions to these challenges. Rasmussen’s op-ed makes many familiar mistakes here. For one thing, the entire “village” isn’t burning, and the vast majority of the world is at peace. The need for both “policeman” and “firefighter” is exaggerated to make it seem as if the world will fall into chaos unless the U.S. acts as the author wants, but that isn’t the case. For another, it can’t possibly be the responsibility of any one government to do all of the things mentioned here. No government has the right or authority to do these things, and there is no single government with either the resources or the competence to police the world. Besides, there simply isn’t enough political support for such a role here in the U.S. Even if the U.S. could competently fill the role Rasmussen describes, it would be a mistake to do it.

The costs of such a role are not only exorbitant, but there is an inherent danger in justifying U.S. actions in these terms. Setting the U.S. up as the enforcer of order around the world effectively puts the U.S. above the rules that all states are supposed to follow, and it gives it an excuse to trample on the sovereignty of other states when the enforcer deems it appropriate. Even if our leaders had consistently good judgment, that would create many opportunities for abuse. Since we know our leaders often make poor choices about how and where to intervene, it opens the door to one disaster after another. We also know our government’s “enforcement” is arbitrary and selective, and when its allies and clients break the rules the U.S. is usually helping them or covering for them. Most of the world doesn’t need and presumably doesn’t want a “policeman” that can do what it likes, shield its clients from punishment, and never has to answer to them, and most Americans don’t want their government to act as one.

Of course, it is misleading from the start to think of a major military power as either a police force or a fire brigade. Both of these are typically services under the control of a local government in one’s own community. The U.S. role Rasmussen describes is necessarily very different from that. It isn’t local or accountable to the people being “policed,” and its “policing” is inevitably an intrusion from outside into their affairs. As for being a “mayor,” mayors are normally elected, but most nations around the world haven’t elected and wouldn’t elect the U.S. as “mayor” of the world. Most of the world doesn’t accept the U.S. as its “policeman,” and in quite a few places that role is vehemently denied.
Source: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/why-the-u-s-cant-and-shouldnt-try-to-police-the-world/
Donald Trump Is Declaring Bankruptcy on the Post-War World Order

The global system of peace and prosperity was already on life support before the U.S. president-elect decided to pull the plug.

In 1929, the embittered English writer Robert Graves published a farewell memoir to his country called Good-Bye to All That. A veteran of the Great War, scarred and traumatized at the Battle of the Somme, Graves offered his epitaph to a world brought down by the myopia of a waning ruling class. Unable to see forward, British rulers yearned to restore a bygone age, to make Britain great again, only to destroy the flower of their youth. No sooner did Good-Bye hit the bookstands than governments responded to a financial crisis by throwing up trade barriers, turning currencies into weapons, plunging the world into depression, and then deporting, or later exterminating, foreigners as well as their own citizens.

With the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, the United States seems about to swerve in a similar direction, to go from leading the world as a stabilizer to leading the world as a destabilizer. What’s propelling this about-face is nostalgia for an earlier age of supremacy. In truth, that supremacy has long since passed. America’s continued claim on global leadership is mostly an inheritance from the aftermath of World War II, when American leaders laid the multilateral foundations of what we now call globalization. Diplomats, economists, and philosophers charted a grand bargain for the world, a kind of global new deal. It rested on two pillars.

The first concerned cooperation in the world economy. To prevent a backslide into the protectionist, inward-looking policies that crushed the global economy in the 1930s and led to war in Europe and Asia, global rebuilders hitched national economies to norms, rules, and principles of free trade. The result was a boom. From 1950 to 1973, world per capita incomes grew by 3 percent per year — powered by a trade explosion of 8 percent per year. Cooperation triumphed; interdependence brought prosperity.

The second pillar concerned national policies. To cope with the dislocations of free trade and interdependence, governments created safety nets and programs at home to manage the risks and to shelter the castaways. From welfare to workplace protections, from capital controls to expanded education, national policies buffered market perils and helped families adapt to commercial and technological changes. What’s more, many of these programs extended to the dislocated who left home altogether, like those who departed Puerto Rico for the United States, Italy for Canada, Algeria for France, Cambodia for Australia. Education, workplace protections, and pathways to citizenship were part of a bundle of rights conferred on immigrants.

This was the global new deal that buoyed the postwar liberal order: a coherent, complementary set of policies that opened borders while protecting societies from the hazards of integration across those borders.

It was unsustainable. Both pillars eventually collapsed like Greek columns. Over seven decades, their foundations shifted beneath them. We are now witnessing, in Trumpism, its death throes. And there is no way to re-create the conditions that led to the original global new deal, and the years of relative stability and tolerance that came with it; we may never see its like again.

At the dawn of the Washington-led rebuild in 1945, the U.S. economy was larger than all of Europe, Japan, and the USSR combined — the result of a global war that leveled the productive capacity of almost every other major power. The effects of the war yielded a global Leviathan unlike any we’d seen before — but one that did not impose itself, like Rome, on its neighbors. It did not have to. Indeed, what was remarkable about the long reconstruction process was how much elites and workers across Europe and Asia agreed on the fundaments of postwar integration. For them, after all, the global new deal offered them resources — Marshall Plan aid, U.S. foreign direct investment — and markets upon which to reassemble flattened economies and societies. For the United States, markets for manufactured goods and investment, shut down by the inward turn of the Great Depression, got thrown back open. According to recent estimates by one team of economic historians, the postwar export surge generated between 1.3 million and 1.97 million American jobs.

This new deal didn’t depend on a hegemon to force others to get on board. It did, however, depend on one to coordinate the elaborate set of systems involved in managing currencies, to facilitate the negotiations involved in dismantling trade barriers and agreeing on standards — in other words, it required a leader to ensure all the pieces were in place for the new system to function as a whole. That liberal Leviathan, it was always clear, would be the United States. It is easy to lead when you are that dominant.That liberal Leviathan, it was always clear, would be the United States. It is easy to lead when you are that dominant.

In short order, however, the success of this model began to eat away at that dominance — and thus, U.S. ability to coordinate and lead. Postwar global integration was so successful that soon Japan, Germany, and eventually China, South Korea, and Brazil were scrambling for market share. By the 1960s, Ford had to compete on its home turf with Toyota. Global trade would continue to boom in the decades to come; from 1980 to 2011, world trade grew by an astonishing 8.2 percent per year — twice as fast as world output. China leaped from a meager 0.89 percent of world export shares in 1980 to 10 percent in 2011, muscling past the United States. As a share of world exports, the United States slipped from approximately 12 percent to 8 percent over the past quarter century. In that period, the United States held its own as the world’s safety net for imports — consuming 12.3 percent of the world’s imports (China trails with 9.5 percent) and creating a trade imbalance of unprecedented proportions. China currently commands the same share of world exports that the United States enjoyed in 1968 — almost 14 percent.

The slipping dominance of the United States nearly caused this system to fall apart much earlier. In the 1970s and 1980s, the first great malaise set in in the West, and the signs of a spreading precariat were everywhere. Factories closed; New York went bankrupt; in the winter of 1978-79, the lights went out in Britain and people shivered in the dark; Ford’s global market share began to nosedive. The global Club of Rome think tank in 1972 predicted the end of growth and the beginnings of a dark age of scarcity. Even Hollywood got into the gloom business, with Sally Field playing Norma Rae in a dying mill town in North Carolina and Jennifer Beals playing a hard-luck steelworker whose way out of the Rust Belt was exotic dancing.

Then, the global system got two, improbable lifelines.

One came in the form of credit. Moneylending took off as banks got deregulated. After 1973, the global financial industry soared; within a decade, financial markets had grown 400 percent. The value of daily trading on the New York Stock Exchange grew from $10 million in 1970 to over $1 billion by 2005. Now, it was not just commodities that sutured the world into one market, but capital. An alarming amount of financial interdependence, however, took the form of debt — both household and governmental. Total credit market debt (public and private) in the United States doubled from 1970 to 1998. Then it soared and never looked back. According to McKinsey, the global stock of debt to gross domestic product rose even more after the crisis of 2008. Last year, it ballooned to $152 trillion — over 225 percent of world output. Half the debt load rests on government shoulders. Private and public debt kept spending afloat even though tax bases and personal incomes for the bottom half sagged.

The second was cheap fossil fuels. The discovery of new crude oil reserves and rising use of natural gas licked the second oil crisis of the late 1970s, and, except for a brief spike during the presidency of George W. Bush, energy prices continued their long-term decline. Despite warnings that we would bake the planet, ever more coal, gas, and oil was combusted to move the world’s vehicles, spread its factories, and cool its homes — except liberalized trade, and Asia’s growing middle classes, meant the world included more of each. Liberalizing world trade and industrializing Asia released 4 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere in 1970; the figure is now 10 billion. Fully half the fossil fuel-induced CO2 emissions worldwide since 1750 have taken place since 1985.

I said these were improbable lifelines because those of us who watched the figures in the 1970s and 1980s tended to see the “energy crisis” and the “debt crisis” as chokeholds on global prosperity. It turns out that they were the opposite.

At the same time, rising global competition ravaged national welfare states. Governments facing cheap imports still abided by treaties that barred them from turning to protectionist measures; instead, with the victories of Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the United States, a drive to free up markets, dismantle labor protections, and slash taxes aimed to help industries best their rivals by slashing their costs. Despite economic growth, America’s working class braced for a 35-year stagnation in real hourly wages.

What had once been a comprehensive, integrated system of policies that allowed free trade and social safety nets to work in tandem became, in the absence of strong global leadership, a race to the bottom, sustained by carbon and credit. Domestic safety nets got torn up in a fever to make economies more nimble. Deregulators, privatizers, and a free market orthodoxy took hold, shredding the pacts that once eased the effects of globalization. Trade unions, once key to manufacturing the consent behind the global new deal, got crushed. As supply chains outsourced automobile parts production to Indonesia and T-shirt-making to Bangladesh, dependence across societies produced greater inequality within them. And yet the system bumped along: Public services and protections softened market risks before 1973; in the decades afterward they were replaced by the private comforts of combustion and monthly credit card bills.

If access to carbon and credit appeared to solve the problem for a time, there was an additional, sustaining shock. In 1989, American leadership got a new lease on life — at least for a while. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the breakup of the USSR, and some gloating about the end of history created some sense of renewed American grandeur and the triumph of free markets. This euphoria, however, masked underlying structural shifts that eroded U.S. dominance still further; while the Soviet bloc collapsed, behind the scenes, there was a dramatic retooling of the Asian economies. Germany also upgraded its automobile, aircraft, and pharmaceutical prowess.

The reckoning could not be put off forever. The dual addictions to carbon and credit are now under assault. The bill for relying on fossil fuels is turning up in the form of climate change, while swaths of the unprotected precariat work part-time jobs in Walmart and Home Depot to cover the monthly interest on their Visa cards.

And now: Not since 1930 has the global trading order been more threatened. No one is coming to the rescue.Not since 1930 has the global trading order been more threatened. No one is coming to the rescue. David Cameron botched the Brexit campaign. Hillary Clinton stumbled through questions about the misunderstood Trans-Pacific Partnership and cringed whenever NAFTA came up. In the vacuum, wall-builders promise to revive a zombie version of American grandeur with more carbon, more credit, and a mercantilist crusade.

Global integration relied on the United States playing a vital stabilizing role in an otherwise turbulent world. After a long life, the seven decade-long American-led order is now exhausted. It was running out of steam anyway. But what comes next is not a simple process of slow sputtering out. In order to make America great again, a coalition of wall-builders and treaty-shredders will aim to upend the grand strategy that informed generations of thinking and policymaking since 1945. What the new regime in Washington promises to do now is to become the single-most important source of global instability.

Meanwhile, the emergent world order will be one deprived of a dominant actor. The world has yet to master the idea of leadership without dominance. And the unique moment in global history that produced the liberal Leviathan and allowed it to cobble together wholesale a system that gave the world relative peace and prosperity for decades is giving way to a more uncertain, fragile successor. The long cycle of integration and relative tolerance forged by U.S. leadership since World War II is now headed in reverse.
Source: http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/11/20/this-is-how-seven-decades-of-prosperity-and-tolerance-end-donald-trump-globalization/
The Liberal, Postwar ‘Order’ Is Dying - and That’s a Good Thing

Decades of unchallenged pre-eminence have left Americans fearful of change but also greatly in need of it.

Very curious to watch Donald Trump’s inauguration last week. These rituals are always heavy on signifiers and light on substance, as they are supposed to be, but Trump’s confirmation as our 45th president was an extreme case. I was especially interested to see whether the media’s cartoon rendering of reality during the campaign season would carry over once he moved into the White House. It will, as is already clear. We are treated to a preposterous rendering of Barack Obama’s virtues, and we are in for yet more exorbitant accounts of Trump’s shortcomings. Press reports this time around may be to journalism what graphic novels are to literature—filled with stick figures and stock imagery, wanting in all complexity.
Let’s be clear: There is plenty to brace for and defend as Donald Trump assumes the presidency. All those who marched in cities and towns across the planet last weekend did so with justification. But simplifications of the kind that our orthodox-liberal media foist upon us will not do. The obsessions with taste and style they encourage amount to schoolyard crudities when put against all that Americans ought to be concerned with. Contempt as a unifying principle, a thought that people who ought to know better now suggest, is unbecoming all around and holds no promise. The world and our moment, a moment of historical significance, whiz by. If you want to talk about resistance, the first thing to resist is blindness to events vastly more consequential than crowd counts and braggadocio.

“With the election of Donald Trump, the old world of the 20th century is finally over,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier wrote in Bild am Sonntag, the German tabloid, last Sunday. This is a very large assertion, not to be ignored. The German foreign minister, a Social Democrat in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s across-the-aisle coalition, is a curious figure. Since taking office in late 2013, he has consistently, if occasionally, voiced objections to American hegemony in global affairs. Read the sentence again: Steinmeier makes his observation with subtly plain relief. Should we Americans share Steinmeier’s apparent sense of anticipation for the end of something and the beginning of something else? This is our question.

President Trump has faced unceasing resistance from the Pentagon, NATO, and the national security apparatus ever since he proposed a renewed détente with Russia. He has made clear his disapproval of Washington’s “regime change” policies on many occasions. Trump has been preoccupied with the sacrifice of American jobs to corporate-written, corporate-indulgent trade accords for more than two decades, according to people who have followed him over the years. He may or may not succeed in doing much to remedy this abuse of the American working class, but that is a separate conversation. On Monday he formally killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama’s breathtakingly anti-democratic framework for radical deregulation. (Let us dispense with the fiction that the TPP was a trade deal; it was nothing of the kind).

Another way to pose the same question as above: What do we think of Trump’s positions on these issues? It is past time we all ask ourselves.

I wrote of the disgrace of our reigning Russophobia in a previous column. Nobody in Washington seems to have much to say just yet about “regime change,” but they will in due course. You are not encouraged to applaud the demise of the TPP for the devastating impact it would have had on employment, product safety, drug prices, the environment, Internet freedom, the democratic process, and much else. It reflected “a more complex corporate calculus,” as The New York Times preciously put it in Tuesday’s edition. One is absolutely certain it did.

These are all fronts in a conflict. It is between those defending the “liberal order,” as it is called, and those who propose either to alter it in significant aspects or to replace it. There is no precedent for this in my lifetime. One question at a time, it will be our responsibility to stand on one side or the other. No, Mama didn’t say there’d be days like this.

Liberalism has grown illiberal, and its order lies before us as a perilous disorder.

“How the world will look tomorrow is not settled,” Steinmeier wrote in his opinion-page piece. It is perfectly true, of course. And an excellent prospect, in my view. Any promise of change that purports to guarantee certainty cannot come to much. Sixty-odd years of more or less unchallenged pre-eminence have left most Americans fearful of change but also greatly in need of it. It has left our leadership incapable of it. Liberalism has grown illiberal—we know this now—and its order lies before us as a perilous disorder.

* * *

A defining feature of the new era is the dramatic emergence of numerous non-Western poles of power.

The customary phrase is “the post-1945 order,” referring to the American-dominated Western alliance and the institutions—the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade—set up to provide a multilateral frame for it. Scores of nations came into being, for this was the “independence era” too. When President Truman and Dean Acheson, his secretary of state, declared the Cold War official in 1947, the world divided into two: There was liberal democracy, and there was the Communist bloc. Note, however: this account must be bracketed with “supposedly.”

The post-1945 order was never so orderly, in truth. Many nations elected to remain neutral in the East-West conflict, making a third category. The four “Ns,” as I call them—Nehru, Nasser, Nkrumah, Nyerere—all led nonaligned nations, or did until Washington alienated them. So did Mossadegh, Sukarno, Arbenz, Lumumba, Ho, and many others. Since nonalignment was unacceptable to the United States, to say nothing of the socialist bloc as an alternative, coups—more than 30 US-cultivated, by accepted counts—became a common feature of the post-1945 order. The multilaterals turned out to be instruments for the imposition, usually by coercion, of neoliberal economic structures. As to the UN, I count the corruption of the ideal it represented one of the century’s great tragedies.

The post-1945 order is what is now at issue. But we are again stuck with “supposedly,” for the post-1945 order, such as it was, gave way to the post­–Cold War order after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. American triumphalism triumphed in the early 1990s, our “end of history” moment. Washington renamed coups as “regime changes” and observed no constraints whatsoever in conducting them. No pretense of abiding by international law remained, as the 2003 invasion of Iraq made plain. Deregulation, privatization, the wholesale dismantling of public-sector enterprises, the elimination of basic subsidies: The multilaterals made these and other such conditions mandatory in their country programs. “Savage capitalism,” the Argentines took to calling it in the 1990s. At Treasury and State, sanctions against uncooperative nations became à la mode.

Unfortunately for Francis Fukuyama et al., American triumphalism coincided with the dramatic emergence of numerous non-Western poles of power, notably China, Russia, India, and Iran. The history that had (again, supposedly) just ended turned out to be turning its wheel, as anyone with an understanding of how the world works could have foreseen. As a defining feature of the 21st century, this was inevitable, in my view. Not to be missed is the extent to which Washington’s persistent hubris and intolerance has come to turn natural affinities into economic and, vaguely for the time being, even strategic alliances: Russia-China, Russia-Iran, China­-Iran, and so on. China’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is frontally intended as a reply to the TPP, just as the Beijing-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is a response to the conditionality embedded in the multilaterals’ country programs. Those who think the Obama presidency did anything other than worsen the global disorder just described may benefit from some blunt language. Barack Obama backed neo-Nazis in Ukraine to precipitate a coup intended to be to America’s advantage. In Syria he supported radical Islamists to induce yet another “regime change”—a precise repeat of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s foolhardy gambit in Afghanistan. Obama allowed his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, to oversee the dispatch of Libya into chaos. His drone attacks, determined on the basis of an assassination list reviewed weekly, require no comment as to their legality or, indeed, decency. In my estimation, his most consequential legacies on the foreign side will be the wholly unnecessary animus toward Russia and China he has induced. This list is partial, but I add one more entry: Obama passed up a hundred opportunities to bring order to the 21st century by forging new relationships through which the United States could begin leaving the “post-1945 order” and its later offspring behind.

[...]

Source: https://www.thenation.com/article/the-liberal-postwar-order-is-dying-and-thats-a-good-thing/

Special Ops general: The government is in 'unbelievable turmoil'


The head of US Special Operations Command just gave a frank assessment of the state of the American government, and it wasn't pretty.  Speaking at a military conference in Maryland, Gen. Raymond Thomas told attendees: "Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil. I hope they sort it out soon because we're a nation at war."

Thomas didn't mention any specific issues with the government. But his remarks came less than a month into the Trump administration and less than a day after Michael Flynn abruptly resigned as national security adviser over the fallout of his having discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the US before Trump took office. A New York Times report published Tuesday evening also said Trump campaign officials spoke with Russian intelligence officials often before the election, and a Times investigation into Trump's National Security Council revealed a chaotic decision-making process. From The Times:
"Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump's Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them. Most are kept in the dark about what Mr. Trump tells foreign leaders in his phone calls. Some staff members have turned to encrypted communications to talk with their colleagues, after hearing that Mr. Trump's top advisers are considering an 'insider threat' program that could result in monitoring cellphones and emails for leaks." When asked later about his comments, Thomas told The Times: "As a commander, I'm concerned our government be as stable as possible." It's rather uncharacteristic for a top active-duty military officer to offer such public critiques, but it's not the first time. A military judge said earlier this week that Trump's campaign rhetoric about Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl on the campaign trail was "disturbing." Still, Thomas concluded that the Special Operations forces under his command — including Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces, and Marine Raiders — were "staying focused" despite the dysfunction in Washington.
Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/socom-commander-government-unbelievable-turmoil-2017-2

Coming Social Instability in America Predicted Years Ago, Researchers Say


A period of social instability is coming to the United States, and it was predicted years ago according to a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology who specializes in Cliodynamics at the University of Connecticut. To those who see the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States as a sign of the apocalypse, the idea that America might be headed for a bit of social instability probably does not seem that insightful. However, if you warned people it was coming 10 years ago and even laid out the evidence explaining why, then you might deserve a little credit of the “I told you so” variety.

That is kind of what Professor Peter Turchin says in a recent article posted to Phys.org. But the article isn’t a hindsight account of current affairs based on what has come to pass in recent months. Instead, it is a review of the work Turchin has published in recent years that predicted many of the types of social change we are currently experiencing. For instance, Turchin opened a brief 2010 article published in the journal Nature with the line, “The next decade is likely to be a period of growing instability in the United States and western Europe.”

Granted, that is a rather vague prediction, but England’s “Brexit” vote and the election of Donald Trump and the rise of the alt-right/neo-Nazi movement in the United States have unquestionably caused a higher-than-usual degree of social instability and unrest. And while the conflict in the Ukraine could be described as an Eastern European affair, it and the subsequent NATO realignment in the region have definitely caused some social anxiety in Western Europe. That’s not to mention the political challenges caused by tensions over immigration and the ongoing threat of terrorism (not to link the two causally) in the United States and Western Europe.  Turchin did offer some specific indicators that lead him to believe we were headed for a period of social instability in his Nature article.

“In the United States, we have stagnating or declining real wages, a growing gap between rich and poor, overproduction of young graduates with advanced degrees, and exploding public debt,” Turchin wrote.“These seemingly disparate social indicators are actually related to each other dynamically. They all experienced turning points during the 1970s. Historically, such developments have served as leading indicators of looming political instability.” If we didn’t know better, we’d say the parts about declining real wages, the gap between rich and poor and the growing number of college graduates (with the implication that they cannot find adequate jobs) all sound like they were torn straight from Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign stump speeches, except Turchin published them years prior. Turchin employees the study of Cliodynamics, which he describes as “a new ‘transdisciplinary discipline’ that treats history as just another science,” to predict social shifts in the United States. He began applying this approach to his research on social and political trends in the United States ten years ago. What I discovered alarmed me,” he admits in the Phys.org article.

Turchin predicted that social instability would reach a peak in the 2020s in the United States, and he now says that the election of Donald Trump does nothing to change this trajectory and may even exacerbate it. What concerns him most is the threat of what is known as “elite overproduction.”

“[T]here is another important development that has been missed by most commentators: the key role of ‘elite overproduction’ in driving waves of political violence, both in historical societies and in our own,” Turchin says, referring to a previous article he wrote for Bloomberg titled “Blame Rich, Overeducated Elites as Our Society Frays.”

Turchin notes that between 1983 and 2010, the number of American households worth $10 million or more grew from 66,000 to 350,000. Because wealthy people tend to be more politically connected, this growing number of wealthy elites creates intensified competition among them for political and social dominance. “Elite overproduction generally leads to more intra-elite competition that gradually undermines the spirit of cooperation, which is followed by ideological polarization and fragmentation of the political class,” Turchin says.“This happens because the more contenders there are, the more of them end up on the losing side. A large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable, has been denied access to elite positions.” In other words, it won’t just be the economically underprivileged, the working class and the middle class who will increasingly feel frustrated in the coming years. There will also be a growing number of the 1 and 2 percent competing with each other and pulling the social and political levers that they have greater access to. This, in turn, could lead to increased levels of social unrest. Here’s to hoping Turchin is wrong, but it definitely feels like we are entering a phase of social instability.
Source: http://www.inquisitr.com/3852666/coming-social-instability-in-america-predicted-years-ago-researcher-says/
George Soros 2012 Perdiction on the Coming U.S. Class War


You know George Soros. He’s the investor’s investor—the man who still holds the record for making more money in a single day’s trading than anyone. He pocketed $1 billion betting against the British pound on “Black Wednesday” in 1992, when sterling lost 20 percent of its value in less than 24 hours and crashed out of the European exchange-rate mechanism. No wonder Brits call him, with a mix of awe and annoyance, “the man who broke the Bank of England.”

Soros doesn’t make small bets on anything. Beyond the markets, he has plowed billions of dollars of his own money into promoting political freedom in Eastern Europe and other causes. He bet against the Bush White House, becoming a hate magnet for the right that persists to this day. So, as Soros and the world’s movers once again converge on Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum this week, what is one of the world’s highest-stakes economic gamblers betting on now?

He’s not. For the first time in his 60-year career, Soros, now 81, admits he is not sure what to do. “It’s very hard to know how you can be right, given the damage that was done during the boom years,” Soros says. He won’t discuss his portfolio, lest anyone think he’s talking things down to make a buck. But people who know him well say he advocates making long-term stock picks with solid companies, avoiding gold—“the ultimate bubble”—and, mainly, holding cash.

He’s not even doing the one thing that you would expect from a man who knows a crippled currency when he sees one: shorting the euro, and perhaps even the U.S. dollar, to hell. Quite the reverse. He backs the beleaguered euro, publicly urging European leaders to do whatever it takes to ensure its survival. “The euro must survive because the alternative—a breakup—would cause a meltdown that Europe, the world, can’t afford.” He has bought about $2 billion in European bonds, mainly Italian, from MF Global Holdings Ltd., the securities firm run by former Goldman Sachs head Jon Corzine that filed for bankruptcy protection last October.

Has the great short seller gone soft? Well, yes. Sitting in his 33rd-floor corner office high above Seventh Avenue in New York, preparing for his trip to Davos, he is more concerned with surviving than staying rich. “At times like these, survival is the most important thing,” he says, peering through his owlish glasses and brushing wisps of gray hair off his forehead. He doesn’t just mean it’s time to protect your assets. He means it’s time to stave off disaster. As he sees it, the world faces one of the most dangerous periods of modern history—a period of “evil.” Europe is confronting a descent into chaos and conflict. In America he predicts riots on the streets that will lead to a brutal clampdown that will dramatically curtail civil liberties. The global economic system could even collapse altogether.

“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”

Soros’s warning is based as much on his own extraordinary personal history as on his gut instinct for market booms and busts. “I did survive a personally much more threatening situation, so it is emotional, as well as rational,” he acknowledges. Soros was just 13 when Nazi soldiers invaded and occupied his native Hungary in March 1944. In only eight weeks, almost half a million Hungarian Jews were deported, many to Auschwitz. He saw bodies of Jews, and the Christians who helped them, swinging from lampposts, their skulls crushed. He survived, thanks to his father, Tivadar, who managed to secure false identities for his family. Later, he watched as Russian forces ousted the Nazis and a new totalitarian ideology, communism, replaced fascism. As life got tougher during the postwar Soviet occupation, Soros managed to emigrate, first to London, then to New York.

Soros draws on his past to argue that the global economic crisis is as significant, and unpredictable, as the end of communism. “The collapse of the Soviet system was a pretty extraordinary event, and we are currently experiencing something similar in the developed world, without fully realizing what’s happening.” To Soros, the spectacular debunking of the credo of efficient markets—the notion that markets are rational and can regulate themselves to avert disaster—“is comparable to the collapse of Marxism as a political system. The prevailing interpretation has turned out to be very misleading. It assumes perfect knowledge, which is very far removed from reality. We need to move from the Age of Reason to the Age of Fallibility in order to have a proper understanding of the problems.”

Understanding, he says, is key. “Unrestrained competition can drive people into actions that they would otherwise regret. The tragedy of our current situation is the unintended consequence of imperfect understanding. A lot of the evil in the world is actually not intentional. A lot of people in the financial system did a lot of damage without intending to.” Still, Soros believes the West is struggling to cope with the consequences of evil in the financial world just as former Eastern bloc countries struggled with it politically. Is he really saying that the financial whizzes behind our economic meltdown were not just wrong, but evil? “That’s correct.” Take that, Lloyd Blankfein, the Goldman Sachs boss who told The Sunday Times of London at the height of the financial crisis that bankers “do God’s work.”

To many, the idea of Soros lecturing the world on “evil” is, well, rich. Here, after all, is an investor who proved—and profited hugely from—the now much-derided notion that the market, or in his case a single investor, is more powerful than sovereign governments. He broke the Bank of England, destroyed the Conservative Party’s reputation for economic competence, and reduced the value of the pound in British consumers’ pockets by one fifth in a single day. Soros the currency speculator has been condemned as “unnecessary, unproductive, immoral.” Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister of Malaysia, once called him “criminal” and “a moron.”

In the U.S., where the right still has not forgiven him for agitating against President George W. Bush and the “war on terror” after 9/11, which he described as “pernicious,” his prediction of riots on the streets—“it’s already started,” he says—will likely spark fresh criticism that Soros is a “far-left, radical bomb thrower,” as Bill O’Reilly once put it. Critics already allege he is stoking the fires by funding the Occupy movement through Adbusters, the Canadian provocateurs who sparked the movement. Not so, says Soros.

Soros’s fragrant personal life will also prompt many to pooh-pooh his moralizing. Last year, Adriana Ferreyr, his 28-year-old companion for many years, sued him in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, alleging he reneged on two separate promises to buy her an apartment, causing her extreme emotional distress. Ferreyr, a former soap-opera star in Brazil, said Soros had given the apartment he had promised her to another girlfriend. She also claimed he assaulted her. Soros has dismissed Ferreyr’s claims as “frivolous and entirely without merit” and “riddled with false charges and obviously an attempt to extract money.”

Despite his baggage, the man who now views himself as a statesman-philanthropist is undeterred. Having profited from unregulated markets, he now wants to deliver us from them. Take Europe. He’s now convinced that “if you have a disorderly collapse of the euro, you have the danger of a revival of the political conflicts that have torn Europe apart over the centuries—an extreme form of nationalism, which manifests itself in xenophobia, the exclusion of foreigners and ethnic groups. In Hitler’s time, that was focused on the Jews. Today, you have that with the Gypsies, the Roma, which is a small minority, and also, of course, Muslim immigrants.”

It is “now more likely than not” that Greece will formally default in 2012, Soros will tell leaders in Davos this week. He will castigate European leaders who seem to know only how to “do enough to calm the situation, not to solve the problem.” If Germany’s Angela Merkel or France’s Nicolas Sarkozy nurses any lingering hopes of finding their salvation outside the continent, they are mistaken. “I took a recent trip to China, and China won’t come to Europe’s rescue,” Soros says. Despite all its woes, he nevertheless thinks the euro will—just barely—survive.

While Soros, whose new book, Financial Turmoil in Europe and the United States, will be published in early February, is currently focused on Europe, he’s quick to claim that economic and social divisions in the U.S. will deepen, too. He sympathizes with the Occupy movement, which articulates a widespread disillusionment with capitalism that he shares. People “have reason to be frustrated and angry” at the cost of rescuing the banking system, a cost largely borne by taxpayers rather than shareholders or bondholders.

Occupy Wall Street “is an inchoate, leaderless manifestation of protest,” but it will grow. It has “put on the agenda issues that the institutional left has failed to put on the agenda for a quarter of a century.” He reaches for analysis, produced by the political blog ThinkProgress.org, that shows how the Occupy movement has pushed issues of unemployment up the agenda of major news organizations, including MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News. It reveals that in one week in July of last year the word “debt” was mentioned more than 7,000 times on major U.S. TV news networks. By October, mentions of the word “debt” had dropped to 398 over the course of a week, while “occupy” was mentioned 1,278 times, “Wall Street” 2,378 times, and “jobs” 2,738 times. You can’t keep a financier away from his metrics.

As anger rises, riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable. “Yes, yes, yes,” he says, almost gleefully. The response to the unrest could be more damaging than the violence itself. “It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.”

In spite of his warnings of political turmoil in the U.S., he has no plans to engage in politics directly. “I would prefer not to be involved in party politics. It’s only because I felt that the Bush administration was misleading the country that I became involved. I was very hopeful of a new beginning with Obama, and I’ve been somewhat disappointed. I remain a supporter of the Democratic Party, but I’m fully aware of their shortcomings.” Soros believes Obama still has a chance of winning this year’s election. “Obama might surprise the public. The main issue facing the electorate is whether the rich should be taxed more. It shouldn’t be a difficult argument for Obama to make.”

If there is a glimmer of hope for the world in 2012, Soros believes it lies in emerging markets. The democratic-reform movement that has spread across the Middle East, the rise of democracy and economic growth in Africa, even reform in Russia may yet drag the world out of the mire. “While the developed world is in a deep crisis, the future for the developing world is very positive. The aspiration of people for an open society is very inspiring. You have people in Africa lining up for many hours when they are given an opportunity to vote. Dictators have been overthrown. It is very encouraging for freedom and growth.”

Soros insists the key to avoiding cataclysm in 2012 is not to let the crises of 2011 go to waste. “In the crisis period, the impossible becomes possible. The European Union could regain its luster. I’m hopeful that the United States, as a political entity, will pass a very severe test and actually strengthen the institution.” Nor has he quite given up hope that the central bankers and prime ministers gathering in Davos this week have got what it takes to rally round and prove him wrong. This time, being wrong would make him happy indeed.  
Source: http://www.newsweek.com/george-soros-coming-us-class-war-64271


George Soros predicts riots, police state and civil war for America


Billionaire investor George Soros has a new prediction for America. While it might be as dire as it gets for the financial wiz, this bet concerns more than just the value of the buck. According to Soros, there's about to be an all-out class war.
Soros, 81, previously bet against the British pound in the early 90s and made $1 billion off its collapse. In the years since, he’s remained active in investing, but also in advocacy. He’s helped keep Wikipedia afloat thanks to impressive contributions and through donations to the Tides Center, has indirectly funded Adbusters, the Canadian anti-capitalist magazine that put Occupy Wall Street on the map. Speaking to Newsweek recently, Soros neglected to acknowledge his past successes, but instead offered a word of warning: a period of “evil” is coming to the western world.

“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”

Soros goes on to compare the current state of the western world with what the Soviet Union was facing as communism crumbled. Although he would think that history would have taught the globe a thing or two about noticing trends, Soros says that, despite past events providing a perfect example of what is to come, the end of an empire seems imminent.

“The collapse of the Soviet system was a pretty extraordinary event, and we are currently experiencing something similar in the developed world, without fully realizing what’s happening,” adds Soros.

Soros goes on to say that as the crisis in the Eurozone only worsens, the American financial system will continue to be hit hard. On the way to a full-blown collapse, he cautions, Americans should expect society to alter accordingly. Riots will hit the streets, says Soros, and as a result, “It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.”

The recent adoption of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 and the proposed Enemy Expatriation Act, if approved, have already very well paved the way for such a society. Under the NDAA, the US government is allowed to indefinitely detain and torture American citizens suspected of terror crimes without ever bringing them to trial. Should lawmakers Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Charles Dent (R-PA) get their Enemy Expatriation Act through Congress, the US will also be able to simply revoke citizenship without trial, essentially removing constitutional rights from anyone deemed a threat.

Others have cautioned that, as inequality becomes more rampant in America, the country’s citizens are becoming increasingly agitated with those on the other side of the extreme. In a recent survey released by the Pew Research Center, 66 percent of the adults studied believe that either “very strong” or “strong” conflicts exist between America’s elite and the impoverished, a statistic that has skyrocketed in recent years. Between 2009 and 20011, the proportion of those that sense conflicts exist as such between the class groups grew by 19 percentage points. While less than half of Americans fearing a fight brewing at the dawn of the Obama administration, today two-out-of-three Americans feel that there is a strong conflict between both extremes of society.

Addressing the issue of inequality, Soros tells Newsweek that the main issue that will make or break a reelection for US President Barack Obama will be whether or not the rich end up being taxed more. Among the current frontrunners in the Republic Party’s race for the GOP nomination, wealth and taxes have been of the biggest concern of party rivals. The top candidates have made millions off of investments, and at a time of immense inequality, represent what 99 percent of Americans don’t. Taxing the rich to a bigger degree might finally bring a chance, and Soros says, “It shouldn’t be a difficult argument for Obama to make.”

Soros adds that if the US manages to make it through the troubled times to come, it come allow the nation to enter another golden era. “In the crisis period, the impossible becomes possible. The European Union could regain its luster. I’m hopeful that the United States, as a political entity, will pass a very severe test and actually strengthen the institution,” he tells Newsweek. With almost seven percent of Americans living below half of the poverty line, four unemployed Americans for each job, a shrinking middle class and an increasingly overzealous police state, it could very well be a tough road to get there, though. 
Source: https://www.rt.com/usa/george-soros-class-war-619/
Ways to Get Rid of President Trump Before 2020


Why you need to read the 25th Amendment now
Are we really stuck with this guy? It’s the question being asked around the globe, because Donald Trump’s first week as president has made it all too clear: Yes, he is as crazy as everyone feared. Remember those optimistic pre-inauguration fantasies? I cherished them, too. You know: “Once he’s president, I’m sure he’ll realize it doesn’t really make sense to withdraw from all those treaties.” “Once he’s president, surely he’ll understand that he needs to stop tweeting out those random insults.” “Once he’s president, he’ll have to put aside that ridiculous campaign braggadocio about building a wall along the Mexican border.” And so on.

Nope. In his first week in office, Trump has made it eminently clear that he meant every loopy, appalling word — and then some.

The result so far: The president of China is warning against trade wars and declaring that Beijing will take up the task of defending globalization and free trade against American protectionism. The president of Mexico has canceled a state visit to Washington, and prominent Mexican leaders say Trump’s proposed border wall “could take us to a war — not a trade war.” Senior leaders in Trump’s own party are denouncing the new president’s claims of widespread voter fraud and his reported plans to reopen CIA “black sites.” Oh, and the entire senior management team at the U.S. Department of State has resigned.

Meanwhile, Trump’s approval ratings are lower than those of any new U.S. president in the history of polling: Just 36 percent of Americans are pleased with his performance so far. Some 80 percent of British citizens think Trump will make a “bad president,” along with 77 percent of those polled in France and 78 percent in Germany.

And that’s just week one. Thus the question: Are we truly stuck with Donald Trump? It depends. There are essentially four ways to get rid of a crummy president.There are essentially four ways to get rid of a crummy president. First, of course, the world can just wait patiently for November 2020 to roll around, at which point, American voters will presumably have come to their senses and be prepared to throw the bum out.
But after such a catastrophic first week, four years seems like a long time to wait. This brings us to option two: impeachment. Under the U.S. Constitution, a simple majority in the House of Representatives could vote to impeach Trump for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors.” If convicted by the Senate on a two-thirds vote, Trump could be removed from office — and a new poll suggests that after week one, more than a third of Americans are already eager to see Trump impeached.

If impeachment seems like a fine solution to you, the good news is that Congress doesn’t need evidence of actual treason or murder to move forward with an impeachment: Practically anything can be considered a “high crime or misdemeanor.” (Remember, former President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky). The bad news is that Republicans control both the House and the Senate, making impeachment politically unlikely, unless and until Democrats retake Congress. And that can’t happen until the elections of 2018.

Anyway, impeachments take time: months, if not longer — even with an enthusiastic Congress. And when you have a lunatic controlling the nuclear codes, even a few months seems like a perilously long time to wait. How long will it take before Trump decides that “you’re fired” is a phrase that should also apply to nuclear missiles? (Aimed, perhaps, at Mexico?)

In these dark days, some around the globe are finding solace in the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. This previously obscure amendment states that “the Vice President and a majority of … the principal officers of the executive departments” can declare the president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” in which case “the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”


This is option three for getting rid of Trump: an appeal to Vice President Mike Pence’s ambitions. Surely Pence wants to be president himself one day, right? Pence isn’t exactly a political moderate — he’s been unremittingly hostile to gay rights, he’s a climate change skeptic, etc. — but, unappealing as his politics may be to many Americans, he does not appear to actually be insane. (This is the new threshold for plausibility in American politics: “not actually insane.”)

Presumably, Pence is sane enough to oppose rash acts involving, say, the evisceration of all U.S. military alliances or America using nuclear weapons first — and presumably, if things got bad enough, other Trump cabinet members might also be inclined to oust their boss and replace him with his vice president. Congress would have to acquiesce in a permanent 25th Amendment removal, but if Pence and half the cabinet declared Trump unfit, even a Republican-controlled Congress would likely fall in line.

The fourth possibility is one that until recently I would have said was unthinkable in the United States of America: a military coup, or at least a refusal by military leaders to obey certain orders.

The principle of civilian control of the military has been deeply internalized by the U.S. military, which prides itself on its nonpartisan professionalism. What’s more, we know that a high-ranking lawbreaker with even a little subtlety can run rings around the uniformed military. During the first years of the George W. Bush administration, for instance, formal protests from the nation’s senior-most military lawyers didn’t stop the use of torture. When military leaders objected to tactics such as waterboarding, the Bush administration simply bypassed the military, getting the CIA and private contractors to do their dirty work.

But Trump isn’t subtle or sophisticated: He sets policy through rants and late-night tweets, not through quiet hints to aides and lawyers. He’s thin-skinned, erratic, and unconstrained — and his unexpected, self-indulgent pronouncements are reportedly sending shivers through even his closest aides.

What would top U.S. military leaders do if given an order that struck them as not merely ill-advised, but dangerously unhinged? An order that wasn’t along the lines of “Prepare a plan to invade Iraq if Congress authorizes it based on questionable intelligence,” but “Prepare to invade Mexico tomorrow!” or “Start rounding up Muslim Americans and sending them to Guantánamo!” or “I’m going to teach China a lesson — with nukes!”

It’s impossible to say, of course. The prospect of American military leaders responding to a presidential order with open defiance is frightening — but so, too, is the prospect of military obedience to an insane order. After all, military officers swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not the president. For the first time in my life, I can imagine plausible scenarios in which senior military officials might simply tell the president: “No, sir. We’re not doing that,” to thunderous applause from the New York Times editorial board. Brace yourselves. One way or another, it’s going to be a wild few years.
Source: http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/30/3-ways-to-get-rid-of-president-trump-before-2020-impeach-25th-amendment-coup/
Anarchists Respond to Trump’s Inauguration, by Any Means Necessary

The videotaped sucker punch that staggered the white nationalist Richard Spencer on Inauguration Day quickly inspired mockery on social media. But it echoed loudly in an escalating confrontation between extreme ends of the political spectrum. With far-right groups edging into the mainstream with the rise of President Trump, self-described anti-fascists and anarchists are vowing to confront them at every turn, and by any means necessary — including violence.

In Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday night, masked protesters set fires, smashed windows and stormed buildings on the campus of the University of California to shut down a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, an inflammatory Breitbart News editor and a right-wing provocateur already barred from Twitter. Five people were injured, administrators canceled the event, and the university police locked down the campus for hours. That followed a bloody melee in Seattle on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, when black-clad demonstrators — their faces concealed to minimize the risk of arrest — tried to prevent a speech by Mr. Yiannopoulos at the University of Washington, and a 34-year-old anti-fascist was shot and seriously wounded by a supporter of Mr. Yiannopoulos.

The outbreaks of destruction and violence since Mr. Trump’s inauguration have earned contempt from Republicans — including Trump supporters who say it is exactly why they voted for his promises of law and order — and condemnation from Democrats like Berkeley’s mayor, Jesse Arreguín. He called Wednesday’s display “contrary to progressive values” and said it “provided the ultranationalist far right exactly the images they want” to try to discredit peaceful protesters of Mr. Trump’s policies. But anarchists and anti-fascists, who often make up a small but disproportionately attention-getting portion of protesters, defend the mayhem they create as a necessary response to an emergency.

“Yes, what the black bloc did last night was destructive to property,” Eric Laursen, a writer in Massachusetts who has helped publicize anarchist protests, said, using another name for the black-clad demonstrators. “But do you just let someone like Milo go wherever he wants and spread his hate? That kind of argument can devolve into ‘just sit on your hands and wait for it to pass.’ And it doesn’t.”

Anarchists also say their recent efforts have been wildly successful, both by focusing attention on their most urgent argument — that Mr. Trump poses a fascist threat — and by enticing others to join their movement. “The number of people who have been showing up to meetings, the number of meetings, and the number of already-evolving plans for future actions is through the roof,” Legba Carrefour, who helped organize the so-called Disrupt J20 protests on Inauguration Day in Washington, said in an interview.

“Gained 1,000 followers in the last week,” trumpeted @NYCAntifa, an anti-fascist Twitter account in New York, on Jan. 24. “Pretty crazy for us as we’ve been active for many years with minimal attention. SMASH FASCISM!” The movement even claims to be finding adherents far afield of major population centers. A participant in CrimethInc, a decades-old anarchist network, pointed to rising attendance at its meetings and activity cropping up in new places like Omaha. “The Left ignores us. The Right demonizes us,” the anarchist website It’s Going Down boasted on Twitter. “Everyday we grow stronger.”

Little known to practitioners of mainstream American politics, militant anti-fascists make up a secretive culture closely associated with anarchists. Both reject social hierarchies as undemocratic and eschew the political parties as hopelessly corrupt, according to interviews with a dozen anarchists around the country. While some anarchists espouse nonviolence, others view property damage and even physical attacks on the far right as important tactics. While extreme right-wing groups have been enthusiastic supporters of Mr. Trump, anti-fascists express deep disdain for the Democratic Party. And it is mutual, by and large: They amount to the left’s unwanted revolutionary stepchild, disowned for their tactics and ideology by all but the most radical politicians.

Anarchists came to the fore in 1999, when they mounted a huge demonstration in Seattle against the World Trade Organization, which they denounce — along with Nafta and other free-trade pacts — as a plutocratic back-room group that exploits the poor. Enthusiasm for the movement dipped after the election of President Barack Obama. But it revived as they played a role in some of the most consequential protests during his two terms, starting Occupy Wall Street and serving as foot soldiers in demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock in North Dakota and in Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere.

“We’ve had an enormous cultural and political impact,” said David Graeber, a professor at the London School of Economics who helped organize the Occupy protests and has been credited with coining its “we are the 99 percent” slogan. He said the movement had elevated income inequality to the top of the Democratic political agenda, despite not electing anyone or enacting any legislation. But he said Mr. Trump’s victory had proved that anarchists’ diagnosis of society’s ills was correct. “We tried to warn you, with Occupy,” Dr. Graeber said. “We understood that people were sick of the political system, which is fundamentally corrupt. People want something radically different.”

Mr. Trump’s tirades against trade deals, globalization and a Washington elite he views as corrupt mirror arguments that anarchists have been making for decades. But his claim that he alone can fix America’s problems flies in the face of anarchists’ conviction that only direct action by ordinary people can produce a fair system. “Fascism fetishizes having a strong leader who is decisive and tells everyone what to do,” Mr. Laursen, the writer, said. “That’s what we are seeing with Trump.”

Fueled in part by Mr. Trump’s political success, violent clashes between the far right and far left erupted several times during the presidential campaign. In Anaheim, Calif., last February, three people were stabbed in a brawl after anti-fascists disrupted a Ku Klux Klan rally. And in Sacramento in June, at least five people were stabbed and eight wounded when hundreds of counterprotesters, including anti-fascists, clashed with skinheads at a rally.

But the confrontations seemed to shift into a new gear on the eve of Mr. Trump’s inauguration. On Jan. 19, anti-fascists tried to block the entrance to the “DeploraBall,” a party for Trump supporters. The next day, 230 people were arrested after anarchists dressed in black broke the windows of a bank with baseball bats and set a limousine on fire. (Mr. Spencer, the white nationalist, whose assailant was not arrested, was not the only person struck: A videographer was struck in the chest with a flagpole — he was unharmed — as he tried to interview marching anarchists about what the word “community” meant to them.)

One of those arrested, a self-described anarchist who insisted on anonymity to avoid aiding in his own prosecution, said the goal of the protests — to get television stations to cut away from the inauguration, even for a moment — had been met. “Certainly, it has brought more attention to people who were against Trump and what he stands for,” the man said by telephone. The question now is whether anarchists’ efforts against Mr. Trump — whether merely colorful and spirited, or lawless and potentially lethal — will earn their fringe movement a bigger presence in the battle of ideas in years to come.

“It’s true that a lot of people who consider themselves liberals or progressives still cling to the idea that you can effect social and economic change in the context of the state, through electoral politics,” Mr. Laursen said. “But more and more, it is going to become necessary for people on the left to think like anarchists if they are going to get anywhere.”

If the Berkeley disturbances have invited widespread denunciations, the on-camera punch of Mr. Spencer inflamed emotions on both the left and the right wing. Mr. Spencer has offered a reward for anyone who can identify his attacker, who wore the telltale clothing and face-covering of the anarchist “black bloc.” But anarchists in Philadelphia have already begun raising funds for the man’s legal defense should he ever be caught.

Under the hashtag #PunchRichardSpencerAgain, anti-fascists and anarchists across the country are vowing to continue the fight. “May all your punches hit Nazis,” read a headline on It’s Going Down on Sunday. A few days earlier, the website gleefully announced on Twitter that Mr. Spencer was planning a tour of college campuses, adding, “Everyone will get their chance!”
Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/02/us/anarchists-respond-to-trumps-inauguration-by-any-means-necessary.html?hp&_r=0

The anti-Trump resistance will fail if we don't ditch establishment Democrats

If the last week has shown us anything, it’s that Donald Trump has power, but he doesn’t have much of a mandate yet. We need to keep it that way – and be wary of the bad political leadership and strategy that can help him build one. November’s election is a powerful reminder that the Clinton establishment’s mix of socially inclusive rhetoric and neoliberal economics is a weak response to xenophobic populism.

An anti-Trump resistance movement must be broad, but it must direct its anger and energy not just at the enemy in the White House, but the failed leadership that let him get there. The Tea Party movement couldn’t have emerged with Bob Dole and George W Bush among their leaders. We can’t build our anti-Trump resistance, settled with generations of unpopular Democratic party leaders either.

The alternative must come from below – and certainly protests like the Women’s March are inspiring starts. Millions marched, many of whom had never attended a political protest before. It was hopefully a sign of things to come. Yet it is crucial that we know what this broad movement is for, as well as what it is against.
 
For years, myself and others posed a divide in the Democratic party that seemingly existed only notionally: a gap between social democratic demands at the base of the party and technocratic neoliberalism at the top of it. The Sanders campaign made that divide more real and tangible – it stirred a rabid opposition to Clintonism within millions of people, many of them politicized for the first time, and more importantly presented an alternative politics.

Now a whole generation of Sanders Democrats are engaged in a process that at its best creatively produces divisions and polarizations within the party that complements the organizing that is going on outside of it.

The broad sketches of an alternative-left politics in the Trump era are emerging. Socialists and others are doing their part building social movements organized around real, uncompromising demands for things such as free public higher education and a dignified healthcare system to expand the base for progressive politics, while using local elections (both within Democratic primaries and as independents) to spread their message far and wide. But though he’s seemingly in disarray now, we must be wary of the ways in which Trump’s support can easily be bolstered.
 
We should be very afraid when the president of the Building Trades Unions umbrella group, Sean McGarvey, calls the meeting he had with Trump last week the best of his life. Our response in the labor movement must be to support rank-and-file struggles against leaders prone to conciliation for even the most meager of concessions. We must demand the same accountability from liberal organizations and the Democratic party as well.

There is no doubt that this stance will put like-minded leftists and liberals in direct confrontation with establishment Democrats and their assorted lackies. There is every reason to believe that if confronted, this caste can be overtaken. We’re in a shocking new political era. Just in the past few months, thousands of people have joined leftwing organizations such as the Democratic Socialists of America, and millions more are trying to get active politically at the local level.

But we’ve seen time and time again – the antiwar movement of the 2000s being just the most recent example – of what happens when people subordinate all other political priorities to fighting Enemy No 1.

Trump is bad and needs to resisted, we all know that. But the Sanders left and its allies are the only force in the US that have the ideas that can win an immediate majority in this country: a class-based movement for jobs and justice. That vision must triumph over not just Trump, but the Democratic leadership. Because, frankly, it might be the last hope for democratic politics in this country. Now more than ever we need something to fight for, not just something to fight against.
Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/31/anti-trump-resistance-fail-ditch-establishment-democrats
How to Build an Autocracy
 
It’s 2021, and President Donald Trump will shortly be sworn in for his second term. The 45th president has visibly aged over the past four years. He rests heavily on his daughter Ivanka’s arm during his infrequent public appearances. Fortunately for him, he did not need to campaign hard for reelection. His has been a popular presidency: Big tax cuts, big spending, and big deficits have worked their familiar expansive magic. Wages have grown strongly in the Trump years, especially for men without a college degree, even if rising inflation is beginning to bite into the gains. The president’s supporters credit his restrictive immigration policies and his TrumpWorks infrastructure program.


The president’s critics, meanwhile, have found little hearing for their protests and complaints. A Senate investigation of Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential campaign sputtered into inconclusive partisan wrangling. Concerns about Trump’s purported conflicts of interest excited debate in Washington but never drew much attention from the wider American public.

Allegations of fraud and self-dealing in the TrumpWorks program, and elsewhere, have likewise been shrugged off. The president regularly tweets out news of factory openings and big hiring announcements: “I’m bringing back your jobs,” he has said over and over. Voters seem to have believed him—and are grateful. Most Americans intuit that their president and his relatives have become vastly wealthier over the past four years. But rumors of graft are easy to dismiss. Because Trump has never released his tax returns, no one really knows.

Anyway, doesn’t everybody do it? On the eve of the 2018 congressional elections, WikiLeaks released years of investment statements by prominent congressional Democrats indicating that they had long earned above-market returns. As the air filled with allegations of insider trading and crony capitalism, the public subsided into weary cynicism. The Republicans held both houses of Congress that November, and Trump loyalists shouldered aside the pre-Trump leadership.

The business community learned its lesson early. “You work for me, you don’t criticize me,” the president was reported to have told one major federal contractor, after knocking billions off his company’s stock-market valuation with an angry tweet. Wise business leaders take care to credit Trump’s personal leadership for any good news, and to avoid saying anything that might displease the president or his family.

The media have grown noticeably more friendly to Trump as well. The proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner was delayed for more than a year, during which Time Warner’s CNN unit worked ever harder to meet Trump’s definition of fairness. Under the agreementthat settled the Department of Justice’s antitrust complaint against Amazon, the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has divested himself of The Washington Post. The paper’s new owner—an investor group based in Slovakia—has closed the printed edition and refocused the paper on municipal politics and lifestyle coverage.

Meanwhile, social media circulate ever-wilder rumors. Some people believe them; others don’t. It’s hard work to ascertain what is true.

Nobody’s repealed the First Amendment, of course, and Americans remain as free to speak their minds as ever—provided they can stomach seeing their timelines fill up with obscene abuse and angry threats from the pro-Trump troll armies that police Facebook and Twitter. Rather than deal with digital thugs, young people increasingly drift to less political media like Snapchat and Instagram.

Trump-critical media do continue to find elite audiences. Their investigations still win Pulitzer Prizes; their reporters accept invitations to anxious conferences about corruption, digital-journalism standards, the end of nato, and the rise of populist authoritarianism. Yet somehow all of this earnest effort feels less and less relevant to American politics. President Trump communicates with the people directly via his Twitter account, ushering his supporters toward favorable information at Fox News or Breitbart.

Despite the hand-wringing, the country has in many ways changed much less than some feared or hoped four years ago. Ambitious Republican plans notwithstanding, the American social-welfare system, as most people encounter it, has remained largely intact during Trump’s first term. The predicted wave of mass deportations of illegal immigrants never materialized. A large illegal workforce remains in the country, with the tacit understanding that so long as these immigrants avoid politics, keeping their heads down and their mouths shut, nobody will look very hard for them.

African Americans, young people, and the recently naturalized encounter increasing difficulties casting a vote in most states. But for all the talk of the rollback of rights, corporate America still seeks diversity in employment. Same-sex marriage remains the law of the land. Americans are no more and no less likely to say “Merry Christmas” than they were before Trump took office.

People crack jokes about Trump’s National Security Agency listening in on them. They cannot deeply mean it; after all, there’s no less sexting in America today than four years ago. Still, with all the hacks and leaks happening these days—particularly to the politically outspoken—it’s just common sense to be careful what you say in an email or on the phone. When has politics not been a dirty business? When have the rich and powerful not mostly gotten their way? The smart thing to do is tune out the political yammer, mind your own business, enjoy a relatively prosperous time, and leave the questions to the troublemakers.

In an 1888 lecture, James Russell Lowell, a founder of this magazine, challenged the happy assumption that the Constitution was a “machine that would go of itself.” Lowell was right. Checks and balances is a metaphor, not a mechanism.

Everything imagined above—and everything described below—is possible only if many people other than Donald Trump agree to permit it. It can all be stopped, if individual citizens and public officials make the right choices. The story told here, like that told by Charles Dickens’s Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, is a story not of things that will be, but of things that may be. Other paths remain open. It is up to Americans to decide which one the country will follow.

No society, not even one as rich and fortunate as the United States has been, is guaranteed a successful future. When early Americans wrote things like “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” they did not do so to provide bromides for future bumper stickers. They lived in a world in which authoritarian rule was the norm, in which rulers habitually claimed the powers and assets of the state as their own personal property.

The exercise of political power is different today than it was then—but perhaps not so different as we might imagine. Larry Diamond, a sociologist at Stanford, has described the past decade as a period of “democratic recession.” Worldwide, the number of democratic states has diminished. Within many of the remaining democracies, the quality of governance has deteriorated.

What has happened in Hungary since 2010 offers an example—and a blueprint for would-be strongmen. Hungary is a member state of the European Union and a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights. It has elections and uncensored internet. Yet Hungary is ceasing to be a free country.

The transition has been nonviolent, often not even very dramatic. Opponents of the regime are not murdered or imprisoned, although many are harassed with building inspections and tax audits. If they work for the government, or for a company susceptible to government pressure, they risk their jobs by speaking out. Nonetheless, they are free to emigrate anytime they like. Those with money can even take it with them. Day in and day out, the regime works more through inducements than through intimidation. The courts are packed, and forgiving of the regime’s allies. Friends of the government win state contracts at high prices and borrow on easy terms from the central bank. Those on the inside grow rich by favoritism; those on the outside suffer from the general deterioration of the economy. As one shrewd observer told me on a recent visit, “The benefit of controlling a modern state is less the power to persecute the innocent, more the power to protect the guilty.”

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s rule over Hungary does depend on elections. These remain open and more or less free—at least in the sense that ballots are counted accurately. Yet they are not quite fair. Electoral rules favor incumbent power-holders in ways both obvious and subtle. Independent media lose advertising under government pressure; government allies own more and more media outlets each year. The government sustains support even in the face of bad news by artfully generating an endless sequence of controversies that leave culturally conservative Hungarians feeling misunderstood and victimized by liberals, foreigners, and Jews.If this were happening in Honduras, we’d know what to call it. It’s happening here instead, and so we are baffled.

You could tell a similar story of the slide away from democracy in South Africa under Nelson Mandela’s successors, in Venezuela under the thug-thief Hugo Chávez, or in the Philippines under the murderous Rodrigo Duterte. A comparable transformation has recently begun in Poland, and could come to France should Marine Le Pen, the National Front’s candidate, win the presidency.

Outside the Islamic world, the 21st century is not an era of ideology. The grand utopian visions of the 19th century have passed out of fashion. The nightmare totalitarian projects of the 20th have been overthrown or have disintegrated, leaving behind only outdated remnants: North Korea, Cuba. What is spreading today is repressive kleptocracy, led by rulers motivated by greed rather than by the deranged idealism of Hitler or Stalin or Mao. Such rulers rely less on terror and more on rule-twisting, the manipulation of information, and the co-optation of elites.

The United States is of course a very robust democracy. Yet no human contrivance is tamper-proof, a constitutional democracy least of all. Some features of the American system hugely inhibit the abuse of office: the separation of powers within the federal government; the division of responsibilities between the federal government and the states. Federal agencies pride themselves on their independence; the court system is huge, complex, and resistant to improper influence.

Yet the American system is also perforated by vulnerabilities no less dangerous for being so familiar. Supreme among those vulnerabilities is reliance on the personal qualities of the man or woman who wields the awesome powers of the presidency. A British prime minister can lose power in minutes if he or she forfeits the confidence of the majority in Parliament. The president of the United States, on the other hand, is restrained first and foremost by his own ethics and public spirit. What happens if somebody comes to the high office lacking those qualities?

Over the past generation, we have seen ominous indicators of a breakdown of the American political system: the willingness of congressional Republicans to push the United States to the brink of a default on its national obligations in 2013 in order to score a point in budget negotiations; Barack Obama’s assertion of a unilateral executive power to confer legal status upon millions of people illegally present in the United States—despite his own prior acknowledgment that no such power existed.

Donald Trump, however, represents something much more radical. A president who plausibly owes his office at least in part to a clandestine intervention by a hostile foreign intelligence service? Who uses the bully pulpit to target individual critics? Who creates blind trusts that are not blind, invites his children to commingle private and public business, and somehow gets the unhappy members of his own political party either to endorse his choices or shrug them off? If this were happening in Honduras, we’d know what to call it. It’s happening here instead, and so we are baffled.

[...]


Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/03/how-to-build-an-autocracy/513872/
Ron Paul: Economic Collapse Imminent - Trump will Get the Blame Instead of the FED

If former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is correct, an Economic Doomsday is here. The second financial bubble is going to soon burst, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. That’s because, as Paul stated, the Federal Reserve has set up the American economy for financial collapse for printing trillions of dollars back in 2008 and 2009.

“The Federal Reserve’s policies of printing trillions of dollars back in ’08-09 have locked into place a serious financial crisis at some point in our future,” Paul stated. Going so far as to intimate the financial collapse will occur at least some time in the next two years Paul wrote, “It’s unavoidable, and even Donald Trump can’t stop it.”


Paul said Trump will be the patsy for the supposed impending financial ruin. Just like everyone blamed Obama for the financial collapse in 2009, this time, “Trump will unfairly get the blame,” the former Texas representative wrote. Paul bases his comments on reports he says he’s read which concludes that within the next 18-24 months, the collapse will happen.

The former congressman further explained he’s still holding out hope for Trump to make changes which can help to protect America’s future, but pointed out some of Trump’s staff has direct connections to Wall Street. He’s also concerned Trump’s war against radical Islam is a war Trump cannot win because it’s a war against an ideology, much like America’s failed attempt at defeating communism.

Paul believes Trump’s moving in the right direction to protect America’s interests by canceling America’s involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement with Asia. Paul also hopes Trump will pull American troops out of the at least 7 countries in which it is currently deployed and engaged in military conflict. “I say just come home,” Paul said when addressing having our military presence overseas. “Just get out of there and let the local people sort (the conflict) this out,” Paul said in response to how America should deal with hot spots like the Ukraine and Syria.

Paul believes the former administration’s posturing and threatening of China was misguided and stated we’d be better of trading goods with China, and all of Asia, rather than trading threats. However, as te Free Thought Project pointed out, Trump is already carrying on this dangerous posture — and China is responding.

Paul warns there’s going to be an acceleration of black ops operations by the CIA and Special Forces missions such as the joint special operations command (JSOC) which, as The Free Thought Project has reported, answers directly to the President of the United States.

Paul, who has never supported Trump is concerned about Trump’s ego, wondering if he’s going to act on his impulses to go after the ideology of radical Islam. Paul reminded his viewers that the way to create more jihadists is to keep on provoking the moderate Muslims into becoming radicalized by reacting to U.S. military actions overseas — the exact same thing Trump is doing right now.

Paul praised President Obama’s actions to normalize relations with Cuba and he hopes that with all of the policy decisions the Trump administration is making, that Trump will maintain the policy Obama implemented with Cuba and continue to keep the negotiations open with our closest Southern Caribbean neighbor.

Paul noted that he thinks U.S. policy has created a “failed system” in the country. “All empires end and we’re the empire. It’s going to end and it’s going to be for economic reasons…we’re going to fail because we’re working within a failed system…this is a monetary problem…a spending problem…it’s going to be financial,” Paul emphatically claimed, once again stating the collapse of America is imminent. “We have something arriving worse than 2008, 2009, much worse…It was the fault of the Federal Reserve,” Paul said, adding, the Keynesian economic model contributed greatly to the first bubble burst. Paul said the left will blame Trump for it like the right did to Obama, but he says it’s bigger than the office of the president, and blames the federal reserve and the previous 17 years of governmental spending.

If you think Ron Paul’s comments hold no water, think again. As the Free Thought Project reported last year, even the former chairmen of the Federal Reserve is predicting this crisis.

We are in very early days of a crisis which has got a way to go,” asserted Alan Greenspan to Bloomberg last year. “This is the worst period, I recall since I’ve been in public service. There’s nothing like it, including the crisis — remember October 19th, 1987, when the Dow went down by a record amount 23 percent? That I thought was the bottom of all potential problems. This has a corrosive effect that will not go away. I’d love to find something positive to say…..I don’t know how it’s going to resolve, but there’s going to be a crisis.”

When the man who used to run the very central bank Ron Paul says is responsible for the collapse, also says there’s going to be a collapse — it’s time to pay attention.

Source: http://thefreethoughtproject.com/ron-paul-economic-collapse-federal-reserve/

The Coming Financial Bubble: Why It May Be The Worst Of All


In Part I, we discussed the anatomy of an asset bubble, explored the tech bubble, and learned what caused the housing bubble. An asset bubble, as we have seen, is one of the most destructive financial forces on the planet. However, if you understand the stages of a bubble, if you understand what to look for and how to respond, you have the potential to avoid losing a great deal of money and suffering grief. Bubbles occur when excess money flows into an asset or asset group causing its price to rise beyond a reasonable level. In addition, there are factors specific to each bubble as well as factors common to all. In this article, we’ll identify a bubble which appears to be forming now and discuss what you can do to protect yourself against its destruction.

The Next Bubble?
I believe a bubble is forming in U.S. stocks. Why? In an ideal world, stocks perform best when certain factors are present. For example, an expanding economy which boosts corporate profits, low interest rates, and especially, the lack of attractive investment alternatives. In the following paragraphs we’ll discuss the various options available to investors today and examine the relative appeal of each.

Cash Has Been Dethroned
There is an old saying, “Cash is king.” However, with interest rates near zero, I’d say cash’s reign is over, at least temporarily. Because of its paltry return, we can eliminate this as an attractive investment. Although safe from market fluctuations, cash is basically a temporary parking place for money waiting to be invested. Outside of the U.S., cash is paying next to nothing in most of the developed world, including the U.S., Europe, Japan, and others. In smaller, emerging countries, short-term savings rates are higher but have been falling. As short-term rates continue to decline in these countries, cash investments will become less appealing. This leaves bonds and stocks. We’ll examine bonds next.

Bonds Are For Getting Out of Jail
Bond returns are derived from two things: periodic coupon payments and the change in a bonds price. Bonds are also subject to interest rate fluctuations. In short, when interest rates rise, bond prices fall and vice versa. Because interest rates are already very low in the larger, developed countries, buying bonds in these nations has a poor risk profile. In other words, there is too much risk and too little potential reward. Why? Because when interest rates rise, bond prices will decline and investors will lose. The best time to buy bonds is when interest rates are high. If a bond is purchased when interest rates are high, because the investor’s periodic interest is tied to the bond’s annual coupon, the investor will receive a higher income stream. Today, with rates as low as they are, assuming the investor bought bonds after rates declined, bond holders are not receiving as much income as they did prior to 2008.

Interest rates are generally higher in smaller, emerging countries. This fact alone makes bonds from these locations more appealing. However, in these smaller countries, you have to be concerned about two things. The first issue is the credit rating of the country or issuer. This can be affected by the political climate in that country or region of the world. The second issue is the value of the U.S. dollar relative to the currency of the country where the issuer is domiciled. However, as previously mentioned, interest rates in these smaller, emerging economies are also trending lower. Once they reach a certain level, new bonds from these locations will have very little appeal. Thus far, we have ruled out cash. Bonds are a bit more attractive but that appeal may be fading fast. Now we’ll take a brief look at currencies.

The value of one currency is relative to the value of another. For example, if the U.S. dollar gains strength versus the Euro, it can be said that the dollar became stronger or the Euro weakened. Currency fluctuations can have a significant effect on investors. If a U.S. investor invests in a basket of European stocks and the stocks increase by 10% over the course of a year, if the Euro weakened by the same percentage, the U.S. investor would essentially break even. Not only do currency values impact investors, they are also an option for direct investing. Because this is slightly off the target of this article, we’ll dispense with a more detailed discussion. With that, let’s turn our attention to hard assets.
Hard Assets and Alternative Investments
Hard assets are tangible assets. This includes items such as real estate, commodities, and anything which can be touched. Let’s begin with real estate. U.S. home prices have been rising since hitting bottom in mid to late 2011. However, U.S. housing starts are lower, down to levels not seen since 1991. U.S. existing home sales are stronger than they were in mid 2010 (which was a bottom), but are still much lower than they were prior to the housing crisis. To be fair, the levels seen during the housing bubble were unsustainable. In Europe, the second largest economic block in the world, home prices have been trending sideways after peaking in early 2008. Next, we’ll look at commodities.

In general, commodity prices have been falling. After peaking in mid 2008, commodity prices fell sharply. They peaked again (albeit to a much lower level) in mid 2011. Since then, commodity prices have been trending lower which is a reflection of weak demand due to weak economic growth. There have been a few commodities that have had good performance for brief periods since then but, as a group, commodities have not been all that appealing. Now, let’s return to intangible investments, specifically, U.S. stocks and discuss why a bubble may be in the works.


Stocks: Best Investment by Default?
As mentioned, stocks tend to do well when two things are present. The first is a reasonably strong economy which boosts demand and increases corporate profits. The second is the absence of good alternatives. If there are very few good alternatives in which to invest, because money needs to be invested, more of it would flow into stocks which would tend to push their prices higher. Both of these conditions are present today. With fewer good options, stocks would be the recipient of excess capital and could become the preferred investment merely by default.

Quick Recap
With cash paying near zero and global interest rates trending lower (not so much in the U.S.) causing bonds to lose their appeal, the attractiveness of stocks has increased. Most of the larger, developed nations are in the throes of weak economic growth. Moreover, the smaller, emerging countries are not large enough to foster strong economic growth for an extended period on their own. That leaves the U.S., which is one of the few economic bright spots in the world today. To summarize, if the rest of the world’s economies continue to weaken and if global interest rates continue to fall and finally, if the U.S. economy continues to expand, U.S. stocks could continue to be the favored investment. This would result in excess inflows which would tend to push stock prices higher. These factors have the potential to create one of the greatest bubbles in modern times. To further support this view, let’s look at the following chart.

There are actually two charts in the illustration. The chart on top is the S&P 500 Index which includes 500 large U.S. companies. The chart beneath it is Warren Buffett’s preferred stock market valuation ratio which is “total market cap to GDP.” As you can see, in the bottom chart a reading above 100 (i.e. the red line) is considered overvalued. When the tech bubble burst, the valuation ratio peaked at a level of 148.5, almost 50% above the fair value line. During the housing bubble, the ratio hit a high of only 109.4 on June 4, 2007. Today, the ratio is at 125.7 (up slightly from the day I prepared the chart). Therefore, the ratio today is higher than in 2007 but less than it was during the tech bubble. During the housing bubble though, there were other factors that contributed to the collapse in stocks. Are we witnessing another asset bubble today?

As U.S. stocks continue to gain favor, due in part to a lack of good alternatives, money will flow into stocks, pushing prices higher and valuations will continue to rise. It’s important to remember that as soon as a valuation ratio hits some predetermined level, stock prices will not necessarily fall. To the contrary, even if this ratio measures the valuation of stocks with great accuracy, the key to the next downturn will be determined by investor sentiment. In other words, stock prices will tumble when investors begin to sell en masse. Unfortunately, there is no specified level in this ratio by which we can determine that a stock correction is imminent. However, with today’s ratio as high as it is, it’s a good idea to keep a watchful eye on your stock exposure. To protect this part of your portfolio, consider using stop orders, trailing stop orders (my favorite), buy options, etc. to shield you from large losses. Until the next correction materializes, we won’t know the extent of this particular bubble. However, the longer things persists and the more money that flows into U.S. stocks, the greater the likelihood is that we are in the midst of an asset bubble of significant magnitude. Therefore, we won’t know for sure until the next market correction is upon us.
Source:http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikepatton/2015/02/25/the-coming-financial-bubble-why-it-may-be-the-worst-of-all-part-ii/#71af5b394911
Is California Really Going to Secede?


Like the talk of secession in conservative southern states after Barack Obama became president, the idea of a separate California Republic builds on long-standing separatist feelings amplified by a momentous national election. Since Donald Trump became president while securing less than a third of the vote in California, the Yes California campaign — a.k.a. Calexit — has gotten a lot of attention and perhaps even some momentum in getting an initial measure placed on the 2018 general election ballot. An estimated 7,000 volunteers have begun amassing the 585,407 signatures necessary to place a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot deleting the state’s adherence to the United States and authorizing a 2019 referendum on independence.

The arguments for Calexit are pretty simple: The state is drifting ever-further away from the rest of the country in cultural attitudes and public policies, especially with respect to immigration and the environment. California’s size and wealth (its GDP is similar to that of France) make it the one state that might make a go of it alone. It is also a “donor state” when it comes to the relationship of federal taxes collected from Californians to the federal spending conducted there; one recent analysis showed California ranking 46th among the states in relative dependence on Washington.

But it’s clear the main reason for sudden interest in Calexit is Donald J. Trump, and the possibility a federal Republican regime under his direction would preempt California preferences on a wide range of issues. Even though Governor Jerry Brown and other statewide Democratic elected officials have kept their distance from Calexit, the saber-rattling they have conducted about the state’s willingness to fight Trump and the GOP in court has undoubtedly fed the Calexit sentiment. The latest Trump provocation, threatening sanctuary cities with the cancellation of all federal funds, is being perceived by both his friends and enemies as mainly aimed at the Golden State
By some definitions, the entire state of California is a sanctuary state. A law passed in 2014 prohibits local jails from holding immigrants any longer than required by criminal law, with exceptions for violent and other serious crimes. And most counties in the state also prohibit holding immigrants beyond their sentence if federal immigration agents do not have a judicial order. And legislation currently making its way through the Legislature would further expand the law, by prohibiting all state and local law enforcement agencies to respond to requests from immigration authorities.

Having said all that, the process required to make Calexit a reality is not just daunting: It’s basically impossible. The first part is the easiest: If Yes California can get its initiative onto the 2018 ballot, it needs only 50-percent-plus-one approval to amend the state constitution. But then the 2019 referendum it authorizes is on shaky legal ground, and according to Yes California’s own ground rules, it would only “pass” if 50 percent of registered voters participated and 55 percent voted for independence. The participation standard alone sets a pretty high bar for success in an off-year election; turnout in the last regular midterm election was only 42 percent.

If a Calexit referendum in California succeeded, of course, it would only take effect if the rest of the country went along with it. That would mean a constitutional amendment requiring two-thirds votes in Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states, or the first constitutional convention since 1787. The only alternative, unilateral secession, was tried in 1861, as close scholars of history could tell you, and it did not work out well.

What the whole Calexit movement really represents is a cry of defiance against Trump, and against the temporary national triumph of people who are fine with melting down the polar ice caps to build more strip malls, instituting racial profiling as a cherished national law-enforcement policy, and criminalizing abortion. Any number of developments could take the steam out of Calexit, including the collapse of the Republican Party amid internecine quarreling. In any case, it ain’t happening — but it’s still a convenient lightning rod for real West Coast fury. And interest in the idea will get a boost from contemptuous conservatives who have long regarded the state as a nature preserve for hippies, sodomites, and border-crashers. There’s nothing like the prospect of secession to dramatize Americans’ very real differences. 
Source: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/01/is-california-really-going-to-secede.html
Just imagine... if Russian troops were amassed on America's borders

All we have to do to highlight the enormous hypocrisy and double standards which are the hallmark of domestic and international politics is to switch the names around. Actions taken by Western establishment approved countries and actors which are deemed to be totally uncontroversial-would be deemed to be ‘absolutely outrageous’ if done to them.
Here’s a few examples:
Just imagine… if a close Russian ally, whose forces were trained by Russia, was bombing the poorest country in the Middle East, with cluster bombs supplied by Moscow. Furthermore, in the country that was being attacked, a famine threatened the lives millions of people. Well, the poorest country in the Middle East is Yemen, and it’s being bombed to smithereens by the one of the richest, Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Britain, using UK-made cluster bombs. And guess what, the West’s ‘something must be done brigade,' who expressed so much ’humanitarian’ concern over the fighting to regain Aleppo from Al-Qaeda/Al Nusra terrorists, are silent. How strange.
Just imagine… if a plane carrying members of a famous French military choir had crashed on Christmas Day, killing everyone on board. And that shortly afterwards, a leading Russian ’satirical magazine’ had mocked the tragedy, drawing cartoons of the choir singing to 'a new audience’ on the seabed and posted a caption saying that the only ‘bad news’ about the crash was that French President Francois Hollande had not been on board. There would, I’m sure, have been plenty of 'superior’ discussion in Western media about the 'moral depravity' and the 'dark soul’ of the Russian character. But the plane that crashed was carrying Russian singers. And it was the elite-approved Charlie Hebdo magazine which poked fun at the dead. So there was no outcry in the West. And no accusations of ‘racism.'
Just imagine… if it had been NATO, and not the Warsaw Pact, which had been disbanded at the end of the old Cold War. And then Russia, breaking the promises it had made to the US President, had expanded the Warsaw Pact right up to the borders of the USA, deploying thousands of troops and dozens of tanks and other military hardware in Mexico and Canada.  Would commentators in ‘respectable‘ establishment journals be calling this ‘American aggression‘? I think not.
Just imagine... if a senior political officer at the Russian Embassy in London had been caught on film talking about the ‘take down’ of a British Foreign Officer Minister deemed to be too critical of Russia and who was causing the country "a lot of problems." That there was a group called ‘Labour Friends of Russia’ and the political officer said the Embassy had a fund of more than £1m for them? We can be sure that the revelations would have led, at the very least, to diplomatic expulsions, the announcement of a full-scale government investigation, as well as a plethora of articles on the ‘outrageous’ interference by Russia in British political affairs. But the senior political officer caught on film was working for Israel, so a potential plot about the ’take down’ of a UK minister was deemed to be not a very important news story. By more or less the same people who would have been telling us it was a very important news story if it had involved Russia.
Just imagine… if Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump had won the US Presidential election in November and Trump’s supporters had behaved in the way that Clinton’s have. That intelligence officials had tried to de-legitimize Clinton’s victory by claiming Saudi interference in the election, and produced as proof of this a document which drew attention to Saudi TV‘s alleged pro-Clinton stance. Then, a week before the inauguration of President-elect Clinton was due to take place, the US media publicized a dossier compiled by an ex-intelligence officer from another country claiming Saudi Arabia was blackmailing Clinton, even though the dossier was unverified and contained glaring factual errors. The papers would I’m sure be full of commentary from ’liberal’ pundits raging about a ‘coup’ and anti-democratic attempts to overturn the election result. However, Trump won on November 8th, and not Clinton, so he’s fair game for 'Deep State' attacks. All in the name of 'democracy.'
Just imagine… if UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had urged MPs to support a socialist ’Peace Rocket,' which would cost the British taxpayer at least £31 billion and possibly as much as £205 billion, over its lifetime. That Corbyn had praised the ‘Peace Rocket’ as being ’worth every penny’ and absolutely essential for Britain and for the peace of the world. Then, after Parliament had voted in favor, it came to light that the Peace Rocket had misfired on a test and that Corbyn had kept schtum about it. That four times he had been asked by the BBC's Andrew Marr if he had known about the misfire, and four times he had avoided answering the question. We can be sure the calls for Corbyn to resign would have been deafening. That there would have been fearsome denunciations of the 'enormous waste' of taxpayers money on a 'socialist vanity project.' And that the vote on the ‘Peace Rocket’ would be held again. But it was the elite-approved Trident and not a socialist ‘Peace Rocket‘ that misfired, so the response has been very different.
We’re told the malfunction of Britain’s ‘independent nuclear deterrent,’ and the failure of the government to mention it before Parliament voted on renewal, is no big deal. That the misfiring Trident is still worth spending billions of pounds of taxpayers money on at a time of austerity. And of course, there is absolutely no need for Parliament to debate the issue again… Just imagine... if Russia had spent $5 billion in trying to bring about a regime change in Canada, with neo-Nazis providing the ‘cutting edge’ of anti-government protests. That torchlight processions by neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists -commemorating wartime SS divisions were held in the new ‘democratic’ Canada. We could expect widespread condemnations and denunciations of Russia’s ‘links’ to the ’far right.' But it's happening in Ukraine. And guess what? The West’s ‘fascism is coming’ brigade are not the slightest bit interested.
Source: https://www.rt.com/op-edge/375011-just-imagine-russian-troops-america/
Russia Survived Sanctions, And BlackRock Goes Overweight

Sorry haters, Russia has survived sanctions. It survived $35 oil. And it survived two years of recession. Say what you will about Vladimir Putin, Russia's economic management team has got its stuff together. And for that reason, BlackRock says Russia is a buy. "What gets all of the attention regarding Russia is the geopolitics. But for all the negative opinion you can have out there on Russia, from an economic standpoint it's been amazing. We are overweight Russian equities," says Gerardo Rodriguez, a fund manager with BlackRock in New York.
So far this year, the Market Vectors small cap Russia exchange traded fund (RSXJ) is up 8.34%, beating the MSCI Emerging Markets yet again. That ETF is up 140% over the last 12 months and is a non-commodity, non-financial trade into Russia.
Russian oil and gas companies, along with its biggest banks, were sanctioned in the summer of 2014 following the March annexation of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula in southeastern Ukraine. Tension between the West and Russia increased that year as a new, U.S. backed government led by Arsesniy Yatsenyuk took hold in Kiev, sending Moscow into panic mode. Russia quickly moved to back anti-government rebels in eastern cities of Ukraine. Although Russia denied official support of separatists, Putin later admitted that Russia was helping them fight the Ukrainian government.
Russia and Ukraine signed a peace agreement in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, but removal of sanctions is dependent on a peaceful ceasefire in regions like Donbass and Luhansk, Ukraine. It is also dependent on elections there, which puts Kiev in a tight spot because the mood in those regions has been more pro-Russia than not. Sanction relief is dependent on both sides ending the crisis in Ukraine, British Prime Minister Theresa May said in Washington on Friday. The political noise about bad boy Russia is no longer getting in the way of investors. Over the last two weeks, Russian securities have seen millions in fresh new dollar inflows, according to fund tracking firm EPFR Global in Cambridge, Mass. Rajiv Jain, CIO of GQG Partners is bullish on Russia, too. Jain launches the GQG Partners Emerging Markets Equity Fund (GQGPX) next week. Russian equities will be a big position.
"It's always hard to find tune the news coming out of Russia," says Rodriguez. "Since the Crimea annexation, it's been hard to keep track of reality based on the headlines we see here. So for us, we just look at the data and the data shows Russia's finance ministers are still very orthodoxed in their approach to handling their economy. You have to hand it to them. In terms of fundamentals, Russia turned the corner a few months ago. And if you factor in potential changes on sections and Trump being willing to play ball with Putin, then all of this is very supportive of Russia."
In December, Russian industrial production surprised positively, but consumer demand remained weak. Russian industrial output rose 3.2% year over year in December after a 2.7% annual increase in November, beating market expectations twice. For a third consecutive month now, industrial output grew with Russian manufacturing posting a solid 2.6% yearly gain in 2016 at a time when quarterly GDP was zero. Retail sales are down by nearly 6% due to the recession and falling incomes. Renaissance Capital, a Moscow based investment firm, thinks Russian incomes will rise and the locals will start spending again. If oil remains strong, 2017 promises to be another up year for Russian stocks. "Healthier production and stronger real wages will lead Russia to a broad recovery this year," say Renaissance analysts led by Oleg Kouzmin in Moscow. If all goes well, Russia hits 1.7% GDP growth this year.
Source:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2017/01/27/russia-sanctions-putin-economy/#6a33cfed4287

Meet the Moscow Mouthpiece Married to a Racist Alt-Right Boss


She spreads the words of Russia’s most virulent propagandist. He’s a leading racist hate-monger. Nina Kouprianova and Richard Spencer are a very different kind of power couple.

Nina Kouprianova is not a member of the racist alt-right. At least, that’s what she’ll say when you ask her. “I am not a member of any movement,” Kouprianova, who was born in the Soviet Union, recently told The Daily Beast via email. She added that she was “sympathetic” toward movements that “challenge the dominant and globally oriented post-Liberal ideology,” but white nationalism—that fracturing of the U.S., resulting in a white ethno-state that would salve the wounds of American racists—is not for her.

Still, the track record, both personally and professionally, of Kouprianova—who also goes by the nom de plume Nina Byzantina—casts a pall over her denials. This is, after all, a woman who elected to marry Richard Spencer, the longtime lodestar of American white nationalism and progenitor of the term “alt-right.” While the two are currently separated—as Spencer told The Washington Post, his recent work has taken a “toll” on their relationship—Kouprianova hasn’t publicly distanced herself from the views of her husband, a man who has kept neo-Nazis enthralled with his views and who has expressed continued admiration for Vladimir Putin.

In fact, Kouprianova, who has a young daughter with Spencer, wrote a letter this week to the Flathead Beacon, one of their local papers in Montana. In it, Kouprianova compares the “witch hunts” surrounding her husband to Stalinist purges: “Threats and intimidation, which my current extended family continues to experience in Whitefish [Montana], remind me of the way my grandfather was forced to live [in the Soviet Union],” Kouprianova wrote. And to be fair, following Spencer’s rise to prominence, threats—veiled and otherwise—have risen alongside. But the notion that the environment circling Kouprianova and Spencer is in any form reminiscent of Stalinist repression is, of course, laughable. And while the Kremlin’s transparent support for Donald Trump and the white nationalists undergirding his campaign are both concerning trends on their own, it’s the links between the two—links that are only just now becoming apparent—that are cause for that much more concern. It’s those links that actors like Kouprianova have helped expand.

Yet Kouprianova’s connections with the alt-right don’t end with her marriage to the movement’s most prominent face. If anything, Kouprianova may play an outsize role in the internationalization of Spencer’s movement—especially as it pertains to Russia, which Spencer views, bizarrely, as the “sole white power in the world.” In addition to her prominent Twitter persona—offering the types of ironic barbs in defense of Kremlin machinations familiar to anyone who’s recently dealt with high-level officials from Moscow—Kouprianova has devoted her efforts to translating the works of Russian political philosopher Alexander Dugin.

If Dugin’s name is at all familiar, it’s likely due to his neo-fascist screeds, posited as geopolitical analysis, that have begun swirling international trends. As Spencer is to the alt-right, so, too, is Dugin to the modern incarnation of “Eurasianism,” a geopolitical theory positing Russia as the inheritor of “Eternal Rome” and one of the primary ideological bulwarks pushing the Kremlin to carve eastern Ukraine into the fanciful entity of “Novorossiya.” While much of Dugin’s influence on the Kremlin has been over-hyped, Dugin’s Foundations of Geopolitics remains assigned to every member of Russia’s General Staff Academy. And despite Kouprianova’s claims that “there is no evidence of communication between” Dugin and Putin, Charles Clover, in his masterful history of Eurasianism, noted that Putin and Dugin met a few months after the former ascended to the presidency. “Soon,” wrote Clover, “there were sponsors, contacts, and open doors” for Dugin.

This relationship—and the perception of such proximity to the Kremlin—is one of the reasons Dugin landed on the U.S. government’s recent sanctions list. It hasn’t, however, kept Dugin from courting American white nationalists—those who’d fracture the United States in pursuit of whites-only nation. For instance, in 2015 Dugin hosted a lecture, via Skype, at the founding of the U.S.’s Traditionalist Worker Party. That party remains helmed by Matthew Heimbach, who has tabbed Putin as the “leader of the free world.”

Dugin also hosted a separate lecture, again via Skype, at Texas A&M in 2015, partnering with local neo-Nazi Preston Wiginton—the same white supremacist who, last month, invited Spencer to speak at Texas A&M. For good measure, when Wiginton traveled through Russia a few years ago, he sub-leased an apartment in Moscow from David Duke—the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard who not only believes Russia holds the “key to white survival,” but who has cultivated his own relationship with Dugin.

Kouprianova, who says she’s never met Dugin, nonetheless defended his work, noting that “the Western establishment is currently in the throws [sic] of a major anti-Russian hysteria” and adding that Dugin is a “well-educated scholar.” As she wrote via email, “Western media cherry-picks convenient quotations from decades ago splicing them with literally edited statements on the Ukraine crisis, in which some of his friends were killed, incidentally, while characterizing him with the usual character-assassination keywords.” (In 2014, Dugin called for a “genocide” of Ukrainians.) Kouprianova—who lists Dugin’s works as the only books she’s translated—added that she began working on translating Dugin’s works “as part of a volunteer effort,” although she’s “not even sure whether” her translations were eventually used.

But Kouprianova’s affinity for Russian expansionism doesn’t end with Dugin. Not only has she routinely papered over Russia’s local human-rights atrocities—“Like, OMG, Chechnya is, likes, totes oppressed by Putin!” she recently tweeted, plastering sarcasm over Russia’s domestic depredations—but she has referred, time and again, to Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine as a “liberation war.” Likewise, Kouprianova has been outspoken in defense of Russia’s domestic media landscape. Outsiders may critique Putin jailing, silencing, and even killing independent journalists. But to Kouprianova, the Kremlin “has chosen the path… of healthy debate.”

And in Spencer’s white-nationalist journal, Kouprianova went to bat for Russia’s premier propaganda outlet, RT. (RT, for what it’s worth, has referred to Kouprianova as an “independent scholar.”) Although her articles were recently removed, Kouprianova noted that RT, which has “become a welcome alternative news source for many,” also “provides great coverage of a variety of subjects.”

Interestingly, Kouprianova’s presence in Spencer’s life has caused notable schisms within the white-nationalist community in the U.S. While ethnic Russians are, broadly, considered part of the broader “European identity” pushed by American white nationalists, Spencer told Mother Jones that his wife is part Georgian. For some members of Spencer’s racist community, that makes something other than white. For instance, prominent white nationalist Greg Johnson, who doesn’t view Georgia as part of Europe, wrote in 2014 that “Richard is basically being dominated by Nina Nogoodnik, his Russian-Georgian wife.”

Johnson, as it is, says Kouprianova is not a white nationalist. And yes, Kouprianova may not share outright her husband’s views on ethnic cleansing. But given Kouprianova’s work with Dugin, her writings for America’s most prominent white nationalist journal runs counter to those claims—and helps build one more bridge in the ongoing relationship between Russia and America’s white nationalists.

Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/20/meet-the-moscow-mouthpiece-married-to-a-racist-alt-right-boss.html

How Putin's iconic 2007 Munich speech sounds today

On February 10, 2007, Vladimir Putin delivered his keynote speech at the Munich Security Conference, challenging the post-Cold War establishment. RT looks back a decade to see how accurate his ideas were.

The Munich speech presented criticism of a world in which the US gets to unilaterally take decisions on most important global issues with little regards to the interests of other nations, especially those not allied with Washington. Putin called such a system inherently unfair and posing various risks to the world, compared to an alternative in which the US has to live by the same laws as the rest of the world and negotiate on conflict issues rather than use military force to resolve them.

“Just like any war, the Cold War left us with live ammunition, figuratively speaking. I mean ideological stereotypes, double standards and other typical aspects of Cold War bloc thinking.”

Over the past year, the US media has upped its rhetoric against Russia, going so far as to accuse it of war crimes and of putting its pawn in the Oval Office.

“Unilateral and frequently illegitimate actions have not resolved any problems. Moreover, they have caused new human tragedies and created new centers of tension. Judge for yourselves: wars as well as local and regional conflicts have not diminished... And no fewer people perish in these conflicts – even more are dying than before. Significantly more, significantly more!”

Since 2007, the US has continued its military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, played a key role in the devastation in Libya, is currently contributing to the Saudi Arabian intervention in Yemen and has attacked Syrian troops – presumably by mistake.
  “In international relations, we increasingly see the desire to resolve a given question according to so-called issues of political expediency, based on the current political climate. And of course, this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasize this – no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of course, such a policy stimulates an arms race.”

Some leaders tried to play nice and hope for the better. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi paid compensation and invested oil money in Western banks. This didn’t save him from being summarily executed by US-supported insurgents. Or Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovich, who caved in to a US-backed armed coup and signed a EU-brokered power-sharing deal with his opponents. The deal was thrown away a day later, and the president reportedly barely dodged an assassination attempt while fleeing to Russia.

“The use of force can only be considered legitimate if the decision is sanctioned by the UN,” Putin said. “And we do not need to substitute NATO or the EU for the UN. When the UN truly unites the forces of the international community and can really react to events in various countries, when we leave behind this disdain for international law, then the situation will be able to change. Otherwise the situation will simply result in a dead end, and the number of serious mistakes will be multiplied.”

NATO’s mandate in Libya was to protect civilians from airstrikes. The alliance did this with a bombing campaign that targeted anything remotely resembling a military asset. Apparently that included Gaddafi’s youngest son and three grandchildren killed by a missile intended for the man himself. The UK and France played key roles in the campaign.

“I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have anything to do with the modernization of the alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe,” Putin said back in 2007. “On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them.“

Over the past decade, NATO has absorbed two more nations, Albania and Croatia, and drawn closer with Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia. The Ukrainian government has declared NATO membership a priority. NATO has deployed additional troops at Russia’s border and moved to build an anti-missile system, which Russia sees as a threat to its national security.

“Let's say things as they are,” Putin said in his Munich speech. “One hand distributes charitable help and the other hand not only preserves economic backwardness but also reaps the profits from it. The increasing social tension in depressed regions inevitably results in the growth of radicalism and extremism, feeding terrorism and local conflicts. And if all this happens in, shall we say, a region such as the Middle East where there is increasingly the sense that the world at large is unfair, then there is the risk of global destabilization.“

In Iraq and Syria, the terrorist group Islamic State for a while managed to create a more or less functioning state. Their success was to a great degree fueled by propaganda that blamed alienation and disfranchisement of Muslims to the malice of the West. This message attracts not only desperate locals, but also Muslims in wealthy Western countries.

Source: https://www.rt.com/news/376901-putin-munich-speech-2007/

It’s Putin’s World

How the Russian president became the ideological hero of nationalists everywhere

In 2012, Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency after a four-year, constitutionally imposed hiatus. It wasn’t the smoothest of transitions. To his surprise, in the run-up to his inauguration, protesters filled the streets of Moscow and other major cities to denounce his comeback. Such opposition required dousing. But an opportunity abroad also beckoned—and the solution to Putin’s domestic crisis and the fulfillment of his international ambitions would roll into one.

After the global financial crisis of 2008, populist uprisings had sprouted across Europe. Putin and his strategists sensed the beginnings of a larger uprising that could upend the Continent and make life uncomfortable for his geostrategic competitors. A 2013 paper from the Center for Strategic Communications, a pro-Kremlin think tank, observed that large patches of the West despised feminism and the gay-rights movement and, more generally, the progressive direction in which elites had pushed their societies. With the traditionalist masses ripe for revolt, the Russian president had an opportunity. He could become, as the paper’s title blared, “The New World Leader of Conservatism.”

Putin had never spoken glowingly of the West, but grim pronouncements about its fate grew central to his rhetoric. He hurled splenetic attacks against the culturally decadent, spiritually desiccated “Euro-Atlantic.” He warned against the fetishization of tolerance and diversity. He described the West as “infertile and genderless,” while Russian propaganda derided Europe as “Gayropa.” At the heart of Putin’s case was an accusation of moral relativism. “We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization,” he said at a conference in 2013. “They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious, and even sexual … They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.” By succumbing to secularism, he noted on another occasion, the West was trending toward “chaotic darkness” and a “return to a primitive state.”

Few analysts grasped the potency such rhetoric would have beyond Russia. But right-wing leaders around the world—from Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines to Nigel Farage in Britain to Donald Trump in the U.S.—now speak of Putin in heroic terms. Their fawning is often discounted, ascribed to under-the-table payments or other stealthy Russian efforts. These explanations don’t wholly account for Putin’s outsize stature, however. He has achieved this prominence because he anticipated the global populist revolt and helped give it ideological shape. With his apocalyptic critique of the West—which also plays on anxieties about Christendom’s supposedly limp response to Islamist terrorism—Putin has become a mascot of traditionalist resistance.

At first, most Western observers assumed that Putin wouldn’t win fans outside the furthest fringes of the right. In France, Russia’s hopes initially focused on Marine Le Pen, the fierce critic of immigration and globalization, whose National Front party has harbored Holocaust deniers and Vichy nostalgists. In 2014, a Russian bank loaned Le Pen’s cash-strapped party 9 million euros. Le Pen, in turn, has amplified Putin’s talking points, declaring Russia “a natural ally of Europe.”

If Europe’s far-right parties were Putin’s landing beach, he has made inroads, and hovers over the current French presidential election. During last year’s campaign for the nomination of France’s Republican Party—the newly rechristened home of the center-right—candidates tripped over themselves to pay obeisance. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy, vying to resurrect his career, sprinted away from his own history of slagging the Russian strongman. On a trip to St. Petersburg in June, he made a point of stopping for a photo op with Putin, pumping his hand and smiling broadly. Sarkozy’s pre-campaign book swooned, “I am not one of his intimates but I confess to appreciating his frankness, his calm, his authority. And then he is so Russian!” These were gaudy gestures, but hardly idiosyncratic. Sarkozy’s rival François Fillon behaved just as effusively, though his affection seemed less contrived—during his years as prime minister, from 2008 to 2012, he cultivated a tight relationship with the man he has called “my dear Vladimir.” In November, Alain Juppé, the Republican contender initially favored by oddsmakers, moaned, “This must be the first presidential election in which the Russian president chooses his candidate.” But deriding his opponents for “acute Russophilia” hardly helped him: Fillon is now the party’s nominee, having drubbed Juppé by more than 30 points.

The French embrace of Putin has roots in the country’s long history of Russophilia and anti-Americanism. But Putin’s vogue also stems from the substance of his jeremiads, which match the mood of France’s conservative base. As French book sales reveal, the public has an apparently bottomless appetite for polemics that depict the country plummeting to its doom. Much anxiety focuses on the notion of le grand remplacement, the fear that France will turn into a Muslim country, aided by native-born couples’ failure to reproduce. The gloom is xenophobic, but also self-loathing. Right-wing polemicists bellow that France will squander its revolutionary tradition and cultural heritage without lifting a finger to save itself. The defining screed is Éric Zemmour’s The French Suicide, an unabridged catalog of the forces sucking the vitality from his country—post-structuralist academics, unpatriotic businessmen, technocrats in the European Union.

Contrary to prevailing wisdom, the new populism cannot be wholly attributed to economic displacement. In a short period of time, the West has undergone a major cultural revolution—an influx of immigrants and a movement toward a new egalitarianism. Only a decade ago, an issue like gay marriage was so contentious that politicians like Barack Obama didn’t dare support the cause. The movement’s success seemed like one of the marvels of the age—an object lesson of what can happen when the internet helps tie people together and the entertainment industry preaches tolerance. It seemed that the culture wars had been extinguished, that the forces of progress had won an unmitigated victory.

Except they hadn’t. In search of a global explanation for the ongoing revolt, Pippa Norris of Harvard’s Kennedy School and Ronald Inglehart of the University of Michigan have sifted through polling data and social science. They’ve found that right-wing populists have largely fed off the alienation of older white voters, who are angry about the erosion of traditional values. These voters feel stigmatized as intolerant and bigoted for even entertaining such anger—and their rage grows. “These are the groups most likely to feel that they have become strangers from the predominant values in their own country, left behind by progressive tides of cultural change,” Norris and Inglehart write. Their alienation and fear of civilizational collapse have eroded their faith in democracy, and created a yearning for a strongman who can stave off catastrophe.

Gay marriage is a divisive issue in France, where Fillon has vowed to block adoption by same-sex couples. The battle against Islamism also remains a rallying cry; Fillon’s campaign manifesto is called Conquering Islamic Totalitarianism. When he genuflects before the Russian president, he knows that his base yearns for everything Putin embodies—manliness, thumbing one’s nose at political correctness, war with the godless cosmopolitans in Brussels, refusal to tolerate the real and growing threat of terrorism. As the Hudson Institute’s Benjamin Haddad told me, “Fillon may justify his embrace of Putin with international relations, but he is increasingly a symbol for domestic purposes.”

Putin has inverted the Cold War narrative. Back in Soviet times, the West was the enemy of godlessness. Today, it’s the Russian leader who seeks to snuff out that supposed threat. American conservatives are struggling with the irony. They seem to know that they should resist the pull of Putinism—many initially responded to his entreaties with a ritualistic wringing of hands—but they can’t help themselves.

In 2013, the columnist Pat Buchanan championed Putin as an enemy of secularism: “He is seeking to redefine the ‘Us vs. Them’ world conflict of the future as one in which conservatives, traditionalists, and nationalists of all continents and countries stand up against the cultural and ideological imperialism of what he sees as a decadent west.” This type of homage became a trope among conservative thinkers—including Rod Dreher and Matt Drudge—and in turn influenced their followers. In mid-2014, 51 percent of American Republicans viewed Putin very unfavorably. Two years later, 14 percent did. By January, 75 percent of Republicans said Trump had the “right approach” toward Russia. (When asked about this change, Putin replied, “It’s because people share our traditional sensibilities.”)

Donald Trump, who hardly seems distraught over the coarsening of American life, is in some ways a strange inductee into the cult of Putin. Indeed, of the raft of theories posited to explain Trump’s worshipful attitude toward the Russian leader, many focus less on ideology than on conspiracy. And yet, Trump’s analysis of the world does converge with Putin’s. Trump’s chief ideologist, Steve Bannon, clearly views Western civilization as feckless and inert. In 2014, Bannon spoke via Skype at a conference hosted by the Human Dignity Institute, a conservative Catholic think tank. Shortly after the election, BuzzFeed published a transcript of his talk, which was erudite, nuanced, and terrifying.

Bannon was clear-eyed about Putin’s kleptocratic tendencies and imperial ambitions. That skepticism, however, didn’t undermine his sympathy for Putin’s project. “We, the Judeo-Christian West, really have to look at what [Putin’s] talking about as far as traditionalism goes,” Bannon said. He shared Putin’s vision of a world disastrously skidding off the tracks—“a crisis both of our Church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism.” The word crisis is used so promiscuously that it can lose meaning, but not in this case. “We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict,” Bannon said, exhorting his audience to “fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.”

Of course, Kulturkampf is not merely a diagnosis of the world; it is a political strategy. Putin has demonstrated its efficacy. When protesters looked like a challenge to his rule, he turned the nation’s attention to gays and lesbians, whom he depicted as an existential threat to the Russian way of life. The journalist Masha Gessen described this fomented wave of homophobia as “a sweet potion for a country that had always drawn strength and unity from fearmongering.” The secularist scourge would later be used to smear those who opposed the invasion of Ukraine: Pro-European demonstrators in Kiev were portrayed as wanting same-sex marriage.

Traditionalism has allowed Putin to consolidate power while sucking the life from civil society. The specter of decline has haunted the West ever since its rise. But the recent spate of jeremiads is different. They have an unusually large constituency, and revisit some of the most dangerous strains of apocalyptic thinking from the last century—the fear of cultural degeneration, the anxiety that civilization has grown unmanly, the sense that liberal democracy has failed to safeguard civilization from its enemies. Trump doesn’t think as rigorously or as broadly as Putin, but his campaign was shot through with similar elements. If he carries this sort of talk into office, he will be joining a chorus of like-minded allies across the world.

There is little empirical basis for the charge of civilizational rot. It speaks to an emotional state, one we should do our best to understand and even empathize with. But we know from history that premonitions of imminent barbarism serve to justify extreme countermeasures. These are the anxieties from which dictators rise. Admiring strongmen from a distance is the window-shopping that can end in the purchase of authoritarianism.

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/03/its-putins-world/513848/
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What's At Stake In Battle For Al-Bab? Turkish/Syrian Cooperation

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Sun, 02/12/2017 - 18:16
Via the BBC: Fabrice Balanche:  Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Interesting? Share your thoughts.
The Syrian town of al-Bab was rather insignificant until it emerged as a strategic stake between the Syrian president and his allies (Russia and Iran), Turkey, the Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) and the so-called Islamic State group.

Al-Bab was quickly occupied by rebels in spring 2012, and subsequently seized by IS during the winter of 2013-2014, which eliminated the other rebel factions. The town has since become an IS stronghold, home to many foreign jihadists and their families. It has served as the basis of IS's offensives against the Syrian army and the rebels in Aleppo province.

Today, the city and its suburbs (Qabasin, Bizaa and Tadif) are almost surrounded. Operation Euphrates Shield forces, led by the Turkish army, are closing in from the north, while the Syrian army, which has quickly advanced over the last two weeks, moves in from the south.

The Russian air force has also bombed the IS positions south of al-Bab, leaving Turkish aviation to strike targets in the city itself. This suggests that rather than competition between the Syrian army and the Euphrates Shield forces for al-Bab, there is coordination and a shared area of influence.

The Aleppo-Manbij road, to the south of al-Bab, may function as the border between the Syrian Army and Euphrates Shield forces: al-Bab, Bizaa and Qabasin will be occupied by Turkey and Turkish-backed rebels, while the Syrian army will be satisfied with Tadif.
Syrian government forces walk in an area south of the city of al-Bab in the northern province of Aleppo on January 14, 2016.Southfront

Reporting from southfront seems to confirm the analysis from WINEP

After liberating Tadif, the Syrian army will not enter al-Bab. The Syrian military agreed with Turkey on a demarcation line with pro-Turkish forces (the Turkish army and pro-Turkish militant groups).“As a result of the advance, the Syrian government forces have reached a demarcation line with the Free Syrian Army’s units as it had been agreed with the Turkish side.”Meanwhile, the Syrian army has got a control over the highway linking al-Bab and the ISIS self-proclaimed capital of Raqqah.

'Stopping the Kurds'The objective of the Turkish intervention in northern Syria is to prevent the linkage of the Kurdish cantons of Afryn and Kobane. After regaining the htown of Manbij from IS in August, the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had planned to next seize al-Bab and thus unify their territories. A race towards al-Bab began between the SDF and the Turkish army. This was halted in December when Turkey bombed the SDF, sending a message that their advance needed to stop.

Neither the Syrian regime nor Turkey had any interest in the Kurds taking al-Bab. The agreement between Russia and Turkey, in August 2016, joined by the Iranians, came at the expense of Kurdish interests. In the deal, Turkey also ceased aiding rebels in exchange for Russian neutrality in Turkey's campaign against the Kurds.

East Aleppo was retaken by the regime soon after the conclusion of this agreement; al-Bab, it seems, will be left for the Turks.Rebels with different prioritiesTurkey is, however, experiencing difficulties in seizing the city. It has been making slow progress since mid-November 2016 and must send significant reinforcements because its Syrian proxies are not motivated by the battle for al-Bab. The primary objective of these rebel groups is to fight the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, not IS, and certainly not to collaborate with the Syrian Army in al-Bab.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has no choice, as he needs to use the battle of al-Bab to prove the effectiveness of the Turkish army and its Arab proxies, if there is to be any hope of getting the United States to renounce a plan of making SDF its main ally in the offensive against IS in Raqqa, the group's other stronghold in the country's east.

Taking al-Bab is also an issue of domestic politics for President Erdogan, as it appeals to Turkish nationalism. If it succeeds, the Turkish army may finally turn towards Manbij, in order to repulse the SDF to the east bank of the River Euphrates. What next?

President Assad is not pleased with Turkey creating a zone of influence in the north, less than 30km (20 miles) from Aleppo. Al-Bab was expected to have fallen to the Syrian army, which has been only 10km south of the city since January 2016. But the Russo-Turkish agreements seem to have decided otherwise.

What do Russia and Turkey foresee for the future? Will the Turkish army be allowed to advance even further south, and then head for Raqqa by the southern shore of Lake Assad?

This is difficult to imagine: the progression of the Syrian army south of al-Bab seems to indicate that it will next go towards Lake Assad to cut the Turkish route.To cut the Turkish route? We shall see.
If President Erdogan wants to go to Raqqa he will have to attack the SDF, the US allies postpone the offensive on Raqqa. It is, therefore, in IS's interest to prolong the battle of al-Bab, increasing the potential for Turkish-US discord, as its best strategy for protecting Raqqa. From earlier today:
Fukushima Update: 3 Admitted Meltdowns, 6 Years After the Fact
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Fukushima Update: 3 Admitted Meltdowns, 6 Years After the Fact

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Sun, 02/12/2017 - 12:09
Long term readers here were aware in 2011 that there had been multiple meltdowns at Fukushima. Though the main stream media reports of the day denied and denied that fact- My posts from 2011 will be relinked after the latest news reports.

 Sadly the  most recent media articles mention the 3 meltdowns in a very casual manner- as if attempting to gloss over or obscure the fact that this triple meltdown occurred nearly 6 years ago and the subsequent radiation contamination continues to be a problem for the planet to this very day


Techtimes
Azby Brown of citizen science organization Safecast said that while the radiation level proves “astoundingly high,” it does not readily represent any alarming radiation level change at the nuclear site. It’s just that they were measured that far inside the reactor for the first time. “[I]t does not mean that levels there are rising, but that a previously unmeasurable high-radiation area has finally been measured,”
Two items I’d like to address regarding above information:

 First: Safecast appears to be the media go to group. I wondered why that was and checked them out! Safecast : which takes no position on nuclear power, is supported by foundations, grants and individual donations.” I cannot find their financial information on site

Claiming to take no position can simply mean Safecast doesn't want to state a position
“Safecast is funded by individuals, grants, and charitable foundations, however financial contributors and donors have no input on Safecast methods or mission.”  NGO? If Safecast's statement is to be taken at face value, why not publish the donor list? 
Is it not published because to do so would incriminate Safecast? Is this a lie by omission?
 2nd: You are supposed to find statements such as the one made by Azby Brown reassuring. But should we? While it may be true that "radiation levels that prove astoundingly high" may not necessarily indicate a rise in radiation-  It can equally be true that these very high readings, finally taken, indicate that extremely high levels of radiation have been contaminating the environment for nearly 6 years now! These high levels also indicate to us that this will continue on unabated. That’s not reassuring.

Science Alert
Reactor 2:
"Even the remote-operated camera sent in to capture these images is only designed to withstand 1,000 sieverts of radiation, which means it won't last more than two hours in the No. 2 reactor.

It's not yet clear exactly what's causing the high levels either. It's possible that previous readings were incorrect or not detailed enough, and levels have always been this high. Or maybe something inside the reactor has changed.

The fact that these readings were so high in this particular location suggests that maybe melted reactor fuel escaped the pressure vessel, and is located somewhere nearby.

Adding to that hypothesis is the fact that the images reveal a gaping 1-metre (3.2-foot) hole in the metal grate underneath the pressure vessel - which could indicate that nuclear fuel had melted out of it.

On Monday, Tepco also saw "black chunks" deposited on the grating directly under the pressure vessel - which could be evidence of melted fuel rods"JapanTimes
The hole could have been caused when the fuel escaped the pressure vessel after the mega-quake and massive tsunami triggered a station blackout that crippled the plant’s ability to cool the reactors.

If confirmed, this would be a huge deal, because in the six years since the three Fukushima reactors went into meltdown, no one has ever been able to find any trace of the nuclear fuel rods.In the six years since the three Fukushima reactors went into meltdown....“The world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986 triggered core meltdowns in reactors 1 through 3. Portions of the core in each reactor are believed to have melted through their pressure vessels and pooled at the bottom of their containment vessels.Triggered core meltdowns in reactors 1 through 3. The actual condition of the melted fuel remains unknown because the radiation is too high to check it”There it is. Finally. After years of lying and covering up. Three reactors went into meltdown, immediately after the earthquake and tsunami,  exactly as I'd informed my readers of, nearly 6 years ago.. After taking time to reread those older postings I remain as disheartened now as then.
All of March 2011 posts covering Fukushima's Triple Meltdown
March 14/2011Nuclear Power is the Problem, Not the Solution
March 15/2011: Japan: Spent fuel pond ablaze, radiation spewing and a third explosion!March 15/2011: Japan hit by 6.0 aftershockMarch 17/2011: Fukushima, GE design flaws, MOX Plutonium fuel at #3 plant, and interviews Where to begin with this one....
I want to be wrong, and I hope to be wrong. But, I fear that Japan is far, far worse then we are being told, quite humbly I will say, Dire is the word that comes to mind. Please let me be wrong.March 18/2011: Mark1 problems long known, Spent Fuel more threatening then reactors

March 21/2011: # 3 MOX plant at Fukishima, smoke reported today. Questioning the reporting
 You may wonder why, why do you persist on this topic? Mainly because I am of the opinion we are being lied to. All of us. Not just the Japanese, but, all the people of the globe.
Governments lie to us daily. To cover up for their business and banking cronies. It is a fact.
Any look over the most recent news, that is if you are really paying attention, would surely mean you are aware of that.
So it is back to Japan, nuclear reactors and radiation and plutonium poisoning. Specifically, we are going back to the # 3 plant at the nuclear complex. This is the one I have addressed on several occasions. This is the MOX fuel plant.


 March 22/2011:  Fukushima: Core Meltdowns, nuclear lobbyists working overtime, non-existent US evacuation plans & Ann Coulter (crackpot)
 Yesterday it was actually reported, finally, that three of the Fukushima reactors are in meltdown.
 U.S. nuclear advocates try to limit political impact of Japan reactor crisis Nuclear power advocates are waging an intense lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill this week in an attempt to limit the political fallout from the reactor crisis in Japan. Spurred on by federal subsidies and potential climate-change legislation, the nuclear industry has dramatically stepped up its federal lobbying and campaign contributions in recent years, records show.
Briefly: Keeping the Fukushima disaster quiet serves the globalist in building their desired profitable money making/smart control technocracy- They want everything to run electrically for the sheer ability to control- everything- Centralized power control grid.  Your smart everything in your smart city will run on electric power generated by many more nuclear power plants- Control, control, control.

March 23/2011:   Stuxnet /Fukushima: Connected? Why and Why not

March 23/2011: Skimming headlines for the "facts" on Fukushima

March 24/ 2011: Fukushima: Meltdowns, neutron beams, yellow rain & radiated workers As I reported to you some days ago, there was at least 3 nuclear reactors in some state of meltdown. Finally a mainstream piece, from Egypt, has reported this today!

It was actually confirmed on March 18/2011 by the Japanese IAEA that 3 reactor cores were damaged-  You would never know any of this if you watched the likes of CNN or any of the other western mainstream propaganda outlets. Who have been busily covering for their corporate masters...
But, I digress once again. A neutron beam has been reported emanating from Fukushima

Neutron beam observed 13 times at crippled Fukushima nuke plant
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it has observed a neutron beam, a kind of radioactive ray, 13 times on the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after it was crippled by the massive March 11 quake-tsunami disaster.So Fukushima has been in meltdown from the beginning! Neutrons are emitted during a nuclear chain reaction; so given the context, is Kyodo's report to be taken as indicating that a chain reaction took place after the reactors shut down? March 28/2011:Fukushima: Damaged containment vessels, including # 4, poisons in the ocean, plutonium in the soil.
 Let's face it, if TEPCO is finally acknowledging this as a possibility, you KNOW the reactor containment vessels are damaged and have been since the beginning.

Damaged containment vessels are present in reactor #1, #2 and #3 (MOX fuel)
I have covered the three crippled plants and the MOX fuel in several previous posts.
So if your new or haven't been paying attention I will relink them all at the bottom.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. acknowledged for the first time possible damage to core pressure containers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant--the last line of defense in preventing radioactive materials from spewing out.March 29/2011: Japan may have lost race for containment in Unit # 2

March 30/2011:  Fukushima: Radiation soars in Seawater, Plutonium poisons soil, 4 plants decomissioned, Media lies, No safe levels of radiation

It's certainly a sad collective memory.
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"How America Could Stumble Into War With Iran" ? Elliot Abrams Nixed

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 19:14
 Does a nation ever 'stumble' into war? Stumbleto come unexpectedly or by chance
 The Atlantic-
"In Donald Trump’s first term there is a serious possibility of a military conflict, whether intentional or inadvertent, between the United States or Israel and Iran. What follows is how it could unfold, and how it might be avoided" Step 1: ProvocationsYou can read the provocations at the link above- Cutting to the chase the author claims Iran will provoke the US into attacking. Why would Iran do that? 

Wouldn't it make more sense that the US will claim Iran is being provocative? 


Step 2: SanctionsOne of the fundamental disagreements about the nuclear agreement is whether it is permissible to further sanction Iran for non-nuclear behavior. Washington—including both Democrats and Republicans—says yes, while Tehran believes any additional sanctions constitute a violation
 While the nuclear deal allowed for non-American companies and countries to resume commercial relations with Iran, U.S. sanctions largely remained in place.   Shortly after Flynn put Iran “on notice,” the Trump administration crossed Khamenei’s ostensible red line by imposing additional sanctions against 25 individuals and entities connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (who oversee Iran’s military activities and regional policies). Additional reports suggest the Trump administration may designate the entirety of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards—the country’s most powerful political and economic institution—as a terrorist organization.While unilateral U.S. sanctions will not be sufficient to moderate Iranian behavior, they are likely to trigger an Iranian response, and a process of escalation.    While the US provokes Iran?

 Step 3: Escalation Among the few articulated foreign-policy priorities of the Trump administration thus far has been a reset of relations with America’s traditional Middle East allies, namely Israel and Saudi Arabia. Embedded within this is a more confrontational approach toward Iran, which both Tel Aviv and Riyadh believe to be the region’s greatest source of instability. Trump’s national-security brain-trust—including Defense Secretary James Mattis, Flynn, and several of Flynn’s NSC deputiesshare this assessment, and hold the Iranian Revolutionary Guards directly responsible for over a thousand U.S. military casualties in Iraq. During the Obama administration they felt restrained, and now they’re eager to show they can and will respond. The opportunities for confrontation are multifold
 The opportunities for confrontation are multifold. The U.S. and Iran are on opposing sides of numerous regional military and political disputes, including in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Israel-Palestine, Bahrain, and most recently Afghanistan, where Iran has been accused of becoming “increasingly close” to the Taliban. Despite the U.S.’s overwhelming conventional military superiority over Iran, however, today’s Middle East wars are increasingly unconventional fights involving nonstate actors in weak or failing states where America has no strong allies, unclear interests, and no desire to be Let's think about one "non state actor" already engaged in attacking Iran, with US backing aplenty! The seeds of a destabilization planted nearly two years ago.
  
 August 07/2015: P5+1 is a distraction. Early Seeds of Iranian destabilization cross the Turkish border

The seeds of an Iranian destabilization are being  sown- April 2016:  Iran's Forgotten Kurds Step Up the Struggle- So The Media Promotion Begins

May 05/2016: Kurds on the Attack in Iran- As Predicted ......

Recall all those US Military bases being set up in Northern Iraq? 

July 21/2016: The Puzzle of the US Multi-Base Deal with Iraq's Kurds- One On Iran’s Border
 "Fishar News reported that one US air base would be built in Harir some 70 km north of Erbil, the KRG provincial capital. The base would be used to host American jet fighters and helicopters as well as military advisers.
Another military base will be established in Alton Kopri south of Erbil and will be used to store light weapons, while two other bases will be built in KRG-controlled areas in Mosul, the media outlet said.
A stunning surprise is that the US will be allowed to build the fifth military base in Halabja on the border with neighbouring Iran, according to the Fishar News report.
Stunning because that's PKK turf! Stunning because the US will reprise it's support to the 'beleaguered kurds' yet again"
The Atlantic continued.....
 Step 4: Unraveling  Though politicians on both sides routinely denounce the nuclear deal, it remains unclear whether they would truly welcome the deal’s collapse. Neither the U.S. nor Iran will want to be blamed for unilaterally tearing up the agreement and potentially triggering a global crisis. A more likely scenario is one in which the deal gradually unravels, with each side blaming the other for its demise.   In an atmosphere of increased escalation, sanctions, and regional skirmishes, Iran’s hardliners will find ample pretexts to make good on their threat of reexamining their nuclear commitments. But rather than race toward a nuclear weapon, which would provoke a strong international reaction, Tehran is more likely to reduce cooperation with international inspectors and resume its nuclear activities—under the pretext of a civilian energy program—in a way that will accentuate fissures in the international coalition (known as the P5+1) that negotiated and enforces the nuclear deal. I asked my Carnegie colleague Mark Hibbs—a renowned nuclear researcher—how, specifically, Tehran might go about this. “If Tehran aimed to divide the P5+1 and aggravate Israel and Western countries,” Hibbs told me, it might do things not expressly forbidden by the JCPOA but that would not be in the spirit of the accord. What benefit would Iran gain from dividing the P5+1?

Accords have "spirits"? I don't think so.  This agreement must have terms, like a contract, so it should come down to breaching the  actual terms of the contract or not breaching the actual terms of the contract/accord? The spirit of the accord/contract is really a spin type of terminology

The US: Iran you broke the spirit of the accord!
Iran: We did not engage in any action expressly forbidden by the accord,
The US: No matter you broke the spirit of the deal- It's the spirit we're talkin' about
Iran: What the heck is the spirit of the accord! How is that even defined?

See the problem with the spirit of the accord? It means many things to many people. It's not clear or concise.
Step 5: DisunityThe JCPOA builds in dispute-resolution mechanisms in case either Iran or the P5+1 countries feel the other side is in non-compliance. But any such mechanism is ineffectual when two parties are seemingly coveting an escalation. (The US and Israel) And any U.S.-Iran escalation may break the unity of the U.S. and its partners. Given the chaos and carnage in today’s Middle East, most major countries in the world (with the notable exception of the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia) see Iran as a stable regional power and a tactical ally against the more nefarious threat of radical Sunni jihadists like ISIS. Russia is working in unison with Iran in Syria, Chinese-Iranian trade is booming, and Europe cannot afford another unpredictable conflict that exacerbates regional unrest and creates more refugees.Clearly the US and Israel are unconcerned with ISIS, for what should be obvious reasons.
Saudi Arabia is a bit different, it's divided... and malleable because of that division

History has shown that Iran only responds to pressure when it is encircled with a united international front. Unilateral U.S. pressure, however significant, is insufficient if Tehran feels it has escape doors in Europe, Russia, and Asia.Step 6: ConflictA context in which Iran has resumed (or you are told they have) its nuclear activities and a divided P5+1 fails to meaningfully react creates a dilemma for both the United States and Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu—who views Iran an “existential threat”—has a lower threshold than the United States for taking military action against Iran. While the Obama administration restrained Netanyahu, Trump has thus far indulged him. Though Netanyahu may not succeed in compelling Washington to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities—his first preference—he may succeed in getting Trump’s greenlight, and the requisite military hardware, for Israel to take military action.  What is the likelihood that Trump himself would authorize military action against Iran’s nuclear sites or military assets? One of Trump’s core beliefs, taught to him by his former lawyer Roy Cohn, is “When attacked, hit back harder.” While it remains to be seen how a philosophy born out of New York City real estate quarrels can be applied to complicated geopolitical disputes, throughout his campaign and his first weeks in office Trump’s decision making has been marked by impulsiveness more than restraint. How will he react if Iran continues to defy him despite his repeated taunts and tweets?
 It's been reported that Elliot Abrams did not get the State Department job
Mr. Trump overruled his newly minted secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, and rejected the secretary’s choice for his deputy at the department, two people briefed on the decision said Friday. The deputy’s job was denied for Elliott Abrams, a conservative who had served under President Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush, deals a blow to Mr. Tillerson in his first week on the job. The rejection of Mr. Abrams leaves Mr. Tillerson without a sherpa to help guide the first-time government official around the State Department headquarters.  Relevant relink: Trump's Presidency: A Dangerous Deception
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Thank-You James Corbett: What I Learned From the CIA Archive

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 18:46
 This morning Gimlet Eye had left me a message:
Gimlet EyeFebruary 9, 2017 at 1:23 AMOff topic, but you'll want to see this report from Corbett, skip to 6:00 and watch for ~1min if you're short of time-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z42sClWyqhUObviously I went to watch the video and to my surprise 6:00 minutes in, what appears?
Why it's my blog!!


PennyFebruary 9, 2017 at 5:53 AMHi Gimlet Eye!

Well that was a surprise.! And sort of funny to see..

Thanks for letting me know that post was included in the video-

For readers James Corbett included the post below in a recent video.

http://pennyforyourthoughts2.blogspot.ca/2017/01/cia-documents-confirm-yom-kippur-war.html

I went back to look at, just like james, I said read the documents for yourself and share some thoughts...
The Corbett Video :What I Learned From The Declassified CIA Archive




The link to my post is embedded/highlighted in this paragraph from the accompanying article

"The third category is more insidious. It’s the route Ynetnews takes in its report on what CREST’s Kissinger archives reveal about the lead-up to the Yom Kippur War. To hear Ynetnews tell it, you’d think that the documents (which they only provide screen shots of, no links to) confirm the official take that this was an unprovoked surprise attack by the Arab aggressors against the innocent Israelis. Other outlets, however, come to the complete opposite conclusion from the same documents: “that Israel desired and planned for the war—despite the US asking them, more then [sic] once, not to pre emptively strike other nations.”
One thing I learned from the CIA info release is.... read the documents for yourself. Always.  When I read the documents included in the post it was not possible for me to draw the same conclusions that Ynet had presented- 


And finally- Thank You James Corbett.  

It's was nice that James noticed the documents did not confirm the claim made by Ynet. 
The Corbett Report is linked in the sidebar.


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