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.”
Sheikh Raed Salah was banned from leaving Palestine and barred from entering al-Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem for five more months on Tuesday, 14 February, reported Quds News.
Israeli police delivered an order from Aryeh Deri, the far-right Israeli Interior Minister, to Salah’s home in Umm al-Fahm, on Tuesday night, banning him from travel or visiting Jerusalem, until 15 July 2017. The order comes as a renewal of the one-month travel ban slapped on Salah on 17 January 2017, immediately upon his release from Israeli prison from a nine-month sentence for “incitement,” for a sermon he delivered in 2007.
The order declares that Salah’s travel abroad poses a “real danger… to state security.” Salah is the leader of the Islamic Movement in Palestine ’48; in 2015, the Israeli state banned the Islamic Movement in an action condemned by Palestinian organizations across the political spectrum as an attack on all Palestinians in ’48 Palestine, who hold Israeli citizenship.
Throughout his imprisonment, Salah was held in solitary confinement and repeatedly interrogated; appeals to end his isolation were denied throughout that time. He was even denied access to magazines, books and other materials brought for him.
A Canadian court has ruled that the government harmed thousands of indigenous children who were robbed of their cultural heritage when it took them from their families. Launched eight years ago, the lawsuit could cost the government US$1bn.
Ruling on the case on Tuesday, Justice Edward Belobaba said Canada breached its “duty of care” when the Ontario-led program forcibly removed 16,000 aboriginal children from their families and relocated them to non-indigenous homes between 1965 and 1984.
The federal initiative, which aimed to educate children on Euro-Canadian and Christian values, became known as the ‘Sixties Scoop’. An investigation into the program produced the Kimelman Report, which described it as “cultural genocide.”
said, as quoted by CBC.
“The uncontroverted evidence of the plaintiff’s experts is that the loss of their Aboriginal identity left the children fundamentally disoriented, with a reduced ability to lead healthy and fulfilling lives,” Belobaba
“The loss of Aboriginal identity resulted in psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, unemployment, violence and numerous suicides.”
“There is … no dispute that great harm was done,” the judge added.
The case had stuttered for several years until Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to power, fulfilling an election promise that it would be revived to better the country’s relationship with its indigenous population. Tuesday’s ruling is expected to have an impact on a number of similar cases across the country.
Damages have yet to be decided upon.
National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde welcomed the decision, telling Reuters: “Children have the right to speak their language and stay connected to their heritage. Today’s decision is a step towards reconciliation.”
Marcia Brown Martel, who was taken from her native family aged four, began the class-action lawsuit against the federal government when she began searching for her roots. No information had been provided to Martel’s adoptive family on her original home, leaving her to try tracing her past from her limited memories.
Reacting to the ruling, Colleen Cardinal, who was also taken as part of the program when she was just two years old, said she was surprised with the ruling but is now confident that similar lawsuits will go the same way.
“I think the rest of the country has been waiting for this class action to be resolved, and I’m pretty sure that the rest will follow suit,” she told CBC.
Cardinal said this was a “monetary victory” but that those taken still needed support to help them heal.
A number of children taken during the program were adopted by US families, including Sydney Dion, who was denied entry to Canada when he attempted to return home as he did not have a Canadian birth certificate. He was eventually allowed to enter the country after border patrol acknowledged he was a minor when taken to the US and did not consent to becoming a US citizen.
Did Trump blink in the face of a soft coup against an elected American government?
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | February 15, 2017
On first hearing, the resignation of Michael Flynn seemed less consequential than it did after a little reflection. After all, appointed officials do get let go, and Donald Trump made a popular name for himself as someone who doesn’t hesitate to dismiss staff who are not up to expectations.
The plausible reason offered – Flynn’s having not told the truth about what was said at his meeting with the Russian Ambassador to the Vice President – is just that, plausible, but only barely. It is almost certainly a “face-saver” explanation used to cover something of greater consequence.
At such levels in international affairs, “backchannel” communications are, if not everyday occurrences, employed now and again in highly delicate matters. We know John Kennedy employed exactly this method with Nikita Khrushchev, using a Soviet Ambassador, and he started moving towards doing the same with Castro. Most instances of such activity never reach our attention, of course.
Kennedy was involved in seeking peace during the Cold War, and today many have great hope Trump seeks the same around the Neocon Wars and Obama’s attempts to provoke and threaten Russia. Some of Trump’s words have offered encouraging signals. Michael Flynn was clearly working towards peace, and he had Trump’s confidence, but America’s power establishment is larded with many powerful and unaccountable people who share exactly the opposite purpose. What those who wish for peace regard as hopeful, these others regard as threatening.
“Backchannel” simply means that none of the ordinary paths of communication are used and that few, other than direct participants, are privy to it. It is an important tool at times. There is nothing illegal or insidious or treacherous about it, but it is of its nature highly confidential.
In some corporate press write-ups, today, we actually have irresponsible claims along those lines. Among other contemptible statements published today was this in Britain’s Independent : “Veteran anchor Dan Rather Broadcast journalist describes Russia scandal as ‘around a 5 or 6 on a 10-point scale of Armageddon for our form of government’, but says it is getting worse by the hour.”
My comment to that ridiculous statement was to remind readers of Rather’s record as a journalist, including first and foremost, his infamous description of the Zapruder film offered shortly after Kennedy’s death to reassure Americans about what had happened in Dallas.
If you’ve never seen Rather’s performance, here it is.
And here is the film he pretended to describe at a time years before anyone was permitted to see it.
I also reminded readers that Rather’s career with CBS ended over a story about George Bush, a story whose supporting materials he had failed adequately to scrutinize. He, essentially, was fired by the network. He certainly is a distinguished authority to quote in the current situation. Here is an outstanding example of a journalist the CIA has had in its pocket for decades.
Backchannel communication certainly was all that Michael Flynn was doing. But some insider, likely in the CIA – elements of which have already made more than one attempt to discredit Trump with stuff like evidence-free charges about Russian hacking and a paid-for, contrived Russian dossier, stuff which was rated as trash by the general public – got wind of Flynn’s effort and leaked it to one of his grateful journalist-contacts in a compliant corporate press.
There is a genuine question of treason here with security service people who decide to leak such ultra-secret material to a press which happily regurgitates the CIA view of events abroad daily. Does anyone want secret agencies determining who serves in government and what direction policy should go? This was a serious piece of dirty work which may well deserve the label treason. It is now being fully exploited by the very corporate press which has always hated Trump as well as by the hawks of both parties who gave us the Neocon Wars and Cold War Two.
Trump represents a threat against some of their favorite dirty projects, including the dangerous, non-stop assault on Russia, the engineered coup in Ukraine, and the deliberately-induced horrors of Syria employing hired terrorists.
We all lose if they win. Of course, by “all” I don’t include the corporate press so ably represented by Dan Rather and The Washington Post and The New York Times.
The American press establishment has been in bed with the security services for a long time. Much of what we read in the American as well as British press on subjects such as foreign affairs is little more than re-writes of stuff put “out there” by the CIA. I suppose in private, the owners and editors regard it as the patriotic thing to do, to support government policy no matter how bad it is.
The CIA has scores of clever manipulators who work full time on generating junk they distribute to cooperative friends in journalism. Even half a century ago, during another long CIA-terrorist project, the long one against Castro, you can read of the many creators of news employed to put the right face on what was being done and to hide a great deal of it. Papers like The New York Times openly cooperated with them, as we later learned in the explosion of information years after Kennedy’s assassination. Today, more than fifty years later and with far more powerful tools at their disposal, we can only imagine the inner workings of America’s richly-financed Ministry of Truth.
Nancy Pelosi – daughter of an old Mafia Don and bosom friend of the Neocons – has now climbed back on the “investigate Trump and Russia” bandwagon. Hillary Clinton, of course, never got off of it. Echoes of their shrill claims are even heard in Europe where several national elections now threaten governments which supported them. It’s what these people have been pushing for – the whole gang of the corporate press, senior Democrats, and various establishment interests. They have been trying to stop or derail Trump from Election Day.
It’s stylish and convenient for them to pretend their opposition is over matters like immigrants, but the truth is far darker. The War Party wants to continue literally re-shaping the face of the planet no matter how many lives it costs. Can you imagine, for even one moment, rhino-hided politicians like Pelosi or Clinton or Chuck Schumer shedding so much as one genuine tear over immigrants or refugees? These are people who have been complicit in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, including countless women and their families, in a whole series of countries.
It is deeply concerning now that Trump speaks of Obama’s maybe not having been tough enough on Russia. And we’ve heard that Crimea must be returned to Ukraine. Are these concessions from a wounded President to the people who inflicted the wound? Has Trump blinked after this attack?
The situation has the potential now not only of scuttling anticipated rapprochement with Russia but of cranking up the threat. Russia is no more “returning” Crimea to Ukraine than Germany is returning the former East Germany to its previous status. The local people have spoken and their choice was to rejoin Russia, with whom they have a history going back to Catherine the Great. They chose to leave a new version of Ukraine which displayed open hostility towards Russian-speakers from the first day of a CIA-financed coup.
This all has the smell of a “soft” coup against an elected American government, but that should not surprise us. To this day, we do not know the role of the CIA in a number of watershed events, including the Kennedy assassination, 9/11 as the kick starter for the Neocon Wars, and even the downfall of Richard Nixon.
Is that your idea of democratic government?
The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria due to deliberate acts of sabotage by Daesh terrorists targeting a key dam and US-led coalition air raids on the facility.
In a report seen by Reuters on Wednesday, the UN raised alarm about high water levels in the Tabqa dam, commonly known as the Euphrates dam, an earth-filled facility on the Euphrates River located 40 kilometers upstream from the Daesh-held Syrian city of Raqqah.
Water levels on the river have risen by some 10 meters since January 24 due mainly to the Daesh opening of three turbines of the dam and partly as a result of heavy rainfall and snow, the report said.
“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 UN report further said.
It also noted that the US-led aerial attacks had already damaged the entrance to the dam.
“For example, on 16 January 2017, airstrikes on the western countryside of Raqqah impacted the entrance of the Euphrates dam, which, if further damaged, could lead to massive scale flooding across Raqqah and as far away as Dayr al-Zawr,” the report added.
The US-led coalition has been carrying out air raids against what are said to be Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate. Analysts have assessed the strikes as unsuccessful as they have led to civilian deaths and failed to counter terrorism.
Last month, Russia accused the US-led coalition of “systematically” bombing Syria’s economic infrastructure rather than oil production facilities seized by Daesh.
The UN report also accused retreating Daesh elements of having deliberately destroyed vital Syrian infrastructure, including three water stations and five water towers, just in the first three weeks of January.
Daesh “has reportedly mined water pumping stations on the Euphrates River which hinders the pumping of water and residents are resorting to untreated water from the Euphrates River,” it said.
Syrian army soldiers and allied fighters have been fighting against different foreign-backed terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the Arab country since 2011.
Over the past few months, the Syrian forces have made sweeping gains against the Takfiri terrorists, who have lately increased their acts of violence in revenge for the blows they have been suffering on the ground.
Moscow has criticized news reports alleging associates of Donald Trump had numerous contacts with Russian intelligence during the election, with the Kremlin’s spokesman complaining that it’s hard to distinguish fact from fiction in the US media lately.
“Those reports are not based on concrete facts,” Dmitry Peskov stressed on Wednesday, noting “there are five different sources in the story and none is named. So you see, really laughable stories are now given a go.”
The Russian president’s spokesman added, “Let’s not just believe the press. It’s difficult lately tell the real deal from fakes and hoaxes,” referring to reports in the New York Times and on CNN which cited anonymous US sources as saying that several people close to President Donald Trump had communicated with Russian intelligence officers during the presidential campaign.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has reacted cautiously, saying the publications indicate a big political game involving power bargaining is being played within the US establishment.
Other Russian officials were more forthcoming, however.
“It’s common tactic to discredit a person,” Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov told RIA Novosti, commenting on expose stories run by the New York Times and CNN, adding that it’s a continuation of the same campaign that forced Michael Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor earlier.
“Trump should realize that the real target of such leaks is him. Unless the American president puts an end to this witch-hunt and stops surrendering his people, this will all end bad. The final goal of his enemies is to impeach the president,” he added.
Dzhabarov, who holds a seat in the Russian Senate, is a veteran intelligence officer who retired with the rank of Colonel General.
Leonid Slutsky, a fellow legislator and head of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, came to a similar conclusion, saying that the US mainstream media is carrying out a concerted attack on Trump.
“Such outlets use any chance to mar the new president and use this overused and baseless ‘Russian dossier’ for the purpose often because it makes a reliable impact on their readers,” he explained.
The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, whose agents Trump’s aides were allegedly in contact with, told TASS they were surprised by the reports and would not comment on “media speculations that lack proof.”
In an earlier article, the New York Times cited unnamed current and former US officials as saying that members of Trump’s election campaign had had contacts with senior Russian intelligence officers. The newspaper said US intelligence had intercepted the communications of Trump’s aides as they were collecting information to see if there was any evidence showing collusion between the Republican and Russia on the alleged hack of the Democratic National Convention – evidence that they reportedly failed to find.
The report said that, not only campaign members, but also other associates of Trump had been targeted by the surveillance. The only name it provided was that of Paul Manafort, who had to resign as Trump’s campaign manager after Ukrainian authorities accused him of having been involved in the corruption of the previous Ukrainian government. The evidence of such corruption was later disavowed by the Ukrainian investigators.
Commenting for the NYT report, Manafort denied having any ties with the Russian intelligence.
“This is absurd. I have no idea what this is referring to. I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today,” he told the newspaper.
The NYT sources would not disclose any details, including the names of alleged Russian spies or the number of Trump people that had allegedly communicated with them, claiming the data had been collected as part of routine surveillance of the communications of foreign officials.
CNN ran a similar story independently of the newspaper, citing anonymous “law enforcement and administration officials.”
Israeli defense contractors have generated more than $1 billion in revenues since 2010 for assisting with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the most expensive weapons program in history.
The Israeli Defense Ministry reported Sunday that 2016 was a banner year for F-35 partners. Contracts tied to production of the F-35 shot up 33 percent last year for a total of $258 million in new deals for Israeli companies. Since Israel inked a deal to buy 19 F-35 fighters in 2010, Israeli firms have won more than $1 billion in ‘buy-back contracts.’
“The scope of industrial cooperation between [Lockheed Martin] and Israeli industry, in just the last year, shows the immense potential inherent in this arrangement for the Israeli economy,” Col. Avi Dadon, deputy director of purchasing at the Ministry of Defense, noted.
A bulk of the new revenues stemmed from the F-35 virtual reality helmets. Elbit Systems and Rockwell Collins scored a $206 million contract for headgear production.
Like the F-35 project as a whole, the F-35 helmets have faced their share of struggles. The 4.5-pound helmets are reported to cause neck problems for pilots. What’s more, the visor has been seen to pop off the heads of pilots during take-off. Since the helmets are critical for pilots to visualize flight, mission, and target information, this essentially leaves pilots blind. In a separate incident, Tom Briggs of the US Navy described the helmets as being comparable to “looking through a dirty window” due to a green glow in the display area.
Meanwhile, Italian officials have complained recently that Lockheed Martin and the US are not following through on jet maintenance contracts. Guido Crosetto, head of Italy’s aerospace and defense industry association said Washington has not “honored promises” made when Italy joined the list of US allies to buy the F-35s.
Back in 2002, Italy was told that it would receive contracts for maintenance work worth 65 percent of the $1 billion Rome invested to buy 90 joint strike fighters, Italian media outlets reported. Italian firms currently have contracts valued less than 20 percent of its initial investment, the official added. Instead, contracts went to places like the UK, the Netherlands and Australia “because the competition favored large companies,” Crosetto said.
John McCain, a hawkish US Senator known for his anti-Russia position, has called for boosting US deterrent posture in Europe after reports emerged alleging Moscow has secretly deployed nuclear-tipped ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
The administration of President Donald Trump must immediately respond to Russia’s alleged deployment of nuclear-tipped ground-launched cruise missiles, McCain said in a press release.
The news comes as US media reported that Russia deployed ground-based nuclear cruise missiles in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
The Pentagon supported the review of alleged the INF Treaty violations.
The treaty prohibits the development, deployment or testing of ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles. It was implemented by 1991 with inspections carrying on until 2001.
“Russia’s treaty violation requires a meaningful response,” McCain stated in the release on Tuesday. “In light of the most recent developments, it is time for the new administration to take immediate action to enhance our deterrent posture in Europe and protect our allies.”
McCain claimed Russia’s violation of the INF treaty is a significant threat to US forces in Europe and its NATO allies, the release stated.
The United States should continue to modernize its nuclear forces and ensure NATO’s nuclear deterrence forces are prepared to counter Russian nuclear doctrine, which calls for the first use of nuclear weapons, McCain added.
Russia has rejected the accusations, and said that the United States deploying its Europe-based missile defense system violates the INF treaty.
RT | February 15, 2017
Top Russian officials have rejected accusations that Moscow violated an arms control treaty by deploying cruise missiles, saying that the people spreading the rumors were targeting the possible thaw in Russia-US relations.
Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that Russia was observing all its international obligations and that none of its partners had accused Moscow of breaching any treaties.
“Russia has been and remains committed to its international commitments, including to the treaty in question,” Peskov told reporters. “Nobody has formally accused Russia of violating the treaty,” he said.
The comments came after US media reported that unnamed officials in the Trump administration had allegedly accused Moscow of deploying ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
The head of the Russian upper house Committee for International Relations, Senator Konstantin Kosachev, said on Tuesday that such media leaks were part of a wider information war being waged against Russia and everyone who supported the normalization of Russia-US relations.
“The main objective of this campaign is to prevent the new president [Trump] from making a U-turn over the Atlantic, I mean, to prevent him from reconsidering the transatlantic policies of the United States that are set at establishing the monopolar model of the world order,” the senator told reporters.
He added that in his opinion those behind the strategy were sure that US politicians and the general public must be kept in a state of constant fear from an imagined external threat. … Full article
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced plans to launch a special online resource dedicated to exposing fake news and countering them with accurate and verifiable information from primary sources.
While speaking at a press briefing, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, announced that the Ministry will be opening a special section on its official website dedicated to exposing fake news and countering them with accurate and verifiable information from primary sources.
The move comes as no surprise. Russia is clearly the number one target of fake news stories by western mainstream media outlets.
“In the near future, we will launch our project on the Ministry’s website. There, we will collect fake news of leading media outlets as well as comments made by officials and representatives of various countries and expose their fake nature, providing primary sources and data,” Zakharova was quoted as saying in a RIA Novosti report.
NATO’s latest attack on freedom of thought was unquestioningly embraced by mainstream media – in unwitting service of “fake news.”
During the 2016 US Presidential election, the term “fake news” escaped the media bubble to become the buzzword of the year. Intended as the “proper” media’s expository and damning attack on dodgy sources that attract attention with shocking yet untrue headlines, it quickly morphed into a shorthand for anything and everything that went against the establishment’s narrow range of approved narratives. Clinton – good, Russia – evil, that sort of thing.
The media that cried “fake news”
Missing the irony entirely, the mainstream press then got terribly aggrieved when the “fake news” label was thrown right back at them by none other than President Trump for that exact same reason.
Who could have ever imagined that when a term built entirely around the concept of empirical, intellectual rigor repeatedly lent itself to a politicized narrative agenda unsupported by facts, it would lose all credibility, and eventually – all meaning?
However, as we know, the establishment takes a while to catch up to the real world. Last weekend, NATO’s old hawks, apparently left unawares that labeling dissent as “disinformation” doesn’t automatically make it so, decided to summarily write off all objections to its policies, actions and talking points with one foolproof refutation: any criticism of NATO is a fake because NATO says it is.
The military club’s latest PR wheeze is a lengthy web page listing what it calls “the facts” of NATO-Russia relations.
In reality, these are NATO’s value-based interpretations of its own agenda – in other words, the alliance’s opinion of itself. But this framework of NATO’s opinion being equated to fact by default delegitimizes any point of view to the contrary, any dissent, disagreement or objection.
In this particular instance, the primary focus of such objectionable objections is Russia. Most of the 32 listed “myths” have something to do with NATO being perceived as a threat (to Russia, but not only) and having committed some kinds of bad acts (many of which had nothing to do with Russia). Russia is, nevertheless, blamed for generating and promoting all of those “myths.”
NATO’s basic counterargument amounts to “Russians are wrong to think and feel how they do.” Or, more specifically, “Russians are not allowed to think or say NATO is a threat to them despite our military creep eastwards and deployment of soldiers on their borders and missiles in their near abroad.”
The listicle regurgitates other familiar talking points, such as “NATO membership is not imposed on countries. Each sovereign country has the right to choose for itself whether it joins any treaty or alliance” – in the same week that a Gallup poll showed how more people in Ukraine and Moldova regard the group as a threat rather than as protection.
These are two countries that NATO has courted for many years. In the Gallup survey, we also see that 64 percent of Serbians believe NATO is a threat and only 6 percent believe it offers protection.
But in its PR push, NATO rejects the notion that its “enlargement in the Balkans is destabilizing” and goes off on a tangent about how “countries in the region have played a significant role in NATO’s operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo, providing training to the Afghan forces.”
NATO & friends
Over the past weekend many editors took part in enthusiastically promoting this black vs. white, ‘myth vs. facts’ story put out by NATO. Dozens of journalists took the Organization’s proclamations as inarguable truth largely without caveats, due diligence or any critical analysis
The team at Reuters particularly outdid itself by ramping up the rhetoric with colorful comments from NATO’s spokesperson and de rigueur invocation of RT and Sputnik. It also failed to provide any balancing perspective, apparently because “The Kremlin, the Russian government, RT, Sputnik, and Life could not immediately be reached for comment.”
Immediately. On 32 “myth charges” at once. On a Saturday night. Oh how much time and scrutiny were afforded for the evaluation of 32 complex geopolitical issues by a news platform of enormous capacity…
Speaking of myths, RT’s Press Office did not receive any queries from Reuters on the matter.
Then again, Reuters doesn’t seem to be generous with the ‘right of reply.’
Reuters’ commitment to the criticism of the Russian media leans heavily on baseless allegations that RT has spread “false stories,” yet the only references are a single example of a report from July 2016 “about a fire raging at a NATO base in Izmir, claiming it was a deliberate sabotage after the failed coup in Turkey.”
But the author fails to mention that (a) there was an evidence of a large-scale fire in the area, with evidence presented not just across social media (with photos and videos) but many news media outlets, including CNN Turk; (b) this was a fast-breaking, developing story and (c) RT immediately included a comment from the NATO spokesperson as soon as it was supplied.
Indeed, the second sentence of the article reads “NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu has denied the reports of a fire “in or near” territories hosting NATO facilities in Turkey, adding that its HQ “is fully operational,” and prominently displayed a tweet from Lungescu.
This hardly seems like an inspired “fake news”-promoting effort.
Truth in the news
And this brings us back to the whole “fake news” thing. Surely, this zero-sum coverage of NATO’s role in Europe, which ignores or dismisses the worries of millions of the continent’s citizens and several governments is worthy of being at the very least examined as misleading?
The same rigorous test should be applied to the mainstream media’s tendency to act as an unquestioning promotional vehicle for US/Alliance’s military interests, accepting NATO statements at face value. Especially when such claims play like an echo of those about “Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction” and “Aleppo’s last hospital,” which seemed to vanish and reappear practically every week last year.
With every news cycle, it becomes increasingly evident the mainstream media seems to believe “fake news” is totally terrible, unless it is about Russia when it becomes totally acceptable. And that every claim needs to be rigorously fact-checked unless it is made by the “good guys,” like NATO. And the good guys, in turn, are free to slap a “fake news” label on any actor or argument they don’t like. But really, mostly, Russia.
This is exactly how we have arrived at a point where supposedly respectable outlets have created a world where Vladimir Putin has managed to become the richest man in the world (Washington Post ), who controls Donald Trump (Huffington Post ) and masterminded his election victory (Vanity Fair ) despite battling Aspergers (USA Today ), and cancer (The Week ), and also traveling through time.
At this rate, if the term “fake news” loses all meaning in the next few months, if not weeks, the mainstream media will have no one but itself to blame.
The media has generally presented Trump as being ignorant and nonsensical in his discussion of American policies, and one example is his negative references to NATO as obsolete. The mainstream media is aghast that any political leader of the U.S. could possibly take a negative view of such an allegedly iconic alliance as NATO. A few days before Trump’s inauguration, the New York Times Editorial Board, for example, in an article entitled “Russian Gains When Trump Trashes NAT0,” found it “puzzling indeed for a president-elect to publicly denigrate leaders of his country’s closest allies as well as an alliance that for 70 years has stood firm against Russian expansion.” The Editorial Board of the Washington Post, in its praise for NATO, on the same date as the aforementioned New York Times editorial came out, maintained that “[i]t has greatly magnified U.S. power and global influence, even when its members were underspending on their military forces. Without it, the West would have no effective way to contain Russian neo-imperialism.”
The only question seems to be whether Trump is a total ignoramus or is he, for some malevolent reason, a traitor who puts the interests of Putinist Russia  above those of the United States. But if we take a brief walk down memory lane, we will discover that Trump is actually in very good company in his criticism of NATO, and those NATO critics include luminaries of the foreign policy establishment whom the Washington Post and the New York Times once readily embraced.
When NATO was coming into existence in 1949, it was not only being opposed by those who retained their World War II sympathy for the Soviet Union, such as former Vice President Henry Wallace, and conservative non-interventionists lead by Senator Robert Taft, but also by the most influential columnist and political intellectual of the era, Walter Lippmann. In 1947, Lippmann had written a series of articles called The Cold War that criticized the policy of containment—which called for efforts to prevent the expansion of Communism. The containment policy underpins NATO. And it is the intellectual architect of containment, George F. Kennan, who will be discussed shortly. Interestingly, while Kennan first applied the term “containment” to a foreign policy strategy, Lippmann, although he did not originate the term “Cold War,” made it an integral part of the political lexicon. 
Regarding Lippmann’s thinking on NATO, Lippmann biographer Ronald Steel writes: “Unlike the State Department and Pentagon planners, Lippmann saw no need for a military alliance with Western Europe. ‘I am convinced that the question of war or peace hangs upon the Soviet willingness to engage in a general war, and not on the strength of the local defenses in any particular part of the world,’ he [Lippmann] wrote.” 
Lippmann made a considerable effort to stop the development of NATO. Steel writes: “Lippmann put forth a six-page single spaced document on the German problem for John Foster Dulles to take to the Paris foreign ministers meeting in May 1949. In the memo Lippmann urged the demilitarization and neutralization of Germany, along with the withdrawal of all foreign troops. This plan, he argued, would keep German nationalists in check and remove the need for NATO.” In short, the Red Army’s occupation of central Europe, in Lippmann’s view, only existed because of the existence of Western troops in the vicinity. And if the Western troops were removed, Russia would reciprocate and, in Lippmann’s view, “there would be no more Russian problem today than there had been for a century.” 
Lippmann’s opposition went for naught and the NATO treaty passed the Senate by an overwhelming margin. Lippmann would express his opposition to NATO once again in 1952 when the alliance proposed to add two new members, Greece and Turkey. Lippmann maintained: “A great power like the United States gains no advantage and it loses prestige by offering, indeed peddling, its alliances to all and sundry. An alliance should be hard diplomatic currency, valuable and hard to get, and not inflationary paper from the mimeograph machine in the State Department.”  Once again, Lippmann lost the battle.
In 1958, Lippmann, like many American thinkers at that time, interpreted the launching of the Sputnik satellites as an indication that the Soviet Union was a power equal to that of the Western alliance. Lippmann contended: “The defenders of the existing policy consider themselves great realists who have put aside all wishful thinking. On what calculation, then, in the power relationships of great states, do they lease their expectation that Russia will withdraw from Europe while the United States and Great Britain remain, and are allowed to advance their military frontiers at least to the borders of Poland?” He maintained that “a settlement [with Russia] must be designed not only to protect our own vital interests. It must respect the vital interests of Russia.” 
George F. Kennan, who is widely considered to be the intellectual architect of America’s Cold War “containment” policy toward the Soviet Union in 1946 and 1947, expressed skepticism about the need to create NATO. His biographer John Lewis Gaddis writes that Kennan believed that “[I]f there had to be a military alliance, its members should include only the North Atlantic countries, where there was ‘a community of defense interest firmly rooted in geography and tradition.’ To go further would invite still further demands for protection: there would then be ‘no stopping point in the development of a system of anti-Russian alliances until that system has circled the globe and has embraced all the non-communist countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa.’ By then one of two things would have happened: the alliance would become meaningless like the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, or the United States would have become hopelessly extended, in which case it would have ignored warnings about the increased discrepancy between its resources and its commitments.” Such a situation did, in fact, materialize during the Cold War period as the United States established one alliance after the other in various areas of the globe—CENTO (Central Asia], SEATO (Southeast Asia).
Kennan maintained that the containment strategy he proposed had been excessively militarized by the U.S. government. In a 1996 interview with CNN he had said “[m]y thoughts about containment were of course distorted by the people who understood it and pursued it exclusively as a military concept; and I think that that, as much as any other cause, led to [the] 40 years of unnecessary, fearfully expensive and disoriented process of the Cold War.”
In a 1998 interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Kennan described the U.S. Senate’s decision to ratify NATO’s expansion–which in 1999 would add Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to the alliance—as the “the beginning of a new cold war.” He held that “the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else . . . . We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way.”
Kennan said that he “was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe.” It seemed to him that Americans failed to realize that “[o]ur differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.” Kennan warned that this expansion showed “little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course, there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are — but this is just wrong.”
Friedman did not disagree with Kennan and saw this development as having a negative effect on peace in Europe. If everything went well, future historians, he surmised, would say that in spite of this NATO expansion, Russia would continue to move along the path of “democratization and Westernization” because of the powerful impact of “globalization and arms control agreements.” However, “[i]f we are unlucky they will say, as Mr. Kennan predicts, that NATO expansion set up a situation in which NATO now has to either expand all the way to Russia’s border, triggering a new cold war, or stop expanding after these three new countries and create a new dividing line through Europe.”
In his concluding remarks in this article, Friedman wrote that “there is one thing future historians will surely remark upon, and that is the utter poverty of imagination that characterized U.S. foreign policy in the late 1990′s. They will note that one of the seminal events of this century took place between 1989 and 1992 — the collapse of the Soviet Empire, which had the capability, imperial intentions and ideology to truly threaten the entire free world . . . And what was America’s response? It was to expand the NATO cold-war alliance against Russia and bring it closer to Russia’s borders.”
As Putin began to exercise more and more power, Friedman’s views of NATO begin to change. In a 2014 column Friedman wrote that he had “opposed expanding NATO toward Russia after the Cold War . . . . It remains one of the dumbest things we’ve ever done and, of course, laid the groundwork for Putin’s rise.”  Later that year Friedman, although still acknowledging the negative impact of NATO expansion, began to put greater blame on Putin. Friedman stated that “[b]y expanding NATO at the end of the Cold War, when Russia was weak, we helped to cultivate a politics there that would one day be very receptive to Putin’s message that the West is ganging up on Russia. But, that said, the message is a lie. The West has no intention of bringing Ukraine into NATO. And please raise your hand if you think the European Union plans to invade Russia.”
In placing blame on Putin, Friedman ignored the fact while his American readers would not expect the European Union to invade Russia—and let us grant that Friedman is engaging in hyperbole here, and would mean the U.S. along with the European Union–it is not clear that Russians could be so sanguine. The United States did not feel secure with Soviet missiles being stationed in Cuba in 1962 and quite likely would not feel so today. And, of course, if Friedman were correct here, there never should have been any concern by Russia about having NATO near its borders, and Friedman never should have identified at all with Kennan’s position in 1998. Both Lippmann and Kennan recognized that the U.S. needed to consider the Russian view—and Russia had historical reasons for being worried about strong enemies on its borders since it had been invaded in the past.
Friedman even denied that Putin sought to protect Russia. “By seizing Crimea and stoking up nationalism, Putin was not protecting Russia from NATO,” Friedman asserted. “He was protecting himself from the viruses of E.U. accountability and transparency, which, if they took hold in Ukraine, could spread to Moscow, undermining his kleptocracy.”
Note that by making a distinction between Putin’s government and Russia, Friedman implied that the interests of Putin’s “kleptocracy” ran counter to those of Russia. Now Kennan and Lippmann, in line with the thinking of most Americans, did not believe that the Communist government was good for Russia; nonetheless, Kennan and Lippmann realized that it was in the interest of the United States to respect the interests of the Soviet government of Russia in order to avoid a dangerous conflict.
Finally, all of Friedman’s negative views of NATO disappear when he deals with Trump, as would be expected by a mainstream liberal. “How in the world do we put a man in the Oval Office,” Friedman maintained, “who thinks NATO is a shopping mall where the tenants aren’t paying enough rent to the U.S. landlord”?
“NATO is not a shopping mall,” Friedman averred; “it is a strategic alliance that won the Cold War, keeps Europe a stable trading partner for U.S. companies and prevents every European country — particularly Germany — from getting their own nukes to counterbalance Russia, by sheltering them all under America’s nuclear umbrella.”
Friedman’s change of opinion is indicative of the current view of mainstream liberalism. First, there is a definite proclivity to resist anything that Trump proposes—one result of what critics have labeled as Trump Derangement Syndrome. Moreover, there is now a tendency on the part of American liberals to be far more critical of Putin than they were of Soviet Communism. Liberals during the Cold War saw the Soviet planned economic system as being beneficial in some ways. In contrast, liberals find nothing in Putin’s system. In short, Putin’s Russia is widely attacked as a “kleptocracy,” as Friedman put it, and for its institutionalization of traditional values–Christianity, anti-abortion measures, natalism, discrimination against the homosexual life-style, and nationalism—which liberals now lambaste as retrograde and harmful to minorities and women.
Liberals’ views of the Russian internal system have impacted on how they judge Russia’s international threat. Mainstream liberals were far less willing to staunchly oppose the Soviet Union despite the fact that its military power was about on par with that of the United States and it promoted a popular global ideology with supporters throughout the world. Today Russia is much weaker militarily, especially in its conventional forces, and has an ideology with little global appeal. Moreover, the expansion of NATO has made it far more threatening to Russia as it now encroaches on Russia’s borders.
This focus on liberals does not mean that they are now the foremost supporters of NATO, which is also being backed by a number of other factions, including: neoconservatives, unchanged Cold Warriors, conservative hawks, and militarists. But the addition of staunch support from liberals for NATO has made that alliance politically invulnerable because of their dominance of the mainstream media.
The upshot of the reference to notable critics of NATO clearly illustrates that one does not have to be a Russian dupe or an ignoramus to question the existence of NATO. And, for various reasons to which this essay has alluded, the value of NATO deserves to be questioned more now than it was when mainstream luminaries Lippmann and Kennan were doing so. This is one thing for which Trump deserves credit, although he does not make a good case for his position. It is unfortunate that he has been moving away from this position as his appointees for national security positions in his administration have voiced their whole-hearted support for the alliance.
 The Editorial Board, “Russian Gains When Trump Trashes NATO,” New York Times, January 17, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/opinion/russia-gains-when-donald-trump-trashes-nato.html
 Editorial Board, “Trump’s Cabinet knows NATO is Important. It’s not clear he agrees.,” Washington Post, January 17, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trumps-cabinet-knows-nato-is-important-its-not-clear-he-agrees/2017/01/17/e767258a-dcd2-11e6-acdf-14da832ae861_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.f4ec576cdb3c
 The mainstream media implies that Putin exercises absolute control of Russia and thus refers to Putinism as in the past Stalinism was used.
 “Cold War Origins—Genealogy of the term,” Encyclopedia of the New American Nation, http://www.americanforeignrelations.com/A-D/Cold-War-Origins-Genealogy-of-the-term.html
 Ronald Steel, Walter Lippmann and the American Century, with a new introduction by the author (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1999), p. 459.
 Steel, p. 460.
 Quoted in Steel, p. 478.
 Steel, p. 459.
 Walter Lippmann, “Mr. Kennan and Reappraisal in Europe,” The Atlantic Monthly, April, 1958 (originally published) accessed from The Atlantic Online, http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/96jan/nato/lipp.htm
 John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life (New York: Penguin Press, 2011), p. 333.
 Kennan on the Cold War, An Interview on CNN TV, Transcript, May and June 1996, http://www.johndclare.net/cold_war7_Kennan_interview.htm
 Quoted in Thomas L. Friedman, “Now a Word From X,” New York Times, May 2, 1998, http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/02/opinion/foreign-affairs-now-a-word-from-x.html
 Quoted in Friedman, “Now a Word From X.”
 Friedman, “Now a Word From X.”
 Friedman, “Now a Word From X.”
 Thomas L. Friedman, “Why Putin Doesn’t Respect Us,” New York Times, March 4, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/05/opinion/friedman-why-putin-doesnt-respect-us.html
 Thomas L. Friedman, “Putin and the Pope,” New York Times, October 21, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/22/opinion/thomas-friedman-putin-and-the-pope.html
 Friedman, “Putin and the Pope.”
 Thomas L. Friedman, “Trump? How Could We?,” New York Times, September 27, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/opinion/trump-how-could-we.html
 For a discussion of this subject see: Boyd D. Cathey, “Examining the Hatred of Vladimir Putin and Russia,” Unz Review, December 29, 2014, http://www.unz.com/article/examining-the-hatred-of-vladimir-putin-and-russia/
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei warned that the real war against the Islamic Republic is an economic and a cultural one.
“Both the former and new administrations in the United States have been threatening us with wars,” said the Leader reacting to all war rhetoric used by Washington against the Islamic Republic.
Addressing a large group of visiting people from Tabriz, Imam Khamenei said: “They have always said that the military option is on the table,” he said.
“But the real war remains to be an economic one, the imposition of sanctions and denying the people the chance to promote businesses and economic and technological activities in the country,” the Leader said.
His eminence also recalled comments by some European officials warning Iranian authorities that Iran had to go to war in the absence of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Such comments are just plain lies, the Leader said, elaborating on why some insist on threatening Iran with a war option.
“They just want to keep us too much involved with a military war to detract us from the economic war we face,” he said.
“The real war is also a cultural one,” Imam Khamenei added.