Following a year-long inquiry, German intelligence agencies have found no reliable evidence of a Russian “disinformation campaign” against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, according to media citing cabinet and security sources.
The German intelligence service (BND) and the counterintelligence agency (BfV) had been searching for evidence of Russian interference in the country’s domestic affairs for nearly a year, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Tuesday.
“We have not found any smoking gun,” a cabinet source told the paper.
The inquiry was similar to the US intelligence community’s efforts to attribute the notorious 2016 Democratic National Convention email leak to Russian ‘hacking groups.’
Initially, the secret services planned to release excerpts of their classified inquiry, but given the lack of evidence, the move would make Russian-German relations even more strained, according to the newspaper.
Chancellor Merkel’s office has, however, now directed the intelligence agencies to conduct a new inquiry. Notably, a ‘psychological operations group’ jointly run by the BND and BfV will specifically look at Russian news agencies’ coverage in Germany.
Despite the findings, the German intelligence services maintain that Russia has pursued a “more confrontational course” towards Germany since 2014, and call the coverage of Russian media, including RT Deutsch and Sputnik, “hostile.”
Germany’s intelligence community admits a difference between “excessive or false reporting” and “targeted disinformation,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote.
The revelations do not sit well with previous statements by Bruno Kahl, the head of the BND, who claimed in November last year that his agency had obtained evidence that Russia may have manipulated the vote during the 2016 US election.
He alleged that “Europe, and Germany in particular, is in the focus of these experiments,” adding that German-language internet sites had also been increasingly targeted by so-called ‘troll factories’ distributing targeted misinformation.
“The perpetrators are interested in delegitimizing the democratic process as such, no matter who that subsequently helps,” he said in a rare interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung in November. He also acknowledged that “[finding] an attribution to a state actor is technically difficult.”
By Douglas Edward Steil | Aletho News | February 6, 2017
President Trump promised efforts to improve US relations with Russia, yet even after his inauguration there were reports in the media, including videos, about a large buildup of NATO tanks, led by the US, at “Russia’s doorstep” (FOX News) in Poland, featuring joint military exercises (“war games”) as part of “Operation Atlantic Resolve”.
On January 31, 2017, RT (formerly Russia Today) described these maneuvers as “… the largest military buildup in Europe since the end of the Cold War…” in alarming terms without providing the appropriate historical context for its geographically-challenged readers. Lacking contextual knowledge, both those commentators from the discredited dinosaur (old legacy) media and the rapidly growing independent (new alternative) media inadvertently amplified the sense of alarmism the general public must have perceived. It ought to at least be obvious that the RT quote cited above is inherently self-contradictory and therefore misleading: If the Cold War had really already ended, then there would be no conceivable basis for the military buildup, which also included tanks from Germany (by invitation) on Polish and Lithuanian territory.
What should one make of these military maneuvers coming in the wake of Trump’s new presidency, which might appear on the surface to be hostile toward Russia?
The Kaliningrad Oblast is useful to Russia primarily as a potential staging ground for launching a quick ground invasion into Central Europe. The benefits of air rights and adjacent sea rights, featuring an ice-free port, cannot be ignored either. The countries most concerned about the potential for future Russian military adventurism are obviously Poland and Lithuania, which both formed a Commonwealth for 227 years, until the late 18th century. Though Russian’s current leadership claims to harbor no such invasive ambitions in this part of Europe, circumstances could possibly change under a different leadership. The NATO troop maneuvers a few days ago are essentially putting the future of this territory “on the table” and signaling a readiness to call Russia’s bluff, as it were. If Russia were truly sincere about not having any territorial ambitions in this region, and thus not needing to preserve this as a future option, there would really be no fundamental justification for its continued presence in this enclave. Unlike Crimea, which has historically been a part of Russia, and which legitimately broke from the Ukraine and reunified with Russia in 2014, after two public referenda (which the so-called “International Community” should finally accept and formally recognize rather than perpetuating self-destructive sanctions), the Kaliningrad Oblast should not continue to remain a part of Russia because it never “belonged” to Russia, in a historical and cultural sense. It’s continued occupation and administration merely prolongs the formal ending of the Cold War.
For the record, as cited by a Lithuanian journal and presented through Wikipedia:
“Germany… has not renounced any claims to the possibility of territory reunification.”
Technically, Russia is provisionally administering the territory until a future agreement determines its fate, which will surely involve a protracted transition period during the course of a few decades thereafter. The Russian population currently living there, who feel attached to this region, where they may have grown up and lived all their lives, would not be expelled but be given the chance to integrate into a new environment. The experiences of three Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) in accommodating Russian speakers could be used as a model for those people who wish to remain rather than seeking new life opportunities in their Russian homeland.
It is unfortunate that this issue was not settled during the first half of 1990 during the so-called “2+4 Talks” that led to German reunification on October 3rd. Though it is not widely known why settling this territorial matter was deferred, one must bear in mind that at that time, just a few months after the Berlin Wall was breached any quick German unification, as advocated by the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, was publicly opposed by Margaret Thatcher, Mikhael Gorbachev, François Mitterand, representing the European Allied victors, along with other European leaders, including those in Italy and the Netherlands, as well as the organized Jewish community in the US, whose hostile position was expressed in the nearly hysterical diatribes by the editor of the New York Times, Abe Rosenthal; even some western German leaders did not support rapid German unity in light of the pending economic burden involving the difficult task of integrating two different economies. With such determined opposition from nearly all sides, it almost seems like a miracle that unity eventually came about. Only President George H.W. Bush and the Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey were on the side of Helmut Kohl. Obviously, numerous concessions were made. It is understandable that under that negotiating constellation a German demand to reclaim Königsberg would have been going too far. Ultimately, while any future claims on territory occupied by Poland after the war were renounced by Germany in the agreement, this, however, was not the case with regard to the Königsberg region, which clearly implies an unwillingness to so. The historical city of Königsberg obviously has an important place in German culture. Its architectural splendor should be restored similar to the old towns of such Baltic cities as Tallinn, Riga, and Lubbock, now UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Serious diplomatic discussions with regard to the region will eventually have to be on the agenda anyway; better sooner than later. The upcoming annual Munich Security Conference would be an opportune forum for affirming some basic positions, if not publicly then at least in private conversations.
Foremost, it would be incumbent upon the Russian leader Vladimir Putin, representing the occupying power, to take the lead and acknowledge the unresolved status of the region and a sincere willingness (as opposed to what we are accustomed to hearing by Israelis) to conclude a final agreement in return for legitimate written assurances by NATO countries. Such assurances would necessarily include (1) acknowledging Crimea’s status as a part of Russia, (2) the legitimacy of any future attempts by the former Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk to join the Russian Federation, along with any subsequent annexation by Russia, if so desired by the population, as was the case with Crimea, (3) recognizing the independence of the former Georgian republics of Abkhasia and South Ossetia and not diplomatically impeding any future desires by the people in these republics to join Russia, if the majority of the respective population decides so in a fair referendum, (4) resolution of the Transnistria conflict, (5) pulling back all NATO troops and military equipment from eastern European regions to prior positions, in accordance with the terms of a verbal promise purportedly given by George H.W. Bush to Mikhael Gorbachev in 1990, (6) refraining to enlist Ukraine and Georgia into the NATO military territory, (7) reaching a mutual comprehensive agreement banning the placement of mid-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting Europe and western Russia, respectively, and (8) negotiated conventional forces reductions.
Both Poland and Lithuania would be entitled to rural territories of the Kaliningrad Oblast contiguous with their respective land territories, whereas Germany would regain the city of Königsberg and surrounding territory that is sufficiently large to support the city. The future borders would be a matter for these three countries to work out and decide among themselves. All three countries should then formally announce their territorial claims. The question as to whether Russia would receive financial reimbursement, or, if so, to what extent, would be subsumed in the context of forming strong economic ties, including joint business ventures.
NATO and other parties involved in this unresolved matter concerning the future of Königsberg should announce their resolve: “Let’s finally end the Cold War!” Even then, implementing the associated steps will still take many years.
Last month German media revealed that German weapons supplied to Kurdish Peshmerga in northern Iraq are being sold on the black market, where they may end up in the hands of terrorist groups.
Weapons on sale included Heckler and Koch G3 rifles on sale for $1450 and $1800, and Walther P1 pistols with an asking price of $1200.
One arms dealer told a reporter that he could procure the Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle for $5000.
These weapons sales have also financed the flight of refugees from Iraq to Germany, an Iraqi Kurdish refugee living in Germany told the news program.
Former Peshmerga Mustafa S said that he is one of hundreds of fighters who have sold their weapons to finance their escape from Iraq.
“Mustafa S said that he knows around 100 Peshmerga who have sold their weapons in recent months in order to flee. The situation has become unbearable for many. The low oil price, lack of payment from the Iraqi central government and the battle against Daesh, which guzzles about five million dollars daily, have brought the Kurdish regional government to the brink of bankruptcy. (Mustafa) himself had not been paid for five months and did not know how he was going to pay rent, food, and medicine for his disabled daughter. Now, he lives with his wife and their six children in a home for asylum seekers in East Germany,” Tagesschau reported.
Deputy Chairman of the Die Linke opposition party in the German Bundestag Tobias Pfluger called on the government to stop supplying arms to the Peshmerga. He told Sputnik that the deliveries are counter to the German constitution.
“The interesting thing is that the training missions that are connected with these weapons deliveries break several domestic federal laws. German and EU legislation, the War Weapons Control Act and the Foreign Trade and Payments Act, prohibit direct deliveries to war zones,” Pfluger explained.
The German Defense Ministry has delivered an estimated 2,400 tons of arms and munitions to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters since it began to supply the militia in summer 2014. A government spokesman told NDR and WDR that the government of Iraqi Kurdistan is responsible for the weapons’ misuse.
The German Defense Ministry is committed to the “proper verification of supplied weapons,” and their use in accordance with international law.
However, since the Ministry is unable to trace individual arms, “the sale of individual weapons cannot be excluded with absolute certainty.”
Pfluger said that assurances from local forces that the arms will remain in their possession are “worthless.”
“It is completely perverse that they have to sign a so-called confirmation of retention. That is nothing other than a completely worthless piece of paper because we know that the weapons show up on the markets in Iraq and Syria. In this respect, we say that this commitment must be ended, it is an intensification of the war and is in no way something that creates peace there.”
Peace activist and spokesman for Aktion Aufschrei — Stop the arms trade! Jurgen Grasslin told Sputnik Deutschland that German guns have ended up far removed from their intended destination.
“The federal government usually has no idea where their weapons are actually delivered to, when they are exported. My research, based on (studies of) numerous countries and trips to crisis regions and war zones over the past 30 years, shows clearly that weapons roam. Weapons do not stay in the place where they are delivered.”
Grasslin, author of a book entitled “The Black Book of Arms Trading: How Germany Profits from War” (Schwarzbuch Waffenhandel: Wie Deutschland am Krieg verdient), alleges that German arms deliveries constitute “complicity in murder.”
“If Daesh is firing German weapons, and of course weapons from other countries, that is more than a scandal, it is a breach of the law. It is complicity in murder. You are delivering to a war zone. You know that these weapons don’t stay in the hands of the recipients, and that they land in the hands of the worst terrorist groups, for example Daesh. The people who authorize these arms exports must be named, that is namely members of the Bundessicherheitsrat (Federal Security Council) or Federal Government. The first to be named should be Chancellor Angela Merkel and her deputy Sigmar Gabriel, who lead the Bundessicherheitsrat and are thus responsible for these armed forces.”
Head of the German party “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) Frauke Petry criticized what she views as a contradictory understanding of freedom of speech demonstrated by the German government.
Following the meeting of leaders of the European Parliament’s faction “Europe and Freedom Nations” (ENF) in Koblenz, Petry told journalists that the German government can’t deal with people who have an alternative opinion.
According to Petri, people whose opinion differs from that of the majority are “immediately labeled as anti-democratic.”
“We see that the government is clearly having a problem with freedom of speech and that it can hardly deal with critically-minded citizens,” Petri said.
Such stories are expected to be dispatched to Correctiv, a German fact-checking organization. If Correctiv determines the story to be fake, it will be marked as false and users seeing it in their feeds will be warned about its doubted authenticity. It will also be blocked from being promoted in users’ feeds.
However, Petri believes that the new initiative is aimed not at fact-checking potentially fake stories, but at establishing a supervisory authority that will try to get rid of certain undesirable content.
The politician argued that it will be about a “new censorship authority which will impose fines on creators of the so-called fake web news in the Internet.”
Governments are using media organizations as proxies in an effort to control the information citizens can get from the Internet, says former MI5 officer Annie Machon. The fake war against fake news is predicated on a big lie, she added.
RT has been blocked from posting content to its Facebook page during the live broadcast of Barack Obama’s final news conference over an alleged copyright infringement.
The suspension was triggered by one of the social network’s algorithms, which is alerted according to what’s being submitted.
RT has a contract with the Associated Press and streamed a news feed. The agency has confirmed RT had the right to retransmit the video, so the problem must lie with Facebook.
The head of Russia’s telecoms watchdog is warning of “active response measures” if RT’s work is restricted by the American media or the social networks.
Facebook has not replied to inquiries, and the restrictions on posting remain.
RT: The news outlet was mentioned as triggering a Facebook alert and says it’s not them. So just how sensitive has Facebook’s media clampdown tool become?
Annie Machon: I think this is the first blow in Facebook’s self-proclaimed war against so-called fake news. Both Facebook and Google in the wake of the shadowy PropOrNot list of 200 news organizations around the world that are supposedly peddling fake news, but actually just offering an alternative to the corporate US media, and RT was included in that. Facebook and Google in the aftermath said that they would start to censor all these outlets. I think that is what we are seeing with Facebook now is that they are using the excuse of copyright to censor legitimate news channel and stop them from covering a world event that the rest of the world is going to watch without any problem on other channels.
RT: At the World Economic Forum in Davos the Facebook representative said that their organization is dedicated, as they put it, to tackling so-called fake news and the whole phenomenon that we’ve heard of lately. Do you think this is part of that?
AM: I think it is part of that. And it is not just Facebook and Google who said they are going to take on the so-called fake news. It is also the European Union who issued a diktat last November saying that they were going to set up a body to counter fake news. We see countries like France and Germany already peddling this idea that there is going to be hacking and counter-democratic activity in the run up to their elections this year. So, they are using this. But I think it is interesting to see that the copyright has been used as a pretext for this censorship. I’ve been saying for years that the media organizations are being used by the governments as proxy organizations in terms of trying to control the information we can ingest over the internet and the information we can actually access over the internet.
RT: The suspension is imposed ahead of Trump’s inauguration and won’t be lifted until the day after it. What do you make of that? Is it a coincidence?
AM: Absolutely not. It is a first blow in the so-called battle – fake battle against fake news. And let’s just remind ourselves how this so-called concept of fake started. Somehow information was leaked from the DNC last year and the people who received that information, WikiLeaks said very clearly it was not a hack, it was actually a leak. And yet the corporate media in America has said again, “No, this was Russia hacking the DNC.” And then somehow it became Russia hacking the American elections, Russia hacking voting computers, Russia hacking the energy grid in America. None of this has been proven. Some of it has been actively proven to be false. But when Obama expelled the 35 Russian diplomats from America back to Russia before Christmas, that sort of solidified as fact that the Russians had done something wrong. There is no proof whatsoever. So this fake war against fake news is predicated on a big lie.
I think there are strings have been pulled in the background, shall we say. Particularly, in America. And the big media and internet corporations in America have been proven year after year to be very much in bed with the US state and with the US secret state. We know this of course because of the revelations of Edward Snowden. You know, all the big social media giants signed up to allow access to their databases by the secret agencies in America, starting with Microsoft back in 2006. We know that they are complicit; we know that they have been compromised. So, who can tell where this is going to go. There is a sort of all-out fight between the president-elect anyways and his so-called intelligence agencies.
RT: The original source mentioned as alerting Facebook denies it raised a copyright flag. AP confirmed RT had the rights for transmission. Facebook is the only entity yet to answer. Why isn’t it being more pro-active to remedy this considering this being a pretty big media news?
Chris Bambery, political analyst: It is pretty big media news, and I am really puzzled. Donald Trump is about to become President, and he is painted by much of the world’s media and spy agencies as being President Putin’s chum. And yet there is this continuing escalation of the Cold War with Russia, even hours before Trump is elected. Facebook is a giant American transnational. It is not known for its own transparency over these things. It does lead one to suspect that there are sections of our US elite who really do not like Donald Trump and want to create difficulties between the incoming presidency and Russia.
RT: RT’s troubles with Facebook come a day after the online news alert service Dataminr refused to renew our contract with them. That stems back to the CIA also being denied access and saying the same should apply to RT claiming we’re tied to Russian intelligence. Is that the real reason, do you think?
CB: On that basis, if you are being blocked because you receive state funding, the BBC World service is funded by the British Foreign Office, so why would that not be blocked? And I am sure Radio Free Europe and various other outlets have received funding from the American state. So, if that is to be criteria than a lot of leading news agencies would be off social media, and off air. This is going to feed into the conspiracy theories because it is so bizarre and strange.
Well, the biggest fake news story I’ve seen was the so-called dossier about Donald Trump, and they didn’t seem to be blocking that, which was all over Facebook. Again, I find it rather strange.
The reign of Germany’s Angela Merkel can only be stopped if leftists and social democrats unite behind a candidate like Sahra Wagenknecht, says renowned German journalist and politician Ralph Niemeyer.
The following is an exclusive interview with Ralph Niemeyer for The Duran. Questions are italicized in bold.
Mr. Niemeyer, the US will soon be governed by Donald Trump. There are those who say that with Trump, the world will be turned upside down. Will the people of Europe and the so called “free world” miss President Obama?
Let’s face it: it’s not the people of the “free world” who will miss Mr. Obama, but the mainstream media and the elites who fear that the new US president can’t be controlled. Mr. Trump obviously doesn’t fear the “deep state”, the Secret Service, the CIA, and for this reason says what he thinks and probably will do what he wants. It is refreshingly democratic to see a president who is not full of fear and speaks unscripted. I don’t think that the world will go under because of him.
Would it then be fair to say that you like Mr. Trump?
No, because I don’t like his arrogance, his xenophobia, his racism, his attitude towards women, muslims, LGBT and minorities, but I see him from a pragmatic, not a philosophical point of view. His industrial policy might turn out to be good for American workers, while his affiliation with big money will also tie him to Wall Street.
I, personally, am not too worried about US domestic policy because I don’t live in the US, but I still wouldn’t have voted for Mrs. Clinton. She didn’t offer any real alternatives. For us, Europeans, the election of Trump can bear fruit as we work to emancipate ourselves from US dominance.
US dominance? Can you elaborate?
Obama used US air bases in Germany to conduct his wars in Libya, Iraq and Syria, as well as his drone war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now, Mr. Trump is showing less eagerness in policing the world, and this will give us room to maneuver a bit more independently.
For the past 100 years whenever Germany tried to cooperate with Russia, the US put their foot in the door. Now, a new chance arises if Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin talk with each other and find solutions to Ukraine and Syria. Germany can also establish better relations with Russia again.
You think Mrs. Merkel will realign with Mr. Putin?
No, I think her time is over.
Are you saying she will loose the election in September?
She would, if my party, the Social Democrats, were brave enough to unite with the Greens and Die Linke (The Left) to unanimously nominate Sahra Wagenknecht as our candidate for chancellor.
What is keeping your party from doing this?
Vice Chancellor and SPD-chairman Sigmar Gabriel can’t jump over his own shadow. He knows that if he becomes the candidate we will get maybe 20%, not 40% like SPD used to have with chancellors Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schröder. Unfortunately, there are no charismatic candidates in our party, so one should form a platform with Die Linke and the Greens.
The right wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) will probably steal 10% of the votes from Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) so it would open a chance for a center-leftist majority, but only if SPD wins at least 35%. I think we will end up with a first ever coalition between CDU and the Greens, which would result in four more years of Mrs. Merkel.
Sahra Wagenknecht seems to be under attack not only from mainstream media but also from inside her party as she takes a tougher stance on refugees and holds the government accountable for the Berlin terrorist attack, blaming it on downsized police forces. Is that a leftist point of view?
Indeed, one should discuss these statements very carefully. It is not a leftist position to demand more police in response to terror attacks, but she did point out that the reasons behind the terror attacks in Europe are linked to the policies of Germany, the EU and also the US towards countries in the MENA region.
She did not link the refugees to the terrorist attack, but she was right to point out that uncontrolled migration is creating problems to which the state has not adequately responded. To let people into your country is one thing, to treat them as equal citizens and to provide equal opportunities for them is another.
Integration of refugees and migrants is most effective when they learn our language and find adequate work. However, the same rules and conditions should apply to them as apply to all other Germans. When the minimum wage rule is not applied to refugees, German workers are placed under serious pressure.
This issue has been totally neglected by the German government, which is why the people fear that too many foreigners are coming into Germany. The leftists and social democrats should stand in solidarity with refugees and workers fighting for equality.
But why is she under fire from her own party?
Because the ultra leftists in her party are dreaming of open borders and fail to see that the refugee crisis is a conspiracy, instigated by the US in order to destabilize the EU and weaken Germany.
By having millions of people flee to Europe, ISIS and Al-Qaida, both of which are products of US military invasion and intelligence support, challenged our humanitarian values and managed to shift Europe to the right after the centrist and leftist politicians mishandled the crisis.
Her party hasn’t woken up yet. They could win protest votes from AfD and become even stronger because AfD is a right wing party that lacks a social agenda. Ultimately, it’s another neo-liberal party, and the workers would favor Die Linke and Social Democrats if we demonstrated our understanding of their worries.
Ralph T. Niemeyer was born on October 9, 1969, in West-Berlin. He was the youngest-ever German journalist to interview chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Helmut Kohl as well as other leaders, including Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and Nelson Mandela.
After publishing secret arms deals of West-German politicians he fled to East-Germany in spring of 1989 just before the Berlin Wall came down. In the early 1990s he married today’s German oppositional leader Sahra Wagenknecht. They divorced in 2013.
Today Niemeyer is involved in politics, he is an ultra-leftist member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD).
Facebook is gearing up to battle the problem of “fake news” on social media with a new name-and-shame system involving independent fact checkers being trialed in Germany.
The social media giant has employed the services of Correctiv, a nonprofit group involved in investigative journalism and news auditing, as an independent fact checker.
According to Facebook, new updates to the social site for German users can be expected in the coming weeks. It could see content shared by outlets deemed to be purveyors of false information sent to the back of the Facebook algorithm queue.
The changes include tabs that allow users to report suspected fake news, as well as labels that name-and-shame organizations believed to be peddling fraudulent information.
Facebook insists the system will work through third-party fact auditors associated with Poytner’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles.
“If the fact-finding organizations identify contributions as fraudulent, they are provided with a warning label that identifies them as untrustworthy. The warning contains a link to the corresponding article as well as a justification for this decision,” Facebook says.
“Messages classified as untrustworthy may also appear later in the newsfeed,” they added.
Correctiv announced the partnership via their official Facebook page and the fake news phenomenon as a major threat to politics in Germany.
“Fake news – especially on Facebook – is already one of the major threats [to] our society. That is clear. We fear these threats will become even more massive in the comings months. Whether it be in the NWR election [North Rhine-Westphalia state election] or the election of the Bundestag next autumn,” the company said.
A Facebook statement read: “It is important to us that posts and news posted on Facebook are reliable.”
“We are pleased with this progress, but we know there is still a lot to be done. We continue to work on this challenge and will introduce these innovations in other countries in the near future.”
It comes after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg asserted he is taking the issue of misinformation seriously, but admitted the social nature of the business meant the company erred on the side of “letting people share what they want whenever possible.”
“We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or to mistakenly restrict accurate content. We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties,” he said last November.
Last year, German Social Democratic Party politician Thomas Oppermann suggested social media sites like Facebook should face individual fines of up to €500,000 for the spread of fake news.
Few in Europe expected Donald Trump to win the U.S. Presidential elections last November. The picture painted by the media and political class was convincing: despite the pent-up anger being expressed through protest candidates, Hillary Clinton was headed towards a decisive victory, as the majority of Americans couldn’t stomach someone as outrageous and unconventional as the reality TV star turned politician.
That’s not what happened, of course, as Trump earned an Electoral College victory by winning enough votes in key Midwestern states that have suffered from a loss of manufacturing jobs in recent decades. His victory has shaken the Western world to its core, making it clear that business as usual is no longer possible in terms of both economic and foreign policy.
In Europe the signs of the anti-establishment sentiment that dominated the U.S. election campaign have been present for some time. The most obvious example was the Brexit vote in June 2016, in which the population of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. But protest movements have actually been on the rise for several years now, driven by the same basic issues as in the United States: a sense of economic and social insecurity – accompanied by a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment – driven by an economic policy that has made life harder for the middle class while enriching those at the top.
The growing anger against the institutions of the European Union, considered the main culprit for the failed economic policies, has made the élites desperate for some sense of stability, to help them weather the storm. As a result, a potential Clinton victory was openly welcomed by most political leaders.
After Trump’s victory, there were numerous press reports of worries among European governments regarding the incoming Administration’s foreign policy. Trump is understandably seen as unpredictable, but the key point revolves around his attitude towards Russia, the same issue that is currently dominating the institutional fight in the United States right now.
Just after the election The New York Times ran a story entitled “For Europe, Trump’s Election is a Terrifying Disaster,” suggesting that under the new President, the United States may embrace authoritarianism and no longer defend democracy. It was a theme that other mainstream news outlets also pushed.
On Nov. 17, The Associated Press wrote: “NATO members and other European countries are worried that under Trump, the U.S. will stop trying to police Russia’s behavior the way it has under Obama. Most concerning to U.S. allies are Trump’s effusive comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin, one of the first world leaders he spoke to after winning the election.”
While it is true that former Soviet bloc countries such as Poland and Latvia would prefer to maintain the current hardline position towards Russia, the reality is that the largest E.U. members – France, Italy and Germany – actually stand to benefit from the diplomatic approach promised by President-elect Trump.
This doesn’t mean they supported his candidacy, though. First of all, they were told that he couldn’t win; and second, a Trump victory would seem to encourage the anti-establishment movements already on the rise in Europe, which threaten both the E.U.’s status quo and the jobs of key leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Hillary Clinton was seen as representing continuity, and for the many politicians who seek to curry favor with the transatlantic elites, it was best to show their Clinton bona fides in view of the upcoming change in power. For example, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi – now out of office due to a stinging anti-establishment vote in a referendum on proposed constitutional reforms – repeatedly broke diplomatic protocol and publicly criticized Trump during the election campaign.
However, over the course of 2016 it became clear that Clinton’s foreign policy was far more aggressive than Barack Obama’s, as the President had actually been seeking collaboration with Russia for several years on issues, such as constraining Iran’s nuclear program and negotiating an end to the Syrian conflict, despite heavy opposition from within his own administration.
Indeed Trump’s openness towards Vladimir Putin seems even more heretical now because most have chosen to forget that Obama himself had sought close cooperation with Putin on several key issues. For instance, Secretary of State John Kerry’s diplomacy last year on Syria almost succeeded in implementing intelligence sharing and joint airstrikes by the two powers, before being effectively thwarted by the Pentagon and other U.S. institutional opposition in September 2016.
Now Obama seems to have forgotten his former position, and decided to fully toe the anti-Russian line, apparently convinced that he must do his part in the campaign to weaken Trump and prevent him from being an effective president, even in areas where their positions are not far apart.
It is possible that Trump will accelerate the timid attempts of his predecessor to abandon the “regime change” policies that have led to numerous disasters in the Middle East, and heightened tensions with Russia. The President-elect seems determined to pursue this path more openly than Obama, who worked slowly towards this goal while seeking to placate his critics with more bellicose language in his public statements.
Doubts About the U.S. Hardline
Although European nations have been heavily involved in recent regime change adventures (the U.K. in Iraq and France in Libya, for example), there is a widespread preference in Western Europe for avoiding further conflict with Russia. The U.S. position on the events in Ukraine, for example, is often seen as one-sided, and the notion of NATO expansion to Russia’s borders seems like an unnecessary and dangerous provocation that can only makes things worse.
Western sanctions against Russia, and Russia’s retaliatory sanctions on food imports, have cost European economies over $100 billion in trade, according to some estimates, hitting the agricultural sector especially hard. In addition, Russia has been concluding more economic agreements with countries such as China, leading to fears of permanent consequences for Europe.
For this reason, France, Italy and Germany have all repeatedly stated their desire to reduce or remove the sanctions altogether. The hope is that an agreement can be reached to defuse tensions in Ukraine, based on support for the Kiev government but broad autonomy for the ethnic Russian areas in eastern Ukraine.
Despite this desire to head off further conflict, European governments are usually careful not to openly break with U.S. policy; they are key members of NATO and have no desire to distance themselves from the leader of the alliance. However, if Donald Trump follows through on his stated goal of working “together with Russia,” the countries of Western Europe in particular may welcome the opportunity to advance their own economic interests and avoid finding themselves in the middle of a new Cold War.
Andrew Spannaus is a freelance journalist and strategic analyst based in Milan, Italy. He is the founder of Transatlantico.info, that provides news, analysis and consulting to Italian institutions and businesses. His book on the U.S. elections Perchè vince Trump (Why Trump is Winning) was published in June 2016.
German politicians have raised concern about thousands of NATO troops and equipment, along with hundreds of tanks, that have been sent to Poland and countries bordering Russia in what has been touted by Washington as “defense against Russian aggression.”
“It does not help us if tanks will be going up and down on both sides of the border,” Brandenburg’s leader and SPD party member, Dietmar Woidke, told RBB. “I hope everyone will keep calm.”
“I believe that despite all the difficulties, we should seek dialogue with Russia,” he added on Thursday, warning that relations with Moscow could worsen even further.
Germany’s ruling CDU party called Woidke’s standpoint “strange,” with parliamentary faction leader Ingo Senftleben saying the operation “takes place within the framework of the contractual arrangements of NATO and at the explicit request of Poland.”
NATO’s buildup in Europe also came under fire from Germany’s Die Linke party. “Tanks do not create peace, anywhere,” Christian Görke stressed in a statement, RBB reported.
Tobias Pflueger of Die Linke slammed the stationing of US tanks and military equipment in Poland, saying this will trigger an arms race and lead to an “escalation in relations with Russia,” Focus Online reported.
Washington says the shipload of American military hardware that has recently arrived in the northern German port of Bremerhaven is meant to boost its commitment to its allies against a perceived Russian threat, and ensure that Europe remains “whole, free, prosperous, and at peace.”
Crowds of people marched through Bremerhaven on Saturday to protest the deployment and transport of NATO troops and weapons through the city. Hundreds of American tanks, trucks, and other military equipment bound for Poland, said to be the largest arms shipment since the fall of the Soviet Union, arrived at the German port on Friday to be transferred to Eastern Europe.
The protesters marched through the city holding signs and banners reading, “No NATO deployments! End the militaristic march against Russia!” and “Out of NATO.”
“There is, starting from Washington DC, a major push to do everything possible in the next two weeks to create unending hostility between the West and Russia that can’t be undone by Donald Trump or anyone else. Even at the risk of open violence, rather than simply Cold War hostility.
“This is highly preferable to weapons profiteers as against actual peace breaking out, which is their greatest fear,” author and journalist David Swanson told RT on Monday.
“It is clearly an escalation that involves numerous facets including propaganda about Russian crimes in the US media; that includes shipping troops and equipment to the border; that includes expanding NATO and pushing hard on other NATO members to join in this escalation where you have serious protests in Germany by those who want peace [and are] against sending Germans or Americans from Germany eastward, as they should. There are not enough of us in the US similarly protesting,” he added.
Over the last few days, some 2,800 pieces of military hardware and 4,000 troops have arrived at the port in Bremerhaven. The new forces will first be moved to Poland, where they will take part in military drills at the end of the month. They will later be deployed across seven countries, including the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania, and Germany. A headquarters unit will be stationed in Germany.
The delivery of US Abrams tanks, Paladin artillery, and Bradley fighting vehicles marks a new phase of America’s continuous presence in Europe, which will now be based on a nine-month rotation.
“Let me be clear: This is one part of our efforts to deter Russian aggression, ensure the territorial integrity of our allies, and maintain a Europe that is whole, free, prosperous, and at peace,” US Air Force Lieutenant General Timothy M. Ray declared on Sunday, as quoted by Reuters.
Operation Atlantic Resolve, a large-scale military venture officially touted by Washington as a demonstration of “continued US commitment to the collective security of Europe,” began in April of 2014 after Crimea voted to split from coup-stricken Ukraine and rejoin Russia in a referendum.
Scores of people have staged a protest in a northern German port city against the deployment and transport of NATO troops and weapons through the city.
The protest was held in the port city of Bremerhaven on Saturday.
US military hardware, including 87 tanks and 144 Bradley fighting vehicles, were docked in the port city a day earlier for eventual transfer to NATO member countries in Eastern Europe to enhance what was described as “deterrence against possible Russian aggression.”
The protesters marched through the city, holding signs and banners that read, “No NATO deployments! End the militaristic march against Russia!” and “Out of NATO.”
“I am here to explain peace to Russians, because I am afraid of new wars… and this big maneuver is one that quite scares me, and I am here to speak against this,” a protester said.
The deployment by the US military, which also includes the mobilization of 4,000 troops, is aimed at shoring up NATO’s “Operation Atlantic Resolve,” which entails military buildup in Poland and the Baltic countries to counter perceived Russian aggression. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced the move last year, declaring that the force would take part in regular military drills across the region with NATO allies.
Russia has repeatedly voiced concern about the US-led alliance’s military build-up near its borders. In response to NATO’s aggressive moves, Russia has beefed up its southwestern military capacity.
NATO has suspended all practical cooperation with Russia as part of efforts by the US, Europe, and their allies to exert pressure on the Kremlin following the Crimean Peninsula’s separation from Ukraine and adhesion to Russia. In 2014, the majority ethnic Russians in Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation in a referendum not sanctioned by the Ukrainian authorities.
Western countries have been fearful of a repeat of that scenario in other countries, and have sought to boost their defenses under NATO’s umbrella.
12 dead, about 40 injured, is the result of the latest terror attack in Berlin, when on 19 December, a truck plouged into a Christmas market at Berlin’s Bretscheideplatz, near the lush Kurfuerstendamm.
Is it not a ‘déjà-vu’ of not even half a year ago, when in Nice, France, on 14th July a truck mowed down hordes of people celebrating Bastille Day?
In Berlin, the first ‘culprit’ was a Pakistani who apparently ‘escaped’. When later he turned up and explained with proof his innocence, they had to let him go. In the cabin of the truck they also found a dead man of Polish origin. He couldn’t be accused, since he was dead.
Then the chase was stalled, until miraculously, about a day later, they found in the truck identity papers of a Mr. Anis Amri (24) of Tunisian citizenship beneath the driver’s seat. As is usual with these terrorists, they like to leave their ID cards behind. It seems to be part of their strategy to be caught and killed.
Then, once more there was a ‘suspect’, who could be chased, throughout Europe.
At three in the morning of December 23, again miraculously, Anis Amri turned up on a plaza in Milan, got allegedly into a confrontation with two policemen, who claimed he pulled a gun, when one of them shot and killed him. No witness, no proof.
Two Italian policemen killed a young man, whom – they say – they didn’t even have a clue who he might be. They became heroes, literally overnight. Italy’s new PM, Paolo Gentiloni, thanked and congratulated them; and so did Mme. Merkel and her Interior Minister, Thomas de Maizière.
The same pattern all over again.
DEAD MAN CAN’T TALK. It’s Paris (Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan); Nice; Brussels; Munich; Orlando, Florida; San Bernardino, California …… all over again- and again – and again.
The ‘plowing-through-a-celebrating-crowd’ is in many regards “a carbon copy” of the 14th July massacre in Nice (see image below). At the end, the designated ‘Muslim’ terrorist was killed. No witness. No testimony.
Don’t believe one minute that your respective governments didn’t and don’t know what’s going on.
Who are the real perpetrators?
The real perpetrators are not Muslims. They are your own spineless puppet governments, all of which (covertly) support the ISIS and al Qaeda. They obey orders to demonize the Muslim faith and society.
That’s what the west knows best – denigrating and discriminating, accusing the innocent, to serve their purpose, sanctions for those who do not submit.
In reality, no change for the last 800-some years, colonizing, exploiting, murdering the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Today’s ‘leaders’ are the descendants of the colonial era killers of times past. They form the core of our “western killer civilization”.
These western ‘leaders’ are mere puppets, because they have been put in ‘power’ by the the elusive elite, also called the “Deep State” – the Deep State gone global.
Democracy is dead. It’s become a useless defunct slogan. No so-called election over the past decade or so, in the western world has been democratic. They were all scams and manipulations of peoples’ minds and wills.
And if they didn’t conform to what the Washington masters and their supreme masters needed, Plan B of ‘regime change’ kicked in.
They have become experts of semi-clandestine ‘regime change’ through parliamentary coups – i.e. Paraguay, Ukraine, Brazil, Greece, Portugal, Spain and many others.
If these eventually ‘elected’ western leaders (sic-sic), from Obama, to Merkel, Hollande, May, Gentiloni – and the entire EU / OECD clan, don’t behave, they are ‘cooked’, the target of political destabilizaion. That’s the extent of impunity which drives this hegemonic and criminal process towards the New World Order, or the One World Order, led by the global finance and war industry.
The finance clan, the lords of money, the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Morgans, et al, the FED, BIS (Bank for International Settlements, the secretive central bank of all central banks) and Goldman Sachs, have to act fast; otherwise they might lose the key instrument of their power – the sham dollar pyramid economy – may fall apart, before they have actually reached their goal – a world under constant chaos, never-ending conflicts and wars.
A world under which a small elite, enslaves the 99.99% of ‘Us, the People’ — under ever worsening life conditions, unemployment, misery, disease, privatized social services, all contributing to a steady decline in life expectancy.
Among their instruments is permanent chaos. Economic dislocation and social crises.
Open borders forced by trade lobbies and WTO (World Trade Organization) will wipe out small farmers and manufacturers in developing countries, thus eventually handing monopolies to large, mostly US corporations, to the detriment of already impoverished nations, whose vulnerability will be further abused to extract their natural resources for a pittance, so they may repay their IMF / World Bank imposed and leveraged debt.
Floods of refugees from war zones to industrialized wealthy countries, currently happening from the war-torn Middle East to Europe, will disrupt the labor market, push down wages, create massive unemployment. These are all tools towards enslavement of populations. People who have to fend and fight for daily food and often for sheer survival, have no energy or time to take to the streets and protest. That’s the plan; already being enacted. Just look at Greece.
What does all that have to do with the Berlin massacre? – Everything. Berlin, like Paris, Brussels, Munich, Orlando… is just a cog in the wheel of the monster’s drive towards full world hegemony.
Unexpected, haphazard carnage and terror acts are spreading misery, poverty and fear.
People who are afraid will call for more police and military protection.
They will voluntarily give up their human and civil rights for what they hope will be more ‘protection’, being totally oblivious to the fact that the very governments from whom they are seeking more protection are those that commit these acts of treason and terror, those who are behind the killings. The Anglo-american controlled presstitute mainstream media is in permanent brainwashing mode. Unless you search the news and information for yourself on alternative media, they will never tell you the truth, but their lies, after lies, after more of the same lies will fabricate the public truth.
Peoples’ fear and absence of civil rights are easy steps towards increased militarization of the west, already happening – look at France – President (sic) Hollande was just able to extend the State of Emergency through July 2017. [The Paris November 2015 terror attacks played a key role in justifying the State of Emergency.]
The goal is to include it into the French Constitution, basically putting the French people under permanent actual or threat of Martial Law. Others might follow – Germany, Italy – all those whose constituents are ever warier of the EU and their ‘monopoly money’, the euro, and who may seek EUREXIT. This would break the camel’s back, so to speak, or at least put a wrench in the boundless onslaught of the hegemon.
Peoples’ fear may also re-strengthen the faltering justification of NATO. The fall of NATO must be halted. NATO is the Deep State’s warrior flagship, the military fear- and war monger vis-à-vis Russia and eventually China – the last vestiges to be conquered by the self-styled almighty empire, the invisible elite that pretends to rule the globe. Fortunately, they cannot stand up to the Russia-China chess duo which is gradually outsmarting the west’s ostentatious killer exploits.
Imagine, your own spineless governments, following orders of the globalized Deep State – in Berlin, Munich, Nice, Paris, Brussels, Orlando, and an almost endless list of false flags.
How can we respect our so-called leaders? They have zero esteem for us, who are their bread-earners. They kill us, no hesitation, if it pleases them and serves their purpose – and their greed.
In the case of Berlin, is the German government complicit? Blaming Muslims, finding a pre-identified victim, Mr. Anis Amri, who most likely had no clue that he was framed.
In Italy, the police catch him (or somebody who has been given the pre-identified Tunisian victim’s name), they kill him – and, bingo – case closed. Another fear-inflicting false flag was born and concluded, advancing the bulldozer of empire’s destruction a notch closer to Full Spectrum Dominance.
The MSM will do the rest – until the next fake exploit. Be prepared. But this can happen only if we let our governments get away with it, if we close our eyes to reality; if we keep believing the presstitute media.
People wake up! – Boycott the MSM. Take the time to seek the truth elsewhere, for example, on RT, TeleSur, Global Research, ICH, New Eastern Outlook (NEO), CounterPunch, The Saker, Voltairenet — and many more. The Deep State cannot win without your participation.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media, TeleSUR, TruePublica, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.
Copyright © Peter Koenig, Global Research, 2016
German government has officially admitted that it has no solid evidence that Russia is planning to interfere into the Germany’s upcoming federal parliamentary elections in 2017 as it answered a request from an MP amid ongoing anti-Russian hysteria.
All accusations against Russia concerning its potential meddling with the German parliamentary elections, which are due to be held in September 2017, are just “assumptions” based on the claims of the US politicians that Russian hackers interfered into the US elections via DNC email hacks.
“The federal government particularly refers to the fact that it was revealed in July 2016 that a successful hacking attack, which resulted in a subsequent data theft, was carried out on the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the central committee of the Democratic Party of the United States,” the German government’s official answer to the request filed by the German MP from the Left Party, Andrej Hunko, says.
At the same time, the answer, prepared by the German Interior Ministry, stresses that the government has no evidence of Russia’s meddling with the results of the Brexit referendum, in which slightly more than a half of the British citizens supported the idea of leaving the EU.
“The federal government has no evidence of the alleged Russian hacking attack aimed at influencing the results of the Brexit vote in the UK,” the statement says.
Hunko filed an official request to the government, asking it to explain “what shaky or solid evidence the government has that allow it to state that ‘Russian intelligence’ is allegedly planning to ‘interfere with’ the federal elections in the coming year ‘through cyberattacks.’”
“The answer of the Interior Ministry about the alleged Russian state-sponsored cyber-attacks shows that such accusations do not stand up to scrutiny,” the MP told RT Deutsch, adding that “no [Russia’s] plans to interfere into the parliamentary elections” are apparently known to the German government.
“The government is unable to prove [its claims concerning] the Russian ‘disinformation’ [campaign],” he added. Later, he said that his request was prompted by an ongoing massive anti-Russian campaign waged by the German politicians and the media.
“There are a lot of articles in the German media claiming that Russia will interfere into the upcoming federal elections next year. I asked the government … if there is any proof [of such allegations]. And the answer is that there is no real evidence [of that],” Hunko told RT.
“They did not get any proof but got only indications concerning the DNC leak. So, now, it is official that they do not have any proofs and this debate could be stopped in Germany,” he added.
Anti-Russian scaremongering campaign
German newspapers indeed repeatedly came out with provocative headlines that fueled anti-Russian sentiments. In December, a number of German media published articles speculating about possible Russian hacking attacks aimed at meddling with the German parliamentary election results.
Neue Osnabrueckener Zeitung posed a rhetorical question whether Russian hackers can manipulate parliamentary elections while Die Zeit daily reported about a German intelligence chief, who warned of sabotage attempts from Russia.
Meanwhile, the FAZ daily claimed that Russia had already hacked secret files from the Bundestag – the lower house of the German parliament – citing unidentified security sources. On Friday, Stuttgarter Zeitung raised the issue of “fear of falsifications” that could be a result of the Russian hackers’ attack on Germany.
In late November, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also implied that Russian hackers could be behind some attacks in Germany. Speaking about the hacking attacks on major German telecommunications group Deutsche Telecom, which hit some 900,000 of the company’s customers, she alluded to a link between the incident and Russia.
“Such cyberattacks, or hybrid conflicts as they are known in Russian doctrine, are now part of daily life and we must learn to cope with them,” she said at that time.
Earlier in November, she said that handling “internet attacks that are of Russian origin or with news which sows false information” has become a “daily task,” adding that “it may be that this could also play a role during the election campaign.”
Bruno Kahl, the head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, then claimed that his agency has evidence that Russia may have manipulated the vote during the 2016 US election. “The perpetrators are interested in delegitimizing the democratic process as such, no matter who that subsequently helps,” he claimed, commenting on the issue.
However, even the US security services are still unable to provide any solid evidence of Russia’s hacking attacks on the US as the latest report on “Russian malicious cyber activity” mentions the actual words “Russia” and “Russian” only three times, with just 11 instances of “RIS” – a custom, catch-all acronym standing for “Russian Intelligence Services” without naming any.
It also provides no clear evidence of connection between the hacker groups allegedly involved in cyber-attacks in the US and Russian intelligence services. Instead, the document features a disclaimer saying that “the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”
However, the fact that the evidence of Russia’s involvement in any cyber-attacks on US territory is still rather shaky did not stop the White House and Treasury Department from imposing new sanctions against Russia over the alleged hacking of US elections.
On Thursday, Obama issued sanctions against six Russian nationals and five institutions, including the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). At the same time, the US expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland.
In response, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “such actions of the US current administration are a manifestation of an unpredictable and even aggressive foreign policy” and expressed regret over the fact that “the fact that this decision was taken by the US administration and President Obama personally.”