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McCain’s Transmutation from Cautious Realist to Super-Hawk

By Stephen J. Sniegoski • Unz Review • September 1, 2017

For many years, John McCain has been one of the major war hawks in the Senate, but he was not that way for more than a decade after he was first elected to Congress. When he entered the House of Representatives in 1983, he was a cautious realist, holding the position that U.S. military power should only be used to protect vital national interests. He developed this view as a result of his experience in the Vietnam War and his post-Vietnam studying of the origins of that war at the National War College.[1] That view loomed large among military leaders at this time and was exemplified by General Colin Powell.

In his first year in Congress, McCain, although a strong supporter of then President Reagan, voted against the latter’s decision to continue the deployment of troops in Lebanon during that country’s civil war. The measure would pass in both Houses of Congress, with substantial support from Democrats, and with only a small minority of Republicans daring to oppose Reagan. In his floor speech on this issue, McCain stated:

“The fundamental question is: What is the United States’ interest in Lebanon? It is said we are there to keep the peace. I ask, what peace? It is said we are there to aid the government. I ask, what government? It is said we are there to stabilize the region. I ask, how can the U.S. presence stabilize the region? . . . . The longer we stay in Lebanon, the harder it will be for us to leave. We will be trapped by the case we make for having our troops there in the first place.

“What can we expect if we withdraw from Lebanon? The same as will happen if we stay. I acknowledge that the level of fighting will increase if we leave. I regretfully acknowledge that many innocent civilians will be hurt. But I firmly believe this will happen in any event.”[2]

After a truck filled with explosives rammed into the Marine compound in Beirut, killing 241 service members, Reagan opted to remove the remaining troops a few months later. McCain was vindicated and he gained considerable attention from the mainstream media for his prescience and courage to take such a stand against a popular President from his party. This helped to develop his reputation as a “maverick.”

“The American people and Congress now appreciate that we are neither omniscient nor omnipotent,” McCain would later tell the Los Angeles Times, “and they are not prepared to commit U.S. troops to combat unless there is a clear U.S. national security interest involved. If we do become involved in combat, that involvement must be of relatively short duration and must be readily explained to the man in the street in one or two sentences.”[3]

In 1987, during the Iran-Iraq War, in which the United States was supporting Iraq, McCain, now a Senator, opposed President Reagan’s move to put American flags on Kuwaiti oil tankers and have the U.S. Navy protect them against possible Iranian attacks. In the Arizona Republican, he described Reagan’s action as a “dangerous overreaction in perhaps the most violent and unpredictable region in the world.” He continued: “American citizens are again being asked to place themselves between warring Middle East factions, with no tangible allied support and no real plan on how to respond if the situation escalates.”[4]

McCain did support the Gulf War in 1991, but even here he was something of a moderate. McCain biographer Matt Welch writes: “When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990, McCain oscillated between hawkishness and reluctance, denouncing the Iraqi dictator and then the U.S. government for having cozied up too closely to Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war, but at the same time warning against a protracted land battle.”[5] McCain stated: “If you get involved in a major ground war in the Saudi desert, I think support will erode significantly. Nor should it be supported. We cannot even contemplate, in my view, trading American blood for Iraqi blood.”[6]

Under Republican Presidents Reagan and the elder Bush, it must be acknowledged that McCain was not an actual non-interventionist since he supported the American opposition to the Soviet Union, and what he considered to be pro-Soviet forces in Central America. Moreover, he supported the removal of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega by the U.S. military in 1989. But this was still a far cry from the global interventionist that McCain would become.

Moreover, during Bill Clinton’s presidency, McCain would be even more non-interventionist until his radical change during the last years of Clinton’s term. In a commencement address he made to the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, Virginia in June 1994, McCain emphasized that his cautious approach to war resulted from his Vietnam experience. He solemnly orated that he had not forgotten “the friends who did not return with me to the country we loved so dearly. The memory of them, of what they bore for honor and country, causes me to look in every prospective conflict for the shadow of Vietnam.”[7]

In December 1992, after losing the November election to Bill Clinton, the elder George Bush dispatched American troops to Somalia, then embroiled in a many-sided civil war, to facilitate the provision of food to the starving civilian population. This was part of a United Nations effort. By the fall of 1993, this military mission morphed into one of arresting war lords and nation-building. In October 1993, a 15-hour battle took place in Mogadishu that left 18 Americans dead and 73 injured, with many of these casualties the result of two Black Hawk helicopters being shot down.[8]

Because of this loss of American lives, there was a Senate bill supported by President Clinton which planned to remove American troops from Somalia. Demanding a quicker troop exit, McCain stated: “Mr. President, can anyone seriously argue that another six months of United States forces in harm’s way means the difference between peace and prosperity in Somalia and war and starvation there? Is that very dim prospect worth one more American life? No, it is not.”

Drawing an analogy to what happened in Lebanon in 1983, McCain contended: “240 young Marines lost their lives, but we got out. Now is the time for us to get out of Somalia, as rapidly, and as promptly, and as safely as possible.”

“The longer we stay the more difficult it will be to leave,” McCain asserted. “The loss of American lives is not only tragic, it is needless.”[9] His proposed amendment for a quicker departure, however, was voted down.

McCain also opposed Clinton’s intervention in Haiti to bring back President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been elected in 1990 and then overthrown in a coup in 1991. After a UN resolution authorized the use of military force to return Aristide to power, the United States would ultimately do so on October 15, 1994. In late August 1994, McCain declared: “It is the post-invasion circumstances that I fear will bog down U.S. forces in a low-level, open-ended, ill-defined conflict which will require U.S. servicemen and women to serve as a virtual palace guard for President Aristide once he is returned to power.”[10]

The major international concern in the 1990s was the conflict in Yugoslavia—with the focus first on Bosnia and then Kosovo. After the downfall of Communism, Yugoslavia dissolved, with the secession, in 1992, of Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia. Bosnia also declared its independence despite the staunch opposition of Bosnian Serbs, who wanted to remain united with Serbia. Civil war broke out between the Bosnian Serbs, supported by Serbia, and the Muslim-dominated Bosnian government. Thousands of people were killed, raped, and expelled from their homes. The West generally looked upon the atrocities, real and imagined, as being primarily perpetrated by the Serbs. In the United States, this was especially the case among American liberals who would advocate “humanitarian” military intervention to protect the Muslims.

In 1992, the UN peacekeeping forces intervened for humanitarian reasons and set up several so-called safe areas for refugees, which often turned out to be not very safe. The UN forces were composed of non-American troops, while American ships and airplanes enforced an arms embargo.

The wars in Yugoslavia would ultimately lead to a sea change in McCain’s position on American military intervention, but this did not occur all at once. Initially, McCain was, like many Republicans, opposed to American involvement in the conflict. In fact, biographer Matt Welch describes McCain as having been “one of the Senate’s most stubborn opponents to US military intervention against Serbs.”[11] McCain contended that any American military “peace-keeping” effort in Bosnia would likely lead to a quagmire. “I think you can draw a parallel to the military challenge in Bosnia with what the Russians faced in Afghanistan,” McCain opined in May 1993. “Even with ground forces and with overwhelming air superiority, they were unable to defeat a motivated, very capable enemy.”[12]

In December 1994, McCain, whom the Los Angeles Times described as a “a leading opponent of greater American military involvement in the war,” stated: “I think we have a very full plate of a legislative agenda, which are the commitments we made to the American people–and Bosnia wasn’t one of those.”[13] In May 1995, McCain held that U.S. efforts in the Balkans were “doomed to failure from the beginning, when we believed that we could keep peace in a place where there was no peace.”[14] Neocon Robert Kagan bemoaned the fact that on Bosnia, Senator McCain led the Republican attack, warning that any use of military power there would result in “another failure like Vietnam or Lebanon.”[15]

Prospects for peace, however, improved in the summer of 1995 when NATO, led by the United States, launched airstrikes against Bosnian Serb targets, which combined with better-equipped Muslim and Croatian forces pressured the Bosnian Serbs into participating in peace negotiations. This led to the Dayton Accords in November 1995, which ended the war in Bosnia. NATO would provide peace-keeping troops, including 20,000 from the U.S.

After NATO’s success, McCain quickly dropped his staunch anti-interventionist position. McCain later claimed that his position had begun to change as a moral reaction to the Serbs’ massacre of thousands of unarmed Bosnian Muslims in July 1995.[16] While most Republican members of Congress were opposed to sending American troops to Bosnia, McCain joined Senator Robert Dole (Republican—Kansas) in putting forth the nonbinding Dole-McCain resolution which permitted Clinton to send troops, though limiting the deployment to one year–which was Clinton’s stated time period—and requiring the United States to lead an effort to arm and train Bosnian troops. The resolution passed in the Senate but was not taken up in the House.[17]

Showing that he had not completely dropped his previous cautious approach to intervention, McCain emphasized that the Dole-McCain resolution was not seeking support for President Clinton’s decision to deploy the troops. “It asks that you support the deployment after the decision has been made,” he said. “The decision has been made by the only American elected to make such decisions [i.e., the President].” However, McCain also expressed a firm interventionist conviction: “When we arrive at the moment when less is expected from our leadership by the rest of the world, then we will have arrived at the moment of our decline.” And he said, “We cannot withdraw from the world into our prosperity and comfort and hope to keep those blessings.”[18]

While a change from his previous strong opposition to American intervention abroad, supporting this peace effort in Bosnia did not portend McCain’s radical transmutation to the global super-hawk that he would become. That final step would require the involvement of the neoconservatives. This connection began when, in 1997, McCain and his advisers read an article in the Wall Street Journal editorial page by neoconservatives Bill Kristol and David Brooks who were promoting the idea of “national greatness” conservatism, which consisted of a more activist domestic agenda and a more interventionist global role.[19]

While this article may have fit in with the direction that McCain’s thinking was moving, it had political implications as well: McCain had been eyeing the presidency for a number of years. According to John Weaver, a major political adviser to McCain at this time: “I wouldn’t call it a ‘eureka’ moment, but there was a sense that this is where we are headed and this is what we are trying to articulate and they [Kristol and Brooks] have already done a lot of the work. . . . And, quite frankly, from a crass political point of view, we were in the making-friends business. The Weekly Standard represented a part of the primary electorate that we could get.”[20] And it should be emphasized that McCain’s change was not a gradual one but rather one that was quite radical and took place in a very short period of time.

After reading this article, McCain and staff were consulting regularly with leading neocons, including Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Randy Scheunemann[21], to, in the words of journalist David Kirkpatrick, “develop the senator’s foreign policy ideas and instincts into the broad themes of a presidential campaign.”[22] In short, McCain realized that he needed the neocons’ intellectual and political support if he were to achieve higher office. The neocons were already well-known and had played a significant role in the Reagan administration. And during the Clinton years, neocons promoted their views from a strong interlocking network of think tanks which have had a significant influence in shaping American foreign policy.

McCain would begin to support neocon positions. On January 26, 1998, the neocon-dominated Project for a New American Century (PNAC), created in 1997 and headed by Bill Kristol, sent a letter to President Clinton urging him to take unilateral military action against Iraq to overthrow Saddam and offered a plan to achieve that objective. After the Clinton administration failed to take action, another neocon-front group, the resurrected Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf, which had promoted the 1991 Gulf War, sent another letter urging war. And, because of Clinton’s continued inaction, PNAC would send another such letter in May.

While President Clinton failed to take action, McCain pushed for military action against Saddam in 1998. McCain co-sponsored the Iraq Liberation Act, committing the United States to support the overthrow of Saddam and funding opposition groups, most importantly the Iraqi National Congress. Headed by the notorious neocon-favorite Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi National Congress would provide much of the spurious information that generated support for the war on Iraq in 2003. The bill passed in both houses of Congress and on October 31, 1998, President Clinton signed it into law. Clinton, however, did not intend to implement this measure and George Bush made no mention of it during the 2000 campaign.[23] McCain, however, remained in lock-step with the neocons on Iraq and would be made Honorary Co-chair of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq when it was created in 2002.

McCain had been in line with the neocons as a strong supporter of Israel even during the time he adhered to a cautious realist position regarding U.S. military interventionism. He was the 1999 recipient of the Defender of Jerusalem award, given by the National Council of Young Israel. In his acceptance speech, McCain in effect told his pro-Zionist audience that the United States should be prepared to make war for Israel’s sake. “Certainly, no one would argue with the proposition that our armed forces exist first and foremost for the defense of the United States and its vital interests abroad,” McCain intoned. “We choose, as a nation, however, to intervene militarily abroad in defense of the moral values that are at the center of our national conscientiousness even when vital national interests are not necessarily at stake. I raise this point because it lies at the heart of this nation’s approach to Israel. The survival of Israel is one of this country’s most important moral commitments. . . . Like the United States, Israel is more than a nation; it is an ideal.”[24] Note that this was diametrically opposed to his former view that American intervention abroad should only take place to protect vital American interests.

However, it was not Iraq or any of Israel’s enemies that put McCain in the national limelight but rather the U.S.-led NATO war on Serbia over Kosovo in 1999. As Washington Post staff writer Dan Balz wrote in early April 1999, “no politician has been more visible on the issue of Kosovo the past two weeks than the former Vietnam prisoner of war, and a number of political analysts say his performance has given a boost to his presidential aspirations.”[25]

President Clinton orchestrated the NATO war on Serbia, because of the Serbs “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims in their territory of Kosovo. Since Serbia could not possibly threaten the United States, the war was presented as being largely for humanitarian reasons. At this time, there were all types of stories of Serb mass killings of Kosovars, with figures up to 100,000 Kosovar civilians being missing and conceivably murdered.[26] Physical evidence for these extreme claims was not found and former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was not even charged with crimes of such great magnitude at his trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). And according to German government documents no “ethnic cleansing” of Kosovar Albanians took place until after the NATO bombing.[27]

Unlike many Republicans, McCain supported Clinton’s decision for war. But while Clinton limited American actions to air strikes, McCain maintained that it was essential to win this military confrontation at all costs and called on the Clinton Administration to deploy ground troops if the reliance on air strikes alone appeared to be insufficient to achieve victory.[28]

McCain thus sponsored a resolution that would have given President Clinton congressional authorization to use all means necessary to win the military campaign in Kosovo. The leaders of both parties opposed this resolution and it was tabled. McCain complained: “The president doesn’t want the power he possesses by law because the risks inherent in its exercise have paralyzed him.”[29]

McCain’s hawkish position reflected the views of the neoconservatives. And obviously, his pro-intervention stance represented a sea change from his previous emphasis on caution and support of war only if it involved a vital American interest.

Members of the interventionist Balkan Action Committee, which advocated NATO ground troops for Kosovo, included such prominent neoconservative mainstays as Richard Perle, Max M. Kampelman, Morton Abramowitz, and Paul Wolfowitz. Other neoconservative proponents of a tougher war included Eliot Cohen, Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Norman Podhoretz.[30]

Largely because of his bellicose position on Kosovo, McCain was the favorite presidential candidate for many leading neoconservatives in 2000. As Franklin Foer, editor of the liberal New Republic, put it: “Jewish neoconservatives have fallen hard for John McCain. It’s not just unabashed swooner William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard. McCain has also won over such leading neocon lights as David Brooks, the entire Podhoretz family, The Wall Street Journal‘s Dorothy Rabinowitz, and columnist Charles Krauthammer, who declared, in a most un-Semitic flourish, ‘He suffered for our sins.’”[31]

McCain was especially championed by Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, and his associate David Brooks. They held that McCain would promote their idea of “national greatness,” as opposed to what they regarded as the standpatness of the conservative Republicans. The “national greatness” program would entail a greater role for the federal government and more extensive intervention throughout the world to promote American values.

Neoconservatives admired McCain for his support of the American war on Serbia, toward which many mainstream conservatives were decidedly cool. The attack on Serbia, ostensibly for humanitarian reasons, provided the intellectual groundwork for the attack on Iraq, the neocons’ fundamental target, since it set the precedent of violating international law’s prohibition against initiating offensive wars. No longer would the United States have to be attacked, or even threatened, to engage in war. As Kristol and Brooks put it: “For all his conventional political views, McCain embodies a set of virtues that today are unconventional. The issue that gave the McCain campaign its initial boost was Kosovo. He argued that America as a great champion of democracy and decency could not fail to act. And he supported his commander in chief despite grave doubts about the conduct of the war–while George W. Bush sat out the debate and Republicans on the Hill flailed at Clinton.”[32]

But the neocons did not support McCain simply because of his defense of the Kosovars, but rather because of his broader interventionist position of “rogue state rollback,” which pointed directly at the enemies of Israel. While participating in a Republican debate moderated by CNN’s Larry King on February. 15, 2000, the candidates were asked: “What area of American international policy would you change immediately as president?” McCain replied: “I’d institute a policy that I call ‘rogue state rollback.’ I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically-elected governments.” And he added: “As long as Saddam Hussein is in power, I am convinced that he will pose a threat to our security.”[33]

What caused McCain’s radical shift from cautious realist to super hawk? Biographer Matt Welch sees it as essentially a return to his basic world view, largely derived from the family’s military background, after the non-interventionist effect of the Vietnam Syndrome. Welch writes: “But much less understood is the extent to which interventionist hegemony has been literally seared into McCain’s skull and then reignited late in life after the long intellectual detour of Vietnam.”[34]

Justin Raimondo sees it otherwise: “It is impossible to know what is in McCain’s heart. There may be a purely ideological explanation for his changing viewpoint. But what seems to account for his evolution from realism to hopped-up interventionism is nothing more than sheer ambition.” He goes on: “He was positioning himself against his own party, while staking out a distinctive stance independent of the Democrats. It was, in short, an instance of a presidential candidate maneuvering himself to increase his appeal to the electorate—and, most importantly, the media.”[35]

In an article in Rolling Stone, Tim Dickerson expresses a view similar to that of Raimondo, describing McCain as “a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather.” Dickerson continues: “Few politicians have so actively, or successfully, crafted their own myth of greatness.”[36]

McCain has flip-flopped on domestic issues, sometimes supporting a conservative position and at other times a more liberal one which wins him the plaudits of the mainstream media—but once he moved into the neocon orbit regarding U.S. foreign policy, he has stayed there. It is obviously beneficial for a politician to have the broad neocon network of organizations on one’s side. And more than a few of these neocons—such as Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, David Brooks, are featured regularly in the mainstream media. Moreover, the mainstream liberal media itself has adopted many neocon interventionist positions in foreign policy in regard to Russia and the Middle East, so McCain’s positions are held in esteem there, too.

So while McCain portrays himself as a “maverick” and “straight-talker” who is above politics– and this image is largely accepted by the mainstream media—it would seem most likely that his political positions have been adopted to advance his own political interests.[37] While this approach did not enable him to become President, it did serve to make him something of a public icon, which is a position few politicians attain. However, the war-oriented policies he has advocated have been disastrous for the United States. It is only fortunate that John McCain has not attained the power to have his positions adopted in their entirety.

September 1, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Blacklisted Film and the New Cold War

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | August 2, 2107

Why is the U.S. mainstream media so frightened of a documentary that debunks the beloved story of how “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky uncovered massive Russian government corruption and died as a result? If the documentary is as flawed as its critics claim, why won’t they let it be shown to the American public, then lay out its supposed errors, and use it as a case study of how such fakery works?

Film director Andrei Nekrasov

Instead we – in the land of the free, home of the brave – are protected from seeing this documentary produced by filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov who was known as a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin but who in this instance found the West’s widely accepted Magnitsky storyline to be a fraud.

Instead, last week, Senate Judiciary Committee members sat in rapt attention as hedge-fund operator William Browder wowed them with a reprise of his Magnitsky tale and suggested that people who have challenged the narrative and those who dared air the documentary one time at Washington’s Newseum last year should be prosecuted for violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

It appears that Official Washington’s anti-Russia hysteria has reached such proportions that old-time notions about hearing both sides of a story or testing out truth in the marketplace of ideas must be cast aside. The new political/media paradigm is to shield the American people from information that contradicts the prevailing narratives, all the better to get them to line up behind Those Who Know Best.

Nekrasov’s powerful deconstruction of the Magnitsky myth – and the film’s subsequent blacklisting throughout the “free world” – recall other instances in which the West’s propaganda lines don’t stand up to scrutiny, so censorship and ad hominem attacks become the weapons of choice to defend “perception management” narratives in geopolitical hot spots such as Iraq (2002-03), Libya (2011), Syria (2011 to the present), and Ukraine (2013 to the present).

But the Magnitsky myth has a special place as the seminal fabrication of the dangerous New Cold War between the nuclear-armed West and nuclear-armed Russia.

In the United States, Russia-bashing in The New York Times and other “liberal media” also has merged with the visceral hatred of President Trump, causing all normal journalistic standards to be jettisoned.

A Call for Prosecutions

Browder, the American-born co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management who is now a British citizen, raised the stakes even more when he testified that the people involved in arranging a one-time showing of Nekrasov’s documentary, “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes,” at the Newseum should be held accountable under FARA, which has penalties ranging up to five years in prison.

Browder testified: “As part of [Russian lawyer Natalie] Veselnitskaya’s lobbying, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, Chris Cooper of the Potomac Group, was hired to organize the Washington, D.C.-based premiere of a fake documentary about Sergei Magnitsky and myself. This was one the best examples of Putin’s propaganda.

“They hired Howard Schweitzer of Cozzen O’Connor Public Strategies and former Congressman Ronald Dellums to lobby members of Congress on Capitol Hill to repeal the Magnitsky Act and to remove Sergei’s name from the Global Magnitsky bill. On June 13, 2016, they funded a major event at the Newseum to show their fake documentary, inviting representatives of Congress and the State Department to attend.

“While they were conducting these operations in Washington, D.C., at no time did they indicate that they were acting on behalf of Russian government interests, nor did they file disclosures under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. United States law is very explicit that those acting on behalf of foreign governments and their interests must register under FARA so that there is transparency about their interests and their motives.

“Since none of these people registered, my firm wrote to the Department of Justice in July 2016 and presented the facts. I hope that my story will help you understand the methods of Russian operatives in Washington and how they use U.S. enablers to achieve major foreign policy goals without disclosing those interests.”

Browder’s Version

While he loosely accused a number of Americans of felonies, Browder continued to claim that Magnitsky was a crusading “lawyer” who uncovered a $230 million tax-fraud scheme carried out ostensibly by Browder’s companies but, which, according to Browder’s account, was really engineered by corrupt Russian police officers who then arrested Magnitsky and later were responsible for his death in a Russian jail.

Sergei Magnitsky

Browder’s narrative has received a credulous hearing by Western politicians and media already inclined to think the worst of Putin’s Russia and willing to treat Browder’s claims as true without serious examination. However, beyond the self-serving nature of Browder’s tale, there are many holes in the story, including whether Magnitsky was really a principled lawyer or instead a complicit accountant.

According to Browder’s own biographical description of Magnitsky, he received his education at the Plekhanov Institute in Moscow, a reference to Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, a school for finance and business, not a law school.

Nevertheless, the West’s mainstream media – relying on the word of Browder – has accepted Magnitsky’s standing as a “lawyer,” which apparently fits better in the narrative of Magnitsky as a crusading corruption fighter rather than a potential co-conspirator with Browder in a complex fraud, as the Russian government has alleged.

Magnitsky’s mother also has described her son as an accountant, although telling Nekrasov in the documentary “he wasn’t just an accountant; he was interested in lots of things.” In the film, the “lawyer” claim is also disputed by a female co-worker who knew Magnitsky well. “He wasn’t a lawyer,” she said.

In other words, on this high-profile claim repeated by Browder again and again, it appears that presenting Magnitsky as a “lawyer” is a convenient falsehood that buttresses the Magnitsky myth, which Browder constructed after Magnitsky’s death from heart failure while in pre-trial detention.

But the Magnitsky myth took off in 2012 when Browder sold his tale to neocon Senators Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, and John McCain, R-Arizona, who threw their political weight behind a bipartisan drive in Congress leading to the passage of the Magnitsky sanctions act, the opening shot in the New Cold War.

A Planned Docudrama

Browder’s dramatic story also attracted the attention of Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, a well-known critic of Putin from previous films. Nekrasov set out to produce a docudrama that would share Browder’s good-vs.-evil narrative to a wider public.

Nekrasov devotes the first half hour of the film to allowing Browder to give his Magnitsky account illustrated by scenes from Nekrasov’s planned docudrama. In other words, the viewer gets to see a highly sympathetic portrayal of Browder and Magnitsky as supposedly corrupt Russian authorities bring charges of tax fraud against them.

However, Nekrasov’s documentary project takes an unexpected turn when his research turns up numerous contradictions to Browder’s storyline, which begins to look more and more like a corporate cover story. For instance, Magnitsky’s mother blames the negligence of prison doctors for her son’s death rather than a beating by prison guards as Browder had pitched to Western audiences.

Nekrasov also discovered that a woman who had worked in Browder’s company blew the whistle before Magnitsky talked to police and that Magnitsky’s original interview with authorities was as a suspect, not a whistleblower. Also contradicting Browder’s claims, Nekrasov notes that Magnitsky doesn’t even mention the names of the police officers in a key statement to authorities.

When one of the Browder-accused police officers, Pavel Karpov, filed a libel suit against Browder in London, the case was dismissed on technical grounds because Karpov had no reputation in Great Britain to slander. But the judge seemed sympathetic to the substance of Karpov’s complaint.

Browder claimed vindication before adding an ironic protest given his successful campaign to prevent Americans and Europeans from seeing Nekrasov’s documentary.

“These people tried to shut us up; they tried to stifle our freedom of expression,” Browder complained. “[Karpov] had the audacity to come here and sue us, paying high-priced libel lawyers to come and terrorize us in the U.K.”

The ‘Kremlin Stooge’ Slur

A pro-Browder account published at the Daily Beast on July 25 – attacking Nekrasov and his documentary – is entitled “How an Anti-Putin Filmmaker Became a Kremlin Stooge,” a common slur used in the West to discredit and silence anyone who dares question today’s Russia-hating groupthink.

The article by Katie Zavadski accuses Nekrasov of being in the tank for the Kremlin and declares that “The movie is so flattering to the Russian narrative that Pavel Karpov — one of the police officers accused of being responsible for Magnitsky’s death — plays himself.”

But that’s not true. In fact, there is a scene in the documentary in which Nekrasov invites the actor who plays Karpov in the docudrama segment to sit in on an interview with the real Karpov. There’s even a clumsy moment when the actor and police officer bump into a microphone as they shake hands, but Zavadski’s falsehood would not be apparent unless you had somehow gotten access to the documentary, which has been effectively banned in the West.

In the documentary, Karpov, the police officer, accuses Browder of lying about him and specifically contests the claim that he (Karpov) used his supposedly ill-gotten gains to buy an expensive apartment in Moscow. Karpov came to the interview with documents showing that the flat was pre-paid in 2004-05, well before the alleged hijacking of Browder’s firms.

Karpov added wistfully that he had to sell the apartment to pay for his failed legal challenge in London, which he said he undertook in an effort to clear his name. “Honor costs a lot sometimes,” the police officer said.

Karpov also explained that the investigations of Browder’s tax fraud started well before the Magnitsky controversy, with an examination of a Browder company in 2004.

“Once we opened the investigation, a campaign in defense of an investor started,” Karpov said. “Having made billions here, Browder forgot to tell how he did it. So it suits him to pose as a victim. … Browder and company are lying blatantly and constantly.”

However, since virtually no one in the West has seen this interview, you can’t make your own judgment as to whether Karpov is credible or not.

A Painful Recognition

Yet, in reviewing the case documents and noting Browder’s inaccurate claims about the chronology, Nekrasov finds his own doubts growing. He discovers that European officials simply accepted Browder’s translations of Russian documents, rather than checking them independently. A similar lack of skepticism prevailed in the United States.

In other words, a kind of trans-Atlantic groupthink took hold with clear political benefits for those who went along and almost no one willing to risk the accusation of being a “Kremlin stooge” by showing doubt.

As the documentary proceeds, Browder starts avoiding Nekrasov and his more pointed questions. Finally, Nekrasov hesitantly confronts the hedge-fund executive at a party for Browder’s book, Red Notice, about the Magnitsky case.

The easygoing Browder of the early part of the documentary — as he lays out his seamless narrative without challenge — is gone; instead, a defensive and angry Browder appears.

“It’s bullshit,” Browder says when told that his presentations of the documents are false.

But Nekrasov continues to find more contradictions and discrepancies. He discovers evidence that Browder’s web site eliminated an earlier chronology that showed that in April 2008, a 70-year-old woman named Rimma Starova, who had served as a figurehead executive for Browder’s companies, reported the theft of state funds.

Nekrasov then shows how Browder’s narrative was changed to introduce Magnitsky as the whistleblower months later, although he was then described as an “analyst,” not yet a “lawyer.”

As Browder’s story continues to unravel, the evidence suggests that Magnitsky was an accountant implicated in manipulating the books, not a crusading lawyer risking everything for the truth.

A Heated Confrontation

In the documentary, Nekrasov struggles with what to do next, given Browder’s financial and political clout. Finally securing another interview, Nekrasov confronts Browder with the core contradictions of his story. Incensed, the hedge-fund executive rises up and threatens the filmmaker.

William Browder (right) with Magnitsky’s widow and son,
along with European parliamentarians.

“I’d be very careful going out and trying to do a whole sort of thing about Sergei [Magnitsky] not being the whistleblower, it won’t do well for your credibility on this show,” Browder said. “This is sort of the subtle FSB version,” suggesting that Nekrasov was just fronting for the Russian intelligence service.

In the pro-Browder account published at the Daily Beast on July 25, Browder described how he put down Nekrasov by telling him, “it sounds like you’re part of the FSB. … Those are FSB questions.”

But that phrasing is not what he actually says in the documentary, raising further questions about whether the Daily Beast reporter actually watched the film or simply accepted Browder’s account of it. (I posed that question to the Daily Beast’s Katie Zavadski by email, but have not gotten a reply.)

The documentary also includes devastating scenes from depositions of a sullen and uncooperative Browder and a U.S. government investigator, who acknowledges relying on Browder’s narrative and documents in a related case against Russian businesses.

In an April 15, 2015 deposition of Browder, he, in turn, describes relying on reports from journalists to “connect the dots,” including the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which is funded by the U.S. government and financial speculator George Soros. Browder said the reporters “worked with our team.”

While taking money from the U.S. Agency for International Development and Soros, the OCCRP also targeted Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych with accusations of corruption prior to the Feb. 22, 2014 coup that ousted Yanukovych, an overthrow that was supported by the U.S. State Department and escalated the New Cold War with Russia.

OCCRP played a key role, too, in the so-called Panama Papers, purloined documents from a Panamanian law firm that were used to develop attack lines against Russian President Vladimir Putin although his name never appeared in the documents.

After examining the money-movement charts published by OCCRP about the Magnitsky case, Nekrasov notes that the figures don’t add up and wonders how journalists could “peddle these wooly maths.” He also observed that OCCRP’s Panama Papers linkage of Magnitsky’s $230 million fraud and payments to an ally of Putin made no sense because the dates of the Panama Papers transactions preceded the dates of the alleged Magnitsky fraud.

The Power of Myth

Nekrasov suggests that the power of Browder’s convoluted story rested, in part, on a Hollywood perception of Moscow as a place where evil Russians lurk around every corner and any allegation against “corrupt” officials is believed. The Magnitsky tale “was like a film script about Russia written for the Western audience,” Nekrasov says.

But the Browder’s narrative also served a strong geopolitical interest to demonize Russia at the dawn of the New Cold War.

In the documentary’s conclusion, Nekrasov sums up what he had discovered: “A murdered hero as an alibi for living suspects.” He then ponders the danger to democracy: “So do we allow graft and greed to hide behind a political sermon? Will democracy survive if human rights — its moral high ground — is used to protect selfish interests?”

But Americans and Europeans are being spared the discomfort of having to answer that question or to question their representatives about the failure to skeptically examine this case that has pushed the planet on a course toward a possible nuclear war.

Instead, the mainstream Western media has hurled insults at Nekrasov even as his documentary is blocked from any significant public viewing.

Despite Browder’s professed concern about the London libel case that he claimed was an attempt “to stifle our freedom of expression,” he has sicced his lawyers on anyone who might be thinking about showing Nekrasov’s documentary to the public.

The documentary was set for a premiere at the European Parliament in Brussels in April 2016, but at the last moment – faced with Browder’s legal threats – the parliamentarians pulled the plug. Nekrasov encountered similar resistance in the United States. There were hopes to show the documentary to members of Congress but the offer was rebuffed. Instead a room was rented at the Newseum near Capitol Hill.

Browder’s lawyers then tried to strong arm the Newseum, but its officials responded that they were only renting out a room and that they had allowed other controversial presentations in the past.

“We’re not going to allow them not to show the film,” said Scott Williams, the Newseum’s chief operating officer. “We often have people renting for events that other people would love not to have happen.”

In an article about the controversy in June 2016, The New York Times added that “A screening at the Newseum is especially controversial because it could attract lawmakers or their aides.”

One-Time Showing

So, Nekrasov’s documentary got a one-time showing with a follow-up discussion moderated by journalist Seymour Hersh. However, except for that audience, the public of the United States and Europe has been essentially shielded from the documentary’s discoveries, all the better for the Magnitsky myth to retain its power as a seminal propaganda moment of the New Cold War.

After the Newseum presentation, a Washington Post editorial branded Nekrasov’s documentary Russian “agit-prop” and sought to discredit Nekrasov without addressing his many documented examples of Browder’s misrepresenting both big and small facts in the case.

Instead, the Post accused Nekrasov of using “facts highly selectively” and insinuated that he was merely a pawn in the Kremlin’s “campaign to discredit Mr. Browder and the Magnitsky Act.”

Like the recent Daily Beast story, which falsely claimed that Nekrasov let the Russian police officer Karpov play himself, the Post misrepresented the structure of the film by noting that it mixed fictional scenes with real-life interviews and action, a point that was technically true but willfully misleading because the fictional scenes were from Nekrasov’s original idea for a docudrama that he shows as part of explaining his evolution from a believer in Browder’s self-exculpatory story to a skeptic.

But the Post’s deception – like the Daily Beast’s falsehood – is something that almost no American would realize because almost no one has gotten to see the film.

The Post’s editorial gloated: “The film won’t grab a wide audience, but it offers yet another example of the Kremlin’s increasingly sophisticated efforts to spread its illiberal values and mind-set abroad. In the European Parliament and on French and German television networks, showings were put off recently after questions were raised about the accuracy of the film, including by Magnitsky’s family.

“We don’t worry that Mr. Nekrasov’s film was screened here, in an open society. But it is important that such slick spin be fully exposed for its twisted story and sly deceptions.”

The Post’s arrogant editorial had the feel of something you might read in a totalitarian society where the public only hears about dissent when the Official Organs of the State denounce some almost unknown person for saying something that almost no one heard.

It is also unlikely that Americans and Europeans will get a chance to view this blacklisted documentary in the future. In an email exchange, the film’s Norwegian producer Torstein Grude told me that “We have been unsuccessful in releasing the film to TV so far. ZDF/Arte [a major European network] pulled it from transmission a few days before it was supposed to be aired and the other broadcasters seem scared as a result. Netflix has declined to take it. …

“The film has no other release at the moment. Distributors are scared by Browder’s legal threats. All involved financiers, distributors, producers received thick stacks of legal documents (300+ pages) threatening lawsuits should the film be released.” [Grude sent me a special password so I could view the documentary on Vimeo.]

The blackout continues even though the Magnitsky issue and Nekrasov’s documentary have become elements in the recent controversy over a meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr. [See Consortiumnews.com’sHow Russia-gate Met the Magnitsky Myth.”]

So much for the West’s vaunted belief in freedom of expression and the democratic goal of encouraging freewheeling debates about issues of great public importance. And, so much for the Post’s empty rhetoric about our “open society.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Film Review, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

John McCain and The Cancer of Conflict

By Patrick Henningsen | 21st Century Wire | July 21, 2017

This week some devastating news befell John Sidney McCain III.

On Wednesday, his staff announced that the US Senator had been diagnosed with a brain tumor called glioblastoma discovered during recent testing at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona.

Since then warm wishes and tributes have been pouring in for the former Republican Presidential candidate. Both the US media and political establishment have closed ranks and are rallying around the Senator to help soften the blow.

Putting previous feuds aside, President Donald Trump was magnanimous and cordial to the Arizona Senator, wishing him and his family the very best.” Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy, and their entire family,” said Trump. “Get well soon.”

Even former electoral rival President Barack Obama pitched in a little love for the 80 year old:

“John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I’ve ever known. Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John.”

Regarding McCain’s diagnosis, we all can acknowledge the difficulties and risks involved with various cancer treatments, especially with brain cancer. Likewise, nearly everyone these days can attest to losing a friend, a loved one or family member to the disease.

As with anyone suffering from this terrible condition, we wish the Senator well, along with a successful treatment and recovery.

Still, McCain has a lot in his favor. Unlike most Americans, he will not have to worry about his medical care, and will be receiving the best cancer treatment money can buy, if not the best in the world, and with absolutely no expense spared. In this way, the Senator is extremely fortunate.

And for those reasons, this is not an easy article to write. For fear of appearing too cruel in the face of his dramatic medical disclosure, one would be expected to suspend any political critique for now. Hence, the media has placed an unofficial moratorium on any negative coverage of McCain.

That said, he is a special case.  As much as any political leader – he deserves to be panned, even under the present circumstances, because his geopolitical handiwork continues to cause havoc in certain corners of the world.

Cancer Treatment in Syria

Immediately after McCain’s major health announcement, the US mainstream media and Republicans began fretting over the prospect that his extended absence from the legislature might jeopardize his party’s ability to pass legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare).

With that in mind, maybe it’s worth asking: how many innocent Syrians have been denied basic medical treatment, supplies and pharmaceuticals as a result of the harsh US-led regime economic sanctions imposed on Syria? This brutal campaign of collective punishment has been led by US Senator John McCain.

Of course, the idea of sanctions as a form of economic warfare hardly registers in the West as being at all harmful to the population of Syria. “Sanctions? They’re not against the people of Syria, only against Assad.”  That’s the general mainstream phantasm when it comes to sanctions, even though the official numbers show a vivid tale of devastation.

One can only imagine how many among Syria’s population of 20 million are no longer able to receive cancer treatment in Syria as a result of McCain’s insistence on punitive sanctions. Before the conflict in Syria began in 2011, citizens were able to get free medical treatment including high-end state-of-the-art cancer treatment (consider that one simple aspect of this war, as men like John McCain still claim to be delivering ‘freedom’ to the Syrian people by backing armed terrorist factions).

Before the terrorist forces occupied the eastern part of the city, Aleppo was home to one of the Middle East’s top cancer treatment centers, Al-Kindi Hospital. This is important because after McCain’s secret trip to the Aleppo area in May 2013, the very same ‘rebels’ he was cavorting with and supplying weapons to – the ‘Free Syrian Army’ (under the command of Jabbat al Nusra aka al Qaeda in Syria) would later order the bombing on this cancer treatment hospital.

Professor Tim Anderson explains the destruction of Al Kindi Hospital in December 2013, including the shameful spin applied after the fact by BBC and western mainstream media:

In an Orwellian revision of events the BBC (21 December 2013) reported the destruction of Al-Kindi with the headline: “Syria rebels take back strategic hospital in Aleppo”. The introduction claimed the “massive suicide lorry bomb” had managed “to seize back a strategic ruined hospital occupied by Assad loyalists.” Al-Kindi was said to have been “a disused building” and “according to an unconfirmed report, 35 rebels died in the attack”. In fact, these ‘rebels’ were a coalition of Free Syrian Army and Jabhat al Nusra, while the ‘Assad loyalists’ were the staff and security guards of a large public hospital.

Watch as McCain’s ‘freedom fighters’ in Syria drive a suicide truck bomb into the ground level of Al Kindi Cancer Treatment Center in Aleppo:


How many Syrian lives were needlessly cut short as a direct result of that bombing carried out by McCain’s own Free Syrian Army? For the cost of McCain’s treatment at the world-famous Mayo Clinic, who knows how many Syrians could have received desperately needed treatment at Al Kindi or other similarly crippled facilities in Syria? One hundred, or possibly one thousand?

Add to this, how many have died or suffer permanent health afflictions as a direct result of US economic sanctions which have crippled Syria’s own National Health Service? One hundred thousand, or maybe five hundred thousand? One million? One day, those figures will be recorded and we will have the answer.

The other piece of US legislation currently on the table which Republicans are desperate to pass is the $1-trillion US infrastructure spending package. Juxtapose that scene next to the systematic destruction of Syria’s infrastructure by US Coalition and Israeli airstrikes and destruction by proxy militant forces on the ground. Estimates for the cost to Syria range from $180 billion to $275 billion. If the conflict continues past 2020, then these numbers could easily double.

In spite of all this, John McCain claims to have no regrets about the damage that he and his fellow war hawks have inflicted on Syria.

The Cancer of Conflict

At the same time that political figures like Barrack Obama dutifully respect the official Washington line on John McCain as the consummate “Vietnam War hero”, very few in the establishment would dare to criticize the powerful Arizona Senator for his central role in engineering instability and violent conflict in foreign countries.

John McCain sneaks into Syria illegally in May 2013 to meet with known terrorists, promising them weapons and regime change by way US bombs would drop in the Fall of 2013.

Americans should be reminded that more than any other single US official, John McCain has been the driving force behind the training and arming of violent jihadist and terrorists fighting groups in Syria, and that those same terrorists have slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent civilians including women and children in Syria and beyond – all sacrificed at the altar of a US-led geopolitical power play in the Middle East, and in the name of Israeli ‘security interests.’

Back in 2012, a delusional McCain, along with another dotty war enthusiast, Connecticut Senator Joe Liberman, insisted that the US needed to arm the ‘rebels’ in Syria in order to “save lives.” Their statement read:

“The bloodshed must be stopped, and we should rule out no option that could help to save lives. We must consider, among other actions, providing opposition groups inside Syria, both political and military, with better means to organize their activities, to care for the wounded and find safe haven, to communicate securely, to defend themselves, and to fight back against Assad’s forces.”

From the onset of hostilities in 2011, the bold-faced lie that McCain and partner Lindsey Graham have promulgated is that violent jihadists were nothing more than affable “moderate rebels.” That piece of Washington fiction has been widely discredited by now.

Later on in 2015, McCain announced that the US should be supplying stinger missiles to the so-called ‘rebels’ in Syria:

“We certainly did that in Afghanistan. After the Russians invaded Afghanistan, we provided them with surface-to-air capability. It’d be nice to give people that we train and equip and send them to fight the ability to defend themselves. That’s one of the fundamental principles of warfare as I understand it,” said McCain.

Soon after that statement, thousands of US-made TOW Missiles were smuggled into Syria and used by terrorists groups under the command umbrella of Al Nusra.

In her recent exposé for Trud Newspaper, Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva revealed the massive scale and scope of the illegal US-NATO weapons trafficking operation to arm thousands of terrorist fighters in Syria.

Despite the overwhelming destruction in Syria and the abject failure of his policies, McCain has never given up on the policy of illegal weapons trafficking in Syria. Just this week, McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, openly protested against the Trump Administration’s latest announcement to bring an end to the CIA’s failed program of illegally arming and training ‘anti-Assad’ terrorists in Syria. Rather than admitting what everyone else in the world seems to know already – that the US “train and equip” program has been a debacle – instead he feigns defiance, while demonstrating a breathtaking level of ignorance by accusing the White House of being part of a Russian conspiracy:

“If these reports are true, the administration is playing right into the hands of Vladimir Putin.”

“Making any concession to Russia, absent a broader strategy for Syria, is irresponsible and short-sighted.”

When promoting their latest war, McCain is normally part of a tandem act, accompanied by his geomancing interest, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who arguably views the world through an even more deranged, albeit binary comic book prism:

“Breaking Syria apart from Iran could be as important to containing a nuclear Iran as sanctions.”

“If the Syrian regime is replaced with another form of government that doesn’t tie its future to the Iranians, the world is a better place.”

Like a world view gleaned straight from Ian Flemming’s Goldfinger.

In his seminal 2008 interview with McCain heading to the GOP presidential nomination, The Atlantic magazine’s Jeffrey Goldberg asked, “What do you think motivates Iran?”.… to which McCain replied:

“Hatred. I don’t try to divine people’s motives. I look at their actions and what they say. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the state of their emotions. I do know what their nation’s stated purpose is, I do know they continue in the development of nuclear weapons, and I know that they continue to support terrorists who are bent on the destruction of the state of Israel. You’ll have to ask someone who engages in this psycho stuff to talk about their emotions.”

McCain’s views on Iraq were even more disturbing, essentially surmising that the invasion and occupation was a good thing, and that we shouldn’t have left because ‘leaving Iraq gave rise to al Qaeda.’ OK. Admittedly, it’s a bit counter intuitive, but it works for neoconservatives.

These statements by McCain and Graham are not admissions made by normal well-adjusted individuals, but rather by cold, dark hearted sociopaths who generally view the lives of Arabs (along with Slavs, Russians and others) as necessary cannon fodder in the pursuit of military industrial profits for a select cadré of transnational corporate ‘defense’ contractors – whose interests Senator John McCain represents in his home state of Arizona; Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and the list goes on, and on.

The geopolitical hubris doesn’t end there, as McCain still maintains – even after 6 years of absolute implosion of his own foreign policy agenda – that removing Syrian President Bashar al Assad from power is still a “key pillar” of the US strategy for Syria.

“The administration has yet to articulate its vision for Syria beyond the defeat of ISIL, let alone a comprehensive approach to the Middle East,” said McCain this week.

The reality, of course, is that ISIL/ISIS could have been defeated already had the US-led ‘Coalition’ and Israel not illegally intervened in Syria territory. Far from doing much to “defeat ISIS” since they have invaded Syrian airspace since 2014, the US has conveniently stretched-out the ‘ISIS problem’ through the extension of its own self-styled international mandate which was originally intended to serve as a precursor to the eventual break-up of Syria into federal states and ethnic cantons. This might explain McCain’s rush to enact regime change in Syria before lording over the eventual break-up of the sovereign nation-state.

All Things Russian

The other country which McCain is determined break is Russia.

“Vladimir Putin is a murder and a KGB thug,” crowed McCain on CNN last year, as he protested against positive statements about Russia made by then candidate Trump.

Suffice to say, he, along with the boards of Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, are all extremely happy about NATO pressing right up against the Russian border in eastern Europe.

But 2013 was indeed a busy year for the Senator stirring up trouble internationally. As part of his opening gambit against Moscow, it was McCain who was the driving force behind the US-backed coup d’etat in Ukraine in February 2014 – which ultimately led to a bloody civil war which continues to this day in the Ukraine. Apparently, this was McCain’s way of ‘stopping Putin.’

His has a very dodgy track record; whether it’s NeoNazis, or Jihadi Terrorists, McCain seems always ready to do a deal with the devil, and that’s what makes him particularly dangerous.

Below we can see McCain helping to whip-up Nazi-linked, neofascist street mobs in Kiev helping to bring the ensuing junta into power. Some mainstream US pundits have claimed that this never happened, and that it’s just a conspiracy theory invented by ‘Russian propagandists’ to discredit McCain. Unfortunately for them – it is true, and here is the photo to prove it:

John McCain shares the stage in Kiev with Right Sector strongman, Oleg Tyhanbock, ahead of violent street protests in Ukraine in December of 2013, prior to the US-backed coup.

Looking back at his erratic and flippant behavior, attacking nearly anyone who even suggested détente with Russia or that supplying lethal arms to militants in Syria was a bad idea, it’s no surprise that cognizant onlookers have questioned whether or not McCain is in a normal frame of mind.

Frankly speaking, how could any one in their right mind be so consistently on the wrong side of every issue? How could any politician’s judgement be that poor? Unless there was something else going on below the surface…

The questions didn’t stop there. McCain’s performance during a recent Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing on “Russian Influence in US Elections” was an embarrassment. Onlookers were stunned when McCain lost the plot during the hearing when asking former FBI Director James Comey:

“Well, at least in the minds of this member, there’s a whole lot of questions remaining about what went on, particularly considering the fact that as you mentioned, it’s a “big deal” as to what went on during the campaign, so I’m glad you concluded that part of the investigation, but I think that the American people have a whole lot of questions out there, particularly since you just emphasized the role that Russia played.”

“And obviously she was a candidate for president at the time. So she was clearly involved in this whole situation where fake news, as you just described it, is a big deal took place. You’re going to have to help me out here. In other words, we’re complete, the investigation of anything former Secretary Clinton had to do with the campaign is over and we don’t have to worry about it anymore?”

… to which Comey replied:

“With respect to — I’m a little confused. With respect to Secretary Clinton, we investigated a criminal investigation with her use of a personal email server.”

McCain then finished digging his own hole by responding:

“So at the same time you made the announcement there would be no further charges brought against then-Secretary Clinton for any activities involved in the Russia involvement and our engagement and our election. I don’t quite understand how you can be done with that but not done with the whole investigation of their attempt to affect the out of come our election.”

It was clear McCain had no idea what was going on. At that point any reasonable person would have concluded that John McCain had in fact lost his mind – and was no longer fit to serve in public office.  In fact, 21WIRE made this very same case back in 2013 after McCain was caught playing video poker on his iPhone during a Senate Committee where lawmakers were debating the very war of which he is a chief architect. Here is the photo:

As stunning displays of ignorance go, the video poker incident was one of McCain’s greatest ever, and certainly should have been a warning to everyone that this man had no business making military decisions, let alone litigating war and peace between nuclear superpowers like the United States and Russia.

Perhaps an announcement is forthcoming, but it’s surprising after being diagnosed with brain cancer at 80 years old – why McCain has not yet announced his resignation from office?

It’s fair to say that while this Senator is being treated in the world’s leading medical facilities, thousands of innocents will have died needlessly because of US sanctions and support for terrorists – all [supposedly] in the name of defense, energy and ever vast corporate profits. Strange as that might sound to some, for those who consider themselves members of a ruling elite and its mandarin management class, that is perfectly acceptable quid pro quo in 2017.

After World War II, the military industrial complex and the international arms trade has spread conflict like a disease across the planet, metastasizing in ways, in places, and on a scale which no one could have previously imagined before. Undoubtedly, over the last decade, John McCain has played a key role in spreading that anguish. For the people of Syria, Afghanistan and the Ukraine, that will be his legacy, not the chimerical image of a ‘maverick’ Senator or the ‘war hero.’

Once again, we implore the Senator to do the right thing by the American people and for those innocents around the world who have suffered at the hands of an arms industry whose interests John McCain represents.

Please retire.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

John McCain tells NBC, ‘I hope the Washington establishment sucked Trump in’

John McCain cackles in laughter at how the swamp is completely sucking in US President Trump:

April 18, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Challenging Klobuchar on Ukraine War

As Democrats compete to become the new War Party – pushing for a dangerous confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia – some constituents are objecting, as Mike Madden did in a letter to Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

From Mike Madden (of St. Paul, Minnesota) | February 19, 2017

Dear Senator Klobuchar, I write with concern over statements you have made recently regarding Russia. These statements have been made both at home and abroad, and they involve two issues; the alleged Russian hack of the presidential election and Russia’s actions in the aftermath of the February 22, 2014 coup in Kiev.

U.S. intelligence services allege that President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign to denigrate Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald Trump. The campaign is purported to include the production of fake news, cyber-trolling, and propaganda from Russian state-owned media. It is also alleged that Russia hacked the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, subsequently providing the emails to WikiLeaks.

Despite calls from many quarters, the intelligence services have not provided the public with any proof. Instead, Americans are expected to blindly trust these services with a long history of failure. Additionally, the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, have both been known to lie to the public and to Congress, Mr. Clapper doing so under oath.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange maintains the emails did not come from Russia (or any other state actor) and his organization has an unblemished record of revealing accurate information in the public interest that would otherwise remain hidden. While responsible journalists continue to use the word ‘alleged’ to describe the accusations, Republicans with an ax to grind against Russia, and Democrats wishing to distract from their own failings in the campaign, refer to them as fact. Indeed, on the ‘Amy in the News’ page of your own website, Jordain Carney of The Hill refers to the Russian meddling as “alleged”.

A congressional commission to investigate the alleged Russian hacking is not necessary. Even if all the allegations are true, they are altogether common occurrences, and they certainly don’t rise to the level of “an act of aggression”, “an existential threat to our way of life”, or “an attack on the American people” as various Democratic officials have characterized them. Republican Senator John McCain went full monty and called the alleged meddling “an act of war”.

Joining War Hawks

It is of concern that you would join Senator McCain and the equally belligerent Senator Lindsey Graham on a tour of Russian provocation through the Baltics, Ukraine, Georgia, and Montenegro. The announcement of your trip (December 28, 2016) on the ‘News Releases’ page of your website renewed the unproven claim of “Russian interference in our recent election”. It also claimed that the countries you were visiting were facing “Russian aggression” and that “Russia illegally annexed Crimea”.

Sen. John McCain  and Sen. Lindsey Graham

It is unfortunate that these claims have become truisms by sheer repetition rather than careful examination of the facts. Russia has not invaded eastern Ukraine. There are no regular units of the Russian military in the breakaway provinces, nor has Russia launched any air strikes from its territory. It has sent weapons and other provisions to the Ukrainian forces seeking autonomy from Kiev, and there are most certainly Russian volunteers operating in Ukraine.

However regrettable, it must be remembered that the unrest was precipitated by the February 22, 2014 overthrow of the democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych which, speaking of meddling, was assisted by U.S. State Department, other American government agencies, and one Senator John McCain. The subsequent military and paramilitary operations launched by the coup government against the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk were described by President Putin as “uncontrolled crime” spreading into the south and east of the country. In American parlance, both the interim coup government in Kiev and the current government of President Petro Poroshenko have engaged in “killing their own people”.

Ignoring the Details

If Russia’s actions are to be considered “aggression” or an “invasion”, one must find a whole new word to describe what the United States did to Iraq in 2003. If, like your colleague Senator McCain, you hold the annexation of Crimea to be illegal under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, I urge a closer look.

On February 21, 2014, an agreement brokered by the European Union was signed between President Yanukovych and the leaders of three major opposition parties. The agreement contained terms for a cessation of violence, immediate power sharing, and new elections. Smelling blood in the water, the opposition in Maidan Square did not withdraw from the streets or surrender their illegal weapons as agreed, but instead went on the offensive. Yanukovych, under threat to his life, fled Kiev along with many others in his Party of Regions.

Nor did the opposition party leaders honor the agreement. The next day, they moved to impeach Yanukovych, however they failed to meet several requirements of the Ukrainian Constitution. They failed to indict the president, conduct an investigation, and have that investigation certified by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. Instead, they moved directly to a vote on impeachment and, even on that count, they failed to obtain the required three-fourths majority vote. So, even though the Budapest Memorandum did offer assurances of Ukrainian security and territorial integrity in exchange for surrender of Soviet-era nuclear weapons on its soil, the sovereign government of Ukraine had fallen in a violent unconstitutional putsch.

Yanukovych remained its legitimate president-in-exile and he, along with the prime minister of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, requested Russian intervention on the peninsula to provide security and protect the human rights of ethnic Russians threatened by the new coup government and neo-Nazi elements within it.

One can now see how real that threat was by looking to eastern Ukraine where the Ukrainian military and neo-Nazi paramilitaries such as the Azov Battallion, have moved with force against the defenders of the Donbass region whose people seek autonomy from a government in Kiev that they do not recognize. Approximately 10,000 people have died in the Donbass War, whereas only six people were killed during the period of annexation (February 23-March19, 2014) in Crimea.

While the Donbass War drags on, Crimea remains stable today. The popular referendum conducted on March 16, 2014 lent legitimacy to the subsequent annexation. Official results claimed 82% turnout with 96% of voters favoring reunification with Russia. Independent polling conducted in the early weeks of March 2014 found 70-77% of all Crimeans favored reunification. Six years prior to the crisis in 2008, a poll found that 63% favored reunification. Even though many ethnic Ukranians and Tatars boycotted the election, rejoining Russia was clearly the will of the majority of Crimean people.

President Putin, characterizing the situation in Ukraine as a revolution, claimed that Russia had no agreements with the new state and therefore no obligations under the Budapest Memorandum. He also cited Chapter I: Article 1 of the United Nations Charter, which calls for respect for the principle of self-determination of peoples. The 1975 Helsinki Accords, which affirmed post-World War II borders, also allowed for the change of national boundaries by peaceful internal means.

The Kosovo Precedent

It is also useful to consider parallel occurrences in Kosovo. In 1998 ethnic cleansing by Serbian troops and paramilitaries led to a NATO intervention without U.N. authorization. There is little question that the move was illegal, but legitimacy was claimed due to the urgent humanitarian need. Ten years later, Kosovo would declare independence from Serbia and the disputed matter would end up before the International Court of Justice. In 2009 the United States provided the Court with a statement on Kosovo that read in part: “Declarations of independence may, and often do, violate domestic legislation. However, this does not make them violations of international law.”

The United States should accept the Russian annexation of Crimea both as a pragmatic matter, and one of principle. In 1990, during negotiations for the re-unification of Germany, the United States promised that there would be no eastward expansion of NATO. That promise has now been broken three times and eleven new nations have been added to the alliance. Ukraine has also entered in partnership with NATO, and at various times, full membership has been discussed. Russia has consistently expressed its disapproval. According to your website, an objective of your trip was “to reinforce support for NATO”. If this weren’t provocative enough, your three-senator delegation went to a front-line military outpost in Shirokino, Ukraine to incite an escalation to the Donbass War. Senator Graham told the assembled soldiers “Your fight is our fight, 2017 will be the year of offense”. The leader of your delegation, Senator McCain, said “I am convinced you will win and we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win”.

After the speeches were given, you are seen in a video of the New Year’s Eve event accepting what appears to be a gift from one of the uniformed soldiers. With all of the furor over former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s resignation, and possible violation of the Logan Act, for discussing alleviation of sanctions with a Russian ambassador, this appears to be a far more serious offense. Not only did your delegation advocate for a foreign policy that was not aligned with that of acting President Obama, it was also contrary to President-elect Trump’s approach to the region. And the results of your advocacy have the potential to be far more deadly than the mere alleviation of sanctions.

Sincerely, Mike Madden St. Paul, Minnesota

February 20, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Raises Issue of INF Violation: Anti-Russian Campaign in Full Swing

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 20.02.2017

According to the New York Times, «a Trump administration official» has accused Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). The statement was supported by the Defense Department. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain chimed in, saying «Russia’s deployment of nuclear-tipped ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the INF treaty is a significant military threat to US forces in Europe and our NATO allies». According to him, Russian President Vladimir Putin was «testing» Trump.

The statement was immediately used by hawks as a pretext for instigating tensions. For instance, Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, said he sees little reason for the US to continue adhering to the INF treaty in light of alleged Russia’s «violations». He has recommended building up US nuclear forces in Europe, which currently include about 200 bombs that can be delivered by aircraft. The US withdrew land-based nuclear-armed missiles from Europe as part of the INF deal.

The Treaty eliminated all ground-based nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, with ranges of 500–1,000 kilometers (310–620 mi) (short-range) and 1,000–5,500 km (620–3,420 mi) (intermediate-range). Signed in December 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF deal is accredited with significantly reducing the threat of nuclear confrontation and accelerating the end of the Cold War.

By May 1991, 2,692 missiles were eliminated, followed by 10 years of on-site verification inspections. The document did not cover sea-launched missiles. It stands as the only arms treaty to eliminate an entire class of US and Russian weapons – nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles of intermediate range.

Last year, the State Department reported Russia was in violation of its treaty obligations not to possess, produce or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, or to possess or produce launchers for such missiles. «The administration is undertaking an extensive review of Russia’s ongoing INF treaty violation in order to assess the potential security implications for the United States and its allies and partners», said Mark Toner. The alleged violations had been mentioned in the 2014 and 2015 compliance reports.

No specifics have been released about which exactly Russian weapon is the source of the violation. The only thing it has said is that an unspecified Russian ground-launched cruise missile breaches the agreement. Supposedly, the missile in question is the SSC-8, a ground-based adaptation of the Kalibr missiles that were battle tested in Syria striking targets in Syria, nearly 1,000 miles away, from the Caspian Sea. Despite all the statements with accusations, no compelling evidence of the Russian non-compliance has ever been produced.

It should be noted that even if the missile has been tested, there is no violation.  The INF Treaty  allows the testing of sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) from ground-based platforms if they are fixed. Article VII (para 11) states, «A cruise missile which is not a missile to be used in a ground-based mode shall not be considered to be a GLCM if it is test-launched at a test site from a fixed land-based launcher which is used solely for test purposes and which is distinguishable from GLCM launchers».

Russia, in turn, has accused the US of violating the pact. In a nutshell, it cites the following examples of non-compliance:

– The use of target missiles with characteristics similar to those of intermediate and shorter-range ballistic missiles during ballistic missile defense (BMD) tests. With its operational range (1,100 km) Hera qualifies as an intermediate ballistic missile and hence violates Item 1, Article 6 of the INF Treaty.

– The deployment in Romania and Poland of Mk-41 Aegis Ashore launchers capable of firing ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs). A US mid-range weapon launched from Poland would require only a short flight time to reach beyond the Urals.

– US unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or armed drones such as the MQ-1 Predator, fall under the INF Treaty definition of GLCMs. Moscow claims that their operational ranges (1,100 km) and lack of pilot mean that drones of this type are very similar to shorter-range cruise missiles.

It’s worth noting that the US plans to arm tactical aviation in Europe with modernized B61-12 guided warheads will virtually nullify all the benefits of the INF Treaty from the point of view of Russia’s security. The aircraft could fly from bases in Lithuania, Estonia and Poland to Russia’s largest cities in 15-20 minutes – not that much longer than the flight time of the missiles scuttled by the INF treaty.

The Special Verification Commission (SVC) envisioned by the INF treaty is a forum to confidentially address compliance concerns. It was convened last November for the first time since 2003 to produce no results. The opportunities provided by this venue should not be squandered. It would be much more fruitful to start serious discussions within the framework of the SVC than make public statements not backed up by facts.  The accusations obviously pursue the aim of whipping up tensions to spoil the RF-US relationship at the time it has a chance to improve.

The INF treaty is under serious and increasing stress. Failure to resolve the dispute could threaten the agreement and impede further efforts to reduce Russia and US nuclear arsenals in the years ahead. The parties could use the SVC venue to consider additional confidence-building measure and information exchanges that take into account technological and political developments that have occurred recently. The Open Skies Treaty could be used for the purpose. Its observation capabilities could be upgraded. The NATO-Russia Council could serve as another mechanism to address specific security concerns.

The issue has been debated since 2014 but before this statement no one has officially accused Russia of violating the INF. It should be noted that this time the issue was raised immediately after the Flynn’s resignation from the position of national security adviser. Revelations about alleged ‘Russia connections» of the people who belong to the Trump’s team are hitting US media headlines. The statement about the INF violation is made against the background of the White House’s statement stressing the need to «return» Crimea to Ukraine and the ballyhoo raised over the alleged dangerous maneuvering of Russian aircraft in the Black Sea. These are provocative statements doomed to be rejected by Moscow but they pursue a definite purpose. Evidently, some powerful circles in the US have launched a well-orchestrated campaign to prevent the improvement of Russia-US relations.

February 20, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

McCain Calls for ‘Meaningful’ Response to Russia’s Alleged INF Treaty Violations

Sputnik – 15.02.2017

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.

‘Information war’: Kremlin dismisses accusations of missile treaty violations

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

February 15, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Reprise of the Iraq-WMD Fiasco?

By James W Carden | Consortium News | February 3, 2017

The controversy over Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election shows no sign of letting up. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators recently introduced legislation that would impose sanctions on Russia in retaliation for its acts of “cyber intrusions.”

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham

At a press event in Washington on Tuesday, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, called Election Day 2016 “a day that will live in cyber infamy.” Previously, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, called the Russian hacks of the Democratic National Committee “an act of war,” while Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, has claimed that there is near unanimity among senators regarding Russia’s culpability.

Despite all this, the question of who exactly is responsible for the providing WikiLeaks with the emails of high Democratic Party officials does not lend itself to easy answers. And yet, for months, despite the lack of publicly disclosed evidence, the media, like these senators, have been as one: Vladimir Putin’s Russia is responsible.

Interestingly, the same neoconservative/center-left alliance which endorsed George W. Bush’s case for war with Iraq is pretty much the same neoconservative/center-left alliance that is now, all these years later, braying for confrontation with Russia. It’s largely the same cast of characters reading from the Iraq-war era playbook.

It’s worth recalling Tony Judt’s observation in September 2006 that “those centrist voices that bayed most insistently for blood in the prelude to the Iraq war … are today the most confident when asserting their monopoly of insight into world affairs.”

While that was true then, it is perhaps even more so the case today.

The prevailing sentiment of the media establishment during the months prior to the disastrous March 2003 invasion of Iraq was that of certainty: George Tenet’s now infamous assurance to President Bush, that the case against Iraq was a “slam drunk,” was essentially what major newspapers and television news outlets were telling the American people at the time. Iraq posed a threat to “the homeland,” therefore Saddam “must go.”

The Bush administration, in a move equal parts cynical and clever, engaged in what we would today call a “disinformation” campaign against its own citizens by planting false stories abroad, safe in the knowledge that these stories would “bleed over” and be picked up by the American press.

WMD ‘Fake News’

The administration was able to launder what were essentially “fake news” stories, such as the aluminum tubes fabrication, by leaking to Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller of The New York Times. In September 2002, without an ounce of skepticism, Gordon and Miller regurgitated the claims of unnamed U.S. intelligence officials that Iraq “has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes … intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium.” Gordon and Miller faithfully relayed “the intelligence agencies’ unanimous view that the type of tubes that Iraq has been seeking are used to make centrifuges.”

By 2002, no one had any right to be surprised by what Bush and Cheney were up to; since at least 1898 (when the U.S. declared war on Spain under the pretense of the fabricated Hearst battle cry “Remember the Maine!”) American governments have repeatedly lied in order to promote their agenda abroad. And in 2002-3, the media walked in lock step with yet another administration in pushing for an unnecessary and costly war.

Like The New York Times, The Washington Post also relentlessly pushed the administration’s case for war with Iraq. According to the journalist Greg Mitchell, “By the Post’s own admission, in the months before the war, it ran more than 140 stories on its front page promoting the war.” All this, while its editorial page assured readers that the evidence Colin Powell presented to the United Nations on Iraq’s WMD program was “irrefutable.” According to the Post, it would be “hard to imagine” how anyone could doubt the administration’s case.

But the Post was hardly alone in its enthusiasm for Bush’s war. Among the most prominent proponents of the Iraq war was The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who, a full year prior to the invasion, set out to link Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Writing for The New Yorker in March 2002, Goldberg retailed former CIA Director James Woolsey’s opinion that “It would be a real shame if the C.I.A.’s substantial institutional hostility to Iraqi democratic resistance groups was keeping it from learning about Saddam’s ties to Al Qaeda in northern Iraq.”

Indeed, according to Goldberg, “The possibility that Saddam could supply weapons of mass destruction to anti-American terror groups is a powerful argument among advocates of regime change,” while Saddam’s “record of support for terrorist organizations, and the cruelty of his regime make him a threat that reaches far beyond the citizens of Iraq.”

Writing in Slate in October 2002, Goldberg was of the opinion that “In five years . . . I believe that the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality.”

Likewise, The New Republic’s Andrew Sullivan was certain that “we would find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I have no doubt about that.” Slate’s Jacob Weisberg supported the invasion because he thought Saddam Hussein had WMD and he “thought there was a strong chance he’d use them against the United States.”

Even after it was becoming clear that the war was a debacle, the neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer declared that the inability to find WMDs was “troubling” but “only because it means that the weapons remain unaccounted for and might be in the wrong hands. The idea that our inability to thus far find the weapons proves that the threat was phony and hyped is simply false.”

Smearing Skeptics

Opponents of the war were regularly accused of unpatriotic disloyalty. Writing in National Review, the neoconservative writer David Frum accused anti-intervention conservatives of going “far, far beyond the advocacy of alternative strategies.” According to Frum, “They deny and excuse terror. They espouse a potentially self-fulfilling defeatism. They publicize wild conspiracy theories. And some of them explicitly yearn for the victory of their nation’s enemies.”

Similarly, The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait castigated anti-war liberals for turning against Bush. “Have Bush haters lost their minds?” asked Chait. “Certainly some have. Antipathy to Bush has, for example, led many liberals not only to believe the costs of the Iraq war outweigh the benefits but to refuse to acknowledge any benefits at all.”

Yet of course we now know, thanks, in part, to a new book by former CIA analyst John Nixon, that everything the U.S. government thought it knew about Saddam Hussein was indeed wrong. Nixon, the CIA analyst who interrogated Hussein after his capture in December 2003, asks “Was Saddam worth removing from power?” “The answer,” says Nixon, “must be no. Saddam was busy writing novels in 2003. He was no longer running the government.”

It turns out that the skeptics were correct after all. And so the principal lesson the promoters of Bush and Cheney’s war of choice should have learned is that blind certainty is the enemy of fair inquiry and nuance. The hubris that many in the mainstream media displayed in marginalizing liberal and conservative anti-war voices was to come back to haunt them. But not, alas, for too long.

A Dangerous Replay?

Today something eerily similar to the pre-war debate over Iraq is taking place regarding the allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. Assurances from the intelligence community and from anonymous Obama administration “senior officials” about the existence of evidence is being treated as, well, actual evidence.

State Department spokesman John Kirby told CNN that he is “100% certain” of the role that Russia played in U.S. election. The administration’s expressions of certainty are then uncritically echoed by the mainstream media. Skeptics are likewise written off, slandered as “Kremlin cheerleaders” or worse.

Unsurprisingly, The Washington Post is reviving its Bush-era role as principal publicist for the government’s case. Yet in its haste to do the government’s bidding, the Post has published two widely debunked stories relating to Russia (one on the scourge of Russian inspired “fake news”, the other on a non-existent Russian hack of a Vermont electric utility) onto which the paper has had to append “editor’s notes” to correct the original stories.

Yet, those misguided stories have not deterred the Post’s opinion page from being equally aggressive in its depiction of Russian malfeasance. In late December, the Post published an op-ed by Rep. Adam Schiff and former Rep. Jane Harmon claiming “Russia’s theft and strategic leaking of emails and documents from the Democratic Party and other officials present a challenge to the U.S. political system unlike anything we’ve experienced.”

On Dec. 30, the Post editorial board chastised President-elect Trump for seeming to dismiss “a brazen and unprecedented attempt by a hostile power to covertly sway the outcome of a U.S. presidential election.” The Post described Russia’s actions as a “cyber-Pearl Harbor.”

On Jan. 1, the neoconservative columnist Josh Rogin told readers that the recent announcement of sanctions against Russia “brought home a shocking realization that Russia is using hybrid warfare in an aggressive attempt to disrupt and undermine our democracy.”

Meanwhile, many of the same voices who were among the loudest cheerleaders for the war in Iraq have also been reprising their Bush-era roles in vouching for the solidity of the government’s case.

Jonathan Chait, now a columnist for New York magazine, is clearly convinced by what the government has thus far provided. “That Russia wanted Trump to win has been obvious for months,” writes Chait.

“Of course it all came from the Russians, I’m sure it’s all there in the intel,” Charles Krauthammer told Fox News on Jan. 2. Krauthammer is certain.

And Andrew Sullivan is certain as to the motive. “Trump and Putin’s bromance,” Sullivan told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Jan. 2, “has one goal this year: to destroy the European Union and to undermine democracy in Western Europe.”

David Frum, writing in The Atlantic, believes Trump “owes his office in considerable part to illegal clandestine activities in his favor conducted by a hostile, foreign spy service.”

Jacob Weisberg agrees, tweeting: “Russian covert action threw the election to Donald Trump. It’s that simple.” Back in 2008, Weisberg wrote that “the first thing I hope I’ve learned from this experience of being wrong about Iraq is to be less trusting of expert opinion and received wisdom.” So much for that.

Foreign Special Interests

Another, equally remarkable similarity to the period of 2002-3 is the role foreign lobbyists have played in helping to whip up a war fever. As readers will no doubt recall, Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, which served, in effect as an Iraqi government-in-exile, worked hand in hand with the Washington lobbying firm Black, Kelly, Scruggs & Healey (BKSH) to sell Bush’s war on television and on the op-ed pages of major American newspapers.

Chalabi was also a trusted source of Judy Miller of the Times, which, in an apology to its readers on May 26, 2004, wrote: “The most prominent of the anti-Saddam campaigners, Ahmad Chalabi, has been named as an occasional source in Times articles since at least 1991, and has introduced reporters to other exiles. He became a favorite of hard-liners within the Bush administration and a paid broker of information from Iraqi exiles.” The pro-war lobbying of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has also been exhaustively documented.

Though we do not know how widespread the practice has been as of yet, something similar is taking place today. Articles calling for confrontation with Russia over its alleged “hybrid war” with the West are appearing with increasing regularity. Perhaps the most egregious example of this newly popular genre appeared on Jan. 1 in Politico magazine. That essay, which claims, among many other things, that “we’re in a war” with Russia comes courtesy of one Molly McKew.

McKew is seemingly qualified to make such a pronouncement because she, according to her bio on the Politico website, served as an “adviser to Georgian President Saakashvili’s government from 2009-2013, and to former Moldovan Prime Minister Filat in 2014-2015.” Seems reasonable enough. That is until one discovers that McKew is actually registered with the Department of Justice as a lobbyist for two anti-Russian political parties, Georgia’s UMN and Moldova’s PLDM.

Records show her work for the consulting firm Fianna Strategies frequently takes her to Capitol Hill to lobby U.S. Senate and Congressional staffers, as well as prominent U.S. journalists at The Washington Post and The New York Times, on behalf of her Georgian and Moldovan clients.

“The truth,” writes McKew, “is that fighting a new Cold War would be in America’s interest. Russia teaches us a very important lesson: losing an ideological war without a fight will ruin you as a nation. The fight is the American way.” Or, put another way: the truth is that fighting a new Cold War would be in McKew’s interest – but perhaps not America’s.

While you wouldn’t know it from the media coverage (or from reading deeply disingenuous pieces like McKew’s) as things now stand, the case against Russia is far from certain. New developments are emerging almost daily. One of the latest is a report from the cyber-engineering company Wordfence, which concluded that “The IP addresses that DHS [Department of Homeland Security] provided may have been used for an attack by a state actor like Russia. But they don’t appear to provide any association with Russia.”

Indeed, according to Wordfence, “The malware sample is old, widely used and appears to be Ukrainian. It has no apparent relationship with Russian intelligence and it would be an indicator of compromise for any website.”

On Jan. 4, BuzzFeed reported that, according to the DNC, the FBI never carried out a forensic examination on the email servers that were allegedly hacked by the Russian government. “The FBI,” said DNC spokesman Eric Walker, “never requested access to the DNC’s computer servers.”

What the agency did do was rely on the findings of a private-sector, third-party vendor that was brought in by the DNC after the initial hack was discovered. In May, the company, Crowdstrike, determined that the hack was the work of the Russians. As one unnamed intelligence official told BuzzFeed, “CrowdStrike is pretty good. There’s no reason to believe that anything that they have concluded is not accurate.”

Perhaps not. Yet Crowdstrike is hardly a disinterested party when it comes to Russia. Crowdstrike’s founder and chief technology officer, Dmitri Alperovitch, is also a senior fellow at the Washington think tank, The Atlantic Council, which has been at the forefront of escalating tensions with Russia.

As I reported in The Nation in early January, the connection between Alperovitch and the Atlantic Council is highly relevant given that the Atlantic Council is funded in part by the State Department, NATO, the governments of Latvia and Lithuania, the Ukrainian World Congress, and the Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk. In recent years, it has emerged as a leading voice calling for a new Cold War with Russia.

Time to Rethink the ‘Group Think’

And given the rather thin nature of the declassified evidence provided by the Obama administration, might it be time to consider an alternative theory of the case? William Binney, a 36-year veteran of the National Security Agency and the man responsible for creating many of its collection systems, thinks so. Binney believes that the DNC emails were leaked, not hacked, writing that “it is puzzling why NSA cannot produce hard evidence implicating the Russian government and WikiLeaks. Unless we are dealing with a leak from an insider, not a hack.”

None of this is to say, of course, that Russia did not and could not have attempted to influence the U.S. presidential election. The intelligence community may have intercepted damning evidence of the Russian government’s culpability. The government’s hesitation to provide the public with more convincing evidence may stem from an understandable and wholly appropriate desire to protect the intelligence community’s sources and methods. But as it now stands the publicly available evidence is open to question.

But meanwhile the steady drumbeat of “blame Russia” is having an effect. According to a recent you.gov/Economist poll, 58 percent of Americans view Russia as “unfriendly/enemy” while also finding that 52 percent of Democrats believed Russia “tampered with vote tallies.”

With Congress back in session, Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain is set to hold a series of hearings focusing on Russian malfeasance, and the steady drip-drip-drip of allegations regarding Trump and Putin is only serving to box in the new President when it comes to pursuing a much-needed detente with Russia.

It also does not appear that a congressional inquiry will start from scratch and critically examine the evidence. On Friday, two senators – Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse – announced a Senate Judiciary subcommittee investigation into Russian interference in elections in the U.S. and elsewhere. But they already seemed to have made up their minds about the conclusion: “Our goal is simple,” the senators said in a joint statement “To the fullest extent possible we want to shine a light on Russian activities to undermine democracy.”

So, before the next round of Cold War posturing commences, now might be the time to stop, take a deep breath and ask: Could the rush into a new Cold War with Russia be as disastrous and consequential – if not more so – as was the rush to war with Iraq nearly 15 years ago? We may, unfortunately, find out.


James W Carden is a contributing writer for The Nation and editor of The American Committee for East-West Accord’s eastwestaccord.com. He previously served as an advisor on Russia to the Special Representative for Global Inter-governmental Affairs at the US State Department.

February 4, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Focus on ISIS, not starting WWIII’: Trump blasts Senators McCain & Graham

RT | January 30, 2017

The latest targets of US President Donald Trump’s ire are fellow Republican Senators John McCain & Lindsey Graham, who Trump says should focus on important issues “instead of always looking to start World War III.”

The president tweeted the rebuke in response to a joint statement by veteran GOP legislators who criticized Trump’s executive order placing a temporary travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries. McCain and Graham said the move was hasty and “not properly vetted,” and may ultimately work contrary to the stated goal of improving national security.

“This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security,” the statement said.

The Republican hawks joined the loud chorus of largely left-wing condemnation of the executive order, commonly known as the ‘Muslim ban’ by critics. McCain and Graham have criticized Trump on a number of issues, including his plans to work alongside Russia in fighting terrorism in Iraq and Syria. The senators consider Russia a major threat to America.

In addition to accusing McCain and Graham of being warmongers, Trump issued a statement defending his decision to impose the travel ban.

“The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror. To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting,” the statement said.

“This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days,” it added.

Critics accuse President Trump of hypocrisy for citing the 9/11 terrorist attacks as an example of what he hopes to prevent with the travel ban. The perpetrators of the plane hijackings were nationals of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon, but none of the countries were affected by the executive order.

January 30, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Real Saboteurs of a Trump Foreign Policy

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By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • December 20, 2016

The never-Trumpers are never going to surrender the myth that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee to defeat Clinton and elect Donald Trump.

Their investment in the myth is just too huge.

For Clinton and her campaign, it is the only way to explain how they booted away a presidential election even Trump thought he had lost in November. To the mainstream media, this is the smoking gun in their Acela Corridor conspiracy to delegitimize Trump’s presidency.

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sees Russian hacking as a way to put a cloud over the administration before it begins. But it is the uber-hawks hereabouts who are after the really big game.

They seek to demonize Putin as the saboteur of democracy — someone who corrupted an American presidential election to bring about victory for a “useful idiot” whom Clinton called Putin’s “puppet.”

If the War Party can convert this “fake story” into the real story of 2016, then they can scuttle any Trump effort to attain the rapprochement with Russia that Trump promised to try to achieve.

If they can stigmatize Trump as “Putin’s president” and Putin as America’s implacable enemy, then the Russophobes are back in business.

Nor is the War Party disguising its goal.

Over the weekend, Sen. John McCain called for a congressional select committee to investigate Russian hacking into the Clinton campaign. The purpose of the investigations, said Sen. Lindsey Graham, “is to put on President Trump’s desk crippling sanctions against Russia.”

“They need to pay a price,” Graham chortled on Twitter.

“Crippling sanctions” would abort any modus vivendi, any deal with Russia, before Trump could negotiate one. Trump would have to refuse to impose them — and face the firestorm to follow. The War Party is out to dynamite any detente with Russia before it begins.

Among the reasons Trump won is that he promised to end U.S. involvement in the costly, bloody and interminable wars in the Middle East the Bushites and President Barack Obama brought us — and the neocons relish — and to reach a new understanding with Russia and Putin.

But to some in Washington, beating up on Russia is a conditioned reflex dating to the Cold War. For others in the media and the front groups called think tanks, Russophobia is in their DNA.

Though Julian Assange says WikiLeaks did not get the emails from Russia, this has to be investigated. Did Russia hack the DNC’s email system and John Podesta’s email account? Did Putin direct that the emails be provided to WikiLeaks to disrupt democracy or defeat Clinton?

Clinton says Putin has had it in for her because he believes she was behind the anti-Putin demonstrations in Moscow in 2011.

But if there is to be an investigation of clandestine interference in the politics and elections of foreign nations, let’s get it all out onto the table.

The CIA director and his deputies should be made to testify under oath, not only as to what they know about Russia’s role in the WikiLeaks email dumps but also about who inside the agency is behind the leaks to The Washington Post designed to put a cloud over the Trump presidency before it begins.

Agents and operatives of the CIA should be subjected to lie detector tests to learn who is leaking to the anti-Trump press.

Before any congressional investigation, President-elect Trump should call in his new director of the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo, and tell him to run down and remove, for criminal misconduct, any CIA agents or operatives leaking secrets to discredit his election.

Putin, after all, is not an American. The CIA saboteurs of the Trump presidency are. Will the media investigate the leakers? Not likely, for they are the beneficiaries of the leaks and co-conspirators of the leakers.

The top officials of the CIA and Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, should be called to testify under oath. Were they behind anti-Putin demonstrations during the Russian elections of 2011?

Did the CIA or NED have a role in the “color-coded” revolutions to dump over pro-Russian governments in Moscow’s “near abroad”?

If Russia did intrude in our election, was it payback for our intrusions to bring about regime change in its neighborhood?

What role did the CIA, the NED and John McCain play in the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Ukraine in 2014? McCain was seen cheering on the crowds in Independence Square in Kiev.

Trump has promised a more hopeful foreign policy than that of the Republicans he denounced and is succeeding. No more wars where vital interests are not imperiled. No more U.S. troops arriving as first responders for freeloading allies.

The real saboteurs of his new foreign policy may not be inside the Ring Road in Moscow; rather, they may be inside the Beltway around D.C.

The real danger may be that a new Trump foreign policy could be hijacked or scuttled by anti-Trump Republicans, not only on Capitol Hill but inside the executive branch itself.

Copyright 2016 Creators.com

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

McCain warns Trump over ‘resetting’ ties with Russia

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Press TV – November 16, 2016

Senior US Senator John McCain has advised President-elect Donald Trump against putting “faith” in Moscow’s desire to improve relations with Washington, accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of “tyranny” and “murder.”

Speaking after the first phone conversation between Trump and Putin, McCain said Tuesday that the Russian head of state was not to be trusted.

“With the US presidential transition underway, Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States,” the Republican senator of Arizona said in a statement.

“We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America’s allies, and attempted to undermine America’s elections.”

The head of the Senate Armed Services Committee said “resetting” ties with Moscow would be too costly for Washington.

McCain’s comments were aimed at preventing Trump from following one of his most important campaign pledges, which included cooperation with Russia to solve mutual differences between the two sides.

At least that was what the Republican president-elect discussed with Putin during their phone call on Monday, according to Moscow.

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According to a statement released by the Kremlin, America’s 45th president discussed with his Russian counterpart the importance of “normalizing” ties between Moscow and Washington.

Both Putin and Trump had acknowledged “the extremely unsatisfactory state of Russian-US relations at present” and “declared the need for active joint work to normalize them.”

During the conversation, the Russian president also voiced his preparedness to “create a dialogue of partnership with the new administration on the basis of equality, mutual respect and non-intervention in each other’s domestic affairs.”

McCain did not look favorably to the contents of the discussion, warning in his statement that outgoing President Barack Obama’s plans to reduce tensions with Russia did not work either.

“The Obama Administration’s last attempt at resetting relations with Russia culminated in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and military intervention in the Middle East,” the 2008 Republican presidential nominee alleged.

Long before Trump’s election on November 8, Putin had made it clear that his government was willing to work with the next US president regardless of the vote’s outcome.

November 16, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , | 4 Comments

John McCain NGO banned as ‘undesirable group’ in Russia

RT | August 18, 2016

Russian prosecutors have recognized the International Republican Institute NGO headed by US Senator John McCain as an undesirable organization, banning the group’s operations in the country and forbidding Russian organizations and citizens from cooperating with it.

“After studying the received files [describing the activities of the International Republican Institute], the Prosecutor General’s Office has made the decision to recognize it as an undesirable group on the territory of the Russian Federation,” reads an official statement from prosecutors, released on Thursday.

Another US organization, the Media Development Investment Fund, was also recognized as undesirable.

Prosecutors added that they had established that the work of the two groups posed a threat to the foundations of Russia’s constitutional order and state security, but gave no further details.

The International Republican Institute was founded in 1983 with the declared goal of the promotion of democracy worldwide through helping political parties in foreign countries.

Since 1993 the institute has been headed by John McCain – a Republican senator for Arizona known for his numerous anti-Russian initiatives and statements.

In early 2015 Russia reportedly included McCain in the list of people subject to personal sanctions, including an entry ban and assets freeze, introduced in response to a similar measures imposed by the United States against Russian officials in 2014.

The Russian Law on Undesirable Foreign Organizations came into force in late May 2015. The act requires the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry to make an official list of undesirable foreign groups and outlaw their activities. Once a group is recognized as undesirable, all its assets in Russia must be frozen, its offices closed and the distribution of its information materials banned. If the ban is violated, both the personnel of the outlawed group and any Russian citizens who cooperate with it face heavy fines or even prison terms in the event of repeated or aggravated offenses.

About a month after the law came into force, Russia’s upper house released a list of foreign organizations it believed should come under the new restrictions. The list consisted of 12 entries, including such groups as the National Democratic Institute, the US National Endowment for Democracy and the Open Society Institute also known as the Soros Foundation.

Several of these groups have already been put on the list of undesirables, including the US National Endowment for Democracy, George Soros’s Open Society Institute and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation, the US-Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law (USRF), and the US National Democratic Institute – chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

August 18, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment