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CNN: “Russia is an adversary, Ukraine is not.”

So that settles it!

By Gary Leupp | Dissident Voice | July 17, 2017

Monday morning. David Chalian, CNN Political Director, on CNN’s “New Day” program. News ticker: “How do Trump-Russia and DNC-Ukraine compare?

New Day co-anchor Alysin Camerota (former Fox anchor) puts the question to her Political Director.

Chalian’s mechanical reply: “Russia is an adversary, Ukraine is not.”

Camerota, as always exuding wisdom, follows up: “Thanks so much for sifting through this with us.” (Good, so that’s settled! There had been so much sifting there, in those few precious boilerplate minutes.)

But wait, Mr. Political Director!  (And by the way, Dave, what’s your job description? How exactly do you direct CNN’s politics? The responsibility must rest heavily on your robust 43-year-old shoulders.) What law ever made Russia an adversary? My adversary, your adversary? Was some law passed that I didn’t notice?

Russia wasn’t an adversary under Yeltsin in the 90s, when the collapse of the old system produced mind-boggling misery as neocons in this country crowed about the triumph of capitalism and the need for U.S. “full-spectrum dominance” forever and ever. It wasn’t an adversary when Yeltsin bombarded the Russian Parliament building kin 1993 because legislators backed by the Supreme Court refused to disband. That as you know was two years before the U.S. interfered in the Russian elections to insure Yeltsin’s reelection.

TIME Magazine Cover: Boris Yeltsin – July 15, 1996

It wasn’t an adversary when the new leader Vladimir Putin offered assistance to the U.S. in its Afghan war, offering NATO a transport route through Russia.

Moscow only became, in the minds of some, an adversary when it started to seriously challenge Washington’s unremitting efforts to expand its anti-Russian military alliance, NATO. The main talking points of the clueless Camerotas are (1) Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, (2) Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, and (3) Russia is somehow threatening the Baltic states. But these situations are never analyzed in any depth; they are simply a litany of officially mandated postulates about the past. And NATO never factors into the narrative.

Mr. Chalian: Is not your primary function as CNN’s Political Director to direct attention away from any critical thinking about NATO? And to discourage attention to the fact that NATO has expanded by 13 members since 1999, to surround Russia? Isn’t it among your key functions to discourage people from wondering why this is happening, or why Russians of all stripes find this expansion a matter of concern? And to depict Russian resistance to U.S. geopolitical expansion as aggression?

What sort of logical gymnastics do you have to inflict on yourself to argue as you do? And even to add to the list of Russian wrongs Moscow’s support for the Syrian state versus terrorism, in the face of U.S. efforts to topple the Syrian regime in league, as you know (you do know, right?) with al-Nusra aligned forces backed by Saudi Arabia?

And Ms. Camerota: Is it not your primary function as CNN morning anchor to furrow your brow and roll your eyes when reading the (politically directed) teleprompter content, whenever you are reporting on anything Russian, and to exude equanimity when, as your default mode, you glorify the U.S. military no matter what they do? And send best wishes to John McCain as though he—of course—deserves them?

Why do you inevitably tell anyone you interview who has fought in a U.S. war—any war, for any reason—that “We thank you for your service?”

Is that heart-felt enthusiasm for anyone’s participation in wars of aggression based on lies, or a rule of etiquette set down by the political director? Because it is a distinctly political statement. A loyalty oath you make every day, I suspect as a condition for continued employment.

Try asking the person you interview next time: Are you actually proud of what you did in Vietnam? Or Afghanistan? Or Iraq? Are you concerned about the war crimes? (You might be back on a plane to New Jersey within days.)

Pathetic. Let me “sift” through this with you. You guys in the final analysis promote war. Your promotion of Russophobia as an article of faith constitutes active collusion with the U.S. war machine. You are an active, unregistered, propagandist for NATO by default. And maybe you don’t even know it. Maybe on your own time you confuse NATO with UNESCO and for the life of you can’t grasp why any good person would worry about it.

Russia is not my adversary. Warmongers and their colluders are. You are.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu.

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Three countries, three continents: One imperial Western project

By Neil Clark | RT | July 8, 2017

A resource-rich, socialist-led, multi-ethnic secular state, with an economic system characterized by a high level of public/social ownership and generous provision of welfare, education and social services.

An independent foreign policy with friendship and good commercial ties with Russia, support for Palestine and African and Arab unity – and historical backing for anti-imperialist movements.

Social progress in a number of areas, including women’s emancipation.

The above accurately describes the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Syrian Arab Republic. Three countries in three different continents, which had so much in common.

All three had governments which described themselves as socialist. All three pursued a foreign policy independent of Washington and NATO. And all three were targeted for regime change/destruction by the US and its allies using remarkably similar methods.

The first step of the imperial predators was the imposition of draconian economic sanctions used to cripple their economies, weaken their governments (always referred to as ‘a/the regime’) and create political unrest. From 1992-95, and again in 1998, Yugoslavia was hit by the harshest sanctions ever imposed on a European state. The sanctions even involved an EU ban on the state-owned passenger airliner JAT

Libya was under US sanctions from the 1980s until 2004, and then again in 2011, the year the country with the highest Human Development Index in Africa was bombed back to the Stone Age.

Syria has been sanctioned by the US since 2004 with a significant increase in the severity of the measures in 2011 when the regime change op moved into top gear.

The second step was the backing of armed militias/terrorist proxies to destabilise the countries and help overthrow these “regimes”. The strategy was relatively simple. Terrorist attacks and the killing of state officials and soldiers would provoke a military response from ‘the regime, whose leader would then be condemned for ‘killing his own people’ (or in the case of Milosevic, other ethnic groups), and used to ramp up the case for a ‘humanitarian intervention’ by the US and its allies.

In Yugoslavia, the US-proxy force was the Kosovan Liberation Army, who were given training and logistical support by the West.

In Libya, groups linked to al-Qaeda, like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, were provided assistance, with NATO effectively acting as al-Qaeda’s air force

In Syria, there was massive support for anti-government Islamist fighters, euphemistically labelled ‘moderate rebels.’ It didn’t matter to the ‘regime changers’ that weapons supplied to ‘moderate rebels’ ended up in the hands of groups like ISIS. On the contrary, a declassified secret US intelligence report from 2012 showed that the Western powers welcomed the possible establishment of a Salafist principality in eastern Syria, seeing it as a means of isolating ‘the Syrian regime’.

The third step carried out at the same time as one and two involved the relentless demonisation of the leadership of the target states. This involved the leaders being regularly compared to Hitler, and accused of carrying out or planning genocide and multiple war crimes.

Milosevic – President of Yugoslavia – was labelled a ‘dictator’ even though he was the democratically-elected leader of a country in which over 20 political parties freely operated.

Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was portrayed as an unstable foaming at the mouth lunatic, about to launch a massacre in Benghazi, even though he had governed his country since the end of the Swinging Sixties.

Syria’s Assad did take over in an authoritarian one-party system, but was given zero credit for introducing a new constitution which ended the Ba’ath Party’s monopoly of political power. Instead all the deaths in the Syrian conflict were blamed on him, even those of the thousands of Syrian soldiers killed by Western/GCC-armed and funded ‘rebels’.

The fourth step in the imperial strategy was the deployment of gatekeepers – or ‘Imperial Truth Enforcers’ – to smear or defame anyone who dared to come to the defence of the target states, or who said that they should be left alone.

The pro-war, finance-capital-friendly, faux-left was at the forefront of the media campaigns against the countries concerned. This was to give the regime change/destruction project a ‘progressive’ veneer, and to persuade or intimidate genuine ’old school’ leftists not to challenge the dominant narrative.

To place them beyond the pale, Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria were all labelled ’fascist,’ even though their leadership was socialist and their economies were run on socialistic lines. Meanwhile, genuine fascists, like anti-government factions in Ukraine (2013-14), received enthusiastic support from NATO.

The fifth step was direct US/NATO-led military intervention against ‘the regime’ triggered by alleged atrocities/planned atrocities of the target state. At this stage, the US works particularly hard to sabotage any peaceful solution to the conflicts they and their regional allies have ignited. At the Rambouillet conference in March 1999, for example, the Yugoslav authorities, who had agreed to an international peace-keeping force in Kosovo, were presented with an ultimatum that they could not possibly accept. Lord Gilbert, a UK defence minister at the time, later admitted “the terms put to Milosevic (which included NATO forces having freedom of movement throughout his country) were absolutely intolerable … it was quite deliberate.”

In 2011, the casus belli was that ‘the mad dog’ Gaddafi was about to massacre civilians in Benghazi. We needed a ‘humanitarian intervention’ to stop this, we were repeatedly told. Five years later, a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report held that “the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.”

In 2013, the reason given for direct military intervention in Syria was an alleged chemical weapons attack by ‘Assad’s forces’ in Ghouta. But this time, the UK Parliament voted against military action and the planned ‘intervention’ was thwarted, much to the great frustration of the war-hungry neocons. They still keep trying though.

The recent claims of The White House, that they had evidence that the Syrian government was planning a chemical weapons attack, and that if such an attack took place it would be blamed on Assad, shows that the Empire hasn’t given up on Stage Five for Syria just yet.

Stage Six of the project involves the US continuing to sabotage moves towards a negotiated peace once the bombing started. This happened during the bombing of Yugoslavia and the NATO assault on Libya. A favoured tactic used to prevent a peaceful resolution is to get the leader of the target state indicted for war crimes. Milosevic was indicted at the height of the bombing in 1999, Gaddafi in 2011.

Stage Seven is ‘Mission Accomplished’. It’s when the target country has been ‘regime-changed’ and either broken up or transformed into a failed state with strategically important areas/resources under US/Western control. Yugoslavia was dismantled and its socially-owned economy privatised. Montenegro, the great prize on the Adriatic, recently joined NATO.

Libya, hailed in the Daily Telegraph as a top cruise ship destination in 2010, is now a lawless playground for jihadists and a place where cruise ships dare not dock. This country, which provided free education and health care for all its citizens under Gaddafi, has recently seen the return of slave markets.

Syria, though thankfully not at Stage Seven, has still been knocked back almost forty years. The UNDP reported: “Despite having achieved or being well under way to achieving major Millennium Development Goals targets (poverty reduction, primary education, and gender parity in secondary education, decrease in infant mortality rates and increasing access to improved sanitation) as of 2011, it is estimated that after the first four years of crisis Syria has dropped from 113th to 174th out of 187 countries ranked in the Human Development Index.”

Of course, it’s not just three countries which have been wrecked by the Empire of Chaos. There are similarities too with what’s happened to Afghanistan and Iraq. In the late 1970s, the US started to back Islamist rebels to destabilise and topple the left-wing, pro-Moscow government in Kabul.

Afghanistan has been in turmoil ever since, with the US and its allies launching an invasion of the country in 2001 to topple a Taliban ‘regime’ which grew out of the ’rebel’ movement which the US had backed.

Iraq was hit with devastating, genocidal sanctions, which were maintained under US/UK pressure even after it had disarmed. Then it was invaded on the deceitful pretext that its leader, Saddam Hussein, still possessed WMDs.

The truth of what has been happening is too shocking and too terrible ever to be admitted in the Western mainstream media. Namely, that since the demise of the Soviet Union, the US and its allies have been picking off independent, resource-rich, strategically important countries one by one.

The point is not that these countries were perfect and that there wasn’t political repression taking place in some of them at various times, but that they were earmarked for destruction solely for standing in the way of the imperialists. The propagandists for the US-led wars of recent years want us to regard the conflicts as ‘stand alones’ and to regard the ‘problem’ as being the ‘mad dog’ leadership of the countries which were attacked.

But in fact, the aggressions against Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the threatening of Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela are all parts of the same war. Anyone who hasn’t been locked in a wardrobe these past twenty years, or whose salary is not paid directly, or indirectly, by the Empire of Chaos, can surely see now where the ‘problem’ really lies.

The ‘New Hitlers’ – Milosevic, Hussein and Gaddafi – who we were told were the ‘biggest threats’ to world peace, are dead and buried. But guess what? The killing goes on.

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Over 120 UN Member States Adopt Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons

Sputnik – 07.07.2017

UNITED NATIONS — More than 120 UN member states on Thursday adopted a treaty to categorically prohibit nuclear weapons although the world’s nuclear powers boycotted the entire process.

“Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to… Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices,” the treaty, approved by a 122-member majority, stated.

All nine nuclear powers did not participate in the conference, including five permanent members of the UN Security Council: Russia, the United States, China, France, and the United Kingdom. Four others known or suspected to possess nuclear weapons — Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea — also refused to partake.

Other notable countries that declined to engage in the process include Japan, which was on the receiving end of two US atomic bombs, and South Korea, which borders a recently very active nuclear state.

Netherlands, the only NATO member state to participate in the proceedings, voted against the treaty while Singapore abstained.

According to the convention, it will be open for signature by states at the United Nations in New York on September 20, 2017 and will come into force 90 days after it is ratified by 50 countries.

In March, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the United States abandoning nuclear weapons at this time would put the world at risk because of North Korea’s nuclear activities.

In October 2016, the UN General Assembly voted to negotiate and conclude a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. The first negotiation session took place at the United Nations in New York City in March and lasted a week. The second session opened on June 15 and is due to close today, July 7.

July 7, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Putin: We Protect Syria’s “Statehood” to Prevent it Becoming Like Libya

By Steven MacMillan – New Eastern Outlook – 03.07.2017

In an explosive interview with Megyn Kelly at the 21st St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, systematically destroyed many of the narratives promulgated by the enemies of the Syrian state who seek to turn the country into the new Libya.

Although the panel discussion covered many issues and featured other speakers, one of the most crucial sections was when Kelly questioned Putin over the Syrian conflict. The opening exchange consisted of Kelly asking the Russian leader whether he believed Assad was an “evil guy?”, allowing Putin to articulate one of the central reasons why Russia supports the Syrian government. Putin emphasized that it is not Assad that Russia is protecting per se; instead, Russia is protecting “the Syrian statehood” from collapsing into an abyss of chaos similar to the one we have seen Libya descend into since 2011:

“It’s not President Assad whom we are protecting; we are protecting the Syrian statehood. We don’t want their interior to be a situation similar to that in Libya, or that in Somalia, or in Afghanistan – in Afghanistan NATO has been present for many years, but the situation is not changing for the better. We want to preserve the Syrian statehood. On the basis of resolving this fundamental issue we would like them to move towards settling the Syrian issue through political means. Yes, probably everyone there is to blame for something, but let’s not forget that were it not for active interference from outside, this civil war probably would not have broken out.”

Ever since NATO forced regime change in Libya – through waging a bombing campaign coupled with supporting al-Qaeda connected rebel legions on the ground – it has been in total chaos. The North African country has been a failed state for years, with rebel factions fighting over control of certain regions.

As journalist Neil Clark and others have pointed out, in July 2010, the Telegraph listed Libya as number one on their six best exotic cruise destinations. By August 2011, numerous reports detailed how many factions of the Libyan opposition were slaughtering black people on mass. In 2012, a disturbing video surfaced which purported to show Libyan rebels forcing African prisoners to eat flags while being kept in giant cages. Earlier this year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that African migrants were being bought and sold in slave markets.

This is just a glimpse into the utter chaos and degradation that Libya has descended into after NATO ‘liberated’ the country back in 2011, and it provides a window into what Syria would be like if the West forces regime change in Damascus.

“The Militants used Chemical Weapons” 

Putin then moves on to counter the propaganda spread by the enemies of Syria that Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons in April of this year, before highlighting that the militants have a history of using chemical weapons in the region:

“What is President Assad been accused of recently? We know he has been accused of using chemical weapons, but there’s no evidence to support that whatsoever. Right after the incident, we suggested that an inspection should be carried out at the airbase… But they refused to conduct this kind of inspection. So, they’re talking a lot, but not doing much. We suggested that an inspection should be carried out at the site where the strike took place, [but] they’re saying it’s too dangerous. Why is it dangerous if the strike was against the good part of the opposition? No, they say it is too dangerous.”

“In Iraqi Kurdistan, the militants used chemical weapons and the world community recognised it. So, they know that the militants have got chemical weapons. But according to the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] Syria has destroyed its stocks of chemical weapons. You see, if pretexts are created without any real willingness to look into the matter, it’s not going to lead us anywhere. Let’s talk substantively. Did Assad make mistakes? Yes, probably a lot of them. But those who oppose him, are they angels? Who [are] murdering people and executing children – beheading people. Should we support those people?”

On multiple occasions, investigations have indicated that chemical weapons have been used by the Syrian opposition. In May 2013 for instance, the Commissioner of the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria, Carla Del Ponte, said in an interview that there was evidence which suggested that the rebels, not the Syrian army, used chemical weapons:

“During our investigation for crimes against humanity and war crimes, we collected some witness testimony that [appeared to confirm] that some chemical weapons were used – in particular nerve gas. What appeared to our investigation was that it was used by the opponents, the rebels, and we have no indication at all that the Syrian government have used chemical weapons. Of course, now, the special commission will investigate and tell us what it is exactly. But I was a little stupefied that the first indication we got [was] about the use of nerve gas by the opposition.”

In regards to the nature of the Syrian opposition, it is not just the Russian President who believes that many of the opposition forces are far from angelic. Even the former Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, who was always a strong proponent of forcing regime change in Syria (he was also heavily involved in the Libyan war), admitted in early 2016 that many of the ‘moderate’ rebels actually belonged to “relatively hardline Islamist groups” (i.e. terrorist groups): 

“But if you’re arguing: are all these people impeccable democrats, who would share the view of democracy that you and I have? No. Some of them do belong to Islamist groups, and some of them belong to relatively hardline Islamist groups.” 

Furthermore, a declassified US military intelligence report – by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) – from August 2012, clearly states that the opposition was the walking antithesis of moderate: 

“The Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [Al-Qaeda in Iraq], are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The report added that “AQI supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media,” and that “events are taking a clear sectarian direction.” 

False Flags and Provocations 

When Kelly again brought up the chemical weapons attack in April of this year, asking whether the Russian leader believed the videos of the alleged victims of the attack were “fake,” Putin responded by describing the incident as a “provocation” designed to blame the Syrian President:

“As for those people who were killed or who suffered because of the use of weapons – including chemical weapons, this is false information. As of now, we are absolutely confident that this is just a provocation; President Assad didn’t use chemical weapons. All of this was orchestrated in order to accuse him. Moreover, our intelligence services have got information that in another district of Syria, not far from Damascus, there were plans to reproduce this scenario, and we made these plans public. Those who had been planning these actions thought it better not to engage in these actions.”

When Kelly pressed him further, asking: “are we really to believe that the whole thing was staged?”, Putin responded by saying:

“The answer is very simple and you know it. Yes, sarin could have been used by someone, but not by Assad. It could have been used by someone in order to accuse Assad. So, we have to understand who is to blame; otherwise, if there is no true investigation, it is only going to play into the hands of those who orchestrated it. I would like to ask you a question: why didn’t everyone go right away to inspect the airbase, to the spot where chemical weapons allegedly had been used? Why didn’t they want to go to see the aircraft that had been allegedly used to perform the strike? The answer is very simple: because they were afraid that the truth would come to light.”

Logic alone would tell you that the Syrian government did not use chemical weapons in April. Why would Assad order the use of chemical weapons when the Syrian government had the upper hand in the conflict? Assad may be a lot of things, but he is not suicidal. Why would he give the enemies of Syria justification to bomb the country or launch a full-scale invasion? As the former US congressman and host of the Liberty Report, Ron Paul, said at the time:

“It makes no sense, even if you were totally separate from this and [you] take no sides of this and you were just an analyst, it doesn’t make sense for Assad, under these conditions, to all of the sudden use poison gasses… I think [there’s] zero chance that he would have done this deliberately.”

For the sake of the Syrian people, let’s hope that Syria does not become the new Libya.

July 3, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

What Trump Can Expect from Putin

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | July 1, 2017

In the style of a President’s Daily Brief for President Trump:

When you meet with President Putin next week, you can count on him asking you why the U.S. is encircling Russia with antiballistic missile systems.

Putin regarded the now-defunct Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as the key to maintaining the nuclear-weapons balance between the United States and Russia and told filmmaker Oliver Stone that the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty in 2001 and the follow-on U.S. deployment of ABM batteries could “destroy this balance. And that’s a great mistake.”

For decades, the Russians have viewed an invulnerable nuclear-tipped strategic missile force as a deterrent to a U.S. attack though they have never displayed an inclination to commit suicide by actually firing them.

From this perspective, Putin wonders why the U.S. might seek to upset the nuclear balance by deploying ABM systems around Russia’s borders, making Russia’s ICBM force vulnerable.

Putin’s generals, like yours, are required to impute the most provocative intentions to military capabilities; that is what military intelligence is all about. Thus, they cannot avoid seeing the ABM deployments as giving the U.S. the capability for a first strike to decapitate Russia’s ICBM force and, by doing so, protecting the U.S. from Russian nuclear retaliation.

And, as Putin has made clear, the Kremlin sees U.S. claims that the deployments are needed to thwart a strategic strike from Iran as insultingly disingenuous – all the more so in light of the 2015 multilateral agreement handcuffing Iran’s development of a nuclear bomb for the foreseeable future.

Yet, the U.S.-Russia strategic balance becomes more and more precarious with the deployment of each new ABM site or warship, together with rising concerns at the possibility of a U.S. technological breakthrough. With the time window for Russian leaders to evaluate data indicating a possible U.S. nuclear strike closing, launch-on-warning becomes more likely – and so does World War III.

Your visit to Warsaw en route to Hamburg for the G-20 summit will shine the spotlight on the threat Putin sees in the deployment of missile defense systems in Poland – as well as Romania and elsewhere on Russia’s periphery.

It is no secret that Russian leaders feel double-crossed by NATO’s steady creep eastward, but Russia’s strategic planners seemed to believe they could handle that – up to a point. That point was reached with the Feb. 22, 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine, which Moscow viewed as one U.S.-backed regime change too many and one that installed a virulently anti-Russian government along a route historically used by foreign invaders.

On April 17, 2014, the day before Crimea was re-incorporated into Russia, Putin spoke of what motivated Russia’s strong reaction. The “more important” reason he gave was the need to thwart plans to incorporate Ukraine and Crimea into the anti-ballistic missile deployment encircling Russia.

Putin explained: “This issue is no less, and probably even more important, than NATO’s eastward expansion. Incidentally, our decision on Crimea was partially prompted by this.”

ABM: ‘A Separate Issue’

In his interviews with Oliver Stone (aired on Showtime as “The Putin Interviews”), Putin made the same distinction between the NATO buildup (bad enough) and ABM deployment (more dangerous still), telling Stone the ABM challenge is “a separate issue which no doubt is going to require a response from Russia.”

Putin blames your predecessors for his mistrust of Washington on this important issue. He has branded a huge mistake President Bush’s 2001 decision to exit the ABM Treaty – an agreement that sharply limited the number of permitted anti-ballistic missile sites – noting that the Treaty had been for three decades the “cornerstone of the system of national security as a whole.”

Putin’s misgivings were hardly allayed by President Obama’s ten-second pas de deux five years ago with Dmitry Medvedev in South Korea. An ABC open mike picked up their private conversation on March 26, 2012, at a summit on nuclear security in Seoul.

Obama is heard assuring then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that the missile defense issue “can be solved,” but that it was “important for him (Putin) to give me space.” President Obama asked Medvedev to tell Putin that Obama would have “more flexibility” after being re-elected. More flexibility or no, the missile defense program proceeded unabated, with Washington shunning bilateral talks.

It is now five years later, but there will be a residue of distrust on Putin’s part with respect to ABM deployment. We still expect Putin to show his characteristic reserve, but you will be dealing with someone who feels he’s been diddled on this key issue, and who, on occasion, gets angry when others don’t grasp the gravity of this potentially existential moment.

For example, speaking to journalists on June 17, 2016, Putin criticized the reasons that the U.S. gives for the need to deploy ABM systems, especially the “threat from Iran.” Observing their apathetic reaction, Putin uncharacteristically lost his cool.

Given this history, you will have a suitcase of mistrust to overcome in talks with Putin. It will take more than smooth Obama-style reassurances to allay the Russian President’s misgivings over Washington’s intentions on missile defense.

Given the priority he places on the challenge, however, he may propose that U.S. and Russian negotiators begin to talk seriously about the issue.

Lost Opportunities

It may be helpful to recall that less than four years ago U.S.-Russian relations were in a much more positive place. After a disputed sarin incident outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, Putin helped Obama out of a geopolitical corner by persuading Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to surrender Syria’s entire chemical weapons inventory, under close U.N. supervision, for destruction on a U.S. ship.

A few days later, on Sept. 11, 2013, Putin placed an op-ed in The New York Times, titled “A plea for caution from Russia,” the last part of which he is said to have drafted himself:

“My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism …

“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional … There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy.  … We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

Russia then played a central role in facilitating Iran’s concessions regarding the nuclear accord that President Obama considered perhaps his greatest diplomatic achievement, with the key interim agreement reached on Nov. 24, 2013. But Putin felt betrayed when Obama’s State Department helped organize the coup in Ukraine just three months later.

Since the Ukraine crisis, U.S. media and political circles have subjected Putin to an unrelenting demonization, including comparisons of him to Adolf Hitler and an over-the-top campaign to blame him for Hillary Clinton’s defeat and the Trump presidency.

Yet, while the tone of the Russia-bashing in Washington has reached hysterical levels, the Defense Intelligence Agency has just published a balanced assessment of “Russia’s Threat Perceptions,” which offers a view from Moscow’s vantage point:

“Since returning to power in 2012, Russian President Putin has sought to reassert Russia as a great power on the global stage and to restructure an international order that the Kremlin believes is tilted too heavily in favor of the United States at Russia’s expense.

“Moscow seeks to promote a multipolar world predicated on the principles of respect for state sovereignty and non-interference in other state’s internal affairs, the primacy of the UN, and a careful balance of power preventing one state or group of states from dominating the international order. …

“Moscow has sought to build a robust military able to project power, add credibility to Russian diplomacy, and ensure that Russian interests can no longer be summarily dismissed without consequence.”

A fair assessment, in our view.

Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years, during which he served as chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch.  He also prepared the President’s Daily Brief under Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, conducting the early morning briefings under Reagan.

July 2, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

On the mainstream media coverage of nuclear war risks and nuclear abolition

By Jan Oberg | Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research | June 30, 2017

You’re probably an avid consumer of news and reports in one or more daily media – local, national or global. You want to be well-informed and say interesting things when you meet friends and colleagues.

And you certainly don’t want to find out that you’ve been taken for a ride by fake news, half-truths, bias or omissions by media that you trusted because you thought you could.

Now ask yourself whether you remember to have seen one or more of these essentially important initiatives and reports recently, all pertaining to nuclear weapons, the risk of nuclear war and advocacy of nuclear abolition:

1) That a large majority of UN members have drafted a treaty that shall declare nuclear weapons illegal, once and for all?
If not, go here and enlighten yourself on one of the most constructive and visionary initiatives in today’s otherwise gloomy world situation.

2) That a conference is taking place these very days about that goal and its process?
If not, go here.

3) That a scary new film shows why Americans should be very nervous about nuclear arsenals?
If not, go here.

4) That the Marshall Islands filed a lawsuit against all 9 nuclear weapons states for failing to comply with their international legal obligations?
If not, go here and see how the smallest actor of all took responsibility on behalf of 7 billion people.

5) That the Nuclear Crisis Group advocates – just a couple of days ago – that steps be taken urgently to de-escalate nuclear flash points such as NATO-Russia and North Korea?
It consists of predominantly former nuclear weapons commanders, ambassadors and scholars, mostly American
If not, go herethis report has not be mention by one single mainstream/make-believe media!

6) That there is an open letter written to Trump and Putin, meeting in Hamburg soon, urging them to declare that a nuclear war can’t be won and must never be fought and to cooperate on a series of other issues?
If not, go here – they are politicians, ministers and ambassadors from the US, Russia, Germany and England.

How many of these had you any knowledge about?

How prominently do you think they were featured if you saw them in the mainstream media – given their importance for the very survival of humankind?

If there were more than one or two you had never heard about, consider this:

They all involve NATO countries which possess the vast majority of the world’s nuclear weapons. NATO is an alliance that is built on the right to use nuclear weapons.

There has never been a referendum about the desirability of nuclear weapons in any of the countries – also not those who call themselves democracies – that have acquired nuclear weapons. One must assume the reason to be that most normal citizens would not like to be “defended” by nuclear weapons.

It’s a tiny minority of countries, most of them NATO members who have nuclear arsenals. Many more countries have decided to never acquire nuclear weapons.

Let’s say that there are about 100 people in each of the nuclear countries who decide on whether or not to use nuclear weapons in a given situation – thus around 1000 people. It’s the largest concentration of power ever in human history – a God-like power to decide whether or not human beings worldwide shall continue to exist, or not.

In short, non-constituted, dictatorial and non-democratic. No one should be given the power to decide about the existence or destruction of 7 billion people. No political goal can justify it.

And finally ask yourself: Why do most of these so-called ‘leading’ media systematically ignore these issues today? Why is it that any sex scandal or details of the Cosby trial is more important? What should be our priorities?

Would it not be natural for them to provide public education and offer a fair hearing of the pros and cons of nuclear weapons and the whole mental and societal construction underlying these weapons – the nuclearism of our times?

Admittedly, I’ve got a nasty hunch: If citizens around the world were given free press balanced information instead of being kept in the dark, there would be a much stronger worldwide movement for the abolition of each and every nuclear device anywhere.

Further, thanks to humanity’s civilisational process these Evil weapons would be condemned and/or thrown on the heap of history as other evil constructs: slavery, cannibalism, absolute monarchy, dictatorships, child labour, pedophilia – and we would begin to question whether the exact same should not be done to non-nuclear weapons and wars too.

In the name of ethics, humanity, common sense and civilisation. The US $100 billion which are spent annually on nuclear weapons systems alone could be allocated to alleviating human suffering.

Top editors of the ‘leading’ media look to what they believe would sell on the – shrinking – market. If they served humanity’s 7 billion instead of about 1000 masters of (nuclear) war they might well get more readers and sell more subscriptions and be seen by citizens as a force for the common good, not an integral part of MIMAC – the Military-Industrial-MEDIA-Academic Complex – that runs all these wars.

Yes, I know I’m just using the main argument of the Zeitgeist: the market and what will sell and yield a profit to shareholders.

If media people would think in terms of common sense, ethics and civil courage too and give us diverse, balanced and critical coverage of nuclear war risks, so much the better! Until then, bless the struggling independent truth-seeking media on the Internet!

Make-believe coverage of the feasibility or legitimacy of nuclear weapons and war as well as omissions of the nuclear facts of our daily lives contributes to increasing that very risk – the risk of the unthinkable: the end of humanity and the world as we know it.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

BMD Program in Europe and Asia Undermines US and Allies’ Security

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 30.06.2017

The US is pursuing an ambitious space policy to include vast missile defense plans. True, the existing systems may not be the most effective means to counter the ballistic missiles, but the United States is working hard to achieve technological breakthroughs to make missile defenses more reliable. Moreover, a US conventional Prompt Global Strike could hypothetically provide the potential capability for a disarming first strike against Russia to downgrade its retaliatory strike potential successfully neutralized by enhanced ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems.

On June 21, a US and Japanese missile test conducted in Hawaii missed its target. The firing involved a sea-based SM-3 Block IIA missile which is built for the Aegis ballistic missile defense system (BMD) destined to shoot down medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. This was the missile’s second intercept test. The first, which took place in February, was a success. The event goes to show that the US and its allies continue to apply intensive efforts to create BMD potential in the proximity of Russian borders.

All in all, the US Navy has 22 guided-missile cruisers and 62 guided-missile destroyers equipped with the Aegis system. Japan has six Aegis destroyers with plans for more. South Korea also operates Aegis-equipped destroyers.

The Aegis system operates similar to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) system which has been partially deployed in South Korea. Each THAAD unit consists of six truck-mounted launchers, 49 interceptors, a fire control and communications unit, and AN/TPY-2 radar. The X-band radar can spot missile as far as 2,000 km with forward-based mode and 600 km with terminal mode. It can be changed into the radar with a much longer detectable range.

It should be taken into consideration that the THAAD deployed in South Korea will be added to the THAAD battery deployed on Guam, two AN/TPY-2 radars deployed in Japan (at Shariki and Kyogamisaki), space-based assets, plus a range of ship-borne radars and larger land-based radars in other parts of the Pacific theatre. The deployment in South Korea might not guarantee the interception of ICBMs as they move fast while sophisticated penetration-aids confuse missile interceptors but it will greatly improve early tracking of Russian and Chinese missiles, depending on their launch point.

The first operational deployment of the system was to Hawaii in 2009, followed by Guam in 2013 and there are currently five THAAD batteries worldwide, including in the United Arab Emirates. The THAAD system has been deployed in South Korea on the basis of military-to-military agreement without the knowledge of the president and parliament.

Russia and China see the US BMD systems in the region as destabilizing. Last year, Russia warned that the US deployment of an advanced missile defense system in South Korea would have «irreparable consequences». Speaking at an economic forum in St Petersburg (June 1-3, 2017), Russian President Vladimir Putin said, «What is happening is a very serious and alarming process. In Alaska, and now in South Korea, elements of the anti-missile defense system are emerging. Should we just stand idly by and watch this? Of course not. We are thinking about how to respond to these challenges. This is a challenge for us». «This destroys the strategic balance in the world», he added.

Russia and China have been saying that the deployment is unnecessary and would tip the balance of power in the Pacific towards the United States. Beijing sees THAAD as a serious threat. For example, the US-deployed system would potentially be able to intercept Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Beijing also believes the radar deployed with THAAD is able to see far into its territory. It will give Washington the potential to track China’s military capabilities. The deployment of the AN/TPY-2 radar system lays down the basis for regional BMD upgrade and expansion to counter Russian and Chinese strategic nuclear potentials.

Japan is also considering the option of deploying THAAD. It is reasonable to expect Russia and China to develop technology that would render THAAD useless; thus the beginnings of an arms race. The deployment of THAAD to South Korea could be the catalyst that sets the United States and Russia/China) on a collision course.

In late May, a Ground-based Midcourse Defense, or GMD, system located at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California successfully intercepted a mock intercontinental ballistic missile target. In May, a group of senators introduced a bipartisan bill that seeks to bolster homeland missile defense and sharply increase the number of GMD interceptors.

In May, 2016, the Aegis Ashore system in Deveselu, a US naval support facility in southern Romania, was operationally certified. The land-based BMD system is designed to detect, track, engage, and destroy ballistic missiles in flight outside the atmosphere. It is equipped with the same phased-array SPY-1 radars and Aegis Combat Systems as are installed on many of the US Navy’s surface ships. The SM-3 Block IB missile has a range of up to 1,200 km. It has a robust capability against medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The Deveselu site comprises three batteries (24 missiles) of SM-3 Block IB interceptors. After the system is ramped up, it’s easy to increase the number of missile launchers.

In response, the Russian Ministry of Defense has taken a decision to deploy a squadron of long-range, supersonic bombers Tu-22М3 with variable sweep wing to Crimea with the option of eventually sending an entire regiment to the peninsula in response to Eastern European NATO allies’ reinforcement plans.

The ground-based missile defense site is an element of a larger European shield and US global ballistic missile defense effort to be expanded to cover Europe, Turkey, the Middle East, Japan and South Korea. Another Aegis Ashore system based in the missile defense site located at Redzikowo, Poland, near the Baltic Sea is to become operational next year. The European Interceptor Site (EIS) in Poland will consist of 24 SM-3Block IIA middle range missile interceptors.

The missile defense system in Europe also includes a radar in Turkey, a command center in Ramstein, Germany and interceptor ships. An early warning radar station in Malatya, Turkey, has been in service since 2012. The operational center became active the same year. Four missile defense-capable Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers were deployed to Rota, Spain, in 2015 for rotational patrols in the Mediterranean.

The construction of sophisticated new radar system known as Globus 3 in Vardø, Norway, has already been launched. The site is an element of the US-led NATO BMD. The radar located in Svalbard (the Arctic) can also be used by US military for missile defense purposes. The radar is installed in violation of the 1925 treaty which states that Svalbard has a demilitarized status.

The North Korean threat in the Asia Pacific and a threat from Iran for NATO European allies are used as pretexts for efforts aimed at reducing Russia’s capability to respond in case it comes under a nuclear attack. The Iranian program is under international control now, leaving NATO with no explanation for proceeding with its BMD plans.

The Aegis Ashore systems installed in Europe use the naval Mk-41 launching system, which is capable of firing long-range cruise missiles. The Aegis Ashore launchpad is practically identical to a system used aboard Aegis warships that is capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missiles. This is an outright violation of the INF Treaty, banning land-based cruise and medium-range missiles with a range from 300 to 3,400 miles. This fact has been emphasized by Russia’s officials.

The short flight time of these missiles diminished to mere minutes provides little time to decide whether to launch a second strike, raising the risks of mishaps. Military leaders are prone to believe that if the enemy’s intentions are unclear they should be interpreted as aggressive (otherwise, they could be late to respond). That leaves the military alone in a vicious spiral of inevitable decisions.

Russia has put forward a number of proposals related to cooperation with NATO in the field of missile defense making conditional the right of joint decision over the configuration and parameters of the system, as well as international legal guarantees that the system will not undermine Russia’s nuclear potential, to no avail. It has also come up with the initiative on introduction of sectoral missile defense, in which the Russian armed forces would take responsibility for the defence of NATO’s eastern region. All the proposals have been rejected.

The decision to continue with BMD plans is fraught with very serious consequences. The Aegis Ashore systems pose a threat to Russia’s key infrastructure installations located in the western part of the country. Russia has no choice but to respond in kind. Missile defenses provide a false sense of security, as they invite more tensions with Russia – which has recently placed Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad to target the Polish site. The Russian military has also placed Bastion missile launchers in Kaliningrad, the exclave bordering NATO members Poland and Lithuania. This could threaten the prospective NATO BMD site in Poland. Russia could respond to the BMD plans by increasing its cyber weapons potential to target BMD sites as well spurring its efforts to create space-based anti-missile systems. Russia also could increase the number of fake missiles it has coming down on targets so more interceptors go to the wrong missile. And the tactical aviation is in high readiness to knock out the NATO BMD installations.

The United States abandoned the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) in 2002 to greatly complicate further arms control talks. The document had been the cornerstone of the strategic weapon limitation process for the previous thirty years. The countries which host BMD sites, such as Romania, Poland, South Korea and, if the plans go through, Japan automatically become targets for Russia’s military.

The BMD shield which the United States has activated in Europe and is activating in Asia is a step to a new arms race. The BMD deployment dashes hopes for achieving progress in nuclear disarmament talks at a time the arms control regime is disintegrating. Russian officials say there is no »political logic and common sense in proposals ‘to disarm’ in conditions when the current US administration has been making concerted effort to undermine the defense and the military-industrial potential of Russia through its sanctions policy for a long time».

The BMD plans have become a major obstacle on the way of reviving the arms control dialogue between the US and Russia. The administration will have to address Russia’s deep concerns about US missile defense in Europe and elsewhere if it believes the arms control regime to be important enough to get the dialogue out of the present deadlock. According to Steven Pifer from the Brookings Institution, «A future U.S. administration interested in a treaty providing for further cuts in strategic nuclear forces may find that it can go no further if it is not prepared to negotiate a treaty on missile defense».

The US allies who host the systems should realize that such moves greatly reduce their security, turning them into the first strike targets for the Russian military. This BMD is a burning issue to be immediately addressed at the round table. Instead, the United States is stubbornly intensifying efforts to boost its BMD capabilities in an attempt to intimidate Russia. The result could be quite the opposite than expected – the policy would undermine the security of the United States and its allies.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

INF Treaty Withdrawal Debated in US: Does Arms Control Have a Chance to Survive?

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 26.06.2017

According to POLITICO, the US administration is considering the possibility of withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). The INF Treaty is a bedrock arms control agreement banning an entire class of nuclear missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. It has removed thousands of nuclear weapons from the European continent and marked the first time the superpowers agreed to actually eliminate nuclear weapons and utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification. Now the landmark Treaty is teetering on the brink.

Russia and the US have exchanged accusations of violating the Treaty recently. The Trump administration is under pressure from some Republicans trying to compel President Trump to take steps to develop new missiles in response.

Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, who chairs a key oversight panel on nuclear weapons, told POLITICO he thinks it is «irresponsible for us to continue to adhere to a treaty when the only other participant has long moved on from it».

Indeed, many lawmakers and pundits are wondering if the US should abandon the landmark agreement altogether. Mark Gunzinger of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) believes that walking away is an option. According to him, future ground-based strike systems could help the US suppress Russia’s advanced integrated air defense systems and freedom of action in the event of a conflict. The same weapons could also help the Pentagon overcome some of the military roadblocks put up by China and North Korea in the Western Pacific. «Perhaps the time is right for a serious debate over the US withdrawing from the INF Treaty», Gunzinger says.

Michaela Dodge of the Heritage Foundation says that after 30 years, the Treaty is no longer strategically relevant, and the US should withdraw. In February, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), along with Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida), introduced the Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty (INF) Preservation Act to declare Russia in material breach of the Treaty — the first step to withdrawing. The legislation would also authorize transferring intermediate-range systems to allied countries, establish a new program for ground-launched missiles within the banned ranges, and provide $500 million to fund countervailing-strike options. Congressmen Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The discussions on INF take place at a time the future for US-Russian arms control looks dim at best.

The extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) due to expire in February 2021 is in question. There are still no talks on the issue but when the treaty reaches its end date there will no strategic nuclear arms agreement at all for the first time since SALT I Treaty was signed in 1972. The two sides are not currently engaged in talks on further strategic nuclear reductions beyond New START. Negotiations of arms control have never been stalled since the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty.

Does the idea to tear up the Treaty really meet the interests of the United States? The only reason to warrant such a decision is development and deployment of a new intermediate range missile in Europe. Will it be a popular move at the time the US DoD budget is already stretched in an effort to meet many competing demands? Would Europeans agree to have nuclear weapons on their soil? It makes the 1983 protests leap to memory.

From the point of view of military superiority, the US will not make great gains if it withdraws. It does not have intermediate-range ballistic missiles, and developing a Pershing III system will take time and effort, while land-based cruise missiles would not tip the balance into US and NATO favor because they are too slow to effectively knock out critical infrastructure sites in a first unexpected strike. At present, only ballistic missiles with short flight times and hair-trigger alert can deliver a decapitating attack.

If Europe-based cruise missiles are fired, Russia will have enough time for a launch-upon-attack against those European states which host the weapons and the United States. With the INF Treaty effective no more, Russia will be free to deploy intermediate-range missiles without restriction. In theory, its Iskander-M systems could be armed with ballistic and cruise missiles with extended range, while the American military has nothing to respond with.

The US move would not be a great setback for Russia. From Moscow’s perspective, the development by the United States of air- and sea-based, long-range precision strike capabilities has reduced the value it derived from the INF Treaty. With other countries developing their own INF arsenals, there are no prospects for globalization of the Treaty to greatly reduce its value. This is a potential threat for Russia due to its geographic position. America is under no threat from intermediate-range missiles of any other state in the world, while Russia is within range of such missiles of all states that possess them. Moreover, Russia may need ground-based intermediate weapons to counter the US ballistic defense sites in Europe and Asia.

The US and Russia have not used opportunities to discuss all the INF-related the problems within the Special Verification Commission (SVC) – the implementing body of the Treaty. There are technical issues giving rise to controversy that could be tackled at the experts’ level. The potential of NATO-Russia Council has not been exhausted. It’s a pity that the attempt to launch arms control talks proposed by the German Foreign Minister Steinmeier in 2016 has made little progress. If talks to discuss the proposal were launched, the agenda could be extended to include intermediate-range nuclear weapons.

There are only two options. One is to apply efforts to save the arms control and non-proliferation regime that served the two countries so well during so many years and which is disintegrating at present. The other is to do what some US lawmakers and pundits are calling for – to walk away from the INF Treaty. It will make impossible achieving progress on the New START and ultimately leave the sides without any arms control agreement in force at all. Whatever has been achieved during all these years as a result of the hard efforts will go down the drain to push the world to the brink of nuclear abyss. That’s what is actually being debated in the United States. President Trump has to make his choice.

June 28, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Crimea, Afghanistan and Libya

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 27.06.2017

On June 20 the United States Treasury Department stated that economic sanctions against Russia «would not be lifted until Russia leaves Crimea». In that case, sanctions will remain forever, because ten days after the democratically elected Crimean parliament voted to accede to Russia on 6 March 2014, a referendum was held which confirmed its decision — and the citizens of Crimea intend to remain with Russia.

At that time «Mr Obama said that the referendum was illegal and would never be accepted» and the European Union proclaimed that the vote was ‘illegitimate and its outcome will not be recognised’». This was an interesting political signal, because it was obvious the objectors knew that the citizens of Crimea would vote to rejoin Russia. The hopes and desires of ordinary citizens didn’t matter, because the US and the EU had already made up their minds to ignore a democratic vote.

Predictably, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, continues to declare that «NATO Allies do not and will not recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea».

Time magazine was realistic in recording on March 16, 2014, that the citizens of Crimea «voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to secede from their country and join Russia, in a major victory for Moscow that followed days of international condemnation that the referendum itself was illegitimate». Of course they voted to accede to Russia. They would have been insane to do otherwise. The thought of being ruled by xenophobic bigots who had just mounted a US-assisted coup in Ukraine was appalling. Since the accession to Russia there hasn’t been a single instance of civil disturbance in Crimea — and be assured that if there was the slightest possibility of any such disorder, then US and British intelligence agencies would have informed their media.

The reason for the West’s condemnation of a democratic vote to belong to Russia by Russian-cultured, Russian-speaking citizens of Crimea is not difficult to determine. Since the end of the Soviet Union the US-NATO military alliance has been desperate to justify its existence, and there is no more convenient enemy to be conjured up than Russia. Until that could be arranged, excursions into wider war by NATO provided excuses for survival and expansion.

NATO’s total failure in the war in Afghanistan has further detracted from its miniscule credibility, and its 2011 blitz on Libya was a war crime. Both countries are now in chaos.

After fifteen years of US-NATO war in Afghanistan, as admitted on June 13 by the US Secretary for Defence, General Mattis, the place is a shambles, and «we are not winning in Afghanistan right now».

Amazingly, Mattis added «and we will correct this as soon as possible». What is he going to do? Wave a magic wand and eradicate corruption and install a democratic government and give equal rights to women and destroy the drug industry that accounts for 15 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP and disband the savage militias which have been so well-armed and funded by the CIA? Is he going to defeat the militants who have fought the US-NATO military alliance to a standstill over 15 years?

Mattis is the gallant intellectual general who boasted in a CNN interview in 2005 that «You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it is a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them». — He is exactly the sort of rabid military maniac whose bash and crash tactics over the years have caused so many Afghans to loathe and despise the foreigners who invaded their country. Mattis declares that «NATO has always stood for military strength and protection of the democracies and the freedoms we intend to pass on to our children», but the Mattis-NATO concept of freedom is at variance with reality.

In Afghanistan, as recorded by Human Rights Watch, «Early on February 18, Afghan police special forces raided a clinic run by the humanitarian organization Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, assaulted medical staff, and shot dead two patients, including a 16-year-old, and a 15-year-old caregiver. Witnesses reported that international military forces accompanied the Afghan forces, although they did not enter the clinic». No prizes for guessing which country provided these «international military forces,» under NATO auspices. Freedom, anyone?

Then on 12 June 2017 US troops killed three civilians, a man and his two sons. The soldiers were in a vehicle convoy that was struck by a bomb, and opened fire, spraying bullets round the countryside in the cause of freedom. Now: nobody should denounce these young soldiers for panicking and blasting anyone they thought was a threat. It is only too easy for commentators and politicians to aim the blame in such circumstances — without reflecting that they themselves might not have been exactly cool, calm and collected when the bomb blast went off. Certainly the man and his kids should not have been killed — but the US soldiers shouldn’t have been in Afghanistan in the first place.

And while all this carnage is going on, the West’s sanctions on Russia continue to be aimed at the innocent citizens of Crimea in the hope that they will revolt against Russia and embrace what General Mattis calls the freedom-loving US-NATO military alliance.

In 2011 this freedom-loving military alliance destroyed Libya in an aerial blitz that began by US and British warships firing 110 Tomahawk missiles and continued with NATO’s air forces pulverising the place for seven months, during which their aircraft carried out 14,202 bomb and rocket airstrikes in the cause of freedom. As noted by one commentator, Human Rights Watch «released a report into the deaths of at least 72 Libyan civilians, a third of them children, killed in eight separate bombing raids (seven on non-military targets) – and denounced NATO for still refusing to investigate or even acknowledge civilian deaths that were always denied at the time».

Libya is now a catastrophic shambles, with armed groups fighting each other and Islamic State terrorists finding willing recruits for their savagery. The results of the US-NATO war that supported rebels against the Libyan government include «Shortages of food, fuel, water, medical supplies and electricity, as well as reduced access to health care and public services. Care for patients with chronic diseases, disabilities and mental health disorders is compromised by restricted access to the few functioning health facilities. The situation of women and children has become particularly vulnerable, since the hospitals are overwhelmed with trauma patients».

Before the US-NATO destruction of Libya the World Health Organisation recorded that «the country is providing comprehensive health care including promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services to all citizens free of charge through primary health care units, health centres and district hospitals». The CIA Factbook noted that Gaddafi’s Libya had a literacy rate of 94.2% which was higher than in Malaysia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. According to WHO, life expectancy was 75 years, as against 66 in India, 71 in Egypt, 59 in South Africa.

Forgotten are the wise words of Brazil, China, India, Russia and NATO-member Germany (which refused to join the Libya bombing spree), who warned against «unintended consequences of armed intervention» concerning which Mr Putin (then prime minister) observed that it was regrettable when the «so-called civilized community, with all its might, pounces on a small country, and ruins infrastructure that has been built over generations».

The question is, where would you prefer to live? — In Afghanistan, after 15 years of US-NATO war, where barbaric violence rules, the lives of women are obscenely degrading, corruption is terminal and illegal drug production is the highest in the world? Or Libya, destroyed by a US-NATO blitzkrieg, where there are now «two rival parliaments and three governments» and even the New York Times admits that it is «a violent and divided nation rife with independent militias, flooded with arms and lacking legitimate governance and political unity»?

Or might you not prefer Crimea, where infrastructure is being improved and the people do not fear being sprayed with bullets by foreign soldiers; where every effort is being made to improve the living conditions of its inhabitants who are the targets of spiteful western sanctions?

June 27, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In Continued Targeting of Only Africans, ICC Calls for Arrest of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

teleSUR | June 14, 2017

Just shortly after Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, was released from prison Saturday, the International Criminal Court on Wednesday called for his arrest.

“Libya is obliged to immediately arrest and surrender Mr. Gaddafi to the ICC, regardless of any purported amnesty law in Libya,” ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

The body — which in its history has only prosecuted Africans — alleges that Gaddafi suppressed opposition to his father’s rule during uprisings in 2011, accusing him of crimes against humanity.

Gaddafi often spoke out defiantly against attempts to topple the government his father led, having gained prominence as a high-ranking official and spokesman during the NATO-backed campaign against the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

That campaign soon became a “regime change” effort that led to the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi and Libya’s plunge into all-out civil war.

The North African country has since become a base for various transnational extremist factions such as al-Qaida, the Islamic State group and the Libyan Islamic Fighting group.

The ICC, on the other hand, has largely been discredited in Africa, with Gambia’s Information Minister Sheriff Bojang noting last October that the ICC is, “in fact, an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans.”

Earlier this year, leaders from the African Union adopted a non-binding decision to withdraw from the court.

In addition to the ICC’s calls for arrest, a Tripoli court in 2015 sentenced Saif to death in absentia for alleged war crimes as well.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Putin, Ukraine and What Americans Know

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | June 13, 2017

A prime example of how today’s mainstream media paradigm works in the U.S. is the case of Ukraine, where Americans have been shielded from evidence that the 2014 ouster of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych was a U.S.-supported coup d’etat spearheaded by violent neo-Nazi extremists.

As The New York Times has instructed us, there was no coup in Ukraine; there was no U.S. interference; and there weren’t even that many neo-Nazis. And, the ensuing civil conflict wasn’t a resistance among Yanukovych’s supporters to his illegal ouster; no, it was “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.”

If you deviate from this groupthink – if you point out how U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland talked about the U.S. spending $5 billion on Ukraine; if you mention her pre-coup intercepted phone call with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who the new leaders would be and how “to glue” or how “to “midwife this thing”; if you note how Nuland and Sen. John McCain urged on the violent anti-Yanukovych protesters; if you recognize that snipers firing from far-right-controlled buildings killed both police and protesters to provoke the climactic ouster of Yanukovych; and if you think all that indeed looks like a coup – you obviously are the victim of “Russian propaganda and disinformation.”

But most Americans probably haven’t heard any of that evidence revealing a coup, thanks to the mainstream U.S. media, which has essentially banned those deviant facts from the public discourse. If they are mentioned at all, they are lumped together with “fake news” amid the reassuring hope that soon there will be algorithms to purge such troublesome information from the Internet.

So, if Americans tune in to Part Three of Oliver Stone’s “The Putin Interviews” on “Showtime” and hear Russian President Vladimir Putin explain his perspective on the Ukraine crisis, they may become alarmed that Putin, leader of a nuclear-armed country, is delusional.

A Nuanced Perspective

In reality, Putin’s account of the Ukraine crisis is fairly nuanced. He notes that there was genuine popular anger over the corruption that came to dominate Ukraine after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 and the selling off of the nation’s assets to well-connected “oligarchs.”

Putin recognizes that many Ukrainians felt that an association with the European Union could help solve their problems. But that created a problem for Russia because of the absence of tariffs between Russia and Ukraine and concerns about the future of bilateral trade that is especially important to Ukraine, which stood to lose some $160 billion.

When Yanukovych decided to postpone the E.U. agreement so he could iron out that problem, protests erupted, Putin said. But — from that point on — Putin’s narrative deviates from what the U.S. government and mainstream media tell the American people.

“Our European and American partners managed to mount this horse of discontent of the people and instead of trying to find out what was really happening, they decided to support the coup d’etat,” Putin said.

Contrary to the U.S. claims blaming Yanukovych for the violence in the Maidan protests, Putin said, “Yanukovych didn’t give an order to use weapons against civilians. And incidentally, our Western partners, including the United States, asked us to influence him so that he did not give any orders to use weapons. They told us, ‘We ask you to prevent President Yanukovych from using the armed forces.’ And they promised … they were going to do everything for the opposition to clear the squares and the administrative buildings.

“We said, ‘Very well, that is a good proposal. We are going to work on it.’ And, as you know, President Yanukovych didn’t resort to using the Armed Forces. And President Yanukovych said that he couldn’t imagine any other way of dealing with this situation. He couldn’t sign an order on the use of weapons.”

Though Putin did not specifically finger blame for the sniper fire on Feb. 20, 2014, which killed more than a dozen police and scores of protesters, he said, “Well, who could have placed these snipers? Interested parties, parties who wanted to escalate the situation. … We have information available to us that armed groups were trained in the western parts of Ukraine itself, in Poland, and in a number of other places.”

After the bloodshed of Feb. 20, Yanukovych and opposition leaders on Feb. 21 signed an accord, brokered and guaranteed by three European governments, for early elections and, in the meantime, a reduction of Yanukovych’s powers.

Ignoring a Political Deal

But the opposition, led by neo-Nazi and other extreme nationalist street fighters, brushed aside the agreement and escalated their seizing of government buildings, although The New York Times and other U.S. accounts would have the American people believe that Yanukovych simply abandoned his office.

“That’s the version used to justify the support granted to the coup,” Putin said. “Once the President left for Kharkov, the second largest city in the country to attend an internal political event, armed men seized the Presidential Residence. Imagine something like that in the U.S., if the White House was seized, what would you call that? A coup d’etat? Or say that they just came to sweep the floors?

“The Prosecutor General was shot at, one of the security officers was wounded. And the motorcade of President Yanukovych himself was shot at. So it’s nothing short of an armed seizure of power. Moreover, one day afterwards he used our support and relocated to Crimea (where he stayed for more than a week) thinking that there was still a chance that those who put their signatures on the (Feb. 21) agreement with the opposition would make an attempt to settle this conflict by civilized democratic legal means. But that never happened and it became clear that if he were taken he would be killed.

“Everything can be perverted and distorted, millions of people can be deceived, if you use the monopoly of the media. But in the end, I believe that for an impartial spectator it is clear what has happened – a coup d’etat had taken place.”

Putin noted how the new regime in Kiev immediately sought to limit use of the Russian language and allowed extreme nationalist elements to move against eastern provinces known as the Donbass where ethnic Russians were the vast majority of the population.

Putin continued, “First, there were attempts at arresting them [ethnic Russians] using the police, but the police defected to their side quite quickly. Then the central authorities started to use Special Forces and in the night, people were snatched and taken to prison. Certainly, people in Donbass, after that, they took up arms.

“But once this happened, hostilities started so instead of engaging in dialogue with people in the southeast part of Ukraine, they [Ukraine government officials] used Special Forces, and started to use weapons directly – tanks and even military aircraft. There were strikes from multiple rocket launchers against residential neighborhoods. … We repeatedly appealed to this new leadership asking them to abstain from extreme actions.”

However, the civil conflict only grew worse with thousands of people killed in some of the worst violence that Europe has seen since World War II. In the U.S. mainstream media, however, the crisis was blamed entirely on Putin and Russia.

The Crimea Case

As for the so-called “annexation” of Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea that was historically part of Russia and that even after the Soviet break-up hosted a major Russian naval base at Sevastopol, Putin’s account also deviated sharply from what Americans have been told.

When Stone asked about the “annexation,” Putin responded: “We were not the ones to annex Crimea. The citizens of Crimea decided to join Russia. The legitimate parliament of Crimea, which was elected based on the Ukrainian legislation, announced a referendum. The Parliament, by an overwhelming majority, voted to join Russia.

“The coup d’etat in Ukraine was accompanied by a surge in violence. And there was even the threat that violence would be perpetrated by nationalists against Crimea, against those who consider themselves to be Russian and who think Russian is their mother language. And people got concerned — they were preoccupied by their own safety.

“According to the corresponding international agreement [with Ukraine], we had a right to have 20,000 people at our military base in the Crimea. We had to facilitate the work of the Parliament of Crimea, the representative government body, in order for this Parliament to be able to assemble and affect actions in accordance with the law.

“The people had to feel they were safe. Yes, we created conditions for people to go to polling stations, but we did not engage in any hostilities. More than 90 percent of the Crimean population turned out, they voted, and once the ballot was cast, the [Crimean] Parliament, based on the outcome of the referendum, addressed the Russian parliament, asking to incorporate it into the Russian Federation.

“Moreover, Ukraine lost the territory, not due to Russia’s position, but due to the position assumed by those who are living in Crimea. These people didn’t want to live under the banner of nationalists.”

Stone challenged some of Putin’s concerns that Ukraine might have turned the Russian naval base over to NATO. “Even if NATO made an agreement with Ukraine, I still don’t see a threat to Russia with the new weaponry,” Stone said.

Putin responded: “I see a threat. The threat consists in the fact that once NATO comes to this or that country, the political leadership of that country as a whole, along with its population, cannot influence the decisions NATO takes, including the decisions related to stationing the military infrastructure. Even very sensitive weapons systems can be deployed. I’m also talking about the anti-ballistic missile systems.”

Putin also argued that the U.S. government exploited the situation in Ukraine to spread hostile propaganda against Russia, saying:

”Through initiating the crisis in Ukraine, they’ve [American officials] managed to stimulate such an attitude towards Russia, viewing Russia as an enemy, a possible potential aggressor. But very soon everyone is going to understand, that there is no threat whatsoever emanating from Russia, either to the Baltic countries, or to Eastern Europe, or to Western Europe.”

A Dangerous Standoff

Putin shed light, too, on a little-noticed confrontation involving a U.S. destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, that steamed through the Black Sea toward Crimea in the middle of the crisis but turned back when Russian aircraft buzzed the ship and Russia activated its shoreline defense systems.

Stone compared the situation to the Cuban Missile Crisis when a Soviet ship turned back rather than challenge the blockade that President John Kennedy had established around the island. But Putin didn’t see the confrontation with the U.S. destroyers as grave as that.

Putin said, “Once Crimea became a full-fledged part of the Russian Federation, our attitude toward this territory changed dramatically. If we see a threat to our territory, and Crimea is now part of Russia, just as any other country, we will have to protect our territory by all means at our disposal. …

“I wouldn’t draw an analogy with the Cuban Missile Crisis, because back then the world was on the brink of a nuclear apocalypse. Luckily, the situation didn’t go so far this time. Even though we did indeed deploy our most sophisticated, our cutting-edge systems for the coastal defense,” known as the Bastion.

“Certainly – against such missiles as the ones we’ve deployed in Crimea – such a ship as the Destroyer Donald Cook is simply defenseless. … Our Commanders always have the authorization to use any means for the defense of the Russian Federation. … Yes, certainly it would have been very bad. What was the Donald Cook doing so close to our land? Who was trying to provoke whom? And we are determined to protect our territory. …

“Once the destroyer was located and detected, they [the U.S. crew] saw that there was a threat, and the ship itself saw that it was the target of the missile systems. I don’t know who the Captain was, but he showed much restraint, I think he is a responsible man, and a courageous officer to boot. I think it was the right decision that he took. He decided not to escalate the situation. He decided not to proceed. It doesn’t at all mean that it would have been attacked by our missiles, but we had to show them that our coast was protected by the missile systems.

“The Captain sees right away that his ship has become the target of missile systems – he has special equipment to detect such kinds of situations. … But indeed we were brought to the brink, so to speak. … Yes, certainly. We had to respond somehow. Yes, we were open to positive dialogue. We did everything to achieve a political settlement. But they [U.S. officials] had to give their support to this unconstitutional seizure of power. I still wonder why they had to do that?”

It also remains a question why the U.S. mainstream media feels that it must protect the American people from alternative views even as the risks of nuclear confrontation escalate.

Regarding other issues discussed by Putin, click here.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

How Vladimir Putin Sees the World

Oliver Stone interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin in Showtime’s “The Putin Interviews.”
By Robert Parry | Consortium News | June 13, 2017

There was a time when I thought that it was the responsibility of an American journalist to hear all sides of a dispute and then explain the issue as fairly as possible to the American people, so they would be armed with enough facts to make their own judgments and act as the true sovereigns in a democracy.

I realize how naïve that must sound today as American journalism has shifted to a new paradigm in which the major news outlets view it as their duty to reinforce whatever the establishment narrative is and to dismiss or discredit any inconvenient facts or alternative analyses.

Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the rest of the mainstream media permit only the narrowest of alternative views to be expressed or they just pile into the latest groupthink whole hog.

So, that is why director Oliver Stone’s four-part series of interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin on “Showtime” will surely draw near-universal outrage and ridicule from the big U.S. media. How dare anyone let Putin explain how he views the challenges facing the world? Can you believe that any right-thinking American would treat the Russian leader with civility and – god forbid – respect?

The new American media paradigm requires either endlessly insulting Putin to his face or aggressively blacking out his explanations, especially if they are based on information that puts the U.S. government in a negative light. The American people must be protected from this “Russian propaganda and disinformation.”

In other words, with the mainstream “guardians of truth” forewarning the American people not to watch Stone’s “The Putin Interviews,” the series will probably draw a relatively small viewership and the demonizing of Putin and Russia will continue unabated.

The American public can thus be spared some disturbing historical revelations and the unsettling vertigo that comes from hearing information that disrupts “what everyone knows to be true.”

In the “director’s cut” or long-form version of the four-part series that I watched, Stone does allow Putin to offer detailed explanations of his thinking on current crises, but also draws from Putin acknowledgements that might be surprising coming from a Russian leader. He also puts Putin in some uncomfortable binds.

–Regarding the Soviet Union’s development of the nuclear bomb in the late 1940s, Putin said Russian and German scientists were working on the project but got help from participants in the U.S. nuclear program:

“Our intelligence also received a lot of information from the United States. Suffice it to remember the Rosenberg spouses who were electrocuted. They didn’t acquire that information, they were just transferring that information. But who acquired it? The scientists themselves – those who developed the atomic bomb.

“Why did they do that? Because they understood the dangers. They let the genie out of the bottle. And now the genie cannot be put back. And this international team of scientists, I think they were more intelligent than the politicians. They provided this information to the Soviet Union of their own volition to restore the nuclear balance in the world. And what are we doing right now [with the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty]? We’re trying to destroy this balance. And that’s a great mistake.”

–Regarding the origins of modern Islamist terrorism, Putin said: “Al Qaeda is not the result of our activities. It’s the result of the activities of our American friends. It all started during the Soviet war in Afghanistan [in the 1980s] when the American intelligence officers provided support to different forms of Islamic fundamentalism, helping them to fight the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

“So the Americans themselves nurtured both Al Qaeda and [Osama] bin Laden. But it all spun out of control. And it always happens. And our partners in the United States should have known about that. So they’re to blame.”

Stone noted how President Reagan’s CIA Director William Casey sought to exploit Islamic fundamentalism to destabilize Muslim parts of the Soviet Union and to achieve regime change in Moscow.

Putin added: “Those ideas are still alive. And when those problems in Chechnya and the Caucasus emerged [after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991], the Americans, unfortunately, supported those processes. We [Russians] assumed the Cold War was over, that we had transparent relations, with the rest of the world, with Europe and the U.S. And we certainly counted on support, but instead, we witnessed that the American Intelligence services supported terrorists.

“I’m going to say something very important, I believe. We had a very confident opinion back then, that our American partners in words were talking about support to Russia, the need to cooperate, including fighting terrorism, but in reality they were using those terrorists to destabilize the internal political situation in Russia.”

–Regarding NATO expansion into Eastern Europe,” Putin said, “There was a deal not to expand NATO eastward. [But] this deal was not enshrined in paper. It was a mistake made by Mr. Gorbachev [the last president of the Soviet Union]. In politics, everything must be enshrined in paper.

“My impression is that in order to justify its existence, NATO has a need of an external foe, there is a constant search for the foe, or some acts of provocation to name someone as an adversary.”

–Regarding NATO missile bases being installed in Eastern Europe, Putin said: “And what are we supposed to do. In this case we have to take countermeasures. We have to aim our missile systems at facilities that are threatening us. The situation becomes more tense. …

“There are two threats for Russia. The first threat, the placement of these anti-ballistic missiles in the vicinity of our border in the Eastern European countries. The second threat is that the launching pads of these anti-ballistic missiles can be transformed within a few hours into offensive missile launching pads. Look, if these anti-ballistic missiles are placed in Eastern Europe, if those missiles are placed on water, patrolling the Mediterranean and Northern Seas, and in Alaska, almost the whole Russian territory would be encircled by these systems.

“As you can see, that is another great strategic mistake made by our partners [a word that Putin uses to refer to the United States]. Because all these actions are going to be adequately answered by Russia. And this means nothing else but a new cycle of an arms race. …

“When the Soviet Union collapsed, they [American leaders] were under the illusion that the U.S. was capable of anything, and they could [act] with impunity. That’s always a trap, because in this situation the person or the country begins to commit mistakes. There is no need to analyze the situations, or think about the consequences. And the country becomes inefficient. One mistake follows another. And I think that is the trap the U.S. has found itself in.”

–Regarding the prospect of nuclear war, Putin said, “I don’t think anyone would survive such a conflict.” Regarding U.S. plans for creating a missile shield, he said, “There is a threat deriving from the illusion of being protected, and this might lead to more aggressive behavior. That is why it is so important to prevent unilateral actions. That is why we propose to work jointly on the anti-ballistic missile system.”

–Regarding the American neoconservatives who now dominate the U.S. foreign policy establishment and the major news media, Stone described “the neoconservative element as being so hungry to make their point, to win their case that it’s dangerous.” Putin responded, “I fear them too.”

–In an interview on Feb. 16, 2016, Stone asked about the U.S. presidential campaign to which Putin replied, “We are going to be ready to work with whoever gets elected by the people of the United States. I said that on several occasions and that’s the truth. I believe nothing is going to change no matter who gets elected. … The force of the United States bureaucracy is very great. And there are many facts that are not visible to the candidates until they become President. And the moment one gets to real work, he or she feels the burden. …

“My colleague, Barack Obama, promised to close Guantanamo. He’s failed to do that. But I’m convinced that he sincerely wanted to do that. … Unlike many partners of ours, we never interfere within the domestic affairs of other countries. That is one of the principles we stick to in our work.”

–In a February 2017 interview, which was added amid the escalation of charges that Russia interfered in the U.S. election, Stone noted that Donald Trump is “your fourth president” and asked, “what changes?”

“Almost nothing,” Putin said with a wry smile. “Life makes some changes for you. But on the whole, everywhere, especially in the United States, the bureaucracy is very strong. And bureaucracy is the one that rules the world.”

Asked about alleged Russian interference to help Trump, Putin responded: “You know, this is a very silly statement. Certainly, we liked President Trump and we still like him because he publicly announced that he was ready to restore American-Russian relations. … Certainly, we’ve got to wait and see how, in reality, in practice, the relations between our two countries are going to develop. …”

Stone: “So why did you bother to hack the election then?”

Putin: “We did not hack the election at all. It would be hard to imagine any other country – even a country such as Russia would be capable of seriously influencing the electoral campaign or the outcome of an election. … any talk about our influencing the outcome of the U.S. election is all lies. They are doing it for a number of reasons.

“First, they are trying to undermine the legitimacy of President Trump, create conditions that must preclude us from normalizing our relations, and they want to create additional instruments to wage an internal political war. And Russia-U.S. relations in this context are just a mere instrument in the internal political fight in the U.S. … We know all their tricks.”

–Regarding cyber-war and the possibility that U.S. intelligence planted malware and back-doors in software sold to Russia, Putin said, “Well, you will probably not believe me, but I’m going to say something strange. Since the early 1990s, we have assumed that the Cold War is over. We thought there was no need to take any additional protective measures because we viewed ourselves as an integral part of the world community.

“We didn’t have any equipment of our own. Our companies, our state institutions and administrative departments, they were buying everything – hardware and software. And we’ve got much equipment from the U.S., from Europe, and equipment is used by the Intelligence Services and by the Defense Ministry. But recently we certainly have become aware of the threat that all of that poses.

“Only during recent years, have we started to think about how we can ensure technological independence, as well as security. Certainly we give it much thought, and we take appropriate measures. … We had to catch up with others.”

In an aside to Putin’s translator within earshot of Putin, Stone remarked: “He’s acting funny about this story, like he’s guilty a bit.”

–Regarding the dangers to Russia from U.S. cyber-warfare, Putin said: “It is almost impossible to sow fear among the Russian citizens. … And secondly, the economies that are more sophisticated, in technological terms, they are more vulnerable to this type of attack. But in any case, this is a very dangerous trend. A very dangerous avenue for competition to pursue and we need some rules to be guided by.”

When Stone raised the possibility of a treaty, Putin said, “I don’t want to say that, but you are simply drawing this information from me. You make me say that. One and a half years ago, in Autumn 2015, we came up with a proposal that was submitted to our American counterparts. We suggested that we should work these issues through and arrive at a treaty, an agreement on the rules to be guided by in this field. The Americans didn’t respond, they kept silence, they didn’t give us any reply.”

–Regarding allegations of Putin’s wealth, Stone asked, “Is there someway you could make your personal wealth clearer?”

Putin responded indirectly: “I remember when I moved to Moscow from St. Petersburg [in the 1990s], I was astounded and shocked by how many crooks had gathered here in Moscow and their behavior was so astounding, I couldn’t get used to it for a very long time. Those people didn’t have any scruples at all. … My task was to differentiate between power and money.”

Stone: “So there are no bank accounts in Cyprus?”

Putin: “No, and never have been. That’s just nonsense, and if that were the case we would have had to face it a long time ago.”

–Although Putin remained disciplined and controlled during the long sit-downs with Stone, the Russian president appeared most uncomfortable when Stone pressed him about his future plans and the risk of a leader viewing himself as indispensable to a nation.

Citing the possibility that Putin would have been in power – as either prime minister or president – for 24 years if he were to run for president again and win, Stone asked, “Do you feel that Russia needs you that badly?”

Putin: “The question you have asked whether Russia needs anyone that bad – Russia itself will decide. An alteration in power certainly has to exist. … In the end, let me reiterate – the citizens of Russia are going to make the final decision. Concerning the 2018 elections, I’d like to say there are things, things that should have some intrigue and mystery. So I am not going to answer that part of the question.”

Stone: “I said if…”

Putin: “We shouldn’t speak in the subjunctive mood.”

Stone then suggested more transparency in the next election.

A stern Putin responded: “Do you think our goal is to prove anything to anyone? Our goal is to reinforce our country.”

Stone: “That is a dangerous argument. It works both ways. Those who abuse power always say it’s a question of survival.”

Putin: “We are not talking about survival and we are not trying to justify ourselves. Certainly taking into account all the negative tendencies you’ve been talking about – the Soviet legacy, the Imperialist legacy, it’s something in the past. But we also have to think about the positive legacy. Russia has been built for a thousand years; it has its own traditions. We have our notions of what is just and unjust, we have our own understanding of what defines an efficient government.

“This is not a question of helping someone cling to power or to claim it for myself. This is about ensuring economic growth and sustaining it, improving our defense capabilities, and not just during periods of crisis and difficulties.”

Stone: “Mr. Putin, I don’t doubt for one moment your pride in serving Russia or that you are a son of Russia to me, and you have done very well by her. We all know the price of power. When we’re in power too long no matter what, the people need us but at the same time we’ve changed and we don’t even know it.”

Putin: “Indeed, this is a very dangerous state. If a person in power feels that they have lost it, this bond connecting this person to the country and to the rank-and-file citizens of the country, then it’s time for them to go.”

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 3 Comments