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US Uses ‘Mythical’ Security Threats to Deploy Patriot Systems in Poland – Moscow

Sputnik – November 16, 2107

While the US had justified the Patriot missiles’ deployment by the threat allegedly posed by Tehran prior to the Iran nuclear deal was reached, Moscow has repeatedly questioned the claim and accused NATO of building up its military presence on the borders with Russia.

The plans to deploy US Patriot systems in Poland are a part of the US strategic intention to surround Russia with missile defense systems “under the pretext of mythical threats to security”, Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov told Sputnik.

According to the senior diplomat, in reality the deployment of anti-missile defense network posed a threat to stability and undermined international trust “which has been lacking over the past years.”

“We have repeatedly, but, unfortunately, futilely pointed out this fact to our Western interlocutors,” Titov said.

An agreement on the deliveries of Patriot missile defense systems to Poland was signed by the Polish National Defense Ministry and the US State Department of Defense during US President Donald Trump’s visit to Warsaw in early July, with the military hardware set to be handed over to Poland by 2022.

Moscow has repeatedly said that the deployment of air defense systems near Russia’s borders undoubtedly poses a threat to the country, with Russian President Vladimir Putin reminding that the US and European officials previously linked the missile shield deployment to Iran’s nuclear program, which was no longer present due to the deal reached in 2015 with Tehran.

November 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Afghanistan war crimes probe a sham and cover-up for US

© Ruptly

By Finian Cunningham | RT | November 14, 2017

When The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it was planning to investigate alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, the timing seemed appropriate.

The announcement by the ICC on November 3 came within days of a deadly airstrike by US forces in northern Afghanistan, which UN officials say killed ten civilians.

But the history of the intergovernmental court since it was set up some 15 years ago gives pause to hope that it might deliver justice in Afghanistan. For many critics, the ICC is a byword for self-serving Western political control, either whitewashing crimes or smearing designated opponents. A pertinent question is: why has it taken the ICC so long to investigate alleged crimes in Afghanistan’s war?

The Pentagon claimed the air raid near the city of Kunduz on November 4 killed only Taliban militants. However, last week the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) provided a very different version of events. UNAMA said extensive interviews with local residents and medics show that at least ten civilians died in the airstrike.

The incident would, therefore, be a prime case to investigate. ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has promised an investigation into any alleged war crimes in Afghanistan would be “independent, impartial and objective.”

As a Reuters report stated, the ICC “could examine the role of US forces” in Afghanistan, which have been occupying the country for the past 16 years since October 2001, following the 9/11 terror attacks in Washington DC and New York City.

US torture practices conducted during CIA interrogations and renditions could also be probed, according to reports. An earlier announcement by the ICC said it would be looking into alleged violations committed by three parties: US military, Afghan security forces, and Taliban militants.

If the ICC did carry out an earnest probe into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, it would have its work cut out – even if it just restricted itself to incidents involving US forces and the CIA.

Two years ago, in October 2015, the northern city of Kunduz was the location of another apparent atrocity committed by the US air force. A hospital run by the French-based Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was bombed and machine-gunned by US aircraft, killing 42 medical staff and patients. MSF condemned the attack as a violation of the Geneva Convention – a war crime. Though, the Pentagon maintained that its forces made a mistake while targeting militants.

There is very little clarity on the number of Afghan civilians who have been killed by US forces over the past 16 years, from gun battles, house raids, drone strikes, and airstrikes. One estimate puts the total number of civilian deaths in the war at over 31,000. Many of them are victims of Taliban shootings, and bombings or operations carried out by the US-backed Afghan security forces.

Nevertheless, there are abundant incidents involving civilians being killed by US operations in what could merit war crimes prosecutions. This is especially so given the renewal of American military operations in the country ordered by President Trump in August this year – three years after the US forces were officially supposed to wind down.

Trump’s defense secretary James Mattis, on a trip to the Afghan capital Kabul in September, warned that US airstrikes would be ramped up in the coming months. Already this year, the UN reports that there was a surge in civilian casualties from American-backed air raids. The situation has an ominous resonance with how civilian casualties have escalated from increased US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria under the Trump administration’s wider authorization to the Pentagon to mount operations.

So, it seems clear that if the ICC were to open prosecution cases in Afghanistan it would, to say the least, be kept busy. However, critics of the ICC say that its intentions are not motivated by seeking justice.

It’s a political move, says international criminal lawyer Christopher Black.

Since its establishment in 2002, the international court has come in for much criticism that it is a “political tool” of the United States and European allies. Virtually all of the court’s prosecutions and indictments have been against African leaders. For example, Omar Bashir (Sudan), Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Muammar Gaddafi (Libya), and Laurent Gbagbo (Ivory Coast) are among those indicted by the ICC.

The US is not a member of the 123-nation ICC. Neither are Russia, China, and India. However, the US exerts a controlling influence over the court’s prosecution office via European governments and the European Union, which are dominant in the administration of the ICC.

“The United States and its European allies use the ICC as a means of political control, not for justice,” says Christopher Black who is registered on the defense counsel for the court, but who has vociferously criticized its political subservience.

Black says the ICC has a similar function to several other ad hoc international tribunals, such as those which purportedly investigated war crimes in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia.

“These courts serve to cover-up actual crimes committed by Western powers while criminalizing political enemies of the West,” says Black.

In the case of former Yugoslavia, he points out, the Hague-based court did not examine the putative crimes of NATO bombing Belgrade in 1999. It only went after former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic whom Washington and the European governments wanted to criminalize to justify NATO’s illegal intervention in the Balkans.

With regard to Afghanistan, the declared intention of the ICC to divide its investigations between US and Afghan parties raises the suspicion the court will seek to mitigate violations carried out by American forces by embroiling other criminal actors.

Even if the ICC were to find US forces guilty of war crimes, it is doubtful that Washington would take any notice of such rulings.

As Christopher Black points out too, the focus of any forthcoming investigation is misplaced in its entire framework. “The focus of a war crimes investigation should be looking at the way the US launched this military occupation back in 2001. A case can be made that the US is guilty of the supreme crime of war of aggression. All other violations stem from Washington committing the ultimate crime of going to war in Afghanistan.”

He says the ICC planned investigation is a piecemeal approach which will serve to conceal the primary responsibility of the US in Afghanistan.

So why then would the ICC bother to set up such a probe into Afghanistan?

The answer is simply to salvage much-needed credibility for the court. Because of its lop-sided focus in prosecuting African leaders, the ICC has come under fire from African members for “double standards” and serving as a neocolonial instrument for Western powers.

Beginning last year, several African nations threatened to walk away from the ICC, including Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Gambia, and Uganda. Last month, Burundi formally completed its withdrawal from the ICC.

In other words, the court is in danger of imploding from lack of credibility. Hence, the announcement to go into Afghanistan is an attempt to salvage authority and public image by appearing to, at last, investigate alleged American war crimes.

“This is all about giving the ICC some badly needed credibility as it unravels in the face of a mass African walk-out,” says lawyer Christopher Black.

As such US and NATO states have nothing to fear from this proposed war crimes investigation in Afghanistan. It’s a cover-up and a sham driven by political interests, not by justice.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

Read more:

US airstrike kills at least 10 civilians in Kunduz – UN

‘Cold day in hell before ICC goes after US for committing Afghanistan war crimes’

‘The more US engages in war on terror, the more terrorists it produces’

November 15, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Theresa May does Russophobia

By Neil Clark | RT | November 14, 2017

It was Dr Samuel Johnson who famously declared in 1775 that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. The 2017 variant is to make unsubstantiated claims about the ‘Russian threat’ to Western democracies.

In her speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in the City of London on Monday evening, British Prime Minister Theresa May escalated the anti-Russian rhetoric still further with a deeply paranoid address that sounded as if it had been penned in 1953 by the late Senator Joe McCarthy during one of his drunken binges.

Any psychologists watching Mrs May would have had a field day identifying plenty of examples of what mind doctors call ‘projection’ – i.e. attributing to others what you are guilty of yourself. In fact every one of May’s claims against Russia can be more accurately applied to the UK and its closest allies.

The prime minister stated, “It is Russia’s actions which threaten the international order on which we all depend.”

Really, Mrs May? Was it Russia who illegally invaded Iraq in 2003, causing the deaths of up to 1 million people and the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)? Was it Russia who destroyed Libya in 2011, turning the country with the highest HDI in Africa into a failed state and jihadist playground on the shores of the Mediterranean? Was it Russia who illegally bombed Yugoslavia, without UN approval, in 1999? Or Russia who backed radical jihadists – many of them linked to Al-Qaeda – to overthrow the Syrian government? In fact it was the US, the UK and its allies who did all these things. But let’s not mention them, shall we, prime minister?

May says her aim is “to defend the rules-based international order against irresponsible states that seek to erode it.” That’s just like the American gangster John Dillinger saying his aim in 1933 was “to defend banks against individuals who seek to rob them.”

The truth is that it’s been British governments – acting in tandem with the US – who have done most to erode international law in recent decades – and not Russia.

The prime minister boldly declared that “Russia has fomented conflict in the Donbass,” but it was the Americans and their NATO/EU allies who fomented conflict in Ukraine in 2014 by supporting and bankrolling an uprising against the democratically-elected government of Viktor Yanukovich – in which neo-Nazis and virulently anti-Russian ultra-Nationalists provided the cutting edge.

Concern over these developments among the Russian population of Ukraine led to a referendum, in which the people of Crimea overwhelmingly – and quite understandably – voted to return to Russia. The Maybot – who “consistently voted” for the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2002/3 – characterizes this exercise in democracy as “Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine.” If you’re going down this line, you may as well talk about “Britain’s illegal annexation of Gibraltar,” or the “UK invasion of the Isle of Wight.”

May declared that “Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea was the first time since the Second World War that one sovereign nation has forcibly taken territory from another in Europe”. Well, that’ll be news to the people of Serbia who saw resource-rich Kosovo – the cradle of their civilization – forcibly taken away from them following a NATO bombing campaign.

May – like the good neocon she is – accuses Russian “state-run media” of planting “fake stories,” but interestingly fails to come up with a single example.

Well, I’m a kind soul, so let me help her. Here are some examples of ‘fake news’ – all of which have appeared in the Western media.

The fake news that Iraq possessed WMDs in 2003 – which led to the illegal invasion of that country and catastrophic consequences for the whole world. The fake news that Muammar Gaddafi was about to massacre the civilians of Benghazi in 2011 – which again led to another bloody Western military intervention. The fake news in 2010 and other times too that Iran was on the brink of developing a nuclear bomb. The fake news that Russians had hacked into the Vermont electricity grid. Or (no sniggering at the back, please) the news that Russia used ‘Pokemon GO’ to try to “sow division” in the run-up to the US election.

Is that enough examples of fake news for you Theresa, or would you like some more? Yes, fake news is threatening democracy, but its Western Establishment-approved and Establishment-disseminated fake news – the sort you read in neocon-approved ‘sensible newspapers’ and media outlets – which has caused the most damage. Where did those Iraqi WMDs get to, I wonder?

As for unsubstantiated accusations of Russian meddling in Western elections, again the chutzpah of Mrs May is off the scale. Britain and the US have seen it as their right to meddle in elections around the globe for decades. Political scientist Dov H. Levin calculated that the US attempted to influence foreign elections 81 times in the period 1946-2000, and that figure does not include support for military coups and other ‘regime change’ ops.

The UK has often been heavily involved in these nefarious anti-democratic schemes too – for example, in Iran in 1953 when Mohammed Mossadeq was toppled and in Yugoslavia in 2000. In his biography of Slobodan Milosevic, the ousted Yugoslav leader, Adam LeBor notes that over $70 million was paid to the anti-Socialist Serbian opposition – with the ‘Otpor‘ youth movement receiving much of the funding. “And who was behind Otpor?” LeBor writes, quoting a “high-level Serbian source.” The answer: “The US and Britain.” What a surprise.

Again, being accused by a prominent member of the UK Establishment of interfering in other countries’ elections is like being accused of tax evasion by Al Capone or being told to sit up straight by the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The hypocrisy is truly mind-boggling.

The prime minister, having accused the Kremlin of trying to “sow discord” in the West then came over all Churchillian, by declaring she had a “very simple message for Russia.”

“We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed. Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of Western nations to the alliances that bind us.”

Well, I and millions of Britons have a very simple message for Theresa May. We know what you are doing too. You are not ‘strong and stable’ but a weak and wobbly prime minister who is trying to distract us from the domestic failings of your own government by trying to scare us witless over a non-existent Russian threat. You are hoping that by raising the specter of the Big Bad Russian Bear we will forget about your promise to cap household energy bills, the scandal of rip-off train fares and the impact of cruel and heartless austerity policies on millions of people across the country. And ignore the fact that you’re giving the country absolutely no leadership or direction on the issue of Brexit.

The safety and security of Britain is indeed threatened, prime minister, not by the bogeyman Putin but by the disastrous policies that yours and other British governments have followed in recent years. Policies such as illegally invading Middle Eastern countries and backing violent jihadist groups to topple secular governments as in Libya and Syria. Or lifting control orders on terrorist organizations like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and allowing them to travel unhindered in and out of the country. Who was the British home secretary when that happened? Why, one Theresa May!

Ironically on the day that May was trying to give us sleepless nights about the Russian ‘threat,’ the BBC – the national state broadcaster – had revealed details of something truly nightmarish. Namely a secret deal which allowed some 250 fanatical IS fighters to safely leave the city of Raqqa – under the gaze of US and British-led forces.

We know too that the British authorities have said that Britons returning from formerly IS-held territories in Syria and Iraq should not be prosecuted. The security implications of these policies are very clear. Once again, who is it that’s putting British citizens’ lives at risk?

Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66 

Read more:

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Someone in Russia sent some tweets, Theresa May warns the entire Western world may crumble

November 14, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Russia’s Alleged Meddling in Catalan Vote: Playing the Blame Game

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 14.11.2017

Few people are able to recognize their own mistakes. Many prefer to deny the truth becoming willfully oblivious to obvious facts. Why assume responsibility if there is such a thing as blame shifting – a true-and-tried method to get away with it? Pointing a finger at someone else to divert attention serves the purpose. There is method to this madness and Western politicians have been resorting to the blame-shifting tactic increasingly often. Each and everything going awry in the world is the fault of Russia. The drive of peoples for independence is a good example. Take Catalonia to illustrate the point.

The Spanish government said on Nov.10 that it had noted news manipulation about the Catalan crisis on social media originating from Russia’s territory. Spain’s government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said disinformation on social networks was a “serious issue.” According to Spanish Defence Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal, the government had established that “many messages and interventions via social networks come from Russian territory.” She did not offer any specific examples to confirm the affirmation. Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said there was evidence of activity by Russian networks and hackers. The trolls are said to be spreading misinformation across social media to further “destabilize” Spain and the EU.

The issue was even raised at the EU foreign and defense ministers meeting on Nov.13-14, where Spain briefed the EU on the alleged interference. The debate comes after eight member states urged EU foreign service chief Federica Mogherini to build up the counter-propaganda cell in her service.

Spanish media have many times attacked Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik Spanish language services for instigating tensions in Catalonia, supporting the separatist movement. El Pais daily wrote an editorial on Nov. 10 denouncing “the intense campaign by Russian media that are close to the Kremlin,” whose “propaganda machine” it accused of siding with the pro-independence movement.

NATO leadership chimed in. On Nov.9, US General Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of NATO forces in Europe, called on Russia to stop “meddling” into European elections. He was concerned over Russia’s “malign influence” in other countries. The Atlantic Council, a US-based think-tank close to NATO, has published a report suggesting that Russia was seeking to meddle in support of Catalan independence and to discredit the Spanish central government’s position that the referendum on independence held on Oct. 1 was illegal. El Paisthe Washington Times and Politico all issued publications alleging that an army of Russian bots had perfected their techniques of online influence and thus ensured the October 1 vote went down the path of separation.

If the accusations were true, it would mean that Russia-backed media networks operate to undermine Russia’s official position on the issue made clear in a Foreign Ministry’s statement. Russia has consistently voiced its respect for Spain’s territorial integrity.

Can anyone of sane mind believe that Russia’s “meddling” is the real reason to make over 40 percent of Catalans support independence? Has Russia been behind the 95-year-old independence movement in Catalonia? Has Russia made the Catalans’ language and culture distinct? Did Russia make Francisco Franco oppress the Catalan people? Has Russia provoked the economic crisis in Spain, which has served to magnify calls for Catalan independence? Has Russia made Catalans believe that the current tax structure is unfair? Has Russia made Madrid unwilling to renegotiate Catalonia’s autonomy agreement? Has Russia written Spain’s constitution, which expressly prohibits a region from breaking away unilaterally? Did Moscow order Spanish police to use brutal force, while preventing the unconstitutional vote? If it didn’t count, why take such pains to stop it?

Several world leaders and political figures condemned the violence specifically. Did Russia make them do it? Did Russia make the EU abstain from mediation effort? And, finally, does Russia stand to gain from an independent Catalonia?

With many publications on the issue, no evidence has been produced to demonstrate a link between the Russian government and Catalonia vote. Obviously, the use of the “Russian meddling” narrative seems to work as a distraction from the wrongdoing of the Spanish government. The fantasy provides a convenient scapegoat to avoid responsibility of the Spanish government for missing opportunities to launch meaningful political dialogue with Catalonia and mishandling of the vote. Spain is by far not the only country to use the narrative to its own advantage. As Karl Sharro, a well-known British architect and satirist, commented on the results of UK elections, “The most disappointing thing about the UK election is there wasn’t even a hint of Russian interference. It’s like we don’t matter at all.”

November 14, 2017 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to the future… NATO self-fulfilling war plans for Russia

By Finian Cunningham | RT | November 10, 2017

Defense ministers of the US-led NATO alliance this week endorsed proposals to set up two new military commands – and it is clear Russia is the target of what are, in effect, war plans.

The setting up of an Atlantic command and a logistical hub in Europe to facilitate the transfer of troops and weapons was openly discussed by NATO officials as being aimed at Russia during their two-day summit in Brussels this week.

The two new commands being proposed are the first expansion of NATO’s command structure since the end of the Cold War more than 25 years ago. It’s a retrograde move that is not only an unnecessary, dangerous provocation to Russia, risking self-fulfilling war threats. Moreover, NATO’s renewed organizational cranking is openly calling for the integration of European societies and economies into its madcap military escalation.

European citizens, whether they like it or not, are effectively being dragooned into a state of war, with attendant social burdens to pay for that state of war, let alone being made to live with the risk of ultimate catastrophe, from all-out hostilities erupting.

Alexander Grushko, Russia’s official on NATO matters, said: “It is evident now that, by making such decisions, NATO members are apparently inspired by Cold War-era strategies.” He added: “It is evident that the task of confrontation with Russia lies at the core of those efforts.”

Grushko also put the new NATO organizational expansion in the context of an ongoing aggressive buildup over several years carried out by the US-led military alliance along Russia’s borders.

In typical fashion, however, Western news media readily turned reality on its head by echoing NATO officials in their justification for the planned military expansion as being (allegedly) necessitated by “Russian aggression.”

Reuters called the new command posts a “deterrent factor against Russia.” While US government-run Radio Free Europe said, the expansion was “to counter the growing threat from Russia.”

Western media gave NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg free rein to accuse Russia of “attacking” Ukraine, “annexing” Crimea, and recently holding threatening war maneuvers on “NATO’s eastern flank.” The latter was a reference to the Zapad military defense exercises carried out by Russia every four years – held on its own territory or that of an ally. Idiotic “NATO’s eastern flank” made apparently intelligible by Western media.

As befitting a propaganda service, rather than news services, the Western media uniformly omit any mention of how NATO states were instrumental in staging a coup d’état in Ukraine in February 2014, overthrowing an elected government back then with neo-Nazis who had designs on viciously suppressing ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

RFE reported: “Russia occupied and seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and backs separatists whose war against Kiev’s forces has killed more than 10,000 people in eastern Ukraine since April of that year.”

Note how Russia and separatists are subtly blamed for killing 10,000 people.

RFE added: “A series of potentially dangerous close encounters between Russian and NATO warplanes and navy ships in recent months has added to the tension, with the alliance accusing Moscow of aggressive maneuvers in the air and at sea.

Well, perhaps “close encounters” would not happen if the NATO alliance could refrain from its escalation of warplanes and navy patrols in the Baltic and Black Seas.

Stoltenberg “explained” the purpose of NATO’s two new command structures. “It is about how to move [American] forces across the Atlantic and how to move forces across Europe,” he said.

He added: “We have been very focused on out-of-area expeditionary military operations, now we have to… increase the focus on collective defense in Europe, and that’s the reason why we are adapting the command structure.”

You have to admire the former Norwegian prime minister’s verbal skills for euphemism. By “out-of-area expeditionary military operations,” he was referring to US-led NATO wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, among other overseas operations, which have resulted in the destruction of nation-states, over a million civilian deaths, the spread of terrorism and the chaos of mass human displacement and refugees.

Now by “increasing focus on the defense of Europe,” the 29-member NATO club – officially charged with maintaining security – will be further ratcheting up tensions with Russia to the point where an outbreak of war is a grave risk.

Earlier, Stoltenberg claimed that the world was more dangerous than ever since the end of the Cold War. Provocatively, and recklessly, he cited “Russian aggression” alongside North Korea’s nuclear program and international terrorism as the three reasons for his morbid outlook.

“We have proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in North Korea, we have terrorists, instability, and we have a more assertive Russia. It is a more dangerous world,” said Stoltenberg in an interview with Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which, of course, did not challenge any of his assertions.

Perhaps if US President Donald Trump were to hold a full summit with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the de facto leader of NATO might get Russia’s perspective and assurance that it has no such malicious plans for “invading Europe.”

But such is the relentless Russophobia and media hysteria over “Russian aggression” that Trump and Putin – the leaders of the two most powerful nuclear states – are confined to only having a glancing conversation on the sidelines of international summits, such as the APEC conference in Vietnam this week.

Last month, German publication Der Spiegel reported on a secret NATO document which showed the alliance “is preparing for a possible war with Russia.” Such is the irremediable propaganda spouted by NATO officials and regurgitated by Western media that these war plans are becoming self-fulfilling.

What is even more sinister is that NATO is militarizing the entire European society and civilian infrastructure to accommodate its ludicrous war mania. At the summit this week in Brussels, NATO officials said European governments and the private sector must coordinate policies, infrastructure, and laws to be able to facilitate the new transmission belt of military operations from the Atlantic to Russia’s borders.

Jens Stoltenberg said “any new command must ensure that legislation easing the transportation of troops and equipment across various national borders is fully implemented.”

He added: “And we need to improve infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, railways, runways, and ports. So NATO is now updating the military requirements for civilian infrastructure.”

So, let’s get this straight: in an era of economic austerity when the European public is being clobbered with cutbacks and hardships, the NATO military machine wants governments to orient society and infrastructure to serve its war objectives against Russia.

The irrational, insatiable NATO wants to turn Europe into an entire garrison for war with Russia – a war which the majority of European citizens do not want or believe is in any way based on credible reasons.

NATO is not just going back to the future by revamping old Cold War strategies and Russophobia. It is destroying the future for European democratic and social development. Even more dastardly, it could obliterate the future by driving recklessly toward a wholly unnecessary war with Russia.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

November 10, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

NATO Defense Chiefs and US Lawmakers Take New Steps to Fuel Arms Race

By Andrei AKULOV | Strategic Culture Foundation | 10.11.2017

For the first time since the end of the Cold War, NATO is expanding its command structure. A plan to establish two new military headquarters designed to improve the movement of troops across the Atlantic and within Europe to counter Russia was endorsed at the November 8-9 meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels. One of the planned new NATO command centers will be tasked with ensuring the security of “sea lines of communication” between North America and Europe. The other command will “improve the movement of military forces across Europe” and strengthen logistical functions across NATO. Military commanders would “flesh out the details” and present them to defense ministers in February 2018.

“This is not only about commands,” said Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. According to him, it is vital that European roads, bridges and rail networks are able to carry tanks and heavy military equipment. “We are now much more focused on moving heavy equipment across Europe,” he explained.

The locations are due to be chosen next year. Germany has expressed interest in hosting the logistics base. Portugal, Spain, France, and the United States could be potential hosts for the new Atlantic command. The ministers also agreed on the creation of a new Cyberoperations Center to strengthen cyberdefenses and help integrate cybercapabilities into NATO planning and operations at all levels.

NATO nations deployed about 4,000 troops this year across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and Poland – the alliance members which share borders with Russia.

The NATO event coincided in time with the United States House and Senate Armed Services Committees’ approval (Nov.8) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018. The NDAA supports a topline of $692 billion for national defense—a $26 billion increase above the President’s combined initial and amended budget requests. The NDAA also authorizes $4.6 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) to boost military capability to counter Russia, including accelerating procurement of Army prepositioned equipment and munitions stocks in Europe. The bill limits military-to-military cooperation with Moscow.

The legislation authorizes $350 million to provide security assistance to Ukraine, including defensive lethal weapons. $100 million will be spent on military aid to the Baltic States.

The bill includes the allocation of $58 million to counter Russia’s alleged non-compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, including a research and development program on a ground-launched intermediate-range missile, “which would not place the United States in violation of the treaty.” Section 1635 of NDAA allows the Pentagon to establish “a research and development program for a dual-capable road-mobile ground-launched missile system with a maximum range of 5,500 kilometers.” This is the first step to jettison the treaty. True, the development of a ground-based mid-range missile is not yet a violation but rather a demonstration of intent to do so. But once allocated, money cannot be wasted.

The deployment of NATO ground-based nuclear-tipped intermediate forces in the Old Continent is a European problem as NATO allies will become targets for Russia’s retaliatory strikes. Then why should the US tackle it if Europeans don’t ask it to do so? After all, the pretext for development of the missile is the need to defend European allies but no European NATO member has asked the US for protection. Why should the US take the initiative into its hands without European nuclear powers, such as the UK and France, participating in the program? Perhaps, the situation when Europeans fully depend on the US to protect them from “Russia’s nuclear threat” serves the American interests boosting Washington’s influence over European affairs.

With the INF Treaty effective no more, Moscow will be free to deploy intermediate-range missiles without restriction. No European NATO member has given consent to have the weapons on its territory. The decision to develop a ground-based mid-range missile may spark a backlash from European allies. The deployment of US intermediate-range weapons on the Old Continent will hit them in the same way the extension of American sanctions on European energy companies runs counter to their economic interests.

The fact that the NDAA authorizes the development of the weapon banned by the treaty will inevitably impact Russia’s military planning.

True, Russia and the US have problems with the INF Treaty. Each side accuses the other of non-compliance at the time the general state of the bilateral relations hinders the attempts to find common language on any issue. Expanding the European Deterrence Initiative is also not the best way to ease tensions with Russia.

Despite that, opportunities offered by the Special Verification Commission (SVC) envisioned by the INF Treaty are far from being exhausted. The parties could use the SVC venue to consider additional confidence-building measures and information exchanges. Contemporary technical means of verification make violations impossible to conceal. Evidence can be presented and differences can be ironed out. But, if signed by President as it is, the NDAA will include first practical steps to tear up the INF Treaty.

The violation of the treaty will negatively affect the prospects for strategic offensive forces (SOF) control. The INF and New START are the only two remaining nuclear arms control treaties in force. The capability of the US to knock out elements of command and control structure as well as at least some ground-based Russian strategic nuclear assets from Europe without using its intercontinental capability will influence the balance of SOF. One thing will lead to another eroding the entire nuclear arms control regime. Looks like the views of Heritage Foundation calling for withdrawal from the treaty prevail in the US Congress.

The NATO defense chiefs and US lawmakers have just taken new steps on the way to making the probability of war an uncomfortably real prospect.

November 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

‘Cold day in hell before ICC goes after US for committing Afghanistan war crimes’

RT | November 9, 2017

The ICC prosecutor’s decision to pursue a probe into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan is “completely political” and won’t amount to anything, law professor Francis Boyle believes. He said it will be a “cold day in hell” before any Americans are prosecuted.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced last week that her request to launch an investigation had been handed over to a pre-trial court. She said that if her request is granted, the probe will focus “upon those most responsible for the most serious crimes committed in connection with the situation in Afghanistan.”

However, Francis Boyle, an international law professor at the University of Illinois, told RT that while Bensouda is likely to get approval for the investigation, the move is simply a “propaganda stunt.” He added that Bensouda has no desire to go after any Americans who committed war crimes.

“You have to understand, this is all political,” said Boyle. He noted that the African country of Burundi has already pulled out of the ICC, and South Africa has voiced the same intention.

“So she’s in a position and the court is in a position that almost all of Africa is going to pull out of the ICC because the only people in the dock over there are black, tin-pot dictators from Africa,” Boyle said. He called the court a “Western, racist, imperial tool” which is being used against Africa.

Because of this, the so-called “white man’s court” will not be going after Americans, Boyle said. “It will be a cold day in hell” before we see Bensouda doing so, he added. Boyle noted that the ICC has “never gone after the Americans, the NATO states, Britain, Israel, despite clear-cut jurisdiction to do so.”

Boyle went on to accuse the US government of committing a Nuremberg crime against peace by “invading Afghanistan and attacking it and blowing them back to the Stone Age and killing a million Afghans.” He added that “I doubt very seriously Bensouda is going to deal with any of that.”

“The United States illegally and criminally invaded Afghanistan and attacked and destroyed them… and then they set up all these torture campus over there, they’ve been torturing these poor people forever. And at a minimum, the United States has probably killed a million Afghanis [sic] since October 2001,” he said.

“The Americans should have been investigated a decade ago at least,” said Boyle, who filed an ICC complaint against former US President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, among others, in 2010, over their policy of “extraordinary rendition perpetrated upon about 100 human beings.” He added that “the American government knows full well they’ll be able to sabotage her [Bensouda], stop her. Nothing’s going to come of it.”

However, Boyle predicted that Bensouda would likely come back with a verdict that it was actually the Taliban who was responsible for crimes. “Or she might apportion blame, but that’s ridiculous too…if you read all the United Nations reports of human rights violations coming out of Afghanistan, they all blame the Taliban. And it’s a joke.”

Although the ICC statement doesn’t name specific parties that would be subject to the investigation, a report released by the prosecutor’s office last year said there is “reasonable basis” to believe crimes were committed by US military forces deployed to Afghanistan, and in secret detention facilities operated by the CIA. It also points the finger at the Taliban and Afghan government forces.

Boyle noted that although the US can technically be prosecuted by the court – despite not being a member – the ICC “pretty much do what they’re told to do,” citing money received from Europe, Japan, and South Korea, as well as the influence of America.

Meanwhile, the United Nations mission in Afghanistan said earlier on Thursday that at least 10 civilians may have been killed in an airstrike in the north city of Kunduz last week, despite a US military investigation stating that no evidence of civilian deaths had been found.

Boyle previously served on the board of Amnesty International USA and drafted legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, which was signed into law after being unanimously approved by both chambers of the US Congress.

Read more:

US spent $5.6 trillion on wars since 9/11 – study

‘Main creator of terrorism is US war on terror, not terrorists’

November 9, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

State Department’s New Victoria Nuland… is Just Like the Old Victoria Nuland!

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | November 3, 2017

Yesterday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson swore into office a new Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. Dr. A. Wess Mitchell became the Trump Administration’s top diplomat for Europe, “responsible for diplomatic relations with 50 countries in Europe and Eurasia, and with NATO, the EU and the OSCE.”

Readers will recall that the position was most recently held during the Obama Administration by Kagan family neocon, Victoria Nuland, who was key catalyst and cookie provider for the US-backed coup overthrowing the elected government in Ukraine. Victoria Nuland’s virulently anti-Russia position was a trademark of the neocon persuasion and she put ideology into action by “midwifing,” in her own words, an illegal change of government in Ukraine.

It was Nuland’s coup that laid the groundwork for a precipitous decay in US/Russia relations, as Washington’s neocons peddled the false line that “Russia invaded Ukraine” to cover up for the fact that it was the US government that had meddled in Ukrainian affairs. The coup was bloody and divisive, resulting in a de-facto split in the country that continues to the day. Ukraine did not flourish as a result of this neocon scheme, but has in fact been in economic free-fall since the US government installed its preferred politicians into positions of power.

You don’t hear much about Ukraine these days because the neocons hate to talk about their failures. But the corruption of the US-installed government has crippled the country, extreme nationalist elements that make up the core of the post-coup elites have imposed a new education law so vicious toward an age-old Hungarian population stuck inside arbitrarily re-drawn post-WWI borders that the Hungarian government has blocked Ukraine’s further integration into NATO, and a new “Maidan” protest has steadily gathered steam in Kiev despite Western cameras being uninterested this time.

Fortunately Donald Trump campaigned on and was elected to improve relations with Russia and end the Obama Administration’s neocon-fueled launch of a new Cold War. He raised eyebrows when he directly challenged the neocon shibboleth — amplified by the mainstream media — that Russia was invading Ukraine. But candidate Trump really blew neocon minds — and delighted voters — when he said he was looking into ending US sanctions on Russia imposed by Obama and may recognize Crimea as Russian territory.

Which brings us back to Wess Mitchell. Certainly President Trump, seeing the destruction of Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Victoria Nuland’s anti-Russia interventionism, would finally restore a sane diplomat to the position vacated by the unmourned former Assistant Secretary. Would appoint someone in line with the rhetoric that landed him the Oval Office. Right?

Wrong!

If anything, Wess Mitchell may well prove to be Victoria Nuland on steroids. He was co-founder and CEO of the neocon-dominated Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). Mitchell’s CEPA is funded largely by the US government, NATO, neocon grant-making mega-foundations, and the military-industrial complex. The “think tank” does the bidding of its funders, finding a Russian threat under every rock that requires a NATO and defense industry response — or we’re doomed!

Mitchell’s CEPA’s recent greatest hits? “The Kremlin’s 20 toxic tactics,” “Russian disinformation and anti-Western narratives in Romania: How to fight back?,” “Winning the Information War,” “Alliances and American greatness,” “Russia’s historical distortions,” “What the Kremlin Fears Most,” and so on. You get the idea. The raison d’etre of the organization founded by the new Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia is to foment a new (and very profitable) Cold War (and more?) with Russia.

Last month, CEPA put on its big conference, the “CEPA Forum 2017.” Speakers included central European heavy hitter politicos like the president of Latvia and also Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe, who gave a talk on how “the unity of the NATO Alliance” is “what Russia fears the most.” The grand event was funded, as might be expected, by war contractors Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin. But also, surprisingly, significant funding came from the Hungarian government of Viktor Orban, who is seen as somewhat of a maverick in central Europe for refusing to sign on to the intense Russia-hate seen in the Baltics and in Poland.

The no-doubt extraordinarily expensive conference was funded by no less than three Hungarian government entities: the Embassy of Hungary in Washington, DC, the Hungarian Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Hungarian Presidency of the Visegrad Group. Again, given Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s reputation for bucking neocon positions vis-a-vis Russia it is surprising to see the virulently anti-Russia CEPA conference so awash in Hungarian taxpayer money. Perhaps there is something to explore in the fact that the recently-fired Hungarian Ambassador to Washington, Réka Szemerkényi, was recently named executive vice president of CEPA. Hmmm. Makes you wonder.

But back to Mitchell. So he founded a neocon think tank funded by a NATO desperate for new missions and a military-industrial complex desperate for new wars. What about his own views? Surely he can’t be as bad as Nuland. Right? Wrong! Fortunately Assistant Secretary Mitchell is a prolific writer, so it’s easy to track his thinking. In a recent piece for neocon Francis Fukuyama’s American Interest, titled “Predators on the Frontiers,” Mitchell warns that, “From eastern Ukraine and the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea, large rivals of the United States are modernizing their military forces, grabbing strategic real estate, and threatening vulnerable US allies.”

Mitchell continues, in a voice right out of the neocon canon, that:

By degrees, the world is entering the path to war. Not since the 1980s have the conditions been riper for a major international military crisis. Not since the 1930s has the world witnessed the emergence of multiple large, predatory states determined to revise the global order to their advantage—if necessary by force.

We are on a path to war not seen since the 1930s! And why are our “enemies” so hell-bent on destroying us? Because we are just so isolationist!

Writes Mitchell: “Over the past few years, Russia, China, and, to a degree, Iran have sensed that the United States is retreating in their respective regions…”

We are “retreating”?

So what can we do? Mitchell again does the bidding of his paymasters in advising that the only thing we can do to save ourselves is… spend more on militarism:

The United States should therefore enhance its nuclear arsenal by maintaining and modernizing it. It needs to sustain a credible nuclear extended deterrent at a time when revisionist states are gradually pushing their spheres of influence and control closer to, if not against, U.S. allies. Moreover, it should use the limited tactical nuclear weapons at its disposal and seed them in a few of the most vulnerable and capable frontline states (Poland and Japan, for instance) under “nuclear sharing” agreements.

There is our new Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia. Our top diplomat for Europe. The only solution is a military solution. President Trump. Elected to end the endless wars, to forge better relations with Russia, to roll-back an “outdated” NATO. President Trump has replaced Victoria Nuland with something far more dangerous and frightening. Heckuva job, there, Mr. President!

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

New York Times Acknowledges US Global Empire

By Sheldon Richman | Libertarian Institute | October 27, 2017

One big advantage the war party has is the public’s ignorance about the activities of the far-flung American empire. Although frustrating, that ignorance is easy to understand and has been explained countless times by writers in the public choice tradition. Most people are too busy with their lives, families, and communities to pay the close attention required to know that the empire exists and what it is up to. The opportunity cost of paying attention is huge, considering that the payoff is so small: even a well-informed individual could not take decisive action to rein in the out-of-control national security state. One vote means nothing, and being knowledgeable about the U.S. government’s nefarious foreign policy is more likely to alienate friends and other people than influence them. Why give up time with family and friends just so one can be accused of “hating America”?

In light of this systemic rational ignorance, we must be grateful when a prominent institution acknowledges how much the government intervenes around the world. Such an acknowledgment came from the New York Times editorial board this week. The editorial drips with irony since the Times has done so much to gin up public support for America’s imperial wars. (See, for example, its 2001-02 coverage of Iraq and its phantom WMD.) Still, the piece is noteworthy.

The Oct. 22 editorial, “America’s Forever Wars,” began:

The United States has been at war continuously since the attacks of 9/11 and now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories.

That alone ought to come as a shock to nearly all Americans. The UN has 193 member states — and the U.S. government has a military presence in at least 89 percent of them! The Times does not mention that the government also maintains at least 800 military bases and installations around the world. That’s a big government we’re talking about. And empires are bloody expensive.

The Times went on:

While the number of men and women deployed overseas has shrunk considerably over the past 60 years, the military’s reach has not. American forces are actively engaged not only in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen that have dominated the news, but also in Niger and Somalia, both recently the scene of deadly attacks, as well as Jordan, Thailand and elsewhere.

The editorial writer might have mentioned that the U.S. government has been bombing seven Muslim countries for years when you count Pakistan and Libya. Civilian casualties were high under Barack Obama and are growing under Donald Trump. Having an alleged isolationist in the White House hasn’t done much for the long-suffering Muslims in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa.

The Times then provided this useful tidbit: “An additional 37,813 troops serve on presumably secret assignment in places listed simply as ‘unknown.’ The Pentagon provided no further explanation.”

Unknown, that is, to the people whom in theory the government is of, by, and for. Under the government’s actual operating principle, no explanation is required. Who the hell do the people think they are anyway?

To its credit, the Times reminded us “there are traditional deployments in Japan (39,980 troops) and South Korea (23,591) … along with 36,034 troops in Germany, 8,286 in Britain and 1,364 in Turkey — all NATO allies. There are 6,524 troops in Bahrain and 3,055 in Qatar, where the United States has naval bases.”

The writer suggested these are defensive deployments. I guess it’s too much to expect the Times to acknowledge that the U.S. government has a knack for creating the threats it then claims it must defend against.

The editorial writer pointed out that,

America’s operations in conflict zones like those in Africa are expanding: 400 American Special Forces personnel in Somalia train local troops fighting the Shabab Islamist group, providing intelligence and sometimes going into battle with them. One member of the Navy SEALs was killed there in a mission in May. On Oct. 14, a massive attack widely attributed to the Shabab on a Mogadishu street killed more than 270 people, which would show the group’s increased reach. About 800 troops are based in Niger, where four Green Berets died on Oct. 4.

The U.S. presence in Niger was surely news to most people — it certainly was to senior members of the U.S. Senate. One of them, warhawk Lindsey Graham, anticipates that Africa will be America’s next major battlefield. A few members of Congress object that the post-9/11 authorization for military force has become a blank check for U.S. operations anywhere and everywhere, but rather than passing a new AUMF, Congress should stop all overseas operations. They endanger Americans, not to mention the people who live in the targeted societies (For the U.S. role in the horrors wracking in Somalia, see this. Regarding Niger, see this and the links therein.)

Many of these forces are engaged in counterterrorism operations — against the Taliban in Afghanistan, for instance….

Hold on there, New York Times editorial writer. The Taliban is a terrorist organization? They ruled Afghanistan when Osama bin Laden and his then-small al-Qaeda organization operated there, but that does not make the Taliban a terrorist organization, no matter what other bad things you may justly say about them. Resistance to an invading army (America’s) falls outside the definition of terrorism. When the same people resisted the Soviets, Americans labeled them “freedom fighters.”

… against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; against an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Yemen.

Here the writer fails his readers miserably. The U.S. bombing of al-Qaeda in Yemen is mentioned, but not America’s complicity in Saudi Arabia’s genocidal bombing and blockade of Yemen — a war (against alleged but not actual Iranian proxies) that helps al-Qaeda by creating violent chaos like that in Libya. (Some members of Congress are trying to stop Trump from waging this war. Let’s help them succeed.)

Summing up, the Times is right: “it’s time to take stock of how broadly American forces are already committed to far-flung regions and to begin thinking hard about how much of that investment is necessary, how long it should continue and whether there is a strategy beyond just killing terrorists.” Or, I’d add, whether the strategy is really about killing terrorists at all when even top military people acknowledge that U.S. actions in the Muslim world create terrorists.

Yet we have little cause for optimism:

The Pentagon … thrives. After some belt-tightening during the financial crisis, it has a receptive audience in Congress and the White House as it pushes for more money to improve readiness and modernize weapons. Senators … approved a $700 billion defense budget for 2017-18, far more than Mr. Trump even requested.

Whether this largess will continue is unclear. But the larger question involves the American public and how many new military adventures, if any, it is prepared to tolerate.

We can hope against hope that the Times and other high-profile media outlets will finally begin to put the U.S. empire under a microscope.

October 30, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis

By Neil Clark | RT | October 28, 2017

Fifty-five years ago this weekend the world appeared to be on the brink of nuclear war as the Cuban missile crisis unfolded. What are the lessons that can be learned today about the events of October 1962?

It was the great filmmaker Charles Chaplin who commented that life is a tragedy when seen in close-up but a comedy in long-shot. Perspective is everything. If we take a ‘close-up’ view of the Cuban missile crisis, we fail to see the wider issues involved. We’re also likely to fall for the dominant narrative, which has the Soviet Union as the aggressor and the US as the side acting in self-defense. In fact, it was the other way round.

We call it the ‘Cuban missile crisis, ’ but in truth, it was only partly about Cuba. It was just as much about Turkey, and in particular, the fifteen offensive nuclear-tipped intermediate-range Jupiter missiles that had been provocatively deployed there by the US in 1961.

The Soviet Union felt threatened by them and rightly so. They could if launched in a pre-emptive ‘first-strike,’ obliterate entire cities in the western USSR, such as Minsk, Kiev, and Moscow, within minutes.

Moreover, the so-called ‘missile gap’ which Kennedy had campaigned on in 1960 against Richard Nixon, actually existed in the US’ favor. The US had around nine times as many nuclear warheads as the Soviet Union. “By 1962, a million US soldiers were stationed in two hundred foreign bases, all threatening the Soviet Union, from Greenland to Turkey, from Portugal to the Philippines,” write Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing, in their book ‘Cold War.’ “Three and a half million troops belonging to America’s allies were garrisoned around the Soviet Union’s borders. There were American nuclear warheads in Italy, the United Kingdom, and Turkey.”

Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader in 1962, had to do something to quickly change the situation, or else his country was in danger of nuclear annihilation. Remember President Kennedy had already seriously considered the ‘first-strike’ option. Fred Kaplan, the author of The Wizards of Armageddon, records how on July 13, 1961, Kennedy held a National Security Council meeting. Among the items on the agenda: “steps to prepare war plans which would permit the discriminating use of nuclear weapons in Central Europe and… against the USSR.”

America’s aggressive policies toward Cuba gave Khrushchev an opportunity to improve his country‘s security. When the cigar-smoking Fidel Castro first come to power in 1959, sweeping away the US-backed leader Batista in a popular uprising, he had not declared his revolution to be a Marxist one. But his program which involved nationalization and clamping down on the business activities of mobsters like Meyer Lansky, inevitably put him on a collision course with Washington.

In December 1960, the Eisenhower administration had already endorsed a scheme to invade Cuba to topple Fidel. John Kennedy, who became President in January 1961, inherited this ’cunning plan’ and went along with it. The result was the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Blackadder’s Baldrick really couldn’t have come up with anything more disastrous.

Understandably, Castro now declared a socialist revolution and turned to Moscow for assistance. Khrushchev saw a golden opportunity to “throw a hedgehog at Uncle Sam’s pants.”

An agreement was made with the Castro brothers, whereby Cuba would be a site for Soviet missiles. They would not only defend the island from a US-led invasion- but also in Khrushchev’s own words help to “equalize” the balance of power with the US.

Of course, when the US learned what was going on, there was indignant outrage of the sort US leaders do best. The second best quote from the whole of the Cuban missile crisis (after Khrushchev’s hedgehog one), came from Kennedy when he was told about the missile sites under construction. “It’s just as if we suddenly began to put a major number of MRBMs (missiles) in Turkey! Now that’d be goddamned dangerous, I would think.”’

To which his National Security Adviser, George Bundy replied: “Well, we did, Mr. President.”

Kennedy mulled over his options and decided that a blockade, to stop Soviet ships delivering their missiles, was the best call. Never mind that the Soviet action to ship missiles to an ally was legal and that a blockade most certainly wasn’t. But what to do about the missiles that had already arrived?

The President was presented with plans from his generals for air strikes and a full-scale invasion of Cuba. “But it was estimated that the ten days of fighting tied to an invasion, the US would suffer 18,500 casualties. Kennedy would have to do a deal,” note Isaacs and Downing.

A deal was done, but it was not one which the US administration could publicly acknowledge. In return for Soviet missiles being withdrawn from Cuba, the US agreed not to invade the island and to remove its Jupiters from Turkey which it did about six months later.

The US media hailed a great victory, but in fact, Washington had been forced to make concessions. It’s likely that if Khrushchev hadn’t played such a high line in 1961, the Soviet Union would have faced a pre-emptive strike sometime in the 1960s, very probably from the missiles situated in Turkey. The citizens of Moscow, Minsk, and Kiev have much to thank him for.

After 1962, the US knew that they had to tread warily. For the next seventeen years, détente was pursued by both Democratic and Republican administrations. Yes, the CIA continued to plot to overthrow the Cuban government, and of course subvert democratic processes around the world if the wrong candidates got elected, or look like they were going to get elected, but after the events of October 1962, the US was more frightened of directly provoking the Kremlin.

It was only in the late 1970s that the position began to change once again. A pivotal battle as I noted in an earlier OpEdge was between Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, a man of peace who genuinely wanted to maintain good relations with Moscow, and the uber-hawkish Russophobe Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had been appointed President Carter’s National Security Adviser. ‘Zbig’ won, and the results for mankind were catastrophic.

Neocons who had loathed détente began to crawl out of the woodwork. Again there were calls for a ‘pre-emptive’ strike on the Soviet Union.

Mikhail Gorbachev, a genuinely nice man who sadly had learned nothing from history, became Soviet leader in 1985 and surrendered his country’s bargaining chips in return for promises which weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on.

The subsequent fall of the USSR was toasted by ‘muscular’ liberals and Trotskyites alike, but older and wiser heads knew that with no real counterbalance to US power we were heading for perilous waters. I always remember reading an article by the conservative commentator and staunch anti-communist Peregrine Worsthorne, in the Sunday Telegraph from around this time in which he said that in time people might well look back at the Cold War with some nostalgia as a period of relative peace and stability. He was absolutely right.

With no Soviet Union around to keep them in check The Project for a New American Century crowd got going. The result was two decades of wars and ‘liberal interventions’ which killed millions, hugely boosting the cause of terrorism and leading to a refugee crisis of Biblical proportions. It’s obvious none of this would have occurred if the USSR had still existed, but of course, in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy,’ we weren’t supposed to say it.

Things have only changed in recent years, as Russia, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, has re-emerged as a global player and a counterweight to US imperialism. Syria is the first place since the end of the old Cold War where the ambitions of US neocons have been thwarted. Aleppo will hopefully prove to be their Stalingrad.

When we look back at the events of October 1962, is that it’s clear the US only cedes ground when it fears what the other side can threaten it with. To get Uncle Sam to stop being such an obnoxious bully, you have to throw or threaten to throw a hedgehog at his pants, to use Khrushchev’s memorable phrase. Being nice, like Gorbachev was, only gets you trampled on.

Gaddafi, like Saddam, surrendered his weapons program and was rewarded with a bayonet up his anus and the cackling laughter of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Milosevic generously hosted ’The Balkans Bull’ Dick Holbrooke offering him his best slivovitz, and ended up being denied the proper medical treatment during his US-instigated show trial at The Hague.

Kim Jong-un, by contrast, tests missiles for fun and shows Washington the finger and his country hasn’t been bombarded. He’s clearly studied closely what happened fifty-five years ago and also since 1990.

Khrushchev’s decision to send missiles to Cuba, a country under genuine threat of invasion, was not only legal but also wise. Far from endangering the peace, it actually made war less likely. The nuclear Armageddon that was feared in Cold War 1.0 didn’t occur because the US feared the Soviet response. In fact looking back at 1962 the only regret was that more missiles hadn’t arrived. Then Moscow would have been able to gain even more concessions.

Which brings us back to today. Could a new Russian deployment of missiles to Cuba as the Communist Party of Russia called for last year in response to the Pentagon’s plan to deploy HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) in Turkey be a means of obtaining the removal of NATO from Russia’s borders, and getting US hawks to pipe down?

Put another way, if there were already Russian missiles situated just 90 miles off the coast of Florida, do we think the US would be quite so belligerent in its foreign policy? Merely to ask the question is to answer it.

Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66

October 28, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Budapest vetoes Ukraine-NATO summit, says Kiev’s new law a ‘stab in the back’

RT | October 28, 2017

Budapest has vetoed the upcoming NATO-Ukraine summit, the Hungarian foreign minister said, adding it is impossible to support the country’s bid to join the alliance after Kiev adopted a controversial education law “brutally mutilating” minority rights.

“Hungary cannot support Ukraine’s integration aspirations, so it vetoed the NATO-Ukraine summit in December,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Friday.

Szijjarto said there is no way to bypass Hungary’s veto, as a unanimous vote of all members is needed to call a meeting of NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC). The commission is the decision-making body responsible for developing the NATO-Ukraine relationship.

Ukraine enjoyed a non-aligned status up until 2014, meaning the country abstained from joining military blocs and nurtured ties with both Russia and the West. Things changed dramatically after the Euromaidan coup, with the new government taking a decidedly pro-Western course.

Earlier in July, Kiev officially proclaimed that NATO membership is a key foreign policy goal. Draft legislation supported by the parliament asserted that the move would help Ukraine “strengthen national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity” and “stop Russian aggression.”

In the Friday statement, Szijjarto also said Budapest had been the most vocal supporter of Kiev’s NATO accession bid, but considered the adoption of a new Ukrainian education law that outlaws education in minority languages as a “stab in the back.” The law is a serious step backwards in safeguarding “minority rights,” the minister said, adding that “we cannot leave it without speaking up.”

Earlier in September, the minister also announced that Budapest “will block all steps within the European Union that would represent a step forward in Ukraine’s European integration process.”

The law that all classes in secondary schools will be taught in Ukrainian is expected to gradually enter into force between September 2018 and September 2020. It was approved by parliament in early September and signed into law by President Petro Poroshenko.

It is expected to affect hundreds of thousands of children studying in over 700 public schools which offer instruction in minority languages. The majority of these children are ethnic Russians, but other minorities include Romanians, Hungarians, Moldovans, and Poles. The law provides minor concessions for “EU languages,” English, and some minorities that have no national states of their own.

October 28, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia-China Tandem Changes the World

By Gilbert Doctorow | Consortium News | October 23, 2017

Much of what Western “experts” assert about Russia – especially its supposed economic and political fragility and its allegedly unsustainable partnership with China – is wrong, resulting not only from the limited knowledge of the real situation on the ground but from a prejudicial mindset that does not want to get at the facts, i.e. from wishful thinking.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (UN Photo)

Russia may not be experiencing dynamic growth, but over the past two years it has survived a crisis of circumstance in depressed oil prices and economic warfare against it by the West that would have felled less competently managed governments enjoying less robust popularity than is the case in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Moreover, as stagnant as Russia’s GNP has been, the numbers have been on a par with Western Europe’s very slow growth.

Meanwhile, Russian agriculture is booming, with the 2017 grain harvest the best in 100 years despite very adverse climatic conditions from early spring. In parallel, domestically produced farm machinery has been going from strength to strength. Other major Industrial sectors like civil aircraft production have revived with the launch of new and credible models for both domestic and export markets.

Major infrastructure projects representing phenomenal engineering feats like the bridge across the Kerch straits to Crimea are proceeding on schedule to successful termination in the full glare of regular television broadcasts. So where is this decrepit Russia that our Western commentators describe daily?

The chief reason for the many wrongheaded observations is not so hard to discover. The ongoing rampant conformism in American and Western thinking about Russia has taken control not only of our journalists and commentators but also of our academic specialists who serve up to their students and to the general public what is expected and demanded: proof of the viciousness of the “Putin regime” and celebration of the brave souls in Russia who go up against this regime, such as the blogger-turned-politician Alexander Navalny or Russia’s own Paris Hilton, the socialite-turned-political-activist Ksenia Sochak.

Although vast amounts of information are available about Russia in open sources, meaning the Russian press and commercial as well as state television, these are largely ignored. The sour grapes Russian opposition personalities who have settled in the United States are instead given the microphone to sound off about their former homeland. Meanwhile, anyone taking care to read, hear and analyze the words of Vladimir Putin becomes in these circles a “stooge.” All of this limits greatly the accuracy and usefulness of what passes for expertise about Russia.

In short, the field of Russia studies suffers, as it also did during the heyday of the Cold War, from a narrow ideological perspective and from the failure to put information about Russia in some factually anchored framework of how Russia fits in a comparative international setting.

Just what this means was brought into perspective last week by a rare moment of erudition regarding Russia when professor emeritus of the London School of Economics Dominic Lieven delivered a lecture in Sochi at the latest Valdai Club annual meeting summarizing his take on the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Lieven, arguably the greatest living historian of imperial Russia, is one of the very rare birds who brought to his Russian studies a profound knowledge of the rest of the world and in particular of the other imperial powers of the Nineteenth Century with which Russia was competing. This knowledge takes in both hard and soft power, meaning on the one hand, military and diplomatic prowess and, on the other, the intellectual processes which are used to justify imperial domination and constitute a world view if not a full-fledged ideology.

Self-blinded ‘Experts’

By contrast, today’s international relations “experts” lack the in-depth knowledge of Russia to say something serious and valuable for policy formulation. The whole field of area studies has atrophied in the United States over the past 20 years, with actual knowledge of history, languages, cultures being largely scuttled in favor of numerical skills that will provide sure employment in banks and NGOs upon graduation. The diplomas have been systematically depreciated.

The result of the foregoing is that there are very few academics who can put the emerging Russian-Chinese alliance into a comparative context. And those who do exist are systematically excluded from establishment publications and roundtable public discussions in the United States for not being sufficiently hostile to Russia.

If that were not the case, one could look at the Russian-Chinese partnership as it compares firstly with the American-Chinese partnership created by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, which is now being replaced by the emerging Russian-Chinese relationship. Kissinger was fully capable of doing this when he wrote his book On China in 2011, but Kissinger chose to ignore the Russian-Chinese partnership though its existence was perfectly clear when he was writing his text. Perhaps he did not want to face the reality of how his legacy from the 1970s had been squandered.

What we find in Kissinger’s description of his accomplishments in the 1970s is that the American-Chinese partnership was all done at arm’s length. There was no alliance properly speaking, no treaty, in keeping with China’s firm commitment not to accept entanglement in mutual obligations with other powers. The relationship was two sovereign states conferring regularly on international developments of mutual interest and pursuing policies that in practice proceeded in parallel to influence global affairs in a coherent manner.

This bare minimum of a relationship was overtaken and surpassed by Russia and China some time ago. The relationship has moved on to ever larger joint investments in major infrastructure projects having great importance to both parties, none more so than the gas pipelines that will bring very large volumes of Siberian gas to Chinese markets in a deal valued at $400 billion.

Meanwhile, in parallel, Russia has displaced Saudi Arabia as China’s biggest supplier of crude oil, and trading is now being done in yuan rather than petrodollars. There is also a good deal of joint investment in high technology civilian and military projects. And there are joint military exercises in areas ever farther from the home bases of both countries.

I think it is helpful to look at this partnership as resembling the French-German partnership that steered the creation and development of what is now the European Union. From the very beginning, Germany was the stronger partner economically with France’s economy experiencing relative stagnation. Indeed, one might well have wondered why the two countries remained in this partnership as nominal equals.

The answer was never hard to find: with its historical burden from the Nazi epoch, Germany was, and to this day remains, incapable of taking responsibility in its own name for the European Union. The French served as the smokescreen for German power. Since the 1990s, that role has largely been transferred to the E.U. central bodies in Brussels, where key decision-making positions are in fact appointed by Berlin. Yet, France remains an important junior partner in the German-driven process.

The Russian-Chinese Tandem

One may say much the same about the Russian-Chinese tandem. Russia is essential to China because of Moscow’s long experience managing global relations going back to the period of the Cold War and because of its willingness and ability today to stand up directly to the American hegemon, whereas China, with its heavy dependence on its vast exports to the U.S., cannot do so without endangering vital interests. Moreover, since the Western establishment sees China as the long-term challenge to its supremacy, it is best for Beijing to exercise its influence through another power, which today is Russia.

Of course, in light of the E.U.’s Brexit troubles and Trump’s abandonment of world leadership, it is undeniably possible that China will step out of the shadows and seek to assume direction of global governance. But that would be problematic. China faces major domestic challenges including the transition of its economy from being led by exports to relying more on domestic consumption. That will absorb the attention of its political leadership for some time.

Kissinger, who has been an adviser to Trump, whispers in Trump’s ear about the importance of separating Russia from China, but Kissinger’s limited and outdated knowledge of Russia has caused him to underestimate the powerful motives behind the Russian-Chinese relationship. America’s less gifted and informed pundits are even more clueless.

For one thing, given the sustained hostility directed at Russia from the West in general and from Washington in particular, it is inconceivable that Putin would be wooed away from Beijing by some flirtatious “come hither” gestures from the Trump administration even if that were politically possible for Trump to do. One of Putin’s outstanding features is his loyalty to his friends and his principles as well as to his nation’s interests.

As Putin revealed during his address and Q&A at the Valdai Club gathering this past week, he now bears a deep distrust of the West in light of its having taken crude advantage of Russia’s weakness in the 1990s and by its expansion of NATO to Russian borders and other threatening actions. Whatever hopes Putin once may have held for warmer relations with the West, those hopes have been dashed over the past several years.

Putting personalities aside, Russian foreign policy has a commonality that is rare to see on the world stage: actions first, diplomatic charters later. Russia’s political relations with China come on top of massive mutual investments that have taken many years to agree on and execute.

In the same way, Russia is proceeding with Japan to work towards a formal peace treaty by first putting in place massive trade and investment projects. It is entirely foreseeable that the first step to the treaty will be the start of construction in 2018 of a railway bridge in the Far East linking the Russian island of Sakhalin with the mainland. The general contractor and engineering team is also in place: Arkady Rotenberg and his SGM Group. That bridge is the prerequisite for Japan and Russia signing a $50 billion deal to build a railway bridge linking Sakhalin and Hokkaido. This bridge will draw the attention of the whole region to Russian-Japanese cooperation. It could be the foundation for a durable and not merely paper peace treaty resolving the territorial dispute over the Kurile Islands.

Lost Opportunities

In light of these realities, it is puerile to speak of detaching Russia from China with the promise of normalized relations with the West. The opportunity to do that existed in the 1990s, when President Boris Yeltsin and his “Mr. Yes” Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev did everything possible to win U.S. agreement to Russian accession to NATO immediately following accession by Poland. To no avail.

Then again early in Putin’s presidency, the Russians made a determined effort to win admission to the Western alliance. Again to no avail. Russia was excluded, and measures were taken to contain it, to place it in a small box as just another European regional power.

Finally, following the confrontation with the United States and Europe over their backing of the 2014 coup in Ukraine, followed by the Russian annexation/merger with Crimea, and Russian support for the insurgency in Ukraine’s Donbas region, Russia openly was cast as the enemy. It was compelled to mobilize all of its friendships internationally to stay afloat. No state was more helpful in this regard than China.  Such moments are not forgotten or betrayed.

The Kremlin understands full well that the West has nothing substantial to offer Russia as long as the U.S. elites insist on maintaining global hegemony at all costs. The only thing that could get the Kremlin’s attention would be consultations to revise the security architecture of Europe with a view to bringing Russia in from the cold. This was the proposal of then President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, but his initiative was met by stony silence from the West. Bringing in Russia would mean according it influence proportionate to its military weight, and that is something NATO has opposed tooth and nail to this day.

It is for this reason, the failure to seek solutions to the big issue of Russia’s place in overall security, that the re-set initiative under Barack Obama failed. It is for this reason that Henry Kissinger’s advice to Donald Trump at the start of his presidency to offer relief from sanctions in return for progress on disarmament rather than implementation of the Minsk accords regarding the Ukraine crisis also failed, with Vladimir Putin giving a firm “nyet.”

Implicit in the few American “carrots” being extended to Russia these days is its acceptance of the anti-Russian regime in Ukraine and its authority over the heavily ethnic Russian areas of the Donbas and Crimea, concessions that would be politically devastating to Putin inside Russia. Yet, that “normalization” would still leave the much milder but still nasty “human rights” sanctions that the U.S. imposed in 2012 through the Magnitsky Act, driven by what the Kremlin regards as false propaganda surrounding the criminal case and death of accountant Sergei Magnitsky.

The sting of the Magnitsky Act was to discredit Russia and prepare the way for it being designated a pariah state. It came amidst an already longstanding campaign of demonization of the Russian president in the U.S. media. In fact, to begin to find a halfway normal period of bilateral relations, you would have to go back to before George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, which Russia denounced along with Germany and France. The latter two powers got a tap on the wrist from Washington. For Russia, it was the start of a period of reckoning for its uncooperativeness with American global domination.

Demonizing Russia

As for Europe and Russia, the question is very similar. To find mention of a strategic relationship, firstly from the German Foreign Ministry, you have to go back to before 2012. And what constituted normality then? At the time, renewal of the E.U.-Russia cooperation agreement was already being held up for years, nominally over a difference of views on the provisions of E.U. law governing gas deliveries through Russian-owned pipelines. Behind this difference was the total opposition of the Baltic States and Poland to anything resembling normal relations with Russia, for which they received full encouragement from the U.S.

The rallying cry was to put a stop to Russia’s status as “monopoly supplier” to Europe as regards gas, but also oil. Of course, no monopoly ever existed, nor does it exist today, but determined geopolitical actors never let such details stand in the way of policy formulation.

This hostility also played out in the contest of wills between the E.U. and Russia over introduction of a visa-free regime for travel by their respective citizens. Here the opposition of Germany’s Angela Merkel, justified by her vicious characterization of Russia as a mafia state, doomed the visa-free regime and by the same token doomed normal relations.

All of this unfinished business has to be addressed and put right for there to be any possibility of the U.S. and the E.U. ending their hostility toward Russia and for the Kremlin to regain any trust toward the West. Even then, however, Russia would not surrender its valued relationship with China.

In my view, the de facto Russian-Chinese alliance matches the de jure US-West European alliance. The net result of both is the partition of the world into two camps. We now have, in effect, a bipolar world that broadly resembles that of the Cold War, though still in a formative stage since many countries have not signed on definitively to one side or another.

Of course, more-or-less neutral states were also a feature of the Cold War, creating what was called the group of Nonaligned Nations, led back then by India and Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia no longer exists, but India has continued its tradition of let both poles court it, trying to eke out the greatest benefit to itself.

To be sure, a great many political scientists in the U.S., in Europe and in Russia as well, insist that we already have a multipolar world, saying that power is too diffuse in the world today, especially considering the rise of non-state actors after 1991. But the reality is that very few states or non-states can project power outside their own region. Only the two big blocs can do that.

The theoreticians defending multipolarity speak of a return to the balance of power of the Nineteenth Century, invoking the Congress of Vienna as a possible model for today’s world governance.  This is an approach that Henry Kissinger laid out in 1994 in his book Diplomacy.

Within Russia, this concept has found support in some influential think tanks and is most notably associated with Sergei Karaganov, head of the Council of Foreign and Defense Policy. Nonetheless, I maintain that everyday realities of power will decide this question. And is there anything inherently wrong with this de facto bipolar world, assuming the tensions can be managed and a major war averted?

In my view, two large blocs are more likely to keep global order because the scope of activities by proxies can be reined in – as often happened during the Cold War – by big powers not wanting their various clients to disrupt a functioning world order. The tails are less likely to wag the dog.

Moreover, as regards the Russia-China strategic partnership or alliance, Western observers should take comfort and not take alarm. The rise of China is a given whatever the constellation of great powers may wish. The close embrace of Russia and China also can serve as a moderating influence on China, given Russia’s greater experience in world leadership.

For all of the above positive and negative reasons, the Russia-China relationship should be viewed with equanimity in Western capitals.


Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. His latest book, Does the United States Have a Future? was just published.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | Leave a comment