Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

The Orwellian War on Skepticism

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | December 1, 2016

Under the cover of battling “fake news,” the mainstream U.S. news media and officialdom are taking aim at journalistic skepticism when it is directed at the pronouncements of the U.S. government and its allies.

One might have hoped that the alarm about “fake news” would remind major U.S. news outlets, such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, about the value of journalistic skepticism. However, instead, it seems to have done the opposite.

The idea of questioning the claims by the West’s officialdom now brings calumny down upon the heads of those who dare do it. “Truth” is being redefined as whatever the U.S. government, NATO and other Western interests say is true. Disagreement with the West’s “group thinks,” no matter how fact-based the dissent is, becomes “fake news.”

So, we have the case of Washington Post columnist David Ignatius having a starry-eyed interview with Richard Stengel, the State Department’s Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy, the principal arm of U.S. government propaganda.

Entitled “The truth is losing,” the column laments that the official narratives as deigned by the State Department and The Washington Post are losing traction with Americans and the world’s public.

Stengel, a former managing editor at Time magazine, seems to take aim at Russia’s RT network’s slogan, “question more,” as some sinister message seeking to inject cynicism toward the West’s official narratives.

“They’re not trying to say that their version of events is the true one. They’re saying: ‘Everybody’s lying! Nobody’s telling you the truth!’,” Stengel said. “They don’t have a candidate, per se. But they want to undermine faith in democracy, faith in the West.”

No Evidence

Typical of these recent mainstream tirades about this vague Russian menace, Ignatius’s column doesn’t provide any specifics regarding how RT and other Russian media outlets are carrying out this assault on the purity of Western information. It’s enough to just toss around pejorative phrases supporting an Orwellian solution, which is to stamp out or marginalize alternative and independent journalism, not just Russian.

Ignatius writes: “Stengel poses an urgent question for journalists, technologists and, more broadly, everyone living in free societies or aspiring to do so. How do we protect the essential resource of democracy — the truth — from the toxin of lies that surrounds it? It’s like a virus or food poisoning. It needs to be controlled. But how?

“Stengel argues that the U.S. government should sometimes protect citizens by exposing ‘weaponized information, false information’ that is polluting the ecosystem. But ultimately, the defense of truth must be independent of a government that many people mistrust. ‘There are inherent dangers in having the government be the verifier of last resort,’ he argues.”

By the way, Stengel is not the fount of truth-telling, as he and Ignatius like to pretend. Early in the Ukraine crisis, Stengel delivered a rant against RT that was full of inaccuracies or what you might call “fake news.”

Yet, what Stengel and various mainstream media outlets appear to be arguing for is the creation of a “Ministry of Truth” managed by mainstream U.S. media outlets and enforced by Google, Facebook and other technology platforms.

In other words, once these supposedly responsible outlets decide what the “truth” is, then questioning that narrative will earn you “virtual” expulsion from the marketplace of ideas, possibly eliminated via algorithms of major search engines or marked with a special app to warn readers not to believe what you say, a sort of yellow Star of David for the Internet age.

And then there’s the possibility of more direct (and old-fashioned) government enforcement by launching FBI investigations into media outlets that won’t toe the official line. (All of these “solutions” have been advocated in recent weeks.)

On the other hand, if you do toe the official line that comes from Stengel’s public diplomacy shop, you stand to get rewarded with government financial support. Stengel disclosed in his interview with Ignatius that his office funds “investigative” journalism projects.

“How should citizens who want a fact-based world combat this assault on truth?” Ignatius asks, adding: “Stengel has approved State Department programs that teach investigative reporting and empower truth-tellers.”

Buying Propaganda

After reading Ignatius’s column on Wednesday, I submitted a question to the State Department asking for details on this “journalism” and “truth-telling” funding that is coming from the U.S. government’s top propaganda shop, but I have not received an answer.

The Washington Post building in downtown Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Washington Post)

Washington Post building (Photo: WaPo)

But we do know that the U.S. government has been investing tens of millions of dollars in various media programs to undergird Washington’s desired narratives.

For instance, in May 2015, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) issued a fact sheet summarizing its work financing friendly journalists around the world, including “journalism education, media business development, capacity building for supportive institutions, and strengthening legal-regulatory environments for free media.”

USAID estimated its budget for “media strengthening programs in over 30 countries” at $40 million annually, including aiding “independent media organizations and bloggers in over a dozen countries,” In Ukraine before the 2014 coup ousting elected President Viktor Yanukovych and installing a fiercely anti-Russian and U.S.-backed regime, USAID offered training in “mobile phone and website security,” skills that would have been quite helpful to the coup plotters.

USAID, working with currency speculator George Soros’s Open Society, also has funded the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which engages in “investigative journalism” that usually goes after governments that have fallen into disfavor with the United States and then are singled out for accusations of corruption. The USAID-funded OCCRP collaborates with Bellingcat, an online investigative website founded by blogger Eliot Higgins.

Higgins has spread misinformation on the Internet, including discredited claims implicating the Syrian government in the sarin attack in 2013 and directing an Australian TV news crew to what appeared to be the wrong location for a video of a BUK anti-aircraft battery as it supposedly made its getaway to Russia after the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014.

Despite his dubious record of accuracy, Higgins has gained mainstream acclaim, in part, because his “findings” always match up with the propaganda theme that the U.S. government and its Western allies are peddling. Higgins is now associated with the Atlantic Council, a pro-NATO think tank which is partially funded by the U.S. State Department.

Beyond funding from the State Department and USAID, tens of millions of dollars more are flowing through the U.S.-government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, which was started in 1983 under the guiding hand of CIA Director William Casey.

NED became a slush fund to help finance what became known, inside the Reagan administration, as “perception management,” the art of controlling the perceptions of domestic and foreign populations.

The Emergence of StratCom

Last year, as the New Cold War heated up, NATO created the Strategic Communications Command in Latvia to further wage information warfare against Russia and individuals who were contesting the West’s narratives.

As veteran war correspondent Don North reported in 2015 regarding this new StratCom, “the U.S. government has come to view the control and manipulation of information as a ‘soft power’ weapon, merging psychological operations, propaganda and public affairs under the catch phrase ‘strategic communications.’

“This attitude has led to treating psy-ops — manipulative techniques for influencing a target population’s state of mind and surreptitiously shaping people’s perceptions — as just a normal part of U.S. and NATO’s information policy.”

Now, the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress are moving to up the ante, passing new legislation to escalate “information warfare.”

On Wednesday, U.S. congressional negotiators approved $160 million to combat what they deem foreign propaganda and the alleged Russian campaign to spread “fake news.” The measure is part of the National Defense Authorization Act and gives the State Department the power to identify “propaganda” and counter it.

This bipartisan stampede into an Orwellian future for the American people and the world’s population follows a shoddily sourced Washington Post article that relied on a new anonymous group that identified some 200 Internet sites, including some of the most prominent American independent sources of news, as part of a Russian propaganda network.

Typical of this new McCarthyism, the report lacked evidence that any such network actually exists but instead targeted cases where American journalists expressed skepticism about claims from Western officialdom.

Consortiumnews.com was included on the list apparently because we have critically analyzed some of the claims and allegations regarding the crises in Syria and Ukraine, rather than simply accept the dominant Western “group thinks.”

Also on the “black list” were such quality journalism sites as Counterpunch, Truth-out, Truthdig, Naked Capitalism and ZeroHedge along with many political sites ranging across the ideological spectrum.

The Fake-News Express

Normally such an unfounded conspiracy theory would be ignored, but – because The Washington Post treated the incredible allegations as credible – the smear has taken on a life of its own, reprised by cable networks and republished by major newspapers.

But the unpleasant truth is that the mainstream U.S. news media is now engaged in its own fake-news campaign about “fake news.” It’s publishing bogus claims invented by a disreputable and secretive outfit that just recently popped up on the Internet. If that isn’t “fake news,” I don’t know what is.

Yet, despite the Post’s clear violations of normal journalistic practices, surely, no one there will pay a price, anymore than there was accountability for the Post reporting as flat fact that Iraq was hiding WMD in 2002-2003. Fred Hiatt, the editorial-page editor most responsible for that catastrophic “group think,” is still in the same job today.

Two nights ago, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews featured the spurious Washington Post article in a segment that – like similar rehashes –didn’t bother to get responses from the journalists being slandered.

I found that ironic since Matthews repeatedly scolds journalists for their failure to look skeptically at U.S. government claims about Iraq possessing WMD as justification for the disastrous Iraq War. However, now Matthews joins in smearing journalists who have applied skepticism to U.S. and Western propaganda claims about Syria and/or Ukraine.

While the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament begin to take action to shut down or isolate dissident sources of information – all in the name of “democracy” – a potentially greater danger is that mainstream U.S. news outlets are already teaming up with technology companies, such as Google and Facebook, to impose their own determinations about “truth” on the Internet.

Or, as Ignatius puts it in his column reflecting Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy Stengel’s thinking, “The best hope may be the global companies that have created the social-media platforms.

“‘They see this information war as an existential threat,’ says Stengel. … The real challenge for global tech giants is to restore the currency of truth. Perhaps “machine learning” [presumably a reference to algorithms] can identify falsehoods and expose every argument that uses them. Perhaps someday, a human-machine process will create what Stengel describes as a ‘global ombudsman for information.’”

Ministry of Truth

An organization of some 30 mainstream media companies already exists, including not only The Washington Post and The New York Times but also the Atlantic Council-connected Bellingcat, as the emerging arbiters – or ombudsmen – for truth, something Orwell described less flatteringly as a “Ministry of Truth.”

The New York Times has even editorialized in support of Internet censorship, using the hysteria over “fake news” to justify the marginalization or disappearance of dissident news sites.

It now appears that this 1984-ish “MiniTrue” will especially target journalistic skepticism when applied to U.S. government and mainstream media “group thinks.”

Yet, in my four decades-plus in professional journalism, I always understood that skepticism was a universal journalistic principle, one that should be applied in all cases, whether a Republican or a Democrat is in the White House or whether some foreign leader is popular or demonized.

As we have seen in recent years, failure to ask tough questions and to challenge dubious claims from government officials and mainstream media outlets can get lots of people killed, both U.S. soldiers and citizens of countries invaded or destabilized by outsiders.

To show skepticism is not the threat to democracy that Undersecretary Stengel and columnist Ignatius appear to think it is.

Whether you like or dislike RT’s broadcasts – or more likely have never seen one – a journalist really can’t question its slogan: “question more.” Questioning is the essence of journalism and, for that matter, democracy.

[In protest of the Post’s smearing of independent journalists, RootsAction has undertaken a petition drive, which can be found here.]


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

December 2, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

Russia sets out its policy on terrorism, nuclear war & global ties in new Foreign Policy Concept

RT | December 1, 2016

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree approving Russia’s new Foreign Policy Concept. The document specifies Moscow’s position on key global issues, highlighting its relations with the US, EU, China and other countries.

Published on Thursday, the concept is now in force, replacing the previous one from 2013. Moscow’s “views on core principles, priority directions, aims and tasks of the Russian foreign policy” are stated in the document of almost 40 pages.

Saying that Russia pursues an independent foreign policy based both on national interests and respect for international law, the concept states that Moscow’s policy is “open, foreseeable” and “shaped by centuries” of Russia’s historic role in the development of global civilization.

“Russia is fully aware of its special responsibility for maintaining security in the world both on global and regional levels, and is aimed at cooperative actions with all concerned states in the interest to solve common issues,” the document says.

Moscow calls for “creation of a broad international anti-terrorist coalition, firmly based on a legal framework, and effective and systematic cooperation among states,” the document says. No “double standards” should have a place in such a coalition, which should become the main force to fight global terrorism.

Nuclear war hazard low, but US missile shield threatens Russia’s national security

Moscow stands for the creation of “zones free of nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction, especially in the Middle East,” the concept states, adding that “fighting international terrorism is key priority in international security.”

No country should use terrorist organizations to pursue its “political, ideological and other aims,” it says. Political and legal framework for nuclear and other weapons nonproliferation course is key, to avoid risks of such weapons landing in the hands of terrorist organizations.

Russia stays true to its international obligations in the arms control, and expects the same from its partners. Washington’s development of its global missile defense system is viewed as a “threat to national security,” with Moscow “reserving the right to take relevant counter measures.”

“Russia stands for constructive cooperation with the US in the field of arms control, with a compulsory allowance for an inseparable correlation between strategic offensive and defense weapons,” the document says. Global strategic stability should be the key factor in possible further arms reduction, it adds.

“Despite [the fact] that a threat of a large-scale war, including nuclear war, initiated between key states remains low, risks that [such states] may be involved in regional crisis, escalating them, are growing,” the new Foreign Policy Concept warns.

Russia-US dialogue possible, but only if US abandons its ‘restraining’ course

Washington and its allies have been pursuing a “restraining course” against Russia, aiming to “pressure” it both politically and economically, the document says, adding that such policy “undermines regional and global security.” It also harms long-term interests of both sides, and goes against a “growing necessity for cooperation” and joint counteraction to global threats.

Russia reserves the right to “harsh” retaliatory measures to “unfriendly actions,” including measures in toughening its national defense.

Moscow “is interested in building mutually beneficial relations with the US, taking into consideration the two countries’ responsibility for global strategic stability and the state of international security in general,” the concept stresses, adding that the two nations have significant opportunities in trade, investment, scientific and other forms of cooperation.

The development of dialogue on bilateral relations, as well as on other international issues “is only possible if based on equality, mutual respect and non-interference in one another’s internal affairs.”

In regard to contacts with NATO, Moscow plans to build its relations with the alliance based on its eagerness to be engaged in equal partnership. So far, Russia negatively regards NATO’s expansion, with its military infrastructure getting closer to the Russian borders. Such actions are considered as “defying the principle of equal security” and might cause new “division lines in Europe.”

Meanwhile, Moscow praises the role of the United Nations in “regulating international relations and coordinating world policies,” saying that there are no other options to replace the organization in the 21st century.

Relations with EU among Moscow’s priorities, abolishing visa regime will strengthen ties

Stepping-up mutually beneficial bilateral ties with European countries is named among one of Russia’s key priorities in the new Foreign Policy Concept.

The EU is Russia’s important trade and economic partner, the document says, adding that Moscow also regards Europe as its associate in foreign policy and is looking for “stable cooperation” based on mutual respect. Relations with Germany, France, Italy and Spain are mentioned as being key for the Kremlin in promoting its interests on the international arena.

“The strategic task in relations with the EU is forming a broad economic and humanitarian space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean,” that will unite and “harmonize” the European continent, the concept says.

“The visa regime remains one of the main barriers in the way of development of contacts between Russia and the EU. The gradual cancellation of the visa regime on a reciprocal basis will become a powerful impulse for strengthening cooperation between Russia and the EU in economic, humanitarian, cultural, educational and other spheres,” the document says.

Russia to strengthen ties with the East, presence in the Antarctic

Among Moscow’s other foreign policy priorities, the concept mentions developing further relations with its eastern neighbors. “Full-scale” partnership and cooperation with China is on the agenda, as well as “further deepening” of strategic partnership with India. With the latter, Russia has always had “privileged” relations, according to the document, which says that the two nations’ cooperation is based on corresponding foreign policies, “historic friendship and deep mutual trust.”

Japan and other countries in the Asia-Pacific Region are also mentioned as important partners to work with in the near future.

“Russia will also continue its work on preserving and widening its presence in the Antarctic,” the concept states, adding that Moscow is as well “open for building relations with Canada” to cooperate in the Arctic and other regions.

Russia’s position on Syria is also mentioned in the new Foreign Policy Concept, with Moscow standing for the Middle Eastern country’s “unity, independence and territorial integrity.” Representatives of all ethnic and religious groups in Syria should be provided with equal security and peace, and enjoy “equal rights and opportunities,” the document says.

December 1, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

NATO’s Rear-Guard Actions

euro-nato-collapse

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 29.11.2016

In the military a rearguard action is defined as ‘a defensive action carried out by a retreating army’ and it is an appropriate description of the desperate scrabbling by NATO to convince the rest of the world — and especially Donald Trump — that its existence is justified.

President-elect Trump has never said that the US should actually leave NATO. Certainly Hillary Clinton declared that he ‘wants to pull out of NATO’ but this was just another of her lies, and what he said back in April was that it is ‘obsolete’ which is a gentle way of indicating that it’s hopeless. He did, after all, tell a town hall meeting in Wisconsin: «Maybe Nato will dissolve and that’s OK, not the worst thing in the world», but although that may have sent shivers up the supple spine of NATO’s Secretary General Stoltenberg, it was by no means a definitive statement of intention.

The fact remains that The Donald is unhappy with NATO, and he’s perfectly right to consider that it’s a vastly expensive and largely ineffective military grouping that indeed should be disbanded. On the other hand, the massive propaganda campaign waged against Russia has convinced much of the world that Moscow has expansionist plans and that the only way to counter its supposed ambitions is to spend more money — lots and lots more money — and deploy troops and aircraft and ships all over the place to make it look as if gallant little NATO is defending the so-called Free World against the might of an illusory aggressor.

Trump may not have examined the minutiae of the NATO shambles, but in spite of being a bit of a blowhard whose knowledge of international affairs is modest, he’s not a fool, and even he can perceive that NATO has a record of catastrophe.

The Financial Times reported him as saying «Its possible that we’re going to have to let Nato go. When we’re paying and nobody else is really paying, a couple of other countries are but nobody else is really paying, you feel like the jerk». He said that if elected president he would contact many of the other 27 NATO members and put pressure on them to make a larger financial contribution or leave. «I call up all of those countries… and say ‘fellas you haven’t paid for years, give us the money or get the hell out’», he said, to loud cheering.

This may have been populist rhetoric, but it played to the people who matter to him — to the people who elected him. When he becomes President he might well think that he owes them a lot more than he does to NATO.

In March Stoltenberg told NATO countries that «the time has come to invest more in defence» but his motives for doing so were not those of Mr Trump, because Trump, like any businessman, wants to look carefully at expenditure and go on to make a profit, while Stoltenberg wants to spend money — including a great deal of American money — to justify existence of the costly monolith that has grown larger, more expensive and less effective over the past twenty years.

Stoltenberg sought to vindicate NATO’s record by writing an article for Britain’s Observer newspaper to say that NATO had strongly supported the United States following the 9/11 atrocities by joining it in its war in Afghanistan. ‘This,’ he declared, ‘was more than just a symbol. NATO went on to take charge of the operation in Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of European soldiers have served in Afghanistan since. And more than 1,000 have paid the ultimate price in an operation that is a direct response to an attack against the United States.’

The truth differs from what Stoltenberg claims. He is correct in saying that NATO became heavily involved (and lost a thousand troops for no reason at all), but gives the impression that NATO was there, poised and ready to take the leap into action when the US and Britain invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. Certainly the forces of the US and the UK were joined by troops from other countries — but it wasn’t until August 2003 that NATO itself managed to become involved, when, as the BBC reported, it ‘assumed control of peacekeeping in Afghanistan – the alliance’s first ever operational commitment outside Europe.’ And things went screaming downhill from that time.

There was no need for NATO, as such, to become involved, because there were plenty of alliance countries with contingents already in Afghanistan (for example, the Germans had been there since January 2002 and Canadians and Italians since December 2001). All that NATO added to the foreign military machine in Afghanistan was yet another layer of military bureaucracy. The result was described in, among other histories, ‘The Good War’, an excellent account of the catastrophe by Jack Fairweather who describes the reaction of President Bush’s National Security Adviser, General Douglas Lute, who saw the map of NATO operations in 2008 and was of the opinion that «each nation was fighting its own private war. Nobody was running the show, and there was no common purpose».

In present-day NATO there are far too many people «running the show» and the purpose of the show itself is far from clear. Stoltenberg and other champions of the continuing existence of the expensive farce claim that there’s a threat from Russia — but if they genuinely believe that Russia is going to invade a NATO member country they belong in a lunatic asylum.

To be blunt, had Russia wanted to invade Ukraine at the time of the US-engineered coup in 2014 (recollect Obama’s admission that the US ‘brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine’), it could have done so with ease. It would have taken about three weeks to defeat the Ukrainian military and occupy the country right up to the border with Poland. But why on earth would it have wanted to do that?

Russia would have been extremely unwise to take such action, because once you invade a country you have to occupy and pacify it, which is extremely difficult — as US-NATO has found to its enormous cost in lives and money in the Afghanistan debacle.

Similarly, for what possible reason would Russia attempt to invade Estonia or Latvia, or any other country for that matter? It would be insane to do so, yet this totally imaginary threat is trotted out as the reason for NATO’s present posture of confrontation. There is never explanation for the US-NATO expansion up to Russia’s borders that took place from 1999 to 2009, which is rightly regarded as confrontational by the Russian people. (And remember that it’s not correct in the west to refer to ‘the Russian people’. Rather, it is mandatory to call the country ‘Putin’s Russia’.)

Stoltenberg’s message to President-elect Trump is that the US-NATO military grouping must continue to confront ‘Vladimir Putin’s Russia’, but Trump has other priorities, not the least being the appalling economic circumstances in regions where he received most support. He’s no fool, and he’s going to pay attention to these voices rather than the plaintive wailing of Stoltenberg who rests his case for US expenditure on the foundation that ‘our proud history is one of common challenges overcome together’.

One thing that Secretary General Stoltenberg had better bear in mind is that President-elect Donald Trump does not care about history, and most decidedly not the history of Europe. He cares about the hard facts of here and now. Not intellectually, but practically. He is devoid of sentiment. Europe and NATO mean nothing to him in terms of nostalgia and all that sob-stuff.

And he’s not going to forget the volume of insults delivered by European political leaders and media, such as ‘loudmouth’ and ‘hatemonger’. In the British parliament he was described as a ‘buffoon, demagogue and wazzock’. The British foreign minister, Boris Johnson (who really is a buffoon), said in June that ‘the only reason I wouldn’t visit some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump’. French President Hollande (another fool) declared that Trump’s ‘excesses’ made him ‘want to retch’ and in one particularly amusing reaction to Trump’s election, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, said ‘We hope that Donald Trump will respect the fundamental rights and rules of the European Union,’ in which, be assured, Mr Trump has not the slightest interest.

President-elect Donald Trump might not be the ideal person to enter the White House in January (although Clinton would have been a disaster), but he’s going to try to look after America. NATO’s wellbeing comes way down on his priorities. NATO Secretary General and confronter-in-chief Stoltenberg will continue fighting his rearguard action to keep his wobbly and mega-expensive military circus in existence, but it’s possible that Mr Trump might make the world a safer place by letting the whole thing collapse.

November 29, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

15 European leaders call for new arms deal with Russia

RT | November 26, 2016

Fifteen European countries, headed by Germany, have issued a statement pushing for the reopening of “a new structured dialogue” with Russia aimed at preventing a possible arms race in Europe, according to the German foreign minister.

The countries, all belonging to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), have expressed their deep concern over the current situation in Europe and support the relaunch of a conventional arms treaty with Russia, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Die Welt newspaper in an interview published on Friday.

“Europe’s security is in danger. As difficult as ties to Russia may currently be, we need more dialogue, not less,” Steinmeier said.

The ongoing conflict in the Eastern Ukraine and the fact that Crimea joined Russia in 2014, a move most often dubbed as “annexation” by western officials, have put the question of war in Europe back on the table, Steinmeier continued. Fragile trust between Russia and European countries has suffered a significant setback and a “new armament spiral” is hanging over the continent, the foreign minister warned.

The statement contains strong anti-Russian rhetoric, blaming Moscow for violating arms deals as far back as 1990.

“The Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, which led to the destruction of tens of thousands of heavy weapon systems in Europe in the years following 1990, is no longer being implemented by the Russian Federation,” the statement said.

Russia put its participation in the treaty on hold in 2007 and then fully walked out of it last year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the suspension of the treaty following a US decision to locate missile defense facilitates in the neighbouring Czech Republic and Poland. On top of that, President Putin noted that some of the NATO members did not join or ratify the treaty and there was no point in Russia abiding by the agreement.

Later Putin signed a decree suspending the treaty due to “extraordinary circumstances … which affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures,” having notified NATO and its members of the decision.

Since then NATO has taken no steps to upgrade the treaty, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in September, 2016, adding that Moscow is ready for dialogue on the subject. However, it is not planning to be the one to initiate it.

The statement names a number of other documents that need to be overviewed, including the OSCE’s Vienna document, stipulating the exchange of information on military movements, and the Open Skies treaty, enabling the monitoring of other countries’ ground forces. The documents are either neglected or in need of modernization.

The countries that spoke in favor of Steinmeier’s initiative include France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Portugal.

The group of the European foreign ministers is planning to meet again on the sidelines of a OSCE meeting in Hamburg on December, 8-9.

November 26, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The march to GLEXIT – Globalization Exit

By Wayne Madsen | Strategic Culture Foundation | 25.11.2016

The world, through the ballot box, is speaking out. From the British «Yes» vote on BREXIT – the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union – to the election of the anti-globalization Donald Trump as president of the United States, the world is speaking out against the homogenization of the world into a super-state of blurred and overlapping governments, cultural identities, religions, and politics. The U.S. presidential election was not so much an election as it was a referendum on globalization in all of its malignant manifestations: free trade, open borders, and subjugation of national sovereignty to amorphous international organizations.

From every continent, there is growing popular support for «exiting» international contrivances, from the European Union and International Criminal Court to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and even the United Nations.

In August of this year, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines threatened to pull his country out of the UN in what was the first such threat by a UN member-state since Indonesian President Sukarno successfully withdrew his nation from the UN in 1965.

Proponents of economic and political globalization have not only been dealt heavy blows in the election of Trump in the United States and the success of the BREXIT vote in the United Kingdom, but also in the decision by South Africa and other African nations to withdraw from the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The international tribunal heavily-influenced by global hedge fund viper George Soros that is increasingly seen by Africa as the «International Caucasian Court» primarily targeting African leaders for war crimes prosecutions. In October of this year, South Africa joined Burundi and Gambia in announcing that it would leave the ICC. Ironically and embarrassingly, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, is from Gambia.

In 2015, South Africa was condemned by the usual collection of Soros-financed NGOs, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, for not arresting President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, previously indicted by the ICC, while he was on an official visit to South Africa. South Africa rejected the ICC’s interference in its internal affairs and this disgust for the court culminated in the recent decision to depart from the court.

A month later, Russia announced that it was withdrawing as a signatory to the 2000 Rome Treaty that established the ICC. After the November Asia-Pacific economic summit in Lima, Peru, Philippines President Duterte also announced his country would join Russia, South Africa, and others in leaving the ICC. Duterte said, «They are useless — those in the International Criminal [Court]. [Russia] withdrew. I might follow. Why? Only the small ones like us are battered». Other African nations are considering scrapping the ICC. They include Uganda, Kenya, and Namibia. In 2015, Namibian President Hage Geingob visited former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete to urge him to follow Namibia’s lead and exit from the ICC. At a summit of the African Union in South Africa, Geingob said, «Some people are saying we are the ones who created the ICC. However, when one creates something to be an asset but later on it becomes an abomination, you have the right to quit it since it has ceased serving its intended purpose».

The BREXIT and Trump victories have emboldened electorates in many other nations to reject contrivances that stymie national sovereign rights. December 4, 2016 represents a watershed date to reject globalist agendas. It is the date of the re-run of the Austrian presidential election of April 24, 2016, one in which the anti-EU candidate of the Austrian Freedom Party, Norbert Hofer, was narrowly defeated by pro-EU Alexander van der Bellen of the Green Party. It turned out that 77,900 absentee ballots were miscounted in what represented a typical Soros-manipulated election. The Constitutional Court of Austria ordered a new election. The outcome of the December 4 election is believed by pollsters to heavily favor Hofer, as Austria has been caught up in the anti-EU groundswell rippling through Europe. December 4 is also the date of the Italian constitutional change referendum.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has staked his political future on the referendum, which if passed, will reduce the power of the Italian upper house of parliament, the Senate, and drastically cut back the powers of the Italian regions. Renzi has tapped support for his referendum from the usual collection of those who do not represent the common people – members of the glitterati of the elite, such as actors, singers, celebrity chefs, professional athletes, film directors, and other diversionary leeches on society. The campaign for Montenegro to join NATO, backed by Soros- and CIA-funded propagandists, saw Montenegrin actors, journalists, and professional athletes appearing on television commercials urging NATO membership for the country even as many polls showed majority opposition to joining the military alliance.

Renzi, a supporter of the EU and global integration, said he will resign if his referendum fails. And fail it is expected to do as «No» voters are far ahead in opinion polls. December 4 may very well go down in history along with June 24, 2016 and November 8, 2016 – the respective dates of BREXIT and trump’s election – as a red-letter day when voters rejected globalization. Renzi will soon join other discredited globalists, including former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron, former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, French President Francois Hollande, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as footnotes in a failed history of international integration.

Another important date for GLEXIT was November 13. With the globalists’ world still shaken from the election of Trump on November 8 came word that the pro-Russian former MiG pilot Rumen Radev, a political novice, won the Bulgarian presidential election. The election resulted in the resignation of Bulgaria’s pro-EU government. The same day, voters in Moldova elected Igor Dodon, who rejected a Moldova-EU trade agreement and favored joining the Eurasian Economic Union championed by Russia. The two elections in countries where Soros has infiltrated so much of the media and political infrastructures with pro-EU and pro-NATO acolytes were historic and another indication that the world was rejecting globalization.

In addition to the EU, NATO, and the ICC, other regional globalist-oriented organizations are also teetering on permanent disruption. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has split along pro-Indian and pro-Pakistani lines. A recent SAARC summit in Pakistan was canceled after India refused to attend. India was soon joined by its allies, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Afghanistan. The organization appears to be permanently split, with the other SAARC members of Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Nepal opposing India and generally aligning with Pakistan. Another failed international organization, the Arab League, is a vassal of Saudi and Gulf money and showed its worthlessness in 2011 when it suspended Syria and Libya as members after they were faced with NATO-backed jihadist revolutions. The League also grants membership to the Saudi puppet government of Yemen.

Mirroring the withdrawal of African states from the ICC, Venezuela in 2013 announced its withdrawal from the heavily U.S.-influenced Inter-American Convention on Human Rights (IACHR), a contrivance of the Organization of American States based in Washington, DC next to the White House. Venezuela’s withdrawal also rejected the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CorteIDH) based in Costa Rica. The Dominican Republic withdrew from the court in 2014. Trinidad and Tobago admirably led the way in rejecting the so-called «Inter-American System», that is, American hegemony over the Western Hemisphere, when it withdrew from the IACHR in 1998. Criticism of the IACHR has come from Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Peru.

The Commonwealth of Nations, an anachronistic leftover from the British Empire that cobbles together former British colonies into a group of British royal family sycophant nations, has seen Gambia, Maldives, and Zimbabwe leave the tacitly-worthless international organization.

Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) also dealt a body blow to the globalization cause. TPP is dead with U.S. withdrawal. American rejection of TPP left other TPP signatories, such as New Zealand and South Korea, looking to expand trade agreements with China in a display of renewed preference for bilateralism over multilateralism. There is a «New World Order», but not one envisaged by the globalists. This New World Order is one of renewed national sovereignty, cultural and religious identity, and rejection of dictates from unelected international bureaucrats.

November 25, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia Tests Train-Based Nuclear System: President Trump Can Prevent Arms Race

or-38243

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.11.2016

The US is mulling a major overhaul of its nuclear triad. The Air Force is working on a new version of the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and the Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) program. The Navy is studying the plans to replace the Ohio-class submarines. According to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the plans to recapitalize the nuclear triad will cost more than $700 billion over the next 25 years.

Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has warned that the US is on the «brink» of kicking off a new nuclear arms race that will elevate the risk of nuclear apocalypse to Cold War levels.

Moscow has no choice but to respond.

Russia has successfully conducted its first test of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) designed for the upcoming Barguzin railway-based strategic nuclear offensive system. It was an «ejection» test with a missile leaving a container.

The launch trials were carried out at the Plesetsk spaceport two weeks ago, paving the way for further flight tests to be carried out in 2017.

Colonel-General Sergei Karakayev, commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces, told reporters that the new railway-based missile system would be ready for deployment in early 2017.

Previously, Yuri Solomonov, the Chief Designer of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology (MITT), promised that the first ejection test will take place «in the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2016».

The first five Barguzin railroad systems may become operational by 2020 to remain in service till 2040. Moscow plans to deploy five of the Barguzin trains beginning in 2019.

Each Barguzin-armed train will carry six RS-24 Yars ICBMs ready for launch within minutes. The missile’s maximum range is 11,000 km (6,800 mi). It has at least 4 MIRVs with 150–250 kiloton warheads. The speed is over Mach 20 (24,500 km/h; 15,220 mph; 6,806 m/s). Guidance is inertial with GLONASS. Accuracy is 150-200 m.

Disguised as a freight train, the moving platform cannot be spotted either by satellite or electronic surveillance. It is worth mentioning that the Russian railways are ranked second longest globally. In general, the combat system can pass up to 1,000 kilometers daily. It is extremely difficult to locate it on route. With relatively lightweight Yars missiles on board, there will be no tell-tale signatures such as three locomotives in the old train-based systems decommissioned by 2005.

The system is created as a counterbalance to NATO’s ballistic missile defense (BMD), which is able to launch Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles, in addition to interceptors. The planned deployment of the system is also a response to the challenge posed by the US Prompt Global Strike (PGS) concept which envisions the capability to deliver a precision-guided conventional strike at any target in the world within one hour with hypersonic weapons.

Both – the BMD and the PGS – are considered as destabilizing factors by Russia. The Barguzin is an answer that does not violate the provisions of the 2010 New START Treaty.

There is another milestone event related to strengthening Russian nuclear strategic deterrent. The eighth Knyaz (Prince) Pozharsky Borei-class nuclear-powered submarine will be laid down at the Sevmash shipyard in Russia’s northern town of Severodvinsk on Dec. 23. Knyaz Pozharsky submarine will be the last of the eight Borei-class submarines and the fifth of the advanced A-batch.

The submarine carries 16 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles. The MIRVed missile carries 6 re-entry vehicles with a yield of 150 each. The operational range is 8,000-8,300 km (5,000 – 5,100 mi).

All these developments make one remember that Russia and the US – the two nations that account for more than 90 % of world strategic nuclear potential – have to make a very important decision about the future of arms control. The New START Treaty expires by 2021 without any prospects for a new agreement coming into force. President Putin and President Trump are the ones to rectify the situation.

There are many things that complicate the already complex problem: the future of the INF Treaty, US conventional strike superiority, NATO tactical weapons (B61-12) capable of striking Russian territory the same way strategic weapons do, the refusal of other nuclear states to join the arms control process, you name it.

Since the US withdrew from the 1972 ABM Treaty, ballistic missile defense has become the main obstacle on the way of achieving progress. BMD capability that would make the Russian deterrent less credible because the US would be able to degrade Russian second strike retaliatory capability.

The New START mentions the interaction of offensive and defense arms but contains no limitations. No doubt, Russia will raise the issue as a prerequisite for any discussions on what to do about arms control. The new US president will have to think long and hard if he wants to proceed with this highly destabilizing system that can make all future efforts to gain progress go down the drain.

The US does maintain an inactive stockpile that includes near-term hedge warheads that can be put back into operational status within six to 24 months. Extended hedge warheads can be made ready within 24 to 60 months. And it preserves some of this upload capability on its strategic delivery vehicles. This is a problem the New START does not address.

In 2002 the US pulled out of the ABM Treaty setting a precedent as it was the first time that a superpower withdrew from an arms control agreement. What if the United States decides to withdraw from the New START or any other treaty it may have with Russia? If it does, it would be able to return warheads from storage back to missiles (upload capability), and build up its strategic potential by several thousand warheads in several months at most. Russia’s apprehensions are justified. Will the new US administration be able to respect the other side’s concerns?

According to its provisions, the New START treaty can be extended for 5 years more but from Russia’s perspective there are concerns that should be taken into account before the issue hits the arms control agenda.

With Russian and US militaries maintaining no regular contacts, there is a danger of hair trigger alert – another problem for the two nations to address.

Having assumed power on January 20, Donald Trump will inherit the downturn in Russia-US relations and growing nuclear tensions and uncertain future for arms control.

Mr. Trump has said many positive things and there is each and every reason to hope for progress on such issues as Syria, for instance. It’s logical to expect that the present downturn in the bilateral relationship will be reversed. But so far, nothing has been said by Donald Trump and the members of his team about the revival of nuclear cooperation. Perhaps, binding agreements on the capabilities of BMD systems or limitations on existing and emerging long-range, precision-guided conventional offensive weapons and reductions in substrategic nuclear arms could help achieve gradual progress.

«The risk of a nuclear conflict may be higher today than at any time since the 1980s», warns Andrew Kuchins, a Russia expert at Washington’s Georgetown University and former head of Carnegie Moscow Center, in a forthcoming report on US-Russian relations. «Unfortunately, societies and political establishments … seem in large part unaware that this truly existential threat has [returned]».

There may be cooperation in some areas of mutual interest but no real reversal of the dangerous downturn in the relationship is possible without progress in arms control. With the new US administration in office, it may be expedient for the experts to take the bull by the horn and start discussions. With Mr. Trump’s victory, there is a chance that should not be missed.

November 24, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

EU Politicians are Convinced that Tanks are the Best Remedy for Social Disparity

By Jean Perier – New Eastern Outlook – 24.11.2016

324213213123123Following in the wake of the White House policy, European political elites have been stepping up their groundless propagandistic rhetoric about the growing military threat of Russia, Iran, China, which is aimed at achieving further militarization of Europe at the expense of the social benefits of its citizens.

In his recent speech at an event hosted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, NATO‘s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that he expects a 3% real increase in defence spending in Europe and Canada, however, he added, other than the USonly four NATO members are currently spending 2% of GDP on defence.

Against the background of a string of upcoming election campaigns in the EU, it’s really not that hard to predict how Europeans are going to take the announcement that their governments are planning to increase their military budgets. The most likely scenario is that a number of EU states will vote for their own version of Trumpxit, which means that an outsider candidate will have more chances than those from the ruling elites. As the living conditions of an ever increasing number of Europeans continue to deteriorate, it’s highly unlikely that EU citizens are going to tolerate new military expenditures.

The data provided by the Eurostat shows that in 2015, around 25 million children, or 26.9% of the population aged 0 to 17, in the European Union were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. A total of six member states saw a third of all children being at risk of poverty or social exclusion, these are Romania (46.8%), Bulgaria (43.7%), Greece (37.8%), Hungary (36.1%), Spain (34.4%) and Italy (33.5%).

According to the Guardian, having a child while living in a rental accommodation has become unaffordable for young families in twothirds of the UK. The most inaccessible place for those wanting to start a family was London, with a two-bedroom rental there costing 60% of the average income for someone in their 20s and 44% for someone in their 30s. This was followed by the south-east, south-west and the east. At the same time, the number of families with children living in emergency accommodations in England rose by 45% in the last 12 months, reaching the highest level in 12 years.

In turn, the Fabian Society says the Tory’s social cuts will increase the number of kids living in poverty by 75% over the next 15 years in the UK, the Daily Mirror notes. Moreover, Berlin has already announced that social disparity will be steadily growing throughout the upcoming decade in Germany.

The Finish Yle notes that the number of children living in poor families has tripled over the last two decades. What is striking is that even those families where both parents are employed full time are unable to earn an adequate revenue.

Ever since 2008, the deepening social crisis in the EU has been making local citizens feel increasingly frustrated with their elected officials. At the same time, local political elites are reluctant to address the most pressing problems of their population, instead they prefer to increase military spending and cut social benefits provided to the poor.

The chain of events, namely the Brexit and the Trumpxit shows the growing frustration of the hard-working people that are still unable to provide decent childhood for their children. And it doesn’t take a genius to know that the ruling elites are going to face a bitter electoral defeat in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Austria. There’s really no way they can win.

November 24, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Trump’s Possible Path Out of Ukraine Crisis

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | November 24, 2016

If Donald Trump wants to make a decisive and constructive mark on U.S. foreign policy early in his presidency, there’s no better place to start than by helping to end the brutal war in Ukraine that has claimed some 10,000 lives.

The Obama administration helped ignite that war by attempting to yank Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and into the Western security and economic sphere. Working alongside the European Union, Washington fanned mass street protests that led to a violent putsch against Kiev’s elected government in February 2014. Moscow responded by annexing (or, depending on your point of view, reunifying with) Russian-speaking Crimea, which is also headquarters of Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet, and backing pro-Russia separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Since then, the two sides have fought to a bloody stalemate. Besides killing thousands of civilians, the war has sunk Ukraine’s economy and fostered rampant corruption. U.S. and E.U. sanctions have dragged down Russia’s economy and derailed cooperation between Washington and Moscow in other theaters. Rising tensions between NATO and Russia have greatly raised the odds of an accidental military confrontation between the world’s two largest nuclear powers.

The best hope for Ukraine — and renewed East-West cooperation — is the Minsk Protocol, signed by Ukrainian, Russian, and European parties in the capital of Belarus on Sept. 5, 2014. The agreement provided for a ceasefire, an exchange of prisoners, and a framework for a political settlement based on giving the Donetsk and Luhansk regions a “special status.”

That agreement broke down amid renewed fighting until the parties signed the Minsk-2 Agreement on Feb. 12, 2015. It provided for constitutional reforms, elections in the two republics, and restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty over its borders. But Kiev has made no serious move to recognize the special status of its breakaway regions, and the two sides have engaged in sporadic hostilities ever since.

Final Words

Presidents Obama and Putin exchanged what may have been their final, desultory words on the subject at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru this month. Obama “urged President Putin to uphold Russia’s commitments under the Minsk agreements,” while a Russian spokesman said the two men “expressed regret that it was not possible to make progress in Ukraine.”

As current foreign policy messes go, however, the Ukrainian imbroglio may offer the greatest opportunities for a rewarding cleanup. Doing so will require both sides to acknowledge some fault and find creative ways to save face.

Fortunately, President-elect Trump has created an opening for such a settlement by reaching out to Putin during the election campaign and explicitly declining to bash Russia for its annexation of Crimea (which followed a hastily arranged referendum in which the official results showed that 96 percent of the voters favored leaving Ukraine and rejoining Russia).

There are also small signs of progress that give hope. A limited demilitarization accord signed in September led to a mutual retreat by the Ukrainian army and pro-Russia separatists from a small city in eastern Ukraine. The withdrawal was verified by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a party to the Minsk accords. Meanwhile, Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia are working on a new roadmap to strengthen the ceasefire.

Conditions for Peace

In a June 2015 interview with Charlie Rose, Putin laid out clear and reasonable conditions for making the Minsk accord stick:

“Today we primarily need to comply with all the agreements reached in Minsk … At the same time, I would like to draw . . . the attention of all our partners to the fact that we cannot do it unilaterally. We keep hearing the same thing, repeated like a mantra – that Russia should influence the southeast of Ukraine. We are. However, it is impossible to resolve the problem through our influence on the southeast alone.

“There has to be influence on the current official authorities in Kiev, which is something we cannot do. This is a road our Western partners have to take – those in Europe and America. Let us work together. … We believe that to resolve the situation we need to implement the Minsk agreements, as I said. The elements of a political settlement are key here. There are several. . . .

“The first one is constitutional reform, and the Minsk agreements say clearly: to provide autonomy or, as they say, decentralization of power. . .

“The second thing that has to be done – the law passed earlier on the special status of . . . Luhansk and Donetsk, the unrecognized republics, should be enacted. It was passed, but still not acted upon. This requires a resolution of the Supreme Rada – the Ukrainian Parliament – which is also covered in the Minsk agreements. . . .

“The third thing is a law on amnesty. It is impossible to have a political dialogue with people who are threatened with criminal persecution. And finally, they need to pass a law on municipal elections on these territories and to have the elections themselves. All this is spelled out in the Minsk agreements. . . .

“I repeat, it is important now to have a direct dialogue between Luhansk, Donetsk and Kiev – this is missing.”

Future of Crimea

Any lasting settlement will also require some compromise over Crimea, which Putin has vowed never to relinquish.

As Ray McGovern, the CIA’s former chief Russia analyst, has noted, the annexation of Crimea did violate a pledge that Russia made in 1994 — along with Great Britain and the United States — “to respect the independence and sovereignty and existing borders of Ukraine,” as a precondition to Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons. Of course, the United States and the E.U. had already violated the same pledge by supporting a coup d’état against the country’s elected government.

McGovern cited other “extenuating circumstances, including alarm among Crimeans over what the unconstitutional ouster of Ukraine’s president might mean for them, as well as Moscow’s not unfounded nightmare of NATO taking over Russia’s major, and only warm-water, naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea.”

In support of annexation, Russian and Crimean authorities also pointed to the hasty referendum that was held in Crimea in March 2014, which resulted in 96 percent support for reunification with Russia, a relationship dating back to the Eighteenth Century. Subsequent polls of Crimean opinion, conducted by Western firms, have largely confirmed support for the 2014 referendum on rejoining Russia. But the referendum did not have international observers and was not accepted by the United States and other Western nations.

Condemning the annexation in a soaring speech about the “rule of law” and America’s dedication to universal principles, President Obama contrasted Crimea with Kosovo, which NATO forcibly broke away from Serbia in 1999.

Obama said, “Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbors. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea.”

Actually, none of that came close to happening in Kosovo, either. Obama’s story was a myth, but it confirmed the powerful legitimacy offered by popular referenda, like those in Great Britain over Scottish independence or Brexit.

Yet, as part of a permanent settlement of the larger Ukraine crisis, the Minsk signatories could agree to hold another, binding referendum in Crimea under international supervision to decide whether it stays under Russian rule or returns to Ukraine.

To get Russia’s buy-in, the United States and its European allies should agree to lift sanctions if Moscow abides by the referendum and other terms of the Minsk accord. They should also agree to rule out the incorporation of Ukraine into NATO, the original sin that sowed the seeds of crisis between Russia and the West. Russia, in turn, could agree to demilitarize its border with Ukraine.

Obstacles to Settlement

President Putin has signaled his willingness to compromise in several ways, including firing his hardline chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, and welcoming the presence of armed observers from OSCE to monitor the Minsk agreement.

But major obstacles still impede progress. One is President Petro Poroshenko’s stalling in the face of opposition to the Minsk accord by Ukrainian nationalists. Kiev needs to be given a firm choice: go it alone, or compromise if it wants continued economic support from the United States and Western Europe. The Obama administration has quietly urged the Poroshenko government to honor the Minsk agreement, but has never put teeth behind its entreaties.

The other major obstacle is hostility from militarist hardliners in the West who propose arming Ukraine to ratchet up conflict with Russia. Prime examples include the State Department’s chief policy maker on Ukraine, Victoria Nuland; former NATO Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove, who became infamous for issuing inflated warnings about Russian military operations; Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain; and Stephen Hadley, Raytheon board member and former national security adviser to President George W. Bush, who chairs the Orwellian-named United States Institute for Peace.

But Trump will have great leeway as commander-in-chief to reject their advice and set a new direction for NATO’s policy on Ukraine and Russia more generally. He has everything to gain by breaking the cycle of political conflict with Moscow.

An ally in the Kremlin will immeasurably improve his chances of making deals in the Middle East, finding a way out of Afghanistan, and managing China.

The next few months should tell us whether Trump has the independence, imagination, and gumption to do the right thing.


Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic.

November 24, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

British neocons take new McCarthyism across the Atlantic

RT | November 23, 2016

A neoconservative British lobby group literally wants to blacklist people for talking to what they consider to be undesirable media. McCarthyism has gone trans-Atlantic.

If the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) was on a solo run, their campaign to smear anybody remotely sympathetic to, or even open to engaging with, Russia as “Putin’s useful idiot” might have been easily dismissed as an absurd, paranoid throwback. After all, the organization is of questionable provenance and is named for a hawkish US senator who rarely saw a war he didn’t like. From Vietnam to Cambodia and Iraq, ‘Scoop’ Jackson’s pursuit of foreign misadventures was legendary.

However, this new narrative is anything but a fluke. Because in the past month, both The Times of London and NATO’s Atlantic Council adjunct have pushed much the same message. And all three entities are interconnected when it comes to evaluating Moscow. Indeed, the “blame Russia” crowd seems to move around with great haste on this think-tank fellow/journalist/expert commentator merry-go-round.

A cold front

This autumn, The Times kicked off the current campaign with a series of articles smearing British personalities who have appeared on Russian stations. Interestingly, the apparent driving force behind the coverage, and lead writer at the paper, is Oliver Kamm, who was a founder member of the HJS and a signatory to the statement of principles.

And that proclamation is some piece of work. In it, we learn how the HJS does not regard a large number of states as “truly legitimate.” Amazingly, they include two of the world’s top three military powers, namely Russia and China. Their sin? Not being American style “liberal democracies,” which in itself is ironic at a time when the US appears to be questioning its own fealty to unbridled liberalism.

For its part, NATO’s Atlantic Council prefers the term ‘Trojan Horses’ rather than ‘useful idiots,’ and it used its November report to slam a particular subset of European public figures, those who do not give unconditional support to the military bloc and its aims. They seemingly include French presidential front-runner Francois Fillon, German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, and British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The simplicity of the defamation is astounding, as the authors refuse to countenance any domestic or moral reasons for why these politicians may not support the further militarization of Europe.

Instead, the only explanation entertained is that they are doing it to suit Moscow.

The introduction to the Atlantic Council’s diatribe is written by Radoslaw Sikorski, the controversial former Polish foreign minister. He happens to be married to Anne Applebaum, who works as a lobbyist for American defense contractors at a Washington and Warsaw-based advocacy named CEPA. She’s joined there by Peter Pomerantsev, who is slated to launch the HJS communique at Westminster on Wednesday.

Also, another person who links the Atlantic Council to HJS is their colleague Michael Weiss. While the activist is now employed to campaign for the former’s interests, he was previously the communication’s director at the latter.

Not to mention the fact that he also edits The Interpreter, a blog dedicated to denigrating Russia, which is a special project of the US government broadcaster RFE/RL Yes. It really is a small world.

New sensation

The HJS report is penned by Andrew Foxall, a former climate change ‘expert’ who has jumped onto the anti-Russia bandwagon in recent years. Foxall’s crude pitch is that somehow the Kremlin is manipulating both Britain’s right and left to control events in the country. Which begs the question of where, exactly, are you allowed to be on the UK political spectrum? Is no one allowed a critical thought that falls outside the bounds of the Foxall-approved centrist establishment?

The title ‘Putin’s Useful Idiots’ is also interesting. Because it’s well known how this phrase is used in the UK to describe people who work in the mainstream media and can be relied on to peddle a certain line when it comes to particular stories, for instance to spin a tale to the benefit of the government or the intelligence agencies. Given that Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6 from 1999 to 2005, was a founder signatory of the HJS, it’s probably fair to say they are fully aware of this association.

Foxall’s advice for how to counter his mythical Russian management of the UK processes certainly seeks to exude the spirit of McCarthyism. He proposes that “activists, journalists, and politicians should point out the pro-Russian connections of individuals and parties across the political spectrum” and “the personal and organizational connections of left- and right-wing politicians and parties and their Russian counterparts should be mapped across Europe.”

Plus, “Parliaments across Europe should amend current legislation or pass new legislation that forces politicians to declare all media appearances they make, whether they receive money for them or not.”

It homes in on people like Nigel Farage, currently the UK establishment’s bête noire, and insinuates how Arron Banks, UKIP’s primary donor, has “colorful links” to Russia. Corbyn and his chief adviser, Seumas Milne, are also harangued for having appeared on RT. As is Ken Livingstone, a two-term mayor of London.

Meanwhile, Milne is further attacked for having attended the Valdai Club in Sochi, an international discussion group designed to promote understanding across borders. The gathering has hosted many influential world figures, not to mention academics from places like Harvard, Stanford, LSE and the Sorbonne. Here it is misrepresented as “an annual propaganda and ego-boosting event.”

Winter campaign

The rather unexpected outcome of the US presidential election had distracted Russia’s ‘fan club’ for a short while, but the team is now back on the circuit, with gusto. And the same names just keep popping up all the time, repeating their usual dirge of “Kremlin bad; anything west of St Petersburg – good.”

No wonder many Western establishment politicians love these guys. Because with their imprimatur, they don’t have to accept responsibility for their own failings or inadequacies. Instead, they are presented with a ready-made boogeyman on which everything undesirable can pin.

Why should the establishment analyze its own failings when considering why Brexit passed, or Donald Trump is US President-elect, despite their best efforts to ensure the opposite outcome? Why take a sober, internally focused look at the rise of Marine Le Pen in France or increasingly popular alternative political movements in Austria, Italy or the Netherlands? Instead, the anti-Russia lobby groups offer an easier option: “Blame the Kremlin, for everything.”

While musing on ‘useful idiots’ or ‘Trojan Horses,’ another expression comes to mind: ‘burying one’s head in the sand.’ While ostriches get the bum rap for the practice, really it is the humans of the media-political establishment variety who have perfected it in recent times. And reports like these are only perpetuating this self-destructive practice.

Read more:

‘UK’s censorship & harassment are no solution’: European journalists’ union speaks up for RT

EU Parliament promotes democratic values by lumping journalists in with terrorists

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

Madame President Le Pen – Europe’s next political earthquake

By Finian Cunningham | RT | November 22, 2016

After the shock of Brexit and then election of Donald Trump to the White House, anything now seems possible in the political world. Six months hence, Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s Front National (FN), will be within reach of the presidency.

It’s a possibility that Le Pen is not alone in trumpeting, following Britain’s surprise vote to leave the European Union and Trump’s equally surprising US victory earlier this month. Last week, incumbent French Prime Minister Manuel Valls acknowledged that the FN leader could be elected the French republic’s new president when the country goes to the polls during April-May next year.

The 48-year-old Le Pen, a trained lawyer, is hoping that her bid for Élysée Palace will tap into the zeitgeist of what she calls a “popular uprising against ruling elites”.

Her chances of becoming head of state in the EU’s second largest member after Germany has just received a further boost from the expected nomination of Francois Fillon as presidential candidate of the center-right Les Republicains party. Fillon is way ahead of his party rival Alain Juppé in the nomination process, which concludes this coming weekend.

While Fillon has adopted Le Pen’s agenda of tougher immigration controls, there is a gulf of difference on economic issues, as well as on France’s relation to the EU bloc.

Fillon, a prime minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2012), is an economic neoliberal hawk. He proudly claims the late British premier Margaret Thatcher as one of his ideological mentors. Fillon is promising to slash public service jobs and budgets, while also gutting French labor laws to remove statutory caps on maximum working hours and to increase the retirement age.

It is hard to conceive of a more politically tone-deaf candidate for the presidency. This year France has seen months of massive public protests against the very hardline austerity measures that Fillon is advocating.

So, while his tough rhetoric on clamping down on immigration and his socially conservative opposition to gay marriage might appeal to some citizens on the political right, Marine Le Pen appears to be more in tune with concerns of the broader electorate. Those concerns are motivated by economic insecurity and loss of democratic accountability in an era of seemingly implacable financial globalization.

The rise of FN in France and other eurosceptic political parties across Europe is not simply due to xenophobia and racial tensions over immigration. It is arguably much more about counteracting the excesses of a global oligarchy, which the EU and established political parties have come to embody.

Whereas Le Pen wants to follow Britain in quitting the EU altogether to reassert national control over the economy, Fillon has no such ambitions. He is a candidate for globalization and austerity, the very program that has become a totemic hate symbol driving the populist mood for revolt.

The FN has come a long way from its origins when it was considered a bete noire of French and European politics owing to perceived fascist and racist tendencies. Founded in 1993 by Jean-Marie Le Pen, father of Marine, the party would never receive mainstream media coverage. Now it does.

Marine Le Pen cleans house

When she took over the FN leadership in 2011, Le Pen embarked on a “detoxication” of the party, cleaning up its image as an anti-Semitic, racist fringe movement. This has led to an acrimonious split with her father, who has been banished to obscurity as “honorary president” over his repeated remarks about the Nazi Holocaust being a mere “historical footnote”.

Under Marine, the FN has also adopted a more leftwing economic agenda, such as protecting employment rights, increasing the minimum wage and vowing to fight corporate capitalism by spurning neoliberal international trade deals.

This is perhaps where she promises to rally French voters when they go to the first and second rounds of the presidential election on April 23 and May 7.

The incumbent Socialist President Francois Hollande and his prime minister Manuel Valls have become toxic for French workers and traditional leftwing voters. Since his election in 2012, Hollande’s popularity has plummeted to record single-digit lows. The Socialist party leadership is vilified as “betraying” ordinary citizens by accommodating finance capital and embracing neoliberal austerity.

So abject has the Socialist party become in the eyes of the electorate, it is inconceivable that it will be able muster a viable candidate for the presidential election.

That in effect makes the ballot a face-off between Marine Le Pen and Francois Fillon, whose supporters may be betting on his anti-immigrant rhetoric to decisively capture the rightwing vote. The 62-year-old also has more than three decades of parliamentary experience, which might be viewed as giving him appeal for more centrist voters.

But such calculations are badly amiss in gauging the popular mood in France and elsewhere. The popular discontent with conventional politics goes beyond rightwing concerns over excessive immigration and “multi-culturalism”. It is about challenging the status quo of perceived economic oppression that politicians like Francois Fillon represent.

In this assessment, Le Pen stands to reap votes from a much broader constituency of French citizens, straddling both the traditional left and right, but all united under the banner of demanding democratic control over basic economic matters.

If the FN sweeps to power by May of next year, the European political landscape will be shattered. An outwardly anti-EU French presidency would herald the collapse of the 28-member bloc as we know it.

That will have radical implications for US, European and Russian relations. No longer shackled by pro-Washington Atlanticism, France and Europe would begin to realign with more balanced and mutual relations with Moscow. Given Donald Trump’s more pragmatic friendly intentions towards Russian President Vladimir Putin, the whole geopolitical outlook next year could be upended – and upended for the greater global good. The current US-led hostility towards Russia abandoned and flash-points in Ukraine and Syria defused.

Center-right presidential hopeful Francois Fillon has a more reasonable view of Russia compared with the slavish Socialist party leadership under Hollande and Valls. Last week, he called for a international coalition involving Russia as a partner in the global fight against terrorism.

However, Le Pen is again seen to be more in tune with the electorate on that issue. She has berated Washington and European leaders for demonizing Russia, wants to jettison self-defeating punitive sanctions against Moscow, and she openly aligns with Vladimir Putin on foreign policy objectives, including his support for Syria against illegally armed insurgents who also pose grave security threats to France and the rest of Europe.

Whether Le Pen can deliver on policies to ameliorate French society and the economy is a moot point. But the improved shake-up of France and Europe’s foreign relations with the US and Russia is something that one feels many French voters will be willing to take a chance on.

Brexit, Trump, Le Pen could prove to be three moments in a year of major upheaval. As with any change, there are always risks for downsides. But given the rottenness of conventional politics in the West, the possibility of change is welcome.

And a Le Pen political earthquake might be the final shock to bring a rotten edifice crashing down.

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Draining the Swamp at State

22030636918_5bb6af03d4_z

Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0
By Renee Parsons | CounterPunch | November 22, 2016

If there is one hopeful sign in the Presidency of Donald Trump, it is his pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ as it relates to those special insider interests who run the show and those outsider interests who own the show.

It is a hugely ambitious task and hardly achievable in four short years but there is a branch of the Federal government where the President-elect (PE) would find immediate results and bring the satisfaction that American foreign policy would no longer be dependent on globalization or spreading unwinnable wars on wasteful adventurism overseas. If the PE is, in fact, favorable towards a non-interventionist role, the opportunity for a thorough housecleaning and a reshape of the State Department is Now. According to current reports, the struggle is underway within the transition team for the soul of the State Department and ultimately the Trump Administration.

As HRC continued her crazed war talk about Syria and defended NATO encroachment on Russian borders while uttering unprovoked attacks on Russian President Vladimir Putin, there was every reason to believe that minutes after concluding her inaugural address, HRC would have walked off the stage and signed the order initiating a No-Fly Zone over Syria, right then and there. And bingo-bango-bongo, Putin would have responded. I knew it as sure as I know my own name.  At some point it became clear, as Green Party candidate Jill Stein said so precisely, HRC would be more dangerous than Donald Trump.

Even as he talked about modernizing the US military, Trump’s campaign rhetoric about disentangling from foreign entanglements, making NATO nations pay their fair share and dialogue with Putin rather than the usual “Blame it on the Russians” bombast, struck a chord; there was reason for hope. Unlike Bernie Sanders who has proven to be just another Democrat, Trump dared to question whether there were any ‘moderate’ rebels (aka terrorists) in Syria, the mythical existence of which justified the Obama administration’s lust to overthrow the Assad government. Trump’s positions, limited elucidation though there was, were always far more reasonable than HRC’s inflammatory saber rattling and aggressive militarism that stirred justified fears of WW III. If anyone bothered to listen, Trump was voicing foreign policy concerns that not one Democrat in Congress has dared to articulate in the last eight years.

While I am in the ‘wait and see’ category of pragmatists regarding the PE, I agree with Robert Parry’s point that Trump has the opportunity to be a truly great president IF, and it’s a big IF,  he uses his inner grit and a street savvy to break the globalist/neoliberal/neocon  stranglehold (with its links to shadow government) on foreign policy at the State Department, a concept that President Barack Obama never understood or even aspired to.  The PE appointment for Secretary of State which is currently an intense subject of debate within the transition will indicate which direction the PE will take US foreign policy.

In the early days after the election Trump communication advisor Jason Miller offered reassurance with the following:

“There will be non-traditional names, a number of people who have had wide-ranging success in a number of different fields; wide-ranging success in business … People will be excited when they see the type of leaders the President-elect brings into this administration.”

One not so non-traditional and not so exciting appointment is that of Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the Select Committee on Benghazi, as Director of the CIA.  Pompeo, who graduated first in his class at West Point and then Harvard Law School and was a backer of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl) during the primaries, would hardly qualify as anything more than the ‘same old’ school of CIA Directors that have dominated the agency for decades under the Republicrats. Pompeo, known as a rabid political ideologue, is not expected to break with the past and can be expected to continue the agency’s widespread unconstitutional violations with an unabashed torture program as if that ever revealed reliable ‘actionable intelligence’ or curtailed dedicated terrorists. So what message does that appointment send?

During their interview, it would be interesting to know if there was discussion that PE Trump’s opposition to the Iran nuclear treaty has been largely based on non-inclusive trade concerns. If, in fact, the PE’s view of foreign policy includes trade as a legitimate tool for negotiations, the House of Representatives recent party-line vote in rejection (a plum for Israel) of the sale of Boeing and Airbus commercial jets to Iran would be considered a diplomatic setback (under a Trump Administration).

Yet to be determined is whether Trump will roll over and appoint his good friend Rudy Giuliani who has no diplomatic experience whatsoever to qualify him and will inevitably be utterly lost in the State Department’s bureaucracy and political snake pit – or will the President-elect allow himself to be pressured to accept former Bush UN Ambassador, the wacky conniving John Bolton who will owe his allegiance to the professional warmongering neocons. Sen. Rand Paul (R-SC) who frequently shows some good Libertarian common sense on foreign policy issues, has announced his intention to block either nomination.

While former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney who has been recently added to the list for Secretary of State would add a certain gravitas, he is another not non-traditional name with little first hand, on the ground knowledge of today’s foreign policy complexities. More importantly, does Romney know how to clean house?

As soon as the votes were counted, certain neo-cons jumped Clinton’s sinking ship without so much as a fond adieu and, being shy, retiring types, sought to elbow their way onto the Trump Ship of State. More recently, Eliot Cohen’s attempts at a tryst soured as he expressed displeasure after having ‘made the case that young conservatives should volunteer to serve” now concluded he ‘was wrong’.

Other neo-con names floating as transition team members have been the especially slimy, Richard Perle known appropriately as the Prince of Darkness, foreign policy analyst Michael Ledeen who supports the use violence to spread democracy and  noted Islamaphobe Frank Gaffney,  who denied he was on the transition team and had ever been contacted.

If the PE and his closest aides are naïve enough to believe that a conciliatory gesture will engender cooperation from the foreign policy establishment, they are woefully misguided. If Trump fails to rein in the neocons and war hawk neolibs (including assistant secretaries, deputy assistant secretaries and lower level staff) with dispatch, they will quickly discover that if you get into the swamp with alligators, you had better be prepared to wrestle alligators.

At the same time, the reality is that the estimated hundreds of embedded neocons and neolibs at State have the potential, as they clean out their desks, to pilfer (an ultra serious legal violation) the last decade worth of top secret and confidential memos, notes and reports, contacts and network names and other vital information necessary for the transition of foreign policy to the Trump administration. It would not be surprising for a situation to develop similar to some months ago when fifty plus State mid level careerists ‘leaked’ an internal memo criticizing President Obama’s policy on Syria without any apparent repercussions. If the Trump Administration takes foreign policy in a new, improved direction, how will the new President deal with being subtly, or not so subtly, undermined by his own staff? There is no reason to believe that the most virulent elements of the US foreign policy establishment closely tied to Israel will ‘go quietly into that good night.’

Less than a week after the election, PE had his first phone conversation with Putin and they reportedly talked extensively about Syria and promised a face-to-face in the near future. Moscow reported that Putin told Trump he was ready for “dialogue of partnership based on principles of equality, mutual response and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other.” The Trump transition team statement said that the PE told Putin ‘he is very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia” which is considerably more encouraging than what HRC would have told Putin if she had been elected.

In a Wall Street Journal interview three days after the election, Trump suggested a shift from Obama’s foreign policy objectives regarding support for the Syrian opposition and its insistence on ousting Syrian president Bashar al Assad. “We’re backing rebels against Syria and we have no idea who these people are.”

Not unexpectedly, Trump named retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (2012-2014), as his National Security Adviser succeeding Obama NSA Susan Rice. Flynn resigned or was pushed out of the DIA because of a public difference of opinion regarding the Obama Syria strategy which was to support those mythical ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels to oust Assad rather than focus on the destruction of ISIS. Flynn is being portrayed by the NY Times and others as ‘hotheaded’ and irresponsible with ‘poor judgment’ as well as an “alarming pick” for NSA.

In an interview with Fareed Zakaria in 2015 which was replayed on CNN since his appointment, Flynn spoke about threats from ISIS: “We are not winning, we are participating. We need to do more to defeat this problem than just go kill a couple more radical Islamists.” Flynn took the discussion beyond a military solution citing the need for an “economic transformation beyond building schools” while creating “other aspects of energy to achieve that economic transformation” and the use of “water as a means to increase the economic health of the region.”

Zakaria debunked Flynn’s thoughts with “that would require a huge transformation of the whole region” and would be “incredibly costly, laborious and generational. I think the Obama Administration would say it’s not worth the effort; not the kind of existential threat to the US that would warrant that massive expenditure of time, money and resources.” As if the US war-related $20 trillion deficit is peanuts.

Currently, Flynn is being criticized for comments referring to radical Islamists as ‘a political ideology hiding behind the notion of it being a religion” which brings to mind a discussion re the true tenets of Islam that I had with a Florida Imam. His comparison was that as certain fundamental Christians have distorted Christianity to suit their political agenda; so too have certain Moslems used their religion to justify their ideology. The fact that Flynn sees that distinction is encouraging.


Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Does Clinton’s Defeat Mean the Decline of US Interventionism?

Photo by The U.S. Army | CC BY 2.0

Photo by The U.S. Army | CC BY 2.0
By Marwen Bouassida | CounterPunch | November 22, 2016

Carthage, Tunisia – No one knows what the future will bring. Yet, many observers have been quick to announce the decline of American interventionism and the revival of isolationism–the end of an era and the beginning of another.

Rightly or wrongly, Hillary Clinton’s defeat by Donald Trump fuels this prediction, which depresses some and delights other. The conflicted responses to Trump’s victory, based on ideological interests and values, register even within families. However, the most dramatic split reactions to Trump’s victory are exemplified by the left’s reception—liberal or socialist—in the global North versus the global South. If the North reacted to Trump’s victory with suffocated apprehension, the South experienced it as a breath of fresh air, not out of sympathy for Trump but as a rejection of Clinton.

The global South associates the name of Clinton—Bill or Hillary—with the heralds of humanitarian intervention. If the discourse of humanitarianism seduced the North, it has not been so in the South, even less in the Near and Middle East, which no longer believe in it. The patent humanitarian disasters in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have disillusioned them.

It is in this sense that Trump’s victory is felt as a release, a hope for change, and a rupture from the policy of Clinton, Bush, and Obama. This policy, in the name of edifying nations (“nation building”), has destroyed some of the oldest nations and civilizations on earth; in the name of delivering well-being, it has delivered misery; in the name of liberal values, it has galvanized religious zeal; in the name of democracy and human rights, it has installed autocracies and Sharia law.

Who is to blame?

Did the United States not know that intervening in “the lands of Islam” would act as a catalyst for Jihad? Was it by chance that the United States intervened only in secular states, turning them into manholes of religious extremism? Is it a coincidence that these interventions were and are often supported by regimes that sponsor political Islam? Conspiracy theory, you say? No, these are historical facts.

Can the United States not learn from history, or does it just doom itself to repeat it? Does it not pose itself the question of how al-Qaeda and Daesh originated? How did they organize themselves? Who trained them? What is their mobilizing discourse? (1) Why is the US their target?  None of this seems to matter to the US: all it cares about is projecting its own idealism. (2)

The death of thousands of people in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya or Syria, has it contributed to the well being of these peoples? Or does the United States perhaps respond to this question in the manner of Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, who regretted the death of five-hundred-thousand Iraqi children, deprived of medications by the American embargo, to conclude with the infamous sentence, “[But] it was worth it “?

Was it worth it that people came to perceive humanitarian intervention as the new crusades? Was it worth it that they now perceive democracy as a pagan, pre-Islamic model, abjured by their belief? Was it worth it that they now perceive modernity as deviating believers from the “true” path? Was it worth that they now perceive human rights as human standards as contrary to the divine will? Was it worth it that people now perceive secularism as atheism whose defenders are punishable by beheading?

Have universal values become a problem rather than a solution? What then to think of making war in their name? Has humanitarian intervention become punishment rather than help?

The South has understood where the North has not: the selective nature of humanitarian interventions reflects their punitive nature; sanctions go to non-client regimes; interventions seem to be a new excuse for the hegemonic ambitions of the United States and its allies; they are a new rationale for NATO after the collapse of the Soviet Union; they are a way to suppress Russia and deprive it of its zones of influence. (3)

What a far-sighted motion was that of the coalition of the countries of the Third World (G77) at the Havana Summit in 2000! It declared its rejection of any intervention, including humanitarian, which did not respect the sovereignty of the states concerned. (4) This was nothing other than a rejection of the Clinton Doctrine, announced in 1999, in the wake of the war of Kosovo, which made “humanitarian intervention” the new bedrock, or perhaps the new facade, of the foreign policy of the United States. It was the same policy followed and developed by Hillary Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state. (5)

The end of interventionism?

But are Clinton’s defeat and Trump’s accession to power sufficient reasons to declare the decline of interventionism?

Donald Trump is a nationalist, whose rise has been the result of a coalition of anti-interventionists within the Republican Party. They profess a foreign policy that Trump has summarized in these words: “We will use military force only in cases of vital necessity to the national security of the United States. We will put an end to attempts of imposing democracy and overthrowing regimes abroad, as well as involving ourselves in situations in which we have no right to intervene.” (6)

But drawing conclusions about the foreign policy of the United States from unofficial statements seems simplistic. At the moment of this writing, any speculation as to the policy choices of Trump’s foreign policy is premature. One can’t predict his policy with regard to the Near and Middle East, since he has not yet even formed his cabinet. Moreover, presidents in office can change their tune in the course of their tenure. The case of George W. Bush provides an excellent example.

Like Donald Trump, George W. Bush was a conservative Republican non-interventionist. He advocated “America First,” called for a more subdued foreign policy and adopted Colin Powell’s realism “to attend without stress” (7) with regard to the Near and Middle East. But his policy shifted to become the most aggressive and most brutal in the history of the United States. Many international observers argue that this shift came as a response to the September 11 attacks, but they fail to note that the aggressive germs already existed within Bush’s cabinet and advisers: the neo-conservatives occupied key functions in his administration. (8)

Up until now, Trump’s links with the neo-cons remain unclear. The best-known neo-cons, Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, and Robert Kagan, appear to have lost their bet by supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. But others, less prominent or influential, seem to have won it by supporting Trump: Dick Cheney, Norman Podhoretz, and James Woolsey, his adviser and one of the architects of the wars in the Middle East.

These indices show that nothing seems to have been gained by the South, still less by the Near and Middle East. There appears to be no guarantee that the situation will improve.

The non-interventionism promised by Trump may not necessarily equate to a policy of isolationism. A non-interventionist policy does not automatically mean that the United States will stop protecting their interests abroad, strategic or otherwise. Rather, it could mean that the United States will not intervene abroad except to defend their own interests, unilaterally–and perhaps even more aggressively. Such a potential is implied in Trump’s promise to increase the budget for the army and the military-industrial complex. Thus, it is more realistic to suppose that as long as the United States has interests in the countries of the South and the Near and Middle East, so long it will not hesitate to intervene.

In this context, Clinton’s defeat and Trump’s accession are not sufficient reasons to declare the decline of interventionism—the end of an era and the beginning of another. The political reality is too complex to be reduced to statements by a presidential candidate campaigning for election, by an elected president, or even by a president in the course of performing his office.

No one knows what the future will bring.

Marwen Bouassida is a researcher in international law at North African-European relations, University of Carthage, Tunisia. He regularly contributes to the online magazine Kapitalis.

(Translated from the French by Luciana Bohne)

Works Cited

1    The Declaration of 77 South Summit, Havana – Cuba, 10 – 14 April 2000: http://www.g77.org/summit/Declaration_G77Summit.htm

2    See : Diana Johnstone, Queen of Chaos : The misadventure of Hillary Clinton, CounterPunch, 2015.

3    Actualité : « Trump mettra fin aux ingérences US s’il est élu », Suptniknews (Novembre 04, 2016) En ligne : http://sptnkne.ws/cBzJ

4    Gilles Kepel, Fitna : Guerre au cœur de l’islam, Gallimard, 2004, p.90.

5    Ted Galen Carpenter, “Donald Trump’s foreign policy: What will he really do?” The National Interest (Novembre 12, 2016) Online: http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/donald-trumps-foreign-policy-what-will-he-really-do-18378

6    Sputniknews, « Trump mettra fin aux ingérences US s’il est élu », Novembre 04, 2016. http://sptnkne.ws/cBzJ (last seen: November 17, 2016)

7    Gilles Kepel, Fitna : Guerre au cœur de l’islam, Gallimard, 2004, p.90

8    Ted Galen Carpenter, “Donald Trump’s foreign policy: What will he really do?”, The National Interest, Novembre 12, 2016 http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/donald-trumps-foreign-policy-what-will-he-really-do-18378 (last seen: Novembre 17, 2016)

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment