President Trump rose from the ashes of Mike Flynn at his press conference last Thursday. In a bravura performance, defiant and funny at times, the President took on the corporate media en masse.
It is a performance that should not be missed. You can savor both video and transcript at your leisure here.
Trump: “Unfortunately, much of the media in Washington, D.C., along with New York, Los Angeles in particular, speaks not for the people, but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system. The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk to find out what’s going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.”
Sounds like what many “progressives” have been saying for a mighty long time, and it deserves resounding applause from them.
Trump: “And I’ll tell you what else I see. I see tone. You know the word ‘tone.’ The tone is such hatred. I’m really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such — I do get good ratings, you have to admit that — the tone is such hatred.”
And: “Now, I will say this. I watch it. I see it. I’m amazed by it. The public gets it, you know. Look, when I go to rallies, they turn around, they start screaming at CNN. They want to throw their placards at CNN. You know.”
The bias of the press against Trump is so obvious and heavy handed that no one can miss it. I asked one friend who is an avid and careful reader of the NYT whether he could name a single pro-Trump article over the last year. He could not. Does the press believe that the public are such fools that they cannot see this tone? This is but one more sign of the contempt that the clueless Elite have for the working stiff.
Russia and Putin
The most important point of the press conference was undoubtedly Trump’s refusal to back off one inch from his desire to “get along with Russia,” what some call New Détente or Détente 2.0. It is the most important, because tension between the two nuclear powers could well lead to war and nuclear exchange. For anti-warriors of every stripe Trump’s steadfastness was good news. The Flynn episode has not changed Trump’s resolve one iota.
Trump continued. Were he to denounce Russia and Putin, he instructed the press, it would be much easier for him politically. He would be hailed by the corporate press, the elitists of both Parties, the neocons, the Hillarycons and the entire foreign policy establishment, all of whom are itching for a fight, heedless that it might lead to a nuclear exchange. So Trump’s willingness to hold to this position is hardly opportunistic.
But he went farther. Trump let the press know that the atmosphere they are creating would make it difficult to negotiate with Putin, to defeat ISIS, or to bring an end to the crises in Ukraine or Syria nurtured by the US over the last six plus years. Why? Because he would have difficulty making concessions, giving as well as taking which any negotiation or deal demands. Any concession would trigger the charge that Trump is Putin’s puppet, the crazed mantra with which we are harangued daily and for which after all these many months there is not a shred of evidence. This is the very same point that Stephen F. Cohen, Emeritus Professor of Russian History at Princeton and NYU, often makes in his weekly discussions (Jan.25 episode especially) of U.S., Russia relations with John Batchelor on WABC.
Trump: “But I want to just tell you, the false reporting by the media, by you people, the false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia. And probably Putin said ‘you know.’ He’s sitting behind his desk and he’s saying ‘you know, I see what’s going on in the United States, I follow it closely. It’s going to be impossible for President Trump to ever get along with Russia because of all the pressure he’s got with this fake story.’ OK? And that’s a shame because if we could get along with Russia — and by the way, China and Japan and everyone. If we could get along, it would be a positive thing, not a negative thing.” (Emphasis, jw).
And later, Trump: “But you know what? I want to do the right thing for the American people. And to be honest, secondarily, I want to do the right thing for the world.
If Russia and the United States actually got together and got along — and don’t forget, we’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. There’s no upside. We’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. I have been briefed. And I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other. (Emphasis, jw)… They’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are we. If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”
The idea of “getting along” with other nations, even as we compete with them economically, is of course the way to peace and the very antithesis of the path the neocons and liberalcons from the Clintons to Bush to Obama have set us on these past thirty plus years of killing and destruction. And yet the “peace movement” expresses nothing but hatred for Trump and pushes for his impeachment. Some “peace” movement, that.
Back to l’affaire Flynn for a moment. Permit this writer to make a surmise, scarcely a ripple on the sea of surmises these days about the Deep State, Trump etc. Flynn did nothing illegal. Trump did not have to let him go, and it can easily be argued that Trump may have kept blood out of the water by sticking by Flynn and keeping him on. Flynn has been an asset. He is a champion of Détente 2.0 with Russia. He knows the national “intelligence” apparatus and where all its skeletons are closeted. He seems to know the deep story of the support that the Obama and Hillary forces gave to ISIS – certainly indirectly through US allies and probably also directly through the CIA, Mossad etc. But Flynn is also a man near crazed with an irrational bellicosity to Iran. That would have thrown a monkey wrench into Détente 2.0 since Russia and Iran have close ties especially in the fight against Sunni fundamentalist terrorism. So sooner or later Flynn had to go to preserve Détente 2.0. Did Trump take this opportunity to do so? And did Tillerson also crave this? It is a suspicion worth pondering. Trump has shown a cold-blooded capacity to say “you’re fired” when someone’s liabilities outweigh their assets. This writer suspects that Flynn’s time had come.
John V. Walsh can be reached at email@example.com.
Fleeing to Canada is no longer an option
Liberals are supposed to be antiwar, right? I went to college in the 1960s, when students nationwide were rising up in opposition to the Vietnam War. I was a Young Republican back then and supported the war through sheer ignorance and dislike of the sanctimoniousness of the protesters, some of whom were surely making their way to Canada to live in exile on daddy’s money while I was on a bus going to Fort Leonard Wood for basic combat training. I can’t even claim that I had some grudging respect for the antiwar crowd because I didn’t, but I did believe that at least some of them who were not being motivated by being personally afraid of getting hurt were actually sincere in their opposition to the awful things that were happening in Southeast Asia.
As I look around now, however, I see something quite different. The lefties I knew in college are now part of the Establishment and generally speaking are retired limousine liberals. And they now call themselves progressives, of course, because it sounds more educated and sends a better message, implying as it does that troglodytic conservatives are anti-progress. But they also have done a flip on the issue of war and peace. In its most recent incarnation some of this might be attributed to a desperate desire to relate to the Hillary Clinton campaign with its bellicosity towards Russia, Syria and Iran, but I suspect that the inclination to identify enemies goes much deeper than that, back as far as the Bill Clinton Administration with its sanctions on Iraq and the Balkan adventure, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and the creation of a terror-narco state in the heart of Europe. And more recently we have seen the Obama meddling in Libya, Yemen and Syria in so called humanitarian interventions which have turned out to be largely fraudulent. Yes, under the Obama Dems it was “responsibility to protect time” (r2p) and all the world trembled as the drones were let loose.
Last Friday I started to read an op-ed in The Washington Post by David Ignatius that blew me away. It began “President Trump confronts complicated problems as the investigation widens into Russia’s attack on our political system.” It then proceeded to lay out the case for an “aggressive Russia” in the terms that have been repeated ad nauseam in the mainstream media. And it was, of course, lacking in any evidence, as if the opinions of coopted journalists and the highly politicized senior officials in the intelligence community should be regarded as sacrosanct. These are, not coincidentally, the same people who have reportedly recently been working together to undercut the White House by leaking and then reporting highly sensitive transcripts of phone calls with Russian officials.
Ignatius is well plugged into the national security community and inclined to be hawkish but he is also a typical Post politically correct progressive on most issues. So here was your typical liberal asserting something in a dangerous fashion that has not been demonstrated and might be completely untrue. Russia is attacking “our political system!” And The Post is not alone in accepting that Russia is trying to subvert and ultimately overthrow our republic. Reporting from The New York Times and on television news makes the same assumption whenever they discuss Russia, leading to what some critics have described as mounting American ‘hysteria’ relating to anything coming out of Moscow.
Rachel Maddow is another favorite of mine when it comes to talking real humanitarian feel good stuff out one side of her mouth while beating the drum for war from the other side. In a bravura performance on January 26th she roundly chastised Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. Rachel, who freaked out completely when Donald Trump was elected, is now keen to demonstrate that Trump has been corrupted by Russia and is now controlled out of the Kremlin. She described Trump’s lord and master Putin as an “intense little man” who murders his opponents before going into the whole “Trump stole the election with the aid of Moscow” saga, supporting sanctions on Russia and multiple investigations to get to the bottom of “Putin’s attacks on our democracy.” Per Maddow, Russia is the heart of darkness and, by way of Trump, has succeeded in exercising control over key elements in the new administration.
Unfortunately, people in the media like Ignatius and Maddow are not alone. Their willingness to sell a specific political line that carries with it a risk of nuclear war as fact, even when they know it is not, has been part of the fear-mongering engaged in by Democratic Party loyalists and many others on the left. Their intention is to “get Trump” whatever it takes, which opens the door to some truly dangerous maneuvering that could have awful consequences if the drumbeat and military buildup against Russia continues, leading Putin to decide that his country is being threatened and backed into a corner. Moscow has indicated that it would not hesitate use nuclear weapons if it is being confronted militarily and facing defeat.
The current wave of Russophobia is much more dangerous than the random depiction of foreigners in negative terms that has long bedeviled a certain type of American know-nothing politics. Apart from the progressive antipathy towards Putin personally, there is a virulent strain of anti-Russian sentiment among some self-styled conservatives in congress, best exemplified by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Graham has recently said “2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress.”
It is my belief that many in the National Security State have convinced themselves that Russia is indeed a major threat against the United States and not because it is a nuclear armed power that can strike the U.S. That appreciation, should, if anything constitute a good reason to work hard to maintain cordial relations rather than not, but it is seemingly ignored by everyone but Donald Trump.
No, the new brand of Russophobia derives from the belief that Moscow is “interfering” in places like Syria and Ukraine. Plus, it is a friend of Iran. That perception derives from the consensus view among liberals and conservatives alike that the U.S. sphere of influence encompasses the entire globe as well as the particularly progressive conceit that Washington should serve to “protect” anyone threatened at any time by anyone else, which provides a convenient pretext for military interventions that are euphemistically described as “peace missions.”
There might be a certain cynicism in many who hate Russia as having a powerful enemy also keeps the cash flowing from the treasury into the pockets of the beneficiaries of the military industrial congressional complex, but my real fear is that, having been brainwashed for the past ten years, many government officials are actually sincere in their loathing of Moscow and all its works. Recent opinion polls suggest that that kind of thinking is popular among Americans, but it actually makes no sense. Though involvement by Moscow in the Middle East and Eastern Europe is undeniable, calling it a threat against U.S. vital interests is more than a bit of a stretch as Russia’s actual ability to make trouble is limited. It has exactly one overseas military facility, in Syria, while the U.S. has more than 800, and its economy and military budget are tiny compared to that of the United States. In fact, it is Washington that is most guilty of intervening globally and destabilizing entire regions, not Moscow, and when Donald Trump said in an interview that when it came to killing the U.S. was not so innocent it was a gross understatement.
Ironically, pursuing a reset with Russia is one of the things that Trump actually gets right but the new left won’t give him a break because they reflexively hate him for not embracing the usual progressive bromides that they believe are supposed to go with being antiwar. Other Moscow trashing comes from the John McCain camp which demonizes Russia because warmongers always need an enemy and McCain has never found a war he couldn’t support. It would be a tragedy for the United States if both the left and enough of the right were to join forces to limit Trump’s options on dealing with Moscow, thereby enabling an escalating conflict that could have tragic consequences for all parties.
According to the New York Times, «a Trump administration official» has accused Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). The statement was supported by the Defense Department. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain chimed in, saying «Russia’s deployment of nuclear-tipped ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the INF treaty is a significant military threat to US forces in Europe and our NATO allies». According to him, Russian President Vladimir Putin was «testing» Trump.
The statement was immediately used by hawks as a pretext for instigating tensions. For instance, Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, said he sees little reason for the US to continue adhering to the INF treaty in light of alleged Russia’s «violations». He has recommended building up US nuclear forces in Europe, which currently include about 200 bombs that can be delivered by aircraft. The US withdrew land-based nuclear-armed missiles from Europe as part of the INF deal.
The Treaty eliminated all ground-based nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, with ranges of 500–1,000 kilometers (310–620 mi) (short-range) and 1,000–5,500 km (620–3,420 mi) (intermediate-range). Signed in December 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF deal is accredited with significantly reducing the threat of nuclear confrontation and accelerating the end of the Cold War.
By May 1991, 2,692 missiles were eliminated, followed by 10 years of on-site verification inspections. The document did not cover sea-launched missiles. It stands as the only arms treaty to eliminate an entire class of US and Russian weapons – nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles of intermediate range.
Last year, the State Department reported Russia was in violation of its treaty obligations not to possess, produce or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, or to possess or produce launchers for such missiles. «The administration is undertaking an extensive review of Russia’s ongoing INF treaty violation in order to assess the potential security implications for the United States and its allies and partners», said Mark Toner. The alleged violations had been mentioned in the 2014 and 2015 compliance reports.
No specifics have been released about which exactly Russian weapon is the source of the violation. The only thing it has said is that an unspecified Russian ground-launched cruise missile breaches the agreement. Supposedly, the missile in question is the SSC-8, a ground-based adaptation of the Kalibr missiles that were battle tested in Syria striking targets in Syria, nearly 1,000 miles away, from the Caspian Sea. Despite all the statements with accusations, no compelling evidence of the Russian non-compliance has ever been produced.
It should be noted that even if the missile has been tested, there is no violation. The INF Treaty allows the testing of sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) from ground-based platforms if they are fixed. Article VII (para 11) states, «A cruise missile which is not a missile to be used in a ground-based mode shall not be considered to be a GLCM if it is test-launched at a test site from a fixed land-based launcher which is used solely for test purposes and which is distinguishable from GLCM launchers».
Russia, in turn, has accused the US of violating the pact. In a nutshell, it cites the following examples of non-compliance:
– The use of target missiles with characteristics similar to those of intermediate and shorter-range ballistic missiles during ballistic missile defense (BMD) tests. With its operational range (1,100 km) Hera qualifies as an intermediate ballistic missile and hence violates Item 1, Article 6 of the INF Treaty.
– The deployment in Romania and Poland of Mk-41 Aegis Ashore launchers capable of firing ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs). A US mid-range weapon launched from Poland would require only a short flight time to reach beyond the Urals.
– US unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or armed drones such as the MQ-1 Predator, fall under the INF Treaty definition of GLCMs. Moscow claims that their operational ranges (1,100 km) and lack of pilot mean that drones of this type are very similar to shorter-range cruise missiles.
It’s worth noting that the US plans to arm tactical aviation in Europe with modernized B61-12 guided warheads will virtually nullify all the benefits of the INF Treaty from the point of view of Russia’s security. The aircraft could fly from bases in Lithuania, Estonia and Poland to Russia’s largest cities in 15-20 minutes – not that much longer than the flight time of the missiles scuttled by the INF treaty.
The Special Verification Commission (SVC) envisioned by the INF treaty is a forum to confidentially address compliance concerns. It was convened last November for the first time since 2003 to produce no results. The opportunities provided by this venue should not be squandered. It would be much more fruitful to start serious discussions within the framework of the SVC than make public statements not backed up by facts. The accusations obviously pursue the aim of whipping up tensions to spoil the RF-US relationship at the time it has a chance to improve.
The INF treaty is under serious and increasing stress. Failure to resolve the dispute could threaten the agreement and impede further efforts to reduce Russia and US nuclear arsenals in the years ahead. The parties could use the SVC venue to consider additional confidence-building measure and information exchanges that take into account technological and political developments that have occurred recently. The Open Skies Treaty could be used for the purpose. Its observation capabilities could be upgraded. The NATO-Russia Council could serve as another mechanism to address specific security concerns.
The issue has been debated since 2014 but before this statement no one has officially accused Russia of violating the INF. It should be noted that this time the issue was raised immediately after the Flynn’s resignation from the position of national security adviser. Revelations about alleged ‘Russia connections» of the people who belong to the Trump’s team are hitting US media headlines. The statement about the INF violation is made against the background of the White House’s statement stressing the need to «return» Crimea to Ukraine and the ballyhoo raised over the alleged dangerous maneuvering of Russian aircraft in the Black Sea. These are provocative statements doomed to be rejected by Moscow but they pursue a definite purpose. Evidently, some powerful circles in the US have launched a well-orchestrated campaign to prevent the improvement of Russia-US relations.
Will Happer is an eminent physicist at Princeton who has chosen (along with his colleague Freeman Dyson) to plant a flag on the skeptic side of the climate debate. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Happer on a couple of occasions. Recently his name has been floated as a potential candidate for the position of Science Advisor to President Trump. (This is the position that has been held by eco-fanatic John Holdren during the Obama presidency.) Although it is not final, and others remain in the running, Happer has said that he will take the position if offered.
Yesterday Happer gave an interview to the Guardian newspaper. When it came to the issue of “climate change,” Happer didn’t pull any punches. Here is my favorite quote:
“There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult,” Happer told the Guardian. “It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”
I would only comment that in my experience Hare Krishnas don’t takes tens of billions of dollars of government money for themselves, and don’t seek to impose energy poverty on everyone else while they themselves jet around on private jets. Other than that, Happer was spot on.
If you are still considering the question of whether what Happer calls “climate so-called science” is real science versus a cult, you may want to review a few articles from the New York Times about the recent California drought and its end. For example, from August 2015, we have an article headlined “California Drought Is Made Worse by Global Warming, Scientists Say.”
Global warming caused by human emissions has most likely intensified the drought in California by 15 to 20 percent, scientists said on Thursday, warning that future dry spells in the state are almost certain to be worse than this one as the world continues to heat up. . . . The paper provides new scientific support for political leaders, including President Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown of California, who have cited human emissions and the resulting global warming as a factor in the drought.
Or try this one from January 5, 2017 (just six weeks ago!), headlined “A Winery Battles Climate Change.”
After decades in the business, the Jacksons are sensitive to slight variations in the weather, and they are convinced of one thing: It is getting hotter and drier. . . . Climate change is forcing the Jacksons to confront questions both practical and existential: Can you make fine wine with less water? . . . Already, winemakers in the region are noticing distinct changes that signal a hotter, drier future.
And then, of course, things promptly turned around and the rains came — as they always do. Suddenly California is in the news because it has had so much rain that some of its dams are threatened with overflowing. Well, what caused that? You guessed it — climate change! From yesterday’s NYT, here is the lead headline from the National Section: “A Climate Change Warning for California’s Dams.” What, does “climate change” cause both wet and dry?
Scientists have said for years that a warming atmosphere should lead to more intense and frequent storms in many regions.
Now you tell us! As usual, climate change as the cause of everything is the classic unfalsifiable proposition. The word “cult” may be a little over the top, but whatever it is, it sure isn’t science.
The INF Treaty was a major breakthrough to halt and reverse the Cold War-era nuclear arms race in Europe. There are growing signs that the treaty is in jeopardy. A possible US unilateral withdrawal and failure to resolve the compliance dispute could impede efforts to save the arms control regime from being eroded.
On February 16, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), along with Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) introduced the Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty (INF) Preservation Act, legislation that would allow the United States to develop new intermediate-range missiles. Congressmen Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
Accusations of Russia violating the INF Treaty, not backed up by any evidence, were used as a pretext for introducing the measure. For instance, the New York Times has recently published report saying that Russia «has secretly deployed» a new nuclear-capable intermediate-range cruise missile, the SSC-8, in apparent violation of the 1987 treaty. «This legislation will give President Trump the tools he needs to show our friends and adversaries alike that ‘peace through strength’ is back», said Mike Rogers.
The INF Treaty is a key agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union which put a seal on the Cold War era. It eliminated all nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate ranges, defined as between 500-5,500 kilometers (3000-3400 miles).
If the bill becomes a law, it won’t add to US or NATO security. America has real interest in preserving the treaty in force. It has sound reasons for doing so. One of them is that US NATO allies greatly value the INF and want it to remain effective. A US withdrawal would raise concern on their part.
With no hard evidence of non-compliance produced, the US will be held responsible by international community for ending the treaty. If Washington possessed facts to substantiate the claim that Moscow is in violation of the treaty, it would have been provided them a long time ago.
The bill says the US is to «develop» new systems. But even if a decision were taken to return obsolete Pershing-2s and long-range Tomahawks, it would take time and effort. On its part, Russia can easily increase the range of existing Iskander missiles.
Developing new US systems would impose a new burden on an already stretched defense budget. Funding a new expensive program would draw funds from other accounts, such as new conventional weapons, the upgrade of strategic nuclear forces, the ballistic missile defense (BMD), you name it. Today, the US national debt is about $20 trillion and the clock is ticking.
Even if the provision of the bill is carried out and a new intermediate range system is in place, the US will face a tall order in finding an ally willing to host it and become a target for a pre-emptive strike by Russian armed forces. Such deployments would be viewed as extremely provocative to Moscow.
Even in the 1980s it was a close thing. Those days the plans to deploy INF forces met fierce domestic political and public opposition. A controversial decision would tear NATO apart at the time the US and its European allies don’t see eye to eye on many issues.
The same applies to deployment plans in the Pacific. Japan would worry about deteriorating the relationship with Russia and China. South Korea would fear such a deployment might disrupt its improving relations with China.
The times have changed. Today, Russia possesses cutting edge S-400 aid defense systems capable of countering not only ballistic but also cruise missiles with an operational range of 3,000−3,500 km (1,864-2,174 mi).
The Russian military is gearing up to test the first prototypes of its next-generation S-500 Prometey air and missile defense system. The weapon has no analogues in the world. S-500 is the fifth generation system capable of destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles and spacecraft, hypersonic cruise missiles and airplanes at speeds of higher than Mach 5. Its response time is only 3-4 seconds, just think about it! It can detect and simultaneously attack up to ten ballistic missile warheads out at 600 km flying at speeds of twenty-three thousand feet per second. The system can engage targets at altitudes of about 125 miles, including incoming ballistic missiles in space at ranges as great as 400 miles. Evidently, Russia has the means to counter the threat. It puts into doubt the effectiveness of any future intermediate range weapon the US would develop in accordance with legislation in question.
The end of INF treaty would provoke other states into an arms race the US cannot control.
The bill is introduced at the time the world is facing the most serious and comprehensive crisis in the fifty-year history of nuclear arms control. Since pulling out from the 1972 ABM Treaty, the US has been taking one step after another to undermine the arms control regime that has served as a pillar of international security for dozens of years. Now the US Congress is on the brink of unleashing an arms race with dire consequences for America itself.
Does it all make sense? Russia has recently announced its goal to shift from nuclear to conventional deterrence to make the world safer.
The recent initiative Germany, supported by leading the leading European partners, provides a new chance to address the problems of European security. With so many controversial issues on the agenda, Helsinki-2 would be the right way to launch discussions on creating a security regime from Lisbon to Vladivostok – something Moscow proposed a few years ago.
There are opportunities to seize and turn the tide as arms control is unraveling. Instead, a group of US lawmakers has introduced legislation to quash all hopes for a better world. Never before has the arms control regime been threatened so much. Voting for the bill means shooting yourself in the foot. The US will undermine its own security and create huge problems to overcome.
Hopefully, there will be enough sober-minded members of Congress to prevent the measure from becoming a law.
That the New York Times demonstrates a systematic editorial bias in favor of Israeli state power and against Palestinian demands for self-determination and sovereignty is old news. Whether it is reporting on the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, the deadly Gaza flotilla raid, cease fire violations between the IDF and Hamas, or any other aspect of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the New York Times reliably acts as a mouthpiece for propagating Israeli hasbara (propaganda). Aside from its “objective” reporting, this editorial bias also manifests itself in the narratives that make their way into the Opinion section. On Tuesday, the paper allowed a spokesperson for the illegal settlers in the occupied territories to openly advocate violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the establishment an apartheid state in Mandatory Palestine.
“A Settler’s View of Israel’s Future” by Yishai Fleisher offers an alternative perspective about the future of the state of Israel than that envisioned by the Israeli government, which established a state nearly 70 years ago by forcibly dispossessing 50 percent of the native inhabitants from their land and subsequently maintaining a Jewish majority by preventing the natives from returning home because they were not Jewish. However, the perspective presented in the pages of the Times is not that of the colonized victims, but that of the settler-colonists who, like the white pioneers of the Plains in the United States, participate in the dispossession.
Unlike the Israeli and U.S. governments, which purport to seek a two-state solution while actively perpetuating the status quo in which Israel takes all the land and resources it wants from Mandatory Palestine while denying rights to the Palestinians, Fleisher makes no pretense of his rejectionist belief that Palestinians do not deserve a state of their own:
But for us settlers, the truth is clear: The two-state solution was misconceived, and will never come to pass, because Judea and Samaria belong to the Jewish people. Our right to this land is derived from our history, religion, international decisions and defensive wars.
The author rejects the position of every single nation on the planet – apart from Israel itself – that the West Bank belongs to its native inhabitants. This was famously imbued with the legitimacy of international law in UN Security Resolutions 242 and 338. The first resolution called unequivocally for the “(w)ithdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” and the latter resolution demanded the implementation of resolution 242. This is consistent with international law’s prohibition against the acquisition of territory through military conquest.
Though Fleisher references international decisions and defensive wars, he is merely spouting baseless propaganda. UN General Assembly Resolution 181 was not legally binding in the first place, and even if it had been, it never would have withstood challenge in the World Court because a partion plan that granted majority rights to a group that made up a mere 1/3 of the population and owned 7 percent of the land is diametrically opposed to the principle of democracy. Likewise, whole books such as John Quigley’s The Six-Day War and Israeli Self-Defense, have meticulously dismantled the argument that Israel had any claim to self-defense in its 1967 conquest of the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the West Bank.
Fleisher’s real argument for possession of the West Bank is history and religion, i.e., a religious text which he believes provides a more legitimate claim than the rights of the native inhabitants whose ancestors have lived on the land for hundreds of years.
Fleisher goes on to reject the core principle of democracy, that all citizens are inherently equal and should have the same political rights in government:
Arabs can live in Israel, as other minorities do, with personal rights, not national rights. But many Arabs reject that option because they do not recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish State, with or without settlements.
In other words, the country does not belong to its citizens but to an ethnic group that enforces legal discrimination against non-members of the group. This is a political system founded on the notion of ethnic supremacy, as was the state of apartheid South Africa. It is virtually impossible to imagine the Times lending the invaluable real estate of its Opinion section to rationalizations for the denial of civil rights to any other minority. That such overt discrimination can be promoted openly in 2017 is a testament to the rampant racism in popular culture as well as in elite media against Arabs and Muslims, and the persistence of the Orientalist mentality Edward Said analyzed so thoroughly 40 years ago. It seems true indeed that anti-Arab racism is the only type of racism still publicly condoned in American society.
To Fleisher’s credit, he points out rightly that many (actually all) Palestinians reject the idea that their nation should be organized on the principle of ethnic supremacy. However, he portrays this as an example of their intransigence. In reality, Palestinians reject a state that would treat them as second-class citizens because it is inherently unjust and is incompatible with the principles of equality and democracy. It is the same position that any reasonable person would take if they were offered an unfair and inferior political status. It is worth noting that Fleisher refuses to even refer to Palestinians as such, instead using the traditional technique of calling them “Arabs”, rhetorically denying their very existence.
He goes on to state that:
Most settlers say without ambivalence that the two-state solution is dead, and the time has come for a discussion of new options by which Israel would hold onto the West Bank and eventually assert Israel sovereignty there, just as we did with the Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem. Yes, Israel will have to grapple with questions of the Arab population’s rights, and the issues of the country’s security and Jewish character, but we believe those questions can be worked out through the democratic process.
This represents unapologetic advocacy for violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the formal establishment of an apartheid regime over the territories. By referring to questions worked out through the democratic process, he means the democratic process of the colonizers, with no input from the colonized people who represent the actual owners of the land. This is a conception of democracy so far removed from the meaning of the word that it bears no relation at all to the actual concept.
Fleisher then presents what he calls five “credible” alternatives to the two-state solution, none of which are remotely compatible with international human rights law. One of the alternatives calls for outright ethnic cleansing by banishing Palestinians to Arab countries, rationalized by saying they would be “generously compensated” to emigrate voluntarily. This despite the fact that not only do the 5 million Palestinians in the occupied territory enjoy the inalienable right to live in their lands, but 5 million more Palestinian refugees retain the right of return, per UNGA Resolution 194, to the land they and/or their ancestors were forcibly removed from.
He says the new administration presents a new opportunity to solve the conflict, and opines that John Kerry’s proclamation that “there really is no viable alternative” to the two-state solution is contradicted by its manifest failure.
Indeed, the failure of the two-state plan is undeniable. However, there is another actual solution – apart from the five discriminatory and unjust proposals presented in Fleisher’s column – that goes unmentioned despite its long history. Pronounced in a 1969 PLO resolution, revived in 1999 by Edward Said after the failure of the Oslo Accords, and promoted widely today by Palestinian activists such as Ali Abunimah, it is a solution – indeed the only solution – that would be entirely compatible with international law and the principles of equality, democracy and human rights. The solution is one state with universal citizenship and equal rights for all residents of Mandatory Palestine, be they Jewish, Muslim or any other religion or ethnicity. Unfortunately, Times readers are left with only the fanatically extremist views of the settler-colonists who for decades have stolen Palestinian land and water while denying Palestinians self-determination.
On the surface, the resignation of General Michael Flynn is being sold as a cut-and-dried case of the General getting ahead of his skis by calling the Russian Ambassador to discuss the lifting of sanctions. This was ostensibly then complicated by the General not being honest about his discussions, when queried about it by Vice President Mike Pence. However, as is always the case in these types of affairs, the real story will go untold and General Flynn’s “resignation” will have ramifications far beyond these first headlines.
In reality, the General’s early fall is a signal that the Deep State is not about to permit rapprochement with Russia. This is because any moves to defuse the New Cold War could threaten to undercut Obama’s $1 Trillion, 30 year nuclear arms rearmament program, which has been quietly moving forward for several years.
Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which is the military’s counterpart to the CIA, was originally fired by Obama for an intelligence assessment, which disputed information that Obama was being fed by the CIA. In retrospect, this report was rather prescient, since it noted that an infant ISIS was a much bigger threat than Obama was being told, while further advising that it was a mistake for the CIA to be supplying them with arms in their ill-fated effort to bring down Assad in Syria.
This put Flynn in direct conflict with then CIA Director, John Brennan, then Director of National Intelligence, John Clapper, and a whole cadre of Neo-Con Interventionists inside Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Flynn’s timing was also bad, since the War Hawks had only recently overthrown Gaddafi and, in the ecstasy of their “success”, no one, especially Obama, wanted to be told that rain clouds were already gathering over their parade.
When General Flynn reemerged as an advisor to Trump during the campaign, there was no immediate concern within the Deep State, since Trump was not seen as a serious factor. However, as Trump began to talk about rapprochement with Putin’s Russia on the campaign trail, Flynn was identified as one of the driving forces behind this idea and, as a result, the Clinton Campaign opened up a new front to denigrate him as a racist nut-case. This may very well have been true, but it does not, as a consequence, make him wrong in regard to his recognition of the necessity to defuse the New Cold War with Russia.
Flynn’s early departure is a big victory for the Deep State Thugs who are heavily invested in the New Cold War. It is most certainly also a signal to Trump that he can be removed, since MSM talking heads are already spinning stories about the fired DOJ Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, having previously warned the White House that tapped phone calls, between Flynn and the Russian Ambassador, might make the General subject to “blackmail” by the Russians.
Indeed, not-so-subtle threats of impeachment are already being floated, with nuances of the famous question, “What did the President know and when did he know it?” One Neo-Con Flim-flam man has already gone so far as to refer to the “Russian Stench” and demanded to know what is behind this “Russian connection”, which, if anyone gave it any real thought, was essentially a move toward peace.
However, this was apparently just the warm up act for the big guns, since the next up was Thomas Friedman, the influential NY Times op-ed writer, who helped the Bush and Obama Administrations to lie us into several wars. Adopting a stern demeanor, while staring directly into the camera, Friedman demands no less than a full investigation into Trump’s associations with these pesky Russkies, who “undermined our election”, ominously concluding that this was an “event as significant as Pearl Harbor”.
Meanwhile, early rumblings from Moscow are noting that this could be bad news for future relations with the US and could ultimately lead to a deterioration of relations. This is a nice way of saying that they know that our Deep State is undermining the move toward rapprochement, while also sending a subtle message to Trump that they hope he’s not falling for it. Sadly, it may already be too late.
This is the first move to set up Trump for impeachment, with Mike Pence, a Neo-Con, sitting in the catbird seat. Those that celebrate the demise of Flynn and hope for the early fall of Trump should be careful in regard to their wishes. The ultimate result intended in all of this is that there will be no rapprochement with Russia and that the New Cold War might eventually develop into a hot one.
The Empire has struck back. Whether one likes Trump or not, no one should be distracted by the “Russian Connection” Sideshow. This is about the future of a major rearmament program and the Deep State has subtly enlisted the support of the Trump haters on the left to create the conditions for Trump’s early removal.
With many Neo-Cons on the right also poised to feed on the carcass of a guy they couldn’t stop in the primaries, the American People better wake up. This is not a question of left or right. It may very well be a question of survival.
Moscow has criticized news reports alleging associates of Donald Trump had numerous contacts with Russian intelligence during the election, with the Kremlin’s spokesman complaining that it’s hard to distinguish fact from fiction in the US media lately.
“Those reports are not based on concrete facts,” Dmitry Peskov stressed on Wednesday, noting “there are five different sources in the story and none is named. So you see, really laughable stories are now given a go.”
The Russian president’s spokesman added, “Let’s not just believe the press. It’s difficult lately tell the real deal from fakes and hoaxes,” referring to reports in the New York Times and on CNN which cited anonymous US sources as saying that several people close to President Donald Trump had communicated with Russian intelligence officers during the presidential campaign.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has reacted cautiously, saying the publications indicate a big political game involving power bargaining is being played within the US establishment.
Other Russian officials were more forthcoming, however.
“It’s common tactic to discredit a person,” Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov told RIA Novosti, commenting on expose stories run by the New York Times and CNN, adding that it’s a continuation of the same campaign that forced Michael Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor earlier.
“Trump should realize that the real target of such leaks is him. Unless the American president puts an end to this witch-hunt and stops surrendering his people, this will all end bad. The final goal of his enemies is to impeach the president,” he added.
Dzhabarov, who holds a seat in the Russian Senate, is a veteran intelligence officer who retired with the rank of Colonel General.
Leonid Slutsky, a fellow legislator and head of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, came to a similar conclusion, saying that the US mainstream media is carrying out a concerted attack on Trump.
“Such outlets use any chance to mar the new president and use this overused and baseless ‘Russian dossier’ for the purpose often because it makes a reliable impact on their readers,” he explained.
The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, whose agents Trump’s aides were allegedly in contact with, told TASS they were surprised by the reports and would not comment on “media speculations that lack proof.”
In an earlier article, the New York Times cited unnamed current and former US officials as saying that members of Trump’s election campaign had had contacts with senior Russian intelligence officers. The newspaper said US intelligence had intercepted the communications of Trump’s aides as they were collecting information to see if there was any evidence showing collusion between the Republican and Russia on the alleged hack of the Democratic National Convention – evidence that they reportedly failed to find.
The report said that, not only campaign members, but also other associates of Trump had been targeted by the surveillance. The only name it provided was that of Paul Manafort, who had to resign as Trump’s campaign manager after Ukrainian authorities accused him of having been involved in the corruption of the previous Ukrainian government. The evidence of such corruption was later disavowed by the Ukrainian investigators.
Commenting for the NYT report, Manafort denied having any ties with the Russian intelligence.
“This is absurd. I have no idea what this is referring to. I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today,” he told the newspaper.
The NYT sources would not disclose any details, including the names of alleged Russian spies or the number of Trump people that had allegedly communicated with them, claiming the data had been collected as part of routine surveillance of the communications of foreign officials.
CNN ran a similar story independently of the newspaper, citing anonymous “law enforcement and administration officials.”
The media has generally presented Trump as being ignorant and nonsensical in his discussion of American policies, and one example is his negative references to NATO as obsolete. The mainstream media is aghast that any political leader of the U.S. could possibly take a negative view of such an allegedly iconic alliance as NATO. A few days before Trump’s inauguration, the New York Times Editorial Board, for example, in an article entitled “Russian Gains When Trump Trashes NAT0,” found it “puzzling indeed for a president-elect to publicly denigrate leaders of his country’s closest allies as well as an alliance that for 70 years has stood firm against Russian expansion.” The Editorial Board of the Washington Post, in its praise for NATO, on the same date as the aforementioned New York Times editorial came out, maintained that “[i]t has greatly magnified U.S. power and global influence, even when its members were underspending on their military forces. Without it, the West would have no effective way to contain Russian neo-imperialism.”
The only question seems to be whether Trump is a total ignoramus or is he, for some malevolent reason, a traitor who puts the interests of Putinist Russia  above those of the United States. But if we take a brief walk down memory lane, we will discover that Trump is actually in very good company in his criticism of NATO, and those NATO critics include luminaries of the foreign policy establishment whom the Washington Post and the New York Times once readily embraced.
When NATO was coming into existence in 1949, it was not only being opposed by those who retained their World War II sympathy for the Soviet Union, such as former Vice President Henry Wallace, and conservative non-interventionists lead by Senator Robert Taft, but also by the most influential columnist and political intellectual of the era, Walter Lippmann. In 1947, Lippmann had written a series of articles called The Cold War that criticized the policy of containment—which called for efforts to prevent the expansion of Communism. The containment policy underpins NATO. And it is the intellectual architect of containment, George F. Kennan, who will be discussed shortly. Interestingly, while Kennan first applied the term “containment” to a foreign policy strategy, Lippmann, although he did not originate the term “Cold War,” made it an integral part of the political lexicon. 
Regarding Lippmann’s thinking on NATO, Lippmann biographer Ronald Steel writes: “Unlike the State Department and Pentagon planners, Lippmann saw no need for a military alliance with Western Europe. ‘I am convinced that the question of war or peace hangs upon the Soviet willingness to engage in a general war, and not on the strength of the local defenses in any particular part of the world,’ he [Lippmann] wrote.” 
Lippmann made a considerable effort to stop the development of NATO. Steel writes: “Lippmann put forth a six-page single spaced document on the German problem for John Foster Dulles to take to the Paris foreign ministers meeting in May 1949. In the memo Lippmann urged the demilitarization and neutralization of Germany, along with the withdrawal of all foreign troops. This plan, he argued, would keep German nationalists in check and remove the need for NATO.” In short, the Red Army’s occupation of central Europe, in Lippmann’s view, only existed because of the existence of Western troops in the vicinity. And if the Western troops were removed, Russia would reciprocate and, in Lippmann’s view, “there would be no more Russian problem today than there had been for a century.” 
Lippmann’s opposition went for naught and the NATO treaty passed the Senate by an overwhelming margin. Lippmann would express his opposition to NATO once again in 1952 when the alliance proposed to add two new members, Greece and Turkey. Lippmann maintained: “A great power like the United States gains no advantage and it loses prestige by offering, indeed peddling, its alliances to all and sundry. An alliance should be hard diplomatic currency, valuable and hard to get, and not inflationary paper from the mimeograph machine in the State Department.”  Once again, Lippmann lost the battle.
In 1958, Lippmann, like many American thinkers at that time, interpreted the launching of the Sputnik satellites as an indication that the Soviet Union was a power equal to that of the Western alliance. Lippmann contended: “The defenders of the existing policy consider themselves great realists who have put aside all wishful thinking. On what calculation, then, in the power relationships of great states, do they lease their expectation that Russia will withdraw from Europe while the United States and Great Britain remain, and are allowed to advance their military frontiers at least to the borders of Poland?” He maintained that “a settlement [with Russia] must be designed not only to protect our own vital interests. It must respect the vital interests of Russia.” 
George F. Kennan, who is widely considered to be the intellectual architect of America’s Cold War “containment” policy toward the Soviet Union in 1946 and 1947, expressed skepticism about the need to create NATO. His biographer John Lewis Gaddis writes that Kennan believed that “[I]f there had to be a military alliance, its members should include only the North Atlantic countries, where there was ‘a community of defense interest firmly rooted in geography and tradition.’ To go further would invite still further demands for protection: there would then be ‘no stopping point in the development of a system of anti-Russian alliances until that system has circled the globe and has embraced all the non-communist countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa.’ By then one of two things would have happened: the alliance would become meaningless like the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, or the United States would have become hopelessly extended, in which case it would have ignored warnings about the increased discrepancy between its resources and its commitments.” Such a situation did, in fact, materialize during the Cold War period as the United States established one alliance after the other in various areas of the globe—CENTO (Central Asia], SEATO (Southeast Asia).
Kennan maintained that the containment strategy he proposed had been excessively militarized by the U.S. government. In a 1996 interview with CNN he had said “[m]y thoughts about containment were of course distorted by the people who understood it and pursued it exclusively as a military concept; and I think that that, as much as any other cause, led to [the] 40 years of unnecessary, fearfully expensive and disoriented process of the Cold War.”
In a 1998 interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Kennan described the U.S. Senate’s decision to ratify NATO’s expansion–which in 1999 would add Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to the alliance—as the “the beginning of a new cold war.” He held that “the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else . . . . We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way.”
Kennan said that he “was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe.” It seemed to him that Americans failed to realize that “[o]ur differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.” Kennan warned that this expansion showed “little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course, there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are — but this is just wrong.”
Friedman did not disagree with Kennan and saw this development as having a negative effect on peace in Europe. If everything went well, future historians, he surmised, would say that in spite of this NATO expansion, Russia would continue to move along the path of “democratization and Westernization” because of the powerful impact of “globalization and arms control agreements.” However, “[i]f we are unlucky they will say, as Mr. Kennan predicts, that NATO expansion set up a situation in which NATO now has to either expand all the way to Russia’s border, triggering a new cold war, or stop expanding after these three new countries and create a new dividing line through Europe.”
In his concluding remarks in this article, Friedman wrote that “there is one thing future historians will surely remark upon, and that is the utter poverty of imagination that characterized U.S. foreign policy in the late 1990′s. They will note that one of the seminal events of this century took place between 1989 and 1992 — the collapse of the Soviet Empire, which had the capability, imperial intentions and ideology to truly threaten the entire free world . . . And what was America’s response? It was to expand the NATO cold-war alliance against Russia and bring it closer to Russia’s borders.”
As Putin began to exercise more and more power, Friedman’s views of NATO begin to change. In a 2014 column Friedman wrote that he had “opposed expanding NATO toward Russia after the Cold War . . . . It remains one of the dumbest things we’ve ever done and, of course, laid the groundwork for Putin’s rise.”  Later that year Friedman, although still acknowledging the negative impact of NATO expansion, began to put greater blame on Putin. Friedman stated that “[b]y expanding NATO at the end of the Cold War, when Russia was weak, we helped to cultivate a politics there that would one day be very receptive to Putin’s message that the West is ganging up on Russia. But, that said, the message is a lie. The West has no intention of bringing Ukraine into NATO. And please raise your hand if you think the European Union plans to invade Russia.”
In placing blame on Putin, Friedman ignored the fact while his American readers would not expect the European Union to invade Russia—and let us grant that Friedman is engaging in hyperbole here, and would mean the U.S. along with the European Union–it is not clear that Russians could be so sanguine. The United States did not feel secure with Soviet missiles being stationed in Cuba in 1962 and quite likely would not feel so today. And, of course, if Friedman were correct here, there never should have been any concern by Russia about having NATO near its borders, and Friedman never should have identified at all with Kennan’s position in 1998. Both Lippmann and Kennan recognized that the U.S. needed to consider the Russian view—and Russia had historical reasons for being worried about strong enemies on its borders since it had been invaded in the past.
Friedman even denied that Putin sought to protect Russia. “By seizing Crimea and stoking up nationalism, Putin was not protecting Russia from NATO,” Friedman asserted. “He was protecting himself from the viruses of E.U. accountability and transparency, which, if they took hold in Ukraine, could spread to Moscow, undermining his kleptocracy.”
Note that by making a distinction between Putin’s government and Russia, Friedman implied that the interests of Putin’s “kleptocracy” ran counter to those of Russia. Now Kennan and Lippmann, in line with the thinking of most Americans, did not believe that the Communist government was good for Russia; nonetheless, Kennan and Lippmann realized that it was in the interest of the United States to respect the interests of the Soviet government of Russia in order to avoid a dangerous conflict.
Finally, all of Friedman’s negative views of NATO disappear when he deals with Trump, as would be expected by a mainstream liberal. “How in the world do we put a man in the Oval Office,” Friedman maintained, “who thinks NATO is a shopping mall where the tenants aren’t paying enough rent to the U.S. landlord”?
“NATO is not a shopping mall,” Friedman averred; “it is a strategic alliance that won the Cold War, keeps Europe a stable trading partner for U.S. companies and prevents every European country — particularly Germany — from getting their own nukes to counterbalance Russia, by sheltering them all under America’s nuclear umbrella.”
Friedman’s change of opinion is indicative of the current view of mainstream liberalism. First, there is a definite proclivity to resist anything that Trump proposes—one result of what critics have labeled as Trump Derangement Syndrome. Moreover, there is now a tendency on the part of American liberals to be far more critical of Putin than they were of Soviet Communism. Liberals during the Cold War saw the Soviet planned economic system as being beneficial in some ways. In contrast, liberals find nothing in Putin’s system. In short, Putin’s Russia is widely attacked as a “kleptocracy,” as Friedman put it, and for its institutionalization of traditional values–Christianity, anti-abortion measures, natalism, discrimination against the homosexual life-style, and nationalism—which liberals now lambaste as retrograde and harmful to minorities and women.
Liberals’ views of the Russian internal system have impacted on how they judge Russia’s international threat. Mainstream liberals were far less willing to staunchly oppose the Soviet Union despite the fact that its military power was about on par with that of the United States and it promoted a popular global ideology with supporters throughout the world. Today Russia is much weaker militarily, especially in its conventional forces, and has an ideology with little global appeal. Moreover, the expansion of NATO has made it far more threatening to Russia as it now encroaches on Russia’s borders.
This focus on liberals does not mean that they are now the foremost supporters of NATO, which is also being backed by a number of other factions, including: neoconservatives, unchanged Cold Warriors, conservative hawks, and militarists. But the addition of staunch support from liberals for NATO has made that alliance politically invulnerable because of their dominance of the mainstream media.
The upshot of the reference to notable critics of NATO clearly illustrates that one does not have to be a Russian dupe or an ignoramus to question the existence of NATO. And, for various reasons to which this essay has alluded, the value of NATO deserves to be questioned more now than it was when mainstream luminaries Lippmann and Kennan were doing so. This is one thing for which Trump deserves credit, although he does not make a good case for his position. It is unfortunate that he has been moving away from this position as his appointees for national security positions in his administration have voiced their whole-hearted support for the alliance.
 The Editorial Board, “Russian Gains When Trump Trashes NATO,” New York Times, January 17, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/opinion/russia-gains-when-donald-trump-trashes-nato.html
 Editorial Board, “Trump’s Cabinet knows NATO is Important. It’s not clear he agrees.,” Washington Post, January 17, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trumps-cabinet-knows-nato-is-important-its-not-clear-he-agrees/2017/01/17/e767258a-dcd2-11e6-acdf-14da832ae861_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.f4ec576cdb3c
 The mainstream media implies that Putin exercises absolute control of Russia and thus refers to Putinism as in the past Stalinism was used.
 “Cold War Origins—Genealogy of the term,” Encyclopedia of the New American Nation, http://www.americanforeignrelations.com/A-D/Cold-War-Origins-Genealogy-of-the-term.html
 Ronald Steel, Walter Lippmann and the American Century, with a new introduction by the author (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1999), p. 459.
 Steel, p. 460.
 Quoted in Steel, p. 478.
 Steel, p. 459.
 Walter Lippmann, “Mr. Kennan and Reappraisal in Europe,” The Atlantic Monthly, April, 1958 (originally published) accessed from The Atlantic Online, http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/96jan/nato/lipp.htm
 John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life (New York: Penguin Press, 2011), p. 333.
 Kennan on the Cold War, An Interview on CNN TV, Transcript, May and June 1996, http://www.johndclare.net/cold_war7_Kennan_interview.htm
 Quoted in Thomas L. Friedman, “Now a Word From X,” New York Times, May 2, 1998, http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/02/opinion/foreign-affairs-now-a-word-from-x.html
 Quoted in Friedman, “Now a Word From X.”
 Friedman, “Now a Word From X.”
 Friedman, “Now a Word From X.”
 Thomas L. Friedman, “Why Putin Doesn’t Respect Us,” New York Times, March 4, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/05/opinion/friedman-why-putin-doesnt-respect-us.html
 Thomas L. Friedman, “Putin and the Pope,” New York Times, October 21, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/22/opinion/thomas-friedman-putin-and-the-pope.html
 Friedman, “Putin and the Pope.”
 Thomas L. Friedman, “Trump? How Could We?,” New York Times, September 27, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/opinion/trump-how-could-we.html
 For a discussion of this subject see: Boyd D. Cathey, “Examining the Hatred of Vladimir Putin and Russia,” Unz Review, December 29, 2014, http://www.unz.com/article/examining-the-hatred-of-vladimir-putin-and-russia/
If you were only to read the New York Times’ latest article on the most recent Climate Change scandal first reported by the Mail and the Daily Mail, you would never know that there was any scandal to speak of in the first place.
Headline: “No Data Manipulation in 2015 Climate Study, Researchers Say.” Well, not all researchers. The background of the data manipulation story revolves around accusations made by David Bates, a recently retired scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Among his several accusations is that NOAA “rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris agreement on climate change,” a paper which would have been welcomed with open arms by the Obama administration. On February 4, Bates wrote a lengthy blog post at his website detailing the accusations. Here is a brief list of some of the charges:
1. Climate scientist, Tom Karl, failed to archive the land temperature data set and thus also failed to “follow the policy of his own Agency [and] the guidelines in Science magazine for dataset archival and documentation.”
2. The authors also chose to “use a 90% confidence threshold for evaluating the statistical significance of surface temperature trends, instead of the standard for significance of 95%,” and according to Bates, the authors failed to give a justification for this when pressed.
3. Karl routinely “had his ‘thumb on the scale’ — in the documentation, scientific choices, and release of datasets — in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming hiatus and rush to time the publication of the paper to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy.” Bates adds, “[a] NOAA NCEI supervisor remarked how it was eye-opening to watch Karl work the co-authors, mostly subtly but sometimes not, pushing choices to emphasize warming.”
4. Experimental datasets were used that were not run through operational readiness review (ORR) and were not archived.
To sum up, the “data manipulation,” as characterize by the Mail, consisted in not following proper protocols, selecting certain data sets which had not been properly analyzed, and manipulating scientific methodology with a political and not purely scientific end.
It has been several months since the barrage of nightmarish reports about the horrors in East Aleppo as the Syrian government army prepared to drive out the remaining rebels from the city in mid December. Purported “activists” posted their “goodbye” messages, claiming they feared they would be slaughtered by government forces. Women were said to have chosen suicide over rape. And most widely disseminated of all were reports that regime soldiers had executed 82 civilians, including women and children. (See here, here, here, here and here.) None of these shocking reports were verified by journalists on the ground. Though none of the news media admitted it, there were no foreign journalists in East Aleppo because they feared being kidnapped and killed by the al Qaeda-aligned rebels, as American reporter James Foley had been in 2014. But after hostilities concluded in East Aleppo with the rebels being driven out of the city, the same organizations who propagated the doomsday narrative have shown no interest in examining it and setting the record straight.
There have been no indications that anyone inside East Aleppo who posted a goodbye message was actually harmed. Lina Shamy, who miraculously enjoyed a reliable Wi-Fi connection and a steady supply of power to tweet constantly and grant Skype interviews from East Aleppo, warned on Dec. 12, 2016 that “this may be my last video. More than 50,000 civilians who rebelled against the dictator al-Assad are threatened with field executions or are dying under bombing.” CNN published this terrifying message from Shamy along with another in which she claimed “genocide is still ongoing!”
But Shamy was not executed upon the government taking control of the city. Instead, she was evacuated by the government out of the city. She is now living freely and recounting her experience in the pages of the New York Times, where she falsely blamed attacks on evacuation buses on the government’s Syrian Arab Army (SAA). In reality, it was the rebels who set fire to the buses full of civilians and imperiled the peaceful evacuations.
As for reports of executions of 82 civilians by government troops, it does not appear that anyone has followed up by presenting any evidence that this actually happened. There have been no names of the 82 people allegedly killed, no photos, no bodies, and no grave sites indicating that mass murder had occurred.
Perhaps this should not come as a surprise. The original reports were completely unsubstantiated, based on nothing more than one United Nations official repeating hearsay. News media relied on the authority of the United Nations to bolster the credibility of their headlines (“UN says civilians shot on the spot.”) Amnesty International took the UN reports at face value and said they “point to apparent war crimes,” phrasing meant to prejudice legal claims against the Syrian government while deflecting responsibility for making them.
The reports came from a single official: Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Colville told a news conference that in addition to 82 civilians (including dozens of women and children) reportedly killed by government troops, the death toll could actually be much higher, Buried deep below the headlines in the news coverage, we come across an important caveat. Colville admitted “it was hard to verify the reports.”
Rather than present evidence of these horrible atrocities, Colville admits that they are merely rumors from an undisclosed source. To present this as an factual finding of the United Nations is like taking a prosecutor’s opening argument and saying it was the decision of the jury at the end of the trial. If the media was really interested in reporting the truth, they would frame the allegations skeptically rather than treat them as settled and proven.
But the purpose of media in the United States and Western democracies is not to report the truth but to reinforce the government’s position by accepting the fundamental validity of its narrative. As Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman write in Manufacturing Consent, “(a) propaganda model suggests that the ‘societal purpose’ of the media is to inculcate and defend the economic, social and political agenda of privileged groups that dominate the domestic society and the state.” 
It is evident that the political and military establishment is fixated on regime change in Syria, and thus has chosen to align with Syria’s local al-Qaeda affiliate — if not directly then indirectly by supporting groups that make common cause in fighting under their command. The propaganda model would predict that the media would portray the Assad government as uniquely cruel and savage, and the opponents of the regime as worthy victims of the Syrian government’s evilness.
Thus it should not be surprising that after the re-capture of East Aleppo actual evidence of a massacre was discovered, but was ignored. Since the evidence pointed to atrocities by the rebels against the government, instead of vice versa, it went unreported in the Western press.
In late December, 100 government soldiers were found dead inside East Aleppo. Video by Syrian “activists” showed that at least some of the dead soldiers had been captured days earlier, suggesting they were executed rather than killed in battle. Despite photographic and video evidence, these deaths were not worthy of being covered by CNN, the New York Times, the BBC or other outlets who did report on unverified accusations of executions by the other side.
The Hue and Racak “Massacres”
Several historical examples are useful to see how stories that coincide with the government line are amplified by the media, no matter how little evidence exists. Later, when evidence emerges which calls into question the original narrative, the media simply ignore it and it is lost to history.
During the U.S. aggression against Vietnam, the brutality and viciousness of the “Communists” was exemplified in the American public imagination by the “Hue Massacre” in January 1968. The official narrative was that North Vietnamese troops, while retreating from the city of Hue after the Tet offensive, carried out indiscriminate massacres of civilians and buried them in mass graves.
London Times correspondent Stewart Harris reported in March 1968 that Hue Police Chief Doan Cong Lap claimed there had been 200 killings and a mass grave discovered with 300 bodies. The next month, the Saigon government’s propaganda agency put out a report claiming there were 1,000 victims of a Communist massacre, many of whom had been buried alive. After this was not picked up, the U.S. State Department put out the same report the following week. It was duly splashed across all the major American newspapers.
“The story was not questioned, despite the fact that no Western journalist had ever been taken to see the grave sites when the bodies were uncovered,” write Chomsky and Herman in The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism. “On the contrary, French photographer Marc Riboud was repeatedly denied permission to see one of the sites where the Province Chief claimed 300 civilian government workers had been executed by the Communists. When he was finally taken by helicopter to the alleged site, the pilot refused to land, claiming the area was ‘insecure.’ ” 
Subsequently, a purported “captured document” was found that allegedly showed Communists had admitted to killing 2,748 people. This was taken at face value and became the new official version of the incident.
In reality, a vicious U.S.-led assault to recapture Hue had resulted in massive casualties. Photographer Philip Jones Griffiths wrote that most of the victims were killed by the air assault. The dead were falsely designated as victims of a Communist massacre.
Gareth Porter, who thoroughly investigated the events in Hue, described his findings as follows:
The available evidence – not from NLF sources but from official U.S. and Saigon documents and from independent observers, indicates that the official story of an indiscriminate slaughter of those who were considered to be unsympathetic to the NLF is a complete fabrication. Not only is the number of bodies uncovered in and around Hue open to question, but more important, the cause of death appears to have been shifted from the fighting itself to NLF execution. And the most detailed and ‘authoritative’ account of the alleged executions put together by either government does not stand up under examination. But there was never any attempt by the mainstream Western press who were so quick to amplify the U.S. government’s accounts to investigate what really happened and set the record straight if their findings did not match the initial story. Nor was there any interest in investigating casualties in Hue when there was substantial evidence that they were caused by the U.S. military and forces loyal to the military dictatorship they were supporting.
30 years later in Kosovo, the Western media reported the latest massacre by the evil forces of an official enemy. In this case, the Serbian military had allegedly murdered 45 unarmed Kosovo Albanians in the village of Racak. The first reports of a “massacre” and a “crime against humanity” in Racak were pronounced by Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission head William Walker.
On January 18, 1999, Chief International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia prosecutor Louise Arbour showed up at the border of Kosovo and demanded entry to investigate the incident. In March, U.S. President Bill Clinton would use the pretext of Racak to justify an illegal air war against Serbia when he declared, “(w)e should remember what happened in the village of Racak, where innocent men, women and children were taken from their homes to a gully, forced to kneel in the dirt, sprayed with gunfire — not because of anything they had done, but because of who they were.” 
Clinton’s version was created out of whole cloth. There were no women and children, and there was no evidence the dead had been marched from their homes and forced to kneel in the dirt. The Serbian government determined that there was only 22 men, and that the deaths had resulted from a fire fight during a police action to catch Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters who had killed four policeman the week before.
While the Serb version, which was exculpatory to their own side, should not be accepted at face value either, it does raise possibilities worth examining. There was a context that could explain the dead bodies, i.e., heavy fighting between KLA and Serbian forces. As Michael Mandel writes in How America Gets Away with Murder: “to the extent that there was a massacre, it was provoked by the KLA as part of a deliberate and consistent pattern aimed at bringing on NATO’s military intervention.” Mandel notes that even NATO supporters such as Michael Ignatieff had written several months before that KLA tactics “were not a miscalculation, but a deliberate strategy” designed to force Serbian forces to overreact and force NATO to intervene on the KLA’s side. 
It is not hard to see the double standard by which the media operates when reporting alleged atrocities by enemies of the U.S. government. Actual massacres by the U.S. armed forces are portrayed as one-off cases attributable to low-level rogue offices, like My Lai in Vietnam, or as honest mistakes and collateral damage, like the Kunduz hospital bombing in Afghanistan. Even in the wholesale murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent noncombatants, like the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the systematic carpet bombing of vast swaths of Cambodia and Laos, U.S. actions are never conceived of as evidence of barbarity and indiscriminate violence. Whereas atrocities by the other side are unfailingly portrayed as unprovoked mass murder, unconscionable examples of the enemy’s lack of humanity and indicative of the difference between us and them.
The mainstream media is best understood as an appendage of the government and ruling class interests, one which functions as part of a propaganda system that has nothing to do with providing with facts, but rather creating an acceptable ideological framework for its audience. This explains why the media exhibits such a blatant confirmation bias. In this light, it should be anything but surprising that the story about the Syrian government executing 82 civilians can become an official historical fact without any serious attempt to verify the actual course of events either at the time they happened, or after the fog of war has cleared.
 Chomsky, Noam and Edward S. Herman. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Pantheon, 2011. Kindle edition. (Loc. 7556)
 Chomsky, Noam and Edward S. Herman. The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism: The Political Economy of Human Rights: Volume 1. Boston: South End Press, 1979. (pp. 346)
 Quoted in Mandel, Michael. How America Gets Away with Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity. Pluto Press, 2004. Kindle edition. (Loc. 1737)
 Mandel, Michael. How America Gets Away with Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity. Pluto Press, 2004. Kindle edition. (Loc. 1820)
Mainstream journalists have betrayed their calling
The Editorial page of The Washington Post newspaper generally holds to its current progressive-dominated program consisting of anti-racism, pro-diversity plus multiculturalism, “choice,” LGBTQ “rights,” and, ironically, constant war. It is not noted for its sense of humor except on Saturday morning when it runs a number of cartoons ridiculing Donald Trump.
All of which contributed to my surprise when I read a piece on January 29th penned by no less than Fred Hiatt, the Editorial and opinion pages editor. Fred, a Harvard graduate, of course, has been around at The Post since 2000. His foreign policy is pure John McCain and his domestic policy is Elizabeth Warren. Apparently kicking around people overseas is okay while in the United States white male Christian heterosexuals in particular can be targeted with impunity, but no one else.
Hiatt’s piece entitled “Trump considers the media his enemy. We shouldn’t treat him as ours” is the type of faux high-minded nonsense that one expects from the new breed of journalist that considers that reporting a story is not enough. For them, it is far more important to actually be the story through selective use of available information and the random insertion of opinion disguised as fact.
But back to Hiatt’s clearly robust sense of humor. He cited presidential adviser Stephen Bannon’s labeling the media the “opposition party,” noting that press-phobia is not exactly unusual for any White House, but warning “it is vital that we not become that party.” Rather than take on the Administration aggressively by exposing its lies, shutting it out or “be[ing] the voice of the other side,” the media should not “answer dishonest or partisan journalism” with “more partisan journalism, which would only harm our credibility.”
Hiatt’s answer to the “dishonest or partisan” journalism problem is “professionalism: to do your jobs according to the highest standards, as always.” He then adds “So far, I believe The Post has been setting the standard in this difficult job. It is not boasting for me to say so…” Regarding his own particularly bailiwick the “opinion side of the house… it is important to maintain a thoughtful perspective.”
Fred Hiatt cites a number of examples of Trump’s failings, including how, regarding immigration, “favoring one religion over another… defaces our democracy.” Surely Hiatt is aware that in practice immigration into the U.S. has frequently favored one religion or nationality or culture over others. During the past 50 years it has worked favorably for Cubans, Irishmen and Vietnamese Christians. Russian Jews benefited particularly as they were admitted as refugees under the 1975 Jackson-Vanik Amendment even though they were not notably persecuted and only had to prove that they were Jewish.
Jackson-Vanik was one of the first public assertions of neoconism, having reportedly been drafted in the office of Senator Henry Jackson by no less than Richard Perle and Ben Wattenberg. Its provision favoring Jews was expanded by the 1990 Lautenberg Amendment which widened the field to include Iranian Jews. As refugees instead of immigrants they received welfare, health insurance, job placement, English language classes, and the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship after only five years.
Hiatt’s apparent ignorance about how his Russian-Jewish neocon buddies like Max Boot arrived here is particularly noted as he is also Jewish. And Boot is far from alone. Steve Sailer reports that journalist Julia Ioffe, who complains regularly about American racism, Vladimir Putin and also Donald Trump, entered the U.S. under the Russian-Jewish waiver in 1990, bringing 60 of her family members along with her. One suspects that selective immigration policies are okay for Fred when it is one’s own tribe but immoral when it somehow involves Donald Trump.
Hiatt’s editorial page has also roundly condemned Donald Trump for his decision to restrict immigration from seven Muslim majority countries, conveniently ignoring the fact that President Barack Obama first came up with the exact same list of Muslim countries for special vetting in the December 2015 Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act.
Now consider Hiatt’s more general allegations regarding partisan and dishonest journalism for a minute. Anyone who regularly read either The Washington Post or New York Times during the recently concluded electoral campaign would have noted that the mainstream media was extremely hostile to Donald Trump and everything that he represented. It was and still is the “opposition,” as Bannon put it. The Post‘s journalists have been daily running multiple pieces, both in the news and opinion sections, criticizing everything relating to Trump for months including his wife’s clothing choices and there is no sign that it will stop anytime soon. And they have not been shy about it, criticizing not only his policies but also his appearance and character. The lampooning and sharp critique continue now that Trump is president. It is not that Trump is or should be immune from criticism – to be sure he has many legitimate detractors all across the political spectrum – but it is a question of how the critique is packaged and whether he is being treated fairly.
In fact, The Washington Post might well be the current leader when it comes to partisanship, fake news and heavily editorialized alleged “news reporting,” particularly when it comes to Russia, Iran or Donald Trump. It featured a completely fabricated story describing how a utility in Vermont had been hacked by the Russians without checking with the utility first. It also ran a front page piece on how hundreds of U.S. based media outlets and alternative websites were Russian “useful idiots” spreading Kremlin produced fake news and propaganda, basing its assessment on a questionable anonymously produced website called PropOrNot. Both stories were replayed widely in the national media before it was determined that they were completely wrong.
In support of its domestic agenda, The Post also ran a story describing how Planned Parenthood provides a broad range of women’s health services, including mammograms, which turned out to be untrue while failing to mention that it also performs 300,000 abortions each year. However one feels about Planned Parenthood, is that balanced and fact based reporting?
Apart from completely fake news, The Post is a master at editorializing what it describes as its news coverage. In a front page story on February 2nd, “Trump badgered, bragged and abruptly ended phone call with Australian leader,” paragraph four reads “Trump’s behavior suggests that he is capable of subjecting world leaders, including close allies, to a version of the vitriol he frequently employs against political adversaries and news organizations in speeches and on Twitter.” Does that pass the smell test for news reporting? Does “badgered, bragged”? And it later turned out that the call was not ended abruptly.
People like Fred Hiatt are precisely the reason why Donald Trump was elected by a public tired of arrogance, lies and media condescension. Fred’s hypocrisy is so blatant that anyone who dips into his newspaper to find enlightenment instead comes away reeking of propaganda, and particularly low propaganda at that. No Fred, The Washington Post is not the “highest standard” of journalism. It is hardly journalism at all. And the same goes for the crew at The New York Times as well as Charley Rose at CBS News, Wolf Blitzer at CNN and Rachel Maddow at MSNBC. Liars and knaves, every one of them.
The mainstream media talking heads want wars with Russia and Iran as well as heavy-handed intervention in Syria, hate Trump and everything he stands for, and love the whole world and its wonderful multicultural promise. Of course, their children go to private schools and will never be unemployed or have to put on a uniform or struggle to pay a mortgage while those pesky immigrants they love from a distance will never be able to afford to move in next door. Their understanding of flyover America and its problems is nil and their love of country is negotiable as they pursue higher ratings and more pats on the head from Hollywood celebrities, preening politicians and the country’s oligarchs. Steve Bannon was absolutely right when he said “the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.”