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[Jan 28, 2016] Andrew Bacevich: Six National Security Questions Hillary, Donald, Ted, Marco, etc., Dont Want to Answer and Wont Even Be Asked

Notable quotes:
"... These carefully scripted lines perform their intended twofold function. First, they elicit applause and certify the candidate as plenty tough. Second, they spare the candidate from having to address matters far more deserving of presidential attention than managing the fight against the Islamic State. In the hierarchy of challenges facing the United States today, ISIS ranks about on a par with Sicily back in 1943. While liberating that island was a necessary prelude to liberating Europe more generally, the German occupation of Sicily did not pose a direct threat to the Allied cause. So with far weightier matters to attend to - handling Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, for example - President Franklin Roosevelt wisely left the problem of Sicily to subordinates. FDR thereby demonstrated an aptitude for distinguishing between the genuinely essential and the merely important. ..."
"... Bacevich continues to suffer from a cold war hangover. In his daze he just gestures at the mess that NATO made of the Ukraine as it tried to back oligarchs in favor of NATO expansion against the more neutral oligarchs Russia favored. He also ignores how the EU has been up to bullying its own members in the name of austerity policies favoring Germany and the banks. Although hes critical of the establishment candidates, Bacevich remains aligned with a NATOcentric view of the world. ..."
"... I believe Mr. Bacevich forgot one – globalization. As a practical matter, how does a nation that has off-shored its capability to support a large scale conventional war continue to get the world to except the toxic waste produced by Wall Street and Washington short of threatening the use of its nuclear weapons to pull down the house (so to speak)? ..."
"... Bacevich is dead wrong about the importance of Sicily. The most important thing for Roosevelt and Churchill and Stalin was not the inevitable defeat of Hitler (strategically a done deal after Stalingrad and El Alamein) but prevention of a post-WWI type revolution once Hitler had collapsed (that is why the central political strategy of the Allies was Unconditional Surrender to be followed by military occupation of liberated Europe). ..."
"... Thanks, then, to Roosevelt and Churchill for the Mafia dominance over Sicily and southern Italy that continues to this day. ..."
"... Marco Rubio just told us hes a hysterical tool who is abysmal at assessing risks. ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com
January 27, 2016

By Andrew J. Bacevich, the author of America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History , which Random House will publish in April. Originally published at TomDispatch

To judge by the early returns, the presidential race of 2016 is shaping up as the most disheartening in recent memory. Other than as a form of low entertainment, the speeches, debates, campaign events, and slick TV ads already inundating the public sphere offer little of value. Rather than exhibiting the vitality of American democracy, they testify to its hollowness.

Present-day Iranian politics may actually possess considerably more substance than our own. There, the parties involved, whether favoring change or opposing it, understand that the issues at stake have momentous implications. Here, what passes for national politics is a form of exhibitionism about as genuine as pro wrestling.

A presidential election campaign ought to involve more than competing coalitions of interest groups or bevies of investment banks and billionaires vying to install their preferred candidate in the White House. It should engage and educate citizens, illuminating issues and subjecting alternative solutions to careful scrutiny.

That this one won't even come close we can ascribe as much to the media as to those running for office, something the recent set of "debates" and the accompanying commentary have made painfully clear. With certain honorable exceptions such as NBC's estimable Lester Holt, representatives of the press are less interested in fulfilling their civic duty than promoting themselves as active participants in the spectacle. They bait, tease, and strut. Then they subject the candidates' statements and misstatements to minute deconstruction. The effect is to inflate their own importance while trivializing the proceedings they are purportedly covering.

Above all in the realm of national security, election 2016 promises to be not just a missed opportunity but a complete bust. Recent efforts to exercise what people in Washington like to call "global leadership" have met with many more failures and disappointments than clearcut successes. So you might imagine that reviewing the scorecard would give the current raft of candidates, Republican and Democratic alike, plenty to talk about.

But if you thought that, you'd be mistaken. Instead of considered discussion of first-order security concerns, the candidates have regularly opted for bluff and bluster, their chief aim being to remove all doubts regarding their hawkish bona fides.

In that regard, nothing tops rhetorically beating up on the so-called Islamic State. So, for example, Hillary Clinton promises to "smash the would-be caliphate," Jeb Bush to " defeat ISIS for good," Ted Cruz to " carpet bomb them into oblivion," and Donald Trump to " bomb the shit out of them." For his part, having recently acquired a gun as the "last line of defense between ISIS and my family," Marco Rubio insists that when he becomes president, "The most powerful intelligence agency in the world is going to tell us where [ISIS militants] are; the most powerful military in the world is going to destroy them; and if we capture any of them alive, they are getting a one-way ticket to Guantanamo Bay."

These carefully scripted lines perform their intended twofold function. First, they elicit applause and certify the candidate as plenty tough. Second, they spare the candidate from having to address matters far more deserving of presidential attention than managing the fight against the Islamic State.

In the hierarchy of challenges facing the United States today, ISIS ranks about on a par with Sicily back in 1943. While liberating that island was a necessary prelude to liberating Europe more generally, the German occupation of Sicily did not pose a direct threat to the Allied cause. So with far weightier matters to attend to - handling Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, for example - President Franklin Roosevelt wisely left the problem of Sicily to subordinates. FDR thereby demonstrated an aptitude for distinguishing between the genuinely essential and the merely important.

By comparison, today's crop of presidential candidates either are unable to grasp, cannot articulate, or choose to ignore those matters that should rightfully fall under a commander-in-chief's purview. Instead, they compete with one another in vowing to liberate the twenty-first-century equivalent of Sicily, as if doing so demonstrates their qualifications for the office.

What sort of national security concerns should be front and center in the current election cycle? While conceding that a reasoned discussion of heavily politicized matters like climate change, immigration, or anything to do with Israel is probably impossible, other issues of demonstrable significance deserve attention. What follows are six of them - by no means an exhaustive list - that I've framed as questions a debate moderator might ask of anyone seeking the presidency, along with brief commentaries explaining why neither the posing nor the answering of such questions is likely to happen anytime soon.

  1. The War on Terror: Nearly 15 years after this "war" was launched by George W. Bush, why hasn't "the most powerful military in the world," "the finest fighting force in the history of the world" won it? Why isn't victory anywhere in sight?

    As if by informal agreement, the candidates and the journalists covering the race have chosen to ignore the military enterprise inaugurated in 2001, initially called the Global War on Terrorism and continuing today without an agreed-upon name. Since 9/11, the United States has invaded, occupied, bombed, raided, or otherwise established a military presence in numerous countries across much of the Islamic world. How are we doing?

    Given the resources expended and the lives lost or ruined, not particularly well it would seem. Intending to promote stability, reduce the incidence of jihadism, and reverse the tide of anti-Americanism among many Muslims, that "war" has done just the opposite. Advance the cause of democracy and human rights? Make that zero-for-four.

    Amazingly, this disappointing record has been almost entirely overlooked in the campaign. The reasons why are not difficult to discern. First and foremost, both parties share in the serial failures of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere in the region. Pinning the entire mess on George W. Bush is no more persuasive than pinning it all on Barack Obama. An intellectually honest accounting would require explanations that look beyond reflexive partisanship. Among the matters deserving critical scrutiny is Washington's persistent bipartisan belief in military might as an all-purpose problem solver. Not far behind should come questions about simple military competence that no American political figure of note or mainstream media outlet has the gumption to address.

    The politically expedient position indulged by the media is to sidestep such concerns in favor of offering endless testimonials to the bravery and virtue of the troops, while calling for yet more of the same or even further escalation. Making a show of supporting the troops takes precedence over serious consideration of what they are continually being asked to do.

  2. Nuclear Weapons: Today, more than 70 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what purpose do nukes serve? How many nuclear weapons and delivery systems does the United States actually need?

    In an initiative that has attracted remarkably little public attention, the Obama administration has announced plans to modernize and upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Estimated costs of this program reach as high as $1 trillion over the next three decades. Once finished - probably just in time for the 100th anniversary of Hiroshima - the United States will possess more flexible, precise, survivable, and therefore usable nuclear capabilities than anything hitherto imagined. In effect, the country will have acquired a first-strike capability - even as U.S. officials continue to affirm their earnest hope of removing the scourge of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth (other powers being the first to disarm, of course).

    Whether, in the process, the United States will become more secure or whether there might be far wiser ways to spend that kind of money - shoring up cyber defenses, for example - would seem like questions those who could soon have their finger on the nuclear button might want to consider.

    Yet we all know that isn't going to happen. Having departed from the sphere of politics or strategy, nuclear policy has long since moved into the realm of theology. Much as the Christian faith derives from a belief in a Trinity consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, so nuclear theology has its own Triad, comprised of manned bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched missiles. To question the existence of such a holy threesome constitutes rank heresy. It's just not done - especially when there's all that money about to be dropped into the collection plate.

  3. Energy Security: Given the availability of abundant oil and natural gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere and the potential future abundance of alternative energy systems, why should the Persian Gulf continue to qualify as a vital U.S. national security interest?

    Back in 1980, two factors prompted President Jimmy Carter to announce that the United States viewed the Persian Gulf as worth fighting for. The first was a growing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and a belief that American consumers were guzzling gas at a rate that would rapidly deplete domestic reserves. The second was a concern that, having just invaded Afghanistan, the Soviet Union might next have an appetite for going after those giant gas stations in the Gulf, Iran, or even Saudi Arabia.

    Today we know that the Western Hemisphere contains more than ample supplies of oil and natural gas to sustain the American way of life (while also heating up the planet). As for the Soviet Union, it no longer exists - a decade spent chewing on Afghanistan having produced a fatal case of indigestion.

    No doubt ensuring U.S. energy security should remain a major priority. Yet in that regard, protecting Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela is far more relevant to the nation's well-being than protecting Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq, while being far easier and cheaper to accomplish. So who will be the first presidential candidate to call for abrogating the Carter Doctrine? Show of hands, please?

  4. Assassination: Now that the United States has normalized assassination as an instrument of policy, how well is it working? What are its benefits and costs?

    George W. Bush's administration pioneered the practice of using missile-armed drones as a method of extrajudicial killing. Barack Obama's administration greatly expanded and routinized the practice.

    The technique is clearly "effective" in the narrow sense of liquidating leaders and "lieutenants" of terror groups that policymakers want done away with. What's less clear is whether the benefits of state-sponsored assassination outweigh the costs , which are considerable. The incidental killing of noncombatants provokes ire directed against the United States and provides terror groups with an excellent recruiting tool. The removal of Mr. Bad Actor from the field adversely affects the organization he leads for no longer than it takes for a successor to emerge. As often as not, the successor turns out to be nastier than Mr. Bad Actor himself.

    It would be naïve to expect presidential candidates to interest themselves in the moral implications of assassination as now practiced on a regular basis from the White House. Still, shouldn't they at least wonder whether it actually works as advertised? And as drone technology proliferates, shouldn't they also contemplate the prospect of others - say, Russians, Chinese, and Iranians - following America's lead and turning assassination into a global practice?

  5. Europe: Seventy years after World War II and a quarter-century after the Cold War ended, why does European security remain an American responsibility? Given that Europeans are rich enough to defend themselves, why shouldn't they?

    Americans love Europe: old castles, excellent cuisine, and cultural attractions galore. Once upon a time, the parts of Europe that Americans love best needed protection. Devastated by World War II, Western Europe faced in the Soviet Union a threat that it could not handle alone. In a singular act of generosity laced with self-interest, Washington came to the rescue. By forming NATO, the United States committed itself to defend its impoverished and vulnerable European allies. Over time this commitment enabled France, Great Britain, West Germany, and other nearby countries to recover from the global war and become strong, prosperous, and democratic countries.

    Today Europe is "whole and free," incorporating not only most of the former Soviet empire, but even parts of the old Soviet Union itself. In place of the former Soviet threat, there is Vladimir Putin, a bully governing a rickety energy state that, media hype notwithstanding, poses no more than a modest danger to Europe itself. Collectively, the European Union's economy, at $18 trillion , equals that of the United States and exceeds Russia's, even in sunnier times, by a factor of nine. Its total population , easily outnumbering our own, is more than triple Russia's . What these numbers tell us is that Europe is entirely capable of funding and organizing its own defense if it chooses to do so.

    It chooses otherwise, in effect opting for something approximating disarmament. As a percentage of the gross domestic product, European nations spend a fraction of what the United States does on defense. When it comes to armaments, they prefer to be free riders and Washington indulges that choice. So even today, seven decades after World War II ended, U.S. forces continue to garrison Europe and America's obligation to defend 26 countries on the far side of the Atlantic remains intact.

    The persistence of this anomalous situation deserves election-year attention for one very important reason. It gets to the question of whether the United States can ever declare mission accomplished. Since the end of World War II, Washington has extended its security umbrella to cover not only Europe, but also virtually all of Latin America and large parts of East Asia. More recently, the Middle East, Central Asia, and now Africa have come in for increased attention. Today, U.S. forces alone maintain an active presence in 147 countries.

    Do our troops ever really get to "come home"? The question is more than theoretical in nature. To answer it is to expose the real purpose of American globalism, which means, of course, that none of the candidates will touch it with a 10-foot pole.

  6. Debt: Does the national debt constitute a threat to national security? If so, what are some politically plausible ways of reining it in?

    Together, the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama can take credit for tripling the national debt since 2000. Well before Election Day this coming November, the total debt, now exceeding the entire gross domestic product, will breach the $19 trillion mark .

    In 2010, Admiral Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described that debt as "the most significant threat to our national security." Although in doing so he wandered a bit out of his lane, he performed a rare and useful service by drawing a link between long-term security and fiscal responsibility. Ever so briefly, a senior military officer allowed consideration of the national interest to take precedence over the care and feeding of the military-industrial complex. It didn't last long.

    Mullen's comment garnered a bit of attention, but failed to spur any serious congressional action. Again, we can see why, since Congress functions as an unindicted co-conspirator in the workings of that lucrative collaboration. Returning to anything like a balanced budget would require legislators to make precisely the sorts of choices that they are especially loathe to make - cutting military programs that line the pockets of donors and provide jobs for constituents. (Although the F-35 fighter may be one of the most bloated and expensive weapons programs in history, even Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders has left no stone unturned in lobbying to get those planes stationed in his hometown of Burlington.)

    Recently, the role of Congress in authorizing an increase in the debt ceiling has provided Republicans with an excuse for political posturing, laying responsibility for all that red ink entirely at the feet of President Obama - this despite the fact that he has reduced the annual deficit by two-thirds, from $1.3 trillion the year he took office to $439 billion last year.

    This much is certain: regardless of who takes the prize in November, the United States will continue to accumulate debt at a non-trivial rate. If a Democrat occupies the White House, Republicans will pretend to care. If our next president is a Republican, they will keep mum. In either case, the approach to national security that does so much to keep the books out of balance will remain intact.

    Come to think of it, averting real change might just be the one point on which the candidates generally agree.

Ignim Brites, January 27, 2016 at 5:21 am

Good list. Missing are questions about maintaining our entangling alliances in Asia, particularly with S. Korea and Japan.

fresno dan, January 27, 2016 at 7:22 am

Like the "richest country on earth" bromide, the slogans and soundbites that constitute our politics is interesting only in showing that Huxley's Brave New World is the more effective manner of oppression and the one used by our masters…uh, I mean leaders….

BTW

"Here, what passes for national politics is a form of exhibitionism about as genuine as pro wrestling."

Hey, pro wrestlers are real athletes. Even though what stunt men do in movies is fake, that doesn't mean that stunts are not dangerous and don't require great skill – same with pro wrestling. I think the average wrestling fan very well understands the entertainment value of pro wrestling and that it is scripted, and that wrestlers play a role. Bad guys fight dirty, cheat but often the good guy prevails.

Does the general public understood the scripted nature of our political debates? At least with pro wrestling, the public gets what it wants. But with politics, the bad guys are dressed as good guys and often prevail. I would say if ONLY our politics were as genuine as pro wrestling….

Torsten, January 27, 2016 at 8:30 am

I'm afraid not. When I first arrived in DC, the clueless grad student who greeted me arranged my first night's entertainment -- a pro wrestling match at the now defunct Capital Center. He had convinced himself that the wrestling was real.

And the arena was *full*. One wonders how many of the attendees had similarly convinced themselves of this alternate reality–and how many of those had bet money on the outcome?

PhilK, January 27, 2016 at 10:56 am

Professional wrestling is as "real" as professional ballet and professional opera.

Bethany Raymond, January 27, 2016 at 7:33 am

Except for #6, an excellent list. The idea that our debt is a national security issue is ludicrous. Adm. Mullen needs to stick with what he knows and avoid commenting on economics. The author should know better, too. He needs to start reading NC!

Spring Texan, January 27, 2016 at 10:23 am

Agree, #6 stuck out like a sore thumb.

Deloss, January 27, 2016 at 11:23 am

Agreed. Conservatives love to wave their hands in the air and rail about the national debt. But their cure for it never involves revenue. They only want to cut things, and they want to cut things like SS which keeps a lot of us out of poverty and which doesn't have anything to do with the debt anyway.

Phil Briers, January 27, 2016 at 1:36 pm

The debt is a strategic issue not because it impacts the budget for "toys for military boys", but because of who is owning the treasury bonds that finance it. China holds a huge amount of that debt and while in normal circumstances it would be foolish to sell them off, it is does give them leverage. Particularly if they decide not to buy future issues.

Elizabeth Burton, January 27, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Also telling, perhaps, that #6 was the only time the author chose to mention Sen. Sanders, and then only to criticize him as being no better than the rest of the pork-barrel packers. Agenda, much?

Code Name D, January 27, 2016 at 8:10 am

For every missile recruited in the parade – is a missile not pointed at the enemy. It's true function is to prop up the leaders ego.

Plenue, January 27, 2016 at 3:32 pm

Do they know though? I get that they're politicians and thus they lie constantly, but I think that to a large degree there is simple stupidity and ignorance going on as well. Economists as a whole can't be bothered with evidence or experiments, politicians just listen to their economic advisers, and media writers generally don't understand much of anything, spending most of their time reading style guides.

jabawocky, January 27, 2016 at 8:18 am

A good list except 5 which only naively presents the reasons for American presence in Europe, which is mainly to prevent European alliance with Russia.

hemeantwell, January 27, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Right.

there is Vladimir Putin, a bully governing a rickety energy state that, media hype notwithstanding, poses no more than a modest danger to Europe itself.

Bacevich continues to suffer from a cold war hangover. In his daze he just gestures at the mess that NATO made of the Ukraine as it tried to back oligarchs in favor of NATO expansion against the more neutral oligarchs Russia favored. He also ignores how the EU has been up to bullying its own members in the name of austerity policies favoring Germany and the banks. Although he's critical of the establishment candidates, Bacevich remains aligned with a NATOcentric view of the world.

Plenue, January 27, 2016 at 3:25 pm

"In a singular act of generosity laced with self-interest, Washington came to the rescue. By forming NATO, the United States committed itself to defend its impoverished and vulnerable European allies."

Ahahaha, sure. And the Delian League totally wasn't an Athenian Empire.

Delian League
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Athenian Empire)

The Delian League, founded in 477 BC,[1] was an association of Greek city-states, members numbering between 150[2] to 173,[3] under the leadership of Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the end of the Second Persian invasion of Greece.

Oh…

vegeholic, January 27, 2016 at 10:44 am

The always stimulating and usually correct Mr. Bacevich has once again swept away the irrelevant chaff and homed in on the issues our candidates and we should be discussing. One quibble with #3.

"Today we know that the Western Hemisphere contains more than ample supplies of oil and natural gas to sustain the American way of life…"

There are lots of supplies but current trends, in my opinion, indicate a divergence between the price that producers need to stay in business and the price that consumers can afford to pay. There used to be a big overlap between these two ranges. We now lurch violently from high to low to find a price which satisfies producers but does not kill the economy. We don't seem to be finding it. Maybe it does not exist. It may still be prudent to disentangle ourselves from the middle east, but the western hemisphere and the U.S. may need to renegotiate their "way of life".

Teejay, January 27, 2016 at 11:15 am

Q7: Will a [your] administration continue to harbor war criminals as the Obama administration has done or will we live up to our creed that we are created equal that we are equal in the eyes of the law (domestically and internationally)?

Q8: Will a [your] administration continue to block Nigeria from carrying out its Interpol red letter notice for the arrest of Dick Cheney for his role as head of Halliburton in the $180 million bribery scandal to secure a billion dollar contract?

Steven, January 27, 2016 at 12:37 pm

I believe Mr. Bacevich forgot one – globalization. As a practical matter, how does a nation that has off-shored its capability to support a large scale 'conventional' war continue to get the world to except the 'toxic waste' produced by Wall Street and Washington short of threatening the use of its nuclear weapons to pull down the house (so to speak)?

fosforos, January 27, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Bacevich is dead wrong about the importance of Sicily. The most important thing for Roosevelt and Churchill and Stalin was not the inevitable defeat of Hitler (strategically a done deal after Stalingrad and El Alamein) but prevention of a post-WWI type revolution once Hitler had collapsed (that is why the central political strategy of the Allies was "Unconditional Surrender" to be followed by military occupation of "liberated" Europe).

The crucial importance of Sicily is made strikingly clear by the names of the "subordinates" entrusted by the Allies with governing the island–the Fascist Marshal Badoglio as ruler of Italy and the Mafia capo supremo Charles "Lucky" Luciano as enforcer against any workingclass or peasant attempt at a democratic uprising. Thanks, then, to Roosevelt and Churchill for the Mafia dominance over Sicily and southern Italy that continues to this day.

Mike G, January 27, 2016 at 1:41 pm

"last line of defense between ISIS and my family,"

Marco Rubio just told us he's a hysterical tool who is abysmal at assessing risks.

susan the other, January 27, 2016 at 3:33 pm

It is a shame that national security and economic reality questions are above the pay grade of the TV reporters asking the questions at the debates. I say this because they are a wasted resource – witness how Megyn Kelly demolished the Donald. No small feat. She flat-out nailed his misogynist chauvinism. I thought she was killer. She almost scared me. If Megyn had clear, straight information as her base she could do that will all the candidates blowing hot air. About national security. About our economy. About all of it. This isn't rocket science – it's just too tedious to attract viewers and run expensive ads. Business as usual.

[Jan 27, 2016] Obama weighs in on fearless Sanders and wicked smart Clinton

Notable quotes:
"... Lets just cut to the chase. The Guardian is trying to downplay what was said, but what Obama is doing is making it crystal clear that he wants Hillary as the nominee. He didnt out and out endorse her but he may as well have. And he will eventually formally endorse her. He knows that if the Dems made the drastic mistake of nominating the socialist Sanders, all of his accomplishments would be for naught because the result would be a Republican president that would undo everything hes done. ..."
"... Like Hillary Clinton, President Obama operates in the vein of Third Way, Neoliberal, corporatist, Democratic politicians. ..."
"... For example, during his first campaign, Barack Obama promised to include all stakeholders as he sought to reform Americas health care system. He also released an ad called Billy in which he derided a congressional Bill that prevents Medicare from negotiating prescription drug prices and promised that if elected, he would to end that practice. ..."
"... But once elected, Obama held closed door meetings with Big PhRma and other corporate lobbyists fighting to secure their lock on health care delivery and financing. ..."
"... After the House passed health care reform legislation under Nancy Pelosis leadership, which included the Public Option - previously subscribed to by Barack Obama during the campaign, the legislation stalled in the Senate where it was then secretly worked on by a so-called gang of six headed by Senator Max Baucus. Baucus, who had publicly come out against both the Public Option and universal health care met often with Obamas team and health care industry lobbyists to craft the final Bill. Obama turned the entire health care reform process which was based on a previous Conservative health care Bill and implemented by Governor Mitt Romney, over to Baucus team which then held up the Bill for nearly a year while negotiating with health care industry leaders and Big PhRma who literally wrote much of the actual Bill. ..."
"... Senator Byron Dorgan fought tirelessly to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and to allow the public to purchase re-imported prescription meds at reduced cost. Many Republicans crossed over to vote for his Bill. However, the Obama administration - which was secretly negotiating with Big PhRma to come up with a health care Bill they approved us - fought Dorgans efforts tooth and nail - until the Bill was defeated. Following the defeat of his efforts to change how Medicare pays for prescription medications were defeated by the Obama administration, Senator Dorgan announced he would not seek reelection to office in 2010. ..."
"... Carter was a feckless president who chose bad advisers -- rather like Obama -- but unlike Obama Carter always had a fundamental sense of decency. Take away the ambition and Obama is an empty suit. ..."
"... Obama doesnt want to antagonize Sanders supporters, but his carefully worded comments can nevertheless be summed up as: one neoliberal hand washing the other. ..."
"... Yep Hillary is so wicked smart she claims that she was tricked by George W Bush into voting for the Iraq War. Seriously? If shes dumb enough to be tricked by Dubya, shes not smart in the least, shes an easily tricked fool. Further proof? ..."
"... Wow, what a total liar. Shame on you Obama, you should keep out of the primary race, you only discredit yourself. You would know progressive if you ate it and puked it out later than ate it again. ..."
"... ...about tax reform that does not benefit the richest. It is not just about tax reform but more broadly about economic policy and lack of criminal prosecution of financial fraud that Obamas administration has fostered, which has been a windfall for the richest, which is hypocritical in the extreme. ..."
"... The economic policies of the mainstream centrist compromisers you seek would have been regarded as extreme rightwing by a Republican president like Eisenhower. (Whose New Deal consensus policies helped establish the largest and most affluent middle class the world has ever seen). ..."
"... You can almost hear the President worrying that Bernie Sanders will use the peoples mandate that he himself squandered and actually fulfill the empty promises of the Obama administration. ..."
"... Obama is right. Hillary is indeed tried and tested. But do the results warrant her becoming president? What are her standout achievements as either senator or secretary of state? ..."
"... No one is listening to Barry Obama, as he preferred to be called at university. He only became Barak when he entered politics. ..."
"... Obama and Clinton pretend to be liberals but their first priority is to serve the needs of the upper class, and provide only table scraps to the rest of us. ..."
www.theguardian.com

The Guardian

Luciano Giampaglia , 2016-01-26 04:42:15
" Sanders the socialist dreamer and Clinton the seasoned doer. " Said the Author of this article.

Bernie sanders has the best record for moving bills through the house in its history. He is the "doer" Clinton is the one who takes $600 thousand from Goldman Sachs for cosy dinner chats then says she will be tough on wall-street.

Bernie sanders is the candidate who voted against every majore deregulation of the financial market over the past 20 years including the removal of glass steagle that helped crash the system. the only legislation he voted for was not infact a financial bill As mrs Clinton said during the last debate, but was a seperate bill that HER HUSBAND BILL CLINTON WROTE, and tacked on 15 minutes before the hearing. The rest of the bill was important containing various funding measures and sanders had no choice but to pass it with the inclusion.

the inclusion was the deregulation and removal of oversite for Credit default swaps. Bill wrote, she wanted, they played dirty, and now she blames sanders for it.

Bernie 2016. You will be saving my country as much as yours.

RusticBenadar jamiecanuck , 2016-01-26 04:29:46
True, but also, thankfully, living in not only the Age of Information, but in a world where generations have come to maturity and are now fluent with the powers granted by said Age, any establishment tar and feathers (its already being done) can be quickly dismissed as baseless defamations. Young people know all the cliché mass media gimmicks, and when it comes to the integrity of their democracy, and leadership, they are collectively sick and tired of establishment media politics-as-usual. The more desperately the cronies try to slander Sanders, the more inspired becomes his support- for they see the fight for the future is real, and the future is theirs.
Maurice D Muhammad , 2016-01-26 04:05:23
President Obama is not dumb at all he knows how to use language perfectly, now the question is why would he say this about Hillary Clinton she's "wicked smart" mind for policy. Now the word wicked is an adjective that describes the noun smart. Wicked means, evil or morally wrong, intended to or capable of harming someone or something, extremely unpleasant. Now the word smart means intelligence; acumen. Now let me talk about the mind because policy comes out of the mind of people. The mind is the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought. Now what kind of wickedness comes out of the mind of Hillary Clinton? She destroyed Libya and got Colonel Gaddafi killed and her famous statement was " We Came, We Saw, and He DIED" That is wicked.....Truth has come to you~
ragonsmoke315 , 2016-01-26 03:37:53
People need to wake up about the delusion that Hillary is more likely to get things done. The Republicans disagree with everything Bernie stands for, but they HATE Hillary. If she offered a cure for cancer, the Republicans would reject it.

If she is the Democratic nominee, the GOP will retain control of Congress. If she wins in November (and that is a big "if"), the Republicans' obstructionism will surpass even what they have done with Obama. Any cooperation with her would result in that Congressperson being defeated in the next GOP primary, and they know that.

Bernie Sanders is a traditional New Deal Democrat; he has called himself a "democratic socialist," but FDR was labeled a socialist, too, for proposing many of the same things. Hillary would attempt far less and fail to achieve even that.

The polls prove that Bernie is more electable, and his record shows that he is more trustworthy and committed to the people rather than to his own ambition. I pray that Americans do not once again choose to vote against their own self-interest out of fear and timidity.

sickbayer Bruce Hill , 2016-01-26 03:23:47
that is because 9 out of 10 republicans I meet in my field (construction) think socialism is communism. And these are the same people who are in a union too. All bitch about how expensive health care is yet willing to boot the affordable care act out to touch because the republicans say its unconstitutional.
jamiecanuck Ernekid , 2016-01-26 03:23:35
I don't think you can underestimate the power of the US establishment that has promoted the idea that any social enlightenment is that dreaded thing called socialism. If challenged, the establishment will tar Bernie with that brush up one side and down the other. Too bad.
tigi sickbayer , 2016-01-26 02:47:21
Here in Massachusetts it means something quite good, as in, "it's a wicked good beer"
Bruce Hill , 2016-01-26 02:33:05
Let's just cut to the chase. The Guardian is trying to downplay what was said, but what Obama is doing is making it crystal clear that he wants Hillary as the nominee. He didn't out and out endorse her but he may as well have. And he will eventually formally endorse her. He knows that if the Dems made the drastic mistake of nominating the socialist Sanders, all of his accomplishments would be for naught because the result would be a Republican president that would undo everything he's done.
Al0612 notmurdoch , 2016-01-26 02:07:37
Rubbish. Sanders was Mayor of a city, improving many aspects of local life, and was well-regarded by other mayors; he has been elected to Congress on many occasions (and American politicians are usually elected on their personal qualities), and while in Congress has had many proposals accepted by both Democrats and Republicans. His answers to questions on television are in-depth. He strikes me as a clever and decent man who would be good at the job.

Corbyn has been elected several times in a constituency which would elect a bull terrier if it wore a red rosette, has never held any spokesman responsibilities, and associated with terrorists while they were actively engaged in bombing this country. On more than one occasion he has simply refused to take questions from journalists because he does not like being questioned. Frankly he strikes me as a halfwit.

Sanders and Corbyn are not alike, except in that they represent the left wing of their parties; we could do with our own Bernie over here

Al0612 , 2016-01-26 01:51:57
Just a thought. Hear me out on this one.

Imagine you are an American voter highly alienated from the political status quo . You are disgusted by the cosy relationship between big money and politics. You feel yourself getting worse and worse off every year. There is no candidate more representative of said status quo than Hillary Clinton, none at all. She is Wall Street's candidate par excellence . You do not want to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is articulating many of your beliefs, fears, and, yes, prejudices. You know that he has no truck with what you perceive to be America's corrupt path. So if the choice is Clinton vs. Trump, you vote for Trump.

Bernie Sanders identifies many of the same fundamental problems with Americans politics as Trump, but whereas Trump is, well Donald Trump, a demagogic blowhard lunatic who dreamed of marrying Princess Diana, not to mention a complete opportunist, Sanders seems principled and well-intentioned. There is also the fact that Sanders has achieved quite a few things in office (respected Mayor, successful negotiator in Congress, where he has served for a long time, unlike Trump, an actually very bad businessman, and Clinton, whose experience amounts to "married to Bill [for which she admittedly deserves the Victoria Cross] then did soe other jobs cos I was married to Bill, in neither of which I was particularly successful"). Faced with a choice of Sanders vs. Trump, you vote for Sanders.

This hunch- that people who support Trump are disillusioned voters who may be inclined to vote for Sanders- was borne out by polls which shows Clinton narrowly beating Trump, and Sanders winning by a larger margin.

Conventional wisdom- that a more "extreme" candidate (Sanders) is less electable than a moderate (Clinton)- does not really apply here. Conservative America has hated Hillary since those snide remarks about Tammy Wynette and baking cookies in 1992; ask my Tennessee country music friends. She isn't going to win any more votes than Obama has. Sanders, meanwhile, can tap into the real frustration of so many Americans, who would otherwise support Trump. And for those who compare Sanders to Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie doesn't have the baggage Corbyn does- at the same time as Jezza was making positive noises about the IRA, Bernie was turning Burlington into one of the best cities in America.

Want to elect a Democrat in November? Vote for Bernie Sanders.

MKB1234 , 2016-01-26 01:31:40
Not so hidden message, Obama wants Hillary to be president. Not such a surprise as both Obama and Hillary support the same ideals, have the same values and put corporations before people.
1566Vortex 2miners , 2016-01-26 01:27:16
He's not talking about socialism. He's talking about rules for the economy that apply to everyone.

It does require confrontation with interest groups that have held the reigns for too long.

This makes some people nervous, and they start blabbing about socialism.

The fact is, the economy only exists in any beneficial form at all because of regulations, rules, laws, and courts. Try doing any financial transaction without the laws on contracts in force. Whenever economies run without rules (enforced) they self destruct.

The labels are pretty meaningless; "socialism." It basically has no meaning, just like "free market." It's a word relating a concept with no existence in the real world.

Hopefully Mr. Sanders can reframe the debate.

Reasonable rules that apply to all creates prosperity.

john ayres , 2016-01-26 00:16:15
Obama benefited from a similar luxury. His florid speeches of the time suggested a revolutionary agenda which he had no intention of carrying out. Hillary as a dyed in the wool old school politician made up of money and ambition was no match. The outcome however did us no good. Hillary should at least pretend to have some principles and morality.
nnedjo , 2016-01-26 00:12:46
You know, sometimes I was interested in how it is possible that such tiny molecules such as DNA can cause the creation of even such giant creatures as elephants or whales, or create enough energy for such lightning reactions of a tiger or lion. And reading something about it, all I could figure out is that they're doing it over a catalysts.
Thus, the DNA creates a biochemical catalysts that stimulate the production of specific proteins and other substances necessary for the normal functioning, growth and the creation of new cells. And in a broader sense, the catalyst is the name for a chemical compound that accelerates a chemical reaction, but does not enter into union with other compounds, nor he himself is changing.

So, keeping in mind the above mentioned, we can say that the role of a true political leader is to be a "catalyst" of the political processes, and that causes and accelerates the political reactions of the broad masses. Also, as every true political "catalyst", the true leader of the people must not change himself, or that he "turns as the wind blows", that is to say, the political leader must have integrity.
Therefore, if you ask me, who is more in line with this definition of the leader of the people as a "political catalyst," I would say that it's Bernie Sanders rather than Hillary Clinton.

Obama was once also a good political "catalyst", but in the meantime he lost a lot of its "catalytic" capabilities. And anyway he changed himself, even literally, as can be seen from its image, which is something that a true "catalyst" must not allow to himself.:-)
In fact, Obama has changed so much that now "he looks" more like Hillary Clinton than like he himself in 2008. So people are now asking themselves, "What for was such a big fuss in 2008?

uniqueuserid ScuzzyKeirHardie , 2016-01-26 00:06:24
You're referring to his use of the term "Democratic Socialism"? Then you haven't the slightest clue what socialism is.

Socialism is the other leg on which capitalism operates. Without a sound socialist base, capitalism cannot thrive. The worker pool is oxygen to capitalism, and by failing to account for the worker, it starves itself.

Equally, and opposite, without capitalism, socialism on its own cannot thrive, because there is no ever-reinventing free enterprise to generate wealth.

Socialism may be coupled with many other political ideals, but it is not, on its own, a political ideal.

linton Bush , 2016-01-25 23:41:50
The elites both from the RNC and DNC are scared of Sanders. Circling the wagons to defend their rich pals who are milking this country

The establishment is holding tight. Obama is thinking of his own soft post Presidential landing. Hanging out with Clintons and their billionaire friends is good strategy. HRC will never win with Trump, but she will be less angry at Obama, when he leaves office. When Obama leaves, both clans can then make some good sweet money in return for their past services.

somebodysomewhere crystalcastle , 2016-01-25 23:22:00
red? as if. but on that note:

'It is good if we are attacked by the enemy, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. It is still better if the enemy attacks us wildly and paints us as utterly black and without a single virtue; it demonstrates that we have not only drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves but achieved a great deal in our work.' -- Mao Tse-tung, May 1939.

true that.

eminijunkie Jezreel2 , 2016-01-25 22:08:09
Obama turned the entire health care reform process which was based on a previous Conservative health care Bill and implemented by Governor Mitt Romney, over to Baucus' team which then held up the Bill for nearly a year while negotiating with health care industry leaders and Big PhRma who literally wrote much of the actual Bill.

Certainly explains why it is such a complicated mess. Got to protect all the profit interests ahead of the personal interests of the public.

Jezreel2 , 2016-01-25 20:57:37
Like Hillary Clinton, President Obama operates in the vein of Third Way, Neoliberal, corporatist, Democratic politicians.

For example, during his first campaign, Barack Obama promised to include all stakeholders as he sought to reform America's health care system. He also released an ad called "Billy" in which he derided a congressional Bill that prevents Medicare from negotiating prescription drug prices and promised that if elected, he would to end that practice.

But once elected, Obama held closed door meetings with Big PhRma and other corporate lobbyists fighting to secure their lock on health care delivery and financing.

After the House passed health care reform legislation under Nancy Pelosi's leadership, which included the Public Option - previously subscribed to by Barack Obama during the campaign, the legislation stalled in the Senate where it was then secretly worked on by a so-called "gang of six" headed by Senator Max Baucus. Baucus, who had publicly come out against both the Public Option and universal health care met often with Obama's team and health care industry lobbyists to craft the final Bill. Obama turned the entire health care reform process which was based on a previous Conservative health care Bill and implemented by Governor Mitt Romney, over to Baucus' team which then held up the Bill for nearly a year while negotiating with health care industry leaders and Big PhRma who literally wrote much of the actual Bill. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gang_of_Six http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-blumenthal/the-legacy-of-billy-tauzi_b_460358.html Senator Byron Dorgan fought tirelessly to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and to allow the public to purchase re-imported prescription meds at reduced cost. Many Republicans crossed over to vote for his Bill. However, the Obama administration - which was secretly negotiating with Big PhRma to come up with a health care Bill they approved us - fought Dorgan's efforts tooth and nail - until the Bill was defeated. Following the defeat of his efforts to change how Medicare pays for prescription medications were defeated by the Obama administration, Senator Dorgan announced he would not seek reelection to office in 2010. http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/229397-republicans-senators-slam-obama-on-drug-reimportation https://moderateinthemiddle.wordpress.com/tag/dorgan-reimportation-of-prescription-drugs-amendment /

Given

sbmfc geniusofmozart , 2016-01-25 20:54:53
Murder by drone takes the shine off.
nnedjo , 2016-01-25 20:20:28

Obama weighs in on 'fearless' Sanders and 'wicked smart' Clinton

And what Obama is weighed; Whether Hillary is more wicked or more smart?:-)
zolotoy snakeatzoes , 2016-01-25 20:05:47
Carter was a feckless president who chose bad advisers -- rather like Obama -- but unlike Obama Carter always had a fundamental sense of decency. Take away the ambition and Obama is an empty suit.
zolotoy Bundle_ , 2016-01-25 20:02:27
Obama pulled troops out of Iraq -- temporarily -- because of a withdrawal agreement his predecessor had signed with the Iraqi puppet government. In fact, Obama tried to keep the troops in Iraq in spite of the agreement, but the Iraqis would have none of it.
zolotoy , 2016-01-25 19:58:42

"There's no doubt that Bernie has tapped into a running thread in Democratic politics," Obama told Politico in a podcast, saying that thread asked: "Why are we still constrained by the terms of the debate that were set by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago?


How ironic that a self-professed Reagan admirer should ask that.
CarrickSnarlFace Marcedward , 2016-01-25 19:37:46
She's just yet another garbage corporate candidate
Whatsup12 , 2016-01-25 19:34:17
Obama promised but didn't deliver. In the end resigning he couldn't change the system. Just because he gave up doesn't mean we the people give up. We are sick and tired of corporations and politicians hijacking the democratic system and enriching themselves in the process.

Feel the bern!

nnedjo , 2016-01-25 19:26:20

But he lauded her experience: "It means that she can govern and she can start here, day one, more experienced than any non-vice-president has ever been who aspires to this office."

I think that every man, before becoming president of the country, should assume office of the Mayor of a small town, to show what he knows and what he can do.
Sort of like Bernie, who was mayor of Burlington, where he proved to be really good, as you can learn in detail from this article . Since there is no need to describe in detail the full article (you have the link and read it for yourself if you're interested), I will quote only this part from the end of the article:

Burlington is now widely heralded as an environmentally friendly, lively and livable city with a thriving economy, including one of the lowest jobless rates in the country. Burlingtonians give Sanders credit for steering the city in a new direction that, despite early skepticism, proved to be broadly popular with voters.

A growing number of cities -- including Seattle, New York, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Newark and others -- are now led by progressive mayors. They are adopting municipal minimum wage laws, requiring developers to build mixed-income housing, strengthening regulations against corporate polluters, and enacting other policies to address the nation's growing economic inequality and environmental crises.

Carly435 , 2016-01-25 19:17:01
Obama doesn't want to antagonize Sanders supporters, but his carefully worded comments can nevertheless be summed up as: one neoliberal hand washing the other.

Which doesn't matter since it holds little sway with the young. Bernie represents change, and he's going to win the primary based on a phenomenal turnout from the 18-29 voters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nwRiuh1Cug

Nevis7 EssoBlue , 2016-01-25 19:02:23
I mean I tend side with the Republicans more on immigration. Of course, I don't want to deport all illegal aliens, but I do think the US should actively defend our border and actually try and track/record those staying longer than their visas allow. But I do want to see a reasonable path to citizenship. I also side more with the GOP on gun ownership rights and taxation. Trump is absolutely a racism, sexist and everything else - totally agree with you on that. But perhaps the best thing he's done to this election is to allow for non-PC debate so that we can get to the core of the issues.

In a lot of ways, I'd kind of like to see a Rand Paul / Bernie Sanders ticket. Impossible I know. But in so many ways, they're opposites and yet in other ways their ideas compliment each other quite nicely. For example, Bernie's stance on Wall Street nicely fits with Rand's stand on the Federal Reserve.

But it's a pipe-dream.

Marcedward , 2016-01-25 18:34:15
He also gently suggested that Clinton's "wicked smart"

Yep Hillary is so wicked smart she claims that she was tricked by George W Bush into voting for the Iraq War. Seriously? If she's dumb enough to be tricked by Dubya, she's not smart in the least, she's an easily tricked fool. Further proof?
How many times did Bill Clinton get away with cheating on her and she just went along with it? How many times did she believe "Oh no honey, it just looked like we were having sex, you don't understand"?
Hillary Clinton is just not that smart, she's been over her head for a long time now and should move on to the role of "grandma".

nnedjo , 2016-01-25 18:32:55

and in a culture in which new is always better...
Sanders "has the virtue of saying exactly what he believes, and great authenticity, great passion, and is fearless", he said.

Of course that Bernie is authentic. Or more precisely, Bernie is an authentic American, because he has all the attributes of the original settlers and American pioneers.
Faith in God and in yourself, and fearlessness, what else was needed for the people who embarked on a journey to a new continent in search of a better life.

As for the "culture in which new is always better", it also does not go without fear. The guy who discovered America, Christopher Columbus, explained this to his sailors in a very simple way. He said, "Every man is afraid to do something for the first time. But those who overcome fear will rightly earn their reward."
You can watch it at 9:07 of this clip from the movie Conquest of Paradise .

Marcedward , 2016-01-25 18:21:05

"Hillary is really idealistic and progressive," he said, adding that "they're both passionate about giving everybody a shot" on education, and about tax reform that does not benefit the richest.

Wow, what a total liar. Shame on you Obama, you should keep out of the primary race, you only discredit yourself. You would know "progressive" if you ate it and puked it out later than ate it again.

vasectomy , 2016-01-25 18:20:35
"...about tax reform that does not benefit the richest." It is not just about tax reform but more broadly about economic policy and lack of criminal prosecution of financial fraud that Obama's administration has fostered, which has been a windfall for the richest, which is hypocritical in the extreme.
abe_herzog caradoccere , 2016-01-25 18:19:23
The economic policies of the mainstream 'centrist' compromisers you seek would have been regarded as extreme rightwing by a Republican president like Eisenhower. (Whose New Deal consensus policies helped establish the largest and most affluent middle class the world has ever seen).
EssoBlue , 2016-01-25 18:16:06
But there is a difference. A big difference.

Bernie Sanders's campaign is a genuine grassroots campaign. There are no corporate donors, expecting payback from their bought-and-paid-for candidate, once he achieves office. Bernie genuinely is a 'people's' candidate.

Hillary Clinton's campaign is the opposite. Big business donors galore, from Wall Street to the pharmaceutical industry, from private health insurance companies to big energy. Hillary is the corporate candidate of the Democratic race - and her funders will expect returns on their investments, were she to reach the White House.

Bernie 2016.

somebodysomewhere domrice , 2016-01-25 18:15:35
Obama and the rest of his cabinet - both terms - are indeed tried and tested at representing the financial oligarchy.
elaine layabout chiefwiley , 2016-01-25 18:11:59
As Mayor of Burlington, Bernie Sanders "turned out to be a pragmatic and efficient administrator, one so fiscally conservative that some Republicans say he managed to 'out-Republican the Republicans.'"

By building coalitions among initially-unwilling City leaders, Sanders achieved much of the Republicans' cost-cutting, tax-lowering, and commerce-revitalizing agenda -- an agenda that they themselves had been unable to achieve. Little wonder then, that "after he won his fourth term in 1987, US News and World Report voted him one of the top 20 mayors in the United States."

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/10/31/socialist-even-conservative-could-love-burlington-mayor-sanders-was-able-out-republican-republicans/SCmh2TLifXxXRPFKC8NMjO/story.html

elaine layabout feeltheillinoise , 2016-01-25 17:55:17
You can almost hear the President worrying that Bernie Sanders will use the people's mandate that he himself squandered and actually fulfill the empty promises of the Obama administration.

I especially love the "I got nothing to lose" bit, since Bernie Sanders has repeatedly expressed that he has EVERYTHING to lose -- his everything being the best interests of the American people. Why the heck does the President think that Sanders is running as a Democrat and not an Independent? Why the heck has he repeatedly expressed his fear of running at all, lest he fail his progressive ideals and just further secure the status quo?

OnlyOneView , 2016-01-25 17:49:16
If Clinton is that smart why is she being investigated by the FBI? Her problem is that she has always thought that she is smarter than she is. Her arrogance and sense of entitlement will finally catch up with her.
domrice , 2016-01-25 17:46:55
Obama is right. Hillary is indeed tried and tested. But do the results warrant her becoming president? What are her standout achievements as either senator or secretary of state?
feeltheillinoise , 2016-01-25 17:31:14
"Hillary is really idealistic and progressive,"
She is neither of those two.

"His attitude is, 'I got nothing to lose.'"
No, it isn't. His attitude is a lifetime of authenticity. And anyway you have to have something before you can lose it. Not realising a potentiality is not the same as losing.

"Clinton's "wicked smart"" - emphasis on the wicked .

"It means that she can govern and she can start here, day one, more experienced than any non-vice-president has ever been who aspires to this office." - translation: she can do a great job maintaining things just as they are now.

"But he admitted that over seven years, he realizes theater has its uses: "And you know what, some of the presidency is performance."" - riiiiight... ok.

Ernekid , 2016-01-25 17:22:24
I think that people under estimate Sanders. He's spent decades up on Capitol Hill and he knows the machinations of the House and Senate like the back of his hand. Like the Congressional veteran LBJ before him Sanders could prove to be a real 'sonofabitch' when trying to get his way through Congress if he finds himself in the Oval Office . He knows how American politicians think and work but he's never sold out his political soul for power.
James Ferguson honey1969 , 2016-01-25 17:21:04
He is playing coy while all the time supporting Clinton! It is very clear by his statements! This is NOT a surprise although as he is NOT a progressive himself!! He is as much a part of the established money machine as Clinton is! What he is failing to understand is that he got where he is today NOT because of that machine but in the same way as Bernie through the grass-roots support and contributions of US the PEOPLE something he forgot almost as soon as he took office!
Nash25 , 2016-01-25 17:11:26
No one is listening to "Barry" Obama, as he preferred to be called at university. He only became "Barak" when he entered politics.

The reason liberals are excited about Sanders and dislike Clinton is that they are disappointed with Obama, who promised so much, but did so little.

Obama and Clinton pretend to be liberals but their first priority is to serve the needs of the upper class, and provide only table scraps to the rest of us.

A good example is Obama's health care initiative. He allowed private insurance corporations to write the legislation, which is why it is so expensive and leaves millions with no access to health care.

And to Obama, this is his proudest accomplishment.

elaine layabout , 2016-01-25 16:59:34

[A]lthough Obama said he understood Sanders' appeal, he downplayed any similarities between his upstart 2008 campaign and the 73-year-old senator's surprise popularity with diverse and young voters.

"I think Bernie came in with the luxury of being a complete long shot and just letting loose," Obama said.

And you did not, Mr. President -- you who had far less experience than Senator/Former Representative/Former Mayor Sanders?!

The fact of the matter is that, although you pretend to be fair minded and neutral, you are not. And you have not been since you appointed Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the chair of the Democratic National Committee.

funnynought , 2016-01-25 16:59:11
Out-of-character signs of intelligence from Obama. But he still doesn't dare speak the truth of oligarchical destruction of the American Way like Sanders does. Obama prances around words like this which make the entitled nervous.

Feel the Bern!

>

[Mar 30, 2015] Private Emails Reveal Ex-Clinton Aides Secret Spy Network

Notable quotes:
"... Emails disclosed by a hacker show a close family friend was funneling intelligence about the crisis in Libya directly to the Secretary of State's private account starting before the Benghazi attack. ..."
"... This story was co-published with Gawker . ..."
"... Update, March 27, 6:48 p.m.: This story has been updated to include responses from the FBI and the State Department. ..."
"... Clinton family confidante Sidney Blumenthal supplied intelligence to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gathered by a secret network that included a former CIA clandestine service officer, according to hacked emails from Blumenthal's account. ..."
March 28, 2015 | State of the Nation

Emails disclosed by a hacker show a close family friend was funneling intelligence about the crisis in Libya directly to the Secretary of State's private account starting before the Benghazi attack.

This story was co-published with Gawker.

Update, March 27, 6:48 p.m.: This story has been updated to include responses from the FBI and the State Department.

Starting weeks before Islamic militants attacked the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, longtime Clinton family confidante Sidney Blumenthal supplied intelligence to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gathered by a secret network that included a former CIA clandestine service officer, according to hacked emails from Blumenthal's account.

The emails, which were posted on the internet in 2013, also show that Blumenthal and another close Clinton associate discussed contracting with a retired Army special operations commander to put operatives on the ground near the Libya-Tunisia border while Libya's civil war raged in 2011.

Blumenthal's emails to Clinton, which were directed to her private email account, include at least a dozen detailed reports on events on the deteriorating political and security climate in Libya as well as events in other nations. They came to light after a hacker broke into Blumenthal's account and have taken on new significance in light of the disclosure that she conducted State Department and personal business exclusively over an email server that she controlled and kept secret from State Department officials and which only recently was discovered by congressional investigators.

The contents of that account are now being sought by a congressional inquiry into the Benghazi attacks. Clinton has handed over more than 30,000 pages of her emails to the State Department, after unilaterally deciding which ones involved government business; the State Department has so far handed almost 900 pages of those over to the committee. A Clinton spokesman told Gawker and ProPublica (which are collaborating on this story) that she has turned over all the emails Blumenthal sent to Clinton.

The dispatches from Blumenthal to Clinton's private email address were posted online after Blumenthal's account was hacked in 2013 by Romanian hacker Marcel-Lehel Lazar, who went by the name Guccifer. Lazar also broke into accounts belonging to George W. Bush's sister, Colin Powell, and others. He's now serving a seven-year sentence in his home country and was charged in a U.S. indictment last year.

The contents of the memos, which have recently become the subject of speculation in the right-wing media, raise new questions about how Clinton used her private email account and whether she tapped into an undisclosed back channel for information on Libya's crisis and other foreign policy matters.

Blumenthal, a New Yorker staff writer in the 1990s, became a top aide to President Bill Clinton and worked closely with Hillary Clinton during the fallout from the Whitewater investigation into the Clinton family. She tried to hire him when she joined President Obama's cabinet in 2009, but White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reportedly nixed the idea on the grounds Blumenthal was a divisive figure whose attacks on Obama during the Democratic primary had poisoned his relationship with the new administration.

It's unclear who tasked Blumenthal, known for his fierce loyalty to the Clintons, with preparing detailed intelligence briefs. It's also not known who was paying him, or where the operation got its money. The memos were marked "confidential" and relied in many cases on "sensitive" sources in the Libyan opposition and Western intelligence and security services. Other reports focused on Egypt, Germany, and Turkey.

Indeed, though they were sent under Blumenthal's name, the reports appear to have been gathered and prepared by Tyler Drumheller, a former chief of the CIA's clandestine service in Europe who left the agency in 2005. Since then, he has established a consulting firm called Tyler Drumheller, LLC. He has also been affiliated with a firm called DMC Worldwide, which he co-founded with Washington, D.C., attorney Danny Murray and former general counsel to the U.S. Capitol Police John Caulfield. DMC Worldwide's now-defunct website describes it at as offering "innovative security and intelligence solutions to global risks in a changing world."

In one exchange in March 2013, Blumenthal emailed Drumheller, "Thanks. Can you send Libya report." Drumheller replied, "Here it is, pls do not share it with Cody. I don't want moin speculating on sources. It is on the Maghreb and Libya." Cody is Cody Shearer, a longtime Clinton family operative-his brother was an ambassador under Bill Clinton and his now-deceased sister is married to Clinton State Department official Strobe Talbott-who was in close contact with Blumenthal. While it's not entirely clear from the documents, "Moin" may refer to the nickname of Mohamed Mansour El Kikhia, a member of the Kikhia family, a prominent Libyan clan with ties to the Libyan National Transition Council. (An email address in Blumenthal's address book, which was also leaked, was associated with his Facebook page.)

There's no indication in Blumenthal's emails whether Clinton read or replied to them before she left State on February 1, 2013, but he was clearly part of a select group with knowledge of the private clintonemail.com address, which was unknown to the public until

Gawker published it this year. They do suggest that she interacted with Blumenthal using the account after she stepped down. "H: got your message a few days ago," reads the subject line of one email from Blumenthal to Clinton on February 8, 2013; "H: fyi, will continue to send relevant intel," reads another.

The memos cover a wide array of subjects in extreme detail, from German Prime Minister Angela Merkel's conversations with her finance minister about French president Francois Hollande–marked "THIS INFORMATION COMES FROM AN EXTREMELY SENSITIVE SOURCE"-to the composition of the newly elected South Korean president's transition team. At least 10 of the memos deal in whole or in part with internal Libyan politics and the government's fight against militants, including the status of the Libyan oil industry and the prospects for Western companies to participate.

One memo was sent on August 23, 2012, less than three weeks before Islamic militants stormed the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. It cites "an extremely sensitive source" who highlighted a string of bombings and kidnappings of foreign diplomats and aid workers in Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata, suggesting they were the work of people loyal to late Libyan Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi.

While the memo doesn't rise to the level of a warning about the safety of U.S. diplomats, it portrays a deteriorating security climate. Clinton noted a few days after the Benghazi attack, which left four dead and 10 people injured, that U.S. intelligence officials didn't have advance knowledge of the threat.

On September 12, 2012, the day after the Benghazi attack, Blumenthal sent a memo that cited a "sensitive source" saying that the interim Libyan president, Mohammed Yussef el Magariaf, was told by a senior security officer that the assault was inspired by an anti-Muslim video made in the U.S., as well as by allegations from Magariaf's political opponents that he had CIA ties.

Blumenthal followed up the next day with an email titled "Re: More Magariaf private reax." It said Libyan security officials believed an Islamist radical group called the Ansa al Sharia brigade had prepared the attack a month in advance and "took advantage of the cover" provided by the demonstrations against the video.

An October 25, 2012 memo says that Magariaf and the Libyan army chief of staff agree that the "situation in the country is becoming increasingly dangerous and unmanageable" and "far worse" than Western leaders realize.

Blumenthal's email warnings, of course, followed a year of Libyan hawkishness on the part of Clinton. In February of 2011, she told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that "it is time for Gaddafi to go." The next month, after having described Russian reluctance over military intervention as "despicable," Clinton met with rebel leaders in Paris and drummed up support for a no-fly zone while in Cairo. On March 17, 2011, the UN Security Council voted to back Libyan rebels against Gaddafi.

It's this buildup, which Clinton still proudly recalled in her 2014 memoir, that Blumenthal appears to join in on 2011. In addition to the intel memos, his emails also disclose that he and his associates worked to help the Libyan opposition, and even plotted to insert operatives on the ground using a private contractor.

A May 14, 2011 email exchange between Blumenthal and Shearer shows that they were negotiating with Drumheller to contract with someone referred to as "Grange" and "the general" to place send four operatives on a week-long mission to Tunis, Tunisia, and "to the border and back." Tunisia borders Libya and Algeria.

"Sid, you are doing great work on this," Drumheller wrote to Blumenthal. "It is going to be around $60,000, coverting r/t business class airfare to Tunis, travel in country to the border and back, and other expenses for 7–10 days for 4 guys."

After Blumenthal forwarded that note to Shearer, he wrote back questioning the cost of the operation. "Sid, do you think the general has to send four guys. He told us three guys yesterday, a translator and two other guys. I understand the difficulty of the mission and realize that K will be repaid but I am going to need an itemized budget for these guys."

"The general" and "Grange" appear to refer to David L. Grange, a major general in the Army who ran a secret Pentagon special operations unit before retiring in 1999. Grange subsequently founded Osprey Global Solutions, a consulting firm and government contractor that offers logistics, intelligence, security training, armament sales, and other services. The Osprey Foundation, which is a nonprofit arm of Osprey Global Solutions, is listed as one of the State Department's "global partners" in a 2014 report from the Office of Global Partnerships.'

Among the documents in the cache released by Lazar is an August 24, 2011, memorandum of understanding between Osprey Global Solutions and the Libyan National Transition Council-the entity that took control in the wake of Qadaffi's execution-agreeing that Osprey will contract with the NTC to "assist in the resumption of access to its assets and operations in country" and train Libyan forces in intelligence, weaponry, and "rule-of-land warfare." The document refers to meetings held in Amman, Jordan between representatives of Osprey and a Mohammad Kikhia, who represented the National Transition Council.

Five months later, according to a document in the leak, Grange wrote on Osprey Global letterhead to Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro, introducing Osprey as a contractor eager to provide humanitarian and other assistance in Libya. "We are keen to support the people of Libya under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Finance and the Libyan Stock Exchange," Grange wrote. Shapiro is a longtime Clinton loyalist; he served on her Senate staff as foreign policy advisor.

Another document in the cache, titled "Letter_for_Moin," is an appeal from Drumheller to then-Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan offering the services of Tyler Drumheller LLC, "to develop a program that will provide discreet confidential information allowing the appropriate entities in Libya to address any regional and international challenges."

The "K" who was, according to Shearer's email, to be "repaid" for his role in the Tunisia operation appears to be someone named Khalifa al Sherif, who sent Blumenthal several emails containing up-to-the-minute information on the civil war in Libya, and appears to have been cited as a source in several of the reports.

Contacted by ProPublica and Gawker, Drumheller's attorney and business partner Danny Murray confirmed that Drumheller "worked" with Blumenthal and was aware of the hacked emails, but declined to comment further.

Shearer said only that "the FBI is involved and told me not to talk. There is a massive investigation of the hack and all the resulting information." The FBI declined to comment.

Blumenthal, Grange, and Kikhia all did not respond to repeated attempts to reach them. Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton had no comment on Blumenthal's activities with Drumheller.

Whatever Blumenthal, Shearer, Drumheller, and Grange were up to in 2011, 2012, and 2013 on Clinton's behalf, it appears that she could have used the help: According to State Department personnel directories, in 2011 and 2012-the height of the Libya crisis-State didn't have a Libyan desk officer, and the entire Near Eastern Magreb Bureau, which which covers Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya, had just two staffers. Today, State has three Libyan desk officers and 11 people in the Near Eastern Magreb Bureau. A State Department official wouldn't say how many officers were on the desk in 2011, but said there was always "at least one" officer and "sometimes many more, working on Libya."

Reached for comment, a State Department public affairs official who would only speak on background declined to address questions about Blumenthal's relationship to Clinton, whether she was aware of the intelligence network, and who if anyone was paying Blumenthal. Asked about the Tunisia-Libya mission, the official replied, "There was a trip with the secretary in October of 2011, but there was also a congressional delegation in April, 2011. There were media reports about both of these at the time." Neither trip involved travelling via Tunis.

[Mar 06, 2015] Hillary Clinton is learning another hard lesson in presidential campaigning

From comments "It reflects on her character and her belief she is above the rules that the rest of us must obey." Is not those qualities the qualities of a female sociopath?
Notable quotes:
"... Two months ago, a team of Clinton people combed through a vast stack of her emails – from the period covering 2009 to 2013, when she served as America's top diplomat. Having reviewed the emails, they handed over 55,000 pages to the State Department. ..."
"... Hillary Clinton behaves very strangely on the background of Obama's statements about cybersecurity. ..."
"... Anyway she has something to conceal. I don't want Hillary to become our president. ..."
"... It reflects on her character and her belief she is above the rules that the rest of us must obey. ..."
"... Additionally, wouldn't John Kerry have needed to review the communications of his predecessor? Typically when one starts a new job,reviewing the files of one's predecessor is the way you get up to speed. ..."
"... How soon we forget...bush (aka Karl Rove) used a private account for gov bus, and somehow 100s were 'lost'. Have they been found and turned over yet? ..."
"... Was the secret server secure? ..."
"... Besides -- given Snowden's revelations -- if we were tapping Merkel's phone, NSA probably has all of Hillary's emails. ..."
"... They aren't her property. If she's that fearful, she should just stay retired and not work for an open govt such as ours. ..."
"... The muckrakers-the most famous of whom was Sinclair Lewis-were early twentieth-century American journalists who exposed corrupt politicians and robber-baron industrialists. ..."
"... It is a service provided by Optimum, which offers both website and e-mail hosting. ..."
"... Your right, she is a hypocrite… but at least she's not responsible for a few hundred thousand dead humans and 5 million refugees not to mention the countless maimed and many tortured like the Bush Officials. Yet. ..."
Mar 06, 2015 | The Guardian

Hillary Clinton has been on the defensive this week over the revelation that she exclusively used a private email account while serving as secretary of state. The presumptive 2016 presidential candidate has tried to douse the flames, but key questions about the controversy remain unaddressed.

Where are the missing emails?

Two months ago, a team of Clinton people combed through a vast stack of her emails – from the period covering 2009 to 2013, when she served as America's top diplomat. Having reviewed the emails, they handed over 55,000 pages to the State Department.

... ... ..

That begs the question: how many pages did she not hand over? More importantly, what did they contain?

... ... ...

But we still don't know who those advisers were, and whether they had any training in the art of preserving official records.

So: who vetted the Clinton emails? Why should they be trusted to preserve something as precious to the nation as its historic records?

... ... ...

Why was email vetting even permitted?

The question of who vetted Clinton's emails before their transfer to the State Department raises another question: why was this allowed in the first place?

Since 2009, US government rules have been very clear on this subject. The National Archives and Records Administration stated categorically in that year – the first of Clinton's term as secretary – that "agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system."

Alas: why did senior State Department officials allow Clinton to override clear official rules? What role did Clinton herself play in circumventing the regulations?

Was the secret server secure?

We now know that Team Clinton set up its own domain name, ClintonEmail.com, shortly before Hillary Clinton took up the job as secretary of state. It was linked to a "homebrew" server at her home in Chappaqua, New York.

Given that Clinton was dealing with highly sensitive diplomatic issues, and that President Obama has declared cybersecurity a top priority for the nation, one might have expected additional protection.

But simple tests conducted by experts suggest that the server's security shield was not particularly sophisticated – though neither was that of the State Department.

What was done to protect Clinton's private server from hacking attacks? Were any vulnerable loopholes cut off? Were state secrets at risk?

Republicans accuse Clinton of 'scheme to conceal' emails from public view

State Department officials do not expect 50,000 pages of email to be released for several months, as Clinton – a lone tweet aside – chooses to stay silent

Why did she do it?

Perhaps the most intriguing question that still hangs in the air – and one that the public may never have satisfactorily answered, much to the chagrin of Benghaziphiles – is the simplest: why would Hillary Clinton decide, in effect, to privatise her own official emails? Was it an innocent move made for the sake of convenience – one which Clinton supporters have emphasised was made by her predecessors and by leading Republican politicians?

Or: were the private emails a conscious manoeuvre? As watchdogs at the Sunlight Foundation put it: "There is shock at what Secretary Clinton did because the most likely explanation of her intent seems clear – she created a system designed to avoid accountability, potentially in violation of the law."

jebhanson986

Hillary Clinton behaves very strangely on the background of Obama's statements about cybersecurity. We are used our authorities and special services are watching us through internet. FBI and other may read our e-mails, look through our accounts in social networks.

Actions of Hillary are too unpatriotic against the background of her applications for participation in presidential elections 2016. It is already known fact she was sponsored by foreign residents. It is crime.

Anyway she has something to conceal. I don't want Hillary to become our president. I know believe her as well as Obama. They have too many skeletons in the closet.

TheMediaSux

"Perhaps the most intriguing question that still hangs in the air" - "why would Hillary Clinton decide, in effect, to privatise her own official emails?"

That's also the easiest question to answer. And my five year old nephew figured it out: so people won't find out what was in the emails.

Theodore Svedberg -> osprey1957

It is not just the right that is alarmed over Hillary's actions but also many progressive Democrats. This is definitely not a manufactured scandal created by the Republicans but one created by Hillary herself. It reflects on her character and her belief she is above the rules that the rest of us must obey.

macktan894

These are the basic questions I have. Should all elected and appointed govt officials have the right to privatize govt business, in effect removing it from the sunlight that democracy requires? I really don't understand why she would do something like this, why she thought conducting business using secure govt servers would be such a bad idea. Nor do I get how she got away with making govt records her personal property.

Additionally, wouldn't John Kerry have needed to review the communications of his predecessor? Typically when one starts a new job,reviewing the files of one's predecessor is the way you get up to speed.

Is anyone able to ask her these questions?

GrammaW -> macktan894

How soon we forget...bush (aka Karl Rove) used a private account for gov bus, and somehow 100s were 'lost'. Have they been found and turned over yet?

AistheWay -> macktan894

I agree with you about the gov't privatizing what should be public and transparent dealings. This issue is a major concern that requires immediate legislation. For example the outsourcing of prison "care". I have spoken to ex-inmates who have served time in these private correctional facilities and to my disgust found out that they (private prison company) basically denied inmates, of most if not all, of the rights mandated by federal/state statutes regarding prisoner treatment.

Under the guise of budget savings and tax cuts our politicians are once again attacking citizen's rights.

macktan894 -> AistheWay

Don't get me started on the criminal justice system. I'll just say here that what's going on in Ferguson is happening all over the country, mainly to poor people no matter the race. And it is disgusting. I suggest emergency donations to the ACLU since the govt clearly has no inclination to correct this injustice.

SteveLight

This is not analysis -- this is muck raking.

Was the secret server secure?

I'd say it was a far sight more secure than a government server. Frankly, I would not trust a government server. The more we know about cyber intrusions, the more I would argue government emails are at risk.

Besides -- the first thing Hillary detractors would do is look for quotes they could take out of context.

Besides -- given Snowden's revelations -- if we were tapping Merkel's phone, NSA probably has all of Hillary's emails. They may not want to divulge that fact but I will bet dollars to doughnuts that her emails are under government wraps right now.

terrible analysis -- is Guardian slipping? I don't see the Guardian in the same high regard as I did, say 12 month ago. Who left?

macktan894 -> SteveLight

It's not her decision to make. She may have some political fears about her job, but if her fears were that great, then she shouldn't have taken the job. She cannot privatize sensitive govt records. They aren't her property. If she's that fearful, she should just stay retired and not work for an open govt such as ours.

MaxBoson -> SteveLight

The muckrakers-the most famous of whom was Sinclair Lewis-were early twentieth-century American journalists who exposed corrupt politicians and robber-baron industrialists.

So If you want to call Ed Pilkington a muckracker, go ahead, it's a compliment I'm sure he will appreciate, even if he hasn't raked in any mud yet- the New York Times did that when it published the e-mail revelations. What the author has done is pose some very interesting questions, which, by your choice of the word "muckraking," you seem to think pose a danger to Hillary Clinton. I think they do, too.

Corinne Marasco

Incredibly lazy reporting.

The server is not in Chappaqua. It is a service provided by Optimum, which offers both website and e-mail hosting. And, you can use any e-mail domain you like. http://www.ip-tracker.org/locator/ip-lookup.php?ip=24.187.234.187

Climb off the Edward Snowden Gravy Train, Guardian. Get back to doing real reporting.

macktan894 -> Corinne Marasco

Well, that's even worse. A Secretary of State shopping for a website and email hosting service to manage the govt.'s official records. Was this company certified by the govt as secure to handle the govt.'s sensitive official records?

chiefwiley -> macktan894

If people got personal, political, State Department, and Clinton charitable e-mails all from a single non-government account, that would deliver an interesting hidden message, too. It's all intermingled and interconnected with the Clintons.

Elton Johnson -> Corinne Marasco

"The server is not in Chappaqua."

I didn't realize they searched her home to determine this. Do you have a link to the story where they did?

JJHLH1

Now it makes sense why Hillary continued to receive all those foreign contributions during her time as Secretary of State. She could make deals via e-mail and then destroy the evidence and nobody would know.

And her homebrew e-mail server was guarded by Secret Service agents using taxpayer dollars.

This story has larger implications other than severely harming her 2016 prospects. A home server is much more vulnerable to security attacks compared to one run by professionals with experience. As Sec. of State her emails would contain sensitive information. Her behavior places the U.S. at risk. Not a bright move on her part, but then again she failed the D.C. Bar exam so I guess it's not unexpected.

Elton Johnson

Those emails are not hers. They belong to all of us. Stop apologizing for her.

MillbrookNY

You couldn't be involved in this many blunders and scandals unless you were trying.

Regardless of how smart HRC may be, she is a magnet for scandals and blunders. If you are always having to explain why what you didn't isn't technically wrong, you're doing the wrong things. Stop expecting to get a pass every time, HRC.

en again she failed the D.C. Bar exam so I guess it's not unexpected.

Elton Johnson MillbrookNY

Her "intelligence" is a myth. She wants to be President yet she can't even come out and speak to the people on this matter?

She can't even manage her own mess, how can she be entrusted to manage the country?

JJHLH1 Elton Johnson

Hillary isn't very bright. Just look at all the gaffes she makes like saying they left the White House "dead broke".

She failed the D.C. Bar exam in 1973. Over 2/3 pass it. That's why she ended up in Arkansas.

williamdonovan

I'll bet that Obama & Kerry where recipients of email from her account. Of course there is a cover story and cover up. Here it is in Black and White. (It is a felony)

Title 18 §641. Public money, property or records

Whoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes of any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, or any property made or being made under contract for the United States or any department or agency thereof; or

Whoever receives, conceals, or retains the same with intent to convert it to his use or gain, knowing it to have been embezzled, stolen, purloined or converted-

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; but if the value of such property in the aggregate, combining amounts from all the counts for which the defendant is convicted in a single case, does not exceed the sum of $1,000, he shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

The word "value" means face, par, or market value, or cost price, either wholesale or retail, whichever is greater.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 725; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(H), (L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147; Pub. L. 104–294, title VI, §606(a), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3511; Pub. L. 108–275, §4, July 15, 2004, 118 Stat. 833.)

Homeland security? Start by looking inside Government where a the real criminals hide.

The biggest threat to our Republic is the very people who swore to serve it.

NSubramanian 12h ago

"Why was email vetting even permitted?"

Yes. In the context of Obama's desire for Net security, this is a crucial question and it deserves an honest reply.

However, where Hillary Clinton goes, the question seems to follow: "Was the vetting permitted? "Was the vetter authorised to vet?", destined never to be answered.
During her 2008 campaign for nomination, Hillary Clinton claimed greater fitness to be Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces because as the First Lady, she had fielded those dreaded 3 ' O Clock calls on the Red Phone which always meant nothing but trouble, apparently to vet them for seriousness before passing on the call to the President.

Neither Hillary nor her team chose to answer the logical question which an incredulous America asked "Who had authorised the First Lady to answer calls which came on the Red Phone?"

Husband Bill chose wisely to stay out of it.


AmericanGrunt

She and her minions are obviously trying to hide how easy it was for she and her sisters (Rice, Power and Albright) to lie their way to an unprovoked war against Libya simply by baiting really dumb men always eager to have their military go destroy stuff and kill people. That war was initiated with nothing but a UN resolution specifying only an intent "to protect innocent life" from something that "might" happen, but was in fact intended from the very beginning to effect violent "regime change" by US military force (along with the usual British and French co-conspirators) under a phony "NATO" cover.

These women were able to circumvent the US Constitution and the US Congress based on an "emergency human rights" excuse that was entirely bogus. They did it solely to get a free ride on the naïve "Arab Spring" bandwagon and give Ms Clinton a "foreign policy accomplishment" for her planned 2016 presidential campaign. The only way to get the resolution passed by the UN Security Council - solely to establish a "humanitarian no-fly-zone" - was for those women and their minions to boldly lie to the American people, to the UN Security Council, to the Russians and to the Chinese, and then misuse the American people's military for their own self-serving domestic political agenda.

As soon as the resolution was passed, France and the UK, along with the US, went on the direct attack against Libyan forces trying to maintain some semblance of order in their own country, and killed far more people than those Libyan forces "might" have. It was indeed "clever" to attack a country only AFTER it had given up its weapons of mass destruction and was essentially defenseless against the far superior forces of "NATO" – which sent a powerful message to both Iran and North Korea about what happens AFTER you give up your nukes, what happens AFTER you play by all the rules demanded by the Americans.

And a whole range of "macho" men, even eager to send their military forth to destroy stuff and kill any suspicious people in sight, stupidly took the bait and joined the bandwagon like the predictable fools they are. All the "Four Sisters" had to do was toss some red meat over the kennel fence. And just behold the death and destruction they wrought with their bombs and the totally lawless playground for fanatical crazies they created right at Europe's underbelly. With zero adult consideration to "what comes next", it was all entirely predictable, thoroughly shameful, and completely self-defeating emotional nonsense by people trying to operate far beyond their competence levels.

How can a guy like Vladimir Putin witness the ignominious death of Gadhafi in a sewer pipe and NOT wonder if he and his own country are next? How can he not consider that it was a "defensive" anachronism still called "NATO" that relentlessly attacked another sovereign country for eight months – the same "NATO" ever eager to push its arrogantly offensive nose right up to the Kremlin gate? Why would he sit and wait for it to come, especially after being so shamefully lied to by those American women? The main thing that a single super-power status does for the women who own it is obviate the need for them to think.

There probably won't be a lot of people interested in pouring over THOSE embarrassing e-mails. Far too much potential for EVERYONE to get egg all over their own faces, the same people who for generations have reveled in righteous indignation over the unprovoked bombing of Pearl Harbor. It all makes me ashamed to be a professional American soldier.

Theodore Svedberg AmericanGrunt

Very good set of reasons why Hillary should never be President.

harryboy

In 2007 as a Senator she thought differently - Hillary Clinton Bashes Bush Officials for Secret Email Accounts

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2015/03/flashback-hillary-attacks-bush-officials-for-secret-email-accounts-video/

WeThePeople harryboy

Maybe she's also been secretly trying to start another war for arms profiteering, oil grabbing and Empire like the Bush Officials did...

harryboy -> WeThePeople

Or maybe shes just a hypocrite

WeThePeople -> harryboy

Your right, she is a hypocrite… but at least she's not responsible for a few hundred thousand dead humans and 5 million refugees not to mention the countless maimed and many tortured like the Bush Officials. Yet.

[Mar 06, 2015] Hillary Clinton private email scandal: No one gives the Clintons the benefit of the doubt. by Jamelle Bouie

First of all absence of two factor authentication is probably a fatal flaw in "home-based solution" but we do not actually know if this was the case. But this definitely demonstrate "By refusing to share information, even when it's innocuous, Clinton loses the benefit of the doubt."
Notable quotes:
"... "It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario-short of nuclear winter-where an agency would ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... When she began as secretary of state in 2009, email wasn't a part of federal recordkeeping rules. ..."
"... "said federal employees generally shouldn't use personal email accounts to conduct official business, except in limited situations, such as during emergencies when an official may not be able to access an official account." ..."
"... specifically registered a new email domain ..."
"... "[Clinton] simply valued total and complete control over her image and information with such paranoid fervor that the law was [a] secondary issue." ..."
"... I'm in the National Guard, and there are certain emails I would only send using an official email account. Anything dealing with classified information, troop movements, security, or soldiers' personal information, for instance. And I am only a platoon sergeant. ..."
www.slate.com

On Monday night, the New York Times dropped a bomb: As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton didn't use her government email address. She didn't even have one. Her entire correspondence-from notes to staff to talks with diplomats-was done by private email. "Her aides," notes the Times, "took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act."

According to one former official for the National Archives, Jason Baron, this was an extraordinary act of rule breaking.

"It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario-short of nuclear winter-where an agency would be justified in allowing its Cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business," he said.

It didn't take much to see the danger. Transparency aside, if Clinton was working with an unencrypted email address, she may have put a whole host of official communications at risk of foreign surveillance. And politically, it seems to stand as one more example of Clinton's secrecy and furtiveness. It's why, at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza declared, "This is a bad story for her and her presidential campaign because it reinforces many things people already don't like about the Clintons."

... ... ...

In the Wall Street Journal, we learn the answer is in Clinton's favor. When she began as secretary of state in 2009, email wasn't a part of federal recordkeeping rules. Later that year, this changed when the National Archives and Records Administration issued regulations "allowing employees to do official business on nonofficial email accounts," as long as they preserved records in "the appropriate agency recordkeeping system."

The next round of guidance came in September 2013, well after Clinton had left the State Department. In those rules, writes the Journal, the National Archives "said federal employees generally shouldn't use personal email accounts to conduct official business, except in limited situations, such as during emergencies when an official may not be able to access an official account." And to that point, Secretary of State John Kerry, confirmed that year, is the first secretary to conduct all of his work over official email.

... ... ...

Look at this story again. Clinton didn't just use a private email account because it was convenient, she specifically registered a new email domain-clintonemail.com-a week before her confirmation hearings. Rules or not, odds are good she wanted to avoid as much transparency as possible, hence her slow move to comply with guidance from five years ago. As one conservative analyst said on Twitter (in somewhat uncharitable terms), "[Clinton] simply valued total and complete control over her image and information with such paranoid fervor that the law was [a] secondary issue."

cranky old man

I'm in the National Guard, and there are certain emails I would only send using an official email account. Anything dealing with classified information, troop movements, security, or soldiers' personal information, for instance. And I am only a platoon sergeant.

[Dec 17, 2014] "Neoconica" - America For The New Millennium

12/17/2014 | zerohedge.com

"...so many still maintain that America is the greatest nation in the world. They swear that America represents all that is good; freedom, democracy, merit based capitalism and the rights of the individual. That is true America does represent such things. However, it is fraudulent to consider our current nation America. America was a concept that promoted all that is good. And so it would seem that the nation in which they find themselves cannot be America. Their nation today represents the will of the political class at all costs, period. Their sole motivation is themselves.

Very different from America. And so perhaps a renaming on the nation is required, at least until or if the people decide to take it back and reintroduce the world to the concept that is America for as discussed below you cannot destroy a concept and so there is hope to bring her back. But until then we need a name for this geographic region and its new societal system...

It seems "Neoconica" is most fitting."

[Dec 12, 2014] On the Brink of War and Economic Collapse

wa8dzp

[Note: This item comes from friend Steve Schear. DLH]

On the Brink of War and Economic Collapse
By Paul Craig Roberts
Dec 12 2014
<http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/12/12/brink-war-economic-collapse-paul-craig-roberts/>

On occasion a reader will ask if I can give readers some good news. The answer is: not unless I lie to you like "your" government and the mainstream media do. If you want faked "good news," you need to retreat into The Matrix. In exchange for less stress and worry, you will be led unknowingly into financial ruin and nuclear armageddon.

If you want to be forewarned, and possibly prepared, for what "your" government is bringing you, and have some small chance of redirecting the course of events, read and support this site. It is your site. I already know these things. I write for you.

The neoconservatives, a small group of warmongers strongly allied with the military/industrial complex and Israel, gave us Granada and the Contras affair in Nicaragua. President Reagan fired them, and they were prosecuted, but subsequently pardoned by Reagan's successor, George H.W. Bush.

Ensconced in think tanks and protected by Israeli and military/security complex money, the neoconservatives reemerged in the Clinton administration and engineered the breakup of Yugoslavia, the war against Serbia, and the expansion of NATO to Russia's borders.

Neoconservatives dominated the George W. Bush regime. They controlled the Pentagon, the National Security Council, the Office of the Vice President, and much else. Neoconservatives gave us 9/11 and its coverup, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the beginning of the destabilizations of Pakistan and Yemen, the U.S. Africa Command, the invasion of South Ossetia by Georgia, the demise of the anti-ABM Treaty, unconstitutional and illegal spying on American citizens without warrants, loss of constitutional protections, torture, and the unaccountability of the executive branch to law, Congress, and the judiciary. In short, the neoconservatives laid the foundation for dictatorship and for WW III.

The Obama regime held no one accountable for the crimes of the Bush regime, thus creating the precedent that the executive branch is above the law. Instead, the Obama regime prosecuted whistleblowers who told the truth about government crimes.

Neoconservatives remain very influential in the Obama regime. As examples, Obama appointed neoconservative Susan Rice as his National Security Advisor. Obama appointed neoconservative Samantha Power as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Obama appointed neoconservative Victoria Nuland as Assistant Secretary of State. Nuland's office, working with the CIA and Washington-financed NGOs, organized the U.S. coup in Ukraine.

Neoconservatism is the only extant political ideology. The ideology is "America uber alles." Neoconservatives believe that History has chosen the United States to exercise hegemony over the world, thereby making the U.S. "exceptional" and "indispensable." Obama himself has declared as much. This ideology gives neoconservatives tremendous confidence and drive, just as Karl Marx's conclusion that history had chosen the workers to be the ruling class gave early communists confidence and drive.

This confidence and drive makes the neoconservatives reckless.

To advance their agenda neoconservatives propagandize the populations of the U.S. and Washington's vassal states. The presstitutes deliver the neoconservatives' lies to the unsuspecting public: Russia has invaded and annexed Ukrainian provinces; Putin intends to reconstitute the Soviet Empire; Russia is a gangster state without democracy; Russia is a threat to the Baltics, Poland, and all of Europe, necessitating a U.S./NATO military buildup on Russia's borders; China, a Russian ally, must be militarily contained with new U.S. naval and air bases surrounding China and controlling Chinese sea lanes.

[Dec 10, 2014] The Death Of TNR Is Well Deserved

Dec 05, 2014 | moonofalabama.org

Some people mourn the death of The New Republic while claiming it was some kind of "liberal" magazine.

Since my first contact with TNR writing in the 1990s I have never experienced TNR as "liberal". It was a racist neocon rag written by overvalued white men who liked to hear themselves, and only themselves, talking. They reliably endorsed the worst possible policy on offer.

Some people agree with my take. And Billmon has, as always, some fitting and biting analysis.

Now would someone please take down the Washington Post or rebirth it as a somewhat serious newspaper?

PokeTheTruth | Dec 5, 2014 4:54:01 PM | 4

The New York Times is the grey lady of central government propaganda for the elitists and their realpolitik agenda. Its demise along with the Washington Post would be a welcomed breath of fresh air for truth and justice.

===

rufus magister | Dec 5, 2014 8:43:35 PM | 5

Your assessment of TNR as a "racist neocon rag... [that] reliably endorsed the worst possible policy on offer" is spot on. When Democrats sought cover for going along, they almost inevitably cited the "liberal" TNR in support.

and PTT at 3 -

I'm more familiar with the Times, and I don't see it as quite as bad.

But from what I see elsewhere of the WaPo it's definitely the Beltway Village Paper of Record. Could use it, but won't get the revamp.

The Grey Lady offers a little broader spectrum of elite opinion, and is a little more self-conscious. There was, e.g., that whole mea culpa about their Iraq coverage -- well after "Mission Accomplished" was declared, of course. Better late than never, I suppose....

But I do think the quality & independence of the NYT has declined, with it becoming painfully obvious with their coverage of Syria and Novorossiya.

As a matter of triage, I think the cable and network broadcasts are more pressing. Mass quantities of minds and mass misinformation is a powerful combo.

[Dec 06, 2014] Axelrod -- Hillary Needs to Show She Is 'Running for a Purpose and Not for a Promotion'

Actually she has a purpose -- to bomb another country into stone age and to kill another president -- she is running on pure Neoconservatism agenda. David Axelrod thinks that Clinton would be the most likely Democratic nominee in 2016.
Dec 06, 2014 | freebeacon.com

Prominent Democratic operative David Axelrod spoke with MSNBC's Alex Wagner to respond to Charlie Cook's statement that Hillary Clinton has "lost her fastball."

"Did Hillary Clinton ever have a fastball?" Wagner asked.

"She threw hard, the question is whether she got the ball over the plate," Axelrod said.

Axelrod said Clinton needs to show the public that she is "running for a purpose and not just for a promotion."

That was a problem in 2007 and will be a problem that has to be solved by 2016.

"At the end of the day you have to stand for something, fight for something," Axelrod said.

[Dec 05, 2014] Ron Paul Warns, Reckless Congress Just 'Declared War' On Russia

Dec 05, 2014 | Zero Hedge
Yesterday the US House passed what I consider to be one of the worst pieces of legislation ever. H. Res. 758 was billed as a resolution "strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination."

In fact, the bill was 16 pages of war propaganda that should have made even neocons blush, if they were capable of such a thing.

These are the kinds of resolutions I have always watched closely in Congress, as what are billed as "harmless" statements of opinion often lead to sanctions and war. I remember in 1998 arguing strongly against the Iraq Liberation Act because, as I said at the time, I knew it would lead to war. I did not oppose the Act because I was an admirer of Saddam Hussein – just as now I am not an admirer of Putin or any foreign political leader – but rather because I knew then that another war against Iraq would not solve the problems and would probably make things worse. We all know what happened next.

That is why I can hardly believe they are getting away with it again, and this time with even higher stakes: provoking a war with Russia that could result in total destruction!

If anyone thinks I am exaggerating about how bad this resolution really is, let me just offer a few examples from the legislation itself:

The resolution (paragraph 3) accuses Russia of an invasion of Ukraine and condemns Russia's violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. The statement is offered without any proof of such a thing. Surely with our sophisticated satellites that can read a license plate from space we should have video and pictures of this Russian invasion. None have been offered. As to Russia's violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, why isn't it a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty for the US to participate in the overthrow of that country's elected government as it did in February? We have all heard the tapes of State Department officials plotting with the US Ambassador in Ukraine to overthrow the government. We heard US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland bragging that the US spent $5 billion on regime change in Ukraine. Why is that OK?

The resolution (paragraph 11) accuses the people in east Ukraine of holding "fraudulent and illegal elections" in November. Why is it that every time elections do not produce the results desired by the US government they are called "illegal" and "fraudulent"? Aren't the people of eastern Ukraine allowed self-determination? Isn't that a basic human right?

The resolution (paragraph 13) demands a withdrawal of Russia forces from Ukraine even though the US government has provided no evidence the Russian army was ever in Ukraine. This paragraph also urges the government in Kiev to resume military operations against the eastern regions seeking independence.

The resolution (paragraph 14) states with certainty that the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 that crashed in Ukraine was brought down by a missile "fired by Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine." This is simply incorrect, as the final report on the investigation of this tragedy will not even be released until next year and the preliminary report did not state that a missile brought down the plane. Neither did the preliminary report – conducted with the participation of all countries involved – assign blame to any side.

Paragraph 16 of the resolution condemns Russia for selling arms to the Assad government in Syria. It does not mention, of course, that those weapons are going to fight ISIS – which we claim is the enemy -- while the US weapons supplied to the rebels in Syria have actually found their way into the hands of ISIS!

Paragraph 17 of the resolution condemns Russia for what the US claims are economic sanctions ("coercive economic measures") against Ukraine. This even though the US has repeatedly hit Russia with economic sanctions and is considering even more!

The resolution (paragraph 22) states that Russia invaded the Republic of Georgia in 2008. This is simply untrue. Even the European Union – no friend of Russia – concluded in its investigation of the events in 2008 that it was Georgia that "started an unjustified war" against Russia not the other way around! How does Congress get away with such blatant falsehoods? Do Members not even bother to read these resolutions before voting?

In paragraph 34 the resolution begins to even become comical, condemning the Russians for what it claims are attacks on computer networks of the United States and "illicitly acquiring information" about the US government. In the aftermath of the Snowden revelations about the level of US spying on the rest of the world, how can the US claim the moral authority to condemn such actions in others?

Chillingly, the resolution singles out Russian state-funded media outlets for attack, claiming that they "distort public opinion." The US government, of course, spends billions of dollars worldwide to finance and sponsor media outlets including Voice of America and RFE/RL, as well as to subsidize "independent" media in countless counties overseas. How long before alternative information sources like RT are banned in the United States? This legislation brings us closer to that unhappy day when the government decides the kind of programming we can and cannot consume – and calls such a violation "freedom."

The resolution gives the green light (paragraph 45) to Ukrainian President Poroshenko to re-start his military assault on the independence-seeking eastern provinces, urging the "disarming of separatist and paramilitary forces in eastern Ukraine." Such a move will mean many more thousands of dead civilians.

To that end, the resolution directly involves the US government in the conflict by calling on the US president to "provide the government of Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal defense articles, services, and training required to effectively defend its territory and sovereignty." This means US weapons in the hands of US-trained military forces engaged in a hot war on the border with Russia. Does that sound at all like a good idea?

There are too many more ridiculous and horrific statements in this legislation to completely discuss. Probably the single most troubling part of this resolution, however, is the statement that "military intervention" by the Russian Federation in Ukraine "poses a threat to international peace and security." Such terminology is not an accident: this phrase is the poison pill planted in this legislation from which future, more aggressive resolutions will follow. After all, if we accept that Russia is posing a "threat" to international peace how can such a thing be ignored? These are the slippery slopes that lead to war.

This dangerous legislation passed today, December 4, with only ten (!) votes against! Only ten legislators are concerned over the use of blatant propaganda and falsehoods to push such reckless saber-rattling toward Russia.

Here are the Members who voted "NO" on this legislation. If you do not see your own Representative on this list call and ask why they are voting to bring us closer to war with Russia! If you do see your Representative on the below list, call and thank him or her for standing up to the warmongers.

Voting "NO" on H. Res. 758:

1) Justin Amash (R-MI)
2) John Duncan (R-TN)
3) Alan Grayson, (D-FL)
4) Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
5) Walter Jones (R-NC)
6) Thomas Massie (R-KY)
7) Jim McDermott (D-WA)
8 George Miller (D-CA)
9) Beto O'Rourke (D-TX)
10 Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)

[Dec 05, 2014] New York Times propagandists exposed Finally, the truth about Ukraine and Putin emerges by Patrick L. Smith

Quote: "Interesting, first, that Kissinger gave the interview to a German magazine. Nobody in the American press would have dared touch such remarks as these - they cannot, having lied so long. "
Dec 03, 2014 | Salon.com

NATO was the aggressor and got Ukraine wrong. Many months later, the media has eventually figured out the truth

Well, well, well. Gloating is unseemly, especially in public, but give me this one, will you?

It has been a long and lonely winter defending the true version of events in Ukraine, but here comes the sun. We now have open acknowledgment in high places that Washington is indeed responsible for this mess, the prime mover, the "aggressor," and finally this term is applied where it belongs. NATO, once again, is revealed as causing vastly more trouble than it has ever prevented.

Washington, it is now openly stated, has been wrong, wrong, wrong all along. The commentaries to be noted do not take on the media, but I will, and in language I use advisedly. With a few exceptions they are proven liars, liars, liars - not only conveying the official version of events but willfully elaborating on it off their own bats.

Memo to the New York Times' Moscow bureau: Vicky Nuland, infamous now for desiring sex with the European Union, has just FedExed little gold stars you can affix to your foreheads, one for each of you. Wear them with pride for you will surely fight another day, having learned nothing, and ignore all ridicule. If it gets too embarrassing, tell people they have something to do with the holidays.

O.K., gloat concluded. To the business at hand.

We have had, in the last little while, significant analyses of the Ukraine crisis, each employing that method the State Department finds deadly: historical perspective. In a lengthy interview with Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, none other than Henry Kissinger takes Washington carefully but mercilessly to task. "Does one achieve a world order through chaos or through insight?" Dr. K. asks.

Here is one pertinent bit:

KISSINGER. … But if the West is honest with itself, it has to admit that there were mistakes on its side. The annexation of Crimea was not a move toward global conquest. It was not Hitler moving into Czechoslovakia.

SPIEGEL. What was it then?

KISSINGER. One has to ask oneself this question: Putin spent tens of billions of dollars on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The theme of the Olympics was that Russia is a progressive state tied to the West through its culture and, therefore, it presumably wants to be part of it. So it doesn't make any sense that a week after the close of the Olympics, Putin would take Crimea and start a war over Ukraine. So one has to ask oneself, Why did it happen?

SPIEGEL. What you're saying is that the West has at least a kind of responsibility for the escalation?

KISSINGER. Yes, I am saying that. Europe and America did not understand the impact of these events, starting with the negotiations about Ukraine's economic relations with the European Union and culminating in the demonstrations in Kiev. All these, and their impact, should have been the subject of a dialogue with Russia. This does not mean the Russian response was appropriate.

Interesting. Looking for either insight or honesty in Obama's White House or in his State Department is a forlorn business, and Kissinger surely knows this. So he is, as always, a cagey critic. But there are numerous things here to consider, and I will come back to them.

First, let us note that Kissinger's remarks follow an essay titled "Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault." The subhead is just as pithy: "The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin."

Wow. As display language I would speak for that myself. And wow again for where the piece appears: In the September-October edition of Foreign Affairs, that radical rag published at East 68th Street and Park Avenue, the Manhattan home of the ever-subverting Council on Foreign Relations.

Finally and most recently, we have Katrina vanden Heuvel weighing in on the Washington Post's opinion page the other day with "Rethinking the Cost of Western Intervention in Ukraine," in which the Nation's noted editor asserts, "One year after the United States and Europe celebrated the February coup that ousted the corrupt but constitutionally elected president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, liberal and neoconservative interventionists have much to answer for."

Emphatically so. Here is one of vanden Heuvel's more salient observations:

The U.S. government and the mainstream media present this calamity as a morality tale. Ukrainians demonstrated against Yanukovych because they wanted to align with the West and democracy. Putin, as portrayed by Hillary Rodham Clinton among others, is an expansionist Hitler who has trampled international law and must be made to "pay a big price" for his aggression. Isolation and escalating economic sanctions have been imposed. Next, if Senate hawks such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham have their way, Ukraine will be provided with arms to "deter" Putin's "aggression." But this perspective distorts reality.

I can anticipate with ease a thoughtful reader or two writing in the comment thread, "But we knew all this already. What's the point?" We have known all this since the beginning, indeed, thanks to perspicacious writers such as Robert Parry and Steve Weissman. Parry, like your columnist, is a refugee from the mainstream who could take no more; Weissman, whose credentials go back to the Free Speech Movement, seems fed up with the whole nine and exiled himself to France.

Something I have wanted to say for months is now right: Thank you, colleagues. Keep on keeping on.

Also to be noted in this vein is Stephen Cohen, the distinguished Princeton Russianist, whose essay in the Nation last February gave superb and still useful perspective, a must-read if you propose to take Ukraine seriously and get beyond the propaganda. (Vanden Heuvel rightly noted him, too, wrongly omitting that she and Cohen are spouses. A report to the Ethics Police has been filed anonymously.)

These people's reporting and analyses require no imprimatur from the mainstream press. Who could care? This is not the point. The points as I read them are two.

One, there is no shred of doubt in my mind that the work of the above-mentioned and a few others like them has been instrumental in forcing the truth of the Ukraine crisis to the surface. Miss this not. In a polity wherein the policy cliques have zero accountability to any constituency - unbelievable simply to type that phrase - getting accurate accounts and responsibly explanatory copy out - and then reading it, equally - is essential. Future historians will join me in expressing gratitude.

Two, we have indirect admissions of failure. It is highly significant that Foreign Affairs and the Washington Post, both bastions of the orthodoxy, are now willing to publish what amount to capitulations. It would be naive to think this does not reflect a turning of opinion among prominent members of the policy cliques.

I had thought for months as the crisis dragged on, this degree of disinformation cannot possibly hold. From the Nuland tape onward, too much of the underwear was visible as the trousers fell down, so to say. And now we have State and the media clerks with their pants bunched up at their ankles.

The Foreign Affairs piece is by a scholar at the University of Chicago named John Mearsheimer, whose publishing credits include "Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics" and "The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy," the latter an especially gutsy undertaking. He is a soothsayer, and you find these people among the scholars every once in a while, believe it or not.

Mearsheimer was writing opinion in the Times with heads such as "Getting Ukraine Wrong" as far back as March, when the news pages were already busy doing so. In the Foreign Affairs piece, he vigorously attacks NATO expansion, citing George Kennan in his later years, when Dr. Containment was objecting strenuously to the post-Soviet push eastward and the overall perversion of his thinking by neoliberal know-nothings-read-nothings. Here is a little Mearsheimer:

… The United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia's orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU's expansion eastward and the West's backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine-beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004-were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion. For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine's democratically elected and pro-Russian president-which he rightly labeled a "coup"-coup-was was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.

Drinks for Mearsheimer, for his plain-English use of "coup" alone, any time the professor may happen into my tiny Connecticut village. It is an extensive, thorough piece and worth the read even if Foreign Affairs is not your usual habit. His conclusion now that Ukraine is in pieces, its economy wrecked and its social fabric in shreds:

The United States and its European allies now face a choice on Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which will exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate Ukraine in the process - a scenario in which everyone would come out a loser. Or they can switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that does not threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win.

Mearsheimer has as much chance of seeing this shift in policy as Kissinger has finding honesty and insight anywhere in Washington. One hope he is busy in other matters.

As to Dr. K., he reminds me at 90 of the old survivors of the Maoist revolution in China, the last few Long Marchers. They enjoy a certain immunity in their sunset years, no matter what they may say, and for this reason I have always appreciated meeting the few I have. So it is with Henry.

Did Washington in any way authorize Kissinger's interview, as it may have the Foreign Affairs piece, given the revolving door at East 68th Street? I doubt it. Did it know this was coming. Almost certainly. A nonagenarian, Henry still travels in high policy circles. His critique on Ukraine has been evident here and there for many months.

Interesting, first, that Kissinger gave the interview to a German magazine. Nobody in the American press would have dared touch such remarks as these - they cannot, having lied so long. And Kissinger understands, surely, that the Germans are ambivalent, to put it mildly, when it comes to Washington's aggressions against Russia.

I have been mad at Kissinger since throwing rocks at the CRS, the French riot police, outside the American embassy in Paris in the spring of 1970, when the U.S started bombing Cambodia. And I am not with him now when he asserts "the Russian response was not appropriate."

Why not? What was Putin supposed to do when faced with the prospect of NATO and the American Navy assuming privileges on the Black Sea? Was it appropriate when Kennedy threatened Khrushchev with nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis? Arming the contras? Deposing Arbenz? Allende? Let us not get started.

Here is the thing about Henry. European by background, he understands balance-of-power politics cannot be ignored. He understands that spheres of influence must be observed. (My view, explained in an earlier column, is that they are to be acknowledged but not honored - regrettable realities that our century, best outcome, will do away with.)

We reach a new moment in the Ukraine crisis with these new analyses from people inside the tent urinating out, as they say. I have hinted previously at the lesson to be drawn. Maybe now it will be clearer to those who object.

Whatever one may think of Russia under Vladimir Putin, it is secondary at this moment - and more the business of Russians than anyone else - to something larger. This is a non-Western nation drawing a line of resistance against the advance of Anglo-American neoliberalism across the planet. This counts big, in my view. It is an important thing to do.

Some readers argue that Putin oversees a neoliberal regime himself. It is an unappealing kind of capitalism, certainly, although the centralization of the economy almost certainly reflects Putin's strategy when faced with the need to rebuild urgently from the ungodly mess left by the U.S-beloved Yeltsin. See the above-noted piece by Stephen Cohen on this point.

For the sake of argument, let us accept the assertion: Russia is a neoliberal variant. O.K., but again, this is a Russian problem and Russians, not Americans, will solve it one way or the other - as they like and eventually. Important for us is that Putin is not pushing the model around the world, chest-out insisting that all others conform to it. This distinction counts, too.

Joseph Brodsky wrote an open letter to Václav Havel back in 1994, by which time the neoliberal orthodoxy and its evangelists were well-ensconced in Washington. The piece was titled "The Post-Communist Nightmare." In it Brodsky was highly critical of "the cowboys of the Western industrial democracies" who, he asserted, "derive enormous moral comfort from being regarded as cowboys-first of all, by the Indians."

"Are all the Indians now to commence imitation of the cowboys," the Russian émigré poet asked the new president of the (also new) Czech Republic.

I view the Ukraine crisis through this lens. A huge mistake has now been acknowledged. Now it is time: Instead of complaining about Putin and what he is doing to Russians every prompt given, like trained animals, now we must complain about what America proposes doing to the rest of the world, limitlessly.

Patrick Smith is the author of "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century." He was the International Herald Tribune's bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992. During this time he also wrote "Letter from Tokyo" for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter, @thefloutist.

[Nov 30, 2014] Anne Applebaum Hates Your Opinion

Being a neocon propagandists pays really well: "A recent mandatory income declaration of her husband to the Polish government shows that her income has skyrocketed from $20,000 in 2011 to more than $800,000 in 2013."
Nov 30, 2014 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

Neoconservative newspaper columnist Anne Applebaum is angry and upset. In the days when print was king, she could dash off her pro-war opinions and never have to worry about the common people taking apart her arguments. In those days only a very few would be dedicated enough to write a letter to the editor, and only a tiny fraction would be printed. All of them would be subject to approval by the newspaper editor, of course.

Thus, when she writes of "The Myth of Russia Humiliation," her readers take her to task. When she writes, in "War in Europe is not a hysterical idea," that Ukrainians and Europeans should "drop everything, mobilize, prepare for total war [with Russia] while still possible," readers overwhelmingly push back against her war propaganda. They write things like:
Anne,
You and you family should go back to Poland where you belong.

Go fight the good fight and stop egging on America into a disastrous war for which it has no business.

and
Anne, I am sorry but you are dillusional, nuclear strikes?! Genocide, i do not think anyone in their sane mind would even think of it.. For now the only cleansing has been conducted by the Ukrainians.. 860 thousand fled to Russia that telsl you something.. Stop writing bad analysis and aggrevating the problem
and
The only raving lunatic is Anne Applebaum.

A preemptive nuclear strike against Warsaw for Russia to flex it's muscles? Please. The only way this scenario would be remotely possible is if we directly intervened, which is the course of action that the sociopath Anne Applebaum wants us to pursue in the first place.

As Counterpunch's Mike Whitney has recently written, the Western mainstream media's constant demonization of Russia and Vladimir Putin has fallen flat among readers, who increasingly challenge the editorial lines of these media outlets.

This greatly grieves Applebaum, whose latest column demands that negative comments be more heavily edited on the Internet.

Writes Anne:

Once upon a time, it seemed as if the Internet would be a place of civilized and open debate; now, unedited forums often deteriorate to insult exchanges.
Applebaum is particularly concerned that negative comments about her work are leading others to develop a negative opinion of her frequent calls for war with Russia:
Multiple experiments have shown that perceptions of an article, its writer or its subject can be profoundly shaped by anonymous online commentary, especially if it is harsh.
She is worried that negative comments under her pro-war articles may give the impression that her views are "controversial":
Online commentary subtly shapes what voters think and feel, even if it just raises the level of irritation, or gives readers the impression that certain views are 'controversial...'
To Applebaum, there is nothing controversial about calling for a nuclear war with Russia. Readers dare not think otherwise!

Her solution to the "problem" is to silence negative views, which she claims are all made by heavily-paid and well-organized Russian trolls.

Anne Applebaum urges speech restrictions by demanding that any commenter use his or her real name. "Too many people now abuse the privilege" of anonymity, she writes. "Sooner or later, we may also be forced to end Internet anonymity or to at least ensure that every online persona is linked back to a real person."

Interestingly, Applebaum demands transparency for everyone else while rejecting it for herself. A recent mandatory income declaration of her husband to the Polish government shows that her income has skyrocketed from $20,000 in 2011 to more than $800,000 in 2013. No explanation was given for this massive influx of cash, though several ventures in which she has a part are tied to CIA and National Endowment for Democracy-affiliated organizations. Could Applebaum be one of those well-paid propagandists about whom she complains so violently?

By the way, ever the apparatchik, Anne Applebaum blocks anyone from following her on Twitter who is critical of her work.

Copyright © 2014 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

[Nov 30, 2014] Are Neocons Getting Ready to Ally With Hillary Clinton By JACOB HEILBRUNN

Jun 5, 2014 | NYTimes.com

Even as they castigate Mr. Obama, the neocons may be preparing a more brazen feat: aligning themselves with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her nascent presidential campaign, in a bid to return to the driver's seat of American foreign policy.

To be sure, the careers and reputations of the older generation of neocons - Paul D. Wolfowitz, L. Paul Bremer III, Douglas J. Feith, Richard N. Perle - are permanently buried in the sands of Iraq. And not all of them are eager to switch parties: In April, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, said that as president Mrs. Clinton would "be a dutiful chaperone of further American decline."

But others appear to envisage a different direction - one that might allow them to restore the neocon brand, at a time when their erstwhile home in the Republican Party is turning away from its traditional interventionist foreign policy.

It's not as outlandish as it may sound. Consider the historian Robert Kagan, the author of a recent, roundly praised article in The New Republic that amounted to a neo-neocon manifesto. He has not only avoided the vitriolic tone that has afflicted some of his intellectual brethren but also co-founded an influential bipartisan advisory group during Mrs. Clinton's time at the State Department.

Mr. Kagan has also been careful to avoid landing at standard-issue neocon think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute; instead, he's a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, that citadel of liberalism headed by Strobe Talbott, who was deputy secretary of state under President Bill Clinton and is considered a strong candidate to become secretary of state in a new Democratic administration. (Mr. Talbott called the Kagan article "magisterial," in what amounts to a public baptism into the liberal establishment.)

Perhaps most significantly, Mr. Kagan and others have insisted on maintaining the link between modern neoconservatism and its roots in muscular Cold War liberalism. Among other things, he has frequently praised Harry S. Truman's secretary of state, Dean Acheson, drawing a line from him straight to the neocons' favorite president: "It was not Eisenhower or Kennedy or Nixon but Reagan whose policies most resembled those of Acheson and Truman."

Other neocons have followed Mr. Kagan's careful centrism and respect for Mrs. Clinton. Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, noted in The New Republic this year that "it is clear that in administration councils she was a principled voice for a strong stand on controversial issues, whether supporting the Afghan surge or the intervention in Libya."

And the thing is, these neocons have a point. Mrs. Clinton voted for the Iraq war; supported sending arms to Syrian rebels; likened Russia's president, Vladimir V. Putin, to Adolf Hitler; wholeheartedly backs Israel; and stresses the importance of promoting democracy.

... ... ....

Still, Democratic liberal hawks, let alone the left, would have to swallow hard to accept any neocon conversion. Mrs. Clinton herself is already under fire for her foreign-policy views - the journalist Glenn Greenwald, among others, has condemned her as "like a neocon, practically." And humanitarian interventionists like Samantha Power, the ambassador to the United Nations, who opposed the second Iraq war, recoil at the militaristic unilateralism of the neocons and their inveterate hostility to international institutions like the World Court.

But others in Mrs. Clinton's orbit, like Michael A. McFaul, the former ambassador to Russia and now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a neocon haven at Stanford, are much more in line with thinkers like Mr. Kagan and Mr. Boot, especially when it comes to issues like promoting democracy and opposing Iran.

Far from ending, then, the neocon odyssey is about to continue. In 1972, Robert L. Bartley, the editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal and a man who championed the early neocon stalwarts, shrewdly diagnosed the movement as representing "something of a swing group between the two major parties." Despite the partisan battles of the early 2000s, it is remarkable how very little has changed.

[Nov 29, 2014] Possible Motives for Ousting Hagel by Robert Parry

From comments: "
Obama is a neocon through and through. I would think men as articulate and intelligent as yourselves would know better than to judge a politician according to his words, rather than his actions.
Mr. Obama has made a very successful career out of playing the foiled and frustrated moderate, while entrenching and expanding every one of the objectively illegal and inherently immoral programs put into place by his predecessors, and more importantly, by the bipartisan behind-the-scenes establishment that actually makes the decisions in DC."
Consortiumnews

Obama operates one foreign policy above the table – pounding his fist along with the neocons against Syria, Iran and Russia – and another foreign policy below the table, dealing with adversaries in ways necessary to confront global challenges, such as collaborating with Iran to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and with Russia to address challenges with Iran, Syria, Libya and elsewhere.

Yet, while keeping such pragmatic overtures under the table, Obama reaches out publicly to neocons who have been implicated in some of the worst disasters in the history of U.S. foreign policy - but who have "credentials." For instance, earlier this year, Obama was stung by criticism from neocon ideologue Robert Kagan, who had published a long essay in The New Republic promoting the need for more U.S. interventionism around the world.

Obama could have dismissed Kagan's New Republic article as the pretentious pontifications of a blowhard whose career began as a propagandist for Ronald Reagan's Central American policies in the 1980s and included, in the 1990s, co-founding the Project for the New American Century, which called for invading Iraq, an illegal war that was launched in 2003, propelling America into the current catastrophes now swirling around the Middle East.

But Obama apparently couldn't get past all of Kagan's "credentials," including his current work at the prestigious Brookings Institution and his writing for the oh-so-impressive New Republic. So, Obama invited Kagan to lunch at the White House, a cozy get-together that one observer described as a "meeting of equals."

Yes, the twice-elected President of the United States and his "equal," one of the co-founders of the neocon Project for the New American Century. The New York Times reported that Obama even shaped his foreign policy speech at the West Point graduation in May to address criticism from Kagan's New Republic essay, "Superpowers Don't Get to Retire."

Chet Roman on November 24, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Credentials? The only important "credential" that Obama must pay obeisance to is whether the person is a senior member of the zionist/neocon network. Let's remember who groomed and funded Obama career starting in Illinois; powerful zionists call Obama "the First Jewish President" during his 2008 campaign.

I think it's an error to think that Obama is impressed by academic or career credentials, politics doesn't work like that and Obama is no fool. Political power is determined by money and power and Obama is obeying those that put him into office. Nothing else accurately accounts for Obama's actions.

What's strange about firing Hagel is that in his recent interview with Charlie Rose Hagel was against the military budget cuts, something the neocons are also against. Anyway, Hagel was diminished after groveling before the Israeli lobby to get the appointment. The neocons may want a more aggressive warmonger to finish the implementation of the Project for a New (Israeli) Century and Obama, as always, is happy to oblige.

Zachary Smith on November 24, 2014 at 10:53 pm

General Dempsey on November 13:

For the second time since the U.S.-led effort to counter ISIS began, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said he would not rule out asking the President to send U.S. ground troops into Iraq.

Secretary Hagel on November 16:

But these would not be fighting forces, Hagel said. "There will be no American combat troops in Iraq or Syria."

In other words, over my dead body. Which the limp creature of the neocons promptly provided, for BHO was the one who made the choice.

Background of the two: Dempsey graduated from West Point in 1974. I doubt if he has EVER had a bullet whiz past his ears. Contrast that with Hagel in Vietnam and his experience as a squad leader. Two Purple Hearts. His vow: 'If I ever get out of this and I'm ever in a position to influence policy, I will do everything I can to avoid needless, senseless war.'"

Hagel wanted to get into such a position of influence so badly that he groveled during the confirmation hearings. For all the good it did him: like the Beautiful People surrounding him, BHO also sees war as an exciting video game. One where you can press a button and ten thousand miles away a gang of terrorists not-too-cleverly disguised as a wedding party gets blown to itty bitty bits. Hell, it's something you can make jokes about!

I like the "credentials" theory. Hagel was a senator and co-equal of BHO – a nobody. And in Vietnam, a mere Sergeant. Those drab stripes sure don't dazzle the eyes like the stars on Dempsey. BTW, my reading says the insubordinate little guy with the high rank who admires Israel's work in Gaza is definitely one of the "inner circle' members at the White House.

From here it looks like the neocons win. Best guess: they'll continue to maneuver to expand the chaos in the Mideast. To keep pushing Russian so as to renew the Cold War. Both of these events are exciting prospects for Israel.

Since Israeli governments proved time and again that "facts on the ground" are very hard to change, and given the distinct possibility that the shifting balance of world-power will dramatically fortify Israel as an irreplaceable ally for the west, the successful enactment of apartheid will postpone indefinitely the creation of a Palestinian state and shift the site of conflict and oppression from the occupied territories to the very core of Israeli society. This is the end of Zionism, its final result – a Jewish state that embodies the rationale of anti-Semitism.

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.627548

You see, destabilizing Ukraine has some unexpected benefits for the shitty little nation on the east end of the Mediterranean. They become too important to US plans – no more bothering them about their murders and ethnic cleansing. And if matters get to the point where a few nukes got exchanged between the Big Boys, guess who benefits yet again?

Joe Tedesky, November 24, 2014 at 11:42 pm :

I would like to sign on to everything Zachary here, has just stated. This whole affair is like watching our elected government being run by a hidden cabal of warmongers from beneath the surface.

Back in the GWBush days Hagel was often one of the few who spoke out against the PNAC strategy. I started to admire him. I recall Hagel telling of how his GI Bill benefits enabled him to get an education. How this education changed much of how he would view the world, and especially war. Hagel's war experience added a whole other dimension to him…and for the peaceful better side of him, at that. This was unique, and this was coming from a Republican, of all things.

So, today seeing the headlines of Hagel's resignation I shuddered in dismay. Sure, Hagel isn't free of sin, but amongst his equals he was someone you could hope would vote to do the right thing…now, I just don't know.

toby, November 25, 2014 at 8:57 am :

I'm with you Joe. I prayed for Hagel's appointment, but in my heart I knew it would not last. Now they (the warmongers behind O'bomber) will come in on their silver missile and destroy the USA's small bit of integrity we HAD left.

Personally, I hope O'bomber is haunted with what he does now for the rest of his life. It won't be good…he works for lucifer (Israel) now…not the US citizens.

Abe, November 25, 2014 at 1:29 pm :

Dempsey demonstrated his allegiance by publicly complimenting the Israeli regime change project in Gaza.

Hagel, eh, not so much.

From the neocon perspective, Hagel has been insufficiently enthusiastic about the regime project for Syria and Iran.

So it's "Geh gesund."

W. R. Knight, November 25, 2014 at 12:38 am :

Obama is anything but aggressive. He is ignorant on matters of history and foreign policy, and he is weak, naive, incompetent and easily manipulated. But aggressive he is not.
Just think about it. If he were aggressive, he would not have caved in to every Republican demand.

Frances Raino, November 25, 2014 at 1:13 am :

You manage to make a Harvard law school graduate, who became America's first black president sound like an idiot. Instead of seeing him as someone esily manipulated, I see him as an oportunist. That is all I will say!

Rusty Shackleford, November 25, 2014 at 5:35 am :

Both of you are wrong. All three, if I'm to include Mr. Parry. Obama is a neocon through and through. I would think men as articulate and intelligent as yourselves would know better than to judge a politician according to his words, rather than his actions.

Mr. Obama has made a very successful career out of playing the foiled and frustrated moderate, while entrenching and expanding every one of the objectively illegal and inherently immoral programs put into place by his predecessors, and more importantly, by the bipartisan behind-the-scenes establishment that actually makes the decisions in DC.

Highly disappointed, Mr. Parry.

[Nov 25, 2014] Michele Flournoy, Hagel's potential replacement, is a "liberal interventionist"

ThatJ, November 24, 2014 at 10:09 pm
... ... ...

Notably, in 2005 Flournoy supported an advocacy campaign aimed at increasing the size of the U.S. military that was spearheaded by the now-defunct neoconservative activist group the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). PNAC was notorious for its efforts in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to promote a U.S. invasion of Iraq "even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack."

And

Numerous neoconservative actors also promoted Flournoy's candidacy because of their opposition to leading nominee - and Obama's eventual choice for the position - Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator known for his bipartisanship as well as his criticism of one-sided U.S. support for Israel.

And

Flournoy's apparent supporters now include the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol (who essentially argued that she wouldn't be as objectionable as Hagel), former George W. Bush administration Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and [Mitt Romney] foreign policy adviser Dan Senor.

... ... ...

[Nov 25, 2014] Israel – America's Biggest Frenemy by Justin Raimondo by Justin Raimondo

November 24, 2014 | Antiwar.com

The Jewish State in the Levant is a burden we shouldn't have to bear

... ... ..

Aside from North Korea, Israel is the only nuclear power that has managed to get away with thumbing its nose at the international community over this issue. The Iranians submitting themselves to a strict inspections regime will doubtless turn the world's attention to the weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Israel's leadership – a political class increasingly seen as extremist by outsiders. Steadfastly refusing to sign the Nonproliferation Treaty, along with North Korea, the Israelis have managed to maintain what is referred to as "nuclear ambiguity," but there is absolutely nothing ambiguous about the destructive power of their arsenal.

"Ambiguity" is not a concept that applies to Israel these days. There's no doubt about where they stand – or what they are becoming. Their latest shtick: taking out the part about being a democracy in their Basic Law, and putting in "no Arabs need apply." Or, as The Age puts it: "

"The proposal would mean Israel would no longer be defined in its Basic Laws as 'Jewish and democratic' but instead as 'the national homeland of the Jewish people.'"

What the great Israeli classical liberal Yeshayahu Leibowitz rightly called the "Judeo-Nazi" trend in that country's political life has now come to the forefront: they aren't pretending to be the Gallant Little Democracy of the Middle East any more. Nope, they're coming out of the closet as ethno-religious fanatics, just like their opposite numbers a few kilometers away in the Islamic State.

... ... ...

The Israel lobby is losing its grip: the American people – previously inclined to support Israel no matter what – show signs of waking up to the danger posed by our Israel-centric foreign policy. In Europe, where the Israel lobby has always been weaker, they are in real trouble. The Israelis' recent slaughter in Gaza has done much to open the eyes of a new generation to real nature of the Jewish State in the Levant. That's why the boycott and divestment campaign aimed at Israel is taking hold, despite the frantic efforts of Israel's amen corner to smear and even outlaw it. (Yes, the illiberal policies of the Jewish State in the Levant are even seeping into the United States – a revolting prospect, indeed.)

Israel today is a tyranny on the order of the old South Africa, with one added factor: they are armed with nuclear weapons. As such, the Israelis represent a threat to the peace of the world, one far more dangerous than Iran will ever be. Their pernicious influence on American politics is the biggest arrow in the War Party's quiver. In the end, as Americans rebel against the regime of perpetual war, this will be their undoing. 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

[Nov 15, 2014] Michael Hudson Putin's Pivot to Asia

Nov 14, 2014 | naked capitalism

... ... ...

HUDSON: Every economy needs oil to some extent. China has to use oil for many things that gas simply won't work for. Every country's GDP goes up in keeping with its energy consumption...

... ... ...

...Right now the only country that's not part of this is Iran. To Russia, this has tipped America's hand. It showed that what U.S. Cold Warriors really want is to break up Russia and China, and to interrupt their financial and banking services to disorient their economies. So Russia, China and Iran – and presumably other Asian countries – are now moving to establish their own currency clearing systems. To be independent of the SWIFT system and the U.S. dollar, Russia and China are denominating their trade and investments in rubles and yuan instead of the dollar. So what you've seen in the last few days in Beijing is a rejection of the dollar standard, and a rejection of American foreign policy behind it.

... ... ...

As for the sanctions isolating Russia economically, this is just what it needs to protect its industrial revival and economic independence. In conjunction with China, it's integrating the Russian economy with that of China, Kazakhstan and Iran. Russia is now going to be building at least two atomic reactors in Iran. The center of global investment is shifting to Asia, leaving the United States out as well as Europe.

So you can expect at the G20 Brisbane meetings next week to increase pressure from Europe to break away from the U.S. sanctions.

All the United States has diplomatically at the present time is military pressure, while Russia and China have economic growth – markets and investment opportunities opening up. Despite the fact that there was an agreement on high-technology trade between the United States and China, the U.S. is basically being left out. This seems to be why Mr. Obama was looking so out of sorts at the meetings. He knows that the strategy that he was given by his neocons is backfiring.

... ... ...

Banger, November 14, 2014 at 12:26 pm

The issue is not the U.S. vs. China and Russia. China and Russia are centrally governed nation-states with, at least for China, imperial ambitions – but these ambitions are of limited Empire not like the American dreams of Empire which is to control the entire globe not just politically but culturally.

That ambition though is largely fantasy at least in political terms. The U.S. is not any longer what I would call a nation state with particular "interests." Israel, for example, is more supported in the U.S. than, say, Ohio or some segment of the U.S.

The USG sees its constituency as an international elite – whether British, Polish or Saudi–the people, as a population are, increasingly an afterthought. Washington is an international capital (as is NYC) that focuses on the multi-national corporation.

Russia and China, while not immune to such pressures, does recognize the importance of the population or power-factions that are native to it.

By forcing Russia, Iran and other states to the periphery they are moving them into a Chinese orbit. Now, how China chooses to react is something should make an interesting discussion.

James Levy, November 14, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I've argued to my students that the reason America is so dangerous is that Americans are the most ideological people on Earth without any understanding that they are ideological. Most Americans (certainly the foreign policy decision-makers) see doing anything dissimilar to the way "we" want it done as perverse (France), stupid (Venezuela), or malign (Iran).

The old Burkean notion that nations are what they are because of their history and traditions is unthinkable in Washington or on Wall Street.

America is the model and its up to every other country to conform – or else. Between Wilson and Truman a carapace formed over US thinking about itself and the world that has become impenetrable. It will only be burst when America is too broke or ecologically devastated to continue trying to re-form the world in its image. That's why I fear that a whole cadre of nuts would rather the world go down in flames than that the "last, best hope of humanity" not get to "tutor" the nations into doing thing

Banger, November 14, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Technically you are right–the USA is the last great remnant of the great ideologies of the 20th century and the ideology of American Exceptionalism is related to fascism and communism in the sense it is deeply nationalistic and also global - America wants everyone to become American. But I think this is largely over.

Leaders today only half-believe in these notions and the body politic is increasingly cynical and too self-centered to care much about "destiny" and the grand sweep of history that people like Henry Luce or Walter Lippmann articulated back in the day both on the left and the right.

Government is increasingly staffed by self-serving careerists and yuppies who long ago sold their souls. The ideologues are now mainly are inarticulate and no more than the equivalent of soccer hooligans.

Michael, November 14, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Neo-cons…. I assume that is who you meant.

Not much more too add. The people with real power do not show their faces. They write memos and let buffoons try to articulate them to the public. The public will buy into the ideology because they've spent their lives learning facts with out learning the importance of those facts.

Also most people are too busy trying to survive to learn enough to understand the games that the elites are playing. Hell, even the elites don't understand the system they have built. All energy is basically used to maintain the system which will eventually collapse in on itself…

I just hope I am self sufficient at this point….give me 5 more years and I should be set…homesteading is in my future.

madisolation, November 15, 2014 at 8:30 am

I just read Pepe Escobar's take on the APEC summit. There's a lot to absorb, but here is an excerpt:

Washington/Wall Street elites – talk about Cold War hubris – always took for granted that Beijing and Moscow would be totally apart. Now puzzlement prevails. Note how the Obama administration's "pivoting to Asia" has been completely erased from the narrative – after Beijing identified it for what it is: a warlike provocation. The new meme is "rebalance".

German businesses, for their part, are absolutely going bonkers with Xi's New Silk Roads uniting Beijing to Berlin – crucially via Moscow. German politicians sooner rather than later will have to get the message.

flora, November 15, 2014 at 11:03 am

This sentence:

"Washington/Wall Street elites… always took for granted that …"

Perfect description of the neo-con and neo-liberal ideological bubbles. Elite thinking is so captured by their ideologies that they can't clearly see facts on the ground, can't effectively respond to the facts, and can't accept their realpolitik failures as the consequence of their ideological capture.

The 'shrewd yankee' has been replaced by the 'true believer'.

Interesting that Al From and the New Democrats have been described as idealists. No doubt they are.

Steven, November 15, 2014 at 11:29 am

Dr. Hudson has long had the right take on all this. But he doesn't seem to be able to take the last step in simplifying his analyses and prescriptions. Elites in the West and in particular the United States have no clue about the real sources of wealth and power in the modern world. Those elites, having long ago converted their wealth (the natural resources, skilled labor and, above all, the inanimate energy required to power the machinery and computers that do much of the world's real work) into money, now 'keep score' only by how much more money they can add to their bank accounts.

For those elites – and especially for the financiers and bankers to whom they have entrusted the wealth extracted from the labor of preceding generations and the spoils of pillaged continents – money is all there is. This is the core of 'American exceptionalism'. Anyone who doubts the omnipotence of money doubts the divine order of things. Educating, feeding and caring for the West's "labouring cattle" has long been viewed not as 'investment', a source of wealth, but an impediment on the more rapid accumulation of money. The only thing 50% of 'the people' are good for, in the words of Jay Gould, is slaughtering the other 50%.

The bottom line here is that real wealth and prosperity for the population at large represents a mortal threat for people whose power and social status is dependent only on money. A really wealthy population doesn't need money. For the monetarily affluent, the only possible use for advances in science and technology is the destruction of those who refuse to worship the golden calf. For the last century Western nations have removed the threat of general prosperity to their ruling classes through wars with each other and beyond their nations' borders.

Devastated by global war, much of the world managed to free itself from this self-destructive propensity by exporting the responsibility to defend their money-based ruling classes and the sanctity of money as embodied in the world's US dollar-based reserve currency to the United States. Thus we have arrived at the current division of labor in the world economy with the once 'developing nations' exporting the things people really need to live and the US and other Western nations exporting debt and death. This is the real mission of the military-industrial complex – absorbing advances in science and technology in ever more deadly weapons systems and ever mounting national debt. It can only end badly.

Events since 2008 have proved the world doesn't need the West's money. If the West's central banks can create tens of trillions of dollars, euros, yen, etc out of thin air to prevent the insolvency of its ruling elites, it can create the money it needs to pay for the real wealth required for a sustainable future.

[Oct 22, 2014] The myth of Russian humiliation by Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum by herself does not matter, neither intellectually not politically. Just a second rate columnist. And pathetic neocon, who lost the touch with reality many, many years ago. But it looks like she voices the views of Hillary Clinton and that can be very dangerous development...
October 17, 2014 | The Washington Post

Looking back over the past quarter-century, it isn't easy to name a Western policy that can truly be described as a success. The impact of Western development aid is debatable. Western interventions in the Middle East have been disastrous.

But one Western policy stands out as a phenomenal success, particularly when measured against the low expectations with which it began: the integration of Central Europe and the Baltic States into the European Union and NATO. Thanks to this double project, more than 90 million people have enjoyed relative safety and relative prosperity for more than two decades in a region whose historic instability helped launch two world wars.

These two "expansions," which were parallel but not identical (some countries are members of one organization but not the other), were transformative because they were not direct leaps, as the word "expansion" implies, but slow negotiations. Before joining NATO, each country had to establish civilian control of its army. Before joining the European Union, each adopted laws on trade, judiciary, human rights. As a result, they became democracies. This was "democracy promotion" working as it never has before or since.

But times change, and the miraculous transformation of a historically unstable region became a humdrum reality. Instead of celebrating this achievement on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is now fashionable to opine that this expansion, and of NATO in particular, was mistaken. This project is incorrectly "remembered" as the result of American "triumphalism" that somehow humiliated Russia by bringing Western institutions into its rickety neighborhood. This thesis is usually based on revisionist history promoted by the current Russian regime - and it is wrong.

For the record: No treaties prohibiting NATO expansion were ever signed with Russia. No promises were broken. Nor did the impetus for NATO expansion come from a "triumphalist" Washington. On the contrary, Poland's first efforts to apply in 1992 were rebuffed. I well remember the angry reaction of the U.S. ambassador to Warsaw at the time. But Poland and others persisted, precisely because they were already seeing signs of the Russian revanchism to come.

When the slow, cautious expansion eventually took place, constant efforts were made to reassure Russia. No NATO bases were placed in the new member states, and until 2013 no exercises were conducted there. A Russia-NATO agreement in 1997 promised no movement of nuclear installations. A NATO-Russia Council was set up in 2002. In response to Russian objections, Ukraine and Georgia were, in fact, denied NATO membership plans in 2008.

Meanwhile, not only was Russia not "humiliated" during this era, it was given de facto "great power" status, along with the Soviet seat on the U.N. Security Council and Soviet embassies. Russia also received Soviet nuclear weapons, some transferred from Ukraine in 1994 in exchange for Russian recognition of Ukraine's borders. Presidents Clinton and Bush both treated their Russian counterparts as fellow "great power" leaders and invited them to join the Group of Eight - although Russia, neither a large economy nor a democracy, did not qualify.

During this period, Russia, unlike Central Europe, never sought to transform itself along European lines. Instead, former KGB officers with a clearly expressed allegiance to the Soviet system took over the state in league with organized crime, seeking to prevent the formation of democratic institutions at home and to undermine them abroad. For the past decade, this kleptocratic clique has also sought to re-create an empire, using everything from cyberattacks on Estonia to military invasions of Georgia and now Ukraine, in open violation of that 1994 agreement - exactly as the Central Europeans feared.

Once we remember what actually happened over the past two decades, as opposed to accepting the Russian regime's version, our own mistakes look different. In 1991, Russia was no longer a great power in either population or economic terms. So why didn't we recognize reality, reform the United Nations and give a Security Council seat to India, Japan or others? Russia did not transform itself along European lines. Why did we keep pretending that it had? Eventually, our use of the word "democracy" to describe the Russian political system discredited the word in Russia itself.

The crisis in Ukraine, and the prospect of a further crisis in NATO itself, is not the result of our triumphalism but of our failure to react to Russia's aggressive rhetoric and its military spending. Why didn't we move NATO bases eastward a decade ago? Our failure to do so has now led to a terrifying plunge of confidence in Central Europe. Countries once eager to contribute to the alliance are now afraid. A string of Russian provocations unnerve the Baltic region: the buzzing of Swedish airspace, the kidnapping of an Estonian security officer.

Our mistake was not to humiliate Russia but to underrate Russia's revanchist, revisionist, disruptive potential. If the only real Western achievement of the past quarter-century is now under threat, that's because we have failed to ensure that NATO continues to do in Europe what it was always meant to do: deter. Deterrence is not an aggressive policy; it is a defensive policy. But in order to work, deterrence has to be real. It requires investment, consolidation and support from all of the West, and especially the United States. I'm happy to blame American triumphalism for many things, but in Europe I wish there had been more of it.

Anne Applebaum writes a biweekly foreign affairs column for The Washington Post. She is also the Director of the Global Transitions Program at the Legatum Institute in London. Read more from Anne Applebaum's archive, follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her updates on Facebook.

Read more about this topic:

JoelHar

Anne, did you see the response in Pravda?

Russophobia, bad will and The Washington Post - English pravda.ru

Epaminondas

If Anne Applebaum's husband is so off the mark, wouldn't we expect her to be as well:

Poland and Russia Donetsk for me, Lviv for you The Economist

zms_ui

A great read. I especially liked the "Russia not really a great power, so" part:

"not only was Russia not "humiliated" during this era, it was given de facto "great power" status, along with the Soviet seat on the U.N. Security Council and Soviet embassies. Russia also received Soviet nuclear weapons"

"why didn't we recognize reality, reform the United Nations and give a Security Council seat to India, Japan or others"

The idea that "we" (who's that, by the way?) could have somehow taken the world's biggest nuclear stockpile from a country, that we also SHOULD have done the same with Russia's place at the UN Security Council - the idea is priceless in its sheer delusion. It's also big on the same criminal self-righteousness of western democracies that created a lot of the mess the world is now struggling to deal with - I mean the "let's forcibly remove Russia's UNSC seat even though there's no provision for it" sound like your classic "democracies should rule the world by edict" worldview. It's just so obviously wrong on all the levels, it sounds like mindless hate-rant.

Justus Allofus

After reading all these posts, these #2 stood out as the best as far as potentially changing minds here:

Look folks, you can either believe Anne Applebaum's (a columnist) interpretation of history or you can choose instead to believe what Jack F. Matlock Jr., ambassador to the U.S.S.R. from 1987 to 1991, said in "Who is the bully? The U.S. has treated Russia like a loser since the end of the Cold War" This is an Opinion column piece he wrote and the Washington Post published on March `14th2014. Web address:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/who-is-the-...

The two columns don't square at all. One is the words of a columnist (a person trained to write) and the other the words of an Ambassador and not just any ambassador but one who served in the most important and difficult embassy's during a major realignment of our relationship with the USSR.

No contest unless you are a fool.

THIS is the 2nd comment, which gives the best possible context to the first:

This is what Kennan :

http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/02/opinion/foreign-...

FAILURE to read BOTH, would be a huge waste of any attempt to move toward a better contextual understanding of the CRITIQUE of the current FP path we are on as a NATION.

Cooney1970, 10/20/2014

For Christ sake, this woman is married to Radosław Sikorski, ex Polish FM, a rabid Russophobe. What else to expect from her? This is a great example of exactly what is wrong with Washington politics.

m0derateGuy

And what does ex polish FM or his wife have to do with "Washington politics"?? ...Oh, right; your kind can't be expected to hold a coherent thought. My bad.

Cooney1970

Everything. She wrote this with a clear agenda behind this, agenda that completely fits Washington politics, politics enshrined in Nuland and Co adventurism. Did you hear what nonsense did Sikorski came up with now - that Putin proposed to Poland's then leader in 2008 that they divide Ukraine between themselves. (They will say whatever they want even if completely manufactured). These people are complete nuts! So, yes it is your bad, but that is not my problem.

matt_masterson

@jayjordan

"So..... just let them annex parts of other countries then? How is that a policy?"

The answer to that question depends on the complexities of the situation in question. Crimea was never really part of Ukraine. The majority of the people in Crimea never wanted to be part of Ukraine. It's unreasonable to expect that the Crimean population should accept the rule of an ultranationalist, Falangist regime in Kiev.

So yes...Russia's annexation of Crimea is validated.

Robert Smiley

This author should be ashamed of her lies, innuendo and blatant American propaganda. Almost everything she says just doesn't square with history and reality. Russia was most certainly given assurances and promises that NATO would not expand eastwards to Russia's borders in exchange for a united Germany. That Ms. Applebaum is not in question and your feeble attempt to make it a question instead of a truism, is very typical of your kind. We are not amused nor have we just fallen off a turnip truck. Your lies are beyond decency, morality or ethics. They should be consigned to the dustbin of inective and calumny. Russia is a nascent democracy with a very strong and potentially demogogue like President. Perhaps at this juncture in its history it requires such a man, whether or not the West approves. It has a capitalistic economy and a national Christian religion. In other words, it no longer meets all of the critical elements that made the US and the West consider it enemy number one. The US, in particular, has made Russia into a potential enemy all over again, when that simply was not necessary or wise. It seems the military industrial complex has much more power in the US than is good for that country or for the world at large. Suffice it to say madame author, you are lying through your teeth and they are not very intelligent lies nor at all believable!

[Oct 21, 2014] Address by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the 69th session of the UN General Assembly

Compare argumentation with Sociología crítica To be a neoliberal society and be free from US dominance is not very realistic until oil became at least twice more expensive and neoliberal model of globalization start collapsing. While critique of the US policy is up to the point, what is the alternative to the current situation? Russia is weaker then the USA neoliberal state and so far it does not look like it decided to abandon neoliberalism. And if not, then what is the point of confrontation ? Clearly the USA has geopolitical ambitions in Eastern Europe. And they want to exploit their status as the pre-eminent neo-liberal state, like Moscow was for socialist camp, so to speak to squeeze Russia, as a dissident state, which deviates from neoliberal agenda. Ukraine just fall victim of this squeezing. Collateral damage so to speak. And the key problem with Ukraine neither the USA nor EU want to compensate the damage their actions inflicted, to offer Marshall plan to Kiev.
Sep 27, 2014 | mid.ru

...There is growing evidence of the contradiction between the need for collective, cooperative efforts to provide adequate responses to challenges common to all, and the aspirations of a number of countries for domination and the revival of archaic bloc thinking based on military drill discipline and the erroneous logic of "friend or foe."

The US-led Western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, rule of law and human rights within individual countries,acts from a completely opposite position in the international arena, rejecting the democratic principle of the sovereign equality of states enshrined in the UN Charter and tires to decide for everyone what is good or bad.

Washington has openly declared its right to the unilateral use of force anywhere to uphold its own interests. Military interference has become common, even despite the dismal outcome of the use of power that the US has carried out in recent years.

The sustainability of the international system has been severely shaken by NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia, intervention in Iraq, the attack against Libya and the failure of the operation in Afghanistan. Thanks only to intensive diplomatic efforts, an aggression against Syria was averted in 2013. There is the involuntary impression that the goal of various "colour revolutions" and other goals to change unsuitable regimes is to provoke chaos and instability.

Today, Ukraine has fallen victim to such an arrogant policy. The situation there has revealed the remaining deep-rooted systemic flaws of the existing architecture in the Euro-Atlantic area. The West has embarked upon a course towards "the vertical structuring of humanity" tailored to its own hardly inoffensive standards. After they declared victory in the Cold War and the "end of history," the US and the EU opted for expanding the geopolitical area under their control without taking into account the balance of legitimate interests of all the people of Europe. Our Western partners did not heed our numerous alerts on the unacceptability of the violation of the principles of the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, and time and again avoided serious cooperative work to establish a common space of equal and indivisible security and cooperation from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Russian proposal to draft a European security treaty was rejected. We were told directly that only the members of the North Atlantic Alliance could have the legally binding guarantees of security, and NATO expansion to the East continued in spite of the promises to the contrary given previously. NATO's change toward hostile rhetoric and to the drawdown of its cooperation with Russia even to the detriment of the West's own interests, and the additional build-up of the military infrastructure at Russian borders made the inability of the alliance to change its genetic code embedded during the Cold War era obvious.

The US and the EU supported the coup in Ukraine and reverted to outright justification of any act by the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities that used suppression by force on the part of the Ukrainian people that had rejected the attempts to impose an anti-constitutional way of life to the entire country and wanted to defend its rights to a native language, culture and history. It was precisely the aggressive assault on these rights that compelled the population of Crimea to take destiny into its own hands and make a choice in favor of self-determination. This was an absolutely free choice no matter what has been invented by those who were, in the first place, responsible for the internal conflict in Ukraine.

The attempts to distort the truth and to hide the facts behind blanket accusations have been undertaken at all stages of the Ukrainian crisis. Nothing has been done to track down and prosecute those responsible for February's bloody events at Maidan and the massive loss of human life in Odessa, Mariupol and other regions in Ukraine. The scale of appalling humanitarian disaster provoked by the acts of the Ukrainian army in southeastern Ukraine has been deliberately underscored. Recently, new horrible facts have been brought to light as mass graves were discovered in the outskirts of Donetsk. Despite UNSC Resolution 2166 a thorough and independent investigation of the circumstances into the loss of the Malaysian airliner over the territory of Ukraine has been protracted. The culprits of all these crimes must be identified and brought to justice. Otherwise it is unrealistic to expect a national reconciliation in Ukraine.

... ... ...

Let me recall the not too distant past. As a condition for establishing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1933 the U.S. government demanded of Moscow the guarantees of non-interference in the domestic affairs of the US and obligations not to take any actions with a view to changing political or social order in America. At that time Washington feared a revolutionary virus and the above guarantees were put on record and were based on reciprocity. Perhaps, it makes sense to return to this item and reproduce that demand of the US government on a universal scale. Shouldn't the General Assembly adopt a declaration on the unacceptability of interference into the domestic affairs of sovereign states and non-recognition of a coup as a method for changing power? The time has come to exclude from international interaction the attempts of illegitimate pressure of some states on others. The meaningless and counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions is obvious if we review the US blockade of Cuba.

The policy of ultimatums and philosophy of supremacy and domination do not meet the requirements of the 21st century and run counter to the objective process of development for a polycentric and democratic world order.

Russia is promoting a positive and unifying agenda. We always were and will be open to discussion of the most complex issues no matter how unsolvable they would seem in the beginning. We will be prepared to search for compromises and the balancing of interests and go as far as to exchange concessions provided only that the discussion is respectful and equal.

... ... ...

New dividing lines in Europe should not be allowed, even more so given that under globalization these lines can turn into a watershed between the West and the rest of the world. It should be stated honestly that no one has a monopoly on truth and that no one can tailor global and regional processes to one's own needs. There is no alternative today to the development of consensus regarding the rules of sustainable global governance under new historical circumstances - with full respect for cultural and civilizational diversity in the world and the multiplicity of the models of development. It will be a difficult and perhaps tiresome task to achieve such a consensus on every issue. Nevertheless the recognition of the fact that democracy in every state is the "worst form of government, except for all the others" also took time to break through, until Winston Churchill passed his verdict. The time has come to realize the inevitability of this axiom including in international affairs where today there is a huge deficit of democracy. Of course someone will have to break up centuries-old stereotypes and abandon the claims to eternal uniqueness. But there is no other way. Consolidated efforts can only be built on the principles of mutual respect and by taking into account the interests of each other as is the case, for example, under the framework of BRICS and the SCO, the G20 and the UN Security Council.

The theory of the advantages of cooperative action has been supported by practice: this includes progress in the settlement of the situation around the Iranian nuclear program and the successful conclusion of the chemical demilitarization of Syria. Also, regarding the issue of chemical weapons, we would like to obtain authentic information on the condition of the chemical arsenals in Libya. We understand that our NATO colleagues, after bombing this country in violation of a UNSC Resolution, would not like to "stir up"" the mayhem they created. However, the problem of uncontrolled Libyan chemical arsenals is too serious to turn a blind eye to. The UN Secretary General has an obligation to show his responsibility on this issue as well.

What is important today is to see the global priorities and avoid making them hostages to a unilateral agenda. There is an urgent need to refrain from double standards in the approaches to conflict settlement. Everybody largely agrees that it is a key issue to resolutely counter the terrorists who are attempting to control increasingly larger territories in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and the Sahara-Sahel area. If this is the case then this task should not be sacrificed to ideological schemes or a desire to retaliate. Terrorists, no matter what their slogans, should remain outside the law.

Moreover, it goes without saying that the fight against terrorism should be based solidly on international law. The unanimous adoption of a number of UNSC Resolutions including those on the issue of foreign terrorist operatives became an important stage in this fight. And conversely, the attempts to act against the Charter of our Organization do not contribute to the success of cooperative efforts. The struggle against terrorists in Syria should be structured in cooperation with the Syrian government, which has clearly stated its willingness to join it. Damascus has already proven its ability to work with the international community by delivering on its obligations under the programme to dispose of its chemical weapons.

... ... ...

[Oct 18, 2014] Speech of Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov at the UNGA on September 27th

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FHVR5Qz0ibo
The translation is perfect. You just have to use the left/right stereo balance to choose for Russian (left channel) or Englisch (on the right channel)
Veritas :
Dear The Saker,

I was wondering when Russia was going to speak at the UN.

Here is a written piece too from RT:

http://www.rt.com/news/191216-lavrov-us-rejects-principle/

I think Lavrov is making it very clear where Russia/BRICS et al all stand :).

Rgds, Veritas

Anonymous :

Saker,

I found an interesting, if somewhat dated, interview with Gleb Pavlovsky in the most recent issue of New left Review. It adds some nuances to what is going on in the Kremlin: http://newleftreview.org/II/88/gleb-pavlovsky-putin-s-world-outlook

/Hagen

Veritas :

Dear The Saker,

What do you think Russia will say about this?:

http://www.rt.com/news/191220-erdogan-turkey-isis-military/

Their game has been so transparent from the start :(

Rgds,


Veritas

Veritas :

Gerry1211,

If you go to Ria Novsti they have broken down all the main points of Lavrov's speech into articles which you can read.

Dear The Saker,

http://en.ria.ru/world/20140927/193367669/UN-Declaration-Needed-to-Prevent-Use-of-Coup-as-Means-to-Change-Regime.html

I do like this point by Lavrov - about time too!


Rgds,


Veritas

Cortes :

Gerry1211: despabilate amigo - el mundo es bien ancho (wake up buddy, the world's a big place)

Anonymous :

[from Blue]
Hard to hear. I'm downloading it and will try listening in player software that has a spectrum filter thing to adjust the magnitude of the frequencies -- see if I can filter some of Lavrov's deeper voice out.

Dalpe :

My apologies, here is a version of the speak that is understandable

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqcQQaLvlkM

Daniel Rich :

When Lavrov speaks it's an assault [according to MSM], fortunately, when Obombi opens his claptrap, it's an insult.

Even Kafka watches all this unfold with raised eyebrows.

greencrow :

"...Mr.Lavrov speaks impeccable English so why he chose to speak Russian is beyond me."

********************

This is the United Nations...not the English Nations...your ethnocentricity is appalling.

Greg Schofield :

The translator is on the right speaker and Lavrov on the left -- just change the balance between the speakers and it can be heard perfectly -- actually a very good way of doing things.

Anonymous :

El Murid: military talks took place today in Gorlovka. Moscow sent general Alexander Lentsov who assumed an openly sharp anti-Novorossiya position. He demanded unilateral withdrawals of the Army of Novorossiya, their unilateral immediate ceasefire, and threatened with closing borders and assistance denial

Henry Kissinger recommends West should take constructive approach to Russia.

http://en.itar-tass.com/world/751643

Teranam13 :

What a warrior king Lavrov is!!! "we should not allow national egoism to prevail over collective responsibility" Great summation to a well delivered speech and, by the way, Kudos to the simultaneous translator who kept up with his headlong pace really well.
He made a very important point about Libya's chemical weapons needing to be accounted for by the UN. There are those who claim that some have already
made their way into the hands of Turkish intelligence and others. Lavrov rocks!!!

Dalpe :

Report from UN: Ki-moon, "UN urged Russia to resolve the Ukrainian crisis."
http://translate.yandex.net/tr-url/ru-en.ru/www.novorosinform.org/news/id/10242

Calumny! This guy smiles and it give me the creeps.

How about urging all sides to resolve the crisis, or how about urging the, I never attack those with weapons directly, color revolutionary master, and destroyer of worlds to resolve the crisis?

Or how about urging the IMF to stop funding a fratricidal war? That would be impossible without their blood money?

More to the point, permit me to urge you, Ki-moon, to refresh yourself with the UN charter.I think it say something about not lying?

Your inference is unbalanced, inflammatory, supportive of a fictional myth as to who is responsible for sowing chaos in Ukraine.

Serendipity :

It is quite clear (to me,at least) that Lavrov should have delivered his speech in English (as we've seen, he speaks English quite well). He could have begun his speech by saying: "I have chosen today to speak in English rather than in Russian because I want my message to be perfectly clear to Americans and Europeans, especially to those people who are actively engaged in aggression directed against my country." He might have added, but, of course, being a diplomat, he would not: "Furthermore I don't trust the UN-appointed interpreter to translate my message without distorting it."

I have great respect for Lavrov and Putin, but they're not perfect, and they make mistakes (hopefully none fatal to their cause). Lavrov's decision to deliver his speech in Russian is one example. His choice of Russian ensures that no-one, other than those people who understand Russian, will take much notice of what he said. An opportunity missed to tell the Western psychopaths clearly that they, not Russia, are the aggressors and that their diabolical plans will come to naught.

Lumpy Gravy :

@ Gerry1211, 27 September, 2014 22:41
> My brain is not wired to listen simultaneously ...

Don't worry, you're not alone with this. RT have been practising this kind of "audio editing" since ages. The sheer incompetence of the RT staff in charge boggles the mind. Or is it deliberate to put people off and to drive them away from the channel? One can never tell these days what's going on in Russia's rotten msm. Just compare the search results for the name Strelkov on Russian msm and on western msm ...

Yandex:
http://www.yandex.com/video/search?text=Strelkov

YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Strelkov

... crazy, isn't it?! And to top it all off, last December Vladimir Putin has managed to rid the country of its last halfway decent international radio station when he shut down VoR ... probably following the advice of some of his trusted 5th column rats. It's hopeless, really.

Anonymous :

Last night an unprecedented meeting took place - between Ukrainian generals and Novorossia military leadership, with Russan military and OSCE as observers. They pulled out a map of Ukraine and talked about where the border between Novorossia and Ukraine should be. (Russian news program Vesti)

Kiev is grabbing people on the streets to exchange them for POW's. Novorossiya side halted the POW exchange, since the flow of Novorosia POW's, according to reqused lists, has been replaced by random people, who have nothing to do with Novorossiya. The question is, where are the Novrossiya POW's - dead?

Anonymous :

100 million tons of highest quality oil discovered in the Arctic by Rosneft, comparable to entire reserves of Saudi Arabia.

Lumpy Gravy :

@ Greg Schofield, 28 September, 2014 02:05
> ... actually a very good way of doing things.

No, it' not. Listening simultaneously to two different voices speaking two different languages at identical audio levels makes it very hard to understand what is being said in either language ... and adjusting the stereo balance isn't an option for people who are trying to listening to Sergey Lavrov's speech in public places (RT always pride themselves on being available globally in 25 billion airport lounges and in 100 trillion hotels). Apart from this RT uploaded this video to their English language channel which targets an English speaking audience. Leaving Lavrov's original audio track at 50% volume is absolutely inappropriate and unprofessional.

Where-Wolf :

I with the Anglo ethnocentrists on this one.

Lavrov had an opportunity to fire a shot that would be heard and understood by potentially billions of people. No matter it would be ignored by the media. Online it could reverberate forever. This is a failure to take the bull by the horns. I know the Russian game is patient but in respect of the medium, message and timing, Lavrov missed a glorious opportunity.

The argument that no one has a monopoly on truth seems to be plucked from Western Relativists in the first place. It makes me naseous to hear it from Lavrov at this time. What good is to say you have your truth while we have ours when what Lavrov should be saying is that Russia is on the side of ultimate truth.

That may not be a fair interpretation of Lavrov's words but I am seriously disappointed.

Daniel Rich :

@ greencrow,

Q: This is the United Nations...not the English Nations...your ethnocentricity is appalling.

R: Give it a few decades and we'll all be fluent in Mandarin :o)

greencrow :

Some people just don't understand the importance of language to a culture...they're so "spoiled" at having their mother tongue be the language they listen to, that they can't comprehend other people wanting to hear their language in "important" situations. IMP these people are missing the entire point of the United Nations and International relations.

Alien Tech :

Talk about mission creep in the Internet age. It took a few years with Vietnam but already in a week, Turkey is ready to send in troops into Syria.

This is the same Turkey that supplied the Sarine gas and killed all those Syrians last year? Turkey is involved in most of the wars the US is involved in but they usually always have a UN mandate and fall under the UN commander who is mostly an American.

Why is Lavrov talking in Russian? If he wants to influence people in other countries he should have talked in English because other wise we only hear the lies and nothing from the other side. How many people are going to go find out what Lavrov said? It sure wont be published in any western media. Heck most TV would show him speaking in Russian and scroll what Obama said at the UN and people would think it was Lavrov who said that.

Mulga Mumblebrain :

Dalpe, the odious Ban was known, I believe, to the South Koreans as 'the slippery eel'. A perfect selection for Imperial stooge, although not as grotesque as the hideous Kofi Annan. The last even quarter-way decent UNSG was Boutros-Ghali, was terminated with moderate prejudice by the USA because of very slight crimes of hesitancy in executing Imperial orders. In the Real Evil Empire total submission is absolutely mandatory. We in Australia have been blessed by a succession of leaders whose groveling has been exemplary.

Anonymous :

Little bit of topic, but also from EU

http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2014/06/19/video-of-the-day-end-the-fed-rallies-are-exploding-throughout-germany/

Feng :

@Lumpy Gravy and others

The translation is perfect. You just have to use the left/right stereo balance to choose for Russian (left channel) or Englisch (on the right channel)

[Oct 18, 2014] "Pardon Us For Our Country's Existence in the Middle of Your Military Bases" – Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov's Speech at the UN By Carla Stea

October 14, 2014 | Global Research

In a courageous and brilliant speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2014, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pierced the veil of obfuscation that characterizes too many speeches at the United Nations, and delivered a scathing denunciation of Western imperialism, imperialism that can only be accurately described as global theft. Lavrov, on behalf of the Russian Federation implicitly warned that US/NATO is risking global war in embarking on its campaign to seize and dominate huge territories, while inexorably and ruthlessly determined to conquer and subjugate Russia, having learned nothing from the historic reality that Napolean's effort to dominate Russia led to the collapse of Napoleonic France, and Hitler's attempt to subjugate Russia led to the obliteration of his Third Reich.

Perhaps this third attempt to conquer and subjugate Russia may lead not only to war encompassing huge territories of the globe, but, dialectically, may be the catalyst leading to the ultimate decline of capitalism, an economic system which thrives almost entirely on imperialism, and is undergoing a possibly terminal crisis, as described by the French economist, Thomas Piketty in his best-selling work "Capital in the 21 Century." In desperation, dysfunctional Western capitalism is lashing out recklessly and irrationally, unwilling and unable to preclude the disastrous consequences of its myopic policies. And one possible consequence of current US/NATO policies is thermonuclear war.

Lavrov stated: "The U.S.-led Western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, rule of law and human rights within individual countries, acts from directly opposite positions in the international arena, rejecting the democratic principle of sovereign equality of states enshrined in the UN Charter and trying to decide for everyone what is good or evil."

"Washington has openly declared its right to unilateral use of force anywhere to uphold its own interests. Military interference has become a norm – even despite the dismal outcome of all power operations that the U.S. has carried out over the recent years."

"The sustainability of the international system has been severely shaken by NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia, intervention in Iraq, attack against Libya and the failure of operation in Afghanistan. Only due to intensive diplomatic efforts the aggression against Syria was prevented in 2013. There is an involuntary impression that the goal of various 'color revolutions' and other projects to change unsuitable regimes is to provoke chaos and instability."

"Today Ukraine has fallen victim to such an arrogant policy. The situation there has revealed the remaining deep-rooted systemic flaws of the existing architecture in the Euro-Atlantic area. The West has embarked upon the course towards 'vertical structuring of humanity' tailored to its own hardly inoffensive standards. After they declared victory in the Cold War and the 'end of history,' the U.S. and EU have opted for expanding the geopolitical area under their control without taking into account the balance of legitimate interests of all peoples of Europe […] NATO enlargement to the East continued in spite of the promises to the contrary given earlier. The instant switch of NATO to hostile rhetoric and to the drawdown of its cooperation with Russia even to the detriment of the West's own interests, and additional build up of military infrastructure at the Russian borders – made obvious the inability of the alliance to change the genetic code it embedded during the Cold War era."

"The U.S. and EU supported the coup d'etat in Ukraine and reverted to outright justification of any acts by the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities that opted for suppression by force of the part of the Ukranian people that had rejected the attempts to impose the anti-constitutional way of life to the entire country and wanted to defend its rights to the native language, culture and history. It is precisely the aggressive assault on these rights that compelled the population of Crimea to take the destiny in its own hands and make a choice in favor of self-determination. This was an absolutely free choice no matter what was invented by those who are responsible in the first place for the internal conflict in Ukraine."

"The attempts to distort the truth and to hide the facts behind blanket accusations have been undertaken at all stages of the Ukranian crisis. Nothing has been done to track down and prosecute those responsible for February bloody events at Maidan and massive loss of human lives in Odessa, Mariupol and other regions of Ukraine. The scale of appalling humanitarian disaster provoked by the acts of the Ukrainian army in the South-Eastern Ukraine has been deliberately understated. Recently, new horrible facts have been brought to light when mass graves were discovered in the suburbs of Donetsk. Despite UNSG Resolution 2166 a thorough and independent investigation of the circumstances of the loss of Malaysian airliner over the territory of Ukraine has been protracted. The culprits of all these crimes must be identified and brought to justice. Otherwise the national reconciliation in Ukraine can hardly be expected."

In total contempt for truth and international law, Kiev's escalation of the Ukranian crisis is being relentlessly prepared, in an ultimate act of deceit, as Ukranian President Poroshenko assumes military regalia, threatening Russia's survival, and, indeed the survival of his own bankrupt country, and is now speaking of all-out war with Russia.

Last month Washington pledged and delivered 53 million dollars of US taxpayer's money to provide military aid to the Kiev regime, which is using the ceasefire arranged by Russian President Putin and the OSCE as an opportunity to acquire more sophisticated and deadly weapons and prepare for another barbarous onslaught against civilians in east and southeastern Ukraine, where the massacre of almost 4,000 citizens of East Ukraine and the desperate plight of more than one million refugees followed the "secret" visit to Kiev, (under a false name) of CIA Director John Brennan last April.

But perhaps the most brazen announcement of US/NATO intent to inflict further carnage upon the citizens of East Ukraine , whose rejection of the Nazi infested and Western controlled regime in Kiev has resulted in Kiev's campaign of extermination of its dissident Ukrainian citizens, is the return to Kiev this month of the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, Victoria Nuland. Ms. Nuland was made world famous (or world infamous) by her February declaration "Fuck the EU" while, on behalf of her neocon sponsors in Washington, she engineered the destabilization and overthrow of Ukraine's democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovich, plunging Ukraine into the civil war that holds the potential of engulfing the world in a conflagration which will be known as World War III.

In her October 7, 2014 speech to the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev, Ms. Nuland boasted: "Ukraine this year has received $290 million in U.S. financial support plus a billion dollar loan guarantee. And now you have what so many of you stood on the Maidan for, you have an association agreement with Europe and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement." That "Association Agreement" holds Ukraine virtual hostage to NATO and the IMF, whose imposition of "austerity measures" will further degrade the living standards of the already impoverished Ukrainians. Ms. Nuland brings a Trojan Horse into Ukraine, unctuously flattering gullible Ukranian students, who will ultimately provide cannon fodder for the war which US/NATO is inciting.

Further on in his September 27 address to the UN General Assembly, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov states:

"Let me recall a history of not so far ago. As a condition for establishing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1933 the U.S. government demanded of Moscow the guarantees of non-interference into domestic affairs of the U.S. and obligations not to take any actions with a view to changing political or social order in America. At that time Washington feared a revolutionary virus and the above guarantees were put on record on the basis of reciprocity. Perhaps, it makes sense to return to this topic and reproduce that demand of the U.S. government on a universal scale. Shouldn't the General Assembly adopt a declaration on the inadmissibility of interference into domestic affairs of sovereign states and non-recognition of coup d'etat as a method of the change of power? The time has come to totally exclude from the international interaction the attempts of illegitimate pressure of some states on others. The meaningless and counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions is obvious if we took an example of the U.S. blockade of Cuba."

"The policy of ultimatums and philosophy of supremacy and domination do not meet the requirements of the 21 century and run counter to the objective process of development of a polycentric and democratic world order."

[Oct 18, 2014] The Absurd Illusions of a Shining City on a Hill by Mark Weiser

October 16, 2014 | Dissident Voice
The average natural born citizen in any country is continuously indoctrinated into the national culture starting about the time they begin understanding the meaning of words. There's one country in particular where reality is staring the public in the face, but the truth has been grossly distorted for decades by government, and mass media, bias and propaganda. If the citizens would suddenly see the truth, instead of what they've been conditioned to believe, they would find themselves in a strange and bizarre foreign land that's contrary in many ways to their personal beliefs regarding home. For those who experience this sudden revelation, as soon as the truth is realized, it's likely to provoke a profound and immediate sense of disbelief. Like emergency room personnel making insensitive jokes, laughter at some point becomes a self-defense mechanism for offsetting continuous parades of the absurd realities and outright horrors. This is all happening while the general population takes great pride in having a capitalist-democracy as their social-economic model for the stated purposes of providing equal rights, freedom, justice for all, and an all-inclusive participation in the political system. While in all truth, the capitalist-democracy in question has been corrupted directly by the legislation in place and the collective society's inability to keep the system working for its stated and intended purposes.

... ... ...

In cases where the US government appears to act deceptively on its own behalf, we have the CIA's Operation Mockingbird, and the FBI's COINTELPRO as prime examples of programs designed specifically to manipulate public opinion and illegally interfere with the people's rights to free speech and assembly. With writers and editors of influential "news" sources on the government payroll as operatives, there is no better way to wage a propaganda war against the public's "constitutionally guaranteed" democratic rights. The CIA and FBI do not distort the truth and subvert Constitutional rights just for kicks; they are directly aiding and abetting those behind the scenes who have an agenda which is pure and simple - corporate profits. Our government representatives are essentially screened, groomed and "voted in" by huge campaign contributions derived from corporate profits, and ultimately the press is financed by those same corporations. And for their "investment in capital", the corporations are getting what they want in return. So when corporate and special interests influence the government and news media directly, while the US government also influences news networks directly on behalf of corporations, then public opinion regarding any important issue is essentially being manufactured and controlled to a very large degree by corporate and special interests. The plain truth is the government, news media, corporate and special interests are all in a symbiotic criminal relationship with the absolute bottom line being they are willingly and knowingly denying Constitutional rights to the American citizenry which, in some of these instances, makes all those in violation willing traitors as defined by US law. And no, a group of conspirators does not need be prosecuted and found guilty in a court of law to be living and breathing traitors…

To maintain corporate profits and our status as world champion capitalists requires the US to undemocratically wage wars for "protecting our self-interests" of continually acquiring and consuming resources. Capitalism demands resources, and in our case, "democratically" waged wars to obtain those resources, require a willing public to sacrifice blood and treasure towards that goal. It's all part of modern capitalism as practiced today - convincing the public, through deception, to sacrifice their blood and treasure to keep the whole system going for maximizing the bottom line of corporate profits. The beloved political-economic system keeps us addicted, enslaved and condemned to languish in a continuous cycle of acquisition through any means, including military aggression. After being manipulated by unpatriotic government officials and news networks to serve unpatriotic corporations and special interests, we believe we're being patriotic when waving our flags while we're actually throwing truth, freedom and democratic principles into the bin of the "Unnecessary and too Risky" for the powers that be. The entire system of control and manipulation is being run by less than one percent of the population for their guaranteed advantages, while on the other end, the system is rigged to keep the majority in perpetual servitude. And because American citizens are part of the system and contributing to it, in that sense they are an accessory to the crimes being committed against themselves.

The truth being known in all of this presents a danger for those who pull the strings keeping the slave camp operating, but so far, the propaganda campaigns have been successful in keeping the general public from recognizing the truth. When this reality is presented to the average America born citizen, chances are high they'll reflexively and automatically deny the truth as a form of self-defense. They simply don't want to accept the reality of their governments' betrayal, and many believe they're being patriotic by defending what they think America is, but again, they're defending lies when the truth is told. When people are held captive and trapped, hope and dignity can be cultivated through planned or spontaneous rebellion of one flavor or another - which might be the closest America will ever come to pulling itself up by the boot straps. But because roughly seventy percent of the general population doesn't think independently, they'll look to someone else or society in general when determining how to think and react; this fact is literally being banked on by those who mislead us through "our government" and "news media" while profiting at our expense and that of the entire world. If the prevailing winds, prevaricated by the government and news media, say there's no reason to rock the boat, then the majority will bow their heads and continue on as compliant slaves, just as we've seen over recent decades.

When it comes to obtaining foreign resources, America's "interests" often come at the expense of someone else. Converting a socialist leaning country, creating and aiding developing countries, or propping up dictators "friendly to western interests" can all work to enhance corporate profits with "privatizing the world" being part of the agenda. Under the table deals, coercion and outright military intervention, in any combination, are all being used to gain control of the world's resources. This is often done under the guise of the IMF, and World Bank, making loans to "help" developing countries. In all reality the IMF and World Bank are there to secure the rights to a country's natural resources, with the bottom line purpose again being corporate profits while having no concern for the indigenous people or anything else.

Corporate America is actively seeking to control water, farmland, mineral and energy rights all over the world. This all comes at the expense of human rights and lives, domestic and foreign. Very few, if any, of the ruling-class personally risk anything other than their personal integrity in these gambits. But everyday Americans, through propaganda, are persuaded to sacrifice their lives and tax money for use in the arsenal of weapons to beguile and wrestle the resources away from people in foreign lands. The powers that be are currently trying to tell the world we'll all be better off with rain water being corporately owned so they can charge human beings for being alive. Next on the agenda is privatizing sunshine which probably sounds absurd to everyone - just as the concept of owning land was incomprehensible to native Americans. Judging by the actions of the ruling-class and not their words, as long as they have enough slaves to manipulate, they don't care if American citizens or others must die so they can accomplish their primary goal of enriching themselves while controlling everything and everyone to that end. The wealthy and politically influential in the US are perfect examples of success in our overall corrupt capitalistic-democracy; while the rest of us are the epitome of failed dupes, having failed to exercise our democratic rights while being exploited. When summed up, the fact that Americans go along with all of this in the direction it's going, is ludicrous when considering the impact all of this is having on the earth's ecosystem (which can no longer be denied) - the ruling-class agenda is completely out of touch with reality - if the human race doesn't get it together soon, all those corporate profits will all be for naught anyway, and could possibly end up being what ends it all for the human race. We do enjoy our self-deceptions though, and denials of the truth, while as master escape artists acknowledging a destiny beyond our control we turn on our favorite televised entertainment as absolute proof.

Destiny is inevitable and unstoppable just like the need to show the world how powerful we were in 1945, by dropping atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima when the US had already known the Japanese were preparing to surrender. With special interests in mind, the US recognized ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as being legitimate starting before 1948 and continuing to this day. We can't leave out the CIA's roll in overthrowing democratically elected Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 Iran, only to install a murdering tyrant so the corporation now known as British Petroleum would benefit at the expense of the Iranian people. We had the Vietnam duo, with Henry Kissinger aiding Nixon's treason, which ultimately cost one million Vietnamese lives, twenty thousand American lives and one hundred thousand Americans wounded. For authorizing the Watergate scandal, Nixon later received a pardon from his personally designated successor. The overthrow of democratically elected Salvador Allende in 1973 Chile was backed by Nixon's CIA which supported the brutally repressive regime of Augusto Pinochet. Another illegal Kissinger duet with Gerald Ford started in 1975 East Timor. Then came Ronald Reagan and the arms for hostages' deal which circumvented Congress to supply weapons to Reagan's murderous Contras. There was the "just say no to drugs" when Reagan's CIA aided importing crack cocaine with the profits also illegally supporting the Contras' killing machine. The Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s was our largest wealth redistribution up to that time, with many of the well-connected, including the Bush family, profiting at the expense of tax payer dollars. With the 2003 Iraq war being part of the neocon strategy for "securing the realm", America was led to war through lies and deceit while the defense contractors made huge profits from the death and destruction at tax payers' expense, which we'll still be paying for decades from now. The 2008 economic meltdown resulted from the biggest financial rip-off and redistribution of wealth in the entire history of mankind, and while there was plenty of criminal activity on record, there were no prosecutions among the Wall Street ring leaders who orchestrated those crimes. Ultimately, after the 2008 economic collapse, the redistribution of wealth to the well-connected banks and their already wealthy stock holders, was again put on the tab of tax-paying slaves.

Our government escapes the consequences of these realities by manipulating the truth with the well-oiled propaganda machine. And by allowing Wall Street bankers to keep what they stole, and the press having no interest in holding anyone accountable, it all works out to continue bribing politicians with more "investment capital" in the form of "campaign contributions" from those same banks – and the US keeps right on moving toward the goal of lording over the entire world. It's all just part of America doing business as usual, served up by corporate and special interests influencing the unpatriotic duo of US government and main-stream media networks to manipulate the American public into unwitting support for corporate fascism. By all means the illusion of equality, liberty and justice through a disingenuous capitalistic-democracy must be kept alive by our government and news media. If not for the illusion, who or what would run the show?

... ... ...

[Oct 16, 2014] Bill Moyers Extended Interview with Andrew Bacevich

Amazing interview. Vivid condemnation of duplicity, intellectual impotence of neocons including Robert Kagan...
June 20, 2014 | billmoyers.com

BILL MOYERS: You have recently in "The Los Angeles Times" last week call for rethinking our relationship with Iran. Just as Nixon after Vietnam rethought and reshaped our relationship with our once mortal enemy, China. But that's the very thing right now, today, the neo-conservatives are opposing. They do not want to change our hostile relationship with Iran.

ANDREW BACEVICH: The fathers of today's neo-cons were among the people who, back in the 1960s and 1970s, were insisting that unless we fought on to final victory in Vietnam, that the consequences would be catastrophic. That the dominos would fall. That the communists would enjoy a great victory. That victory was not in the offing. And to his considerable credit, the cynical and in many respects amoral Richard Nixon realized that there was one way to salvage at least some positive aspects from this catastrophe in Vietnam.

And that was opening to China. Bringing China, beginning the process of bringing China back into the international community. Making China something other than an enemy of the United States. And that's what he did. And the notion now it seems to me is that if we had sufficiently bold and creative people guiding U.S. foreign policy today, they might consider a comparable turn with regard to Iran.

ANDREW BACEVICH: I think that it's manifestly the case that excluding Iran from the international order with the expectation that somehow peace and democracy are going to bloom in Iran, that that's failed. Iran is an important country. And in many respects, Iranian interests do coincide with American interests. And I think Iraq actually is an example of that.

BILL MOYERS: But the neo-cons are defiantly against collaborating with Iran for any reason because they see that as a potential threat to the survival of Israel.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, they do. And, I mean, the first point would be why should we listen to them at this stage of the game? But the second thing, I think, is to assess pragmatically this Iranian regime. Now it is possible to build the case, particularly back when Mr. Ahmadinejad was the President of Iran that this a country governed by madmen who wanted nothing more than to wipe Israel off the map and would be willing to sacrifice Iran itself in order to achieve that. It's possible to build that case.

But I think the case is a false one. I think that, first of all, Ahmadinejad is passed from the stage. We've got a new president. A new president's language is considerably different. But more broadly, if you look at the behavior of the Iranian regime, since the revolution back in the late 1970s, they've actually performed pretty rationally. They're not irrational. They're not madmen. They're people, frankly, who you can deal with if you can find those points of interest that coincide.

And my preference, as opposed to, confrontation with Iran, war with Iran, as indeed some neoconservatives would propose, my proposition would be that we should explore carefully whether or not that rational regime can be brought to a point where we can strike a deal with them.

BILL MOYERS: You asked, and I don't think it was rhetorically a moment ago, why should we be listening to them? And that raises the old question, how do they get the audience and the forum that they have despite a record of failure, deception, and as you say, duplicity?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I puzzle over that. And the only answer I've been able to come up with has to do with the mindset of Washington journalists. You know, the people who book you to come on the Sunday talk shows, the people who decide whether or not your op-ed submission's going to be accepted by the Washington Post are people who live within this bubble, this Washington milieu in which everything, it seems to me, gets viewed through the lens of partisanship.

Everything is assumed to be an issue of Republicans versus Democrats, left versus right. You know, the people who like Obama and the people who loathe Obama. And so when the booker for some network news show says, well, gosh, Iraq's falling apart. Who should we get to come on the show on Sunday? Their little rolodex turns up the pro-Iraq war, anti-Obama typical cast of characters.

Rather than thinking about, gosh, isn't this a historical development of very considerable magnitude. Who are the voices, who are the people who might have something to reflect on? Who are the people who have might have something to say that's simply not regurgitating the same sort of talking points that we heard last week and the week before?

I mean, I'm struck by how thin the intellectual discourse is when it comes to foreign policy. There was a time in this country when we had very serious thinkers who were taken seriously and who illuminated the fundamental difficulties that we faced in the world.

They weren't necessarily-- they didn't get everything right. But what they did was to challenge the conventional wisdom and invite people to look beyond simply the partisan debate of the day. I'm not sure who on our national stage today fills that sort of role. And frankly, the absence of these people is a great misfortune.

BILL MOYERS: What price do we pay for the absence of this critical thinking and inquiry?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, the debate that goes nowhere. I mean, it's the same talking points are endlessly repeated. That, you know, the warnings against isolationism. The demands for American global leadership, the comparisons with Adolf Hitler.

Whoever the bad guy of the day happens to be, he's cited as the next Hitler. The recollection of Munich and the warning against appeasement over and over and over again these points are repeated. And they don't illuminate.

BILL MOYERS: You wrote that a handful of randomly selected citizens of Muncie, Indiana would probably be more reliable on what to do than these oracles in Washington.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I was only half kidding. And what I mean by that is it seems to me that there-- that every day citizens would be more likely to view things realistically, pragmatically and would not be swayed by theological or ideological considerations.

... ... ...

Selected Skeptical Comments

Melwoolf

Wonderful show with Mr Bacevich who speaks such obvious truths. But how tragic for our country that we (on the outside of the Beltway) cannot pierce the untouchables (think tanks etc and politicians) who continue in their certainties. War, war, war. But never think, think, think. I recall Churchill saying "It is better to jaw-jaw than war-war". Why do we have such mediocre leaders and Washington journalists? Mr Moyers, I love you and am so thankful for your thoughtfulness and incredible programs.

joanne

Isn't the bottom-line really about oil production (or other major natural resources) and the distribution of profits? Why do we succumb to the rhetoric of violence and " national interest" rather than that of human development, public health, community well-being? Everyone, everywhere needs to co-create a livelihood within their cultural/environmental milieu. Destroying that, attempting to replace it with " western" corporate profiteering, in collusion with local despots, is disaster imperialism (as in Naomi Klein's Disaster Capitalism). Pundits and generals don't know how to create healthy eco-social communities. How can we help the UN encourage protection from the 147 interlocking corporate board of energy, finance, weapons manufacture? Where is the ethical leadership to refocus from "military solutions" to social and ecological solutions world-wide? Are war-mongers/gangsters inevitably in control due to ruthless violence and intimidation, propaganda??

anti-terrorUSt$

We never prosecute our war criminals and we even give the most heartless one new hearts, pensions and secret service protection. It's like letting Pol Pot and friends retire to plantations to let the Cheney cabal never pay for their crimes

grahamerussell

From Grahame Russell:

Why continue with the pretense, the charade, the fabrication
that this President, or that, Republican or Democrat, is following "bad advice"?

U.S. actions - economic, military, covert, etc. – across the planet, going back hundreds of years, continuing today, are American policy and culture at work.

U.S. interventions, direct and indirect, covert and overt, are intentional. War (in all of its manifestations) is a major U.S. economic industry, past and present. Within the context of any particular military action (covert, overt, direct, indirect, etc), mistakes might be made, … but let us stop pretending the over-all decisions are misguided policies.

For the most part, past and present, the policies and then ensuing actions are criminal. For the most part, since before its foundation as a nation state, these criminal war policies and actions are part and parcel of what the U.S.A. have been and continue being, as a nation state.

Charles Shaver

Bill, Andrew, another fine presentation of the facts but, as a former primarily diagnostic industrial electrician used to working on more complicated systems, I don't find the issues nearly as complex; it's arrogant, immoral, unconstitutional and just plain stupid for one percent of our five percent of the global population to feel entitled to tell all others how to live, especially while so much chaos, death, disease and destruction remains to be remedied at home. Then, generally, the best way to lead is to simply set a good example to, perhaps, preclude the majority of so much global civil and international turmoil and unrest.

After restoring America to a state of constitutionality I'd like to see any non-emergency U.S. aid made contingent upon the recipient adopting the kind of tri-lateral 'freedom of press, religion and speech' and 'promote the general welfare' of 'we the people' constitution and government the Founders prescribed for us so long ago. After allegedly 'winning' his so-costly war in Iraq, Bush had the opportunity to impose our Constitution on his new subjects and, possibly, preclude the resurgence of violence there today. Strange, it seems, that a former military man and U.S. President thought or thinks so little of what he swore time and again to support and defend from America's enemies both foreign and domestic; perhaps that higher Yale education he was spoon fed that I never even sought, to reserve a few brain cells for 'critical thinking.' I doubt we can expect much critical thinking from Obama either.

stillmm

The Iraqi adventure for American is mirror of the American Vietnam Adventure. Lies that justified entry into a war in a far-away country involving an foreign culture. In that war we withdrew 'with honor' by 'vietnamizing' the military effort and then watching it all collapse. We did not learn out lesson from that war. We have no right to nation build in a part of the world where we have no business to be.

transtowns

Haven't read all the comments yet but I have one word to say: Psychopaths. That who is running things and until we wise up and start studying and countering this fact, we are at their mercy. They DO NOT HAVE A CONSCIENCE.

Ron Moss

If you follow the money it becomes clear why the old arguments are now being repeated despite the horror that engulfed Iraq. Those who made the arguments then and are making them now do not care about the human consequences. They have been achieving their only goal; and they believe they can what was a very profitable venture; the transfer of $trillions from US taxpayers to Haliburton and cronies.

Perpetual war is profitable, especially when healthcare for veterans is not funded and the tax burden is carried by the Middle Class and investment returns are taxed at lower rates anyway.

Vera Gottlieb

With the latest Russo-phobia fad, it must not be forgotten that it was Russia who sacrificed the most people - civilian and military, during WW2: 30 million casualties. Ever since WW2, the US has done enough damage all over - perhaps it would be a good idea to turn 'isolationist' for a good while and give the planet a chance to recover while cleaning up the US backyard. Live and let live - who appointed the US policeman of anything. Were it not for oil, countries like Iraq, Libya - with more to come, would still live in peace instead of becoming piles of rubble.

The US needs to experience a war on its own territory, to see and feel what horrors of war are all about.

Klara Foeller -> pj1304

it's much more "loss" than you understand. unless you've been to that part of the world and see ALL the community monuments to the fallen in WWII WHICH ARE STILL TENDED; fresh flowers, shots of vodka etc... still being left by grand-children and great-grandchildren. buildings that still have WWII bullet holes and "dragons teeth" anti-tank devices still in place; turret towers turned into nests for storks. the point is that we exaggerate our role and diminish the roles of Great Britain, Russia, the Free French, Norwegians & Poles + who did more than there fair share and had huge civilian losses which the US did not see. we suffer from national solipsism.

Danielle Hensley -> Klara Foeller

Thanks Klara for your insight. I agree, the U.S. (younger generations who haven't been sent to war) don't know the same vastness of death. I won't speak for veterans and elder folks who lived through wars I did not. 9/11 was powerful for millennials, but it was nothing like fighting the Civil War NOW on this continent. We U.S. people have short memories....thanks again!!

rltmlt -> Vera Gottlieb

It's interesting to note that the GOP of that period were strong isolationist during the Depression years and fought any attempt by FDR to join those European countries who were fighting against the Nazis. FDR established an under the table relationship with American Manufacturers who were covertly building and shipping various types of material support to our allies in Europe. It took Pearl Harbor in 1941 to break the log jam in Congress and invoke a declaration of war that established American theatres of war in the Atlantic and Pacific regions. This action also had the added benefit of quickly ending the Great Depression that had dragged on for twelve years prior to America's entrance into the war !

Vera Gottlieb -> rltmlt

What a breath of fresh air to read something from someone who is aware of history and not hell bent on starting wars all over the globe just because might is right - which it isn't. The US population only represents about 5% of global population, yet it behaves as if it owns the entire planet. Well, it doesn't so it might as well fall in line with the rest of us mortals and behave in a civilized manner.

pj1304 -> rltmlt

Most Americans were isolationist after the horrors of WWi. Charles Lindbergh, one of the most popular of American Heroes spoke often and urged US not get involved. Americans didn't want to spend money to build military or increase troops. FDR carefully brought the public opinion along and when GOP saw money could be made in supplying Britain and Russia, they started to view it differently.

SufferinSuccotash,Moderate Reb

There's another aspect of the World War II narrative which Bacevich didn't mention, but which supports his view that the popular narrative isn't so much untrue as radically incomplete. That is the perception that the United States won the war.

That perception is radically incomplete. The United States, Great Britain, the USSR, China and a large number of resistance movements won the war. Most of the Japanese Army wasn't fighting the US Army. Most of the German Army wasn't fighting the US Army. These historical realities--commonplaces to serious students of the war--hardly surface in the most widespread popular perceptions of the war. And it's these perceptions, enduring over decades, which are deliberately and cynically manipulated by the Kagans and Kristols--people who are obviously well enough educated and informed to know better.

EU_Guy

I would love to see a discussion between Prof. Bacevich and Bill Kristol or some other Neoconservative on a Sunday morning talk show. Bacevich would tear their simplistic talking points to shreds. I would pay money to see that.

Centauriman -> EU_Guy

The Neoconservative would talk louder and constantly interrupt and shout down any facts or information that does not support his or her world view. Ludicrous snickering, faces, and pop-culture put downs would win any debate as they have since Karl Rove and the GOP's emotional echo chamber has made mush of any standards for factual and logical arguments in political debate.

They pretty much changed the rules for debate when W was running. Shrewd yes, constructive, not.

Star Messenger -> Daniel Parker

Yes, Dr. Bacevich IS on the mark; but he was stating the obvious.

Anyone who can separate ideology, and political hysteria, from current, or past news events, will always come to a different conclusion than, say, the Neocons. To the Neocons, every war is a good war - and is worth fighting. Yeah, it's worth fighting, but ONLY if they, and their loved ones, don't have to do the fighting.

People like Dick Cheney would invariably say when interviewed: "Don't you support the troops"? But, when it was "his turn" to fight (in Vietnam) he somehow, found a way to get five (5) deferments!

Also, the Military/Industrial Complex is another group that always wants war. Well, why not? They stand to make billions on war materiel - not to mention what companies like Halliburton will make after we destroy a country's infrastructure.

And, this latest "crisis" called "ISIS" or, "ISIL", was created and funded by the U.S., and NATO. (Do some research to see if I'm right) So now, the U.S., and its' western allies, have started to wring their hands again over, "what to do".

I just wonder how much this next war is going to cost the U.S. - to the detriment of its' people.

[Oct 16, 2014] Bill Moyers And Andrew Bacevich On 'The Duplicity Of The Ideologues'

June 23, 2014 | crooksandliars.com

The full transcript and a link to the extended interview are available at the link. I'll share a bit of Moyers' intro here as well.

BILL MOYERS: They said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could turn the smoking gun into a mushroom cloud, and they were wrong. They said Iraq had ties to Al Qaeda, and they were wrong. They said the war would be a cakewalk, and they were wrong. Over and again they were wrong, yet 11 years, thousands of lives, millions of refugees, and trillions of dollars later, the very same armchair warriors in Washington who from the safety of their Beltway bunkers called for invading Baghdad, are demanding once again that America plunge into the sectarian wars of the Middle East.

A chorus of kindred voices fills the echo chamber: the same old faces, the same old arguments, never acknowledging the phony premises and fraudulent intelligence that led to disaster and chaos in the first place. A headline at the website ThinkProgress sums it up: "The People Who Broke Iraq Have A Lot of Ideas About Fixing It Now."

Among the most celebrated of these hawks is Robert Kagan, senior fellow with the Brookings Institution. A darling of the neocons, he's been a foreign policy adviser to John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Hillary Clinton. In 2002, he and William Kristol wrote that for the war on terrorism to succeed, Saddam Hussein must be removed. When George W. Bush set out to do just that, Kagan cheered him on, and then, in 2006, called for a surge in American troop levels to prevent Iraq's collapse.

Now Robert Kagan is stirring controversy again with this lengthy article in "The New Republic," "Superpowers Don't Get To Retire: What our tired country still owes the world." He calls for America to return to muscular, global activism.

Kagan's much-discussed article brought a sharp riposte from another scholar and historian who sees the world and America's role differently. Andrew Bacevich has seen the horrors of war too closely to advocate more of the same policies that failed in Vietnam and Iraq. A graduate of West Point with 23 years in the military, including time in Vietnam, he teaches history at Boston University, writes best-selling books on foreign policy, and articles and essays in journals both liberal and conservative, like this critique of Kagan in "Commonweal" magazine titled, "The Duplicity of the Ideologues." Welcome back.

[Oct 13, 2014] What is a Neo-Conservative

Neoconservatism emphasizes foreign policy as the paramount responsibility of government, seeing the American role of world's sole superpower as indispensable to establishing and maintaining global order. As neo-con godfather Irving Kristol once said, a neo-conservative is a ''liberal who was mugged by reality.'' Neo-cons generally originated on the left side of the political spectrum and some times from the far left.

A neo-conservative individual tends to philosophically believe in a majority of these political positions. It's not a perfect list, but generalizations of a neo-con leaning philosophy:

[Oct 08, 2014] The Seething Anger of Putin's Russia

Quote: "In modern history, no U.S. administration has proved more inept at dealing with Russia.". Dspite typical for US MSMs large amount of neocon, Fox news inpired and absurd comments there are several commentators well worth reading (see below)
The Atlantic

....The U.S. did not have to travel down this road, but it did, and there appears to be no way to turn back-or no way leaders in the West or Russia are prepared to take. The newly precarious state of affairs derives, in great measure, from a failure on the part of Western, and mostly American, leaders to understand Russia, which they should have tried to do, given its strategic importance, nuclear arsenal, continental dimensions, natural resources, and potential as a troublemaker-or dealmaker-in many troubled parts of the world. It also stems from America's refusal to recognize Russia's concern about the eventual expansion of NATO, a military bloc inherently inimical to it, into more terrain along its western border-terrain that is closer to Moscow than the Baltics. How would the United States react to a Russian incursion in the Western hemisphere? This is no hypothetical question. In 1962, President Kennedy took the world to the brink of atomic war to force the Soviet Union to withdraw its nuclear missiles from Cuba.

A deal ended that confrontation, and one is needed now. But to strike one, Western leaders would have to reassess their view of, and policies toward, Russia. Russia, for reasons of history, culture, size, and geography, is what it is: not Western, not Eastern, but sui generis, its own world. Predicating policy on the hopes of a peaceful uprising and the triumph of democracy here-or, conversely, on predictions of the country's collapse, with a new, West-friendly government emerging from the rubble-is futile. In the same vein, announcements of economic sanctions designed to make Russia "pay" for annexing Crimea or stirring up trouble in eastern Ukraine ring hollow to Russian ears.

And with good reason....

... In any case, Russia has set about decoupling from the West, concluding a major hydrocarbons deal with China, helping Iran weather the effects of Western sanctions, planning its own alternative to the interbank messaging serstitutions to counter the World Bank and the IMF. It could at any moment derail the United States' withdrawal from Afghanistan; the route home for American troops and materiel leads across Russia. Moscow cannot be bullied into changing course.

While Putin is undeniably popular in Russia now, I am not arguing that Russian democracy has survived. It has not. But Putin's icy demeanor, agate-blue eyes, and judo-trained physique all befit the current mood in Russia: seething anger over everything lost with the fall of the Soviet Union-superpower status, national pride, a generous social-welfare state, a low crime rate, and more. Democracy, barely tried in the 1990s, did not confer those things on Russia. Putin-plus high oil prices-did. Or such is the popular perception.

Whether or not Westerners agree with how Putin rose to power or rules today, they need to recognize that in the interests of peace and stability, Russia's interests have to count and be accommodated in some way. Russia must have a place at the table. The West did not exclude it (entirely) during the Cold War years. It cannot afford to do so now.

Nikita Glushkov > Riley 1066

"He is this and that by definition" is, by definition, an example of crude partisan hackery. If you want to be taken seriously, at least attempt to back up your arguments with evidence. Questionable privatisation, corruption and cronyism is what happens when a given group of elites captures the apparatus of the state - these phenomena are found in every modern society and their presence is merely a matter of degree, and do not provide evidence of dictatorship, merely that people with power use it to enrich themselves and their friends.

"Steals other peoples money regularly" - Which people and and on what occasions ? Evidence ?

By the way, in case you are trying, as your brethren often do, to canonize Khodorkovsky as a glorious freedom fighter, its worth reminding you that his wealth was ill-gotten during the Yeltsin years. Putins popularity is not a mystery - During his tenure, living standards for the majority of the population, especially the dozens of millions of people who live outside the big cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg have improved vastly, especially when compared with the 90s. People buy cars and consumer goods, take foreign vacations, etc. etc. etc. Putin's electorate is not located in the capital - thus the 60% with which he won the election is not unpredictable - those percentages represent the percentage of the population who have been the biggest beneficiaries of the Putin years.

If we conclude, as is obvious, that corruption and nepotism is a feature of all governments and the elites who man them, It becomes clear that is not corruption or nepotism that Washington and its lackeys are concerned about, but rather the unwillingness of Moscow to dance to Washington's tune.

Bulos Qoqish > Nikita Glushkov

He's not a "dictator" in the strict sense of the word. But he IS a classic, far-Right, nationalist, jingoist, manipulative, corrupt demagogue, who cynically abuses mob hysteria (particularly on topics like "NATO encirclement", "support for our Russian-speaking brothers and sisters being 'oppressed' in places like Ukraine and the Baltic States", "re-building our military so we're feared by every other country", "Russia is favored by God, so says the Patriarch of Moscow" and most of all, homophobia) to advance his personal political popularity.

In other words, he's reading right from the U.S. Republican playbook, going at least as far back as Ronnie Rayguns. He's certainly learned from the best... hasn't he? All you right-wing Republicans and Tea Partiers should be proud. Congratulations, Dr. Frankenstein, the experiment was a success!

Bulos Qoqish > Riley 1066

So there is absolutely NO justification -- of any type, under any circumstances, whatsoever -- for Russian "anger" with the West in general, or the United States in particular... do I have that right?

What typical, self-righteous, U.S. neo-con nonsense posturing.

IAF101 > Riley 1066

Who are YOU to decide what is "legitimate" ? Who gave you that authority ??

What makes Obama "legitimate" ? What makes George W Bush "legitimate" ?? What makes Reagan "legitimate" ??

Putin has higher approval ratings in Russia than Obama ever had in America today. What does that tell you ?

You or your country are not the sole arbiter of what's "legitimate", "just", "right" or wrong. First, hand over George W Bush to the ICC for War crimes trials for illegally invading Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Guantanomo, rendition flights, waterboarding etc - THEN come and question Putin's legitimacy or Russia's "aggression".

Bulos Qoqish > Riley 1066

Whatever you think of Putin personally (and as I have stated elsewhere, I think he's a cynical demagogue), his election as President of Russia (not to mention the election to the Duma), was far, FAR more "free and fair" than ANY national level American election, what with its gerrymandering, 2-party oligopoly, minority voter suppression, absurd over-representation of thinly-populated, rural, white, conservative jurisdictions (Montana gets the same number of Senators as California), antiquated "Electoral College" system, and, last but certainly not least, its grotesquely-inflated amounts of money spent by rich people and corporations to buy elections.

Don't like hearing that, my American friends? Don't like hearing the (true) statement that an average Russian, has far more say over his or her government, via elections, than does the average American?

Then SHUT THE F UP, go fix your system, clean it up, and THEN come back to me with your self-righteous accusations of "rigged Russian elections". Until you do that, don't you DARE lecture me (or any foreigner), about "democracy". You wouldn't know it, if it bit you on the leg.

Bulos Qoqish > Riley 1066

How about "you're bluffing with a hand of deuces, pardner".

What's the matter?

I guess you're more comfortable debating people who don't know very much about how your country really works (as opposed to the propaganda version of it, that the U.S. nationalist Right, wants everyone else to believe in)? Are you maybe unprepared for a POV that doesn't come from, say, FOX (sic.) "News"?

Don't get me wrong. I have no special hate for the United States. There are many sensible, peaceful, reasonable Americans, some of whom are my friends. The American political system (while antiquated and grossly unrepresentative of the wishes of 90% of its voters), isn't hugely worse than equally-bad systems in some other so-called "Western Democracies". It's just that you then get up on this high horse and start calling yourself "exceptional".

It's drivel, and outside your country, we know it is. Before you take it upon yourself to try to fix Ukraine's (and Russia's... or Syria's... or Iraq's... or... "anyone's") problems, how about you fix up your own, and THEN come back and tell us how "perfect" and "exceptional" you are.

Bulos Qoqish > Riley 1066

Ah, I see, I SEE -- everybody who disagrees with your U.S.-triumphalist, Russophobic POV is an "idiot"... do I have that right?

I guess the world must be just FILLED with "idiots", with all the "smart" people (like you) exclusively populating "God's 'exceptional' country"... right? (Funny, you know... from the way it looks out here, it seems much more like the other way around. Maybe that has to do with repeated street-level tests where the Average American voter can't place either Iraq, Ukraine, or -- for that matter -- even India, on a globe or map.)

Now as to your comments about the political situation in the United States and your supposed (I think, feigned... but as I don't know you personally, I'll have to give you the benefit of the doubt) abhorrence of the crew of right-wing lunatics (e.g. the Koch Brothers, FOX "News" and the whole lot of 'em) to whom I referred in an earlier posting.

Bulos Qoqish > Riley 1066

To which "totalitarian friends" of mine do you refer, sir? If you had read any of my postings (I guess you're not much up on "reading", are you?), you'd have seen that I have roundly condemned Putin and his clique.

YOUR problem, sir, is that I condemn ALL totalitarians and authoritarians -- including the cruel, jingoistic, cynical, 2-party elite plutocracy and oligopoly that runs the United States. You're fine with people yelling at America's "devil figure of the week" (happened to be Putin a few weeks ago, this week it's ISIS, a few months ago it was Iran's leadership, next month it'll be someone different... names and faces change, but the song remains the same, because fundamentally it's an exercise in propaganda and media manipulation), but you get mad when I point the finger back at your own country.

Remember what they say about people who live in glass houses?

Bulos Qoqish > Riley 1066

Are you hard of hearing? How many times do I have to (re)explain that I despise Vladimir Putin and his clique of crony-capitalist stooges?

The real reason you keep repeating nonsense like "you defend Putin" is that your simplistic, "four legs good, two legs bad", pro-American, anti-Russian propaganda narrative can't account for someone like me, who likes NEITHER Putin NOR his U.S. elite antagonists.

Well... too bad, squire. The world is a complex place and "the enemy of my enemy ISN'T (always) my friend". That's the truth, whatever you may be hearing back in "God's 'exceptional' country."

Srikanth > Riley 1066

The western governments are just a power hungry, blood leeching community; first of all they should stop interfering in to issues of other countries -- in the name of humanitarian aid they should stop invading other countries...Western media - a propaganda machine, should stop spreading false news, they just brainwash ppl with false news. USA is the biggest dictator in the world, they try to dictate foreign policies of other nations, sanctions are their primary weapon, they are just bad !

I hope the power centre will move to Russia and Asia, so that there will be a power balance in this world....

Brendon Jaramillo > Srikanth

cultural misunderstanding. we live on one planet. and win win situations do exist. if only russians werent so paranoid and understood economics.

Bulos Qoqish > Srikanth

I agree with your depiction of the Western governments (and their motivations); but it's naive of you to think that Russia -- particularly under Putin or another leader cut from the same cloth -- would likely be any better. Historical precedent suggests otherwise.

The world doesn't NEED a "policeman". The world needs to enforce international law and stop larger powers from bullying smaller ones... whether that's the U.S. bullying (for example) Venezuela, or Russia bullying Ukraine.

Bulos Qoqish > IAF101

"America seems to believe they can do anything without consequences."

Of course they do. They're "exceptional", you see.

Being "exceptional" means that America gets to do things (like, "kidnap helpless victims off the streets of foreign lands and spirit them away for torture and years of arbitrary confinement, in a world-wide Gulag of political prisons", "launch bombing raids against countries with which one is not at war", "invade and occupy other nations", "threaten first use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear opponents", "ignore treaty obligations", "ignore U.N. resolutions", "apply its own domestic laws, extra-territorially, in other countries around the world", "exempt its soldiers and mercenaries from local laws, even when they rape and murder citizens of other countries", "violently intervene in the internal affairs of other nations", etc., etc. etc.) that -- if undertaken by ANY OTHER NATION -- would immediately have screams of outrage emanating from the Washington, D.C. plutocratic elite, along with demands for "America's young 'heroes' in the Armed Forces to 'teach this lawless enemy a thing or two' about the norms of international conduct" (the cruise missiles would be flying within the hour).

That this nonsense propaganda -- which IS the unquestioned state dogma of official Washington and the U.S. military-industrial plutocracy (including so-called "liberals" like Obama) -- is simply Soviet-style agitprop, is so painfully obvious as not to merit further elaboration. Any American politician who dares to suggest that the United States isn't, in fact, "God's 'exceptional' nation, mandated by the Lord Himself to divinely 'lead' the rest of the world to Truth, Justice and the American Way", will be immediately ruled out of contention (by the pundits of the elite media) for national public office -- particularly the Presidency. There is a level of monolithic elite agreement on this subject that rivals, for example, Soviet-era doctrine on "democratic centralism". The only real difference is what's on the flags, and the language that the propaganda is spoken in.

What worries ME, frankly, is that having become used to playing the "exceptional" card almost exclusively against weaker nations (or failed states) such as Iraq, Yemen and Serbia, the U.S. elite -- facing steady economic decline at home and needing something else to distract American workers from their falling standard of living -- will at some point think that they can get away with it, against a country that can and will call the U.S. elite's bluff. It might come in a confrontation with Russia over Eastern Ukraine, or possibly with China over the South China Sea. Maybe it will come somewhere that we can't yet imagine.

But when that day comes -- as surely it will, given the mindless, jingoistic belligerence, siege mentality, opportunism and cynicism of the U.S. military-industrial-plutocratic elite (and particularly, its Republican / Tea Party lunatic right wing fringe... these are guys who make Vladimir Putin look like Mother Theresa) -- I am really, really afraid of what might happen next.

After all... an "exceptional" nation, never backs down, after it has started a confrontation... does it?

Start digging your shelter.

David Giles > MatterOverMind

Actually, you are completely wrong. The USA started the fire. First by starting a war against Gadaffi and overthrowing a long standing Russian ally. Then by training and arming Muslim Extremists in Jordan to launch an insurrection in Syria, then by using chemical weapons in Syria in an attempt to discredit Assad and justify direct American intervention. Remember Oclown's red line. Despite the massive howls of the American public against action in Syria, Oclown was going to bomb Syrian military forces anyways. That is until Russia moved their Black Sea Fleet out of Sevastopol Crimea into the Mediterranean in front of Syria and told the US that attacking Syria would mean war and quote from Putin and Medvedev "once wars start their is no telling where they can lead, nuclear war is possible".

Oclown backed down from attacking Syria. But in response to Russia's defense of Syria the USA CIA and State Department gave $5 billion dollars to criminal gangs in Ukraine to stage an uprising against the legitimately elected government of Ukraine. They then sent in their special forces snipers that they have used in several civil disturbances to cause them to get violent, Libya and Syria being two examples. The goal in toppling the Ukrainian government is multifaceted; the biggest prize being depriving Russia of the use of the navy base in Crimea. We know how that turned out NOT!

Other goals include capturing the newly discovered vast natural gas fields in Western Ukraine and developing those fields to supply Western Europe's energy needs. Doing this deprives Russia of much needed funds through the sale of their natural gas to Europe. Further, 90% of Russia's natural gas sales to Europe go through pipelines in Ukraine. Physically controlling these pipelines puts the West in a much stronger position to negotiate prices for Russian gas as the Western Ukrainian fields are brought on line. Or so they think.

The likely scenario is Russia is going to get really pissed and cut off the flow of gas right in the middle of winter. America will try and take up the slack by shipping liquified natural gas in tanker ships. Expect severe disruption of this attempt both in US and European ports.

In the meantime, Al-Maliki in Iraq was aligning with Iran and consequently Russia and refused to sign the status of forces agreement with Oclown. Because of ongoing failures in Syria, Oclown turned his ISIS creation loose on Iraq to disrupt and over turn the Al-Maliki government. It didn't matter to Oclown and the leaders in Washington that countless thousands have been brutally murdered by their ISIS puppet. Now using the pretext of combating their own creation they are again calling for bombing Syria and arming "moderate" rebels. However, the truth on the ground speaks volumes. ISIS is driving US military vehicles and using US made weapons. As soon as Congress passed the aid bill, just days ago, ISIS made huge advances in Syria. This is no coincidence as the US military and Intelligence Agencies had the weapons on site and ready for transfer before the bill was signed. That is why it only took days from signing the bill to ISIS gaining control of more cities in Syria.

What you really need to understand is what this is all about. BANKING and control of the worlds monetary system.

Every country the US invades or topples doesn't support the IMF and World Bank but are debt slaves to those institutions after invasion is complete. And many including Syria, Iraq, and Libya planned on a new gold standard that would undermine the US dollar's control of global oil markets.

Even in this article (a well written one), it mentions Russia's creation of alternatives to the IMF and World Bank. This is the real reason the West is trying to go to war with Russia. Putin has often openly spoke of combating a global evil, one out to control all nations and install a world government, an evil who's most public face is the IMF and World Bank. Putin is a religious man as is most of Russia today. It would not surprise me if they see Satan behind the West Globalist institutions, certainly Iran doesn't hesitate to say that is the case.

And while you may think that taking down these regimes is good and the US has peoples best interests at heart...and that we are the good guys. Look at the results of ALL of the Arab Spring. Look at our ally Saudi Arabia driving tanks into Bahrain to put down that countries democratic uprising. That western media neglected invasion of a sovereign nation by a totalitarian state to put down people demanding freedom and democracy, an invasion called for and supported by Washington because the people of Bahrain would tell the USA to get the F out of their nation and take their navy base with them if they ever had a voice.

Your simplistic view of the events transpiring in the world indicates you need to lay of the US MSM koolaid.

provocateur > David Giles

Funny, most nations don't have a problem with the world bank..only backwards, intolerant, self important countries like Russia do. Whats that? They don't like dancing to the American's tune? Well build a better country and then you can call the shots. Until then, post rambling, incoherent nonsense (like your post) or kindly shut up. People realize how terrible this planet would be with Russia in charge.

Nikita Glushkov > provocateur

Your comment provides an interesting insight into the American imperial psychosis - "Well build a better country and then you CAN CALL THE SHOTS." You literally are functionally incapable of concieving that other great powers are not motivated by a desire "to call the shots" everywhere in the world. You forget that Putin does not go on television talking about "Indispendible Russia Leadership, only about local Russian national interests. You forget that only in Washington do the power elites peddle self-serving propaganda about "American global leadership." It would be great if Washington stopped forcing itself down everyone's throats and focused it's interests on it's own immediate borders, but they aren't going to do that, are they ? They would rather send Mrs. Nuland of the State Department to stage right-wing coups in Kiev. We don't want to be in charge of the world, we want Washington to stop cocking it up in our local sphere of influence.

Funny, plenty of nations and international organization, especially those that represent developing economies, have problems with the World Bank, primarily because of it's promotion of the Washington concensus and conditional predatory lending that eviscerates pensions, social spending and domestic production and investment and perpetuates a vicious cycle of dependency whereby the developing world is forced to provide raw materials to the Western nations, who then create added value which the producers never see. It's really very simple.

provocateur > Nikita Glushkov

Yeah yeah. Russia just wants everyone to get along in their multi-polar pinko paradise. The World Bank, and global economy in general is primarily an American institution as it is based on rampant capitalist ideals. You are clearly (and maybe rightfully so) frustrated at what you see as American hegemony in the financial arena. That's what happens when the state of California makes more money than 80% of the countries on Earth. As I said before, when poor, bullied Russia gets that kind of power, I wonder if you will still be whining?

Nikita Glushkov > provocateur

What on earth are you blathering on about ? Did you bother reading my comment above at all ? We couldn't care less who "gets along" in a "pinko paradise" - we have always operated on the assumption that individual states engage in policy actions motivated by their proprietary interests and this ensures a durable, if imperfect balance of stability in the world system. Like I said, WE, unlike your people in Washington, don't presume that for some reason, we are fit to tell other states how to conduct their affairs near their borders. We couldn't care less which countries the World Bank is currently beggaring, as long as Washington keeps it various institutional attack dogs away from our doorstep. Why is that concept so hard for you to grasp ? The State of California makes more money than 80% of individual sovereign states ? - care to provide evidence for that fantastical claim ? Russia would have been "bullied" in this case if we allowed Obama to get away with Ukraine in one piece - as it is, our goal, guaranteed non-expansion of NATO, has been achieved at relatively little cost and the immediate threats to our national security have been brought under control. We don't have designs for global domination. because we operate under the assumption, unlike Washington, that it's an impossible goal. So, no, we won't acquire "that kind of power" (whatever that means) because acquiring "that kind of power" was never on the agenda to begin with - leave us alone in our backyard, and we won't bother you in yours. How difficult is that to wrap your head around ?

provocateur > Nikita Glushkov

Just blindly assuming that I'm American because I dont agree with your tin foil hat theories. Im from England. Typical Russian flattering himself about how NATO wants to encircle your country. Only a Russian could not see the irony of a massive bloated nation crushing its neighbor and then making claims about how you are being "bullied." Also, LOL @ "world domination." Your paranoia is truly incredible.

Maybe the countries next to you are ASKING to join NATO because Russia is a deceitful menace to them? Isn't that more probable than whatever Nazi Alien Anti-capitalist rant you are spouting? Your writing doesn't do much to dismiss the widely held image of Russians as cabbage eating, drunken liars.

DrOph > David Giles

I see where your heart is, which is nice. But your intel is all mixed up. The fact that this exchange has garnered so much attention (regardless of the poor perspectives they both offer) is a testament to the prevailing ignorance which reigns supreme in the world. Thank god nobody cares about comments. Read the article. This is a very well articulated and reasoned piece. Heed this warning, and check this hideous rashness

Bulos Qoqish > David Giles

What I'd like to know is, "if a group of far-Left revolutionaries (including a large number of Trotskyists who were publicly pledging to 'cleanse Mexico of its filthy Jewish capitalist scum'), who were dissatisfied with the outcome of a recent election in Mexico and with the pro-American policies of the resulting Mexican government, started staging a series of violent street demonstrations in Zocalo Plaza -- thereby resulting (eventually) in the violent overthrow of the elected Mexican government, and its replacement by a far-Left successor regime far more friendly to Russia or Cuba... what would be the reaction of the United States?"

Because substitute "Mexico" for "Ukraine" and "United States" for "Russia", and there you have an EXACTLY parallel situation.

Yet America whines and shrieks about Russia's behavior. I would suggest that you Americans check the history books regarding your own track record, in Latin America, before you entertain us with your stupid posturing about "the awful Russians".

Nikita Glushkov > SgtKonus

I'd wager it's because there cannot exist separate standards for the foreign policies of various great powers - unless said separate standards can be enforced. In a world of realist power politics, it is nonsensical and disingenuous for one power to attack another for not being moral, friendly, or nice, when the prevailing state of the world is one where being moral, friendly or nice will compromise your security and survival. Feel me ?

hailexiao > Bulos Qoqish

If we instigated and supporteds separatist/US annexationist movements in Baja California and Coahuila, we would be in the wrong, just as Russia is in the wrong right now. Just because we won't do any better doesn't mean Russia or anyone who acts similarly isn't also wrong. Glass houses need to be broken by thrown rocks anywhere they exist without exception.

Bulos Qoqish > hailexiao

Suppose "we" (by "we" I assume you mean "the United States"... remember, I'm not an American) did that (note that you are, here, disingenuously implying that ALL the separatist movements in Crimea and Ukraine were purely and simply created by the Russians, out of whole cloth, and that they have absolutely no popular support in places like Crimea or Donetsk... an assertion that is obviously false).

It would still not make America's likely reaction any different. So the entire point is irrelevant. The point IS, of course, that, in true, hypocritical "U.S. exceptionalist" style, all of the Russia-baiters on these forums are frothing at the mouth to denounce Russia for doing things that their own country also does (actually, does much worse), on a routine basis.

Whether or not this kind of nonsense propaganda is appealing to Americans, I can personally attest that it has ZERO credibility or traction, outside of "God's 'exceptional' country".

Nobody out here particularly likes Putin or his cynical tactics in Ukraine. But the United States comes into this dispute as a hopelessly tainted, discredited interlocutor. America's past track record of gross violations of international law and cavalier disregard for the rights of less powerful nations, disqualifies it from being a positive force not only in this dispute... but in ALL disputes.

Jack P > David Giles

Cogent post. Thought I'd mention it because I've been through the ringers dealing with the drivel on the Russia-Ukraine situation, and commiserate. Apparently anarchists, communists, progressives, some libertarians like Ron Paul, socialists, syndicalists, and others are Putin trolls or Kremlin shills because they contradict the State Department party line. Better yet, Larry King,, Amy Martin on Breaking the Set, and economist Max Keiser are Putin trolls because they're on Russia Today. The brainwashed boneheadedness of many of these commentators is rather pathetic.

Hristo > mtbr1975

First off. As everybody knows it started with a coup against the legit Ukrainian government. This coup was initiated and backed by US mainly and EU following the "bigger brother", cause this is what they best do. They are followers. Secondly the russian "invasion" actually never happened. It wasn't confirmed by any of the official observers. Ukrainian government came up with it cause they were ashamed of loosing to significantly smaller army. So they needed an explanation. And knowingly that the west is going to hope in the wagon for political reasons they invented the "russian invasion".

Hristo > xi557xi

"an agent of irrational Russian behavior"

Wow finally you called somebody to come and help you with the writhing. Unfortunately for you it sounds, how to put it mildly - stupid. Send this person back home. You were doing better without him. Now some answers:
1. Russia proposed cheap gas and 15 billion USD loan to Ukraine. EU proposed-wait for it-nothing. Yanukovych of course the pragmatic he is new that it will take years for the Ukrainian economy to be able to integrate with EU. So he chose the logical one. That is the truth. Everything else is just your wet dreams.
2. It is good that you have evolved as a result of our discussion and now you acknowledge that there wasn't a Russian invasion. If there is (and this is a big if) any " Russian military officers, vehicles, weapons, equipment, and training involved" it is only fair since there are American such in Ukraine. Somebody's got to level the play field, eh
3. I don't know but I would guess that you do. Since the Dutch in their report didn't come with an answer either, one may suggest that you probably was the one shooting the plane, cause this is the only way to now with any certainty.

Jack P > Kevin

"Supported various genocides such as Syria." That's a real howler. The anti-Syria jihadists - the origin of IS - was supported by US/NATO via Turkey and the CIA. Yeah, I'm sure that conflict had nothing to do with Georgia's independent policies that irked the kremlin" is a classic straw man argument. It doesn't refute that Georgia and Saakashvili, with arm stockpiles provided by the US, perpetrated the murderous assault on South Ossetia. Chechnya is Russian Federation land. And yes, there is evidence that Russia has shown itself to be "caring humanitarians." Witness the three aid convoys bringing food, water and other supplies to Eastern Ukraine. What exactly has Kiev brought to that region?

Bulos Qoqish > MatterOverMind

"Appeasement". The standard, nonsense "nuclear weapon" used by the U.S. neo-con Far Right to shut off debate and stop any intelligent, reasoned, fact-based discussion of any topic that the Right doesn't want to examine.

How typically... "American".

Nikita Glushkov > MatterOverMind

Yes, my man, a fine question. Let's examine the history, shall we ? At the end of the 80s, Gorbachev, bless his heart, decided to pretend that realist great power politics ceased to exist and decided to unilaterally surrended Soviet interests on out Eastern border. In return, his naive expectation was in the absence of a "threat", Washington and it's West European lackeys would do the same. in fact, Baker, then Bush Srs. Secretarty of State, told Gorbachev clearly that if he were to allow the reunification of Germany, NATO would not be advanced, and I quote here, "not even an inch to the East." We know very well with hingsight that those promises were shat upon - instead, we got a Clinton-manufactured war to dismantle Serbia and make Kosovo essentially a huge offshore US military base, we got pretty obvious NATO expansion, we got Bush-era attempts to place so-called ABM installations on our borders (Oh, don't pay any mind to the fact that there are outside your door, they are actually aimed at the Iranians. What, the Iranians have no long range missiles ? Oh well.) So don't give me Putin restablishing the Soviet empire shtick, it's just juvenile. Thoughout this crisis, we have made clear that we will be perfectly satisfied with a non-aligned, neutral Ukraine along the Finland model - because that is the only sitation that allows for the preservation of our security interests. Putin, unlike your people,

boca_grande

Russia, has always wanted to be part of Europe. St. Petersburg was a testament to that wish, a capital built in Europe and meant to impress Europe's then heads of state. (Royal Europe) but Russia was barely European mostly Asian. And it's early history was not civilized as was Europe. Millions of uneducated surfs wedded to the land, no hope of emancipation. After this emancipation in the revolution came an expanded more enlightened population, but also a feeling of national inferiority lingered. Everything had to be Russian and big, not the best, but the biggest. The communist system failed and this empathized their degree of sophistication in governing, manufacturing and arts. Yes, Americans managed to insult the Russians, but I think they would have never really integrated with the west, as this Raw Russian history would prevail and they would have turned away from the civilized west. They see the west as decadent, and reject principles we impose on them like the extreme degree's of free speech etc.

Putin is trying to build a Russia with more discipline and control then the west. Something like the US was in the 50's. It will be time that tells just what will come of it. Putin shows his citizens how he can thumb his nose at the EU and US and get away with it. And China is going right along with him. They are forming a new hemisphere more energetic and exciting, the west just isn't offering. The tables are turning way from he west and they know it. American leaders realize the same but don't know what to do. Cut debt??? I think the only thing the world knows universally, is American leadership has faltered and the world is in a mess or influx.

David Giles > boca_grande

The Civilized West you mention created ISIS and is currently arming them despite that organizations brutal, murderous, genocidal behavior. They are doing this to take down nations that don't adhere to their banking systems. The great civilized west killing for money again. Russia has no desire to align with the godless, homo loving, baby killing west.
American leadership has not faltered, it has failed. It has failed to live up to its oath of office for over 100 years now, all selling out to the One World Government movement and betraying the American public and nation.

End the Federal Reserve, end fiat currency, end the license to steal and kill.

Jack P > SgtKonus

Only partially true. The US/NATO was arming and training Al Nusra in Turkey to go into Syria. The CIA was also involved. Of interest is that well-known picture of McCain meeting with several of the "legitimate" opposition in Syria. Who's t he guy sitting across from McCain, front left (those who want to can easily find the pic). He ends up being the head of ISIS.

Jack P > SgtKonus

Link to a treatment of McCain purportedly meeting the "legitimate Syrian opposition." The author of the commentary contacted the McCain camp wondering if he was meeting a later ISIS head. At first they said it wasn't the same person, to which the author asked for the name. They didn't provide it. So either it is a cover-up, or McCain and his camp didn't vet who he was meeting. In the case of the latter, it puts to shame the point that arms were being shipped to non-radical elements in Turkey and Syria.

http://www.bollyn.com/#article...

Bob > provocateur

Wow, you really are deluded. Well try then Saudi Arabia. How many be headings and stoning s have they performed this year? And this differs from ISIS how? And they are whose allies? This thing about Iraq's weapons is hog wash and just a phony alibi.

SWalkerTTU > Laura

Maybe we should consider the policy of the Roman Empire, which Tacitus (I think?) sarcastically described as "They make a desert and call it peace."

Laura > SWalkerTTU

What peace is, is a complex thing. If everyone is dead, that's pretty peaceful. If one side is cowed into silence, that's peaceful.

Jack P > vkg123

Not deep in the woods at all. Given that there are Chechen separatist terrorists in the area who are going under the radar after Russia gaining control of the territory. Some of the volunteers who went to East Ukraine were formerly fighting the terrorists - or separatists however you want to look at it - in previous Chechen battle. Many of them went elsewhere, to places like Turkey and eventually where they gained US/NATO largesse.

In fact Right Sector thug Yarosh, currently in high position in the Kiev government, praised Right Sector Alexander Muzichko for his role in fighting against Russia in Chechnya. Muzichko is known for torture and murder of prisoners. That's the side that transmuted into the Syrian "opposition" and eventually the current ISIS.

[Sep 25, 2014] 09-16-14 Peter Van Buren The Scott Horton Show

Perpetual glory

President Stonewall Jackson

"There can be security only in expansion"

For how better could we terrorized the Middle-East into trading their oil for our war materials then by an unending war with a perpetual enemy who is funded by our friends, and who must needs our enmity and combat to survive. Pure theatrics if you ask me.

Fotoohi, September 19, 2014 at 2:50 am

Damn right -- The US and friends (Saudi Arabia, Israel, and most of the Sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf) engendered the Isis and now their genie has left the bottle and they don't know what to do with it. thank you.

[Sep 25, 2014] A Murderous 'Modernity' by Justin Raimondo

Antiwar.com
With the fall of the Kremlin, the neocons decided that what Charles Krauthammer dubbed the "unipolar moment" was at hand. This was our big chance, now that the Soviets were out of the way, to establish a "world order" with Washington – of course! – as its center, but also incorporating Western Europe and Japan into one vast superstate. This was all part of the flurry of discussion that followed the publication of Francis Fukuyama's "End of History" essay, in which he related that the Soviets' demise and his reading of Hegel had revealed to him an astonishing fact: history had come to an end. Liberal democracy had triumphed over all other competitors and was fated to be "the final form of human government." A World State was not only in the making, it was the inevitable outcome of the Spirit of History!

The old 19th century post-millennial pietism burns brightest in the hearts of our neocons. The urge to conquer, to remake, and purify the world of sin, to impose some kind of authoritarian "world order" out of what is a natural, beneficial, and self-regulating spontaneous order – this is the essence of the interventionist credo.

The neocons were lost for a while after the communist collapse: no one was listening to them anymore. The Kosovo war was a bust as far as Republicans were concerned: indeed, when a Republican House of Representatives voted down Clinton's Kosovo war budget, Bill Kristol threatened to leave the GOP. If only he had followed through on his threat the Republican party might have been spared much – but, alas, it was not to be.

September 11, 2001 was the Neoconservative Moment, and in the months and years to come their star would rise until they had effectively seized control of the government. As Bob Woodward said in his book, Plan of Attack:

"[Colin] Powell felt Cheney and his allies – his chief aide, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and what Powell called Feith's 'Gestapo' office – had established what amounted to a separate government."

There's no real need to go into this in much detail, since the story of their deception is well-known. They manipulated the "intelligence" and after lying us into war they presided over the worst military disaster in American history, with the blowback still coming at us right up to the present day.

At the end of the cold war, as the neocons were flailing about looking to gain some traction, Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan co-wrote an essay on a new foreign policy agenda for America in the post cold war world in which they stated that the goal of American policymakers ought to be the creation of a "benevolent global hegemony." This is the world state envisioned by Fukuyama: a global government with a world central bank backed up by a multinational military force and a system of universal surveillance – with nowhere to hide from the all-seeing eye of the Empire.

That is their goal – and they have come much closer to achieving it in the past few years. Already they have overrun much of the Middle East, and now they have their sights fixed on the lands of the former Soviet Union. In partnership with the EU, they are moving in on Russia. And while China may seem too vast a country to absorb, Western penetration of that formerly isolated and hostile land has been impressive.

The frontiers of the empire are moving outward so fast that one can hardly keep up with their progress. Could this turn out to be the fatal weakness that brings the whole thing tumbling down?

All empires fall. But each case is different. No one knows when the cracks will begin to appear in the façade, or how long the will take to fatally weaken and split the foundations once thought to be invulnerable. My best guess, however, is that whenever it starts, it will take quite a while to bring the whole thing down. The Soviet empire disintegrated in a little over a year – the Mayans, almost overnight. In the case of the American empire, the foundations are a lot stronger to begin with: I think we are going to go the Roman way, with ups and downs, long declines followed by brief revivals.

And finally, I want to say that I've gotten more optimistic as I've gotten older, and that the pessimism of my youthful vision of a rotten system collapsing under its own weight no longer seems either desirable or imminent. What I do see as a very real possibility is a political movement in this country that will restore our old republic, dismantle the empire, and return the Constitution to its rightful place at the very center of the American system. I see that a man with the last name of Paul is now the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination and suddenly I am a teenage libertarian all over again. You know, we had a slogan back then, in the 60s, when the libertarian movement first began to organize itself. It was: "Freedom in our time." Back then, it seemed like a distant promise. Today, it seems like a real possibility. And that is, in itself, a great victory.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I've written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

[Sep 25, 2014] High Cost of Bad Journalism on Ukraine by Robert Parry

September 22, 2014 | consortiumnews.com

By driving a wedge between President Obama and President Putin over Ukraine, America's neocons and the mainstream media can hope for more "shock and awe" in the Mideast, but the U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill, including $1 trillion more on nuclear weapons, writes Robert Parry.

The costs of the mainstream U.S. media's wildly anti-Moscow bias in the Ukraine crisis are adding up, as the Obama administration has decided to react to alleged "Russian aggression" by investing as much as $1 trillion in modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal.

On Monday, a typically slanted New York Times article justified these modernization plans by describing "Russia on the warpath" and adding: "Congress has expressed less interest in atomic reductions than looking tough in Washington's escalating confrontation with Moscow."

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

But the Ukraine crisis has been a textbook case of the U.S. mainstream media misreporting the facts of a foreign confrontation and then misinterpreting the meaning of the events, a classic case of "garbage in, garbage out." The core of the false mainstream narrative is that Russian President Vladimir Putin instigated the crisis as an excuse to reclaim territory for the Russian Empire.

While that interpretation of events has been the cornerstone of Official Washington's "group think," the reality always was that Putin favored maintaining the status quo in Ukraine. He had no plans to "invade" Ukraine and was satisfied with the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych. Indeed, when the crisis heated up last February, Putin was distracted by the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Rather than Putin's "warmongering" – as the Times said in the lead-in to another Monday article – the evidence is clear that it was the United States and the European Union that initiated this confrontation in a bid to pull Ukraine out of Russia's sphere of influence and into the West's orbit.

This was a scheme long in the making, but the immediate framework for the crisis took shape a year ago when influential U.S. neocons set their sights on Ukraine and Putin after Putin helped defuse a crisis in Syria by persuading President Barack Obama to set aside plans to bomb Syrian government targets over a disputed Sarin gas attack and instead accept Syria's willingness to surrender its entire chemical weapons arsenal.

But the neocons and their "liberal interventionist" allies had their hearts set on another "shock and awe" campaign with the goal of precipitating another "regime change" against a Middle East government disfavored by Israel. Putin also worked with Obama to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program, averting another neocon dream to "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran."

The Despised Putin

So, Putin suddenly rose to the top of the neocons' "enemies list" and some prominent neocons quickly detected his vulnerability in Ukraine, a historical route for western invasions of Russia and the scene of extraordinarily bloody fighting during World War II.

National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman, one of the top neocon paymasters spreading around $100 million a year in U.S. taxpayers' money, declared in late September 2013 that Ukraine represented "the biggest prize" but beyond that was an opportunity to put Putin "on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself."

The context for Gershman's excitement was a European Union offer of an association agreement to Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych, but it came with some nasty strings attached, an austerity plan demanded by the International Monetary Fund that would have made the hard lives of the average Ukrainian even harder.

That prompted Yanukovych to seek a better deal from Putin who offered $15 billion in aid without the IMF's harsh terms. Yet, once Yanukovych rebuffed the EU plan, his government was targeted by a destabilization campaign that involved scores of political and media projects funded by Gershman's NED and other U.S. agencies.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, a neocon holdover who had been an adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, reminded a group of Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their "European aspirations." Nuland, wife of prominent neocon Robert Kagan, also showed up at the Maidan square in Kiev passing out cookies to protesters.

The Maidan protests, reflecting western Ukraine's desire for closer ties to Europe, also were cheered on by neocon Sen. John McCain, who appeared on a podium with leaders of the far-right Svoboda party under a banner honoring Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. A year earlier, the European Parliament had identified Svoboda as professing "racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views [that] go against the EU's fundamental values and principles."

Yet, militants from Svoboda and the even more extreme Right Sektor were emerging as the muscle of the Maidan protests, seizing government buildings and hurling firebombs at police. A well-known Ukrainian neo-Nazi leader, Andriy Parubiy, became the commandant of the Maidan's "self-defense" forces.

Behind the scenes, Assistant Secretary Nuland was deciding who would take over the Ukrainian government once Yanukovych was ousted. In an intercepted phone call with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, Nuland crossed off some potential leaders and announced that "Yats" – or Arseniy Yatsenyuk – was her guy.

The Coup

On Feb. 20, as the neo-Nazi militias stepped up their attacks on police, a mysterious sniper opened fire on both protesters and police killing scores and bringing the political crisis to a boil. The U.S. news media blamed Yanukovych for the killings though he denied giving such an order and some evidence pointed toward a provocation from the far-right extremists.

As Estonia's Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said in another intercepted phone call with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Asthon, "there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition."

But the sniper shootings led Yanukovych to agree on Feb. 21 to a deal guaranteed by three European countries – France, Germany and Poland – that he would surrender much of his power and move up elections so he could be voted out of office. He also assented to U.S. demands that he pull back his police.

That last move, however, prompted the neo-Nazi militias to overrun the presidential buildings on Feb. 22 and force Yanukovych's officials to flee for their lives. Then, rather than seeking to enforce the Feb. 21 agreement, the U.S. State Department promptly declared the coup regime "legitimate" and blamed everything on Yanukovych and Putin.

Nuland's choice, Yatsenyuk, was made prime minister and the neo-Nazis were rewarded for their crucial role by receiving several ministries, including national security headed by Parubiy. The parliament also voted to ban Russian as an official language (though that was later rescinded), and the IMF austerity demands were pushed through by Yatsenyuk. Not surprisingly, ethnic Russians in the south and east, the base of Yanukovych's support, began resisting what they regarded as the illegitimate coup regime.

To blame this crisis on Putin simply ignores the facts and defies logic. To presume that Putin instigated the ouster of Yanukovych in some convoluted scheme to seize territory requires you to believe that Putin got the EU to make its reckless association offer, organized the mass protests at the Maidan, convinced neo-Nazis from western Ukraine to throw firebombs at police, and manipulated Gershman, Nuland and McCain to coordinate with the coup-makers – all while appearing to support Yanukovych's idea for new elections within Ukraine's constitutional structure.

Though such a crazy conspiracy theory would make people in tinfoil hats blush, this certainty is at the heart of what every "smart" person in Official Washington believes. If you dared to suggest that Putin was actually distracted by the Sochi Olympics last February, was caught off guard by the events in Ukraine, and reacted to a Western-inspired crisis on his border (including his acceptance of Crimea's request to be readmitted to Russia), you would be immediately dismissed as "a stooge of Moscow."

Such is how mindless "group think" works in Washington. All the people who matter jump on the bandwagon and smirk at anyone who questions how wise it is to be rolling downhill in some disastrous direction.

But the pols and pundits who appear on U.S. television spouting the conventional wisdom are always the winners in this scenario. They get to look tough, standing up to villains like Yanukovych and Putin and siding with the saintly Maidan protesters. The neo-Nazi brown shirts are whited out of the picture and any Ukrainian who objected to the U.S.-backed coup regime finds a black hat firmly glued on his or her head.

For the neocons, there are both financial and ideological benefits. By shattering the fragile alliance that had evolved between Putin and Obama over Syria and Iran, the neocons seized greater control over U.S. policies in the Middle East and revived the prospects for violent "regime change."

On a more mundane level – by stirring up a new Cold War – the neocons generate more U.S. government money for military contractors who bestow a portion on Washington think tanks that provide cushy jobs for neocons when they are out of government.

The Losers

The worst losers are the people of Ukraine, most tragically the ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, thousands of whom have died from a combination of heavy artillery fire by the Ukrainian army on residential areas followed by street fighting led by brutal neo-Nazi militias who were incorporated into Kiev's battle plans. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Ukraine's 'Romantic' Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers."]

The devastation of eastern Ukraine, which has driven an estimated one million Ukrainians out of their homes, has left parts of this industrial region in ruins. Of course, in the U.S. media version, it's all Putin's fault for deceiving these ethnic Russians with "propaganda" about neo-Nazis and then inducing these deluded individuals to resist the "legitimate" authorities in Kiev.

Notably, America's righteous "responsibility to protect" crowd, which demanded that Obama begin airstrikes in Syria a year ago, swallowed its moral whistles when it came to the U.S.-backed Kiev regime butchering ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine (or for that matter, when Israeli forces slaughtered Palestinians in Gaza).

However, beyond the death and destruction in eastern Ukraine, the meddling by Nuland, Gershman and others has pushed all of Ukraine toward financial catastrophe. As "The Business Insider" reported on Sept. 21, "Ukraine Is on the Brink of Total Economic Collapse."

Author Walter Kurtz wrote:

"Those who have spent any time in Ukraine during the winter know how harsh the weather can get. And at these [current] valuations, hryvnia [Ukraine's currency] isn't going to buy much heating fuel from abroad. …

"Inflation rate is running above 14% and will spike sharply from here in the next few months if the currency weakness persists. Real wages are collapsing. … Finally, Ukraine's fiscal situation is unraveling."

In other words, the already suffering Ukrainians from the west, east and center of the country can expect to suffer a great deal more. They have been made expendable pawns in a geopolitical chess game played by neocon masters and serving interests far from Lviv, Donetsk and Kiev.

But other victims from these latest machinations by the U.S. political/media elite will include the American taxpayers who will be expected to foot the bill for the new Cold War launched in reaction to Putin's imaginary scheme to instigate the Ukraine crisis so he could reclaim territory of the Russian Empire.

As nutty as that conspiracy theory is, it is now one of the key reasons why the American people have to spend $1 trillion to modernize the nation's nuclear arsenal, rather than scaling back the thousands of U.S. atomic weapons to around 900, as had been planned.

Or as one supposed expert, Gary Samore at Harvard, explained to the New York Times: "The most fundamental game changer is Putin's invasion of Ukraine. That has made any measure to reduce the stockpile unilaterally politically impossible."

Thus, you can see how hyperbolic journalism and self-interested punditry can end up costing the American taxpayers vast sums of money and contributing to a more dangerous world.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry's trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America's Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

[Sep 23, 2014] 9-11 & Iraq Revisited Remembering How We Were Lied Into War by Will Porter

September 19, 2014 | Antiwar.com Blog

Since the cataclysmic events that took place on the morning of September 11th 2001, an extended series of consequences have unfolded with an alarming rapidity. Between vast escalations of military activity abroad, the passing of draconian laws, like the Patriot Act and the NDAA, the instituting of the Department of Homeland Security, and the ramping up of domestic spy programs through the NSA, 9/11 has served as a catalyst for a radical change in how America conducts itself both at home and around the world. In the weeks and months following the incident, the American people were bombarded with a veritable hurricane of bald-faced lies and assertions based on dubious "intelligence". Before they could begin to wrap their heads around the significance of the events taking place around them, their government had already set plans into motion to wage a decades-long military conflict in the Middle East, a conflict which rages at full force to this day. In fact, recent developments in Iraq regarding the Islamic State militant group, or ISIS, elevate the issue of the 2003 Iraq War to the highest importance.

Among the general populace, a widely-accepted narrative has developed which attempts to make sense of all that has happened since September 11th. Very broadly, the narrative contends that Islamic extremists have declared war on the United States, and this alone serves to explain and justify the long string of wars that have been waged in the name of the global "War on Terrorism" ever since. What's most surprising about the public narrative is that it offers almost no explanation at all of how or why Iraq was, directly or indirectly, implicated in the 2001 terror attacks on New York and DC. At best, the public storyline suggests only a vague connection between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Any substantial explanation of this tie, however, has seemingly fallen away into the ethereal memory hole of American historical conscience.

Of the many oft-repeated talking points which comprise the terror war narrative, the question of the highest importance almost always goes unasked: why exactly did the United States wage war against Iraq in the first place? It is extremely peculiar that the largest-scale, most significant conflict to date in the war on terrorism has no widely-understood explanation. Those who have paid the highest price to initiate this war, the American people, seem to be the least informed on the matter. It is because of this lack of understanding regarding Iraq in particular that the terror war was ever able to get underway, and, indeed, build up a seemingly unstoppable momentum.

On this 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, which initiated the drive for war, it is vital to return to these basic questions. How did this happen? Who was involved? What justifications were given to go into Iraq in the first place? After more than a decade, the American people still cannot provide firm answers to such questions. To understand the broader war on terror, and how it came to dominate American foreign policy, it is necessary to fill in the blanks of the official narrative, as well as overturn some of the prevailing falsehoods about Iraq, WMDs, and its connection to al-Qaeda.

In basic terms, the official US government justification for the Iraq War goes something like this: Saddam Hussein was a material supporter of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda – particularly the Islamic militant Abu Musab Zarqawi – offering safe harbor and/or training facilities for them in Iraq. On top of this is the related claim that Hussein was actively pursuing "weapons of mass destruction," using "mobile bio-weapons labs," as well as "aluminum tubes" for centrifuges in a reconstituted nuclear weapons program. In his alleged link to militant Islam – and his ties to Palestine in the case of Zarqawi, a Jordan-born Palestinian – Saddam was said to have planned to provide Iraq's weapons to terrorists, who would act as his proxies. For these reasons, Iraq was said to be a threat to its neighbors, and a threat to the United States. These claims are officially stated in a 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), but also informally circulated in TV and print news media in the run up to the war.

While the Bush Administration explicitly refrained from directly accusing Saddam of complicity in the 9/11 attacks, they were certainly happy to let the American people believe there was a direct connection between the two. After all, many thought, why would the US ever wage a war against Iraq, seemingly as a result of 9/11, if Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11? Due to the disjointed and incoherent Administration narrative, and the mainstream media's willingness to freely speculate on all matters pertaining to 9/11, Iraq, and terror, the American people were left to rationalize and put two-and-two together on their own, often concluding that Saddam and September 11th were related.

The only explicit attempt to tie 9/11 to Iraq was in the claim that lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohammad Atta, made contact with Iraqi intelligence at a meeting in Prague. Later, additional allegations derived from "Israeli security sources" assert that an Iraqi agent furnished Atta with an "anthrax flask" at the same meeting. Some suggested also that Iraq was involved in the 2001 anthrax-letter attacks that took place shortly after 9/11, targeting media outlets as well as Senators Patrick Leahy and Thomas Daschle (who both, coincidentally, happened to oppose the invasion of Iraq). All the talk of anthrax, no matter how baseless, ultimately helped to terrorize the American people and warm them up to the idea of war with Iraq. Finally, but no less important, we have the documents, curiously supplied by an Italian intelligence agency (SISMI), which were claimed to prove Saddam's attempt to procure 500 tons of yellowcake uranium from Niger. Sprinkle in a little Wilsonian talk of "spreading democracy," and you've got yourself a war.

As we shall see, absolutely none of the casus belli presented to the American people had any resemblance to reality. Through a complex network of government officials – primarily connected to the Pentagon and the office of the Vice President – media pundits and journalists – such as Judith Miller, others at the New York Times, and the PNAC crowd at the Weekly Standard – as well as foreign sources – Iraqi ex-pats as well as Italian and Israeli intelligence – the Iraq War was set off without a hitch; built upon, in the words of Colin Powell, a "web of lies."

An essential link in the chain was the Pentagon-created Office of Special Plans (OSP). Established in 2002, this agency lies at the very heart of the War Party push to invade Iraq. Through this Office, headed by Abram Shulsky under the authority of Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, "intelligence" was funneled into important or influential places, such as the office of Vice President Cheney via his Chief of Staff, Louis "Scooter" Libby. In one case, information was even directly leaked by Douglas Feith to Bill Kristol's neocon rag, the Weekly Standard, demonstrating, in part, the state-media complicity in misleading the American people. Additional players linked to the OSP, to name only a few, include NESA bureau head William Luti, Defense Policy Board members Richard Perle and former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, as well as neocon Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, whose prior informal intelligence activity with Feith was officially codified in the creation of the OSP. Its primary task was to dig through raw intelligence agency information, unaccompanied by the judgment of a professional analyst, in order to ham-fistedly piece together official justifications for war.

According to retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and former Pentagon desk officer Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked closely with senior Pentagon staff such as William Luti, higher-up officials in the OSP were "willing to exclude or marginalize intelligence products that did not fit the agenda." To that end, information disseminated from this office was carefully cherry-picked and highly exaggerated, with much of it gleaned from the Iraqi expat group the Iraqi National Congress (INC). Presiding over the INC was Ahmed Chalabi, essentially a double agent for the Ayatollah, who temporarily served a vital purpose for his neo-conservative dupes.

Chalabi dazzled neocons with talk of a future "Hashemite Kingdom" in Iraq (referring to Jordan; diplomatically and economically friendly with Israel). He was selected by administration war hawks as early as the Gulf War to lead the Iraqi political march to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Exiled from Iraq, and a convicted bank fraudster, Chalabi weaseled his way into high position in the post-Saddam Iraqi state after helping the Bush Administration successfully bamboozle their way in. Later on, to the horror of his former US colleagues, his loyalties were discovered, revealing an epic betrayal of the War Party in favor of his long-held Iranian connections. As an influential figure among pro-war ideologues, Chalabi was able to carefully sway events to Iran's benefit in ways which his neocon handlers were oblivious of. Despite this double-cross, it was Chalabi and his INC "heroes in error" who provided many of the intelligence sources that were vital in the push for invasion. For example, in a New York Times piece by Judith Miller, she cites a meeting, arranged by the INC, with an "Iraqi defector," claiming there to be "renovations at sites for chemical and nuclear arms" in Saddam's Iraq. With the popular news media parroting the government's claims, it helped to quickly move along the pro-war policy.

In the end, nothing regarding the claims of "aluminum tubes," initially insisted on by the CIA's center, was true. The same goes for the "arms sites" and "mobile weapons labs," both of which were sourced from Iraqi defectors. All of these talking points were, as well, used in Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations in February of 2003, a speech which was crucial in the green-lighting of the American-led coalition to invade Iraq. The lies in that speech, as well as the ones told in the 2002 NIE cited above, are officially debunked by a 2004 Senate Report (download PDF in link) which cites intelligence community conclusions on the various fraudulent claims. None of the information used to bolster the WMD story held any weight, and a large portion of the US intelligence community had said so all along. This was not just a big mistake, it was intelligence deliberately concocted, or presented wildly out of context, in order to send the nation (back) to war, to finish the job started in the 1991 Iraq conflict.

Official skepticism toward Bush Administration claims of Saddam's weapons, as well as his ties to terror is illustrated the leaked UK intelligence documents, known as the "Downing Street Memos". These memos depict high-ranking UK officials expressing concern over whether the Administration was "fixing" intelligence around a pro-war policy, rather than a policy around intelligence. Before, during, and after the war, there were a multitude of intelligence sources, as well as a fairly large body of journalism, which conveyed deep skepticism toward the dubious pro-war talking points. There certainly were dissenting voices in the lead up to the war; these voices simply went unheeded and unheard, at least until after the invasion. The mainstream media chose, instead, to create an echo chamber for the flurry of false claims emanating from the Bush Administration and the tightly-knit group of neo-conservatives in high office or positions of public influence.

Also proven false in the 2004 Senate Report are the allegations of Saddam attempting to purchase yellowcake uranium from the Nigerian government in 1999-2000. The documents passed along from Italian intelligence, in fact, turned out to be the crudest of forgeries! From October of 2002 to March of 2003, the CIA, as well as the IAEA, expressed doubts about the information contained in the documents, yet this didn't stop President Bush from invoking it in his State of the Union address of January 2003. Indeed, the CIA's skepticism was either discounted or completely circumnavigated in order to push this particular piece of intelligence.

Of much interest here is the 2005 La Republica exposé (translation) which explores the antics of one Rocco Martino, an Italian peddler of information who worked with Italian, and at times French, intelligence. Martino and a number of associates, looking for a quick way to make money, were able to use various intelligence assets to attain access to outdated Nigerian documents. Using official stamps and letterhead stolen from the Nigerian Embassy in Rome, this group of rapacious rogues crudely pieced together the stale documents to create the forgery, which they hoped to sell. They were initially handed off to SISMI and to the French, who quickly saw them for what they were. But much changed after 9/11 and the Bush Administration's mad scramble for Saddam-WMD intelligence. At this point, SISMI finds new willingness to share the documents with the CIA station in Rome, while Martino gives them over to British MI6. The information makes its way to the Bush Administration, where it is eventually used in the 2003 SOTU address in the form of sixteen ambiguous words. Following the rest of this story, with its possible ties to a police sting, Iran, Israel, and Michael Ledeen, will lead us down quite a deep rabbit-hole, which due to space limitations simply cannot be elaborated on here.

Finally it should also be briefly noted that the more recent scandal involving the outing of undercover agent Valerie Plame is heavily related to her husband's investigation of the forged Niger documents. The Wilson-Plame Niger investigation clearly probed too close to the truth, leading to an attempted career assassination at the behest of powerful people.

Another key example of botched intelligence is the claim of the meeting in Prague between Mohammad Atta and Iraqi intelligence, as well as the later attempt to link this meeting with anthrax. The Prague meeting was initially reported by Czech officials, although there were various conflicting accounts, where different Czech officials deny the meeting ever happened. An interesting parenthetical note, when Dick Cheney cited these reports in a TV interview to confirm the 9/11-Iraq tie, he refers to "Czechoslovakia," a country which had not existed since Czech-Slovak split in 1993. This certainly could have been a simple slip of the tongue, but it seems that, assuming Cheney himself had seen the Czech report, it'd be fresh enough in his mind to at least get the country's name right!

Mark Rossini, a former FBI counter-terrorism agent given the task of analyzing the Czech report on the Prague meeting, recalls his reaction to the Cheney interview: "I remember looking at the TV screen and saying, 'What did I just hear?' And I–first time in my life, I actually threw something at the television because I couldn't believe what I just heard." A 2006 Select Committee on Intelligence report repeats this conclusion, held among US intelligence circles, that the Prague meeting was dubious at best, definitely not solid enough base a military invasion on. Since this meeting likely never occurred, there is no need to provide further evidence to disprove the claim, sourced from "Israeli security," that a flask full of anthrax was given to Atta during the meeting.

Aside from the Prague-anthrax connection, further attempts were made to link the anthrax-letter attacks to both the 9/11 hijackers and, again, to Iraq. The letters themselves contained messages that were so deliberately suggestive of hijacker involvement that it strikes one as suspicious, proclaiming "09-11-01, this is next," and "Death to America, death to Israel." Bryan Ross at ABC repeatedly said, with increasing degrees of certainty, that it was very likely from Saddam Hussein's anthrax program. He sourced three or four unnamed "well placed people," which if true might suggest that Ross was purposely mislead by government agents who wished to anonymously disseminate false information.

Despite the massive FBI probe into the case, no definitive answers were ever provided as to who was responsible. The total incompetency of the FBI, however, didn't stop independent journalists from delving into the case themselves. From these investigations came a series of very strange discoveries, not the least of which was the likelihood that the specific anthrax strains used in the letter-attacks originated in US Army labs! Although two different people were selected as "fall-men," the baseless accusations against neither of them stuck. The second of the two, one Dr. Ayaad Assaad, an Egyptian-American scientist, worked at the Fort Detrick facility from which samples of anthrax, among other dangerous biological compounds, went missing years before the letter-attacks. In later, seemingly unrelated, events at Fort Detrick, Dr. Assaad's colleagues, primarily a group led by a man named Phillip Zack, engaged in bizarre and juvenile harassments against him. This same Phillip Zack was a suspect in a 1992 internal Army inquiry, thought to be making unauthorized access, by cover of night, to a biological compounds lab, where pathogens like anthrax, Ebola, and the Hanta virus had gone missing.

Moreover, in late September 2001, an anonymous letter sent to the FBI in Quantico, Virginia alleging that Dr. Assaad was behind a terrorist plot to use biological agents in the United States. This accusatory letter was sent after the anthrax-letters were mailed, but before they were discovered to contain anthrax. This suggests that some third-party, somebody other than Dr. Assaad, had foreknowledge of the attacks. Tying things together, in the missive accusing Assaad it is also stated that the author had formerly worked with him, demonstrating fairly extensive knowledge of Assaad's career at USAMRIID.

Although the true culprits of the 2001 anthrax-letter attacks remain a mystery, this highly peculiar series of events seems to suggest there is much more to the story than simply another act of terrorism perpetrated by the same group responsible for the 9/11 attacks (or Iraq, as Bryan Ross asserted). One might speculate that this Phillip Zack, or somebody closely related, had a hand in the anthrax-letters, based on his suspected past unauthorized access to pathogens labs, his proven hatred for Dr. Assaad, and the strange letter sent by an alleged former colleague of Assaad's, ascribing the guilt to him. There is more to be said about this long story, however what matters here is not the identity of the culprit, but the fact that despite almost zero solid evidence pointing to Iraq, nor to the 9/11 hijackers, influential people in the government and media were more than willing to accept such an event as a pretext for war; behind closed doors with the former, out in the open with the latter.

In the end, most of the high-ranking US officials involved in kicking off the Iraq invasion have subsequently come out to admit there were no WMDs, and no ties between Hussein and al-Qaeda. While they admit they made mistakes, most of them, unbelievably, deny they ever made claims about nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. They also deny ever asserting there were ties between Saddam and al-Qaeda. Needless to say, there are mountains of direct evidence proving without a shadow of a doubt that these people are complete liars, guilty of the highest crimes against humanity imaginable.

The Iraq War has often been blamed on faulty intelligence alone, and for some of the people involved this may well be true. However, what's clear is that within the intelligence community itself, there was all along a basic consensus of the doubts regarding Bush Administration claims. The intelligence is not to be blamed, but those who wielded it in dishonest and outright corrupt ways.

What's more are the absolutely damning ties between the neocon cabal largely responsible for the war, and the Israeli foreign policy apparatus. There is a long and extensive history of neo-conservative groups' – especially the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) – involvement in the crafting of both Israeli and policy, as well as garnering immense tax-dollar support for the Israeli state. Perhaps this is best illustrated in a 1996 Israeli policy paper entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," authored by neocon figurehead David Wurmser, with signers-on Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, among others.

Here they outline a plan regarding how Israel should deal with its neighboring Arab states. Working with allies Jordan and Turkey, they hope to "contain, destabilize, and roll-back some of [Israel's] most dangerous threats." This includes countries like Syria, Lebanon, and Iran – most of whom the US has taken an increasingly aggressive posture toward. Iraq also is said to a valuable prize, with the removal of Saddam Hussein from power a priority. Indeed, for many years, long before 9/11, this very same group of hardline Israel-firsters sought to influence American policy toward war with Iraq as well, in large part to serve Israeli interests, alongside military-industrial ones. The 9/11 attacks were obviously used as justification to execute this plan, to get a regime change in Iraq. To these neocons, American and Israeli state-security interests are one in the same, certainly regarding Iraq, as well as the aggressive Zionism (illustrated in the "Yinon Plan") which characterizes Israeli policy, both domestic and foreign.

This incestuous neocon-Israeli involvement in the crafting of state-policy should, of course, come as no surprise. This is a well-known phenomenon, not any sort of speculative conspiracy fringe. Israel not only has long-standing ties with influential conservative movers-and-shakers in the foreign policy field, but also a history of deceptive and outright murderous behavior all around. From the decades of military occupation of the Palestinian people, the Israeli spying on American institutions, the multiple cases of Israeli (or Israel-related, through AIPAC) theft of sensitive US intelligence-related secrets, the theft of uranium in the 1950s to build nuclear bombs with, to their deliberate attempt to sink the USS Liberty in June of 1967, Israel has quite a deranged history indeed.

As with most matters of policy, the Iraq War was certainly not pushed by only one single set of interests. Things aren't so simple. The Israel-first neocon crowd had a very important role to play, but in the end this was a confluence of many inter-locking interest groups. Political campaigning, military-industrial interests, oil, and, especially in the case of Bush Jr., personal ambition; these also were part of the incentive-structure for a pro-war policy. All of the people responsible for this war did not necessarily have to be unified in a grand conspiracy in order to push for the same policy-objective. Indeed, it just goes to show the way in which disparate and varying interest groups can come together in agreement where their individual motivations and values meet. It is sometimes easy to ascribe a collective agency to government actors, but these are still human beings we're speaking of here. Each individual, in reality, acts according to the values placed on his own given ends in the situation he finds himself in.

I have hardly even begun to broach the voluminous content of the Iraq War chronicles, but this short review should alone serve to prove the case. The United States government, or rather a militant clique within its most powerful and influential agencies, sent this nation to war, based on fraudulent pretexts, with a largely disarmed and impoverished adversary. Between the 1990s sanctions, which lead to the deaths of 500,000 children, the one million people killed in the war of 2003, and many more millions displaced – their homes in ruin and their lives destroyed – the toll taken on the Iraqi people has been devastating. From 1990-2012, it is estimated 2-3 million Iraqis were killed or died, due to the economic sanctions, the two wars waged by the US government, and the Civil War which broke out during the second occupation.

Let us never forget how easily this happened, as we are faced with yet anotherattempt to send troops to Iraq. For almost a half-century now, the United States has constantly intervened in Iraq, and to what avail? Of all the trillions of dollars, the millions of lives, the rivers of blood poured into the country, it has only given rise to the most brutal, out of control problem to date: the Islamic State. ISIS is currently rampaging across Iraq and Syria, taking entire swaths of territory and proclaiming the establishment of a long-sought Islamic Caliphate.

As the United States, with its Mid-East allies the Turks and Saudis, continues to funnel material support to the "moderate" anti-Assad rebels in Syria, they fund and back precisely the same people they claim to oppose in Iraq. The anti-Assad rebels and the pro-caliphate jihadists are, in many cases, the very same militant groups. Considering these issues, it is long, long, overdue that the American people and, less likely, the politicians who make US policy, reexamine the issue of the Middle East, and the long-standing practice of US foreign intervention in general. If 50 years of failed policy, the colossal waste of money and resources, as well as the resulting blowback can't teach us this lesson, I do not know what ever would.

At least encouraging was the strong majority stance of the American people to absolutely reject the notion of US military involvement in Syria around September of last year. But for any hope to avoid future bloodshed and destruction, it is vital that we internalize the lessons of the past. We must abandon the idea that history began last week, and always return to the past in order to inform our knowledge of the present and the future. For that reason, after the anniversary of the most horrific example of blowback this country has ever seen, let us never forget Iraq.

A special thank you is reserved for independent researcher, author, and filmmaker Dawson. Both his film "War by Deception" and his personal correspondence were invaluable. Another big thanks to radio show host Scott Horton, who took the time to go over this essay and offer many needed resources and corrections.

[Sep 22, 2014] Ron Paul Blasts Congress 'More War' Vote, "They Come Over Here, Because We Are Over There"

September 22, 2014 at 7:02 pm

If we want to stop radical terrorists from operating in Syria and Iraq, how about telling our ally Saudi Arabia to stop funding and training them? For that matter, how about the US government stops arming and training the various rebel groups in Syria and finally ends its 24 year US war on Iraq.

Remember, they come over here because we are over there. So let's not be over there any longer.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-09-22/ron-paul-blasts-congress-more-war-vote-they-come-over-here-because-we-are-over-there

[Sep 12, 2014] Dick Cheney and the Neocons Would Like to Celebrate This 9/11 by Freaking Out Over Iraq Again by Jonathan Chat

nymag.com
It is comical - in the second-time-as-farce way, not the ha-ha way - that the anniversary of 9/11 has coincided with a sudden revival of neoconservative thought. The neocons never really went away or even questioned their analysis. (The conflation of uncertainty with weakness is itself a defining tenet of neoconservatism.) The terrifying emergence of ISIS and genuine questions about the Obama administration's lurching response has created a space for the Republican Party, after flirting with noninterventionism, to re-embrace its Bush-era ultrahawkery.

Signs of the neocon revival include the party shedding whatever lingering inhibitions it had about associating itself openly with Dick Cheney, who delivered a deliriously militant speech at the American Enterprise Institute, addressed the House Republican conference (and received a "rapturous reception"), and was celebrated in a Wall Street Journal editorial (headline: "Dick Cheney Is Still Right"). They also include the spreading use of conservative responses to ISIS that eerily echo its impulsive response to the attacks of 13 years ago.

During the Bush years, "neocon" evolved into a catchall term of abuse, so it is important to think precisely about what it means. Not all supporters of intervention are neocons. (Jeffrey Goldberg makes a sensible, if not ironclad, case for the Obama administration's plan.) Not even all right-wing supporters of intervention are neocons (Byron York, who seems to favor intervention, nonetheless warns frankly and honestly about ways it could go wrong.)

Rather, neoconservatism is an especially virulent strain of hawkishness that fetishizes simplistic absolutism. The neoconservative response to ISIS displays several distinct qualities:

1. The use of the term "serious" as a bludgeon. "The American Enterprise Institute is one of those places where serious matters receive serious attention, and that's the spirit that brings me here this morning," announced Cheney. Ted Cruz, who has positioned himself as the most vocal spokesman for neoconservatism among the party's presidential field, calls Obama's approach "fundamentally unserious." Jennifer Rubin, the neoconservative pundit, assails "Obama's consistent unseriousness about the Islamic state." Charles Krauthammer asserts, "The question is his seriousness."

The constant repetition of this word is not coincidental. Its purpose is to present absolutism as a substitute for thought.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a news conference September 9, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Sen. Cruz discussed on immigration reform during the news conference. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

2. An apocalyptic assessment of the threat. The prospect of ISIS establishing a permanent state, or dominating a failed state, would have dire strategic and humanitarian consequences. But the threat is long-term - "American intelligence agencies," the New York Times reports today, "have concluded that it poses no immediate threat to the United States."

Neoconservatives can't accept threat modulation. "ISIS is a grave, strategic threat to the United States," warns Cheney, "The situation is dire and defeating these terrorists will require immediate, sustained, simultaneous action across multiple fronts." Rubin expresses her alarm that "the president doesn't believe the Islamic State is a current threat to the U.S." And Cruz rages:

[Obama] then sought to diminish the threat of ISIS to suggest that they're primarily a regional threat and what we didn't see tonight was a commander-in-chief focused on U.S. national security interests who stood up and said there are radical Islamic terrorist who have declared war on the United States who are murdering Christians, who have murdered two American journalists and who have promised to take jihad to America, and we will respond with overwhelming air force to take them out.

3. Blurring distinctions between different Muslims. The most forbidding challenge posed by ISIS is that it is wreaking havoc not only against American allies (like Kurdistan) but also against American foes, like Syria and Iran. One possible response, as the United States is already doing by partnering with Iranian-backed militias, is to identify ISIS as the greater evil and accept alliances of convenience. Another is to refuse to intervene out of the belief that opposing Iran and Syria takes priority. (David Frum makes this case.)

Neoconservatives reject both these alternatives in favor of a heroic struggle against evil in all its forms. In his speech, Cheney threatens strikes against Bashar Al-Assad and the Iranian regime ("we will take military action if necessary to stop" from acquiring nuclear weapons) even while prosecuting an existential war against their enemies.

Cruz, speaking at a conference of Middle Eastern Christians, provoked boos by proclaiming:

"ISIS, al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas, state sponsors like Syria and Iran, are all engaged in a vicious genocidal campaign to destroy religious minorities in the Middle East. Sometimes we are told not to loop these groups together, that we have to understand their so called nuances and differences. But we shouldn't try to parse different manifestations of evil that are on a murderous rampage through the region."

Especially instructive here is Cruz's invoking "so-called nuances and differences" between groups that are at war with each other.

4. Waving away any possible complications associated with excessive involvement. The nub of neoconservatism is a belief that the only possible strategic failure is the insufficient use of military force. This is more of an atavistic reflex than a cogent form of thought. Cruz assails Obama, "Instead he suggested targeted attacks and focuses frankly on political issues that are peripheral from the central question of how we protect America from those who would take jihad to our nation." Targeted is bad. Political is bad. Protecting is good.

Here is Rubin's response:

[Obama] insisted, "This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years." But if the Islamic State, which occupies vast territory and is highly trained and very well organized, than I suppose it won't work.

That is not even an English sentence. Nonetheless, the underlying impulse is clear enough.

***

All these elements have in common a historic track record. In the wake of 9/11, neoconservatives both exploited and were victimized by a collective freak-out. All the things they are doing now, they did then: the "serious" trope, the hysterical threat assessment, the simplistic conflation of mutually antagonistic strains of Islam, and the complete lack of concern for the possibility of overreach. The memory of the 9/11 attacks has left most of us with some sense of sobriety and regret. The neoconservatives, by contrast, look back on that time of fear and rage with increasingly undisguised longing.

[Sep 12, 2014] 5 Most Hawkish Positions Embraced by Hillary Clinton Alternet

Hillary Clinton is a hawk who wants to further militarize American foreign policy.
August 27, 2014 | alternet.org

Clinton's ideas may be out of touch with the American people, but she wants to appeal to the Democratic establishment.

Hillary Clinton is a hawk who wants to further militarize American foreign policy. A Clinton White House could mean disastrous consequences for Americans and those overseas who will be most impacted by her policies. If you think Obama's policies of drone strikes and Special Operations troops around the world are bad, just wait for Clinton.

In early August, former Secretary of State Clinton laid out her war-mongering foreign policy to the mainstream journalist perhaps most receptive to her ideas: the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, the former Israeli prison guard who famously promoted the Iraq War and predicted that Israel would bomb Iran in 2011. While Clinton's ideas may be out of touch with the American people, who are weary of more war, she wants to appeal to the Democratic establishment and the pro-war, pro-Israel donors who sustain it.

Here are five of Clinton's worst foreign policy ideas.

1. Arming Syrian rebels. While she was Secretary of State, Clinton pushed for stepping up U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war by arming the rebels fighting against Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. eventually did end up arming Syrian fighters, but the effort has been kept on a tight leash that has not come close to shifting battlefield dynamics.

In her interview with Goldberg, Clinton said that the U.S. should have armed the Free Syrian Army when the uprising began in 2011. That would have deeply enmeshed the U.S. in a civil war that pitted Assad versus a fractured opposition that also included radical Islamists with ties to Al Qaeda. While the Syrian opposition also included those who wanted a true democracy, they are not the most effective fighters. As Middle East analyst Marc Lynch wrote in the Washington Post, following Clinton's strategy would have meant a raging war, much as it is today, but with deeper U.S. involvement.

2. Pressuring Iran. Clinton's interview with Goldberg included some hardline thoughts on the current negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. She told the Atlantic that "I've always been in the camp that held that they did not have a right to enrichment. Contrary to their claim, there is no such thing as a right to enrich." She said what the Gulf Arab states and Israel want in an Iran deal was not unrealistic.

This position would likely mean the scuttling of any deal with Iran-a deal that would ease tensions in the Middle East and stave off the possibility of a war with the Islamic Republic. Iran is looking for an agreement that would preserve its desire to enrich some uranium. Clinton wants to put the kibosh on that.

3. Supporting Israel no matter what. A book on Clinton reported that during Israel's assault on Gaza in 2012, which killed 167 Palestinians, 100 of them civilians, the Secretary of State told colleagues, "We've gotta support Israel 110 percent here."

Clinton also came out swinging in support of Israel during the just-concluded war in Gaza, which killed over 2,100 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians. In her interview with Goldberg, she said that "Israel was attacked by rockets from Gaza. Israel has a right to defend itself," ignoring that Israel ramped up tensions in Gaza by cracking down on Hamas in the West Bank after three teenagers were kidnapped and killed by Palestinians.

Clinton also agreed that Israel has a reason to hold onto the occupied West Bank indefinitely. "If I were the prime minister of Israel, you're damn right I would expect to have control over security [on the West Bank]."

4. Endless war on terror. Thirteen years after September 11, it is clear the "war on terror" has failed. In fact, it has produced more terrorist groups, including the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Born out of the wreckage of Iraq after the U.S. invaded in 2003, the group has captured a swath of territory stretching from Iraq to Syria.

[Sep 08, 2014] The Whys Behind the Ukraine Crisis By Robert Parry

This is a must read for understanding of Guardian and other major Western MSM low level presstitutes behaviour and motives of their handlers...
September 3, 2014 | consortiumnews.com

Given the very high stakes of a nuclear confrontation with Russia, some analysts wonder what's the real motive for taking this extraordinary risk over Ukraine. Is it about natural gas, protection of the U.S. dollar's dominance, or an outgrowth of neocon extremism, asks Robert Parry.

A senior U.S. diplomat told me recently that if Russia were to occupy all of Ukraine and even neighboring Belarus that there would be zero impact on U.S. national interests. The diplomat wasn't advocating that, of course, but was noting the curious reality that Official Washington's current war hysteria over Ukraine doesn't connect to genuine security concerns.

So why has so much of the Washington Establishment – from prominent government officials to all the major media pundits – devoted so much time this past year to pounding their chests over the need to confront Russia regarding Ukraine? Who is benefiting from this eminently avoidable – yet extremely dangerous – crisis? What's driving the madness?

Of course, Washington's conventional wisdom is that America only wants "democracy" for the people of Ukraine and that Russian President Vladimir Putin provoked this confrontation as part of an imperialist design to reclaim Russian territory lost during the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. But that "group think" doesn't withstand examination. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Who's Telling the Big Lie on Ukraine?"]

The Ukraine crisis was provoked not by Putin but by a combination of the European Union's reckless move to expand its influence eastward and the machinations of U.S. neoconservatives who were angered by Putin's collaboration with President Barack Obama to tamp down confrontations in Syria and Iran, two neocon targets for "regime change."

Plus, if "democracy promotion" were the real motive, there were obviously better ways to achieve it. Democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych pledged on Feb. 21 – in an agreement guaranteed by three European nations – to surrender much of his power and hold early elections so he could be voted out of office if the people wanted.

However, on Feb. 22, the agreement was brushed aside as neo-Nazi militias stormed presidential buildings and forced Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives. Rather than stand behind the Feb. 21 arrangement, the U.S. State Department quickly endorsed the coup regime that emerged as "legitimate" and the mainstream U.S. press dutifully demonized Yanukovych by noting, for instance, that a house being built for him had a pricy sauna.

The key role of the neo-Nazis, who were given several ministries in recognition of their importance to the putsch, was studiously ignored or immediately forgotten by all the big U.S. news outlets. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Ukraine's 'Dr. Strangelove' Reality."]

So, it's hard for any rational person to swallow the official line that the U.S. interest in the spiraling catastrophe of Ukraine, now including thousands of ethnic Russians killed by the coup regime's brutal "anti-terrorist operation," was either to stop Putin's imperial designs or to bring "democracy" to the Ukrainians.

... ... ...

The Neocons' 'Samson Option'

So, while it's reasonable to see multiple motives behind the brinksmanship with Russia over Ukraine, the sheer recklessness of the confrontation has, to me, the feel of an ideology or an "ism," where people are ready to risk it all for some larger vision that is central to their being.

That is why I have long considered the Ukraine crisis to be an outgrowth of the neoconservative obsession with Israel's interests in the Middle East.

Not only did key neocons – the likes of Assistant Secretary Nuland and Sen. John McCain – put themselves at the center of the coup plotting last winter but the neocons had an overriding motive: they wanted to destroy the behind-the-scenes collaboration between President Obama and President Putin who had worked together to avert a U.S. bombing campaign against the Syrian government a year ago and then advanced negotiations with Iran over limiting but not eliminating its nuclear program.

Those Obama-Putin diplomatic initiatives frustrated the desires of Israeli officials and the neocons to engineer "regime change" in those two countries. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even believed that bombing Iran's nuclear plants was an "existential" necessity.

Further, there was the possibility that an expansion of the Obama-Putin cooperation could have supplanted Israel's powerful position as a key arbiter of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Thus, the Obama-Putin relationship had to be blown up – and the Ukraine crisis was the perfect explosive for the destruction. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Why Neocons Seek to Destabilize Russia."]

Though I'm told that Obama now understands how the neocons and other hardliners outmaneuvered him over Ukraine, he has felt compelled to join in Official Washington's endless Putin-bashing, causing a furious Putin to make clear that he cannot be counted on to assist Obama on tricky foreign policy predicaments like Syria and Iran.

As I wrote last April, "There is a 'little-old-lady-who-swallowed-the-fly' quality to neocon thinking. When one of their schemes goes bad, they simply move to a bigger, more dangerous scheme. If the Palestinians and Lebanon's Hezbollah persist in annoying you and troubling Israel, you target their sponsors with 'regime change' – in Iraq, Syria and Iran. If your 'regime change' in Iraq goes badly, you escalate the subversion of Syria and the bankrupting of Iran.

"Just when you think you've cornered President Barack Obama into a massive bombing campaign against Syria – with a possible follow-on war against Iran – Putin steps in to give Obama a peaceful path out, getting Syria to surrender its chemical weapons and Iran to agree to constraints on its nuclear program. So, this Obama-Putin collaboration has become your new threat. That means you take aim at Ukraine, knowing its sensitivity to Russia.

"You support an uprising against elected President Viktor Yanukovych, even though neo-Nazi militias are needed to accomplish the actual coup. You get the U.S. State Department to immediately recognize the coup regime although it disenfranchises many people of eastern and southern Ukraine, where Yanukovych had his political base.

"When Putin steps in to protect the interests of those ethnic Russian populations and supports the secession of Crimea (endorsed by 96 percent of voters in a hastily called referendum), your target shifts again. Though you've succeeded in your plan to drive a wedge between Obama and Putin, Putin's resistance to your Ukraine plans makes him the next focus of 'regime change.'

"Your many friends in the mainstream U.S. news media begin to relentlessly demonize Putin with a propaganda barrage that would do a totalitarian state proud. The anti-Putin 'group think' is near total and any accusation – regardless of the absence of facts – is fine."

Yet, by risking a potential nuclear confrontation with Russia - the equivalent of the old lady swallowing a horse – the neocons have moved beyond what can be described in a children's ditty. It has become more like a global version of Israel's "Samson Option," the readiness to use nuclear weapons in a self-destructive commitment to eliminate your enemies whatever the cost to yourself.

But what is particularly shocking in this case is how virtually everyone in U.S. officialdom – and across the mainstream media spectrum – has bought into this madness.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry's trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America's Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

[Sep 07, 2014] Pro-Kiev rant in the neoconservative Weekly Standard

marknesop , September 6, 2014 at 10:42 pm
Hey, here's just what Kiev needs to win back international sympathy – a pro-Kiev rant in the neoconservative Weekly Standard by Johnny "Got Milk?" Bolton, rude mannerless prick of the snowy walrus mustache. Johnny's contempt for international institutions is the stuff of legend, and he remains convinced that a battalion of midgets armed only with the balls from trailer hitches could conquer Europe, provided that army had American leadership and America was of a mind to kick those weak sisters' dilettante and lily-white asses.

Johnny proffers the cut-to-the-chase solution that many of us have feared since early on in the conflict – accelerated acceptance of Ukraine into NATO. He argues that Obama – if only he weren't such an appeasing coward – could champion a path to Ukrainian NATO membership. After all, Yatsenyuk (repeating what Nuland told him to say, doubtless) has spoken, saying the west should forget all those silly rules and just tap Ukraine on the shoulder with a sword, saying, "Arise, Member of NATO". And Yatsenyuk is perhaps the most listened-to politician in America, his searing rehearsed appeals to America transcending the blandness of his shoe-salesman face.

See if you can follow his argument. Europe could veto Ukraine's membership; but they shouldn't, because if they thought for a minute they would realize that America wants to start a bloody European war against Russia for them, not for its own interests!! Come on, Europe – don't judge everyone by your own selfish standards! America's problem is that it cares too much for others, and its big ol' heart makes it vulnerable. Oh, some might say let's not let Ukraine into NATO, because it might anger Russia!!! Why, Ukraine hasn't done a thing to Russia to deserve such overbearing treatment, so that means Russia hates Ukraine for its independence. Show me a red-blooded American conservative who ain't mad as hell right now at the thought of Vladimir Putin hatin' on Ukraine just because they's free. Day-um.

The USA would love to fast-track Ukraine into NATO, so NATO bigwigs could invoke Article 5 and hurl the combined might of Europe's sissy brigade against Russia. Russia might, in turn, nuke Europe. So? The USA would survive, and Uncle Sam would be there to help all them grievin' war widows pick up the pieces. In a world, not coincidentally, in which both Russia and Europe had been largely wrecked and knocked back for a couple of generations at least, with enormous damage calling for enormous rebuilding and lots of American companies with loads of that ol' can-do on tap. Exceptional amounts, in fact.

Johnny, Europe – dumb as it is – can see through your little game. America would like to maneuver the rest of the west into approving Ukraine's entry into NATO so that America could launch the biggest war game ever, throwing its erstwhile friends against its existential enemy. And thank you for proposing it, because nothing could give it the kiss of death like your sponsorship.

ThatJ, September 7, 2014 at 12:35 am
If I were Putin and the neocons started a war against Russia, I wouldn't nuke Europe. Why should Putin follow a 'predictable' outcome and nuke Europe?

Instead of destroying Europe, which will only please the non-gentile elite of America, I would target New York City, Chicago, Washington, Hollywood, London and Israel for annihilation.

[P]rof. MacDonald reports that many American Jews also abandoned Communism as it became increasingly anti-Semitic. For a large number, the Soviet Union's severing of diplomatic ties with Israel during the 1967 war was the last straw. A former SDS activist no doubt spoke for many when he explained, "If I must choose between the Jewish cause and a 'progressive' anti-Israel SDS, I shall choose the Jewish cause. If barricades are erected, I will fight as a Jew." According to Prof. MacDonald, American neoconservatism can also be described as a surface shift in external politics that leaves the more fundamental commitment to Jewish identity unchanged. Thus, former leftists abandoned an ideology that had turned against Israel and refashioned American conservatism into a different movement, the one unshakable theme of which was support for Israel. Neoconservatives also support high levels of immigration and were active in excluding white racial identification from the "respectable" right.

http://www.heretical.com/miscellx/culturec.html

-

At the Zionist Conference convened in Carlsbad in 1922 it emerged that, in addition to the Zionist Organization which was increasingly engaged with Palestine-related tasks, a Jewish world organization should be created to take care of problems in terms of world politics. In 1932 the first preparative conference of the World Jewish Conference was convened in Geneva, but the essential preconditions for this meeting had already been fulfilled during World War One by the efforts and unification of the Jews, predominantly in the United States. These had assumed leadership in the representation of worldwide Jewish interests as early as 1919 in Versailles.

[...]

Nor is it unimportant to know that Samuel Untermeyer, who called for a "holy war" against Germany in 1933, 'was so close to Roosevelt that his nephew Lawrence Steinhardt became the new US ambassador in Moscow in the fall of 1938, succeeding the President's friend Joseph Davis. It is customary in American politics, that only the closest friends of the President are normally entrusted with jobs of this importance.'

Equally important, but not mentioned in the diplomatic papers, is certainly the creation of a 'World Anti-Nazi Council to Fight for Human Rights.' It was founded in 1936 by Samuel Untermeyer together with the British unionist, Sir Walter Critine, to serve as an Agent for "psychological warfare" and – concealed from the public – to be financed by the Jewish Defense Fund. Winston Churchill became one of its activists. And the ideas of the American President F. D. Roosevelt – years before the actual commencement of the war! – about a sea blockade and "quarantine" against "the Dictators" (directed however only against Germany and Japan) in collaboration with Britain which would have to be pressured for this purpose, exposed the world-political dimensions of the engagement of "pressure groups." Also the catchword of the "rejected coexistence" had been assumed by FDR years before the war.

[...]

Henry Morgenthau Jr: US Finance Minister who emphatically intervened in favor of a war-like engagement of the United States even before the war in Europe began. Author of the infamous 'Morgenthau Plan' unofficially, if not officially, implemented after the defeat of Germany by Dwight D. Eisenhower (see James Bacque, Other Losses and Crimes and Mercies).

-

ALIEN CONTROL

The Daily Mail reported on 10 July 1933:

'[T]he German nation, moreover, was rapidly falling under the control of its alien elements. In the last days of the pre-Hitler regime there were twenty times as many Jewish government officials in Germany as had existed before the war. Israelites of international attachments were insinuating themselves into key positions in the German administrative machine.'

Dr. Manfred Reifer, a well known leader of the Jews of Bukovina, wrote in the Jewish magazine Czernowitzer Allegemeine Zeitung (September 1933):

'[W]hilst large sections of the German nation were struggling for the preservation of their race, we Jews filled the streets of Germany with our vociferations. We supplied the press with articles on the subject of its Christmas and Easter and administered to its religious beliefs in the manner we considered suitable. We ridiculed the highest ideals of the German nation and profaned the matters which it holds sacred.'

Resentment and resistance began to build up against the alien horde and in the year before Adolf Hitler came to power Bernard Lecache, President of the World Jewish League, stated:

'[G]ermany is our public enemy number one. It is our object to declare war without mercy against her.'

[...]

TOTAL DESTRUCTION DEMANDED

Vladimir Jabotinsky, founder of the Irgun Zvai Leumi terrorist organisation, wrote in the January 1934 issue of Mascha Rjetach:

'[F]or months now the struggle against Germany is waged by each Jewish community at each conference in all our syndicates and by each Jew all over the world. There is reason to believe that our part in this struggle has general value. We will start a spiritual and material war of all the world against Germany's ambitions to become once again a great nation, to recover lost territories and colonies. But our Jewish interests demand Germany's total destruction, collectively and individually. The German nation is a threat to us Jews.'

Emil Ludwig Cohen wrote in his book The New Holy Alliance, Strasburg, 1938:

'[E]ven if Hitler at the last moment would want to avoid war which would destroy him he will, in spite of his wishes, be compelled to wage war.'

Bernard Lechache wrote in The Right to Live (December 1938):

'[I]t is our task to organise the moral and cultural blockade of Germany and disperse this nation. It is up to us to start a merciless war.'

The Jewish newspaper Central Blad Voor Israeliten in Nederlands printed on 13 September 1939:

'[T]he millions of Jews living in America, England, France, North Africa and South, not forgetting Palestine, have decided to carry on the war in Germany to the very end. It is to be a war of extermination.'

The Toronto Star (26 February 1940) printed a declaration of a Rabbi Perlberg, Director of the British section of the Jewish World Congress:

'[T]he Jewish World Congress is in a state of war with Germany for seven years.'

The Jewish magazine Sentinel of Chicago printed in its issue of 8 October 1940:

'[W]hen the National Socialists and their friends cry or whisper that this [the war] is brought about by Jews, they are perfectly right.'

Hitler now put into operation the plan of getting all German areas into one state and all Germans under one German Government. The Germans in the Rhineland, the Germans in Austria and the Sudeten Germans responded willingly. In January 1935 the Saar Valley voted to return to Germany with a 90 per-cent poll in favour. There were also Germans in East Prussia and in Danzig now divided by land ceded to Poland by the Treaty of Versailles. It is interesting to note that between 1933 and 1937 10,000 Jews migrated to Hitler's Germany, 97 of them from Palestine.

[...]

This assassination provoked anti-Jewish riots in Germany, with the burning of synagogues and the looting and burning of Jewish shops. The anti-Jewish riots inflamed public opinion in Great Britain and the USA against Chamberlain's efforts to relieve Anglo-German tension. In the United States Germans were assaulted and persecuted. The Jews began leaving Germany.

The Paris magazine L'Ami du Peuple wrote about them:

'[T]hese people fled from Germany because they attempted to set up a rule of fire and blood and to let loose the horrors of civil war and universal chaos.'

The American Secretary of State, James Forrestal, who later died in mysterious circumstances, wrote in his Forrestal Diaries (Cassel and Co., London 1952):

'[H]ave played golf with Joe Kennedy [US Ambassador in Britain, father of President John Kennedy]. According to him, Chamberlain declared that Zionism and world Jewry have obliged England to enter the war.'

The Jew, Schlomo Asch, in a pep talk to French troops in the line in Le Nouvelles Litteraires (10 February 1940) wrote:

'[T]his is our war and you are fighting it for us. Even if we Jews are not bodily in the trenches we are nevertheless morally with you.'

On 8 October 1942 Sentinel magazine stated unequivocally:

'[T]he Second World War is being fought for the defence and fundamentals of Judaism.'

TERROR BOMBING

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had given an assurance that:

'[T]he British Government would never resort to the deliberate attack on women and children and other civilians for the purpose of mere terrorism.'

However, his successor Winston Churchill appointed as his personal adviser the Jew Professor Lindemann. Lindemann, later Lord Cherwell, suggested the bombing of German cities and that working class areas were legitimate targets, and from then onwards the last vestiges of civilised decency in warfare were abandoned. These bombings began on 10 August 1940 with the bombing of the small open town of Freiburg on the Swiss frontier. Fifty-three civilians were killed, including twenty children playing in the park. It was reported by Mr. Taylor of the American Red Cross in the New York Times of 3 May 1940. This was before the Germans began bombing British cities. Mr. J. M. Speight, CBE, Principal Secretary to the Air Ministry, wrote in his book The Splendid Decision:

'[A]dolf Hitler only undertook the bombing of British civilian targets reluctantly after the RAF had commenced bombing German civilian targets… It gave Coventry, Birmingham, Sheffield and Southampton the right to look Kiev, Kharkov, Stalingrad and Sebastopol in the face. Our Soviet allies would have been less critical of our inactivity if they had understood what we had done… Hitler would have been willing at my time to stop the slaughter. Hitler was genuinely anxious to reach with Britain an agreement confining the action of aircraft to battle zones.'

http://www.heretical.com/mkilliam/wwii.html

[ThatJ: In an ironic twist of fate, Putin's Russia is up against the same power-hungry cliqué that brought war upon Germany. Were Russia not a nuclear superpower, the tribe would make of Ukraine what Poland meant to Germany in the 30s: a death trap. The shabbos goyim 'nationalists' of Ukraine are being duped just like the British before them. Patriotism in Britain was in full gear, which is understandable considering that Britons had no hatred of or desire to fight the Germans. But behind this fake patriotism, with all the flags and posters and movies and speeches and the hatred against the Huns (yesterday's Moskali) the fate of the British was already decided: they were considered as 'reliable' as the Germans. The Americans didn't fare better.]

[Sep 07, 2014] Ukrainian ceasefire Q&A/FAQ and RFC

Looks like coup of February 22 is the first color revolution that can backfire on the US neoliberal empire in an unpredictable ways.
Sep 06, 2014 | The Vineyard of the Saker

There are so many rumors and opinions about the latest ceasefire for Novorussia agreed between the Novorussian leaders and the Junta reps that I have decided to make a small survey of the issues in the format of a Q&A/FAQ. I will write up a real analysis next week. I also will use this opportunity to explain a few thing about what my own personal position is. So here goes:

Q: Do you support or oppose the latest peaceplan?

A: Neither. First, I still have not seen the 14 points actually agreed upon and, most importantly, I don't believe that this plan will hold.

Q: Why not?

A: Because it is opposed by all the following groups: the USA, NATO, the Ukie Nazis, most of the Novorussian field commanders and a large segment of the Russian nationalist ideologues in Russia. Furthermore, Poroshenko is so weak that he probably cannot impose his will on others. Finally, the Ukies and their western supporters have so reneged on every agreement they signed/

Q: So you think that this agreement is irrelevant?

A: No, not at all. For one thing, it's perfect timing took a lot of wind out of the sails of the anti-Russian crowd at the NATO summit which, after all, did not result in anything more than hot air and empty threats.

Q: Are you saying that this is a victory for Russia?

A: Hardly, but it has been an effective way to temporarily defuse a potentially dangerous situation. Also, the very fact that neither the EU or NATO or the US were even present in Minsk is a very powerful symbol of the fact that the "indispensable nation" and it instruments of colonial domination are not indispensable after all.

Q: But will this ceasefire not allow the Junta Repression Force (JRF) to regroup?

A: Yes, but that is not that relevant because of the size of its strategic depth the Junta can to reorganize and regroup anyway. Most the JRF units close to the front are so beat up that "regrouping" will not help very much. At best ("best" for the JRF of course), this ceasefire will turn a hasty retreat into a more or less organized withdrawal followed by a much needed break...

Q: What about Mariupol?

A: What about it? The city is still surrounded and the Novorussian Armed Forces (NAF) will not retreat. All this ceasefire does is "freeze" the situation around this city. If anything, the Ukies will use it to cut and run.

Q: Will the NAF benefit ceasefire?

A: Yes. There are several "cauldrons" in the NAF rear which are a pain, well, in the rear, which will hopefully be flushed out by a mutual agreement to have the JRF units to move out and leave their weapons behind. If not, then please remember that the NAF control all of the Novorussian/Russian border and that the "voentorg" (cover delivery of weapons and specialists) will continue unabated.

Q: Are you saying that all is good and we should rejoice?

A: Not at all. First, there are clear signs of infighting in Novorussia. Not only was Strelkov apparently blackmailed out of control, but there have been rumors of an attempted coup by Antiufeev yesterday. The Novorussians denied this info, others say that the coup failed, but there is no doubt that there are real tensions inside Novorussia now and that while some support the current strategy of negotiations (we can refer to them as the "Zakharchenko clan") others clearly oppose it (we can refer to them as the "Mozgovoi clan").

Likewise, in Russia there are those who favor this strategy (most of the "near-Kremlin" circles "околокремлевские круги" - I explain this term here) and those who oppose it (Dugin, Colonel Cassad, el-Miurid, and many other generally para-Marxist bloggers and activists).

Q: So you agree that this is bad for Novorussia?

A: No, I did not say that either. I think that this is probably an inevitable and possibly indispensable temporary phase in this conflict with is neither a triumph nor a disaster, but something which is a natural consequence of the situation on the ground.

Q: What do you mean?

A: Contrary to most commentators here, I do not believe that the NAF have been "treacherously stopped in what could have been their triumphant march on Kiev". The amazing successes in the south have totally obscured in the minds of many the undeniable fact that the JRF forces north of Luganks are still big, powerful and holding their ground, that the Ukies even managed a (small and useless) counter-offensive in the region of Dukuchaevsk and that, contrary to initial reports, the Donetsk airport is still not under full NAF control. Those who had imagined that the NAF would soon move on and take Odessa, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk or even Kiev just don't understand the military situation. Right now, the NAF can't even take back Slaviansk, nevermind reconquer all of Novorussia.

Q: What about the notion that Russian and Ukie oligarchs are the real force behind this deal?

A: What oligarchs? Akhmetov has not only lost Donetsk forever, even the material infrastructure of this assets is now in ruins. Kolomoiski has had this assets in Crimea nationalized and he is now locked in a struggle with both Akhmetov and Poroshenko. As for the Russian oligarchs - they have exactly zero needs for anything in the Donbass and they are way too smart to invest anything in such a dangerous, unstable and ruined region. At least in the short term, only the Russian state will provide help for political reasons, but the Russian oligarchs have much safer and lucrative options than the ruined Donbass.

Q: Okay, then what about the accusation that rather then allowing the creation of a viable and independent Novorussia, Putin has created yet another Transnistria?

A: What is this thesis based on? On a 14 point plan which nobody has seen and which will be soon broken anyway?

Q: No, on the fact that instead of fighting Poroshenko and the Nazis, the Novorussians have been forced to negotiate with them.

A: Oh come on! How many times will I have to explain that, unlike westerners, Russians have no problems at all talking to their enemies? Study the history of the Tatar-Mongol invasions of Russia when the Russian Princes were always talking "negotiating" with the Khans of the Golden Horde, and yet that never prevented them from rising up and fighting them regularly. Russians are much more Asians than Europeans and in Asia talking to your enemy is normal, it is an integral part of warfare. If in the West talking or negotiating with your enemy is a sign of weakness, in Asia it is not talking or negotiating with your enemy which is a sign of weakness.

Q: So what do you think Putin want in this war?

A: What he always said he wanted: a united, independent, neutral, prosperous and friendly Ukraine, in other words - "regime change" in Kiev.

Q: So will he "sell out" Novorussia to achieve this goal?

A: I don't know. Unlike so many armchair generals who apparently also moonlight as telepaths and prophets, I cannot read Putin's mind or predict the future. What I can say is that so far I see no signs of Putin betraying or "selling out" anybody. In fact, it takes an amazing degree of blindness or intellectual dishonesty not to notice that the first and immediate consequence of what many assume was a Kremlin-ordered change in the Novorussian leadership has been a huge and successful offensive which crushed the JRF. If Putin wanted to "sell out" Novorussia to the Nazis, he could have easily done so just before that counter-offensive was launched.

Q: So you really love and trust Putin, don't you?

A: No, but I will admit that what I have seen this man do for Russia and the world fills me with sincere admiration, often bordering an awe, and that I see absolutely no signs of him changing course. What I see is a leader whose methods and strategies are simply too subtle and complex for most "armchair heads of states" to understand. The very same Putin-bashing crowd which now is hysterically yelling about betrayal was saying exactly the same things about Syria when Putin single handedly stopped the US attack on it. And when the Russians told the Syrian to get rid of their (dangerous and useless) chemical weapons the same Putin-bashers were yelling from the top of their lungs that this was the ultimate proof of Russian back-stabbing. Now Assad has, if not won the civil war, but conducted a successful reelection and the West is now eating humble-pie and pondering how to best get Assad's help in Iraq. So while I don't "love" Putin, I sure despise the Putin-bashers not only for their short-sightedness and lack of expertise, but for their mind-blowing intellectual dishonesty. They are like a broken record constantly repeating "Putin betrayed, Putin betrayed, Putin betrayed". In Russia this kind of rabid nationalists are called "горе патриоты" or "sorrow-patriots". They are the kind that never actually do anything useful, but are the most vociferous about what should be done. I want to make it clear that I am not referring to Strelkov, Mozgovoi or any other real patriot who happens to disagree with Putin. I am referring to those for whom Putin-bashing is an end in itself and who basically don't give a damn as long as they get to bash the man.

Q: Still, Novorussia wants independence while Putin wants a united Ukraine. Don't you see the contradiction here?

A: Of course I do. So? That does not mean that one side is "bad" and the other one "good", it just shows the truth of the US saying that "where I sit is where I stand". The real question is how this contradiction will be resolved. So far I don't know and I reserve judgment precisely because, unlike the "professional and full-time Putin bashers" I like to base my opinions on fact, not telepathy or prophetic visions.

Q: You constantly speak of "Putin bashers" - that is offensive to many!

A: Guess what? I am not a nice guy. I am an direct guy who calls it as he sees it and if that offends anybody, they are welcome to hug a teddy-bear and go sob on their bed. My message to them is - grow-up and remember that I owe you nothing. This is my blog and I write it for adults who value truthfulness and honesty over sugar-coated affirmations.

Q: What about Poroshenko - has he not won a huge break if not victory?

A: Yesterday I was watching the latest edition of the priceless Ukie propaganda show "Shuster Live" and it felt like I was watching a funeral. The host and all the guest were in a somber, sorrowful and quasi-depressed mode. Though they did not want to admit the magnitude of the beating which their "invincible Ukrainian army" just had taken, it was pretty darn clear that flag-waving was no more the order of the day. One Ukie official even said "when we are talking about 30 to 40 thousand armed men then we *have to* talk to these "terrorists"" - it was hilarious, really. So no. Poroshenko, far from having "won" anything, is in real deep trouble. For starters, his own Prime Minister - Iatseniuk - is absolutely outraged about the deal and makes no bones about it. Ditto for Timoshenko. I won't even go into the Nazi freaks. The fact is that the protecting Poroshenko will now become a major headache for the local CIA station in Kiev: the guy is in HUGE trouble and his only hope is that during the next elections he will look less bad and less crazy then the rest of them. That is assuming these elections are held and that Iarosh or Tiagnibok do not simply seize power and execute Poroshenko for "high crimes, treason or being an FSB agent" (he is not, but how cares?!). The regime is so much on the defense that even though everybody knows that this plan is really Putin's plan, the Junta is engaged in a massive PR effort to convince the public that this is really Poroshenko's plan. The Russians, typically, just smile and are happy to give him the credit (remember, this is Asia - different rules apply).

Q: So what will happen next?

A: As I said, I am not a prophet. But what I know is this: Putin clearly has full control of Russia and Novorussia - what he says happens, he can deliver. Poroshenko has no control over anything, not even "his" own" ruling coalition. There is no real power in Banderastan right not, not even the local CIA station. For this simple reason I do not see how the ceasefire could hold. Then I don't see much change in the military balance either. The NAF is far more capable than the JRF whose only advantage lies in the huge strategic depth of this territory. The JRF used to (past tense!) have a huge advantage in hardware and manpower, but even this is changing now. In terms of hardware, most of the best hardware they had is now either lost or in NAF hands. Yes, they still have huge reserves, but of old and terribly maintained equipment. As for manpower, the Junta clearly has more and more difficulties finding enough men to compensate for its huge losses. Just ask yourself a basic question: if you were Ukie, even a nationalist, would you want to join to JRF and go fight the NAF? Exactly. Yes, NATO has promised 15 million dollars. That would buy the Ukies, what, maybe 10 old and used T-72 or 3 T-80? This is a joke, really. But even if the US provides 150 millions in covert aid - this will not affect the balance, nevermind tipping it. As for the NAF, it is doing well and will probably get even more men and modern gear through the "voentorg", but it cannot push too far. As one NAF commander said, "so far we have been liberators, but we don't want to become occupiers". The rule of thumb is simple: the further west the NAF goes, the less support it will get and the more it will expose itself to guerrilla warfare lead by a local insurgency. A far smarter strategy is to sit tight and watch the Ukies go after each other.

Q: Why do you think that will happen?

A: Because no matter what all this still holds true: the Ukraine was always an artificial country, Banderastan is even worse. There is no real power in control, even the Junta is "kinda" in power only. The country is economically dead dead dead. The economic crisis is only at it's very early stages, and from now on it's only going to get worse. Socially, the people are increasingly mad, disillusioned and feel lied to and, at the same time, less and less afraid to speak up. The Nazis are by far the most united and best armed group in the country, except for a theoretical "Ukrainian military" which, at least so far, has no leader and is therefore is not united (might this change in the future? Maybe). Basically, any person who took Social Sciences 101 in college will tell you that the Ukies will now turn on each other, God willing just with words and ideas, but violence is most likely. For the NAF it is far better to wait until Zaporozhie, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov or even Odessa turn into lawless cities which nobody really controls then to try to take them by force now. There is even a real possibility that the NAF might be seen as a liberator in these cities if chaos there reaches a "Mad Max" level.

Q: What if NATO sends in forces to prop-up the Junta?

A: LOL! First, I would strongly advise our AngloZionist "partners" (as they say in Russia) to first consult with their German, French and Polish colleagues to see if the latter have pleasant memories of being in charge of the Ukraine. Second, I would remind our AngloZionist partners that their move into Iraq and Afghanistan was supposed to be a love fest which would pay for itself. Third, I would also suggest to them that if they did not like Maliki, they might not like Iarosh either. Of course, sending a symbolic force to some maneuvers with whatever is left of the Ukie military is a good idea - it's called "showing the flag" - but to try to do something meaningful by trying to use NATO military forces inside the Ukraine would be very, very, dangerous even if Russia does nothing at all to make things worse.

Q: What about the EU?

A: I think that it lost it's willpower (not that it ever had much!). That ridiculous performance by Hollande has already come crushing down: turns out that his loud statement was an "individual opinion" with no legal meaning. Now, of course, the EU Kindergartgen (Poland, Lithuania, etc.) will keep on being what it is, a Kindergarten, but the adults (Germany, France, etc.) are showing signs of getting fed up. I don't expect them to make a 180 overnight, no, but I just expect them to stop pro-actively making things worse. One of the possible signs of that might be a decrease in the role of the EU and an increase in the role of the OSCE.

Q: And what about Uncle Sam?

A: He is totally stuck in his only mode: demands, threats, condemnation, demands, threats, condemnation, etc. etc. etc. Normally "aggression" is part of that mantra, except that neither the US nor NATO have what it takes to militarily attack Russia. As for the AngloZionist 'deep state' it will continue to try subvert and economically cripple Russia, but as long as Putin is on the Kremlin I don't see that strategy succeeding either.

Q: Sounds like you are optimistic.

A: If so, then only very very cautiously so. I don't see a big drama, much less so a disaster, in what just happened, I think that Russia holds all the good cards in this game, and I see no danger for the people of Novorussia. To those who wanted to ride on a tank straight to the Maidan I can only say that even though I very much share their hopes and dreams, politics is the art of the possible and that smart politics are often slow and time-consuming politics. Maximalism is good for teenagers, not heads of state whose decision affect the lives of millions of people. Thus my temporary and provisional conclusion is this: so far, so good, things are better than they seemed to be only 2 months ago and I see no reason to expect a major reversal in the foreseeable future.

Q: What do you consider the biggest danger for Novorussia right now?

A: Political infighting. I don't know if this is possible right now, but I would like to see the emergence of an undisputed Novorussian leader who would have the official and full support of Strelkov, Zakharchenko, Borodai, Mozgovoi, Kononov, Khodakovski, Tsarev, Bolotov, Gubarev and all the other political and military leaders. This has to be a truly Novorussian leader, not just a "Putin proconsul", a person capable of negotiating with Putin for the interests of the people of Novorussia. I don't mean to suggest that these negotiations cannot be friendly, if only because there can be no Novorussia against Russia, but this leader needs to represent the interests of the Novorussian people, and not the Russian people whose interests are (very well) represented by Putin himself. Right now, the main reason why Putin has so much power in Novorussia is primarily because there is still no real Novorussian political leadership. There is a Novorussian military leadership, and even they probably have to more or less do what the Russian military tells them to do. Far from being weakened by the emergence of such a truly independent and truly Novorussian leader, I think that the Russian-Novorussian alliance would be greatly strengthened by it. Novorussia should not, and cannot, be micro-managed from the Kremlin. In other words, what I hope is for a "Novorussian Nasrallah" who would be a loyal and faithful but sovereign and independent ally of Putin (like Nasrallah is for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei), but not a poodle like Blair or Hollande. Novorussia needs a spokesman and negotiator who could really have a mandate to speak for the people of Novorussia. Until that happens, I will always be worried for the future of the people of Novorussia.

*******

That's it for now. I hope that with this self-made Q&A/FAQ I have replied to many, if not most, of the questions, comments and emails I simply had no time to respond to in the past. I also hope to have set the record straight about my own views which have been constantly and systematically mis-represented by either dishonest or plain stupid individuals. If I am succeeded in terminally offending and discouraging the Putin-haters - good. I am tired of dealing with their illiterate rants. Ditto for Saker-haters (- : told you: I am not a nice guy :-), to whom I will add this personal message: stop telling me what I am supposed to do, say, think or write. This blog is like an AA meeting: "take what you like and leave the rest". But don't expect me to change and don't expect me to change my views unless you can show me by facts and logic that I am wrong (in which case I will gratefully welcome the opportunity correct my mistake). Rants just annoy me, especially racist ones, but they won't make me turn into a clone of you.


Sorry if I forgot many good questions or points and please feel free to post more comments or questions, and I will try to answer those which a) do not misrepresent my views (no more strawman) or b) which I have not already answered ad nauseam elsewhere. To those of you who have - correctly - detected my irritation and/or frustration with certain comments I will simply say "guilty as charged" (- : told you: I am definitely not a nice guy :-). I won't even bother justifying myself, either you can or you cannot imagine how frustrating it is for me to deal with, shall we say, some "personality types". But either way there is nothing I could add to affect that. To the many kind, supportive, respectful, generous, educated, wise, interesting, funny, sophisticated, compassionate, intelligent, principled, honest, honorable and otherwise wonderful members of our community I want to express my most heartfelt and sincere gratitude: I simple don't know how I could have made it through these terrible and tragic months without your help, support and kindness.


RFC: Now let's get a good brainstorming session going about any and all the topics above.


Cheers and kind regards,


The Saker

[Sep 06, 2014] The Imperial Rot of Armchair Warriors by Rob Urie

One cure for the neo-cons is to put them in uniform on the front lines of the military adventures they believe worth fighting. The imperial rot of armchair warriors sitting in cushy chairs in Georgetown mansions deciding who lives and who dies must be brought to an end.
CounterPunch

By moving the wholly delusional neo-con plan for world domination forward Mr. Obama's foreign policy 'confusion' can most likely be found in trying to reconcile the utter implausibility of the project with any conceivable good outcome. Even if a temporary cease-fire is negotiated between ethnic Russians and the newly imposed 'government' of Ukraine American neo-cons have made it known that nothing short of full, and wholly untenable, capitulation by Russia will prevent ongoing political, economic and military assault from Western forces.

And here the burden of history comes into play- twenty years of Russian capitulation and broken agreements from the Americans have proved that capitulation would 'buy' no reprieve from the American assault. Again, given their ability to end the world with the push of a few buttons the wisdom of putting the Russian state and people's backs to the wall is in doubt. While it might be a reasonable bet that no one but the American neo-cons are crazy enough to push the buttons of nuclear annihilation, does Mr. Obama really see it in the West's (or anyone's) interests to ascertain with certainty who is crazy, or desperate, enough to do so and who isn't?

The only meaningful resolution to the geo-political turmoil the U.S. is causing is reconciliation with 'the world,' including the environment. If the near total destruction of Iraq didn't bring about the intended outcomes how could more bombing do so?

To be clear on this point, after six years in office with no effort at energy conservation and no plan to materially address global warming Mr. Obama is serving oil company, munitions manufacturer and Wall Street interests alone with his ill (barely) conceived and highly destructive foreign military adventures.

One cure for the neo-cons is to put them in uniform on the front lines of the military adventures they believe worth fighting. The imperial rot of armchair warriors sitting in cushy chairs in Georgetown mansions deciding who lives and who dies must be brought to an end. And lest this remain unconsidered, some fair portion, a majority maybe, of Americans are themselves on the outside of this imperial divide, else why the need for the serial 'big lies' about American actions and outcomes?

Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. His book Zen Economics is forthcoming.

[Sep 06, 2014] Of Motes and Beams by Nebojsa Malic

Antiwar.com

This was followed by more lies: that NATO was a purely defensive alliance of democracies that never meant anyone any harm – ask the Serbs, Libyans or Afghans how true that is – and that the West is not hostile towards Russia. "Over the past two decades, the United States has gone to great lengths to welcome Russia into the community of nations and to encourage its economic success," Mr. Obama claimed.

This is simply not true. Not to mention that the "encouragement of economic success" was rightly described as "the Rape of Russia", which only ended after Mr. Putin came to power. This is not the first time the Emperor has lied about Russia, and probably won't be the last.

But the lie of "Russian aggression" and NATO's innocence is necessary to maintain the US control of Europe. On the eve of a major NATO meeting in Wales, Emperor Obama announced plans to "further increase America's military presence in Europe," including "American boots on the ground", but also "intelligence and surveillance and reconnaissance and missile defense."

Better yet, it's the Europeans who are expected to pay the cost of their own occupation – their "full share," in Mr. Obama's words – even though the US-imposed trade war with Russia is destroying their economy, already mired in welfare-statism and austerity.

Zero Self-Awareness

It is simply amazing to observe the utter lack of self-awareness in a man who says that "lies and misinformation are no match for the truth" after just having lied; who rejects a world "where the big are allowed to bully the small" though his own country is the biggest bully on the planet; and who can say with a straight face that "might does not make right" after just boasting about "the strongest military alliance the world has ever known."

If he rejects "any talk of spheres of influence today", it's because the Imperial government believes the entire planet to be theirs.

By the time one reaches the claim that the "currents of history" that "flow towards freedom," one simply must shake one's head in bewilderment, and wonder whether the Emperor's speechwriter is channeling the Simpsons' Citizen Kang.

[Sep 04, 2014] Neocons' U.S. foreign-policy delusions by Bruce Fein

Samuel Shenton, the Flat Earth Society's organizing secretary, refuted satellite pictures of a spherical Earth by harrumphing: "It's easy to see how a photograph like that could fool the untrained eye."
September 4, 2014 | Washington Times

Neoconservative gospel maintains that "moderate" disciples of the Founding Fathers can be discovered in trouble spots throughout the world and that they will pioneer peaceful democratic dispensations if the United States would only jump-start the process with military or economic support.

That delusion qualifies neoconservatives for honorary membership in the Flat Earth Society. Further, the endless U.S. interventions championed by neoconservatives under the banner of boosting "moderates" create power vacuums and monsters like the Islamic State that diminish the prospects for peace and heighten danger to the American people.

We can no longer afford their dangerous foreign-policy delusions.

Samuel Shenton, the Flat Earth Society's organizing secretary, refuted satellite pictures of a spherical Earth by harrumphing: "It's easy to see how a photograph like that could fool the untrained eye."

Neoconservatives similarly resist accepting that there are no "moderate" celebrants of the U.S. Declaration of Independence or Constitution in strife-torn countries. Their arguments urging U.S. interventions in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq are exemplary.

They shriek for President Obama to provide military assistance to alleged "moderate" alter egos of George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad. They insinuate that these imaginary Syrian democrats deserve U.S. support because they will erect a new dispensation featuring the rule of law, checks and balances, a separation of mosque and state, due process, and a peace treaty with Israel. They further hint that if Mr. Obama had earlier armed these alleged disciples of America's Founding Fathers, 200,000 Syrian deaths would have been avoided, the Islamic State would have been stillborn, and the disciples would have won the Nobel Peace Prize.

These assertions are predictable neocon delusions. Syria was carved from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire with artificial boundaries inviting sectarian animosities to accommodate the French desire for a puppet king. Neither Syria nor its political culture has ever paid homage to the liberty enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence or Constitution.

Great Britain needed six centuries after the Magna Carta in 1215 to attain fully representative government and the rule of law. Syria is not yet composed its Magna Carta. It will need at least 1,000 years to develop anything resembling democracy.

Neocon delusions about "moderates" fueled Mr. Obama's war against Libya to overthrow Col. Moammar Gadhafi in the expectation of installing Libyan disciples of the Founding Fathers. Gadhafi was ousted and killed, but no moderates appeared, and none could be summoned into being. Instead, violence spiraled, tribal and sectarian militias multiplied, our ambassador was killed in Benghazi, all U.S. Embassy personnel departed, and Gadhafi's weapons were scattered throughout the Middle East.

Neocon gospel also insisted that "moderate" disciples of the Founding Fathers could be discovered in post-September 11 Afghanistan to establish popular self-government, emancipate women, and defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda. However, Afghanistan's culture is barely a notch above a state of nature. It features ethnic, tribal and religious animosities, the subjugation of women, and rigid hierarchies. Equality under the law, due process and a separation of powers are alien concepts. After 13 years of U.S. occupation and tutelage, Afghanistan remains a failed state vulnerable to imminent takeover by the Taliban as soon as U.S. troops exit.

The neocons confidently asserted that "moderates" were present in Iraq to pioneer democracy and human rights throughout the Middle East after the U.S. invasion in 2003. As with Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, though, there were no George Washingtons, James Madisons or adherents of the Enlightenment. There never have been. Indeed, the neocon-engineered war occasioned a grisly mix of religious, tribal and ethnic conflict in Iraq that resembles Libya's inferno.

The Islamic State is the child of the havoc wreaked by neocons throughout the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia that has destroyed governments and convulsed cultures. The worst of the worst thrive in a power vacuum. When the Shah of Iran abdicated, Ayatollah Khomeini raced into the vacuum. The rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan coincided with the power vacuum created by the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989.

Having created the Islamic State monster, the neocons are now clamoring for war to kill their offspring. They wave the delusional prospect of a caliphate in the United States to justify endless conflict with no strategic objective. However, the Islamic State is far less a threat to Americans than the risk of death from a domestic homicide. The Islamic State threat will diminish if we cease seeking to manipulate every Muslim nation in the region through military means, employ covert action to foment internecine Muslim enmities, and collect intelligence abroad to avoid surprises at home.

Clear-headed thinking in foreign policy is too important to be left to neocons qualified for honorary membership in the Flat Earth Society.

Bruce Fein is a former associate deputy attorney general and general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission under President Reagan. He is author of "American Empire Before the Fall and Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

[Sep 02, 2014] The End of Democracy as we Knew it by Bernd Hamm

Sep 02, 2014 | informationclearinghouse.info

2.1 The Rise of the Neocons

Americans regularly insist that the U.S. is the only global governing authority that underpins the world's security and prosperity, that without it, there would be widespread chaos, economic stagnancy, and far more frequent international warfare. The proponents of this conception emphasize the dependency of world order on US military, economic, diplomatic, and ideological capabilities (Falk, R., 2014). Falk mentions Michael Mandelbaum as the most passionate proponent of this position [9]. Recently Mandelbaum (2014) bluntly restated this argument, saying, "The United States stands alone as the world's de facto government." Though administered from its statist headquarters in Washington, according to its promoters, this form of world government is meta-political and unselfish, qualities that should be appreciated by all people of good will since the U.S. is contributing to the betterment of humanity (Kagan, R. 2006). Indeed, there was only one group on earth which claimed the right to global governance: the US neo-conservatives.

By the mid-1970s, then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld began to argue that the Soviet government would be ignoring bilateral treaties and secretly building up weapons with the intention of attacking the United States. Together with Paul Wolfowitz he wanted to create a much more severe view of the Soviet Union, its intentions, and views about fighting and winning a nuclear war. When George H. W. Bush became Director of Central Intelligence in 1976, he set up a team of sixteen outside experts who were to take an independent look at highly classified data used by the intelligence community to assess Soviet strategic forces, commonly referred to as Team B [10]. Their allegations proved all wrong. The CIA director concluded that the Team B approach set "in motion a process that lends itself to manipulation for purposes other than estimative accuracy."

The "neo-conservative offensive" (Hamm, B., 2005, 1-18), which started in August 1971 with the Powell Manifesto (Nace, T., 2003 [11]), had its first great success when Ronald Reagan came into power und brought many of the neocon hawks with him. They had been in place before and were waiting for their chance. Ronald Reagan was the worst informed president, an old man who napped even in meetings of the National Security Council, and who perceived the world through the lens of Hollywood movies: "A man of limited knowledge but deep religious beliefs and strong conservative convictions, he provided little guidance on policy and had no interest in or grasp of detail. … Reagan's disengaged style and lack of foreign policy experience left the door open to palace intrigue among his subordinates, who were eager to fill the void" (Stone, O., Kuznick, P., 2013:421-4).

After the collapse of the socialist regimes the neocons lost influence while still opposing the foreign policy establishment of the republican Bush Sr. administration as well as of that of its democratic successor under President Clinton. Their major foreign policy concern was how to prevent the rise of a new rival. The Defense Planning Guide, a document prepared by the then Undersecretary for Defense Policy Paul Wolfowitz mentions: "Our most important goal is it to prevent to emergence of a new rival, whether on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, which would represent a threat similar to that of the former Soviet Union. This reflection governs the new regional defense strategy and demands that we prevent every hostile power to dominate a region the resouces of which would suffice to justify a claim to global power" [12].

In 1997, a group surfaced under the name of Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a think tank based in Washington, D.C. founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan. The PNAC's stated goal is "to promote American global leadership." Fundamental to the PNAC were the views that "American leadership is both good for America and good for the world" and support for "a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity." After the faked presidential elections of 2000 (Palast, G. 2002), its members came in numerous key administrative positions and the PNAC exerted influence on high-level government officials in the administration of George W. Bush and shaped its military and foreign policies.

As J. Petras (2013b) writes, the restoration of "direct US imperial interventions, unhindered by Congressional and popular opposition, was gradual in the period 1973-1990. It started to accelerate in the 1990's and then really took off after September 11, 2001" The first military test after the collapse of the Soviet empire was how Iraq President Saddam Hussein was lured into the Kuwait trap in 1990. The 28 nations "coalition of the willing" was bought together, and war was waged over the people of Iraq, a war that first was fought with murderous weapons, then with sanctions, and has continued until this very day. On January 16, 1998, members of the PNAC, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Robert Zoellick drafted an open letter to President Bill Clinton urging him to remove Saddam Hussein from power. They argued that Saddam would pose a threat to the United States, its Middle East allies, and oil resources in the region if he succeeded in maintaining what they asserted was a stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The PNAC also supported the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which some have regarded as evidence that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a foregone conclusion (Mackay, N., 2004).

It should not be forgotten that the war against Afghanistan, too, was being planned well before the 9/11 attacks. US officials had been in talks with the Taliban about building an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Karachi, Pakistan, via Afghanistan in order to avoid crossing Iran. In July 2001, a German diplomat was reported saying that the talks ended with the announcement from the US side: "Either we cover you with a carpet of gold [if you comply], or we cover you with a carpet of bombs". Even the date when bombings would begin was given as October 2001 [13]. This had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks, nor with Osama bin Laden (Chossudovsky, M. 2005).

Rebuilding America's Defenses (September 2000), the most widely circulated document of the PNAC group, was developed by Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby, and devoted to matters of "maintaining US pre-eminence, thwarting rival powers and shaping the global security system according to US interests." Section V, entitled "Creating Tomorrow's Dominant Force", includes the sentence: "Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor". Though not necessarily implying that Bush administration members were complicit in those attacks, it was often been argued that PNAC members used the events of 9/11 as the "Pearl Harbor" that they needed––that is, as an "opportunity" to capitalize on in order to enact long-desired plans.

In a 2007 speech before the Commonwealth Club, retired General Wesley Clark cited a classified Pentagon Memorandum of 2001 (months before the September attacks) which read that the US would attack seven countries in the next five years, i.e. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran in order to gain control over their natural resources, oil in the first place, and enable fabulous profits for the arms and oil industries. "Our country was governed by a group of paranoids like Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and others who wanted to destabilize the Middle East and gain control over its resources" [14].

By the end of 2006, PNAC was "reduced to a voice-mail box and a ghostly website", with "a single employee left to wrap things up". In 2006, Gary Schmitt, former executive director of the PNAC, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and director of its program in Advanced Strategic Studies, stated that PNAC had come "to a natural end." Instead, untiring neocon hawk Robert Kagan replaced it with the Foreign Policy Initiative [15].

[Sep 02, 2014] Thoughts on Neoconservatism and Neoliberalism by Hugh

08/19/2012 | Corrente

I got to thinking today about how neocon and neoliberal are becoming interchangeable terms. They did not start out that way. My understanding is they are ways of rationalizing breaks with traditional conservatism and liberalism. Standard conservatism was fairly isolationist. Conservatism's embrace of the Cold War put it at odds with this tendency. This was partially resolved by accepting the Cold War as a military necessity despite its international commitments but limiting civilian programs like foreign aid outside this context and rejecting the concept of nation building altogether.

With the end of the Cold War conservative internationalism needed a new rationale, and this was supplied by the neoconservatives. They advocated the adoption of conservatism's Cold War military centered internationalism as the model for America's post-Cold War international relations. After all, why drop a winning strategy? America had won the Cold War against a much more formidable opponent than any left on the planet. What could go wrong?

America's ability not simply to project but its willingness to use military power was equated with its power more generally. If America did not do this, it was weak and in decline. However, the frequent use of military power showed that America was great and remained the world's hegemon. In particular, the neocons focused on the Middle East. This sales pitch gained them the backing of both supporters of Israel (because neoconservatism was unabashedly pro-Israel) and the oil companies. The military industrial complex was also on board because the neocon agenda effectively countered calls to reduce military spending. But neoconservatism was not just confined to these groups. It appealed to both believers in American exceptionalism and backers of humanitarian interventions (of which I once was one).

As neoconservatism developed, that is with Iraq and Afghanistan, the neocons even came to embrace nation building which had always been anathema to traditional conservatism. Neocons sold this primarily by casting nation building in military terms, the creation and training of police and security forces in the target country.

9/11 too was critical. It vastly increased the scope of the neocon project in spawning the Global War on Terror. It increased the stage of neocon operations to the entire planet. It effectively erased the distinction between the use of military force against countries and individuals. Individuals more than countries became targets for military, not police, action. And unlike traditional wars or the Cold War itself, this one would never be over. Neoconservatism now had a permanent raison d'être.

Politically, neoconservatism has become the bipartisan foreign policy consensus. Democrats are every bit as neocon in their views as Republicans. Only a few libertarians on the right and progressives on the left reject it.

Neoliberalism, for its part, came about to address the concern of liberals, especially Democrats, that they were too anti-business and too pro-union, and that this was hurting them at the polls. It was sold to the rubiat has pragmatism.

The roots of neoliberalism are the roots of kleptocracy. Both begin under Carter. Neoliberalism also known at various times and places as the Washington Consensus (under Clinton) and the Chicago School is the political expression for public consumption of the kleptocratic economic philosophy, just as libertarian and neoclassical economics (both fresh and salt water varieties) are its academic and governmental face. The central tenets of neoliberalism are deregulation, free markets, and free trade. If neoliberalism had a prophet or a patron saint, it was Milton Friedman.

Again just as neoconservatism and kleptocracy or bipartisan so too is neoliberalism. There really is no daylight between Reaganism/supply side economics/trickledown on the Republican side and Clinton's Washington Consensus or Team Obama on the other.

And just as we saw with neoconservatism, neoliberalism expanded from its core premises and effortlessly transitioned into globalization, which can also be understood as global kleptocracy.

The distinctions between neoconservatism and neoliberalism are being increasingly lost, perhaps because most of our political classes are practitioners of both. But initially at least neoconservatism was focused on foreign policy and neoliberalism on domestic economic policy. As the War on Terror expanded, however, neoconservatism came back home with the creation and expansion of the surveillance state.

At the same time, neoliberalism went from domestic to global, and here I am not just thinking about neoliberal experiments, like Pinochet's Chile or post-Soviet Russia, but the financialization of the world economy and the adoption of kleptocracy as the world economic model.

jest on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 5:55am

I'm now under the opinion that you can't talk about any of the "neo-isms" without talking about the corporate state.

That's really the tie that binds the two things you are speaking of.

With neocons, it manifests itself through the military-industrial complex (Boeing, Raytheon, etc.), and with neolibs it manifests itself through finance and industrial policy.

For example, you need the US gov't to bomb Iraq (Raytheon) in order to secure oil (Halliburton), which is priced & financed in US dollars (Goldman Sachs). It's like a 3-legged stool; if you remove one of these legs, the whole thing comes down. But each leg has two components, a statist component and a corporate component.

The entity that enables all of this is the corporate state.

It also explains why economic/financial interests (neolib) are now considered national security interests (neocon). The viability of the state is now tied to the viability of the corporation.

lambert on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 9:18am

Corporate/statist (not sure "corporate" captures the looting/rentier aspect though). We see it everywhere, for example in the revolving door.

I think the stool has more legs and is also more dynamic; more like Ikea furniture. For example, the press is surely critical in organizing the war.

But the yin/yang of neo-lib/neo-con is nice: It's as if the neo-cons handle the kinetic aspects (guns, torture) and the neo-libs handle the mental aspects (money, mindfuckery) but both merge (like Negronponte being on the board of Americans Select) over time as margins fall and decorative aspects like democratic institutions and academic freedom get stripped away. The state and the corporation have always been tied to each other but now the ties are open and visible (for example, fines are just a cost of doing business, a rent on open corruption.)

And then there's the concept of "human resource," that abstracts all aspects of humanity away except those that are exploitable.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

jest on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 1:37pm

I like the term much better than Fascist, as it is 1) more accurate, 2) avoids the Godwin's law issue, and 3) makes them sound totalitarianist.

Yes, I would agree that additional legs make sense. The media aspect is essential, as it neutralizes the freedom of the press, without changing the constitution. It dovetails pretty well with the notion of Inverted Totalitarianism.

I think you could also make the argument that Obama is perhaps the most ideal combination of neolib & neocon. The two sides of him flow together so seamlessly, no one seems to notice. But that's in part because he is so corporate.

Lex on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 8:28am

Actually, neoliberalism is an economic term. An economic liberal in the UK and EU is for open markets, capitalism, etc. You're right that neoliberalism comes heavily from the University of Chicago, but it has little to do with American political liberalism.

A reading of the classical liberal economists puts some breaks on the markets, corporations, etc. Neoliberalism goes to the illogical extremes of market theory and iirc, has some influence from the Austrian school ... which gives up on any pretense of scientific exposition of economics or rationality at the micro level, assuming that irrationality will magically become rational behavior in aggregate.

Therefore, US conservatives post Eisenhower but especially post Reagan are almost certainly economic neoliberals. Since Clinton, liberals/Democrats have been too (at least the elected ones). You nailed neoconservative and both parties are in foreign policy since at least Clinton ... though here lets not forget to go back as far as JFK and his extreme anti-Communism that led to all sorts of covert operations, The Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Remember, the Soviets put the missiles in Cuba because we put missiles in Turkey and they backed down from Cuba because we agreed to remove the missiles from Turkey; Nikita was nice enough not to talk about that so that Kennedy didn't lose face.

"Don't believe them, don't fear them, don't ask anything of them" - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Hugh on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 3:57pm

I agree that neoconservatism and neoliberalism are two facets of corporatism/kleptocracy. I like the kinetic vs. white collar distinction.

The roots of neoliberalism go back to the 1940s and the Austrians, but in the US it really only comes into currency with Clinton as a deliberate shift of the Democratic/liberal platform away from labor and ordinary Americans to make it more accommodating to big business and big money. I had never heard of neoliberalism before Bill Clinton but it is easy to see how those tendencies were at work under Carter, but not under Johnson.

This was a rough and ready sketch. I guess I should also have mentioned PNAC or the Project to Find a New Mission for the MIC.

Hugh on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 10:44pm

I have never understood this love of Clinton that some Democrats have just as I have never understood the attraction of Reagan for Republicans. There is no Clinton faction. There is no Obama faction. Hillary Clinton is Obama's frigging Secretary of State. Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, both of whom served as Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary, were Obama's top financial and economic advisors. Timothy Geithner was their protégé. Leon Panetta Obama's Director of the CIA and current Secretary of Defense was Clinton's Director of OMB and then Chief of Staff.

The Democrats as a party are neoconservative and neoliberal as are Obama and the Clintons. As are Republicans.

What does corporations need regulation mean? It is rather like saying that the best way to deal with cancer is to find a cure for it. Sounds nice but there is no content to it. Worse in the real world, the rich own the corporations, the politicians, and the regulators. So even if you come up with good ideas for regulation they aren't going to happen.

What you are suggesting looks a whole lot another iteration of lesser evilism meets Einstein's definition of insanity. How is it any different from any other instance of Democratic tribalism?

Lex on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 11:49pm

Perhaps it should be pointed out that the Clintons became fabulously wealthy just after Bill left office, mostly on the strength of his speaking engagements for the financial sector that he'd just deregulated. Both he and Hillary hew to a pretty damned neoconservative foreign policy ... with that dash of "humanitarian interventionism" that makes war palatable to liberals.

But your deeper point is that there isn't enough of a difference between Obama and Bill Clinton to really draw a distinction, not in terms of ideology. What a theoretical Hillary Clinton presidency would have looked like is irrelevant, because both Bill and Obama talked a lot different than they walked. Any projection of a Hillary Clinton administration is just that and requires arguing that it would have been different than Bill's administration and policies.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that at that level of politics, the levers of money and power work equally well on both party's nomenklatura. They flock to it like moths to porch light.

That the money chose Obama over Clinton doesn't say all that much, because there's no evidence suggesting that the money didn't like Clinton or that it would have chosen McCain over Clinton. It's not as if Clinton's campaign was driven into the ground by lack of funds.

Regardless, that to be a Democrat i would kind of have to chose between two factions that are utterly distasteful to me just proves that i have no business being a Democrat. And since i wouldn't vote for either of those names, i guess i'll just stick to third parties and exit the political tribalism loop for good.

"Don't believe them, don't fear them, don't ask anything of them" - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

[Aug 29, 2014] ISIS, the Neocons, and Obama's Choices by Scott McConnell

Aug 27, 2014 | The American Conservative
Though Congress and the president are out of town, the final weeks of August have seen the arrival of an unexpectedly critical moment. The brutal beheading of James Foley by ISIS (the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq) confirmed that there remains a Sunni jihadist terrorism problem in the Mideast: decimating al-Qaeda and killing Osama bin Laden didn't end it. It shouldn't be forgotten that America's destruction of the Iraqi state in 2003 created the opportunity for ISIS to grow and thrive, as America's Sunni allies, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, gave ISIS financial backing.

How to respond? The usually wise Andy Bacevich suggests that ISIS constitutes a negligible threat to America, a superpower an ocean away, that bombing it has become-like bombing elsewhere, America's substitute for a genuine national security strategy. Bacevich suggests we ought to butt out, except perhaps to give aid to countries genuinely threatened by ISIS. There is much to this argument, as there is little inclination from the American people to send ground troops once again into Iraq. And even if we were willing to reconstitute and send an occupation force, what good would it do? In a similar vein, Paul Pillar argues that overestimating ISIS as a potential threat is perhaps more likely, and dangerous, than underestimating it.

But few are comfortable with doing little or nothing: ISIS is undoubtedly barbaric, with possible potential to spread. In important ways the situation resembles the months after 9/11, in which America were brutally confronted with the sudden emergence of Sunni extremism which had not previously been deemed a major problem.

Then as now, an influential group of neoconservatives, tightly allied with Israel, had a very specific idea of what they wanted the United States to do. The neocons then-and still do-aspired for an almost endless series of American wars and invasions across the entire Middle East. Because in 2001 we were already engaged in a sort of shadow war with Saddam Hussein-Iraq was under a semi-blockade and America was enforcing a no fly zone over the country-Iraq was the logical starting point. But for the neocons Iraq was only a beginning. "Real men want to go to Tehran" was the neoconservative semi-jokey catchword during that time, and they quite seriously expected that after Baghdad was digested as an appetizer, they could steer the United States into war with Iran-then as now a top Israeli priority. That an American war with Iran was an Israeli priority does not mean Israel opposed the Iraq war: polls at the time indicated that Israel was the only country in the world where large popular majorities were enthusiastic about George W. Bush's Iraq invasion, and Israeli politicians were regularly invited to appear as guests American news talk shows in order to beat the Iraq invasion drums. Steve Walt's and John Mearsheimer's indispensable book The Israel Lobby, contains pages filled with quotations from Israeli leaders making hawkish pronouncements to American audiences; the quotes are a necessary corrective to present to present Israeli efforts to proclaim that an American invasion of Iraq was never really an Israeli objective.

If ISIS is to be contained or defeated without using American ground troops, it is necessary to examine the regional forces ready to fight it. There are of course the Kurds, a small group which can perhaps defend its own region, if that. The biggest potential player is Iran. With its majority Shia population Iran takes a dim view of Sunni jihadism; the Iranian population was pretty much the only one in the Muslim world to display open sympathy with Americans after 9/11. By the standards of the Middle East, it is a scientific powerhouse, with a large freedom aspiring middle class, and considerable artistic community. According to published reports, Iranian tanks have reportedly engaged ISIS near the Iranian border-probably with American approval. We are likely, I would guess, to hear more about Iranian tank brigades in the coming months, even root for them.

The other serious force willing to fight I

SIS is Syria, led by the Alawite Bashar al-Assad. Assad is a dictator, as was his father. His regime is strongly supported by Syria's Christians, by Iran, and by Hezbollah, the Sh'ite militia in neighboring Lebanon. Syria has been caught up in civil war of shocking brutality for the past four years. The largest faction opposing him is ISIS-and American arms distributed to the Syrian "rebels" have often ended up in ISIS hands. By opposing Assad, the United States has in effect been feeding ISIS.

It would seem logical that if ISIS really is a threat-a metastasizing terrorist entity and enemy of America and all civilization-then the United States should patch up its relations with Syria and Iran to deal with it. That's the advocacy of some groups favoring a detente with Iran (like the National Iranian-American Council), which views Iran as the most stable state in the region. But there is a problem: Israel hates Iran, and hates Syria because of Iran. The only Arab military force to give Israel any difficulty in the past 40 years is Hezbollah, armed by and allied with Iran. No matter how much Israel pretends to dislike Sunni extremism, it hates Iran more, because Iran has scientific, cultural, and political potential to be a major rival to Israel in the Middle East.

So the neoconservatives are arguing that the United States confront ISIS by sending in its own troops ("primarily" special forces, or a contingent of 10-15,000 "for now") but hoping of course that can be expanded upon later, rather than relying on regional allies. This is essentially a revised variant of the policies they advocated after 9/11-divert Americans away from confronting a threat from Sunni jihadists, while preparing the ground for a subsequent war with a state actor that Israel doesn't like. So the neocons will argue against any policy which contemplates detente with Iran or a lessening of tension with Syria, because they recognize that if the United States comes to view Iran as an ally in the fight against ISIS or other Sunni extremists, their goal of an American war with Iran is gone, probably forever. Bibi Netanyahu has boasted to Israeli audiences that America is something "easily moved" by Israel's public relations abilities, unregistered agents, and other well-wishers. But Bibi and his allies are likely to find their proposals to send American troops back into the Mideast a hard sell.

A final point: over the past two generations thousands of articles have been written proclaiming that Israel is a "vital strategic ally" of the United States, our best and only friend in the "volatile" Middle East. The claim is a commonplace among serving and aspiring Congressmen. I may have missed it, but has anyone seen a hint that our vital regional ally could be of any assistance at all in the supposedly civilizational battle against ISIS? Fact is, when you use the most powerful military in the Mideast to continuously brutalize Palestinian children, your usefulness as a regional ally becomes pretty limited.

Scott McConnell is a founding editor of The American Conservative.

Kurt Gayle says:

August 27, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Scott McConnell takes a hard look at recent attempts to hyper-inflate the so-called "ISIS threat to America." McConnell cites Andrew Bacevich and Paul Pillar (Daniel Larison and others might be included here, too) who all make convincing arguments that the ISIS threat to the U.S. is hugely exaggerated and quite likely negligible.

But even if the ISIS threat to the U.S. is negligible, Scott McConnell is still right to think that it makes good sense to find ways to contain the growth of ISIS.

First, McConnell lays out U.S. mistakes that have helped build ISIS:

"America's destruction of the Iraqi state in 2003 created the opportunity for ISIS to grow and thrive…American arms distributed to the Syrian 'rebels' have often ended up in ISIS hands. By opposing Assad, the United States has in effect been feeding ISIS."

O.K., we screwed up! But what can the U.S. do now to contain the growth of ISIS?

Although we can't undo our Iraq invasion mistake, the U.S. can quickly and easily (1) create a "lessening of tensions with Syria" and (2) stop sending arms and supplies to Syrian rebels – arms and supplies that often end up with ISIS. We can also (3) establish a normalization of relations with Iran, the most capable regional military power besides Syria that has an interest in containing ISIS.

Those three steps seem like no-brainers in the sense that they would help to shut off arms to ISIS and get the U.S. off the backs of anti-ISIS Syria and anti-ISIS Iran.

Problem of containing ISIS on the way to being solved, right?

You would think so, but not quite. McConnell points to the problem:

"No matter how much Israel pretends to dislike Sunni [including ISIS]extremism, it hates Iran more…The neoconservatives are arguing that the United States confront ISIS by sending in [U.S.] troops ('primarily" special forces, or a contingent of 10-15,000 'for now') but hoping of course that can be expanded upon later…preparing the ground for a subsequent war with a state actor [Iran] that Israel doesn't like.

"So the neocons will argue against any policy which contemplates detente with Iran or a lessening of tension with Syria, because they recognize that if the United States comes to view Iran as an ally in the fight against ISIS or other Sunni extremists, their goal of an American war with Iran is gone, probably forever."

Not being a politician dependent upon Israel-Lobby PACs for my campaign finance needs, I think this discussion should be really simple:

Americans leaders should make American foreign policy decisions based upon the American national interest – not the national interest of a foreign country.

Period.

Better still: Exclamation point!

KXB says:
August 27, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Don't expect the US media to point out the uselessness of our most valuable ally. In an upcoming book, it seems that after 9/11, then head of CNN Walter Isaacson tried to pressure reporters in delivering the news that was sympathetic to Israel, even when the facts were inconvenient. Christine Amanpour objected, and went ahead and reported Israeli shelling of an Arab village, without including Israel's POV.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/27/katie-couric-on-diane-sawyer-i-wonder-who-she-blew-this-time.html

Carson City
August 27, 2014 at 10:21 pm

@KXB : "Don't expect the US media to point out the uselessness of our most valuable ally. "

Not just the uselessness. There is the continuing pretense that we somehow acquired all these frothing at the mouth enemies because we're such nice tolerant people, and that Israel, also hated for inexplicable reasons, is our natural ally against their inexplicable hatred. Forgotten is the sort of crucially important fact that a huge part of the reason these people hate us is because of our role in enabling Israel and the perception that Israel's agents and "friends" in the United States are able to decisively influence and at times control American foreign and military policy.

In sum, Israel is worse than useless to us. It is a strategic burden and an important cause of the hatred and the terror attacks against us.

Ed K August 28, 2014 at 7:58 am

To defeat ISIS, you have to put pressure on Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait to stop all funding & supports. See this article on the genesis of ISIS. http://www.larouchepub.com/other/2014/4134wahhabi_terrs.html

Duglarri, August 28, 2014 at 10:46 am

On your last point, Scott, am I the only one who has the idea that Israel is not an ally of the United States, but is instead an objective? There is not and has never been a legal alliance between Israel and the United States, and there has never been a conflict in which an Israeli soldier got to within a thousand kilometers of a foxhole holding an American under fire. It's a very strange strategic ally that never lifts a finger.

On the other hand, though, Israel is clearly an objective of the United States. In some instances, the security of Israel is even more important than the security of America, as the fate of New Orlean's demonstrated. The National Guard troops and equipment that might have gone a long way to saving that city were all in Iraq when the hurricane hit, on an errand for Israel, and there was no hint whatsoever that they should be brought back to serve Americans instead of Israel. The destruction of New Orleans was a lower priority.

Referring to Israel as an objective (and for many Americans, the highest objective) clears up a lot of the confusion about the strange zig-zag of American policy. Israel is an objective, and Israeli actors play America like a fiddle based on that fact.

[Aug 29, 2014] Orwell Progressives Aren't Fascists By Scott Galupo

From comments: "Waiting for all the Jonah Goldberg fans ("Liberal Fascism") to critique this.
Oh, wait, TAC doesn't march in lockstep with the neocon game parade. Never mind."
August 26, 2014 | The American Conservative

Thanks to the website Open Culture, I came across George Orwell's 1940 review of Hitler's Mein Kampf.

Not only does Orwell suss precisely the nature of Hitler's menace and the source of his popularity, he provides a neat thumbnail description of European liberals and social democrats that could easily attach to today's American Democrats:

Also [Hitler] has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all "progressive" thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain.

In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won't do.

Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don't only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life.

Dig that prescient reference to birth control!

There's a variety of reasons-see Santayana, Garry Wills, and our own Dan McCarthy-why liberalism leads to force and coercion, but it's simply not the case that progressivism or modern liberalism or whatever you want to call it is akin to European fascism and Nazism, a virulent outgrowth of German romanticism that should not be confused with the rationalist-materialist hubris of Marx, Engels, and scientific socialism.

Since I began blogging semi-regularly four years ago, the conceit that, well, Nancy Pelosi should check her sleeve for a swastika, has been a constant irritant.

I'm glad to learn that the great Orwell would have been similarly irritated.

Sands, August 26, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Thank you for this. The lazy nature of this comparison can't be emphasized enough.

The Left and Right can both arrive at authoritarianism from different directions, but fascism isn't a stop on the Left's path.

Mark, August 26, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Fascism is a movement of the hard right. Its entire project is against the goals and populations of the left. The base of the Nazi party during its 1920s parliamentary stage were militarists, some established businessmen, and rural voters. The first ones arrested were the socialists, then the unionists, then the Jews.

David Naas, August 26, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Waiting for all the Jonah Goldberg fans ("Liberal Fascism") to critique this.
Oh, wait, TAC doesn't march in lockstep with the neocon game parade. Never mind.

As in many things, Orwell knew first hand how deadly and ludicrous politics is.

William Dalton, August 26, 2014 at 6:34 pm

On the other hand, accepting Orwell's analysis, that which he says separates fascists from communists, their desire for "struggle and self sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades", would seem to line up the Nazis pretty solidly with the sentiments of many (most?) American Christians.

I think it is more helpful to note what fascists, Nazis and Communists, Leninist and Maoist, have in common – their subjection of the rights of the individual to the interests of the collective, and the totalitarian demands made on the citizenry, which makes allegiance to any authority higher than the State a punishable offense.

This is what Christians should, and do, stand against, and why they opposed both poles of the 20th Century's most lethal forms of "socialism". Judge Nancy Pelosi and other politicians in America today on this scale, and if they have grounds to complain I will join you. If not, I think it's as legitimate to call one a Nazi as a Communist. Whatever energizes your base (or floats your boat).

RandomGermanDude, August 27, 2014 at 10:40 am

To qualify the NSDAP of the 1920s as solely opposed to left goals is IMHO unsupportable given their program from 1920 ("25-point program") and their ideological inner-party-conflict of that era.

icarusr, August 27, 2014 at 4:23 pm
Millman:

"Orwell was always bothered by birth control"

I'm not an Orwell specialist, but the context here is important:

human beings don't only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense

I would hesitate to say that Orwell was bothered by "common sense", "hygiene" or "comfort". Rather, he is identifying – correctly, in my view – precisely the things that not just a "progressive" but generally a humanist project would seek; add "beauty", and the list could describe a Medici project.

As it happens, while I think Orwell had a lot of insight into a lot of things, this one he got wrong. People want all of those things, and if it were offered to them without the blood and gore and the struggle and the fight, they would settle quite happily. Look at Germany now.

Indeed, purely based on my own experience of living through a violent revolution, war and civil war, I would say that once the initial adrenalin of struggle is spent, people will happily settle for comfort over struggle; in this same vein, I have always argued that Israel's greatest error has been it's inability to hook young Palestinians on minipods and Nike Air.

A history of the Third Reich bears this out. The average German liked victory, to be sure, but they did not as a whole like the struggle; if the war in the East in the end drove patriotic fervour, it is not be cause of struggle qua struggle, but because they knew what the Russians would do – deprive them of their comforts and safety and the little luxuries of life, such as they had; and if they fought with ferocity against the socialists and the Catholics and the Jews and the Slavs, it was not for the love of struggle, but to get the material gains that came out of that. For comfort, in short, and safety.

Clint, August 27, 2014 at 7:53 pm
"Leftists become incandescent when reminded of the socialist roots of Nazism"

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100260720/whenever-you-mention-fascisms-socialist-roots-left-wingers-become-incandescent-why/

Viking, August 28, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Several comments here.

  1. One, Joseph McCarthy gave the left a handy word to condemn any dubbing of its adherents as Communists. OTOH, no such word exists for leftists describing rightists as Fascists.
  2. Two, while there are clear differences between National Socialism and Communism, the two systems are both clearly collectivist. This was brought out by Clint's excellent link.
  3. Three, there is the danger of comparing apples and oranges here. That is, socialism is praised for its proclaimed goals, while capitalism is condemned for its actual results. This allows the left to disregard the question of whether socialism actually improves the lives of those for whom it professes to be speaking.
  4. Fourth, any objective look at National Socialism and Stalinism will reveal considerable similarities, and many differences are more of strategy than a truly different philosophy. For instance, unions were allowed under Stalin, but so hamstrung as to be effectively worthless to the constituent workers. If they had been simply banned, as under Hitler, it would have made no practical difference.
Reinhold, August 28, 2014 at 2:36 pm
"Marx's error, Hitler believed, had been to foster class war instead of national unity – to set workers against industrialists instead of conscripting both groups into a corporatist order."
Clint, this quote from the article you link to says it all: Hitler rejected the basic premise of all Marxist socialism, and sent the communists to the camps. You can't be a socialist who doesn't believe in class struggle and would prefer to unite all classes, so where Hitler and Goebbels may have been influenced by socialism––in, say, the way Qaddafi was!––they clearly rejected its most fundamental premise.

Viking, August 28, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Reinhold, there were a good many theories of socialism before Marx arrived on the scene. So, yes, I think you CAN be a socialist without believing in class struggle, just not a Marxian one.

[Aug 29, 2014] Has Hillary Ever Been Right By Patrick J. Buchanan

August 29, 2014 | The American Conservative
Sen. Rand Paul raises an interesting question: When has Hillary Clinton ever been right on foreign policy?

The valkyrie of the Democratic Party says she urged President Obama to do more to aid Syrian rebels years ago. And last summer, she supported air strikes on Bashar Assad's regime. Had we followed her advice and crippled Assad's army, ISIS might be in Damascus today, butchering Christians and Alawites and aiding the Islamic State in Iraq in overrunning Baghdad. But if the folly of attacking Assad's army and weakening its resistance to ISIS terrorists is apparent to everyone this summer, why were Clinton, Obama and Secretary of State Kerry oblivious to this reality just a year ago?

Consider the rest of Hillary's record. Her most crucial decision as Senator came in 2002 when she voted to invade Iraq. She now concedes it was the greatest mistake of her Senate career. She voted against the surge in 2006, but confided to Defense Secretary Bob Gates that she did so to maintain her political viability for 2008. This is statesmanship? Not voting your convictions about what is best for your country at war, so as not to antagonize the liberals in the Iowa caucuses?

In 2009, Hillary presented a "reset button" to Vladimir Putin's foreign minister. In 2011, she supported U.S. air strikes to bring down Col. Gadhafi and celebrated in Tripoli when he was overthrown and lynched. How did that work out? Libya is today a hellhole of murder and mayhem and Islamists are threatening a takeover. Who did Hillary think would rise when Gadhafi fell? Hillary's failure to anticipate or prevent the Benghazi massacre and her role in the botched cover-up, all concede, are burdens she will carry into the primaries in 2016, should she run.

Where, then, has Hillary exhibited the acumen to suggest she would be a wise and savvy steward of U.S. foreign policy in a disintegrating world?

Is this a convincing argument for the Republican alternative?

Hardly. The principal GOP voices on foreign policy, who get more airtime than Wolf Blitzer, are John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Their track record: McCain wanted to confront Putin over South Ossetia. He and Graham wanted to arm Ukrainians to fight the Russians in Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk. They wanted Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia brought into NATO, so that if war were to break out, we would be fighting the Russians alongside them.

This year, Graham was trolling around a Senate resolution to give Obama a blank check to attack Iran. Last year, McCain and Graham were for attacking Assad's army. This year they are for bombing ISIS, which is attacking Assad's army. But if Hillary, McCain, and Graham have been repeatedly wrong about Syria, what do we now? Answer: Stop and think.

First, this war in Syria and Iraq, like all such wars, is eventually going to be won by soldiers, by boots on the ground, by troops who can take and hold territory. And in such wars, as Napoleon said, God is on the side of the big battalions.

America should declare to friends and allies in the Middle East, as Nixon did to our friends and allies in Asia in the Guam Doctrine of 1969, that while we will stand with them when they are attacked, they, not we, will provide the soldiers for their own defense. No nation is less threatened by ISIS than ours. And as the Syrians, Turks, Kurds, and Iraqis have the proximity and manpower to defeat ISIS, they should do this job themselves.

Turkey shares a 550-mile border with Syria and could march in and crush ISIS. But if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wishes to play games with ISIS, out of hatred of Assad, let him and the Turks live with the consequences. As for Syria's army and regime, which either defeats ISIS or dies, let us cease impeding their efforts by backing a Free Syrian Army that has rarely won a battle and is only bleeding the Syrian army. Kurdistan and its ethnic cousins in Syria, Turkey and Iran are capable of defending themselves, and we should encourage any nation, including Iran, that is willing to send them the weapons to fight ISIS.

As for Baghdad, if it wants its Sunni lands back, it either should fight for them or accept their loss. We Americans are living today with the consequences, in considerable losses of blood and treasure, of fighting other people's wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Yet, we are suffering not at all from having kept out of other people's wars-in Georgia, Crimea, Donetsk, Syria, and Iran.

Speaking of the debate over U.S. air strikes in Syria, the New York Times writes, "There are too many unanswered questions to make that decision now, and there has been far too little public discussion for Mr. Obama to expect Americans to rally behind what could be another costly military commitment."

Sometimes the Times gets it right.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book "The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority." Copyright 2014 Creators.com.

[Aug 19, 2014] How to Beat Down a Bully: There's only one way to stop Putin's ugly new doctrine of irregular intervention -- hit back even harder. by Jeffrey A. Stacey , John Herbst

It is clear the the US neocons (which actually dominate State Department) want to use both MH17 tragedy and Ukrainian crisis as a whole to bully Russia. This article is no exception. Jeffrey Stacey expresses his primitive liner neocons views in other his articles too -- see whiteoliphaunt.com/duckofminerva . John Herbst was United States Ambassador to Ukraine from September 2003 to May 2006, period which includes Color revolution which preceded EuroMaidan -- Orange revolution. So he can be called the Godfather of Orange Revolution. Comments to article are really interesting, which can't be said about the article itself. It is standard neocon view on Russia.
Aug 16, 2014 | foreignpolicy.com

The international community is at long last beginning to take a strong stand against Moscow's aggression in eastern Ukraine. There is solid evidence indicating not only that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by Russian-aided rebels in eastern Ukraine, but that the Kremlin has bolstered the rebels with heavy artillery despite toughened Western sanctions. Moreover, Russia has massed over 45,000 soldiers near the eastern Ukrainian border, who are poised to undertake a "humanitarian operation." The large convoy of trucks Russia is sending to aid rebel-held Lugansk could prove to be a thinly disguised Trojan horse, setting off a major showdown once it arrives at the border.

President Vladimir Putin's double game has only ramped up since the downing of MH17, in response to the recent gains Ukraine's military forces have been making against the rebels. After a turning-point victory in liberating the strategic town of Slavyansk last month, the Ukrainian military has gone on to retake three-fourths of its lost territory and is now pounding the last two major rebel strongholds, Donetsk and Lugansk. Many of these rebels are not just pro-Russian sympathizers, they are full-fledged Russian citizens -- including some notorious bad apples like Igor Strelkov and Vladimir Antyufeyev, whom Russia previously used in not-so-subtle attempts to destabilize former members of the Warsaw Pact. Now Moscow is also aiding them by firing artillery across the border at Ukrainian forces attempting a final rout of the rebels.

The time has come for the West to make a decisive move to counter Putin's irregular war against Ukraine. The Russian president has introduced a perilous new norm into the international system, namely that it is legitimate to violate the borders of other countries in order to "protect" not just ethnic Russians, but "Russian speakers" -- with military means if necessary. Putin has notoriously threatened to annex Transnistria, the Russian-speaking territory of Moldova, inter alia. The Putin Doctrine represents a serious transgression of the status quo that has guaranteed the continent's security since the end of World War II; moreover, it violates the most essential tenet of the post-1945 international order.

The aim of Western actions must involve compelling Russia to end all support for the rebels in eastern Ukraine and ensure complete respect for Ukraine's territorial integrity. In order to bring about this result -- and ensure Moscow does not continue its dangerous double game -- a comprehensive approach is needed. It should consist of three elements: even tougher economic sanctions; military armaments to Ukraine; and an updated NATO strategy. The combined effect of this approach is to persuade the Kremlin that the cost of its Ukraine adventure and aggressive pursuit of the Putin Doctrine is too high.

The West has imposed economic sanctions on Russia for the past several months, but the results thus far have been feeble. The problem is partly that the sanctions started small and were only slowly ratcheted up. Moreover, European sanctions have been noticeably weaker than U.S. measures, feeding Putin's calculation that he can continue to act as he chooses, while a reluctant Europe hesitates to impose sufficiently punishing measures.

The sanctions that the United States and the European Union put in place on July 29, however, are strong enough to get Moscow's attention. Indeed, despite Russia's counter-sanctions on European and American food products, Putin is witnessing the failure of his efforts to split Europe from the United States -- not to mention the larger failure of preventing Kiev's new government from tilting to the West. But these measures have not been enough to actually deter Russia from continuing to intervene in eastern Ukraine. The West needs to make clear that the latest sanctions will not be the last if Moscow's aggression is not rapidly terminated.

The second part of a comprehensive strategy is to make it easier for Ukraine to re-establish control in its restive east. Since his late-May election, President Petro Poroshenko has conducted a successful counteroffensive against the rebels in eastern Ukraine. His forces have resealed a significant part of its eastern border and taken back much of the territory seized by the rebel forces. But as Poroshenko's troops have advanced, Moscow has increased the amount and sophistication of military supplies to Ukraine, including the SA-11 surface-to-air missile system that shot down MH17 and the SA-13 system. Thus far, his multiple requests for direct lethal aid have only met with reluctance in Brussels and Washington.

The West has dithered under the assumption that providing lethal aid to Ukraine would escalate the conflict. But a sanctions-dominant approach clearly has not prevented escalation. Indeed, with France's determination to sell the Mistral ships to Russia, the West is in the peculiar position of arming the aggressor and forbidding arms to the victim. If Russia does not cease firing missiles at Ukrainian forces and supplying the rebels with arms and equipment, and does not pull troops back from the border within two weeks, the West should begin supplying Ukraine proper with anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missile batteries, and a variety of additional infantry weaponry. And it should immediately threaten to do even more if Russia invades eastern Ukraine -- including inviting Kiev to join NATO.

The third element of a comprehensive strategy against Moscow requires a clear-eyed understanding of the Putin Doctrine. His stated right to "protect" Russian speakers is an invitation to intervene along Russia's border in all directions, including in the territory of America's NATO allies in the Baltics and elsewhere. For this reason, Washington's response must involve a new approach at NATO for managing the Russian relationship. The NATO-Russia Joint Doctrine that concluded in the late 1990s, which saw Russia as a partner, and which spoke of not building military infrastructure in the new NATO members or permanently deploying major military equipment and forces, needs to be reviewed. Publicly.

The small steps taken earlier this year to reassure NATO's eastern members -- Baltic air policing, NATO maritime movements, several small-scale NATO exercises, placement of U.S. and Western European aircraft around the Baltics and in Poland, and the deployment of a company of U.S. paratroopers to Poland -- need substantial reinforcing. If Russia fails to respond to tougher sanctions, pointed diplomacy, and lethal aid supplied to the Ukraine military, the allies must take further measures at September's NATO summit in Wales.

It would be prudent to follow up NATO's suspension of cooperation with Russia with an official review, with one of the options being maintaining the suspension and another being to end it and all other forms of cooperation. Because Washington still needs Moscow's help with a handful of key things (missile defense, Iran negotiations, Syria peace talks, and agreeing to rules governing cyberwarfare), the aim would be to list ending the NATO-Russia Council as an option -- but with the unstated intention of not actually following through. As NATO's Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow has been arguing, Russia has begun treating the United States and the alliance as an adversary. This is why we need to go beyond suspension and dangle complete cessation, even if for the time being we don't plan to make good on this threat.

Regarding NATO's troop placement, however, the United States needs to use this as the major means of reassuring our allies. It would be a good idea to bring the level of U.S. troops in Eastern Europe up to 1,000 from the temporary placement of 600 paratroopers (this could include 100 to 150 "soft forces," such as trainers). Washington also needs to do its best to get the Western Europeans to add to this total. To entice the Europeans to match the U.S. commitment, Washington should propose not permanent placement but a perpetual rotational arrangement. This way, the reddish line of permanent placement would not be crossed, but NATO would nonetheless achieve upgraded deterrence capability, while mollifying Poland and the Baltics.

Eastern European nations such as Poland are likely to welcome and add to increased capabilities commitments; Western Europeans nations, however, are far more hesitant. Direct lethal aid and a regularized rotational U.S.-Europe troop placement will go most of the way toward re-establishing conventional deterrence against Moscow. But to go all the way, Western allies also need to conduct a yearly exercise in Poland (and make announcements that in future years this new major exercise will be taking place in the Baltic states). This should be a major ground-air exercise of the NATO Response Force (NRF), with a military plan for defending an invasion from the east.

Regarding military capabilities, the United States should endorse both the German proposal to organize clusters of allies that would increase their military capabilities and Britain's proposal that would align Western allies to spearhead NATO military operations beyond what the current NRF plans call for. It is worth remembering that crude measures like the level of overall defense spending are far less important than the current state of military capabilities, which lately have been enhanced even by Western allies that have reduced their defense spending (e.g. France, Britain, and Germany). Furthermore, the alliance ought to augment its operational air force capabilities to be able to conduct 30-day air operations like the one carried out in Libya in 2011 (with the necessary fighter aircraft, flight crews, refueling aircraft, drones, and satellite surveillance). NATO needs to be thinking of capabilities in the full spectrum of land, naval, air, and cyber-power, and air capability is the biggest gap.

Indeed, the time has come for the West to take an even stronger stand against Russian aggression and force Putin to back down and end this crisis. The West should proceed with a fuller slate of toughened sanctions, targeting all major sectors of the Russian economy -- virtually all of their products and services -- and a full-fledged embargo against transferring any arms or defense technology to Russia. Tightening the economic screws is still a major element of a successful strategy to get Russia to cease and desist. But this is not enough.

The Russian president needs to be deterred from annexing other contested territories, like Transnistria, and reinforcing his ugly new international relations norm by deeply interfering in the internal affairs of other national states, such as the Baltics. This will require a series of additional and stronger military moves on the European chessboard. Let Crimea be the apogee of revanchist Russian aggrandizement. It is time for global security and international law to push back strongly against bellicose Russian dictates.

Selected Comments

poncejorge

Dear authors,

After reading the first paragraph of your paper one can realize the astounding lack of academic analysis behind it. Without going into deep analysis it can be easily pointed out that what you call as "international community" is mostly EU and affiliates - Norway as an example, the US, Australia and someway somehow Japan. The rest of the world is not on board. By your surprise the "rest" of the world comprises China (1.3 billion people), India (1.2 billion), LATAM (600 + million), and so on. As you can see, what you call as the international community does not even account for 1 billion people. Instead of instigating and advocating for war you should realize that Eurocentric (and US centric views) (see Edward Said) are rapidly fading into the past and like most US policies of the past century they may create a blowback effect (see Charles Johnson). Secondly, if you want to accuse someone of doing something first of all you have to present proofs of it. That is a basic principle that can be easily traced back to Roman times (2,000 years ago). What you call as "strong evidences" (shooting down of the Malaysian plane) are nothing else than bluff without proofs. "I believe" does not count as proof, nobody cares about what you believe, we care about what evidence you have. Furthermore, if you have the audacity to trash a country as big and powerful as Russia - and its leadership- (6th world biggest economy, and...full of atomic bombs!) without solid proofs you should realize that instead of creating an atmosphere for dialog you are fomenting bickering and misunderstanding to say the least.


My advice is to stop acting as if you have any moral ground (Vietnam, Irak, Afghanista, invasion of Mexico, and so on proofs that you are not better than anyone, just like the rest, and accepting that will maybe make you come to terms with yourself and clear up your analysis) and understand that the world does not work under presumptions, nor is black or white. Stop advocating for war and start understanding that each country acts on its on interest, and that the US or the EU do not have the right to impose its mores on everyone else (no one has the right, nor china, russia, brazil etc, but unfortunately the EU - Spain, France, Uk mostly, and the US has a long history of meddling in everyone affairs, first under open colonial format (Spain, France, UK) and later under disguised moralistic pretenses (US).

Best regards,

A Citizen of the world who is tired of watching fellow humans died without a reason and watching how the media sells itself to that purpose.

Klopezdron

Jeffrey,

Russians/Putin are responsible for downing of the Malaysian airplane? Come again please.

Why don't you charge Putin with Kennedy assassination and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa while you're at it.

Oligan

You've chosen wrong Bully, dear authors.

I'm Russian married to a French, I live in France and don't watch russian TV. I never supported Putin and in February was really glad for Ukranians. Since then me (as well as many of those who can read in Russian and talk to people from the region) have changed my opinion dramatically - the deeds of so called Ukranian army on the east are terrible!!!

They bomb civilians all the time, they use nazys, they punish those civilians who have relatives in protestants army, and on top those bastards in Kiev lie all the time - it is obvious for any person who has a brain, you don't have to listen to Putin's propaganda to see it. Ukranian revolution has turned from the step to western civilization into the most barbarian war since 1941, and it is not only Putin who is in charge of it.

But you are so stubborn, it is amazing. You believe any bullshit that proves your fears (somebody said something on facebook - wow!), and ignore facts that does not fit the concept. Frankly speaking, when I read articles like this I see no difference between Putin's propaganda and yours. And I see no difference between Putin's support of separatists and yours support of Ukranian army. If you think that people in Donets and Lugansk will happily live with Kiev after what they've done to them - well, it says a lot about your competence as an experts.

So - go both to hell with your military calls.

Sergey Aleksandrychev

@Oligan, you see no difference between Putin's "propaganda" and Ukrainian/American lies? The best propaganda is telling truth, that's why Putin's propaganda is gaining the upper hand.

I have not seen in the Western media or at Psaki's meetins any evidence of Putin's military support to the rebels. They are not separatists. They have always lived on this land, and they defend it against the gang of murderers who came to power in Kiev and consider the people of Eastern Ukrain "subhumans".

rosavo

I doubt western leaders schooled at the tradition of pol cor guilt will do help eastern allies against Russian revisionism, it's up to us in the east to do this.

as about Transnistria things are more complex since Stalin after the war took big parts from Romania, Poland and Russia and included them into Ukraine. to compensate Moldova for losing southern regions and Bukovina to Ukraine it added Transnistria to Moldova, integrating a huge Russian-speaking population of non-Russians (that nevertheless identify themselves with Russian identity and culture) into Moldova. I honestly prefer Transnistria to be integrated in Russia, otherwise they will act in Moldova as a fifth column, as we see now the pro-Russians doing in eastern Ukraine.

oguv

When you say bully, do you mean the Russians or US/EU/Nato?

natrium

The reference to "solid evidence" means a shortage of proof. By the way, the US introduced a perilous new norm into the international system - to make regimes inside the borders of other countries crashed. The ukrainian civil war is the reaction to such US invading.

Ildus

Overly simplistic analysis.

musicmaster

Ukraine is refusing to release the conversation of the plane with the control tower and the radar images of the control tower and the US is refusing to release its satellite and radar images. Kiev clearly has something to hide and that makes them the primary suspect.

Yet the article starts with the claim that the rebels did it. This lie made me skip the rest of the article.

Shingo

This article is another very thinly disguised piece of neocon propaganda. There are so many assumptions and claims made in this article that have never been proven, but form the basis for the piece.

There is solid evidence indicating not only that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by Russian-aided rebels in eastern Ukraine

Actually there isn't. The only thing that has been presented is a prima facie case, but the US government, who was surely monitoring the area closely at the time the plane was attacked, have refused to produce one iota of evidence. When challenged to produce evidence, the State Department has pointed to social media, insisting that their evidence is too sensitive to share with the public.

Robert Parry has reported that his sources at the CIA and NSA refute the claim that the rebels were responsible.

Moreover, Russia has massed over 45,000 soldiersnear the eastern Ukrainian border, who are poised to undertake a "humanitarian operation."

And what is the basis of this claim other than pure speculation? What is the evidence that the aid intended for the rebel-held areas is a Trojan horse?

in response to the recent gains Ukraine's military forces have been making against the rebels.

The alleged gains made by the Ukraine's military forces have proven to be entirely fictional. In fact, from all the reports I have seen, it is Kiev which at tremendous costs has achieved exactly nothing. They suffered enormous losses in the Southern Cauldron. The re-taking of Saur Mogila has been marketed as a turning point victory, along with all the other so called turning point victories that amounted to nothing. Add to this the very persistent rumors and hints by various commanders on the ground that a big counter-offensive is in the works and the Ukies might well have reached a breaking point.

Putin has notoriously threatened to annex Transnistria, the Russian-speaking territory of Moldova, inter alia.

This is a lie. Putin has not threatened anything of the kind. And how is it that the authors insist this should be NATO's problem when the Ukraine is not part of NATO? This whole crisis is the consequence of the US violating the promise not to extend NATO further eastward beyond Germany. The US would not accept a foreign military power installing bases along it's borders and nor should Russia.

Stacey and Herbst also trivially dismiss the EU's own concerns and argue the EU should put it's own interests aside for the sake of giving Putting a bloody nose. But the fact is that sanctions have backfired. The EU is now returning to recession while he Russian economy continues to grow.

Putin's efforts to split Europe from the United States have not been a failure, they are only 2 weeks old, so Stacey and Herbst's argument that his efforts have failed are premature. The new economic agreements between Russia and the BRICS countries has exposed the limits of Western power to isolate Russia without shooting itself in the foot.

As for the Poroshenko's forces, they are at breaking point and time is running out for them. The longer this conflict continues, the less likely their chance of success.

If Russia does not cease firing missiles at Ukrainian forces

What evidence is there that Russia has fired missiles at Ukrainian forces? What's more, it's odd that Stacey and Herbst suggest the West should begin supplying Ukraine proper with anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missile batteries when they already have them. They have close to a dozen SA-11 surface-to-air missile systems that allegedly shot down MH17. Indeed, the Ukrainian military moved one launcher into the area the day before MH17 was shot down.

It's also grossly hypocritical that Stacey and Herbst object to Russia's stated right to "protect" Russian speakers when the US has done the same in Iraq.

In the end, Stacey and Herbst are complaining about the lack of action taken by the West against Putin while admitting that the West don't have many options short of going to war.

mkham11

KIEV: The one thing Ukraine needs that could quickly end this torture is HARM missiles. The dozens of Russian Buks, Stelas, now Tunguska missile trucks in the Donbas that are crippling Ukr air power could be destroyed in short order by the radar-targeting air to ground missiles. Able to run full air ops again, Ukraine could stamp out these cockroaches and take back the East in 2-3 weeks, IF they would close the border. There is still a significant threat from all the shoulder mounted infrared AA missiles, but the long range ones are more significant. There's some evidence that Russia has even shipped the S-300 AA rockets, which can reach planes 200km away!

Michael Hammerschlag

WHAT'S PUTIN'S GAME: 4 Scenarios
http://HAMMERNEWS.blogspot.com

Shingo

@mkham11 The one thing Ukraine needs that could quickly end this torture is HARM missiles

Do you seriously the Russians don't have something to deal with radar-targeting air to ground missiles? The Russians have managed to paralyze Western military radar systems effortlessly.

Able to run full air ops again, Ukraine could stamp out these cockroaches and take back the East in 2-3 weeks, IF they would close the border.

If who would close the border? You have no idea what you are talk y artificial.

Boomerang83

I have never read such garbage. US/EU/NATO are the bullies constantly demonizing Russia through a web of lies and deceit. Every recent event since the violent and brutal overthrow of the democratically elected government in Kiev (by a group of far right neo nazi thugs funded by US) has been orchestrated and choreographed to make Putin look like the aggressor. Western media outlets slavishly follow a prepared narrative, irrespective of the truth, to further some political agenda....the expansion of NATO in Europe.

The hypocrisy of the US is nauseating...sticking their nose in where they are not wanted, masquerading as the world's guardian of morals while they turn to poison everything they touch..Iraq, Libya, Egypt, US badly needs a war because they are bankrupt to the tune of trillions of dollars; Putin meanwhile is looking eastwards with the BRICS initiative which will eventually bypass the dollar as the world reserve currency....and Obama sees the writing on the wall!

Every ploy is being used to goad Russia into a military conflict...all the bare faced lies emanating from Ukraine from the Malaysian air disaster (interesting how everybody in the West has gone all quiet on this one...even though they were accusing Russia within hours of the event. Moscow produced satellite images clearly showing presence of Ukrainian fighter jets close to aircraft at time of 'accident'.

US with all their satellite technology weren't prepared to reveal what they saw....we all know why! And latest attempt is the 'Russian invasion' of Ukraine. remind me again, how many tanks where there! Please don't insult people's intelligence.

Even the dogs in the street know what Ukraine and their puppet masters in US/EU are up to!. Meanwhile the Russian speaking thousands of people of eastern Ukraine are being obliterated in a ferocious onslaught from it's own government...and the West remains silent. Enough said!

Shingo

@ellsid @Boomerang83

If anything the U.S. EU and NATO response to Russia's INVASION of a sovereign country have been pathetically weak.

There was no invasion. Name the date the invasion took place.

The U.S. you love to hate gives more aid to the world than any other country

Most of which is military aid, which amounts to a boondoggle for US arms manufacturers. And no, the US did not bail out Russia.

Yes, the same criminal who stole billions from Ukraine's coffers, whose 'family' and friends ran one of the most corrupt regimes (next to Putin's) in Europe.

All that happened is that the control of the UKraine has passed from one group of oligarchs who stole billions from Ukraine's coffers to another group who stole billions from Ukraine's coffers. The Ukraine is as corrupt now as it was then.

Your really have no clear understanding of what Maidan was about. It had everything to do with the citizens of Ukraine wanting to be rid of their corrupt thieving government.

If that were true, the demonstrations would have ended when Yanukovych was ousted, but they continued. The only thing that changed is that the US media stopped reporting these demonstrations and the neo Nazis who sabotaged the demonstrations and took power then outlawed subsequent demonstrations.

The demonstrators in Maidan were being paid $50 a day from Nuland's $5 billion dollar fund to overthrow the Ukrainian government.

I guess that kind of backfired for when Putin next sets his sites on reconquering the Baltic countries or Poland.

How can it have backfired when Putin has not tried to reconquering the Baltic countries or Poland. The fact is that neo cone lovers and Russophobes like you have been predicting that Russia was about to invade for months now, and you've been wrong.

That's why Poroshenko and the Kiev junta keep coming up with BS stories about cross borders skirmishes, because he is desperately trying to convince the world that the Russians are about to invade.

Those were indigenous revolts against tyrant leaders, which hopefully may one day come to Russian soil

Indigenous revolts that were not only undemocratic, but illegal. What's more, they were sabotaged by extremists with the original demonstrators being sidelined. Egypt has become a dictatorship with even the supporters of the Morsi overthrow afraid of being imprisoned for criticizing the junta. Libya had has been destroyed and taken over by Jihadists.

.the Kremlin has dropped this line when it was pointed out to them these were GROUND ATTACK aircraft that could not fly at this attitude and could not carry air to air missiles.

False. Those aircraft could indeed fly at 30,000 feet and are designed to carry missiles. They tend to operate at lower altitudes when bombing ground targets, but that doesn't mean they are not capable of cruising at higher altitudes.

You're the moron for trying to argue from the position of such ignorance.

"Strelkov"/ Girkin, Borodai, and all the Russian citizens sent in to lead the insurgency all lamented the lack of support the Russia sponsored mercenaries received from the local population.

Rubbish, You have it completely backwards. It is the local population that is behind the insurgency. In fact, they have lamented the lack of support from Russia, not the other way around. Putin has no desire to recreate "Novorossiya", otherwise Moscow would never had given recognition to the new regime in Kiev. Putin knows that the Ukraine is an economic basket case and whoever wins it loses because it's a poisoned chalice.

Shingo

@ellsid @Boomerang83

Anyone who thinks Maidan ended crony capitalism and the reign of the oligarchs are delusional.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/14/ukraines_oligarchs_are_still_calling_the_shots_0

And just to prove that you haven't done any research but are simply parroting talking points you read on some right wing web site, here is evidence the top cruising altitude of a Su-25 is 10km, the same as a passenger plane.

http://www.military-today.com/aircraft/sukhoi_su25_frogfoot.htm

If anyone has been hibernating under a slimy rock it's you. You should also get over your crush' on Neuland and the necons because they have a track record of lying, being wrong about everything and creating chaos and destruction.

marty martel

Previous US ambassador Anne Patterson to Pakistan wrote in a secret review in 2009 that 'Pakistan's Army and ISI are covertly SPONSORING four militant groups - Haqqani's HQN, Mullah Omar's QST (Quetta Shura Taliban), Al Qaeda and LeT - and will not abandon them for any amount of US money', diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show. Amb. Patterson had NO reason to mislead her own State Department or US government.

Admiral Mike Mullen told the US Senate Armed Services Committee on 22-Sept-2011 that: 'The fact remains that the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network operate from Pakistan with impunity. (These) Extremist organizations serving as PROXIES of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan troops and civilians as well as U.S. soldiers.' Adm. Mullen had NO reason to mislead US Senate.

In 'Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War' published in January, 2014, former defense secretary Gates writes: "Although I would defend them (Pakistanis) in front of Congress and to the press to keep the relationship from getting worse – and endangering our supply line from Karachi – I knew they were really no ally at all." So Gates in effect, kept lying to US Congress and press and thereby to the whole World that Pakistan was an ally when it was anything but.

However not just administration but most of the American foreign policy wonks and news media have been deafeningly silent about Pakistani State waging Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan that has been killing thousands of innocent Afghans since 2001.

marty martel

It has been interesting that while raising such a public hue and cry over Russia's support of Ukrainian insurgents, US government, foreign policy wonks and news media have sought to varnish, suppress and even reward similar behavior of Pakistani State that has been playing duplicitous game of 'running with the Haqqani/Mullah Omar's Taliban insurgents while hunting with the American hounds'.

There has been NO doubt in US establishment about from where the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is being waged that has been killing not just thousands of innocent Afghan civilians but US/NATO/Afghan troops as well since 2001.

"For twenty years Pakistan's army - the real power broker in the country - has backed the Afghan Taliban. It helped create the Taliban's Islamic Emirate in the 1990s and build the al-Qaeda state within a state. The army has provided safe haven, arms, expertise and other help to Taliban. It briefly pretended to abandon Taliban to avoid American anger in 2001 misleading George W Bush", so said an ex-CIA official Bruce Riedel at an US Islamic World Forum organized in Qatar on June 9-11, 2013.

[Aug 14, 2014] The Atlantic Axis and the Making of a War in Ukraine by Christof Lehmann

Jul 30, 2014 | New Eastern Outlook

The war in Ukraine became predictable when the great Muslim Brotherhood Project in Syria failed during the summer of 2012. It became unavoidable in December 2012, when the European Union and Russia failed to agree on the EU's 3rd Energy Package. The geopolitical dynamics which are driving the war in Ukraine were known in the early 1980s.

Hundred years after the shots in Sarajevo ignited WW I, Europe is again being driven towards disaster. Hundred years ago the presence of true statesmen could have prevented the war. Today many of the selected front figures of western democracies dress up in pilot uniforms while they hardly have the qualifications needed for a job as flight attendant.

The handling of the tragedy surrounding the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 prompted Malaysian PM Najib Razak to leash out at those behind the geopolitical chess game that led to the death of the 298 on board the Boeing 777-200. Showing true statesmanship, PM Najib Razak :

"As a leader, there has never been an occasion as heart-breaking as what I went through yesterday. Wives losing their husbands, fathers losing their children. Imagine their feelings from such a great loss. … This is what happens when there is a conflict, whatever conflict that cannot be resolved through negotiations, with peace. In the end, who becomes the victim"?

The War in Ukraine Began in Libya and Syria.

In 2007 the discovery of the world's largest known reserves of natural gas, shared by Qatar and Iran, led to the Great Muslim Brotherhood Project that was sold under the trade mark "The Arab Spring".

A joint Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian pipeline project was supposed to transport Iranian gas from the PARS gas fields in the Persian Gulf to Syria's eastern Mediterranean coast and further on to continental Europe. It was this development that played midwife to the birth of the Great Muslim Brotherhood Project.

The completion of the Iran – Iraq – Syria pipeline would have caused a cohort of developments which were unacceptable to the US, UK, Israel and Qatar. Several continental European countries, including Germany, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic saw much more favorably at it. Together with the Russian gas which the EU received via Ukraine and the North Stream pipeline, the EU would have been able to cover some 50 percent of its requirements for natural gas via Iranian and Russian sources.

It would be naive to assume that Israel was not gravely concerned about the prospect of Iran becoming one of the European Union's primary sources of natural gas. Energy security concerns influence foreign relations and foreign policy. EU – Israeli relations and the influence Tehran would have attained with regard to the EU's position on Palestine and the Middle East are no exception to that rule.

The US and UK were not interested in competition to the Nabucco project. Qatar, the main center of gravity with regard to the international Muslim Brotherhood, eyed its chance to become a regional power to be recogned with and sent a 10 billion US dollar check to Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmed Davotoglu. The money was reportedly earmarked, to be spent on preparing the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood for the Great Project.

An additional dimension that was overlooked by many, if not most analysts, was that the US/UK never would allow Russian – continental European relations to be dominated by an interdependence that had some 50 percent of continental Europe's energy security at its heart. To explain that point, allow me to refer to a conversation the author has had with a top-NATO admiral from a northern European country during a day of sailing on a sailing yacht in the early 1980s. Discussing European security issues, out of the reach of curious ears and microphones he said that (paraphrased):

"American colleagues at the Pentagon told me, unequivocally, that the US and UK never would allow European – Soviet relations to develop to such a degree that they would challenge the US/UK's political, economic or military primacy and hegemony on the European continent. Such a development will be prevented by all necessary means, if necessary by provoking a war in central Europe".

It is safe to assume that the discontinuation of the USSR with help of the US and UK has not significantly changed the principle premises of this doctrine and that it is still valid today.

By 2009 the implementation of the Great Muslim Brotherhood Project was already in high gear. The former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas recalled during an appearance on the French TV Channel LPC in July 2013. (audio recording).

"I'm going to tell you something. I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. … This was in Britain, not in America. Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister of Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate. Naturally, I refused, I said I am French, that does not interest me. …

" This does not make sense. … There are some sides who have the desire to destroy Arab States, like what happened in Libya before, particularly given Syria's special relations with Russia., …(emphasis added)…That if an agreement is not reached, then Israel will attack and destroy the governments that stand against Israel".

Note Dumas' reference to Libya. Note that the statement came after NATO abused UN Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011) on Libya to implement the Great Muslim Brotherhood Project in that country.

The then U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO Ivo H. Daalder and then NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander of the U.S. European Command James G. Stavridis published an article in the March/April 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, calling NATO's "intervention" in Libya "A teachable moment and model for future interventions".

The statement was repeated at NATO's 25th Summit in Chicago that year. As Ivo H. Daalder also explained in a Forestal Lecure that year, there was a need for a new warfare, special warfare. Traditional conventional war had become impossible. Moreover, Libya was necessary as a hub for the shipment of arms and the recruiting and training of mercenaries for Syria, Mali, and beyond.

Defeat in Syria Made the Ukraine War Unavoidable.

In June and July 2012 some 20,000 NATO mercenaries who had been recruited and trained in Libya and then staged in the Jordanian border town Al-Mafraq, launched two massive campaigns aimed at seizing the Syrian city of Aleppo. Both campaigns failed and the "Libyan Brigade" was literally wiped out by the Syrian Arab Army.

It was after this decisive defeat that Saudi Arabia began a massive campaign for the recruitment of jihadi fighters via the network of the Muslim Brotherhoods evil twin sister Al-Qaeda.

The International Crisis Group responded by publishing its report "Tentative Jihad". Washington had to make an attempt to distance itself "politically" from the "extremists". Plan B, the chemical weapons plan was hedged but it became obvious that the war on Syria was not winnable anymore. This, and nothing else was why the British parliament turned down the bombing of Syria in August 2013.

The war on Ukraine had become predictable from that point onwards and the timing of the developments in Ukraine during 2012 and 2013 strongly suggest that plans to overthrow the Yanukovich government and to aim at a long-term destabilization of Ukraine were launched after July 2012.

There was one last opportunity to turn the tide with regards to Ukraine in late 2012, during negotiations about the European Union's 3rd Energy Package. Relations between Russia and the EU were stressed by a primarily British-sponsored initiative within the EU that was targeting Russia. The "EU" or UK/US should not accept that a major energy provider like Russia or Gazprom had the majority ownership over both the gas and the transportation System.

On 21 December 2012 the leaders of the 27 EU member states and Russia held a summit in Brussels but failed to resolve the issue. It was from this point onward that the war in Ukraine had become unavoidable, which means that it was from here on, that powerful lobbies in the US and UK became hellbent on starting a 4th generation war in Ukraine. On December 22, 2012, nsnbc published the article "Russia – E.U. Meeting in Brussels: Risk of Middle East and European War Increased". The December 2012 article stated

"The sudden pullout of the Ukraine on Tuesday is by energy insiders with whom the author consulted perceived as yet another Ukrainian, US and UK backed attempt to force the expansion of NATO and to drive a wedge between an increased integration of the Russian and E.U. Economies. As it will become obvious below, it is related to an aggressive attempt to save the value of the petro dollar".

By February 9, 2013, relations between Russia and core NATO members had deteriorated so much over Syria and the lack of convergence in energy issues, that Russia's Ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grutchko :

"Someone here in Brussels made a most profound point by saying that if you are holding a hammer, you should not think that every emerging problem is a nail. We think the world has ample opportunity to engage in energy cooperation and to ensure energy security without making use of military-political organizations as an instrument".

There were not many who at that time understood the bearing of the Russian NATO Ambassador's words.

On February 21 the Ukrainian parliament was seized by masked gunmen. The president was removed from office in a vote held in the presence of gunmen. One of the first official statements of the new powers at be was that the Russian language would no longer be accepted as the second official language in the predominantly Russian speaking eastern regions of Ukraine.

The statement was bound to and didn't fail to elicit a response that would tear Ukraine apart. On February 22, 2013, some 3,500 governors from southern and eastern Ukrainian regions convened in Kharkov and rejected the legality of the putchist parliament and any of the laws it adopted.

Was the tragedy surrounding MAS Flight MH17 another Sarajevo moment and will it be used to throw an additional spanner into attempt to peacefully integrate the Russian and European economies? Michael Emmerson, associate senior research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies suggests "After MH17, the EU must act against Putin and stop importing Russian gas".

Dr. Christof Lehmann an independent political consultant on conflict and conflict resolution and the founder and editor in chief of nsnbc, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

[Aug 12, 2014] The U.S. Wasn't "Drawn" Into Iraq by Daniel Larison

August 12, 2014 | theamericanconservative.com

David Brooks couldn't be more wrong:

We are now living in what we might as well admit is the Age of Iraq. The last four presidents have found themselves drawn into that nation because it epitomizes the core problem at the center of so many crises: the interaction between failing secular governance and radical Islam [bold mine-DL].

That isn't why the last three presidents were "drawn" into Iraq, and it is at best only part of the reason why Obama is allowing himself to be dragged back in. The previous three presidents chose to use force in Iraq and impose sanctions on Iraq for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with "the interaction between failing secular governance and radical Islam." Except in the delusions of pro-war propagandists, there was no "interaction between failing secular governance and radical Islam" in Iraq before 2003 because the latter had little presence and no power. The invasion helped to destroy whatever semblance of secular governance there was. Indeed, it was the principal reason why that governance ceased to exist.

The war created the chaos in which jihadism began to thrive in the country. For that matter, the war was not a matter of being "drawn" into the country, but of illegally invading it on a shaky pretext. Obama entered office when secular governance in Iraq was a thing of the past, and has been drawn back in because of the clash between a sectarian government and its enemies. The U.S. has spent the last twenty-three years bombing, occupying, sanctioning, and otherwise interfering with Iraq, but virtually none of it had anything to do with countering radical Islam, and this was something that the U.S. chose to do. The U.S. wasn't "drawn" into Iraq, but rather opted to be there in some fashion for two decades, and it was the U.S. presence itself that unleashed and drew in these forces as a result of the "aggressive, preventive action" that Brooks now thinks is so necessary.

[Aug 12, 2014] Clinton's Foreign Policy Is the Opposite of Triangulation By Daniel Larison

It is a neocon foreign policy very similar Madeleine Albright
August 11, 2014 | theamericanconservative.com

Matt Lewis is unduly impressed by Hillary Clinton's predictable hawkishness:

It's called triangulation. It's a method perfected by Bill Clinton and Dick Morris. And it's brilliant.

There are many things one could call Clinton's recent foreign policy remarks in this Goldberg interview, but politically savvy or brilliant is *not* one of them. The foreign policy she outlined in the interview is one that would replicate all of Obama's major errors (e.g., intervention in Libya, arming foreign rebels, etc.) while expanding on and adding to them. She is clearly currying favor with foreign policy analysts and pundits that already think Obama has been too passive on Syria, Ukraine, etc., and she is doing that by reciting many of their unpersuasive arguments.

Clinton has "brilliantly" identified herself as the hawk that she has always been, which puts her sharply at odds with most people in her own party and most Americans of all political affiliations. That's not triangulation at all. The old Clintonian triangulation was driven by an obsessive focus on public opinion and on finding mostly minor issues that obtained support from a large majority. The purpose of it was to co-opt popular issues and deprive the opposition of effective lines of attack. The goal was not to poke the majority of Americans in the eye on major issues and tell them that they're wrong. Clinton's foreign policy posturing politically tone-deaf and focused entirely on what will please people in Washington and a few other capitals around the world. It is evidence that Clinton thinks she can get away with campaigning on a more activist foreign policy on the assumption that no one is going to vote against her for that reason. She may be right about that, or she may end up being surprised–again–to find that her horrible foreign policy record is still a serious political liability.

Now it's true that the vast majority doesn't vote on foreign policy, and most Americans normally pay little or no attention to it, but one thing that does seem to get their attention is when they are being presented with the prospect of new and costly conflicts. If Obama is faulted in Washington for being too cautious, Clinton is making clear that she will err on the side of being too activist and aggressive, and she gives us every reason to expect that she will err quite often on that side. That isn't going to gain Clinton any votes, and it could easily lose her quite a few. Her twin hopes at this point have to be that she won't face a significant challenge from the left on these and other issues and that the next Republican nominee will be even more irresponsibly hawkish than she is. That's not brilliant. It's called wishful thinking.

[Jul 27, 2014] Ron Paul 'I Don't Blame America, I Blame Neocons' by Daniel McAdams

July 25, 2014 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

Facing a tough but respectful grilling on Fox Business's The Independents over his recent comments on Ukraine and the apparent downing of a Malaysia Air plane, Ron Paul argues that the US government wants to blame Russia for the shoot-down while providing no evidence for its conclusion. Paul points out that the US claim that Russia was to blame for the disaster because they supply weapons to the rebels in east Ukraine is hypocritical because the US has armed oppositionists in Syria who went on to attack the US-backed government in Iraq.

But the best moment was when one of the hosts trotted out the old "aren't you're blaming America?" question, which was previously used by the likes of Giuliani and the other neocons over the 9/11 attacks.

Responded Paul to the claim:

That is a misrepresentation of what I say. I don't blame America. I am America, you are America. I don't blame you. I blame bad policy. I blame the interventionists. I blame the neoconservatives who preach this stuff, who believe in it like a religion -- that they have to promote American goodness even if you have to bomb and kill people.

They say 'oh Ron Paul blames America therefore he's a bad guy and we can't listen to him.' Well I'll tell you what: the American people are listening more carefully now than ever before. ...Non-intervention is the wave of the future.

Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FCB8A4KiG4A

[Jul 24, 2014] Have we hit Peak America? The sources of U.S. power and the path to national renaissance. By Elbridge Colby and Paul Lettow

foreignpolicy.com

American leadership in the world is imperiled. And at a fundamental level, the American people sense it. A number of recent polls show that more Americans than ever before -- nearly 60 percent, in some cases -- believe U.S. power is waning.

In other words, a greater number of Americans are worried about diminishing U.S. influence today than in the face of feared Soviet technological superiority in the late 1950s, the Vietnam quagmire of the late 1960s, the 1973 oil embargo, the apparent resurgence of Soviet power around the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, and the economic concerns that plagued the late 1980s -- the five waves of so-called declinist anxiety that political scientist Samuel Huntington famously identified.

Many analysts have attributed Americans' current anxiety to the aftershock of waging two long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the polls actually reflect something deeper and more potent -- a legitimate, increasingly tactile uncertainty in the minds of the American people created by changes in the world and in America's competitive position, which they feel far more immediately than do the participants in Washington policy debates. Average Americans do not experience the world through the lens of great-power rivalry or U.S. leadership abroad, but rather through that of an increasingly competitive globalized labor market, stagnating income growth among the middle class, and deep and unresolved worries about their children's future. A recent CNN poll, for instance, found that Americans think by a 2-to-1 margin that their children's lives will be worse than their own. They are questioning the promise of growth and expanding opportunity -- the very substance of the American dream.

This anxiety is real and justified, and it lies behind much of the public's support for withdrawing from the world, for retrenchment. Yet American leadership and engagement remain essential. The United States cannot hide from the world. Rather, it must compete. And if it competes well, it can restore not only its economic health, but also its strength for the long haul. That resilience will preserve Americans' ability to determine their fate and the nation's ability to lead in the way its interests require.

Unfortunately, absent from current discussions about U.S. foreign policy has been a hardheaded assessment of what it will actually take to rejuvenate and compete. Policymakers and experts have not yet taken a clear-eyed look at the data and objectively analyzed the fundamental shifts under way globally and what they mean for America's competitive position. Nor have they debated the steps necessary to sustain U.S. power over the long term.

Many foreign-policy experts seem to believe that retaining American primacy is largely a matter of will -- of how America chooses to exert its power abroad. Even President Obama, more often accused of being a prophet of decline than a booster of America's future, recently asserted that the United States "has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world." The question, he continued, is "not whether America will lead, but how we will lead."

But will is unavailing without strength. If the United States wants the international system to continue to reflect its interests and values -- a system, for example, in which the global commons are protected, trade is broad-based and extensive, and armed conflicts among great nations are curtailed -- it needs to sustain not just resolve, but relative power. That, in turn, will require acknowledging the uncomfortable truth that global power and wealth are shifting at an unprecedented pace, with profound implications. Moreover, many of the challenges America faces are exacerbated by vulnerabilities that are largely self-created, chief among them fiscal policy. Much more quickly and comprehensively than is understood, those vulnerabilities are reducing America's freedom of action and its ability to influence others.

Preserving America's international position will require it to restore its economic vitality and make policy choices now that pay dividends for decades to come. America has to prioritize and to act. Fortunately, the United States still enjoys greater freedom to determine its future than any other major power, in part because many of its problems are within its ability to address. But this process of renewal must begin with analyzing America's competitive position and understanding the gravity of the situation Americans face.

The relative economic decline of the United States is a fact. For the first time in 200 years, most growth is occurring in the developing world,and the speed with which that shift -- a function of globalization -- has occurred is hard to fathom. Whereas in 1990 just 14 percent of cross-border flows of goods, services, and finances originated in emerging economies, today nearly 40 percent do. As recently as 2000, the GDP of China was one-tenth that of the United States; just 14 years later, the two economies are equal (at least in terms of purchasing power parity).

This shift reorders what was, in some sense, a historical anomaly: the transatlantic dominance of the past 150 years. As illustrated by the map below, it wasn't until the Industrial Revolution took hold in the 19th century that the world's "economic center of gravity" decisively moved toward Europe and the United States, which have since been the primary engines of growth. Today, however, the economic center of gravity is headed back toward Asia, and it is doing so with unique historical speed.

THE WORLD'S ECONOMIC CENTER OF GRAVITY The larger a country's GDP, the greater its pull on the world's economic center of gravity. So when the Industrial Revolution spurred massive growth in the United States, the center moved west, eventually out over the Atlantic Ocean. Today, it is moving back toward Asia. SOURCE: MCKINSEY GLOBAL INSTITUTE, WITH DATA FROM ANGUS MADDISON OF THE UNIVERSITY OF GRONINGEN

This trend will persist even though emerging economies are hitting roadblocks to growth, such as pervasive corruption in India and demographic challenges and serious distortions in the banking system in China. For instance, according to the asset-management firm BlackRock and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), consumption in emerging markets has already eclipsed that in the United States, and spending by the middle classes in Asia-Pacific nations is on track to exceed middle-class spending in North America by a factor of nearly six by 2030.

U.S. wealth is not shrinking in absolute terms -- and it continues to benefit from economic globalization -- but the United States and its allies are losing might compared with potential rivals. Although Europe and Japan have been responsible for much of the developed world's lost relative economic power, the U.S. economy has also slowed from its traditional rates of expansion over the past several decades. Worsening productivity growth has played a particularly large role in the U.S. slowdown, dropping to around 0.5 percent annually, which the Financial Times has referred to as a "productivity crisis." A range of factors are responsible, including a decline in the skill level of the American workforce and a drop in resources allocated to research and development.

U.S. REVENUE VS. SPENDING By 2043, federal spending on entitlements and net interest payments will exceed federal revenues, meaning funds for any discretionary programs will be borrowed.SOURCE: CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE

Overall, the U.S. economy has become less competitive. The McKinsey Global Institute, for instance, has measured the relative attractiveness of the United States across a range of metrics, such as national spending on research and development and foreign direct investment as a percentage of GDP. It found that U.S. business attractiveness relative to that of competitors fell across 14 of 20 key metrics from 2000 to 2010 -- and improved in none. And according to the Harvard Business Review, U.S. exports' global market share dropped across the board from 1999 to 2009 and suffered particularly sharp falls in cutting-edge fields such as aerospace.

This shift in economic growth toward the developing world is going to have strategic consequences. Military power ultimately derives from wealth. It is often noted that the United States spends more on defense than the next 10 countries combined. But growth in military spending correlates with GDP growth, so as other economies grow, those countries will likely spend more on defense, reducing the relative military power of the United States. Already, trends in global defense spending show a rapid and marked shift from the United States and its allies toward emerging economies, especially China. In 2011, the United States and its partners accounted for approximately 80 percent of the military spending by the 15 countries with the largest defense budgets. But, according to a McKinsey study, that share could fall significantly over the next eight years -- perhaps to as low as 55 percent.

The resulting deterioration in American military superiority has already begun, as the countries benefiting most rapidly from globalization are using their newfound wealth to build military capacity, especially in high-tech weaponry. As Robert Work and Shawn Brimley of the Center for a New American Security wrote this year: "[T]he dominance enjoyed by the United States in the late 1990s/early 2000s in the areas of high-end sensors, guided weaponry, battle networking, space and cyberspace systems, and stealth technology has started to erode. Moreover, this erosion is now occurring at an accelerated rate." (Work has since been confirmed as deputy secretary of defense.)

China, in particular, is acquiring higher-end capabilities and working to establish "no-go zones" in its near abroad in the hopes of denying U.S. forces the ability to operate in the Western Pacific. China's declared defense budget grew 12 percent this year -- and has grown at least ninefold since 2000 -- and most experts think its real defense spending is considerably larger. The International Institute for Strategic Studies has judged that Beijing will spend as much on defense as Washington does by the late 2020s or early 2030s. Meanwhile, regional powers like Iran -- and even nonstate actors like Hezbollah -- are becoming more militarily formidable as it becomes easier to obtain precision-guided munitions and thus threaten U.S. power-projection capabilities.

Simultaneously, the United States is slashing its defense spending while allocating its remaining funds less strategically. Not only has the Defense Department estimated that it has already cut almost $600 billion from its budget plans for the next decade, but if current trends continue, by 2021 nearly half of the Pentagon's budget will go to personnel-related costs, rather than procurement, training, research and development, or operations.

The U.S. National Intelligence Council recently projected the future distribution of global power using two distinct methodologies that incorporated a range of "hard" and "soft" factors. By both estimates, the U.S. share of global power will fall dramatically, from around 25 percent in 2010 to around 15 percent in 2050. The National Intelligence Council predicted that over the same period, the relative power of the European Union and Japan will fall significantly as well.

The United States is worsening this problem by refusing to confront its federal debt and deficits. Unsustainable fiscal policy will limit U.S. competitiveness and freedom of action in the world with a severity and alacrity not remotely appreciated in today's U.S. foreign-policy debates. The total federal debt currently held by the public, which includes foreign creditors, is approximately $13 trillion. That is almost three-quarters of U.S. GDP, the highest it has ever been except for a brief period during and after World War II. Moreover, the drivers of the debt are entitlement programs that will impose enormous costs indefinitely.

GDPs OF G-7 AND E-7 COUNTRIES SOURCE: PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS

Today, well over 60 percent of federal revenue is consumed by spending on Social Security, the major health-care programs (including Medicare, Medicaid, and subsidies under the Affordable Care Act), and interest payments on the federal debt. By 2043, spending on entitlements and net interest payments will consume all federal revenue, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Every dollar the U.S. government spends on anything else -- defense, intelligence, foreign affairs, the federal justice system, infrastructure, science and technology, education, the space program -- will be borrowed. And by that time, the total federal debt held by the public will far exceed U.S. GDP.

Recent attempts to address the problem have only resulted in fiasco. The "sequester" imposed automatic, arbitrary, across-the-board cuts to discretionary spending -- precisely the spending that is not causing the fiscal problem -- with the heaviest burden falling on defense. Most spending for entitlements was untouched. One could hardly imagine an outcome more likely to reduce American power, and quickly.

The unwillingness to choose a sustainable fiscal path is forcing the United States to forgo the investments necessary to sustain the domestic sources of its power, and it is already eroding its strength abroad. Among allies, adversaries, and swing states alike, U.S. fiscal policy is increasingly calling into question America's ability to lead globally.

For all these challenges to its influence, the United States retains enormous potential strength. Far more so than other great powers, it has the advantages and resources -- political, economic, geographical, geologic, and cultural -- to maintain the greatest freedom of action over the long haul. But it needs to focus on its competitiveness, beginning with a few key priorities.

Because America's fiscal policy affects everything else and because the current trajectory is unsustainable, entitlement reform is inevitable. The only question is when it will begin. A number of the fixes that could have the most significant impact are straightforward and could be phased in over time with minimal disruption. For example, increasing the retirement age -- which could be done over a decade or longer -- would substantially improve America's fiscal condition.

Investing effectively in infrastructure -- long a U.S. comparative advantage, now increasingly a relative weakness -- would boost productivity and growth over the long term. So would reforming corporate tax laws to encourage companies to bring profits home. (The current system creates perverse incentives for companies to maximize tax advantages by keeping profits out of the United States.)

The nation can also focus on enhancing productivity in parts of its economy that would benefit greatly from even modest improvements. As writer Reihan Salam and others have shown, sectors such as health care and education -- which together comprise a quarter of the country's economy -- are inefficient compared with other OECD nations. Government services are laggard. Introducing best business practices and up-to-date information technology to those areas would not only improve Americans' lives, but would also tap underexploited sources of national wealth.

With respect to defense policy, the United States must be ruthlessly strategic in its spending and preparations, prioritizing the principal source of its military advantage: technological superiority. This means focusing increasingly scarce defense dollars on next-generation weapons, such as stealthy bombers and quiet submarines, and on the assets that make them smarter than their enemy counterparts -- command, control, communication, and computer systems, as well as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. And it means fielding these capabilities with a better-trained, leaner military that de-emphasizes less lucrative investments, such as personnel strength and systems that cannot survive or prosper in the tougher emerging military-technological environment.

The key to preventing relative decline -- and perhaps sparking a renaissance in American power -- lies not simply in remedying problems with fiscal responsibility, economic productivity, and military spending, but in leveraging the country's comparative advantages, which are significant. The United States has an open political system that, historically, has proved able to self-correct and adapt. It has a culture that favors economic growth, accepts and integrates people from all over the world, and enables mobility, creativity, and personal renewal and reinvention. As a result, the nation remains an abiding destination for foreign investment -- a reliable source of growth and safety in uncertain economic and geopolitical times.

In particular, America's energy boom and its ability to attract talent from around the world could yield an outsized return on investment.

2013 CHANGES IN ENERGY SUPPLY In 2013, while the United States enjoyed a surge of over a million barrels per day in its liquid-fuels supply -- including crude oil and biofuels -- supply from OPEC countries dropped sharply. The United States is on its way to being a net exporter of energy. SOURCE: U.S. ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION

Less than a decade ago, energy loomed as an enormous challenge for the United States. Not anymore. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," technologies has generated a surge in U.S. oil and natural gas production. Between 2007 and 2012, U.S. production of shale gas increased from roughly 3.5 billion cubic feet per day to over 28 billion, a jump of over 700 percent. In the same period, shale gas's share of U.S. gas production grew from 5 percent to 45 percent. With each year, the efficiency of fracking has improved, and estimates of recoverable reserves of shale gas have nearly doubled. Driven by the production of tight oil made possible by fracking, U.S. crude oil production has also soared in the last five years, following four decades of decline.

In 2013, the United States overtook Russia as the world's leading producer of oil and gas. Within two years it is likely to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world's largest crude oil producer. U.S. imports of oil and gas have fallen steeply in the last five years, reducing the trade deficit. The United States will soon be a net exporter of energy.

The economic boost from the so-called "North American energy revolution" has already been profound. Natural gas prices in the United States have plummeted, both in absolute terms and relative to other markets around the world.

Consequently, the United States is now uniquely advantaged in industries, such as petrochemical production, that require massive amounts of energy. Billions of dollars of investment capital have flowed into the United States, thereby helping to revitalize the manufacturing sector. Energy analyst Daniel Yergin has linked the creation of 2 million jobs to the development of shale energy, and other reports suggest that the renewal of the energy industry (and associated manufacturing and support services) is pumping hundreds of billions of additional dollars into the U.S. economy every year.

The energy boom has also significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, even as the emissions from other, more traditionally "green" states, like Germany, have increased. A large part of this shift has been driven by the rapid transition from coal to less expensive and less emissions-intensive gas-powered electricity. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2012 alone, a year in which U.S. GDP grew nearly 3 percent, the country's energy-related carbon emissions fell almost 4 percent, to their lowest level since 1994 and 12 percent below their 2007 peak.

Admittedly, some enthusiasts have overhyped the strategic implications of this revolution. True energy "independence" -- defined as isolation from shocks to global energy markets -- is impossible. And the United States has not gained newfound leverage over energy producers such as Russia. Nonetheless, the energy revolution has given the United States an important strategic capability. In 2011, the growth in U.S. and Canadian production helped moderate global oil prices when supplies from Libya were interrupted during that country's revolution. Going forward, the United States will be better able to help allies by diversifying their energy options and, in some cases, offering them more secure supply lines. To Japan, for example, energy flowing from North America is vastly preferable to Middle Eastern supplies that must transit the South China Sea.

Preserving and furthering the energy revolution and its boost to U.S. competitiveness is crucial. But it first requires a Hippocratic oath mindset: Do no harm. The North American energy revolution has been made possible in part by supportive property rights and state laws and regulations. But fracking does have risks. A prudent, predictable regulatory regime, one that provides rigorous monitoring and reduces potential environmental risks, benefits both industry and the public. By contrast, efforts under way in some states to ban the transport of fracking wastewater on state roads -- or even ban fracking entirely -- could curtail one of the country's greatest comparative advantages.

Looking outward, Washington must change its mindset toward its place in the global energy market. The United States is the world's leading energy superpower. It is time to reverse prohibitions on the export of oil and other hydrocarbons, many of which date from the OPEC embargoes of the 1970s. The government should continue to grant licenses to export liquefied natural gas to countries with which it does not have free trade agreements, and reverse the ban on crude oil exports.

Another strength of the United States is its edge in human capital -- the productivity, innovation, and entrepreneurship of its workers. The United States remains an attractive destination for smart, skilled, and creative individuals, even as the global competition for such workers intensifies. In 2010, for instance, Gallup reported that over 165 million of the approximately 700 million adults worldwide looking to emigrate would like to move to the United States, well ahead of second-place Canada. The United States did particularly well among younger respondents.

According to a 2010 study, about 24 percent of the world's adults hoping to emigrate listed the United States as their ideal destination -- more than three times the number wanting to head to second-place Canada. SOURCE: GALLUP

U.S. advantages in the global "war for talent" include the perception of meritocracy and mobility in the American system, exceptional centers of economic activity in places like New York and Silicon Valley, and the allure of American higher education. Shanghai Jiao Tong University's influential annual review of the world's top universities, for instance, lists 17 American universities among its top 20. Major U.S. universities also have much larger endowments than potential rivals abroad, helping them lure the best and the brightest, which in turn enables them to serve as incubators for innovation.

These assets have made the United States the leading destination for high-skilled immigrants, who provide an essential engine for economic growth. William Kerr of Harvard Business School, for instance, found that American immigrants of Chinese and Indian extraction accounted for 15 percent of U.S. domestic patents in 2004, up from just 2 percent in 1975. And the Brookings Institution has estimated that a quarter of technology and engineering businesses started in the United States between 1995 and 2005 had a foreign-born founder.

17 OF THE TOP 20 UNIVERSITIES ARE IN THE UNITED STATES. SOURCE: ACADEMIC RANKING OF WORLD UNIVERSITIES, SHANGHAI JIAO TONG UNIVERSITY, 2013

Preserving the U.S. edge in human capital is essential. But the United States is not exploiting this advantage as much as it should. Its current approach to H-1B visas, for instance, is overly restrictive and ultimately harmful. The United States regularly educates and trains hyperskilled Ph.D. students in the sciences, for example, and then makes it difficult for them to stay in the country. America should welcome and try to keep skilled and talented workers and entrepreneurs. The payoffs are clear: Every H-1B visa granted for an employee to join a high-tech company adds another five jobs to the economy. Other countries, such as Canada and Australia, already understand this dynamic. They are attracting talent through incentives and criteria, such as educational attainment and work history, that suggest great economic potential. The United States ought to learn from their example.

More broadly, improving America's world-class universities and research centers is essential to building and attracting the world's best talent and to fostering the innovation that will fuel economic growth in the 21st century. The U.S. experience in the last century demonstrated the multiplier effect of public investments in basic research. Failure to prioritize funding for such bodies as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is penny-wise and pound-foolish. It was technological innovation that produced the startling boom in oil and gas production, and the country's ability to generate and exploit alternative energy sources will be driven by scientific breakthroughs -- as with graphene, a nanomaterial that has the potential to revolutionize batteries.

The United States also needs to tap fully its existing reservoirs of domestic talent. Extending the careers of the country's 76 million baby boomers -- perhaps through encouraging flexible working hours and changing how Social Security retirement benefits are calculated -- would not only help alleviate the strains on entitlement spending and increase retirement savings, but it would also help the economy grow as more mature workers continue to contribute the lifetime of expertise they have developed.

Building such skills among the coming generation of workers is critical as well. Even during the recent recession, employers could not fill certain high-skilled positions -- a supply-demand imbalance projected to continue through the decade. One way to address this gap may be through education tailored to specific careers. The Automotive Manufacturing Technical Education Collaborative, for example, partners auto companies and community colleges in 12 states to train students for high-skilled careers in the auto industry.

Perhaps the single most important thing Americans can do, however, is to be honest with themselves about the challenges the country faces and the seriousness with which it needs to treat them. America needs to talk less about its exceptionalism and focus more on demonstrating it.

If America chooses the path of economic adaptation, reform, and restored productivity -- that is, if it resolves to make tough choices -- it will be able to remain prosperous and strong and therefore retain extraordinary influence over its future and in the world. If it does not, it will see the domestic sources of its power erode far more quickly and with far more damaging consequences than is currently appreciated.

Within the United States, there is an ongoing debate about the appropriate uses of American power abroad. But whatever one's views on how U.S. power should be used, there is little reason to support its erosion. If one favors extensive American engagement, a resilient America will be better able to lead and intervene effectively. If one favors retrenchment and restraint, a more powerful America will be better insulated from outside threats. If one favors measured engagement, strength provides options and the firmest basis for sustained success. And, irrespective of foreign policy, an economically dynamic, growing America will benefit all its citizens, particularly the generations to come.

Otto von Bismarck is often quoted as having said that God takes special care of drunks, children, and the United States of America. But as another saying goes, God takes care of those who take care of themselves. Although the former may still be true, the latter certainly is.

While believing that America is doomed to decline is a fallacy, refusing to confront the problems that imperil its economic vitality would be no less a failing. American strength and freedom of action are not rights to be inherited but outcomes to be earned. Preserving U.S. influence abroad requires that Americans focus on renewing the sources of their nation's power and mitigating its weaknesses. It is time to play the long game.

Elbridge Colby is the Robert M. Gates fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Paul Lettow was senior director for strategic planning on the U.S. National Security Council staff from 2007 to 2009. The views expressed here are theirs alone.

[Jul 08, 2014] Cold War Renewed With A Vengeance While Washington Again Lies by Paul Craig Roberts

Looks like Paul Craig Roberts that neoliberalism is well, and not under the treat after events of 2008. That might not be true. I think 2008 hit neoliberalism with such a blow that it (and the by extension the USA as the capital of neoliberal world) are still shaking and that gives some degree of freedom to "noncompliant nations". Great recession which started in 2008 is not over. Oil prices are high and that means that most probably without WWIII it might became permanent. Loopholes that exist as a result on 2008 crisis (such as tremendous national debt by the USA and major European countries) is not that big, but can probably be exploted to counter the USA hegemony, which is unnatural state of world affairs in any case and can't last long. The key problem is that it is unclear what can replace neoliberalism as dominant world ideology it because in late 80th, displacing Marxism.
June 29, 2014 | ronpaulinstitute.org

The Cold War made a lot of money for the military/security complex for four decades dating from Churchill's March 5, 1946 speech in Fulton, Missouri declaring a Soviet "Iron Curtain" until Reagan and Gorbachev ended the Cold War in the late 1980s. During the Cold War Americans heard endlessly about "the Captive Nations." The Captive Nations were the Baltics and the Soviet bloc, usually summarized as "Eastern Europe."

These nations were captive because their foreign policies were dictated by Moscow, just as these same Captive Nations, plus the UK, Western Europe, Canada, Mexico, Columbia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Georgia, and Ukraine, have their foreign policies dictated today by Washington. Washington intends to expand the Captive Nations to include Azerbaijan, former constituent parts of Soviet Central Asia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.

During the Cold War Americans thought of Western Europe and Great Britain as independent sovereign countries. Whether they were or not, they most certainly are not today. We are now almost seven decades after WWII, and US troops still occupy Germany. No European government dares to take a stance different from that of the US Department of State.

...Great Britain and Germany are such complete vassals of Washington that neither country can publicly discuss its own future.

When Baltasar Garzon, a Spanish judge with prosecuting authority, attempted to indict members of the George W. Bush regime for violating international law by torturing detainees, he was slapped down.

In Modern Britain, Stephane Aderca writes that the UK is so proud of being Washington's "junior partner" that the British government agreed to a one-sided extradition treaty under which Washington merely has to declare "reasonable suspicion" in order to obtain extradition from the UK, but the UK must prove "probable cause." Being Washington's "junior partner," Aderca reports, is an ego-boost for British elites, giving them a feeling of self-importance.

Under the rule of the Soviet Union, a larger entity than present day Russia, the captive nations had poor economic performance. Under Washington's rule, these same captives have poor economic performance due to their looting by Wall Street and the IMF.

As Giuseppe di Lampedusa said, "Things have to change in order to remain the same."

The looting of Europe by Wall Street has gone beyond Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Ukraine, and is now focused on France and Great Britain. The American authorities are demanding $10 billion from France's largest bank on a trumped-up charge of financing trade with Iran, as if it is any business whatsoever of Washington's who French banks choose to finance. And despite Great Britain's total subservience to Washington, Barclays bank has a civil fraud suit filed against it by the NY State Attorney General.

The charges against Barclays PLC are likely correct. But as no US banks were charged, most of which are similarly guilty, the US charge against Barclays means that big pension funds and mutual funds must flee Barclays as customers, because the pension funds and mutual funds would be subject to lawsuits for negligence if they stayed with a bank under charges.

The result, of course, of the US charges against foreign banks is that US banks like Morgan Stanley and Citigroup are given a competitive advantage and gain market share in their own dark pools.

So, what are we witnessing? Clearly and unequivocally, we are witnessing the use of US law to create financial hegemony for US financial institutions. The US Department of Justice (sic) has had evidence for five years of Citigroup's participation in the fixing of the LIBOR interest rate, but no indictment has been forthcoming.

The bought and paid for governments of Washington's European puppet states are so corrupt that the leaders permit Washington control over their countries in order to advance American financial, political, and economic hegemony.

Washington is organizing the world against Russia and China for Washington's benefit. On June 27 Washington's puppet states that comprise the EU issued an ultimatum to Russia.The absurdity of this ultimatum is obvious. Militarily, Washington's EU puppets are harmless. Russia could wipe out Europe in a few minutes. Here we have the weak issuing an ultimatum to the strong.

The EU, ordered by Washington, told Russia to suppress the opposition in southern and eastern Ukraine to Washington's stooge government in Kiev. But, as every educated person knows, including the White House, 10 Downing Street, Merkel, and Holland, Russia is not responsible for the separatist unrest in eastern and southern Ukraine. These territories are former constituent parts of Russia that were added to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic by Soviet Communist Party leaders when Ukraine and Russia were two parts of the same country.

These Russians want to return to Russia because they are threatened by the stooge government in Kiev that Washington has installed. Washington, determined to force Putin into military action that can be used to justify more sanctions, is intent on forcing the issue, not on resolving the issue.

What is Putin to do? He has been given 72 hours to submit to an ultimatum from a collection of puppet states that he can wipe out at a moment's notice or seriously inconvenience by turning off the flow of Russian natural gas to Europe.

Historically, such a stupid challenge to power would result in consequences. But Putin is a humanist who favors peace. He will not willingly give up his strategy of demonstrating to Europe that the provocations are coming from Washington, not from Russia. Putin's hope, and Russia's, is that Europe will eventually realize that Europe is being badly used by Washington.

Washington has hundreds of Washington-financed NGOs in Russia hiding behind various guises such as "human rights," and Washington can unleash these NGOs on Putin at will, as Washington did with the protests against Putin's election. Washington's fifth columns claimed that Putin stole the election even though polls showed that Putin was the clear and undisputed winner.

In 1991 Russians were, for the most part, delighted to be released from communism and looked to the West as an ally in the construction of a civil society based on good will. This was Russia's mistake. As the Brzezinski and Wolfowitz doctrines make clear, Russia is the enemy whose rise to influence must be prevented at all cost.

Putin's dilemma is that he is caught between his heart-felt desire to reach an accommodation with Europe and Washington's desire to demonize and isolate Russia.

The risk for Putin is that his desire for accommodation is being exploited by Washington and explained to the EU as Putin's weakness and lack of courage. Washington is telling its European vassals that Putin's retreat under Europe's pressure will undermine his status in Russia, and at the right time Washington will unleash its many hundreds of NGOs to bring Putin to ruin.

This was the Ukraine scenario. With Putin replaced with a compliant Russian, richly rewarded by Washington, only China would remain as an obstacle to American world hegemony.

Reprinted with author's permission.

[Jul 01, 2014] Neocons' Shocking Iraq Revisionism How They Are Utterly Divorced from Reality

Taking into account the damage to the USA national interests, you probably can view them as a kind of KGB plants within the USA establishment...
June 20, 2014 | Alternet

In a column entitled " Bush's toxic legacy in Iraq," terrorism expert Peter Bergen writes about the origins of ISIS, "the brutal insurgent/terrorist group formerly known as al Qaeda in Iraq."

Bergen notes that, "One of George W. Bush's most toxic legacies is the introduction of al Qaeda into Iraq, which is the ISIS mother ship. If this wasn't so tragic it would be supremely ironic, because before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, top Bush officials were insisting that there was an al Qaeda-Iraq axis of evil. Their claims that Saddam Hussein's men were training members of al Qaeda how to make weapons of mass destruction seemed to be one of the most compelling rationales for the impending war."

There was no al Qaeda-Iraq connection until the war; our invasion made it so. We have known this for nearly a decade, well before the murderous ISIS even appeared. In a September 2006 New York Times article headlined " Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat," reporter Mark Mazetti informed readers of a classified National Intelligence Estimate representing the consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,'' the analysis cited the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology: "The Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,' said one American intelligence official."

The Bush administration fought to quash its conclusions during the two years that the report was in the works. Mazetti reported, "Previous drafts described actions by the United States government that were determined to have stoked the jihad movement, like the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal." Apparently, these were dropped from the final document, though the reference to jihadists using their training for the purpose of "exacerbating domestic conflicts or fomenting radical ideologies" as in say, Syria, remained.

At the beginning of 2005, Mazetti notes, another official US government body, the National Intelligence Council, "released a study concluding that Iraq had become the primary training ground for the next generation of terrorists, and that veterans of the Iraq war might ultimately overtake Al Qaeda's current leadership in the constellation of the global jihad leadership."

On the one hand, it is impressive how well our intelligence agencies were able to predict the likely outcome of the Bush Administration's foolhardy obsession with invading Iraq. On the other, it is beyond depressing how little these assessments have come to matter in the discussion and debate over US foreign policy.

As we know, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the other architects of the war did everything possible to intimidate, and when necessary, discredit those in the intelligence agencies who warned of the predictable consequences of war. Cheney and his deputies made repeated trips to Langley to challenge professional intelligence work and used pliant members of the media - including Robert Novak of the Washington Post and Judith Miller of the New York Times, among many, many others - to undermine the integrity of people like Joseph P. Wilson and Valerie Plame lest the truth about the administration's lies come out. Rather incredibly, they even went so far as to ignore the incredibly detailed planning documents, created over a period of a year at a cost of $5 million by the State Department, that had a chance of providing Iraq with a stable postwar environment. Instead, they insisted on creating an occupation that generated nothing but chaos, mass murder and the terrorist victories of today.

One of the many horrific results was the decision to support Nouri al-Maliki as a potential leader of the nation. Maliki's sectarian attacks on Sunni Muslims on behalf of his Shiite allies are the immediate cause of the current murderous situation. And his placement in that job, as Fareed Zakaria aptly notes, "was the product of a series of momentous decisions made by the Bush administration. Having invaded Iraq with a small force - what the expert Tom Ricks called 'the worst war plan in American history' - the administration needed to find local allies."

[Jun 17 2014] The Moral Argument for American Restraint-in Iraq and Beyond by Noah Berlatsky

"... Second, enforcing "liberal hegemony"-a grand strategy of promoting global democracy and peace underwritten by U.S. military power-is simply beyond America's capabilities. As the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, earlier, Vietnam showed, the United States does not have the military resources and political will necessary to impose friendly democratic regimes upon distant peoples. Nor, as all three of those wars also demonstrate, does it have the ability to utterly destroy its enemies forever. Nor, finally, can the U.S. ensure, militarily or otherwise, that no one anywhere gets nuclear weapons-after all, if it could, presumably Pakistan and North Korea wouldn't have them. ..."
"... "For instance, if the U.S. is concerned about genocide, we could join the International Criminal Court and support the prosecution of those who commit war crimes (including, though Posen does not say this, American officials, at whatever level, who condoned, or condone, torture.)" ..."
Jun 17 2014 | theatlantic.com

Whenever there's a conflict anywhere in the world, a gaggle of American pundits and politicians insists that the United States fix it. Whether it's Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham pushing weapons shipments to Ukraine, former ambassador Robert Ford urging Washington to arm Syrian rebels, or The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol calling for troops to be sent to Iraq, the assumption is always that every problem is America's problem, and that the best way to solve America's problems is with force.

Barry Posen, a professor of political science at MIT and a foreign-policy realist, advocates a different approach. The title of his new book, Restraint, succinctly expresses his policy recommendation. The U.S., he argues, needs to stop trying to do more and more. Instead, it needs to do less. Or, as he puts it, "Efforts to defend everything leave one defending not much of anything."

Posen rests his discussion on two basic arguments. The first is that the United States is, by any reasonable metric, an incredibly secure nation. It is geographically isolated from other great powers-a position that makes invading or even attacking the U.S. mainland prohibitively difficult. U.S. conventional forces are by far the most powerful in the world. Posen notes that the U.S. "accounted for a little more than a third of all the military spending in the world during the 1990s," and has increased the percentage to about 41 percent of all military spending in the world today. On top of that, the U.S. has a massive nuclear deterrent. It is simply not credible to argue that Iran, North Korea, Iraq, Pakistan, or even Russia or China have the combination of dangerous capabilities and malign intentions to pose a serious existential threat to the United States in anything but the most paranoid neocon fantasies.

Second, enforcing "liberal hegemony"-a grand strategy of promoting global democracy and peace underwritten by U.S. military power-is simply beyond America's capabilities. As the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, earlier, Vietnam showed, the United States does not have the military resources and political will necessary to impose friendly democratic regimes upon distant peoples. Nor, as all three of those wars also demonstrate, does it have the ability to utterly destroy its enemies forever. Nor, finally, can the U.S. ensure, militarily or otherwise, that no one anywhere gets nuclear weapons-after all, if it could, presumably Pakistan and North Korea wouldn't have them.

The effort to control and police the world through force of arms makes the United States less secure in numerous ways, Posen argues. It bleeds U.S. resources, both military and economic, while leaving the country less prepared to face immediate threats. The belief that America will act as the world's policeman encourages some of its allies to skimp on their own defense spending, forcing the U.S. to undertake further costly investments it cannot afford in the long term. In its role as Liberal Hegemon, it also encourages aggression and risky behavior in states like Israel, which can put off peace deals and engage in provocative actions like settlement construction because of the elaborate pledges of support it has received from America.

Rather than imposing American will by force, Posen suggests that we could more fruitfully and practically engage the world in other ways. For instance, if the U.S. is concerned about genocide, we could join the International Criminal Court and support the prosecution of those who commit war crimes (including, though Posen does not say this, American officials, at whatever level, who condoned, or condone, torture.) If we want to save people, we could honor our commitments under international treaties and open our borders to refugees; as Posen says, we are "rich enough to receive many individuals in such dire straits." We could also send aid to poorer countries to encourage them to receive refugees.

Posen makes a compelling argument. But he makes it almost entirely on realist grounds. He advocates a policy of restraint because it will make the U.S. stronger and more secure, not-or at least not primarily-because a policy of restraint is more ethical than the alternative. His humanitarian suggestions-joining the ICC, opening borders-are addendums to, rather than the essence of, his reasoning.

But liberal hegemony, the argument Posen is rebutting, isn't just based on security interests. It's also predicated on morality. For instance, the rationale for invading Iraq was not only that the United States needed to crush Saddam Hussein for its own safety. It was also that Saddam was uniquely evil and that it would be good for the people of Iraq, and for people around the world, if he were destroyed. Similarly, the continuing presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is justified not only on the basis of protecting America from al-Qaeda, but also on the grounds that the Taliban are hideously oppressive, especially to women, and that it is America's responsibility to stop them from returning to power.

Responding to the argument for liberal hegemony, then, requires consideration of the moral as well as the practical arguments for restraint. Fortunately for Posen, the "just war" tradition of ethics yields a very strong argument for the morality of restraint-indeed, in many ways just-war doctrine is based on the restraint principle. As summarized by the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

The principles of the justice of war are commonly held to be: having just cause, being a last resort, being declared by a proper authority, possessing right intention, having a reasonable chance of success, and the end being proportional to the means used.

The just-war doctrine is not equivalent to pacifism, which holds that there is no justification for war at all. But it shares with pacifism, as political ethicist Jean Bethke Elshtain has written, the belief that "violence must never be celebrated, and that violence must always be put on trial." Though Elshtain herself supported the Iraq war, the reasoning here suggests, on the contrary, that preventive wars aimed at warding off the eventual emergence of a threat should be anathema. Wars are by their nature bloody, destructive, and impossible to control (as the spiraling and ongoing violence in Iraq demonstrates all too clearly.) It is simply not tenable to argue that starting a war will preserve peace, because war by its nature breeds chaos and more war. That's why war must be a last resort, and why it should solely be used in self-defense; the only time it's reasonable to think that war might reduce war is when you're already at war.

The essence of just war can be summarized generally as follows: first, try to limit harm, and second, treat war with respect and fear. Dropping bombs on Libya or Iran to prevent evil is illegitimate because war itself is evil-and it is an evil not easily contained. Treating war as a convenient tool of policy, rather than as a last resort, sows more death and hardship, not less. Similarly, building up massive stockpiles of weapons that are not immediately necessary creates a temptation to use those weapons-the succinct moral of Johnny Cash's "Don't Take Your Guns to Town." Outsized military expenditures can themselves be seen as a violation of the principles that inform the just-war doctrine.

From the just-war perspective, Posen's realist arguments have an ethical force. Even from the perspective of the World War II-era realist theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who rejected pacifism and just war alike as overly idealistic, Posen's position has moral consequences. Niebuhr saw war as moral when it advanced best outcomes. The case Posen outlines suggests what those best outcomes are.

When Posen says, for example, that the U.S. cannot, in the long run, defend Taiwan, that's not just a practical statement, but an ethical one. That's because engaging in an unwinnable conflict over Taiwan-possibly unleashing nuclear war in a lost cause without a self-defense rationale-is, on just-war grounds, or even on Neibuhrian grounds, morally wrong. Similarly, there is plentiful evidence that the U.S. cannot impose its preferred form of government on the peoples of the Middle East. Intervening in Middle Eastern civil wars when there is no realistic chance of success is an ethical failure as well as a tactical one. It is evil to bomb people purely in the hope, against all the evidence, that bombing will make things better.

Restraint is also preferable to liberal hegemony from the standpoint of American ideals. Proponents of liberal hegemony often argue that the United States has an ethical duty to spread its values across the globe. But this argument overlooks the fact that one of the most basic foundational values of America is self-determination. The American Revolution was fought for the principle that people have a right to make decisions about their own fate through their own institutions. When the U.S. sets itself up as a global policeman, it is saying, on the contrary, that U.S. policymakers have the right to decide who should rule in Iraq, or how Iran should conduct its nuclear program. Perhaps, in certain cases, for the security of its own citizens, the U.S. may need to take steps to curtail the actions of other states and other people. But as a wholesale philosophy, "the United States should run the world" contradicts America's most basic value: that people have the right to rule themselves.

Restraint, then, is not merely a practical necessity for the United States to improve its security. It's also an ethical duty, and a specifically American ideal. Rather than fearing America's "decline" because we're not able to undertake a land war in Ukraine or a third invasion of Iraq, we should welcome a world in which the U.S. does not try to solve other people's problems by force. Liberal hegemony hasn't worked, and won't work. The United States will be more secure-and more moral-if it can give up its dreams of empire, and restrain its impulse to war.

Terri_in_LA • a day ago

"For instance, if the U.S. is concerned about genocide, we could join the International Criminal Court and support the prosecution of those who commit war crimes (including, though Posen does not say this, American officials, at whatever level, who condoned, or condone, torture.)"

US Foreign Policy = Follow the Money.

The US Federal Gov't is not primarily concerned about things like genocide when developing its foreign policy. It is concerned about chaotic situations that can disrupt our economy. Concerns for security almost always come back to economic security not physical security. That's why we make the same mistakes over and over. We want to control things that we just don't have much ability to control in attempts to eliminate economic risk. We live in fear that we'll lose access to raw materials, markets, etc. It is why we go head long into the Middle East while we allow wars to rage without intervention in parts of Africa. It's why we are freaked about the Ukraine. We're not worried that Russia is going to wage an actual war, but that it might be in a position to impact our economy or that of our allies. It's why we fear China, when they've shown no interest in meddling in the affairs of countries outside its own region. China has growing economic clout around the world
.
Until we start to discuss foreign policy in more concrete terms (What are our interests exactly? What are we willing or unwilling to sacrifice to protect them?) rather than as if its all high minded ideology or how these are bad guys that need to be taken out for humanitarian reasons, we'll never stop doing things that damage our interests and are damaging to the rest of the world.

[May 28, 2014] The US Empire is in Decline by DAVE LINDORFF

CounterPunch

Krauthammer is Right, for Once! The US Empire is in Decline

I was shocked to find myself in almost perfect agreement today with a recent column by the neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer. Usually Krauthammer has me groaning, but yesterday his column nailed it. He was writing about what he correctly observes as the end of "American hegemony" in the global political sphere

... ... ...

Missing from Krauthammer's analysis, of course, is the history behind this development.

US global domination, which could be said to have begun with the collapse in the early 1990s of the former Soviet Union, was destined to be a short-lived affair. By 1990, the Soviet Union had been bankrupted by President Reagan's massive military spending campaign, and the USSR's political and economic implosion did leave the US, by default, as the world's last and only "superpower," but left unremarked was that this country's massive military spending had also effectively hollowed out the US economy, too. And instead of turning inward at the end of the Cold War, and investing in a revitalization of America's crumbling physical, social and educational infrastructure, which might have rectified things, the problem was made worse by two more decades of continuous war economy, driven by the very neoconservative ideology that Krauthammer still espouses.

Wars were launched: first the Persian Gulf War against Iraq in 1990-1 (which continued until the 2003 invasion of Iraq with the maintenance of "no-fly zones" over parts of Iraq), then the Bosnian and Kosovo wars in the mid and late '90s, followed by the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And when that was not enough, a fake "War on Terror" was launched to convince the gullible American public of the need of continued massive military spending.

Instead of shrinking the bloated US military, successive presidents - George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and finally Barack Obama - all kept increasing military spending to the point that this country under President Obama has been spending as much on its military as the rest of the world combined. And to make things worse, the US has been losing its wars. that is not the kind of thing designed to instill fear in potential adversaries.

At the same time that the US empire was bankrupting itself through extravagant military spending, it has been relentlessly pushing its weight around everywhere in the world, subverting or trying to subvert democratically elected governments in places like Nicaragua, Panama, Grenada, Haiti and Venezuela, and even seeking to undermine governments in states like Russia, Ukraine and Iran.

Something had to give, and as Krauthammer correctly notes, something finally has given. America's bluff is being called.

Fed up with the clumsy bullying of American foreign and economic policy, angered by the imperial over-reach of America's National Security Agency, and emboldened by the weakness of both the American dollar and America's bloated, bureaucratic and over-stretched military (as evidenced by its inability to defeat minimally armed and trained patriotic forces in Afghanistan and Iraq), Russia and China, and perhaps Iran too, are realizing that they "don't have to take it anymore."

While Krauthammer didn't mention it, even NATO, that Cold War relic that the US had been using as a fig leaf since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990 to cover its aggressive policy of encirclement and gradual subversion of Russia, is now showing signs of collapse. The European public and their elected officials are angry at Edward Snowden's revelations about massive NSA spying on it's purported "allies," and the latest effort to enlist Europe in a program of economic sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea have fallen flat, with France refusing to stop selling advanced military equipment to Russia and with Germany balking at any serious economic sanctions against one of its largest trading partners.

Increasingly, Russia, China, Brazil and other large developing economies are separating themselves from the dollar-based global financial system, undermining the last mainstay of US hegemony - the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

... ... ...

History is replete with empires that crumbled under their own hubris and ambition, and the United States is no different.

The only real disagreement I have with Krauthammer is in seeing this decline of US empire as a tragedy. Looking at the incredible death, destruction and grotesque waste of resources that can be directly attributed to the US and its imperialist program since the end of the Second World War, I can only see its demise as a positive thing

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

[May 27, 2014] Albright the Second -- bellicose and incompetent chicken hawk Hilary Clinton

thenation.com

Since it's foreign policy week this week, with President Obama delivering a major speech on Wednesday at West Point, Christie Watch will spend the next few days looking at the foreign policy views of the various 2016 candidates, starting today with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

When it comes to Hillary Clinton's foreign policy, start first by disentangling the nonsense about Benghazi-a nonexistent scandal if ever there was one-from the broader palette of Clinton's own, relatively hawkish views. As she consolidates her position as the expected nominee in 2016, with wide leads over all the likely GOP challengers, it ought to worry progressives that the next president of the United States is likely to be much more hawkish than the current one. Expect to be deluged, in the next few weeks, with news about Hard Choices, the memoir of her years as secretary of state under President Obama, to be released June 10.

But we don't need a memoir to know that, comparatively speaking, two things can be said about her tenure at the State Department:

In the brief excerpt that's been released by her publisher, Clinton notes that as secretary of state she "ended up visiting 112 countries and traveling nearly one million miles." But what, if anything, did she accomplish with all that to-ing and fro-ing? Not a lot. She largely avoided the Israel-Palestine tangle, perhaps because she didn't want to risk crossing the Israel lobby at home, and it's hard to see what she actually did, other than to promote the education and empowerment of girls and women in places where they are severely beaten down. And, while it's wrong (and really silly) to call Clinton a neoconservative, she's more of-how to put it?-a "right-wing realist" on foreign policy, who often backed military intervention as a first or second resort, while others in the White House-especially Obama's national security staff and Vice President Biden's own aides, were far more reluctant to employ the troops.

In that vein, it's useful to explore the memoirs of Robert Gates, who was secretary of defense under George W. Bush and then, inexplicably, under President Obama, too. In Duty: Memoir of a Secretary at War (which could also be the subtitle of Clinton's own memoir), Gates says several times that he and Clinton saw eye to eye. (This has also been extensively documented by Bob Woodward, if more narrowly focused, in his 2010 book, Obama's Wars.) In Duty, Gates says that he formed an alliance with Clinton because both he and her had independent power bases and were, in his words, "un-fireable":

Commentators were observing that in an administration where all power and decision making were gravitating toward the White House, Clinton and I represented the only independent "power center", not least because…we were both seen as "unfire-able." [page 289]

Gates confirms that he and Clinton lined up with the hawks against the doves on Afghanistan:

The Obama foreign policy team was splintering. [Joe] Biden, his chief of staff, [Rahm] Emanuel, some of the National Security Council staff, and probably all of the president's White House political advisers were on a different page with respect to Afghanistan than Clinton, [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs] Mullen, [Dennis] Blair, and me. [page 350]

And Gates says that on the crucial decision to escalate the Afghan war in 2009 and then to slow the drawdown in 2010, he and Clinton were on the same side:

Yet again the president had mostly come down on Hillary's and my side. And yet again the process was ugly and contentious, reaffirming that the split in Obama's team over Afghanistan, after two years in office, was still very real and very deep. [page 502]

And, says Gates (page 587), Obama's efforts to centralize foreign policy decision-making inside the White House "offended Hillary Clinton as much as it did me."

As The Nation noted in 2013, just before the November 2012 election-after Gates had left the administration and was replaced by Leon Panetta-Clinton joined Panetta, CIA Director David Petraeus and the military in proposing that the United States go to war in Syria. (That the United States didn't act more aggressively in Syria back then was entirely due to President Obama's decision to resist Clinton and the other hawks.)

And, more famously, Clinton-joined by several other administration officials, including Samantha Power and Susan Rice-pushed hard, and successfully, for the United States to go to war in Libya. For Republicans who've endlessly waved the bloody flag of Benghazi, Clinton's hawkish view on Libya contradicts much of the nonsense they go on about. But for progressives, it's an ugly blot on Clinton's résumé. Not only did the war in Libya go far to inflame Russian nationalism, it also created a terrible vacuum in North Africa, toppling Muammar Qaddafi but leaving hundreds of armed militias in his stead, creating chaos and anarchy. (And, because the war against Qaddafi followed the Libyan leader's decision to forgo a nuclear arms program, it also sent the wrong message to Iran, namely, give up your nuclear program and we'll attack you anyway.)

In their book about Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, HRC, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes don't provide much insight into Clinton's role as maker of foreign policy decisions, preferring to concentrate far too much on the politics of the Clinton people vs. the Obama people. But they do suggest that there was far more tension between the White House and the State Department under Clinton than is usually cited. For instance, they write:

Many of the White House aides saw the Clinton network as part of a bipartisan Washington foreign policy establishment that kept getting it wrong. [page 143]

As background, Allen and Parnes note that Clinton's relationship with Gates was founded in part on the fact that both Clinton and Gates backed Barry Goldwater in 1964-Clinton was a "Goldwater Girl"-and that Gates took note of the fact that Clinton, as senator from New York, "had made friends with a number of high-level flag officers-three- and four-star generals and admirals-during her time on Armed Services." She was, Gates noted, "an ardent advocate of a strong military" and "believed in all forms of American power, including force." As important decisions were imminent during the Obama administration, Allen and Parnes quote a "high-ranking Pentagon source" who says:

[Gates and Clinton] often compared notes in advance of some of those meetings to find common ground to allow them to influence or drive the direction of policy on a given issue.

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In its summary of Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, The New York Times suggests that even Clinton herself has a hard time deciding what her real accomplishments were, noting that she "seemed flustered" when asked about it at a public forum. In the end, the way she responded was, well, meaningless:

"I really see my role as secretary, and, in fact, leadership in general in a democracy, as a relay race," Mrs. Clinton finally said at the Women in the World meeting, promising to offer specific examples in a memoir she is writing that is scheduled to be released in June. "I mean, you run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton."

But the Times adds that, after countless interviews, it is clear that Clinton was the administration's hawk:

But in recent interviews, two dozen current and former administration officials, foreign diplomats, friends and outside analysts described Mrs. Clinton as almost always the advocate of the most aggressive actions considered by Mr. Obama's national security team-and not just in well-documented cases, like the debate over how many additional American troops to send to Afghanistan or the NATO airstrikes in Libya.

Mrs. Clinton's advocates-a swelling number in Washington, where people are already looking to the next administration-are quick to cite other cases in which she took more hawkish positions than the White House: arguing for funneling weapons to Syrian rebels and for leaving more troops behind in postwar Iraq, and criticizing the results of a 2011 parliamentary election in Russia.

And the Times quotes Dennis Ross, the pro-Israel advocate who worked for both Clinton and for the White House on Iran: "It's not that she's quick to use force, but her basic instincts are governed more by the uses of hard power."

Since leaving office, Clinton has gone out of her way to sound more hawkish than Obama on a range of issues, including expressing skepticism on the negotiations with Iran. Some observers say that it's just politics, and that Clinton is positioning herself for 2016. Maybe so. But it sounds a lot like Hillary Clinton is just being, well, Hillary Clinton.

Read Next: Bob Dreyfuss questions Obama's "Goldilocks" approach to foreign policy.

[May 13, 2014] The Vineyard of the Saker 1993-2013 is the twenty years long pas de deux of Russia and the USA coming to an end

October 13, 2013

In the meantime - the US gets Neoconned

Unlike the Soviet Union which basically disappeared from the map of our planet, the USA "won" the Cold War (this is not factually quite true, but this is how many Americans see it) and having become the last and only real super-power the US immediately embarked on a series of external wars to establish its "full spectrum dominance" over the planet, especially after the events of 9/11 which deeply transformed the nature of the US society itself.

Sill, the post 9/11 society has its roots in a far more distant past: the Reagan years.

During the Presidency of Ronald Reagan a group which later become known as the "Necons" made a strategic decision to take over the Republican Party, its affiliated institutions and think tanks. While in the past ex-Trotskyites had been more inclined to support the putatively more Left-leaning Democratic Party, the "new and improved GOP" under Reagan offered the Neocons some extremely attractive features:

1) Money: Reagan was an unconditional supporter of big business and the corporate world. His mantra "government is the problem" fitted perfectly with the historical closeness of the Neocons with the Robber Barons, Mafia bosses and big bankers. For them, de-regulation meant freedom of action, something which was bound to make speculators and Wall Street wise guys immensely rich.

2) Violence: Reagan also firmly stood behind the US Military-Industrial complex and a policy of intervention in any country on the planet. That fascination with brute force and, let be honest here, terrorism also fitted the Trotskyite-Neocon mindset perfectly.

3) Illegality: Reagan did not care at all about the law, be it international law or domestic law. Sure, as long as the law happens to be advantageous to US or GOP interests, it was upheld with great ceremony. But if it didn't, the Reaganites would break it with no compunction whatsoever.

4) Arrogance: under Reagan, patriotism and feel-good imperial hubris reached a new height. More than ever before, the US saw itself as not only the "Leader of the Free World" protecting the planet against the "Evil Empire", but also as unique and superior to the rest of mankind (like in the Ford commercial of the 1980s: "we're number one, second to none!")

5) Systematic deception: under Reagan lying turned from an occasional if regular tactics used in politics to the key form of public communication: Reagan, and his administration, could say one thing and then deny it in the same breath. They could make promises which were clearly impossible to keep (Star Wars anybody?). They could solemnly take an oath and than break it (Iran-Contra). And, if confronted by proof of these lies, all Reagan had to do is to say: "well, no, I don't remember".

6) Messianism: not only did Reagan get a huge support basis amongst the various crazy religious denominations in the USA (including all of the Bible Belt), Reagan also promoted a weird can of secular Messianism featuring a toxic mix of xenophobia bordering on racism with a narcissistic fascination with anything patriotic, no matter how stupid, bordering on self-worship.

So let's add it all up:

Money+violence+illegality+arrogance+deception+Messianism

equals what?

Does that not all look very, very familiar? Is that not a perfect description of Zionism and Israel?

No wonder the Neocons flocked in greater and greater number to this new GOP! Reagan's GOP was the perfect Petri dish for the Zionist bacteria to grow, and grow it really did. A lot.

I think that it would be reasonable to say that the USA underwent a two-decades long process of "Zionisation" which culminated in the grand 9/11 false flag operation in which the PNAC-types basically used their access to the centers of power in the USA, Israel and the KSA to conjure up a new enemy - "Islamo-Fascist Terror" - which would not only justify a planetary war against "terrorism" (the GWOT) but also an unconditional support for Israel.

There were also losers in this evolution, primarily what I call the "old Anglo camp" which basically lost control of most of its domestic political power and all of its foreign policy power: for the first time a new course in foreign policy gradually began to take shape under the leadership of a group of people which would in time be identified as "Israel Firsters". For a short time the old Anglos seemed to have retaken the reigns of power - under George Bush Senior - only to immediately loose it again with the election of Bill Clinton. But the apogee of Ziocon power was only reached under the Presidency of George W. Bush who basically presided over a massive purge of Anglos from key positions in government (especially the Pentagon and the CIA). Predictably, having the folks which Bush Senior called "the crazies in the basement" actually in power rapidly brought the USA to the edge of a global collapse: externally the massive worldwide sympathy for the USA after 911 turned into a tsunami of loathing and resentment, while internally the country was faced with a massive banking crisis which almost resulted the imposition of martial law over the USA.

In comes Barak Obama - "change we can believe in!"

The election of Barak Obama to the White House truly was a momentous historical event. Not only because a majority White population had elected a Black man to the highest office in the country (this was really mainly an expression of despair and of a deep yearning for change), but because after one of the most effective PR campaigns in history, the vast majority of Americans and many, if not most, people abroad, really, truly believed that Obama would make some deep, meaningful changes. The disillusion with Obama was as great as the hopes millions had in him. I personally feel that history will remember Obama not only as one of the worst Presidents in history, but also, and that is more important, as the last chance for the "system" to reform itself. That chance was missed. And while some, in utter disgust, described Obama as "Bush light", I think that his Presidency can be better described as "more of the same, only worse".

Having said that, there is something which, to my absolute amazement, Obama's election did achieve: the removal of (most, but not all) Neocons from (most, but not all) key positions of power and a re-orientation of (most, but not all) of US foreign policy in a more traditional "USA first" line, usually supported by the "old Anglo" interests. Sure, the Neocons are still firmly in control of Congress and the US corporate media, but the Executive Branch is, at least for the time being, back under Anglo control (this is, of course, a generalization: Dick Cheney was neither Jewish nor Zionist, while the Henry Kissinger can hardly be described as an "Anglo"). And even though Bibi Netanyahu got more standing ovations in Congress (29) than any US President, the attack on Iran he wanted so badly did not happen. Instead, Hillary and Petraeus got kicked out, and Chuck Hagel and John Kerry got in. That is hardly "change we can believe in", but at least this shows that the Likud is not controlling the White House any more.

Of course, this is far from over. If anything the current game of chicken played between the White House and Congress over the budget with its inherent risk of a US default shows that this conflict is far from settled.

The current real power matrix in the USA and Russia

We have shown that there two unofficial parties in Russia which are locked in a deadly conflict for power, the "Eurasian Sovereignists" and "Atlantic Integrationists". There are also two unofficial parties in the USA who are also locked in a deadly conflict for power: the Neocons and the "old Anglos imperialists". I would argue that, at least for the time being, the "Eurasian Sovereignists" and the "old Anglos" have prevailed over their internal competitor but that the Russian "Eurasian Sovereignists" are in a far stronger position that the American "old Anglos". There are two main reasons for that:

1) Russia has already had its economic collapse and default and
2) a majority of Russians fully support President Putin and his "Eurasian Sovereignist" policies.

In contrast, the USA is on the brink of an economic collapse and the 1% clique which is running the USA is absolutely hated and despised by most Americans.

After the immense and, really, heart-breaking disillusionment with Obama, more and more Americans are becoming convinced that changing the puppet in the White House is meaningless and that what the US really needs is regime change.

The USSR and the USA - back to the future?

It is quite amazing for those who remember the Soviet Union of the late 1980 how much the US under Obama has become similar to the USSR under Brezhnev: internally it is characterized by a general sense of disgust and alienation of the people triggered by the undeniable stagnation of a system rotten to its very core. A bloated military and police state with uniforms everywhere, while more and more people live in abject poverty. A public propaganda machine which, like in Orwell's 1984, constantly boasts of successes everywhere while everybody knows that these are all lies. Externally, the US is hopelessly overstretched and either hated and mocked abroad. Just as in the Soviet days, the US leaders are clearly afraid of their own people so they protect themselves by a immense and costly global network of spies and propagandists who are terrified of dissent and who see the main enemy in their own people.

Add to that a political system which far from co-opting the best of its citizens deeply alienates them while promoting the most immoral and corrupt ones into the positions of power. A booming prison-industrial complex and a military-industrial complex which the country simply cannot afford maintaining. A crumbling public infrastructure combined with a totally dysfunctional health care system in which only the wealthy and well-connected can get good treatment. And above it all, a terminally sclerotic public discourse, full of ideological clichés an completely disconnected from reality.

I will never forget the words of a Pakistani Ambassador to the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in 1992 who, addressing an assembly of smug western diplomats, said the following words:

"you seem to believe that you won the Cold War, but did you ever consider the possibility that what has really happened is that the internal contradictions of communism caught up with communism before the internal contradictions of capitalism could catch up with capitalism?!".

Needless to say, these prophetic words were greeted by a stunned silence and soon forgotten. But the man was, I believe, absolutely right: capitalism has now reached a crisis as deep as the one affecting the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and there is zero chance to reform or otherwise change it. Regime change is the only possible outcome.

[May 12, 2014] Ukraine and Latvia: Welcome to "The Clash of Civilizations"

nationalinterest.org

Realists who have advocated a cautious and measured approach to NATO expansion and, more recently, to events in Ukraine, have been attacked by neoconservatives and Wilsonian liberals as weak agents of appeasement. But these neocons and Wilsonians are dangerous, because they ignore distinctions based on culture. Indeed, they generally dismiss culture as irrelevant, except the Western culture, which they wish to spread throughout the world. That is the outlook that has generated so much havoc since the end of the Cold War, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria-and now in the border regions of Europe, where the dangers are much more ominous.

Hence, it isn't surprising that neocon and Wilsonian commentators and officials can't see a distinction between Ukraine and Latvia. In their view, both should be bathed in the glow of Western attitudes and Western institutions. Yet, an analysis of the two nations' history and cultural currents can lead to an understanding of the geopolitical realities along the fault line between the West and Russia and the proper approach to U.S. foreign policy in the region...

.... ... ...

What a shame it is, then, that the West has stirred up cultural animosities not only within Ukraine but also potentially in other cleft countries along the Russian border. What a shame that America is fostering increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia when it should be applying creative diplomacy to adjudicate this delicate borderland situation. What a shame that U.S. relations with Russia are deteriorating to a possible breaking point when the real long-term adversary is China. And when that competition heats up, America will need all the allies it can get, particularly those positioned to pressure the Chinese. What a shame that Western policy makers can't seem to incorporate into their thinking such fundamental concepts as balance of power, spheres of influence and buffer zones-all crucial elements of diplomacy for nations interested in fostering stability and peace.

It may be too late now, not only to rescue Ukraine from what appears to be a looming civil war, but also to save Latvia from similar cultural tensions. This is a Western mess, and it may require a great deal of time, effort and exertion for the West to clean it up.

Robert W. Merry is political editor of The National Interest and the author of books on American history and foreign policy. His most recent book is Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians.

[May 10, 2014] Nuland Testifies to House Foreign Affairs Committee "No Neo-Nazis in Ukraine"

May 10, 2014 | Global Research

Victoria Nuland Lies to House Foreign Affairs Committee; Congressman Rohrabacher Challenges Nuland's Claim No Nazis in Kiev.

Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, lied by denying that there were armed Nazis supporting the ouster of Ukraine's "free and fairly elected" President Victor Yanukovych, in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday, despite repeated questions posed by Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) about pictures of neo-Nazis armed with guns in the Maidan, and their affiliations with neo-Nazi groups in other countries.

The full committee hearing on the Ukraine crisis featured an opening statement by Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA), as Chair of its Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia. Rohrbacher stated that the situation in Ukraine is "much murkier" than is being pretended. It is not simply a case of Russian aggression. Chaos began, said Rohrbacher, when the elected President of Ukraine (Yanukovych), who won an election - an election which observers from the OSCE declared "free and fair" - was forced out of office by street involvement. (emphasis in original).

The problem started without any Russian involvement. It started when the Ukraine President decided to make an economic agreement with Russia, not the EU. It gets murkier. We should not be jumping into it.

Later, in his turn to question Nuland, Rohrbacher asked:

Rohrbacher: What will [intervening in Ukraine] cost the U.S., bottom line?

Nuland: $187m + $50m + $18m DOD budgeted for security services and border guards.

Rohrbacher: Did we guarantee any loans from the World Bank to Ukraine?

Nuland: $400m for Treasury of $1 billion from the IMF.

Rohrbacher: Do we have preferential payback?

Nuland: I don't know; I'll get back to you…

Rohrbacher: I think I know the answer. We had a legitimate election before, but [the President] was removed. About the violence. There are pictures of neo-Nazis. Were the neo-Nazis involved in the street violence?

Nuland: The vast majority were peaceful protesters. We saw firebombs being thrown, and people shooting into police ranks. All of these incidents are subject to investigation.

Rohrbacher: Guns were involved.

Nuland: As the demonstration became more violent both…

Rohrbacher: Was the neo-Nazi group affiliated with Nazi groups in other countries?

Nuland: I don't know about the early period. Later, we see recruiting on neo-Nazi websites in Russia. We don't have any information against neo-Nazi groups from Europe. There is no information to corroborate. Ukraine is investigating…

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) also pointed to the anti-Russian bias of U.S. foreign policy in the alternating cases of U.S. support at times, for territorial integrity, and at other times, independence, as shown in South Sudan, South Ossetia, Moldova, and other cases. "It seems haphazard," Sherman said, but "Every decision we make is anti-Moscow."

Sherman: Has the Right Sector militia been disarmed?

Nuland: Ukraine has made a massive effort.

Sherman: How successful has it been?

Nuland: There's progress, but more to do.

Sherman: Kiev wants to repeal the Russian language law.

Nuland: Language rights will be protected.

Other useful questioning of Nuland occurred.

Rep. Albio Sires (R-NJ) asked Nuland why, if the Russian people were impacted by the sanctions, "Putin is getting more popular."

Nuland's testimony made clear that the plan for the May 25 referendum is a large vote turnout, with thousands of observers, and she claimed that 39 million voters had been registered online, while the International Republican Institute is predicting 84% are likely to vote.

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[May 10, 2014] Six Mistakes the West Has Made (and Continues to Make) in Ukraine

The National Interest
ODESSA, Ukraine - If the West appears confused by Russian actions in Ukraine and unable to find an adequate response to the crisis, it is because from the outset, it has misread the situation, transforming an essentially domestic dispute into one that threatens the security architecture of Europe. While all sides have contributed to the current debacle, six widely held assumptions have played an inordinate role in shaping Western discourse about Ukraine. These will need to be corrected before any real progress can be made.

1. The Ukrainians are one people, united in their support of change: This is a familiar refrain among Western politicians, yet anyone familiar with Ukrainian history knows that its borders have changed many times in the past century. As a result, millions of people without any ethnic, cultural, or linguistic attachment to Ukraine wound up in its present borders. Since 1991, the most visible division has been between Western Ukrainians, many of whom seek a Ukraine culturally and politically distinct from Russia, and Eastern Ukrainians, who want to live in a Ukraine that is independent, but that also maintains close spiritual, cultural, and economic ties to Russia. The fact that Western governments have identified the national aspirations of Ukraine with those of the Western regions of the country puts them at odds with half the country. Even if the Western regions prevail over the Eastern regions in the current struggle, choosing sides in this way has generated anti-Western sentiment in the East that is likely to linger for years to come.

2. Supporting the Euromaidan's ouster of president Yanukovych: At the height of the Euromaidan riots, Western governments warned president Yanukovych not to use force to disband the protests, even as they turned violent. Later, during a critical phase of negotiations with the opposition, officials from the United States were taped discussing which specific opposition leaders they wanted to replace him. To a Ukrainian public already sharply divided over the legitimacy of the public protests on the Maidan (three-quarters of the population in Ukraine's eastern cities regarded the Euromaidan protests as illegal), this merely proved that the West was intervening to thwart the political preferences of half the country.

3. Failing to stand behind the February 21 agreement: The failure of France, Germany and Poland to stand behind the negotiated transition of power that they had called for, has been a blow to the legitimacy of Ukrainian state institutions from which it has had great difficulty recovering. The subsequent seizure of power by the opposition not only brought down the much reviled, though legitimately elected president, it also led to the collapse of the country's largest political party which, for all its faults, embodied the political aspirations of roughly half the population. To this day, fewer than a third of the population in Russian-speaking Ukraine view the acting president and prime minister as legitimate, while in Donetsk and Lugansk, the hotbeds of armed resistance, this figure falls to less than 15 percent.

4. Ignoring the rise of the Radical Right: The Western media has slowly caught on to the fact that right-wing nationalist groups like Svoboda and the Right Sector played a decisive role in the radicalization of the Euromaidan, and in the dramatic seizure of power immediately after the February 21 accords. Officially, however, Western governments continue to insist that their role is marginal. Yet, even today, such groups wield inordinate influence within the parliament and on the streets of central Kiev, which they continue to occupy despite pleas by the acting president to leave. They intimidate politicians, judges, and journalists, indeed anyone who speaks out against the policies of the current government. Their intimidation of presidential candidates associated with the Party of Regions elicits almost no comment from Western governments. Many in the Eastern and Southern regions of Ukraine see this as further confirmation of Western partisanship.

5. Labeling protesters in the East and South "pro-Russian" and "separatists.": Both labels are misleading because attachment to Russia in these regions is cultural and linguistic, not political. Reports from the region, surveys, and statements by local and national politicians, make it abundantly clear that there are significant local grievances against the interim government in Kiev. Even firebrand Yulia Tymoshenko recently acknowledged as much on national television. The vast majority simply want their Russian heritage to be recognized as part of their Ukrainian identity. The easiest way to do this, they say, would be to acknowledge the reality of Ukraine's bilingualism in the constitution. The interim government's resistance to this idea only deepens their mistrust of Kiev.

As for the charge of separatism, it is worth noting that in every instance where separatism has become an issue, including Crimea, the original demand was for greater regional rights and autonomy within Ukraine. Only when Kiev responded by replacing local officials with ones loyal only to the new government, did the issue of secession arise. That is one reason why most people in the Eastern and Southern regions of Ukraine (62 percent) blame the loss of Crimea on Kiev, rather than on Crimean separatists (24 percent), or on Russia (19 percent). The same approach is now being taken toward eastern and southern Ukraine, with the same disastrous results.

6. Blaming Russia for Ukraine's problems: Despite the heated rhetoric coming from Western governments, Russia's primary objective in Ukraine has actually been to reduce the level of domestic instability. The reasons are not hard to fathom. First, such instability is bad for business, which in the case of Ukraine, involves military, industrial and energy investments that are vital to Russia. Second, continued instability is bad for Russia because it increases the likelihood of Ukraine becoming a failed state, which Russia will feel obliged to support with massive humanitarian assistance. Third, such instability is bad because it increase tensions with the West, which has a tendency to blame Russia for everything that happens there.

Russia would very much like to see Ukraine as a stable economic and political partner, able to provide enough growth and jobs to its own citizens to reduce the annual flow of more than 3 million Ukrainian migrant workers into Russia, and thus contribute to the prosperity of the 11 million Russians who live along the border with Ukraine. Having already spent as much as 300 billion dollars over the past two decades to prevent the collapse of the Ukrainian economy, it hardly seems likely that Russia now seeks its economic demise. It most certainly does not want to spend the tens of billions of dollars it would take to absorb these regions, and raise their standard of living up to that of Russia.

What Ought To Be Done Instead

If Russia's actions are not the root cause of Ukraine's problem, then chastising it cannot possibly resolve the current crisis. In fact, it compounds the crisis in three ways: first, by distracting Western policy makers from the real divisions within Ukraine that need to be dealt with; second, by reinforcing the notion, popular among some in the interim government in Kiev, that Western backing means there is no need to negotiate with the discontented eastern regions; third, by antagonizing the external actor with the greatest stake in Ukraine's well-being-Russia.

By interpreting current events in Ukraine through the prism of a new Cold War with Russia, the Obama administration has already achieved one of that conflict's most unfortunate byproducts-the manipulation of external power by local actors seeking maximum advantages for themselves.

But Russia is not the USSR. In an odd historical twist, in the current crisis, it is defending the rights of local populations to be heard by their government, whereas the West is defending the removal of a legitimately elected president. Significantly, all this is taking place in an area of the world that retains strong sympathies for Russia.

An extensive survey of Russian-speaking areas in April 2014 shows that while 70 percent do not support secession, if a referendum were held today only 25 percent would want to join EU, whereas 47 percent would prefer to join the Russia-led Customs Union. Only 15 percent feel that Ukrainian relations with Russia should be the same as with any other county, whereas three-quarters say the two countries should have open borders, and 8 percent feel the two should be one country. Most worryingly for the prospects of the military campaign against the rebels being conducted in the East, while nearly three-quarters say they do not support the introduction of Russian troops, only 10 percent say they would take up arms to defend Ukraine's territorial integrity.

This is the minefield within which the United States and the EU are now trying to maneuver-deep in the historical heartland of the Russian empire, where popular sympathies for Russia are both vast and deep, and where the West has yet to define any clear strategic objectives.

Historians of the future will wonder greatly at the forbearance that Russia has shown in wielding its potentially vast influence (the ease with which Crimea was taken by Russia should be highly instructive), in contrast to the boldness verging on recklessness with which the United States and EU have sought to manipulate the political outcome in Kiev.

Recognizing the indigenous nature of Ukraine's current problems, which often go back to promises left unfulfilled by past Ukrainian governments, is therefore a necessary first step toward dealing with them realistically. But it is only the first step. The next is to apply meaningful pressure on the interim government to do what it has thus far refused to do-establish a government of national unity.

Understandably, it is not easy for those who came to power on the wave of revolutionary enthusiasm, to admit that many of their countrymen regard what they did as illegitimate. Fortunately, however, most people in the East and South are still eager to reach an accommodation in the name of national unity. But they feel that such an accommodation should be based on concrete actions taken by Kiev that demonstrate that law and order is actually being restored, and that the interim government is not under the thumb of radical nationalists. Presently, the number one concern of people in the East and South is fear of "rampant banditry;" i.e., falling prey to the violence unleashed in Kiev in January and February, and the lawlessness they are witnessing there today.

A second critical step is making Russian Ukraine's official second language. This one gesture would reassure the predominantly Russian-speaking regions of the country that their cultural legacy is indeed fully accepted in today's Ukraine. Such a step has been promised by many presidential candidates since Ukraine's independence, but has always been opposed by Ukrainian nationalists. That is why its advocates now demand that it be enshrined in the constitution.

A final step is political and economic decentralization, which some identify as federalism. The essential difference between regional autonomy and federalism is that the latter is a compact between regions and the central government stipulated in the constitution. Some types of federalism are very broad, while other types are very narrowly defined. If autonomy is not constitutionally established, its advocates say, any new group of legislators could rescind what was previously granted, as happened with Crimea in 1998.

The interim government, however, cannot accomplish these urgent tasks on its own. It is too strongly beholden to the radical nationalists and pro-revolutionary street forces that brought it to power. Let us not forget that the latter even approved the current government. Since any move toward a true government of national unity will have to be taken against the wishes of one of the interim government's core constituencies, it will require political cover, and this can only be provided by its major supporters-the United States and the EU.

Recognizing the indigenous nature of Ukraine's problems therefore leads directly to a radically different strategy toward Russia-one of cooperation rather than confrontation in the pursuit of a strong and independent Ukraine. Last, but certainly not least, it could put to rest once and for all the calls for a new Cold War.

Nicolai N. Petro, professor of politics at the University of Rhode Island, is currently a Fulbright Research Scholar in Ukraine. The views expressed do not reflect the views of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.

stepstone

I am pessimistic. To me it looks like the "west" is hellbent on confrontation with Russia. Western media have been bashing Russia for quite some time now, long before the crisis in the Ukraine. And, if anyone has any doubts about that, mainstream media in the west is not independent any longer and hasn't been for quite some time - it's just another tool for those who rule over us to use.

Quite why our rulers seek confrontation with Russia is a bit unclear to me but it looks like a sort of "zero sum game thinking". Russia is thought to be an enemy so it must be attacked, no matter whether any given means of attack is just or not.

The total hypocrisy shown in this Ukraine-crisis is breathtaking. The combined western powers and the combined MSM root for a "revolution" that was carried out by neo-nazis. Sure there were some, even many, protesters with legitimate grievances against the former regime in the Ukraine. But it was solely the neo-nazi Right Sector that brought that regime down. To western applause. Quite unreal, and because of that I am very pessimistic when I try to guess future developments.

kievite

>Does this strangely sensible piece of writing indicate a welcome
> outbreak of sanity on the part of the US foreign policy elite?

I don't think so. Radical neoliberal and neocon faction of the US foreign policy elite are way to strong despite Iraq debacle and 2008 economic crisis. They dominate State Department and their power dooms those sensible recommendations. They will follow Nuland's neocon path to the end. In this sense, my impression is that Ukraine is just a pawn in a bigger game of "containing" Russia. So events in Ukraine are part of indirect confrontation with Russia, decision about which was already made. And in neocons views a low intensity civil war in Ukraine is not against the US interests as it also pressures EU and damages its economic cooperation with Russia. That's why Nuland was against "national unity government plan" (and her infamous remark is probably about the denial of EU interests by State Department) and went with February 22 putsch. Killing two birds with one stone.

I think one of the most astute observation that Nicolai N. Petro made is that "the Obama administration has already achieved one of that conflict's most unfortunate byproducts - the manipulation of external power by local actors seeking maximum advantages for themselves."

Tonyandoc

Unfortunately, as can be seen from events so far, the West sees a benefit in radicalizing the various factions in Ukraine to the point of civil war. This is the focus of their efforts. Putin, who has Ukraine on his doorstep and vital national security interests in Crimea, sees "crowd control" as his primary objective.
Both sides have chalked up significant progress in their conflicting objectives so far. However neither side can adequately control the forces stirred up in the West nor continue to restrain those in Eastern Ukraine from all-out resistance for much longer.

Soon we can add another failed state to the scourge of Pox Americana. Just let's hope it does not spread into super-power conflict.

popsiq

Even western Ukraine has significant sub populations of Poles, Hungarians and Romanians 'trapped' in the former administrative Soviet SSR. Thank goodness nobody's asking them what they want.

The 'historic' Ukraine is less that 20 percent of the current area - an enclave bordered by the River Dnieper on the east and situated 300 Km north of the Crimean peninsula.

Linguistic Ukrainians live in all areas, and in Russia and other places as well - but they form a minority in Ukraine itself.

[May 08, 2014] 'Ukraine crisis fueled by Obama's failure to grasp US interests'

Quote: "both Republicans and Democrats, who are trying to resurrect the language and the images of the Cold War and portray Russia today as the Soviet Union "
RT Op-Edge

A failure to properly grasp US interests in Ukraine has made Obama susceptible to hawks seeking confrontation with Russia despite the greater geopolitical goals that Moscow and Washington share, former CIA and State Dept. employee Larry Johnson told RT.

Johnson belongs to a group of former US intelligence agents who are attempting to get Obama to change course and defuse the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. He argues that Obama has been misled by Secretary of State John Kerry and others on Capitol Hill who have painted a one-sided picture of recent events in the former-Soviet state that are often filtered through a prism of Cold War rhetoric.

Via their petition, the former spooks hope to not only de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, but set the United States on a foreign policy course that will serve to protect common security interests served by the US, Russia, and the whole global community. Due to the current political climate in Washington, however, he believes their appeal will likely fall on deaf ears.

RT: Have you had any response from the US president's office yet?

Larry Johnson: Nothing, and I think they're going to ignore us because this has a momentum of its own in the United States as far as the policy that the Obama administration is trying to pursue. I guess I'll call it the agitators for conflict that are rife right now within the United States, unfortunately.

RT: You say Obama should listen to people other than the likes of John Kerry. Why is this so important?

LJ: I'm a veteran of the Cold War; I was there throughout at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) working in Central America back when we saw the Soviet Union at the time as trying to subvert democracy and insert its influence there. As we recall, the United States fought back very significantly there in trying to prevent that, so I don't come at this as someone who's naïve or uninformed.

But what I see now is, we really have entered a different period of history, and instead of accepting what's new in the world, we've got a lot of folks in the United States, both Republicans and Democrats, who are trying to resurrect the language and the images of the Cold War and portray Russia today as the Soviet Union bound on world domination and that's just nonsense. So what we're trying to see is if we can help shift the debate and get a rational discussion about it.

The fact of the matter is that in the United States, the average American doesn't appreciate the fact that by us trying to expand NATO in Western Europe and beyond to the borders of Russia, that that would create some concern. I've always tried to explain to people, how would we react in the United States if Russia in turn was fostering a very close relationship with Mexico, and the Mexican government decided it wanted to have a closer relationship with Russia than Washington, and in turn was going to start putting troops in Mexico? Well, you could imagine the outrage and the furore that would erupt in the United States.

We tend to try to portray these things in a way that doesn't really take into account all the dynamics that are involved. And I think it's really dangerous, because the kind of language and rhetoric that's being used, and some of the recommendations afoot in Washington are proposing arming Ukrainian dissidents. And we really have no idea even who some of those people are.

RT: How likely is it that Obama will follow your advice to disavow any wish to make Ukraine a member of NATO?

LJ: Candidly I think it's unlikely.

Unfortunately, President Barack Obama is such a weak person right now and he's not thinking strategically; he really doesn't have a clear understanding of what the interests of the United States are. So he's trying to fend off political critics.

Now there is a very strong element in the United States which is pushing for really almost a confrontation with Russia over Ukraine and they haven't really thought through it. When they talk about arming the dissidents or arming folks opposing Russia in the Ukraine, they don't appreciate the possibility of the escalation that that can create.

So I think what you have is a situation in which President Obama is being hit from the right and he's sort of stumbling on the left. It's unfortunate.

One other thing we didn't put in the letter but I probably would have added is that both Russia and the United States share a very common in trying to contain the spread of radial Sunni Islam in the world. In fact, I think Russia's played an important role in that regard in Syria, but the United States seems to be having almost a split personality on the issue.

[May 06, 2014] Washington Intends Russia's Demise Warns by Paul Craig Roberts

May 05, 2014 | Zero Hedge

Submitted by Paul Craig Roberts,

Washington has no intention of allowing the crisis in Ukraine to be resolved. Having failed to seize the country and evict Russia from its Black Sea naval base, Washington sees new opportunities in the crisis.

One is to restart the Cold War by forcing the Russian government to occupy the Russian-speaking areas of present day Ukraine where protesters are objecting to the stooge anti-Russian government installed in Kiev by the American coup. These areas of Ukraine are former constituent parts of Russia herself. They were attached to Ukraine by Soviet leaders in the 20th century when both Ukraine and Russia were part of the same country, the USSR.

Essentially, the protesters have established independent governments in the cities. The police and military units sent to suppress the protesters, called "terrorists" in the American fashion, for the most part have until now defected to the protesters.

With Obama's incompetent White House and State Department having botched Washington's takeover of Ukraine, Washington has been at work shifting the blame to Russia. According to Washington and its presstitute media, the protests are orchestrated by the Russian government and have no sincere basis. If Russia sends in military units to protect the Russian citizens in the former Russian territories, the act will be used by Washington to confirm Washington's propaganda of a Russian invasion (as in the case of Georgia), and Russia will be further demonized.

The Russian government is in a predicament. Moscow does not want financial responsibility for these territories but cannot stand aside and permit Russians to be put down by force. The Russian government has attempted to keep Ukraine intact, relying on the forthcoming elections in Ukraine to bring to office more realistic leaders than the stooges installed by Washington.

However, Washington does not want an election that might replace its stooges and return to cooperating with Russia to resolve the situation. There is a good chance that Washington will tell its stooges in Kiev to declare that the crisis brought to Ukraine by Russia prevents an election. Washington's NATO puppet states would back up this claim.

It is almost certain that despite the Russian government's hopes, the Russian government is faced with the continuation of both the crisis and Washington puppet government in Ukraine.

On May 1 Washington's former ambassador to Russia, now NATO's "second-in-command" but the person who, being American, calls the shots, has declared Russia to no longer be a partner but an enemy. The American, Alexander Vershbow, told journalists that NATO has given up on "drawing Moscow closer" and soon will deploy a large number of combat forces in Eastern Europe. Vershbow called this aggressive policy deployment of "defensive assets to the region."

In other words, here we have again the lie that the Russian government is going to forget all about its difficulties in Ukraine and launch attacks on Poland, the Baltic States, Romania., Moldova, and on the central Asian states of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The dissembler Vershbow wants to modernize the militaries of these American puppet states and "seize the opportunity to create the reality on the ground by accepting membership of aspirant countries into NATO."

What Vershbow has told the Russian government is that you just keep on relying on Western good will and reasonableness while we set up sufficient military forces to prevent Russia from coming to the aid of its oppressed citizens in Ukraine. Our demonization of Russia is working. It has made you hesitant to act during the short period when you could preempt us and seize your former territories. By waiting you give us time to mass forces on your borders from the Baltic Sea to Central Asia. That will distract you and keep you from the Ukraine. The oppression we will inflict on your Russians in Ukraine will discredit you, and the NGOs we finance in the Russian Federation will appeal to nationalist sentiments and overthrow your government for failing to come to the aid of Russians and failing to protect Russia's strategic interests.

Washington is licking its chops, seeing an opportunity to gain Russia as a puppet state.

Will Putin sit there with his hopes awaiting the West's good will to work out a solution while Washington attempts to engineer his fall?

The time is approaching when Russia will either have to act to terminate the crisis or accept an ongoing crisis and distraction in its backyard. Kiev has launched military airstrikes on protesters in Slavyansk. On May 2 Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Kiev's resort to violence had destroyed the hope for the Geneva agreement on de-escalating the crisis. Yet, the Russian government spokesman again expressed the hope of the Russian government that European governments and Washington will put a stop to the military strikes and pressure the Kiev government to accommodate the protesters in a way that keeps Ukraine together and restores friendly relations with Russia.

This is a false hope. It assumes that the Wolfowitz doctrine is just words, but it is not. The Wolfowitz doctrine is the basis of US policy toward Russia (and China). The doctrine regards any power sufficiently strong to remain independent of Washington's influence to be "hostile." The doctrine states:

"Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power."

The Wolfowitz doctrine justifies Washington's dominance of all regions. It is consistent with the neoconservative ideology of the US as the "indispensable" and "exceptional" country entitled to world hegemony.

Russia and China are in the way of US world hegemony. Unless the Wolfowitz doctrine is abandoned, nuclear war is the likely outcome.

[May 2, 2014] Conflicts Forum's Weekly Comment 25 April – 2 May 2014 Conflicts Forum by Alastair Crooke

Hat tip to Mood of Alabama. Quote: "Alastair Crooke, a former MI-6 honcho and diplomat, is just back from Moscow and has some interesting thoughts on the bigger historic issues which express themselves in the current events in Ukraine."
"... In gist, the dynamics towards some sort of secession of East Ukraine (either in part, or in successive increments) is thought to be the almost inevitable outcome. The question most informed commentators in Moscow ask themselves is whether this will occur with relatively less or relatively more violence – and whether that violence will reach such a level (massacres of ethnic Russians or of the pro-Russian community) that President Putin will feel that he has no option but to intervene. We are nowhere near that point at the time of writing: Kiev's 'security initiatives' have been strikingly ineffective, and casualties surprisingly small (given the tensions). It seems that the Ukrainian military is unwilling, or unable (or both of these), to crush a rebellion composed only of a few hundred armed men backed by a few thousand unarmed civilians - but that of course may change at any moment. (One explanation circulating on Russian internet circles is that pro-Russian insurgents and the Ukrainian servicemen simply will not shoot at each other - even when given the order to do so. Furthermore, they appear to be in direct and regular contact with each other and there is an informal understanding that neither side will fire at the other. Note - we have witnessed similar understandings in Afghanistan in the 1980s between the Soviet armed forces and the Mujahidin.) ..."
"... Russia no doubt sees the US to be gripped by the logic of escalation (as Administration talk centres on a new containment strategy, and the demonization of Russia as a pariah state), whatever President Obama may be hinting through the columns of David Ignatius. It is a dangerous moment, as all in Moscow acknowledge, with positions hardening on both sides. ..."
"... For the longer term however, Russia's effective divorce out of the unipolar international order will impact powerfully on the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia (not to say Syria and Iran) have already virtually done the same. ..."
May 2, 2014 | Conflicts Forum

Following five days in Moscow, a few thoughts on Russian perspectives: Firstly, we are beyond the Crimea. That is over. We too are beyond 'loose' federalism for Ukraine (no longer thought politically viable). Indeed, we are most likely beyond Ukraine as a single entity. Also, we are beyond either Kiev or Moscow having the capacity to 'control' events (in the wider sense of the word): both are hostage to events (as well as are Europe and America), and to any provocations mounted by a multitude of uncontrollable and violent activists.

In gist, the dynamics towards some sort of secession of East Ukraine (either in part, or in successive increments) is thought to be the almost inevitable outcome. The question most informed commentators in Moscow ask themselves is whether this will occur with relatively less or relatively more violence – and whether that violence will reach such a level (massacres of ethnic Russians or of the pro-Russian community) that President Putin will feel that he has no option but to intervene. We are nowhere near that point at the time of writing: Kiev's 'security initiatives' have been strikingly ineffective, and casualties surprisingly small (given the tensions). It seems that the Ukrainian military is unwilling, or unable (or both of these), to crush a rebellion composed only of a few hundred armed men backed by a few thousand unarmed civilians - but that of course may change at any moment. (One explanation circulating on Russian internet circles is that pro-Russian insurgents and the Ukrainian servicemen simply will not shoot at each other - even when given the order to do so. Furthermore, they appear to be in direct and regular contact with each other and there is an informal understanding that neither side will fire at the other. Note - we have witnessed similar understandings in Afghanistan in the 1980s between the Soviet armed forces and the Mujahidin.)

And this the point, most of those with whom we spoke suspect that it is the interest of certain components of the American foreign policy establishment (but not necessarily that of the US President) to provoke just such a situation: a forced Russian intervention in East Ukraine (in order to protect its nationals there from violence or disorder or both). It is also thought that Russian intervention could be seen to hold political advantage to the beleaguered and fading acting government in Kiev. And further, it is believed that some former Soviet Republics, now lying at the frontline of the EU's interface with Russia, will see poking Moscow in the eye as a settling of past scores, as well as underscoring their standing in Brussels and Washington for having brought 'democracy' to eastern Europe.

There seems absolutely no appetite in Moscow to intervene in Ukraine (and this is common to all shades of political opinion). Everyone understands Ukraine to be a vipers' nest, and additionally knows it to be a vast economic 'black hole'. But … you can scarcely meet anyone in Moscow who does not have relatives in Ukraine. This is not Libya; East Ukraine is family. Beyond some certain point, if the dynamic for separation persists, and if the situation on the ground gets very messy, some sort of Russian intervention may become unavoidable (just as Mrs Thatcher found it impossible to resist pressures to intervene in support of British 'kith and kin' in the Falklands). Moscow well understands that such a move will unleash another western outpouring of outrage.

More broadly then, we are moving too beyond the post-Cold War global dispensation, or unipolar moment. We are not heading – at least from the Russian perspective, as far as can be judged – towards a new Cold War, but to a period of increased Russian antagonism towards any western move that it judges hostile to its key interests – and especially to those that are seen to threaten its security interests. In this sense, a Cold War is not inevitable. Russia has made, for example, no antagonistic moves in Iran, in Syria or in Afghanistan. Putin has been at some pains to underline that whereas – from now – Russia will pursue its vital interests unhesitatingly, and in the face of any western pressures, on other non-existential issues, it is still open to diplomatic business as usual.

That said, and to just to be clear, there is deep disillusion with European (and American) diplomacy in Moscow. No one holds out any real prospect for diplomacy – given the recent history of breaches of faith (broken agreements) in Ukraine. No doubt these sentiments are mirrored in western capitals, but the atmosphere in Moscow is hardening, and hardening visibly. Even the 'pro-Atlanticist' component in Russia senses that Europe will not prove able to de-escalate the situation. They are both disappointed, and bitter at their political eclipse in the new mood that is contemporary Russia, where the 'recovery of sovergnty' current prevails.

Thus, the era of Gorbachevian hope of some sort of parity of esteem (even partnership) emerging between Russia and the western powers, in the wake of the conclusion to the Cold War, has imploded – with finality. To understand this is to reflect on the way the Cold War was brought to and end; and how that ending, and its aftermath, was managed. In retrospect, the post-war era was not well handled by the US, and there existirreconcilable narratives on the subject of the nature of the so-called 'defeat' itself, and whether it was a defeat for Russia at all.

Be that as it may, the Russian people have been treated as if they were psychologically-seared and defeated in the Cold War – as were the Japanese in the wake of the dropping of the nuclear bombs by the US in 1945. Russia was granted a bare paucity of esteem in the Cold War's wake; instead Russians experienced rather the disdain of victors for the defeated visited upon them. There was little or any attempt at including Russia in a company of the nations of equals – as many Russians had hoped. Few too would contest that the economic measures forced on Russia in the war's aftermath brought anything other than misery to most Russians. However unlike 1945, most Russians never felt defeated, and some felt then – and still feel – just betrayed. Whatever the verdict of history on how much the Cold War truly was a defeat, the aftermath of it has given rise to a Versailles Treaty-type of popular resentment at the consequences of the post-Cold War settlement, and at the (unwarranted) unipolar triumphalism (from the Russian perspective).

In this sense, it is the end of an era: it marks the end of the post-Cold War settlement that brought into being the American unipolar era. It is the rise of a Russian challenge to that unipolar order which seems so unsettling to many living in the West. Just as Versailles was psychologically rejected by Germans, so Russia is abdicating out of the present dispensation (at least in respect to its key interests). The big question must be whether the wider triangulation (US-Russia-China) that saw merit in its complementary touching at each of its three apexes is over too - a triangulation on which the US depends heavily for its foreign policy. We have to wait on China. The answer to this question may well hinge on how far the antagonism between Russia and the West is allowed – or even encouraged – to escalate. Only then, might it become more apparent how many, and who, is thinking of seceding from the global order (including from the Federal Reserve controlled financial system).

In the interim, time and dynamics require Russia to do little in Ukraine at this point but to watch and wait. The mood in Russia, however, is to expect provocations in Ukraine, by any one of the assorted interested parties, with the aim of forcing a Russian intervention - and thus a politically useful 'limited' war that will do many things: restore US 'leadership' in Europe, give NATO a new mission and purpose, and provide the same (and greater prominence) to certain newer EU member states (such as Poland). Russia will have concluded that the second round of economic sanctions has revealed more about a certain lack of political (and financial) will – or perhaps vulnerability – on the part of America's European allies. Russia no doubt sees the US to be gripped by the logic of escalation (as Administration talk centres on a new containment strategy, and the demonization of Russia as a pariah state), whatever President Obama may be hinting through the columns of David Ignatius. It is a dangerous moment, as all in Moscow acknowledge, with positions hardening on both sides.

Russia is not frightened by sanctions (which some, with influence in Moscow, would welcome as a chance to push-back against the US use of the global interbank payment systems for its own ends). Nor is Russia concerned that, as occurred with the USSR, the US – in today's changed circumstances – can contrive a drop in the price of oil in order to weaken the state. But Russia is somewhat more vulnerable to the West's teaming up with Sunni radicals as its new geo-strategic weapon of choice.

We have therefore seen a Russian outreach both to Saudi Arabia and Egypt (President Putin recently extolled King Abdallah's "wisdom"). There is a feeling too that US policy is not fully controlled by the US President; and that Gulf States, smelling that US policy may be adrift, and open to manipulation by interests within the US, will take advantage (perhaps in coordination with certain Americans opposed to President Obama's policies) to escalate the jihadist war against President Assad and to target Obama's Iran policy. Russia may be expected to try to circumscribe this danger to its own Muslim population and to that of its neighbouring former Soviet Republics. But for now, Russia will be likely to play it cool: to wait-and-see how events unfold, before recalibrating any main components of its Middle East policy.

For the longer term however, Russia's effective divorce out of the unipolar international order will impact powerfully on the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia (not to say Syria and Iran) have already virtually done the same.

[Apr 22, 2014] What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis by Robert Parry

March 3, 2014 | Common Dreams
President Barack Obama has been trying, mostly in secret, to craft a new foreign policy that relies heavily on cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin to tamp down confrontations in hotspots such as Iran and Syria. But Obama's timidity about publicly explaining this strategy has left it open to attack from powerful elements of Official Washington, including well-placed neocons and people in his own administration.

The gravest threat to this Obama-Putin collaboration has now emerged in Ukraine, where a coalition of U.S. neocon operatives and neocon holdovers within the State Department fanned the flames of unrest in Ukraine, contributing to the violent overthrow of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych and now to a military intervention by Russian troops in the Crimea, a region in southern Ukraine that historically was part of Russia.resident Barack Obama discusses the crisis in Ukraine for 90 minutes on

Though I'm told the Ukraine crisis caught Obama and Putin by surprise, the neocon determination to drive a wedge between the two leaders has been apparent for months, especially after Putin brokered a deal to head off U.S. military strikes against Syria last summer and helped get Iran to negotiate concessions on its nuclear program, both moves upsetting the neocons who had favored heightened confrontations.

Putin also is reported to have verbally dressed down Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan over what Putin considered their provocative actions regarding the Syrian civil war. So, by disrupting neocon plans and offending Netanyahu and Bandar, the Russian president found himself squarely in the crosshairs of some very powerful people.

If not for Putin, the neocons – along with Israel and Saudi Arabia – had hoped that Obama would launch military strikes on Syria and Iran that could open the door to more "regime change" across the Middle East, a dream at the center of neocon geopolitical strategy since the 1990s. This neocon strategy took shape after the display of U.S. high-tech warfare against Iraq in 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union later that year. U.S. neocons began believing in a new paradigm of a uni-polar world where U.S. edicts were law.

The neocons felt this paradigm shift also meant that Israel would no longer need to put up with frustrating negotiations with the Palestinians. Rather than haggling over a two-state solution, U.S. neocons simply pressed for "regime change" in hostile Muslim countries that were assisting the Palestinians or Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Iraq was first on the neocon hit list, but next came Syria and Iran. The overriding idea was that once the regimes assisting the Palestinians and Hezbollah were removed or neutralized, then Israel could dictate peace terms to the Palestinians who would have no choice but to accept what was on the table.

U.S. neocons working on Netanyahu's campaign team in 1996, including Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, even formalized their bold new plan, which they outlined in a strategy paper, called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." The paper argued that only "regime change" in hostile Muslim countries could achieve the necessary "clean break" from the diplomatic standoffs that had followed inconclusive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

In 1998, the neocon Project for the New American Century called for a U.S. invasion of Iraq, but President Bill Clinton refused to go along. The situation changed, however, when President George W. Bush took office and after the 9/11 attacks. Suddenly, the neocons had a Commander in Chief who agreed with the need to eliminate Iraq's Saddam Hussein - and a stunned and angry U.S. public could be easily persuaded. [See Consortiumnews.com's "The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War."]

So, Bush invaded Iraq, ousting Hussein but failing to subdue the country. The U.S. death toll of nearly 4,500 soldiers and the staggering costs, estimated to exceed $1 trillion, made the American people and even Bush unwilling to fulfill the full-scale neocon vision, which was expressed in one of their favorite jokes of 2003 about where to attack next, Iran or Syria, with the punch line: "Real men go to Tehran!"

Though hawks like Vice President Dick Cheney pushed the neocon/Israeli case for having the U.S. military bomb Iran's nuclear facilities – with the hope that the attacks also might spark a "regime change" in Tehran – Bush decided that he couldn't risk the move, especially after the U.S. intelligence community assessed in 2007 that Iran had stopped work on a bomb four years earlier.

The Rise of Obama

The neocons were dealt another setback in 2008 when Barack Obama defeated a neocon favorite, Sen. John McCain. But Obama then made one of the fateful decisions of his presidency, deciding to staff key foreign-policy positions with "a team of rivals," i.e. keeping Republican operative Robert Gates at the Defense Department and recruiting Hillary Clinton, a neocon-lite, to head the State Department.

Obama also retained Bush's high command, most significantly the media-darling Gen. David Petraeus. That meant that Obama didn't take control over his own foreign policy.

Gates and Petraeus were themselves deeply influenced by the neocons, particularly Frederick Kagan, who had been a major advocate for the 2007 "surge" escalation in Iraq, which was hailed by the U.S. mainstream media as a great "success" but never achieved its principal goal of a unified Iraq. At the cost of nearly 1,000 U.S. dead, it only bought time for an orderly withdrawal that spared Bush and the neocons the embarrassment of an obvious defeat.

So, instead of a major personnel shakeup in the wake of the catastrophic Iraq War, Obama presided over what looked more like continuity with the Bush war policies, albeit with a firmer commitment to draw down troops in Iraq and eventually in Afghanistan.

From the start, however, Obama was opposed by key elements of his own administration, especially at State and Defense, and by the still-influential neocons of Official Washington. According to various accounts, including Gates's new memoir Duty, Obama was maneuvered into supporting a troop "surge" in Afghanistan, as advocated by neocon Frederick Kagan and pushed by Gates, Petraeus and Clinton.

Gates wrote that Kagan persuaded him to recommend the Afghan "surge" and that Obama grudgingly went along although Gates concluded that Obama didn't believe in the "mission" and wanted to reverse course more quickly than Gates, Petraeus and their side wanted.

Faced with this resistance from his own bureaucracy, Obama began to rely on a small inner circle built around Vice President Joe Biden and a few White House advisers with the analytical support of some CIA officials, including CIA Director Leon Panetta.

Obama also found a surprising ally in Putin after he regained the Russian presidency in 2012. A Putin adviser told me that the Russian president personally liked Obama and genuinely wanted to help him resolve dangerous disputes, especially crises with Iran and Syria.

In other words, what evolved out of Obama's early "team of rivals" misjudgment was an extraordinary presidential foreign policy style, in which Obama developed and implemented much of his approach to the world outside the view of his secretaries of State and Defense (except when Panetta moved briefly to the Pentagon).

Even after the eventual departures of Gates in 2011, Petraeus as CIA director after a sex scandal in late 2012, and Clinton in early 2013, Obama's peculiar approach didn't particularly change. I'm told that he has a distant relationship with Secretary of State John Kerry, who never joined Obama's inner foreign policy circle.

Though Obama's taciturn protectiveness of his "real" foreign policy may be understandable given the continued neocon "tough-guy-ism" that dominates Official Washington, Obama's freelancing approach gave space to hawkish elements of his own administration.

For instance, Secretary of State Kerry came close to announcing a U.S. war against Syria in a bellicose speech on Aug. 30, 2013, only to see Obama pull the rug out from under him as the President worked with Putin to defuse the crisis sparked by a disputed chemical weapons attack outside Damascus. [See Consortiumnews.com's "How War on Syria Lost Its Way."]

Similarly, Obama and Putin hammered out the structure for an interim deal with Iran on how to constrain its nuclear program. But when Kerry was sent to seal that agreement in Geneva, he instead inserted new demands from the French (who were carrying water for the Saudis) and nearly screwed it all up. After getting called on the carpet by the White House, Kerry returned to Geneva and finalized the arrangements.[See Consortiumnews.com's "A Saudi-Israel Defeat on Iran Deal."]

Unorthodox Foreign Policy

Obama's unorthodox foreign policy – essentially working in tandem with the Russian president and sometimes at odds with his own foreign policy bureaucracy – has forced Obama into faux outrage when he's faced with some perceived affront from Russia, such as its agreement to give temporary asylum to National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

For the record, Obama had to express strong disapproval of Snowden's asylum, though in many ways Putin was doing Obama a favor by sparing Obama from having to prosecute Snowden with the attendant complications for U.S. national security and the damaging political repercussions from Obama's liberal base.

Putin's unforced errors also complicated the relationship, such as when he defended Russian hostility toward gays and cracked down on dissent before the Sochi Olympics. Putin became an easy target for U.S. commentators and comedians.

But Obama's hesitancy to explain the degree of his strategic cooperation with Putin has enabled Official Washington's still influential neocons, including holdovers within the State Department bureaucracy, to drive more substantive wedges between Obama and Putin. The neocons came to recognize that the Obama-Putin tandem had become a major impediment to their strategic vision.

Without doubt, the neocons' most dramatic – and potentially most dangerous – counter-move has been Ukraine, where they have lent their political and financial support to opposition forces who sought to break Ukraine away from its Russian neighbor.

Though this crisis also stems from the historical division of Ukraine – between its more European-oriented west and the Russian-ethnic east and south – neocon operatives, with financing from the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy and other U.S. sources, played key roles in destabilizing and overthrowing the democratically elected president.

NED, a $100 million-a-year agency created by the Reagan administration in 1983 to promote political action and psychological warfare against targeted states, lists 65 projects that it supports financially inside Ukraine, including training activists, supporting "journalists" and promoting business groups, effectively creating a full-service structure primed and ready to destabilize a government in the name of promoting "democracy." [See Consortiumnews.com's "A Shadow US Foreign Policy."]

State Department neocons also put their shoulders into shoving Ukraine away from Russia. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, the wife of prominent neocon Robert Kagan and the sister-in-law of the Gates-Petraeus adviser Frederick Kagan, advocated strenuously for Ukraine's reorientation toward Europe.

Last December, Nuland reminded Ukrainian business leaders that, to help Ukraine achieve "its European aspirations, we have invested more than $5 billion." She said the U.S. goal was to take "Ukraine into the future that it deserves," by which she meant into the West's orbit and away from Russia's.

But President Yanukovych rejected a European Union plan that would have imposed harsh austerity on the already impoverished Ukraine. He accepted a more generous $15 billion loan from Russia, which also has propped up Ukraine's economy with discounted natural gas. Yanukovych's decision sparked anti-Russian street protests in Kiev, located in the country's western and more pro-European region.

Nuland was soon at work planning for "regime change," encouraging disruptive street protests by personally passing out cookies to the anti-government demonstrators. She didn't seem to notice or mind that the protesters in Kiev's Maidan square had hoisted a large banner honoring Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the German Nazis during World War II and whose militias participated in atrocities against Jews and Poles.

By late January, Nuland was discussing with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt who should be allowed in the new government.

"Yats is the guy," Nuland said in a phone call to Pyatt that was intercepted and posted online. "He's got the economic experience, the governing experience. He's the guy you know." By "Yats," Nuland was referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who had served as head of the central bank, foreign minister and economic minister - and who was committed to harsh austerity.

As Assistant Secretary Nuland and Sen. McCain cheered the demonstrators on, the street protests turned violent. Police clashed with neo-Nazi bands, the ideological descendants of Bandera's anti-Russian Ukrainians who collaborated with the Nazi SS during World War II.

With the crisis escalating and scores of people killed in the street fighting, Yanukovych agreed to a E.U.-brokered deal that called for moving up scheduled elections and having the police stand down. The neo-Nazi storm troopers then seized the opening to occupy government buildings and force Yanukovych and many of his aides to flee for their lives.

With these neo-Nazis providing "security," the remaining parliamentarians agreed in a series of unanimous or near unanimous votes to establish a new government and seek Yanukovych's arrest for mass murder. Nuland's choice, Yatsenyuk, emerged as interim prime minister.

Yet, the violent ouster of Yanukovych provoked popular resistance to the coup from the Russian-ethnic south and east. After seeking refuge in Russia, Yanukovych appealed to Putin for help. Putin then dispatched Russian troops to secure control of the Crimea. [For more on this history, see Consortiumnews.com's "Cheering a 'Democratic' Coup in Ukraine."]

Separating Obama from Putin

The Ukraine crisis has given Official Washington's neocons another wedge to drive between Obama and Putin. For instance, the neocon flagship Washington Post editorialized on Saturday that Obama was responding "with phone calls" when something much more threatening than "condemnation" was needed.

It's always stunning when the Post, which so energetically lobbied for the U.S. invasion of Iraq under the false pretense of eliminating its (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction, gets its ire up about another country acting in response to a genuine security threat on its own borders, not half a world away.

But the Post's editors have never been deterred by their own hypocrisy. They wrote, "Mr. Putin's likely objective was not difficult to figure. He appears to be responding to Ukraine's overthrow of a pro-Kremlin government last week with an old and ugly Russian tactic: provoking a separatist rebellion in a neighboring state, using its own troops when necessary."

The reality, however, appears to have been that neocon elements from within the U.S. government encouraged the overthrow of the elected president of Ukraine via a coup spearheaded by neo-Nazi storm troopers who then terrorized lawmakers as the parliament passed draconian laws, including some intended to punish the Russian-oriented regions which favor Yanukovych.

Yet, besides baiting Obama over his tempered words about the crisis, the Post declared that "Mr. Obama and European leaders must act quickly to prevent Ukraine's dismemberment. Missing from the president's statement was a necessary first step: a demand that all Russian forces – regular and irregular – be withdrawn … and that Moscow recognize the authority of the new Kiev government. … If Mr. Putin does not comply, Western leaders should make clear that Russia will pay a heavy price."

The Post editors are fond of calling for ultimatums against various countries, especially Syria and Iran, with the implication that if they don't comply with some U.S. demand that harsh actions, including military reprisals, will follow.

But now the neocons, in their single-minded pursuit of endless "regime change" in countries that get in their way, have taken their ambitions to a dangerous new level, confronting nuclear-armed Russia with ultimatums.

By Sunday, the Post's neocon editors were "spelling out the consequences" for Putin and Russia, essentially proposing a new Cold War. The Post mocked Obama for alleged softness toward Russia and suggested that the next "regime change" must come in Moscow.

"Many in the West did not believe Mr. Putin would dare attempt a military intervention in Ukraine because of the steep potential consequences," the Post wrote. "That the Russian ruler plunged ahead shows that he doubts Western leaders will respond forcefully. If he does not quickly retreat, the United States must prove him wrong."

The madness of the neocons has long been indicated by their extraordinary arrogance and their contempt for other nations' interests. They assume that U.S. military might and other coercive means must be brought to bear on any nation that doesn't bow before U.S. ultimatums or that resists U.S.-orchestrated coups.

Whenever the neocons meet resistance, they don't rethink their strategy; they simply take it to the next level. Angered by Russia's role in heading off U.S. military attacks against Syria and Iran, the neocons escalated their geopolitical conflict by taking it to Russia's own border, by egging on the violent ouster of Ukraine's elected president.

The idea was to give Putin an embarrassing black eye as punishment for his interference in the neocons' dream of "regime change" across the Middle East. Now, with Putin's countermove, his dispatch of Russian troops to secure control of the Crimea, the neocons want Obama to further escalate the crisis by going after Putin.

Some leading neocons even see ousting Putin as a crucial step toward reestablishing the preeminence of their agenda. NED president Carl Gershman wrote in the Washington Post, "Ukraine's choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. … Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself."

At minimum, the neocons hope that they can neutralize Putin as Obama's ally in trying to tamp down tensions with Syria and Iran – and thus put American military strikes against those two countries back under active consideration.

As events spin out of control, it appears way past time for President Obama to explain to the American people why he has collaborated with President Putin in trying to resolve some of the world's thorniest problems.

That, however, would require him to belatedly take control of his own administration, to purge the neocon holdovers who have worked to sabotage his actual foreign policy, and to put an end to neocon-controlled organizations, like the National Endowment for Democracy, that use U.S. taxpayers' money to stir up trouble abroad. That would require real political courage.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat. His two previous books are Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth'.

[Apr 22, 2014] The Ukraine Imbroglio and the Decline of the American Empire by ARNO J. MAYER

April 20 | CounterPunch

America's splendid era of overseas "boots on the ground" and "regime change" is beginning to draw to a close. Even in the hegemonic sphere decreed by the Monroe Doctrine there is a world of difference between yesteryear's and today's interventions. In the not so distant good old times the U. S. horned in rather nakedly in Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1962), Dominican Republic (1965), Chile (1973), Nicaragua (1980s), Grenada (1983), Bolivia (1986), Panama (1989), and Haiti (2004), almost invariably without enthroning and empowering more democratic and socially progressive "regimes." Presently Washington may be said to tread with considerably greater caution as it uses a panoply of crypto NGO-type agencies and agents in Venezuela. It does so because in every domain, except the military, the empire is not only vastly overextended but also because over the last few years left-leaning governments/"regimes" have emerged in five Latin American nations which most likely will become every less economically and diplomatically dependent on and fearful of the U. S.

Though largely subliminal, the greater the sense and fear of imperial decay and decline, the greater the national hubris and arrogance of power which cuts across party lines. To be sure, the tone and vocabulary in which neo-conservatives and right-of-center conservatives keep trumpeting America's self-styled historically unique exceptionalism, grandeur, and indispensability is shriller than that of left-of-center "liberals" who, in the fray, tend to be afraid of their own shadow. Actually, Winston Churchill's position and rhetoric is emblematic of conservatives and their fellow travelers in the epoch of the West's imperial decline which overlapped with the rise and fall of the Soviet Union and Communism. Churchill was a fiery anti-Soviet and anti-Communist of the very first hour and became a discreet admirer of Mussolini and Franco before, in 1942, proclaiming loud and clear: "I have not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire." By then Churchill had also long since become the chief crier of the ideologically fired "appeasement" mantra which was of one piece with his landmark "Iron Curtain" speech of March 1946. Needless to say, never a word about London and Paris, in the run-up to Munich, having willfully ignored or refused Moscow's offer to collaborate on the Czech (Sudeten) issue. Nor did Churchill and his aficionados ever concede that the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact (Nazi-Soviet Pact) of August 1939 was sealed a year after the Munich Pact, and that both were equally infamous ideologically informed geopolitical and military chess moves.

To be sure, Stalin was an unspeakably cruel tyrant. But it was Hitler's Nazi Germany that invaded and laid waste Soviet Russia through the corridor of Central and Eastern Europe, and it was the Red Army, not the armies of the Western allies, which at horrendous cost broke the spinal cord of the Wehrmacht. If the major nations of the European Union today hesitate to impose full-press economic sanctions on Moscow for its defiance on Crimea and Ukraine it is not only because of their likely disproportionate boomerang effect on them. The Western Powers, in particular Germany, have a Continental rather than Transatlantic recollection and narrative of Europe's Second Thirty Years Crisis and War followed by the American-driven and –financed unrelenting Cold War against the "evil empire"-practically to this day.

During the reign of Nikita Khrushchev and Mikhail Gorbachev NATO, founded in 1949 and essentially led and financed by the U. S., inexorably pushed right up to or against Russia's borders. This became most barefaced following 1989 to 1991, when Gorbachev freed the "captive nations" and signed on to the reunification of Germany. Between 1999 and 2009 all the liberated Eastern European countries-former Warsaw Pact members-bordering on Russia as well as three former Soviet republics were integrated into NATO, to eventually account for easily one-third of the 28 member nations of this North Atlantic military alliance. Alone Finland opted for a disarmed neutrality within first the Soviet and then post-Soviet Russian sphere. Almost overnight Finland was traduced not only for "appeasing" its neighboring nuclear superpower but also for being a dangerous role model for the rest of Europe and the then so-called Third World. Indeed, during the perpetual Cold War, in most of the "free world" the term and concept "Finlandization" became a cuss word well-nigh on a par with Communism, all the more so because it was embraced by those critics of the Cold War zealots who advocated a "third way" or "non-alignment." All along, NATO, to wit Washington, intensely eyed both Georgia and Ukraine.

By March 2, 2014, the U. S. Department of State released a "statement on the situation in Ukraine by the North Atlantic Council" in which it declared that "Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO and a founding member of the Partnership for Peace . . . [and that] NATO Allies will continue to support Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, without outside interference." The State Department also stressed that "in addition to its traditional defense of Allied nations, NATO leads the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and has ongoing missions in the Balkans and the Mediterranean; it also conducts extensive training exercises and offers security support to partners around the globe, including the European Union in particular but also the United Nations and the African Union."

Within a matter of days following Putin's monitory move NATO, notably President Obama, countered in kind: a guided-missile destroyer crossed the Bosphoros into the Black Sea for naval exercises with the Romanian and Bulgarian navies; additional F-15 fighter jets were dispatched to reinforce NATO patrol missions being flown over the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; and a squadron of F-16 fighter bombers and a fulsome company of "boots on the ground" was hastened to Poland. Of course, theses deployments and reinforcements ostensibly were ordered at the urging of these NATO allies along Russia's borders, all of whose "regimes" between the wars, and especially during the 1930s, had not exactly been paragons of democracy and because of their Russo-cum-anti-Communist phobia had moved closer to Nazi Germany. And once Hitler's legions crashed into Russia through the borderlands not insignificant sectors of their political and civil societies were not exactly innocent by-standers or collaborators in Operation Barbarossa and the Judeocide.

To be sure, Secretary of State John Kerry, the Obama administration's chief finger wagger, merely denounced Putin's deployment in and around Ukraine-Crimea as an "act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of pretext." For good measure he added, however, that "you just do not invade another country," and he did so at a time there was nothing illegal about Putin's move. But Hillary Clinton, Kerry's predecessor, and most likely repeat candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, rather than outright demonize Putin as an unreconstructed KGB operative or a mini-Stalin went straight for the kill: "Now if this sounds familiar. . . it is like Hitler did back in the '30s." Presently, as if to defang criticism of her verbal thrust, Clinton averred that "I just want people to have a little historic perspective," so that they should learn from the Nazis' tactics in the run-up to World War II.

But ultimately it was Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who said out loud what was being whispered in so many corridors of the foreign policy establishment and on so many editorial boards of the mainline media. He advocated "creating a democratic noose around Putin's Russia." To this end Graham called for preparing the ground to make Georgia and Moldova members of NATO. Graham also advocated upgrading the military capability of the most "threatened" NATO members along Russia's borders, along with an expansion of radar and missile defense systems. In short, he would "fly the NATO flag as strongly as I could around Putin"-in keeping with NATO's policy since
1990. Assuming different roles, while Senator Graham kept up the hawkish drumbeat on the Hill and in the media Senator McCain hastened to Kiev to affirm the "other" America's resolve, competence, and muscle as over the fecklessness of President Obama and his foreign-policy team. He went to Ukraine's capital a first time in December, and the second time, in mid-March 2014, as head of a bipartisan delegation of eight like-minded Senators.

On Kiev's Maidan Square, or Independence Square, McCain not only mingled with and addressed the crowd of ardent anti-Russian nationalists, not a few of them neo-fascists, but also consorted with Victoria Nuland, U. S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. Too much has been made of her revealing or unfortunate "fuck the EU" expletive in her tapped phone conversation with the local U. S. Ambassador Geoffrey Ryatt and her distribution of sweets on Maidan Square. What really matters is that Nuland is a consummate insider of Washington's imperial foreign policy establishment in that she served in the Clinton and Bush administrations before coming on board the Obama administration, having close relations with Hillary Clinton.

Besides, she is married to Robert Kagan, a wizard of geopolitics who though generally viewed as a sworn neo-conservative is every bit as much at home as his spouse among mainline Republicans and Democrats. He was a foreign-policy advisor to John McCain and Mitt Romney during their presidential runs, respectively in 2008 and 2012, before President Obama let on that he embraced some of the main arguments in The World America Made (2012), Kagan's latest book. In it he spells out ways to preserve the empire by way of controlling with some twelve naval task forces built around unsurpassable nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, its expanding Mare Nostrum in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean.

As a disciple of Alfred Thayer Mahan, quite naturally Kagan earned his spurs and his entrée to the inner circles of the makers and shakers of foreign and military policy by spending years at the Carnegie Endowment and Brookings Institution. That was before, in 1997, he became a co-founder, with William Kristol, of the neo-conservative Project for the New American Century, committed to the promotion of America's "global leadership" in pursuit of its national security and interests. A few years later, after this think tank expired, Kagan and Kristol began to play a leading role in the Foreign Policy Initiative, its lineal ideological descendant.

But the point is not that Victoria Nuland's demarche in Maidan Square may have been unduly influenced by her husband's writings and political engagements. Indeed, on the Ukrainian question, she is more likely to have been attentive to Zbigniew Brzezinski, another highly visible geopolitician who, however, has been swimming exclusively in Democratic waters ever since 1960, when he advised John F. Kennedy during his presidential campaign and then became national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter. Heavily fixed on Eurasia, Brzezinski is more likely to stand on Clausewitz's rather than Mahan's shoulders. But both Kagan and Brzezinski are red-blooded imperial Americans. In 1997, in his The Great Chessboard Brzezinski argued that "the struggle for global primacy [would] continue to be played" on the Eurasian "chessboard," and that as a "new and important space on [this] chessboard . . . Ukraine was a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia." Indeed, "if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its [then] 52 million people and major resources, as well as access to the Black Sea," Russia would "automatically again regain the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia." The unwritten script of Brzezinski, one of Obama's foreign policy advisors: intensify the West's-America's-efforts, by means fair and foul, to detach Ukraine from the Russian sphere of influence, including especially the Black Sea Peninsula with its access to the Eastern Mediterranean via the Aegean Sea.

Presently rather than focus on the geopolitical springs and objectives of Russia's "aggression" against Ukraine-Crimea Brzezinski turned the spotlight on the nefarious intentions and methods of Putin's move on the Great Chessboard. To permit Putin to have his way in Ukraine-Crimea would be "similar to the two phases of Hitler's seizure of Sudetenland after Munich in 1938 and the final occupation of Prague and Czechoslovakia in early 1938." Incontrovertibly "much depends on how clearly the West conveys to the dictator in the Kremlin-a partially comical imitation of Mussolini and a more menacing reminder of Hitler-that NATO cannot be passive if war erupts in Europe." For should Ukraine be "crushed with the West simply watching the new freedom and security of Romania, Poland, and the three Baltic republics would also be threatened." Having resuscitated the domino theory, Brzezinski urged the West to "promptly recognize the current government of Ukraine legitimate" and assure it "privately . . . that the Ukrainian army can count on immediate and direct Western aid so as to enhance its defense capabilities." At the same time "NATO forces . . . should be put on alert [and] high readiness for some immediate airlift to Europe of U. S. airborne units would be politically and militarily meaningful." And as an afterthought Brzezinski suggested that along with "such efforts to avoid miscalculations that could lead to war" the West should reaffirm its "desire for a peaceful accommodation . . . [and] reassure Russia that it is not seeking to draw Ukraine into NATO or turn it against Russia." Indeed, mirabile dictu, Brzezinski, like Henry Kissinger, his fellow geopolitician with a cold-war imperial mindset, adumbrated a form of Finlandization of Ukraine-but, needless to say, not of the other eastern border states-without, however, letting on that actually Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, had recently made some such proposal.

Of course, the likes of Kagan, Brzezinski, and Kissinger keep mum about America's inimitable hand in the "regime change" in Kiev which resulted in a government in which the ultra-nationalists and neo-fascists, who had been in the front lines on Maidan Square, are well represented.

Since critics of America's subversive interventions tend to be dismissed as knee-jerk left-liberals wired to exaggerate their dark anti-democratic side it might help to listen to a voice which on this issue can hardly be suspect. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and renowned inquisitor of anti-Semitism, concedes that "there is no doubt that Ukraine, like Croatia, was one of those places where local militias played a key role in the murder of thousands of Jews during World War II." And anti-Semitism "having by no means disappeared from Ukraine . . . in recent months there have been a number of anti-Semitic incidents and there are at least two parties in Ukraine, Svoboda and Right Sector, that have within them some extreme nationalists and anti-Semites."

But having said that, Foxman insists that it is "pure demagoguery and an effort to rationalize criminal behavior on the part of Russia to invoke the anti-Semitism ogre into the struggle in Ukraine, . . . for it is fair to say that there was more anti-Semitism manifest in the worldwide Occupy Wall Street movement than we have seen so far in the revolution taking place in Ukraine." To be sure, Putin "plays the anti-Semitism card" much as he plays that of Moscow rushing to "protect ethnic Russians from alleged extremist Ukrainians." Even at that, however, "it is, of course, reprehensible to suggest that Putin's policies in Ukraine are anything akin to Nazi policies during World War II." But then Foxman hastens to stress that it "is not absurd to evoke Hitler's lie" about the plight of the Sudeten Germans as comparable to "exactly" what "Putin is saying and doing in Crimea" and therefore needs to be "condemned . . . as forcefully . . . as the world should have condemned the German move into the Sudetenland."

Abraham Foxman's tortured stance is consonant with that of American and Israeli hardliners who mean to contain and roll back a resurgent great-power Russia, as much in Syria and Iran as in its "near abroad" in Europe and Asia.

As if listening to Brzezinski and McCain, Washington is building up its forces in the Baltic states, especially Poland, with a view to give additional bite to sanctions. But this old-style intervention will cut little ice unless fully concerted, militarily and economically, with NATO's weighty members, which seems unlikely. Of course, America has drones and weapons of mass destruction-but so does Russia.

In any case, for unreconstructed imperials, and for AIPAC, the crux of the matter is not Russia's European "near abroad" but its reemergence in the Greater Middle East, presently in Syria and Iran, and this at a time when, according to Kagan, the Persian Gulf was paling in strategic and economic importance compared to the Asia-Pacific region where China is an awakening sleeping giant that even now is the globe's second largest economy-over half the size of the U. S. economy-and the unreal third largest holder of America's public debt-by far the largest foreign holder of U. S. Treasury bonds.

In sum, the unregenerate U. S. empire means to actively contain both Russia and China in the true-and-tried modus operandi, starting along and over Russia's European "near abroad" and the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait connecting the South China Sea to the East China Sea.

... ... ...

Not only Washington but Moscow knows that in 1945 the ultimate reason for using the absolute weapon was transparently geopolitical rather than purely military.

With the weight of the unregenerate imperials in the White House, Pentagon, Congress, the "third house," and the think tanks there is the risk that this U. S.- masterminded NATO "operation freedom in Russia's European "near abroad" will spin out of control, also because the American Knownothings are bound to have their Russian counterparts.

In this game of chicken on the edge of the nuclear cliff the U. S. cannot claim the moral and legal high ground since it was President Truman and his inner circle of advisors who unleashed the scourge of nuclear warfare, and with time there was neither an official nor a popular gesture of atonement for this wanton and excessive military excess. And this despite FDR and Truman Chief of Staff Admiral William Leahy confessing that "in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages," an observation possibly anticipated by General Eisenhower's plaint to Secretary of War Stimson of his "grave misgivings" and belief that "dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary and… our country should avoid shocking world opinion…" Is there a filiation between this cri de coeur and the forewarning about the toxicity of the "military industrial complex" in President Eisenhower's farewell address?

This is a time for a national debate and a citizen-initiated referendum on whether or not the U. S. should adopt unilateral nuclear disarmament. It might be a salutary and exemplary exercise in participatory democracy.

Arno J. Mayer is emeritus professor of history at Princeton University. He is the author of The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions and Plowshares Into Swords: From Zionism to Israel (Verso).

[Apr 19, 2014] Inside the 'Donetsk People's Republic': balaclavas, Stalin flags and razorwire by Luke Harding

Luke Harding with his neocon lies again...
Apr 19, 2014 | The Guardian

Scipio1 -> MathEnglish

The fact of the matter is that Harding is not an investigative journalist seeking out the truth, but basically a propagandist, whatever he might believe to the contrary. Okay, so he wants to be part of the Russia-bashing fraternity, that is his prerogative, but please don't us expect to be drawn into his cold war mindset and political obsessions. He has obviously got an enormous political axe to grind and a very large chip on his shoulder, judging from his book title.

He views the world from the US neo-con paradigm, which itself is a type of religious fundamentalism akin to radical islam. Essentially the belief is

  1. America is good and a force for good, and everything it does is right.
  2. America should therefore assume global leadership by force if necessary - including regime change.
  3. The bad guys who stand in the way of freedom, democracy and the American way, must be neutralised. These rogue states are (a) Iran, (b) Russia and (d) China. They are the impediment to the neoliberal paradise which awaits mankind.
  4. Uppity little states like Iraq, Libya, Syria, who cannot be won over to the American way (even if they were once aligned to it, as Saddam was) must be systematically smashed up.

And so a string of failed states are being created from Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and now perhaps Ukraine.

This has all resulted from the neo-con takeover (of which Ms Nuland is a prime example) of US foreign policy in the US State department and the Pentagon.

Ok course none of this implies that everything is rosy in the garden in those countries mentioned. But that does not of course stop the accusation of critics being 'Kremlin trolls' 'Putin bots' and the rest of the silly epithets.

But of course this is a standard debating trick when it is difficult to counter the facts and issues raised.

Nabaldashnik -> Scipio1

Essentially the belief is

  1. America is good and a force for good, and everything it does is right.
  2. America should therefore assume global leadership by force if necessary - including regime change.
  3. The bad guys who stand in the way of freedom, democracy and the American way, must be neutralised. These rogue states are (a) Iran, (b) Russia and (d) China. They are the impediment to the neoliberal paradise which awaits mankind.
  4. Uppity little states like Iraq, Libya, Syria, who cannot be won over to the American way (even if they were once aligned to it, as Saddam was) must be systematically smashed up.

A perfect summary of the US foreign policy.

[Apr 19, 2014] The World America Made (Vintage) by Robert Kagan (Author)

Robert Kagan is probably the most gifted propagandist of American exeptionalism. He is no scholar at all. But a leading neocon propagandist, yes.
Amazon.com
Tigran - See all my reviews, February 17, 2012

The book is a piece of propaganda that has the goal to praise American dominance in the world. It lucks serious analyses of the recent world events or everyday politics. The author mainly chews the following two ideas:

  1. America became the world leader after winning World War II and made the good world that strives towards democracy;
  2. America can and should keep its dominating position or else.

The period after World War II is pretty much American order and America should take the credit for "widespread freedom", "global prosperity" and "absence of war among great powers", states the author. In that regard he doesn't analyze the role of communist Soviet Union that played the crucial role in archiving the victory over Nazi Germany and was co-sponsor of the post war order.

In fact there were two distinct periods after World War II: Cold War when western and communist blocks opposed and controlled each other and the last 20 years of complete American domination. The author intentionally melts both distinct periods into one to diminish recent dangerous trends of American power abuse.

Dismissing the talks of American decline the author argues that the world accepted American domination, and there is no real alternative. Sounds familiar. Isn't it what all dictators say "removing me from the power will bring chaos"?

The only good thing about this book is some "confession" remarks that everyone can now use to slam American reactionaries and those remarks in fact highlight the dangers of American unopposed power. I present only few here:

  1. "Americans see the war as a legitimate, even essential tool of foreign policy." Of course it's easy to wage wars when no bombs fall on your cities in retaliation. And America gladly abuses the possibility.
  2. "Americans say they want stability in the international system but they often the greatest distorters of stability". How true! Why wait until China becomes dominating power in the world by economic means, while few wars here and there could reverse the trend?
  3. "They (Americans) have no trained cadres for rebuilding and managing the nations they invade and occupy" How true! Bringing destruction and chaos is much easier way to remove your competitors, than bothering with rebuilding and management.
  4. "Most Americans have also developed a degree of satisfaction in their special role." It is cool to be a Master race, who argues. Make the slaves bow.
  5. Americans believe "that all nondemocratic governments are inherently illegitimate and therefore transient." It reminds the classic communist propaganda that all governments that ruled by "capitalists" instead of "working class" are illegitimate and therefore are the candidates for the revolution. It's now American turn to spread revolutions in the world. Existence of a "Nondemocratic government" is an easy excuse to bomb, invade and occupy a country nowadays.

    One can only regret that United States didn't exercise its power two hundred years ago when almost every country in the world was a monarchy - excuse to invade any country was at hand. But don't worry, even today, any country can be declared non democratic enough if needed.

But why the author even offers those "confessions", since they somewhat contradict his rosy outlook? It's because the devil must show his true face, so during Great Judgment those who made deals with him don't say "we didn't know".

The world order that was created after World War II by the great sacrifice of nations came to the end. New "world America made" is the world in which countries like Iran know that they only chance to avoid invasion, bombing and occupation is actually build Atomic bomb. Because if a country doesn't have Atomic bomb it can be bombed, invaded and occupied at any moment. More countries are going to pursue the nuclear weapons, no question about that. Meanwhile radicals and terrorists of all sorts can enjoy much more freedom of action all across destabilized Middle East.

After winning Cold War twenty years ago United States become the world's only super power and global leader. The world is much more dangerous place today, than it was 20 years ago and we can state that United States failed its leadership miserably.

another reader says:

The Short American Century: A Postmortem by Andrew J. Bacevich, Jeffry A. Frieden, Akira Iriye and Emily S. Rosenberg (Hardcover - Mar 19, 2012) will rebut Kagan's thesis.

learning says:

Of course all governments that aren't popularly elected are illegitimate. How does one get legitimacy without permission?

Tigran says:

May be that's why United States allies with the absolute monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and Al-Qaida too in the noble task of establishing democracy in the Middle East and North Africa.

learning says:

If you want to take the UK/Aussie attitude of "America is not perfect, therefore it is evil," so be it. If you take the time to read history you will see that there are dozens of countries that have democracy because of the US (including the UK and Oz), even though things have been done very wrong at times. Perfect or on the right track? I will choose on the right track every time because perfection ain't gonna happen.

Tigran says:

And what is the "right track"? Spread of democracy?

I am afraid that under the cover of spreading democracy America wants global domination and control of natural resources. And it's actually very difficult to talk American people out of it; because they are going to have all the benefits, "side effects" of deaths, pain and suffering are for the "liberated" locals, while prospects of real democracy after forceful regime changes are very bleak.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said in 1945 "If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationship - the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world."
Global catastrophe of World War I and World War II brought people to realize the necessity of maintaining the peace on the planet and make countries live by the same rules enforced in United Nations. That was real right track, but it's no longer in favor.

S. O'Donnell:

America supports democracy? Didn't America try to get rid of the democratically elected Whitlam government in Australia? Please get out the movie "The falcon and the snowman" from your local video store.

Caswallon S. Barrios

Robert Kagan's sense of history misses a key fact: America's post-1945 dominance in the world came about because the U.S. - of all the industrial nations - emerged unscathed from the Second World War. In short, Kagan is nostalgic for a circumstance dependent on unnatural conditions (unless, of course, he has decided that War is *healthy*, part of the natural order of things ..). His call for the U.S. to assume global leadership is all well and good, but it tends to assume strange forms, such as attacking secular leaders in the Islamic world: Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, President Assad. One of Kagan's ideological soul-mates, Michael Ledeen, has openly declared that it's not in America's interest to have stability in that part of the world, that instability should be sown whenever possible. I disagree with that assessment .. and using Kagan's formula - which includes supporting Saudi ideological imperialism - the end result is the rest of the world rooting for the downfall of the United States (a nation-state currently propped up by the military and its dominance of global financial institutions). The U.S. can either become part of the emerging global economy or risk becoming irrelevant (see also "the Portuguese Empire").

Patrick Grant (Nisswa, MN)

I was expecting thoughtful cogent argument when I picked up this book. Instead I found a 'Readers' Digest' kind of 'easy reading', book length essay filled with glib assertions. Here is an illustrative example from pg. 30:

"....In the 1930s the trendsetting nations were fascist dictatorships. In the 1950s and 1960s variants of socialism were in vogue. But from the 1970s until recently, the United States and a handful of other democratic powers set the fashion trend. They pushed democratic principles-some might say imposed them- and embedded them in international institutions and agreements."

What could Kagan be talking about here? In the 1930s the world was in the midst of economic turmoil. While fascists were in power in Italy and eventually in Germany, and trying their best in Spain, they were an aberration rather than trendsetters. They were just one more variation on authoritarian forms of government like those then in control in Japan and Stalin's Russia. Meanwhile the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Norway, France etc etc. were muddling their way through the Great Depression.

As for "variants of socialism" supposedly being 'trendsetters' in the 50s and 60s, who and what is Kagan referring to? Labor governments in the UK? Democratic socialists in Sweden or Norway?? (still around today). LBJ's Great Society? If he is talking about communist 'socialism', the US and 'the west' were holding that at bay in Korea, then Vietnam etc etc. during this period.

And his final assertion that democracy flowered from the 'the 70's til now' because of all the 'embedding' of these principles in 'international agreements and institutions' that occurred in this period?? Again, what is he talking about??

All the hard work of setting the table for democracy to flower occurred long before the 70s....Bretton Woods, World Bank, IMF, GATT, Marshall Plan, rebuilding Japan, Geneva Conventions, creating the United Nations to name a few ....all this took place in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Since the 70's just what, of comparable import, has been "...embedded...in international institutions and agreements." in furtherance of democratic principles, by the US or otherwise?? Iraq's constitution?

Mr. Kagan's book (including the title) is a pastiche of assertions to convey his obvious belief that the US must dominate the world, militarily and economically. And that it can and will if only Americans' want it badly enough. Assuming you agree that Kagan's desire for dominance is a great idea, evidence for his assertions is sorely lacking, as is a cohernet argument to support his belief and assertions. By the end of this book, I felt like I was listening to Dorothy in 'Wizard of Oz' repeating: 'There's no place like home. There's no place like home...". Like Dorothy, Kagan wants to believe that we can go 'home', i.e. continue to dwell in a world where the US is dominant economically and militarily for decades to come. Even if you agree with him that it is a good idea, where is the evidence for the proposition? Not in his book.

[Apr 18, 2014] The Dangers of Naïve Diplomacy

This is far from naive, this is a typical crooked neocon diplomacy with the shadow of Paul Wolfowitz upon Kerry and Nuland. .. Looks like State Department never get rid of Bush neocon cohort.
The American Conservative
... ... ...

As John Mearsheimer notes in his New York Times op-ed, Russia "drew a line in the sand" when NATO announced in 2008 that Ukraine and Georgia will become members. The Russians already watched Poland and the Baltic states accede. Ukraine was simply a step too far. Putin, as it turns out, would rather not tolerate NATO expansion right up to his doorstep. An excuse to act was all he needed. Euromaidan's success in throwing out Yanukovych provided that excuse.

Now, Ukraine's sovereignty remains violated. Instead of advising caution, the U.S. took a more activist approach, symbolized by Victoria Nuland's handing out of cookies to protestors in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the Euromaidan movement. As U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Nuland decided not to warn the protestors that they may be making a strategic error by forcing Yanukovych out instead of voting him out. The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, also failed to take a more strategic approach, instead calling the ouster of Yanukovych "a day for the history books." The failure to see the Russia's reaction to all this as incredibly relevant to Ukraine's chances of maintaining a sovereign, democratic state has a lot to do with where the crisis is today.

An establishment still nostalgic for the thinking and rhetoric of the Cold War may present Ukraine's well-being as the West's primary concern. But the inability to see all this from Russia's perspective has ruined Ukraine's chances for a smooth transition out of Russia's immediate sphere of influence. This is the same kind of naïve and sentimental idealism that characterizes many of America's ill-conceived forays into the world, including those in the Middle East. It is of course directly related to the neoconservative view of global influence: project American power, whatever it takes. Vladimir Putin is playing the same game, responding in kind to the aggressive expansionism of Russia's rivals.

The truth, of course, is that plenty of people have expressed distaste for all aggressive interventions, be it by Russia or the United States, or anyone else for that matter. In addition to a Crimea firmly in Putin's clutches, the Ukrainian interim government and major political parties (who will contend in a general election next month) are chock-full of candidates with their own records of corruption. The far-right Svoboda party now has five ministerial posts in this interim regime, including deputy prime minister and prosecutor general. The leader of the neo-nazi Right Sector party, Dmytro Yarosh, is now Ukraine's deputy national security chief.

Now hawkish Cold Warriors within the United States are calling for NATO forces to be deployed into Western Ukraine, or at least on it's border with Poland. U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, has been given a mandate to draw up plans to counter Russia's move and "reassure NATO members nearest Russia that other alliance countries have their back." Breedlove says that he wouldn't "write off the involvement of any nation, to include the United States."

If that happens, Russia will almost certainly declare and execute an official invasion into eastern Ukraine. What follows such a disaster is anyone's guess.

Steven Zhou is a writer and analyst based in Toronto, Canada. His writings have also appeared on The Globe and Mail, Embassy Magazine, and Al Jazeera English, among other publications.

[Apr 18, 2014] Americans Don't See Ukraine as Their Cause

As Daniel Larison noted "Taking a hard line with Russia is practically guaranteed to result in more hostility and provocative action. That would also leave Western governments with no realistic options for responding to further Russian interference, and it would also expose them to Russian retaliatory measures whose costs most Western governments and electorates are not prepared to bear. In short, the argument for more "firmness" is that Western nations should be willing to bear significant costs to pursue a strategy that will very likely fail on its own terms. It should come as no surprise that there are hardly any governments that accept this argument."
The American Conservative

If, after all, it was a triumph of self-determination for Ukraine to secede from the Russian Federation, do not Russians in Crimea and Donetsk have the same right-to secede from Kiev and go home to Russia? If Georgians had a right to break free of the Russian Federation, do not Abkhazians and South Ossetians have a right to break free of Georgia? Turnabout is fair play is an old American saying. Op-ed writers bewail Vladimir Putin's threat to the "rules-based" world we have created. But under what rule did we bomb Serbia for 78 days to tear away Kosovo, the cradle province of the Serb people? Perhaps some history is in order.

Compare how Putin brought about the secession and annexation of Crimea, without bloodshed but with popular approval, with how Sam Houston and friends brought about the secession of Texas from Mexico, and its annexation by the United States in 1845. When the Mexicans tried to retrieve a disputed piece of their lost Texas territory, James K. Polk accused them of shedding American blood on American soil, had Congress declare war, sent Gen. Winfield Scott and a U.S. army to Mexico City, and annexed the entire northern half of Mexico, which is now the American Southwest and California.

Compared to the Jacksonian, James Polk, Vladimir Putin is Pierre Trudeau.

Even in Eastern Ukraine, it is hard to see a moral issue. For the Kiev regime is loudly denouncing as "terrorists" the Russians who are taking over city centers by using the exact same tactics the Maidan Square demonstrators used to seize Kiev. If it was heroic for the Svoboda Party and Pravy Sektor to fight police and torch buildings to oust Viktor Yanukovych, the elected president of Ukraine, upon what ground do the usurpers who inherited his power bewail the same thing being done to them? Is there not glaring hypocrisy here? And where do we Americans come off piously damning what the Russians are doing in Ukraine?

A decade ago, the National Endowment for Democracy and its progeny helped to foment the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, the Orange Revolution in Kiev, and countless other "color revolutions" to dethrone unresponsive regimes and bring those countries into America's orbit. In the last decade, Putin has learned how to play the Americans' game. And before winding up in a conflict we managed to avoid over four decades of Cold War, perhaps we should call off this game of thrones, and consign NED to the boneyard.

Today, two courses of action are being hotly pressed upon the Obama White House by the War Party. Both appear likely to lead to disaster. The first is to arm the Ukrainians. This would likely provoke a war with Russia that Kiev could not win, and lead Ukrainians to believe the Americans will be there beside them, which is not in the cards. The second option is the sanctions road. But Europe, dependent on Russian oil and gas, is not going to vote itself a recession. And should the West sanction Russia, Moscow would sanction Ukraine and sink what the Washington Post calls that "black hole of corruption and waste that is the Ukrainian economy."

As for more U.S. warships in the Black and Baltic seas and more F-16s and U.S. troops in Eastern Europe, what is their purpose, when we are not going to go to war with Russia?

In the title of the old song, Johnny Cash got it right, "Don't take your guns to town," unless you're prepared to use them. Undeniably, President Obama and John Kerry have egg all over their faces today, as they did in the Syrian "red line" episode. Yet they continue to meddle where we do not belong, issue warnings and threats they have no power to enforce, and bluster and bluff about what they are going to do, when the American people are telling them, "This is not our quarrel."

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? Copyright 2014 Creators.com.

[Apr 18, 2014] Ukraine Is Obama Channeling Cheney by Yves Smith

April 18, 2014 | naked capitalism

In this Real News Network report, Michael Hudson discusses the news blackout in the US as far as critical developments in the Ukraine are concerned, and how the distortions and gaps in reporting exceed those in the runup to the Iraq War. From the top of the interview:

Late last week, the German television program ARD Monitor, which is sort of their version of 60 Minutes here, had an investigative report of the shootings in Maidan, and what they found out is that contrary to what President Obama is saying, contrary to what the U.S. authorities are saying, that the shooting was done by the U.S.-backed Svoboda Party and the protesters themselves, the snipers and the bullets all came from the Hotel Ukrayina, which was the center of where the protests were going, and the snipers on the hotel were shooting not only at the demonstrators, but also were shooting at their own–at the police and the demonstrators to try to create chaos. They've spoken to the doctors, who said that all of the bullets and all of the wounded people came from the same set of guns. They've talked to reporters who were embedded with the demonstrators, the anti-Russian forces, and they all say yes. All the witnesses are in agreement: the shots came from the Hotel Ukrayina. The hotel was completely under the control of the protesters, and it was the government that did it.

So what happened was that after the coup d'état, what they call the new provisional government put a member of the Svoboda Party, the right-wing terrorist party, in charge of the investigation. And the relatives of the victims who were shot are saying that the government is refusing to show them the autopsies, they're refusing to share the information with their doctors, they're cold-shouldering them, and that what is happening is a coverup. It's very much like the film Z about the Greek colonels trying to blame the murder of the leader on the protesters, rather than on themselves.

Now, the real question that the German data has is: why, if all of this is front-page news in Germany, front-page news in Russia–the Russian TV have been showing their footage, showing the sniping–why would President Obama directly lie to the American people? This is the equivalent of Bush's weapons of mass destruction. Why would Obama say the Russians are doing the shooting in the Ukraine that's justified all of this anti-Russian furor? And why wouldn't he say the people that we have been backing with $5 billion for the last five or ten years, our own people, are doing the shooting, we are telling them to doing the shooting, we are behind them, and we're the ones who are the separatists?

I strongly suggest you watch the interview in full, or read the transcript here.

readerOfTeaLeaves, April 18, 2014 at 1:42 am

If Hudson is even 1/4th accurate, this is an unmitigated disaster.

I anticipate the BRICs going off the dollar as a reserve currency any day now; we are making ourselves pariahs.

If it is true that Victoria Nuland of the US Dept of State - recorded helping to set up the current puppet President in Ukraine - previously worked for Dick Cheney, we are screwed. How on earth Obama is letting the neocon (and oil company) holdovers run the show is both baffling and terrifying.

Here's hoping the US military has more sense than the politicians.

I don't know what to believe, but the level of confrontation Hudson describes is insane. The economic consequences seem pallid compared with the risks he implies.

Sic Semper Tyrannis has become essential reading these past weeks.
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/

Brindle, April 18, 2014 at 7:42 am

"How on earth Obama is letting the neocon (and oil company) holdovers run the show is both baffling and terrifying. "

Obama is a neocon. His whole political career has been based on duping liberals to make them feel he is one of them. Obama left so many Bush/Cheney holdovers in office because he basically agrees with them.

RUKidding, April 18, 2014 at 10:48 am

Yes. Obama is both a NeoLiberal & a NeoCon. I've come to see that those are not mutually exclusive. Obama left a huge number of BushCo appointees littered throughout the Fed Agencies, and actually Obama fired Carol Lam, the US Attorney in San Diego, who managed to put the crooked Republican Representative, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, in jail. Lam was working on other corruption cases, and Obama pulled the plug on her quick-smart, and those corruption cases went down the plug hole.

Obama has been mentored by Dick Cheney, although I believe at one time that Obama denied that. Why a putative "liberal" Democrat would have to deny being mentored by such a scourge as Cheney is one for the books.

NotTimothyGeithner

Joe Lieberman was Obama's Senate mentor.

Cynthia

Obama has been described as "neocon light" and I think that this is correct. The older group of neocons like Cheney and Rumsfeld are indeed trying to do him in, but both groups believe in American imperialistic domination of the entire planet.

I also believe that, aside from traditional neocon considerations, Obama is indeed out for personal revenge for the humiliation that he suffered at Putin's hands, first in Georgia and then in Syria. I think that this little worm is about to suffer his third humiliation in the Ukraine and that is really something to worry about. Losing face can cause power driven fools like Obama to engage in increasingly risky behavior.

Banger

So far most senior officers are skeptical of civilians that use war to distract the people from their troubles. Many have been instrumental in nixing plans to invade Iran (twice) when civilian leadership (both Bush and Obama) wanted to create an "incident" they nixed it. Similarly, the Syria plan of carpet bombing Syria was nixed as this extremely silly adventure will be nixed, God willing.

The problem at this time is that the war-coalition has fully infiltrated the media how strong that coalition remains no one can tell.

NotTimothyGeithner

According to Seymore Hersch, the Joint Chiefs as a group through Dempsey told the President they were opposed to a strike on Syria.

OIFVet, April 18, 2014 at 2:02 am

Obama and the neocons are hellbent on starting a World War 3. They seem to think that a nuclear war can be won due to the ballistic missile shield which is now close to being operational (see Paul Craig Roberts in Counterpunch, http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/17/rivatization-is-a-ramp-for-corruption-and-insouciance-is-a-ramp-for-war/), with radar in Turkey, missile sites in Romania and Poland, and command center in Germany. In fact, the incident with the Russian fighter harassing the USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea the other day is not an ordinary saber rattling by the Russians at all.

The Donald Cook is the first of four missile destroyers to be modernized with the latest iteration of the Aegis radar system and SM-3 missiles capable of shooting down ballistic missiles which are to be based in Rota, Spain. As such her presence in the Black Sea is not a coincidence and represents a direct threat to Russia. The Russians were obviously on an ELINT gathering mission, trying to provoke the Cook into revealing as much about the new Aegis iteration as possible so that they can try to figure out exploitable weaknesses.

So the Russians are taking this quite seriously and I would wager that they have good enough intelligence to warrant a serious concern. I am truly afraid that surrealpolitik is in fact too mild of a description of the US actions, insanepolitik might be a more accurate moniker.

susan the other

Insanepolitik is right. The truth must be protected with a "bodyguard of lies." Thanks Winston for that coffin nail. If you look at the map, it really looks like the entire spat is about Caspian oil. Why else would the Black Sea be important enough to deploy 5 destroyers, or whatever they are called.

mf, April 18, 2014 at 10:01 am

correction: Hudson did not mess up. He is showing his true colors.

There is much that is wrong with the US, US democracy, and the world economy. A good portion of what is wrong has to do with exploding population worldwide. The oil based economic globalization might have worked in the world I was born into, it no longer works in the world I will die in. It is a social and technological conundrum that future generations will have to cope with.

However, favoring an obvious outbreak of aggressive fascism over US democracy, such as this democracy is today, is either taking leave from reality, or showing your true colors. Make a pick for Mr Hudson.

OIFVet

" obvious outbreak of aggressive fascism over US democracy, such as this democracy is today"

Leave it to poles to crap themselves every time the bear yawns and run right into the arms of an even more efficiently ruthless master.

steviefinn

It's a re-run of ' The Noble Lie '. "

The Office of Special Plans of 2002-3 was headed by Donald Feith, a Wolfowitz appointee whom Gen. Tommy Franks once famously called "the dumbest fucking guy on the planet." It included Abram Shulsky, Wolfowitz's college roommate at the University of Chicago and fellow student of the philosopher Leo Strauss, and implemented Strauss's principle that since the masses are intrinsically foolish and will not always approve heroic action when necessary, the "Wise" must employ "noble lies" to convince them. These are to be presented through "gentlemen" who are not too bright but malleable and enjoy credibility. Political science professor Shadia Drury, in her Leo Strauss and the American Right (1999), contends that Strauss believed that "perpetual deception of the citizens by those in power is critical because they need to be led, and they need strong rulers to tell them what's good for them."

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/29/the-neocons-won/

Brindle April 18, 2014 at 9:44 am

--Strauss believed that "perpetual deception of the citizens by those in power is critical because they need to be led, and they need strong rulers to tell them what's good for them."-

Sounds like something Cass Sunstein would say, although he would use updated language for our time. He's another University of Chicago guy, IIRC.

Banger April 18, 2014 at 9:57 am

These ideas go back a long way–in the U.S., we can trace it to the Creel Committee and its chief ideologue Walter Lippmann. Lippmann was liberal who believe, however, that the contemporary world was too complex for the normal citizen to grasp and therefore journos should not focus on the truth–but on digesting events for the public. Both Lippmann and Strauss feared the public and democracy as an idea. Those of us who were students in the 1960s knew this and we rebelled against this cynical POV–we were more optimistic–we actually believed in democracy unlike the "liberals" who led the country into perpetual war.

readerOfTeaLeaves April 18, 2014 at 10:40 am

Lippman believed that because the modern world (circa early 1900s) was becoming so complex, it was necessary to educate and have 'experts' in government. He was extremely interested in Public Opinion, but he also had a high regard for expertise.

Strauss believed in obsessive textual analysis of a single document – say, the Niger forgeries – at the expense of collecting information from a variety of sources. Interesting background on how the Straussians went wrong:
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2005/11/habakkuk_onleo_.html

Andrea April 18, 2014 at 9:02 am

Hudson is right to denounce the US media silence about what happened in Maidan. German TV even had a 'humor' show where the snipers in Maidan (as being from the protestors, puchists, separatists, Svoboda, Pravy Sektor etc. in cahoots with their backers, i.e. the US plus EU) were just taken as a 'fact.' – Very Gruesome but the obedient audience laughed.

Mind you a similar MSM cover-up is taking place in France, even worse imho than in the US, as the country is smaller, the media outlets less varied and more controlled.

History Hudson didn't mention.

Delegations from the EU, the US, Russia, Yanukovitch (then president) and some opposition leaders signed an agreement on Friday Feb 21 in Kiev – announced by Yanukovitch in the early afternoon (from press etc.), after lengthy negotiations.

It was piloted by Germany, F. W. Steinmeier (Foreign Min). Stipulated early elections, a return to the 2004 constitution, plus other such as freeing Timoshenko, amnesties, etc.

for ex Guardian

http://goo.gl/P5bFRg

for ex RT video

http://on.rt.com/l6q3bh

The sniping began the day before, on Thursday, while the negotiations were ongoing. The actors behind the scenes were determined no compromise be effected, no deal be agreed. And so it was. Yanukovitch fled on Saturday, the morning after the deal was signed. The deal died before it was signed…

Steinmeier says he doesn't regret it – "you have to try."

Cynthia April 18, 2014 at 2:24 pm

The US MSM has been duplicitous for so long now that only blinkered fools would look to it for factual information. I ceased reading or watching the MSM a good ten years ago. The thing that set me off was the lack of coverage of the Downing Street Memos. Every other media in the World had coverage except the US. That was too much for me, I cut the MSM out of my life.

NotTimothyGeithner April 18, 2014 at 9:17 am

I'm not sure I would pick Cheney. Obama's narcissism is driving our actions or at least reactions to the neoconservative backed coup. Putin one upped him, and I doubt Obama can handle being publicly embarrassed. For Obama, this is revenge. I'm sure he has a justification like any Obot, Obama is not merely limited to being the object of Obot programming but is one himself.

Kerry adds to the foul mood, but I think Kerry is legacy shopping and needs activities to justify his Iraq War support and complaints about conduct of the war instead of recognizing war plans go to he'll before the war starts. Kerry needs a success story of the war he envisioned.

Powers is a run of the mill lunatic obsessed with imperial power, and I suspect Rice just props up Obama's ego.

Banger April 18, 2014 at 9:37 am

I don't quite agree –- I'm sure vanity is involved, but my observation of this President indicates that he is merely reacting to the internal power struggles within his administration that are, in turn, influenced by deep political divisions within the Washington community of lobbyists, contractors, politicians, and the full panoply of what I will call "hustlers" that surround DC. The conflict is between the neoneocons (now made up of liberal but fanatical "humanitarian interventionists" like Samantha Power and her circle) and realists and the neoneocons are winning the internal struggle–why? Because of the state of the mainstream media which backs the new neocon agenda of world domination for a variety of reasons.

Obama is a "weak" President because he has never had a real power-base in Washington. He was always dependent on his handlers and their connections. He knows very well what happened to Jimmy Carter who was thoroughly f–ked by the Washington power-elite every which way. His Presidency was sabotaged systematically by every operative and mandarin in Washington. I'm not sure Carter, to this day, fully understands what they did to him. Obama was well aware of who is in power and who put him in power–no matter what he personally believes, he has to go along with the consensus that is presented to him.

I think what people on the left often miss is how serious these power-games are and the nature of the forces at work here both in terms of foreign and domestic politics. These guys don't mess about to get what they want–they don't play fair–those that play fair have been weeded out long ago only adept Machiavellians survive for long in Washington–even someone like Liz Warren has to use those skills or have someone close to her who does.

Jackrabbit April 18, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Not sure that a comparison to Jimmy Carter is valid. Obama is now well into his second term. I don't think this "weak" President is too concerned about being "sabotaged". He was meant to be weak, he was kept weak, and he accepts being weak.

I'm sorry, but once again I have to say that I see no "conflict" among neocons and realists. At the top, neocons and neolibs are united. A similar faulty analysis would say that there is a "conflict" between executives and reformers on Wall Street. No. There is pleading and cajoling, and moralizing about outrageous behavior by some lower ranks and outsiders but the executives and their lobbyists are fully in control. The only way anything will really change is if the public gets angry enough for mass demonstrations and resistance until there is fundamental reform.

Banger April 18, 2014 at 9:23 am

As I've said many times there is a more or less open conspiracy in Washington to create a "strategy of tension" throughout the world in order to impose authoritarian political order on the entire world–or to put it crudely, this group of people intend to dominate the world through one kind of force or another to create a New Rome. I broadly call these people neocons but this is a new neoconservative movement or neoneocons I gues that involves people like Samantha Power who believe in "humanitarian intervention" but are, in fact, just plain ole American Exceptionalist imperialists which is not too far from Paul Wolfowitz or Dick Cheney just with different makeup.

The neoneocons believe that the world will do better with a solid order than without it and European elites seem to agree to this agenda. They fear a world dominated by China/East Asia and Russia is the link between US/EU and Asia. Putin, unlike Yeltsin will not play ball with this agenda–he has his own vision of what society should be, as he's declared many times, and it is not on the Western model. He believes, and he's taking an enormous risk, that he can be successful in brokering power between East and West and insure a "place in the Sun" for Russia long-term–or something to that effect.

For me, the chief problem is not Ukraine or the illegal US/EU engineered coup (very similar to other coups carried out by the CIA throughout the world over many decades) but the state of the mainstream media. This drift towards war can only exist because the mainstream media as a whole is one big USG Propaganda Ministry–as with Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and smaller wars the mainstream media is one big PR firm for War. The press has even been able to silence people like Sy Hersh who is one of the few reporters that senior dissident military and itel people trust to tell their side of the story. He now cannot publish their concerns in the U.S. media.

Some years ago the CIA had Operation Mockingbird, CIA director George Bush I announced that the operation (after its exposure by the Church Committee) would no longer pay journalists to disseminate U.S. propaganda. The CIA probably did stop this but, as everyone in Washington knows, the CIA shifted its operations to other organizations often private led by "former" CIA agents and others public like the National Endowment for Democracy. I believe that forces in Washington both bribe and coerce editors (editors always determine content) to stick to the Washington Consensus on what is and is not real–at this point they don't have to push very hard since the press corps is completely manned and womanned by "presstitutes" interested primarily by having a "seat at the table" and a career–they know if they stray from the Party line they will be driving a cab somewhere. Some, like Chris Hedges or Russ Baker, can create alternative careers but it aint easy even for them.

The enemy, we like to think, are the corporations, the banksters, the authoritarians in government, the NSA and so on. I submit that the enemy is the mainstream media and they must be always attacked and undermined–they lie systematically about everything including history. All members of the mainstream media whether on TV, radio, newsprint, glossy magazines are government bureaucrats or courtiers (Washington press corps). They should be exposed at all costs. Operation Mockingbird bloomed more after Bush stated that it would stop than before -- we remained in Vietnam, btw, for longer than necessary because of Mockingbird because the truth was known from 1963 onward by everyone in government and that I can guarantee you, not just from the Pentagon Papers but through oral accounts of the people at the center of those decisions. Some in government had their careers ruined by opposing that war and those that favored it -- one hopes that those in government who are dissenters can survive but they must have access to somebody in the press.

Ulysses April 18, 2014 at 10:24 am

Fantastic comment! The rare moments when truth breaks out in the MSM are always followed by well-funded, slick attempts to muddy the waters and damage the credibility of the truth-tellers.

Cynthia April 18, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Let's state right out front what this really is all about. This all comes down to the latest chapter in the IMF's economic destabilization of Ukraine, in order to allow the western banks to plunder Ukraine, just like it has every country that ever was unlucky enough to have any dealings with the IMF and World Bank. One merely has to go to Counterpunch or GlobalResearch to find articles on how this is done in country after country, and the damage the IMF has already caused there. What is happening is a crime against the Ukrainian people. They have already bankrupted Ukrainian agriculture, and they are going to destabilize the currency by forcing them to float it so it can be shortsold, and the vultures can descend and take everything of value there.

susan the other April 18, 2014 at 2:21 pm

I think the enemy is capitalism. It runs rampant against any force that opposes it and does so without nuance, without even trying to be subtle. I honestly believe that capitalism, or financialism as it is practiced today, is the most destructive force on the planet because in a world of diminishing resources and diminishing returns, capitalism does not even seek to understand equitable distribution of wealth but instead goes to war, even nuclear war, to preserve the extreme wealth controlled by those obviously uninspired oligarchs at the top. And for what?

jo6pac April 18, 2014 at 9:31 am

http://www.globalresearch.ca/unknown-snipers-and-western-backed-regime-change/27904

ltr April 18, 2014 at 9:46 am

Stephen Cohen adds to the sense of this report:

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/4/17/we_are_not_beginning_a_new

April 17, 2014

"We Are Not Beginning a New Cold War, We Are Well Into It": Stephen Cohen on Russia-Ukraine Crisis

curlydan April 18, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Very good DemocracyNow! segment. I liked these quotes from Cohen:
"Putin didn't want-and this is reality, this is not pro-Putin or pro-Washington, this is just a fact-Putin did not want this crisis. He didn't initiate it. But with Putin, once you get something like that, you get Mr. Pushback. And that's what you're now seeing. And the reality is, as even the Americans admit, he holds all the good options. We have none. That's not good policymaking, is it?"

"If we move the forces, NATO forces, including American troops, to-toward Russia's borders, where will we be then? I mean, it's obviously going to militarize the situation, and therefore raise the danger of war. And I think it's important to emphasize, though I regret saying this, Russia will not back off. This is existential. Too much has happened."

"the result of this confrontation, East-West confrontation-and I can't emphasize how fundamental and important it is-is going to set back whatever prospects remained in Russia for further democratization or re-democratization, possibly a whole generation"

ltr April 18, 2014 at 9:49 am

As for the release of the phone call by Victoria Nuland, even the New York Times only spoke about the intercept of the call and the profane remark by Nuland but never about the conspiratorial content of the call and about the activities of Nuland and the Ambassador in Ukraine in encouraging and directing a coup against the government.

Banger April 18, 2014 at 9:59 am

Amazing wasn't it? It's almost as if those intercepted phone calls were airbrushed from history when they should be a central part of the debate. Any other person would have been forced to resign had they made a phone call going against official policy.

RUKidding April 18, 2014 at 10:58 am

Interesting, isn't it? US propaganda media only wanted to focus on Nuland's potty mouth and tsk tsk that Putin intercepted the call and "published" it. One had to go further afield than anything produced by MSM to get the whole story. And almost as soon as the potty mouth story was discussed by the Very Serious People, then it was dropped. And then we got the word incessantly to this day about Putin, who is very bad.

NYT is nothing more than propaganda from front to back page.

Cynthia April 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Yeah, they need a new, new bogeyman. Maybe they'll have a youtube video of a big burly guy with an AK-47 with Russia on his shirt chasing and catching a young girl with a kitten and then mowing her down while laughing and taking big swigs of vodka. CNN will pick it up and play it 40 times an hour to program the donkeys.

NotTimothyGeithner April 18, 2014 at 2:48 pm

I turned on CNN today to catch Don Lemon reporting on an avalanche in Nepal, and then he noted one place, Asia, has just experienced 3 disasters, the plane, the ferry and an avalanche. He is giving Wolf a run for his money.

Bawb le Revelateur April 18, 2014 at 10:15 am

This is what happens when the CIA is privatized and outsourced to agencies such as Booz-Allen – formerly Eric Snowden's employer: Accountability diminishes ever closer to zero.

Respectfully, an Obama-Channeling-Cheney header misleads by presuming Obama's and Chancellor Cheney's agenda to be identical. While outcomes may be, the premises are not necessarily so. Am I hair-splitting while a[nother] catastrophe proceeds? Quite likely. OTOH "blaming" Obama – whose 2009 naivete approached Bush43′s – is a bit too easy.

My point? We the people drank Ronald Reagan's kool-ade in 1980 and never have quit drinking it through today.

This nascent tragedy is the newest consequence of that over-indulgence. Unless [until?] the original premise is acknowledged and corrected you may as well attribute the consequence to the Administrations of your choosing and continue to "Blame It On The Bossa Nova"

TarheelDem April 18, 2014 at 10:28 am

Obama is channeling Victoria Nuland, her Kagan husband and in-laws, Ambassador Pyatt, and John Brennan. Guess why the Senate's Report on CIA Torture is so important in domestic politics relative to foreign policy? You have to go into the politics that allowed Victoria Nuland to become Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State to understand who exactly from the the Democratic Party side Obama is channeling.

Obama doesn't form his own foreign policy vision; it seems to be a consensus vision of people he thinks are experts and who have their own political power bases already in DC. Nothing shows more the community organizer side of him than the way he manages his community of foreign policy experts and world leaders with regard to identifying goals, strategies and supervising implementation. The impact of Obama is in the immediate reconciling of differences among those folks and pronouncing the President's decision of the moment. And the Churchillian determination not to preside over the decline of the American empire.

ambrit April 18, 2014 at 11:15 am

As for snipers firing into the crowd from adjoining buildings, well, that's SOP. The Mexican government did exactly that at Tlatelolco Square in 1968 in order to break the student movement prior to the '68 Olympics. The then MSM also did a disappearing job on the truth. The real events were uncovered only after forced release of documents from Mexican and U.S. sources over thirty plus years later. As in Ukraine, sanctioned violence was used to stifle democratic dissent and impose authoritarianism. In Mexico, it was determined that the 'snipers' were members of the elite Olympic Brigade, formed from elements of the Mexican police and Presidential Guard. Ukraine looks to be more of the same. I'm patiently waiting for it to happen here, for real. Police crackdowns on Occupy sites and ineffectual murder plots against internal dissidents as in Texas are the appetizers. When the main course comes on, I fear that some unit like the Tenth Mountain Division will be involved. Then the gloves will come off.

Michael Hudson April 18, 2014 at 11:15 am

The job of a Community Organizer is to make fortunes for real estate investors gentrifying. That is what Obama did in Chicago (See Yves' reprint of Bob Fitch's study some years ago), and that is just what he's doing in Ukraine. Cargill is angling for land rights, and other investors are anticipating a really, really cheap labor force as Ukraine's currency plummets. Obama is simply working with his backers, asking them what they want him to do. His job is to deliver his constituency.

Brindle April 18, 2014 at 11:33 am

I've come the conclusion that Obama hasn't had a single original thought in his head when it comes to ideas, policies etc.
He isn't lacking in intelligence, he just is very content in being a follower, one who uses his savvy media skills to implement the designs of others,

jfleni April 18, 2014 at 11:32 am

While Neocons are not totally monolithic, there is an agenda: A posse of crypto-traitors, fully faithful to and even more extreme than BiBi-the-effing-mad and friends, including Sewer-mouth-Vicky, "Sammy" Power the red-headed nut, Rice, probably Hillary herself, and a multitude of shills, supporters and connected spouses, who are out of control and destructive to our real interests. Whether Congress and their natural enemies can halt this lunacy is unknown right now; it may take a severe and catastrophic military confrontation.

I remember when Ukraine and Russia were squabbling twenty years ago about who would get the Black Sea fleet, a bunch of broken down rusty tubs that nobody else would ever want. The bad feeling and enmity never went away, and didn't start just recently. What's new is the gusto of the NEOCONS to stir the pot. It is crazy and must be stopped, especially since solving our real problems play third fidddle to this neocon nonsense.

par4 April 18, 2014 at 11:38 am

Yves, ever think of starting another site called naked communism? I would hope people posting comments there would know that the U.S. has never been a "democracy" and that liberals aren't "of the left".

Jagger April 18, 2014 at 11:46 am

Maybe if we can get WW III going, we can solve a lot of pressing problems such as overpopulation, peak oil and climate change. Bearing in mind that WW II only took out 60 million, which is only a drop in the bucket with a current population of 7 billion, we would need to do better this time. If we can get the population down to 2-3 billion, we could strech out our remaining natural resources substantially. And of course, a nuclear winter should nicely counteract global warming. Got to look at the positives when you are Washington neocon operative selling a concept.

Of course if we all stopped having babies for a few decades, we could achieve exactly the same thing without all the mess.

Lord Koos April 18, 2014 at 1:40 pm

My father used to donate money to an organization dedicated to zero population growth (ZPG). The whole idea of limiting population growth on the planet was something that you heard about occasionally in the media at that time (the 1970s) and it was a subject of debate. These days the subject must be practically taboo for all the mention it gets and yet it's the most obvious thing in the world. Of course in my view, fossil fuel conservation as opposed to fracking is fairly obvious too, but then my ideas aren't so profitable.

jagger April 18, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I am not sure zero population growth would do the job today. I suspect we need a substantial reduction of total population. But that isn't going to happen at the scale needed voluntarily. And as you say, we hear absolutely nothing about the concept today.

Yes and I agree, fossil fuel conservation makes all the sense in the world as well. If we are marooned on a boat at sea, do we ration our limited water and hope for rescue or just drink it up as fast as we can because we have water at the moment? It is just insanity amonst our so called power elites. Unfortunately, everyone will pay the price.

NotTimothyGeithner April 18, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Um, you do realize there isn't an alternative to Russian gas. It's not a case of higher prices, and sanctions tend to strengthen the targeted regime. A popular Putin would beat the cap out of unpopular and coalition leaders after divisive elections in the West if a sanctions game starts.

[Apr 17, 2014] Is Putin Being Lured Into a Trap by MIKE WHITNEY

Apr 17, 2014 | CounterPunch

"Russia … is now recognized as the center of the global 'mutiny' against global dictatorship of the US and EU. Its generally peaceful .. approach is in direct contrast to brutal and destabilizing methods used by the US and EU…. The world is waking up to reality that there actually is, suddenly, some strong and determined resistance to Western imperialism. After decades of darkness, hope is emerging." – Andre Vltchek, Ukraine: Lies and Realities, CounterPunch

Russia is not responsible for the crisis in Ukraine. The US State Department engineered the fascist-backed coup that toppled Ukraine's democratically-elected president Viktor Yanukovych and replaced him with the American puppet Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a former banker. Hacked phone calls reveal the critical role that Washington played in orchestrating the putsch and selecting the coup's leaders. Moscow was not involved in any of these activities. Vladimir Putin, whatever one may think of him, has not done anything to fuel the violence and chaos that has spread across the country.

Putin's main interest in Ukraine is commercial. 66 percent of the natural gas that Russia exports to the EU transits Ukraine. The money that Russia makes from gas sales helps to strengthen the Russian economy and raise standards of living. It also helps to make Russian oligarchs richer, the same as it does in the West. The people in Europe like the arrangement because they are able to heat their homes and businesses market-based prices. In other words, it is a good deal for both parties, buyer and seller. This is how the free market is supposed to work. The reason it doesn't work that way presently is because the United States threw a spanner in the gears when it deposed Yanukovych. Now no one knows when things will return to normal.

Check out this chart at Business Insider and you'll see why Ukraine matters to Russia.

The overriding goal of US policy in Ukraine is to stop the further economic integration of Asia and Europe. That's what the fracas is really all about. The United States wants to control the flow of energy from East to West, it wants to establish a de facto tollbooth between the continents, it wants to ensure that those deals are transacted in US dollars and recycled into US Treasuries, and it wants to situate itself between the two most prosperous markets of the next century. Anyone who has even the sketchiest knowledge of US foreign policy– particularly as it relates to Washington's "pivot to Asia"– knows this is so. The US is determined to play a dominant role in Eurasia in the years ahead. Wreaking havoc in Ukraine is a central part of that plan.

Retired German Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jochen Scholz summed up US policy in an open letter which appeared on the Neue Rheinilche Zeitung news-site last week. Scholz said the Washington's objective was "to deny Ukraine a role as a bridge between Eurasian Union and European Union….They want to bring Ukraine under the NATO control" and sabotage the prospects for "a common economic zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok."

Bingo. That's US policy in a nutshell. It has nothing to do with democracy, sovereignty, or human rights. It's about money and power. Who are the big players going to be in the world's biggest growth center, that's all that matters. Unfortunately for Obama and Co., the US has fallen behind Russia in acquiring the essential resources and pipeline infrastructure to succeed in such a competition. They've been beaten by Putin and Gazprom at every turn. While Putin has strengthened diplomatic and economic relations, expanded vital pipeline corridors and transit lines, and hurtled the many obstacles laid out for him by American-stooges in the EC; the US has dragged itself from one quagmire to the next laying entire countries to waste while achieving none of its economic objectives.

So now the US has jettisoned its business strategy altogether and moved on to Plan B, regime change. Washington couldn't beat Putin in a fair fight, so now they've taken off the gloves. Isn't that what's really going on? Isn't that why the US NGOs, and the Intel agencies, and the State Dept were deployed to launch their sloppily-engineered Nazi-coup that's left the country in chaos?

Once again, Putin played no part in any of this. All he did was honor the will of the people in Crimea who voted overwhelmingly (97%) to reunite with the Russian Federation. From a purely pragmatic point of view, what other choice did they have? After all, who in their right mind would want to align themselves with the most economically mismanaged confederation of all time (The EU) while facing the real possibility that their nation could be reduced to Iraq-type rubble and destitution in a matter of years? Who wouldn't opt-out of such an arrangement?

As we noted earlier, Putin's main objective is to make money. In contrast, the US wants to dominate the Eurasian landmass, break Russia up into smaller, non-threatening units, and control China's growth. That's the basic gameplan. Also, the US does not want any competitors, which we can see from this statement by Paul Wolfowitz which evolved into the US National Defense Strategy:

"Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power."

This is the prevailing doctrine that Washington lives by. No rivals. No competition. We're the boss. What we say, goes. The US is Numero Uno, le grande fromage. Who doesn't know this already? Here's more from Wolfowitz:

"The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. In non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. We must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."

In other words, "don't even think about getting more powerful or we'll swat you like a fly." That's the message, isn't it? The reason we draw attention to these quotes is not to pick on Wolfowitz, but to show how things haven't changed under Obama, in fact, they've gotten worse. The so called Bush Doctrine is more in effect today than ever which is why we need to be reminded of its central tenets. The US military is the de facto enforcer of neoliberal capitalism or what Wolfowitz calls "the established political and economic order". Right. The statement provides a blanket justification for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and now Ukraine. The US can do whatever it deems necessary to protect the interests of its constituents, the multi-national corporations and big finance. The US owns the world and everyone else is just a visitor. So shut the hell up, and do what you're told. That's the message. Here's Wolfowitz one more time:

"We continue to recognize that collectively the conventional forces of the states formerly comprising the Soviet Union retain the most military potential in all of Eurasia; and we do not dismiss the risks to stability in Europe from a nationalist backlash in Russia or efforts to reincorporate into Russia the newly independent republics of Ukraine, Belarus, and possibly others."

Wolfowitz figured the moment would come when the US would have to square off with Moscow in order to pursue it's imperial strategy in Asia. Putin doesn't seem to grasp that yet. He still clings to the misguided notion that rational people will find rational solutions to end the crisis. But he's mistaken. Washington does not want a peaceful solution. Washington wants a confrontation. Washington wants to draw Moscow into a long-term conflict in Ukraine that will recreate Afghanistan in the 1990s. That's the goal, to lure Putin into a military quagmire that will discredit him in the eyes of the world, isolate Russia from its allies, put strains on new alliances, undermine the Russian economy, pit Russian troops against US-backed armed mercenaries and Special Ops, destroy Russian relations with business partners in the EU, and create a justification for NATO intervention followed by the deployment of nuclear weapons on Ukrainian territory. That's the gameplan. Why doesn't Putin see that?

[Apr 15, 2014] America as European Hegemon by Christopher Layne

The USA became superpower after 1991. And now it wants to assert its role as European hegemon in Ukraine. At this point there was no force that can prevent the US elite from achieving their geopolitical goals. But in the process they undermined the US economy to the extent that now the question of how long the USA can maintain its current privileged position in international affairs does not look too academic...
June 1, 2003 | nationalinterest.org

As the wisest of all American philosophers, Yogi Berra, has insightfully observed, making predictions is hard, especially about the future. And he might have added-pointing to the predictions of an impending Euro-American rupture that have been a staple of debates about U.S.-European relations at least since the 1956 Suez crisis-prognosticating accurately about the future of Transatlantic relations is extra hard. Through all the ups and downs in U.S.-European relations over the years, those many Chicken Littles who have gone out on a limb to forecast an impending drifting apart of Europe and the United States never have had their predictions validated by events.

Until now, perhaps?

The Iraq War has produced a very different kind of rift. The damage inflicted on Washington's ties to Europe by the Bush Administration's policy is likely to prove real, lasting and, at the end of the day, irreparable. In other words, if the fat lady isn't singing already, she clearly can be heard warming up her voice.

To understand why this crisis is different, we must understand its causes. The rupture between the United States and Europe is not, as some have asserted, mainly about an alleged Transatlantic rift in the realm of culture, values and ideology. It is not about the relative merits of unilateralism versus multilateralism. It is not even about the issues that framed the debate about Iraq during the run-up to war (Should the weapons inspections process have been allowed to play out? Was the United States wrong to go to war without a second resolution from the United Nations Security Council?). For sure, Iraq was a catalyst for Transatlantic dispute, but this crisis has been about American power-specifically about American hegemony.

Of Balance and Hegemony

When future historians write about how American hegemony ended, they may well point to January 22, 2003 as a watershed. On that day, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Franco-German Treaty negotiated by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer as a bulwark against American hegemony, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder jointly declared that Paris and Berlin would work together to oppose the Bush Administration's evident intent to resolve the Iraqi question by force of arms. Later that day, in a Pentagon briefing, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld responded to the Franco-German declaration by contemptuously dismissing those partners as representing the "Old Europe", thereby triggering a Transatlantic earthquake, the geopolitical after-shocks of which will be felt for a long time. And well they should, for these contretemps reflect what is already a very old issue.

The problem of hegemony has been a major issue in U.S.-European relations since the United States emerged as a great power at the end of the 19th century. The United States fought two big wars in Europe out of fear that if a single power (in those cases, Germany) attained hegemony in Europe, it would be able to mobilize the continent's resources and threaten America in its own backyard, the Western Hemisphere. The conventional wisdom holds that America's post-World War II initiatives-the Marshall Plan, the North Atlantic Treaty-were driven by similar fears of possible Soviet hegemony in Europe. Indeed, many American strategic thinkers define America's traditional European strategy as a text-book example of "offshore balancing."

As an offshore balancer, the United States supposedly remains on the sidelines with respect to European security affairs unless a single great power threatens to dominate the continent. America's European grand strategy, therefore, is said to be counter-hegemonic: the United States intervenes in Europe only when the continental balance of power appears unable to thwart the rise of a would-be hegemon without U.S. assistance. The most notable proponent of this view of America's European grand strategy toward Europe is University of Chicago political scientist John J. Mearsheimer. He argues that the United States is not a global hegemon. Rather, because of what he describes as the "stopping power of water", the United States is a hegemon only in its own region (the Western hemisphere), and acts as an offshore balancer toward Europe. He predicts that the United States soon will end its "continental commitment" because there is no European hegemon looming on the geopolitical horizon. As an offshore balancer, Mearsheimer says, the United States will not remain in Europe merely to play the role of regional stabilizer or pacifier.

There is just one thing wrong with this view: it does not fit the facts.

If American strategy toward Europe is indeed one of counter-hegemonic offshore balancing, it should have been over, over there, for the United States when the Soviet Union collapsed. By a different but not far-fetched reckoning, it should have been over in the early 1960s, when the Europeans were capable of deterring a Soviet military advance westward without the United States. With no hegemonic threat to contain, American military power should have been retracted from Europe after 1991, and NATO should have contracted into non-existence rather than undergoing two rounds of expansion. Of course, it may be that America will ultimately be ejected from the continent by the Europeans, but there are no signs that the United States will voluntarily pack up and go home any time soon.

It is not a "time lag", or mere inertia, that has kept American military power on the European continent more than a decade after the Soviet Union ceased to exist. There is a better explanation for why U.S. troops are still in Europe and NATO is still in business. It is because the Soviet Union's containment was never the driving force behind America's post-World War II commitment to Europe. There is a well-known quip that NATO was created to "keep the Russians out, the Germans down, and the Americans in." It would be more accurate to say that the Atlantic Alliance's primary raison d'être, from Washington's standpoint, was to keep America in-and on top-so that Germans could be kept down, Europe could be kept quiet militarily, and the Europeans would lack any pressing incentive to unite politically. The attainment of America's postwar grand strategic objectives on the continent required that the United States establish its own hegemony over Western Europe, something it would probably have done even in the absence of the Cold War. In other words, NATO is still in business to advance long-standing American objectives that existed independently of the Cold War and hence survived the Soviet Union's collapse.

American Aims

We usually look to history to help us understand the present and predict the future. But the reverse can be true, as well: sometimes recent events serve to shed light on what happened in the past, and why it happened. Many may react skeptically to the claim that America's postwar European grand strategy was driven at least as much-probably more-by non-Cold War factors as by the Soviet threat. But Washington's post-Cold War behavior provides a good deal of support for this thesis.

For starters, when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union began to unravel, the first Bush Administration did not feel in the least bit compelled to reconsider the relevance of, or need for, either the U.S. military commitment to Europe or NATO. As Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice, both of whom served that administration as senior foreign policy officials, have observed:

"[The] administration believed strongly that, even if the immediate military threat from the Soviet Union diminished, the United States should maintain a significant military presence in Europe for the foreseeable future. . . . The American troop presence thus also served as the ante to ensure a central place for the United States as a player in European politics. The Bush administration placed a high value on retaining such influence, underscored by Bush's flat statement that the United States was and would remain 'a European power.' . . . The Bush administration was determined to maintain crucial features of the NATO system for European security even if the Cold War ended."

The Clinton Administration took a similar view. As one former State Department official avers, NATO to had be revitalized after the Cold War because American interests in Europe "transcended" the Soviet threat. And using phraseology reminiscent of Voltaire's comment about God, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, "Clearly if an institution such as NATO did not exist today, we would want to create one."

The fact that American policymakers did not miss a beat when the Cold War ended with respect to reaffirming NATO's continuing importance reveals a great deal about the real nature of the interests that shaped America's European grand strategy after World War II, and that continue to do so today. The truth is that, from its inception, America's postwar European grand strategy reflected a complex set of interlocking "Open Door" interests.* These interests are at once economic, strategic and broadly political in nature.

The first of these is that U.S. postwar officials believed that America had crucial economic interests in Europe. Even if there was no communist threat to Western Europe, State Department Policy Planning Staff Director George F. Kennan argued in 1947, the United States had a vital interest in facilitating Western Europe's economic recovery: "The United States people have a very real economic interest in Europe. This stems from Europe's role in the past as a market and as a major source of supply for a variety of products and services." These interests required that Europe's antiquated economic structure of small, national markets be fused into a large, integrated market that would facilitate efficiencies and economies of scale.** As the U.S. Ambassador to France, Jefferson Caffery, argued in 1947, economic integration would "eliminate the small watertight compartment into which Europe's pre-war and present economy is divided." Paul Hoffman, director of the Economic Cooperation Agency (which administered Marshall Plan aid to Europe), elaborated on the reasons why Washington favored Western Europe's economic integration: "Europe could not be self-supporting until it had made great progress towards unity and until there was a wide, free, competitive market to lower costs, increase efficiency, and raise the standard of living."

To prevent far Left parties (especially the communists) from coming to power on the Continent's western half after World War II, U.S. aims also required political and social stability there. Washington was not really so concerned that such governments would drift into Moscow's political orbit, but it was very concerned that they would embrace the kinds of nationalist, or autarkic, economic policies that were anathema to America's goal of an open international economy. As Averell Harriman, the U.S. Special Representative in Europe, put it, Washington was committed to multilateral trade and was "opposed to restrictive policies and especially to the creation of an autarkic Europe."

Second, American strategists perceived that U.S. economic interests would be jeopardized if postwar Europe relapsed into its bad habits of nationalism, great power rivalries and realpolitik. To ensure stability in Europe after World War II, the United States sought to create a militarily de-nationalized and economically integrated-but not politically unified-Europe. Washington would assume primary responsibility for European security, thereby precluding the re-emergence of the security dilemmas (especially that between France and Germany) that had sparked the two world wars. In turn, Western Europe's economic integration and interdependence-under the umbrella of America's military protectorate-would contribute to building a peaceful and stable Western Europe. In this respect, U.S. economic and security objectives meshed nicely.

Postwar U.S. policymakers viewed Europe's traditional balance of power security architecture as a "fire trap" and, as Undersecretary of State Robert Lovett said following World War II, Washington wanted to make certain that this fire trap was not rebuilt. Starting with those who were "present at the creation", successive generations of U.S. policymakers feared the continent's reversion to its (as Americans see it) dark past-a past defined by war, militarism, nationalism and an unstable multipolar balance of power. For American officials, Europe indeed has been a dark continent whose wars spilled over across the Atlantic, threatened American interests and invariably drew in the United States. Secretary Rumsfeld's disparaging remark about the "Old Europe" thus stands in a long and consistent line of American attitudes toward the Continent and its various historical crimes and misdemeanors.

After World War II, Rumsfeld's cabinet predecessors sought to maintain U.S. interests by breaking the Old Europe of its bad old geopolitical habits. As Secretary of State John Foster Dulles put it in 1953,

"Surely there is an urgent, positive duty on all of us to seek to end that danger which comes from within. It has been the cause of two world wars and it will be disastrous if it persists."

Even during the Cold War, American policymakers acknowledged that, quite apart from the Soviet threat, the United States needed to be present militarily in Western Europe to create a political environment that permitted "a secure and easy relationship among our friends in Western Europe." As Secretary of State Dean Rusk said in 1967, the U.S. military presence on the continent played a pivotal role in assuring stability within Western Europe: "Much progress has been made. But without the visible assurance of a sizeable American contingent, old frictions may revive, and Europe could become unstable once more." Former Secretary of State Acheson, too, observed in the mid-1960s that, as the vehicle for America's stabilizer role in Western Europe, "NATO is not merely a military structure to prepare a collective defense against military aggression, but also a political organization to preserve the peace of Europe."

The U.S. goal of embedding a militarily de-nationalized, but economically integrated Western Europe within the structure of an American-dominated "Atlantic Community" dovetailed neatly with another of Washington's key post-1945 grand strategic objectives: preventing the emergence of new poles of power in the international system-in the form either of a resurgent Germany or a united Europe-that could challenge America's geopolitical pre-eminence. Since the 1940s, Washington has had to perform a delicate balancing act with respect to Europe. To be sure, for economic reasons, the United States encouraged Western Europe's integration into a single common market, but the United States sought to prevent that from leading to its political unification.

To prevent the emergence of a politically unified Western Europe, successive U.S. administrations sought to "de-nationalize" the region by establishing a military protectorate that integrated Western Europe's military forces under, and subordinated them to, American command. The goal was to neuter Western Europe geopolitically and thereby circumscribe its ability to act independently of the United States in the high political realms of foreign and security policy. Embedding West European integration in the American-dominated Atlantic community would prevent the Europeans from veering off in the wrong direction. "An increased measure of Continental European integration", Acheson and Lovett told President Truman,

"can be secured only within the broader framework of the North Atlantic Community. This is entirely consistent with our own desire to see a power arrangement on the Continent which does not threaten us and with which we can work in close harmony."

Acheson stated American strategic concerns with crystal clarity when he spoke of the necessity of a "well-knit large grouping of Atlantic states within which a new EUR grouping can develop, thus ensuring unity of purpose within the entire group and precluding [the] possibility of [a] EUR Union becoming [a] third force or opposing force."

Europe's military absorption into the Atlantic Community went hand in hand with its economic integration. By persuading the West Europeans to "pool" their military and economic sovereignty, Washington aimed to strip them of the capacity to take unilateral national action. As Kennan observed, Western Europe should be unified on terms which "would automatically make it impossible or extremely difficult for any member, not only Germany, to embark upon a path of unilateral aggression." But it was the American diplomat Charles Bohlen who cut to the heart of the U.S. de-nationalization strategy when he said, "Our maximum objective should be the general one of making common European interests more important than individual national interests."

For the United States, therefore, institutions such as NATO, the aborted European Defense Community, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the Common Market were the instruments it employed to contain the West Europeans.* As the State Department said, the United States hoped that "cautious initial steps toward military, political, and economic cooperation will be followed by more radical departures from traditional concepts of sovereignty." The American aim was to create "institutional machinery to ensure that separate national interests are subordinated to the best interests of the community", and achieving this subordination was deemed essential if the United States was to accomplish its grand strategic purposes in Europe.

The Continental Response

Just as fear of a European hegemon led the United States to intervene in Europe's two great wars of the 20th century, the West Europeans after World War II understood that America had established its own hegemony over them. As realist international relations theory suggests, Western Europe tried to do something about it.

To be sure, West European balancing against the United States was constrained. On the one hand, although the West Europeans feared American power, they feared the Soviet Union even more during the Cold War. In a more positive sense, too, following World War II, Washington was able to use the carrot of economic assistance-notably, the Marshall Plan-to keep Western Europe aligned (albeit very tenuously at times) with the United States. Nevertheless, throughout the post-World War II era, West European inclinations to balance against American power were never far from the surface.

In the five years or so after the end of World War II, it was Britain that hoped to emerge as a "Third Force" in world politics to balance both the United States and the Soviet Union. As the British diplomat Gladwyn Jebb put it, London needed to prevent the geopolitical equilibrium from being undermined "by a 'bi-polar' system centering around what Mr. Toynbee calls the two 'semi-barbarian states on the cultural periphery'." The accelerating decline of Britain's relative power, of course, put paid to London's Third Force aspirations, but continental Europe's Third Force aspirations remained. In the late 1940s and 1950s, one of the hopes of the founding fathers of today's European Union was that the European Coal and Steel Community, and then the Common Market, would prove to be the embryo of a united Europe that could act as a geopolitical and economic counterweight to the United States. Commenting on the motives driving the West Europeans to integrate, the diplomatic historian Geir Lundestad observes:

"Although they wanted the two sides of the Atlantic to cooperate more closely, in a more general sense it was probably also the desire of most European policymakers to strengthen Western Europe vis-Ã -vis the United States. This could be done economically by supporting the Common Market and politically by working more closely together on the European side."

Even Jean Monnet, author of the Schuman Plan that led to the ECSC and the "father" of European integration, first toyed with the idea of an Anglo-French federation in the late 1940s because he saw this as the basis of a European bloc that could stand apart from both the United States and the Soviet Union.

The 1956 Suez crisis gave fresh impetus to the arguments that Western Europe needed to counterbalance the United States. Britain's initial reaction to its humiliation by the Eisenhower Administration was to consider reviving the Third Force concept: "We should pool our resources with our European allies so that Western Europe as a whole might become a third nuclear power comparable with the United States and the Soviet Union." Under Harold Macmillan, of course, Britain rejected becoming part of a West European Third Force, opting instead to curry favor-and maintain influence-with Washington through the "special relationship" ("playing Greece to America's Rome"). On the Continent, however, Suez focused French and West German attentions on the need for a West European counterweight to American power. As William I. Hitchcock recounts, Adenauer and French Premier Guy Mollet were meeting in Paris on November 6, 1956, at the height of the Suez crisis (and the simultaneous turmoil in Hungary). Shortly after Adenauer exclaimed that it was time for Europe to unite "against America", Mollet excused himself to take a phone call from the British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, who informed Mollet that, under U.S. pressure, London had decided to call off the Anglo-French invasion of the Suez Canal Zone. When a crestfallen Mollet returned to the meeting room and conveyed the content of the telephone conversation to his guest, Adenauer consoled him by saying, "Now, it is time to create Europe."

By the early 1960s, French President Charles de Gaulle believed that Western Europe had recovered sufficiently from World War II's dislocations and was poised to re-emerge as an independent pole of power in the international system. De Gaulle, clearly one of the 20th century's towering figures, was well versed in the realities of international politics. Following Washington's successful facing-down of the Soviet Union in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, he concluded then that the world had become "unipolar"-dominated by a hegemonic America. To balance U.S. hegemony, de Gaulle pushed for France to acquire independent nuclear capabilities, and he sought to build a West European pole of power based on a Franco-German axis. That is what the 1963 treaty-the one Chirac and Schröder were commemorating on January 22-was all about, a fact that Washington apprehended clearly. U.S. policymakers were deeply concerned that Paris would lure West Germany out of the "Atlantic" (that is, U.S.) orbit, because such a Euro-centric strategic axis, as a 1966 State Department cable explicitly said, "would fragment Europe and divide the Atlantic world." In plainer English, the foundations of America's European hegemony would be undermined.

Washington recognized the Gaullist challenge for what it was-a direct assault on U.S. preponderance in Western Europe-and reacted by re-asserting its own hegemonic prerogatives on the Continent. President Kennedy gave eloquent expression to the fear that Western Europe's emergence as an independent pole of power in the international system would be inimical to U.S. interests, and his doing so shows that U.S. concerns on this score were not limited to the immediate postwar period, as sketched out above. Kennedy voiced concern that U.S. leverage over Europe might be waning because the West Europeans, having staged a vigorous postwar recovery, were no longer dependent on the United States economically. Noting that "the European states are less subject to our influence", Kennedy expressed the fear that "if the French and other European powers acquire a nuclear capability they would be in a position to be entirely independent and we might be on the outside looking in." By pushing for a Multilateral Nuclear Force for Western Europe (in reality, one that kept Washington's finger firmly on the trigger), the United States sought-unsuccessfully-to derail France's nuclear ambitions.

With considerably more success, however, the United States did manage to take the teeth out of the Franco-German Treaty. In so doing, Washington played the hardest kind of hegemonic hardball. Threatening to rescind the security guarantee that protected West Germany from the Soviets, the U.S. government insisted that the Bundestag insert a preamble to the treaty reaffirming that Bonn's Atlantic connection to the United States and NATO took supremacy over its ties with Paris.* This intervention by the United States hastened Adenauer's retirement and helped ensure that he would be succeeded by the more pliable Atlanticist, Ludwig Erhard.

What's New?

Now, forty years later, the United States and Europe are still playing the same game. America still asserts its hegemony, and France and Germany still seek (so far without much success) to create a European counterweight. As has been the case in the past, too, Washington is employing a number of strategies to keep Europe apart.

First, the United States is still actively discouraging Europe from either collective, or national, efforts to acquire the full-spectrum of advanced military capabilities. Specifically, the United States has opposed the EU's Rapid Reaction Force (the nucleus of a future EU army), insisting that any European efforts must not duplicate NATO capabilities and must be part of an effort to strengthen the Alliance's "European pillar." The United States is also encouraging European NATO members to concentrate individually on carving-out "niche" capabilities that will complement U.S. power rather than potentially challenge it.

Second, Washington is engaged in a game of divide and rule in a bid to thwart the EU's political unification process. The United States is pushing hard for the enlargement of the EU-and especially the admission of Turkey -- in the expectation that a bigger EU will prove unmanageable and hence unable to emerge as a politically unified actor in international politics. The United States also has encouraged NATO expansion in a similar vein, in the hope that the "New Europe" (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania)-which, with the exception of Romania, will join the EU in 2004-will side with Washington against France and Germany on most issues of significance. For the United States, a Europe that speaks with many voices is optimal, which is why the United States is trying to ensure that the EU's "state-building" process fails-thereby heading off the emergence of a united Europe that could become an independent pole of power in the international system.

Finally, the United States has continued to remind the rest of Europe, sometimes delicately, sometimes in a heavy-handed fashion, that they still need an American presence to "keep the Germans down." For example, at his speech in Prague during the November 2002 NATO summit, President George W. Bush-just before invoking the historically freighted memories of Verdun, Munich, Stalingrad and Nuremberg-alluded in a not-so-subtle fashion to the German threat from World War II to make the case for a U.S. role in Europe:

U-boats could not divide us. . . . The commitment of my nation to Europe is found in the carefully tended graves of young Americans who died for this continent's freedom. That commitment is shown by the thousands in uniforms still serving here, from the Balkans to Bavaria, still willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for this continent's future.

Washington's aim of keeping Europe apart paid apparent dividends when, at the end of January, the leaders of Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic signed a letter urging Europe and the international community to unite behind Washington's Iraq policy. This letter was notable especially because it illustrated that the United States is having some success in using the "New Europe" to balance against the "Old" Franco-German core. Clearly, Washington hopes that states such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania will not only line up behind the United States within NATO, but will also represent Atlanticist interests over European ones within the EU itself.

In short, U.S. policy seeks to encourage an intra-European counterweight that will block French and German aspirations to create a united Europe counterweight to American hegemony. Indeed, in the wake of the Iraq War, Transatlantic relations are characterized by a kind of "double containment" in Europe: the hard core of Old Europe (centered around France and Germany, and possibly supported by Russia) seeks to brake America's aspirations for global hegemony, while the United States and its "New European" allies in central and eastern Europe seek to contain Franco-German power on the Continent. It is an old game, in a new form.

The Widening Atlantic

In the decade between the Soviet Union's collapse and 9/11, American hegemony (or as some U.S. policymakers called it during the Clinton Administration, America's "hegemony problem") was the central issue in American grand strategy debates. It still is. Although American policymakers have developed a number of (too) clever rationales to convince themselves that the United States will escape the fate that invariably befalls hegemons, the fallout of the Iraq crisis on the Transatlantic relationship illustrates that concern with America's hegemonic power-and the way it is exercised-is not confined to the Middle East and Persian Gulf.

Why do France, Germany and much of the rest of the world, including other major powers such as Russia and China, worry about American hegemony? The simple answer is that international politics remains fundamentally what it has always been: a competitive arena in which states struggle to survive. States are always worried about their security. Thus when one state becomes overwhelmingly powerful-that is, hegemonic-others fear for their safety.

Doubtless the Bush Administration's fervent hegemonists will scoff at the idea that the United States will become the object of counter-hegemonic balancing. They clearly believe that the United States can do as it pleases because it is so far ahead in terms of hard power that no other state (or coalition of states) can possibly hope to balance against it. They also know, and know that Europeans know, that the United States does not and will never literally threaten Europe with its military power. This confidence is misplaced, however, because it overlooks the effects of what can be called "the hegemon's temptation."

A hegemonic power like the United States today has overwhelming hard power-especially military power-and indeed there is no state or coalition with commensurate power capable of restraining the United States from exercising that power. For hegemons, the formula of overwhelming power and lack of opposition creates powerful incentives to expand the scope of its geopolitical interests. But over time, the cumulative effects of expansion for the United States-wars and subsequent occupations in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism; possible future wars against North Korea, Iran, Syria, or China over Taiwan-will have an enervating impact on U.S. power.

At the end of the day, hegemonic decline results from the interplay of over-extension abroad and domestic economic weakness.* Over time, the costs of America's hegemonic vocation will interact with its economic vulnerabilities-endless budget deficits fueled in part by burgeoning military spending, and the persistent balance of payments deficit-to erode America's relative power advantage over the rest of the world. As the relative power gap between the United States and potential new great powers begins to shrink, the costs and risks of challenging the United States will decrease, and the pay-off for doing so will increase. As the British found out toward the end of the 19th century, a seemingly unassailable international power position can melt away with unexpected rapidity.

There are already today other potential poles of power in the international system waiting in the wings that could quickly emerge as counterweights to the United States. And with the Iraq crisis revealing the stark nature of American hegemony, these new power centers have increasingly greater incentive to do so. Here, by facilitating "soft" balancing against the United States, the Iraq crisis may have paved the way for "hard" balancing as well. Since the end of World War II, policymakers and analysts on both sides of the Atlantic have realized that Europe is a potential pole of power in the international system. Will France and Germany provide the motor to unite Europe in opposition to the United States? Time, of course, will tell.

But for sure, this is not 1963. The Cold War is over, and France and Germany are freer to challenge American hegemony. The EU is in the midst of an important constitutional convention that is laying the foundation for a politically unified Europe. And even as the Iraq War proceeded, there were straws in the wind pointing in the direction of hard balancing against the United States. Most notable are indications that France, Germany, Belgium and Luxemburg may act together to create Europe's own version of a coalition of the willing–by forming a "hard core" of enhanced defense cooperation among themselves.

In the short term, however, Paris and Berlin–supported by Russia–have lead the way in soft balancing to counter American hegemony. By using international organizations like the United Nations to marshal opposition to the United States, France and Germany–and similarly inclined powers such as Russia and China–are beginning to develop new habits of diplomatic cooperation to oppose Washington.

Similarly, it is likely that France and Germany (again, joined by Russia and China) will be more likely to cooperate in propping up key regional powers that might be the next targets in Washington's geopolitical gunsight. Iran is one such potential target. With Washington bidding for hegemony in the Persian Gulf region by establishing a protectorate over postwar Iraq, France and Germany–Russia and China, too-will have strong incentives for collaborating to ensure their own strategic and commercial interests in the region by building up, and supporting, Iran (and perhaps Syria) as a counter-weight to U.S. regional power. It was no coincidence, after all, that Dominique de Villepin showed up in Tehran within days after the fall of Baghdad.

AT THE END of the day, the most telling piece of evidence that the Iraq War marks a turning point in Transatlantic relations, and with respect to American hegemony, is this: Despite widespread predictions that they would fold diplomatically and acquiesce in a second UN resolution authorizing the United States and Great Britain to forcibly disarm fraq, Paris and Berlin (and Moscow) held firm. Rather than being shocked and awed by America's power and strong-arm diplomacy, they stuck to their guns–just as Britain and France did not do at Suez–and refused to fall into line behind Washington. What this shows, at the very least, is that it is easier to be Number One when there is a Number Two that threatens Numbers Three, Four, Five and so on. It also suggests that a hegemon so clearly defied is a hegemon on a downward arc.

Many throughout the world now have the impression that the United States is acting as an aggressive hegemon engaged in the naked aggrandizement of its own power. The notion that the United States is a "benevolent" hegemon has been shredded. America is inviting the same fate as that which has overtaken previous contenders for hegemony. In the sweep of history, the Bush Administration will not be remembered for conquering Baghdad, but for a policy that galvanized both soft and hard balancing against American hegemony. At the end of the day, what the administration trumpets as "victory" in the Persian Gulf may prove, in reality, to have pushed NATO into terminal decline, given the decisive boost to the political unification of Europe (at least the most important parts of it), and marked the beginning of the end of America's era of global preponderance.

*The seminal work of the "Open Door" school, of course, is 'William Appleman Williams' The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (New York: Delta, 1962). Williams' work has acted as a powerful stimulus that produced a broad body of historical scholarship that both built upon, and refined, the Open Door interpretation. When read as a whole, it encompasses economics, ideology, national interest and security as key factors in shaping U.S. grand strategy–and underscores their interconnectedness.

** In notes prepared for Secretary of State George Marshall, Kennan argued that the Marshall Plan was necessary for two reasons, the first of which was "so that they can buy from us." The second reason was "so that they will have enough self-confidence to withstand outside pressures." Memorandum Prepared by the Policy Planning Staff, July 21, 1947, FRUS 1947,III, p. 335.

* Referring to NATO and the EGSC, Secretary of State Dulles observed, "These represent important unifying efforts, but it cannot be confidently affirmed that these organizations are clearly adequate to ensure against a tragic repetition of the past where the Atlantic community, and particularly Western Europe, has been torn apart by internecine struggles." He then underscored the need for even greater unity within the Atlantic Community, not simply to meet the Soviet threat, but "forms of unity and integration which would preserve the West from a continuance of internal struggles which have been characteristic of its past." U.S. Delegation at North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting to Dept. of State, May 5, 1956, FRUS 1955-57, IV, pp. 68-9.

* As Secretary of State Rusk said, "If Europe were ever to be organized so as to leave us outside, from the point of view of these great issues of policy and defense, it would become most difficult for us to sustain our present guarantee against Soviet aggression. We shall not hesitate to make this point to the Germans if they show signs of accepting any idea of a Bonn-Paris axis." Rusk to the Embassy in France, May 18, 1963, FRUS 1961-63, XIII, p. 704.

* The two classic elaborations are Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981); and Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (New York: Random House, 1987).

Christopher Layne is a visiting fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. He is writing a book on America's hegemonic grand strategy for Cornell University Press.

[Mar 30, 2014] Neocons and the Ukraine Coup

OpEdNews

More than five years into his presidency, Barack Obama has failed to take full control over his foreign policy, allowing a bureaucracy shaped by long years of Republican control and spurred on by a neocon-dominated U.S. news media to frustrate many of his efforts to redirect America's approach to the world in a more peaceful direction.

But Obama deserves a big dose of the blame for this predicament because he did little to neutralize the government holdovers and indeed played into their hands with his initial appointments to head the State and Defense departments, Hillary Clinton, a neocon-leaning Democrat, and Robert Gates, a Republican cold warrior, respectively.

Even now, key U.S. diplomats are more attuned to hard-line positions than to promoting peace. The latest example is the Ukraine where U.S. diplomats, including Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, are celebrating the overthrow of an elected pro-Russian government.

Occurring during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the coup in Ukraine dealt an embarrassing black eye to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had offended neocon sensibilities by quietly cooperating with Obama to reduce tensions over Iran and Syria, where the neocons favored military options.

Over the past several weeks, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was undercut by a destabilization campaign encouraged by Nuland and Pyatt and then deposed in a coup spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias. Even after Yanukovych and the political opposition agreed to an orderly transition toward early elections, right-wing armed patrols shattered the agreement and took strategic positions around Kiev.

Despite these ominous signs, Ambassador Pyatt hailed the coup as "a day for the history books." Most of the mainstream U.S. news media also sided with the coup, with commentators praising the overthrow of an elected government as "reform." But a few dissonant reports have pierced the happy talk by noting that the armed militias are part of the Pravy Sektor, a right-wing nationalist group which is often compared to the Nazis.

Thus, the Ukrainian coup could become the latest neocon-initiated "regime change" that ousted a target government but failed to take into account who would fill the void.

Some of these same American neocons pushed for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, not realizing that removing Saddam Hussein would touch off a sectarian conflict and lead to a pro-Iranian Shiite regime. Similarly, U.S. military intervention in Libya in 2011 eliminated Muammar Gaddafi but also empowered Islamic extremists who later murdered the U.S. ambassador and spread unrest beyond Libya's borders to nearby Mali.

One might trace this neocons' blindness to consequences back to Afghanistan in the 1980s when the Reagan administration supported Islamic militants, including Osama bin Laden, in a war against Soviet troops, only to have Muslim extremists take control of Afghanistan and provide a base for al-Qaeda to plot the 9/11 attacks against the United States.

Regarding Ukraine, today's State Department bureaucracy seems to be continuing the same anti-Moscow geopolitical strategy set during those Reagan-Bush years.

Robert Gates described the approach in his new memoir, Duty, explaining the view of President George H.W. Bush's Defense Secretary Dick Cheney:

"When the Soviet Union was collapsing in late 1991, Dick wanted to see the dismantlement not only of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire but of Russia itself, so it could never again be a threat to the rest of the world."

Vice President Cheney and the neocons pursued a similar strategy during George W. Bush's presidency, expanding NATO aggressively to the east and backing anti-Russian regimes in the region including the hard-line Georgian government, which provoked a military confrontation with Moscow in 2008, ironically, during the Summer Olympics in China.

Obama's Strategy

As President, Obama has sought a more cooperative relationship with Russia's Putin and, generally, a less belligerent approach toward adversarial countries. Obama has been supported by an inner circle at the White House with analytical assistance from some elements of the U.S. intelligence community.

But the neocon momentum at the State Department and from other parts of the U.S. government has continued in the direction set by George W. Bush's neocon administration and by neocon-lite Democrats who surrounded Secretary of State Clinton during Obama's first term.

The two competing currents of geopolitical thinking -- a less combative one from the White House and a more aggressive one from the foreign policy bureaucracy -- have often worked at cross-purposes. But Obama, with only a few exceptions, has been unwilling to confront the hardliners or even fully articulate his foreign policy vision publicly.

For instance, Obama succumbed to the insistence of Gates, Clinton and Gen. David Petraeus to escalate the war in Afghanistan in 2009, though the President reportedly felt trapped into the decision which he soon regretted. In 2010, Obama backed away from a Brazilian-Turkish-brokered deal with Iran to curtail its nuclear program after Clinton denounced the arrangement and pushed for economic sanctions and confrontation as favored by the neocons and Israel.

[Mar 29, 2014] Robert Kaplan Writes In Defense Of Slavery

March 21, 2014 | Moon of Alabama
Neocon Robert Kaplan is writing In Defense of Empire. Empire is good, he believes, even for those who a ruled by it without having any representation. The lunacy of his arguments can be show best when one substitute the object of his essay:
Throughout history, governance and relative safety have most often been provided by slavery, Western or Eastern. Anarchy reigned in the interregnums. To wit, the British may have failed in Baghdad, Palestine, and elsewhere, but the larger history of the British slaveholdership is one of providing a vast armature of stability, fostered by sea and rail communications, where before there had been demonstrably less stability.
...
But slavery is now seen by global elites as altogether evil, despite slaveholdership having offered the most benign form of order for thousands of years, keeping the anarchy of ethnic, tribal, and sectarian war bands to a reasonable minimum. Compared with slaveholdership, democracy is a new and uncertain phenomenon. Even the two most estimable democracies in modern history, the United States and Great Britain, were slaveholdership for long periods. "As both a dream and a fact the American slaveholdership was born before the United States," writes the mid-20th-century historian of westward expansion Bernard DeVoto. Following their initial settlement, and before their inco