As Trump and Xi Wage Trade Roar, Kim Sees Both Sides of His Bread Buttered – By Elliott Gabriel – (MINT PRESS)

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, hosts North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Dalian, China in this undated photo released on May, 9 2018 by KCNA.
How Not to Win a Trade War

 

Donald Trump has backed himself into a corner with his tariff-imposed trade war with China, undercutting the most important lynchpin of peace with North Korea.

BEIJING – Tremendous; great, incredible and tremendous; very historic, and very, very comprehensive. Such were the terms U.S. President Donald Trump used to praise last Tuesday’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and he was far from alone in welcoming what appeared to be a major breakthrough in burying the memory of nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula.

A week later, Chinese President Xi Jinping also hailed the “positive” outcome of the meeting as he welcomed Kim to Beijing for a two-day trip, the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea chairman’s third visit to the Chinese capital in only three months.  

The Chinese leader has plenty of reason to hail the unfolding peace process, as it represents the triumph of the dual suspension or “double freeze” proposal China offered last year, which prescribed an end to the DPRK’s weapons’ tests in exchange for an end to U.S.-South Korea war games.

The process is also lifting the shroud of diplomatic and financial pressure from Beijing’s shoulders when dealing with its counterparts in Pyongyang, who are counting on China’s diplomatic and technical reinforcement as it introduces further market reforms and seeks reintegration with the global economy.

According to Chinese press reports, the two held a candid and in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations while agreeing to work closely together to further deepen ties, including joint efforts to denuclearize the peninsula.

“No matter the changes in the international and regional situation, China’s party and government’s resolute position on being dedicated to consolidating and developing Sino-North Korea relations will not change,” Chinese reports quoted Xi as saying.

The DPRK will require China’s assistance to ensure that the U.S. remains committed to fulfilling the security guarantees it gave to the country, rather than veering toward the so-called “Libya option” of disarming Pyongyang before proceeding to violently topple Kim.

While U.S.-DPRK negotiations have progressed at a stunning breakneck pace, they have also coincided with increasing strains in relations between Beijing and Washington, especially over the trade war Trump has launched against China.

 

Trade war heats up

As Chinese newspapers have brimmed over with quotes of officials hailing Trump’s U-turn on the Korean nuclear issue, the same media has spared no effort piling derision on the U.S. president’s successive introduction of tariffs on Chinese goods.

Just last week, Washington announced the introduction of a 25 percent tariff on up to $50 billion of Chinese goods, provoking Beijing’s retaliation in the form of its own tariffs on U.S. products. China’s reaction resulted in Trump demanding that the U.S. Trade Representative’s office compile a new list of $200 billion in goods that would be subject to a 10-percent tariff. The reality TV star noted that if China follows through on its threat to levy retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, the U.S. would introduce duties on yet another $200 billion in trade.

A giant TV screen broadcasting the meeting of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, June 19, 2018. Andy Wong | AP

China has reacted furiously to what it sees as a blatant attempt at strong-arming it into accepting unfair trade terms, promising strong countermeasures to Trump’s “intimidation.” On Tuesday, a Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman noted:

Such practice of imposing extreme pressure and blackmailing is contrary to the consensus the two sides have reached through rounds of consultations, and disappoints the international community …The trade war waged by the United States is against both the law of the market and the development trend of today’s world. It undermines the interests of both Chinese and American people, the interests of companies and the interests of the people all over the world.”

The backdrop of fierce trade negotiations bordering on an all-out trade war between the two major powers may have led to the DPRK finding itself in the crosshairs of love-bombing attempts by both Washington and Beijing.

For the famously shrewd U.S. president, the prospect of disrupting the Chinese relationship with North Korea may be seen as a means of depriving China of leverage in trade talks. The former real-estate mogul may well believe that loud promises of glistening timeshares along Mount Paektu and Ritz Carlton hotels along the country’s east coast will entice Kim to drop his nukes and join the U.S. fold.

 

China-DPRK relations supported by the weight of modern history

Meanwhile, Beijing has pulled out all stops in feting Kim during his visits, which acclimates global public opinion to the idea that “Chairman Kim” isn’t some horrific dictator who should be treated as a pariah unless the U.S. says otherwise – no, he’s just the head of state in a nation seeking development.

In the meantime, the Communist Party of China and Workers’ Party of Korea have promoted a range of exchanges meant to promote the “all-round” fraternal relations and “mutually beneficial” alliance between the historically-intertwined organizations, whose ties date back to the 1930s, when first-generation leaders of their respective parties like Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, fought as comrades-in-arms as guerilla fighters versus the Japanese.

For the DPRK leadership, which spent the Cold War practicing a policy of equidistance between its mutually-opposed allies the Soviet Union and China, the position is comfortable and allows Kim to enjoy the benefits of amicable relations with both powers.

Reports have also emerged detailing how Chinese firms producing goods for the DPRK are resuming operations while North Korean laborers are being hired by clothing manufacturers in China, a sign that sanctions on the North are increasingly being shrugged off despite Washington’s unmet conditions for their relief.

“Although it seems there is a booming romance between Kim Jong-un and Trump, Kim understands the hierarchy. He knows that Xi is the Asian Godfather,” said Yanmei Xie, a China policy analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics, an economic research firm in Beijing. “[Kim] is making a pragmatic calculation that China can provide economic assistance to integrate North Korea diplomatically and economically into Northeast Asia.”

Now, with Xi’s go-ahead, the trade between the two countries could skyrocket in a manner that wipes away the foul taste of existing sanctions faced by Pyongyang, drastically undercutting Trump’s option of renewing the U.S.’s hostile policies toward a non-compliant DPRK.

Either way, war and pain are fast fading as prospects for the people of the Korean peninsula.

Top Photo | Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, hosts North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Dalian, China in this undated photo released on May, 9 2018 by KCNA.

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

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How the Last Superpower Was Unchained – By Tom ENGELHARDT – (Strategic Culture Foundation)

How the Last Superpower Was Unchained
EDITOR’S CHOICE | 18.06.2018

Tom ENGELHARDT

Think of it as the all-American version of the human comedy: a great power that eternally knows what the world needs and offers copious advice with a tone deafness that would be humorous, if it weren’t so grim.

If you look, you can find examples of this just about anywhere. Here, for instance, is a passage in The New York Times from a piece on the topsy-turvy Trumpian negotiations that preceded the Singapore summit. “The Americans and South Koreans,” wrote reporter Motoko Rich, “want to persuade the North that continuing to funnel most of the country’s resources into its military and nuclear programs shortchanges its citizens’ economic well-being. But the North does not see the two as mutually exclusive.”

Think about that for a moment. The US has, of course, embarked on a trillion-dollar-plus upgrade of its already massive nuclear arsenal (and that’s before the cost overruns even begin). Its Congress and president have for years proved eager to sink at least a trillion dollars annually into the budget of the national security state (a figure that’s still rising and outpaces by far that of any other power on the planet), while its own infrastructure sags and crumbles. And yet it finds the impoverished North Koreans puzzling when they, too, follow such an extreme path.

And when it comes to cluelessness, there’s another, far stranger path the United States has been following since at least the George W Bush moment that couldn’t be more consequential and yet somehow remains the least noticed of all. On this subject, Americans don’t have a clue. In fact, if you could put the United States on a psychiatrist’s couch, this might be the place to start.

America contained

In a way, it’s the oldest story on Earth: the rise and fall of empires. And note the plural there. It was never – not until recently at least – “empire,” always “empires.” Since the 15th century, when the fleets of the first European imperial powers broke into the larger world with subjugation in mind, it was invariably a contest of many. There were at least three or sometimes significantly more imperial powers rising and contesting for dominance or slowly falling from it.

This was, by definition, the history of great powers on this planet: the challenging rise, the challenged decline. Think of it for so many centuries as the essential narrative of history, the story of how it all happened until at least 1945, when just two “superpowers,” the United States and the Soviet Union, found themselves facing off on a global scale.

Of the two, the US was always stronger, more powerful, and far wealthier. It theoretically feared the Russian Bear, the Evil Empire, which it worked assiduously to “contain” behind that famed Iron Curtain and whose adherents in the US, always modest in number, were subjected to a mania of fear and suppression.

However, the truth – at least in retrospect – was that, in the Cold War years, the Soviets were actually doing Washington a strange, if unnoted, favor. Across much of the Eurasian continent, and other places from Cuba to the Middle East, Soviet power and the never-ending contest for influence and dominance that went with it always reminded American leaders that their own power had its limits.

This, as the 21st century should have (but hasn’t) made clear, was no small thing. It still seemed obvious then that American power could not be total. There were things it could not do, places it could not control, dreams its leaders simply couldn’t have. Though no one ever thought of it that way, from 1945 to 1991, the United States, like the Soviet Union, was, after a fashion, “contained.”

In those years, the Russians were, in essence, saving Washington from itself. Soviet power was a tangible reminder to American political and military leaders that certain areas of the planet remained no-go zones (except in what, in those years, were called “the shadows”).

The Soviet Union, in short, rescued Washington from both the fantasy and the hell of going it alone, even if Americans only grasped that reality at the most subliminal of levels.

That was the situation until December 1991 when, at the end of a centuries-long imperial race for power (and the never-ending arms race that went with it), there was just one gigantic power left standing on Planet Earth. It told you something about the thinking then that, when the Soviet Union imploded, the initial reaction in Washington wasn’t triumphalism (though that came soon enough) but utter shock, a disbelieving sense that something no one had expected, predicted, or even imagined had nonetheless happened. To that very moment, Washington had continued to plan for a two-superpower world until the end of time.

America uncontained

Soon enough, though, the Washington elite came to see what happened as, in the phrase of the moment, “the end of history.” Given the wreckage of the Soviet Union, it seemed that an ultimate victory had been won by the very country its politicians would soon come to call “the last superpower,” the “indispensable” nation, the “exceptional” state, a land great beyond imagining (until, at least, Donald Trump hit the campaign trail with a slogan that implied greatness wasn’t all-American any more).

In reality, there were a variety of paths open to the “last superpower” at that moment. There was even, however briefly, talk of a “peace dividend” – of the possibility that, in a world without contesting superpowers, taxpayer dollars might once again be invested not in the sinews of war-making but of peacemaking (particularly in infrastructure and the well-being of the country’s citizens).

Such talk, however, lasted only a year or two and always in a minor key before being relegated to Washington’s attic. Instead, with only a few rickety “rogue” states left to deal with – like… gulp … North Korea, Iraq and Iran – that money never actually headed home, and neither did the thinking that went with it.

Consider it the good fortune of the geopolitical dreamers soon to take the reins in Washington that the first Gulf War of 1990-1991, which ended less than a year before the Soviet Union collapsed, prepared the way for quite a different style of thinking. That instant victory led to a new kind of militarized dreaming in which a highly tech-savvy military, like the one that had driven Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait in such short order, would be capable of doing anything on a planet without serious opposition.

And yet, from the beginning, there were signs suggesting a far grimmer future. To take but one infamous example, Americans still remember the Black Hawk Down moment of 1993 when the world’s greatest military fell victim to a Somali warlord and local militias and found itself incapable of imposing its will on one of the least impressive not-quite-states on the planet (a place still frustrating that military a quarter-century later).

In that post-1991 world, however, few in Washington even considered that the 20th century had loosed another phenomenon on the world, that of insurgent national liberation movements, generally leftist rebellions, across what had been the colonial world – the very world of competing empires now being tucked into the history books – and it hadn’t gone away. In the 21st century, such insurgent movements, now largely religious, or terror-based, or both, would turn out to offer a grim new version of containment to the last superpower.

Unchaining the indispensable nation

On September 11, 2001, a canny global jihadist by the name of Osama bin Laden sent his air force (four hijacked US passenger jets) and his precision weaponry (19 suicidal, mainly Saudi followers) against three iconic targets in the American pantheon: the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and undoubtedly the Capitol or the White House (neither of which was hit because one of those jets crashed in a field in Pennsylvania). In doing so, in a sense bin Laden not only loosed a literal hell on Earth, but unchained the last superpower.

William Shakespeare would have had a word for what followed: hubris. But give the top officials of the Bush administration (and the neocons who supported them) a break. There had never been a moment like it: a moment of one. A single great power left alone, triumphant, on planet Earth. Just one superpower – wealthy beyond compare, its increasingly high-tech military unmatched, its only true rival in a state of collapse – had now been challenged by a small jihadist group.

To president Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, and the rest of their crew, it seemed like nothing short of a heaven-sent opportunity. As they came out of the shock of 9/11, of that “Pearl Harbor of the 21st century,” it was as if they had found a magic formula in the ruins of those iconic buildings for the ultimate control of the planet. As secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld would instruct an aide at the Pentagon that day, “Go massive. Sweep it up. Things related and not.”

Within days, things related and not were indeed being swept up. The country was almost instantly said to be “at war,” and soon that conflict even had a name, the Global War on Terror. Nor was that war to be against just al-Qaeda, or even one country, an Afghanistan largely ruled by the Taliban. More than 60 countries said to have “terror networks” of various sorts found themselves almost instantly in the administration’s potential gunsights. And that was just to be the beginning of it all.

In October 2001, the invasion of Afghanistan was launched. In the spring of 2003, the invasion of Iraq followed, and those were only the initial steps in what was increasingly envisioned as the imposition of a Pax Americana on the Greater Middle East.

There could be no doubt, for instance, that Iran and Syria, too, would soon go the way of Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush’s top officials had been nursing just such dreams since, in 1997, many of them formed a think-tank (the first ever to enter the White House) called the Project for the New American Century and began to write out what were then the fantasies of figures nowhere near power. By 2003, they were power itself and their dreams, if anything, had grown even more grandiose.

In addition to imagining a political Pax Republicana in the United States, they truly dreamed of a future planetary Pax Americana in which, for the first time in history, a single power would, in some fashion, control the whole works, the Earth itself.

And this wasn’t to be a passing matter either. The Bush administration’s “unilateralism” rested on a conviction that it could actually create a future in which no country or even bloc of countries would ever come close to matching or challenging US military power. The administration’s National Security Strategy of 2002 put the matter bluntly: The US was to “build and maintain” a military, in the phrase of the moment, “beyond challenge.”

They had little doubt that, in the face of the most technologically advanced, bulked-up, destructive force on Earth, hostile states would be “shocked and awed” by a simple demonstration of its power, while friendly ones would have little choice but to come to heel as well. After all, as Bush said at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in 2007, the US military was “the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known.”

Though there was much talk at the time about the “liberation” of Afghanistan and then Iraq, at least in their imaginations the true country being liberated was the planet’s lone superpower. Although the Bush administration was officially considered a “conservative” one, its key officials were geopolitical dreamers of the first order and their vision of the world was the very opposite of conservative. It harkened back to nothing and looked forward to everything.

It was radical in ways that should have, but didn’t, take the American public’s breath away; radical in ways that had never been seen before.

Shock and awe for the last superpower

Think of what those officials did in the post-9/11 moment as the ultimate act of greed. They tried to swallow a whole planet. They were determined to make it a planet of one in a way that had never before been seriously imagined.

It was, to say the least, a vision of madness. Even in a moment when it truly did seem – to them at least – that all constraints had been taken off, an administration of genuine conservatives might have hesitated. Its top officials might, at least, have approached the post-Soviet situation with a modicum of caution and modesty.

But not George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and pals. In the face of what seemed like the ultimate in possibilities they proved clueless when it came to the possibility that anything on Earth might have a shot at containing them.

Even among their critics, who could have imagined then that, more than 16 years later, having faced only lightly armed enemies of various sorts, still wealthy beyond compare, still with a military funded in a way the next seven countries couldn’t cumulatively match, the United States would have won literally nothing?

Who could have imagined that, unlike so many preceding imperial powers (including the US of the earlier Cold War era), it would have been able to establish control over nothing at all; that, instead, from Afghanistan to Syria, Iraq deep into Africa, it would find itself in a state of “infinite war” and utter frustration on a planet filled with ever more failed statesdestroyed citiesdisplaced people, and right-wing “populist” governments, including the one in Washington?

Who could have imagined that, with a peace dividend no longer faintly conceivable, this country would have found itself not just in decline, but – a new term is needed to catch the essence of this curious moment – in what might be called self-decline?

Yes, a new power, China, is finally rising – and doing so on a planet that seems itself to be going down. Here, then, is a conclusion that might be drawn from the quarter-century-plus in which America was both unchained and largely alone.

The Earth is admittedly a small orb in a vast universe, but the history of this century so far suggests one reality about which America’s rulers proved utterly clueless: After so many hundreds of years of imperial struggle, this planet still remains too big, too disparate, too ornery to be controlled by a single power. What the Bush administration did was simply take one gulp too many and the result has been a kind of national (and planetary) indigestion.

Despite what it looked like in Washington once upon a time, the disappearance of the Soviet Union proved to be no gift at all, but a disaster of the first order. It removed all sense of limits from America’s political class and led to a tale of greed on a planetary scale. In the process, it also set the US on a path to self-decline.

The history of greed in our time has yet to be written, but what a story it will someday make. In it, the greed of those geopolitical dreamers will intersect with the greed of an ever wealthier, ever more gilded 1%, of the billionaires who were preparing to swallow whole the political system of that last superpower and grab so much of the wealth of the planet, leaving so little for others.

Whether you’re talking about the urge to control the planet militarily or financially, what took place in these years could, in the end, result in ruin of a historic kind. To use a favored phrase from the Bush years, one of these days we Americans may be facing little short of “regime change” on a planetary scale. And what a piece of shock and awe that’s likely to prove to be.

All of us, of course, now live on the planet Bush’s boys tried to swallow whole. They left us in a world of infinite war, infinite harm, and in Donald Trump’s America where cluelessness has been raised to a new power.

atimes.com

Bolivia’s Evo Morales calls out US imperialism in Venezuela and Latin America: ‘We are no longer your backyard’ – By teleSUR (Sott)

Evo Morales

© EFE
Morales explained, however, that United States’ interventionism is not only militaristic.

The Bolivian President warned that the United States is trying to orchestrate a military coup in Venezuela.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said Saturday that Latin America “is no longer the United States’ backyard” while denouncing the United States’ attempt to convince its South American allies to help it orchestrate a military intervention or coup in Venezuela.

In an interview with news agency EFE, Morales explained that several Latin American leaders have confided in him that U.S. Vice president Mike Pence is “trying to convince some United States-friendly countries” help them seize control of the South American country and replace the current government led by Nicolas Maduro.

The real target, Morales explained, is not the Venezuelan president but “Venezuelan oil, and Venezuelans know that.”

Drawing parallels to 2011 military intervention in Libya, Morales said the U.S. isn’t interested in helping with alleged humanitarian crisis since, despite the current political and social turmoil in Libya, the U.S. will not intervene there since “the country’s oil is now owned by the U.S. and some European oil companies,” Morales asserted.

“One military intervention (in the region) would only create another armed conflict,” he added pointing to Colombia’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as a general sign of an escalation of “military aggression to all Latin America and the Caribbean” region.

Comment: Morales is correct in expressing this concerning development: NATO adds Colombia to its list of members, and it’s about more than just Venezuela

Morales explained, however, that U.S. interventionism is not only militaristic.

“When there are no military coups, they seek judicial or congressional coups” as in the case of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment and the Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s imprisonment, which is barring him from running in the upcoming 2018 elections.

“I am certain we will free Lula. If he returns, some countries in Latin America will again strengthen the ideological, programmatic and liberation struggle against the North American empire,” Morales said.

Comment: The President of Bolivia can count himself as one of the world’s few (but ever growing number) of leaders who has the knowledge and the guts to speak out on the egregious and destructive behavior of the US. Viva Morales! See also:

As the G-7 Implodes, SCO Meeting Confirms the New Century of Multipolarity – ByFederico PIERACCINI (STRATEGIC CULTURAL ORGANISATION)

As the G-7 Implodes, SCO Meeting Confirms the New Century of Multipolarity

The historical changes we are witnessing have never been so evident as in the last few days. The G7 summit highlighted the limits of the Atlantic alliance, while the SCO meeting opens up unprecedented possibilities for Eurasian integration.

At the G7 meeting in Canada in recent days, we witnessed unprecedented clashes between Trump and G7 leaders over the imposition of tariffs on trade. We must now conclude that the event has been relegated to irrelevance, as the G7 has heretofore derived its clout from speaking as one voice. Trump even went further, refusing to sign the final draft of the organization’s joint statement after Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau lashed out at Trump’s trade decisions. Trump showed how little he cares for his allies, leaving the summit a day early to arrive early for the meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore to make preparations for the long-awaited encounter between the two leaders.

In terms of geopolitical contrasts, it is easy to highlight the differences that have been seen between the G7 meeting and the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), held in China and, for the first time, including India and Pakistan as new members. While Putin and Xi met and exchanged praises and medals to celebrate the Sino-Russian strategic relationship as well as their personal friendship, Merkel and the various leaders of the G7 were in animated discussion with Trump over his “America first” policies hurting EU member states economically.

Returning for a moment to Trump’s escape from the G7 (also to avoid further clashes with his “allies”), it should be remembered that in this shifting puzzle of international relations, Assad was poised to meet with Kim Jong-un right on the eve of the US-DPRK summit. Whether or not the meeting between the leaders of Syria and the DPRK will go ahead, it nevertheless confirms the alliance between Pyongyang and Damascus, underlining how adversaries of the US still try to coordinate and manage between themselves their approaches to Washington’s policies of chaos.

Clearly both Putin and Xi have every interest in seeing Trump and Kim Jong-un reach an agreement. But at the same time, they are well aware of the situation in the Middle East and Iran that risks plunging the whole region into unprecedented chaos. Putin and Xi are clearly trying to manage the chaos emerging from Washington, as are Assad and Kim in their own own way. In this sense, the repeated aid of Russia and Iran to Qatar is part of a Sino-Russo-Iranian strategy to contain the chaos created by Washington, which has even extended to the Gulf states with the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. In this regard, even Berlin is beginning to be enticed by the opportunities for the European Union beckoning from the east, this temptation made stronger by the reality that the Atlanticist relationship is hurting Europe through the tariffs and penalties imposed on American geopolitical opponents like Iran.

European companies have suffered major economic losses as a result of Trump’s suspension of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with European companies facing US sanctions should they continue to do business with Iran. This is only the latest example of undue pressure being placed on the energy strategy of sovereign countries that are theoretically allied to the US. In the same way, the sanctions placed on the Nord Stream 2 project are further widening the cracks in the Atlantic alliance.

To understand the level of disorder within Europe, the North Atlantic and the Middle East, it is enough to consider the attack on Mohammed bin Salman almost two months ago, with Israel on the one hand boasting about agreements with Iran for a mutual abstention in the Daraa affaire and Trump finding nothing better to do than to break every alliance in sight through his commencement of a trade war.

It is clear that the old unipolar order no longer exists and that we now find ourselves in a multipolar situation, courtesy of the isolationist direction of the United States. This enables the further smoothening of existing divergence between nations in Asia, the Middle East and part of Europe.

Europe has the opportunity to use Trump’s “America First” policy as a pivot to expand its network of relationships and convergence of interests with more countries outside of the EU or NATO. For once, the EU could use the weapon of its union of many moderately powerful countries to increase its negotiating power with the United States.

But the reality is very different at the moment, with Europe being in the middle of an internal struggle that has been ongoing for some time now. The wave of new “populist” parties, both of the right and left, has served as a repository for an inevitable transfer of votes following the disasters of the unipolar period (1989-2014). This has also upset the previous balance of power within the European elites.

The root causes of this “populist” political change lie in the new multipolar world order that has had a ripple effect on the policies of individual European countries.

The neoliberal ideology, broadly acquiesced to by the “left”, has remained anchored to the diktat of the “old” unipolar world order, which saw Washington as the only hegemonic force.

What remains in the European political landscape seems to be divided into two streams. On the one side, there is a minority clearly eyeing a sort of neoconservatism 2.0, a sort of rehash of Reaganism. On the other side, there is a complete rejection of any of the faces currently participating in the political system.

For Europe it is a question of seeing what this new political phase will produce with regard to international issues like the sanctions against Russia and Iran. The behavior of European governments will give an idea of the extent to which they intend to obtain some sort of independence in conducting multipolar relations that are not necessarily linked to Washington.

In a sense, Berlin, London, Paris and Rome are now at the center of the concept of multipolar relationships. It is interesting to look at how strategists and newspaper editorialists in China and Russia look at what is going on in Europe, particular in Italy. While there is trust, there is also the awareness that there is still a European reluctance to favor development towards the East at the expense of relations with the US.

The take-home message that Trump seems to be giving Europeans is that it is pointless for them to remain as butlers who wait on Washington. We are living in a defining moment that will shape the the near-term future of vast areas of the world. There are many situations that are moving forward, bringing us closer to the moment where the West will either find common ground or splinter. Factors hitherto appearing unrelated are now serving to have different countries coalesce into a common destiny.

The summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un will lay the groundwork that will reveal whether Washington really wants to start talking or is only buying for time. Given the recent behavior and attitude of Trump and the political figures around him, the summit, like the foreign policy of Trump’s administration in general, becomes unpredictable and difficult to decipher. If there is one thing that unites the leaders of the G7, the SCO and Kim Jong-un, it is precisely the difficulty of relating to a declining world power and a leader who has no strategic vision; the common suffering stemming from an internal struggle within the United States to impose upon the world its antiquated and declining strategic vision.

Assad Vows Resistance Against US, Israeli, Turkish “Occupying Forces” in Syria – By SPUTNIK

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In an interview with the al-Alam News Network on Wednesday, President Bashar Assad underscored his country’s full support for “any act of resistance, whether against terrorists or against occupying forces regardless of their nationality.”

President Assad has described the US, French, Turkish and Israeli troops present in his country as “occupying forces.”

Mentioning the presence of fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement in his country, President Assad said that “the battle is long and the need for these military forces will continue for a long time.”He added that even though Iran has no military bases in Syria, Damascus is ready to let them in if necessary.

In an earlier interview with the Daily Mail, President Assad accused the West of attempts to oust his government.

“We are fighting the terrorists, and those terrorists are supported by the British government, the French government, the Americans and their puppets whether in Europe or in our region,” Assad said.

“They tell lies, they talk about chemical weapons, they talk about the bad president killing the good people, freedom, peaceful demonstrations,” he added.

Invited by Damascus, Iranian military advisors are on the ground in Syria helping the government forces win the war, while Hezbollah units have been helping flush out terrorists in areas along Syria’s border with Lebanon.

READ MORE: Daesh Continues Resistance in Syria Only in US-Controlled Areas — Russian MoD

 
 
 
 

Related:

West Attacked Syria When Normalization Was Becoming Irreversible – Russian MoD
West Seeks to Bypass Russian UN Veto Amid Deepening Impasse Over Syria – Reports
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“occupying forces”, foreign troops, allies, Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah, Bashar Assad, Syria

Palestinian Authority violently suppresses West Bank protests – By Tamara Nassar-Rights and Accountability (ELECTRONIC INTIFADA)

Palestinians take part in a protest in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on 10 June. One protester is holding a banner that reads ”Razan al-Najjar is trusting you with her family. Lift the sanctions on Gaza.” 

Eyad Jadallah APA images

Palestinian Authority forces violently suppressed demonstrators in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday evening.

The protesters were demanding an end to PA sanctions that are compounding the suffering of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier in the day, the PA decided to stop granting permits for protests during the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan, to “make it easier for citizens to conduct their normal lives.”

Hours later, PA forces fired tear gas and sound grenades, attacked protesters and arrested journalists and activists before the holiday had even begun.

Palestinian Authority forces are funded by and trained under the supervision of the United States and the European Union.

EU trainers have included former members of British forces involved in human rights abuses in Northern Ireland.

European and American support for the PA is predicated on its willingness to continue “security coordination” with Israel, which means in practice helping to suppress any form of resistance to occupation.

Videos circulated on social media showing riot police violently suppressing demonstrations:

“PA security forces haven’t fired a single tear gas canister or bullets at Israeli forces raiding Palestinian neighborhoods,” Quds News Network stated. “Today they used those means against peaceful Palestinian protesters in Ramallah.”

PA forces in civilian clothing attacked and arrested protesters:

Among those arrested was Yahya Rabie, head of the student union at Birzeit University:

PA forces beat and detained Sameh Abu Awad, president of the laborers union at Birzeit University, and arrested Tariq al-Sadiq, a member of the union.

Attacks on journalists

In this video, a plainclothes officer is seen attempting to seize a journalist’s phone:

Palestinian journalist Jihan Awad was among other reporters who were attacked and had their phones confiscated during the crackdown on protesters:

Quds News Network reported that security officials also arrested two journalists, American and Turkish.

The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate condemned “the assault of the security services on journalists” and called for the aggressors to be held accountable.

Gaza sanctions

Hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank took to the streets multiple times this week calling on the PA to lift sanctions it imposed on the Gaza Strip last year.

Palestinians used the hashtag “lift the sanctions” in Arabic on Twitter to express solidarity with Gaza.

Palestinian civil society groups called on the PA to lift its ban on demonstrations, stating that it is “illegal, unconstitutional and a violation of citizens’ rights to gather peacefully and express their opinions.”

They added that PA security forces must ensure the safety of those participating in the protests.

Lethal sanctions

In April 2017, the PA drastically cut the salaries of public employees in Gaza, compounding the severe hardships caused by Israel’s decade-long siege.

Salaries are still not being paid.

Last year, the PA asked Israel to cut Gaza’s electricity supply, causing a severe deterioration in the already dire humanitarian situation.

The PA also delayed the approval of medical transfers to the West Bank, which resulted in deaths of Gaza patients, including a child.

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas imposed the sanctions as part of his efforts to oust Hamas, the rival of his own Fatah faction.

In 2006 Hamas defeated Fatah in legislative elections.

However, Abbas’ party, backed by Israel, the US, the EU and some Arab states, did not allow Hamas to govern the Palestinian Authority.

Instead, Fatah-aligned militias in Gaza, working with the United States, tried to remove Hamas from power by force.

But in June 2007, Hamas moved against them preemptively, expelling Fatah forces from Gaza.

The attempted putsch against Hamas after it won the elections resulted in the current division, where Abbas’ Western-backed PA kept control in the West Bank, while the internationally isolated Hamas has ruled the interior of the besieged Gaza Strip.

Ali Abunimah contributed research.

 

Pro-War Liberals Resist Trump’s Modest Accomplishments at North Korea Summit – by Elliott Gabriel (MINT PRESS)

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, reaches to shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. Evan Vucci | AP

Trump is proving yet again to be an unpredictable figure with eclectic policies that rely as much on sizzle as they do on well-done steak. Yet he can hardly be faulted for promising to draw down the U.S. troop presence and accept the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

SENTOSA ISLAND, SINGAPORE – The summit between the leaders of the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at Singapore’s Sentosa Island has come and gone. While it may not have been the comprehensive solution to all outstanding issues between the two countries, it surely has lived up to the hype befitting a historic occasion.

From the firm handshakes between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un to Dennis Rodman in a red #MAGA cap weeping on CNN, the event was filled with the sorts of reality-television antics we’ve come to expect from the U.S. leader.

Yet despite the trivia surrounding the event – the tense body language mixed with verbal flattery; the fake movie trailer from “Destiny Productions;” the promises of “very, very” rapid denuclearization; and the rest of Trump’s verbal potpourri  – the event was momentous insofar as it seems, for now, to have signaled an easing of U.S. aggression toward the DPRK and a potential fresh start in Korean-U.S. relations.

Signaling Pyongyang’s enthusiasm over the coming possibilities, Kim said:

The old fetters and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward, but we’ve overcome all of them and come here today.”

War games will be a thing of the past; sanctions appear to potentially be on-track toward a phase-out, as Trump hinted with a post-summit joke about sanctions-busting activities by China; and the two sides appear committed to reaching amity to the point where the former real-estate mogul himself is already thinking of beach resorts and ski lodge hotels in the North.

Yet Trump’s detractors refused to give the president any benefit of the doubt, given their raw fury over his chaotic performance at the G-7 in Quebec, a wild affair that showcased not only Trump’s erratic and high-strung temperament but also that of his underlings, whose quivering rage (followed by a heart attack, no less) reached nearly cartoonish degrees after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mildly rebuked the U.S. for launching a trade war on its traditional allies.


Read more from Elliott Gabriel


The “resistance” attitude in the U.S. toward the breakthrough summit with Kim can best be summed up by a Bernie Sanders tweet, where the independent social-Democrat noted:

I find it very strange that President Trump has such a hard time getting along with the leaders of the world’s major democracies but feels very comfortable with despots and authoritarian leaders like Putin, Xi Jinping, Duterte and Mohammad Bin Salman.”

 

The strongmen versus the civilized

While the initial summit with Kim was a tad short on concrete outcomes, Democrats aligned with the Obama and Clinton camps struggled hard to express principled disagreements with the White House over a rapprochement with Pyongyang – instead opting to fall back on a laundry-list cliché of complaints about Trump’s disdain for the “rules-based world order,” the lack of presidential decorum, and the commander-in-chief’s dubious mental-health state.

In one particularly bizarre and petty exchange hosted by Don Lemon, CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd tore into the White House’s release of details regarding the sumptuous luncheon meal in Singapore because it would somehow dignify Kim as a leader. Vinograd complained:

I want to bring it back to the menu for a second, not just because I’m hungry, but because typically the White House releases these kinds of details after, for example, the French president comes to the White House, or another head of state comes for a state visit. So by releasing the details of the menu this is again legitimizing Kim Jong-un and putting him on equal footing with other world leaders, which is what he wants.”

The comment was affirmed by talking-head pundit Jonathan Wachtel, who noted that the menu is “particularly interesting” because “the poor North Korean people” are starving and “can’t even imagine the types of foods” the heads of state enjoyed. Presumably, in Wachtel’s world, most Americans – like the swelling ranks of California’s homeless population – are well-accustomed to dining on beef short rib confit, Korean stuffed cucumber, and Tarte Tropézienne, real staples of a civilized Western diet.

The Hill columnist Brent Budowsky, a Democrat career pundit, heaped on hyperbole and hypocrisy in equal measure when tearing into the summit:

Kim Jong Un, one of the worst human rights abusers in modern world history, won a tremendous domestic and international public relations victory that North Korean dictators have long hungered for, appearing as a charming world leader and statesman equal to the president of the United States on the world stage.”

Beltway pundits such as Budowsky have studiously abstained, however, from criticizing human-rights violations by U.S. allies in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Israel, Colombia, Honduras, or any number of junior partners who have never so much as lifted a finger to assert their independence from U.S. imperialism and hegemonic control — all the while firmly clutching their billy-clubs and the triggers of their rifles as they commit human-rights abuses with impunity and scarcely any criticism from the media.

 

Regional observers note modest progress, hazy details

Russia’s Foreign Ministry warmly greeted the meeting and promised to make “political, intellectual, practical and creative contributions to the settlement of problems” in Korea, according to TASS New Agency.

Likewise, South Korean President Moon Jae-In effusively greeted the joint declaration signed at the meeting as the potential beginning to a comprehensive end of hostilities dating back to the Korean War – a sentiment repeated in Chinese state newspaper Global Times, which noted that such an outcome could mean the “[Korean] peninsula will completely walk out of the shadow of the Cold War.”

Ominously, Global Times added:

After dealing with North Korea for a few rounds, Trump’s team has developed a more realistic mindset on the issue. But his domestic foes probably would rather mess everything up, prioritizing embarrassing Trump above protecting the long-term interests of the U.S.”

Trump is proving yet again to be an unpredictable figure with eclectic policies that rely as much on sizzle as they do on well-done steak. Yet he can hardly be faulted for promising to draw down the U.S. troop presence and accept the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula – not only the North, but foreign troops allies like the nuclear-equipped U.S. force.

For liberal TV anchors and columnists, Trump is apparently incapable of doing any good unless he’s applying a language of pressure, sanctions and veiled threats using acceptable language.

Yet one thing is certain: Pyongyang’s leadership enjoyed the warm embrace of the White House in a scene that recently seemed like it could have come from a “fantasy” or “science fiction film,” as Kim put it.

Top Photo | U.S. President Donald Trump, right, reaches to shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. Evan Vucci | AP

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Trump And Kim Sign Declaration of Peace in Singapore (Because The Alternative is Too Expensive)- By Niall Bradley (Sott.net)

 

 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump

© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump signing a “historic” document in Singapore

So Rocket Man and The Dotard have met. After last year’s epic mud-slinging, US President Donald Trump now says he and Chairman Kim Jong-un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have a “special bond”. The ‘optics’ of the summit reflect well on both leaders, who were cordial and without any of the hysterics and tantrums that had ‘analysts’ forecasting nuclear conflagration just last year.

But that’s all ancient history now. The signed document – a declaration, not a ‘deal’, ‘roadmap’ or anything more – is brief:

trump kim meeting

Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:

  1. The United States and the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
  2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
  3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
  4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Trump apparently had the following video played at the end of the meeting:

Call it gaudy or wishful thinking, but this messaging is so much better than “fire and fury”.

So Trump apparently wants to ‘bring the American Dream to North Korea’. The real deal-making potential for him lies in American firms being top of the queue for meeting North Korea’s development needs. He surely realizes that – for historical, geographical and cultural reasons – the North Koreans are more likely to embrace the Chinese Dream over the American one, but Trump will not settle for the US being completely cut out of the picture. That’s what we saw happen to US firms following the Iran Deal, and that’s why Trump tore it up.

Kim apparently turned to Trump at one point during their meeting and said:

“Many people in the world will think of this as a form of fantasy from a science fiction movie.”

It is indeed historic, and whatever one thinks of Trump, or Kim for that matter, and whatever their ‘real intentions’, the very act of opening up before the world in this way makes fire, fury and missile attacks that much less likely. Not included in the document, but said by Trump afterwards, was that the US would “stop playing war games.” Again, actions have to meet words, but it’s clear that they have tangible meaning to Trump when he reveals that he’s again thinking of the bottom line:

“The war games are very expensive, we pay for the majority of them.”

By the way, the basic Trump-Kim agreement for a freeze of US war games on and around the peninsula in exchange for a freeze in nuke/ICBM testing is exactly what China and Russia called for before last year’s ‘rocket hysterics’ led into ‘sanctions like never before’. What will happen to those sanctions now? UN-agreed sanctions on North Korea were a useful tool only because China and Russia also upheld them. Both countries have already called for the sanctions to end, arguing that they have done their job of ‘bringing Kim to heel’. If the US is left unilaterally sanctioning North Korea for too long beyond this point, those American investment prospects will evaporate as North Korea bargains directly with its neighbors and the US is left looking like the sole unreasonable party – as is currently the case with the Iran Deal.

The losers, for now, are the deep staters and build-a-burgers in Japan, South Korea and Washington. They know nothing other than the post-WW2 Pax Americana and will resist entering uncharted territory without Uncle Sam taking the lead. They tried their best – with their ‘Libya model’ threats – to prevent this meeting from happening. The winners are the peoples of Korea, China and Russia. Trump gets kudos too, though it remains to be seen for what. Special peace prizes go to President Xi Jinping of China and Moon Jae-in of South Korea. One is also left wondering just what Putin – via Lavrov – said to Kim on the Russian state visit to the Hermit Kingdom just 10 days before this summit.

As we’ve said before, North Korea’s nukes aren’t really the issue. In fact, North Korea itself isn’t the issue either. This is about the US foothold in East Asia – in South Korea, Japan and elsewhere – and what becomes of that foothold in a situation where China’s star is rising and America’s fading. Trump sees what Eurasian integration (BRICS, Belt and Road, SCO, etc) means for US domination of – in this case – ‘our Pacific lake’. He wants to leverage US military advantages (while they still exist) in order to gradually replace the US military foothold in the region with a more constructive, profitable, and longer-lasting one: “We’ll pull back our troops and guns, if you give us access to your market resources. There’s no way we’re abandoning the whole region to Chinese economic, and later military, domination.”

Ironically, while China and Russia have responded positively to Trump’s moves to transform – rather than remove – US presence in East Asia, it’s a really hard sell for Trump on the domestic front because that military foothold was designed to ‘contain’ China, not ‘do trade deals’ with it. So Trump has to somehow convince US elites to get onboard with his plan to switch guns for iPhones and channel their warmongering impulses into something resembling a reasonably fair trade war with China.

I think he can pull it off. Nobody does deals like The Donald. Did you know he wrote a book about The Art of the Deal?

 

Niall Bradley (Profile)

Niall Bradley has a background in political science and media consulting, and has been an editor and contributing writer at SOTT.net for 8 years. His articles are cross-posted on his personal blog, NiallBradley.net. Niall is co-host of the ‘Behind the Headlines’ radio show on the Sott Radio Network and co-authored Manufactured Terror: The Boston Marathon Bombings, Sandy Hook, Aurora Shooting and Other False-Flag Terror Attacks with Joe Quinn.

See Also:

 

Ten Years On, Putin Told Them So – Finian Cunningham Sputnik (SOTT)

putin munich

Putin first articulates the term ‘multipolar world’ at the Munich Security Conference in 2007. US Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham look on in disgust

You can hardly blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for enjoying a “told you so moment”. He lately reminded European leaders that their all-out spat with the United States is what happens when you are too deferential to American hegemonic ambitions.

This predicament is just what the Russian leader had warned against almost 10 years ago in a famous speech he delivered in Munich on growing global disorder.

Last week, during his nationally televised marathon Q and A with Russian citizens, Putin referred to the unprecedented trade tariffs that President Trump is slapping on European states.

Rightly, Putin said those penalties were effectively a form of economic sanctions imposed by Washington on its supposed allies.

Putin hinted that the Europeans were now getting a taste of the noxious medicine that has been doled out to Russia by Western powers which have inflicted sanctions on Moscow over dubious allegations concerning the nearly four-year-old Ukraine conflict.

The acrimonious fallout from Trump’s de facto trade war with Europe, Canada and Japan was all-too apparent during the testy G7 summit held this weekend in Quebec.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decried American “illegal” trade measures, while French President Emmanuel Macron jettisoned his earlier “bromance” with Trump to declare that the group of Western industrialized countries plus Japan may reformat as the “G6” without the US, in order to counteract Washington’s “hegemony”.

Speaking on behalf of the European bloc, Donald Tusk, the European Council President, expressed his frustration at Washington’s increasing disdain for multilateralism by saying that under Trump the United States is destroying the “rules-based global order”.

But hold on a moment. Let’s go back to the landmark speech made by Putin in 2007 at the Munich Security Conference. More than a decade ago, the Russian leader delivered a blistering, prescient warning back then, when he said that American hegemonic ambitions of unipolar power would inevitably disrupt the global balance.

As far back as 2007, Putin explicitly admonished that Washington’s drive for unrivaled global dominance would end up bringing chaos to international law and order. This was during the heyday of post-9/11 US-led wars in the Middle East, which the European states all-too deferentially went along with despite these wars being illegal and unleashing ongoing global problems of terrorism and refugee crises.

Putin’s essential lesson in Munich more than 10 years ago was that the world order of multilateralism and diplomacy could not withstand the assault of a would-be hegemon, whether that is the US or any other power.

Today, the Russian president’s analysis has been vindicated, as can be seen from the shock among the Europeans and Canadians at being treated like nothing more than minions by an American bully.

Washington under Trump is showing its true colors towards supposed “allies”. For Washington, there is evidently no such thing as allies, only clients, who must do the bidding of American capitalism and imperialism. Any dissent is not tolerated, under pain of economic retribution, which the Europeans and Canada in particular are now getting a bitter taste of.

The contrast between the fractious G7 and the parallel summit taking place in China this weekend could not be more instructive.

Over the weekend, President Xi Jinping warmly welcomed Putin and the leaders of Iran, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to the annual Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting.

Putin was honored with a medal of friendship and described by President Xi as his best ally. All SCO delegates underlined the strategic importance of fraternal cooperation and multilateralism – the exact opposite of the debacle taking place at the G7 in Canada.

In those two events, we see two diametric visions of global relations. The G7 is all about American bullying for unipolar dominance. Whereas the SCO heralds a new world of multipolar partnership. The former is a recipe for conflict and war; the latter is the way forward for joint prosperity, development and peaceful coexistence.

Ironically, however, the incumbent European powers still don’t seem to fully get it.

Admittedly, to a certain degree, their bruised interests and sensitivities seem to demonstrate a realization that they are being used and abused by Washington’s hegemonic desires. The Europeans and Canada are huffing and puffing with chagrin and talking about “asserting themselves” without America.

Nevertheless, despite all the huffing and puffing, the Western minions still don’t seem to get it.

Paradoxically, it was Trump who said before the G7 summit that Russia should be readmitted to the forum. Previously, Russia was a member of what was the G8, but following the Ukraine crisis in 2014, the other members kicked Moscow out of the club, leveling unfair allegations that Russia had destabilized Ukraine and “annexed” Crimea.

At least Trump seems to have looked beyond that dubious affair, and hence called for Russia to be “at the negotiating table” of a reformed G8.

For their part, European leaders don’t seem to have come to their senses. Apart from the dissenting voice of the new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the EU bloc rejected Trump’s conciliatory offer to Russia. Germany’s Merkel, France’s Macron and the others said that relations would not be normalized with Russia “until Crimea was returned to Ukraine”.

The Europeans are hanging themselves by their own irrational petard over the spurious Ukraine issue.

Ukraine was, by far, much more destabilized by Washington and the EU’s unlawful interference than anything Russia has done. The people of Crimea voted in a legal referendum to join the Russian Federation. Europe needs to get over that illusion and stop making its futile demands on Russia.

The fact is that the EU has inflicted vast damage to its member state economies by sheepishly going along with a US-led NATO agenda of hostility towards Russia. The Europeans have slavishly aped Washington’s sanctions against Moscow for no sound reason, only based on hollow and demeaning claims about Russian “interference” and “aggression”.

More than 10 years after he told them so, European leaders are slowly realizing what Putin was warning about American bullying, unipolar dominance and its arrogant “exceptionalism”.

The operative word here is “slowly”. Europeans – the mainstay governments and Brussels establishment that is – still haven’t copped on that they are being played for minions and fools by Washington, as is evidenced by their irrational views about Russia and Ukraine.

European leaders – apart from Italy and a few emerging others – are still trapped within a servile transAtlantic role towards American imperialism. It is doubtful that the EU establishment as currently comprised will ever break out of its subservience towards Washington, despite being kicked around by the Americans.

That’s why the Kremlin’s response this weekend to Trump’s “offer” of readmitting Russia to the G8 was spot on.

Russia cooly said, “we are focusing on other formats”. That can be taken to mean the SCO, the Eurasian Economic Union and the broader project of building a multipolar global order. Forums, that is, which are based on fraternal cooperation and genuine solidarity, not bullying and unilateral expedience.

In its existing form, the G7 is a bunch of losers. It’s a retrogressive world view, not progressive. Russia is better off without.

IDF Videos Aimed Squarely at Spurring Arab-on-Arab Hate and Sectarianism – by Whitney Webb (MINT PRESS)

IDF Arabic media spokesman Avichay Adraee. 

The head of the IDF’s Arabic language media division has been making a series of videos hoping to undermine Arab support for Palestine and foment hate against Iran.

GAZA – A new video released by an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) spokesman has unnerved many in the global Muslim community for its use of sectarian rhetoric and slurs targeting Shia Muslims that are often used by leaders of extremist Wahhabi terror groups.

The video, released on social media on Thursday and already with more than 20,000 views, shows IDF Major Avichay Adraee asserting that Palestinian resistance group Hamas is “imitating Iran’s mullahs” — thereby making the group “officially Shiites,” even though Hamas is nominally Sunni.

Adraee — fluent in Arabic, given his family’s Syrian roots — then expounded on the “dangers” of Shia Islam, the followers of which he referred to as “rafidha” — a derogatory slur frequently used by Wahhabi terror groups like Al Qaeda and Jaish al-Islam for any Muslim who does not follow their radical interpretation of the religion.

Indeed, Adraee directly quotes Muhammad ibn abd al-Wahhab, the founder of the political movement of Wahhabism, stating that Shiites are “more harmful to Islam than Jews and Christians,” as he seeks to convince his viewers that supporting “these corrupt ones” who “claim” to be Muslim – i.e. the region’s “resistance axis,” composed of secular and Shiite governments – is a rejection of Islam.

Adraee singled out Shiites in the video as a means of targeting Iran, a Shia-majority nation whose government is the archenemy of the Israeli state, largely due to its obstruction of Israeli expansionism and continued support for Palestine. Adraee makes this clear in the video by asserting that “Shia Iran’s” recognition of the Palestinian Nakba, known as “Al-Quds Day,” is a “bid’ah” or heresy invented by Iran’s government. This, again, is an appeal to Wahhabism, as Wahhabist doctrine holds that any attempts to “innovate” within Islam must be rejected completely.

While an IDF soldier quoting extremists like al-Wahhab may seem unusual, Adraee – head of the IDF’s Arabic-language media division – has been making videos of a similar nature for over a decade, many of which similarly accuse Hamas of “profaning” Islam. Though his videos are often the butt of jokes in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine, they seem to be aimed more at the global Sunni Muslim community. Indeed, Adraee boasts over 1.5 million followers on Facebook and Twitter and has found sympathetic ears in some Arab countries — such as Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabi Islam is the official religion.

As Adraee himself has hinted, his videos are aimed at robbing Palestinians of Arab support by seeking to foment sectarian hatred for Shiites. Adraee recently told Bloomberg:

The idea was that if there was a person who you could curse at or request something from, or who you knew, it would be much easier to connect through some kind of feeling, not necessarily love, it could also be hatred.”

By preaching anti-Shia sermons on social media, it is clear which feeling Adraee is seeking to promote through his videos.

 

A long history of colonial and post-colonial dividing and destabilizing

Adraee’s videos and their recent success is part of a long-standing effort, backed by Israel and select Western powers, to chip away at support for a Palestinian state among Sunni Arabs in the region. Such efforts have been more successful of late, with Saudi Arabian leadership recently chiding Palestinians for resisting Israel’s colonial ambitions amid warming ties between the Gulf kingdom and Israel.

Yet this strategy aimed at reducing regional support for Palestinians is based upon much older efforts seeking to divide and thereby weaken the entire Middle East. Indeed, Wahhabism itself was created by al-Wahhab at the behest of the British Empire, which sought to erode the Muslim community as a means of weakening the Ottoman Empire by breeding sectarianism and religious in-fighting.

That same century-old strategy is still used today with great effect. Indeed, the manipulation of sectarianism has been used by the United States to destabilize Iraq and, subsequently, to destabilize Syria. Israel has similarly sought to use sectarianism to its advantage by leveraging such divisions to push for the partition of surrounding Arab countries, in order to allow Israel to emerge as a regional superpower while Sunni and Shiite governments are constantly at each other’s throats.

Adraee’s latest video is not only part of that larger project, however. It also lays bare the roots of both Wahhabism and Zionism – intolerance and hate.

Top Photo | IDF Arabic media spokesman Avichay Adraee. Screenshot | YouTube

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