Ten Years After Georgia, NATO Still Pushes War – By Strategic Culture Foundation

Ten Years After Georgia, NATO Still Pushes War

On the tenth anniversary this week of the Russo-Georgian War, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a serious, albeit commonsensical, warning. He said the proposed membership of Georgia in the US-led NATO military alliance could result in a “horrible conflict”.

However, Western news media sought to portray Medvedev’s cautionary words as conveying a sinister intent. Britain’s Independent headlined: “Russia threatens [sic] ‘horrible’ conflict if Georgia joins NATO”.

Other news outlets, such as Reuters and Associated Press, did not go as far as using the word “threatens”. But their implied tone relaying Medvedev’s remarks was one of Russia flexing its muscles with intimidation towards the South Caucasus state.

That mischievous insinuation fits in with the wider Western narrative of Russia’s alleged “malign activity” and “threatening posture” towards Eastern European countries in the Baltic, Balkans and Ukraine.

Both the United States and European Union this week reiterated accusations that Russia was illegally occupying Georgian territory owing to Moscow’s support for the two breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which border with Georgia in the South Caucasus region.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the five-day war in August 2008, the foreign ministers from Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine’s Kiev regime were reportedly in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi to demonstrate their solidarity over what they called “Russian aggression”.

Georgia is continually cited – along with Ukraine – by American and European politicians as two examples that purportedly prove Russian malfeasance, and thereby justify the relentless buildup of NATO forces along Russia’s Western flank. In other words, Georgia and Ukraine are cause célèbre for NATO’s existence, and for the American and European policy of sanctions against Russia.

Indeed, both Georgia and Ukraine have been cordially invited to join the NATO alliance. The fast-track invitation was reiterated at the NATO summit in Brussels last month where the two countries were hosted as guests of honor by the 29-member bloc.

Subsequently, following the NATO summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeated Russia’s well-known opposition to such a further expansion of the US-led military alliance. The proposed additions of Ukraine and Georgia could potentially lead to the installation of American missiles and warplanes smack on Russia’s borders. Putin said that Russia would respond vigorously to such a move, although he did not specify what the “consequences” would entail.

Similarly, Dmitry Medvedev issued a warning this week regarding Georgia and NATO.

Nevertheless, Russia’s reasonable position of perceiving NATO’s expansion as an offensive threat is bizarrely distorted and turned on its head by Western governments and media.

By merely pointing out its grievance stemming from US-led military forces moving ever-closer to its national territory, astoundingly, Russia is portrayed in Western media as the one that is making the threats. It’s quite a feat of mental engineering.

If we listen to Medvedev’s words, he is patently not conveying any sinister intent, as Western media tried to make out.

“There is an unresolved territorial conflict… and would they bring such a country [Georgia] into the [NATO] military alliance?” said Medvedev. “Do they understand the possible implications? It could provoke a horrible conflict.” 

The Russian premier is simply stating what should be an obvious fact: namely, that NATO membership by Georgia in the midst of a territorial dispute with its pro-Russian neighbors, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, would lead to a dangerous conflict.

What Western governments and news media need to do is critically examine the whole premise of NATO’s eastwards expansion since the end of the Cold War in 1991.

That expansion violated commitments given by American leaders to Russian counterparts at the end of the Cold War, first by George Bush Senior and later Bill Clinton.

It is precisely the doubling membership of NATO based mainly on the absorption of former Soviet countries that has so alarmed Russia about military encirclement. Given the relentless anti-Russian rhetoric out of Washington and some of its European allies casting Russia as an enemy it is by no means alarmist that Moscow sees the entire trajectory over the past two decades as a strategic offensive.

Recall too that existential threats to Russia over the past two centuries have come from an eastward expansion of armies out of Europe, under Napoleon and then Nazi Germany. Given the loss of up to 30 million of its people from Nazi imperialist aggression, it is perfectly understandable that Russia today is deeply wary of any military advancement on its territory. And NATO fits that nefarious pattern.

On the specific cases of Ukraine and Georgia, NATO has been very much the instigator of conflicts there, yet it is NATO that poses now as a defender. That inversion of reality is made possible in part because of Western news media distorting historical events, just as they did again this week with regard to reporting Medvedev’s comments on NATO and Georgia.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Georgia have been solicited by Washington, the EU and NATO, as with other former Soviet states. That soliciting has created tensions and instability, not least because that was supposed to be what American leaders said they wouldn’t do.

The conflict in Ukraine came about from American and European Union support for a coup against an elected government in February 2014. The CIA and NATO were also instrumental. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine between the NATO-backed Kiev regime and pro-Russian separatists in the Eastern self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk is not due to Russian aggression; it is a result of the irresponsible and provocative intervention by Washington and its European allies.

The West accuses Russia of “annexing” Crimea, an historical part of Russia, whenever it was the West that allowed a faction of Neo-Nazi Ukrainians to annex Kiev and its government. The ongoing four-year conflict in Ukraine which has killed over 10,000 people is a direct result of NATO imperialist meddling.

On Georgia, after the Western-backed so-called Rose Revolution in 2004 which brought the mercurial Mikhail Saakashvili to power, the former Soviet Republic suddenly became a staunch proponent of NATO. Saakashvili was enthusiastically supported by Washington with weapons and finance. He also made the retaking of Abkhazia and South Ossetia into Georgian territory his big mission. The three neighboring states broke up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia requested the Russian Federation to recognize their statehoods in March 2008, prompted by the American and European recognition of Kosovo in the Balkans as a self-declared state during the previous month in February 2008. Kosovo broke away from Serbia largely as a result of the military intervention of NATO. Again, NATO was setting the precedent, not Russia.

At Washington’s bidding, Georgian leader Saakashvili sent NATO-backed troops to attack Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia on August 8, 10 years ago this week. The rapid intervention by Russian troops along with Abkhaz forces repelled the Georgian offensive. Wisely, NATO declined to push its support for Saakashvili any further. The war was over in five days, resulting in the formal recognition by Russia of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Today, the US and Europe continue to accuse Russia of illegally occupying Abkhazia and South Ossetia and of violating Georgia’s sovereignty.

Western media make an upside-down analogy with Ukraine. The real analogy is that both Georgia and Ukraine have been destabilized by NATO expansionism, not Russian.

But such are the lies, distortions and self-serving propaganda churned out over and over by Western media in the service of their governments and NATO, there is an appalling failure in the West to learn from history.

When Russia warns that NATO’s expansion is risking horrible conflict that is a straightforward, reasonable observation which is borne out by history. Tragically, thousands of lives have been destroyed by not heeding this warning.

And thousands more – perhaps millions – continue to be put in danger because the Western media willfully misinterpret and misrepresent Russia.

Photo: Twitter

LA GUERRE EST FINIE; ISIS ANNIHILATED IN SYRIA AS TERRORISTS SEEK TO RETURN TO EUROPE – By ZIAD FADEL

With the war in Syria now a vanishing memory, the Syrian Army turns its attention to the north where rodents have recently formed a new front excluding Hay’at Tahreer Al-Shaam (HTS).  Needless to say, Jaysh Al-Islam, the Saudi funded terrorist group that fancied itself some kind of conventional army has been eradicated.  Muhammad ‘Alloosh is reportedly in Turkey or Saudi Arabia wolfing down Alka Seltzer tablets.  He has already been condemned to death and faces a noose the instant he tries to enter Syria.  This new front is primarily made up of the Noor-Al-Deen Al-Zangi group some (which is renowned for its “moderate character” as it beheaded a 12 year-old Palestinian boy in front of cameras) along with a mish-mash of other criminals.  I am told that the individual rodent who beheaded the boy is wanted by the PFLP-GC dead or alive, preferably the former.  If he is taken alive, as the great British director, Ken Russell, once wrote:  “Hell will hold no surprises for him”.

As I reported before, the Kurds are deeply suspicious of American intentions and do not have the desire to repeat historic disasters.  Ghassan Kadi’s article, listed below, is in basic agreement with this proposition.  It is fair to say that even the Kurd issue has been resolved through negotiation – a much more civilized way to resolve conflict.  However, the Syrian government is insisting on Kurdish disarmament, an issue that may encounter some stumbling blocks.

At Al-Qaseer in the Golan, ISIS has been routed from its last stronghold by the Syrian Army.  ISIS terrorists have been monitored looking for ways out of the Middle East, most heading back to Europe or, even, Bangla Desh.  With Angela Merkel in office, we can expect Germany to turn into another Afghanistan if she is given the authority to open European doors to the fleeing rodents.

I have a close relative in Syria who tells me everything is returning to normal.  While there is some fear that the terrorists holed up in Idlib might target Latakia, the Russians have relayed Turk assurances that such a scenario is not going to take place.  Of course, Erdoghan is treacherous and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.  We cannot sit rest assured he won’t renege on his promises.

Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are returning home.  The news is that the amnesty program is working and is taken seriously by the government.  That is, unless you have a known history of killing Syrian soldiers or security men who were taken hostage.  Those individuals, their hands bloodied, are winding up in European capitals, Canada or the United States.  Applications for refugee status are indicators of an unwillingness to return to Syria out of fear of arrest and trial.  Individuals, such as those in Lebanon are returning without any fear.

Since the Russians have taken a negative attitude toward the liberation of Idlib, we will start to concentrate on that particular issue in future posts.  I will not be reporting on SAA assaults in the East for the reason that these pockets of cockroaches are doomed either because of the elements or their own psychological depression.  The terrorists at Al-Tanf are expected to surrender the moment the U.S. pulls out before the end of the year.  Some may try to move to Jordan, but, the majority will probably melt into the general population – or so they think.  There is a suggestion by some that Jordan will pick up where the U.S. left off at Al-Tanf with Saudis picking up the tab.

NEWS AND COMMENT:

The Western tune has changed indeed.  Read how the liars lick their collective wounds:

https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/07/23/the-syrian-war-is-over-and-america-lost/

Note how articles like this one are winding up in the public domain.  This makes the NYT grimace:

http://thefederalist.com/2018/08/01/trump-ignore-failed-dc-establishment-get-u-s-troops-syria/

Ghassan Kadi discusses the Kurdish situation with Sputnik:  Thanks, Intibah:

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201808031066917418-syria-kurds-thaw/

The Greek Disaster: State Inertia and the Market Economy – By Andreas ANDRIANOPOULOS (Strategic Culture Foundation)

The Greek Disaster: State Inertia and the Market Economy

The Greek Disaster: State Inertia and the Market Economy

What happened in Attica, close to Athens, is without precedent. An ordinary fire, like the ones that occur in this area almost every other summer, met up with a terrible, sudden wind that turned it into real galloping inferno. The tragic result was 87 dead Greek citizens and more than 20 still missing. Huge questions loom on the horizon and only very limited answers are forthcoming. Are some of the lessons from this tragedy related to the wider geopolitical and political-economic questions?

Public-sector clientelism is leading to disastrous inefficiency

Why do tragedies like these occur in social environments with firmly entrenched clientelist political systems and in political entities that operate on the periphery of major, bureaucratic, modern empires? Sweden saw huge uncontrolled fires this summer. However, there was no loss of life or major disasters that befell the urban centers. In Portugal last year — and very recently in Greece  —  scores of people died, mainly due to the inability of the state machinery to efficiently deal with the problem. The major difference between these examples is the quality of the civil service. In Greece and Portugal there is no real ethics in the public administration, which frequently fails to meet any vigorous efficiency test .

In public bureaucracies that sprout favoritism the way trees grow branches, it is very difficult to design long-term plans to handle critical and life-threatening situations. Likewise, the political system lacks the prerequisites to draw upon informed societies that are trained to be cooperative and disciplined when there is a need for coordination. When clientelism dictates and forms the essence of the political culture, this culminates in fractured societies that are infected with spreading islands of lawlessness and limited possibilities for administrative coherence.

In Greece in particular, the deep-rooted mentality of state favoritism produces whole sectors of uncoordinated urbanization, with no respect for the environment, chaotic borough formation, and a coastline that has been brutally violated by hasty real-estate developmental schemes,. In such a social context, thorough planning becomes almost impossible and the idea of applying administrative guidelines to deal with a crisis sounds like a joke. It is essentially the political system itself that invites disasters and not any sort of physical deluge that begets them.

The need for market solutions

Clientelism and heavy state intervention in the running of the economy and society are the basic causes of inefficiency and, henceforth, administrative chaos. It appears that the process of rational choice is the fatal enemy of the dominant mentality in such systems of government. This is represented by any model that relies on the market to deal with questions of economic policy and societal organization. A bloated public sector that is encouraged by the political authorities to constantly expand, irrespective of its ability to deliver on its promises, becomes the major problem. Instead of being the solution to emerging issues, the state actually becomes the cause of most troubles and difficulties.

Henceforth, without clear objectives or cost-benefit solutions, the state is unable to provide reliable outcomes or to cope with situations, especially emergencies. In the case of Greece in particular, the fire-fighting service had been financially starved, while its personnel had been recruiting new staff based on specific social criteria! In other words, firefighters entrusted with saving people from emergency situations were hired on the basis of their physical inability to deal with normal life situations, i.e., the physically handicapped, mentally unfit, generally unhealthy, or recruits who were simply from disadvantaged social backgrounds.

Relying on a market mentality means that choices are made based on measurable results, well structured plans to deal with crises, and thoroughly tested options. When none of these requirements are met, it is more than certain that achievements will be negligible and the consequences disastrous. Hence one must assume that societies that do not rely on rational-choice procedures and which pursue policies of heavy state intervention and patron-client favoritism are not likely to see successful results. This essentially means that societies built on capitalist principles pursue measurable results that further the welfare of their citizens.

Geopolitical repercussions

There is also a geopolitical angle to these observations. If a country cannot keep up with globally established administrative and financial trends, it will end up facing dead-end situations and find itself being marginalized. With the exception of its reliance on heavy state taxation, the EU always pursues policies of open social frontiers and market economics. Countries that deviate from this logic find themselves gradually lost in a political wilderness. They constantly creep along on the fringes of events and absent themselves from all contemporary processes. By acting as the exception instead of the rule, they will rapidly find themselves marginalized. They will become a stark anomaly and thus be excluded from every movement going forward. They will become the pariahs of the international system. Geopolitical events will pass them by, and they will be looked upon as the “black holes” of the international order.

Domestic events and major financial and/or economic choices cannot be limited any longer to national or regional occurrences. Notwithstanding the importance of events within a country, opting for heavy state intervention may lead a country into the international wilderness. What’s more, its international standing may also be impaired, contributing to the nation’s overall marginalization.

In Greece we witnessed this repulsive, internally-generated tragedy in all its horrifying glory. Unfortunately we may soon see more far-reaching consequences…

Finian Cunnigham: Western collapse… Scapegoating Trump & Putin… The real Pox Americana – Finian Cunnigham (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Trump and PutinFinian Cunnigham
Strategic Culture Foundation

Former US President Barack Obama was in South Africa last week for the centennial anniversary marking the birth of the late Nelson Mandela. Obama delivered a speech warning about encroaching authoritarianism among nations and the “rise of strongman politics”.

Coming on the heels of the summit in Helsinki between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, media reports assumed that Obama was taking a swipe at these two leaders for supposed growing authoritarianism.

Obama’s casting of the “strongman” as a foreboding enemy to democracy is a variant of the supposed threat of “populism” that Western political establishments also seem concerned about.

Trump, Putin, Turkey’s Erdogan, Italy’s Salvini, Victor Orban in Hungary and Sebastian Kurz in Austria, among many others, are all lumped together as “strongman politics”, “populists” or “authoritarians”.

Here we are not trying to defend the above-mentioned political leaders or to make out that they are all virtuous democrats.

The point rather is to debunk the false narrative that there is some kind of dichotomy in modern politics between those who, on one hand, are supposedly virtuous, liberal, democratic, multilateralists, and on the other hand, the supposedly sinister “strongman”, “authoritarian”, or “populist”.

In Obama’s pompous depiction of world political trends, people like him are supposedly the epitome of a civilized, democratic legacy that is now under threat from Neo-fascists who are darkly rising to destroy an otherwise happy world order. That world order, it is presumed, was up to now guided by the magnificence of American political leadership. In short, the “Pax Americana” that prevailed for nearly seven decades following the Second World War.

Following the Helsinki summit, the Western media went full-tilt in hysterics and hyperbole. Trump was assailed for “embracing a dictator” while repudiating Western democratic allies.

In a Washington Post article, the headline screamed: “Is Trump at war with the West?” It was accompanied by a photograph of Trump and Putin, bearing the caption: “The New Front”.

Meanwhile, a New York Times piece editorialized: “His [Trump’s] embrace of Putin is a victory dance on the Euro-American tomb.”

Another NY Times op-ed writer declared: “Trump and Putin vs. America”.

The Western establishment political and media commentary promulgates the notion that the US-led Western order is breaking down because of “populist”, “strongman” Trump. In this alleged assault on the pillars of democracy and rule of law, Trump is being aided and abetted by supposedly nasty, like-minded authoritarians like Russian leader Vladimir Putin, or other nationalistic European politicians.

The premise of this establishment narrative is that all was seemingly salubrious and convivial in the US-led order until the arrival of various renegade-type politicians, like Trump and Putin.

That premise is an absolute conceit and deception. If we look at Obama’s presidency alone, one can see how the supposed guardians of democracy and international order were the very ones who have actually done the most to decimate that order.

Obama, you will recall, was the US president who notched up seven simultaneous overseas wars conducted by American military, arguably without a shred of international legal mandate. Under international law, Obama and other senior officials in his administration should face prosecution for war crimes. He also greatly expanded the executive use of assassination with aerial drones, reckoned to have killed thousands of innocent civilians in several countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia, merely on the suspicion of being terrorists.

It was Obama who ramped up the covert war policy of his predecessor GW Bush in Syria, arming and directing terrorist proxies in a failed bid to overthrow the elected government of President Assad. That US-backed covert war in Syria, along with Obama’s overt regime-change war in Libya, largely contributed to the refugee crisis that has destabilized the politics of the European Union.

So here we have the supremely bitter irony. Obama now lectures audiences with his pseudo-gravitas about the specter of strongman politics and xenophobic populism, when in fact it was politicians like Obama who created much of the refugee problems that have given rise to anti-immigrant politics in Europe.

It really is a conceited delusion among US and European establishment politicians, pundits and media that somehow a once virtuous, law-abiding US-led Western order is being eroded by rabble rousers like Trump, Salvini, Orban and so on, all being orchestrated by a “strongman dictator” in the Kremlin.

For the record, Putin, the supposed “strongman” in the Kremlin, warned more than a decade ago in a seminal Munich speech that the international order was being eroded by rampant American unilateralism and disregard for law in its pursuit of illegal wars for US hegemony. That was at the height of US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which killed more than one million civilians and forced millions more into infernal destitution.

In truth, the Pax Americana that is presumed to have prevailed over the past 70 years was never about order, peace or justice in the world. The notion that the US guided the world with its “moral authority” and maintained stability throughout is one of the most fatuous delusions of modern history.

From the atomic holocaust in Japan and during subsequent decades, the US has waged wars non-stop in almost every year, whether from covert operations in Latin America and Africa, to full-on genocidal wars in Indochina. The past quarter-century has seen an acceleration and expansion of these US wars, sometimes with the assistance of its military axis in NATO, largely because Washington viewed that its license to kill for mass murder was unchecked after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This is the real dynamic underlying why the Western order is now seen to be collapsing. The US and its minions among European allies have destroyed any foundations of international order from their unabated wars and campaigns of mass murder. Their corporate-capitalist plunder has eviscerated the planet.

The chaos from these wars, including economic impacts of gargantuan costs to Western populations, has created social conditions which engender politics of protest, anti-establishment, anti-austerity, anti-war, anti-immigration, and so on.

If the supposed order is shaking for the establishment political class and its flunkies like Barack Obama it is because of their own criminal depredations – depredations which have been going on for decades under the guise of Pax Americana.

The writers at Monthly Review had it so presciently right years ago, when they analyzed the actual Western order as “Pox Americana” – a diseased affliction.

This is the historical context which accounts for why US and European establishments are decrying “strongmen” and “populists”. They are essentially scapegoating others for the historic failure of institutionalized Western criminality led primarily by “democratic” regimes in Washington.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stands out as the one international leader who put a brake on the US-led criminal assault on global peace. Putin’s stand first emerged with his landmark speech in Munich in 2007, and then came into clear expression when he helped put an end to the US-led covert criminal war on Syria.

That is why Putin is so vilified and demonized by the Western establishment. The poachers have been stopped from raiding the globe, and in their exasperation, they have whipped up all sorts of disparaging epithets like “strongman” and “authoritarian”.

No one has practiced more fascist-style criminality and brutality towards law and peace than the polite-sounding pseudo-democrats who have been in office for the past 70 years in the US and Europe.

The Western political establishment and its elite-driven capitalism is rotten to the core. Always has been. Its own erosion and oozing corruption is the source of the putrid smell that it now wishes to waft away by scapegoating others.

Global war with no oversight: US special forces deployed to 133 countries in first half of 2018 – By RT

US special forces soldier

© Shah Marai / Reuters
An American special forces soldier mans a tripod mounted sniper rifle on the roof of a vehicle in Afghanistan’s Wardak province, 20 August 2003.

US special forces have already deployed to 133 nations in the first half of 2018, signaling a sharp increase in the Pentagon’s shadowy operations when compared to previous years, according to a new report.
America’s Special Operations forces (SOF) are stationed all around the world, where they participate in a wide range of missions, including special reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, counterterrorism, hostage rescue, as well as training and advising foreign troops. But special forces soldiers are also regularly involved in shadowy combat operations that receive little to no oversight. Shrouded in secrecy, these global operations continue to grow in quantity, size and expense – despite the fact that even Congress is often left in the dark, veteran investigative journalist Nick Turse recently revealed.

According to Turse, last year US special forces deployed to a staggering 149 countries -about 75 percent of the nations on the planet. But the figure for 2018 is likely to be considerably higher: US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM) told Turse that America’s elite forces have already carried out missions in 133 countries – nearly matching the number of deployments during the last year of the Obama administration, and more than double the number of deployments during the end of George W. Bush’s presidency. If America’s special operators deploy to just 17 more countries by the end of the fiscal year, they will top last year’s record-breaking total.

The growing number of secretive deployments has been complemented by SOCOM’s ballooning size and budget. In 2001, for example, an average of 2,900 commandos were deployed overseas in any given week. This number has nearly tripled to 8,300. Likewise, “Special Operations-specific funding,” which totaled $3.1 billion in 2001, has increased to an astonishing $12.3 billion. But the grand total actually surpasses $20 billion, since an additional $8 billion is spent annually by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps for each branch’s special operations.

Despite the worrying implications of an expanding fighting force with little accountability, there’s no reason to believe that US Special Operations forces are going to be downsized anytime soon. According to Turse, SOCOM’s 2019 budget request calls for adding about 1,000 personnel to what would then be a force of 71,000.

Of course, not all of the deployments are malicious or covert in nature. For example, Air Force special operators were recently sent to Thailand to aid the successful attempt to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave.

But as Turse notes: “Unless they end in disaster, most missions remain in the shadows, unknown to all but a few Americans.”

Comment: Here are a few of the deployments that are known:

As Syrian Army liberates territory, West scrambling to save their White Helmets assets – By PRESS TV (SOTT)

White Helmets

© Hosam Katan / Reuters

Western countries have reportedly been scrambling to evacuate “volunteer” White Helmets from Syria, who have been accused of cooperating with Takfiri terrorists and staging false flag gas attacks.

CBS News broadcasting service reported on Saturday that White Helmets members are in danger of assassination and in need of rescue as the Syrian army intensifies its counter-terrorism operation in the country’s southern part.

The report said the issue of the White helmets’ withdrawal from Syria had been raised with US President Donald Trump in multiple conversations with allied countries on the sidelines of the July 11-12 NATO summit in Brussels.

The Netherlands, Britain, France, Canada and Germany have been trying to find a way to get an estimated 1,000 White Helmets volunteers and their family members out of Syria, the report added.

Comment: Just what these countries need: more jihadi ‘refugees’.

British Prime Minister Theresa May brought up the issue during her meeting with Trump in the UK, and that the topic may also be discussed at Trump’s upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The White Helmets was founded in Turkey in 2013 by former British MI5 officer James Le Mesurier.

Since its establishment, the group has received at least $55 million from the British Foreign Office, $23 million or more from the US Office of Transition Initiatives and untold millions from Qatar.

US officials and Western diplomats say the evacuation has not been formalized on the agenda of the July 16 Trump-Putin meeting due to uncertainty about the Russians’ help in the process, The CBS News said.

“We are not there yet at all in terms of firming up the necessity to have a discussion with Putin,” a Western diplomat said. “If we run out of options, and the only option left is the Russians, then it is worth pursuing.”

A US government official stressed that efforts to evacuate the White Helmets from Syria are in line with the Trump administration’s plans for a withdrawal from the Arab country.

“This effort says we are in the evacuation phase. It is an admission that the regime is going to regain control of the country and the White Helmets can’t remain,” he said. “Or else the regime will take repercussions on them.”

Back in March, Trump ordered the State Department to suspend $200 million in recovery funds for Syria, including aid to the White Helmets, amid a review of the future of the US role in the war-torn country.

Three months later, however, Trump authorized the release of $6.6 million in previously frozen funding for a volunteer organization, without referring to the $193.4 million that remains frozen.

Both Damascus and Moscow have accused the volunteer group of having staged the suspected chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta region on April 7.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad described the White Helmets as “a branch of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra” militant groups and a “PR stunt” by the US, the UK and France.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the group claims to be a humanitarian NGO, but actually supports terrorists and covers up their crimes.

“The White Helmets not only feel at home on Jabhat al-Nusra and Daesh-controlled territories but openly sympathize with them and provide them with information and even financial support. How is that for double standards? There is documentary evidence of the White Helmets’ involvement in some of al-Nusra’s operations and cover-up over civilian deaths,” she said.

Comment: We can’t wait for Trudeau to dress up like a jihadist White Helmet and take some selfies with them once they get evacuated to Canada.

The Truth Perspective: Trump’s Zionist Ball and Chain: The Kushner-AIPAC-Port Authority Connection – By SOTT

Trump Kushner Netanyahu

© Hispan TV

Most Americans probably know Jared Kushner as Ivanka Trump’s husband, and President Trump’s right-hand man working on the Trump administration’s Israel-Palestine ‘deal of the century’. But how many remember his father, Charles? The elder Kushner is a real-estate developer, like Trump. But he’s also a convicted felon who has done jail time for his corrupt ‘business’ practices, various financial crimes and mafia-like antics. He’s also close friends with Benjamin Netanyahu, who once slept in Jared’s bed when Jared was a teenager (don’t worry, Jared slept in the basement).

Scratch below the surface of Kushner’s past and you will uncover the corrupt world of New Jersey and New York politics, the Port Authority, organized crime, and a pay-to-play system that would make Hillary and Bill blush: bribery and blackmail, trysts and affairs, conspiracy and collusion, revolving-door nepotism, backstabbing and lobbying for the interests of a foreign state. As Ryan Dawson of Anti-Neocon Report puts it, “Crooks are using the state to enrich themselves and then using this wealth to further the interest of the Israeli regime and its grip over America money, media, and military power.”

Today on the Truth Perspective we discuss Dawson’s 2017 documentary God Is Not A Real Estate Agent: Trump’s Zionist Ball & Chain, which goes into all these topics in depth.

Running Time: 01:23:54

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Articles Cited

Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh Is Precisely the Pro-Corporate Right-Wing Hack Progressives Fear – by Elliott Gabriel (MINT PRESS)

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Brett Kavanaugh, his Supreme Court nominee, in the East Room of the White House, July 9, 2018, in Washington. Evan Vucci | AP

A run-down of Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s positions on various social issues and the danger his appointment could pose to everything from the Department of Labor to the Environmental Protection Agency and even Roe v. Wade.

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s choice Monday night to nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his second Supreme Court nominee has confirmed that Trump seems dead-set on fortifying conservative control of the court for years, if not decades, to come.

The 53-year-old Kavanaugh has served on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals for 12 years, and his ideological stances are firmly on the right end of the Washington spectrum. He is widely expected to be confirmed, given that the Republican Party commands a slight majority in the U.S. Senate. If his appointment clears that hurdle, it would mark the second successful lifetime appointment to the court by Trump in 18 months.

He earned his stripes in Washington taking part in the investigation of President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal of the 1990s, where he served under independent counsel Kenneth Starr and drafted much of the Starr Report, paving the way to Clinton’s impeachment. He also took part in the Florida recount battle in the 2000 presidential election as a counsel in George W. Bush’s team and later as a senior Bush White House official.

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Kavanaugh, if confirmed, will replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, who retired late last month. If the nominee fills the outgoing conservative’s justice’s seat, experts fear that he may move the court further to the right – especially on issues relating to corporate regulations, immigrant rights, gun laws, women’s reproductive health, and religious-based discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Given that he was on the shortlist of nominees drawn up by Leonard Leo, the conservative Federalist Society’s executive vice president, one can assume that the judge will hold down the fort in terms of right-wing rulings if he proceeds to the top bench. The other potential figures under consideration had been federal appellate judges Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett.

 

Where He Stands

According to Axios, Kavanaugh would rank as the second most far-right justice on the court if he were confirmed, placing him slightly to the left of Justice Clarence Thomas and to the right of Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

A quick run-down of his positions on various social issues shows Kavanaugh as a party-line Republican holding down the far-right flank of conservative traditionalism (or social backwardness), posing the danger that his appointment would sound the death-knell for everything from the Department of Labor to the Environmental Protection Agency and even Roe v. Wade :

Corporate regulations – the 53-year old put significant wind in the sails of the banking industry when he wrote an opinion in October 2016 declaring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “unconstitutional” due to the “enormous executive power” given to its director and the “threat to individual liberty” it poses (for billionaire banksters). The watchdog agency was established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act following the 2008 financial collapse and was later found to be constitutional.

He has also sided with the meat industry, opposing Department of Agriculture standards requiring that meat be labeled to allow consumers to know where each step of the meat production process took place. Kavanaugh backed Big Food by arguing that the government must support U.S. manufacturers, industrial farmers and ranchers versus foreign competitors.

Racial Equity – Kavanaugh is an opponent of affirmative action in college admissions, which has sought to increase the representation of historically oppressed nationalities and ethnicities in education since the 1960s. Since its inception, affirmative action has been the focus of attacks by right-wing forces in the U.S. who claim that it is an example of so-called “reverse racism” – a term alleging the victimization of whites by historically oppressed nationalities – and bars qualified white candidates from school placement, instead favoring their counterparts of color whom they perceived to be less qualified.

Workers Rights – The conservative justice has a solidly anti-worker record, and has opposed everything from protections of collective bargaining rights to basic workplace safety standards.

In a statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:

Judge Kavanaugh routinely rules against working families, regularly rejects the right of employees to receive employer-provided health care in the workplace, too often sides with employers in denying employees relief from discrimination in the workplace and promotes overturning well-established U.S. Supreme Court precedent.”

Net Neutrality – In 2017, Kavanaugh dissented against the ruling in United States Telecom Association v FCC, writing: “The net neutrality rule is unlawful and must be vacated, however, for two alternative and independent reasons. First, Congress did not clearly authorize the FCC to issue the net neutrality rule … Second and in the alternative, the net neutrality rule violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

The Environment – Kavanaugh was a major critic of Obama-era environmental protection agencies, and penned a decision rejecting attempts by the EPA to curb air pollution that spills over states’ borders. In the face of federal attempts to curb pollution and climate change, he has upheld corporate interests and the separation of powers.

Reproductive Health, Contraception and Abortion – He has argued that the Affordable Care Act’s coverage of contraception infringes on the “rights” of religious – read: evangelical fundamentalist – organizations and “religious liberty” groups. However, he has pledged in the past to uphold the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion access. Democrats are skeptical about his commitment to the decision, and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated that the party will be on the lookout for signs that he will repeal Roe.

Kavanaugh was the focus of a partisan battle when Bush nominated him to the appeals court in 2003, with Democrats accusing him of being a partisan ideologue. By 2006, the Senate confirmed him.

The narrow Republican Senate majority of 51-49 — with Sen. John McCain sitting out proceedings and basically standing at death’s door in Arizona – leaves Democrats with little options to wage their storied “resistance,” yet they can possibly apply pressure to Republican figures to create dissension and defections in GOP ranks.

 

“Resistance” on Capitol Hill and In the Streets

According to the White House, attempts by Trump’s team to reach out to Senate Judiciary Committee members prior to Monday’s nomination were largely greeted courteously – with the notable exception of Democratic California Senator Kamala Harris, whose office told White House Counsel Don McGahn, “We want nothing to do with you.”

In a tweet, the former California attorney general and centrist Democrat – widely considered to be a possible Democratic presidential candidate – wrote that Kavanaugh “represents a direct and fundamental threat to the rights and health care of hundreds of millions of Americans.”

On Tuesday morning, Schumer also vowed on MSNBC to “oppose this nominee with everything that I’ve got.” Democrats are banking on the fear surrounding Trump’s Supreme Court pick and its anti-woman, white supremacist, and pro-corporate implications as a powerful motivator for voters, particularly Democrats, in this year’s midterm elections.

Despite the fear that Kavanaugh will turn the Supreme Court far to the right, some experts feel that the perception it was somehow ever “moderate” or even “progressive” was a false illusion and that a hard-right tilt by the Judiciary could clear up false expectations about the nature of the court.

“When people in [the U.S.] worry about the court tilting ‘hard-right’ it makes it seem as if the court has ever been a ‘left’ court,” National Lawyers Guild vice president Ken Montenegro told MintPress News.

“[But] the court has largely been centrist … So, it’s possible that in this time of emboldened white supremacy a tilt further to the right will mobilize people to question the [overall] nature of the judiciary,” he added.

Top Photo | President Donald Trump shakes hands with Brett Kavanaugh, his Supreme Court nominee, in the East Room of the White House, July 9, 2018, in Washington. 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.

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Who Is Isolating Whom? – By Martin SIEFF (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Who Is Isolating Whom?

For nearly 30 years since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the United States and its main Western European allies the United Kingdom, France and Germany have comfortably assumed themselves to be the invincible and unstoppable spearhead and cutting edge of the human race. The assumption that democracy and free trade, Western style will conquer the world is axiomatically held and permeates the educational systems and intelligentsia of all these nations.

Yet this presumption of moral and superiority and ideological inevitability by the leaders of the United States, the European Union, NATO and the Group of Seven (G7) nations has not been confirmed by any verifiable hard evidence.

On the contrary, the US State Department’s own reports have remorselessly documented throughout the 21st century that every nation where the United States intervened either directly, applying kinetic military power, or indirectly destabilizing existing governments and urging other players to rise up to destabilize existing governments – misery, not happiness has inevitably resulted.

Whether one looks at Ukraine, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Somalia or Syria, the pattern is always the same. Per capita rates of human trafficking, including, the enslavement of children for sexual exploitation, organized crime, drug trafficking, per capita hard drug addiction rate, and the likelihood of violent death has soared after every such US and/or allied military intervention. Life expectancy and standards of living as well as recorded GDP have plummeted catastrophically in every case.

Even the creation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on June 15, 2001 failed to dent Western paradigm blindness, arrogance and complacency about the true, future “Way of the World.” Now we see the same extraordinary complacency presented by the Western elites to the crucial accession of India and Pakistan to the SCO.

The geostrategic, world historical importance of this development cannot be overestimated. For 17 years since the founding of the SCO, the United States and its NATO and European Union allies have pressed ahead in one minor war of destabilization and aggression after another. Yet every one of those misadventures has been a strategic and even tactical failure. The United States and its NATO allies have proven all too adept at starting wars around the world. Through fear and the narrowest calculations of self-aggrandizement, tiny nations from Estonia to Georgia have flocked to their banner.

However now, at a single stroke, the two giant nuclear-armed nations of South Asia – India and Pakistan – have set aside their existential rivalries and suspicions and have both sought security and protection within the framework of the SCO. And more, these two nations are both English speaking democracies!

How can the United States and the United Kingdom in particular now claim to uphold the cause of democracy when the largest, most populous democracy on earth – a nation of almost 1.3 billion people, and another nation with an English-speaking democracy – Pakistan – with a population now in excess of 200 million have now joined the SCO?

How can the United States, NATO, the EU or the Group of Seven now claim to uphold democratic values around the globe when two democracies with a combined population of more almost 1.5 billion – double the population of all the 28 nations combined in the EU and almost five times the population of the United States – have now opted to join the SCO?

Why did Delhi and Islamabad both decide upon such a n epochal move? Clearly, they did so in large part because both nations fear the future potential coercive designs of the Western alliances against either of them.

Therefore despite US efforts at engineering Regime Change from Ukraine to Brazil, the accession of India and Pakistan to the SCO confirms the isolation of NATO in the wider world, shrinking the alliance’s expansion into Eastern Europe to just the western end of Eurasia and the periphery of East Asia.

This therefore is the self-inflicted strategic catastrophe that the fantasy vision of global strategic engineering and a worldwide “crusade for democracy” has inflicted upon its perpetrators. Rather than isolating Russia, or China or both of them – an absurd goal if ever there was one – the half-baked failed neo-conservative and neo-liberal Hegelians of the Sub-Age of Francis Fukuyama have isolated themselves instead.

Just as the capitalist United States, the communist Soviet Union and the paleo-colonialist British Empire all eventually joined forces to crush the mutual threat of Nazism, the neocon and neo-lib fanatics of Permanent Global Revolution (PGR) – democratic – style – have expended trillions of dollars and set off wars costing millions of lives – only to succeed in isolating themselves.

The solution to this global catastrophe for the forces of the West w is actually very simple and practical. It is to end the policy of endless military interventions, to immediately end the remorseless expansion of NATO and indeed to permit any nation within the alliance to quietly and efficiently decide to leave it whenever it so chooses.

All NATO nations, led by the United States must also solemnly undertake to respect the primacy of international law and to implement and respect all decisions taken by the United Nations Security Council where the permanent veto power still welded by the United States and its allies the UK and France provide ample diplomatic and legal protection against their own coercive and expansionist tactics being turned against them.

This is what the leaders of the West should do. But of course they will not. For when did Fools ever willingly embrace Wisdom?

Organization of America – By Tamara Nassar and Ali Abunimah The Electronic Intifada (Electronic Intifada)

The emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani hired a Washington firm to cultivate support from the Israel lobby. Those efforts included large donations to the Zionist Organization of America.

Emmanuele Contini SIPA USA

Qatar donated $250,000 to some of the most extreme pro-Israel organizations in the United States, including one that funds senior Israeli military officers to go on propaganda tours.

Joseph Allaham, a lobbyist working for the Qatari government, transferred the money through his firm Lexington Strategies in late 2017 and early 2018.

The sums included $100,000 to the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), $100,000 to Our Soldiers Speak and $50,000 for Blue Diamond Horizons, Inc.

Our Soldiers Speak describes itself as the “vehicle through which the IDF [Israeli army] and the Israeli National Police dispatch senior officers to select campuses overseas” and to give “briefings” to members of the US Congress.

Blue Diamond Horizons is a company controlled by Mike Huckabee, the Christian Zionist former governor of Arkansas.

Huckabee, who happens to be the father of Donald Trump’s White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, opposes any Israeli withdrawal from Jerusalem and has suggested Israel should annex the West Bank.

In US government disclosure documents, Lexington Strategies describes the payment to Huckabee’s company as an “honorarium for visit,” while the donations to the ZOA and Our Soldiers Speak are labeled as contributions for “charitable goodwill.”

In January this year, Huckabee traveled to Doha, as one of a parade of far-right and pro-Israel figures invited to Qatar as part of the Gulf emirate’s intensive outreach to Israel and its lobby.

Working for Emir

The disclosure, filed by Lexington Strategies on 15 June under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), reveals that the money given to the Zionist organizations came out of $1.45 million provided by the State of Qatar for lobbying on its behalf.

The document explicitly names Qatar’s ruler, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as the client of Allaham’s lobbying efforts.

One of the stated purposes of the money paid by Qatar to the lobbying group is to encourage “dialogue with [the] Jewish community abroad and in the United States.”

In reality, Qatar has been reaching out to some of the most extreme supporters of Israel as part of its effort to curry favor with the United States.

For more than a year, Qatar has faced isolation and blockade by regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Trump administration initially expressed strong support for that blockade, labeling Qatar a sponsor of “terrorism.”

Doha fears that under the influence of the Saudi-led bloc, the US could withdraw its massive Al Udeid air base from Qatar, making the tiny state vulnerable to invasion from bigger neighbors.

In order to fight back, Qatar is competing with its Gulf rivals for US affections, and like those rivals it views the support of Israel and its lobby as the fastest route to Washington’s heart.

As part of this effort, Qatar hired lobbyist Nick Muzin and his firm Stonington Strategies and was in 2017 paying him a monthly retainer of $50,000. This was later increased to $300,000 a month, according to FARA filings.

With Allaham’s disclosure it now emerges that Qatar has hired more than one Washington firm to win the favors of the Israel lobby.

Shielding the lobby

One of the key concessions Qatar has made is to suppress an explosive Al Jazeera documentary revealing the inner workings of the US Israel lobby.

As The Electronic Intifada exclusively revealed in March, the film identifies a number of lobby groups as working directly with Israel to spy on American citizens using sophisticated data gathering techniques.

The documentary is also said to cast light on covert efforts to smear and intimidate Americans seen as too critical of Israel.

The Zionist Organization of America, one of the recipients of the Qatari emir’s largesse and hospitality, took public credit for getting the film censored.

But amid criticism within pro-Israel circles, ZOA president Morton Klein claimed to be “shocked” when he learned that the money had originated from Qatar, and told The Jewish Week he would return the donations.

Our Soldiers Speak, the group that promotes the Israeli military, affirmed to the publication that it is “very pleased to take every penny.”

The Jewish Week also reported that one of the guests Allaham invited to the ZOA’s gala dinner last year was Ahmed al-Rumaihi, who had been a Qatari diplomat and the former head of Qatar Investments, a $100-billion sovereign wealth fund whose holdings include Qatar Airways.

While there, al-Rumaihi reportedly asked to be introduced to Steve Bannon, the former senior Trump adviser who gave a speech at the ZOA gala.

In an article published days before Allaham filed his FARA disclosure, Mother Jones magazine reported that Klein was questioned about al-Rumaihi’s presence at the dinner. The ZOA president responded, “What’s the problem? Joey [Allaham] paid me $100,000 for that table!”

Occupation advice

While courting those who facilitate and justify Israel’s crimes against Palestinians in Washington, Qatar presents itself as one of the key supporters of Palestinians in Gaza.

Qatar funds projects and provides aid in the territory that has faced massive Israeli military assaults and a devastating siege over more than a decade.

Israel also regularly sprays Palestinian farmland in Gaza with herbicides, destroying crops.

But recent comments by Qatari diplomat Mohammed al-Emadi suggest that Qatar’s agenda is effectively to help Israel pacify Gaza and manage its occupation better.

Al-Emadi is in charge of Qatar’s activities in Gaza. He suggested in an interview with Israel’s public broadcaster Kan on Sunday that the Great March of Return protests on the Gaza-Israel boundary fence would quiet down if Israel were to allow Palestinians in Gaza to work in Israel.

“It could start for example with 5,000 people in Gaza who would work in Israel. That is good. That would stop the protests, the fires, the kites and the balloons,” al-Emadi said.

Since the end of March, Israel has killed more than 140 Palestinians and injured more than 4,000 others with live fire during protests aimed at ending the siege and calling for the right for refugees to return to their original lands from which Israel excludes them because they are not Jews.

But while Israel is undoubtedly happy to see Qatar pay to keep Palestinians in Gaza at the edge of survival, there is no sign it is interested in taking Qatari advice.

On Monday, Israel announced it was closing the only goods crossing to Gaza in retaliation for incendiary kites launched from Gaza that have caused damage to crops on the Israeli side of the boundary.

The Israeli human rights group Gisha said that “collectively punishing nearly two million people in Gaza by closing its only official crossing for the movement of goods is both illegal and morally depraved.”

Tamara Nassar is associate editor and Ali Abunimah is director of The Electronic Intifada.

 

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