Not ‘in Tatters’: Why the West Has Failed to Destroy Russia’s Economy – By Eric ZUESSE – Strategic Culture Foundation

Not ‘in Tatters’: Why the West Has Failed to Destroy Russia’s Economy
Eric ZUESSE | 23.09.2018 | BUSINESS

Despite Barack Obama’s economic sanctions against Russia, and the plunge in oil prices that King Saud agreed to with Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry on 11 September 2014, the economic damages that the US and Sauds have aimed against a particular oil-and-gas giant, Russia, have hit mostly elsewhere — at least till now.

This has been happening while simultaneously Obama’s violent February 2014 coup overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych (and the head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor calls it “the most blatant coup in history”) has caused Ukraine’s economy to plunge even further than Russia’s, and corruption in Ukraine to soar even higher than it was before America’s overthrow of that country’s final freely elected nationwide government, so that Ukraine’s economy has actually been harmed far more than Russia’s was by Obama’s coup in Ukraine and Obama’s subsequent economic sanctions against Russia (sanctions that are based on clear and demonstrable Obama lies but that continue and even get worse under Trump). 

Bloomberg News headlined on February 4th of 2016, “These Are the World’s Most Miserable Economies” and reported the “misery index” rankings of 63 national economies as projected in 2016 and 60 as actual in 2015 — a standard ranking-system that calculates “misery” as being the sum of the unemployment-rate and the inflation-rate. They also compared the 2016 projected rankings to the 2015 actual rankings.

Top rank, #1 both years — the most miserable economy in the world during 2015 and 2016 — was Venezuela, because of that country’s 95% dependence upon oil-export earnings (which crashed when oil-prices plunged). The US-Saudi agreement to flood the global oil market destroyed Venezuela’s economy.

#2 most-miserable in 2015 was Ukraine, at 57.8. But Ukraine started bouncing back so that as projected in 2016 it ranked #5, at 26.3. Russia in 2015 was #7 most-miserable in 2015, at 21.1, but bounced back so that as projected in 2016 it became #14 at 14.5.

Bloomberg hadn’t reported misery-index rankings for 2014 showing economic performances during 2013, but economist Steve H. Hanke of Johns Hopkins University did, in his “Measuring Misery Around the World, May 2014,” in the May 2014 GlobeAsia, ranking 90 countries; and, during 2013 (Yanukovych’s final year as Ukraine’s President before his being forced out by Obama’s coup), Ukraine’s rank was #23 and its misery-index was 24.4. Russia’s was #36 and its misery index was 19.9. So: those can be considered to be the baseline-figures, from which any subsequent economic progress or decline (after Obama’s 2014 Ukrainian coup) may reasonably be calculated. Hanke’s figures during the following year, 2014, were reported by him at Huffington Post, “The World Misery Index: 108 Countries”, and by UAE’s Khaleej Times, “List of Most Miserable Countries” (the latter falsely attributing that ranking to Cato Institute, which had merely republished Hanke’s article). In 2014, Ukraine’s misery-index, as calculated by Hanke, was #4, at 51.8. That year had 8 countries above 40 in Hanke’s ranking. Russia was #42 at 21.42. So: Russia’s rank had improved, but, because of the globally bad economy, Russia’s absolute number was slightly worse (higher) than it had been before Obama’s coup in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions against Russia. By contrast, Ukraine’s rank had suddenly gotten far worse, #4 at 51.80 in 2014, after having been #23 at 24.4 in 2013.

The figures in Bloomberg for Russia were: during 2015, #7 with a misery-index of 21.1; and projected during 2016, #14 with a misery-index of 14.5; so, Bloomberg too showed a 2015-2016 improvement for Russia, and not only for Ukraine (where in the 2016 projection it ranked #5, at 26.3, a sharp improvement after the horrendous 2015 actual numbers).

“Hanke’s Annual Misery Index — 2017” in Forbes, showed 98 countries, and Venezuela was still #1, the worst; Ukraine was now #9 at 36.9; and Russia was #36 at 18.1.

Thus: whereas Russia was economically sunningly stable at #36 from start to finish throughout the entire five-year period 2013-2017, starting with a misery-index of 19.9 in 2013 and ending with 18.1 in 2017, Ukraine went from a misery-index of 24.4 in 2013 to 36.9 in 2017 — and worsening its rank from #23 to #9. During that five-year period Ukraine’s figure peaked in the year of Obama’s coup at 57.8. So, at least Ukraine’s misery seems to be heading back downward in the coup’s aftermath, though it’s still considerably worse than before the coup. But, meanwhile, Russia went from 19.9 to 18.1 — and had no year that was as bad as Ukraine’s best year was during that period of time. And, yet: that coup and the economic sanctions and the US-Saudi oil-agreement were targeted against Russia — not against Ukraine.

If the US were trying to punish the people of Ukraine, then the US coup in Ukraine would have been a raving success; but actually Obama didn’t care at all about Ukrainians. He cared about the owners of America’s weapons-making firms and of America’s extractive firms. Trump likewise.

During that same period (also using Hanke’s numbers) the United States went from #71 at 11.0 in 2013, to #69 at 8.2 in 2017. US was stable.

Saudi Arabia started with #40 18.9 during 2013, to #30 at 20.2 in 2017. That’s improvement, because the Kingdom outperformed the global economy.

During the interim, and even in the years leading up to 2014, Russia had been (and still is) refocusing its economy away from Russia’s natural resources and toward a broad sector of high technology: military R&D and production. 

On 15 December 2014, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute headlined, “Sales by Largest Arms Companies Fell Again in 2013, but Russian Firms’ Sales Continued Rising,” and reported, “Sales by companies headquartered in the United States and Canada have continued to moderately decrease, while sales by Russian-based companies increased by 20 per cent in 2013.”

The following year, SIPRI bannered, on 14 December 2015, “Global Arms Industry: West Still Dominant Despite Decline,” and reported that, “Despite difficult national economic conditions, the Russian arms industry’s sales continued to rise in 2014. … ‘Russian companies are riding the wave of increasing national military spending and exports. There are now 11 Russian companies in the Top 100 and their combined revenue growth over 2013–14 was 48.4 per cent,’ says SIPRI Senior Researcher Siemon Wezeman. In contrast, arms sales of Ukrainian companies have substantially declined. … US companies’ arms sales decreased by 4.1 per cent between 2013 and 2014, which is similar to the rate of decline seen in 2012–13. … Western European companies’ arms sales decreased by 7.4 per cent in 2014.”

This is a redirection of the Russian economy that Vladimir Putin was preparing even prior to Obama’s war against Russia. Perhaps it was because of the entire thrust of the US aristocracy’s post-Soviet determination to conquer Russia whenever the time would be right for NATO to strike and grab it. Obama’s public ambivalence about Russia never persuaded Putin that the US would finally put the Cold War behind it and end its NATO alliance as Russia had ended its Warsaw Pact back in 1991. Instead, Obama continued to endorse expanding NATO, right up to Russia’s borders (now even into Ukraine) — an extremely hostile act.

By building the world’s most cost-effective designers and producers of weaponry, Russia wouldn’t only be responding to America’s ongoing hostility — or at least responding to the determination of America’s aristocracy to take over Russia, which is the world’s largest trove of natural resources — but would also expand Russia’s export-earnings and international influence by selling to other countries weaponry that’s less-burdened with the costs of sheer corruption than are the armaments that are being produced in what is perhaps the world’s most corrupt military-industrial complex: America’s. Whereas Putin has tolerated corruption in other areas of Russia’s economic production (figuring that those areas are less crucial for Russia’s future), he has rigorously excluded it in the R&D and production and sales of weaponry. Ever since he first came into office in 2000, he has transformed post-Soviet Russia from being an unlimitedly corrupt satellite of the United States under Boris Yeltsin, to becoming truly an independent nation; and this infuriates America’s aristocrats (who gushed over Yeltsin).

The Russian government-monopoly marketing company for Russia’s weapons-manufacturers, Rosoboronexport, presents itself to nations around the world by saying: “Today, armaments and military equipment bearing the Made in Russia label protect independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of dozens of countries. Owing to their efficiency and reliability, Russian defense products enjoy strong demand on the global market and maintain our nation’s leading positions among the world’s arms exporters. For the past several years, Russia has consistently ranked second behind the United States as regards arms exports.” That’s second-and-rising, as opposed to America’s first-and-falling.

The American aristocracy’s ever-growing war against Russia posed and poses to Putin two simultaneous challenges: both to reorient away from Russia’s natural resources, which the global aristocracy wants to grab, and also to reorient toward the area of hi-tech in which the Soviets had built a basis from which Russia could become truly cost-effective in international commerce, so as to, simultaneously, increase Russia’s defensive capability against an expanding NATO, while also replacing some of Russia’s dependence upon the natural resources that the West’s aristocrats want to steal.

In other words: Putin designed a plan to meet two challenges simultaneously — military and economic. His primary aim is to protect Russia from being grabbed by the American and Saudi aristocrats, via America’s NATO and the Sauds’ Gulf Cooperation Council and other alliances (which are trying to take over Russia’s ally Syria — Syria being a crucial location for pipelining Arab royals’ oil-and-gas into Europe, the world’s largest energy-market).

In addition, the hit to Russia’s economic growth-rate from the dual-onslaught of Obama’s sanctions and the plunging oil prices hasn’t been too bad. The World Bank’s April 2015 “Russia Economic Report” predicted: “Growth prospects for 2015-2016 are negative. It is likely that when the full effects of the two shocks become evident in 2015, they will push the Russian economy into recession. The World Bank baseline scenario sees a contraction of 3.8 percent in 2015 and a modest decline of 0.3 percent in 2016. The growth spectrum presented has two alternative scenarios that largely reflect differences in how oil prices are expected to affect the main macro variables.”

The current (as of 15 February 2016) “Russia GDP Annual Growth Rate” at Trading Economics says: “The Russian economy shrank 3.8 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2015, following a 4.1 percent contraction in the previous period, according to preliminary estimates from the Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev. It is the worst performance since 2009 [George W. Bush’s global economic crash], as Western sanctions and lower oil prices hurt external trade and public revenues.” The current percentage as of today, 17 September 2018, is 1.9%, after having plunged down from 2.2% in late 2017, to 0.9% in late 2017; so, it is rebounding.

The World Bank’s April 2015 “Russia Economic Report” went on to describe “The Government Anti-Crisis Plan”:

On January 27, 2014, the government adopted an anti-crisis plan with the goal to ensure sustainable economic development and social stability in an unfavorable global economic and political environment.

It announced that in 2015–2016 it will take steps to advance structural changes in the Russian economy, provide support to systemic entities and the labor market, lower inflation, and help vulnerable households adjust to price increases. To achieve the objectives of positive growth and sustainable medium-term macroeconomic development the following measures are planned:

• Provide support for import substitution and non-mineral exports;

• Support small and medium enterprises by lowering financing and administrative costs;

• Create opportunities for raising financial resources at reasonable cost in key economic sectors;

• Compensate vulnerable households (e.g., pensioners) for the costs of inflation;

• Cushion the impact on the labor market (e.g. provide training and increase public works);

• Optimize budget expenditures; and

• Enhance banking sector stability and create a mechanism for reorganizing systemic companies.

So: Russia’s anti-crisis plan was drawn up and announced on 27 January 2014, already before Yanukovych was overthrown, even before Obama’s agent Victoria Nuland on 4 February 2014 instructed the US Ambassador in Ukraine whom to have appointed to run the government when the coup would be completed (“Yats,” who did get appointed). Perhaps, in drawing up this plan, Putin was responding to scenes from Ukraine like this. He could see that what was happening in Ukraine was an operation financed by the US CIA. He could recognize what Obama had in mind for Russia.

The “Russia Economic Report, May 2018: Modest Growth Ahead” says:

Global growth continued its 2017 momentum in early 2018. Global growth reached a stronger than- expected 3 percent in 2017 — a notable recovery from a post-crisis low of 2.4 percent in 2016. It is currently expected to peak at 3.1 percent in 2018. Recoveries in investment, manufacturing, and trade continue as commodity-exporting developing economies benefit from firming commodity prices (Figure 1a). The improvement reflects a broad-based recovery in advanced economies, robust growth in commodity-importing Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs), and an ongoing rebound in commodity exporters. Growth in China – and important trading partner for Russia – is expected to continue its gradual slowdown in 2018 following a stronger than-expected 6.9 percent in 2017.

Putin’s economic plan has softened the economic blow upon the masses, even while it has re-oriented the economy toward what would be the future growth-areas.

The country that Putin in 2000 had taken over and inherited from the drunkard Yeltsin (so beloved by Western aristocrats because he permitted them to skim off so much from it) was a wreck even worse than it had been when the Soviet Union ended. Putin immediately set to work to turn it around, in a way that could meet those two demands.

Apparently, Putin has been succeeding — now even despite what the US aristocracy (and its allied aristocracies in Europe and Arabia) have been throwing to weaken Russia. And the Russian people know it.

PS: The present reporter is an American, and used to be a Democrat, not inclined to condemn Democratic politicians, but Obama’s grab for Russia was not merely exceedingly dangerous for the entire world, it is profoundly unjust, it is also based on his (and most Republicans’) neoconservative lies, and so I don’t support it, and I no longer support Obama or his and the Clintons’ Democratic Party, at all. But this certainly doesn’t mean that I support the Republican Party, which is typically even worse on this (and other matters) than Democratic politicians are. On almost all issues, I support Bernie Sanders, but I am not a part of anyone’s political campaign, in any way.

Russia vows to wipe out terrorist-run drone assembly workshops in Idlib – By TASS

September 14, 16:57 UTC+3

The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said on September 5 that two Russian frontline bombers Sukhoi-34 wiped out a Jabhat al-Nusra workshop in Idlib

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

BERLIN, September 14. /TASS/. Russia has information where the terrorists assemble drones in Idlib and it will be eliminating these underground workshops, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a meeting of the German-Russian forum on Friday.

“We have intelligence information where drones are assembled in Idlib from components smuggled there,” he said. “As soon as we get such information, we will be eliminating such underground workshops that make lethal weapons.”

“What some describe as the beginning of a Russia-supported offensive by the Syrian army is malicious distortion of facts. Both the Syrian forces and we merely react to hit-and-run raids from Idlib,” Lavrov said. “It is very hard to detect drones with ordinary air defense weapons. Many of them are made of wood and cannot be seen on radar screens.”

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on September 5 that two Russian frontline bombers Sukhoi-34 wiped out a Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia) workshop in Idlib, where militants assembled attack drones and kept in store ammunition for them.

In the early hours of September 4, air defense systems of the Hmeimim air base shot down two drones the militants hand launched. Both drones were eliminated far away from the base. Over the past month 47 drones have been shot down or neutralized in the area of the Russian base.

More:
http://tass.com/politics/1021676

Rogue Bodyguard Scandal Fouls Macron’s Squeaky-Clean Image – bY Finian CUNNINGHAM – Strategic Culture Foundation

Rogue Bodyguard Scandal Fouls Macron’s Squeaky-Clean Image
Finian CUNNINGHAM | 22.09.2018 | WORLD / Europe

French President Emmanuel Macron’s plummeting popularity received another blow this week with the continuing scandal of an ex-bodyguard who was given elite access to Élysée Palace – even though he had no professional background in the state security services.

What’s more, Macron’s personal security minder, Alexandre Benalla, is accused of impersonating a police officer while beating up two protesters during a May Day rally in Paris earlier this year.

The thuggish behavior of a top Macron aide raises questions about this president’s ethics and politics. It conveys a disturbing image of fascist street brawling entering the very seat of French government.

Benalla has since been dumped from his post as Macron’s bodyguard over the scandal which has become dubbed “Benalla-gate”.

But the affair reinforces growing public anger over what they see as Macron’s self-inflated presidential style. He is increasingly seen as arrogant, aloof, and unaccountable, with delusions of grandeur.

Ironically, the former Rothschild investment banker, with his youthful “fresh face”, was elected in May 2017 on the back of his much-hyped self-proclaimed mission to renew French politics. Macron (40) even started a brand new political party, En Marche, which was billed as transcending “old” Left-Right rigidities and renovating French democracy.

The president’s honeymoon period with the French public has long worn off. His much-touted social policy reforms are seen as draconian cuts in workers’ rights and public services for the benefit of the wealthy. He has even gained the moniker, “president of the rich”.

On several occasions, Macron has shown a galling elitist conceit, such as when he publicly berated a protesting teenager to “show respect”, or when he floated the idea of bestowing a new formal title of “first lady” to his 25-years-senior wife, Brigitte (65), thus attempting to turn the French parliamentary republic into an American-style executive power.

Recently, when he was challenged by an unemployed gardener about lack of jobs in that profession, Macron haughtily told the young man to try his hand at laboring in building construction. His lack of empathy provoked a public outcry over what appeared to be a “let them eat cake” attitude.

This week, the president’s former bodyguard was summoned by the French Senate to answer questions on his exact relationship with Macron. The enquiry could go on for weeks.

But what the Senate hearings point to is a growing frustration with Macron’s self-styled majesty as a leader who sees himself above reproach. He has often talked about how his presidency is aimed at “restoring France’s greatness”, and seems to have a penchant for addressing parliamentarians beckoned to the Versailles Palace, as if they are his subjects.

His former appointment of Benalla (27) as personal bodyguard raised eyebrows. It smacked of political favoritism towards a personal friend. Benalla has no professional background in the French police or military which is the normal career path for someone appointed to be the president’s top security official. It is said that the former bodyguard’s only experience in security work was being previously employed as a bouncer in a nightclub. How he came to know Macron is an intriguing question, and it is this relationship that lawmakers want to find out about in their ongoing questioning.

Their relationship became a scandal when Benalla was videoed by May Day protesters beating up a man and woman on the streets of Paris earlier this year, while demonstrating against Macron’s social reforms. In the video, Benalla is seen wearing a police helmet and an armband purporting to identify him as a member of the police force. He is also seen viciously punching the man on the head and stomping on his stomach as he fell to the ground. It appears to be a shocking display of gratuitous, sadistic violence.

One can only imagine how Western news media would explode with sensational front page headlines if, somehow, a similar event took place in Moscow, in which an aide to President Putin was filmed being involved in assaulting protesters. You would never hear the end of that in Western media.

Why President Macron’s personal security guard would take time off to go to a rally and beat up protesters is a troubling question. Did Benalla get some perverse pleasure from his violent conduct? It is also a serious offense under French law to impersonate a law enforcement officer, which could result in a prison conviction.

When French media finally identified Benalla from the amateur video footage in mid-July, the accusation was then leveled at Macron of engaging in a cover-up. Hence the term “Benalla-gate” was coined.

Macron at first ignored the furore in typical supercilious mode. Under mounting public pressure, he then eventually broke his silence. Though he reacted in a petulant manner as if the media were picking on him, which only served to underline the perception that this president views himself as some kind of regal figure above the fray of “commoners”.

Bizarrely, Macron riposted to the media questions about Benalla’s seeming privileged employment with a sarcastic quip: “He’s not my lover!”

Was it a Freudian slip? It’s not the first time that Macron’s sex life has been rumored to be secretly gay.

During the presidential campaign, Russian news media carried a report quoting French political opposition sources claiming that Macron’s private life was more nuanced than his marriage to a much older woman suggests. Macron then hit back defensively, accusing Russia of interfering in the French election, based on one throwaway gossip story.

Whatever the precise relationship is between Macron and his rogue bodyguard, one thing does seem clear however. This president has a Napoleon complex, or perhaps a Bourbon Sun King complex. He seems to think exceedingly highly of himself, as being a ruler who is above the rule of law and public accountability.

Just over a year in office, the supposed squeaky-clean Emmanuel Macron is showing himself to have the whiff of the same old corruption that has marred so many of his predecessors in Élysée Palace.

Russia Brings Turkey to the Right Side of History – Terrorists and Israel React Badly to Sochi Agreement on Idlib – ByAndrés Perezalonso – Sott.net

Putin erdogan netanyahu

© Fort Russ News

With Turkey’s military presence in northern Syria and its support of militant groups in Idlib, it was to be expected that the Syrian Army offensive in the region would be postponed until a compromise was reached between Erdogan and Assad’s allies, as I explained earlier. Russian president Vladimir Putin held talks with his Turkish counterpart Erdogan, for the third time in less than a month, in Sochi on September 17th. They agreed to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib; later, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed to journalists there would not be a large military operation in the province.

According to Russian diplomatic sources who spoke with Al-Watan newspaper, the Russian-Turkish agreement will be implemented in three stages:

  1. The first stage will go into effect by mid October to create a 15 to 20 km weapons-free zone along the contact line between militant groups and government forces. All radical groups, including ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra/Al Qaeda will have to leave this zone, which will be patrolled jointly by Russian and Turkish military units.
  2. In the second stage the heavy weapons will be collected from the region until November 10 and the militants will leave civilian areas.
  3. In the third stage, lasting to the end of this year, state institutions will resume activities in Idlib.

Notice that for the completion of all three stages, the cooperation of militant groups is necessary. This is the point that may result in the partial or complete collapse of the demilitarization efforts – but that is not necessarily a failure.

South Front reports that pro-militant sources claim that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (the coalition affiliated with Jabhat al-Nusra, Al Qaeda in Syria) and some other groups, including the Islamic Turkistan Party (composed of die-hard Uyghur Muslims from China) have rejected the agreement. (It was originally reported that Jaish al-Izza, a Free Syria Army group, had also rejected it, but now that appears to be incorrect). Furthermore, the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Syrian Reconciliation warned after the Putin-Erdogan meeting that the White Helmets and members of Al-Nusra were still preparing a false-flag chemical attack to blame the Assad government. This is not surprising; after all, Syria is dealing with jihadi factions – literally terrorists – not with a mix of “moderate rebels” and a few bad apples as the Western narrative insists. By definition, terrorists are uncooperative to say the least, especially when asked to give up their weapons and let the state do its job.

Uyghur jihadis

© Radio Alwan
Uyghur jihadis: some shy, some not

If the information on the reaction of the terrorist groups is correct, the Turkey-sponsored and FSA-affiliated Jabhat al-Wataniya al-Tahrir (aka the National Front for Liberation) and Jaish al-Izza would be the only parties potentially willing to go along with the plan. In fact, Putin and Erdogan never expected or intended to make deals with groups everyone recognizes as radical – particularly with Al-Nusra, which was singled-out by Putin at the Sochi press conference, while Erdogan vowed to “clear these territories of radical elements”. Therefore, in the context of Idlib, when we hear Russia or Turkey discuss ‘moderate rebels’, they mean Turkish proxies.

Before the latest Sochi summit, Erdogan demanded a political solution to the situation in Syria, ostensibly for humanitarian reasons, when in reality he had three objectives:

  1. To salvage the forces in the area loyal to Turkey.
  2. To minimize the amount of refugees and jihadists crossing the border into Turkey.
  3. To retain as much influence on the future of Northern Syria as he could.
putin erdogan

Clearly, Putin understood that Turkey would not simply leave the region of its own accord, and thus the Idlib offensive would have risked a dangerous direct confrontation between states. So he agreed to proceed via the ‘political route’, fully aware that Turkey would then have to commit to join the fight against groups officially recognized as terrorists – even those Turkey directly or indirectly supported in the past – while pulling the reins on its proxies or even turning its guns against those who rebelled. Furthermore, Turkey takes another step towards Russia, Iran and Syria, and away from NATO and its machinations in the Middle East. Ultimately, the crucial point of the agreement is not how many militants will give up their weapons or not, but that Turkey is now on board with the liberators of Syria. One could say that Putin ‘gently coaxed’ Erdogan into doing the right thing.

Lose The Match, Knock Over The Board

Of course, there is another advantage to calling off a major offensive in Idlib: It makes it harder – though not impossible – for Western countries and their allies to protest, threaten, and retaliate against some imaginary war crime, and for terrorists to stage an attack on civilians, inviting such retaliation.

syria map

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.

Some geopolitical players bent on war seem to have taken the news hard enough to make significant mistakes. There are a number of observersincluding an advisor to Erdogan – who believe that Israel’s latest insanely criminal stunt, which resulted in the downing of a Russian Il-20 military plane and the death of 15 Russian servicemen, was a response to the Sochi agreement reached a few hours earlier. Indeed, there are barely any coincidences in politics, although we must not forget that on the same day (Monday, September 17th) the Russian Ministry of Defense presented evidence countering the Dutch report on the MH17 flight tragedy over Ukraine – a non-negligible event that may have inspired Machiavellian Israeli minds to distract the public from such data.

The tragedy of the Russian Il-20 was the product of typical duplicitous, cowardly Israeli military ‘strategy’. While on an illegal and unprovoked bombing operation against government targets in Syria – of which the Russian MOD was notified with less than a minute’s notice – four Israeli F-16 fighter jets flying at low altitude “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region… The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile,” an MOD statement said. The reaction of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was bitter:

“The blame for the downing of the Russian plane and the deaths of its crew members lies squarely on the Israeli side,” the Russian minister said. “The actions of the Israeli military were not in keeping with the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership, so we reserve the right to respond.”

Evidently, the Israelis were intentionally looking to cause trouble for the Russian military. However, judging by the amount of time they took to officially respond to an angry Russia, it appears they miscalculated and did not expect that a Russian aircraft would be lost, nor did they expect Russia blame them. This was Israel’s big mistake: Russia is likely to forcefully make difficult or even obstruct any future Israeli operations in or above Syria. Putin’s words about boosting the safety of Russian personnel in Syria and taking “steps that everyone will notice” point in that direction.

A bad situation was made worse when an arrogant Israeli response finally came. No apologies were offered; all Russia got was an expression of “sorrow” and much blaming of third parties:

To add insult to injury, the Israelis disputed the Russian version of the facts. Somebody is lying here, and I doubt it is the aggrieved party:

There is another interesting fact to this story, that seems to be rapidly slipping out of media reports. The French Navy’s frigate “Auvergne” was in the region at the time, and according to the Russian MOD, several missile launches were detected from that ship. At what were those missiles aimed? What role did the French Navy play in Monday night’s bombing of Syria and/or the loss of the Russian Il-20?

With diplomatic skill, Putin again managed to solve the ‘Turkey problem’ in Syria – at least for now. Unfortunately, it will be much harder to fix the ‘Israel/NATO problem’. The discourse and behavior of neocons and zionists shows that they have no interest whatsoever in a stable, prosperous Syria – or in a peaceful Middle East. While commenting on US politics, Putin once observed that is “difficult to have a dialogue with people who confuse Austria and Australia”. We could add that it is even harder to reason with people who confuse war with peace and truth with lies.

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Andrés Perezalonso

Andrés Perezalonso has been a contributing editor for Signs of the Times in both its English and Spanish versions since 2007. He holds a PhD in Politics, an MA in International Studies, a first degree in Communication, and has a professional background in Media Analysis. He thinks that understanding world events is not unlike detective work – paying attention to often ignored details and connections, and thinking outside of the box. He was born and raised in Mexico and currently resides in Europe.

US Biological Warfare Program in the Spotlight Again – By PETER KORZUN – Strategic Culture Foundation

US Biological Warfare Program in the Spotlight Again
Peter KORZUN | 13.09.2018 | SECURITY / DEFENSE

This is a scoop to bring the US biological warfare effort back into the spotlight. On Sept. 11, Russian media reported that the Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research laboratory, a research facility for high-level biohazard agents located near Tbilisi, Georgia, has used human beings for conducting biological experiments.

Former Minister of State Security of Georgia Igor Giorgadze said about it during a news conference in Moscow, urging US President Donald Trump to launch an investigation. He has lists of Georgians who died of hepatitis after undergoing treatment in the facility in 2015 and 2016. Many passed away on the same day. The declassified documents contain neither the indication of the causes of deaths nor real names of the deceased. According to him, the secret lab run by the US military was established during the tenure of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. The viruses could spread to neighboring countries, including Russia, Igor Giorgadze warned.

The laboratory’s work is tightly under wraps. Only US personnel with security clearance have access to it. These people are accorded diplomatic immunity under the 2002 US-Georgia Agreement on defense cooperation.

Eurasia Review reported that in 2014 the Lugar Center was equipped with a special plant for breeding insects to enable launching the Sand Fly project in Georgia and the Caucasus. In 2014-2015 years, the bites of sand flies such as Phlebotomins caused a fever. According to the source, “today the Pentagon has a great interest to the study of Tularemia, also known as the fever of rabbits, which is also equated with biological weapons. Distributors of such a disease can be mites and rodents”.

It makes remember the statement made by Nikolai Patrushev, Head of Russia’s Security Council, in 2015. He warned about the threat stemming from biological weapons laboratories that operate on the territories of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). He specifically mentioned the Richard G. Lugar Center in Georgia.

The US has bio laboratories in 25 countries across the world, including the post-Soviet space. They are funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Foreign inspectors are denied access to them. It should be noted that independent journalist investigations have been made public to confirm the fact that the US military conducts secret research to pose a threat to environment and population. Jeffrey Silverman, an American journalist who has lived in Georgia for many years, is sure the Richard Lugar Center, as well as other labs, is involved in secret activities to create biological weapons. Georgia and Ukraine have been recently hit by mysterious disease outbreaks, with livestock killed and human lives endangered. The US military operates the Central Reference Laboratory in Kazakhstan since 2016. There have public protests against the facility.

In 2013 a Chinese Air Force Colonel Dai Xu accused the US government of creating a new strain of bird flu now afflicting parts of China as a biological warfare attack. According to him, the American military released the H7N9 bird flu virus into China in an act of biological warfare. It has been reported that the source of Ebola virus in West Africa were US bio-warfare labs.

Russian experts do not exclude the possibility of using a stink-bug by the US military as a biological weapon. A couple of years ago, mosquitoes with Zika virus have been spotted in Russia and South Ossetia to cause outbreaks of human and animal flu.

The US activities violate the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), a legally binding treaty that outlaws biological arms. It effectively prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, retention, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons and is a key element in the international community’s efforts to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In force since 1975, the convention has 181 states-parties today. The BWC reaffirms the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the biological weapons use. In 1969, US President Richard Nixon formally ended all offensive aspects of the US biological warfare program. In 1975, the US ratified both the 1925 Geneva Protocol and the BWC.

Negotiations on an internationally binding verification protocol, which would include on-site inspections by an independent authority to the BWC, took place between 1995 and 2001. The US did not sign up. Its refusal to become a party to the verification mechanisms makes any attempt to enhance the effectiveness of the BWC doomed. A Review Conference is held every five years to discuss the convention’s operation and implementation. The last one, which convened in November 2016, was a frustration with minimal agreement on the final document and no substantive program of work to do before the next event takes place in 2021. There is little hope the BWC will ever be strengthened to have teeth. With no verification mechanism, the US military bio-warfare labs will always be a matter of concern. The issue is serious enough to be included into global security architecture. The UN General Assembly is the right place to raise it. Its 73rd session will open on September 18. 

Starving Off-Camera: In Yemen 20 Million Fuel the Saudi-US-NATO War Machine – By AbdulRahman Qahtan and Mnar Muhawesh Mnar Muhawesh @mnarmuh – MINT PRESS

Yemen Starvation
The Forgotten War

Within days of starting the war, Saudi Arabia imposed a total land, air and sea blockade, along with targeting vital agriculture and food supply infrastructure that sustains life for the 29 million Yemenis — all of which constitute war crimes under international law.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/cZP7CLDx6Vc?rel=0&showinfo=0

The UN estimates that nearly 20 million Yemenis could die of starvation by the end of this year. That’s about 70 percent of the entire population.

That horrific number includes more than 2 million children who are already going hungry, including 500,000 who are suffering from severe malnutrition.

 

The people of Yemen have found themselves struggling not only for survival, but for a space in the Western media’s war coverage.

In the shadow of the conflict in Syria, the men, women and children of Yemen are being deliberately starved and targeted by strategic airstrikes and an illegal blockade in a war initiated by Saudi Arabia and aided, massively if not entirely, by the United States.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia, backed by Washington with over $200 billion in weapons assistance and billions more worth of military training under both the Obama and Trump administrations, took the already poorest nation in the Middle East and manufactured the worst humanitarian crisis of the modern era.

Within days of starting the war, Saudi Arabia imposed a total land, air and sea blockade, along with targeting vital agriculture and food supply infrastructure that sustains life for the 29 million Yemenis — all of which constitute war crimes under international law.

Saudi Arabia opened its checkbook in response to a UN appeal for funds, contributing nearly $300 million to cover the most urgent humanitarian aid to Yemen. But that Saudi aid would come at a steep price, and with more than a few strings attached, considering this was the same nation bombing Yemen and creating the disaster to begin with.

While the UN accepted Saudi money, it also allowed Saudi Arabia to weaponize humanitarian aid by blocking all aid shipments from reaching the starving population.

This meant that medicine, food, water treatment supplies, and basic necessities for survival were prevented from entering Yemen, exacerbating the already dire situation.

According to data collected by local rights groups, Saudi Arabia has waged over 230,000 airstrikes on Yemen since 2015, with the intention of deliberately targeting Yemen’s lifeline for survival: its food supply.

Fishing boats, fishermen and fish markets became targets of the Saudi-U.S.-backed coalition warships and helicopters in the Red Sea, depleting Yemen’s access to it’s key food staples.

To make food-supply matters even worse, the U.S.-backed Saudi air raids intentionally targeted agricultural fields, marketplaces and food-storage sites from March 2015 to the end of June 2018, creating the perfect storm to ignite famine and starvation.

Yemen relies on maritime imports for more than 80 percent of its annual staple food supplies.

Although staples remain available, the Saudi import restrictions, combined with a rapidly depreciating currency, mean food prices have skyrocketed.

Millions of Yemenis can no longer afford to buy food, forcing more than 75 percent of the population to rely on humanitarian assistance — aid that is mostly controlled and blocked by Saudi Arabia.

As the crisis rages on with no accountability in sight, Yemen’s last remaining lifeline is under threat: Hodeida, relied upon by 18 million Yemenis, is home to the major port where virtually all aid and food must enter the impoverished and war-ravished nation currently importing 90 percent of its food.

According to UN estimates, a quarter-million men, women, and children could die from the military assault alone should the U.S.-backed coalition continue its invasion of Hodeida. In fact, Saudi warplanes have already bombed buses of refugees fleeing the airstrikes.

The goal of the deadly operation, dubbed “Golden Victory,” is to capture Hodeida: a bustling port city and home to over 600,000 Yemenis.

Although Saudi Arabia catches most of the heat for this humanitarian catastrophe and the countless war crimes, another U.S. Gulf coalition ally, the United Arab Emirates, is leading the assault on Hodeida port.

An Emirati-led occupation of Hodeida would put nearly a million people at risk for suffering not only famine but instances of rape and torture, as the UAE currently occupies Southern Yemen and has set up dozens of illegal torture prison sites known for sexual torture.

While creating a state of affairs that intensifies hunger for over 20 million people, Saudi Arabia has faced no accountability from the international community. Instead, it has enjoyed receiving billions worth of weapons from the U.S. and the U.K., training from the U.S. military, and a major position on a human-rights panel at the UN, only enabling what can best be described as genocide.

Perhaps Saudi impunity derives from the fact that this war is also the fuel that fires up the United States and NATO’s war machine, which allows for the continuation of resource exploitation, war on terror, military occupation and destabilization in the small but strategic and resource-rich nation.  

This cynical agenda has forced Yemen to become the new face of skeletal children in the 21st century.

Top Photo | In this Feb. 15, 2018 photo, Awsaf, a thin 5-year-old who is getting no more than 800 calories a day from bread and tea, half the normal amount for a girl her age, drinks tea, in Abyan, Yemen. Nariman El-Mofty | AP

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The alter ego wars – by Denis A. Conroy for The Saker Blog

usabombingsinsyria

by Denis A. Conroy for The Saker Blog

The British Press is big on righteous indignation. Its wallows in selective grief whenever Russia is accused of dirty dancing. It uses single issues reportage selectively, to obfuscate its modus operandi. The subject of the unpleasant Salisbury Skripal poisoning attack on two people was written up as though it was the evil to end all evils…far outweighing the attention poor suffering Yemen might deserve, for instance.

It comes as no surprise that the Anglo Zionist media, ablaze with recriminations of the most self-righteous sort, spit out venom with unabashed hypocrisy whenever the Russian Bear is accused of a crime. The entire Skripal episode rests only on assertions. Britain, as a node in the Washington Consensus playbook, likes to issue statements that seem to come directly from the mouth of a prim elocution-teacher articulating words to justify the prioritization of perspectives that afford the Anglo-Zionist sphere a green card. But strangely, their selective grief becomes ever more retrograde.

And it might be that they are unaware that they have been downgraded to the rank of cheerleaders, whose function it is to run into the arena waving plumes. In the ‘great game’ presently underway on the global pitch, where the dollar and the yuan are the symbols that adorn the goal post of either contestant, at either end of the playing field there are basically two combatants.

The neo-conservative class, cosseted in Anglo-Zionist priorities were quick to publish the following statement in the Independent Newspaper; US, France, Canada and Germany… pledge to join Theresa May’s Campaign Against Russian GRU Spy Agency…alleging that the whole operation was approved by Vladmir Putin’s government.

But something didn’t gel, this was a rerun to something we had seen before. It all came across as a reboot of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ …the same alliance who marched onto the world stage as liberators wishing to save Iraq from itself, but ended up destroying it, were back. Somebody had dusted off the old George Bush, Tony Blair, Condoleezza Rice and Henry Kissinger lies. The Brits, readying for another sortie, rushed out onto the ‘all the world is a stage’ hoping to kick another goal for Empire.

Stranger than strange is the fact that the liberal classes in the West fail to perceive contiguities that connect them to the horrendous slaughter of thousands of Yemen’s children, or to their acceptance of Israel’s inhuman occupation of Palestine, which alternates between subjecting the occupied people to siege warfare, or to a regatta like event, where the power of the smug occupying force is celebrated in ways the beggar belief. Shooting fish in a barrel comes to mind. Does this happen because “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”?

If the ‘good folk’ of Western enlightenment are undisturbed by the events that recently occurred in Gaza, then they are obviously at one with the majority of Israelis who relish turkey-shoots that slaughter hundreds of caged and unarmed civilians for the sport of it, simply because Israelis are in possession of an ideology that induces identity euphoria in them. Is it because they believe that God or Doctor Strangelove made them the chosen people?

Even more strange is the fact that humans continue to justify lies and subterfuge if their interests are challenged. The US, for example…the Godfather supporting Israel’s gauche actions…remains utterly committed to blocking change everywhere, so that it can keep the world dependent on the American dollar…and the American consumer as well…even at the cost of high trade deficits at home while engaging in trade wars if need be. Collusion between America and Israel is overseen by AIPAC…the new Founding Fathers of The Republic…who live in Washington and Tel Aviv, and whose purpose is to keep the banking system safe from miscegenation. Hence the drip feed prioritisation of single-issue texts and sub-texts that explain Western media and its disappearing values.

The methods used by the unipolar Anglo-Zionist Empire are brutally simple; use military muscle and propaganda to tabulate the rules of the agenda. The most expedient way to do so is to control the flow of information. The space between imputation and tabulation is where colonization is born.

America has become a culture that needs to spend an unbelievable amount of money on security to retain power, both domestically and abroad, so that it can continue to impede systems that might interfere in its quest for global economic hegemony. Its foremost need is to create a system of privately-run forces like Wall Street, The Pentagon, the Intelligence Agencies, the Media, Academia and every other institution that walls-in the ‘the people’s’ voice, so that Corporatism can remain the arbiter in matters of unity.

It is currently referred to as the Deep State. It could also be referred to as the place where fifth-columnists go to pull the leavers that release the crap that spews out from the entails of the chewing-gum single-issue personification of entitlement culture that has overtaken America. It freely proffers single-issues of many stripes to keep existential angst on the boil, while sequestering the sole right to interpret the meaning of unity.

Ever since Corporate American Democracy Inc. emerged as the marketable brand par excellence…by its own reckoning…it has unrelentingly sought to subsume every other form of rule to a nether zone of irrelevance. As its ideological logic continues to spread across the globe, it does so by creating organelles of the Doctor Strangelove kind to kill off competitors vying for a percentage of the global marketplace. The better known ones are, Economic Sanctions, False Flag Operations, Extrajudicial Killings, Government Destabilisation, Siege Warfare, crucifixion of non-white people and many other forms of flesh-shredding instrumentalities that have found their way into the Western toolbox.

But with the passing of time, we have come to understand how adept Corporate American Democracy Inc. has become in creating false-flag single issues of the anodyne kind in its quest to undermine the sovereignty of its neighbours. Examples that springs to mind are Russia Nationalism, State Capitalism and Confucianism in Communist China, plus the Religious component in the Iranian system of governance. In general, Anglo-American-Zionism has little tolerance for cultures in possession of unifying doctrines capable of underpinning the genesis of their unipolar cultures…which is why Corporate Capitalism frequently bombs the shit out of them.

Which brings us back to fifth columnists like George Soros, the archetypal Zionist anti-assimilationist, and what Alex Christoforou had to say about him;

“Leaked Memo Show how George Soros planned to overthrow Vladimir Putin and destabilise Russia”.

“The recent DC Leaks of over 2,500 documents from George Soros NGOs, has shed a bright light on how the billionaire used his vast wealth to create global chaos in a never-ending push to deliver his neo-liberal euphoria to the peasant classes.

While Soros has managed to thoroughly destabilise The European Union by promoting mass immigration and open borders, divided the United States by funding Black Lives Matter and corrupting the very corruptible US political class, and destroyed Ukraine by pushing for an illegal coup of a democratically elected government using neo-Nazi strong men…one country that Soros has not been able to crack has been The Russian Federation”.

One man’s meat is another man’ poison it would seem. Observing the parvenus of fake literacy pushing the Washington-Zionist Consensus across the globe is to witness an Empire in decline. It has acquired all the hallmarks of a society at war with itself. The view from the looking-glass suggests that the vitriolic blowback from within the greed-worn US of A may require the removal of the appellation ‘U’ from the ‘S of A’. At which point, a cross-gender ‘witchcraft craze’ may devour America’s fairest and foulest with a repeat of the Salem Witch Trials (Europe 1300 to 1600), leading to thousands of supposed witches…mostly women…being executed. If blowback is in the offing, expect the casualties to be in the millions this time?

It appears that American media in conjunction with government sanctioned controls relating to ‘kosher’ versus fake news, have successfully manufactured a caulking product that cocoons the native imagination…or lack of…in a narrative that is restrained by the octopus embrace of the billionaire class. The front line being the power to project single issues as the modus operandi of democracy, a multifarious system that leaves the question of helmsman-ship open to ever more privatization.

The joie de vivre that may have existed in the US of A of yore, is no more. It has been replaced by acrimonious duopoly-narcosis infighting concerning which side of the duopoly can run the surveillance state that Corporate America has become. As execrable inequality continues to eat into the American dream, more and more Americans have come to realize that the system is stacked against them. They suspect that there is some awful presence in their midst, but don’t quite know what it is. They suspect that some unnameable force has corrupted the social aspect of the State but remain mystified as to how a socialised state might ward off the predations of Corporate Capitalism.

The idea that the State could be the vector that unified all single-issues is incompatible in a culture that venerated private property and celebratory status as an end to itself. When China’s successes in harnessing capitalism’s potential in ways that worked for the unity of the entire system began to show positive results, alarm bells began ringing in the US of A. It was at this point that the capitalist media swung into action, employing the best bullshit its epistemological dirty dancers could muster to accuse China of bad faith, evil intent, colonial skulduggery, and just about every single issue it could come up with to detract from the obviously very successful New Silk Roads enterprise.

The reason that the New Silk Roads ventures were embraced by so many African nations were that the terms of trade and borrowing were generally more attractive that anything Western banks could match. Besides, Chinese diplomacy and comity were palliatives accompanying the magic of the silky yuan making its way into a greatly underdeveloped dark continent. Silk, gold and the yuan had arrived in time to add a little hope for Africans endeavouring to develop their resourceful habitats.

According to China’s Chamber of International commerce, over 3,000 Chinese companies have invested Africa-wide in telecommunications, transportation, power generation, industrial parks, water supply, rental business for construction machinery, retail, schools, hotels and hospitals.

At the Forum on China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, President Xi Jinping announced a significant US $60 billion package to compliment another US $60 billion pledged at the 2015 summit.

That breaks down to $15 billion in grants and interest-free loans; $20 billion in credit lines; a $10 billion fund for development financing; $5 billion to finance imports from Africa; and waiving the debt of the poorest African nations diplomatically linked to China.

We in the Anglo-Zionist marketplace have lost sight of what comity might mean in the context of trade. As colonists and war-mongers we have come to accept violence and deception as the norm. We have also come to accept one set of rules for those on the outside of society, and another set of rules for those on the inside…or for those yet deeper within…the Deep State mandarins who manipulate us.

On any given day, there is $41.1 trillion in a self-invested network of interlocking capital that spans the globe and is managed by the mandarins of global capitalism operating outside our purview, to provide the ideological justifications for their shared interests (promulgated through their corporate media), that entails formulating agendas that have little, if any, concerns about human values or matters pertaining to the health of the planet. They are there as policy elites who seek the continued growth of capital in the world and to serve a unifying function…but for whom?

The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, G20, G7, World Trade Organization (WTO), World Economic Forum (WEF), Trilateral commission, Bilderberg Group, Bank of International Settlements, Group of 30 (G30), the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Monetary Conference serve as institutional mechanisms for consensus building within the transnational class, who in turn, exist as states within states, where they enjoy the collective status of fifth columnists, quietly and covertly accumulating assets per means of neo-conservative privatisation.

For evidence of this, we need only look back and observe how deep-state interests skewed interpretations of historic fact to justify their own existential playbook. The phrase “axis of evil” was first used by US President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002 and often repeated through his presidency, to describe foreign governments that, during his administration, sponsored terrorism and sought weapons of mass destruction. The phrase attributed to former speechwriter David Frum, originally as the axis of hatred and then evil. Frum explained the rational for creating the phrase “axis of evil” in his book, “The Right Man. The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush”.

With hindsight, we see how the consolidation of America’s Deep State came into being. The war on the Muslim World was let rip because it had the blessing of AIPAC, The New York Times and a host of fellow travellers who successfully maneuvered their mandarins into positions of power, deep inside the heart of the Republic. In effect, Zionism created a new ‘Vatican’ in the US of A, becoming an eminence grise by slithering its way into the heart of the Republic. In so doing, it adopted the mantle and status of alter ego for the punch-drunk Republic and employed institutions like the New York Times to tabulate a language of deception.

Dipping even deeper into the archives of ‘hindsight’, we are now able to tabulate…thus interpret…the many actions of ‘The Coalition of The Willing’ as being nothing more that an unconscionable jamboree of disinformation designed to intimate the Muslim World, and ultimately, Russia, China, Iran, North Korea…countries that were seen as obstacles that stood in the way of the Anglo-American-Zionist “Project for the New American Century”…compliments of William Kristol and Robert Kagan.

PNAC’s stated goal was “to promote American Global Leadership”. This organization stated that “American leadership is good for both America and for the world” and sought to build support for “a Reaganite” policy of military strength and moral clarity. What we observe in hindsight is totally unacceptable…the re-immergence of a Crusader mentality?

What The Washington Consensus achieved under the leadership of its alter ego (Zionism) was something entirely different; the destruction of Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Palestine and other states occurred with absolute impunity. Worst of all, if current holocausts are brought out into the light of day as is the fashion of single-issues politics, they are quickly removed from centre stage scrutiny by the invisible hand that owns the franchise on victimology…and the price for saying that other holocausts are no less inferior to those under franchise, is to be branded an anti-…!!

“All the world’s a stage”, declared the Bard of Avon. But think again; the acrimonious garbage that spews from the mouths of Western governments and their media show us that something quite uniquely different is happening on the world stage that no bard could explain. The evidence is now before us, language and truth are in freefall, and we may just have to wait until some unknown force comes to our rescue, to purge the toxic swamp that obscures our vision of that “All the World’s a Stage” perspective, the one that contains the seeds that are needed to grow a unified unity.

Denis A. Conroy
Freelance Writer
Australia

Libya in chaos seven years after NATO’s ‘liberation’, but who cares? – By Neil Clark – RT

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Libya in chaos seven years after NATO's 'liberation', but who cares?
Libya remains a lawless land, with rival militias fighting battles in the streets of Tripoli and over 1 million people in need of aid. But the West’s ‘liberal interventionists’ aren’t interested in the catastrophe they created.

Hundreds escape prison amid deadly clashes in Tripoli,” a headline on the BBC News website declared this week. 

Over 60 people have died in the current fighting with many more injured and hundreds of ordinary citizens displaced. The latest disturbances began after the Tarhuna’s 7th Infantry ”Kaniat‘ Brigade made advances into the capital from the south and clashed with a coalition of Tripoli militias. 

It’s really hard to keep up with who’s fighting who. If you think the situation in Syria is complicated, you haven’t been paying much attention to Libya. As the BBC article acknowledged: “Libya has faced continuing chaos since NATO-backed militia forces, some of them rivals, overthrew long-serving ruler Colonel Gaddafi in October 2011.”

Libya has rival governments but even they don’t control the majority of the country. There is no ‘rule of law’, only the rule of the gun. Libya’s regression from the country with the highest Human Development Index figure in the whole of Africa just ten years ago, to a fragmented and very dangerous failed state, is hard to take in. Last year, the UN Agency IOM reported that slave markets had returned to the country. 

Economic and societal collapse has had a devastating impact on the life of ordinary Libyans.

Take health care. A 2017 Service Availability and Readiness Assessment survey, conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health, found that 17 out of 97 hospitals are closed and only four hospitals were functional between 75-80% of their capacity. Over 20% primary health care facilities are closed and the rest are not “well ready for service delivery“.

In May 2016, the WHO also expressed ‘great concern’ over the deaths of 12 newborns in the Sabah Medical Centre neonatal intensive care unit in Sabha, southern Libya. It records: “The deaths occurred as a result of a bacterial infection and lack of specialized health staff to provide medical care.

The education system is also in a state of collapse or near-collapse. In 2016, it was reported that the start of the school year was postponed because of a “lack of books, lack of security and many other factors.”

It was noted that the Libyan school year had not been regular since the fall of Gaddafi. This year, UNICEF said that 489 schools were affected by the conflict and that around 26,000 students had been forced to change schools due to closures. 

UNICEF also says that 378,000 children in Libya are in need of humanitarian assistance, 268,000 are in need of safe water, sanitation and hygiene and 300,000 are in need of education in emergency support. Overall 1.1m people in Libya are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Given the dire situation it is no surprise that so many Libyans have left, or are leaving. In 2014, it was reported that between 600,000 and 1m had fled to Tunisia

If we add those who went to Egypt and elsewhere, the figure is likely to be in excess of 2 million, quite staggering when you consider that the 2011 population of Libya was around 6 million.

As I argued in a previous op-ed, the Western assault on Libya was an even worse crime than the invasion of Iraq because it came later. There was really no excuse for anyone, seeing how the ‘regime change’ operation of 2003 had turned out, supporting a similar venture in North Africa.

Yet, those responsible for what happened have faced no comeback. The UK Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, is blamed for Brexit (by Remainers), but not for what he did to Libya and the claims he made to justify the military action. This is despite a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report concluding, five years later, that “the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.”

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President in 2011, faces a trial (or trials) in relation to three different investigations, including accepting money from Gaddafi to help his election campaign, but he has not yet been prosecuted for his role in the war.

Bernard-Henri Levy, the philosopher considered by some to be the intellectual godfather of the Western intervention – and who boastedwe are the first to say that Qaddafi is no longer the legal representative,” is performing a one-man anti-Brexit play, as the country he helped ‘liberate’ burns. 

Stateside and in ‘liberal’ circles across the West, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are lionised for not being Donald Trump, but what the duo did to Libya is far worse than anything Trump has done up to now.

And the British Home Secretary under whose watch control orders on members of the anti-Gaddafi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were lifted, one Theresa May, is now Prime Minister, and trying to take the moral high ground against Russia. To add insult to injury, it is a politician who opposed the NATO action in 2011, Jeremy Corbyn, who is under constant media attack and painted as beyond the pale. Just how wrong is that?

Returning to the current violence, a UN-brokered ceasefire to end the fighting in south Tripoli is reported at time of writing to be holding, but bearing in mind how previous ceasefires have collapsed, we can’t be optimistic. Part of the problem is that the country is awash with arms. The sad truth is that Libya is broken and probably will never be put back together again. A great crime has been committed, but you would never think it, judging by the lack of media coverage.

We’ve had a lot of debate this summer in Britain about Israel’s ‘right to exist’- and whether challenging this makes one ‘anti-Semitic’ but the reality is that Libya – as a modern, functioning state – has ceased to exist. And no one in elite, establishment circles seems the least bit bothered. Consider how many column inches were devoted to ‘saving’ Libya in the build up to NATO’s ‘humanitarian’ intervention seven and a half years ago, with the lack of opinion pieces about the country today.  

Try googling the names of some of the leading media war hawks and ‘Libya’ and you see they tend to go as silent after 2011 – shifting their attention to propagandising for ‘regime change’ in Syria. The only conclusion one can draw is their sole interest in the country was seeing Muammar Gaddafi toppled. After that was achieved, who cares?

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Syrian War Report – September 6, 2018: Russian Warplanes Wipe Out Armed UAV Workshop In Idlib – bY SOUTH FRONT- VT

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https://southfront.org/wp-content/plugins/fwduvp/content/video.php?path=https%3A%2F%2Fsouthfront.org%2Fsyrian-war-report-september-6-2018-russian-warplanes-wipe-out-armed-uav-workshop-in-idlib%2F&pid=1395

…from SouthFront

Su-34 and Su-35S warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces have destroyed a warehouse of portable anti-aircraft missiles and a workshop where Idlib militants were making armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and kept explosives in store, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov announced on September 5. According to him, the strikes were delivered on September 4, away from populated areas. Konashenkov noted that over the past month 47 UAVs launched by militants have been eliminated near Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base.

Earlier, pro-militant sources once again accused the Russian Aerospace Forces of striking civilian targets in the province of Idlib. While some civilian casualties as a result of any kind of fully-fledged operations against well-armed terrorist groups can hardly be avoided, pro-militant sources and mainstream media outlets are often exploiting this narrative in their propaganda campaigns against the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance. Most of reports appearing from pro-militant “media activists” in Idlib describe any destroyed militant position, HQ or warehouse as a bakery, a medical point or a civilian house.

Fearing a full-scale ground advance by the Syrian Army against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its allies in the Idlib de-escalation zone, militants are destroying bridges in the al-Ghab Plains area. According to available data, at least four bridges were blown up during the past 10 days.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham-led forces have also built additional fortifications and deployed reinforcements at the contact line with pro-government forces as well as have carried out a series of arrests of public persons and political activists supporting a reconciliation with the Damascus government.

On September 5, the Syrian military deployed another batch of troops and heavy equipment near the province of Idlib. This force belongs to the 1st Division, which is set to participate in the upcoming offensive alongside with the Tiger Forces, the 5th Assault Corps, the 4th Armoured Division and other pro-government factions.

In the area of al-Safa, the Syrian Army continued its operation against ISIS cells. According to pro-government sources, artillery units and warplanes are actively striking the remaining ISIS positions. However, no final offensive has been launched yet because Damascus still hopes to save multiple civilian hostages kept by the terrorist group in the area.

On September 4, the White House once again threatened the Syrian government with a military action.

“The United States is closely monitoring the situation in Idlib province, Syria, where millions of innocent civilians are under threat of an imminent Assad regime attack, backed by Russia and Iran,” the statement said. “Let us be clear, it remains our firm stance that if President Bashar al-Assad chooses to again use chemical weapons, the United States and its Allies will respond swiftly and appropriately.”

Considering multiple US threats to use military force against Damascus in case of new reports on chemical attack in Syria, it will be strange if no such reports appear when the battle of Idlib finally starts.

Insanity of Political Leaders: More Common Than Thought – By Wayne MADSEN – Strategic Culture Foundation

Insanity of Political Leaders: More Common Than Thought
Wayne MADSEN | 06.09.2018 | WORLD / Americas

Political scientists would argue that the rigors of running for political office coupled with the glaring microscope of press attention would normally weed out any candidate suffering from mental illness. Whether political leaders gain office democratically or from unconstitutional means, the degree of mental illness among the top leadership of nations around the world in recent history has been remarkably high.

For example, in 2014, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid a controversial visit to the Yasukuni shrine, where several convicted and executed war criminals from World War II are buried, it was over the strong objections of Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Prime Minister Executive Secretary Imai Takaya. The prime minister’s assistants warned him that Japan’s relations with China and South Korea would deteriorate even further over the shrine visit. Abe disregarded their advice.

Abe’s infuriation with Washington over the Barack Obama administration’s criticism over his Yasukuni visit plus his ignoring the advice of his closest aides led many senior governing Liberal Democratic Party politicians to wonder whether Abe was completely sane. In Japan, as in the United States, it is next to impossible to force a chief executive to submit to a mental examination.

The US Central Intelligence Agency has long psychologically profiled foreign leaders. In 1984, CIA deputy director for intelligence Robert Gates, who later became CIA director under George H. W. Bush, renamed the CIA’s Political Psychology Division the Political Psychology Center (PPC). Gates also gave the unit higher visibility within the Intelligence Community. Today, the PPC develops – based on intelligence sources and methods – psychological profiles on various world leaders. These include North Korea’ Kim Jong Un, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Worldwide intelligence agencies, likewise, maintain psychological profiles of US leaders. Recent revelations have revealed that President Donald Trump suffers from paranoia, emotional delusions, fits of rage, and compulsive lying. Trump’s psychological profiles maintained by intelligence agencies certainly dwarf those held on other world leaders. Trump provides a rich subject for intelligence agency psychiatrists, psychologists, and neuro-linguistic experts.

Trump is not the first US president to suffer from mental illness. On September 20, 2007, President George W. Bush suggested at a White House news conference that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein killed Nelson Mandela. Bush said, “I heard somebody say, ‘Now where’s Mandela?’ Well, Mandela is dead. Because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas.” Mandela, at the time, was alive at the age of 89. In 2003, Mandela conducted his own psychoanalysis of Bush, stating that Bush is “a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly.”

A 1977 CIA analysis of the personality traits of various world leaders concluded that Israel’s Shimon Peres as “arrogant.” British Prime Minister James Callaghan was deemed to be an “intellectual lightweight.” French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s psychological dossier was summed in two words: “aristocratic” and “cold.” West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was described as “cocky,” Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau a “charmer” with a lot of personal problems with his marriage, Chinese leader Hua Kuo-feng, “shrewd” and not totally committed to Communist ideology, Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, “wily, skillful, and tactful,” and Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, “unpredictable” and a “potential mass murderer.”

Amin was, in fact, a mass murderer. The CIA also concluded that several leaders suffered from alcoholism. Others were pegged as gossip mongers. The CIA challenged the world’s perception of Costa Rican three-time president, Jose Figueres Ferrer, as a widely respected statesman. The CIA determined that Figueres and certain family members were nothing more than crooks.

Earlier CIA psychological profiles provided unusually honest assessments of certain leaders. For example, one agency profile described Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev as a “ham actor, who sometimes illustrates his points with the crudest sort of barnyard humor,” but also noting, “Khrushchev is endowed on occasion with considerable personal dignity.” Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was reported to be “not psychotic,” but having “a strong paranoid orientation.”

In 2009, after Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a CIA-planned military coup, The Miami Herald, the paper-of-choice for Latin American oligarchs and despots, floated a poorly-sources story that Zelaya was “an anti-Semitic lunatic.” In Zelaya’s case, charges that he suffered from a mental illness were clearly contrived and disseminated by Israeli intelligence sources in Miami who were pushing back against Zelaya’s valid assertions of Israeli involvement in the Honduran coup. The Zelaya case shows that not all allegations that a leader suffers from mental impairment are true. Similar tactics were used falsely against former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The CIA has been known to lie about some leaders in its psychological profiling. Its report on former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a case in point. The CIA profile stated that Aristide “suffered from manic depression, had sought treatment at a Montreal hospital in the early ’80s, and was taking a powerful antipsychotic drug.” Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital in Montreal responded, stating Aristide was never a patient. Aristide denied using any sort of anti-psychotic medications, including Lithium Oligosol.

Although it is a cheap shot to falsely accuse a political leader who is perfectly sane of being the opposite, there remains enough documentation from medical sources to question the mental capacities of some world leaders. In July 1998, a psychological analysis was commissioned on current Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. The analysis was made during Duterte’s annulment of his marriage to Elizabeth Zimmerman, which took place during Duterte’s term as mayor of Davao City. Dr. Natividad Dayan diagnosed Duterte as suffering from “antisocial narcissistic personality disorder” marked by “gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness,” as well as “grandiose sense of self-entitlement and manipulative behaviors.” Dayan’s report also said of Duterte that he had a “pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights and feelings,” “was unable to reflect on the consequences of his actions,” had a “poor capacity for objective judgement,” and that he failed to “see things in the light of facts.” 

As far as Duterte’s marriage was concerned, Dayan concluded that Duterte was “psychologically incapacitated to handle essential marital obligations” because of his “inability for loyalty and commitment” and “lack of capacity for remorse and guilt.” Such a psychological profile could easily apply to another well-known world leader. In recent remarks delivered in Jerusalem, Duterte said that Trump is a “good friend” who “speaks my language.”

Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s sanity was also questioned toward the end of his presidency. Chris Mutsvangwa, a special adviser to current Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said in May 2017 remarks to the Harare Press Club that Mugabe was “mentally unstable.” In January 2018, Mnangagwa stated that former First Lady Grace Mugabe was “not mentally sound.”

There is nothing to suggest that leaders suffering from mental illness should be removed from office merely because of their conditions. It is when such illness results in destructive actions that removal is warranted. President Abraham Lincoln is said to have suffered from clinical depression. However, Lincoln’s actions as president are generally commended by historians for saving the United States. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s physician diagnosed his patient’s depression as arising from bipolar disorder. However, no one suggested that Churchill was incapable of carrying out both peacetime and wartime duties as prime minister. On the other hand, Adolf Hitler’s panoply of reported mental disorders, including schizophrenia and narcissistic personality, sadistic personality, and antisocial personality disorders, made him a legitimate target for removal by any means possible.

When the line is crossed between a benign leader suffering from mental depression to a malignant leader suffering from sociopathic desires to threaten death and destruction, it is a clear signal that such a menace should be removed from power forthwith and without rancorous political debate. 

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