Making sense of Russian political ambiguities – By The Saker

VLADIMIRPUTINEARTHSAVIOUR

[This article was written for the Unz Review]

Introduction: the world is not Hollywood

The past couple of weeks saw a number of truly tectonic events taking place simultaneously in the USA, in Russia, in Israel, in Syria, in Iran and in the EU. I think that it would also be reasonable to say that most of those who opposed the AngloZionist Empire have felt feelings ranging from mild disappointment to total dismay. I sure did not hear many people rejoicing, but if somebody was, they were in the minority (uncharacteristically, Mikhail Khazin, for example). These reactions are normal, we all form expectations which can be, and often are, disappointed. Still, even when the news is clearly bad it is helpful to keep a number of things in mind.

First, people, countries and events are not frozen in time. They are processes. Processes, by definition, are subject to change, evolution and (even radical) changes in direction.

Second, each process carries within itself the seeds of its own contradiction. This is what makes processes dynamic.

Third, people are imperfect. Even good people make mistakes, sometimes with tragic consequences. Yet it would be wrong to separate them all into either “infallible hero” or “abject villain and loser”. In fact, I would argue that any kind of mistake, especially a serious one, carries within itself its own contradiction which, in turn, can end up “energizing” the original process by creating a different set of circumstances.

All this is to say that the real world is not like Hollywood when the outcome of the story is only 90 minutes or so away. The real world is at war with the Empire and in this war, like in any other wars, there are mistakes and losses on both sides Both sides make mistakes and the results of these mistakes affect the future course of the war.

I would argue that in the past couple of weeks Russia suffered not one, but several PR disasters. I would also argue that the Zionists have had some tremendous PR successes. I will list them further below, but I want to suggest to you that PR disasters and successes are not quite the same as real-world, tangible victories. Furthermore, PR disasters and successes can sometimes be useful, as they reveal to the world previously overlooked, or underestimated, weaknesses. Finally, PR disasters and successes, while existing mostly in the realm of perceptions, can have a real-world effect, sometimes a dramatic one.

The usual chorus of Putin-haters who immediately declared final victory is completely mistaken and their reaction is the reflection of an infantile understanding of the complex world we live in. In the real world, a person like Putin can, and usually does, commit mistakes (PR and real-world mistakes) and the enemy can mount very effective counter-attacks. But the outcome of the war is not decided on a single battle. Furthermore, in politics, like in regular warfare, tactical mistakes and successes do not at all imply operational or, even less so, strategic successes. During WWII the German military usually performed better than the Soviet one on the tactical level, but the Soviets were superior on the operational and strategic levels. We all know how that war ended. If you want to read a good analysis and debunking of the “Putin caved in” nonsense, I recommend the article ”Russia Betrayed Syria”: Geopolitics through the eyes of a fearful “pro-Russia” Westerner” by Ollie Richardson.

The other extreme is to deny, against all evidence, that there is a problem or that mistakes have been made. That kind of stubborn flag-waving is actually unhelpful as mistakes are inevitable, and the first step towards mitigating them is to recognize them. The extreme version of that kind of flag-waving (pseudo-)patriotism is to denounce a person brining up problems as a traitor or a defeatist.

It is with all this in mind that I would like to revisit what has taken place and try to gauge what the real-world consequences of these PR events might be.

Part one: Putin disappoints

Quick summary: Putin re-appointed Medvedev, appointed Alexei Kudrin as Chairman of the Accounts Chamber of Russia and Vitalii Mutko as Deputy Prime Minister in charge of construction, he then hosted Bibi Netanyahu in the Kremlin while the latter bombed Syria right before, during and after Netanyahu’s visit. Finally, there is the disgraceful zig-zag about the S-300 for Syria: first, yes we will do it, then, no we won’t. All these events can, and should, be carefully analyzed and explained, but I don’t think that it makes sense to deny that most people feel a sense of disappointment over it all (except, of course, the bright geniuses who will claim that they knew all along that Putin was “fake”, but this is precisely the “Hollywood-thinking” types on whom any real analysis would be lost in the first place).

I would argue that even those who think that this is no big deal and that nothing terrible happened will not, if they are honest, deny that Putin must have known, without any doubt, that his decisions would be unpopular with the Russian public and that, very uncharacteristically for him, he deliberately chose to ignore his only public opinion and favor other considerations. That is something very new and, I think, something important.

There are roughly two camps vying for power inside the Kremlin: I call them the Atlantic Integrationists and the Eurasian Sovereignists. The former group is a pure product of the 1990s. We can think of them as “liberals”, IMF/Washington Consensus/WTO/WB types; folks who came to power thanks to the regime of oligarchs which ran Russia from about 1990 to 2000 and which was both deeply pro-American and which had extremely close ties to Israel and the various political Jewish and Zionist organizations in the West. The latter group is primarily a product of the armed forces and the security services. The “bridge” between the two is, by the way, the Russian military industrial complex in which both groups are represented. Unsurprisingly, most Russian “elites” (defined simply as people who made their fortune or, at least, a good living in the 1990s and after) support the Atlantic Integrationists, while most “regular” Russian people overwhelmingly support the Eurasian Sovereignists. This is why Putin is so popular and Medvedev never was. What is interesting is to look into how these groups relate to Israel and Zionism.

In a past article, I have already looked at the complex and multi-layered relationship between Israel and Russia. At this point we need to look a little deeper and see how each of these groups relates to Israel and Zionism.

Atlantic Integrationists: unsurprisingly, they are pro-Israeli to the hilt. For them, Israel is a totally normal country, even to be admired, as they all have personal/family and business ties to Israelis in Israel and in the USA. While there is no official version of AIPAC in Russia, let’s just say that the ADL would give the Atlantic Integrationists a perfect score for loyalty and service.

Eurasian Sovereignists: here, things are much more complicated. Some Eurasian Sovereignists are profoundly anti-Zionist ideologically, while others don’t really care. But even for those who have no love for Israel, or who are deeply opposed to the Zionist influence in Russia in the 1990s or even today (especially in the Russian media), do not necessarily find it useful to say much about it. Why? Primarily because they think, and I would say correctly so, that being pro-Russian (in the sense of patriotic and wanting a truly sovereign Russia) does not have to entail being anti-Zionist, anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish. Furthermore, there are, and have always been, patriotic Russian Jews who have been an integral part of the Russian culture and history. Just like I often write that for Russians, Muslims are not “aliens” in the way many westerners perceive them, and Jews are not “aliens” for Russians either. This is why you can often meet the following Russian type: they will bitch and complain about all the Jewish “crooks and politicians”, but have “good” Jews as their closest and best friends. This is not blindness at all, this is the expression of the fact that to loathe an ideology is one thing, but to collectively feel hostility towards a group of people you know very well is a completely different proposition. I will never cease to repeat it: Russia is, has always been, and still remains a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society in which the presence of “others” simply is a fact of life.

Then there is the WWII factor, which the Israelis and Russians Zionists have been extremely skilled at exploiting to the max: Russians and Jew are united in a common memory of the horrors the Nazis inflicted upon them and they also often sense that West Europeans and US Americans are, well, maybe not quite as sincerely sympathetic to their plight even if political correctness forces them to pretend to be. As a result, you will find that most anti-Zionist Russians, while surely not “ADL compatible” in their views, hate the Nazis and everything western racism stands for no less than Jews would. If fact, when faced with the modern wave of rabid russophobia, many Russians say “we are the new Jews”, meaning that everything evil on the planet is blamed on them regardless of fact or logic. Like it or not, but that common memory does bind Russians and Jews in a profound way.

I can already imagine the rage and disgust my words above will trigger in western Jew-haters for whom the world is split into two groups: Jew-haters (good) and all those who “sold out” to “the Jews” (as if there was such monad as “the Jews”). All I can tell them is this: don’t project your reductionist world view on others, especially not on Russia. If you do, you will never “get” Russia and you will be stuck with the kind of proverbial nonsense like “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.

Part two: The Empire Strikes back

The past couple of years have been terrible for the Zionists, both in the USA and in the rest of the world. First, there was the crushing defeat of their candidate in the USA and the election of a candidate they rabidly hated. Then there was the Russian military intervention in Syria which prevented them from overthrowing the last secular “resistance” regime in the Arab world. In Russia, “their” Atlantic Integrationists were slowly but surely losing power and all in all, the western sanctions turned out to be a blessing for Russia. Putin’s popularity was soaring to new heights and the the global “Zionist house” was on fire. In the USA, the Zionists counter-attacked with lightening speed and with a devastating effectiveness, breaking Trump in about 30 days (as shown by Trump’s betrayal of Flynn and later Bannon). After that, Trump made appeasing AIPAC his full-time job.

But that left another problem: while the US was re-taken under control, Russia, in the meantime, had succeeded in developing the capabilities to completely negate the entire US ABM system, to make much of the surface fleet obsolete and severely to impair the ability of US airpower to operate in airspace contested by modern Russian air defenses. In other words, in purely military terms, this was “game, set, match for Russia”.

[Sidebar: to those shocked by this statement and who would dismiss this as “Russian propaganda” I will submit the following: US military power is predicated on the following:

  1. The ability to deploy a carrier strike group anywhere on the planet.
  2. The ability to protect that carrier strike group from any major counter-attack.
  3. The ability to strike any country in the world with enough missile and airstrikes to break its will to continue to fight.
  4. The complete and total control of the skies (air supremacy). US forces simply never train for a combat scenario where they don’t control the skies or, even less so, when their enemy does.
  5. The very strong belief that no enemy would dare attack major overseas US bases.
  6. The very strong, quasi religious, belief that US military technology is superior.
  7. The absolute certitude that the US mainland would never be hit in a counter-attack.

None of the previous beliefs are based in reality anymore and, in fact, their opposite is true. This is why when dealing with a near-peer or peer enemy the US armed forces are more or less useless. The only very notable exception is the US nuclear triad and the US submarine fleet. The current situation in Syria (and by implication, Iran and Russia) is finally gradually bringing this new reality to the awareness of US decision-makers and military commanders.]

This is why Russia, albeit with only a tiny contingent, succeeded in turning the tide of the war in Syria and even now presents the AngloZionists with a frustrating challenge: a (comparatively) tiny contingent of Russian forces completely derailed the Empire’s plans for the entire Middle-East: not only is there a real change of peace breaking out in Syria, but the situation is far from having the Takfiris and Shia killing each other in Syria and Lebanon (a key part of the Israeli plan for the region). Hezbollah, Iran and the Syrians are now in a victorious coalition on the ground with the “Axis of Kindness” forces roundly defeated.

So the Israelis decided on a simple, very effective and very dangerous counter offensive plan: 1) start a war between the USA and Iran by creating an acute crisis as a result of the US reneging on its legal obligations and 2) bait Iran into a counter-attack in response to Israel air operations against Iranian and pro-Iranian forces in Syria. But for that plan to succeed, Russia needed to stay out.

So far, at least, it looks like the Israelis have convinced the Russians to stay out. But is that perception really well founded?

Part three: factors inhibiting Russia

First and foremost, as I have already explained in great detail in the past, Russia has absolutely no legal or moral obligation to support, protect, arm, train or otherwise assist anybody in the Middle-East. None. Russia has already done more for Syria than the entire Arab/Muslim world combined with the notable exception of Iran and Hezbollah. As for the Arab/Muslim world, it has never done anything for Russia and still is doing nothing. So those who like to whine about Russia not doing enough simply have no case whatsoever.

Second, the Russian air defense and air forces in Syria have only one mission: to protect the Russian task force in Syria. Whoever got the idea that Russia is supposed to shoot down Israeli aircraft or missiles over Syria has not been paying attention to public Russian statements about this. The notion that the Russian task force in Syria is there to engage US/NATO/CENTCOM forces is just as ridiculous.

Third, and contrary to a frequently held misconception, the Syrian government, Iran, Hezbollah and Iran have different agendas in the Middle-East. Yes, they are de-facto allies. They also have the same enemies, they often work together, but they all think of their own interests first. In fact, at least in the case of Iran and Russia, there are clear signs that there are several ‘camps’ inside the Russian and Iranian government and the ruling elites which have different agendas (I highly recommend Thierry Meyssan’s recent articles on this topic here and here). To think that any or all of them will instantly come to the defense of any one of them is supremely naïve, especially when the aggressor (Israel) is backed by the full power of an already warmongering Empire run amok.

Fourth, the sad reality is that Russia, unlike Iran, never took a principled position concerning the nature and behavior of the state of Israel. I very much deplore that, and I consider it a shame, but I hasten to add that this shame is shared by every single country on the planet except Iran, Bolivia and, maybe, to some extent Turkey. Not to excuse anything, but only to explain, there is very little awareness amongst Russians about the true nature and behavior of the Israelis, and most of what makes it to the media is hopelessly pro-Israeli (hence the almost constant presence of the likes of Iakov Kedmi, Avigdor Eskin, Evgenii Satanovskii and other Israeli agents – they don’t even really bother to deny it – on Russian TV). The Russian media, especially the TV stations, could easily get a “ADL seal of approval”. Simply put: the vast majority of Russians don’t feel that the plight of the Palestinians or the constant Israeli attacks on neighboring countries is their problem.

[Sidebar: such a view can appear very self-centered until you recall the kind of “gratitude” Russia got in the past from her former interventions. There are countries out there who exist only because Russia decided that they should exist and which today are members of NATO. I won’t even go into the “Slavic brotherhood” or, for that matter, “Orthodox brotherhood” nonsense. The only people with whom Russia truly has a strong bond are the Serbs. The rest of them were more than happy to backstab Russia as soon as convenient. Thus history has taught Russia a painful lesson: give up on any naïve notions of gratitude or brotherhood. Very sad, but true. Today, even countries like Kazakhstan, Armenia or Georgia are showing a very ambivalent (and even ambiguous) attitude towards Russia. As a result the idea that Russia owes some form of protection to anybody out there has almost no support in Russia.]

Fifth, even the Eurasian Sovereignist’s analysts and media in Russia have this absolutely amazing “blind spot” about Israel and the Zionist ideology: I think of analysts whom I sincerely admire and respect (like Sergei Mikheev or Ruslan Ostashko) and whose analysis is superb on pretty much everything and who simply never mention the power and influence of what is clearly a powerful pro-Israeli lobby inside Russia, especially in the Russian media (even when they mention the power of the Israel lobby in the USA). Considering how different the tone of much of the Russian Internet is, the only explanation I have for this situation is that any public anti-Israeli or anti-Zionist statements are career-terminators in Russia (we also clearly see the same phenomenon at work with RT and Sputnik). You can completely forget about any Russian religious figures speaking up, and that goes both for the Orthodox and Muslims: they all take their orders from the Kremlin and have no personal opinion on anything (I am only talking about the “official” senior religious leaders – the rank and file faithful do not display this type of behavior).

Sixth, there are plenty of people in Russia who fully realize two simple things: first, a war between Iran and the Empire would be disastrous for the Empire (and therefore great for Russia) and, second, the Iranians are also “problematic” allies at best who have their own version of “Atlanticists” (remember the “Gucci Revolution”?) and “Sovereignists”, which means that tensions, or warfare, between Iran and the USA would be greatly advantageous for the anti-US camp inside Iran (just like the rabid russophobia of western politicians did more to re-elect Putin than any of his own campaign rhetoric). To put it crudely, if the Israelis are dumb enough to attack the Iranians, and if the US Americans are subservient enough to Israel to join into the fight – why should Russia take great risks and openly stand in the way? Finally, any conflict with Iran (which will most likely also involve the KSA) will have oil prices skyrocket. What do you think this will do to the Russian economy?

Seventh, the war which Israel is currently waging against Iran and pro-Iranian forces in Syria is entirely a symbolic war. Even the Pantsir which was recently destroyed by the Israelis (with the usual pro-Israeli PR campaign) was not even on combat alert: the unit was not even camouflaged and its crew was standing around and smoking. The Israelis are masters at making this look all very impressive and heroic, but in military terms, this is nonsense: they clearly hit a unit which was not even part of the action (whatever that “action” was).

The basic rule of warfare still remains valid today: unless you can put boots on the ground, your efforts will never have a decisive military effect. And thank God for the fact that nobody in the “Axis of Kindness” has any credible ground forces; not the Israelis (remember 2006?); not the Saudis (look at Yemen); and most definitely not the USA (when is the last time they beat somebody capable of resisting?). That is why the AngloZionist Empire always tries to use proxies like the Kurds or the “good terrorists” to fight on its behalf. Thus the Russian military specialists fully understand that even if the Israelis bombed Syria for the next several months, they would not be able to change the fundamental correlation of forces on the ground. Hence, the Israeli strikes are mostly about PR.

Still, for all these reasons, and more, we all have to come to terms with the fact that Russia is what I would call a “limited actor” in the Middle-East. I have been saying from day 1 – when some were having visions of Russian airborne divisions (supported by MiG-31s!) landing near Damascus – that “the Russians are not coming” (see here, here, here, here and here). Furthermore, I tried to explain that the Russians are under no obligation whatsoever to protect or save anyone anywhere, including in the Middle-East (see here). Finally, I tried to explain that the Russian-Israeli relationship is a multi-layered and complex one (see here) and that Putin is facing some tremendous internal opposition which he has failed to successfully tackle (see here). But trying to describe a complex reality is often a futile task in a world in which simple, black and white, binary-kind of representations are the rule and where every complex argument is immediately turned into a long list of straw-man misrepresentations. This is still very much the case with the latest developments.

Those who say that “Putin sold out” are wrong, but so are those who think that “the Russians are coming” to save anybody. It is just not going to happen. Russia will not fight a war against Israel (unless she is attacked first) and Russia will only support Iranian operations and policies insofar as the Iranians negotiate a deal with the Russian and coordinate their efforts. As soon as Iran, or Hezbollah, make a move without prior consultations with Moscow, they will be on their own to deal with the consequences.

Part four: is Russia caving in to Western and Israeli pressure?

Setting aside the issue of the Russian role in the Middle-East, there remains the issue of why Putin failed to deliver on what was clearly a mandate of the Russian people to get rid of at least of the most hated personalities in the Russian government. Most folks in the West know how toxic Kudrin is, but the promotion of Mutko is nothing short of amazing too. This is the man who is most to blame for the gross mismanagement of the entire “Russia doping scandal” operation and who is absolutely despised for his incompetence. Now he is in charge of construction. There is even a good joke about this: Putin put Mutko in charge of the construction industry because the Russian construction market badly needs some doping. Funny, sure, but only so far. When I see Rogozin removed for his “poor management” (now put in charge of the Russian rocket and space industry) and Mutko promoted, I wonder if they have all gone crazy in the Kremlin.

We can all argue ad nauseam why exactly this has happened, but let’s first agree on one simple fact: Putin has failed to purge the Atlantic Integrationists. The big expectation of him getting a strong personal mandate from the people and then finally kicking them out of the Kremlin has, alas, been proven completely unfounded. There are a couple of interesting explanations out there such as:

  • Objectively, the Medvedev government has done a very decent, if not good job, with the economy. True, some/many believe that mistakes were made, that there were better economic policies available, but it would be hard to argue that the government completely failed. In fact, there are some pretty strong arguments which indicate that the Medvedev government (see this article discussing this in detail and it’s machine translation here and this article and its machine translation here)
  • Putin’s very ambitious internal economic growth program needs the support of the interests represented by the Atlantic Integrationists. In fact, internal development and economic growth are the core of his very ambitious political program. Possibly not the best time to purge the Kremlin from those who represent the interests of Russian big business.
  • The Medvedev “clan” has been weakened (see here for details) and now that it has been put on a much shorter “technocratic” leash, it is far less dangerous. In fact, it has been been subdued by Putin and his allies. Lavrov and Shoigu are both staying, by the way.
  • Trump’s reckless behavior is deeply alienating the Europeans to whom Putin is now presenting negotiation partners which they would trust (imagine Merkel and Rogozin in the same room – that would not go well!). Check out this excellent article by Frank Sellers in The Duran looking at the immense potential for Russia-EU cooperation.

Meh. I am personally unconvinced. How can Putin say that he wants serious reforms while keeping the exact same type of people in command? If indeed the Medvedev government did such a great job, then we is there any need for such major reforms? If Putin’s power base is indeed, as I believe it to be, in the people, then why is he trying to appease the financial elites by catering to their interests and agenda? Most crucially, how can Russia free herself from the financial and economic grip of the Empire when the Empire’s 5th column agents are (re-)appointed to key positions? And in all of Russia was there really nobody more qualified than Mutko or Kudrin to appoint to these positions?

Of course, there always this “Putin knows something you don’t” but I have always had a problem with that kind of logic which is essentially an open-ended universal cop-out. I hope that I am wrong, but to me this does strongly suggest that Putin is on the retreat, that he has made a major mistake and that the Empire has scored a major victory. And I will gladly admit that I have yet to hear an explanation which would explain this, never mind offer one of my own.

On the external front, has Russia caved in to Israeli pressure? Ruslan Ostashko offers a very good analysis of why this is hardly the case: (I don’t necessarily agree with his every conclusion, but he does make a very good case:

Yes, Netanyahu *did* with his repeated strikes on Syria, thumb his nose at Putin (that famous Israeli chutzpah at work for you!), and yes, Putin wining and dining Netanyahu was a painful sight and a PR-disaster. But on substance, did Israel get Russia to “betray Iran”? No, and not because the Russians are so heroically principled, but because Israel really has nothing to offer Russia. All Israel has is a powerful pro-Isreal lobby inside Russia, that is true. But the more they use that lobby the more visible it becomes, the more questions at least Eurasian Sovereignists will ask.

The Israelis sure don’t want to give the impression that the run Russia the way they run the USA, and Netanyahu’s reception in the Kremlin recently has already raised a lot of eyebrows and the impression that Putin caved in to the demands of this arrogant bastard are not helping Putin, to put it mildly. A lot of Russian analysts (Viktor Baranets, Maksim Shevchenko, Leonid Ivashov) wonder what kind of arguments Netanyahu used with Putin, and the list of possibilities is an outright uninspiring one.

Part five – another truism: there is a difference between excellent, good, average, bad and terrible

Even if the situation in Russia has changed for the worse, this is hardly a reason to engage in the usual “Putin sold out” hysteria or to declare that “Russia caved in”. Even when things are bad, there is still a huge difference between bad and worse. As of right now, Putin is not only the best possible person to be the President of Russia, Russia also continues to be the objective leader of the resistance to the Empire. Again, the black-and-white “Hollywood” type of mindset entirely misses the dynamic nature of what is going on. For example, it is quite clear to me that a new type of Russian opposition is slowly forming. Well, it always existed, really – I am talking about people who supported Putin and the Russian foreign policy and who disliked Medvedev and the Russian internal policies. Now the voice of those who say that Putin is way too soft in his stance towards the Empire will only get stronger. As will the voices of those who speak of a truly toxic degree of nepotism and patronage in the Kremlin (again, Mutko being the perfect example). When such accusations came from rabid pro-western liberals, they had very little traction, but when they come from patriotic and even nationalist politicians (Nikolai Starikov for example) they start taking on a different dimension. For example, while the court jester Zhirinovskii and his LDPR party loyally supported Medvedev, the Communist and the Just Russia parties did not. Unless the political tension around figures like Kudrin and Medvedev is somehow resolved (maybe a timely scandal?), we might witness the growth of a real opposition movement in Russia, and not one run by the Empire. It will be interesting to see if Putin’s personal ratings will begin to go down and what he will have to do in order to react to the emergence of such a real opposition.

Much will depend on how the Russian economy will perform. If, courtesy of Trump’s megalomaniacal policies towards Iran and the EU, Russia’s economy receives a massive injection of funds (via high energy prices), then things will probably stabilize. But if the European leaders meekly cave in and join the sanctions against Iran and if the US succeeds in imposing even further sanctions on Russia, then the Medvedev government will face a serious crisis and the revival of the Russian economy promised by Putin will end up in an embarrassing failure and things could also go from bad to even worse. As for right now, our always courageous Europeans are busy handing the latest Eurovision prize to an Israeli (Eurovision prizes are always given to countries the EU leaders want to support) while the self-same Israelis “celebrate” the new US Embassy in Jerusalem by murdering 55 Palestinians (and promised to kill many more). So let’s just say that I am not very hopeful that the Europeans will grow a spine, some balls, a brain or, least of all, acquire some moral fiber anytime soon. But maybe they will be greedy enough to reject some of the most outrageous US demands? Maybe. Hopefully. After all, the European supine subservience to the USA has to the EU billions of dollars already…

Part six: dealing with the S-300 fiasco

The entire S-300 business for Syria has been an ugly mess but, again, more in the PR realm than in the real world. The constant “we will deliver, no we won’t, yes we will, no we won’t” creates a terrible impression. The explanations for this zig-zag make things only worse. Let’s take a look at what those who do not disapprove of this zig zag are saying. Their arguments go more or less as follows.

  • The S-300s would place the Israeli Air Force at risk not only over Syria, but also over Lebanon and even Israel. This is overkill because Russia never moved into Syria to fight a war against Israel. So the entire idea of delivering S-300s to Syria was a bad idea in the first place.
  • Syria does not really need S-300s. Lavrov and others mention the S-300s as a threat (because the Israelis really fear these systems), but in reality what Syria needs are Buk-M2E (see analysis in Russian and it’s machine translation here).
  • The Russians made a deal with Israel and in exchange for the non-delivery of the S-300s (see analysis in Russian here and the machine translation here) they are getting something very tangible: Israel will stop supporting the “good terrorists” in Syria thereby making it much easier for Damascus to finish them off.

I don’t like these arguments very much except for the 2nd one. First, I do agree that the Buk-M2E is a very modern and capable system with some advantages over the S-300 in the Syrian context, but I would still add that the infamous sentence “Syria has got all it needs” is an absolutely terrible and ridiculous statement (read Marko Marjanović devastating critique of it in his article “Israel Took out a Syrian Pantsir Air Defense Unit, S-200 Radars. Russia: ‘No S-300 Transfer, Syria Has All It Needs’” for Russia Insider). I think that this “Syria has all it needs” is yet another of these self-inflicted PR disasters and an absolutely ridiculous statement until you take it one step deeper.

So, if by “Syria has all it needs” you mean “Syria has no need for any other help” or “the Syrian air defenses can deal with any Israeli or US attack” – then this is total nonsense. Agreed. But if you just rephrase it and say “Syria has all the types of weapons it needs”, then I think that this is basically true. By far the single most important air defense system for the Syrians is the Pantsir-S1, not the S-300 or any other system.

As early as June of last year I wrote a column for the Unz Review entitled “Russia vs. America in Syria” in which I had a section entitled “Forget the S-300/S-400, think Pantsir”. I wrote that at a time when most observers were paying no attention to the Pantsir at all, and the entire world seemed obsessed with the S-300 and S-400s. I still believe that the Pantsir is the key to the outcome of the struggle for the Syrian airspace. But Syria, and Iran, need many more of them. Basically, the ideal situation is numerous Russian, Iranian and Syrian Pantsirs all over Syria, all of them integrated with already existing Russian long radar capabilities and supported by modern electronic warfare. With enough Pantsirs deployed and on full alert (not like the one the Israelis recently destroyed) and fully integrated into a single air defense network, the Syrians would be able to mount a very robust air defense capability, at a relatively cheap cost, without offering the Israelis any high value and lucrative targets.

Pantsirs can deal with most of the US and Israeli threats even if, unlike their S-300/S-400 counterparts, they cannot engage aircraft at long distance (hence the suggestion to deploy some Buk-M2E’s to approximate that capability). The truth is that S-300’s were never designed to operate more or less autonomously or to intercept cruise missiles or bombs. Yes, they *can* do that, but they were designed to deal with long range high value targets and within a multi-layered system which included many other systems, such as the Buks, Tors, Pantsirs and even Iglas and Verbas MANPADs. That multi-layered air defense system is currently abscent in Syria and would take a lot of time and money to deploy. In contrast the Pantsirs can function completely autonomously, can detect any target up to 50km away, track and engage it 20km away, protect itself and others with its 30mm guns up to 3km away. Pantsirs can even do that while moving up to 30km/h on rough terrain. This makes it an extraordinarily effective and survivable air defense system, which is relatively easy to hide, deploy and engage with no warning for the enemy. By the way, the Pantsir can also use both its 30mm canons and its missiles against ground targets, including tanks. No current air defense system can boast such a combination of capabilities.

Russia needs to deliver as many of those Pantsir-S1 systems to Syria as physically possible. A large number of Pantsir’s in Syria would present Israel and the USA with a far bigger headache than a few S-300s. Currently there is something in the range of 40-60 of such Pantsir’s in Syria. This is far from enough considering the magnitude of the threat and the capabilities of the threat. That number needs to be at least doubled.

However, and regardless of the real-world technical and military aspects of the issue, the Russian zig-zags gave the world a terrible impression: the Israelis attack a Russian ally, then the Russian promise to do something about it, then Netanyahu goes to Russia, and Putin meekly caves in. This is all a massive self-inflicted political faceplant and yet another major mistake by Putin and other Russian leaders.

Frankly, the main Russian mistake here was to *ever* mention S-300s deliveries to the Syrians.

Part Seven: the lessons from the Divine Victory of 2006 – survival is victory

In 2006 Hezbollah inflicted a massive and most humiliating defeat upon Israel. And yet, there is some pretty good evidence that it all began by a mistake. Not by Israel, by Hezbollah. Check out this now often forgotten statement made by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah:

“We did not think, even one per cent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 … that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not”

Amazing, no? Hassan Nasrallah spoke these words after Hezbollah’s superb victory against the “invincible Tsahal”. The truth is that Hezbollah had underestimated the violence and magnitude of the Israeli attack. Not only that, but Israel did not lose a single inch of its territory while all of Lebanon, not just the south, was viciously bombed and scores of civilians died. Hezbollah did destroy a few “indestructible” Merkava tanks and almost sank the Israeli Navy’s flagship. But compared to the damage and pain inflicted by the Israelis, this was nothing. Even Hezbollah’s missiles had a comparatively small effect on the Israeli population (mostly just the typical Israeli panic). And yet, even if politicians did not want to admit it, it was as clear as can be for both sides: Hezbollah had won a “Divine Victory” while the Israelis had suffered the worst defeat in their history. Why? For a very simple reason: Hezbollah survived.

That’s it and that’s crucial. Olmert and his goons had set out to destroy Hezbollah (or, at least, disarm it). This is what Trump will probably try to do to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and this is what the AngloZionist Empire is trying to do to Russia: eliminate it.

Once the goals are thus defined, then the definition of victory is also obvious: surviving. That’s it.

For Hezbollah, Iran or Russia to defeat Israel, the USA or the entire Empire, there is no need to plant a flag on the enemy’s main symbolic building like what Soviet soldiers did in Germany. All they need to do to win is simply to survive because the other’s sides survival is predicated upon their elimination, it’s really that simple. Israel cannot claim victory as long as Hezbollah exists, the USA cannot claim world Hegemony if Iran openly defies it, and the AngloZionist Empire cannot clain world hegemony over the our planet as long as the Russian civilizational realm openly challenges it. So while all the talk about the Iranians wanting to “wipe Israel off the map” is just a typical ziomedia invention, it is true that by their very existence Hezbollah, Iran and Russia do represent an existential threat to Israel, the USA and the Empire.

This is the biggest and the fatal weakness of the AngloZionist Empire: its survival depends on the colonization or destruction of every other country out there. Every independent country, whether big and powerful, or small and weak, represents an unacceptable challenge to the hegemony of the “indispensable nation” and the “chosen people”, which now try to rule over us all. This might well be the ultimate example of Hegelian dialectics at work in geopolitics: an Empire whose power generates it’s own demise. Many empires have come and gone in history, but the globalized world we live in, this dialectical contradiction is tremendously potentialized by the finite conditions in which empires have to operate.

Conclusion one: support for Putin and Russia must only be conditional

Over the past few years, Putin and Russia haters were predicting doom and gloom and all sorts of betrayals (or Novorussia, Syria, Iran, etc.) by Putin and Russia. Then time passed and all their predictions proved false. Instead of just talking, the Russians took action which proved the nay-sayers wrong. This time however, the Russians said and did a number of things which gave *a lot* of fuel to the Putin-haters and the only way to undo that is to take real action to prove them wrong. Right now as a result of these self-inflicted PR-disasters Russia looks very bad, even inside Russia were many Putin supporters are confused, worried and disappointed.

Externally, the Syrian and, especially, the Iranians need to come to terms with the fact that Russia is an imperfect ally, one which sometimes can help, but one which will always place its personal interests above any other consideration. In a personal email to me Eric Zuesse wrote “I think that Putin and Netanyahu are negotiating how far Israel can go and what Russia can accept — and what cooperation each will provide to the other — drawing the red lines of acceptability, for each side”. I think that he is spot on, but I also think that Putin is wrong in trying to make a deal with Israel, especially if a deal is at the expense of Iran. Ostashko is right. Objectively Israel has very little to offer Russia. But if this kind of collaboration between Russia and Israel continues, especially if Iran is attacked, then we will know that the Israel lobby inside Russia is behind these policies which go counter to the Russian national interest. We will soon find out.

In the meantime, Lavrov can’t try to get a deal going with Israel and, at the same time, whine about the “US Plan on Arab Troops Deployment in Syria ‘Sovereignty Violation’”! How about the never-ending violation by Israel of Syria’s sovereignty? How it is less repugnant than the one being perpetrated by the USA? Are such statements not fundamentally hypocritical?

We can observe a paradox here: Putin has criticized the evil immorality of the western society and imperial policies many times (most famously in Munich and at the UN). But Putin has never said anything about the evil immorality of the state of Israel. And yet Israel is the center of gravity, the nexus, of the entire AngloZionist Empire, especially since the Neocons turned Trump into their subservient lackey. In this, and in so many other areas, Russia needs to follow the example of Iran whose leaders have shown far more morality and principled policies in spite of Iran being much smaller and comparatively weaker than Russia.

In 2006 a thousand men or so of Hezbollah dared to defy the entire AngloZionist Empire (the US was, as always, backing Israel to the hilt) and they prevailed. Russian soldiers have shown time and again, including recently in Syria, they they have the same type of courage. But Russian politicians really seem to be of a much more tepid and corruptible type, and there is always the risk that Putin might gradually become less of an officer and more of a politician. And this, in turn, means that those of us who oppose the Empire and support Putin and Russia must imperatively make that support conditional upon a clearly stated set of moral and spiritual principles, not on a “my country right or wrong” kind of loyalty or, even less so, on a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” kind of fallacy. Should Putin continue in his apparent attempts to appease the Israelis a new type of internal opposition to his rule might gain power inside Russia and new internal tensions might be added to the already existing exernal ones.

Right now Putin still has a lot of “credibility capital” left in spite of his recent mistakes. However, Putin recent decisions have raised a lot of unpleasant questions which must be answered and will so in time. In the meantime, as they say in the USA, “hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and settle for anything in the middle”. The Scripture also warns us not to make idols of leaders: “Trust not in princes, nor in the children of men, in whom there is no safety” (Ps 145:3 LXX). The worldly evil we are fighting, today in the shape of the AngloZionist Empire, is but a manifestation of a much deeper, spiritual evil: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). The young men and women from the Shia movement Amal got it right when they chose the name “Party of God” for their movement when they created Hezbollah in 1985. And Iran was right when it became an Islamic Republic: if we want to defeat the Empire we need to always let spiritual matters and moral crieria remain above any of our “pragmatic” worldly political considerations or national/ethnic loyalties: that is how we can defeat those who place a dollar value on absolutely everything they see in their narrow materialistic worldview.

Conclusion two: the quest for “Russian values”

Russian political ambiguities are the direct result of the fact that Russia, as whole, has yet to define what “Russian values” really are. The historical Russia was founded on Patristic Christianity and the Roman civilizational model and the Soviet Union on Marxism-Leninism. The 1990s marked the total triumph of materialism run amok. But unlike Hezbollah or Iran, the “New Russia” (as I like to call it) is not based on anything other than a Constitution written mostly by US advisors and their proxies and a general opposition to the western civilizational model (especially since 2014). Being against something is not an inspiring, or even tenable, political or moral stance (as the White Guards discovered during the Russian civil war). Furthermore, in her confrontation with an AngloZionist Empire which stands for absolutely nothing besides base instincts, Russia needs to stand *for* something, not just against something else. As long as Russia will not firmly define and proclaim a set of spiritual/moral values she stands for, the current zigs-zags will continue and Russian policies will prove to be inconsistent, at best.

[Sidebar: here I want to contrast the Russian society at large with the Russian armed forces who, besides having a lot of good equipment, have a very strong and clear ethos and a rock solid understanding and clarity about what they stand for. This is why Russian soldiers have consistently and spontaneously been willing to sacrifice their lives. The Russian civilian society still lacks that kind of clarity, and Russian politicians, who are no better in Russia than elsewhere, often make use of that. The Russian armed forces are also the one institution with the strongest historical memory and the deepest roots in Russian history. I would argue that they are the only institution in modern Russia whose roots truly go back to before the 1917 Revolution and even much further back than that. As descendant of “White Russians” myself I have always found it uncanny and, frankly, amazing how much closer I have felt to Russian military officers than to Russian civilians. To me it often feels as if there were two types of Russians simultaneously coexisting: the “new Russian” type (still in the process of being defined) and the military officer corps (Soviet or post-Soviet). That latter type almost instinctively made sense to me and often felt like family. This is hardly a scientific observation, but this has been my consistent personal experience].

There is a very high likelihood that Israel will succeed in triggering a US attack on Iran. If/when that happens, this will trigger a political crisis inside Russia because the space for the current political ambiguities will be dramatically reduced. On moral and on pragmatic grounds, Russia will have to decide whether she can afford to be a bystander or not. This will not be an easy choice as their shall be no consensus on what to do inside the ruling elites. But the stakes will be too high and the consequences of inaction prohibitive. My hope is that a major military conflict will result in a sharp increase of the power and influence of the military “lobby” inside the Kremlin. Eventually and inevitably, the issue of Israel and Zionism will have to be revisited and the pro-Israeli lobby inside Russia dealt with, lest Russia follow the same path to self-destruction as the USA. For this reason the concept of “true sovereignization” is the one patriotic slogan/goal that Eurasian Sovereignists must continue to promote (regardless of the actual terminology used) because it points towards the real problems in Russian internal and foreign policies which must be addressed and resolved. This will be a long and difficult process, with victories and setbacks. We better get used to the idea that what happened in the past couple of weeks will happen again in the future.

The Saker

‘Improving anti-precision warfare means’: Putin calls to prepare S-500 missile system for mass production – By TASS

Launching a missile

© The Russian Ministry of Defense

The Russian leader also called for rearming 14 regiments with Yars ballistic missile systems

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday further efforts are needed to improve anti-precision warfare tools and called to prepare S-500 missile systems for mass production.

“One of the key tasks is to improve anti-precision warfare means. It is necessary to develop and build up technological groundwork in the area of air defense, to continue modernization of Pantsir systems, to finish the development and preparations for mass production of the S-500 newest systems capable of hitting targets at super-high altitudes, including near-the-earth space,” he said at a meeting with Russia’s top brass and executives of defense-sector enterprises.

Putin also called for continuing modernization of the strategic nuclear forces and rearming 14 regiments with Yars intercontinental ballistic missile systems before the end of December.

“Strategic nuclear forces have key significance for defense and security,” he said. “Pursuant to provisions of the state program for armaments, we’ll continue replacement of the outdated Topol missile complexes with the newest Yars systems and will put them on the tables of equipment at fourteen missile regiments.”

See Also:

Trump and Corporate America Are Dead Serious About Plans to Conquer Outer Space – By Elliott Gabriel (MINT PRESS)

Like any military effort, the establishment of the U.S. Armed Forces in space is meant to ensure the expansion of capital, the protection of corporate property and investments on or off the globe.

 

WASHINGTON – What does the United States do when it’s faced with hegemonic decline, ascendant rivals, and an inability to use its massive military apparatus to turn the tide in favor of its own imperial ambitions without incurring costs that far outweigh the benefits?

To paraphrase former First Lady Michelle Obama: When they go low, we go high.

In this case, shift the battle to “the final frontier” – outer space — where mining interests suspect that rare mineral resources can be found in abundance and yield massive profits.

During his time on the campaign trail and upon coming to power, President Donald Trump issued a stream of statements explicitly calling for a reinvigorated effort to boost the militarization of space. The goal would be to ensure that his “America First” approach to economic and military matters extends to outer space through a deployment of the U.S. Armed Forces to outer space on a permanent basis.

On May 1, Trump revived the idea of creating a new military service branch dedicated to space combat in a speech to the West Point football team, noting that the branch would be called the “Space Force.”

“I’m just telling you now. We’re getting very big in space, both militarily and for other reasons, and we are seriously thinking of the Space Force,” he said.

For longtime anti-militarism activist and analyst Bruce Gagnon, a coordinator for the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, the push to form a Space Force reflects the desires of the U.S. war industry. As Gagnon told MintPress News:

They know they stand to make massive profits if they can consolidate space operations under one military service, so they will likely continue to push this in the coming year. I think they stand a good chance of eventually making it happen – recognizing that most politicians in Congress are now subservient to the military-industrial complex.”

While liberal late-night TV hosts like The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah and Late Show’s Stephen Colbert have mocked the idea, Trump is far from the only figure in Washington who sees space as a “war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea,” as he said in March.

Indeed, House lawmakers have already inserted plans for “a subordinate unified command for space under U.S. Strategic Command that would be responsible for joint space warfighting operations,” in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

While not quite the space-oriented service branch or Space Force that Trump has called for – complete with its own Chief sitting alongside the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces – the move is a stride forward in the long-agreed-upon bipartisan strategy to ensure that outer space remains the unchallenged domain of Washington.

 

Extension of Terrestrial Battles

Donald Trump gestures after speaking to service members at Miramar Air Corps Air Station, March 13, 2018, in San Diego. (AP/Evan Vucci)

What interest could the U.S. military possibly have in extending its presence in the cold, dangerous, and expensive realm of outer space?

For geographer, globalization scholar, and University of Cambridge Professor Peter Dicken, the answer isn’t much different from why a military would seek to establish itself anywhere else here on Earth, whether it’s in the frozen Arctic or in the insurgent mountain ranges of Afghanistan.

“Some of the answers lie in capital endlessly seeking more profitable investments,” Dicken told MintPress News, adding:

In other words, compared with investments on Earth, investments in outer space – now including military investment in space – can look relatively profitable relative to investments on Earth.”

Any time the government seeks to build up its military, the purpose isn’t merely just to inject funds into war industries as a form of “corporate welfare,” but it’s a means of guaranteeing that the military continues to ensure the expansion of capital, protecting its property and investments across the globe. Proponents of the militarization of space hope to extend the same dynamic into the cosmos.

As far back as 1958, then-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson offered a prescient observation on the crucial role outer space can play in securing military dominance on the ground:

[T]here is something more important than the ultimate weapon. That is the ultimate position – the position of total control over the Earth that lies somewhere out in space. That is … the distant future, though not so distant as we may have thought. Whoever gains that position gains control, total control, over Earth, for the purposes of tyranny or for the service of freedom.”

Johnson’s argument didn’t fall on deaf ears. In the 1996 report Vision for 2020 — by the Defense Department’s Aerospace Joint Command Headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado — the report’s authors give a clear layout of the mission of the United States Space Command, which was created in 1985:

Dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict.”

Watch | Arsenal of Hypocrisy

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/s5mEUtx62N0?rel=0&showinfo=0

On its third page, the report notes, “the emerging synergy of space superiority with land, sea, and air superiority will lead to Full Spectrum Dominance.” The cover of the report depicts a satellite firing a laser beam down on a target below.

Gagnon sees the U.S. delusion that it can achieve absolute unchallenged military control on the planet as an absurd idea that is not only fraught with danger, but could lead to the hollowing-out of remaining U.S. social programs:

The militarization of space gives the U.S. the idea that it can prevail in a full-scale war, which is an insane notion. The cost of the militarization of space would destroy the human and physical infrastructure of our country because they’d have to defund all social progress in order to pay for it.”

In the 2007 book, Cosmic Society: Towards a Sociology of the Universe, Dicken and co-author James S. Ormrod wrote about how the militarization of space can guarantee capital investments and property rights in a cheaper, less risky manner than the simple deployment of military force on the ground:

It has long been recognized that struggles over space on Earth are intimately connected to social struggles, to contests between classes and others. … Sadly now, those interests monopolizing and controlling the use of outer space are those attempting to monopolize and control social relations, social processes, and forms of subjectivity on Earth. It is possible to imagine the total militarization of the public sphere from space, civilians’ every move being watched and targeted. In short, the current way of humanizing outer space is again about exerting the hegemony of the powerful.”

 

Mining the moon

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket transporting the Tess satellite lifts off from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., April 18, 2018.

In recent years, tech companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin have engaged in a mad dash to develop their own private space programs capable of conducting a moon landing, exploring Mars, or providing space-based tourist attractions. The rapid development of this private space race – supported by companies such as Google through its Lunar XPRIZE contest – is to unlock “the lunar frontier and the multibillion-dollar industry that follows,” as Bob Richards, founder and CEO of Silicon Valley startup Moon Express, said in a recent statement.

While these tech entrepreneurs wrap their aspirations to tap into the resources of the cosmos in such idealistic language as “unlocking the mysteries of the universe” and other mawkish Roddenberry-esque clichés, their real motivations are much baser and boil down to simple dollars and cents – or, in the case of the moon, “a treasure chest of rare metals and other beneficial materials that can be used here on Earth.”

On Tuesday, these companies received a massive boost to their efforts when the House of Representatives passed the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Bill, which encourages private business to be carried out under the auspices of the Office of Space Commerce (a division of the Department of Commerce). The bill further ignores the Outer Space Treaty (OST), an oft-disregarded international agreement signed in 1967 that is meant to keep space peaceful, safe and accessible for all who seek to explore it.

Lawmakers believe the bill will exempt the U.S. from its legal responsibilities under the OST stemming from U.S. private corporations’ activities, yet one can expect that the Department of Defense — and the Space Force, if it ever comes to fruition — will be on-hand to protect U.S. business interests, when necessary.

“Owners of capital are becoming increasingly interested in The Moon as a site of rare materials [and] this kind of investment in space is happening because these players believe that investments in space will be very lucrative and, as such, require protection,” Dicken told MintPress News.

Rare-earth minerals are crucial in the manufacture of electronics, medical technologies, defense hardware and renewable energies, and can be as common as zinc and copper or as rare as magnesite and cobalt. From our smartphones to our cars to our hospitals and power plants, rare-earths such as neodymium, lanthanum, cerium and other elements play a key role in our daily lives. However, the process of extracting rare-earths is dangerous, costly, and runs the risk of ruining local environments.

In 2016, China produced nearly 80 percent of the world’s supply of the precious elements. Its abundant reserves of the minerals caused leader Deng Xiaoping to famously say in 1992, “The Middle East has oil. China has rare-earths.”

Owing to the country’s strategic possession of the reserves, markets were spooked in 2010 when a border dispute with Japan resulted in a rumor that China would block rare earth exports to the country, causing prices to momentarily skyrocket by around 2,000 percent. Subsequent announcements by the government that it would slash production quotas in response to the environmental damage mines were causing have also caused the prices to fluctuate.

The idea that the so-called “vitamins of modern society,” perceived to be scarce, would remain under the lock and key of the Communist Party of China was viewed as an apocalyptic scenario. This led to a storm of alarmist articles about the Chinese monopoly or “stranglehold” on the minerals, as well as a rush by mining firms to scour the globe for new exploitable sources in locales such as the Amazon rainforest, sensitive environments in Latin America, Afghanistan, shuttered mines in California, North Korea – which recently was found to have reserves estimated to be worth $6 trillion – and even in the heavens above.

As Julie Klinger wrote in her 2018 book Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes:

[I]n the race to open up new extraction points, less remote, apparently easier to access deposits have been overlooked in favor of the far northwestern Amazon and the Moon.”

Moon Express co-founder and chairman Naveen Jain made clear his excitement over the mining of the lunar surface in 2012:

The problem we face on earth is that beyond their scarcity, these elements are not evenly distributed throughout the world. We need to disrupt this market. By finally being able to reach the Moon and harvest the resources that are there, we can overcome the scarcity of rare-earth elements and create the infrastructure necessary for innovation to continue.”

Statistic: Rare earth reserves worldwide as of 2017, by country (in 1,000 metric tons REO)* | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Since 2014, NASA and the private sector have undertaken Lunar CATALYST, or the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown, which seeks to develop prospecting and cargo-bearing robots that would mine the lunar crust for rare-earth minerals.

By 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Commercial Space Act, which lifted restrictions on private companies seeking to legally haul back any material found in space – whether it be on asteroids, the moon, or even the planet Mars, which Trump seeks to explore and Tesla’s Elon Musk hopes to colonize.

A year later, White House advisers Robert Walker and Peter Navarro – the latter of whom is a major China hawk and now-director of the National Trade Council – penned op-eds calling for a “peace through strength” approach to space that would “simultaneously strengthen (the U.S.) economy and manufacturing base while significantly expanding (U.S.) civilian and military space budgets.”

Using emotionally-charged language evoking a pioneering spirit, the authors propose “private sector solutions” to U.S. national defense and space challenges meant to counter “existential” threats in space from rival superpowers, ensuring corporate interests and a future where the U.S.’s “freedom-loving people … lead the way to the heavens above.”

Klinger observed:

Extreme privilege combined with the cultural capital surrounding space-related endeavors generates a kind of evangelical zeal that manifests in the near-complete inability of space investors to handle deeper questions about their projects. Anyone critical is simply lacking vision, is not bold enough, or does not understand the importance of space exploration.

… While these endeavors promise fundamental transformations in how resources are produced and consumed, they are betting on the durability of the current unsustainable political-economic status quo. … Only loosely regulated and currently free from clearly enforceable social and environmental accountability requirements, the Moon seems to represent the ultimate terrain of capitalist freedom.”

 

China and Russia observe and prepare

A man holds a child as they visit a park with replicas of foreign and domestic space vehicles displayed in Beijing, China, June 26, 2016. (AP/Ng Han Guan)

The United States, with its massive war budget and sprawling military-industrial complex, remains the front-runner in the competition to deploy armed forces in outer space. Yet, as the successful 2013 landing of Chinese lunar rover Jade Rabbit proved, China’s National Space Agency is well-positioned to actually mine rare-earth minerals on the Moon.

In an article cited by Klinger from the China Military Channel, the country’s defense establishment made its intention behind the Jade Rover mission clear:

The rich…rare-earth, uranium and thorium resources on the Moon can ease China’s energy crisis, maintain the status of China as a rare-earth power, and facilitate the rapid development of China’s aerospace technology…China now has ‘first-strike capability’ on lunar mineral development.”

In the meantime, the country has patiently built upon its ability to launch effective anti-satellite missiles. Yet its own arsenal pales in comparison to that of the U.S. military, which possesses dozens of Aegis-equipped guided missile cruisers and destroyers capable of knocking down Russia and China’s satellites in an actual war.

Pleas from China and Russia to negotiate a new space treaty preventing the use of space for the deployment weapons have also been ignored by the U.S.

For Bruce Gagnon, whose 2003 documentary, Arsenal of Hypocrisy, delved into the nexus between the U.S. space program and the imperialist prerogatives of the U.S. military-industrial complex, the reason is simple:

The U.S. has always believed it had the opportunity and right to control and dominate space. The logo of the U.S. Space Command reads ‘Master of Space’. But China and Russia have not been idle and have developed the ability to counter the U.S. efforts to control space and thus the earth below.  While the U.S. still is ahead of Russia and China in overall space technology, those two nations are quickly closing the gap because they are determined not to allow the U.S. to be dominant in space.”


The “Bad Seed” in Space

For critics, the issue isn’t so much the exploration of space or its “humanization,” as Dicken and Ormrod refer to it, but the extension of inter-state and inter-imperialist competition beyond the planet. As the two authors wrote in 2007:

As and when elements of nearby outer space are legally subdivided and exploited by different private or state interests, this precludes public and private investments in probably more worthwhile projects on Earth. Furthermore, such imperialism also opens up the possibility of wars between those powers gaining access to the Moon or other nearby parts of the cosmos. This form of imperialism and capital expansion may seem particularly attractive to ruling elites, given the contradictions and increasingly evident social and environmental crises of Earthly society. But the fact remains that this fourth stage of imperialism may in the long term simply reproduce Earthly conflicts, Earthly sociopolitical coalitions, and environmental degradation into the cosmos.”

Yet Dicken warns against giving up hope in the possibility of humanizing space, noting that the achievements of space exploration could bring major benefits to human society — provided such humanization remains centered on the improvement of the whole of humanity, rather than the agendas of individualistic entrepreneurs dreaming of gold in the stars or generals seeking to use space platforms to prevent their rivals from accessing space.

“And it would certainly be a mistake to ignore the ‘push factors’ of new coalitions against military investments, these perhaps being best exemplified by Bruce Gagnon’s attempt to create coalitions against outer-space investments,” Dicken added.

For Gagnon, the U.S. desire to gain a monopoly on access to space remains key to the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space’s opposition to the push for monopolizing the cosmos. Gagnon refers to this imperialist dream as “the bad seed” – which could blossom and bear frightening, poisonous fruits for generations to come:

It would be a tragic mistake for any nation to carry the bad seed of greed, competition, conflict, environmental degradation and war into the heavens. The U.S. has made the decision to do that very thing. Sadly few on the planet are aware of the dangers to this thoughtless and irresponsible policy.”

Top Photo | President Donald Trump holds a toy astronaut as he participates in a signing ceremony for Space Policy Directive at the White House. (Reuters Photo)

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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False Flag Alert in Crucial Week to Save Iran Nuclear Deal – By Finian Cunningham (Strategic Culture Foundation)

False Flag Alert in Crucial Week to Save Iran Nuclear Deal

This week sees a flurry of diplomatic efforts by Iran, China, Russia and the European Union to salvage the international nuclear accord following US President Trump’s violation of the UN-backed treaty.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif is to travel to Beijing, Moscow and then Brussels to discuss how the remaining signatories to the accord can maintain it despite America’s attempt at upending.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday in the Black Sea city of Sochi where they will emphasize their support for preserving the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump’s illegal withdrawal last week from the 2015 international treaty known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was vehemently reproached by all other signatories – Iran, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany, the European Union and the United Nations.

Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA has been repeatedly confirmed by the UN monitoring body, the International Atomic Energy Agency. So Trump’s claims that Iran is secretly building a nuclear weapon – as one of his reasons for breaching the accord – are baseless.

Perhaps one of the most significant consequences of Trump’s action is the damage he appears to have inflicted on the seven-decade-old transatlantic alliance between the US and Europe. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was among several European officials who deplored the unilateral disregard by Washington towards Europe’s interests over the nuclear accord.

The Trump administration’s threats of increasing sanctions on Iran also include secondary sanctions on any other nation doing business with the Islamic Republic. This extra-territorial application of US laws is being viewed as an unacceptable heavy-handed intrusion on the sovereign affairs of other countries.

Since the signing of the JCPOA three years ago and the lifting of erstwhile international sanctions on Iran, European nations have invested in substantial commercial cooperation with Tehran. European companies like German-Franco Airbus, Britain’s Shell, France’s Total and Peugeot, and Germany’s Volkswagen group are just some of the firms that have made multi-billion-dollar commitments in Iran.

Trump is now threatening to scuttle Europe’s vital commercial interests in Iran, as well as jeopardizing its interests of maintaining security in the Middle East, which most observers say the JCPOA was underpinning.

The American president’s boorish dismissal of European concerns over the Iran deal is just the latest in a series of snubs from Washington to its EU allies. Trump’s bullying over NATO spending, his shredding of the Paris Climate Accord and browbeating over trade tariffs have already vexed the Europeans. His attempt at torpedoing the Iran deal and sinking European strategic calculations is perhaps the last straw.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Der Spiegel that Trump has poisoned the transatlantic relationship. He also warned that Berlin would take a tough line on Washington to defend its national interests.

The stakes are therefore dangerously high for the US if, in pursuing its hostile policy towards Iran, Washington ends up alienating Europe.

To that end, it appears that the US and its regional partners, Israel and Saudi Arabia, seem intent on ratcheting up tensions with Iran, stoking conflict and using false-flag provocations to undermine Tehran.

Trump’s sabotage of the Iran deal appears to be coordinated with Tel Aviv and Riyadh. The week before the American withdrawal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made spectacular claims of Iranian secret nuclear-weapons ambitions. Netanyahu’s claims were widely dismissed as grandstanding, but Trump cited those claims in his White House address nixing US adherence to the nuclear deal.

Two days later, Israel claimed that Iran had launched rockets from Syrian territory on Israeli military forces occupying Syria’s Golan Heights. Israel then promptly carried out scores of air strikes on Syria, said to be in “revenge” for the alleged Iranian rocket attack.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia condemned a Houthi missile attack from Yemen on its capital Riyadh as “act of war by Iran”, alleging that Tehran is supplying weapons to the Yemeni rebels.

Then the US announced new sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for what Washington said was “malign behavior” in the region.

For its part, Iran denied carrying out the rocket attack on Israeli positions in the Golan Heights. Tehran condemned Israel for “aggression” on Syria based on “false pretexts”.

There is something of a hall of mirrors here. Israel has carried out as many 100 air strikes on Syria over the past few years, yet Israel is never condemned by Washington, Europe or the UN. Israel is illegally occupying Syrian territory in the Golan Heights since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, yet when its illegal positions are fired on it is Syria or Iran that is condemned.

We don’t know who fired the alleged rockets last Thursday into the Golan. As noted Iran denies any involvement, and Syrian sources said that the fire may have actually been Israeli shelling of the Syrian side. That is, a false flag provocation.

However, is was lamentable that Germany’s Merkel in particular was quick to categorically denounce Iran for the rocket attack.

Merkel and other European leaders are calling for calm in mounting tensions between Iran and Israel. But the EU seems to be mute when it comes to rebuking Israel over what is brazen and repeated aggression towards Syria and Iranian forces legally present in that country.

What appears to be underway is connivance between Washington, Israel and Saudi Arabia to intensify efforts at framing Iran for “malign behavior”.

The connivance takes on greater urgency this week as international signatories to the JCPOA engage in shuttle diplomacy to salvage the accord.

If the Europeans in particular hold strong to their vested strategic interests, the rebound of a salvaged nuclear deal could play very badly on Washington, especially if the Europeans move towards closer cooperation with Russia and China to block American abuse of international finance for its extraterritorial sanctions. In defending their interests, the Europeans will have to, by necessity, create financing and legal mechanisms that will ultimately undermine the US dollar and Washington’s control over international banking.

Regardless of Trump’s stated belief in Netanyahu’s anti-Iran fantasies, Washington probably knows deep down that Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA is in fact irreproachable. That would mean the Europeans and all others having strong incentive to maintain the nuclear deal and make it work.

That then leaves the only other option for sabotaging the deal as inciting conflict with Iran, or provoking Tehran into military action which will suitably be distorted by Western media as “malign behavior”. If that cynical outcome can be achieved then the Europeans will likely withdraw their support for the Iran deal.

There is a real danger that a false flag “atrocity” will be carried out this week by the US and its client regimes in order to incriminate Iran and blow up the international nuclear accord.

Live Blog: Massacre in Gaza as US and Israel celebrate embassy move to Jerusalem – By MONDOWEISS

FeaturesIsrael/Palestine

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Today is unfolding as a horrifying and tragic day in Palestine. The Israeli military has opened fire on Gaza protesters as the U.S. and Israeli governments prepare to mark the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Today has been the deadliest day in Gaza since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

According to the Gaza Ministry of Health (as of 16:30 GMT):

  • 52 killed, including 5 minors and 1 paramedic
  • 2,410 injured – including 200 minors, 11 journalists
  • 28 in critical condition and 116 in serious condition
  • 1,204 shot by Israeli soldiers using live Israeli ammunition.

Since the beginning of the Great March of Return on March 30, 101 Palestinians have been killed, over 3,000 protesters have been shot with live ammunition, and almost 13,000 injured.

We will be updating this post with updates throughout the day and have embedded our Twitter feed below that will most likely include the most up-to-date news.


Live video of the U.S. Embassy dedication ceremony in Jerusalem


Updated: 18:15 GMT

MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin noticed the White House omitted a paragraph from their official transcript of Jared Kushner’s speech today where he condemned protesters in Gaza. The section the White House did not include is in bold below:

“President Trump was very clear that his decision and today’s celebration do not reflect a departure from our strong commitment to lasting peace. A peace that overcomes the conflicts of the past in order to give our children a brighter and more boundless future.

As we have seen from the protest of the last month and even today those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution. The United States is prepared to support a peace agreement in every way that we can. We believe that it is possible for both sides to gain more than they give so that all people can live in peace safe from danger, free from fear and able to pursue their dreams.

The United States recognizing the sensitivity surrounding Jerusalem, a city that means so much to so many. Jerusalem is a city unique in the history of civilization. No other place on earth can claim significance to three major religions.

Each day Jews pray at the Western Hall. Muslims bow in prayer at Al Asqa mosque, and Christians worship at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. That is why President Trump has called many times, including right now, on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s Holy sites.”


Updated 17:55 GMT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech this afternoon with strong religious overtones commemorating the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

“In Jerusalem, King David established our capital three thousand years ago,” Netanyahu said before citing biblical landmark events that took place in the ancient city. He added that relocating the embassy is a foundation for reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians, despite communication between Palestinian negotiators and the Trump administration abruptly halting last December when the moving the embassy was first announced,

“I want to thank Jared, Jason and David for your tireless efforts to advance peace, and for your tireless efforts to advance the truth. The truth and peace are interconnected. A peace that is built on lies will crash on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality. You can only build peace on truth, and the truth is that Jerusalem has been and will always be the capital of the Jewish people, the capital of the Jewish state.”

Netanyahu concluded his remarks by reciting the shehecheyanu, a Jewish prayer said when marking new or exceptional events.


Updated 17:40 GMT

President Donald Trump delivered a video message this afternoon celebrating the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, “the true capital of Israel.” Trump said the embassy opening today comes “many, many years ahead of schedule,” noting, “The United States remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement and we continue to support the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites including at the Temple Mount also known as Haram al-Sharif.”


Updated 16:55 GMT

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke to reporters in Ramallah today, announcing three days of mourning across the occupied Palestinian territory where schools will close and shops will shutter. In his speech, he described the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem as a “settlement” and said he would soon begin implementing decisions passed by the Palestinian legislature in a meeting earlier this month.

This morning in Washington DC, the Palestinian Ambassador Husam Zomlot released a statement calling the U.S.’s decision to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem an endorsement of “full-fledged apartheid,”

“Today will go down in history as the day the U.S. encouraged Israel to cross the line towards what numerous U.S. and international leaders have been warning from: A full-fledged apartheid. The reality has evolved into a system of privileging one group and continuing to deny the human and national rights, all granted by international law, of over 12 million Palestinians.”


Updated 16:28 GMT

This is a stunning statement from Gilad Erdan, the Israeli Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs.


Updated 16:20 GMT

Yossi Gurvitz: Here are the questions any journalist talking to the Israeli military should ask


Updated 16:10 GMT

The Jewish Insider reports Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump received a blessing last night from the Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzchok Yosef who called black people “monkeys” and used racial slurs when referring to Ethiopian Jews.


Updated 15:17 GMT

James North: As Israel massacres more Gazans, ‘NY Times’ continues its distorted coverage — with one honorable exception


Updated 15:07 GMT

Jonathan Cook: Israel repurposes Nakba myths to justify massacre in Gaza


Updated 14:35 GMT

This morning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a Congressional delegation led by Joe Wilson (R-SC) and a Senatorial delegation led by Lindsey Graham (R-SC).  Florida Gov. Rick Scott was also in attendance.


Updated 14:30 GMT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the delegation from the White House last night in Jerusalem. President Donald Trump is not attending the embassy opening. The team sent by the administration is headed by his daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, Deputy Secretary John Sullivan, special envoy Jason Greenblatt and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Netanyahu dedicated about a third of his speech to welcome the White House officials by applauding President Trump for pulling out the Iran agreement:

“And to achieve peace, we have to do one other thing: We must confront the enemies of peace, and I thank President Trump for his decision to confront Iran rather than to appease it. Pulling out of the nuclear deal means that the world’s greater sponsor of terrorism, greatest sponsor of terrorism, is no longer on a glide-path to attaining an arsenal of nuclear weapons. This is good for Israel, this is good for the region, it’s good for the world.

Now, I have something to say to part of the world: With all due respect to those sitting in European capitals, we here in the capitals of the Middle East—in Jerusalem, in Riyadh and elsewhere—we’ve seen the disastrous consequences of the Iran deal. And so when President Trump decides to pull out of this deal, to walk away from it, we know that when he walks away from a bad deal, he’s doing a good thing for our region, for the United States and for the world.”

Netanyahu also spoke of the close personal relationship between his family and Jared Kushner’s:

“I’ve known Jared for 105 years, and there’s a special bond between our families, but I think the fact that you and Ivanka are here is a special, personal testament, but also a national and international statement. It is one that touches our hearts, and we are all delighted by your presence at any time, at any day, but especially on this day. Thank you.”

In addition to firing on Gaza protesters, Israel has also started bombing Gaza as well:

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23 Responses

  1. CigarGod

    May 14, 2018, 9:16 am

    NPR in Wyoming just now taken off the air as reporter from Israel/Palestine was giving a halfway reasonable report of violence…tho she didn’t mention details of proximity to fence, headshots, etc.

    10 minutes later a Zionist MP woman came on with the normal blame on Palestinians and refused reporters repeated request for comment on IDF attacks.

    • Maghlawatan

      May 14, 2018, 9:41 am

      Jon S says it is all the fault of Khamas. If someone gets shot in the head do not blame the soldier.

      • jon s

        May 14, 2018, 1:07 pm

        Absolutely.
        A horrific number of casualties.
        An “achievement” for Hamas.

      • eljay

        May 14, 2018, 2:04 pm

        || jon s: Absolutely.
        A horrific number of casualties.
        An “achievement” for Hamas. ||

        jon s is channeling catalan today. I suppose that means catalan will be providing the soccer scores.

    • CigarGod

      May 14, 2018, 10:02 am

      Finally, reporter cut off Iz MP due to station break.
      Then same MP came back on and gave her screed uninterrupted…and without answering the question of course…or being asked to again.

      – Put me back on the air or I’ll yank your credentials and you’ll be banned from The Land of Iz.-

    • Marnie

      May 14, 2018, 11:45 am

      WTF is happening in amerikkka???

  2. John O

    May 14, 2018, 9:26 am

    Sharpville, Soweto, Gaza.

  3. Maghlawatan

    May 14, 2018, 9:39 am

    Ivanka Trump praying for peace.
    It would be better to pray for brain transplants for Israelis.
    Anyway the new embassy will be greeted every morning by one of the most beautiful sounds in Jerusalem . And it isn’t the Israeli “gh”

  4. Maghlawatan

    May 14, 2018, 9:46 am

    On a day like today it is important to remember the fantasy of Theodor Herzl. A liberal union of Jews and Arabs. Where no Jew was paranoid.

    Also remember the line from Cat Stevens. “You will still be here tomorrow but your Dreams may not. ”
    Israel is still here. It is hell.

  5. Maximus Decimus Meridius

    May 14, 2018, 9:51 am

    Let me guess. Western governments will ‘express concern’ and ‘urge both sides to exercise restraint’.

    And the killing will go and nobody will lift a finger to stop it.

    “Moderate” Zionists will – at best – clutch their pearls and say this just underscores the need for a proper ‘peace deal’.

    They do not realise – or choose not to realise – that this is not an aberration. It is the very essence of Zionism in action, right before their eyes.

    • Maghlawatan

      May 14, 2018, 11:17 am

      A lefty Israeli :

      “it’s consistent with the Hamas strategy designed to ensure that their own people remain as miserable as possible, and suffer large numbers of casualties, preferably women and children. ”

      Imagine what Beitar Jerusalem fans are thinking

    • Maghlawatan

      May 14, 2018, 11:50 am

      I think that is why Israel is doomed. It’s not a country at equilibrium. It doesn’t observe international law. It doesn’t observe treaties. It always gets a free pass. There are no limits on its behaviour. The international system provides advantages in return for compliance. Israel says “fuck you”. If Israel was a person it would be a violent junkie.
      The advantages it has are US support and nukes but both of these are time limited. Something it doesn’t expect will destroy it. And it will be like the boy who cried wolf when it asks other countries to help it.

  6. Qualtrough

    May 14, 2018, 10:18 am

    Your tax dollars at work.

  7. Spring Renouncer

    May 14, 2018, 10:42 am

    It is fitting in a terrible and grisly sense that they celebrate their independence with a massacre of civilians: this state built on mass murder requires periodic butchery to persist. Global silence in the wake of this new atrocity truly disgusts me, though it is not surprising. And where is the ‘solidarity’ from the developing world, the formerly colonized? There is none. Ours is truly an era of impunity, of near universal global collaboration in oppression. This is, naturally, what happens when the ideology of profit triumphs over all else. I am particularly disheartened – but again not even a bit surprised – by how my parents’ homeland, India – ‘the world’s largest democracy’ – has sold out completely on Palestine.

    Gandhi and Nehru took principled stances against Zionism way before Israel existed, correctly grouping its supremacist urges with the nascent Hindu and Muslim nationalist movements on the Indian Subcontinent and with European Facism and Imperialism. While both the West and the Stalin’s Soviet Union and it’s satellites bought into Zionism before, during and after Israel’s independence, India, other non-agligned countries – many of them also former colonies – and some communist states continued to stand up for the Palestinians for decades, at least formally. Now it is just stupidity and naked greed that are passed as ‘foreign policy’ in India and beyond. Adding to the tragic irony of the situation is the fact that the current massacres in Gaza so closely respemble the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (1919), when British troops with automatic rifles opened fire on protesting unarmed Indian civilians, murdering hundreds of them and sparking the movements for independence on the Subcontinent.

    • Marnie

      May 14, 2018, 11:48 am

      Ivanka and Jerkoff will never get the blood off their hands.

      • Citizen

        May 14, 2018, 12:08 pm

        I bet they sleep well at night.

  8. Spring Renouncer

    May 14, 2018, 11:07 am

    Does anyone know if there will be a demonstration in NYC today? There must be – right now – in Union Square, in front of the Israeli Consulate, the United Nations or Trump Tower etc.!! If not, I will just make a sign and camp out outside the U.N.

  9. Kay24

    May 14, 2018, 12:38 pm

    This is a bloody and brutal murder of civilians. Trump lit that keg of gunpowder, but does not care a damn for the lives of innocent civilians, and the children. While his son and daughter, sit smugly, and smirk, among their beloved zionists, and Jared pleases the king of the zionists, miles away, powerless people are being brutally killed, and injured, and are easy targets for Israel’s killers. Perhaps they used US made weapons given by previous Presidents.

    Where is world outrage? Expect the usual hand wringing by the UN, and it seems Israel’s buddy the Saudi Arabians, have given silent consent, to Jerusalem, especially the East, which was supposedly for the Palestinians, given by sword dance Trump. This is unfair, but then what Trump and Netanyahu does is usually based on lies, deceit, and being unfair.

  10. Ossinev

    May 14, 2018, 12:58 pm

    I think that the Fourth Reich has emerged:
    https://atlasmonitor.wordpress.com/2016/05/23/i-was-there/

    Now that the ZioZombies effectively have the green light from their puppet US and compliant EU as well as the turncoat Arab States to indiscriminantely slaughter innocent men women and children they will no doubt intensify their “self defence” measures in the Occupied West Bank and perhaps bring forward their plans for a mass rounding up and corralling of the Untermenschen natives. The settlers being even more moral than the IDF if that is possible will probably lead the action.

    Lovely people,lovely country – if you are a fan of Fascism. Great potential tourist marketing opportunities there to attract far right Fascist groups who will feel right at home.

    Hopefully more and more civilised Westerners will stay away from this s…hole country and more and more civilised Westerners will shun and boycott Israeli Zionists and their products which make their way to the West.

    Tick tick

  11. Sibiriak

    May 14, 2018, 1:44 pm

    The Guardian:
    ——————————————-

    Emily Thornberry MP, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, responding to the killing of Palestinians in Gaza today, said:

    We condemn unreservedly the Israeli government for their brutal, lethal and utterly unjustified actions on the Gaza border, and our thoughts are with all those Palestinians in Gaza whose loved ones have been killed or injured as a result.

    These actions are made all the worse because they come not as the result of a disproportionate over-reaction to one day’s protests, but as the culmination of six weeks of an apparently systemic and deliberate policy of killing and maiming unarmed protestors and bystanders who pose no threat to the forces at the Gaza border, many of them shot in the back, many of them shot hundreds of metres from the border, and many of them children.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2018/may/14/israeli-troops-kill-palestinians-protesting-against-us-embassy-move-to-jerusalem-live-updates

  12. Ossinev

    May 14, 2018, 1:50 pm

    Speaking of tourism. The immediate overwhelming and recurring image of Zioland to most foreign visitors who are lucky enough to emerge from the Orwellian filtration machine at Ben Gurion ) and potential visitors is not the bikini paradise of Tel Aviv or the Gay Pride paradise of Telaviv but the magnificent Golden Dome of the Al Aqsa Mosque = a Muslim yes Muslim pilgrimage site.

    With the right wing Ziolunatics in Zioland and the US now running the Ziocircus emboldened by their success with the US Embassy move surely it is only a question of time before they set their sights on removing this Anti – Semitic carbuncle from their eternal city.
    https://electronicintifada.net/content/these-are-israeli-leaders-who-want-destroy-al-aqsa/21166

  13. Abierno

    May 14, 2018, 2:05 pm

    The juxtaposition of the smiling presidents without portfolio, Jared and Ivanka, with the tragic deaths of unarmed Palestinian/Gazans, the thousands wounded and the refusal of Netanyahu and Erdan to allow in medical teams and supplies to support the beleaguered hospitals which are understaffed, overwhelmed and without critically needed medical equipment and supplies is being widely reported across Europe, South America, Russia and Asia, to say nothing of the Middle East. This is a diplomatic blunder greater than unilaterally stepping away from the JCPOA agreement. Unrecoverable and with dire long term consequences for the US.

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Syria Imposes New Rules of Engagement on Israel – By Sayed Hasan translated for the Saker Blog

SYRIANFORALLSYRIANS

by Sayed Hasan translated for the Saker Blog

Source : http://sayed7asan.blogspot.fr/2018/05/la-syrie-impose-de-nouvelles-regles-de.html

On Thursday 10th May 2018, an unprecedented exchange of strikes happened between Israel and Syria. The mainstream media, as well as some “alternative” media like Russia Today, were quick to relay the Israeli army version, according to which the Zionist entity “retaliated” to an “Iranian attack by Revolutionary Guards’ Al-Quds Force” consisting of “twenty rockets” fired at Israeli positions in the occupied Golan, four of which were “intercepted by the Iron Dome” and the others “crashed into Syrian territory”, no damage being recorded in Israel. Israel has reportedly responded to this unprecedented “act of aggression” by a “large-scale operation” that would have destroyed “the entire Iranian infrastructure in Syria”, in order to deter the Islamic Republic from any stray impulse of future strikes.

This narrative takes for granted the postulates, data and myths of the Zionist entity’s propaganda – which imposes permanent military censorship on the Israeli media, exposing any offender to a prison sentence; and reading the international media, one might get the idea that, like American economic sanctions, this censorship is extraterritorial – but none of them can withstand scrutiny.

The aggressor is undoubtedly Israel, who carried out more than a hundred strikes against Syria since the beginning of the conflict. After Duma’s chemical stage attacks, this aggresion intensified with attacks on the Syrian T-4 base on April 9, which killed 7 Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Following the US announcement of withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, new Israeli strikes targeted Syrian positions on Tuesday (May 8th) in the southern suburbs of Damascus, and Wednesday (May 9th) in Quneitra, in the south of the country. Undeniably, Syria has only responded to yet another aggression, with a firmness that has shaken Israel and forced it out of the muteness to which it usually confines itself.

The Syrian – and not Iranian – response consisted of more than fifty – and not twenty – rockets against four sensitive Israeli military bases in the occupied Golan, which caused material damage and even casualties according to Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s media. These were not reported by the Israeli press because of the draconian military censorship forbidding mentioning Israel’s initial aggression, more than twenty rockets fired on Israel, the identification of their targets and any hint to the damage inflicted, in order to reassure the population inside and allow the vassal Western capitals to shout their sickening refrain of the sacrosanct-right-of-Israel-to-defend-itself. The Lebanese channel Al-Mayadeen specifically identified the military posts struck: 1/ a military technical and electronic reconnaissance center; 2/ border security and intelligence station 9900; 3/ a military center for electronic jamming; 3/ a military spy center for wireless and wired networks; 4/ a transmission station; 5/ an observatory of precision weapons unit ; 6/ a combat heliport; 7/ the headquarters of the Regional Military Command of Brigade 810; 8/ the command center of the military battalion at Hermon; 9/ winter headquarters of a special alpine unit. And as this channel has reported, even Israeli journalists and analysts have expressed doubts about this unconvincing version according to which these massive strikes, unprecedented since 1974 and therefore unexpected, would have proved harmless. Moreover, as Norman Finkelstein pointed out, nothing has changed for Israel’s wars in Gaza from 2008 to 2014 despite the deployment of the “Iron Dome”, only 5% of the – largely primitive – Hamas rockets being intercepted during “Protective Edge”; and one of the best missile defense specialists, Theodore Postol of MIT, has already revealed the chronic deficiencies of this system. It is unlikely that it was able to cope better with the much more sophisticated Russian, Chinese and Iranian rocket launchers that Syria has.

The success of the Israeli strikes, which, according to Israeli War Minister Avigdor Lieberman, almost destroyed “all of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria”, is largely exaggerated: Russian military officials, whose radars have followed this fight in real time, announced that more than half of the 60 missiles fired by 28 Israeli F-15s and F-16s – as well as 10 ground-to-ground missiles – were intercepted. The Syrian army records 3 dead and 2 wounded, a radar station and ammunition depot destroyed and material damage to Syrian anti-aircraft defense units. The latter have already demonstrated their effectiveness against strikes from Tel Aviv, Washington, London and Paris, unlike the mythical “Iron Dome” whose main role is to reassure the Israeli population.

The very presence of Iranian military bases and / or large Iranian contingents in Syria is a fable: Iran has only a modest presence (essentially composed of military advisers, indeed from the body of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards), unlike Hezbollah or Russia. Robert Fisk points out that “an Israeli statement that the Iranians had missiles in Syria was surely made in concert with the Trump administration”, that the Iranian forces in Syria are “far fewer than the West imagines” and that all Israeli statements should be reported with the utmost circumspection. Any objective reporting on these events should resemble that of Robert Fisk: “The latest overnight Israeli air strikes, supposedly at Iranian forces in Syria after a supposed Iranian rocket attack on Israeli forces in Golan – and it’s important to use the “supposed” and not take all this at face value – must have been known to the Americans in advance.” Indeed, these so-called unexpected attacks had been announced for days by the Israeli army, which had already conducted a so-called “preemptive strike” – rather a provocation – on May 8.

The “red line” that this alleged Iranian presence would pose to Israel is belied by the fact that Tel Aviv has, since the beginning of the conflict, been steadily slowing the progress of the Syrian Arab Army and, using various pretexts (delivery of arms to Hezbollah, response to actual or suspected gunfire from the Golan Heights, etc.), assisting armed terrorist groups in any way possible: weapons, intelligence, airstrikes coordinated with ground offensives, medical care, etc. Israel, the only country in the world that officially does not fear anything (and indeed has nothing to fear) from ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the like, has seen the situation in Syria turn from a dream – see a myriad of terrorist groups tear down the only anti-Israeli Arab regime, back of the Resistance Axis, and bleed Hezbollah – into a nightmare – to face Hezbollah, Syrian and Iran forces more battle-hardened and powerful than ever, and allied with the Palestinian Resistance, Iraq and Yemen, as well as Russia –, is only continuing its destabilizing work under new pretexts, and more directly: Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, had announced that after the defeat of proxies in Syria, their sponsors could either give up or intervene more and more openly.

Iran, whose opposition to the racist and colonialist project of Israel has been a principle and even a dogma since the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, is not easily provoked into an ill-thought reaction, and has always preferred to act with patience for long-term objectives – let us remember its restraint after the massacre of Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan in 1998. The goal of Iran is not to carry out a simple reprisal operation to avenge his officers and soldiers deliberately (or accidentally, as was the case in Quneitra in January 2015) killed by Israel, but to work for the complete liberation of Palestine by putting an end to the illegitimate “Zionist regime”, just like the Apartheid regime in South Africa, which, by the way, collapsed after its military defeat in Angola and Namibia against Cuban mulattoes, then viewed with as much racism as Israeli Jewish supremacism considers Arabushim. As Hassan Nasrallah pointed out, Israel’s direct aggression against Iranian forces in Syria is a major turning point in the history of the Israeli-Arab – or rather, Israeli-Arab-Persian – conflict, and Israel must now get ready to confront the Iranian forces directly – whether in Syria, occupied Palestine or even elsewhere. Moreover, when the Iranian missiles enter the scene, they are launched from the territory of the Islamic Republic and with undeniable success, as shown by the strikes against ISIS at Deir-Ez-Zor on June 18, 2017, in retaliation for terrorist attacks in Tehran.

As we can see, the reality cannot be more different from the fable that has been propagated by the majority of the media. “Journalists” who tamely take over Israel’s talking points turn into IDF propaganda outlets and mere agents of Netanyahu’s “diplomacy of lies”. Israel is indeed constantly lying to the world – and, increasingly, to its own people. And when its reckless actions have disastrous repercussions, it publishes hasty and contradictory communiqués in which it presents itself both as a victim and as a hawkish punisher, while also claiming, through Lieberman and via Russia, to have no intention of stepping into an escalation and hoping things will stop there – proclaiming the success of its retaliatory strikes is also a way to say it does not want/need to go any further. The international media contented itself with repeating these statements immediately after the first attacks, without any critical distance. Rational actors like Iran, Syria and Hezbollah – or Russia – are not in such a hurry to speak out and confirm or deny other’s claims, leaving their opponents getting entangled in their lies, and trusting in the primacy of the battlefield that becomes more favorable to them day by day. Moreover, the fact that a bitter setback for Israel, which literally reverses the strategic situation, is transformed into a military success by Zionist and Atlantist propaganda, and combined with Israeli protests of non-belligerency, can only confirm the Resistance Axis in its choices.

Yoav Kish, a member of the Knesset quoted by Al-Manar, stressed that regardless of the author of the strikes and their results – that censorship forbade from mentioning –, it was a major shift in the history of the wars of Israel, which is being attacked from Syria. Indeed, the Golan military installations are now directly targeted as a result of Israeli aggressions, and not just the Israeli air force, which has already seen its finest – the F-16 – be shot down on February 10, 2018. The journalists and Israeli analysts also pointed out the psychological and economic repercussions of this incident, with more than 20,000 Golan settlers having had to hastily find their way back to the shelters in the middle of the night (how much will they be at the next escalation?), and the beginning of the summer period having been ushered in by a wave of hotel reservation deletions due to fears of a war between Israel and Iran. The Zionist entity, which unabashedly inflicts the greatest loss and damage to the Palestinians and its neighbors, is severely shaken by the slightest losses, unbearable for Israeli society.

The accusation against Iran is explained by essential factors (the inherent racism of Israeli society and its Prime Minister, who more willingly believe in a dangerousness of Persian Iran than in that of Arab Syria) and circumstantial – a refusal to assume the consequences of the suicidal policy of the Netanyahu government, which led him to a direct confrontation with the entire Resistance Axis, not to say with Russia. And most importantly, Israel wants to capitalize on Trump’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal to advance its main obsession, much older than the Syrian crisis, namely Tehran’s ballistic program, which it wants the West to end with, exploiting the perennial nuclear pretext – let us remind that the manufacture, possession and use of nuclear weapons are unlawful in Islam according to Imam Khomeini and Ali Khamenei, supreme authorities in Iran. Netanyahu has made it clear that a war with Iran is inevitable, and that it would be better to happen now than later. Since 2005, he vainly strives for the United States to launch it for him, but no negotiation, sanction or aggression will ever deter Iran from its course. And just as the Israeli strikes on April 9, which were supposed to encourage Washington, London and Paris to conduct severe strikes on Syria, ended in a bitter failure, Israel only worsened its own situation yet again and finds itself alone in the face of the disastrous consequences of its actions, to the extent of the blind arrogance that triggered them.

What about Russia? Netanyahu’s presence in Moscow for the commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the USSR’s victory against Nazism, and reports that Russia would not deliver the S-300s to Syria, must not mislead us. Russia has invested far too much in Syria to allow anyone – be it Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh or Ankara – to reduce its efforts to nothing. Moscow said it would no longer tolerate Western strikes against Syria in case of a new chemical weapons masquerade, and that it is ready to provide Damascus not necessarily with the S-300 anti-aircraft system, but, according to Sergei Lavrov, with “whatever is required to help the Syrian army to deter aggression.” The current Syrian defense systems have already proven their worth – Including the Pantsir, which is much more suited to the needs of the Syrian army –, and allow to envision the day when Israel loses its only advantage, namely the air supremacy – that already was to no avail in 2006 against Hezbollah or 2014 against Gaza –, without which its supposedly “invincible” ragtag army would literally crumble. Israel’s use of ground-to-ground missiles for the first time, and the concentration of attacks on Syrian anti-aircraft defenses – IDF released the video of the destruction of a Pantsir S-1 system, probably inactive – proves that it is well aware of its limitations.

It is obvious that Israeli aggressions against Syria will be increasingly costly, both for the Israeli air force and for its internal military bases and population, because of the determination of Syria and its allies (Hezbollah and Iran) to respond to any aggression, of their experience and new capabilities, and of their successes on the ground. The Resistance Axis – of which Russia is not a part – is now able to face Israel directly on its own, with a united front and without fear of escalation. As for Israel, already overwhelmed by the peaceful demonstrations in Gaza that must culminate on May 15, it is not ready for war against a single member of the Resistance Axis, let alone against several of them simultaneously. The new equation imposed by the Syrian army on May 10 is more fearsome for Israel than the prospect of the loss of another F-16, as Damascus has shown its determination to wage war on enemy territory, and to strike the Zionist entity in its depth.

The Resistance Axis will soon have its eyes fixed on the occupied Golan, that Syria has never given up liberating by armed struggle – a right conferred by international law itself, this territory being recognized as Syrian by all the international community: any Syrian operation there is a legal and legitimate act of resistance against Israel’s 1967 aggression in and subsequent occupation, even without further provocation. As early as May 2013, Hassan Nasrallah announced Hezbollah’s participation in the opening of a new frontline in Golan. In March 2017, the Golan Liberation Brigade was formed by Iraqi Hezbollah, Harakat al-Nujaba, a movement backed by Iran and involved in the liberation of Iraq and Syria from ISIS. Today, Syrian strikes in the occupied Golan unquestionably open up a new chapter in the history of the Israeli-Arab wars, in which Israel will increasingly be forced into a defensive position. Are we going to see the IDF building a wall on the border of the occupied Golan to hinder any future invasion, as is already the case on the Lebanese-Israeli border to prevent Hezbollah’s promised incursion into the Galilee? Anyway, the next war against Israel will drastically change the map of the Middle East.

Ecuador hints it may hand over Julian Assange to Britain and the US – By James Cogan – (WSWS)

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By James Cogan
12 May 2018

Julian Assange is in immense danger. Remarks made this week by Ecuador’s foreign minister suggest that her government may be preparing to renege on the political asylum it granted to the WikiLeaks editor in 2012 and hand him over to British and then American authorities.

On March 28, under immense pressure from the governments in the US, Britain and other powers, Ecuador imposed a complete ban on Assange having any Internet or phone contact with the outside world, and blocked his friends and supporters from physically visiting him. For 45 days, he has not been heard from.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa stated in a Spanish-language interview on Wednesday that her government and Britain “have the intention and the interest that this be resolved.” Moves were underway, she said, to reach a “definite agreement” on Assange.

If Assange falls into the hands of the British state, he faces being turned over to the US. Last year, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that putting Assange on trial for espionage was a “priority.” CIA director Mike Pompeo, now secretary of state, asserted that WikiLeaks was a “non-state hostile intelligence service.”

In 2010, WikiLeaks courageously published information leaked by then Private Bradley [now Chelsea] Manning that exposed war crimes committed by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. WikiLeaks also published, in partnership with some of the world’s major newspapers, tens of thousands of secret diplomatic cables, exposing the daily anti-democratic intrigues of US imperialism and numerous other governments.

For that, Assange was relentlessly persecuted by the Obama administration. By November 2010, it had convened a secret grand jury and had a warrant issued for his arrest on charges of espionage—charges that can carry the death sentence. The then Labor Party government in Australia headed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard threw Assange, an Australian citizen, to the wolves. It refused to provide him any defence and declared it would work with the US to have him detained and put on trial.

On June 19, 2012, under conditions in which he faced extradition to Sweden to answer questions over fabricated allegations of sexual assault, and the prospect of rendition to the United States, Assange sought asylum in the Ecuador’s embassy in London.

Since that time, for nearly six years, he has been largely confined to a small room with no direct sunlight. He has been prevented from leaving, even to obtain medical treatment, by the British government’s insistence it will arrest him for breaching bail as soon as he sets foot outside the embassy.

Now, for six weeks and three days, he has been denied even the right to communicate.

Jennifer Robinson, the British-based Australian lawyer who has represented Assange since 2010, told the London Times in an interview this month: “His health situation is terrible. He’s had a problem with his shoulder for a very long time. It requires an MRI [magnetic resonance imaging scan], which cannot be done within the embassy. He’s got dental issues. And then there’s the long-term impact of not being outside, his visual impairment. He wouldn’t be able to see further than from here to the end of this hallway.”

The effort to haul Assange before a US court is inseparable from the broader campaign underway by the American state and allied governments to impose sweeping censorship on the Internet. Lurid allegations of “Russian meddling” in the 2016 US election and denunciations of “fake news” have been used to demand that Google, Facebook and other conglomerates block users from accessing websites that publish critical commentary and exposures of the ruling class and its agencies—including WikiLeaks and the World Socialist Web Site.

WikiLeaks has been absurdly denounced as “pro-Russia” because it published leaks from the US Democratic Party National Committee that revealed the anti-democratic intrigues the party’s leaders carried out to undermine the campaign of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary elections. It also published leaked speeches of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that further exposed her intimate relations with Wall Street banks and companies.

As part of the justification for Internet censorship, US intelligence agencies allege, without any evidence, that the information was hacked by Russian operatives and supplied to WikiLeaks to undermine Clinton and assist Trump—whom Moscow purportedly considered the “lesser evil.”

In response to the hysterical allegations, WikiLeaks broke its own tradition of not commenting on its sources. It publicly denied that Russia was the source of the leaks. That has not prevented the campaign from continuing, with Assange even being labelled “the Kremlin’s useful idiot” in pro-Democratic Party circles. WikiLeaks is blamed for Clinton’s defeat, not the reality, that tens of millions of American workers were repulsed by her right-wing, pro-war campaign and refused to vote for her.

Under conditions in which the Ecuadorian government has capitulated to great power pressure and is collaborating with British and US agencies to break Julian Assange, there is an almost universal and reprehensible silence on the part of dozens of organisations and hundreds of individuals who once claimed to defend him and WikiLeaks.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which in February 2016 condemned Assange’s persecution as “a form of arbitrary detention” and called for his release, has issued no statement on his current situation.

In Britain, the Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn have said nothing on the actions by Ecuador. Nor have they opposed the determination of the Conservative government to arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy.

In Australia, the current Liberal-National government and Labor leadership are just as complicit. The Greens, which claimed to oppose the persecution of Assange, have not made any statement in parliament or issued a press release, let alone called for public protests. Hundreds of editors, journalists, academics, artists and lawyers across the country who publicly defended WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011 are now mute.

A parallel situation prevails across Europe and in the US. The so-called parties of the “left” and the trade unions are all tacitly endorsing the vicious drive against Assange.

Around the world, the Stalinist and Pabloite pseudo-left organisations, anxious not to disrupt their sordid relations with the parties of the political establishment and the trade union apparatuses, are likewise silent.

The World Socialist Web Site and the International Committee of the Fourth International unconditionally defend Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. If the ruling elite can haul him before a court, it will hold him up as an example of what happens to those who speak out against social inequality, militarism, war and police-state measures. His prosecution would be used to try to intimidate and silence all dissent.

If Assange is imprisoned or worse, and WikiLeaks shut down, it will be a serious blow to the democratic rights of the entire international working class.

Workers and young people should join with the WSWS and ICFI in demanding and fighting for the immediate freedom of Julian Assange.

GOP Hostility Toward Iran Secured After Adelson Gives $30 Million To Top Super PAC – By Whitney Webb (Mint Press)

Sheldon Adelson

Adelson’s perspectives on U.S. foreign policy, particularly towards Iran, are alarming, given that his influence on U.S. politics is set to grow in the wake of his latest mega-donation to the Republican party.

WASHINGTON – With the 2018 Congressional midterm elections approaching, Republicans – eager to keep their control of both houses of Congress – have been seeking lucrative donations that would give Republican candidates an advantage in the lead-up to November.

On Thursday, those efforts paid off in a big way as the top Republican congressional political action committee (PAC), the Congressional Leadership Fund, secured a massive $30 million donation from Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Adelson’s massive donation will account for just over 41 percent of all donations made to the group since January 2017.

According to Politico, the deal was brokered in part by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) even though, as a federally elected official, he is not permitted to solicit such eight-figure donations from private donors. In order to get around this inconvenience, Ryan briefly left the room while Norm Coleman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, who was also present at the meeting, asked Adelson for the funds during Ryan’s conveniently timed absence, and thus secured the multi-million dollar contribution.

Adelson’s willingness to help the GOP stay in power come November is unsurprising. The Republican mega-donor gave heavily to the Trump campaign and Republicans in 2016, donating $35 million to the former and $55 million to the top two Republican Super PACs, the Congressional Leadership Fund and the Senate Leadership Fund, during that election cycle.

 

Getting what he paid for, and more

After investing so heavily in the GOP in 2016, Adelson’s decision to again donate tens of millions of dollars to Republican efforts to stay in power is a direct consequence of how successfully Adelson has been able to influence U.S. policy since Trump and the GOP rode to victory in the last election cycle.

In his media appearances and past interviews with journalists, Adelson has always made it clear that he is a “one-issue voter” and that his central concern is always Israel. Adelson’s belief that Trump would be “good for Israel” was the main driver behind his decision to spend more than $90 million on helping Trump and other Republicans win in the last election.

While Trump’s campaign promises – particularly those populist and anti-war in nature – have rung hollow, the President has notably fulfilled his campaign promises that were of prime importance to Adelson. Those promises were the moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Adelson has aggressively promoted and is even helping to finance, and removing the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal.

Adelson has also been successful in installing Iran war-hawks and pro-Israel stalwarts in the top government positions. Adelson-supported appointees include Nikki Haley, long-time recipient of Adelson campaign funds who now serves as U.S. ambassador to the UN; Mike Pompeo, former CIA director who has advocated for bombing Iran and now serves as secretary of state; and John Bolton, a close confidante of Adelson’s who is now National Security Adviser. Adelson was also instrumental in removing Pompeo and Bolton’s predecessors, Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster, from their respective posts, due to their support for JCPOA.

If anything, Trump’s presidency has shown that, while Trump has left the promises he made to his base largely unfulfilled, he gladly keeps the promises made to his biggest donor. Adelson’s new donation to the Congressional Leadership Fund shows that he has been extremely pleased with the performance of Trump and the Republican Party.

 

An alarming vision and a hard line bordering on insanity

Pro-Israel philanthropist Adam Milstein (far right) with Sheldon and Miriam Adelson and Milstein’s wife, Gila. (Photo: Facebook/Adam Milstein)

Though Adelson has successfully used his donations to obtain policy decisions he has long desired, his work is still not done. Adelson, like many of the government officials he has put into power, is an advocate of a U.S./Israel war with Iran. With the U.S. out of JCPOA and now set to promote regime change as part of its official Iran policy, the foundation is quickly being laid for a military confrontation with Iran. Israel, whose leadership is also funded by Adelson, is also busy preparing for a major conflict with Iran.

Adelson’s perspectives on U.S. foreign policy, particularly towards Iran, are alarming, given that his influence on U.S. politics is set to grow in the wake of his latest donation to the Republican party. For instance, in 2015, Adelson advocated for a U.S. nuclear attack on Iran without provocation, so the U.S. could “impose its demands [on Iran] from a position of strength” during the negotiations that eventually led to the JCPOA.

Per Adelson’s plan, the U.S. would drop a nuclear bomb in the middle of the Iranian desert and then threaten that “the next one is in the middle of Tehran” to show that “we mean business.” Tehran, Iran’s capital, is home to nearly 9 million people, with 15 million more in its suburbs. Were Tehran to be attacked with nuclear weapons, an estimated 7 million would die within seconds. Any sort of diplomatic engagement with Iran, according to Adelson, is “the worst negotiating tactic I could ever imagine.”

Adelson has also given millions of dollars to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a pro-war think tank whose “experts” on Iran have pushed for pre-emptive military strikes targeting the country as well as blockades on food and medicine to Iranian civilians. He also has contributed nearly one-third of all donations to the anti-Iran group, United Against Nuclear Iran.

With a $30 million dollar infusion during a difficult and critical midterm election, the Republican party – with Trump still at the helm – will likely show its gratitude towards its most generous benefactor by continuing to heed his beck and call, including driving the U.S. to support a major military confrontation with Iran.

Top Photo | Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson testifies in court in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

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Astana Peace Process: Time to Make China Fourth Guarantor State – By Peter KORZUN – (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Astana Peace Process: Time to Make China Fourth Guarantor State

In January, Russia hosted the Congress of Syrian National Dialog in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. It has been the most representative forum thus far to discuss the conflict in Syria. Moscow invited Beijing to take part in the event as an observer. The Russian government believes that China is too important to be denied a role in the process of bringing peace to that war-torn country.

Post-war Syria is a scene of devastation. The creation of de-escalation zones has worked well to establish a cease-fire and a pause to catch one’s breath before the work of reconstruction begins. The Western powers are very unlikely to help rebuild Syria as long as Assad’s government, which is backed by Russia and Iran, remains in power. Legislation that has been dubbed the “No Assistance for Assad Act” has passed the US House of Representatives and has been read twice in the Senate. The bill seeks to channel US aid exclusively to the parts of Syria outside the control of the government.

The West’s reluctance to help rebuild Syria makes China a viable alternative. It is ready to contribute, which is a very welcome development. Chinese businessmen are already in Syria, exploring the opportunities for investment. Beijing has announced a plan to build a $2 billion industrial park for 150 Chinese companies. It has launched the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a multi-billion, massive, intercontinental infrastructure development project, which includes Syria as a transit partner. China is for future investments around the world and Syria could be the beneficiary of much of that. It could also be used to assist Russia, Iran, and Turkey, the Astana process guarantor states.

China provides military and other forms of assistance to Syria. It has a vested interest in the settlement of the conflict, because stability in Syria reduces the risk that mercenaries from Xinjiang will return home to mount terrorist attacks. Last year, about 5,000 ethnic Uyghurs from that province traveled to Syria to train and fight for various militant groups. The normalization of the situation would prevent the country from becoming a haven and training ground for China’s Muslim extremists. But no stability is achievable in Syria without improved living standards.

Beijing has been playing a low-key yet active role in the peace process, without military involvement. It has joined Russia to veto several UN proposals put forward by the West that would sanction the Syrian government.

If China became the fourth full-fledged guarantor state for the Astana process, the peace effort could expand to bring in other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), including India and Pakistan. These states have never taken sides in Syria’s conflict, and thus could be trusted to act as impartial mediators. Iran is an observer and Turkey is a partner in the dialog. Egypt and Syria have also submitted applications to be granted observer status. Cairo is considering the possibility of sending its forces to Syria. With so many members involved in the conflict, the SCO could launch a comprehensive, international peace initiative based on the Astana process.

If some progress were made, Syria could obtain a status in the group that would be a stepping stone to full-fledged membership. The SCO could speak with one voice at the UN-brokered Geneva talks. The Shanghai Organization could solve the Syrian conflict without the West imposing its own rules of the game. Such a political breakthrough would greatly facilitate the implementation of China’s BRI, with all the major actors participating in the project. The SCO’s clout would grow immensely. Europe would benefit as well, if an SCO-brokered peace halted the flow of refugees.

China and Russia are also members of BRICS, another powerful group with growing prominence on the world stage. Three out of the five BRICS states – Russia, India, and China – are members of the Shanghai group. Brazil and South Africa would boost their global clout by joining in an SCO-BRICS peace effort in Syria. It’s important that the Syrian government view the BRICS coalition as a legitimate player. The participation of BRICS and SCO in the settlement process would transform the international system into a more multilateral configuration. This would also be in line with the concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), which was adopted by the UN in 2005. Syria is the right place to demonstrate that R2P is more than an empty phrase.

In theory, there may be reservations about bringing China in to act as the fourth guarantor state in the Astana process, but the advantages clearly outweigh any doubts. It would be a good thing for Beijing to play a greater role in the political efforts.

No peace will come if Syria is not rebuilt. The post-war reconstruction is too much for anyone to take on alone. It needs to be a comprehensive, international endeavor. This is a good opportunity for the SCO and BRICS to transform themselves into real international actors tackling urgent problems. Expanding the effort to bring peace to Syria is kind of a chain reaction that could be set in motion by bringing in China. This would be a step in the right direction toward resolving the conflict.

Haley, Pence Convey US Message on Venezuela: Only Election Worth Holding is One that Results in Regime Change – By Elliott Gabriel (MINT PRESS)

A Venezuelan man dressed as Uncle Sam, a personification of the U.S government, holding a fake nuke and a placard showing OAS president as a dog 

Last Friday, former CIA chief and newly-appointed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo contributed his own venomous input to the conversation, stating that “a dictator today in Venezuela cripples his economy and starves his people” and that the State Department must take action to assist the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have fled the economically besieged South American nation.

Noting the hypocrisy of Washington waxing sympathy for the very people afflicted by the steady torrent of sanctions unleashed by the White House, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry said:

Mr. Pompeo shows false concern for the reality of Venezuela while hiding the perverse effects of the unilateral coercive measures of his government … [The Trump administration] has launched erratic maneuvers, typical of the arrogance and despair of imperialist politics, after having failed once and again in the face of the will of a free and independent people.”

 

U.S. pressure continues unabated

Government supporters perform a parody involving a Venezuelan militia up against Uncle Sam, a personification of the U.S government, during an anti-imperialist march to denounce Trump's talk of a "military option" for resolving the country's political crisis, in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 14, 2017. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

While opposition politician Henri Falcon will take part in the election duel with Maduro, opposition figures aligned with the U.S.-backed M.U.D. (Democratic Unity Roundtable), such as Julio Borges and Carlos Vecchio, have embarked on an international tour, calling on officials in neighboring states and Western capitals to tighten their stranglehold on oil-rich Venezuela.

The U.S. has also redoubled its accusation that in addition to corruption, the socialist government is involved in narcotics trafficking.

The accusation was at the core of Pence’s Monday announcement that Washington would slap sanctions on three Venezuelans and 20 companies with ties to the Maduro government, adding further force to a siege primarily impacting the poorest people in a county already facing massive recession, hyperinflation, scarce food supplies and medicine shortages.

“I think the [Trump] administration is willing to do anything, whatever it takes, to make sure that Venezuelan people get to enjoy democracy and the liberties that come with it,” U.S. Ambassador to the OAS Carlos Trujillo told the press.

Venezuela’s government remains defiant and insists that it won’t bow to the “colonialism” that Latin America’s anti-colonial revolutionaries defeated over two hundred years ago. Its Foreign Ministry stated:

On May 20, without fail, presidential elections will take place in Venezuela and the people will defend their right to decide with votes, without interventions of any kind. The whole world will witness a new popular expression which will reaffirm the democratic character of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. No empire can go up against the will of the Venezuelans, worthy heirs of the Liberator Simón Bolívar in his ongoing effort to build nations and free, sovereign, independent and deeply anti-imperialist societies.”

Top Image | A Venezuelan man dressed as Uncle Sam, a personification of the U.S government, holding a fake nuke and a placard showing OAS president as a dog, participates in an anti-imperialist march to denounce Trump’s talk of a “military option” for resolving the country’s political crisis, in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 14, 2017. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

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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