With Russia’s S-300 in Syria, Israel Will Have to Think Twice About the Next Strike – By Ian Greenhalgh – VT

The new missile system provided by Russia is not a total barrier to airstrikes, but Israeli jets’ freedom of action will be significantly curbed

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Haaretz
With Russia’s S-300 in Syria, Israel Will Have to Think Twice About the Next Strike

The two latest developments in Moscow – the Defense Ministry’s report that placed full responsibility for last week’s downing of a Russian plane over Syria on Israel, and the announcement of the transfer of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to the Assad regime – shouldn’t surprise anyone in Israel except maybe a few foolish supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. No matter how good his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin may be, Netanyahu can’t make the problem disappear.

Russia suffered an embarrassing blow when Assad’s anti-aircraft fire shot down the plane, and it still has widespread interests to promote in Syria. It was quite clear that the affair would lead to a Russian condemnation of Israel and to demands of Israel. The bottom line still depends on Putin, who initially sufficed with a cautiously worded statement the day after the incident. For the time being it seems the result of the Russian steps will be a significant restriction of Israel’s freedom of action over Syria.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Monday that his country would supply Syria with S-300 ground-to-air missiles. Russia, he said, would also activate electronics preventing the activation of satellite tracking systems along Syria’s coast, making it harder for Israel to conduct airstrikes. And Russia will equip Syrian anti-aircraft units with Russian tracking and guidance systems to prevent mishaps in which Syria downs Russian aircraft.

The transfer of S-300 missiles to the Syrians, along with even more advanced systems (like the S-400) that the Russians are deploying near their bases in Syria’s northwest, don’t constitute a total barrier to Israeli attacks. According to foreign media, the Israel Air Force has trained for missions in which Israeli jets must contend with S-300 batteries – which the Russians sold to Cyprus and are now in Greece’s hands. It’s reasonable to assume that the air force can figure out how to reduce the risk when facing these systems.

In April, after an American attack and a number of Israeli attacks, Moscow announced that it would sell the S-300 systems to Syria, but it didn’t follow through. This time the Russians seem more determined to follow through, though it’s doubtful the weapons will be delivered in two weeks as promised by Shoigu, and it could take the Syrians a while to learn to operate the technology.

The test for Israeli-Russian relations is sure to come soon when a new intelligence warning pops up about an Iranian attempt to smuggle arms into Lebanon on a route near the Russian bases in northwestern Syria. Because Iran is determined to continue with its arms shipments to Hezbollah, and Israel has insisted on its right to attack such shipments, Jerusalem is bound to face a dilemma: Should it attack once again near the Russians and risk further exacerbating the crisis and even the downing of an Israeli plane?

Russia’s announcement of the decision to supply the S-300s and its report Sunday on the circumstances of the downing of the Ilyushin plane underscore one point. Moscow can’t accuse the main culprit responsible for the incident – its ally, the Assad regime. (It’s amazing to see that blame for the Syrian anti-aircraft forces doesn’t even appear in the Defense Ministry’s official statement.)

File photo: A Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft taxis across the tarmac at Central military airport in Rostov-on-Don, Russia December 14, 2010.

It was therefore clear from the beginning that the responsibility would be placed on Israel. It’s also interesting that all the blame is directed at the Israeli military, which the Russians accuse of being unprofessional or “criminally negligent, at the very least.” The Israeli political leadership isn’t mentioned except for one general claim about Israel’s alleged dangerous offensive policy in Syria.

The Russian inquiry seems dubious; some of its claims are odd. For instance, the Russians say Israel gave them a warning of only one minute (it’s surprising that Israel hasn’t stated the real time lag, which was much longer). According to experienced Israeli pilots, the claim that the Israeli jets hid behind the Russian intelligence-gathering plane is unreasonable and not in keeping with accepted operational practices.

The accusation that Israel deceived the Russians about the location of the planned attack also seems illogical. According to Russia, the IAF informed it about an attack in northern Syria, while the attack occurred in western Syria. Latakia is in northwest Syria, as a quick glance at a map reveals. And because the military coordination has been working successfully for three years now, during which hundreds of Israeli attacks have taken place, it’s hard to believe that the two sides haven’t yet cleared up some basic terminology.

The Russian announcement accuses Israel of ungratefulness in light of Moscow’s steps on behalf of Israeli interests such as keeping Iranian forces from the Israeli border in the Golan Heights. (The Russians say they’ve kept them 140 kilometers [87 miles] away, while actually it’s 85 to 100 kilometers, a buffer zone that doesn’t include Damascus, where Iranian soldiers remain.)

In recent years, Russia has been caught lying or spreading disinformation about its role in a number of incidents, the most recent being its involvement in the U.S. presidential elections, the poisoning of the former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain, and the invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. So it’s hard to believe that anyone but Syria and Iran will adopt the Russian version of last week’s events.

But it’s unlikely that this will matter. Moscow has the last word on the plane affair. It seems Putin waited for an Israeli blunder to put Jerusalem in its place.

This isn’t the end of an era for Israel’s military operations in Syria, where it has conducted hundreds of attacks in the north over the past six years. But for now, it appears the situation on the northern front won’t return fully to the conditions before the Russian plane was shot down.

Israel has operated freely in northern Syria for years thanks to the combination of offensive actions and good diplomatic relations with the Russians. Mostly, Israel acted shrewdly, achieving many of its goals.

In this handout video grab released by the Russian Defense Ministry speaks to the media next to the screen showing the scheme of the incident during a briefing in Moscow, Russia, September 22, 2018.

But in recent months Israel has displayed excessive confidence in Syria. It’s unlikely that the Russians were happy with the Israeli military’s announcement this month that it had conducted more than 200 attacks in Syria since the beginning of last year. It seems Jerusalem hasn’t fully grasped the implications now that the Assad regime, with the help of the Russians, has regained control of most of the country, including the region bordering Israel.

Israel isn’t a superpower and isn’t invincible. It will have to take into account Russian considerations and maybe even adapt its offensive model. Senior defense officials say they ascribe great importance to the latest incident. Those who still claim that this is just a mild shudder on the wing must be so busy defending Netanyahu’s image that they’re no longer capable of analyzing reality objectively.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Optimize budget expenditures; and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building a Russian Bogeyman: Washington Intentionally ‘Overcharged’ Relations with Moscow for Strategic Advantage – By Robert BRIDGE (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Building a Russian Bogeyman: Washington Intentionally ‘Overcharged’ Relations with Moscow for Strategic Advantage

Robert BRIDGE | 30.07.2018 | WORLD / Americas

Last week, we considered how the Bush and Obama administrations worked in tandem – wittingly or unwittingly, but I’m betting on the former – to move forward with the construction of a US missile defense system smack on Russia’s border following the attacks of 9/11 and Bush’s decision to scrap the ABM Treaty with Moscow.

That aggressive move will go down in the (non-American) history books as the primary reason for the return of Cold War-era atmosphere between Washington and Moscow. Currently, with the mainstream news cycle top-heavy with 24/7 ‘Russiagate’ baloney, many people have understandably forgotten that it was during the Obama administration when US-Russia relations really hit rock bottom. And it had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton’s home computer getting allegedly compromised by some Russia hackers.

The year is 2008; welcome to the international peace tour – although ‘farce tour’ would be much more accurate. Fatigued by 8 long years of Bush’s disastrous war on terror, with over 1 million dead, maimed or on the run, the world has just let out a collective sigh of relief as Barack Obama has been elected POTUS. Due to Obama’s velvety delivery, and the fact that he was not George W. Bush, he was able to provide the perfect smokescreen as far as Washington’s ulterior motives with regards to Russia were concerned; the devious double game America was playing required a snake-oil salesman of immeasurable skill and finesse.

Just months into his presidency, with ‘hope and change’ hanging in the air like so many helium balloons, Obama told a massive crowd in Prague that, “To reduce our warheads and stockpiles, we will negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the Russians this year. President Medvedev and I began this process in London, and will seek a new agreement by the end of this year that is legally binding and sufficiently bold (Applause!).”

It would take another 8 years for the world – or at least the awakened part – to come to grips with the fact that America’s ‘first Black president’ was just another smooth-talking, Wall Street-bought operator in sheep clothing. In the last year of the Obama reign, it has been conservatively estimated that some 26,000 bombs of various size and power were duly dropped against enemies in various nations. In other words, nearly three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.

But more to the point, US-Russia relations on Obama’s watch experienced their deepest deterioration since the days of the US-Soviet standoff. In fact, with the benefit of hindsight, we can say that the 44th US president picked up almost seamlessly where Bush left off, and then some. Initially, however, it looked as though relations with Russia would improve as Obama announced he would “shelve” the Bush plan for ground-based interceptors in Poland and a related radar site in the Czech Republic. Then, the very same day, he performed a perfect flip-flop into the geopolitical pool, saying he would deploy a sea-based variety – which is every bit as lethal as the land version, as then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted – instead of a land-locked one.

Following that announcement, Obama appeared intent on lulling Moscow into a false sense of security that the system was somehow less dangerous than the Bush model, or that the Americans would eventually agree and cooperate with them in the system. In March 2009, a curious thing happened at the same time relations between the two global nuclear powers were hitting the wall. A meeting – more of a photo opportunity than any significant summit – took place between then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva. To the delight of the phalanx of photographers present, Clinton, in a symbolic gesture of “resetting relations” with Russia, produced a yellow box with a red button and the Russian word “peregruzka” printed on it.

“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said to general laughter. “It should be “perezagruzka” [reset],” he corrected somewhat pedantically. “This says ‘peregruzka,’ which means ‘overcharged.’”

Clinton gave a very interesting response, especially in light of where we are today in terms of the bilateral breakdown: “We won’t let you do that to us, I promise. We mean it and we look forward to it.”

As events would prove, the US State Department’s ‘mistaken’ use of the Russian word for ‘overcharged’ instead of ‘reset’ was far closer to the truth. After all, can anybody remember a time in recent history, aside from perhaps the Cuban Missile Crisis, when US-Russia relations were more “overcharged” than now? In hindsight, the much-hyped ‘reset’ was an elaborate ploy by the Obama administration to buy as much time as possible to get a strategic head start on the Russians.

It deserves mentioning that the fate of the New START Treaty (signed into force on April 8, 2010), the nuclear missile reduction treaty signed between Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, hung in the balance on mutual cooperation between the nuclear powers. Nevertheless, it became clear the Obama sweet talk was just a lot of candy-coated nothing.

What is truly audacious about the Obama administration’s moves is that it somehow believed Moscow would radically reduce its ballistic missile launch capabilities, as prescribed in the New START treaty, at the very same time the United States was building a mighty sword along the entire length of its Western border.

The Obama administration clearly underestimated Moscow, or overestimated Obama’s charm powers.

By the year 2011, after several years of failed negotiations to bring Russia onboard the system, Moscow’s patience was clearly over. During the G-8 Summit in France, Medvedev expressed frustration with the lack of progress on the missile defense system with the US.

“When we ask for the name of the countries that the shield is aimed at, we get silence,” he said. “When we ask if the country has missiles (that could target Europe), the answer is ‘no.’”

“Now who has those types of missiles (that the missile defense system could counter)?”

“We do,” Medvedev explained. “So we can only think that this system is being aimed against us.”

In fact, judging by the tremendous strides Russia has made in the realm of military technologies over a very short period, it is apparent the Kremlin understood from the outset that the ‘reset’ was an elaborate fraud, designed to cover the administration’s push to Russian border.

As I wrote last week on these pages: “In March, Putin stunned the world, and certainly Washington’s hawks, by announcing in the annual Address to the Federal Assembly the introduction of advanced weapons systems – including those with hypersonic capabilities – designed to overcome any missile defense system in the world.

These major developments by Russia, which Putin emphasized was accomplished “without the benefit” of Soviet-era expertise, has fueled the narrative that “Putin’s Russia” is an aggressive nation with “imperial ambitions,” when in reality its goal was to form a bilateral pact with the United States and other Western states almost two decades ago post 9/11.

As far as ‘Russiagate’, the endless probe into the Trump administration for its alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election, not a shred of incriminating evidence has ever been provided that would prove such a thing occurred. And when Putin offered to cooperate with Washington in determining exactly what happened, the offer was rebuffed.

In light of such a scenario, it is my opinion that the Democrats, fully aware – despite what the skewed media polls erringly told them – that Hillary Clinton stood no chance of beating the Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential contest, set about crafting the narrative of ‘Russian collusion’ in order to not only delegitimize Trump’s presidency, possibly depriving him of a second term in 2010, but to begin the process of severely curtailing the work of ‘alternative media,’ which are in fact greatly responsible for not only Trump’s victory at the polls, but for exposing the dirt on Clinton’s corrupt campaign.

These alternative media sites have been duly linked to Russia in one way or another as a means of silencing them. Thus, it is not only Russia that has been victimized by the lunacy of Russiagate; every single person who stands for the freedom of speech has suffered a major setback one way or another.

Part I of this story is available here.

Russia Marks Navy Day: Credible Deterrent to Keep Enemies at Bay -By Andrei AKULOV (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Russia Marks Navy Day: Credible Deterrent to Keep Enemies at Bay
Andrei AKULOV | 30.07.2018 | SECURITY / DEFENSE

On July 29, Russia marked its Navy Day. After many years of neglect, the service is going through the period of resurgence to become a second to none blue water force equipped with state-of-the-art weapons. It’s a lot more operational today than it has been in many years. In some areas the Navy demonstrates technological lead. Pretty much anywhere in the world, one can see the “Saint Andrew Flag”, the naval ensign of the Russian Federation, a radical change in comparison with what it was like just ten years ago.

In 2017, Russian ships made 46 port calls to drop anchor at 28 ports of 27 countries worldwide. The list includes five Western or West-friendly states: Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Japan and South Korea, which account for 19% of the countries visited by Russian ships. Nine (33%) of the states on the list belong to the Asia-Pacific region, with other 13 (48%) situated in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. The 81% vs.19% ratio illustrates Russia’s rebalancing from the West toward other countries and power poles. The Russian Navy also conducted six international exercises, demonstrating its global presence and power projection capability. The service has become strong enough to make the US re-establish the Second Fleet in the Atlantic.

A task force comprising three surface ships and three auxiliary vessels of the Baltic Fleet is on a voyage around the world. The route lies across the Atlantic, the Arctic, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Indian and Pacific Oceans. On May 16, President Vladimir Putin made a statement to say that Russian naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea will be permanent. The standing force will include warships with long-range land attack cruise missiles.

With new ships and weapons coming in, the Navy is quite capable of defending Russia’s maritime approaches and coasts, long-range precision strike missions with conventional and nuclear weapons, power projection and defense of the sea-based nuclear deterrent. It has recently acquired the capability to conduct long-range attacks with conventional weapons against fixed infrastructure targets.

Russia’s shipbuilders offer corvette-frigate size surface ships, such as the Admiral Grigorovich-class and the new Admiral Gorshkov-class, packing a really potent punch to make them formidable warriors. Oniks anti-ship missiles, Kalibr long-range cruise missiles capable to strike land targets at great distances, Pantsir-M point defense weapons, Poliment Redut air defense systems and Paket-NK anti-torpedo systems are contained in vertical launch systems (VLS). Normally the armament suite includes seventy-six-millimeter gun or a one-hundred-millimeter gun and close-in weapon systems (CIWS) to enhance the versatility of the ship. Multi-mission frigates have become the backbone of the Russian Navy. Vasily Bykov, the first project 22160 corvette, started sea trials in April to join service this year. The Drive (War Zone) the “concept is innovative enough that it should be studied by western navies as a source of inspiration for their own future multi-role combat vessels.” The source believes that the ship has “a pretty genius design” with its relatively small frame providing great strike power.

Project 636.3 “Varshavyanka” conventional submarines are cheap, quiet and deadly with their Kalibr missiles. The newest Yasen-class nuclear-powered multipurpose attack submarine is to be armed with land-attack cruise missilesanti-ship missilesanti-submarine missiles, including several variants of Kalibr-PL designed for a wide range of missions. A single Yasen-class can carry thirty-two nuclear-tipped Kalibr missiles to strike deep into the enemy’s territory.

The Russian industry is capable of producing some of the most sophisticated platforms in the world. There are 11 nuclear powered submarines laid down. The shipbuilders can build a conventional submarine in just 18 months. 

Ivan Gren-class (Project 11711E), the first amphibious assault ship designed and built in Russia’s modern history, was commissioned on June 20 to join the Northern Fleet.

On June 25, The Russian Navy commissioned Ivan Khurs, the second Project 18280 intelligence-gathering ship. The ships of the class are called after Russia’s naval intelligence chiefs. The vessel can conduct electronic warfare, radio, and electronic intelligence.

It was reported this month that the Bulava (RSM-56) intercontinental-range submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) had entered service with Russian Navy to become the backbone of the nuclear triad’s sea-based component until 2040. A salvo of four missiles launched in rapid succession within 20 seconds in late May confirmed the SLBM’s operational readiness. 

Modernized to M3M standard, the Air Force Tu-22 long-range bomber primarily designed for naval missions will take to the sky next month.

The Navy is testing the Poseidon (Status-6), a new unmanned underwater vehicle (a doomsday weapon) that can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads, which enables to engage various targets, including aircraft groups, coastal fortifications, and infrastructure.

According to Commander-in-Chief Admiral Vladimir Korolev, precision guided weapons and blue water ships are the priority for the future. The Navy also leads in superfast weapons. The Kalibr travelling over Mach 3 is a good example. A higher speed makes interception almost impossible and destruction is maximized by imparting more kinetic energy upon impact. Put on a wide range of ship and submarine classes, the weapon provides for a qualitative leap to drastically enhance the fire power of the Russian sea forces. The Kalibr allows the ships based in the Caspian and Black seas to cover the entire Caucasus and large parts of Central Asia and the Middle East – the areas where threats to Russia’s national security are most likely to emerge.

The 3M22 Zircon anti-ship missile going through final tests has a 500km strike. It will impact at a speed of Mach 6. As yet, the US Navy does not have a weapon to match it.

According to the State Armament Program for 2018-2027 adopted in late 2017, the naval component of the nuclear triad will consist of six Project 667 BRDM (Delta IV-class) and eight Project 955B (Borei-class) strategic ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), to be evenly divided between the Northern and Pacific Fleets. 12 submarines to be in service at given moment with two undergoing overhauls and modernization. The program envisages the construction of Super Gorshkov-class 8,000-ton frigate and six-seven Yasen-M nuclear attack submarines.

Russia’s 2017 Naval Doctrine set the goal of building a strong force to enable the country to achieve and hold the leading positions in the world until 2030. The Navy is on the way to accomplish this mission with balanced forces able to support the operations of strategic ballistic missile submarines and maintain a strong conventional component, carrying out a range of missions, including power projection, with its cutting-edge ships, naval aviationcoastal defense forces, and even ground effect vehicles. Russia has made a strong comeback as a sea power.

Chaos at the NATO Summit Benefits Eurasian Integration – By Federico PIERACCINI – (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Chaos at the NATO Summit Benefits Eurasian Integration

The chaos that has engulfed the NATO summit is yet further confirmation of the world’s transition from a unipolar to a multipolar order, with the return of great-power competition and different states jockeying for hegemony. Trump is adapting to this environment by seeking to survive politically in a hostile environment.

The meeting of the NATO countries in Brussels highlighted the apparent intentions of the US president towards his allies and the Atlantic organization. Trump’s strategy is to oblige the European countries to halt energy imports from Moscow and replace them with liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US at a price that is obviously not cheap. The gas would come from the US by ship, entailing huge logistical costs that are not the case with regard to physical pipelines between Europe and Russia. This issue directly affects Germany and the Nord Stream II project, a deal worth billions of euros.

The reasons behind Trump’s behavior are twofold. On the one hand, we have the politics of “America First”, with the intention of increasing exports of LNG while boasting of “successes” to the base. The other purpose of Trump’s words is to highlight, sotto voce, the inconsistency of EU countries, who despite considering Russia an existential danger, nevertheless strongly depend on Russia’s energy exports.

To be fair to Trump, these same EU countries — fearful of Moscow but ready to do business with it — do not even spend 2% of their GDP on defense, while the US commits closer to 4%. For Trump this is surreal and intolerable. The NATO Summit began more or less with this anomaly, conveyed by Trump in front of the cameras to Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, with Pompeo and the US ambassador to NATO on either side of him doing their best to remain impassive.

The photo-op with Merkel did not go any better. Needless to say, the American media is being driven into a tizzy. The headlines blare: “Trump betrays the allies”; “End of NATO”. CNN is in a state of mourning. Brzezinski’s daughter (yes, that Brzezinski ) almost vomited from the tension on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

In truth, Trump is engaging in a lot of public relations. When he makes these performances in front of the cameras, he is speaking directly to his electoral base, showing that he is keeping his promises by putting “America First”. To be honest, it would be more appropriate to declare, “America, b****h!”

To back his words up with actions, he slaps his allies with tariffs and sanctions against Russia, and now Iran, incurring huge losses for Europe. He mocks leaders like Merkel and Trudeau in public, and has humiliated Macron in front of the world.

In practical terms, Trump does not care whether Germany buys LNG from the United States. If this is to ever occur, then it will take 20 years, given the cost and time needed to build dozens of LNG facilities on the European and American coasts.

The summit between Trump and Putin in Helsinki could even lead to more drama if Trump wants to drive the media, liberals, neocons and his European allies into further conniptions.

It depends on the issues on his checklist that he has to deal with before the November midterm elections. I do not rule out seeing Kim Jong-un in Washington before then, or a summit between the US, Israel and Palestine — anything that will play to the desired optics. The issue is just that: all image, no substance.

Trump is focussing principally on triumphing in the November midterms, and to do so he needs to look like a winner. He will be keen to ensure the moneybags of the Israel lobby and Saudi Arabia keep flowing. In doing so, he will probably even win the 2010 presidential election. There is always the possibility that the Fed and other financial conglomerates will decide to commit harakiri and blow up the economy with a new financial crisis in order to get rid of Trump. It would be the deserved end of the US empire.

European politicians also await the midterms with great anticipation, hoping that this will be the end of the Trump nightmare. They still live in the same dreamworld of Hillary Clinton, believing that Democratic victory is possible and that Trump’s election was simply an anomaly.

They will not have woken from their nightmare when they come to realize that Trump has increased the number of Republicans in the House and Senate. Perhaps at that point, with sanctions in place against Russia and Iran and with huge economic losses and the prospect of another six years with Trump, a coin will drop for someone in Europe, and Trump will be seen as the catalyst for breaking ties with Washington and looking east towards a new set of alliances with China and Russia.

In conclusion, we are experiencing the full effects of the Trump presidency, which is destructive of and devastating for the neoliberal world order. As I said at least a year before he was elected, Trump is accelerating the decline of the United States as a lodestar for the West, representing Washington’s swan song as the only superpower.

It is not “America First”, it is Trump First. There is no strategy or logic behind it. There are only friendships, his personal ego, and the need to remain in the saddle for another six years. Meanwhile, get your popcorn ready in anticipation of the Helsinki summit.

Where it all began: Syrian Army liberates Daraa from western-backed terrorists – By Hugo Turner Anti-Imperialist U (SOTT)

syria daraa

Early in the Syrian war Daraa became a terrorist hotbed in part because it was extremely close to Israel and their illegally occupied Syrian territory the Golan Heights. Israel has made it abundantly clear that the Daraa terrorists are its terrorist proxies and it hoped to steal even more Syrian territory when Syria was destroyed. However with Eastern Ghouta liberated the Syrian Arab Army was finally able to turn its full attention to liberating Southern Syria. Israel has launched illegal airstrike after illegal airstrike in a desperate bid to save its terrorist proxies including ISIS. It has threatened to launch a region-wide war targeting not just Syria but Lebanon, Iraq, in addition of course to their endless ongoing war on the Palestinians, their butchery of women and children which will never cease until Palestine is liberated. However Syria refused to give in to Israeli or American threats. Syria along with its allies Iran and Hezbollah were prepared to fight a full-scale war if necessary. Russia after some foot dragging also decided to help the SAA liberate Daraa. Israel was forced to watch as their terrorist proxies were routed in a matter of months. The battle of Daraa is not over but it is clear that a decisive victory has already occurred. Syria has secured the Naseeb border crossing with Jordan liberated huge swathes of territory encircled the terrorists and cut off their supplies. Today July 12 they entered the southern part of the city of Daraa.

The war in Syria continues. ISIS have been launching increasing attacks in an attempt to save Daraa but Syria have been launching a major campaign to clear them out of their desert stronghold. Once Daraa is liberated the SAA may turn its attention to Idlib and to ejecting the Turks. The Syrians are holding secret negotiations with the Kurds who are rethinking their treachery after America has decided to let Turkey occupy more and more SDF held territory. Plans are already in place to kick out the American, British and Italian occupation forces with resistance groups being formed in the north of Syria. Unfortunately the Americans are stubborn, vindictive and very sore losers so there is no telling what new plan they are hatching to extend the war and bring still more misery to the long-suffering Syrian people. Even if the US forces do leave, the propaganda war against Syria could go on for decades. More tragically the economic war on Syria that began back in 2003 with sanctions on Syria will continue. Vital supplies needed to repair Syria, vital medicines and equipment needed to heal the people of Syria are being prevented from entering the country. There is no telling how many thousands of people have already died as a result of these sanctions which are usually overshadowed by the brutal crimes of the western backed terrorists.

Despite the obstacles they face Syria continues to march towards victory. With the help of its allies it has defeated America, Israel, NATO, the Saudis and the many other members of the axis of chaos. They have withstood untold misery and nearly every family has given a martyr to the cause of Syrian independence. When the war is won the balance of power will forever be shifted in the region and hopefully the empire will be forced to vacate Iraq and the Axis of resistance will be able to turn it’s attention to the liberation of Palestine. Unfortunately in much of the world the future is much bleaker.

Sources

Read the full article at Anti-Imperialist U.

Comment: The Syrian Army have now retaken the city of Daraa after encircling the last remaining terrorists within the southern part of the city. The “rebels” holding the area agreed to the terms of reconciliation offered by the Syrian government and Russian Reconciliation Center:

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has allowed the Russian military police to enter the districts they control in Daraa, as they begin the process of reconciliation.

In the next 48 hours, the Free Syrian Army is expected to handover their heavy and medium weapons to the Russian military police.

The Free Syrian Army fighters that do not want to reconcile with the Syrian government and the jihadist rebels from Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham will be given safe passage to western Daraa.

As shown in the footage below, Russian military police were filmed entering the Daraa Al-Balad District that was controlled by the rebel forces for several years:

Here’s a map view of the Syrians’ progress (today, compared to January):

daraa map

© syria.liveuamap.com
daraa map

© syria.liveuamap.com

As Post-Colonial Migrants Cross the Mediterranean, Europe Says “Go Home” in Every Language – By Ramona Wadi @walzerscent ( MINT PRESS)

Two activists sit on top of the 60-meter (197-feet) monument Christopher Columbus tower after placing a vest with the words "Open Arms" on the statue in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, July 4, 2018. Activists in Barcelona have dressed in an orange life-vest a statue of 15th-century explorer Christopher Columbus to turn attention to the loss of life of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean Sea. Emilio Morenatti | AP

There is no escaping the fact that the “throw them back to Libya” attitude, fostered by governments and upheld by a considerable segment of the population, is prevailing.

 

There is no escaping the fact that the “throw them back to Libya” attitude, fostered by governments and upheld by a considerable segment of the population, is prevailing.

MALTA — (Report) The standoff in June between Malta and Italy over the fate of over 600 migrants on board the Aquarius — a rescue boat operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) — made headline news for the wrong reasons. As both countries prioritized populist rhetoric, with Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat refusing to open their ports to Aquarius, voluntary intervention by the Spanish government ensured the migrants’ safety after days of being stranded at sea.

Unresolved, however, were the deeper implications of the incident and the brew of double-standards and hypocrisies it brought to light. The European Union scrambled to find common ground over migrants using the Mediterranean as their trajectory. However, it joined the ranks of Salvini and Muscat, taking issue with non governmental organizations in their efforts to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean. Far from opposing the right-wing rhetoric that has now infiltrated the entire political spectrum, the EU chose to uphold a punitive stance against migrants, many of whom hail from sub-Saharan Africa and are fleeing the long-term consequences of war, poverty and plunder. Libya, which has become a main departure point for those seeking to escape, is a hub of torture, trafficking and exploitation that the international community aided in creating. Following a summit in Brussels, the EU criticized NGOs that rescued migrants at sea and proposed measures that would keep migrants away from the bloc. It discussed setting up processing centres in North Africa and, for migrants who manage to reach Europe, “controlled areas” for processing. According to the European Commission’s President Donald Tusk, the proposals would form “the most effective mechanism to break the smugglers’ business model — to discourage migrants and smugglers [from taking] this very risky route using vessels on the Mediterranean Sea.”

By focusing solely on migrants and human trafficking, the EU has eliminated the colonial and imperialist background that created refugees and the Mediterranean as a trajectory for migrants. With the Arab Spring and Libya’s disintegration distanced by seven years, the EU, like other international organizations, is in a position to distance itself from the foreign intervention that transformed Libya into a failed state and a hub for human-rights violations.

Unsurprisingly, UN-affiliated agencies have “welcomed” the EU deal — as conveyed by this statement from the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC):

We will welcome any outcome from Europe that leads to a more collaborative and harmonised approach to asylum, and also one that has at its core and priority saving lives at sea.”

Lest it be forgotten, the UN adopted Resolution 1973 on February 26, 2011, which authorized NATO intervention in Libya. To analyze the current EU framework that builds upon the existing racist and anti-migrant sentiment, it is necessary to look back at recent history and understand that, with their current policies, the EU and the UN are united in their primary aim: to shift accountability away from the organizations as aggressors.

This undated photo released by by French NGO "SOS Mediterranee" on Monday June 11, 2018 and posted on it's Twitter account, shows migrants about to board the SOS Mediterranee's Aquarius ship and MSF (Doctors Without Borders) NGOs, in the Mediterranean Sea. I Kenny Karpov | SOS Mediterranee via AP

Both the UN and the EU refuse to link NATO intervention to the outcome of Libya as a failed state. This has allowed the EU to promote Libya as a safe haven for migrants, despite its cycle of human-rights violations and its reputation as a trafficking hub. In turn, just as the earlier colonization attempts are not linked to the exploitation of African and Arab countries, the EU is repeating the same process of aiding in destabilizing countries while refusing responsibility.

On the EU-proposed disembarkation points, Leonard Doyle from the UN’s International Organization for Migration stated that “any solution needs to be a European solution.”

While both the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) expressed concern about the perils for migrants in Libya, the statements omitted the fact that “European solutions,” as described by Doyle, will be carried out according to the EU’s vested political interests, as opposed to international law and humanitarian concerns.

 

Under the veneer of an electoral slogan

In Malta, with the exception of activists and NGOs, calls for humanitarian assistance were isolated. Nationalist Party and opposition leader Adrian Delia expressed a similar stance to that of Muscat. In an article penned by Delia and published in the Times of Malta, he described the Maltese as “united in our stance in defence of the national interest.” The national interest and sentiment, however, appear to be driven by an unfortunate double standard when it comes to sorting out who is welcome in Malta and who is not.

The electoral campaign slogan “L-Aqwa Zmien” (The Best Times) still echoes among the people, at a time when foreign investment in Malta is generating a veneer of economic stability. Yet the same investment has also generated inflated home prices and rents, leaving segments of the Maltese population in a struggle to make ends meet as the system has adapted to cater to elite newcomers. Little discontent is communicated regarding the influx of such immigration. However, the 629 “non-elite” immigrants on board the Aquarius were largely perceived as a threat to the island.

Anna Azzopardi, Deputy General Secretary and spokeswoman for civil rights of Malta’s Green Party, Alternattiva Demokratika (AD), spoke to MintPress about the Maltese government’s politics that prioritize profit over humanitarian action:

It is ironic because we have two scenarios. The government is insisting that the country needs more foreign workers, and is selling citizenship to anyone who has the necessary capital. On the other hand, the needs of the people in dire straits are being ignored, because the populist waves are directed towards feeding a cycle of hatred. Thus money and power are winning over the necessity to take care of basic human needs.”

The standoff between Malta and Italy reveals that migrants are becoming a common ground uniting the center-left and the right wing. The diplomatic bickering between the countries over responsibility to offer safety was largely supported by the people, fuelled by the racism that has been steadily rising in recent years.

One such recent example was recorded and published by the Times of Malta when the MV Lifeline refused to hand over rescued migrants to Libya and remained stranded for days before Muscat agreed to let the ship dock in Senglea and subjected it to an investigation on allegations of going “against international rules.”

In the clip, a child is heard shouting slogans as directed by her mother –”Go back to your country!” — in a show of the anti-migrant sentiment that is steadily gaining ground on the island.

MV Lifeline’s captain, Claus Peter Resich, was arraigned in court on July 2 and released on bail. The accusation he faces is “having steered the ship within Maltese territorial waters without the necessary registrations and license.” While Resich was allowed an interpreter, Magistrate Joseph Mifsud turned down a request for the hearing to be conducted in English.

Claus-Peter Reisch, second from right, captain of Lifeline rescues ship, stops next to members of his crew staging a protest as he leaves after an arraignment hearing in Valletta, Malta, July 2, 2018. str | AP

Azzopardi comments on racism in Malta, within the context of the government’s promoting of profit over humanitarian needs:

The government’s economic programme has resulted in a [vicious cycle]. In the past ten years or so, racism has increased in Malta. The government decided to feed on this racism to gain political momentum and further ignite the fire to suit its populist agenda.”

Within Maltese society, there are parallels that are being ignored. Blinkered allegiances to political parties — a trait that shows little sign of waning — furthers the opportunity for government to rally support for its courting of business deals, such as the investments of gaming companies in Malta, and the citizenship sales, which have contributed to inflated rent and property prices. Meanwhile, the average wages in Malta have not picked up, with the result that many families are spending most of their income on rent. The rise in property prices has also made it harder for many to consider taking out a loan to put a roof over their heads.

Although the government is catering to the influx of foreigners who are settling in Malta with higher wages than those of the average Maltese, anti-immigrant sentiment on the island does not consider thousands of affluent foreign workers contributing to the inflated real-estate prices as a threat. Yet, hundreds of migrants stranded at sea have united a large segment of the people repeating a common phrase: “Malta cannot take in any more migrants.”  

Dr. Louise Chircop — a researcher and educator specializing in religion, citizenship, social diversity and the politics of education — describes how politics influences the prevailing racist attitude in Malta:

The concept that Malta cannot take in any more migrants is a contradiction. Recently the Prime Minister said that Malta needed thousands of foreign workers. He was careful to use the term ‘migrants’ — the implication being that the workers will do the jobs and leave. However, these workers bring their families over and many eventually settle in Malta. Then there are those who buy Maltese citizenship, which no one speaks about. It is clear that ‘there is no more space’ only applies to migrants who come in by boats.”

In Malta, party politics carries more importance than the actual social conditions. This has enabled racism to spread its roots. As the political parties build their rhetoric upon the already-existing fears among the people of migrants as “different,” there is a strong agreement between the government and the people in excluding migrants.

Besides the main political parties, smaller far-right wing groups have also been attracting a following. Their social media pages have not been shut down, Chircop points out, despite inciting hatred and violence.

Chircop explains how government decisions have consolidated the perception of African migrants as undesirable outsiders:

The stances taken by the political parties: sending migrants back, the pushback policy, not allowing them to enter the ports, as well a the discourse which is uttered at EU and local level, have influenced the uncritical public into thinking that there is a veritable invasion of ‘boat people,’ that there is no space for them, that they are too culturally different from us and that they are criminals. Time and again black people have been arrested in Marsa, despite not committing any crimes.”

Clearly, all political parties, including the government, are building upon the existing resentment to entrench divisions. Azzopardi explains:

The government is using the tactics of divide and conquer. Rents are increasing and the cost of living in Malta is blown out of control. But the blame falls upon the low-paid foreigner — not just boat migrants — who is just another victim.”

She adds:

People escape from both war and famine. Climate change has contributed to a dwindling agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. Further south, slave economy, such as diamonds and cocoa farming are exploiting and keeping people in poverty. These humanitarian crises are fodder for the human trafficking business. A real, human-centred solution would start by tackling these issues at the root. However, the unfortunate reality is that these issues are ignored and put aside. The only accountability that is being pursued is directed towards gaining votes.”

 

Southern Italy’s mayors united in a political stance

The mayors of Palermo, Naples, Messina, and Reggio Calabria in the south of Italy openly defied Salvini’s stance, declaring their ports open to Aquarius. Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris and Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando both issued statements on social media criticising Salvini’s rhetoric.

The bickering that made headline news was based upon retribution. On July 28, Salvini tweeted: “Is Malta closing its ports to foreign NGO boats? Good, this means we have been right, we will not back down. Stop human trafficking, stop those who help the stowaways.” The hashtag used, “#stopinvazione” (stop invasions), however, underlines the prevalent right-wing sentiment.

Palermo’s mayor, Leoluca Orlando, explained to MintPress the stance taken by himself and other Italian mayors, which MSF had declared to be “nice but not practical:”

I have had a working relationship with the MSF and other NGOs dealing with migration issues and search and rescue (SAR) for many years. There is both practical and political support. When I say political, I am not linking the organizations to any specific political party, but I want to underline that nowadays there is always a clear political and cultural issue in relation to migration and migrants.

The stance to ‘open the harbors,’ expressed by myself and other mayors in Italy, is evidently a political stance. By law, mayors do not have the power to open nor close the port, which is considered a strategic national infrastructure and, as such, under the control of the national government. But our stance made it clear that there is no consensus and neither an Italian majority, on Salvini’s position.”

Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando addresses tje  Italian Coastguard, children, volunteers and officials taking part in a symbolic rescue of paper boats to send a message to the G7 leaders to take action to safeguard refugees in Palermo, Italy, May 25, 2017. Salvatore Cavalli | AP

Echoing the official positions of Malta and Italy, Orlando maintains that Italy “has been left almost alone during the last years to face the flow of migrants and welcome them.” Ironically, he comments that it is the only point upon which he is in concordance with the right-wing leader.

However, he clarifies various issues of contention as regards responsibility and EU failures in tackling migration:

Where I’m not in accordance with Mr Salvini is on who has the responsibility, inside European institutions, for such a situation. The responsibility is, above all, of the far-right governments of Hungary and other countries that have always refused to accept migrants according to EU agreements. This is a long-standing problem.”

Malta and Italy, he says, cannot be put on a par in regards to hosting capacity:

“Malta has a total population which is [less than] half of Palermo’s. Its hosting capabilities cannot be compared with the Italian ones. The mere geographical position cannot be considered as the base for these decisions; otherwise Spain, Italy, Greece and Malta should be left alone in facing migration flow.”

Yet, he insists:

Starting from the fact that migration flows will not stop, no matter how many walls or detention centers will be built, Europe as a whole has to take responsibility for a fair, human and convenient-for-all solution.”

Orlando refers to a document known as the Charter of Palermo, which was signed in 2015 by lawyers, human rights experts, NGOs, activists and politicians:

In the document we stated that the right to mobility is a fundamental human right. How is it possible that in our contemporary globalized world, everything can move freely except for human beings? Data can freely move globally through the internet. Goods can freely move around the globe. Money and capital can be transferred in seconds. It is only human beings that are denied the right to move freely. Is this the globalized world we want to live in?”  

The Charter of Palermo also discusses freedom of movement. According to the document, Orlando explains, the visa and permits to stay should be abolished: “Note — it is not the abolition of the passport, which is a symbol of belonging to a community — but the abolition of the limitation of movement of human beings.”

He clarifies:

Our proposal is not a “humanitarian” one. We do not want people to have freedom of movement just because it is fun or sounds poetic. In our experience, in the concrete and actual experience of Palermo, a mix of cultures, an open city where migrants are welcomed and become part of the community, where people have the possibility to meet and share, the whole community grows in all ways.”

Palermo, he says, is the only southern big city that has experienced a decline in unemployment:

I think this is also connected to the policy of openness promoted by the municipality and the mayor at the local, national and international levels.”

There was a mixed reaction on Facebook following Orlando’s statement to open the port. In Palermo, however, statistics from 2017 show that the right-wing has not gained traction. Orlando observed:

In 2017, when I was confirmed as mayor on the first round of the elections, the candidate of Lega, Matteo Salvini’s far-right party, only got 1.6 percent of the votes. Of course, this doesn’t mean that Salvini’s aggressive policy and wording towards migrants and minorities is not appealing for part of the population, even here in Sicily.”

Orlando states that Palermo has evolved into a distinct reality from others as a result of his consistent stances against racist and populist positions:

This made it possible to open a debate, to talk away from the virtuality, to think beyond the stereotypes.”

A combo of images showing the 60 migrants traveling aboard the Open Arms aid boat, of Proactiva Open Arms Spanish NGO, posing for photos during their trip to Barcelona, Spain, July 4, 2018. Olmo Calvo | AP

Asked about the apparent contradiction of the EU as a purportedly peace-building institution that also supports the foreign intervention that has perpetuated the cycle of the displaced and refugees, Orlando pointed to a December 2017 document he submitted to the International Criminal Court that called for an investigation into the actual behavior of European bodies towards migrants. He concluded:

The easy and immediate answer to your question is that European institutions and their representatives have played a role, in this specific field, which blatantly violates the spirit and content of several EU funding and fundamental Charters.”

 

The EU’s parameters of exclusion

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for selectivity when it comes to accepting migrants — differentiating between economic migrants and those escaping war or persecution. Bloomberg quotes the French president thus: “If it’s an economic migrant, who doesn’t face danger in his country, then it’s not France’s responsibility to take him, nor Spain’s.”

The question EU leaders are evading is the root causes of migration. Historical colonial plunder of African countries is one reason. The Arab Spring and NATO intervention in the Middle East is another. Climate change, famines, slave labor and political oppression have all created different categories of refugees. Politically, a major share of the responsibility falls upon Western exploitation.

Yet, the EU, like other international institutions, is content with creating issues out of the political violence it helps inflict upon populations in African and Arab countries. The convenient solution is to create parameters to classify migrants as being worthy of safe haven or not.

Of the categories decided by the authorities, the economic migrants are despised more than others. Unlike those escaping war, these people are categorized as having made a free choice to leave. The emphasis upon the term “economic” has blinded people to the fact that being trafficked and risking a perilous journey does not constitute a free choice in terms of migration.

Diplomatically, the veneer works well for the EU. The reality — which the EU blatantly refuses to address to preserve its impunity at the expense of human lives — is that these categories, alongside the EU’s willingness to accommodate the right-wing, have resulted in a situation in which all migrants are being considered unworthy of rescue.

There is no escaping the fact that the “throw them back to Libya” attitude, fostered by governments and upheld by a considerable segment of the population, is prevailing.

Top Photo | Two activists sit on top of the 60-meter (197-feet) monument Christopher Columbus tower after placing a vest with the words “Open Arms” on the statue in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, July 4, 2018. Activists in Barcelona have dressed in an orange life-vest a statue of 15th-century explorer Christopher Columbus to turn attention to the loss of life of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean Sea. Emilio Morenatti | AP

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger. She writes about the struggle for memory in Palestine and Chile, historical legitimacy, the ramifications of settler-colonialism, the correlation between humanitarian aid and human rights abuses, the United Nations as an imperialist organisation, indigenous resistance, la nueva cancion Chilena and Latin American revolutionary philosophy with a particular focus on Fidel Castro, Jose Marti and Jose Carlos Mariategui. Her articles, book reviews, interviews, and blogs have been published in Middle East Monitor, Upside Down World, Truthout, Irish Left Review, Gramsci Oggi, Cubarte, Rabble.ca, Toward Freedom, History Today, Chileno and other outlets, including academic publications and translations into several languages

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Russian Army Gets the Weapons of the Future Today – By Andrei AKULOV (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Russian Army Gets the Weapons of the Future Today
Andrei AKULOV | 16.06.2018 | SECURITY / DEFENSE

The combat experience that Russia’s Terminator-2 tank support combat vehicle (BMPT-72) has gained in Syria has proven to be invaluable. It is being used to develop a new Terminator-3 version that will soon equip the tank support system to do things like attacking unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). Other armored vehicles and dismounted infantry in difficult terrain remain high-priority targets.

Few details are available so far. Like its predecessors, the new vehicle’s armor protection will be equivalent to that of a main battle tank, with armaments allowing it to engage virtually any enemy weapon system or unit and to fire at multiple targets at the same time. Automation makes it possible to reduce the number of crew members from 5 to 3.

The new weapon system is likely to share its chassis, sensors, armor, and active protection system with the new Armata T-14 main battle tank. According to Russian media reports, the main armament will be a 57-mm. gun already used by the Russian Navy. Its rate of fire is 300 rounds per minute, its range — 16 km., and its altitude — over 4 km. The projectile can penetrate armor over 100 mm. thick. Because the firing range of its machine gun and automatic grenade launcher are 60-140% greater than that of the American Bradley IFVs and Stryker wheeled armored vehicles and anti-tank systems, this system can reliably protect tanks and infantry while remaining safely out of reach.

The Zvezda TV channel quoted officials from the weapons manufacturer Techmash who claimed that the Tosochka thermobaric, wheeled-chassis, heavy multiple-rocket launcher is to be delivered to the Russian Army in 2020. Using wheels instead of caterpillar tracks allows it to move faster but also increases the system’s vulnerability when operating on the front lines. One must assume that the MLRS will not be used to fire directly at targets, but will instead shoot at them from protected positions. Wheels make it more effective against terrorist units. It does not need trailers to move rapidly across great distances, which is exactly what is required to forcefully attack militants on different fronts.

Russian officials confirmed in May that the Uran-6 demining robot and the Uran-9 unmanned light battle tank have been tested in Syria. The latter is the first remote-controlled military robot in the world (a miniature tank) with a 30-mm. gun, enabling it to carry out the missions of an armored combat system supporting infantry on the ground.

The Uran-6 is a unique unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), or mine-clearing robotic system, that saves human lives by clearing routes across mine fields. Weighing six tons, it can be transported by truck. With its bulldozer blade and trawls, it can do the work of 20 sappers, neutralizing ordnance with a potential explosive energy of 59 kg. (130 lbs.) of TNT equivalent. Aided by four cameras for 360-degree view, it can be equipped with a large number of tools, such as a robotic arm, a rear forklift, a gripper with a cargo-lifting capacity of one ton, etc. The system can conduct demining operations on any terrain, while remaining at a safe distance of up to one km. away.

Made of steel plates 8 mm-10 mm thick, the vehicle is highly resistant to mine blasts and shrapnel damage. The system can defend itself using 7.62-mm small arms.

Built on the basis of a tracked chassis, the Uran-6 is powered by a 6-cylinder water-cooled, turbo-charged diesel engine, allowing it to move at a speed of up to 15 km., negotiate obstacles 0.8 m. high, cross 1.2-m wide ditches and water obstacles, and operate in swamps 0.45 m. deep. The system is able to work continuously for up to five hours. It did a great job in Palmyra, Syria, defusing bombs and bobby traps. The Russian Army plans to increasingly rely on UGVs as time goes on.

Mainly designed for reconnaissance and patrol purposes, as well as for protecting convoys and supporting infantry, Tigr-M all-terrain infantry mobility vehicles have also seen combat in Syria. With the Arbalet-DM remote module installed, the system becomes robotic. The module consists of a 12.7-mm. caliber Kord machine gun with 150 cartridges or a 7.62-mm caliber PKTM machine gun with 250 cartridges. Laser guidance is used. The Arbalet-DM can lock on and automatically track stationary and moving targets identified by a TV camera from a distance of 2.5 km. or 1.5 km. if thermal-imaging equipment is used. A laser range finder has a range of 100 m.-3,000 m. This new version of Tigr is funded by the 2018-2025 state procurement program.

The Tigr-M has outstanding off-road capabilities. With an operational range of 1.000 km, the vehicle can reach speeds of up to 155 km. per hour. It can climb 31-degree slopes and cross water obstacles that are 1.2 m wide.

The famous, combat-proven BMP-3 heavily armed infantry combat vehicles are to become unmanned too, as soon as the AU-220 combat module armed with a 57-mm. automatic cannon is installed. It will enable the system to strike aerial targets. The gun’s rate of fire is 80 rounds per minute and its range is 14.5 km. Any type of rounds can be used. An armor-piercing round can penetrate 130 mm. of steel from one km. away A coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun can hold 1,000 rounds of ammunition. The module can fully rotate 360 degrees.

The trend is clearly evident — the Russian Army is making great strides in its introduction of new, more highly automated technologies. New weapons that are unlike anything owned by any other country, such as tank support vehicles, are currently either being added to the Russian arsenal or are being developed. The army is also gradually moving away from soldier-to-soldier warfare, turning instead toward combat that is fought by remote-controlled machines driven by artificial intelligence. In March, Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said that a number of military robotic systems were nearing the completion of their trials before going into serial production this year. He was telling the truth. Many nations are working hard to put unmanned systems onto the battlefields, but Russia appears to be leading this race, fielding its military robotics more quickly than anyone else. The very pace of the updates to these armored vehicles captures the imagination.

Upgraded to New M3M Standard, Tu-22 Takes to Sky in August – By Andrei AKULOV (Strategic Cultural Foundation)

Upgraded to New M3M Standard, Tu-22 Takes to Sky in August
Andrei AKULOV | 09.06.2018 | SECURITY / DEFENSE

The Tu-22M3M variant of the Tu-22, a supersonic variable-sweep wing bomber, is to make its maiden flight in August and enter into service in October. The Russian Air Force operates 62 Tu-22M3s. Some of the planes have carried out combat missions in Syria. According to the plans that have been announced, 30 TU-22M3s will have been modernized to meet the M3M standard by 2020. This aircraft is not classified as a heavy bomber and therefore is not covered by the New START treaty.

This far-reaching upgrade includes improved avionics, a new communications suite, an updated weapon-control system, digital radio-navigation equipment, and the ability to attack surface and sea targets with long-range precision-guided weapons.

It has the following specifications: a maximum speed of 2,300 km/h; a cruising speed of 900 km/h; an operating ceiling of 13,000 m; a maximum altitude of 14,000 m; a rate of climb of 15m/s; an operational range of 7,000 km (10,000 km with air refueling); an empty weight of 53,500 kg; a maximum takeoff weight of 126,400 kg; and a crew of 4. The pressurized cockpit is fitted with climate-control systems. The plane is powered by two NK-25 turbofan engines with large air intakes and dual exhausts. Each engine produces a maximum thrust of 25,000 kg. With its tricycle gear, the aircraft can land on unprepared runways.

The armament suite includes a Kh-32 long-range, multi-purpose missile specifically designed to attack US Navy carrier strike groups with a nuclear or conventional 500-kilogram (1,102 lb) warhead. It can hit land targets as well. The list of enemy assets it is capable of knocking out includes radar equipment, large vessels, bridges, power stations, command posts, and other military installations. Equipped with an inertial navigation system and a radio-radar seeker, it need not depend on satellites for guidance, making it immune to jamming.

The missile flies along a unique trajectory, climbing to the stratosphere (40 kilometers) after launch and then either going straight down to hit the target or executing a shallower dive in order to approach it flying as low as five meters above the surface. At such a low altitude the Kh-32 cannot be detected by radar until it is only about 10 km away, leaving a reaction window of approximately 10 seconds. Fast and maneuverable, air-defense systems have little opportunity to fend it off. The SM-6 surface-to-air-missile (SAM), America’s best air-defense tool, is useless against the Kh-32.

It has an operational range of up to 1,000 kilometers and a maximum speed of 5,400 kilometers per hour (1,500 meters per second) during the terminal phase of its flight.

The Tu-22M3M can carry three KH-32s (weighing about six tons each) or 12 of the lighter Kh-15 missiles. The Raduga Kh-15 is an air-to-surface hypersonic aero-ballistic weapon with an operational range of 300 km. The aircraft will be able to carry six to eight Kh-SD medium-range (up to 2,000 km) cruise missiles, and there are plans to develop and produce it under the auspices of Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018–27 (GPV-2027).

Its payload is also made up of FAB-250 or FAB-1500 free-fall bombs. The aircraft is armed with a double-barreled GSH-23 (23 mm) gun installed in the remotely controlled tail turret.

The Tu-22M3M uses the SVP-24 all-weather special computing subsystem for precise guidance. The GLONASS satellite navigation system constantly compares the position of the plane and the target. The SVP-24 measures environmental parameters to correct the flight. Information is received from all datalinks to compute its flight envelope. There are enough sensors to enable targeting even if the GLONASS receivers are jammed. With fire-and–forget guidance in place, the pilot can concentrate on countering threats and finding new targets to hit.

Currently Russia’s strategic aviation fleet is undergoing an extensive revamping. The modernization of the Tu-160 supersonic strategic heavy bombers is underway and due to be complete by 2030, along with the Tu-22M3M upgrade. The Russian Air Force’s ability to attack enemy assets as an element of conventional, not nuclear, warfare will be greatly expanded. The conventional strike capability of its armed forces is to be augmented by adding relatively low-cost multipliers to their existing arsenal of conventional offensive long-range weapons. This will significantly enhance its power projection capability. The conflict in Syria has been a good example of this. The successful updates to Russia’s long-range aviation forces illustrate the ability of the Russian defense industry to meet the challenges of today.

US Challenges Russia to Nuclear War – By Eric ZUESSE (Strategic Cultural Foundation)

US Challenges Russia to Nuclear War

Now that the United States (with the cooperation of its NATO partners) has turned the former Soviet Union’s states other than Russia into NATO allies, and has likewise turned the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact allies into America’s own military allies in NATO, the United States is finally turning the screws directly against Russia itself, by, in effect, challenging Russia to defend its ally Syria. The US is warning Syria’s Government that Syrian land, which is occupied by the US and by the anti-Government forces that the US protects in Syria, is no longer really Syria’s land. The US is saying that there will be direct war between Syria’s armed forces and America’s armed forces if Syria tries to restore its control over that land. Tacitly, America’s message in this to Moscow is: now is the time for you to quit defending Syria’s Government, because, if you don’t — if you come to Syria’s defense as Syria tries to kill those occupying forces (including the US troops and advisors who are occupying Syria) — then you (Russia) will be at war against the United States, even though the US is clearly the invader, and Russia (as Syria’s ally) is clearly the defender.

Peter Korzun, my colleague at the Strategic Culture Foundation, headlined on May 29th“US State Department Tells Syria What It Can and Can’t Do on Its Own Soil” and he opened:

“The US State Department has warned Syria against launching an offensive against terrorist positions in southern Syria. The statement claims that the American military will respond if Syrian forces launch an operation aimed at restoring the legitimate government’s control over the rebel-held areas, including the territory in southwestern Syria between Daraa and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Washington is issuing orders to a nation whose leadership never invited America in the first place! The very idea that another country would tell the internationally recognized Syrian government that it cannot take steps to establish control over parts of its own national territory is odd and preposterous by any measure.”

The pro-Government side calls those “terrorist positions,” but the US-and-allied side, the invaders, call them “freedom fighters” (even though the US side has long been led by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and has increasingly been relying upon anti-Arabic Kurds). But whatever they are, the United States has no legal authority to tell Syria’s Government what to do or not do on Syrian land.

Russia’s basic position, at least ever since Vladimir Putin came into power in 2000, is that every nation’s sovereignty over its own land is the essential foundation-stone upon which democracy has even a possibility to exist — without that, a land cannot even possibly be a democracy. The US Government is now directly challenging that basic principle, and moreover is doing so over parts of the sovereign territory of Syria, an ally of Russia, which largely depends upon Russia to help it defeat the tens of thousands of invading and occupying forces.

If Russia allows the US to take over — either directly or via the US Government’s Al Qaeda-linked or its anti-Arab Kurdish proxy forces — portions of Syrian territory, then Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, will be seen as being today’s version of Britain’s leader Neville Chamberlain, famous, as Wikipedia puts it, for “his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany.”

So: Putin will now be faced with either knuckling under now, or else standing on basic international democratic principles, especially the principle that each nation’s sovereignty is sacrosanct and is the sole foundation upon which democracy is even possible to exist or to evolve into being.

However, this matter is far from being the only way in which the US Government now is challenging Russia to World War III. On May 30th, the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak bannered “US trains armed groups at Tanf base for new terror corridor” and reported that:

New terror organizations are being established by the US at the Tanf military base in southern Syria that is run by Washington, where a number of armed groups are being trained in order to be used as a pretext to justify US presence in the war-torn country. …

Military training is being conducted for “moderate” opposition groups in al-Tanf, where both the US and UK have bases.

These groups are made up of structures that have been established through US financing and have not been accepted under the umbrella of opposition groups approved by Turkey and the FSA.

From Deir Ezzor to Haifa

Claiming to be “training the opposition” in Tanf, the US is training operation militants under perception of being “at an equal distance to all groups.”

Apart from the so-called opposition that is linked to al-Qaeda, Daesh [ISIS] terrorists brought from Raqqa, western Deir Ezzor and the Golan Heights are being trained in the Tanf camp. …

The plan is to transport Iraqi oil to the Haifa [Israel] Port on the Mediterranean through Deir Ezzor and Tanf.

Actually, Deir Ezzor is also the capital of Syria’s own oil-producing region, and so this action by the United States is more than about merely a transit-route for Iraq’s oil to reach Israel; it is also (and very much) about America attempting theft of oil from Syrian land.

Furthermore, on May 23rd, Joe Gould at Defense News headlined “House rejects limit on new nuclear warhead” and he reported that the US House, in fulfillment of the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, which seeks to lower the threshold for nuclear war so as to expand the types of circumstances in which the US will “go nuclear,” rejected, by a vote of 226 to 188, a Democratic Party supported measure opposing lowering of the nuclear threshold. President Trump wants to be allowed to lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons in a conflict. The new, smaller, nuclear warheads, a “W76-2 variant,” have 43% the yield of the bomb that the US dropped on Hiroshima, but it’s called a ‘tactical nuclear weapon’ meaning that it is supposedly intended for use in ‘conventional’ wars, so that it is actually designed to eliminate altogether the previous meta-strategic principle, of “Mutually Assured Destruction” pertaining to nuclear war (that nuclear weapons are justifiable only in order to prevent another World War, never in order to win such a war) that successfully prevented nuclear war till now — that once a side has introduced nuclear weapons into a military conflict, it has started a nuclear war and is challenging any opponent to either go nuclear itself or else surrender — America’s new meta-strategic doctrine (since 2006) is “Nuclear Primacy”: winning a nuclear war. (See this and this.)

US President Trump is now pushing to the limit, presumably in the confident expectation that as the US President, he can safely grab any territory he wishes, and steal any oil or other natural resource that he wishes, anywhere he wants — regardless of what the Russian Government, or anyone else, thinks or wants.

Though his words often contradict that, this is now clearly what he is, in fact, doing (or trying to do), and the current US House of Representatives, at least, is saying yes to this, as constituting American values and policies, now.

Trump — not in words but in facts — is “betting the house” on this.

Moreover, as I headlined on May 26th at Strategic Culture, “Credible Report Alleges US Relocates ISIS from Syria and Iraq into Russia via Afghanistan.” Trump is apparently trying to use these terrorists as — again like the US used them in Afghanistan in order to weaken the Soviet Union — so as to weaken Russia, but this time is even trying to infiltrate them into Russia itself.

Even Adolf Hitler, prior to WWII, didn’t lunge for Britain’s jugular. It’s difficult to think of a nation’s leader who has been this bold. I confess that I can’t.

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