The Afghan Quagmire Gets Deeper, Denser and Bloodier – By Brian CLOUGHLEY (Strategic Culture Foundation)

The Afghan Quagmire Gets Deeper, Denser and Bloodier

In April 1971 John Kerry, who served gallantly in Vietnam and was later Secretary of State, stood in front of a US Senate Committee and asked “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

Today, we could do with a John Kerry to ask the same question about the war in Afghanistan.

On August 5 it was reported that “a suicide bomber has killed three Czech NATO soldiers in an attack in eastern Afghanistan. The victims were targeted while on a routine foot patrol alongside Afghan forces, NATO officials said in a statement. A US soldier and two Afghan soldiers were wounded in the attack in Charikar, the capital of Parwan province.”

Just what is being achieved by Czech soldiers on fighting patrols 5,000 kilometres from home is not explained by any of the authorities responsible for their deployment — and thus for placing them in jeopardy of their lives — but the usual nauseating platitudes were promptly mouthed by some of them.

The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babis, declared that the dead soldiers were “heroes who fought against terrorism so far from home.” Well, he should know about operating far from home. Forbes lists him as being worth four billion dollars and owning “a Michelin-starred restaurant, La Paloma, in the French Riviera” which is no doubt some consolation to the relatives and friends of the men who were killed. Babis, of course, sent his “deepest condolences to their families,” as did the ever-ready General John Nicholson, the sixteenth commander in Washington’s seventeen years of war, who, never at a loss for futile banality, babbled that “Their sacrifice will endure in both our hearts and history and further strengthen our resolve.” What utter garbage.

The “sacrifice” of these Czech soldiers won’t be felt by any hearts other than those of their grieving families, and it is insulting to claim that it will. And their deaths won’t get even the tiniest footnote in history. As to “strengthening our resolve” — resolve to do what? — to carry on mouthing phoney inanities about the utter chaos in Afghanistan?

This tawdry exhibition of fake emotion sticks in the gullet — but it’s not as sickening as the observation in The Economist that the war’s “current cost — roughly $45 billion and around a dozen lives a year — is modest enough to invite little interest from Congress or the media. That suggests Mr Trump’s strategy is sustainable.”

The talented intellectuals of The Economist think that the deaths of a dozen American soldiers every year in the unwinnable Afghan War indicate that the policies of Trump and the Pentagon can be maintained indefinitely. What’s a dozen lives, after all?

Well, listen to me, you clever little intellectuals and you swaggering military strategists, because I’m going to tell you a few home truths.

The soldiers who have died — and those who are going to die —have relatives who love them. They have parents, brothers, sisters, wives, partners, children, all of whom suffer when the lives of their nearest and dearest are sacrificed by a bunch of no-hopers as part of a “modest” cost in a supposedly “sustainable strategy” in a country that is ungovernable.

The Costs of War Project at Brown University estimates that more than 100,000 people have died in the war in Afghanistan. They weren’t all soldiers, of course, because in conflicts like this, the civilian population always suffers from action by both militants and the armed forces involved. In July, the UN reported that 1,692 Afghan civilians were killed, and 3,430 injured in the first six months of 2018, which is the record for that period in the seventeen years of this catastrophe.

But let’s get back to the soldiers who are dying.

On August 9 it was finally acknowledged by the Kabul government that over twenty Afghan soldiers had been killed in an insurgent attack on August 3 in Uruzgan province. There were no US-NATO troops involved, so there has been little reporting of the disaster by the western media, and no mention of it whatever by NATO headquarters, but it is the most serious setback suffered by the Afghan Army for several months.

Consider what happens to the dependant families of dead Afghan soldiers: the widows are entitled to pensions, of course — but Afghanistan is the third most corrupt country in the world. Do you imagine for a moment that these anguished women receive a fraction of the tiny amount to which they are entitled? Of course they don’t. Usually, they don’t get a bean, because the money is stolen by crooked and heartless government officials. What have you to say to that, General Nicholson? Does it strengthen your resolve to do anything?

As reported by the Japan Times, “Help for Afghan Heroes, an Afghan non-profit organization supporting 5,000 families of wounded or dead security forces, said corruption is a key reason many women do not receive assistance.” Nasreen Sharar, special projects officer for the group, said that “they are asked to pay a bribe to get the application processed and they often don’t have the money.”

Of course they don’t have the money. They are just tiny inconsequential and stricken blobs in a “sustainable strategy” that costs $45 billion and “around a dozen lives a year.”

Hashratullah Ahmadzai, spokesman for Kabul’s Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, told Arab News “We are in a state of war. The number of women who become widows is increasing. Those who fight on the government side and those on the side of the Taliban and the militants have wives and mothers too. People on both sides suffer and women on all sides are affected more than anyone in this war.”

But what about the Czech army soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan? The western media carried the 130 word Reuter‘s report about their deaths, and then forgot all about them, which makes a sick joke of Nicholson’s pompous pronouncement that “Their sacrifice will endure in both our hearts and history.”

They were Staff Sergeant Martin Marcin, 36, and Corporals Kamil Benes, 28, and Patrik Stepanek, 25, about whose deaths the Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar declared that “We have witnessed a tragedy that can hardly be prevented when you serve in the army.” I would really like to be able to put that grubby politician on a patrol in Afghanistan, along with the intellectuals of The Economist and all the other smart-assed commentators to whom soldiers’ lives and grieving widows mean nothing.

Not that the Czech government told us much about the widows or other relatives of the soldiers Mr Metnar sent to die in Afghanistan. All that was reported by Czech Radio was “One leaves behind a widow and a three-month-old baby.”

At least, she’ll probably be paid her pension, unlike so many widows of Afghan Army soldiers who also died for… What?

In all the years of useless conflict in Afghanistan the western media has never listed the names of Afghan Army soldiers killed in action, because these soldiers don’t matter in the greater scheme of things — the “sustainable strategy” — in which they are but inconsequential pawns, as are all the civilians who are killed by bombing, whether on the ground by the Taliban, or from the sky by Afghan-US-NATO airstrikes.

The BBC reports that “Since President Trump announced his Afghanistan strategy . . . the number of bombs dropped by the US Air Force has surged dramatically. New rules of engagement have made it easier for US forces to carry out strikes against the Taliban” and this surge in aerial blitzing has certainly had an effect.

In the first six months of 2018 the UN documented “353 civilian casualties (149 deaths and 204 injured) from aerial attacks, a 52 per cent increase from the same period in 2017. The mission attributed 52 per cent of all civilian casualties from aerial attacks to the Afghan Air Force, 45 per cent to international military forces, and the remaining three per cent to unidentified Pro-Government Forces.”

While Afghan and foreign air forces blitz the country, and the Taliban and other militants wreak havoc with their constant attacks, all that happens politically is that corruption thrives and the murderously criminal vice-president, Abdurrashid Dostum, returns from self-imposed exile to create further chaos. The place is ungovernable, and the foreigners should get out, now.

As John Kerry said, almost fifty years ago: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”


Trump’s Sanctions Admit the End of US Military Dominance – By Tom LUONGO – (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Trump’s Sanctions Admit the End of US Military Dominance
Tom LUONGO | 08.08.2018 | FEATURED STORY

On March 1st Russian President Vladimir Putin changed the geopolitical game. During his speech he unveiled new weapons which instantly made obsolete much of the U.S military’s physical arsenal.

And the panic in Washington was palpable.

Since that speech everything geopolitical has accelerated. The US government under Trump has shifted its strategies in response to this. No longer were we threatening North Korea with military invasion.

No, Trump sat down with Kim Jong-un to negotiate peace.

On Russia, Iran, China, Turkey, Venezuela and even Europe Trump’s war rhetoric has intensified. Trump is only talking about economic sanctions and tariffs, however, leveraging the dollar as his primary weapon to bring countries to heel.

There’s no hint of US invasion, no matter how much John Bolton whispers in his ear or Bibi Netanyahu bangs his shoe on the table.

Why?

Because US military dominance has always been enforced not by technology but by logistics. Those bases, while expensive, are also the real strength of the US military. They are a financial albatross which the ‘Axis of Resistance’ is using to win a war of attrition against US hegemony.

And now, Putin’s new weapons rendered them obsolete in a moment’s time. Once fully deployed there will be no going back to the old world order.

So, that’s why Trump talked to North Korea yesterday and why he will talk with Iran tomorrow.

The End of Leverage

With his latest escalation — “Anyone doing business with Iran will not do business with the US” – Trump is waving the White Flag on using the military to enforce his vision of world order.

This is the Nuclear Option of Financial Warfare. Going nuclear is a losing strategy because you have to back it up.

In the same way Trump threatened fire and brimstone on North Korea, but ultimately went to Singapore.

So, what’s he going to do? Sanction Apple for selling an iPhone in Tehran?

Because that’s what’s implied in that statement.

The cost of compliance to these sanctions will cripple banks and businesses the world over. We saw a preview of it in April when Trump tried to cut Rusal from the aluminum market.

In that same tweet, though, he revealed his hand, finally, that he wants world peace.

But, like the Beauty Queens he used to manage, Trump says a lot of things people want to hear, but does he really know how to go about bringing that dream to reality.

Financial warfare is just as devastating as physical warfare. And a peace won through subjugation via the sword or the futures contract is still a false one. It wasn’t won through respect and acquiescence to all parties’ needs, it was done through the worst kind of bullying.

It will have blowback.

At this point it is hard to tell whether Trump understands this or not.

Of course, this erratic behavior is exactly his plan. It is the Art of the Deal on the geopolitical stage.

But, the Art of the Deal requires leverage and Trump has only financial leverage.

And financial leverage can only erode over time. Every transaction made in another currency, every bank that survives being sanctioned by the US erodes that leverage a little more.

By going nuclear Trump has told the entire world he will destroy it to save it.

And if he’s serious it means today everyone with three brain cells to rub together is making alternate plans.

What looks invincible today, the dollar, is obsolete tomorrow. Currencies are fungible. They are easily cross-shopped in the end.

What most geopolitical commentators choose to forget in their strategic calculations is that the post-WWII institutional order has been maintained by the interplay between US financial dominance via the IMF, the BIS and the World Bank and the military logistical archipelago of bases and carrier strike groups circling the globe.

Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela is trying to rebuild his country without resorting to the extortion rackets of the global banking system via the Petro and Sovereign Bolivar. The jury is out whether he’ll be successful. If he is, expect the US to put more sanctions on Venezuela. But, since there are no dollars in country, what would be the point?

Again, you can’t force someone to use your currency.

Trump realizes the military portion of this system is aligned all wrong. It’s wasteful and it has destroyed the US back home. He wants it to end.

But, at the same time, he wants America to win in all deals and retain financial dominance through the energy trade. So, destroy Venezuela, Iran and stymie Russia to allow the US to keep control of the oil and gas trade via the petrodollar.

Moreover, I agree The problem is no one else in Washington D.C., Tel Aviv, New York, the City of London or Brussels has.

So, how does he make everyone happy while tearing down the parts of the world order he doesn’t like while using its remnants to shore up those he does?

By backing every demand Israel makes on Iran, that’s how. He placates the neocons in D.C. and Tel Aviv this way. But, he’s not fooling anyone really.

They are still convinced he’s not on their side and use independent means to put more pressure on Russia and him. They want control of the Congress after the mid-terms and need the narratives to hold through November.

Case in point, the recent announcement that the British government will demand extradition of the mythical Russian agents who poisoned the Skripals earlier in the year. There’s no proof, but the British Deep State continues on, to distract from reality.

The cries of treason for Donald Trump meeting with Vladimir Putin. The new sanctions bill introduced by Senator Lindsay Graham, said to throw everything at Putin to make him know the US is serious.

Like Putin hasn’t gotten that idea yet?

Trump is still being targeted for impeachment by shutting down dissent domestically (Alex Jones, Ron Paul) while he attempts to pursue a somewhat independent foreign policy.

And that’s why he has to go nuclear in his use of sanctions because Trump, despite all appearances, is not interested in any more Americans dying overseas for the dreams of the Empire. And he knows that’s what will happen if any military option is on the table with Iran.

There is little hope of the kind of makeover of US and European leadership Mr. Crooke feels is necessary to change the dynamic between the US and its geopolitical rivals. So, Trump will pursue this sanctions strategy to the bitter end.

Because, Iran, like Venezuela, Russia and China will not negotiate with someone who has nothing to offer except the back of his hand.

The ‘Magnitsky Trio’ Pushes For War With Russia By Pressing For New ‘Crushing’ Sanctions – By Tom Luongo(Gold, Goats ‘N Guns) (SOTT)

From left, Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

From left, Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

If half of what I have come to understand about the Curious Case of Bill Browder is true, then the “Magnitsky Trio” of Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Ben Cardin are guilty of espionage, at a minimum.

Why? Because they know that Browder’s story about Sergei Magnitsky is a lie. And that means that when you tie in the Trump Dossier, Christopher Steele, Fusion GPS, the Skripal poisoning and the rest of this mess, these men are consorting with foreign governments and agencies against the sitting President.

As Lee Stranahan pointed out recently on Fault Lines, Cardin invited Browder to testify to Congress in 2017 to push through last year’s sanctions bill, a more stringent version of the expiring Magnitsky Act of 2011, which has since been used to ratchet up pressure on Russia.

Cardin knew there were problems with Browder’s story about Magnitsky’s death and yet brought him into Congress to testify to secure the vote.

That’s suborning perjury, as Lee points out.

Just the holes in Browder’s story about Magnitsky’s death are alone enough to warrant a perjury charge on him. If you haven’t read Luck Komisar’s detailed breakdown of Browder’s dealings then you owe it to yourself to do so.

I’d read it a few times, because it’s about as murky as The Swamp gets. And, still my eyes glaze over.

The Magnitsky Act and its sequel have been used to support aggressive policy actions by the U.S. against Russia and destroy the relationship between the world’s most prominent militaries and nuclear powers.

The new bill is said to want to put ‘crushing sanctions’ on Russia to make ‘Putin feel the heat.’ In effect, what this bill wants to do is force President Trump to enforce sanctions against the entire Russian state for attempting to do business anywhere in the world.

The new financial penalties would target political figures, oligarchs, family members and others that “facilitate illicit and corrupt activities” on behalf of Putin.

It would also impose new sanctions on transactions tied to investments in state-owned energy projects, transactions tied to new Russian debt, and people with the capacity or ability to support or carry out a “malicious” cyber act.

In addition, if it wasn’t clear enough already, that he’s no friend of the President, Graham is trying to tie the President’s hands on NATO withdrawal, requiring a two-thirds majority.

Now, why would Graham be worried about that, unless it was something the President was seriously considering? This is similar to last year’s sanctions bill requiring a similar majority for the President to end the original sanctions placed on Russia in 2014 over the reunification with Crimea.

And behind it all stands Bill Browder.

Because it has been Browder’s one-man campaign to influence members of Congress, the EU and public opinion the world over against Putin and Russia for the past 10 years over Magnitsky’s death.

Browder’s story is the only one we see in the news. And it’s never questioned, even though it has. He continually moves to block films and articles critical of him from seeing distribution.

Browder is the epicenter around which the insane push for war with Russia revolves as everyone involved in the attempt to take over Russia in 1999 continues to try and cover their collective posteriors posterities.

And it is Browder, along with Republic National Bank chief Edmond Safra, who were involved together in the pillaging of Russia in the 1990’s. Browder’s firm hired Magintsky as an accountant (because that’s what he was) to assist in the money laundering Heritage Capital was involved in.

The attempted take over of Russia failed because Yeltsin saw the setup which led him to appoint Putin as his Deputy Prime Minister.

Martin Armstrong talked about this recently and it is featured prominently in the film about him, The Forecaster, which I also recommend you watch.

There was $7 billion that was wired through Bank of New York which involved money stolen from the IMF loans to Russia. The attempt to takeover Russia by blackmail was set in motion. As soon as that wire was done, that is when Republic National Bank ran to the Department of Justice to say it was money-laundering. I believe this started the crisis and Yeltsin was blackmailed to step down and appoint Boris A. Berezovsky as the head of Russia.

Clearly, Republic National Bank was involved with the US government for they were sending also skids of $100 bills to Russia. It was written up and called the Money Plane. Yeltsin then turned to Putin realizing that he had been set up. This is how Putin became the First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia on August 9th, 1999 until August 16th, 1999 when he became the 33rd Prime Minister and heir apparent of Yeltsin.

So, now why, all of a sudden, do we need even stronger sanctions on Russia, ones that would create untold dislocation in financial markets around the world?

Comment: A must watch video:

Look at the timeline today and see what’s happening.

  1. Earlier this year Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicts 13 people associated with Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian troll farm, for influencing the 2016 election.
  2. Then Mueller indicts twelve members of Russian intelligence to sabotage the upcoming summit between Trump and Putin while the Russia Hacked Muh Election narrative was flagging.
  3. Three days later President Trump met with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. There a Putin let the world know that he would assist Robert Mueller’s investigation if in return the U.S. would assist Russia in returning Bill Browder, who was tried and convicted in absentia for tax evasion.
  4. All of a sudden Browder’s story is all over the alternative press. Browder is all over U.S. television.
  5. Earlier this week Facebook comes out, after horrific earnings, to tell everyone that IRA was still at it, though being ever so sneaky, trying to influence the mid-terms by engaging Democrats and anti-Trumpers to organize.
    1. In that release, Facebook let it be known it was working with the political arm of NATO, The Atlantic Council, to ferret out these dastardly Russian agents.

And now we have a brand-new shiny sanctions bill intended to keep any rapprochement between the U.S. and Russia from occurring.

Why is that? What’s got them so scared of relations with Russia improving?

Maybe, just maybe, because Putin has all of these people dead to rights and he’s informed Trump of what the real story behind all of this is.

That at its core is a group of very bad people who attempted to steal trillions but only got away with billions and still have their sights set on destroying Russia for their own needs.

And Lindsay Graham is their mouthpiece. (all puns intended)

That all of U.S. foreign policy is built on a lie.

That our relationship with Russia was purposefully trashed for the most venal of reasons, for people like Bill Browder to not only steal billions but then have the chutzpah to steal the $230 million he would have paid in taxes on those stolen billions.

And the only way to ensure none of those lies are exposed is for Trump to be unable to change any of it by forcing him to openly side with the Russian President over members of his own political party.

The proposed sanctions by the Graham bill are so insane that even the Treasury department thinks they are a bad idea. But, at this point there is nothing Graham won’t do for his owners.

Because they are desperate they will push for open warfare with Russia to push Putin from power, which is not possible. All of this is nothing more than a sad attempt to hold onto power long enough to oust Trump from the White House and keep things as horrible as they currently are.

Because no one gives up power willingly. And the more they are proven to be frauds the more they will scream for war.

Comment: See also:

How BRICS Plus clashes with the US economic war on Iran = By Pepe ESCOBAR (THE SAKER)

FB_IMG_1512424615080.jpg

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

Rhetorical war has far-reaching consequences, including a potential economic slump via the disruption of global oil supplies

The key take away from the BRICS summit in Johannesburg is that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – important Global South players – strongly condemn unilateralism and protectionism.

The Johannesburg Declaration is unmistakable: “We recognize that the multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges. We underscore the importance of an open world economy.”

Closer examination of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech unlocks some poignant details.

Xi, crucially, emphasizes delving further into “our strategic partnership.” That implies increased BRICS and Beyond BRICS multilateral trade, investment and economic and financial connectivity.

And that also implies reaching to the next level; “It is important that we continue to pursue innovation-driven development and build the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) to strengthen coordination on macroeconomic policies, find more complementarities in our development strategies, and reinforce the competitiveness of the BRICS countries, emerging market economies and developing countries.”

If PartNIR sounds like the basis for an overall Global South platform, that’s because it is.

In a not too veiled allusion to the Trump administration’s unilateral pullout from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), Xi called all parties to “abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations and to settle disputes through dialogue and differences through consultation,” adding that the BRICS are inevitably working for “a new type of international relations.”

Relations such as these certainly do not include a superpower unilaterally imposing an energy export blockade – an act of economic war – on an emerging market and key actor of the Global South.

Xi is keen to extol a “network of closer partnerships.” That’s where the concept of BRICS Plus fits in. China coined BRICS Plus last year at the Xiamen summit, it refers to closer integration between the five BRICS members and other emerging markets/developing nations.

Argentina, Turkey and Jamaica are guests of honor in Johannesburg. Xi sees BRICS Plus interacting with the UN, the G20 “and other frameworks” to amplify the margin of maneuver not only of emerging markets but the whole Global South. 

So how does Iran fit into this framework?

An absurd game of chicken

Immediately after President Trump’s Tweet of Mass Destruction the rhetorical war between Washington and Tehran has skyrocketed to extremely dangerous levels.

Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force – and a true rock star in Iran – issued a blistering response to Trump: “You may begin the war, but it is us who will end it.”

The IRGC yields massive economic power in Iran and is in total symbiosis with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. It’s no secret the IRGC never trusted President Rouhani’s strategy of relying on the JCPOA as the path to improve Iran’s economy. After the unilateral Trump administration pullout, the IRGC feels totally vindicated.

The mere threat of a US attack on Iran has engineered a rise in oil prices. US reliance on Middle East Oil is going down while fracking – boosted by higher prices – is ramping up. The threat of war increases with Tehran now overtly referring to its power to cripple global energy supplies literally overnight.

In parallel the Houthis, by forcing the Yemen-bombing House of Saud to stop oil shipments via the Bab al-Mandeb port, are configuring the Strait of Hormuz and scores of easily targeted pipelines as even more crucial to the flow of energy that makes the West tick. 

If there ever was a US attack on Iran, Persian Gulf analysts stress only Russia, Nigeria and Venezuela might be able to provide enough oil and gas to make up for lost supplies to the West. That’s not exactly what the Trump administration is looking for.

Iranian “nuclear weapons” was always a bogus issue. Tehran did not have them – and was not pursuing them. Yet now the highly volatile rhetorical war introduces the hair-raising possibility of Tehran perceiving there is a clear danger of a US nuclear attack or an attack whose purpose is to destroy the nation’s infrastructure. If cornered, there’s no question the IRGC would buy nuclear weapons on the black market and use them to defend the nation.

This is the “secret” hidden in Soleimani’s message. Besides, Russia could easily – and secretly – supply Iran with state-of-the-art defensive missiles and the most advanced offensive missiles.

This absurd game of chicken is absolutely unnecessary for Washington from an oil strategy point of view – apart from the intent to break a key node of Eurasia integration. Assuming the Trump administration is playing chess, it’s imperative to think 20 moves ahead if “winning” is on the cards.

If a US oil blockade on Iran is coming, Iran could answer with its own Strait of Hormuz blockade, producing economic turmoil for the West. If this leads to a massive depression, it’s unlikely the industrial-military-security complex will blame itself.

There’s no question that Russia and China – the two key BRICS players – will have Iran’s back. First there’s Russia’s participation in Iran’s nuclear and aerospace industries and then the Russia-Iran collaboration in the Astana process to solve the Syria tragedy. With China, Iran as one of the country’s top energy suppliers and plays a crucial role in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Russia and China have an outsize presence in the Iranian market and similar ambitions to bypass the US dollar and third-party US sanctions.

Beam me up, Global South

The true importance of the BRICS Johannesburg summit is how it is solidifying a Global South plan of action that would have Iran as one of its key nodes. Iran, although not named in an excellent analysis by Yaroslav Lissovolik at the Valdai Club, is the quintessential BRICS Plus nation.

Once again, BRICS Plus is all about constituting a “unified platform of regional integration arrangements,” going way beyond regional deals to reach other developing nations in a transcontinental scope.

This means a platform integrating the African Union (AU), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as well as the South Asian Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

Iran is a future member of the SCO and has already struck a deal with the EAEU. It’s also an important node of the BRI and is a key member, along BRICS members India and Russia, of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), essential for deeper Eurasia connectivity.

Lissovolik uses BEAMS as the acronym to designate “the aggregation of regional integration groups, with BRICS Plus being a broader concept that incorporates other forms of BRICS’ interaction with developing economies.”

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has defined BRICS Plus and BEAMS as the “most extensive platform for South-South cooperation with a global impact.” The Global South now does have an integration road map. If it ever happened, an attack on Iran would be not only an attack on BRICS Plus and BEAMS but on the whole Global South.

US “waste, fraud and abuse” in Afghanistan has cost $15.5billion – And counting – By RT

money changer

© Jalil Ahmad / Reuters
FILE PHOTO: A money changer counts US dollar banknotes at a market in Herat province, Afghanistan, on June 3, 2018.

Billions of tax dollars have been lost on “waste, fraud and abuse” and spent on massive reconstruction projects in Afghanistan that utterly failed and even contributed to corruption, a US government watchdog has said.

As much as $15.5 billion spent by the US to rebuild Afghanistan over 11 years has effectively gone to waste, the US government’s leading oversight authority on the issue, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), said in its response to a request by three members of Congress.

The estimated amount of mismanaged funds accounted for 29 percent of the total sum audited by SIGAR, the report said. However, it also warned that the examined spending of $52.7 billion amounts to only a fraction of the total sum of $126 billion which has been appropriated for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. “Our products have likely uncovered only a portion of the total waste, fraud, abuse, and failed efforts,” the SIGAR head, John Sopko said in a statement.

The analysis conducted by SIGAR mostly covered the period between the watchdog’s inception in 2008 and 2017, the report says. The document also reports that most of the mismanaged funds were spent on just two major projects that failed to deliver any tangible results.

“The $4.7 billion spent on ‘stabilization programs’ in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2017 was largely unsuccessful in building and reforming government institutions in Afghanistan,” the report says, adding that US money, on the contrary, “often exacerbated conflicts, enabled corruption, and bolstered support for insurgents.”

The fight against drug production and trafficking turned out to be another major US failure in Afghanistan as, according to the SIGAR, “almost $7.3 billion spent by the United States in Afghanistan on counternarcotics programs appears to have done very little to stem the production and exportation of illicit drugs.” The watchdog also says that the illegal drug business in Afghanistan “still thrives” while opium production stands “at the highest levels since 2002.”

Between $2.2 billion and $3.5 billion were also lost in as many as 643 other “instances of waste, fraud and abuse,” the US government watchdog said. “The U.S. government overestimated its ability to build and reform government institutions in Afghanistan as part of the stabilization strategy, and set unrealistic expectations of what could be achieved. As a result, US government agencies spent far too much money, far too quickly, and in a country woefully unprepared to absorb it.”

The watchdog also criticized the approach Washington used to assess its success in rebuilding the country that the US and its allies invaded back in 2001. “Money spent was often the metric of success, instead of more nuanced performance metrics,” it said.

The facts presented in the report provoked a wave of outrage from members of Congress that filed the request to the SIGAR. “As the SIGAR report shows, reconstruction programs in Afghanistan have been mismanaged and poorly run for years. This level of wasteful spending is simply staggering and unacceptable,” Rep. Tim Walberg (R – Michigan) said in a Twitter post, commenting on the issue.

“We are now 17 years into the endless war in Afghanistan. This report barely scratches the surface of its enormous human and financial toll. I applaud [Inspector General John] Sopko for his persistent efforts to put a spotlight on rampant waste and fraud in Afghanistan spending. Congress must do its job and take action to end it,” Rep. Peter Welch (D- Vermont), said.

“The clock continues to run on this 17-year endless war while congressional leaders look the other way, refusing to allow us to vote on the war or conduct oversight of its wasteful spending,” he added in a Tweet.

Rep. Walter Jones (R – North Carolina) vented his fury in a statement published on his website:”Tragically, $15.5 billion is only the verified amount of wasted money – the number is much greater. That is why we are requesting other agencies for an in-depth review of tax dollar usage within their jurisdiction. The American people deserve a better understanding of where their money is going – to the black hole, known as Afghanistan.”

“It is time. Enough blood and money has been shed in Afghanistan,” he added.

Reports on US funds being improperly used on some projects for Afghanistan have been coming for years. In 2015, it was reported that the Pentagon spent $36 million on constructing a command facility in Afghanistan that was unused by any troops. A year later, another report said that the US Drug Enforcement Administration and Pentagon wasted another $90 million on an airplane designed to identify drug-producing sites in Afghanistan, which never left its hangar.

In 2017, the SIGAR itself reported that the US lost some $9.7 million in assets in Afghanistan since 2012 because of the army’s negligence, while some of the resources on which the money were spent might have ended up in the hands of the US enemies.

Back in December 2017, US President Donald Trump complained that Washington “foolishly spent” $7 trillion in the Middle East, arguing that all that money could have been spent to rebuild the US instead. According to the USAID, Washington spent some $164.3 billion worth of aid on both Afghanistan and another country the US invaded – Iraq. This figure fades in comparison to what the US has spent on its military adventures in the Middle East.

Comment: One can be sure that some of this ‘wasted’ money hasn’t been wasted at all and instead found its way into the hands of the people it was intended for; whether that be the US’ proxy-army in the middle east, ISIS, or as fraudulent projects with the intent to funnel the money elsewhere:

Also check out SOTT radio’s:

US diplomats act like imperial governors riding roughshod over sovereignty of national governments – By RT

John Laughland
John Laughland, who has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oxford and who has taught at universities in Paris and Rome, is a historian and specialist in international affairs.
US diplomats act like imperial governors riding roughshod over sovereignty of national governments
On the world’s Grand Chessboard, the US is fighting for control and influence. And there are countries where its ambassadors are perceived more as imperial governors than simple channels of communication.

At the height of the Maidan protests in Kiev in early 2014, a conversation was leaked between the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, and the then-Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama administration, Victoria Nuland. The conversation gained notoriety because Nuland said to Pyatt, “F**k the EU” and the recording was almost instantly available on Youtube.

More shocking than Nuland’s bad language, however, was what the conversation was about. The US government officials were discussing how to put their men into power in Ukraine – which of the three then opposition factions would dominate, who would take the lead (Arseniy Yatsenyuk) and who would be excluded (Vladimir Klitschko).  At the time of this conversation, early February 2014, their enemy Viktor Yanukovych was still president. The leaked recording proved that the US and its Kiev embassy were actively involved in a regime change operation. The composition of the post-Maidan government corresponded exactly with US plans.

What few people knew at the time was that such levels of control over the composition of foreign governments had become standard practice for US embassies all over the world. As I could see on my very numerous travels around the Balkans in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the US ambassador was treated by the political class and the media in those countries not as the officially accredited representative of a foreign government but instead as an imperial governor whose pronunciamentos were more important than those of the national government.

This has been going on for decades, although the levels of control exercised by the United States increased as it rushed to fill the political vacuum created by the collapse of Soviet influence in Eastern Europe after 1989. In earlier times, such control, especially regime change operations, had to be conducted either covertly, as with the overthrow of Iranian prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, in 1953, or by financing and arming an anti-government militia, such as in Nicaragua and elsewhere in central and South America, or by encouraging the army itself, most famously in Chile in 1973. There is a huge body of literature on this vast subject (for the coup against Mosaddegh, see especially ‘All the Shah’s Men’ by Stephen Kinzer, 2003) and there is no possibility of denying that such operations took place. Indeed, former CIA director, James Woolsey, recently admitted that they continue to this day.  

Many of the ambassadors who engineered or attempted regime change operations in Eastern Europe and the former USSR had cut their teeth in Latin America in 1980s and 1990s. One of them, Michael Kozak, former US ambassador to Belarus, even boasted in a letter to The Guardian in 2001 that he was doing the same thing in Minsk as he had done in Managua. He wrote: “As regards parallels between Nicaragua in 1989-90 and Belarus today, I plead guilty. Our objective and to some degree methodology are the same.”

Kozak did not mention that he also played a key role in the overthrow of General Noriega in Panama in 1989 but he is far from alone. The experience accumulated by the Americans during the Cold War, including in major European countries like Italy where US interference was key to preventing Communist victories in elections, spawned a whole generation of Kermit Roosevelts (the architect of the coup against Mosaddegh) who have made their careers over decades in the State Department. Some names, such as that of Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia who made no secret of his opposition to the president of the state to which he was accredited, will be familiar to RT readers.

Two years after the violent overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych, which he helped coordinate, Geoffrey Pyatt was appointed US ambassador to Greece. He remains in that post to this day – which is why some are asking whether his hand might be behind last week’s expulsion of Russian diplomats from Athens. Greece and Russia have customarily had good relations but they differ on the Macedonian issue. Now, the Greek government headed by the “pseudo-Euroskeptic” Alexis Tsipras, claims that four Russian diplomats were engaged in covert operations in Greece to lobby against forcing Macedonia to change its official name.  

READ MORE: Macedonian MPs ratify Greece name deal again

Like almost every other political issue these days, this relatively arcane one is regarded through the distorting prism of alleged Russian interference: any decision which does not consolidate the power of American-dominated supranational structures like the US or the EU is now routinely attributed to all-pervasive Russian influence, as if all dissidents were foreign agents. Western discussion of this subject now resembles the paranoia of the old Soviet regime, and of its satellites in Eastern Europe, which similarly attacked anti-Communists for being “fifth columnists” – the very phrase used by a prominent European politician last month to lambast all his enemies as Russian stooges. 

US influence is suspected in this case between Greece and Macedonia because the Americans are pushing to bring the whole of the Balkan peninsula under Western control.  This has been policy for nearly thirty years – at least since the Yugoslav wars led to a US-brokered peace deal in Bosnia in 1995. In recent years the tempo has quickened, with the accession of Montenegro to NATO last year leaving only Macedonia and Serbia as missing pieces of the puzzle. The Greek victory over the name of Macedonia removes the last obstacle to that country’s accession to NATO and other “Euro-Atlantic structures” like the EU and soon only Serbia will be left. Will she last long? 

One of the most notorious anecdotes of the Second World War was told by Churchill. While in Moscow in 1944, he and Stalin divided up Eastern Europe and the Balkans into spheres of influence, putting percentage figures to show the respective weight of the West and the USSR – 10:90 in Greece, 50:50 Yugoslavia, 25:75 in Bulgaria, and so on. Churchill recalls how this so-called Percentages Agreement was concluded in a few minutes, and how he scribbled a note of their verbal agreement on a piece of paper which Stalin glanced at for a second and then ticked off. Churchill wrote, “It was all settled in no more time than it takes to set down.”  

Churchill then reflected that it might seem cynical to decide the fate of millions of people in such an offhand manner. Later generations have generally agreed with his self-criticism.  Today’s West would certainly never conclude such an agreement – but not because of any squeamishness or lack of cynicism on its part. Instead, the West, especially the US, could not conclude any agreement because in every case the only acceptable outcome would be 100% influence for itself. That is what Geoffrey Pyatt and his colleagues spend their entire careers trying to achieve – and, to a large extent, they succeed.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Why Russia’s offer to let Mueller come to Russia – in return for interrogations of corrupt Americans – sent Washington into a panic – By Thierry Meyssan/ Voltaire Network (SOTT)

browder

© Reuters
Bill Browder in the US Senate

On 16 November 2009, tax specialist lawyer Sergey Magnitsky died in Matrosskaya Tishina prison (Moscow). Immediately, the US Press claimed that he had been in possession of information concerning a State scandal, and had been tortured by the « régime ».

The Magnitsky Act

The death of Magnitsky shut down the legal procedures that had been launched against him by the Russian Minister of Justice. Billionaire William (“Bill”) Browder declared in Washington that the tax expert possessed proof that Russian Power had stolen 3 billion dollars from him. Despite lobbying by Goldman Sachs, the US Congress believed it had clarified the affair, and in 2012 adopted a law sanctioning the Russian personalities suspected of having murdered the lawyer. Goldman Sachs, which did not believe the information forwarded by the parliamentarians, hired the lobbying firm Duberstein Group in an attempt to block the vote on the law [1].

On this model, in 2016, the Congress extended the « Magnitsky Act » to the whole world, requesting the President to implement sanctions against all people and all states which violate individual property. Presidents Obama and Trump obeyed, placing about twenty personalities on the list, including the President of the Republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov.

These two laws were aimed at giving back to the United States the role it had assumed during the Cold War as defender of individual property, even though they had no communist rival.

The two versions of the « Magnitsky affair »

As for the Russian State Duma, it responded to its US counterpart by forbidding the adoption of Russian children by US families, and by denouncing the responsibility of US personalities in the legalisation of torture (the Dima Yakovlev Law, from the name of the Russian child adopted in the USA who died as a result of negligence by the parents). President Putin applied this text in 2013, also forbidding ex-US Vice President Dick Cheney access to Russian territory.

The « Magnitsky affair » could have ended there. It seems to be independent of the « Khodorkovsky affair », exploited by NATO in order to accuse Russia of interference in Western democracies by way of disinformation or « fake news » [2]. However, the Russian Prosecutor General contests the narrative presented by Wiliam Browder to the US Congress.

According to William Browder, his company Hermitage Capital invested in Russia, particularly in Gazprom. He allegedly discovered signs of irregular practices and attempted to warn the Kremlin. However, his resident’s visa was then cancelled. Then his Russian companies were allegedly robbed by Lieutenant-Colonel Artem Kuznetsov, a civil servant from the Financial Brigade of the Russian Ministry of the Interior. Kuznetsov apparently seized the property documents during a search, then used them to register a new owner. Lawyer Sergey Magnitsky, who apparently blew the whistle on the embezzlement, was arrested, tortured and finally died in prison. In the end, Lieutenant-Colonel Artem Kuznetsov and « godfather » Dmitry Klyuev were allegedly able to deposit the 3 billion stolen dollars in a Cypriot bank. This is a classic case of theft by the Russian mafia with the help of the Kremlin [3]. This narrative inspired the seventh season of the Showtime TV series, Homeland.

On the contrary, according to Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, William Browder illegally acquired 133 million shares in Gazprom on behalf of the Ziff brothers, via various straw men. Not only did Browder avoid paying 150 million dollars in taxes, but the acquisition of part of this crown jewel of the Russian economy is in itself illegal. Furthermore, his financial advisor, Sergey Magnitsky, who had developed another scam for the same Browder, was arrested and died of a heart attack in prison [4].

It is obviously impossible to tell the truth from the lies in these two versions. However, it is now recognised that Sergey Magnitsky was not a lawyer working freelance, but was employed by William Browder’s companies. He was not investigating embezzlement, but was tasked by Browder with the creation of financial structures which would avoid him having to pay taxes in Russia. For example, the two men imagined remunerating mentally handicapped people as front men in order to benefit from their tax exempt status. Browder had much experience with tax evasion – which is why he lived for ten years in Russia with a simple tourist visa, then abandoned his US citizenship and became a British citizen.

Comment: Magnitsky wasn’t even a lawyer. He was an accountant.

These last elements prove William Browder wrong, and are compatible with Prosecutor Chaika’s accusations. In these conditions, it seems at the least imprudent for the US Congress to have adopted the Magnitsky Act, unless of course the operation was aimed not at defending individual property, but at hurting Russia [5].

A leader of the Russian opposition paid by Browder

Alongside the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Browder abundantly finances the work of a young lawyer, Alexeï Navalny. Thanks to the help of US ambassador Michael McFaul, the young man pursued his studies in the USA at Yale in 2010. He created an Anti-Corruption Foundation in order to promote Browden’s version and accuse Putin’s administration.

Having become a leader of the political opposition, Navalny and his Foundation directed a first documentary accusing the family of Prosecutor Chaika of corruption. But although the video is convincing at first look, it presents no proof of the facts it relates.

Simultaneously, Navalny ordered a second documentary from a Russian film director and member of the opposition about the « Magnitsky affair ». But this journalist turned against his employer during the investigation, which was finally broadcast by Russian public television.

A spook and an ambassador paid by Browder

Thereafter, William Browder engaged an ex-agent of MI6 in Moscow (1990-93), Christopher Steele, and the ex-US ambassador to Moscow (2012-14), Michael McFaul.

It so happens that it was Christopher Steele who, in 2006 – while he was with MI6 – accused President Vladimir Putin of having ordered the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko with Polonium. In 2016, he also worked – freelance this time – for the US Democratic Party. That was when he wrote the famous dossier accusing candidate Donald Trump of being under the threat of blackmail by the Russian secret services [6] ; an unwarranted charge which has just resurfaced after the bilateral Summit in Helsinki. We find Steele once again, in 2018, involved in the Novitchok poisoning of Sergueï Skripal – as a « consultant » for MI6, he of course accused the inevitable Vladimir Putin.

The Russian riposte

During the US Presidential campaign of 2016, Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika attempted to influence a member of Congress who was open to Russian thinking, Dana Rohrabacher (Republican, California). He sent her a note concerning his version of the Browder-Magnitsky affair. Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya met the son and son-in-law of candidate Donald Trump at Trump Tower, in order to inform them that a part of Browder’s dirty money was being used to finance the candidacy of Hillary Clinton [7].

Thereafter, William Browder became the main source of the enquiry run by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller about possible Russian interference in « US Democracy ». A long time before he became the Director the FBI, Mueller – who officially has no link to the CIA – had been responsible for the enquiry on the Lockerbie attack, which he attributed to Mouammar Kadhafi. Let’s remember that Libya never recognised that it was implicated in this affair, although it accepted to pay a compensation to the victims. Above all, Scottish Justice established the fact that fragments of the detonator found on site were placed there by the CIA in order to accuse Libya. Mueller used the meeting of Trump’s team with Natalia Veselnitskaya as « proof » of the subordination of Donald Trump to the Russian Intelligence services.

In the USA, Natalia Veselnitskaya represents the interests of several of Browder’s Russian victims. She also acted in 2014 on behalf of one of the companies that Browder accused of being connected to « godfather » Dmitry Klyuev. She also raised the question about the manner in which an agent of Homeland Security, Todd Hyman, had transmitted a trial document without proceeding with the usual verifications.

There will be no moment of truth

During the US-Russia summit in Helsinki, President Vladimir Putin proposed that his US counterpart allow US investigators to question those Russian civil servants suspected of interference in the US Presidential campaign, on the condition that Russian investigators would also be allowed to question suspects in the USA. Donald Trump is reserving his answer.

However, when the office of Prosecutor Yury Chaika transmitted the list of witnesses to be questioned, Washington panicked. Not only did Chaika ask to question British subjects William Browder and Christopher Steele if they should travel in the United States, but also ambassador Michael McFaul, lawyer Jonathan Winer, researcher David J. Kramer, and finally, agent Todd Hyman.

Jonathan Winer was in charge of the Lockerbie dossier at the State Department during the 1990’s. He is a personal friend of Christopher Steele, and transmitted his reports to the neo-conservatives for a decade [8].

During Bush Jr.’s first term, David J. Kramer played an important role in the management of the propaganda system for the State Department as well as looking after the stay-behind agents in Eastern Europe and in Russia. After having worked in various think tanks, he became the president of Freedom House, and campaigned on the « Magnitsky affair ». He is today a researcher at the McCain Institute.

Although, so far, nothing enables us to tell which of the Browder and Chaika versions is accurate, the truth will soon emerge. It is possible that Russian interference may be no more than fake news, but US interference (by introduction into the crown piece of the Russian economy as well as via Alexeï Navalny) may in fact be a reality.

In the context of Washington’s unanimous anti-Russian stand, President Trump declines Vladimir Putin’s proposition.

Translation: Pete Kimberley

Sources

  1. Bank of Putin. Goldman Sachs lobbying against human rights legislation“, Adam Kredo, Free Beacon, July 19, 2012.
  2. The NATO campaign against freedom of expression“, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 5 December 2016.
  3. Foreigner’s Investment in Russia Is Derailed by Kremlin’s Might“, Clifford J. Levy, The New York Times, July 24, 2008.
  4. Note from Yury Chaika Office to Dana Rohrabacher, June 2016.
  5. « Intouchable, Mr. Browder ? », par Israël Shamir, Traduction Maria Poumier, Entre la plume et l’enclume (France), The Unz Review (USA), Réseau Voltaire, 22 juin 2016.
  6. The Steele Report“.
  7. Natalia Veselnitskaya Memo on the William Browder & Sergei MagnitskyCase“, by Natalia Veselnitskaya, Voltaire Network, 1 June 2016.
  8. Devin Nunes is investigating me. Here’s the truth“, Jonathan Winer, The Washington Post, February 8, 2018.
Comment: One thing’s for sure: Browder’s version of events is complete BS. See also:

Must-Watch Russian Documentary, Banned in The West: ‘The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes’ – By CaptainWho/ BitChute (SOTT)

magnitsky act documentary

Who was Sergei Magnitsky, and why are we supposed to believe he was a hero?

The official story:

  • Bill Browder was an American businessman who ran a hedgefund in Russia.
  • Corrupt Russian cops, with the help of the Russian mafia, stole his business through a convoluted fraud scheme.
  • The lead cop grew rich from his stolen money.
  • Sergei Magnitsky was one of Browder’s lawyers.
  • Magnitsky reported the fraud to the Russian government.
  • Magnitsky was arrested and brutally treated in jail.
  • 7 riot cops beat Magnitsky to death while he was handcuffed.
  • The official cause of death listed ‘heart failure’.
  • Browder has since spent all his time and money lobbying Western governments to sanction Russian individuals in honor of Magnitsky, and scored a major breakthrough when US Congress passed the first round of anti-Russia sanctions via the Magnitsky Act in 2012.

Andrei Nekrasov, the Russian film-maker and director of this documentary (The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes) set out as a believer in Browder’s story about the heroic Magnitsky and the evil Russian government. In the course of making a dramatic movie about it, however, Nekrasov and his crew realized that many details didn’t add up. And so their production evolved into an investigative documentary…

What they discovered instead:

  • Bill Browder used a simple ‘power of attorney’ to transfer his company to the Russian mafia.
  • Magnitsky was never a lawyer, but rather an accountant.
  • Magnitsky had worked for Browder since the 1990s.
  • Magnitsky met with the Russian mafia to transfer the ownership.
  • Browder used this period of unclear ownership to launder over $200 million.
  • The mafiosi in question then died mysteriously. Along with several other mafiosi.
  • The lead cop bought his house before property values went up.
  • The lead cop sold his house to fund a defamation lawsuit against Browder.
  • A woman who worked for Browder reported the crime.
  • Browder and HSBC called the report false.
  • Magnitsky went to jail and was asked to testify.
  • No record exists of Magnitsky reporting any crime.
  • Magnitsky had diabetes and died of neglect.
  • Magnitsky’s mother believes the prison was negligent, but did not intentionally kill her son.
  • Browder is using the Magnitsky story to avoid an Interpol warrant for tax fraud in Russia.
  • Browder’s sworn testimony in the US contradicted his company’s statements in Russia.
  • Browder’s sworn testimony relies on him not remembering details he wrote a best-selling book about.
  • Every official Western report concerning this case relies solely on Bill Browder and his sources.
Comment: Bill Browder is the man named by Vladimir Putin in his press conference with Donald Trump last week in Helsinki. Putin let it be known that $400,000 of the millions Browder’s Hermitage Capital defrauded from the Russian state went to Hillary Clinton’s campaign fund. So yes, ‘Russian funny money’ played a role in the 2016 US presidential election, but it’s not what you’ve been told by the media.

In addition to being the key witness that got ‘anti-Russia sanctions’ rolling in 2012 (i.e., BEFORE things went down in Ukraine and Russia ‘annexed’ Crimea), Browder also popped up in the Russiagate hearings to effectively testify against Don Trump Jr over that meeting involving a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in mid-2016.

Browder’s shady business history in Russia and his newfound role as a ‘human rights campaigner’ are explored in the must-read book by Alex Krainer, Grand Deception: the Truth About Bill Browder, the Magnitsky Act, and Anti-Russia Sanctions, a book banned by Amazon and now available in hard copy from Red Pill Press.

Sott.net Radio interviewed author Alex Krainer late last year about his research into Bill Browder and his ‘friends in high places’…

Trump threatens Iran with a catastrophic war – By KEITH JONES (WSWS)

FB_IMG_1514499194040.jpg

24 July 2018

US President Donald Trump issued a bloodcurdling threat of all-out war against Iran late Sunday night.

Using language akin to that he previously employed in threatening North Korea, a state of 25 million people, with annihilation, the US commander-in-chief tweeted that Iran would “SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED, if it “EVER” dared to “THREATEN” Washington “AGAIN.”

Trump’s all in-caps tweet was no idle bluster. His administration is pursuing a provocative and reckless drive for regime change in Iran that threatens to ignite a catastrophic war that would set the entire Middle East ablaze, and potentially trigger a head-on clash between the US and other great powers.

In May, Washington blew up the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and relaunched full-scale economic warfare against Iran—an illegal act tantamount to war. Next month sanctions will “snap back” on Iran’s auto sector and trade in gold and other metals. In November, sanctions targeting Iran’s energy, shipping and insurance sectors and the transactions of its central bank are to take effect.

Washington has vowed to reduce Iran’s oil exports, which provide the bulk of the state budget, to near zero. To date it has refused to provide sanction waivers to its ostensible allies in Europe and Asia and instead demonstratively threatened them with exclusion from the US market and financial system if they do not comply with the unilateral American embargo on Iran.

The Pentagon is already engaged in fighting with Iranian forces. US troops in Syria, deployed in the name of fighting ISIS, have repeatedly targeted Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and Washington is providing vital logistical and tactical support for the Saudi monarchy’s savage war in Yemen against the Iranian-supported Houthi.

Yesterday, John Bolton, Trump’s national security advisor and a longstanding proponent of a US attack on Iran, gleefully reiterated Trump’s threat, saying the president had told him, “if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before.”

Trump cast his ominous Sunday tweet as a response to a warning from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that if the US persisted in seeking to destroy Iran’s economy and impose a pro-US government in Tehran, it risked unleashing “the mother of all wars.”

Earlier this month, Rouhani—unnerved by his failure to win a commitment from the European powers that they would not bow to US pressure and renege on their obligations under the Iran nuclear accord—said that were Iran denied the right to export its oil it might close the Strait of Hormuz.

Within hours, the Pentagon issued a statement vowing to ensure “freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce” through the strait, which is the conduit for one-fifth of all world oil exports.

Trump’s claims that Iran threatens the US are preposterous.

It is American imperialism that for a quarter-century served as the bulwark of the tyrannical dictatorship of the Shah and that, with the aim of once again reducing Iran to a neo-colony, has waged a four-decade-long campaign of sanctions, bullying, and war threats against the Islamic Republic, the bourgeois nationalist regime that misappropriated the popular revolution that overthrew the Shah.

It is Washington that illegally invaded Iran’s north-eastern neighbor, Afghanistan, in 2001 and its western neighbor, Iraq, in 2003, in what top Bush administration officials, including Bolton and Vice President Dick Cheney, publicly boasted was a prelude to regime change in Tehran.

It is the US that, in pursuit of untrammeled dominance of the world’s principal oil-exporting region, has waged a succession of ruinous wars since 1991 in the Mideast and North Africa that have razed whole societies, leaving millions dead, injured and displaced.

It is the US that between 2011 and 2015 spearheaded the imposition of sanctions that halved Iran’s oil exports and crippled its economy. It did so while repeatedly threatening Iran with war if it did not submit to Washington’s demands that it dismantle its civilian nuclear program, and while continuing to arm Israel, Saudi Arabia and other regional client states with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of high-tech weaponry.

And it is the Trump administration that has repudiated the Iran nuclear accord and is now waging all-out economic war on Iran, although the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly found Tehran in full compliance with the 2015 agreement.

Yesterday various Democrats and retired Pentagon and CIA officials criticized Trump’s bellicose tweet. Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer said Trump was trying to distract attention from his “essentially un-American” performance at his July 16 summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. “He’s weak on Putin, and he wants to prove he’s tough on Rouhani,” Hoyer told the Washington Post.

The Democrats share the objective of Trump’s “America First” policy—the assertion of US global hegemony—and they, no less than the Republicans, have been complicit in the drive, since 1991, to use the residual military power of the US to compensate for the vast erosion of its relative economic power and global position.

But there are deep and explosive tactical differences over how to pursue this strategy. This is exemplified by the frenzied campaign of the Democrats, mounted in close concert with the CIA and broad sections of the military-security apparatus, targeting Trump for being “soft on,” if not an outright patsy of, Putin.

This faction of the American ruling elite is bitterly opposed to any let-up in the US military-strategic offensive against Russia, and views Trump’s focus on an immediate showdown with Iran as a distraction from the struggle against this more formidable strategic foe. It has been campaigning for the US to mount a massive military escalation in Syria, arguing that this would provide the US the opportunity to deal a body blow to Russia, while simultaneously augmenting strategic pressure on Iran.

Trump, on the other hand, calculates that a temporary accommodation with Russia could serve US interests. First and foremost, by forestalling the further strategic alignment of Russia and China, but also by smoothing the way for the US war-drive against Iran.

One of Trump’s objectives in Helsinki was to pressure Putin to press for the elimination, or at least drastic curtailment, of Iranian influence in Syria as part of any “peace settlement.” Russia, it should be noted, has in recent months effectively given the Israelis and Americans a free hand to attack Iranian forces in Syria.

Trump’s eagerness to provoke a confrontation with Iran is bound up with his calculation that China must be confronted sooner rather than later. The re-subjugation of Iran would give the US a stranglehold over the oil resources of the Middle East, which are vital to sustaining China’s economy, as well as eliminate an important link in China’s One Belt, One Road strategy to deepen the integration of Eurasia.

Whatever the outcome of this conflict over how best to pursue US imperialism’s predatory aims, Washington is moving inexorably down the path to a volcanic explosion of violence that threatens the people of the Middle East and the world with catastrophe.

As for the European imperialist powers, they resent Trump’s policies only because these threaten their own interests, including their plans to capture Iran’s markets and oil resources. Thus Berlin, London and Paris have all responded to the further escalation of US imperialist violence in the wake of the 2008 world financial implosion by arming themselves to the teeth.

The resurgence of class struggle around the world, including in the US and the Middle East, underscores that the struggle against imperialist war must be founded on the independent political mobilization of the international working class and the fight for socialism.

Keith Jones

90% OF DER’AH LIBERATED; HUNDREDS OF FOREIGN SPEC OPS OFFICERS SMUGGLED TO JORDAN; ZIONIST ATTACK ON MISYAF BASE FLOPS – By ZiadFadel

The Syrian flag is hoisted over the town of Naseeb as the Syrian government opens up the Naseeb Crossing for business.

The MSM is eating crow.  The New York Times, now having promoted a war of terrorism on the Syrian people, must taste the humble pie all losers eventually sit down to devour.  Grudgingly, the WP and the WSJ have predicted the downfall of the terrorist campaign which they enthusiastically championed with orotund analyses, reports and editorials for the last seven years only to find themselves in a swamp of lies, half-truths and propaganda.  Without any doubt, this is the lowest point to which the Western Media has reached.

The Der’ah campaign is almost over.  The Syrian Army and its allies have liberated almost 90% of the province with only some pockets of terrorism left in barren, rugged, cave-pocked areas far away from population centers.  Agreements to evacuate whole towns were reached on July 11, 2018 liberating Der’ah Al-Balad.  On July 12, 2018, the flag of the republic was raised over the city.  Other areas once infested with these foreign-supported cockroaches like Dam Road, the Naaziheen Camp, Sijna, Al-Manshiyya Quarter, Gharz and the Silos Area were all liberated with backround cheers of the citizens – embracing our soldiers and showering them with flowers and rose petal water.

Al-Muzayreeb in northwest Der’ah Province was liberated along with Inkhil and Kafr Shams Town.  Now, a new agreement to depart Nawaa has been reached thanks to Russia which spared the people of that town untold hardship.  Just yesterday, the last of 20 buses carrying vermin who did not accept the Syrian Army’s terms departed for Idlib where they will await certain death.

Of particular interest is the fact that the West has shown uncommon interest in the lives of local people – people like the terrorist group called the White Helmets.  If you really believe that the British and Americans colluded to convince the Zionist Apartheid State and the Jordanians to airlift the poor, helpless and vulnerable terrorists to safety in Jordan, you might also believe that eskimos cultivate mango trees in the Yukon.  The true reason, I am told by my sources, is that there were 2,200 special ops and intelligence officers who were trapped at the border with the White Helmets and who were under threat of being captured or killed by the Syrian Army.  Forgetting the wealth of embarrassment this would have caused the slimy Brits and their cheap Gulf allies, the MOC in Amman ordered their spooks flown out at any cost and, if possible, take out some White Helmets with them.

Instead, only 400 or less White Helmets were provided with seats on the Zionist helicopters.  Another 600 and their families remain trapped at the border where they will either be killed by ISIS nearby or by our troops.  The scene, I am told, was like the last day of the Vietnam evacuation in April of 1975 with people struggling to get on the helicopters.

Of the 2,200 foreign spies and the special ops rodents, 1100 were from Gulf States like Qatar, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.  They are now in Amman awaiting repatriation.

On the Golan, the SAA and the RuAF have been targeting ISIS at Tal Jammoo’ in the Yarmouk River basin.  ISIS rats know their fate if captured, and, by and large, they prefer martyrdom.  When the Syrian Army liberates Tal Jammoo’, you can be assured every ISIS vulture has been liquidated.  Tal Jammoo’ is a very important and strategic location providing advantageous surveillance capabilities for the SAA.  That is why the Zionist Settler State is giving ISIS unlimited assistance in persevering against a vast and focused onslaught.  Once this site is rodent-free, all the others in Qunaytra will fall like dominoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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