Israel Aiding Saudi Arabia In Developing Nuclear Weapons – by Whitney Webb – (MINT PRESS)

israel - saudi arabia
Wahhabis with Nukes?

Saudi interest in developing nuclear weapons dates back to the 1970s, when the kingdom learned of major steps taken by both Israel and India in the development of nuclear armaments.

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – The Israeli government has begun selling the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia information on how to develop nuclear weapons, according to a senior official at the Israeli military organization iHLS (Israel’s Homeland Security). Ami Dor-on, a senior nuclear commentator at the organization — which is partially funded by U.S. weapons-giant Raytheon – came forward because of his concern over the emerging nuclear arms race in the region. The cooperation between the two countries in helping the Saudis to develop a nuclear weapons program is just the latest sign of their warming relationship, with Israel recently calling the Saudi crown prince “a partner of Israel.”

Israel has been a nuclear power for decades, though its nuclear arsenal is undeclared and the country has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Estimates of its arsenal vary, with most suggesting that Israel possesses from 100 to 200 nuclear weapons. Israel was aided in the development of its nuclear program by Western powers, particularly France. Much of the Western “help” Israel received, however, was the result of covert thefts of nuclear material from countries such as the United States and Belgium.

While Dor-On, speaking to news outlet Arabi21, did not elaborate on the details of the information being exchanged, he stated that the sharing of this information was likely to be just the beginning of Israeli involvement in a future Saudi nuclear weapons program, which would likely see Israel “take the initiative to develop Saudi Arabia’s effort to acquire nuclear weapons” as a result of “the growing Saudi-Israeli relations.”

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have justified their acquisition of nuclear weapons by citing concerns about Iran’s nuclear capabilities. However, Iran — unlike Israel — has never developed any nuclear weapons and its capacity to develop one is virtually nil under the conditions set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA). Though the U.S. recently left the deal, Iran has since announced that it would continue to abide by the agreement if the other signatories also agreed to do so.

Dor-On additionally expressed his concern over the Saudis’ acquiring of nuclear weapons and a wider nuclear arms race in the region, stating that “this information should shock us as we see the world is changing for the worse, following the race for the possession of nuclear weapons that pass right over our heads in the Middle East.”

He also noted that Israel’s decision to begin sharing nuclear secrets with Saudi Arabia was motivated by a similar offer recently made by Pakistan to the Saudis — in which Islamabad had announced its ability to transfer nuclear-weapons expertise to the Gulf kingdom “within a month” — stating that the Israeli government did not want to “leave it [the development of a Saudi nuclear program] solely to Pakistan.” Pakistan’s offer was likely related to the fact that the Saudis have long been widely viewed as the chief financier behind Pakistan’s nuclear program.

 

Saudi nuclear weapons progress and status not clear

While the announcement that the Saudis may soon develop nuclear weapons with the help of Israel and other regional players will likely cause concern throughout the international community, it is hardly the first indication of Saudi ambition to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, Saudi interest in developing nuclear weapons dates back to the 1970s, when the kingdom learned of major steps taken by both Israel and India in the development of nuclear armaments.

Not long after financing the Pakistani program, the Saudis procured a Chinese ballistic missile system capable of carrying nuclear warheads — warheads that Pakistan had made for the Saudis in 2013 and were awaiting delivery, according to a BBC report published at the time. Three years later in 2016, former CIA Operations Officer Duane Clarridge confirmed this to FOX News — stating that, through their financing of the Pakistani nuclear program, the Saudis had access to several nuclear bombs. Clarridge declined to comment on whether those nuclear weapons that had been “sitting ready for delivery” in Pakistan a few years prior had since been delivered to Saudi Arabia.

Watch | Former CIA Officer Duane Clarridge Tell FOX News that the Saudis had several nuclear weapons back in 2016:

More recently, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman publicly announced this March, during an interview with CBS News, that the country would seek to develop nuclear weapons, were Iran to do so. In that interview, the Crown Prince stated that “Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb; but, without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.” However, he did not make reference to the claim that the Saudis had already acquired access to such weapons years prior.

Furthermore, around the same time as the Crown Prince’s interview, reports surfaced claiming that the Saudis had asked the United States for permission to enrich uranium with the goal of producing a nuclear weapon.

 

Would Saudi nukes find their way into the hands of terrorists? A very real concern

The possibility that the Saudis already have access to nuclear weapons, and hope to soon develop them domestically, has been met with concern by analysts, particularly given the kingdom’s documented history of funneling weapons to terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, Daesh (ISIS), and Jaish al-Islam, among others. Were the Saudis to domestically produce their own nuclear weapons, it is very much a possibility that the kingdom would include them in its future weapon shipments to the radical Wahhabist groups they actively support.

Another area of concern is the kingdom’s disrespect for civilian life and tendency to wage total war when embroiled in a military conflict. For instance, in Yemen, where the Saudis have been attempting to oust the Houthis from power since 2015, the Saudi-led coalition has repeatedly bombed civilian infrastructure and imposed a blockade of the country that has prevented food, medicine and fuel from reaching the majority of Yemen’s population of around 28 million. As a result, 18.5 million Yemenis are expected to face starvation by this December and a “preventable” cholera epidemic of historic proportions continues to claim innocent life.

The Saudis’ willingness to inflict such misery on a civilian population as part of a military conflict is yet another indication of the danger inherent in their acquiring the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons.

Top Photo | Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman

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

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Dangers of Sodium Metabisulfite – By ROBIN WASSERMAN (LIVESTRONG.COM)

 

by  ROBIN WASSERMAN

Dangers of Sodium Metabisulfite

 
 
 

You’ve probably encountered many products containing sodium metabisulfite without even realizing it. Sodium metabisulfite preserves food and is used extensively in commercial wine making. It is a bleaching agent in the textile, pulp and paper industries. It is also used in the chemical, pharmaceutical, film and photographic industries, and even in water and sewage treatment plants. However, pure sodium metabisulfite can be quite hazardous.

Video of the Day

 
 

Inhalation

Sodium metabisulfite may cause respiratory problems.

 
 

Inhalation of sodium metabisulfite irritates your respiratory tract. Symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath. In some individuals, sodium metabisulfite may cause an allergic, asthma-type reaction.

Ingestion

Sodium metabisulfite can cause gastrointestinal problems.

 
 

Ingesting pure sodium metabisulfite irritates your gastrointestinal system as it reacts with acid in your stomach by releasing sulfurous acid. Ingesting high amounts may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, circulatory disturbance and central nervous system depression. A fatal dose is estimate to be 10 g for the average adult.

Skin Contact

Sodium metabisulfite can cause skin irritation

 
 

When placed in direct contact, pure sodium metabisulfite can irritate skin causing redness, itching and pain.

Eye Contact

Sodium metabisulfite can irritate eyes.

 
 

Similar to skin irritation, direct contact of sodium metabisulfite with your eyes can cause irritation, pain, stinging, tearing, redness, swelling, corneal damage and blindness. These effects may be irreversible.

Allergic Reactions

Sodium metabisulfite can cause allergic reactions.

 
 

Sodium metabisulfite causes extreme allergic reactions in certain sulfite-sensitive individuals, resulting in broncho constriction, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, gastrointestinal disturbances, rapid swelling of the skin, flushing, tingling sensations and shock.

Study finds alarming decline in biodiversity worldwide By Philip Guelpa – (WSWS)

A recently released United Nations-supported study presents a grim picture of the accelerating decline in biodiversity (the variety of plant and animal species) across the globe and its dire implications for the not-too-distant future of life on Earth, including humans.

Flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina due to uncontrolled development in wetlands

The study, composed of multiple reports by over 550 researchers, was conducted by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). It contends that the increasingly rapid loss of plant and animal species due to habitat degradation, invasive species, and pollution is happening in tandem with climate change. Together, these processes, if not halted, will soon have catastrophic environmental consequences, amounting to a sixth mass global extinction, which will threaten the very survival of humanity.

Biological ecosystems are a complex, dialectical interaction of plant, animal, and microbial life forms with each other and their physical environment, evolving over millennia. These systems are not static. They change over time due to the dynamic of unity and conflict of opposites of their myriad biological and physical constituents. In general, the greater the species diversity (number of different species) within an ecosystem, the more stable it is, barring external perturbations (e.g., the impact that caused the mass extinction, including dinosaurs, about 66 million years ago) and the more slowly change takes place.

By contrast, the lower the species diversity, the greater is the tendency toward instability and the more vulnerable an ecosystem is to catastrophic collapse. High diversity will generally buffer the degree to which changes in any particular constituent of the system will affect the system as a whole. The role of one species, known as its ecological niche, may gradually be filled by one or more other species, leading to gradual change.

With lower diversity, however, ecosystems tend to be more fragile. The loss of any one species will likely have a much greater impact on the system as a whole, creating instability and possible catastrophic collapse. It is less likely that another species will evolve or adapt with sufficient rapidity to fill the “gap” in the system, potentially resulting in a cascading series of disruptions. If the trends documented in the IPBES reports continue, the world’s biological systems are likely to go into this kind of severe crisis within the next few decades.

Humans have had a significant impact on natural ecosystems, especially since the Industrial Revolution. However, in no way are we “decoupled” from the natural environment. Such systems remain a vital part of our survival—affecting weather and climate, food resources, potable water and breathable air.

The authors of the IPBES study provide a range of examples to illustrate both the variety and rapidity of species loss and environmental degradation, which are occurring across the globe.

Among the direct and substantial impacts of species decline and extinction, the study found that exploitable fisheries in the Asia-Pacific region are on track to be exhausted by 2048. This will result in severe economic losses as well as dietary privation for millions.

Habitat destruction by forest clearing in Mexico

In Africa, where more than 60 percent of the human population depends directly on natural resources, the study projects that half of some bird and mammal species could be lost by 2100. Of the continent’s historically recorded species, more than 20 percent are threatened, endangered, or already extinct. The recent effective extinction of the northern white rhinoceros, which received much media attention, is just one iconic example.

In Europe, 42 percent of land species have suffered notable declines during the past decade alone. Half of existing wetlands have been lost since 1970.

The destruction of wetlands and their associated plant and animal communities around the world, both inland and along coastlines, results in accelerated erosion, pollution, and loss of protection against flooding, as seen, for example, during last year’s Atlantic hurricane season.

Over the last 500 years, since Europeans began colonizing the Americas, 30 percent of the hemisphere’s biodiversity has been lost. The study projects that over the next decade, if present trends continue, that figure will rise to 40 percent, indicating its rapid acceleration. Nearly one quarter of the existing species that were studied are threatened.

Trees are key to the production of atmospheric oxygen, essential for the survival of humans and other animals. However, since 1990, over 130 million hectares of rainforest have been lost. In northeastern Brazil, part of the Amazon rainforest, which is often referred to as the “Lungs of the Earth,” between 2003 and 2013 alone, the area under cultivation more than doubled to 2.5 million hectares.

The reports’ authors highlight the combined effects of direct human-caused landscape modification and of climate change on the decline in biodiversity. By 2050, climate change may equal or surpass landscape modification as the primary cause of species decline. In either case, the planet is well on its way to becoming a biological wasteland. These findings are not new, only confirming and re-emphasizing the critical urgency of the situation. Previous studies have painted a similar picture (see: “Scientists warn of ‘biological annihilation’ as Earth’s mass extinction accelerates”).

While the IPBES study documents the growing danger posed by the rapid and accelerating global decline in biodiversity, it presents only general notions as to what might be done to halt the process and avert catastrophe, without any mechanisms for implementation aside from the good will of business and political leaders. As with other such studies, the researchers can only lament the complete inadequacy of response to their dire warnings so far. Robert Watson, the chair of the IPBES, stated, “The time for action was yesterday or the day before. Governments recognize we have a problem. Now we need action, but unfortunately the action we have now is not at the level we need.”

Mass extinctions have happened five times previously during the existence of life on earth (see:  “The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert”). In each of those instances the causes were natural. The currently developing sixth mass extinction differs in that it is directly related to human activity. However, contrary to statements in the report and in numerous other pronouncements in the media and elsewhere, the cause is not human moral failure, overpopulation, or the need to eat less red meat.

The poor farmer in Brazil who is forced to clear more land in order to eke out an existence, the factory worker in China or the US whose plant spews out toxic chemicals, etc., are not responsible for the resulting environmental degradation.

The responsibility lies with the anarchic and profit-driven capitalist system that disdainfully ignores the consequences of its actions and prevents the development and implementation of rational, scientifically based solutions to the problems of climate change and environmental degradation. As the world capitalist crisis deepens and inter-imperialist rivalries intensify, environmental concerns will increasingly be swept aside, as is already the case under the Trump administration in the US.

If, on the other hand, the vast resources now horded by the world’s elites or squandered in wars were instead used to eradicate poverty, end pollution, develop and expand clean energy, and generally organize society for the benefit of the many rather than the few, the developing crisis could be halted and reversed. That can only happen under the democratic control of the working class implementing the socialist reorganization of society.

The author also recommends:

Climate change and the struggle against capitalism
[14 July 2017]

 

The author also recommends:

Climate change and the struggle against capitalism
[14 July 2017]

Trump lacks ‘mental capacities,’ Iran says after US pulls out of nuclear deal – By RT

Trump lacks ‘mental capacities,’ Iran says after US pulls out of nuclear deal
The speaker of Iran’s parliament has offered a particularly scathing review of US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, saying Trump does not have the “mental capacity” for his job.

Trump announced that he was withdrawing the United States from the landmark deal on Tuesday, sparking an avalanche of criticism from both sides of the political divide in America and also upsetting the international community, including US allies and Russia.

The speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Larijani, took a particularly dim view of the decision telling the Iranian assembly that: “Trump does not have the mental capacity to deal with issues.”

“Trump’s abandoning of the nuclear deal was a diplomatic show… Iran has no obligation to honor its commitments under the current situation,” Larijani said. “It is obvious that Trump only understands the language of force.”

Members of parliament also chanted “Death to America,” and burned a US flag and a symbolic copy of the nuclear pact, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Reuters reports.

President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would remain committed to the deal despite Washington’s decision to withdraw from it. “If we achieve the deal’s goals in cooperation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place… By exiting the deal, America has officially undermined its commitment to an international treaty,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

Rouhani added that he has ordered the foreign ministry to negotiate with European countries, China, and Russia in coming weeks. “If at the end of this short period we conclude that we can fully benefit from the JCPOA with the cooperation of all countries, the deal would remain,” he said.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Trump’s announcement was “silly and superficial.” He went on: “He had maybe more than 10 lies in his comments. Mr. Trump, I tell you, on behalf of the Iranian people: You’ve made a mistake.”

Reaction at home and abroad

The 2015 agreement lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program. Trump’s decision to back out of it has been met with a chorus of disapproval at home and abroad.

The Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, Dick Durbin, labelled it “a mistake of historic proportions” which “isolates the United States from the world.” Several GOP lawmakers also questioned Trump’s decision. “I just don’t think that it’s a wise move,” Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake told CNN, adding that it makes the US less reliable in the eyes of both its partners and adversaries.

A host of international powers also condemned the decision and vowed to protect the deal. Russia’s acting foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said that Russia remains committed to the pact, while France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, insisted the deal was not dead.

“The deal is not dead. There’s an American withdrawal from the deal but the deal is still there,” he said. “The region deserves better than further destabilization provoked by American withdrawal. So we want to adhere to it and see to it that Iran does too, that Iran behaves with restraint.”

On Wednesday, China said it regrets the decision because it raises the risk of conflict in the Middle East. The Asian power said it will safeguard the deal and called on all relevant parties to assume a responsible attitude. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States will be the loser from President Trump’s decision.

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SAUDI SNAFU IN LEBANON; MORE RODENTS LEAVE TOWNS FOR LALA LAND – By ZIAD FADEL

DAMASCUS-BAYT SAHM:

“RIDE GREYHOUND AND LEAVE THE DRIVING TO US”.  That’s right folks.  Buses clad in a variety of colors, 40 to be exact, have left Bayt Sahm in the East Ghouta to take remnant rodents to either Jaraablus on the Turk border or to Idlib where they can disport with fellow vermin of every ethnicity and culture.  Like backpacking college students of the 70’s, they can now engage in cultural exchanges with Chechens, Uighers, Uzbekis, Albanians, Eskimos and Trobriand warriors.  With their caterwauling brats screeching their lungs out like the nocturnal cats of Beirut, they shall wend their way into a new world of malignancy – where homosexuals are routinely put to death because of they way they were born; where non-rodents can be swindled and shook down for the dishonest tax that’s meant to protect them; where women are handed from one rat to another in a solemn ritual of brotherliness and sexual socialism.  It’s all coming to Idlib and Jaraablus.  And so is the Syrian Army.

____________________________________________

HOMS: 

Al-Rastan:  The birthplace of legendary Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Mustafaa Talaas, has become the new focal point of humiliation for Ahraar Al-Shaam, inter alia, with the turnover of all heavy weapons and the departure of their thieves on government- supplied buses.  Included in the handover were 6 T-62 tanks, 3 BMB armored vehicles, 2 Shilkas, a huge number of mortars and cannons.  Al-Rastan, which is, frankly, like Jisr Al-Shughoor, a hotbed of ignorance and minoritarian bigotry, is going back to being what it has always been historically:  the city you least like to visit in Syria.  Why Al-Rastan is as welcoming as Gary, Indiana, Newark, New Jersey, Flint, Michigan or even Tizi-ouzo, Algeria.  An invitation to Al-Rastan should be treated with the same zeal as one to spend an afternoon under the boardwalk in Coney Island, Brooklyn, the rats fighting for first dibs on your buttocks.

__________________________________________

LEBANON:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wearing his iconic Italian restaurant tablecloth, MBS beams for the camera while singing:  “I’m the one who broke the bank at Monte Carlo.”………He’s not smiling today.

You all read my last exclusive post which revealed 2 “top secret” memos indicating a strong Saudi preference for Sa’ad Al-Hareeri, the stillborn, oaf son of the late gazillionaire and atomized prime minister of Lebanon whose assassination sparked a fitful withdrawal of Syrian Deterrent Forces from the country.  The memos made very clear the generous support Saudi Arabia was going to unload on Hareeri to strengthen his hand in the Lebanese Parliament.  And just as you might think, whenever the Saudis apply their Lilliputian brains to anything, it was going to be a devastating fiasco!

Yeah, sure.  I know.  Geagea did okay,  In fact, better than ever with his rabid Lebanese Forces candidates.  It’s true.  But, it just ain’t enough to get him over any hump in Leb politics.  I’m afraid that Geagea will always be the proverbial “also-ran”.

Hizbollah’s victory is all the more sweet because the Saudis are gnashing their teeth over how they managed to lose their grip on Lebanon.  Financially, they were top dog.  Now, with MBS’s realignment with the Zionist Settler State, Lebanon correctly saw the twilight of Saudi involvement coming, strengthened all the more by MBS’s curious vilification of Palestinians for not returning to the nauseating, episodic dead-end of peace negotiations under the aegis of the perversely pro-Zionist United States.  What other nincompoop but Trump would send 3 rapacious, Ashkenazi Zionist zealots to strike a deal with the Palestinians over land the negotiators believe was given to Jews by some imaginary deity?

Hizbollah and its allies now have a full majority in the Parliament.  With 128 seats available, HZB and its allies control 67, giving them a “veto” vote over any legislation deemed unacceptable.  Even, dedicated, pro-Assad politicians like Jameel Al-Sayyid won a seat.  Al-Sayyid won his seat despite a 4-year stint in prison on orders from German democracy-loving judge, Detlev Mehlis, who didn’t mind having 4 Lebanese generals wallow for 48 months without charges.  They were released eventually and never indicted for anything.  German justice.

Syria, despite the tumult of a 7-year insurgency, still managed to win on this front, also, handing Saudi chimpanzees a stinging defeat at every level, on every front and in all political dimensions.  The biggest winner,is, of course, Iran.

 

 

 

 

 

Putin prioritizes economic breakthrough, quality of life in swearing-in speech – By RT

Putin prioritizes economic breakthrough, quality of life in swearing-in speech
After being sworn in as president for the fourth time, Vladimir Putin told Russian citizens that he saw a major economic breakthrough to prosperity as the main goal, adding that only a truly free society is capable of such step.

Putin thanked the Russian people for their support and said that he felt a tremendous responsibility for every citizen and the country as a whole. He also thanked voters for their record level of support at the March 18 presidential elections.

The president said that he considered it “his duty and the meaning of his whole life” to do everything for Russia, for its peaceful and prosperous future, for the preservation of the Russian people and for happiness of every family.

To achieve these goals Russia needs to be modern and dynamic, to quickly respond to all challenges, in order to strengthen its positions in the global economy, Putin noted. He said that the objectives would be set in the near future and the solutions that would lead to meeting those objectives will become historical milestones that would determine the fate of the nation for decades to come.

Putin emphasized that he was deeply convinced that only a truly free society was capable of such achievements, as such a society can easily incorporate everything new and progressive and rejects all that is unjust, inert and weighed down with unnecessary bureaucratic procedures.

It is the harmonious unity of a free citizen, a responsible civil society and a powerful and responsible democratic state in which I see the solid foundation for Russia’s future development,” the president said.

He also noted that Russian citizens had realized that, while their country is changing together with the modern world, it should not forget its own roots, history and the multi-ethnic culture.

Putin stated that Russia had become an active, powerful and influential player in international politics and that the country’s security and defense potential was as strong as ever. He promised that he and other senior officials would pay primary attention to these issues in the coming years. He also said that Russia would support equal dialogue with foreign nations, promote mutually beneficial joint projects and deepen the ties with the interested countries in the business, humanitarian, cultural and scientific spheres.

Our main goal that Russia, the country of opportunities for its people, allows for self-realization of every person” Putin said, adding that he personally saw a deep connection between the major nationwide objectives and the tasks that ordinary people set before themselves on a daily basis.

We need to expand the freedom space for the entrepreneurs and scientists, for people of creative professions and active citizens, for all who strive for a renewal. I see this as a guarantee of a succession of our political course and stable development of Russia,” he said.

Putin concluded his speech by expressing his confidence that Russia and its people would succeed in a new breakthrough, like has already happened throughout history, noting that a good team could solve the most difficult of all tasks.

We will definitely succeed! I believe that it will be so. I will do everything that is in my power for this,” he said.

Military and non-military escalation into nuclear war. – by R.Lesnoix for The Saker blog

wp-1517041909713..jpg

by R.Lesnoix for The Saker blog

Recent events have put the prospect of nuclear war back into the limelight. We believed we had left this behind when the cold war ended. We were wrong. Not only is it back, it is back with a vengeance. We now face the real possibility of non-military confrontations escalating into all-out nuclear war. This worries me as it seems that the thresholds for these are both lower and more obfuscated. What’s worse is that at least some of the people who may trigger this appear to be both ignorant of these risks and have a less than desirable level of competence.

Nuclear war was typically associated with one of two scenario’s: either a gradual escalation of conventional warfare into (total) nuclear war or an all-out first strike. A first strike could be launched in the hope (or expectation) of destroying enough of the enemies nuclear firepower to make the counterstrike ‘survivable’ or it could be launched to preempt such a first strike by the enemy. If a side feels that it’s own counterstrike capabilities are vulnerable to a first strike, the chance of them launching a preemptive strike go up considerably should they feel threatened.

Still, the second scenario typically also involves an initial conventional military engagement. This would likely be a relatively small scale confrontation. Instead of the gradual escalation of the first scenario in this case one side skips the intermediate steps and goes straight for the jugular. This can be either the side who considers themselves strong enough to get away with a first strike or the side that feels it’s weaker and needs to use-it-or-lose-it.

The risk of the opponent opting for a first strike scenario is why sane people avoid any military confrontation between nuclear powers, especially between nuclear superpowers. Those with even a modest amount of military expertise or insight realize how easily even a small confrontation can get out of hand. During the Cuba-crisis in the 60’s a US warship dropped depth charges to force a Soviet submarine that was stalking the task-force to the surface, not to actually sink it. The Soviet crew thought otherwise. The commander and the XO wanted to fire their nuclear torpedo’s in response to what they felt was a genuine attack. The political officer wasn’t so sure and refused to consent to a launch. All three had to agree before the weapons could be fired. The world was spared nuclear war by what amounts to a ‘minority report’.

Did something similar happen a few weeks ago? Were there dissenting voices within the US government that managed to ‘de-escalate’ the confrontation into a mutually face-saving ‘non-event’? Maybe we’ll find out some day what exactly happened, maybe we won’t. Some give credit to Mattis and Dunford for being the ‘sane’ ones. If they did intervene I’m not so sure ‘sane’ is the right description for their motivation in doing so. See, you don’t get to their level in the US military without being a ‘political’ general with all the baggage that comes with it.

As you know the level of corruption in the DoD is quite large. But what does that really mean? Most think of current and former generals consulting in some way for big business and steering procurements but not much else. The implications of the corruption go much further. If most or all of the the top echelons are corrupt and expect to continue this as private consultants once they leave the military they’ll need to have successors who will let them. While still on active duty they need to make sure their colleagues and subordinates won’t rat them out either. So it is in their interest to ensure promotions of the corrupt(able) and stall the careers of the more conscientious. The same applies at lower levels of the hierarchy. It’s unavoidable. The armed forces are therefor filled with officers who owe their careers not to their military competencies but to either their corruptibility or to being too stupid to notice.

It goes further. When corruption is so incorporated into an organization it becomes dysfunctional. Which means it still functions, just not how it is supposed to. It will malfunction unexpectedly and unpredictably. And often. It will regularly fail to meet even minimum standards of performance. Severe underperformance will be standard. Trying to ascertain the cause of specific failures will be illusive and ‘fuzzy’. Fixes don’t work and no-one tends to be held accountable. This also applies to the corporations on the other side of the corruption. Their organizations are likely to be dysfunctional too in varying degrees. If you doubt it, how about the development issues of these: the F35, the Zumwalt, the LCS, the FCS, the Ford, etc.? They are not surprising if you understand the deeper effects of widespread systemic corruption on organizations.

Mattis an Dunford made their careers during this period of endemic corruption. What does that tell you about them? At the very least they had to know and look away. The difference between them and many of their colleagues looks to be that they do have enough military competence to see what’s going on and what it means for the ability of the US armed forces to wage war. I believe that they know all too well how the decades of ever growing corruption have turned the US military into a force incapable of confronting a (near) peer without unacceptable, even catastrophic, losses. So even if they would win, it would be a Pyrrhic victory.

So if Mattis and Dunford did intervene, don’t ascribe them the virtues of saints just yet. It’s more likely they wanted a scenario they could sell as a success without publicly exposing just how overrated the US armed force are. In a way they are tightrope walkers. They must ‘sell’ US supremacy to the rest of the world on the one hand and on the other hand they need to contain those in their own government (and behind the screens) who actually believe the propaganda and require from the military things they can’t deliver. The Pentagon can’t exactly go around telling all of those in the margins of power what the true state of affairs is. So they juggle and scheme to keep up appearances. Their job is to maintain the perceptions (and not risk their exposure) that allow the Empire to continue to cow and subdue around the world.

They also need to keep the ‘small’ wars going off course. Those are what justifies the Pentagons insane budgets. Because the higher this budget the more money is available for graft and other sorts of corruption. The US DoD has become in large part a financial scam to transfer public funds (tax dollars) into private pockets. These private pockets include current and former military officers, politicians, lobbyists and of course corporate America. A real war with an opponent that can actually fight back and inflict losses too serious to hide might ruin this very profitable scam. Lots of people in influential positions don’t want this to end. People like Mattis and Dunford make sure it doesn’t.

The US DoD is now a front for embezzlements and fraud on a scale counted in trillions (over the decades). In this regard the ability to wage war is mostly relevant in as far as its perception allows for greater sums of tax-payer money to be transferred to the Pentagon. Real capability comes second. With all the funds that are being bled off there has to be a significant difference between stated capabilities and actual capabilities. The stated capabilities are based on the official budgets while the actual capabilities are based on a much smaller amount (due to corruption) and has to take the dysfunctionality of both the military and its suppliers/contractors into account. It’s the logical conclusion of accepting the notion that they are thoroughly corrupt and have been for decades.

So far they have only been fighting colonial wars against opponents with very limited military capabilities of their own. The discrepancy between perceived and actual US military power is not obvious from those wars (although you can tell some things are off if you look really close). The perceived ‘size’ of the ability to wage war justifies inflated operating costs. So more tax dollars that can be diverted into private pockets. From this perspective it doesn’t really matter if a warship is operational or not. It’s mere existence justifies more budget for upkeep. If it is kept fully operational that means less money spent on graft and corruption and more or maintenance, training and functional upgrades. That’s not how the scam works.

Again it’s tightrope walking for the top brass. They need to project power to cow and subdue abroad but they also need to find justifications for increased spending (not to be confused with budget for existing operating costs). Those two tasks clash. Are you all-powerful already or aren’t you? So they’ve been looking for enemies to scare the domestic audience with fanciful what-if’s into forking over more and more of their hard earned dollars. It worked well for a long time. But not now. Russia is a whole other kettle of fish. Russia pushes back in many ways including military. Which is why people like Mattis and Dunford say one thing domestically but do other things behind the screens like having their underlings coordinate with the Russians in Syria. I believe they have a vested interest in steering away from any (near) peer military confrontation. It risks the scam and their careers.

Don’t get me wrong, there are elements in the US armed forces that are quite good at what they do. Some weapon systems are impressive and among the best in the world. There are plenty of capable soldiers and officers (who are unlikely to advance past the rank of major and are typically found in the field, not in staff positions). And overall they are still quite powerful, possibly even number one although I personally doubt it. It’s just that they’re not nearly as strong as they want us to believe. Nor is it anywhere near the level that the huge sums spent on it would warrant. And while elements might perform well on their own, together they don’t.

So when I say overrated that is exactly what I mean, overrated. It does not equal non-existent or absent even though the term is all too often misinterpreted as such. US military power is much less than is commonly believed it is. In other words, it’s overrated. Maybe it’s me but I’m just not impressed. Sure, they have the numbers, but quality wise? I don’t think so. Add in the lack of proper training, deferred maintenance, effectively untested systems (‘tests’, if conducted at all, are highly scripted and performed under ideal conditions to get desired outcomes) and a continued reliance in peacetime on contractor representatives to keep critical systems running (especially in the Navy) and I can’t help but wonder how bad they really are.

It comes down to this, you cannot have it both ways. Either they are quite corrupt indeed which means they are also significantly overrated as a military force or they are as strong as they claim they are which means they can’t be as corrupt as commonly viewed. Which one do you pick?

The title of this piece talks about ‘escalation into nuclear war’. Let’s apply what I mentioned above to that. I tried to make clear in the first part that the risk of such an escalation due to purely military events, while very real, is also seriously overrated. The US military is a lot more vulnerable than commonly believed. This vulnerability will make it hard, if not impossible, for the Americans to keep a war against (near) peers conventional. Especially given their reliance on the Navy and Air Force for force projection and the current level of anti-ship and anti-air missiles (and EW) available to potential adversaries, catastrophic losses seem unavoidable for the Americans in a conventional peer-to-peer setting. Then what?

People like Mattis know this. They cannot afford a military conflict with a (near) peer because it is highly likely it would lead to a situation where they would either have to use nukes tactically or admit defeat. Defeat would not just mean losing the specific engagement or conflict, it would also jeopardize the scam and publicly expose the Empire as much weaker than perceived. Their ability to cow and subdue would suffer or even disappear. So they actively work to prevent such a scenario by avoiding (near) peer conflicts even if they need to work around the White House to do so. While it could still happen, there are plenty of idiots in Washington after all, I am more worried about the risks of non-military escalation into nuclear war, given those same idiots.

As I mentioned in the second and third paragraph, escalation into nuclear war is commonly associated with military confrontation. The public perception is that such an escalation only becomes an issue if there is some kind of military on military incident first. Unfortunately this perception is false. There are several non-military escalatory roads that can lead to that same destination. It starts with a misconception of what war is, or what acts of war are. These are not limited to military confrontations or acts by armed forces of one country.

Those of you familiar with this blog will know that you can make the case that the US and Russia are already at war. At the moment most of it is informational, a big chunk is economic and a small portion is ‘kinetic’. In addition to these categories you could also include covert operations (including assassinations and sabotage), cyber-warfare and diplomacy as non-military means through which war can be waged. All of these have the potential to escalate dramatically, even into nuclear war. Keep in mind though that these are unlikely to be used on their own but probably in some sort of combination with each other. This can create synergistic effects that may be hard to contain.

Let’s look closer at informational warfare. Words have power. Words can have enormous power. Words can also trap you. When the fake video’s out of Douma were published a tweet from the White House promised retribution. That made it very difficult for the Americans not to attack Syria. Not doing so would now look weak. And in American politics looking weak is a mortal sin. So even though they must have had at least serious doubts about the validity of the claims they went ahead. If they had said, “sorry our bad, we were fooled by the video’s” they would have looked only a little bit foolish. Now that it’s glaringly obvious that the chemical attack was faked they look much worse. And they have to stick to their story now. They can’t go back without major loss of face. They hope it will blow over without too much backlash. Worse, they may feel they need a bigger incident (Iran?) to cover this one.

Words can have unforeseen consequences. In the context of international relations it takes smart and calculating people to know what to say and what not to say and when to say it and when not to say it. It takes even smarter people to know when to take something back in order to prevent greater harm to oneself. Diplomacy is an art. There’s a very good reason why it has been so important throughout history. These days I see those smart and calculating people in Moscow. I don’t see them in Washington. One of the most important diplomatic posts in a country these days is that of permanent representative at the UN. If like me you thought it couldn’t get worse than Samantha Power, now we have Nikki Haley for the US. We’ll get back to her later.

Words can also twist peoples perception of reality, especially when repeated again and again. Take the blind fanaticism of the Hitler Jugend in the end phase of the second world war. They had grown up with the constant indoctrination and didn’t know anything else. They became zealots. An indoctrinated populace can be dangerous to yourself. They can force you into directions you never intended to go. This makes the constant accusations against Russia of interfering in and undermining of US democracy very dangerous. Be very, very wary if the Democrats come back to power in the near future. Just like Trump had to act on his Tweet about Douma, the Democrats will have to act on their vilification of Russia. Given how strained US-Russian relations already are that will come with considerable risk to all of us.

The most dangerous of the non-military means to wage war would in my opinion be cyber-warfare and economic warfare. Cyber-warfare is so dangerous because it is all to easy to attribute attacks to the wrong party. These can be false-flag attacks where the ‘victim’ attacks itself and uses these as justification for their own agenda. It can also be mistakenly attributed to the wrong party. Damaging cyberattacks by non-state actors for example could be blamed on Russia, Iran, China or North Korea. Any retaliation against them would in fact not be retaliatory but the opening salvo against an innocent party. They in turn would see it as an unprovoked attack on them and be justified to respond in kind. Enter a cycle of escalations. With cyber-attacks you could also deliberately try to shift the blame on someone else for exactly this reason. There are numerous ways how this could go very wrong unless handled delicately and wisely.

The biggest risk would have to come from economic warfare though. We rarely mention or even think of economic measures as a form of warfare but we should. If an economic measure by one or more governments leads directly or indirectly to the deaths of many people in another country, let’s say more than a million, would the suffering country be right as considering it an act of war? Off course they would. Well, the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq between 1991 and 2003 are thought to have caused around 1.5 million deaths. Iraq was off course to weak to do something about it. Well Russia isn’t. Do you seriously believe they would not retaliate if they where in Iraq’s shoes?

We also tend to make the mistake to think of these spheres as separate. In our minds economic sanctions don’t justify a military response or cyberattacks but why wouldn’t they? If sanctions threaten the lives of millions? A threat to the nation is a threat to the nation and you hit the enemy back where it hurts. If that means switching to different types of actions why not? When the US cut off Japans supply of oil from the East-Indies in 1941 that constituted an existential threat to the Japanese nation. Their economy and armed forces needed that oil or face ruin. It was a de-facto declaration of war against Japan. I’m pretty sure they felt it was. And that’s all that matters. You may disagree or it may not have been your intention but if the aggrieved party considers it to be an act of war and responds on that basis your disagreement is moot.

We wrongly tend to think of non-military measures against countries as relatively harmless. We certainly consider them to be far below any sort of direct military act on the ladder of escalatory steps. Just look at the history books on who started a given war. We blame the one who fired first, not the ones who cut the economic lifeblood of the other. See where that kind of thinking, that as long as you don’t ‘shoot’ it’s not really war, can get us in a lot of trouble? Type ‘economic genocide’ in your favorite search engine and see what you get. It’s a thing.

Unfortunately it’s not just all theory. Recently Nikki Haley had stated that new sanctions against Russia were to be announced the following Monday. Instead of announcing these new sanctions however the White House stated, through Larry Kudlow, that she had been ‘confused’ and ‘mistaken’. You may recall her public rebuttal that she was ‘not confused’. Talk about someone who can’t read between the lines and who can’t put her ego aside for the greater good. But she was probably right. New sanctions were most likely on the table. But then those plans were cancelled. Given Haley’s response this was likely something serious. So what happened? Why were the new sanctions scrapped?

Maybe it’s a coincidence but between Haley’s announcement and the White House backpedalling something interesting happened. The Russian foreign minister had an interview with the BBC. He said a lot things in that interview. One little quote has received less attention than it deserves:

Question: Do you feel you are in a new Cold War?

Sergey Lavrov: I think it’s worse.

Question: Worse?

Sergey Lavrov: Because during the Cold War there were channels of communication; and there was no obsession with Russophobia which looks like, you know, genocide by sanctions.

Genocide by sanctions. Words uttered by the Russian foreign minister. Someone who is not known for hyperbole or exaggeration. Someone who’s words matter. A lot.

Now let’s get back to Putins Presidential address of March 1st 2018 for another quote:

“I should note that our military doctrine says Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons solely in response to a nuclear attack, or an attack with other weapons of mass destruction against the country or its allies, or an act of aggression against us with the use of conventional weapons that threaten the very existence of the state. This all is very clear and specific.”

Putin mentions ‘an act of aggression against us with the use of conventional weapons that threaten the very existence of the state’. While not conducted with conventional weapons ‘genocide by sanctions’ would certainly qualify as an ‘act of aggression that threatens the very existence of the state’. That puts it awfully close to what the Russians themselves publicly state is a valid reason for responding with nuclear weapons. You could in fact make a case that economic sanctions are a form of ‘conventional weapons’.

It would go too far to state that Russia would likely respond with an nuclear first strike. It is likely though that they would respond with measures unacceptable to the US. These could be economic measures or something else entirely. What if the undersea cables that connect the US internet to the rest of the world would cease to function? Or what if the domestic energy network in the US would suddenly suffer major failures plunging large parts of the country in the dark? There are numerous non-military ways that they could use to try to ‘pull the plug’ on each other. Now if one were to get convinced the other is about to do just that who knows what action they might take? They might skip conventional military operations altogether.

Russia made it clear that they may use nuclear weapons first should the situation warrant it in their opinion. This year the US published its Nuclear Posture Review 2018. Like the Russians, they do not exclude first use. What’s also worrying is that their respective postures leave ambiguity over where they draw the line. This ambiguity may lead either side to seriously miscalculate the others likely response. Given the sort of people in Washington that would need to do the ‘calculating’ would you trust them to get the answer right? Please, let’s not get even close to that point.

The US main stream media is full of politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, accusing Russia of an ‘attack on the USA’ either because of alleged interference in the elections or unproven cyberattacks. While these are mainly for domestic consumption they also call for retaliatory measures such as more and more severe sanctions. Given the power of words and how hard it can be to take back earlier rhetoric that’s scary stuff. I can actually see the idiots in Washington talk themselves into a corner they can’t or won’t get out off and cross that line.

With regards to military escalation into nuclear war we have people like Mattis and Dunford to run interference no matter what their motivation is. When it comes to non-military acts of aggression against Russia (or China, Iran or North Korea) who do we have? Nikki Haley? John Bolton? Mike Pompeo? So yeah, I do worry a bit about getting into a nuclear war through non-military escalation.

R.Lesnoix is a concerned citizen who grew up during the Cold War under the constant fear of nuclear weapons. He is dismayed with the direction the western democracies are going in.

US Court Ignored Fact That 9/11 Terrorists Were Not Iranians – Lawyer – By SPUTNIK

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The US court has come up with a verdict, which says that Iran should pay vast compensation to relatives of the victims of 9/11 and that the country’s frozen assets in the US could be used to fulfill that court order. Sputnik discussed this with Iranian lawyer and head of the campaign “World Without Violence and Extremism,” Amir Hossein Nourbaksh.

Amir Hossein Nourbaksh believes that the latest decision of the New York court is not only unlawful, but also contradicts its jurisdiction. He explains that although terror attack happened on US soil, it falls into the category of international crimes and must be taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Moreover, the lawyer is confident that the court has violated Iran’s right to defense.

“They [US] were obliged to offer Iran an opportunity to present its interests as a defendant in court, which, in fact, never happened. Iran was not even notified about the upcoming litigation. This is one of the gravest violations of court practice,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘Propaganda Stunt’: US Judge Orders Iran to Pay $6 Billion to 9/11 Victims

Amir Hossein Nourbaksh further points out that the New York court had violated one of the basic principles of law — the presumption of innocence. The judge ignored the fact that none of the terrorists who committed the 9/11 attacks were of Iranian origin. The fact that Al-Qaeda* (which was behind the attacks) has threatened Iran on multiple occasions and taken a hostile stance towards it also slipped the eyes of the US court, Amir Hossein Nourbaksh added.

“The decision made by a federal judge about Iran being guilty was mostly for show, not for punishing those responsible. The decision was politically motivated and aimed at appropriating Iranian assets that have been illegally frozen in the US for several years,” he said.

The lawyer believes that if the US decides to “appropriate” Iranian assets, such a move can be viewed as theft of national assets. Thus it can and will be challenged by Iran in the ICC, he added. Amir Hossein Nourbaksh is confident that Tehran stands a good chance of winning the case.

READ MORE: US Court Obliges Iran to Pay Billions to Families of 9/11 Victims — Reports

The lawyer also recalled that several years ago, the Iran-US Claims Tribunal was established, which is entitled to examine cases and disputes between the two countries. He added that since Iran hasn’t participated in either of the trials (in 2016 and in 2018) against it, Tehran can review the court’s decision and defend its interests there.

“Iran can easily challenge the jurisdiction of the [US] federal court that made the decision. According to international law, it [Iran] can use the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the principle of good faith, which was originally violated, and submit an appeal against the US court decision,” the lawyer said.

Back in 2016, New York Judge George Daniels ruled that Iran must pay $10,5 billion to the families of those who died in the 9/11 attacks and to the insurance companies. Against the backdrop of the upcoming May 12 deadline, when the US president is due to decide whether he will re-impose sanctions against Iran and quit the nuclear deal, the US court has reaffirmed its decision blaming Iran for funding Al-Qaeda*. Iran was not presented at both courts.

READ MORE: US Court Rejects Saudi Government’s Request to Dismiss 9/11 Lawsuits

Although the investigation of the attacks on the World Trade Center’s twin towers revealed that the two airplanes were hijacked by a group consisting of Saudis, Egyptians, Lebanese and citizens of the UAE. The commission investigating the terror attack failed to find any evidence proving that Iran had helped the terror group.

*Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization, banned in Russia

 

As US Military Effectiveness and Diplomatic Efforts Fade into Irrelevance Many Countries Start Ignoring Washington – By Federico PIERACCINI (Strategic Culture Foundation)

As US Military Effectiveness and Diplomatic Efforts Fade into Irrelevance Many Countries Start Ignoring Washington

Diplomatic work continues in some of the areas with the highest geopolitical tensions in the world. In recent days there have been high-level meetings and contacts between Turkey, Iran and Russia over the situation in Syria; meetings between Modi and Xi Jinping to ease tensions between India and China; and finally, the historic meeting between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un. The common component in all these meetings is the absence of the United States, which may explain the excellent progress that has been seen.

The last seven days have brought a note of optimism to international relations. The meeting between Modi and Xi Jinping in China offered a regional example, confirmed by the words of Wang Yi, member of the State Counsel of the People’s Republic of China:

“Our [India and China] common interests outweigh our differences. The summit will go a long way towards deepening the mutual trust between the two great neighbors. We will make sure that the informal summit will be a complete success and a new milestone in the history of China-India relations”.

Given the tensions in August 2017 in the Himalayan border area between the two countries, the progress achieved in the last nine months bodes well for a further increase in cooperation between the two nations. Bilateral trade stands at around $85 billion a year, with China as India’s largest trading partner. The meeting between Modi and Xi also serves to deepen the already existing framework between the two countries in international organizations like BRICS, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in which they are integral participants. It is imaginable that negotiations on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will be in full swing, with Beijing keen to involve New Delhi more in the project. Such a prospect is particularly helped by three very powerful investment vehicles put in place by Beijing, namely, the New Development Bank (formerly the BRICS Development Bank), the AIIB, and the Silk Road Fund.

Xi Jinping will be seeking to ​​progressively entice India closer to the BRI project through attractive and mutually beneficial commercial arrangements. However, this objective remains complicated and difficult to implement. Beijing is aware of this and has already expressed its intention not to impose the BRI on the neighboring country. With much of the future global and regional architecture depending on these two countries, the good understanding shown between Xi Jinping and Modi bodes well, especially given the commonly aligned objectives represented by the multitude of international organizations and frameworks on which China and India sit side by side.

Another bit of important news for the Asian region has been the meeting between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un, which was recently examined in an article published in Strategic Culture Foundation. As discussed in that article, the intention of the two leaders is to reunite the two Koreas, to denuclearize the peninsula, and to sign a peace treaty between the North and South, whose unprecedented implications entail such questions as whether there is a future role of for the United States on the peninsula. As stated before, the rapprochement between the two Koreas does not play into Washington’s favor, which relies on the South as a strategic foothold to contain China, justifying its presence on the purported need to confront North Korea. With an all-encompassing peace agreement, this justification would cease to exist. It seems that the goal for US policy-makers will be to find an opportunity to sabotage the North-South agreement and blame Kim Jong-un for its failure. Without engaging in a diplomatic tiff with its South Korean ally, the deep state in Washington does not intend to surrender one inch of its military presence on the peninsula, and would even look favorably on the negotiations failing to further damage Trump and his administration.

This is an internal deep-state war that has been going on for years. Obama wanted to abandon the Middle East in order to focus on containing China, altering the military’s structure accordingly to return to a more Cold War stance. This explains the agreement with Iran in order to free the US from its Middle East involvement so as to be able to focus mainly on Asia and to promote it as the most important region for the United States. This strategic intention has met with enormous opposition from two of the most influential lobbies in the American political system, the Israeli and Saudi Arabian. Without the United States, these two countries would be unable to stop Iran’s peaceful but impressive ascent in the region.

Listening to four-star generals like Robert Neller (Commandant of the Marine Corps) and others less distinguished, one comes to appreciate the extent to which the US military is in strategic chaos. The military has been the victim of epochal changes with each presidency. Pentagon planners would like to simultaneously confront countries like Russia, China and Iran, but in the process only decrease effectiveness due to imperial overstretch. Other politicians, especially from the neocon area, argue for the need to transform the US armed forces from a force suitable for fighting small countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria), Middle Eastern insurgencies, or terrorist groups (a pretext originating from the 1990’s and the first Gulf War), to a military able to face its peer competitors with all weapons available. Such a realignment does not occur over a short period of time and requires an enormous amount of money to reorganize the armed forces.

In this struggle between components of the deep state, Trump lumbers into a policy that stems from his electoral campaign rather than a considered strategy. Trump showed himself in his campaign to be strongly pro-Israel and strongly pro-armed forces, which has had the practical result of increasing military spending. Tens of billions of dollars worth of agreements have been realized with the richest country in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, for arms purchases, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is viewed negatively. Trump’s interventions in Syria confirm that he is under the strong influence of that part of the deep state that is adamant that the United States should always be present in the Middle East, should openly oppose Iran, and, above all, should prevent the Shiite arc from extending its influence to cover Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

The reasoning employed by Trump and his administration confirms this direction in Washington’s strategy, involving greater cooperation with Beijing to solve the Korean issue; less of an effort to decrease Moscow’s influence in Syria and in the Middle East in general; and greater belligerence towards Iran, with a general shift away from Asia and towards the Middle East, backtracking away from Obama’s pivot to Asia.

Trump seems to give the impression of wanting to face China from an unprecedented direction, with a trade war that would inevitably end up damaging all sides.

In this ad hoc strategy, the European allies play an important role in Washington’s intention to cancel or modify the Iranian nuclear agreement. Following the meetings in Washington between Trump and Macron, and then with Merkel, both European leaders seem more or less open to a modification of the JCPOA, provided that Trump backs away from placing tariffs on European countries, an appeal to which the English premier Theresa May adds her name. It seems a desperate tactic, given that one of the issues Trump is pinning his 2020 campaign on is being able to fix the trade imbalances between the US and the EU, without which he will be unable to claim to have kept his promises.

The United States has many cards to play, but none is decisive. In Korea, the peace process depends very little on Trump’s intentions and more on the willingness of the two key parties to reach a historic agreement to improve the lives of all citizens of the peninsula. I predict the deep state will try to blame the DPRK for a failure of the negotiations, thereby bringing to Asia the chaos in international relations that the US has successfully brought to other parts of the world. The People’s Republic of China will therefore try to replace the United States in negotiations in order to bring the two negotiating parties closer together.

In the same way, an attempt to sabotage the JCPOA will only drive Russia, China and Iran into a strategic triangle, about which I was writing more than a year ago. A unilateral exit from the nuclear agreement will help delegitimize Washington’s international role, together with the sabotage by the deep state of the peace agreement in Korea. It will be a pincer effect resulting from the chaos and the internal struggle of North American and European elites.

Success in the negotiations in Korea could pave the way for a protection umbrella for the DPRK guaranteed by China and Russia, in the same way the two could grant Iran all the diplomatic support necessary to resist the American and European pressure to cancel the JCPOA. Ultimately, the rapprochement between India and China, in view of important agreements on the BRI, could seal comity and cooperation between the two giants, leading the Eurasian area under the definitive influence of India, China, Russia and Iran, and guaranteeing a future of peaceful economic development to the most important area of ​​the globe.

The United States finds itself divided by a war within the elite, where Trump’s presidency is continually attacked and de-legitimized, while the coordinated assault on the dollar continues apace through gold, the petroyuan, and blockchain technology. US military power is showing itself to be a paper tiger unable to change the course of events on the ground, as seen recently in Syria. The loss of diplomatic credibility resulting from the sabotage of the JCPOA, and Washington’s inability to sit down and sincerely negotiate with the DPRK, will deliver the final coup de grace to a country that is struggling to even remain friendship with her European allies (sanctions imposed on Russia, sanctions on European companies participating in the North Stream 2, and tariffs in a new trade war).

The US deep state remains on this path of self-destruction, perennially torn between opposing strategies, which only accelerates Washington’s unipolar decline and the emergence in its place of a multipolar world order, with New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran as new poles over an immense area  comprising the Middle east and all of Eurasia.

There is No Such Thing as Press Freedom in US’ – NYC Independent Journalist – By SPUTNIK

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ok to make it difficult for users to find independent sources,” Danny Haiphong said.

Danny Haiphong notes that the most devastating effect on independent journalism, the anti-“fake news” campaign had on the internet, when Facebook and Google changed their search algorithms. The internet is an important platform for independent journalists as it is a very popular tool to search for information and the only way for minor media to reach out to the broader public.

READ MORE: US Moves Down 2 Places in Press Freedom Index — Watchdog

He also noted that the problem hasn’t disappeared with Trump, who often accuses media giants such as the New York Times of publishing “fake news.” According to Danny Haiphong, these media have adapted to the new situation and repressed left-wing and some right-wing media, depriving US citizens dissatisfied with both the corporate media and the political system of information that can “challenge the status quo.”

READ MORE: Press Freedom Watchdogs Silent on RT Registration as Foreign Agent in US

He summed up the situation saying that it was corporate media that created Trump and then used him to “stifle” independent press, promoting endless wars around the world instead of issues that really worry people all over the world, such as poverty, joblessness and healthcare.

War-time Journalism in Syria

The roots of this campaign against free media lie, according to Danny Haiphong, in the “desperate attempts to maintain hegemony” in the world. He is confident that as countries like Russia and China start growing more independent, this is creating “the need to censor independent media” in the US and allied countries. This censorship brands independent journalists as working for Russia and whose materials need to be prevented from reaching the minds of the public.

“The main risk is that the US and its allies only have one path to maintain legitimacy and power around the world: war. […] Every US intervention ends in disaster. This has created the need to censor independent media, which in the US and the West has taken the form of demonizing independent journalists as ‘agents of Russia’,” he said.

Commenting on journalism surrounding the situation in Syria, Danny Haiphong notes that it is information warfare, where “corporate media” feed people lies and discredit real journalists who try to tell the truth about false flag chemical attacks and other provocations taking place in the war-torn country.

“Corporate press has lied about the character of the “rebels” there [in Syria] and have consistently misreported chemical weapons attacks to justify a massive military invasion of the country. Then the corporate press has the nerve to call journalists such as Vanessa Beeley, who has been to Syria many times, a ‘9/11 truther’ and a dupe of Russia and the Assad government,” he said.

It’s not only the reports by independent journalists that are being ignored by the Western media. Recently, Russian media and the Russian delegation to the OPCW have presented to the public a young Syrian boy, Hassan Diab, who participated in White Helmets’ film about the alleged chemical attack in Douma.

READ MORE: Boy From White Helmets’ Video on Douma Attack Should Speak at UNSC — Moscow

But although he described how the fake video was made and how the participants were “rewarded” with food, his and many other witness testimonies from the press briefing of the Russian delegation to OPCW were largely ignored in Western media.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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