The Truth Perspec- tive: Postmodern Trump Derangement Syndrome and Skin in the Game – By SOTT

Activists from the Border Network for Human Rights protest US immigration policies in El Paso

© Mike Blake / Reuters
Activists from the Border Network for Human Rights protest US immigration policies in El Paso, Texas, June 19, 2018

The latest scandal to hit the Trump White House is the separation of immigrant children from their parents at the border, a practice with an unfortunately long history. But the Trump Derangement Syndrome has latched onto the practice as the final proof that Trump is Hitler. But why is it, exactly, that Trump’s critics are taking this as proof that Trump is the most evil person on the planet? Today on the Truth Perspective, we take a look at the motivations behind the tendency to see the worst in President Trump, and the philosophy that seems to underlie it.

Next, we ask why conservative thinkers can be so right about certain things, and so wrong about others, followed by a brief look at Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s latest book, Skin in the Game. What is true courage? Why are Trump and Putin so popular? Are religions actually rational? What makes the figure of Jesus Christ such an effective symbol? Tune in today at 12 pm EDT to find out!

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Why Israel’s Expansionist and Ethnic-Cleansing Ambitions Will Fail – ByAndrés Perezalonso – (SOTT)

Israeli soldiers Palestinian boy Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian teen Fawzi Muhammad Al-Juneidi in Jerusalem, Dec. 8, 2017. You need an army to get a stone-throwing boy – yet stone throwers keep coming. What to do?

As the world is distracted with the Football World Cup, some observers of the situation in Palestine have been concerned about the possibility of Israel carrying out a major military operation in Gaza. Four years ago, towards the end of the World Cup in Brazil, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, which according to UN figures resulted in the death of 2,256 Palestinians, of which 1,563 were civilians. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights specifies that this included 293 women and 556 children. The extremely high proportion of civilian deaths was a consequence of Israeli soldiers’ orders to fire at every person in sight, as the whistleblower organization Breaking the Silence revealed. It was also consistent with the old unspoken Israeli objective of ethnically cleansing Palestine.

Israeli media has recently disclosed that the country has plans for a full-scale invasion which would cut Gaza in half and occupy part of it. So confident are they on their ability to “create a considerable change on the situation” that the army “is already considering alternatives to the Hamas government”. Earlier on Thursday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio: “I don’t want to launch an operation, but there is a good chance that we will have no other option but to go in so that we can create durable deterrence.” This was said in reference to the burning kites that Gazan demonstrators fly across the border, pointing out that those responsible should be shot, “age doesn’t matter, they’re terrorists and the danger they create must be prevented.” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, also a member of the security cabinet, argued that “there is no difference between a burning kite and a Qassam rocket, and we should not tolerate the kites.” He has a point in that Qassam rockets are about as effective as the kites – both being largely symbolic gestures of defiance than credible weapons of war.

Mindless Genocide in Gaza?

Apart from the World Cup distraction, pro-Palestinian activist Robert Inlakesh thinks the following are also reasons for a possible Israeli offensive on Gaza in the near future:

  • Sara Netanyahu, Bibi’s wife, has been charged with fraud. She used public funds to pay for restaurant meals to the tune of 359,000 shekels ($100,000). This is on top of other more serious corruption charges faced by the Netahyahus. A ‘Wag the Dog‘-style PR operation is in order.
  • In April, the Knesset granted Netanyahu the power to declare war in extreme circumstances, requiring only the approval of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.- Although the Security Cabinet annulled the law within a month, the government plans to “promote anew” the original draft.
  • Israel privatized their weapons manufacturing.- Private company Elbit Systems acquired state-owned Israeli Military Industries for $522 million. Inlakesh speculates that this will eventually have an effect on the price of weapons and that Gaza may be used to ‘test’ them in order to sell them in global markets before the price spike.

Inlakesh also points out that the Israeli population will not tolerate anything less than a decisive blow on Hamas, but since Hamas operates through a network of underground tunnels, the only way to do so would be to blow up the civilian infrastructure above them, implying thousands of civilian casualties, and a massive ground invasion. This is an important point because a limited offensive could end up hurting Netanyahu’s popularity in Israel, while a commitment to the destruction of Hamas would be both extremely difficult to achieve and subject to widespread condemnation across the globe. The world is rightly upset with around 130 deaths in the context of the March of Return demonstrations near the border of Gaza. Would the Israeli government be prepared for the backlash that will come when they kill again, but this time in the thousands or tens of thousands?

The long-term goal of Zionism is to assimilate the whole of Palestine into Israel and expel (or kill) its Arab population. This is made clear when one studies the history of Israel – its foundation was only made possible by ethnic cleansing. A brief look at the change of Palestine into Israel confirms this:

Palestine loss of land

While the West Bank land-grab strategy has been largely based on illegal settlements to create ‘facts on the ground’, Israel has taken a different approach in Gaza. In 2005 it dismantled its settlements in the Strip, but rather than this resulting in genuine peace, Israel turned Gaza into an open-air prison, controlling its borders, including its access to the sea. Furthermore, without Jewish settlers in the area, Israel has been free to use the full force of its military periodically, only limited by international public opinion.

Non-viable Strategy in Syria

Despite the US State Department warning Syria of “firm and appropriate measures” if it moved to reclaim its southern province of Daraa from terrorist groups (which sits right next to the Golan Heights that Israel illegally occupies since 1967) and the repeated Israeli threats against Syria, the war-hardened Syrian Army is already making gains in the region. Around 400 km2 have been liberated in less than a week with Russian air support. Even Free Syrian Army units have switched sides and are fighting with the Syrian Army against Jabhat al-Nusra, aka Al-Qaeda in Syria. It seems that the US and Israel no longer command the respect they used to. In fact, the FSA’s sudden realization that they had been fighting for the wrong side all this time appears to have been motivated by a message from Washington, seen by Reuters, which made clear that “you should not base your decisions on the assumption or expectation of a military intervention by us”.

So far, Israel’s strategy against Syria has consisted of providing support to jihadist groups in the south of the country, and regularly harassing the country with missile strikes and shelling. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has documented Israeli soldiers interacting with terrorists in the Golan Heights, as well as “the transportation of hundreds of injured militants to Israeli hospitals following confrontations between the militants and the Syrian army near the occupied Golan border.” According to local witnesses, the ‘militants’ include members of Al-Nusra/Al-Qaeda.

Israel Syria Golan IDF Nusra

A photo from the Israeli-Syrian border along the Golan Heights shows IDF soldiers conversing with al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra fighters.

As for the bombing harassment, the latest Israeli attack was a double missile strike on Damascus airport. Some reports indicate that the target was an Iranian cargo plane, while others speak of a military installation. It is also not clear if the missiles were intercepted by Syrian air defenses. A few days earlier, Syrian state media outlet SANA informed that US-led coalition aircraft attacked Syrian military positions in Al Bukamal, Deir Ezzor. However, the US denied involvement and an American official went as far as to claim that Israel was behind the bombing. The aggressions intensified briefly in May with an exchange of missiles on the Golan Heights after Israel hit the Damascus suburbs and Baath City, but for the most part Israel has pursued hit-and-run tactics in Syria for years.

None of these actions have managed to stop the Syrian Army’s victory, so one wonders why Israel continues with a strategy that has proven unsuccessful so far. The answer is that there is nothing Israel – nor the US – can realistically do to topple Assad as long as Russia is watching his back, so periodic missile attacks is as much trouble as they can hope to cause. Still, with the Syrian Army closing in on the Golan Heights, we can expect Israel to increase its support for the remaining terrorists in the area, possibly in the form of more shelling and bombing (not to mention military and medical aid). As this happens simultaneously with Israel’s threats of a ground invasion of Gaza, is Israel ready to fight on two fronts simultaneously? Perhaps even three if Hezbollah reacts from Lebanon once things escalate? As always, another look at the map of Israel – a tiny nation – shows why it is not in its best interest to trigger a major war.

Clumsy US Political Defense of Israel

While almost all US administrations have been subservient to Israeli interests – largely due to the influence of the infamous Israel lobby – the Trump administration has been particularly outspoken and active in favour of the Zionist agenda. Trump withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as well as Nikki Haley’s obscene twisting of reality to protect Israel from criticism in the United Nations, are examples of efforts to keep the likes of Sheldon Adelson in Washington and Israel happy. Adelson is a Zionist billionaire casino tycoon who donated $82 million to Trump’s and other Republican campaigns during the 2016 elections. He is allegedly a member of a “shadow National Security Council” advising the hawkish neocon John Bolton, himself the national security adviser. Adelson also owns the largest newspaper in Israel, which shows unconditional support for Netanyahu, and he is committed to the “Greater Israel” political agenda. When he was once confronted with the idea that Palestinians living in annexed land would not have the same rights as Jewish Israelis, Adelson simply replied: “Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state. So what?”

Sheldon Adelson

© Sebastian Scheiner/AP
Sheldon Adelson attends the opening ceremony of the new US embassy in Jerusalem in May.

One problem with trying to please ideologically possessed people like Adelson is that their agenda is so contrary to what people recognize as fair and normal that vigorous attempts to defend it backfire spectacularly. For example, by quitting the UN Human Rights Council, citing an “anti-Israel bias”, the US, rather than winning hearts and minds for Israel, has simply isolated itself – further eroding American global leadership and not helping Israel’s cause in any way. Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo and Benjamin Netanyahu – who spearheaded and celebrated the US exit – are stuck in the ‘indispensable nation’ mindset that was valid a couple of decades ago, and do not understand that the UN will carry on with its condemnation of Israel with or without US participation.

Israel’s Unlikely Plan

This is ultimately why Israel’s expansionist ambitions will fail. For Israel to be able to continue its slow-motion ethnic-cleansing program in the West Bank and Gaza, and for it to become the indisputable hegemon in the region – and perhaps even steal more territory from its neighbours – it needs the global superpower on its side. The US is still firmly on Israel’s side – the problem is that its political, military and economic influence is rapidly declining – faster than Israel can achieve its objectives.

Consider Gaza. Israel can and does make life a living hell for its population, and every few years it scales up the murder rate to the thousands rather than the dozens. Yet the total population of Gaza in 2018 is almost 2 million. By the year 2032 it 3.1 million people will live there, at current growth rates. How many Israeli offensives will be needed and how long will they take before Israel can ‘cleanse’ the land and claim it as part of the ‘Jewish state’?

Lets think of Syria. Israel helped terrorist groups in the hope that Assad would be replaced by a US and Israeli vassal, or by an extreme Islamic group that Israel could later bomb at will and ‘legitimately’ in order to ‘liberate’ a neighbouring country that was a threat to Israel itself. Instead, the Assad government and its Army have come out of their 7 year long ordeal stronger than ever and are forming an alliance with Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah – the so-called Shiia Crescent that Israel and Saudi Arabia fear the most. In theory, the US and its NATO allies could have finished the job of ‘regime change’ in Syria if the jihadi head-choppers could not. But in practice this was impossible because this would risk a direct confrontation with Russia. The ‘FUKUS’ largely ineffective bombing on Syrian alleged ‘chemical sites’ in April highlighted this fact. Under these circumstances, Syria eventually regaining control of the strategically valuable Golan Heights, whether by political or military means, is not unthinkable.

Israel appears to have passed the point where it could have come to its senses and negotiated a fair peace agreement with the Palestinians. To paraphrase Shakespere’s Macbeth (and much like its America protector), ‘it is in blood so far steeped, that to go back would be as tedious as to go on’. So Israel will double down on its delusional belief that it can find a ‘final solution’ to its Palestinian problem, all the while believing that the world will never turn its back on poor Israel in its existential fight against those who would destroy it and the Jewish people. Given the easily-provoked emotionality of the average human being and the rapidly changing global geostrategic chessboard, that’s a bet that only a fool would make.

Andrés Perezalonso (Profile)

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

European Security Landscape Reshaped with New Alliances Emerging – By Peter KORZUN ( Strategic Cultural Foundation)

European Security Landscape Reshaped with New Alliances Emerging
Peter KORZUN | 23.06.2018 | WORLD / Europe

The bonds between European allies are not as strong today as they used to be. The well-known divisions within the EU are also the divisions within NATO as most European nations belong to both.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire believes that the EU is falling apart because its members cannot find compromises while they urgently need to tackle the migrants’ crisis as well as a whole host of other pressing problems. Some predict the demise of NATO for the same reason – the bloc’s inability to handle the issues of fundamental importance. This is the time of reshaping the Western security landscape. With the giant entities, such as NATO and the EU, facing the threat of partition, new smaller alliances are gradually forming instead.

On June 22, EU tariffs on US goods came into force to make Americans and Europeans opponents rather than friends and allies. Sharing what they call common values does not prevent disputes over fundamental issues and trade battles. We may witness a NATO burial at its Brussels summit on July 11-12 right after the EU’s actual partition at its top-level event on June 28-29.

With Brexit drawing near, the UK is still to carve out a new role for itself in the new security configuration. Its anti-Russia stance is a guide. The relationship with the US will always be special even if there is no chemistry between the leaders. But the dependence on America has its limits and the relationship may go through fluctuations. To be a power pole it needs to diversify the security ties. Forming a new defense pact with the EU is one of foreign policy directions. It will allow London to remain part of European defense deterrent after separation from the alliance’s political and economic structures. With NATO weakened, it’ll play an important role of go-between to link North America and the Old Continent. Its influence would be boosted if it joined a security entity it could lead. Moscow’s “irreconcilable enemies” are the right partners for a start.

On June 21, UK Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary visited Warsaw within the format of annual Quadriga talks. The aim was to strengthen security, defence, and cyber ties with Poland, the unrecognized leader of Eastern Europe, which is on the outs with Brussels striving to hold its own. The text of the final communiqué shows the mission was accomplished. In December 2017, the parties signed the Treaty on Defense and Security Cooperation. At the meeting they said the UK-Poland Defence Action Plan encompassing a range of military areas was being prepared for signature.

The steps to enhance defense cooperation are to be added by joint propaganda efforts to counter Russia. The parties agreed to establish what they call “a strategic communications project to support independent media in countries in Eastern Europe, to ensure a wider range of voices in the media, in order to strengthen resilience against disinformation.”

It’s worth mentioning that the UK stands out refusing to join other EU members in their criticism of Poland’s slide into authoritarianism while it is implementing its judicial reforms. PM Theresa May believes that the constitutional reform is an internal matter. Warsaw can use its burgeoning relationship with London as a bargaining chip in the relationship with Germany. Having left the EU, Great Britain can make a substantial contribution into recognizing the Poland’s status as the leader of Eastern Europe.

The hostility toward Russia is what formally unites them. On June 20, British General Mark Carleton-Smith, the newly appointed head of the British army, issued a warning over Britain threatened by Russia and called on the military to be prepared to “fight and win”. Poland is playing the American card against Russia as well as the EU. The country is to acquire a first strike capability to counter what it believes to be the Russian threat and applies efforts to make the US station substantial forces on its soil. Poland is in the focus of NATO infrastructure efforts. It hosts large-scale exercises preparing forces to conduct offensive operations against Russia. The military activities are closely coordinated with the Baltic States, which are also asking for larger US military presence. NATO has deployed four battalion-sized battle groups to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. The UK is among the nations that comprise the backbone of this force. Roughly 150 British servicemen are stationed in Poland. London and Warsaw join together supporting the “European aspirations” of the Western Balkan states. The UK is hosting the Western Balkans summit in London on July 9 and 10.

It’s normal that countries set up alliances while jockeying for influence and looking for benefits to reap. But it’s also a sign of NATO and the EU teetering on the edge. The emergence of other alliances is looming at the horizon.

In his London speech on June 21, NATO Secretary General said the bonds between Europe and North America are under strain and there’s no guarantee the trans-Atlantic alliance will survive. But the bonds between European allies are also not as strong today as they used to be. The well-known divisions within the EU are also the divisions within NATO as most European nations belong to both. It’s all intertwined. There are groups pursuing their own interests within the EU to give birth to the concept of a “multi-speed Europe”. It’s only natural that alliances within the alliance also emerge inside NATO under the circumstances and it’s a sign of weakness, not strength. This is a trend to partition. Add to it the EU efforts to create a defense deterrent of its own independent from the US. There is each and every reason to believe that many more signs of NATO losing its relevance will come into the open at the much-anticipated July summit.

Photo: The First News

Tags: NATO  France  Poland  UK 

‘Thank God for Russia!’ Remembering when London and Moscow were allies – By RT

1941 British newspaper

© Neil Clark

In the present geopolitical climate, the idea of a pact between the UK and Russia seems far-fetched to say the least. But in the summer of 1941 the two did come together against a common foe.

What lessons can be learned from the ‘Anglo-Russian agreement’ which played a key part in the defeat of Nazi Germany?

The date: Monday, July 14, 1941. The headline of the News Chronicle (price, one penny), states: ‘Britain and Soviet Sign Pact.’ Such a headline would have been unthinkable a few years previously. The British Conservative Party, the dominant member of the ‘National’ government which ruled Britain from 1931-1940, had been fiercely opposed on ideological grounds to the Bolshevik government in Moscow.

It was Tory leader and Prime Minister Winston Churchill who, 13 years earlier, had supported giving aid to the Russian armies who were fighting what he called “the foul baboonery of Bolshevism.”

When it came to expressing his views on Soviet communism, it’s fair to say that Churchill didn’t hold back. He compared Lenin, the father of the Russian revolution, to “a culture of typhoid or of cholera.” Yet here, in 1941, the British – led by Churchill, and the Soviets, were sinking their ideological differences and agreeing to support each other in every possible way against ‘Hitlerite Germany’ – and undertaking that neither would negotiate nor conclude an armistice or peace treaty except by mutual agreement.

Churchill had shown commendable pragmatism, something which too many of today’s leaders seem to lack. “No one has been a more consistent opponent of communism for the last 25 years,” he declared in a broadcast on June 22, the date on which the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. “But all this fades away before the spectacle which is now unfolding…The Russian danger is therefore our danger, and the danger of the United States, just as the cause of any Russian fighting for hearth and house is the cause of free men and free peoples in every quarter of the globe.”

Could you imagine a neocon politician uttering words such as these today?

The historic agreement of July 12 was signed in Moscow by the Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the UK Ambassador to the USSR, the Old Wykehamist Sir Stafford Cripps. One Joseph Stalin, and leading representatives of the British armed forces, were also present at the ceremony.

The agreement came at a time when the Soviets were in desperate need for assistance, as German forces continued to advance rapidly towards Moscow. Cripps urged Churchill to send supplies as soon as possible. Friction soon developed between Sir Stafford, who wanted more done to help the Soviet Union, and Churchill, who believed in prioritizing the Middle Eastern front.

The calls for a ‘second front’ in Europe to be opened up to take the pressure off the Soviets, and which Stalin himself had demanded, steadily grew.

The Soviet Union became very popular in Britain, and indeed in the neutral US – where the News Chronicle reported that 72 percent hoped that the Russians would win.

In his book, The Road to 1945, Paul Addison notes how the German invasion of the Soviet Union came at a time when it was difficult for the British, who had stood alone against the Nazis during the Blitz of 1940/1, to see how victory could be achieved. But that all changed when Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa. Addison records how ‘Home Intelligence’ captured the national mood on February 3, 1942: “Thank God for Russia’ is a frequent expression of the very deep and fervent feeling for that country which permeates wide sections of the public.”

Churchill, while welcoming the fact that Britain had a ‘co-belligerent,’ was, however, worried that the people’s admiration for the gallant Soviet war effort would go too far and lead to increased support for communist ideas at home.

He instructed the Ministry of Information “to consider what action was required to counter the present tendency of the British public to forget the dangers of Communism in their enthusiasm over the resistance of Russia.”

“The official authorities would have liked to depoliticise enthusiasm for Russia by concentrating on the military, patriotic and anodyne aspects of Russian life, but in practice this was very difficult,” says Addison. “The two politicians who presented themselves to the public in 1942 as champions of Russia, Cripps and (Lord) Beaverbrook, were both convinced anti-communists. But both found themselves singing the praises of the Soviet system.”

As I noted in an earlier OpEd, Lord Beaverbrook, a right-wing newspaper magnate, could not have been more effusive in his praise for the Soviet Union and its leader.

“Communism under Stalin has produced the most valiant fighting army in Europe. Communism under Stalin has provided us with examples of patriotism equal to the finest annals of history. Communism under Stalin has won the applause and admiration of all the Western nations. Communism under Stalin has produced the best generals in this war,” Beaverbook wrote.

Can you imagine Rupert Murdoch or Lord Rothermere saying the same things about Putin and Russia, today?

It’s worth noting too that the US, when it was still neutral, was urging Britain to improve supplies to Russia. Was anyone claiming then that FDR was a secret Kremlin agent, as they say about Trump in 2018?

In the end, British supplies to the Soviet Union in the second half of 1941 and 1942, transported via the dangerous Arctic shipping routes, did play an important part in checking the seemingly unstoppable Nazi advance. Britain supplied urgently needed tanks, aircraft and machine tools. Overall between 3.5 and 4 million tons of cargo were delivered, greatly boosting the Soviet war effort. In May 1942, the Anglo-Soviet agreement was strengthened still further with the signing of an Anglo-Soviet Treaty, which established a formal military and political alliance.

Those who served on the ‘front line’ of this alliance have not been forgotten. In May 2015, Russian medals were presented to the Scottish veterans of the Arctic convoys on Victory Day. “The Russians have always been so kind to us. I spent two months in Russia, and your people shared everything they had with me, although they didn’t have much for themselves. I would be ready to do something for you again, whatever you ask,”said veteran James Osler.

In August 2016, five more British Arctic convoy veterans were honored by Russia.

While in October that year, the 75th anniversary of the Arctic convoys was marked at a special event in Liverpool.

Looking back at the World War II co-operation between Britain and the Soviet Union, and the positive difference it made to the course of world history, should make us ask the question: If then, why not now?

Why can’t British politicians chart a new course in relations with Russia and seek to work together with Moscow on areas which should be of common concern, such as countering terrorism, dealing with climate change and bringing a lasting peace to the Middle East? Do we really need a Nazi threat to make our leaders come to their senses and drop their old hostilities?

Let’s leave the last word to the News Chronicle, a newspaper whose humane and common sense approach to world affairs, is greatly missed today. In its editorial of July 14, 1941, entitled ‘Pray Silence,’ it declared: “So, by the devious and paradoxical routes which current history has adopted, what many of us hoped two years ago would happen and some hoped, successfully, might be avoided, has now come to pass. It is a miraculous gift. The unexpected has happened…No question of ideologies is relevant. Two great peoples find themselves fighting for their lives against the same ruthless enemy. That is the only thing that matters and it is tremendous.”

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

Pompeo: US Will ‘Not Allow Iran to Develop a Nuclear Weapon’ – By SPUTNIK

A Ghadr-H missile, center, a solid-fuel surface-to-surface Sejjil missile and a portrait of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are displayed at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran

© AP Photo / Vahid Salemi

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The United States is monitoring media reports about Iran’s plans to build up its nuclear capacity, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

“We’re watching reports that Iran plans to increase its enrichment capacity,” Pompeo wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday. “We won’t allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran is aware of our resolve.”

Iranian state media reported earlier in the day that the government has ordered to start operations to boost uranium enrichment in light of the recent US decision to re-impose sanctions on Tehran.

Pompeo called Iran’s actions another representation of Tehran’s “foolishly squandering its resources.” Therefore, protests in the country come as no surprise, the US secretary of state concluded.US President Donald Trump announced in May that the United States would pull out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump also decided to restore wide-ranging sanctions on Iran, including secondary sanctions against financial institutions of third countries doing business with Tehran.

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 group of countries — China, Germany, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.The deal stipulated the gradual lifting of the anti-Iranian sanctions in exchange for Tehran maintaining the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.

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

US Challenges Russia to Nuclear War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Deir Ezzor to Haifa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Netanyahu and May ‘partners in crime’ over Gaza’s ‘rivers of blood’, Palestinian activist tells RT – By RT

Netanyahu and May ‘partners in crime’ over Gaza’s ‘rivers of blood’,  Palestinian activist tells RT
British PM Theresa May is complicit in the ‘crimes’ of her Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, a leading UK-based Palestinian campaigner has told RT, a day before the Israeli leader visits London.

Netanyahu has this week been visiting his European allies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, lobbying them to follow the US and withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

While he plans to do the same with May, London-based Palestinian activists are demanding he face questions over the scores of Palestinians shot in Gaza by the Israeli military in the past two months.

Up to 121 Palestinians have been killed and around 13,000 injured since the Great Return March started on March 30. Protesters marched to a fence, erected by the Israeli government, demanding the right to return to the land they were expelled or fled from following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. As they approached the fence they were shot at. Israel claims most of the protesters were Hamas ‘terrorists’ trying to infiltrate their country.

In the UK, thousands are expected to protest outside Downing Street on Tuesday for all of those killed, which include Palestinian nurse Razan Al-Najjar ,21, who was shot dead by Israeli snipers last Friday while helping those injured by the Israel Defence Force’s use of live ammunition.

Up to 50 UK health workers signed a letter saying they are “deeply concerned about the level of violence” in Gaza, citing that Al-Najjar’s death was in “violation” of the Geneva Conventions. They called on the government to follow suit and urged the UN to launch an independent inquiry into her visibly unprovoked killing.

Adie Mormech, from Stop Arming Israel and previously a lecturer in Gaza, told RT: “Razan is the second Palestinian medic to be killed in the last 2 months and many more have been shot and injured.

“The horror of these crimes against the Palestinians is clear for all who dare to look, well documented by all the major human right organisations and amidst the ongoing, crippling 11 year siege of Gaza that I spent two years living in, when it was deplorable but not as bad as it is now.

“One has to ask, how many medics, with their hands in the air, have to be executed by the Israeli army until the world holds Israel to account?”

The Downing Street protest comes shortly after it surfaced that the UK’s defense contractors are selling a record amount of arms to Israel.

According to Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), the UK last year issued £221m worth of arms licenses to defense contractors selling military equipment to Israel. A significant increase compared to £86 million ($114 million) in 2016.

Mormech said: “Britain has increased Israeli weapons exports the more Palestinians have been murdered. It is appalling and completely inexcusable that Israel is rewarded by Britain given the rivers of blood that are currently flowing through Gaza from the shootings and accompanying bombing campaigns.

“The fact Netanyahu is visiting the UK says to me that these are partners in crimes, profiting from the spoils of the brutality with which Israel is treating the Palestinians.”

The recent escalation of violence has prompted various British politicians to demand the the government halts its arms sales to Israel, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn calling for their review in April.

The conduct by the IDF over the past sixty days has been met with international criticism from human rights organizations, who have called into question the appropriateness of using live ammunition against peaceful protesters. Israel blames Palestinian organization Hamas for the casualties, and claimed most of those killed were members of terrorist groups trying to make it into the country to attack Jewish forces and civilians.

The UN has launched a war crime investigation into what it described as Israel’s “wholly disproportionate” reaction to the protesters. The US was one of the two states opposed to the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution, while the UK was among the 14 to abstain.

By Claire Gilbody-Dickerson, RT

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Washington considers direct intervention in siege of Yemeni port city -By Bill Van Auken (WSWS)

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By Bill Van Auken
5 June 2018

In what would constitute a major escalation of the US role in the near-genocidal war waged over the last three years by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against Yemen, US officials were in discussions yesterday on the Pentagon taking a direct role in the siege of the country’s Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

Saudi and UAE-led forces came within 10 km of Hodeidah on Monday, having pushed north up Yemen’s western coast with the aid of relentless air strikes against Houthi rebel forces, which control the city as well as the country’s northwestern provinces, including the capital of Sana’a, which is 230 miles to the north.

The Wall Street Journal Monday cited US officials reporting that “The Trump administration is weighing an appeal from the United Arab Emirates for direct US support to seize Yemen’s main port. …”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a strong proponent of global US military intervention, has asked American officials to come up with a “quick assessment” of the prospects for a direct US military role in the siege of Hodeidah.

The Journal report cited one official raising doubts that the US-backed forces “would be able to do it cleanly and avoid a catastrophic incident.” Another senior American official, however, told the Journal: “We have folks who are frustrated and ready to say: ‘Let’s do this. We’ve been flirting with this for a long time. Something needs to change the dynamic, and if we help the Emiratis do it better, this could be good.’ ”

A battle for control of Hodeidah poses a direct threat to the city’s civilian population of 400,000, with the potential of a Saudi blitzkrieg combined with a direct US intervention recreating the kind of mass slaughter unleashed by the Pentagon in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria.

More broadly, such a siege threatens the lives of millions of Yemenis in the Houthi-controlled highlands, for whom Hodeidah is the sole aid lifeline in a country historically reliant on imports for 90 percent of its food.

Even before taking into account the catastrophic impact of closing down this port, the chief aid official at the United Nations, Mark Lowcock, warned last week that by the end of this year, another 10 million Yemenis will join the 8.4 million who are already on the brink of starvation in what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Hundreds of foreign aid workers have reportedly evacuated the city, and it was reported on Monday that a UN aid vessel came under direct attack by Saudi warplanes. The city is already under bombardment from both the air and the sea.

“Thousands of civilians are fleeing from the outskirts of Hodeidah which is now a battle zone,” Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told Reuters. “We cannot have war in Hodeidah, it would be like war in Rotterdam or Antwerp, these are comparable cities in Europe.” He added that such a war would mean “nothing coming through” in terms of food and other aid for the country’s starving population.

It was reported Monday that a UN mediator, Martin Griffiths, had arrived in Sana’a to present a proposal for a Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah and the placing of the port under UN supervision. It was not clear, however, whether either the Houthi-led administration or the Saudi and UAE-led forces would adhere to such a settlement.

The Saudi-led “coalition” wants to secure its grip over Hodeidah in order to starve into submission the entire population in the areas under Houthi control.

Sharpening the tensions and creating the conditions for even greater slaughter, the Saudi and UAE monarchies are pursuing conflicting interests in their military interventions in Yemen, with Riyadh attempting to re-install the puppet government of Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and the UAE supporting secessionists who are seeking to revive the former state of South Yemen.

Saudi Arabia launched the war in March 2015, carrying out relentless airstrikes ever since that have devastated civilian neighborhoods, vital infrastructure, factories and even farms. Mass civilian casualties have resulted from the bombing of funerals and weddings, with the death toll from these attacks now over 13,000, with many more dying from hunger and disease. More than 2,200 people have lost their lives to a cholera epidemic that has infected 1.1 million people, while the country has seen its first outbreak of diphtheria since 1982

From the beginning of the Saudi onslaught, the Obama administration provided indispensable US military support, selling Saudi Arabia and the UAE bombs (including outlawed cluster munitions) and warplanes used to strike Yemen, providing mid-air refueling to Saudi jets to assure continuous bombardment, and setting up a joint US-Saudi command to render logistical aid, including intelligence used in selecting targets. At the same time, US special forces units and armed drones have been deployed in Yemen for assassination missions against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Trump administration has escalated US involvement, with not only massive new arms sales to the Saudi monarchy, but also the deployment of US special operations troops to fight directly alongside Saudi forces. Revealed a month ago, this deployment was carried out behind the backs of the American people and without informing Congress, much less gaining its authorization. While explained as a mission to protect Saudi Arabia’s borders with Yemen, the purpose of the US troop deployment appears to be far broader.

Driving the US toward increasingly direct intervention in a war that has pitted the obscenely rich oil monarchies of the Persian Gulf against the poorest nation in the Arab world is the broader strategy elaborated by the Trump administration in preparation for a military confrontation with Iran.

The US and its allies have cast the war in Yemen as a so-called proxy conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, with Washington making unsubstantiated allegations that Iran has supplied the Houthi rebels with arms. The reality is that both Washington and Riyadh see the domination of Yemen by any government that is not a US-Saudi puppet regime as an unacceptable threat.

The discussions in Washington on an escalation of direct US intervention in Yemen are unfolding in the context of the sharp ratcheting up of US sanctions and threats against Iran following President Trump’s unilateral May 8 withdrawal from the nuclear agreement reached in 2015 between Iran and the so-called P5+1—the US, UK, France, Germany, China and Russia.

A more direct US military intervention in Yemen may prove the stepping stone to a region-wide war aimed against Iran and at the securing of US imperialism’s unfettered control over the energy-rich and strategically vital Middle East.

What Trump’s Policy of Energy Dominance Means for the World -By Alastair CROOKE – (STRATEGIC CULTURE FOUNDATION)

What Trump’s Policy of Energy Dominance Means for the World

Two weeks ago, we wrote about how President Trump’s foreign policy somehow had ‘folded’ into ‘neo-Americanism’, and quoted US Foreign Affairs Professor, Russell-Mead, suggesting that Trump’s 8 May metamorphosis (the exit from JCPOA), represented something new, a step-change of direction (from his being principally a sharp Art of the Deal negotiator), toward – pace, Russell-Mead – “a neo-American era in world politics – rather than an [Obama-ist] post-American one”. “The administration wants to enlarge American power, rather than adjust to decline (as allegedly, Obama did). For now, at least, the Middle East is the centrepiece of this new assertiveness”, Russell-Mead opined, explaining that this new Trump impulse stems from: [Trump’s] instincts telling him that most Americans are anything but eager for a “post-American” world. Mr. Trump’s supporters don’t want long wars, but neither are they amenable to a stoic acceptance of national decline”.

There is something of a paradox here: Trump and his base deplore the cost and commitment of the huge American defence umbrella, spread across the globe by the globalists (sentiments aggravated by the supposed ingratitude of its beneficiaries) – yet the President wants to “enlarge American power, rather than adjust to decline”. That is, he wants more power, but less empire. How might he square this circle?

Well, a pointer arose almost a year earlier, when on 29 June 2017, the President used a quite unexpected word when speaking at an Energy Department event: Unleashing American Energy. Instead of talking about American energy independence, as might be expected, he heralded instead, a new era of American energy “dominance”.

In a speech “that sought to underscore a break with the policies of Barack Obama”, the FT notes, Mr Trump tied energy to his America First agenda…“The truth is we now have near limitless supplies of energy in our country,” Mr Trump said. “We are really in the driving seat, and you know what: we don’t want to let other countries take away our sovereignty, and tell us what to do, and how to do it. That’s not going to happen. With these incredible resources, my administration will seek not only the American energy independence that we’ve been looking for, for so long – but American energy dominance,” he said.

It seems, as Chris Cook explains, that Gary Cohn, then chief economic adviser to the President had a part in the genesis to this ambition. Cohn (then at Goldman Sachs), together with a colleague from Morgan Stanley, conceived of a plan in 2000 to take control of the global oil trading market through an electronic trading platform, based in New York. In brief, the big banks, attracted huge quantities of ‘managed money’ (from such as hedge funds), to the market, to bet on future prices (without their ever actually taking delivery of crude: trading ‘paper oil’, rather than physical oil). And, at the same time, these banks worked in collusion with the major oil producers (including later, Saudi Arabia) to pre-purchase physical oil in such a way that, by withholding, or releasing physical crude from, or onto the market, the big NY banks were able to ‘influence’ the prices (by creating a shortage, or a glut).

To give some idea of the capacity of these bankers to ‘influence’ price, by mid – 2008, it was estimated that some $260 billion of ‘managed’ (speculative) investment money was in play in energy markets, completely dwarfing the value of the oil actually coming out of the North Sea each month, at maybe $4 to $5 billion, at most. These ‘paper’ oil-option plays would therefore often trump the ‘fundamentals’ of real supply, and real end-user demand.

‘Step one’ for Cohn, was therefore, for the US to manage the trading market, both in price and access – with U.S. antagonists such as Iran or Russia, being able to access the market on inferior terms, if at all. The putative ‘step two’, has been to nurse US shale production, build new American LNG export terminals, and open America to further oil and gas exploration, whilst strong-arming everyone from Germany to South Korea and China, to buy American LNG exports. And ‘thirdly’, with Gulf oil exports already under the US umbrella, there were then, two major Middle East energy producers beyond the boundaries of cartel ‘influence’ (falling more into rival Russia’s strategic energy-producing ‘heartland’): Iran – which is now the subject of regime change–style, economic siege on its oil exports, and Iraq, which is subject of intense (soft) political pressures (such as threatening to sanction Iraq under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) to force its adherence to the western sphere.

What would this Trump notion of energy dominance mean in simple language? The US – were energy dominance to succeed – simply would control the tap to the economic development – or its lack thereof – for rivals China, and Asia. And the US could squeeze Russia’s revenues in this way, too. In short, the US could put a tourniquet on China’s and Russia’s economic development plans. Is this why JCPOA was revoked by President Trump?

Here then, is the squaring of that circle (more US power, yet less empire): Trump’s US aims for ‘domination’, not through the globalists’ permanent infrastructure of the US defence umbrella, but through the smart leveraging of the US dollar and financial clearing monopoly, by ring-fencing, and holding tight, US technology, and by dominating the energy market, which in turn represents the on/off valve to economic growth for US rivals. In this way, Trump can ‘bring the troops home’, and yet America keeps its hegemony. Military conflict becomes a last resort.

Senior advisor Peter Navarro said on NPR earlier this week that “we can stop them [the Chinese] from putting our high tech companies out of business” and “buying up our crown jewels of technology … Every time we innovate something new, China comes in and buys it, or steals it.” 

Is this then Trump’s plan: By market domination and trade war, to prolong America’s ‘superiority’ of technology, finance and energy – and not somehow be obliged to “adjust to decline”? And by acting in this way, curtail – or at least postpone – the emergence of rivals? Two questions in this context immediately present themselves: Is this formula the adoption of neo-conservatism, by the US Administration, which Trump’s own base so detests? And, secondly, can the approach work?

It is not neo-conservatism, perhaps – but rather a re-working of a theme. The American neo-conservatives largely wanted to take a hammer to the parts of the world they didn’t like; and to replace it with something they did. Trump’s method is more Machiavellian in character.

The roots to both of these currents of thought lie however – more than partly – with Carl Schmitt’s influence on American conservative thinking through his friend, Leo Strauss, at Chicago (whether not, Trump has ever read either man, the ideas still circulate in the US ether). Schmitt held that politics (in contrast to the liberal/ humanist vein) has nothing to do with making the world fairer, or more just – that is the work of moralists and theologians – politics for Schmitt, concerns power and political survival, and nothing more.

Liberals (and globalists), Schmitt suggested, are queasy at using power to crush alternative forces from emerging: their optimistic view of human nature leads them to believe in the possibility of mediation and compromise. The Schmittian optic, however dismissed derisively the liberal view, in favour of an emphasis on the role of power, pure and simple – based on a darker understanding of the true nature of ‘others’ and rivals. This point seems to go to the root of Trump’s thinking: Obama and the ‘liberals’ were ready to trade the ‘crown jewels’ of ‘Our Culture’ (financial, technological and energy expertise) through some multilateral ‘affirmative action’ that would help less developed states (such as rival China up the ladder). Perhaps such thoughts too, lay behind Trump’s withdrawal from the Climate Accord: Why help putative rivals, whist, at same time, imposing voluntary handicaps on one’s own Culture?

It is on this latter, quite narrow pivot (the imperative of keeping American power intact), that neo-cons and Trumpists, come together: And both also share in their disdain for utopian liberals who would fritter away the crown jewels of western Culture – for some or other humanitarian ideal – only to allow America’s determined rivals to rise up and overthrow America and its Culture (in this optic).

The common ground between both currents, is expressed with remarkable candour through Berlusconi’s comment that “we must be aware of the superiority of our [western] civilisation”. Steve Bannon says something very similar, though couched in the merits of preserving (a threatened) western Judeo-Christian culture.

This sense of Cultural advantage that must at all costs be recuperated and preserved perhaps goes some (but not all) way towards accounting for Trump’s ardent support for Israel: Speaking to Israel’s Channel Two, Richard Spencer, a prominent leader of the American Alt-Right (and one component to Trump’s base), highlighted the deeply felt the dispossession of white people, in their own country [the US]:

“… an Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identity, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood, and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me, who has analogous feelings about whites. You could say that I am a white Zionist – in the sense that I care about my people, I want us to have a secure homeland for us and ourselves. – Just as you want a secure homeland in Israel.” 

So, can the attempt to leverage and weaponise the American élites’ Culture – through the dollar, and putative energy hegemony, and its hold over technology transfer – succeed in holding on to American ‘Culture’ (in the reductionist construct of Trump’s base)? This is the sixty-four thousand dollar question, as they say. It may just easily provoke an equally powerful reaction; and a lot can happen domestically in the US, between now, and the November, US mid-term, elections, which might either confirm the President in power – or undo him. It is difficult to hold to any analytic horizon beyond that. 

But a larger point is whilst Trump feels passionately about American Culture and hegemony; the leaders of the non-West today, feel just as passionately that it is time for ‘the American Century’ to yield place. Just as after WWII, former colonial states wanted independence – so, now, today’s leaders want an end to dollar monopoly, they want an opt-out from the global, US-led order and its so-called ‘international’ institutions; they want to ‘be’ in their own distinctive cultural way – and they want their sovereignties back. This is not just cultural and economic nationalism, it portends a significant inflection point – away from neo-liberal economics, from individualism and raw commercialism – towards a more rounded human experience.

The tide, in the wake of WWII, surely was irreversible then. I can even recall the former European colonialists subsequently bemoaning their forced withdrawal: “They’ll [the former colonies] regret it”, they confidently predicted. (No, they never did.) The tide today runs strongly too, and has spread, even, to Europe. Where – who knows – whether the Europeans will have the spine to push back against Trump’s financial and trade machinations: It will be an important litmus for what comes next.

But what is different now (from then), is that currency hegemony, technological prowess, and energy ‘domination’, are not, at all, assured to western possession. They are no longer theirs. They began their migration, some time ago.

Russia’s Growing Influence in Sub-Saharan Africa – By Arkady SAVITSKY (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Russia’s Growing Influence in Sub-Saharan Africa
Arkady SAVITSKY | 05.06.2018 | WORLD / Africa

Rwanda wants to buy Russian air defense systems. The issue was discussed during the visit of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to that country on June 3. The Rwandan security forces already use helicopters, small arms and Ural Typhoon mine-resistant armored trucks produced in Russia.

Moscow has recently ramped up its military assistance to the Central African Republic (CAR) upon the request of the country’s government. Last month, Russian President Putin met CAR’s President Faustin Archange Touadera in St. Petersburg to hold talks on boosting bilateral ties, including military cooperation. It’s done in strict compliance with international law. In December 2017, the UN Security Council approved a deal allowing Russia to send arms and military instructors to that crisis-hit country. The UN was provided with the serial numbers of the transferred weapons to enable international observers to track them. The arms deliveries are gratuitous.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a traditional ally of the West, has begun shifting its foreign policy priorities looking for other partners. Last month, the DR Congo’s government announced its decision to revive the 1999 military agreement with Russia. It wants Moscow to deliver armament and train military personnel of the DRC. It also hopes to expand the bilateral economic cooperation, covering the mineral production, agriculture and humanitarian contacts.

In 2017, Russia signed a $1 billion defence cooperation agreements with Angola and Nigeria. Moscow and Luanda are in talks on increasing the scope of military ties.

Russian Rosoboronexport has long-term relations with Angola, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe and several other sub-Saharan nations that include arms sales and equipment maintenance. Since 2013, the construction of service centers has been in full swing. In 2017, Russian weapons were delivered to the following sub-Saharan African nations: Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, and Angola (Su-30K jets). A contract was confirmed with Equatorial Guinea for purchase of Pantsyr-S1 air defense systems. In August 2017, Burkina Faso ordered two Mi-171 helicopters. Russia is the leading arms importer to the region, accounting for 30% of all supplies.

Russia’s weapons are in high demand being cheap and effective as has been proven by their use during the Syrian conflict. The thriving military cooperation goes hand in hand with developing ties in other areas. Trade with African countries located south of the Sahara desert was $3.6 billion in 2017. For comparison, it was $3.3 billion in 2016 and $2.2 billion in 2015. Russia is involved in exploration, mining, and energy projects. ALROSA, a diamond-mining company, operates in Angola, South Africa, Sierra Leone and Namibia. The talks are on the way to reach an agreement with the African partners to avoid double taxation and protect intellectual property.

Transport and agriculture are promising areas for joint projects. The construction of nuclear science centers in Zambia and Nigeria, as well as a nuclear power plant in South Africa, a BRICS member, are on the talks’ agenda. In April, the government of Sudan invited Russia to take part in its energy projects. Khartoum and Moscow enjoy special relationship. Last year, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir asked the Russian president for “protection from the aggressive acts of the United States.” 28 out of 55 African nations have growing trade with Russia. Cooperation with Ghana, Tanzania has promising future. Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe are historical friends with experience of doing business with Russian partners. The relations with the African Union are considered in Moscow as an issue of special importance.

In March, FM Lavrov toured Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Ethiopia to boost multifaceted relationships. The same month, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) was signed to open new horizons for economic cooperation. In January, the Single African Air Transport Market was launched to be made even more attractive with coming in force of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, the right of Establishment and the Right of Residence. Russian businessmen will get more information on new opportunities when they visit the first Intra-African Trade Fair to take place in Cairo on December 11-17, 2018. The program of Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) held in May included special sessions on business and investment opportunities within the framework of the “Russia – Africa Business Dialogue.” The SPIEF-2018 held two special celebrations to mark Africa Day and the 55th anniversary of the African Union.

The US influence in the sub-Saharan Africa is on the wane. In contrast, Russia is making strides to strengthen its position in the region. President Vladimir Putin announced the policy of boosting ties with the region in 2006 when he visited Sub-Saharan Africa. He kept his word. The region has become an essential vector for the foreign policy of Russia, which is becoming another major player on the continent.

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