Why Trump Cracks Down on Iran, Turns a Blind Eye to Israel’s Nukes – By SPUTNIK

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participate in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017.

© AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais

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Ekaterina Blinova
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The Iran nuclear deal continues to be a bone of contention between Tehran and Washington. However, the Trump administration does not express concerns about supposed nuclear stockpiles owned by Israel, its close ally. Israeli political analyst Avigdor Eskin shared his views on the Israeli nuclear issue with Sputnik.

While Washington and Tel Aviv are pointing the finger of blame at Tehran, accusing the latter of what they call expansion in the Middle East and alleged plans to create atomic weapons, the issue of Israel’s own nuclear bombs remains largely neglected.

Although Israel’s supposed nuclear program is an open secret for the international community, Tel Aviv still refuses to recognize that it possesses the weapons of mass destruction.

“According to some foreign sources, Israel has nuclear capacities and some of the experts place Israel as the third nuclear power in the world,” Israeli political analyst and publicist Avigdor Eskin told Sputnik. “The same sources insist that Israel has possessed atomic bombs since the late 1960s. I cannot make any comments in the name of our government, but in my own opinion, it would be wise for the nation which faced the Holocaust not long ago, not to rely on any international organizations but to protect its citizens with all the best means possible.”

According to Eskin, being located in a region “where millions of people were killed (and are still getting killed) in the most barbaric wars” Israel’s population needs protection. “Our neighbors and even Washington and Moscow should be aware of what Israel’s response can be to any existential threat… Having said that, we must emphasize, that Israel has never threatened anybody and behaves in a totally different manner than its neighbors,” he stressed.However, despite the UN efforts to persuade Tel Aviv to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel has so far refused to do so, neither recognizing nor refuting the assumption that it possesses nukes.

Commenting on the issue, the Israeli analyst opined that the United Nations has largely lost its authority in the eyes of the international community over the past several years. On the other hand, the threat posed by Hamas, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hezbollah to Israel is quite tangible, he argues.

“After our historic experience, we should take it seriously and not take the UN too seriously,” Eskin suggested.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, that was reached in 2015 by Iran, the P5+1 nations and the EU paved the way for the denuclearization of the Middle East. The question then arises as to whether Israel should follow in Tehran’s footsteps to reduce tensions in the region.

“Israel should not discuss anything like that at all,” Eskin believes. “Iran and Iraq exterminated almost a million people in their joint efforts, including the wide use of chemical weapons [by Iraqi armed forces in the 1980s]… And at the same time Israel gave the world, including the neighbors, huge percentage of innovations in medicine, high technology products and agriculture. I am not talking about music and arts. You cannot compare a country which brings morality, light and progress to the world with those who are busy with absolutely different things.”

National security adviser John Bolton listens President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on Friday, April 13, 2018, in Washington, about the United States' military response to Syria's chemical weapon attack on April 7
© AP Photo / Susan Walsh
National security adviser John Bolton listens President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on Friday, April 13, 2018, in Washington, about the United States’ military response to Syria’s chemical weapon attack on April 7

‘Trump Won’t Exit the Deal but Resume Anti-Iran Sanctions’

As for Donald Trump’s possible withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the Israeli analyst presumed that the US president “will not leave the deal but will not prolong the cessation of sanctions.”

“This will be a slow process until Iran gets really hurt,” Eskin said. “Trump will probably give the room for Europe to improve the deal. I will not be surprise if there will be direct negotiations between Washington and Iran as well. His tactics worked very well in the case of North Korea. We will see now some similar situation with Iran, possibly.”

At the same time, the Israeli publicist does not rule out that American Iran hawks will take efforts to instigate a regime change in the country: “There is even a bigger chance that the National Security Advisor John Bolton will implement his promise for regime change in Tehran by the end of the year,” Eskin said, referring to Bolton’s speech delivered at the gathering of the dissident group Mujahedeen Khalq, known as MEK on July 1, 2017.In one of his January interviews with Sputnik, Eskin suggested that Tehran may face a new wave of protests over the country’s economic and financial problems. He further noted that if the Trump government “stirs up” the potential unrest, it could apparently lead to a political crisis in the country.

It appears that the Trump team is pushing ahead for this kind of scenario, given Bolton and Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani’s statements about regime change in Iran. On the other hand, the resumption of sanctions against Iran may deal a blow to its economy.

Is the Iran Nuclear Deal a Mere Pretext to Crack Down on Tehran?

However, Israel’s nukes pose a challenge to the peace in the region as the precedent is tempting its neighbors to follow the suit. Speaking to Sputnik, veteran UN human rights adviser, author and Middle East analyst James A. Paul opined that it is Tel Aviv’s secret atomic arms program not the Iran nuclear deal what threatens the region’s stability.

“To any well-informed observer, it is ironic that Israel, whose own secret nuclear arms program is by far the most dangerous in the region, would be complaining about the possibility of nuclear weapons in a neighboring state,” Paul said.

For her part, Jill Stein, the 2016 Green Party nominee for president of the United States, criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his tough stance against Tehran, reminding about Tel Aviv’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

“Let’s get this straight: Israel accused Iran of having a secret nuclear weapons program. Israel has a secret nuclear weapons program. Iran complies with all treaties and inspections. Israel complies with none. Who’s the nuclear outlaw here?” Stein tweeted.

The question than arises as to whether the Trump administration is really seeking to strike a better deal with Tehran, fearing that the Islamic Republic would create nuclear arms one day, or it is simply using the deal to resume the anti-Iran sanctions to provoke the unrest in the country and oust “an undesired” government just like their predecessors in the White House did.

The views and opinions expressed by Avigdor Eskin and Ekaterina Blinova are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Why the West tries to gang up on Russia – By James Petras – The James Petras Website (SOTT)

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Introduction: For the greater part of a decade the US, the UK and the EU have been carrying out a campaign to undermine and overthrow the Russia government and in particular to oust President Putin. Fundamental issues are at stake including the real possibility of a nuclear war.

The most recent western propaganda campaign and one of the most virulent is the charge launched by the UK regime of Prime Minister Theresa May. The Brits have claimed that Russian secret agents conspired to poison a former Russian double-agent and his daughter in England, threatening the sovereignty and safety of the British people. No evidence has ever been presented. Instead the UK expelled Russian diplomats and demands harsher sanctions, to increase tensions. The UK and its US and EU patrons are moving toward a break in relations and a military build-up.

A number of fundamental questions arise regarding the origins and growing intensity of this anti-Russian animus.

Why do the Western regimes now feel Russia is a greater threat than in the past? Do they believe Russia is more vulnerable to Western threats or attacks? Why do the Western military leaders seek to undermine Russia’s defenses? Do the US economic elites believe it is possible to provoke an economic crisis and the demise of President Putin’s government? What is the strategic goal of Western policymakers? Why has the UK regime taken the lead in the anti-Russian crusade via the fake toxin accusations at this time?

This paper is directed at providing key elements to address these questions.

The Historical Context for Western Aggression

Several fundamental historical factors dating back to the 1990’s account for the current surge in Western hostility to Russia.

First and foremost, during the 1990’s the US degraded Russia, reducing it to a vassal state, and imposing itself as a unipolar state.

Secondly, Western elites pillaged the Russian economy, seizing and laundering hundreds of billions of dollars. Wall Street and City of London banks and overseas tax havens were the main beneficiaries

Thirdly, the US seized and took control of the Russian electoral process, and secured the fraudulent “election” of Yeltsin.

Fourthly, the West degraded Russia’s military and scientific institutions and advanced their armed forces to Russia’s borders.

Fifthly, the West insured that Russia was unable to support its allies and independent governments throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Russia was unable to aid its allies in the Ukraine, Cuba, North Korea, Libya etc.

With the collapse of the Yeltsin regime and the election of President Putin, Russia regained its sovereignty, its economy recovered, its armed forces and scientific institutes were rebuilt and strengthened. Poverty was sharply reduced and Western backed gangster capitalists were constrained, jailed or fled mostly to the UK and the US.

Russia’s historic recovery under President Putin and its gradual international influence shattered US pretense to rule over unipolar world. Russia’s recovery and control of its economic resources lessened US dominance, especially of its oil and gas fields.

As Russia consolidated its sovereignty and advanced economically, socially, politically and militarily, the West increased its hostility in an effort to roll-back Russia to the Dark Ages of the 1990’s.

The US launched numerous coups and military intervention and fraudulent elections to surround and isolate Russia . The Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Russian allies in Central Asia were targeted. NATO military bases proliferated.

Russia’s economy was targeted: sanctions were directed at its imports and exports. President Putin was subject to a virulent Western media propaganda campaign. US NGO’s funded opposition parties and politicians.

The US-EU rollback campaign failed.

The encirclement campaign failed.

The Ukraine fragmented – Russia allies took control of the East; Crimea voted for unification with Russia. Syria joined with Russia to defeat armed US vassals. Russia turned to China’s multi-lateral trade, transport and financial networks.

As the entire US unipolar fantasy dissolved it provoked deep resentment, animosity and a systematic counter-attack. The US’s costly and failed war on terror became a dress rehearsal for the economic and ideological war against the Kremlin. Russia’s historical recovery and defeat of Western rollback intensified the ideological and economic war.

The UK poison plot was concocted to heighten economic tensions and prepare the western public for heightened military confrontations.

Russia is not a threat to the West: it is recovering its sovereignty in order to further a multi-polar world. President Putin is not an “aggressor” but he refuses to allow Russia to return to vassalage.

President Putin is immensely popular in Russia and is hated by the US precisely because he is the opposite of Yeltsin – he has created a flourishing economy; he resists sanctions and defends Russia’s borders and allies.

Conclusion

In a summary response to the opening questions.

1) The Western regimes recognize that Russia is a threat to their global dominance; they know that Russia is no threat to invade the EU, North America or their vassals.

2) Western regimes believe they can topple Russia via economic warfare including sanctions. In fact Russia has become more self-reliant and has diversified its trading partners, especially China, and even including Saudi Arabia and other Western allies.

The Western propaganda campaign has failed to turn Russian voters against Putin. In the March 19, 2018 Presidential election voter participation increased to 67%. Vladimir Putin secured a record 77% majority. President Putin is politically stronger than ever.

Russia’s display of advanced nuclear and other advanced weaponry has had a major deterrent effect especially among US military leaders, making it clear that Russia is not vulnerable to attack.

The UK has attempted to unify and gain importance with the EU and the US via the launch of its anti-Russia toxic conspiracy. Prime Minister May has failed. Brexit will force the UK to break with the EU.

President Trump will not replace the EU as a substitute trading partner. While the EU and Washington may back the UK crusade against Russia they will pursue their own trade agenda; which do not include the UK.

In a word, the UK, the EU and the US are ganging-up on Russia, for diverse historic and contemporary reasons. The UK exploitation of the anti-Russian conspiracy is a temporary ploy to join the gang but will not change its inevitable global decline and the break-up of the UK.

Russia will remain a global power. It will continue under the leadership of President Putin.The Western powers will divide and bugger their neighbors – and decide it is their better judgment to accept and work within a multi-polar world.

Comment: The blind and rapid tumble of so many countries into this abyss is boggling. It suggests there are deeper connections at work rising to the surface.

 
See Also:

US Media Sings A Happy Song & That is Why We Should Be Afraid – By Caleb Maupin (New Eastern Outlook)

Author: Caleb Maupin

 

 

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The understanding that the American press, both TV and print media, thrives on negativity is deeply embedded in the culture, so much so that the theme music to the popular 1990s American TV sit-com “Family Matters” began with the couplet:


Its a rare condition this day and age, 
to read any good news on a newspaper page…

The US media is a for-profit industry. TV outlets depend on advertising revenue, the value of which depends on ratings. The drive of mainstream American TV news networks is to increase ratings, and make profits. Bad news, scandal, and sensationalism is a way to do that.

However, the commercially-owned mainstream American press has always had another role: crafting public opinion. A huge amount of US government funds are devoted to handling and managing the media. The government and the political establishment is deeply worried about making sure that the US public thinks in ways that are conducive to their overall goals and strategies. The CIA’s project mockingbird, and the cozy relationship between reporters, newspaper owners, and various Presidential administrations is the most blatant example. US Military intelligence agencies have sponsored over 1,800 hollywood films. School textbooks in California and Texas have their academic standards set in a highly politicized process.

So, with the understanding that negativity and sensationalism are US media’s focus, while it also serves a political purpose as a public relations wing of the American elite, a recent trend in US mainstream mass media should be quite disturbing, when carefully analyzed.

The US media, long known for its negativity intended to grab ratings, is suddenly printing articles, publishing widely circulated books, and featuring commentators all echoing the message: “Don’t worry, everything is going to be OK.”

This uncharacteristic behavior of American media almost perfectly fits the stereotypical portrayal of government propaganda in supposedly “totalitarian states.” Many dystopian science fiction films feature some dark, high tech police state where the controlled press harps on with the message: “Things are going very well, don’t worry, just obey.”

A dull “everything is OK, calm down” message is suddenly being put forth in an American media that has nothing to gain from it in terms of ratings or newspaper sales. A lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal Weekend Review by Harvard Psychology Professor Steven Pinker criticized both the political left-wing and right-wing in the USA for their pessimism, and argued in terms of “the big picture” across centuries, that the western liberal democratic capitalist system has proved itself to be very successful.

Meanwhile, on February 20th, Public Affairs Books has released a text by Gregg Easterbrook entitled “Its Better Than It Looks.” The book has been widely reviewed by the US press. The text assures us that we need to be more positive in our assessment of world events. National Public Radio described the book’s message: “Between threats of nuclear war, devastating natural disasters, violence and political division at home, it might feel like things are really bad right now. But not necessarily so, says Gregg Easterbrook. He argues that by a lot of important measures, the United States and the world are on an upward trajectory.”

Similar messages have been dancing across American TV screens and radio waves in recent weeks, in a pattern that any careful observer would find peculiar.

A Growing Economic Bubble

Meanwhile, economic news continues to be selectively reported. For example, retail stores across the USA are closing. While US media was previously reporting on the decline of suburban malls and the elimination of retail jobs, suddenly the press is reporting about a rise in retail profits, and hope for the retail sector.

However, all the reports saying that the retail sector is doing well admit that the increase in retail purchases is not taking place at stores, but rather in online sales. The glowing reports about an increase in retail spending all point toward facts that have no bearing on saving the jobs of retail workers, as stores continue to close down. Despite all the talk of a retail boom (on the internet), stores continue to close across the USA, the latest being H&M clothing which closed scores of outlets across the country. Thousands of retail workers have lost their jobs.

Household debt is at record levels, and a lot of purchasing now taking place in the retail market is being done with credit cards. Furthermore, student debt is rising, and with a number of students unable to repay their debt. The student debt markets now face a specter of a potential crash.

Positive numbers on the stock market are certainly a good economic indicator, however, as the stock numbers rise, the population is not seeing an overall rise in its spending power. If Wall Street and Main Street are not rising together, a rise on the stock market simply indicates that the gap between the financialized, fictional Wall Street Casino, and the actual economy is getting larger.

Real economic growth involves the financial sector getting stronger as the population gets richer along with it. The USA hasn’t experienced real, sustainable financial growth since the 1950s. “Jobless Recoveries” and other peculiar anomalies show the extent to which Wall Street has insulated itself from the actual conditions of the American people. The result has been the gap between the financial and the real economy expanding for much longer than in the natural boom-bust cycle, making downturns far larger and dramatic.

Artificial growth only lasts so long, and these bubbles tend to burst. As Trump deregulates Wall Street, and rolls back government oversight of the financial sector, all while lowering taxes on corporations, another financial bubble is emerging.

The tone of the press, echoing the mantra of “everything is alright” is oddly reminiscent of 2007 and 2008 as the US economy was moving toward catastrophe. Desperate attempts by the press, politicians, and others to assure us that the economy is fine, while urging us to keep spending money we do not have, should have millions of Americans shouting “We’ve seen this movie before!”

Blaming Russia for Dissent

The happy song of the US media accompanies another oddly totalitarian trend, the constant blaming of discontent on foreign powers. In the aftermath of the school shooting in Florida, Russia was blamed for allegedly fomenting what was already probably the biggest political gap among the US public, the question of gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment. Russia was accused of both opposing and promoting gun ownership, in order to sew confusion among the public.

Not only is the US media singing a happy song, but it is now demanding, along with elected officials, that everyone else do the same thing. Russia isn’t accused of putting out a particular position, but rather of simply “sewing discord.” The message behind the endless talk of “bots” and “trolls” is that it is disloyalty and treason to hold dissident or negative assessments of the US political or economic situation. Doing so is allegedly aiding the Russians efforts to harm loyalty and confidence. The insinuation is that all nay-saying and complaint can be traced, somehow, back to Moscow. In order to be a good American, one is expected to simply repeat the media’s upbeat and positive message.

Meanwhile, the US media is giving voice to oddly pointed FBI announcements that Americans shouldn’t buy Chinese cellphones, and should be suspicious of Chinese University students as potential spies. While China is establishing strong economic ties with France and other countries, the United States is imposing steel tariffs and increasingly cutting itself off from the second largest economy in the world.

At the UN Security Council, the USA and its allies are desperately attempting to prevent the Syrian government from reclaiming the city of Eastern Ghouta. This enclave of Islamic extremists is very near the capital city of Damascus, which is densely populated with pro-government Syrians, many of whom have fled from other parts of the country.

Now that ISIS has been driven from Syria, there is a real fear that the government could win the war, and the longstanding US regime change operation could end in defeat.

As the US whistles a happy tune, and accuses those who disagree at home of being Russian bots, those they deem competitors on the global stage are getting stronger.

The Chinese state controlled machinery of production is marching ahead. Oil prices, a key factor in securing state revenue in Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Angola and Ecuador, are rising.


Political Fallout of a Potential Crash?

If a new financial crisis erupts, as is likely based on indicators, the political implications most likely would mean the demise of the Trump administration. Trump would be voted out of office in 2020, or perhaps even impeached, blamed for the mismanagement that created the fallout.

However, the slim possibility remains that Trump could make such a catastrophic economic situation work in his favor. If Trump were to respond to a financial crash by swiftly pushing his base of supporters into action, pushing forward his proposals for infrastructure, and giving a free hand to his allies in the policing agencies, as he often publicly advocates, the results could be a very swift resolution of the crisis.

In the event of a financial crash, a combination of street authoritarianism and economic arm-twisting, both of which Trump clearly does not oppose, could ultimately let him come out of the rubble looking like a savior. Trump could utilize a crash to become a figure like France’s Louis Bonaparte and his “Party of Order” who seized power in 1851.

Regardless of hypotheticals, the “don’t be afraid, everything is alright” tone in American media is not a good sign. It indicates that we should all be concerned about what will happen in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the absence of China’s concept of “win-win” relations in global trade, and human centered development is deeply disturbing. In our high tech world, framing international economic policies as a zero sum game cannot be be expected to have fruitful results.

Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
https://journal-neo.org/2018/03/05/us-media-sings-a-happy-song-that-is-why-we-should-be-afraid/

Blow to NATO? Moscow & Ankara sign S-400 air defence system deal, Turkish media report – By RT

Blow to NATO? Moscow & Ankara sign S-400 air defense system deal, Turkish media report
Moscow and Ankara have signed a $2.5-billion credit agreement on the purchase of S-400 air defense missile systems from Russia, according to Turkish media. The move previously caused concern of Turkey’s NATO partners.

The deal was signed in the Turkish capital, Ankara on Friday, local media report. The first delivery of two missile batteries is planned for the first quarter of 2020, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) said.

Earlier this week, Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said the two countries sorted out the remaining details behind the deal. Turkey will pay 45 percent of the cost in advance, with the remaining 55 percent to be covered by Russian loans, according to the head of Russian state-run Rostec Corporation, Sergey Chemezov.

The S-400 anti-aircraft system is designed to shoot down aerodynamic targets at a range of up to 400km and ballistic missiles up to 60km away. The system can use at least four interceptor missile types suited for different targets, while an S-400 detachment can engage up to 36 targets simultaneously. Such characteristics put the S-400 ahead of the US Patriot system, which “supports only one interceptor missile with a range of 96km,” National Interest reported, describing the S-400 as a “game changer” in the Middle East.

Turkey has been engaged in a row over the Russian-made air defense missile systems with its NATO partners. Despite several NATO members such as Bulgaria and Greece possessing Russia’s previous generation long-range surface-to-air missile systems, the S-300, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said that Turkey purchasing S-400s would be a matter of concern for Washington.

NATO says that the systems are incompatible with the bloc’s defenses. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed criticism, however, saying Ankara will not rely on protection from its NATO allies. “We take care of ourselves,” he said.

In September, Washington pulled out of a $1.2-million arms deal for Erdogan’s security guards. The Turkish leader slammed the move, accusing the US of arming terrorists, referring to the US delivering arms to Syrian Kurdish militias which Ankara sees as terrorists. Washington vowed to stop providing weapons to the militias in early December.

Russia, not America, is building a compassionate civilization and as a nation has retained her humanity – By Valeria Z. Nollan (Russia Insider)

Russia

In a speech on 3 May 2017 to the employees of the U.S. Department of State, Sec. of State Rex Tillerson made a statement that might surprise observers of the U.S.’s military actions abroad since the 1960s:

Now, I think it’s important to also remember that guiding all of our foreign policy actions are our fundamental values: our values around freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated. Those are our values.(1)

Tillerson’s words were no doubt well-intentioned, but in uttering them he ignored the troubled socio-political history of the country whose government he represents.

The question arises: Are the above-mentioned values reserved only for Anglo-Saxon white-skinned people, and not for the people of color in the Middle East, Asia, and other predominantly non-white parts of the world? Starting from the post-World War II period, when that cataclysm produced a world order favoring the United States, this superpower’s values were increasingly subsumed by its political interests. It is a sad fact that even before the 1950s most of the U.S.’s history manifests a will to subjugate peoples whose traditions or very existence stood in the way of American expansion. The tragedies of the Native American tribes, Cuba, and Puerto Rico provide examples of this mindset. Closer to the present time, the U.S.’s military interventions in El Salvador, Guatemala, Vietnam, and Honduras continue a foreign policy gone awry. So much for the practicing of the values “around freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated.”

Russian people

Russians marching to commemorate their relatives who died in WW2 – the phenomenon is called the ‘Immortal Regiment’

More recently, the U.S.’s and its European allies’ regime change projects in the Middle East and Ukraine have brought about millions of deaths and the wholesale destruction of the infrastructures of those parts of the world. Regime change and the politics of oil and natural gas pipelines, rather than the introduction of freedom, have been the real drivers behind these projects. It did not and does not matter to American elites that the peoples of Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine are in far worse straits now than before their countries were destabilized. What matters is that the ensuing chaos and privatization of resources and industries create conditions for currency speculation and plunder by oligarchs and politically-connected actors eager to cash in on other peoples’ misfortune. The U.S.’s stated project to dominate all parts of the world pushes aside the values of compassion for the Other and the accompanying sensibility of empathy-the intellectual and emotional attempt to place oneself in the Other’s position, to proverbially walk a mile in the Other’s shoes.

Can it be that the real decision makers steering the U.S. government-the neo-conservatives and their allies on Wall Street-have become so jaded, or distant, or uncaring concerning the carnage taking place in Yemen alone-an enormous humanitarian disaster that has spawned mass starvation, cholera, and other forms of human suffering–that such values as compassion no longer matter? Have these individuals ever stopped, even for a moment, to imagine the appalling circumstances of famine and preventable disease? Hunger is surely one of the worst ways to die, but to helplessly stand by and witness the slow, excruciating deaths by hunger of members of one’s family is far worse. Where is the value of compassion, of “the way people are treated”? How on earth can the U.S. Congress justify more arms sales to Saudi Arabia, when each member of that body knows that those weapons will be used against Yemen, one of the poorest nations on earth whose people have never done anything to hurt the United States? (2) Where is the courage among members of Congress to take a stand against such unethical decisions? How do the U.S.’s values support this genocide?

By contrast, compassion is actually a national value of Russia: this attitude derives richly from Russia’s Orthodox Christian theology of humility, asceticism, and brotherly love. Spirituality in general in Russia, expressed as well by her other heritage religions of Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism, influences everyday life in ways connected with compassion and empathy: mysticism with its understanding of the sacred, kindness to all living creatures, and almsgiving to the less fortunate all play a role in how the citizens of the Russian Federation interact with each other. These observations do not amount to idealizing Russian culture, but rather recognize spirituality as an essential feature that has existed on Russian soil for over one thousand years-and which was itself inherited from Christian Greece through the Eastern Roman Empire with its center at Constantinople. Among Russians a mystical, metaphysical acknowledgment of some higher, non-human-made system of values pervades their thoughts and actions.

Russia’s compassion and empathy derive not only from her spirituality, however. Even during the approximately seventy-year period of communist rule (1917-1987), the concept of the “collective” as a group of close-knit members of a specific workplace included more than how a “network” of colleagues is understood in the U.S.(3) In the Soviet collective its members supported each other not only emotionally, but also economically: if, for example, butter was available at a local store, one member would stand in line and bring back enough for the others. Because Russian culture by tradition is a spiritual and communal one, it follows that its citizens are guided by ethical and moral values that focus on each individual, but understand that individual as functioning within the whole of society. In contrast to many Americans, Russians do not self-centeredly promote themselves at the expense of everyone else, nor do they elevate the incessant acquisition of material things as the surest path to inner happiness.

It is well-known to anyone studying Russian and American social history that Russian community organization originated in the village (a communal structure), while American communities developed out of the family farm (an individual unit). In the Orthodox Christian East the individual views him- / herself in relative terms, as part of the collective whose needs are on the same level as the individual’s own. In the Protestant West the individual elevates his / her own needs as an absolute, in the spirit of fulfilling the self, of being the “self-made man” (as the expression goes), of being materially rich as the embodiment of the American Dream. Put more bluntly, while Orthodox Christianity emphasizes humility and moderation, Protestantism (especially of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) foregrounds the values of the successful capitalist businessman-optimism, self-confidence, and prosperity. It stands to reason that the individual within the collective has a more unmediated access to compassion and empathy-for the Other is ever-present in the group. The individual within him- / herself focuses first on the self, and later on those outside that self.

The American pioneering spirit and culture of individualism, to be sure, possess many appealing characteristics, including strength of will and resourcefulness. However, over time and particularly in the late twentieth century the pioneering, conquering spirit darkly metamorphosed into that of the grasping, exceptional American and exceptional nation. Attentiveness to the desires of the self became the individual’s raison d’être, and the aggregate of individuals striving for satisfaction broke up into even more separate human beings whose separate wills clashed with each other. Compassion and empathy had no room in these clashes, for the Other remained invisible. By the early twenty-first century, particularly among Republicans disaffected by the rise of Bill Clinton, “another spirit, more troubled and less humble” emerged, as Godfrey Hodgson elaborates in his The Myth of American Exceptionalism:

Their sharpest barbs were directed at the powerless. Their shibboleths were loyalty to corporate America, demonization of elected government, a libertarianism that focused especially on the abolition of taxes, indifference to the poor, and often a professed contempt for idealism.(4)

On the individual level the drive for money and self-sufficiency sidelined sustained care for others. Volunteerism, a tangible extension of compassion, as of September, 2014 dropped to a ten-year low in the U.S.(5) On the state level the U.S. government privileged tax breaks for the wealthy one per cent, but failed to provide viable funding for health care, education, and the infrastructure of America’s cities for the remaining ninety-nine per cent.

During the years of Barack Obama’s presidency the middle class and small businesses were hollowed out. As the family farm gave way to corporate factory farms, it became harder for individuals to be “self-made” or self-sufficient. Opportunities for individuals to show compassion for the livestock they raised disappeared as corporations invented new ways to exploit the animals for profit-even if it meant appalling confinement and torture of those sentient beings. And all this does not even take into account the billions of dollars spent on the perpetuation of the U.S.’s war machine for profit.

The U.S. needs to restore to itself an attitude of compassion and empathy, for as a nation it has lost its way and its people cannot identify a cluster of values that align with the nation’s geopolitical behavior. Compassion and empathy for the Other can serve as foundations for core values, if they are accompanied by humility and honest self-awareness. Any U.S. policymaker possessing a conscience and the capacity for change can benefit from the spiritual wisdom of Russian Orthodox Elder Zosima in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (1881): “Loving humility is marvelously strong, the strongest of all things . . . Every day and every hour, every minute, walk round yourself and watch yourself, and see that your image is a seemly one.”(6) This inner orientation is neither naïve not unrealistic, for a humble awareness of one’s own failings, along with an openness towards others, are imperatives for peacemaking in today’s international climate of hardheartedness and nuclear posturing.

Does it say something about the U.S.’s national values when, after the devastation visited upon New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the government refused an offer from Cuba to send medical personnel to that city to help treat the ill and wounded?

Does it say something about the U.S.’s national values when, after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in 2017, the island’s people had to fend for themselves for over two weeks in a shocking disregard for human life? Once again, the Cuban government offered to send electricians and engineers to its neighbor, but the U.S. refused this act of generosity. If U.S. decision makers were guided by compassion and knowledge about Cuba’s practices of offering help to Latin American countries, they would appreciate that Cuba with its highly-trained doctors and nurses could alleviate suffering-and that Cuban humanitarian assistance is given without ideological strings attached.

Does it say something about Russia’s national values when, despite the relentless demonizing in Canada of Russia’s president and its culture, Russia offered firefighting help and expertise to that northern country in 2016 to aid in managing the wildfires raging in Alberta? Although Russia was the first country to offer aid in this Canadian disaster, the aid was turned down-undoubtedly because Ottawa placed its prejudices against the Russians and its political alliance with the U.S. over the desperate needs of the Canadian people. Does this mean that the Russian government manifested compassion and empathy for the Other, while the Canadian government acted against the interests of its own?

Yes, it does. And Russia acted in a spirit of forgiveness, too, for all the undeserved humiliation and slights.

If the U.S.’s national values and interests were rooted in a genuine respect for humanity, its foreign policies-rather than promoting invasion and regime change-would promote compassion and empathy. If this were the case, the U.S. would join Russia’s efforts in de-mining parts of Syria and rebuilding the cultural treasure of Palmyra, rather than occupying the northeastern part of the country in order to control the oil fields there. If the U.S. were to abandon its ethno-centrism and militarism, it would be more closely aligned with its values, rather than diverging from them.

Saving the planet is still possible, but it will come through Russia’s model, with her initiatives for peace in Astana and Sochi, and on the Korean peninsula. And because Russia as a nation has retained her humanity.

(1) https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2017/05/270620.htm

(2) http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/20/why-are-we-helping-saudi-arabia-destroy-yemen/

(3) I thank culturologist A.V. Nabirukhina of St. Petersburg State University of Economics for her insights into this distinction.

(4) Godfrey Hodgson, The Myth of American Exceptionalism (Yale UP, 2009), 177-178.

(5) https://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/02/26/volunteering-hits-lowest-rate-in-more-than-10-years

(6) Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, trans. Constance Garnett (NY: Norton, 1976), 298.

Valeria Z. Nollan is a regular contributor to Russia Insider. She is professor emerita of Russian studies at Rhodes College. She was born in Hamburg, West Germany; she and her parents were Russian refugees displaced by World War II. Her books and articles on Russian literature, religion, and nationalism have made her an internationally-recognized authority on topics relating to modern Russia. She recently completed a new biography of Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Comment: America needs desperately a leader like President Putin, a true statesman for his people and countries around the globe.

Syria Is Rising From the Ashes and All Haters Can Do Is Deny This Is Thanks to a Syrian (and Russian)-Fought Victory – By David Macilwain

The determination and persistence of Syria and her most trustworthy allies against NATO’s barbarians has finally paid off, and Syria may now be “reborn”.

The rebels have been repulsed and ISIS beaten into the ground and all Empire’s errand boys can do is deny that defeat was brought about by Syria and Russia

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The day after Vladimir Putin’s announcement that the fight against the Islamic State was won, but before his “surprise appearance” at Russia’s Syrian airbase, Australia’s State Broadcaster the ABC chose to interview Matthew Levitt, from the Washington Institute’s Stein program on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence. Levitt was visiting Melbourne for a reason we only found out later, as one of 500 delegates to “the first meeting of the International Counter-Terrorism Forum to be held outside the US”.

The interview by the ABC’s Nick Grimm, provided a platform for Levitt to air his pathologically pro-Israel and anti-Resistance views, as well as to Levitt doesn’t just suggest that volleys of cruise missiles and hundreds of bombing runs “did very little”, but that the Russian and Syrian governments are therefore claiming IS “has been wiped out” by someone else! Levitt’s figure for the “missing” IS fighters is close to the estimate from the Russian MFA, of 33,000 killed by Russian and Syrian allied forces in the last two years. Whether the US and its active coalition partners – the UK, France and Australia – have killed the other few thousand, or just relocated them – is a moot point, but it is actually they who have been doing very little to combat their “Islamic State”. Counter any suggestions that Russia deserved credit for “wiping out IS in Syria”:

NG: “Russia and Bashar al Assad have declared that IS has been completely wiped out in Syria, now how accurate is that assessment in your opinion?”

ML: “In the first instance it’s pretty rich for Russia to be making those statements as Russia has been very active militarily in Syria but mostly in defence of the Assad regime, doing very little actually to combat the Islamic state. A more credible source is the International coalition of which the US and Australia are key partners, and they say that whereas at its height the Islamic State had somewhere around 40,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, now it’s down to 3000 – that’s a very significant victory.”

 

Levitt’s claims to know more about Russia’s chosen targets in Syria than the pilots who dropped bombs on them, have to be assessed in the light of his record and writings. Focusing on Hamas and Hezbollah they reveal that his ideas of the terrorist threat allegedly facing the world are the mirror image of reality – or at least of the “Syrian reality” – which now includes the “Russian reality”, the “Lebanese reality” and the “Iranian reality” along with more than a few others.For this man – who speaks for so many of his colleagues in the think-tanks of the “Anglo-Zionist Empire” – a Palestinian boy with a rock or a Hezbollah member of Lebanon’s government are greater terrorist threats than a violent Salafist mercenary with a US-supplied TOW missile launcher. Such an incredibly partisan and self-serving – or Israel-serving – point of view would be ridiculed if it were subject to any impartial commentary, such as Levitt might receive from our friends at RT, Press TV or Al Mayadeen.

But it’s far from a joke that this pathetic and frankly imbecilic propaganda is treated with respect and admiration by our media. This exchange between Matthew Levitt and ABC TV news presenter Beverley O’Connor, aired the evening before the radio interview above, well illustrates the problem that we now face in winning the “misinformation war” over Syria:

ML: “My biggest concern though is that Assad is still there, and he’s the biggest recruiter for Sunni extremism that you could possibly imagine, and there are many people around the world, some in the US, some that I’ve already met here in Australia who say “you know what, we really need a solution to this, maybe Assad should stay, and I think that this is very dangerous..”

Beverley O’Connor: …”very dangerous, and you’re not hearing very much from the States on Syria either at the moment, it’s gone very quiet..”

ML: “let me be very blunt – the United States has a counter ISIL policy, it doesn’t have a Syria policy, and that’s a problem.”

BC: –“a big problem…”

The main subject of this interview was the US move that same day to “recognise” Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, and Levitt’s agenda was clearly to present that as “merely an acceptance of reality”, and no impediment to the peace process. While the Australian government hasn’t dared to express support for Trump’s incendiary proposal, its past record of unconditional support for the Apartheid state suggests it would be happy to follow suit when it is expedient. Mouthing platitudes about the “two-state solution” has also now become untenable, so “Israel’s greatest friend” Australia will actually have little choice.

It is tempting to see Levitt as an emissary of the US state, who has been working on Australia for a while. Back in 2013, as a guest of AIJAC – the Australia Israel Jewish Affairs Council, he pushed for the Australian government to classify ALL of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, in line with US policy. While this push was apparently unsuccessful, the Australian government doesn’t seem to recognise Hassan Nasrallah as a legitimate and popular leader in Lebanon any more than it recognises Bashar al Assad as President of Syria.

And thanks to the failure, or efforts, of media and think tanks and right-wing commentators, and the exclusion of alternative media like RT or Al Manar from Australian TV services, it would be hard to find any Australians who recognised Sayyad Hassan Nasrallah at all, outside Australia’s Lebanese community. That community is quite influential, but reflects the divided nature of its home country; it has also been the source of some of the Australians who have gone off to “join the Caliphate”.

So where is this leading us?Following Putin’s statement, and the rather direct comments from the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani that the US needed to leave Syria NOW, one might have expected some reaction from the Australian government; perhaps even some begrudged thanks to Russia for “helping” to destroy the Islamic State, enabling “our men and women” to come home in time for Christmas. One might even have expected such a disingenuous statement as part of the continuing charade Australia has been playing over Syria for the last six years, given one issued only days earlier following the Iraqi announcement of victory over IS.

But there was nothing! Instead it seemed as though Australia and her allies in the GWOT were too pre-occupied with keeping the decapitated body of their Trojan Horse alive. So as Presidents Assad and Putin celebrated and thanked the weary troops for their hard-fought victory, Australians were being warned that terrorist attacks were more likely in the coming holiday period because the jihadis would be heading home.

With uncanny timing, and warning of the possible “re-direction” to come, a man detonated a bomb in a New York subway, claiming both to be inspired by Islamic State and to be protesting against Israeli actions in Gaza. His knowledge of bomb-making was no better than his knowledge of IS, as he failed to kill anyone, even himself.

That he didn’t know IS has never said a word against Israel or in defence of Palestinians and their holy city of Al Quds is however unsurprising – it is the West’s best kept secret about the “Global Terrorist Threat”.

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Strategic submarines Borei to enhance Russia’s nuclear potential — Navy’s commander – By Military & Defence (TASS)

December 12, 16:54 UTC+3

Currently, the Russian Navy incorporates three strategic nuclear-powered Borei submarines

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© Lev Fedoseyev/TASS

MOSCOW, December 12. /TASS/. The potential of Russia’s naval nuclear force will grow as more nuclear-powered Borei project submarines continue to be built, the Navy’s commander-in-chief Admiral Vladimir Korolyov said on Tuesday.

“Maintaining the combat potential of the strategic naval force by commissioning Borei-A and Borei-B missile-carrying submarines at the proper level will be the main guideline for the fleet’s development,” Korolyov said at a joint meeting of the coordinating council of veterans’ organizations and the Navy’s command.

Korolyov briefed the Navy’s veterans on the outlook for the development of the Russian Navy under the state program for armaments in 2018-2027. There are plans for building up the combat potential of the general purpose forces by creating ships for operations in the ocean, distant sea and littoral zones, upgrading vessels currently in service, providing advanced aircraft for Russia’s Naval Aviation and coastal missile complexes for the on-shore naval units, and increasing the groups of ships carrying high accuracy weapons.”

As the chief of Russia’s General Staff General Valery Gerasimov said earlier, work is already in progress on creating strategic nuclear-powered Borei-B submarines.

 

Currently, the Russian Navy incorporates three strategic nuclear-powered Borei submarines (project 955) – The Yuri Dolgoruky, The Aleksandr Nevsky, and The Vladimir Monomakh. They are armed with solid propellant inter-continental ballistic missiles Bulava. Each submarine can carry up to sixteen such missiles. Another five Borei-A submarines are being built. The keel of the last submarine in the series, The Knyaz Pozharsky, was laid in December last year.

Earlier, the CEO of the Central Design Bureau Rubin, which developed Borei, Igor Vilnit, told TASS the project would be worked on further after the series of upgraded submarines Borei-A was delivered.

More:
http://tass.com/defense/980533

Maria Zakharova: Obama Admin Threatened Russia Would “Feel Pain” for Intervening in Syria – Proved That Evil Is Claimed Right of Mightiest Nation – By Translated by Inessa Sinchougova

Russian FM spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

In a recent interview with Russia 1 TV channel, Russian government spokeswoman Maria Zakharova exposes the direct, murderous threats that were leveled at the Russian government and military by Western politicians, in particular officials from the US State Department, including John Kerry.

(Those outside of the U.S. may be able to view the video on YouTube.)

Zakharova cites statements made at private discussions between Russian Foreign Minister Segey Lavrov and John Kerry, and at other high-level meetings, where Russia was directly threatened with “pain” and a “media campaign” to twist the truth of what Russia was doing in Syria:

Zakharova: I’d like to remind you that since October 2015, when Russia’s air campaign to Syria was announced, as an invitation extended to the entire world to united in this struggle – not even our struggle, but a threat to the whole world – I’d like to remind you how events unfolded.

I reviewed many recordings of diplomatic talks from October 2015, and this is what we were told at a high level by Ministers of Foreign Affairs: “We were asked to pass on to you the most serious of warnings: Russia is going to be hurting. They will make sure that Russia truly feels what pain is. Keep this in mind.” And this came from diplomats during a diplomatic round of discussions.

[They said,] “Keep in mind that everything you do in reality will be manipulated by a media campaign, which will cancel out the results of your work. You’re going to fight terrorists? You will look like the aggressor.”

This was said in October/November 2015 [i.e., the first 2 months of Russia’s air campaign in Syria]. After they failed to scare us —

Solovyov: Was this during the famous talks between Kerry and Lavrov?

Zakharova: I can’t directly quote anyone because the talks were closed to the media. I can only say that such words were delivered to us not once, but throughout much of October [2015], as part of the discussions of Russia’s Representative of Foreign Affairs and his international counterparts. I’m talking about Sergey Lavrov’s colleagues, who attribute themselves to be from the most forward and civilized of countries.

So we’re not talking about someone who just recently barged into the world of foreign affairs. We are talking about people who constitute the world’s elite. They told us these words.

What happened after that? After it became clear just how openly, transparently, and on which precise targets Russia’s Airforce was working, and how perfectly Russia’s personnel were carrying out commands, then began the direct disinformation campaign that discredited our actions. Well, the media is one thing, but I’d like to remind you: The U.S. State Department and the White House, from the mouths of their official representatives, directly threatened to cause us pain.

So, those words that were said in October 2015 behind closed doors were then delivered publicly. You remember the promised ‘graves’ and ‘coming home in body bags’. This was said by all: the U.S. Secretary of Defense, not only diplomatic representatives. Then all of this was regurgitated into the media, as a result of closed-door discussions in Washington. But then they went even further. Official Foreign Affairs representatives began to call upon their people to come out and protest in front of Russian embassies.

Solovyov: Yes, I remember that, the words of Britain’s Foreign Secretary.

Zakharova: Yes, just one example. He is seen as somewhat of a marginal character in terms of foreign policy, or politics as a whole, and his words may not hold as much weight as some more experienced officials, but nevertheless he said those words. These words, within a matter of weeks, were converted into specific actions.

He wasn’t the only one to call for protests outside Russian embassies. He is only that which was in the public eye. All [anti-Russian] campaigns over the past couple years have been supported by official Ministries of Foreign Affairs of other states, either financially or by other creative means.

That which began in October 2015 ended with the murder of our ambassador in December 2016.

I’ll remind you of one more thing – we’ve talked about this. Let’s remember the real attacks, not those campaigns with plastic arms and legs in London or posters in front of our embassies in the EU, but the shelling of the Russian Embassy in Damascus. Russia’s official representative [to the UN], Vitaly Churkin, would always pose this question at the UN Security Council. Who were the people who blocked these questions? It was the very same people who, through the mouths of their official representatives, promised that we would “feel pain”. It was the very same people who, in collaboration with the mainstream media, deliberated how to truly hurt Russia. They blocked all statements by our representatives to the Security Council who condemned the attacks on Russia’s diplomatic representatives.

Solovyov: When our ambassador was killed, Trump sent his words of sympathy, the U.S. State Department did also, but Obama personally did not. Is this in line with international protocol? Or is this an attempt at insulting us?

Zakharova: Obama, I think, is a unique person. I’m only talking about foreign policy, because domestic policy is for Americans, and it is only U.S. citizens who should have the right to assess it. But Obama is a person – and I mean the whole administration under him – whose team, as it worked out on the international arena, was bad for everyone. I think during his 8-year term – under the pretext of ‘exclusivity’ – they became the subject of disgust for the entire world. That’s my impression.

They did not deliver on any responsibilities they had to other nations, nor did they deliver on what the American people entrusted to them, on the international arena. This is an obvious thing. And the main thing – of course, I am not a lawyer or a human rights activist – but from a moral point of view, they have committed crimes. They showed us that the strongest [military] has unlimited rights to create evil [in the world]. That’s what is going to go down in history for this administration.

Let me say it again: they demonstrated the belief that the strongest has the right to create evil.

This is in the 21st century! We’re not in the Middle Ages, we’re not in antiquity, this is today.

Solovyov: I’d just like to confirm the facts. So Obama personally did not send condolences [for the ambassador’s murder]?

Zakharova: I can’t say. I know that we received genuine words from our colleagues in the State Department, I can confirm that. We received an immense amount of letters, and between 19-20 December had to announce that we cannot acknowledge each message and call at a high level. A lot of them we couldn’t answer as we also had to tend to the real practical steps of the investigation. We had to send investigators as well as other urgent steps, etc. So words of sympathy were said by many, but what Obama did or didn’t–

You know the question is not over what he said now, but what he and his team have done over the past eight years. I emphasize the team that surrounded him in the White House. I think we’re going to find out a lot. Give it six months to a year. We’re going to find out a lot about the real under-the-carpet struggle that took place there, between those who understood at least something about foreign affairs – that [the U.S.] is leading the world into a dead end – versus those who pursued these mindless policies, illogical for all of us.

Now matter who I’ve talked to, I’ve never met anyone who said, “These guys are doing great, they’re doing the right thing!”

Solovyov: Where have they ever done right?

Comment: See also: Zakharova telling it like it is: Entire world ‘disgusted by Obama administration’s foreign policy’
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Soviet agent Obama steals the show calling Russia a ‘military superpower’ – By Pravda.ru

18.11.2016
 
obamainberlin

AP photo

Outgoing President Barack Obama said during a press conference in Berlin that Russia is a military superpower that shows influence on both its region and the whole world, Politonline.ru reports.

“My principle approach to Russia has been constant since I first came in the office. Russia is an important country. It is a military superpower. It has influence in the region and it has influence around the world.” Barack Obama said.

According to him, there are “some significant differences in how Russia views the world and how we view the world.” Obama also accused Moscow of the allegedly established facts of cyber attacks against Russia and left his “political will” to the Germans not to lift sanctions from Russia.

Earlier, however, the US president has made different statements. In an interview with Fox News, he said that only the United States could remain a dominant state in the 21st century. He continued with saying that it was only the United States that could twist arms of other countries, because America was an exceptional nation. Obama also called Russia a “regional superpower” whose weakness posed a threat to some of her neighbors.

I think that the reasoning on the other countries, the attempted reasoning on other countries in a derogatory manner is the flip side to prove their exclusivity. It seems to me that this is wrong,Russian President Putin later responded in an interview with Bild magazine. He added that Russia did not even aspire to the role of a “total superpower, because it’s very expensive and is not worth it.”

Pravda.Ru previously wrote that Obama’s failed policies have led to the fact that the United States handed over the role of the key player in the middle East to Russia. According to K.T. McFarland, an expert on national security, Obama’s “leading from behind” strategy has allowed the United States to get “played” by Russia, Iran, North Korea and China on the world stage. “They may be insignificant things like, the Chinese ‘couldn’t find’ a staircase to bring up to the plane when President Obama landed in China,” McFarland said. “But, they could be more significant things, like the Russians basically telling the United States, look, if you’re in the way, we’re going to bomb you…we have no leverage to calm them down. We’re deluding ourselves to think we’re players in the Middle East,” McFarland said on Fox News on September 5.

 

According to McFarland, there are only two sides in the Middle East – one of them is Russia, Iran and Assad and the other side is the Islamic State. The US, she added, only tries to be a mythical third side.

Barack Obama is a Soviet agent

“Suddenly, it appeared to me that Obama is a Soviet agent who was integrated into the American system, and his main task is to revive the USSR in a new form. He constantly reminds us of the achievements in economy, education and healthcare that Russia has been making while living in isolation.

“He imposed sanctions on Russia to trigger import substitution and countersanctions to revive the Russia domestic agriculture and industry. Russia’s import substitution causes huge damage to European farmers, making the EU support its farmers financially to smooth their discontent.

“Now there is another wonderful initiative: the US complains of Russia’s import substitution at the WTO. I think the WTO should give this process a go as it would suspend Russia’s membership in this organization. In this case, Russia would be relieved of a multitude of obligations.

“As for additional measures to tighten sanctions against Russia, I would suggest Washington should include Russian scientists on sanction lists. Russia wins in all of these cases, and all the scary stories about Russia’s decline are meant for internal purposes.

“If Obama is a Soviet agent, we can only applaud him as he has stolen the show,” chairman of the Board of Directors of Pravda.Ru media holding Vadim Gorshenin said.

Pravda.Ru

Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru


Putin teaches Obama a lesson

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America’s Coup Machine: Destroying Democracy Since 1953 – By Nicolas J.S. Davies / AlterNet

19 September 2016
i

 
 

America’s Coup Machine: Destroying Democracy Since 1953

U.S. efforts to overthrow foreign governments leave the world less peaceful, less just and less hopeful.

Soon after the 2004 U.S. coup to depose President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, I heard Aristide’s lawyer Ira Kurzban speaking in Miami.  He began his talk with a riddle: “Why has there never been a coup in Washington D.C.?”  The answer: “Because there is no U.S. Embassy in Washington D.C.”  This introduction was greeted with wild applause by a mostly Haitian-American audience who understood it only too well.
Ukraine’s former security chief, Aleksandr Yakimenko, has reported that the coup-plotters who overthrew the elected government in Ukraine, “basically lived in the (U.S.) Embassy.  They were there every day.”  We also know from a leaked Russian intercept that they were in close contact with Ambassador Pyatt and the senior U.S. official in charge of the coup, former Dick Cheney aide Victoria Nuland, officially the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.  And we can assume that many of their days in the Embassy were spent in strategy and training sessions with their individual CIA case officers.
To place the coup in Ukraine in historical context, this is at least the 80th time the United States has organized a coup or a failed coup in a foreign country since 1953.  That was when President Eisenhower discovered in Iran that the CIA could overthrow elected governments who refused to sacrifice the future of their people to Western commercial and geopolitical interests.  Most U.S. coups have led to severe repression, disappearances, extrajudicial executions, torture, corruption, extreme poverty and inequality, and prolonged setbacks for the democratic aspirations of people in the countries affected.  The plutocratic and ultra-conservative nature of the forces the U.S. has brought to power in Ukraine make it unlikely to be an exception.
Noam Chomsky calls William Blum’s classic, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II, “Far and away the best book on the topic.”  If you’re looking for historical context for what you are reading or watching on TV about the coup in Ukraine, Killing Hope will provide it.  The title has never been more apt as we watch the hopes of people from all regions of Ukraine being sacrificed on the same altar as those of people in Iran (1953); Guatemala(1954); Thailand (1957); Laos (1958-60); the Congo (1960); Turkey (1960, 1971 & 1980); Ecuador (1961 & 1963); South Vietnam (1963); Brazil (1964); the Dominican Republic (1963); Argentina (1963); Honduras (1963 & 2009); Iraq (1963 & 2003); Bolivia (1964, 1971 & 1980); Indonesia (1965); Ghana (1966); Greece (1967); Panama (1968 & 1989); Cambodia (1970); Chile (1973); Bangladesh (1975); Pakistan (1977); Grenada (1983); Mauritania (1984); Guinea (1984); Burkina Faso (1987); Paraguay (1989); Haiti (1991 & 2004); Russia (1993); Uganda (1996);and Libya (2011).  This list does not include a roughly equal number of failed coups, nor coups in Africa and elsewhere in which a U.S. role is suspected but unproven.
The disquieting reality of the world we live in is that American efforts to destroy democracy, even as it pretends to champion it, have left the world less peaceful, less just and less hopeful.  When Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, at the height of the genocidal American war on Iraq, he devoted much of his acceptance speech to an analysis of this dichotomy.  He said of the U.S., “It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good.  It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis… Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever.”
The basic framework of U.S. coups has hardly evolved since 1953.  The main variables between coups in different places and times have been the scale and openness of the U.S. role and the level of violence used.  There is a strong correlation between the extent of U.S. involvement and the level of violence.  At one extreme, the U.S. war on Iraq was a form of regime change that involved hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and killed hundreds of thousands of people.  On the other hand, the U.S. role in General Suharto’s coup in Indonesia in 1965 remained covert even as he killed almost as many people.  Only long after the fact didU.S. officials take credit for their role in Suharto’s campaign of mass murder, and it will be some time before they brag publicly about their roles in Ukraine.
But as Harold Pinter explained, the U.S. has always preferred “low-intensity conflict” to full-scale invasions and occupations.  The CIA and U.S. special forces use proxies and covert operations to overthrow governments and suppress movements that challenge America’s insatiable quest for global power.  A coup is the climax of such operations, and it is usually only when these “low-intensity” methods fail that a country becomes a target for direct U.S. military aggression.  Iraq only became a target for U.S. invasion and occupation after a failed CIA coup in June 1996.  The U.S. attacked Panama in 1989 only after five CIA coup attempts failed to remove General Noriega from power.  After long careers as CIA agents, both Hussein and Noriega had exceptional knowledge of U.S. operations and methods that enabled them to resist regime change by anything less than overwhelming U.S. military force.
But most U.S. coups follow a model that has hardly changed between 1953 and the latest coup in Ukraine in 2014.  This model has three stages:

1) Creating and strengthening opposition forces

In the early stages of a U.S. plan for regime change, there is little difference between the methods used to achieve it at the ballot box or by an anti-constitutional coup.  Many of these tools and methods were developed to install right-wing governments in occupied countries in Europe and Asia after World War II.  They include forming and funding conservative political parties, student groups, trade unions and media outlets, and running well-oiled propaganda campaigns both in the country being targeted and in regional, international and U.S. media.
Post-WWII Italy is a case in point.  At the end of the war, the U.S. used the American Federation of Labor’s agents in France and Italy to funnel money through non-communist trade unions to conservative candidates and political parties.  But socialists and communists won a plurality of votes in the 1946 election in Italy, and then joined forces to form the Popular Democratic Front for the next election in 1948.  The U.S. worked with the Catholic Church, conducted a massive propaganda campaign using Italian-American celebrities like Frank Sinatra, and printed 10 million letters for Italian-Americans to mail to their relatives in Italy.  The U.S. threatened a total cut-off of aid to the war-ravaged country, where allied bombing had killed 50,000 civilians and left much of the country in ruins.
The FDP was reduced from a combined 40% of the votes in 1946 to 31% in 1948, leaving Italy in the hands of increasingly corrupt U.S.-backed coalitions led by the Christian Democrats for the next 46 years.  Italy was saved from an imaginary communist dictatorship, but more importantly from an independent democratic socialist program committed to workers’ rights and to protecting small and medium-sized Italian businesses against competition from U.S. multinationals.
The U.S. employed similar tactics in Chile in the 1960s to prevent the election of Salvador Allende.  He came within 3% of winning the presidency in 1958, so the Kennedy administration sent a team of 100 State Department and CIA officers to Chile in what one of them later called a “blatant and almost obscene” effort to subvert the next election in 1964.  The CIA provided more than half the Christian Democrats’ campaign funds and launched a multimedia propaganda campaign on film, TV, radio, newspapers, posters and flyers.  This classic “red scare” campaign, dominated by images of firing squads and Soviet tanks, was designed mainly to terrify women.  The CIA produced 20 radio spots per day that were broadcast on at least 45 stations, as well as dozens of fabricated daily “news” broadcasts.  Thousands of posters depicted children with hammers and sickles stamped on their foreheads.  The Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei defeated Allende by 17%, with a huge majority among women.
But despite the U.S. propaganda campaign, Allende was finally elected in 1970.  When he consolidated his position in Congressional elections in 1973 despite a virtual U.S. economic embargo and an ever-escalating destabilization campaign, his fate was sealed, at the hands of the CIA and the U.S.-backed military, led by General Pinochet.
In Ukraine, the U.S. has worked since independence in 1991 to promote pro-Western parties and candidates, climaxing in the “Orange Revolution” in 2004.  But the Western-backed governments of Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko became just as corrupt and unpopular as previous ones, and former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich was elected President in 2010.
The U.S. employed all its traditional tactics leading up to the coup in 2014.  The U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has partially taken over the CIA’s role in grooming opposition candidates, parties and political movements, with an annual budget of $100 million to spend in countries around the world.  The NED made no secret of targeting Ukraine as a top priority, funding 65 projects there, more than in any other country.  The NED’s neoconservative president, Carl Gershman, called Ukraine “the biggest prize” in a Washington Post op-ed in September 2013, as the U.S. operation there prepared to move into its next phase.

2) Violent street demonstrations

In November 2013, the European Union presented President Yanukovich with a 1,500 page “free trade agreement,” similar to NAFTA or the TPP, but which withheld actual EU membership from Ukraine.  The agreement would have opened Ukraine’s borders to Western exports and investment without a reciprocal opening of the EU’s borders. Ukraine, a major producer of cheese and poultry, would have been allowed to export only 5% of its cheese and 1% of its poultry to the EU.  Meanwhile Western firms could have used Ukraine as a gateway to flood Russia with cheap products from Asia. This would have forced Russia to close its borders to Ukraine, shattering the industrial economy of Eastern Ukraine.
Understandably, and for perfectly sound reasons as a Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich rejected the EU agreement.  This was the signal for pro-Western and right-wing groups in Kiev to take to the street.  In the West, we tend to interpret street demonstrations as representing surges of populism and democracy.  But we should distinguish left-wing demonstrations against right-wing governments from the kind of violent right-wing demonstrations that have always been part of U.S. regime change strategy.
In Tehran in 1953, the CIA spent a million dollars to hire gangsters and “extremely competent professional organizers”, as the CIA’s Kermit Roosevelt called them, to stage increasingly violent demonstrations, until loyal and rebel army units were fighting in the streets of Tehran and at least 300 people were killed.  The CIA spent millions more to bribe members of parliament and other influential Iranians.  Mossadegh was forced to resign, and the Shah restored Western ownership of the oil industry.  BP divided the spoils with American firms, until the Shah was overthrown 26 years later by the Iranian Revolution and the oil industry was re-nationalized.  This pattern of short-term success followed by eventual independence from U.S. interests is a common result of CIA coups, most notably in Latin America, where they have led many of our closest neighbors to become increasingly committed to political and economic independence from the United States.
In Haiti in 2004, 200 U.S. special forces trained 600 FRAPH militiamen and other anti-Lavalas forces at a training camp across the border in the Dominican Republic.  These forces then invaded northern Haiti and gradually spread violence and chaos across the country to set the stage for the overthrow of President Aristide.
In Ukraine, street protests turned violent in January 2014 as the neo-NaziSvoboda Party and the Right Sector militia took charge of the crowds in the streets.  The Right Sector militia only appeared in Ukraine in the past 6 months, although it incorporated existing extreme-right groups and gangs.  It is partly funded by Ukrainian exiles in the U.S. and Europe, and may be a creation of the CIA.  After Right Sector seized government buildings, parliament outlawed the protests and the police reoccupied part of Independence Square, killing two protesters.
On February 7th, the Russians published an intercepted phone callbetweenAssistant Secretary of State Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.  The intercept revealed that U.S. officials were preparing to seize the moment for a coup in Ukraine.  The transcript reads like a page from a John Le Carre novel: “I think we’re in play… we could land jelly-side up on this one if we move fast.”  Their main concern was to marginalize heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, who had become the popular face of the “revolution” and was favored by the European Union, and to ensure that U.S. favorite Arseniy Yatsenyuk ended up in the Prime Minister’s office.
On the night of February 17th, Right Sector announced a march from Independence Square to the parliament building on the 18th.  This ignited several days of escalating violence in which the death toll rose to 110 people killed, including protesters, government supporters and 16 police officers.  More than a thousand people were wounded. Vyacheslav Veremyi, a well-known reporter for a pro-government newspaper, was dragged out of a taxi near Independence Square and shot to death in front of a crowd of onlookers.  Right Sector broke into an armory near Lviv and seized military weapons, and there is evidence of both sides using snipers to fire from buildings in Kiev at protesters and police in the streets and the square below.  Former security chief Yakimenkobelieves that snipers firing from the Philharmonic building were U.S.-paid foreign mercenaries, like the snipers from the former Yugoslavia who earn up to $2,000 per day shooting soldiers in Syria.
As violence raged in the streets, the government and opposition parties held emergency meetings and reached two truce agreements, one on the night of February 19th and another on the 21st, brokered by the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland.  But Right Sector rejected both truces and called for the “people’s revolution” to continue until Yanukovich resigned and the government was completely removed from power.

3) The coup d’etat.

The creation and grooming of opposition forces and the spread of violence in the streets are deliberate strategies to create a state of emergency as a pretext for removing an elected or constitutional government and seizing power.  Once the coup leaders have been trained and prepared by their CIA case officers, U.S. officials have laid their plans and street violence has broken down law and order and the functioning of state institutions, all that remains is to strike decisively at the right moment to remove the government and install the coup leaders in its place.  In Iran, faced with hundreds of people being killed in the streets, Mohammad Mosaddegh resigned to end the bloodshed. In Chile, General Pinochet launched air strikes on the presidential palace.  In Haiti in 2004, U.S. forces landed to remove President Aristide and occupy the country.
In Ukraine, Vitaly Klitschko announced that parliament would open impeachment proceedings against Yanukovich, but, later that day, lacking the 338 votes required for impeachment, a smaller number of members simply approved a declaration that Yanukovich “withdrew from his duties in an unconstitutional manner,” and appointed Oleksandr Turchynov of the opposition Fatherland Party as Acting President.  Right Sector seized control of government buildings and patrolled the streets.  Yanukovich refused to resign, calling this an illegal coup d’etat.  The coup leaders vowed to prosecute him for the deaths of protesters, but he escaped to Russia.  Arseniy Yatsenyuk was appointed Prime Minister on February 27th, exactly as Nuland and Pyatt had planned.
The main thing that distinguishes the U.S. coup in Ukraine from the majority of previous U.S. coups was the minimal role played by the Ukrainian military.  Since 1953, most U.S. coups have involved using local senior military officers to deliver the final blow to remove the elected or ruling leader.  The officers have then been rewarded with presidencies, dictatorships or other senior positions in new U.S.-backed regimes. The U.S. military cultivates military-to-military relationships to identify and groom future coup leaders, and President Obama’s expansion of U.S. special forces operations to 134 countries around the world suggests that this process is ongoing and expanding, not contracting.
But the neutral or pro-Russian position of the Ukrainian military since it was separated from the Soviet Red Army in 1991 made it an impractical tool for an anti-Russian coup. So Nuland and Pyatt’s signal innovation in Ukraine was to use the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and Right Sector as a strike force to unleash escalating violence and seize power. This also required managing Svoboda and Right Sector’s uneasy alliance with Fatherland and UDAR, the two pro-Western opposition parties who won 40% between them in the 2012 parliamentary election.
Historically, about half of all U.S. coups have failed, and success is never guaranteed.  But few Americans have ended up dead or destitute in the wake of a failed coup.  It is always the people of the target country who pay the price in violence, chaos, poverty and instability, while U.S. coup leaders like Nuland and Pyatt often get a second – or 3rd or 4th or 5th – bite at the apple, and will keep rising through the ranks of the State Department and the CIA.  Direct U.S. military intervention in Ukraine was not an option before the coup, but now the coup itself may destabilize the country and plunge it into economic collapse, regional disintegration or conflict with Russia, creating new and unpredictable conditions in which NATO intervention could become feasible.
Russia has proposed a reasonable solution to the crisis. To resolve the tensions between Eastern and Western Ukraine over their respective political and economic links with Russia and the West, the Russians have proposed a federal system in which both Eastern and Western Ukraine would have much greater autonomy.  This would be more stable that the present system in which each tries to dominate the other with the support of their external allies, turning Ukraine and all its people into pawns of Western-NATO expansion and Russia’s efforts to limit it.  The Russian proposal includes a binding commitment that Ukraine would remain neutral and not join NATO.  A few weeks ago, Obama and Kerry seemed to be ready to take this off-ramp from the crisis.  The delay in agreeing to Russia’s seemingly reasonable proposal may be only an effort to save face, or it may mean that theneocons who engineered the coupare still dictating policy in Washington and that Obama and Kerry may be ready to risk a further escalation of the crisis.
The U.S. coup machine has also been at work in Venezuela, where it already failed once in 2002.  Raul Capote, a former Cuban double agent who worked with the CIA in Cuba and Venezuela, recently described its long-term project to build right-wing opposition movements among upper- and middle-class students in Venezuelan universities, which are now bearing fruit in increasingly violent street protests and vigilantism.  Thirty-six people have been killed, including six police officers and at least 5 opposition protesters.  The protests began exactly a month after municipal elections in December, in which the government won the popular vote by almost 10%, far more than the 1.5% margin in the presidential election last April.  As in Chile in 1973, electoral success by an elected government is often the cue for the CIA to step up its efforts, moving beyond propaganda and right-wing politics to violence in the streets, and the popularity of the Venezuelan government seems to have provoked precisely that reaction.
Another feature of U.S. coups is the role of the Western media in publicizing official cover stories and suppressing factual journalism.  This role has also been consistent since 1953, but it has evolved as corporate media have consolidated their monopoly power.  By their very nature, coups are secret operations and U.S. media are prohibited from revealing “national security” secrets about them, such as the names of CIA officers involved.  By only reporting official cover stories, they become unwitting co conspirators in the critical propaganda component of these operations.  But the U.S. corporate media have turned vice into virtue, relishing their role in the demonization of America’s chosen enemies and cheerleading U.S. efforts to do them in.  They brush U.S. responsibility for violence and chaos under the carpet, and sympathetically present U.S. policy as a well-meaning effort to respond to the irrational and dangerous behavior of others.
This is far more than is required by strict observance of secrecy laws, and it reveals a great deal about the nature of the media environment we live in.  The Western media as it exists today under near-monopoly corporate ownership is a more sophisticated and total propaganda system than early 20th century propagandists ever dreamed of.  As media corporations profit from Western geopolitical and commercial expansion, the propaganda function that supports that expansion is an integrated part of their business model, not something exceptional they do under duress from the state.  But to expect factual journalism about U.S. coups from such firms is to misunderstand who and what they are.
Recent studies have found that people gain a better grasp of current affairs from John Stewart’s Daily Show on Comedy Central than from watching “news” networks.  People who watch no “news” at all have more knowledge of international affairs than people who watch MSNBC or Fox News.  A previous survey conducted 3 months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq found that 52% of Americans believed that U.S. forces in Iraq had found clear evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.  Among Republicans who said they were following “news on Iraq very closely”, the figure was 78%, compared with only 68% among Republicans at large.
If the role of the corporate media was to provide factual journalism, these studies would be a terrible indictment of their performance.  But once we acknowledge their actual role as the propaganda arm of an expansionist political and economic system, then we can understand that promoting the myths and misinformation that sustain it are a central part of what they do.  In that light, they are doing a brilliant job on Ukraine as they did on Iraq, suppressing any mention of the U.S. role in the coup and pivoting swiftly away from the unfolding crisis in post-coup Ukraine to focus entirely on attacking President Putin for reclaiming Crimea.  On the other hand, if you’re looking for factual journalism about the U.S. coup machine, you should probably turn off your TV and keep reading reliable sources like Alternet,Consortium News and Venezuela Analysis.
Nicolas J. S. Davies is the author of “Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.” Davies also wrote the chapter on “Obama At War” for the book, “Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.”
This publication first appeared in: Alternet
 
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