Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Today's Links

Trump: “But I want to just tell you, the false reporting by the media, by you people, the false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia. And probably Putin said ‘you know.’  He’s sitting behind his desk and he’s saying ‘you know, I see what’s going on in the United States, I follow it closely. It’s going to be impossible for President Trump to ever get along with Russia because of all the pressure he’s got with this fake story.’ OK?  And that’s a shame because if we could get along with Russia — and by the way, China and Japan and everyone. If we could get along, it would be a positive thing, not a negative thing.

And later, Trump: “But you know what? I want to do the right thing for the American people. And to be honest, secondarily, I want to do the right thing for the world.
“If Russia and the United States actually got together and got along — and don’t forget, we’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. There’s no upside. We’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. I have been briefed. And I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, a nuclear holocaust would be like no other. (Emphasis, jw)……..  “They’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are we. If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”

"If we extrapolate the longstanding experience of the new US national security advisor and his views on the US' foreign policy, we could foretell high probability of new military conflicts in various parts of the planet in the nearest future. I also suggest that the new Pentagon's chief, James Mattis will be eager to support hybrid concepts and military solutions of his co-thinker."  RIA Novosti political analyst Alexander Khrolenko

1--Trump's new security advisor differs from him on Russia, other key issues

McMaster will not be alone, however. His prominent administration allies include Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; as well as many of the soldiers who have served with him....

The real potential for flashpoints is with some of the people that Steve Bannon has brought into the administration ... people who see things very ideologically," said Andrew Exum, a former Army officer and Defense Department Mideast policy official and McMaster friend for more than a decade.Trump's early missteps on immigration and other issues "have strengthened the leverage available to not only H.R. McMaster, but also Defense Secretary Mattis and Secretary (of State Rex) Tillerson potentially," Exum said....

Unlike his predecessor, Michael Flynn, and Trump himself, McMaster regards Moscow as an adversary rather than a potential partner. Last May, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, McMaster cited Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine as evidence of a broader effort "to collapse the post-World War Two, certainly the post-Cold War, security, economic, and political order in Europe and replace that order with something that is more sympathetic to Russian interests." A third area where McMaster's thinking differs from the president's rhetoric is the size and shape of the U.S. military

2--CIA Freezes Aid To Free Syrian Army

The FSA will continue to receive aid, however, from nations that receive weapons from the US and who oppose the Assad administration. While US aid to the FSA has been severed, at least temporarily, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and NATO-member Turkey continue to pour weapons and money into groups aligned with the FSA. In 2015, Qatar, a nation of two million, spent more money on US weapons than any other country, while Saudi Arabia ranked third, behind Egypt, according to the US Congressional Research Service.

3--US may deploy more troops to Syria: Commander

The top US commander for the Middle East says more American troops may be needed in Syria to step up the so-called campaign against the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group in the war-torn country.

General Joseph L. Votel, the head of the US Central Command, made the announcement on Wednesday while speaking to reporters accompanying him on a trip to the Middle East region.
Asked by CBS News if further US troops would be dispatched to Syria, Votel said, “Perhaps,” stressing that he was "very concerned about maintaining momentum."

4--Russia says it was in touch with Trump's campaign during election

5--CIA Arms for Syrian Rebels Frozen Amid Infighting         

No Official Explanation Offered for Freeze

6--Appointment of "Warrior-Scholar" McMaster signals intensification of anti-Russia confrontation

The appointment Monday of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, an active duty military commander, as national security advisor has been welcomed by both Democratic and Republican critics of the foreign policy being pursued by the Trump White House.

He has been hailed by virtually all sections of the corporate media as a “warrior-scholar” or “soldier-intellectual,” whose record supposedly stands in stark contrast to that of his recently ousted predecessor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (ret.), the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, a partisan Trump supporter whose worldview encompassed a global war against Islam....

Last year, McMaster headed up an initiative known as the “Russia New Generation Warfare Study,” designed to reorient the US military toward military confrontation with Russia. He is also the author of a 2015 report titled “Continuity and Change: The Army Operating Concept and Clear Thinking About Future War,” which calls for the Pentagon to prepare “to prevent the aggressor from doing what Russia has in Ukraine.”

In Moscow, the appointment was taken as an unmistakable signal. “McMaster is…a 100 percent threat to Russia from the US, and it’s not getting weaker or smaller. Defense and intelligence wing of Washington will carry out a Russophobic policy,” the first deputy chairman of Russia’s Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Franz Klintsevich told Sputnik on Tuesday....

The Journal has ample grounds for trusting McMaster to pursue such a strategy. In addition to his anti-Russia credentials, the army general has voiced open opposition to the idea that the US can pursue its objectives by means of drone assassination strikes and special operations raids. He is a proponent of “going in big” and a critic of the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who has close ties to US intelligence, was ecstatic. “McMaster is the real deal,” he said in a television interview Tuesday. “He is a warrior intellectual; he is someone who has made his name through his career speaking to power.”...

Both Democratic and Republican critics of the administration are now openly placing their hopes on a cabal of generals controlling the majority of security posts to counter what they see as the destabilizing influence of Trump’s fascistic chief White House strategist, former Breitbart news chief Stephen Bannon.
Neither of the two major parties and none of the extreme right-wing and militaristic factions contending for power within the Trump administration have anything to do with defending the democratic and social interests of the vast majority of the population, which are under unprecedented attack.
Rather, behind the scenes, elements within the state and its vast military and intelligence apparatus, unelected and unaccountable, are fighting out matters of US imperialist war strategy that have deadly implications for the population of the United States and the entire planet.

7--More US troops headed to ME

Trump ordered the Pentagon at the end of January to prepare plans for a new strategy he claimed would be aimed at defeating ISIS. Mattis is expected to present the proposals at the end of the month, but reports already indicate thousands more ground troops will be sent to Syria under the pretext of establishing so-called “safe zones” for refugees, and the current level of air strikes will be increased.
US-led air strikes have already killed civilians and struck infrastructure, most notably in December when hospitals in Mosul were bombed on two separate occasions.

On the ground in Iraq, the escalation has already begun. Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, commander of US forces in Iraq, noted in comments this week that US troops embedded with Iraqi forces began playing a more aggressive role when the Mosul offensive was first initiated last October. The Obama administration gave authorization for US soldiers to operate closer to the front line. “We adjusted our posture during the east Mosul fight and we embedded advisers a bit further down into the formation,” Townsend told a news conference, noting that the so-called “advisers” were now close enough to the front line to be able to direct air strikes.

Mattis went even further, noting that the new plan for operations in Syria and Iraq due February 27 could see a further loosening of the restrictions on where US military personnel can operate, as well as a recommendation to deploy more troops to Iraq, although he declined to be more specific. “We owe some degree of confidentiality so we don’t expose to the enemy what we have in mind as to the timing of operations,” he said.

8--James Steele, How the US pacified Iraq

9--Amid ongoing conflicts, Pence extends olive branch to EU

At the Munich Security Conference, Pence declared that “the United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to this trans-Atlantic alliance.” He said that the US government would “continue to hold Russia accountable.” He also echoed calls in the ruling class in Europe for stepped-up rearmament, particularly in Germany, demanding that Europe contribute a “fair share to our common defense.”
In Brussels, Pence reaffirmed the “strong commitment of the United States to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union… Whatever our differences, our two continents share the same heritage, the same values and above all the same purpose: to promote peace and prosperity through freedom, democracy and the rule of law.”...

according to a detailed Reuters report denied by the White House, Trump’s neo-fascist chief political strategist, Steve Bannon, spoke to German diplomats before Pence’s trip to repeat that the EU was “flawed.” He reportedly made comments similar to 2014 remarks he delivered to a Vatican conference, that he does not “believe in this kind of pan-European Union” and that Western Europe was founded on “strong nationalist movements

10--Lavrov: Russia waiting for US to provide ‘details’ on proposed safe zones in Syria

11-- Trump’s “America First” policies and the global eruption of economic nationalism

Outlining the rationale for the proposed agreements in 2014, (eg--Trans-Pacific Partnership and its counterpart for Europe, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership)  Obama’s trade representative Michael Froman wrote in a major Foreign Affairs article that “trade policy is national security policy,” and that the aim of the agreements was to “place the US at the center of agreements that will provide unfettered access to two-thirds of the global economy.”

He went on to explain that the post-war system was no longer adequate and that the US no longer held “as dominant a position as it did at the end of World War II” and had to build new “trade coalitions working toward consensus positions.” In other words, the development of new mechanisms whereby the US could counter its economic decline vis-à-vis its rivals....(trade agreements are designed to maintain US dominance. Trump is meddling in a system he doesn't understand)

While the battle in Washington between the intelligence agencies, the media and the Trump administration over the question of Russia and Trump’s supposed ties to Putin is attracting most of the headlines, a conflict on the economic front is of no less significance.
Earlier this month, in response to Trump’s “America First” agenda and what it called his “divisive delusions on trade,” the Financial Times, the voice of British and to some extent European finance capital, warned that if the Trump administration continued on its present course, it would represent a “clear and present danger to the global trading and monetary system.”...

Last month, speaking to the New York Times on the sidelines of the Davos summit of the World Economic Forum, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the euro group of finance ministers, pointed to possible major shifts in orientation. “We’ve always said that America is our best friend,” he said. “If that’s no longer the case, if that’s what we need to understand from Donald Trump, then, of course, Europe will be looking for new friends.
“China is a very strong candidate for that. The Chinese involvement in Europe in terms of investment is already very high and expanding. If you push away your friends, you mustn’t be surprised if the friends start looking for new friends.”

12--Anti Russia hysteria mounts:  Moscow’s Peace Efforts Are Sabotaged as Washington Aims to Make War With Russia Inevitable

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