Sunday, September 3, 2017

Today's Links

1-- Russia-gate’s Totalitarian Style; When groupthink becomes state dogma 

What is playing out here – both at The New York Times and across the American media landscape – is a totalitarian-style approach toward any challenge to the groupthink on Russia-gate.
Even though the Obama administration’s intelligence chiefs presented no public evidence to support their “assessments,” anyone who questions their certainty can expect to be smeared and ridiculed. We must all treat unverified opinions as flat fact....

no U.S. government forensics have been done on the Russian “hacking” allegations, period. Regarding the “hack” of the Democratic National Committee’s emails, the FBI did not secure the computers for examination but instead relied on the checkered reputation of a private outfit called Crowdstrike, which based much of its conclusion on the fact that Russian lettering and a reference to a famous Russian spy were inserted into the metadata. ...

After The Nation published an article by Patrick Lawrence about the VIPS memo (a story that we re-posted at, editor Katrina vanden Heuvel came under intense pressure inside the liberal magazine to somehow repudiate its findings and restore the Russia-gate groupthink.
Outside pressure also came from a number of mainstream sources, including Washington Post blogger Eric Wemple, who interviewed Nation columnist Katha Pollitt about the inside anger over Lawrence’s story and its citation by Trump defenders, a development which upset Pollitt: “These are our friends now? The Washington Times, Breitbart, Seth Rich truthers and Donald Trump Jr.? Give me a break. It’s very upsetting to me. It’s embarrassing.”

2--Illegal meaningless clownery 

3-- North Korea is a nuclear state; Deal with it

Andrew K.P. Leung: I think the time for coercion is over. North Korea has successfully crossed the watershed and has demonstrated its ability to deliver a very powerful nuclear weapon. If it’s not a full-scale hydrogen bomb, at least it’s as powerful as the nuclear bomb dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. North Korea has already demonstrated its ability to deliver its missiles flying over Japan to near where Guam is. I think... the time for a lot of rhetoric and sanctions is really over. What the North Koreans want is, of course, not a war, because a war would mean the demise of their regime. They want a cast-iron assurance of the regime’s stability. It’s time to move on from talks to a Korean Peninsula stability pact involving all the countries in the region. The pact should make sure that there is de-escalation by all sides. It would aim at North Korea at least freezing further [missile] tests and the Americans toning down, not only the rhetoric, but also military exercises… The stability past should also ensure that all the countries [involved] move on from a paradigm of coercion to a paradigm of incentives… combined with even opportunities for economic cooperation. That’s the only way to stabilize the situation.

4--North Korea said it had tested an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile on Sunday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump admonished South Korea, a key ally, for what he termed a policy of “appeasement” after North Korea claimed to have tested an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile on Sunday.
On Twitter, Trump said: “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they (North Korea) only understand one thing!” 

5--A Leak or a Hack? A Forum on the VIPS Memo-- A letter from dissenting members of VIPS, a reply from VIPS, and the results of our independent review

6--North Korea Tests A New Nuke - Continues To Press For Negotiations

One must now assess that North Korea has the capability to make, launch and deliver staged thermonuclear weapons up to megaton size at ICBM ranges. Most of China, Japan and at least the U.S. west coast are in reach of such a weapon. With this warhead size the somewhat dubious accuracy of North Korean missiles has much less relevance.

Before the U.S. and South Korea started this years invasion maneuver Ulchi on August 22, North Korea had warned that it would test-launch four Hawsong-12 mid range ballistic missiles towards the large U.S. base on Guam if, and only if, the U.S. would continue to use "strategic equipment" around its borders. This referred to B-1B nuclear bombers and aircraft carriers.
The U.S. understood and scaled back the planned maneuver. No "strategic equipment" was used...

On August 28, when the maneuver had ended, North Korea launched a test of a single Hawsong-12 medium range missile into the Pacific. The missile crossed over Japan at a height of 550 kilometer. (It thereby did NOT violate Japanese air-space.) Earlier tests had been flown in unrealistic steep trajectories to avoid such an overflight. This test was likely designed to prove to the U.S. the capability to reach Guam.

On August 31 the U.S. flew another "show of force" with B-1B bombers and F-35 stealth fighter planes over South Korea. The planes trained precision bombing with live bombs at a South Korean training area. These plane types are "strategic equipment" and the training makes only sense in a "preemptive strike on North Korea" scenario.

One can understand today's nuclear test as a response to these continuing U.S. provocations. The U.S. will of course claim that only North Korea is "provoking" here and it itself is only "responding". But such a hen-egg discussion and juvenile tit-for-tat is not only useless but dangerous. History tells us that the U.S. completely devastated North Korea and killed some 20% of its population, not vice versa. So far only North Korea had to fear nuclear destruction. That has now changed into a more balanced situation. A preventive or preemptive war on North Korea is no longer an option.

7--Assad prevails--US routed in Syria

"“Bashar Assad’s government has won the war militarily,” said Robert Ford, a former U.S. ambassador to Damascus who witnessed the uprising’s earliest days. “And I can’t see any prospect of the Syrian opposition being able to compel him to make dramatic concessions in a peace negotiation.” ...

There was a "moment" just before the Russian intervention began when it seemed likely that the jihadis of both AQ and IS as well as their "secular" allies would manage to drive the multi-confessional Syrian government into a negotiated surrender.  That grim possibility ended with an incredible effective intervention by Russia, Iran and Hizbullah.

Will Assad take advantage of the opportunity for building a better Syria both physically and in governance?  One can hope. 

8--The tightening noose--BREAKING: Elite Syrian forces just 18 km away from Deir Ezzor city

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