Friday, March 2, 2018

Today's Links

1--Russiagate as historical amnesia or denialism - Stephen Cohen

Russiagaters go on to allege that Russia “meddled” in the 2016 US presidential election, which results in their warmongering charge that this was “an act of war against America.” ... Israel has, of course, meddled in US elections for decades. More to the point, according to a study cited recently by The New York Times, the US government ran 81 “overt and covert election influence operations” in foreign countries from 1946 to 2000 (Soviet and post-Soviet Russia ran 36 such operations during the same period). Indeed, any informed observer knows that official and unofficial American institutions have been very deeply involved in—meddled in—Russian political life generally ever since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991....hands-on American effort to help a badly failing President Boris Yeltsin get reelected in 1996.  Nor was this especially covert. An attentive visitor to Moscow that year could observe parts of it, as Cohen did. And afterwards, no secret was made of it, only prideful boasts. A Time magazine cover story declared, “Yanks to the Rescue.” And in 2003 Showtime made a feature film, still available for viewing on-demand, glorifying the meddling, called Spinning Boris. That is, Americans acted as “foreign agents” in a Russian presidential election, and proudly.

One way or another, to some degree or another, at least two US intelligence agencies, the CIA and FBI, have played unsavory roles in Russiagate. And yet most mainstream American media and leading Democrats in particular are exalting them as paragons of verified, nonpartisan information, including their recurring leaks to media. ....... Recall instead only the quality of CIA information that led President John F. Kennedy to the Bay of Pigs disaster; President Lyndon B. Johnson and Congress ever deeper into the Vietnam War; and the nation to the catastrophic war in Iraq, whose consequences still plague the Middle East—and America—today. And yet the information provided by the CIA regarding Russiagate is to be accepted uncritically? Is its past role, and that of the FBI, forgotten or forgiven?

2--Arms Race? Who started it?

Putin blamed Washington’s 2002 withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) for escalating the confrontation. “If we are to speak of an arms race, then an arms race started precisely at that point”.
It was US President George W. Bush who withdrew from the ABM Treaty, which had been one of the main pillars of the détente and held for nearly 30 years. Bush argued that the treaty hindered the US’ ability to protect itself from “future terrorist or rogue state attacks.”..

Every single weapon system that I have discussed today easily surpasses and avoids anti-missile defense systems,” Putin said, adding that while “some of them still have to be fine-tuned and worked on,” others are combat-ready. “One of them is already on combat duty. It’s available to the troops,” the Russian leader said

Interestingly enough, that same day the Russian Security Council spokesperson Alexander Venediktov said the U.S. had “forced” Turkey to stage a military operation in Afrin by supplying advanced weaponry to the YPG and setting up around 20 military bases in Syrian territory controlled by the YPG.
Officials from both countries are expected to meet on March 8-9 in Washington DC to work on disagreements, as agreed during U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson’s meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on March 16 in Ankara. Meanwhile, a U.S. official, who asked not to be named, told Hürriyet Daily News’ Serkan Demirtaş on March 1 that the U.S. was not imposing delays on Turkey regarding Syria and confirmed that U.S.’s ally in the region was Turkey, not the YPG.
This is the complicated picture in which Russia emerges as backing NATO member Turkey’s anti-terror fight against NATO’s biggest member, the U.S., which claims that the YPG was needed to fight another terrorist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), while it should have been the other way around: Turkey and the U.S. were supposed to form an alliance of solidarity against Russia and terrorism.

the letter constitutes an open appeal to the US and the other imperialist powers to launch a full-scale military intervention.
Like the media propaganda campaign of which it is an integral part, the “open letter” constitutes a thoroughly one-sided, false and deeply hypocritical portrayal of the Syrian developments.
It protests solely “the crimes that the Assad regime has committed against Syrians, aided by local and foreign militias, by Iranian strategic and financial aid, by Russian airpower and mercenaries.”
Noticeably absent from its concerns are the crimes carried out by US and the other imperialist powers in Syria, not to mention the broader region. The authors of the open letter and its signatories were not motivated to make any such appeal as US airstrikes and artillery bombardments razed the cities of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria to the ground, burying tens of thousands of their inhabitants in the rubble....

“For the agony of the people of Syria to come to an end, it must be forcibly stopped,” the document continues, adding that there “are myriad geopolitical reasons why this is an imperative, but none as immediate and important as the sanctity of life and the exercise of free will.”
The message is clear: world imperialism must take action! Military intervention is required. The “myriad geopolitical reasons” for such action go unstated, but are nonetheless clear to anyone familiar with the complex struggle in Syria. US imperialism sees both Russia’s and Iran’s influence in the country as an obstacle to its own bloody and protracted struggle for hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East, a struggle that has left literally millions of victims in its wake. With their talk about the “sanctity of life,” the authors of the letter not only mock these victims, but offer their services in providing window dressing for Washington’s bloody operations.

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