Monday, April 29, 2019

Today's Links


 1--Erdogan: Turkey will either 'live or die' in confronting foreign powers


Turkey will not surrender to economic terrorism just as it does not bow down to armed and political terrorism, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sunday.

"Economy and security will take priority in the upcoming period. Our economy has been a target in the past six years. The July 15 coup was also a move to sabotage our economy," Erdoğan said during the closing speech of the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) 28th Assessment and Consultation Camp in the Kızılcahamam district of Ankara.

Erdoğan said AK Party was ready to make necessary structural reforms in the next four years without elections.
"We believe these dark clouds will dissipate as we take necessary steps to relieve our citizens," Erdoğan added.
"We are not against investors but those who are plotting against our people will face us," he said.

2-- 'How We Trained Al-Qaeda' - The Bosnian War Taught Islamic Terrorists to Operate Abroad


Brendan O’Neill says the Bosnian war taught Islamic terrorists to operate abroad
– The Spectator, 13. September 2003
Fulor all the millions of words written about al-Qa’eda since the 9/11. attacks two years ago, one phenomenon is consistently overlooked — the role of the Bosnian war in transforming the mujahedin of the 1980s into the roving Islamic terrorists of today....
. From 1992 to 1995. the Pentagon assisted with the movement of thousands of mujahedin and other Islamic elements from Central Asia into Europe, to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs....

The Pentagon’s secret alliance with Islamic elements allowed mujahedin fighters to be ‘flown in’, though they were initially reserved as shock troops for particularly hazardous operations against Serb forces. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times in October 2001, from 1992 as many as 4,000 volunteers from the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, ‘known as the mujahedin’, arrived in Bosnia to fight with the Muslims. Richard Holbrooke, America’s former chief Balkans peace negotiator, has said that the Bosnian Muslims ‘wouldn’t have survived’ without the help of the mujahedin, though he later admitted that the arrival of the mujahedin was a ‘pact with the devil’ from which Bosnia is still recovering

3--Did the Russians Really Interfere in Our Elections?


In order to evaluate the evidence, the Russian government proposed reestablishing the bilateral expert group on information security that the Obama Administration had terminated, which could have served as a platform for conversation on these matters. The American side was also invited to send Justice Department officials to Russia to attend the proposed public questioning of the Russian citizens named by Mueller. Additionally, Russia offered to publicize the exchanges between the two countries following the publication of the accusations of cyberattacks, exchanges which were conducted through existing channels between October 2016 and January 2017.

Our government refused every offer.

A careful analysis, in fact, fails to show any substantial evidence of Russian cyberattacks and attempts to “subvert democracy.” By some estimates, possibly $160,000—a paltry sum—was spent by the Russians during 2016 on social media activities in the United States. Does anyone wish to discover and compare the amount the Chinese Communists or the Saudis would have expended during the same period, for their continued influence and power in Washington and inside-the-Beltway?

The Russian government, via their embassy in Washington, has published a 120 page “white paper,” The Russiagate Hysteria: A Case of Severe Russiaphobia, responding to the accusations made against them since 2016. Obviously, the Russian document has a particular viewpoint and very specific goal, but that should not deter us from examining it and evaluating its arguments. 

Here following I list twenty-one claims made regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election and in American domestic affairs. I follow each claim with the Russian response and how others, as noted, have also responded. In most cases I retain the original text, at times with my editing, but, in every case, with all the referenced sources.  

4--Is Israel behind the S-400 conflict?


Let us recall that Trump decided to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and shook hands with Erdoğan on a safe zone. Over the following weeks, Washington changed its mind and brought the withdrawal to a grinding halt. There are problems surrounding the proposed safe zone as well.

The U.S. bureaucracy is highly likely to sabotage any agreement between Erdoğan and Trump on the S-400 missile defense system – as it blocked Trump's efforts to withdraw from Syria and set up a safe zone. After all, U.S. officials no longer decide America's foreign policy. According to Serdar Turgut, a Washington-based Turkish journalist, Israel exerts unprecedented influence over U.S. decision-makers. In other words, Tel Aviv's regional ambitions undermine U.S. foreign policy and poison Washington's relationship with Ankara. Under the circumstances, it is highly unlikely for Turkey and the United States to find a middle ground. 





Sunday, April 28, 2019

Today's links

"The Great Eurasian Partnership and Belt and Road concepts are both rooted in the principles and values that everyone understands: the natural aspiration of nations to live in peace and harmony, benefit from free access to the latest scientific achievements and innovative development, while preserving their culture and unique spiritual identity. In other words, we are united by our strategic, long-term interests.
 
I strongly believe that the comprehensive approach that underpins both concepts will help us further enhance economic cooperation within the continent, develop shared transport and energy infrastructure and promote digital technology. This way, integration will serve the interests of our peoples and all Eurasian nations to the fullest extent.” Vladimir Putin


 

1--Putin plays Pipelineistan


It was Putin who almost single-handedly spearheaded the resurgence of Russia as a mega energy superpower (oil and gas accounts for two-thirds of Russia’s exports, half of the federal budget and 20% of gross domestic product). So expect Pipelineistan to remain key.
And it will be mostly centered on gas; although Russia holds no less than 30% of global gas supplies, its liquid natural gas (LNG) production is less than 5% of the global market share. It’s not even among the top ten producers.

Putin sees that with Russia, Central Asia and Iran controlling no less than 50% of world’s gas reserves, and with Iran and Pakistan as virtual SCO members, the name of the game becomes Asia integration – if not Eurasia’s. The SCO develops as an economic/security powerhouse, while, in parallel, Pipelineistan accelerates the full integration of the SCO as a counterpunch to NATO. The regional players themselves will decide what makes more sense – this or a New Silk Road invented in Washington.

Make no mistake. Behind the relentless demonization of Putin and the myriad attempts to delegitimize Russia’s presidential elections, lie some very angry and powerful sections of Washington and Anglo-American elites.
They know Putin will be an ultra tough negotiator on all fronts. They know Moscow will apply increasingly closer coordination with China; on thwarting permanent NATO bases in Afghanistan; on facilitating Pakistan’s strategic autonomy; on opposing missile defense; on ensuring Iran is not attacked.
He will be the devil of choice because there could not be a more formidable opponent in the world stage to Washington’s plans – be they coded as Greater Middle East, New Silk Road, Full Spectrum Dominance or America’s Pacific Century. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to rumble.
https://orientalreview.org/2012/03/09/why-putin-is-driving-washington-nuts/

 2--archive 2011--New Integration Project for Eurasia, Putin talks economic integration of the Asia super-continent


 It was our experience with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) that helped us launch multi-level and multi-speed integration processes among the former Soviet republics and establish such useful formats as the Union State of Russia and Belarus, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Customs Union and, finally, the Common Economic Space.
Because of the global financial crisis, nations are looking for new sources of economic growth. This has made integration processes even more relevant. We are really facing the need to seriously upgrade our partnership principles, both in the CIS and in other regional alliances. We are focusing primarily on developing trade and industrial cooperation.

Essentially, we need to turn integration into a stable and long-term project that will be easy to understand and attractive to people and businesses and that will not depend on ever-changing political – or any other – circumstances....

Now we are taking it a step further, moving on from the Customs Union to the Common Economic Space. We are setting up a huge market with some 165 million consumers, with harmonized laws and with the free circulation of capital, services and manpower....

we will have our own version of the Schengen Area, which proved to be very helpful to the Europeans themselves and to all the people coming to the EU to work, study or travel....

Of course, transition to an open market means that businesses will have to improve their efficiency, reduce their costs and invest in modernization. Consumers can only benefit from that....

It took Europe 40 years to go from the European Coal and Steel Community to the full-fledged European Union. The Customs Union and the CES have evolved much faster, because we are taking into account the experience of the EU and other regional alliances. We are aware of their advantages and shortcomings. This gives us a clear advantage. We can avoid repeating the same mistakes, introducing unnecessary supranational bureaucracy....

The establishment of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space lays the foundation for the formation of a future Eurasian Economic Union

No New Soviet Union

it is not about recreating the USSR in any form. It would be naïve to try to restore or copy what is already a thing of the past. However, close integration on a platform of new values, politics, and economics is what is currently called for.

We are suggesting a model of a powerful supranational union that can become one of the poles of today’s world while being an efficient connecting link between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific Region. This also means that, on the base of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space, we need to achieve closer coordination of currency and economic policies and establish a full-fledged economic union.
The combination of natural resources, capital, and strong human potential will make the Eurasian Union competitive in the industrial and technological race and the race for investor money, new jobs, and advanced production facilities....

As early as 2003, Russia and the European Union agreed to form a common economic space and coordinate the rules governing their economic activity without the creation of supranational structures. In a bid to develop this idea, we suggested to our European partners that we think together about prospects for creating a harmonious economic community on a territory from Lisbon to Vladivostok, about a free trade zone and more advanced forms of integration. We suggested drafting a coordinated policy in the sphere of industry, technology, energy, education and science and, finally, removing all visa restrictions. These proposals did not go unheeded. Our European partners are discussing them in detail....

I am convinced that the creation of the Eurasian Union and effective integration are the only way that will help its members to occupy a decent place in the complicated world of the 21st century. It’s only together that our countries can become leaders of global growth, enhance our civilization and achieve the ultimate goals of success and prosperity

3--N. Korea urges S. Korea to fend off U.S. pressure

 

North Korea on Saturday pressed South Korea to ignore pressure from the United States and move ahead with inter-Korean cooperation.

The special message by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) came as the two Koreas commemorate the first anniversary of the historic Panmunjom summit amid doubts about the denuclearization process.
The U.S. is plainly putting pressure on South Korea, demanding that inter-Korean ties do not outpace Washington's relations with North Korea, the organ, which handles Pyongyang's daily affairs on Seoul, said.
Washington is attempting to force inter-Korean relations to be subordinate to its policy of sanctions, it claimed.
"A grave security condition is being created that may return to the past when a catastrophe was looming amid the thickening danger of a war," the committee said in what it described as a "memorandum."

 

 

4--John Brennan dismisses Trump’s ‘sociopathic ramblings’ on intelligence community trying to overthrow government 

 

5--Russia Catches Reuters in Cahoots With Pentagon to Peddle Venezuela Disinfo - Launches Criminal Proceedings

 

It is no secret that Reuters acts as an infowar arm of the Pentagon. This was demonstrated time and again in their disgraceful lying about the Ukraine conflict in 2014-15, the 2008 war with Georgia, and much else. Russia caught them red-handed this time, and is putting them in legal jeopardy.



6-- Still unretracted?

 

Apr 26
Happy five-month anniversary to this blockbuster story that, inexcusably but revealingly, remains unretracted or even re-examined after release of the Mueller Report and Paul Manafort's sentencing: - why do people distrust media??????

Guardian disinformation--Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy, sources say
This article is more than 4 months old
Trump ally met WikiLeaks founder months before emails hacked by Russia were published

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, the Guardian has been told.
Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House.

In a statement, Manafort denied meeting Assange. He said: “I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him. I have never been contacted by anyone connected to WikiLeaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or WikiLeaks on any matter.”

It is unclear why Manafort would have wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last apparent meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia

A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers

7--. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature global infrastructure policy. First announced in 2013, the project promises to build ports, roads and railways to create new trade corridors linking China to Asia, Africa and Europe.


Since its launch, the Chinese government claims up to 150 countries have signed on board, at least in principle. In the first half of 2019, overseas loans as part of the project have already totaled more than $90 billion.

Asian, European leaders head to Beijing

In total, more than 5,000 participants from more than 150 countries have arrived in Beijing for the three day summit, due to end on April 27, Chinese state media said.
 
A 2018 report by Harvard University academics said China was imposing high levels of debt on nations in the Asia Pacific to "acquire strategic assets or political influence over debtor nations." China has strongly denied the US allegations about its lending practices.
But McGregor said there was no doubt the Chinese government was planning a recalibration of its Belt and Road plan in the face of international pushback and criticism.
 

8--China and Russia forge stronger Eurasian economic ties as Vladimir Putin gets behind Xi Jinping’s belt and road plan in face of US hostility

 

The leaders of China and Russia called their countries “good friends” and vowed to work together for greater economic integration in Eurasia amid growing economic and military rivalries with the United States.
On the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin pledged to further improve bilateral ties.

“China and Russia have enjoyed the highest level of mutual trust, the closest cooperation and huge strategic importance,” Xi was quoted by state broadcaster CCTV as saying.
“Russia is an important partner in co-building the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ … The two countries should strengthen international cooperation and adhere to multilateralism,” Xi added, calling for greater cooperation in areas ranging from trade to aerospace
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have pledged to further improve bilateral ties. Photo: Reuters
 
The leaders of China and Russia called their countries “good friends” and vowed to work together for greater economic integration in Eurasia amid growing economic and military rivalries with the United States.
On the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin pledged to further improve bilateral ties.
“China and Russia have enjoyed the highest level of mutual trust, the closest cooperation and huge strategic importance,” Xi was quoted by state broadcaster CCTV as saying.

“Russia is an important partner in co-building the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ … The two countries should strengthen international cooperation and adhere to multilateralism,” Xi added, calling for greater cooperation in areas ranging from trade to aerospace.
Putin offered his support for the Beijing-led initiative, saying Xi had “built an important platform for expanding international cooperation”.
“Russia is willing to strengthen exchanges and cooperation, and work with China in energy, connectivity and other major projects,” he said.

Earlier in the day in their speeches to the forum, the two leaders also echoed one another in their calls for multilateralism – a subtle rebuke of US influence.
Putin – who was in Beijing after meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vladivostok on Thursday – also stressed the need for shared growth, saying the Chinese initiative and Russia’s Eurasia vision are both designed to promote shared prosperity

The Belt and Road Initiative is to strengthen cooperation and to provide harmonious development in Eurasia, and these goals bring us together here in Beijing,” Putin said.
“The growing trends of protectionism, illegitimate sanctions imposed that bypass the United Nations Security Council and even trade wars are slowing the world economy and creating new conflicts.”

Russia has long promoted the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), aiming for greater economic cooperation and integration on the continent.
“Countries gathering under the Belt and Road Initiative and EAEU share long-term strategic interests of peace and growth,” he said.
Both China and Russia have strained ties with the United States. Beijing and Washington have yet to settle their trade war, and Moscow and Washington signalled the start of another arms-race era in February by withdrawing from a key arms control agreement.


 

 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Today's links

"In the end, Mueller’s report shows that the Trump-Russia collusion narrative embraced and evangelized by the US political and media establishments to be a work of fiction. The American public was presented with a far different picture from what was expected, because leading pundits, outlets, and politicians ignored the countervailing facts and promoted maximalist interpretations of others. Anonymous officials also leaked explosive yet uncorroborated claims, leaving behind many stories that were subsequently discredited, retracted, or remain unconfirmed to this day. 

 

It is too early to assess the damage that influential Russiagate promoters have done to their own reputations; to public confidence in our democratic system and media; and to the prospects of defeating Trump, who always stood to benefit if the all-consuming conspiracy theory ultimately collapsed. The scale of the wreckage, confirmed by Mueller’s report, may prove to be the ultimate Russiagate scandal" aaron mate, Nation

 

Liberals: pls apply skepticism to intel fear-mongering about a “365-day-a-year threat” from Russian trolls “to undermine America’s faith in democracy.” This is not about defense against a foreign power; it’s about scaring people to shore up domestic power.   aaron mate 

 

Biden centered his launch video on resisting Nazis in Charlottesville, so it's worth examining his record in supporting the resurgence of Nazism in Ukraine. In fact, his top advisor on the issue recently brought the founder of two Nazi parties to DC. max blumenthal  

 

 

 

 

 1-- Whom The Gods Would Destroy, They First Make Mad


Meanwhile, the Trump Administration, which has now become indistinguishable from Israel’s hard-line far right ruling coalition, has declared virtual war against Iran.

To benefit Israel, the White House cancelled a $20 billion order from Iran for Boeing aircraft, embargoed trade with Iran, reneged on the internationally backed nuclear deal with Tehran, cut off all aid to Palestinians, and keeps sustaining the savage Saudi/Emirati war against Yemen that has caused mass starvation and epidemics.

Trump has just unilaterally approved Israel’s illegal seizure of Syria’s Golan Heights, an act worthy of the 1916 Sykes-Picot treaty dividing up the Ottoman Mideast between Britain and France.  US threats against Venezuela and Cuba grow louder.

Washington plans to use its naval forces massed around Iran to interdict Tehran’s oil exports.  Two US aircraft carriers are now on station within striking range of Iran.  I went to sea on one, the ‘Abraham Lincoln.’

China faces dire trade punishments for dealing with Iran.  Welcome back to 19th century gunboat diplomacy. Even Washington’s European allies may be scourged for buying Iranian oil.

2--Who are facebook's fact checkers??


The IFCN was launched in 2015 following a generous donation totaling $300,000, which the Poynter Institute received from two sources. One of them is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) – a "soft-power" organization, which is funded primarily through annual allocations from the US Congress. Another one is the Omidyar Network – a foundation run by the eBay founder and self-described "progressive" billionaire Pierre Omidyar.

Although he has not yet apparently gained as much fame – or infamy for that matter – as another US billionaire and renowned political meddler, George Soros, Omidyar has also lately shown himself as a major patron of regime-change operations. As early as in 2014, the US media reported that Omidyar supported anti-government groups in Ukraine that opposed the then President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted during Maidan.

A report by Forbes also suggested that the billionaire was one of the major funders of the Kiev-based Hromadske TV, which harbored anti-Russian views while backing the violent 2014 coup. Most recently, a group of journalists revealed that Omidyar funds a wide range of media outlets through foundations, nonprofits and other cutouts that in fact promote the liberal interventionist agenda

Notably, two years after the launch of the IFCN Omidyar teamed up with none other than another "liberal interventionist" – Soros – to channel some $1.3 million into the project to support its development.
The Poynter Institute itself also has the Omidyar Network as well as the Democracy Fund – another foundation linked to the eBay founder – on its list of major donors, alongside Open Society Foundations (OSF) run by Soros and the NED

Providers of 'ultimate truth'

The list of "certified" fact-checkers provided by the IFCN certainly looks impressive. It includes such international news agencies as Associated Press and Agency France Press (AFP), which appear on the list along with its branch offices in a dozen and a half countries. In total, the 'network' describes 66 organizations as "verified signatories" of the self-styled "code of principles" it developed.



 3--Press TV is targeted

 

4--US isolated as world leaders open Silk Road summit in China

 

Nearly 40 world leaders and scores of finance officials are gathered in Beijing to build a new platform for international trade and counter US unilateralism and protectionist policies.
Dubbed as the Belt and Road (BRI) initiative, they aim to reinvent the ancient Silk Road to connect Asia to Europe and Africa through massive investments in maritime, road and rail projects.

Some 5,000 delegates are attending the three-day forum, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, whose country became the first G7 member to sign up to BRI, among the headliners.
The United States has not dispatched any officials, dismissing BRI as a "vanity project" and rebuking Rome for participating in the scheme.

However, traditional US allies such as the UK, France, Germany and Spain have sent ministers to the summit amid reports of European frustration with Washington's trade practices.
British Finance Minister Philip Hammond told the summit on Friday his country is committed to help realize the BRI potential, offering Britain's expertise in project financing.

"The Belt and Road Initiative has tremendous potential to spread prosperity and sustainable development, touching as it does, potentially 70 percent of the world's population, a project of truly epic ambition," he said.

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said major European Union countries want to sign a memorandum of understanding on the BRI initiative as a group.
President Putin called for a global response against protectionism, unilateral sanctions and "trade wars" in veiled criticisms of the United States.

"The rise of protectionism in its most dangerous form, which at the present time is often used illegitimately as unilateral restrictions to bypass the UN Security Council, or worst of all, trade wars," he said.

We think that only when we are united can we counter such acute challenges amidst a global economic slowdown and gaps between countries in terms of well-being and technology," Putin added.
The Russian leader whom Chinese President Xi Jinping referred to as "my closest friend" in a speech at the ceremony, was conferred an honorary doctorate degree from the Chinese premier's alma mater.
BRI offers to bring much-needed modern infrastructure to developing countries and China’s spending has increased its footprint around the world.

The United States fears that China aspires to replace it at the center of the world order and the decision by Italy and Luxembourg to join BRI has raised alarm bells in Washington which sees Beijing's influence now extending to the EU's core.
To US leaders, BRI is on par with the Marshall Plan that established the American supremacy through an economic blueprint to rebuild post-World War II Europe. They are alarmed -- all the more so because BRI is more than 10 times the size of the Marshall Plan.
The West is worried that the expansion of BRI will lead to the emergence of alternative models of governance that will challenge Western liberalism around the world.

In his keynote speech at the opening of the forum, President Xi stressed that his global infrastructure project "is not an exclusive club", in a dig at the United States.
He called on countries participating in the initiative to promote a global partnership for connectivity to achieve common development and prosperity.

"We need to promote the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, say 'no' to protectionism, and make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all," he said. 
Altmaier said he was encouraged by President Xi's pledge to pursue free trade, multilateralism and sustainability.

"We will take this promise seriously" and make suggestions on how to achieve these goals in both Asia and Europe, he said.
China is a partner and a competitor at the same time and the EU must define its interests, Altmaier said.
"And for that we need an industry strategy. For that we need our own connectivity strategy," he added.

5--Amid mass beheadings, Wall Street scrambles for Saudi profits

 

6--War by other means: US/EU sanctions aimed at crippling Syria

 

The aim is to cut off the Syrian government and its supporters from the global financial and trade systems. The Pentagon has also made it clear that despite Trump’s plan to withdraw US troops from Syria, the illegal US military presence in Syria will continue indefinitely with a “residual force.”

The US wants to preclude any reunification and reconstruction of the war-ravaged country, by carving out its own sphere of influence in Syria’s northeast. This would seize control over the country’s main oil and gas-producing region, using Syria as a base for preparing a wider and bloodier war against Iran, while encouraging Israel to play a major role in military operations against Syria.

Washington is seeking to create the conditions for a rebellion against the Assad regime, as in Iran and Venezuela, by crashing its economy and exacerbating the country’s social and economic crisis and thereby impose a pro-US regime in Damascus

Nearly half a million people have died. There are 3 million people living with permanent disabilities. Around 11 million people, nearly half the population, have fled their homes. Some 5.6 million are living in neighbouring countries, including 3.6 million living in Turkey, while there are 6.2 million internally displaced, creating the world’s largest refugee crisis since World War II.

The war, involving hundreds of militias fighting the Syrian regime and each other, has laid waste to industrial cities and infrastructure. Water, sanitation and electrical systems barely function in the former rebel-held areas. Schools and hospitals have been flattened. Some 2 million children are not in school.

US bombing has reduced cities and towns such as Raqqa to rubble, while in rural areas irrigation channels no longer function and grain silos have been destroyed, leading to a 40 percent reduction in food production, particularly wheat.

More than 80 percent of Syrians are living in extreme poverty, on less than $1.90 per day, in what was a middle-income country. According to a World Bank survey, 56 percent of the country’s businesses have either closed or relocated outside the country since 2009, while unemployment rose from less than 10 percent in 2010 to over 50 percent in 2015. It estimates that the cumulative loss in GDP between 2011 and 2016 was $226 billion, around four times Syria’s 2010 GDP. A third of those losses were in the oil and gas sector..

Last January, after Trump said he was bringing US troops in Syria “back home,” the EU issued sanctions against a further 11 businessmen and five associated companies, while the US Congress passed legislation, the Orwellian Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, broadening existing sanctions to include non-US citizens who deal with the Assad regime, so-called secondary sanctions.

While Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates appear to be considering giving some financial support to Damascus to counter long-term Iranian hegemony in Syria, these sanctions could hit anyone—including Gulf-based companies involved in Syria’s reconstruction, variously estimated at between $250 billion (about four times Syria’s pre-war GDP) and $400 billion.
The banks block transfers from Syria, making it impossible to source European parts without using prohibitively expensive informal financial networks...

The US drive to crash Syria’s economy is bound up with its campaign to reimpose neo-colonial bondage over the entire region and to continue the series of ruinous wars Washington has sparked in the Middle East since 1991 in a bid to exercise unfettered dominance of the world’s most important oil and gas-exporting region.

7--Boeing Might Represent the Greatest Indictment of 21st-Century Capitalism

 

8--Russiagate--It was all Baloney 

 

No American was indicted for conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Mueller’s report does lay out extensive evidence that Trump sought to impede the investigation, but it declines to issue a verdict on obstruction. It presents no evidence that the Trump campaign conspired with an alleged effort by the Russian government to defeat Hillary Clinton, and instead renders this conclusion: “Ultimately, the investigation did not establish that the [Trump] Campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities.” As a result, Mueller’s report provides the opposite of what Russiagate promoters led their audiences to expect: Rather than detailing a sinister collusion plot with Russia, it presents what amounts to an extended indictment of the conspiracy theory itself..

 

Mueller’s report does answer that question: There were effectively no “Kremlin intermediaries.” The report contains no evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign spoke to a Kremlin representative during the election, aside from conversations with the Russian ambassador and a press-office assistant, both of whom were ruled out as having participated in a conspiracy  ...

 

none of these “links,” “ties,” or associations ever entail a member of the Trump campaign interacting with a Kremlin intermediary. Russiagate promoters have nonetheless fueled a dogged media effort to track every known instance in which someone in Trump’s orbit interacted with “the Russians,” or someone who can be linked to them. There is nothing illegal or inherently suspect about speaking to a Russian national—but there is something xenophobic about implying as much....

 

During an April 2016 meeting in Rome, a London-based professor named Joseph Mifsud reportedly informed Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos that “the Russians” had obtained “thousands of emails” containing “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. That information made its way to the FBI, which used it as a pretext to open the “Crossfire Hurricane” probe on July 31, 2016. Papadopoulos was later indicted for lying to FBI agents about the timing of his contacts with Mifsud. The case stoked speculation that Papadopoulos acted as an intermediary between Trump and Russia.  


But Papadopoulos played no such role. And while the Mueller report says that Papadopoulos “understood Mifsud to have substantial connections to high-level Russian government officials,” it never asserts that Mifsud actually had those connections. Since Mifsud’s suspected Russian connections were the purported predicate for the FBI’s initial Trump-Russia investigation, that is a conspicuous non-call. Another is the revelation from Mueller that Mifsud made false statements to FBI investigators when they interviewed him in February 2017—but yet, unlike Papadopoulos, Mifsud was not indicted. Thus, even the interaction that sparked the Russia-collusion probe did not reveal collusion. 

 Trump Tower Moscow Had No Help From Moscow…

 

The November 2018 indictment of Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was widely seen as damning, possibly impeachment-worthy, for Trump. Cohen admitted to giving false written answers to Congress in a bid to downplay Trump’s personal knowledge of his company’s failed effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. To proponents of the collusion theory, Cohen’s admitted lies were proof that “Trump is compromised by Russia,” “full stop.”

But the Mueller report does not show any such compromise, and, in fact, shows there to be no Trump-Kremlin relationship. Cohen, the report notes, “requested [Kremlin] assistance in moving the project forward, both in securing land to build the project and with financing.” The request was evidently rejected. Elena Poliakova, the personal assistant to Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, spoke with Cohen by phone after he e-mailed her office for help. After their 20-minute call, the report says, “Cohen could not recall any direct follow-up from Poliakova or from any other representative of the Russian government, nor did the [Special Counsel’s] Office identify any evidence of direct follow-up.”

and Trump Didn’t Ask Cohen to Lie About It

The Mueller report not only dispels the notion that Trump had secret dealings with the Kremlin over Trump Tower Moscow; it also rejects a related impeachment-level “bombshell.” In January, BuzzFeed News reported that Mueller had evidence that Trump “directed” Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow project. But according to Mueller, “the evidence available to us does not establish that the President directed or aided Cohen’s false testimony,” and that Cohen himself testified “that he and the President did not explicitly discuss whether Cohen’s testimony about the Trump Tower Moscow project would be or was false.” In a de-facto retraction, BuzzFeed updated its story with an acknowledgment of Mueller’s conclusion.

The Trump Tower Meeting Really Was Just a “Waste of Time”

The June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower was widely dubbed theSmoking Gun.” An e-mail chain showed that Donald Trump Jr. welcomed an offer to accept compromising information about Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” But the pitch did not come from the meeting’s Russian participants, but instead from Rob Goldstone, a British music publicist acting on their behalf. Goldstone said that he invented “publicist puff” to secure the meeting, because in reality, as he told NPR, “I had no idea what I was talking about.”

Mueller noted that Trump Jr.’s response “showed that the Campaign anticipated receiving information from Russia that could assist candidate Trump’s electoral prospects, but the Russian lawyer’s presentation did not provide such information [emphasis mine].” The report further recounts that during the meeting Jared Kushner texted then-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort that it was a “waste of time,” and requested that his assistants “call him to give him an excuse to leave.” Accordingly, when “Veselnitskaya made additional efforts to follow up on the meeting,” after the election, “the Trump Transition Team did not engage.”

Manafort Did Not Share Polling Data to Meddle in the US Election

t Mueller’s indictment actually showed that Stone had no communications with WikiLeaks before the election and no privileged information about its releases. Most significantly, it revealed that Trump officials were trying to learn about the WikiLeaks releases through Stone—a fact that underscored that the Trump campaign neither worked with WikiLeaks nor had advance knowledge of its e-mail dumps. 


9--Time for Trilateral Coordination on 5G




10--VladimirPutin attended the second Belt and RoadForum for International Cooperation

 









 





Friday, April 26, 2019

Today's links

 

 "Having failed to achieve regime change that would have destabilized the region, the US is punishing Syrians w/ sadistic sanctions. Now, “poverty is soaring, basic service infrastructure is damaged or destroyed, & the social fabric is strained to the limit” Max Blumenthal

 

   "We are at war" with Russia and President Trump "is compromised." Tom Perez, Dems leader takes aim at Russia 

 

 

 

1--Erdogan and the Kurds


The US Congress is threatening to block Turkey’s purchase of the F-35 fifth generation fighter plane, even though Turkey is an investor in the project. The Trump administration has also warned Ankara that it will apply the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act if Turkey buys Russian military equipment, sanctions that could damage Ankara’s already troubled economy. Turkey is officially in a recession.
The Americans are so upset about this S-400 business, that the Senate recently proposed lifting an arms embargo on Cyprus and signing energy agreements with Greece and Egypt—two of Turkey’s major regional rivals.

2--Continual Confrontation in the South China Sea




 3-- The Arrogance of Secondary Sanctions, gary leupp


The U.S. is about to arrogantly provoke great countries like China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey by commanding them to end all trade with Iran. Trump in his determination to fulfill a campaign promise has sabotaged the most well-negotiated and positive international agreement in many years, in essence demanding the Iranian mullahs capitulate to all U.S. demands as the price of selling petroleum.

This is explained to the masses as the U.S.” lifting sanctions waivers” on countries hitherto enjoying such grace from the U.S. as to be allowed to buy oil from a country that all countries of the world (except for the U.S., Israel and UAE) want to treat normally, not destroy. Russia cannot presently and probably never would engage in such egregious, insulting intimidation. This is a feature of “American Exceptionalism” that the world increasingly mocks. The world is tired of it. When the Europeans actively strategize to evade U.S. secondary sanctions, and warn that they threaten the Atlantic Alliance, you know they (the Europeans) are getting serious about defying this boorish Trump figure.

4--A Nation at War with Itself


Trump seems to be saying:
These House investigations constitute a massive political assault, in collusion with a hostile media, to destroy my presidency. We do not intend to cooperate in our own destruction. We are not going to play our assigned role in this scripted farce. We will resist their subpoenas all the way to November 2020. Let the people then decide the fate and future of the Trump presidency — and that of Nancy Pelosi’s House....

Whatever may be said about the “deplorables,” they are not obtuse. They do not believe that people who call them racists, sexists, nativists and bigots are friends and merely colleagues of another party or persuasion.
Trump’s defiance of subpoenas, however, will force the more moderate Democrats to join the militants in calling for hearings on impeachment in the House Judiciary Committee, which is where we are headed....

The problem for Democrats?
Attempting to overturn the election of 2016 and remove a president who has the passionate support of a third of the nation will sunder the Democratic Party base as surely as it will unite the Republicans.


5--Washington admits defeat in Afghanistan


The US officially admitted that it had lost the 18-year long war in Afghanistan. During the April 25 trilateral meeting of special representatives of President of Russia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and State Department of the USA on Afghanistan, the sides officially called for “an orderly and responsible withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan as part of the overall peace process.” The US de-facto called for withdrawal of its own troops and their NATO allies.

Furthermore, the US, China and Russia admitted the Taliban’s “commitement” to fight ISIS and “cut ties” with al-Qaeda and o”ther international terrorist groups.” Therefore, Washington, Beijing and Moscow largely recognized that the Taliban as a legal political power, not a terrorist group.


The three sides call for an orderly and responsible withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan as part of the overall peace process.

6--North Korea's Kim slams US for ‘bad faith’ in Hanoi talks


"The situation on the Korean peninsula and the region is now at a standstill and has reached a critical point," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kim as saying.
The situation "may return to its original state as the US took a unilateral attitude in bad faith at the recent second DPRK-US summit talks,” he warned.
"Peace and security on the Korean peninsula will entirely depend on the US future attitude, and the DPRK will gird itself for every possible situation," KCNA quoted Kim as saying.
Just a week ago, Pyongyang demanded the removal of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from the stalled nuclear talks, accusing him of derailing the process....

Pyongyang has taken several steps toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula by suspending missile and nuclear testing, demolishing at least one nuclear test site, and agreeing to allow international inspectors into a missile engine test facility.
The US, however, has insisted that all sanctions on the North must remain in place until it completely and irreversibly dismantles its nuclear program.

7--Fed “pivot” promotes stock market surge--


In its World Economic Outlook, issued earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund reported that 70 percent of the world economy by value, that is the advanced economies, were experiencing decelerating growth, after an upturn in 2017.

Such was the slowdown that the IMF said global growth prospects for 2020 depended on emerging and developing economies, specifically citing Turkey and Argentina, both beset by currency and debt problems, as crucial.

The key factor in the market turnaround has been the 180-degree “pivot” by the US Federal Reserve, together with the European Central Bank (ECB) and others, from seeking to gradually “normalise” monetary policy and lift interest rates, to initiating a new round of financial stimulus.

In 2018, in response to increased US growth and what appeared to be a world upturn, the US Fed made four interest rate hikes of 0.5 percentage points each. It also indicated it would wind down its holdings of financial assets, accumulated during the quantitative easing program following the 2008 financial crash, at the rate of $50 billion a month...

The essence of the post-2009 era is that central banks now provide the underpinning for accumulation of profit via financial market operations and speculation. Nothing like this has ever been seen in the history of global capitalism. Far from representing a strength, it shows that the disease which led to the 2008 crash has not been cured. It has simply mutated to assume even more dangerous forms.

The precarious structure of the entire system was highlighted by Steve Blitz, an analyst at the financial research firm TS Lombard, cited by Mackenzie. According to Blitz, the December turmoil could be thought of as “dress rehearsal” and “we are left with an economy that can ill-afford the loss of wealth from a bear market and with market structures unable to handle a massive reversal in the flow of investment monies.”

Apart from the underwriting of the financial markets by the Fed and other central banks, the other main factor in the rise of stock prices is the growing use of share buybacks. In a bygone era, such measures were considered to be market manipulation. They are now standard operating procedure.

According to calculations by the economist William Lazonick, between 2007 and 2016, the S&P 500 companies spent 96 percent of their profits to finance share buybacks and pay dividends, a process that has continued since then. This gives the lie to the claim that the Trump administration’s corporate tax cuts would lead to increased investments, greater production and higher wages
The outcome of the measures implemented since 2008 is the establishment of a financial mechanism by which the wealth created by the labour of the working class is sucked up and deposited in the hands of the banks, hedge funds, finance houses and their owners.
Karl Marx’s analysis that the inherent logic of the capitalist system was the creation of wealth at one pole of society and poverty and misery at the other was once denounced as a wild exaggeration, refuted by the course of events.


Today it is a living reality.

The majority of American workers have not experienced a rise in their real wages in more than three decades. At the same time, executives of large US companies last year received more than 254 times the compensation of their median employees, with about one in ten earning 1,000 times as much. Forty years ago, the ratio was under 30.

The much-vaunted low unemployment figures in the US reveal the same trend. A study by Harvard economist Lawrence Katz and Princeton economist Alan Krueger at the end of 2016 found that 94 percent of the 10 million jobs created during the Obama administration were temporary, contract or part-time positions. As a result, such workers comprised almost 16 percent of the workforce.
The rise and rise of the stock market is not an indication of economic health. It is rather a fever chart of a coming financial and economic meltdown that will be accompanied by an explosion of class struggle.

8--Hillary Clinton’s McCarthyite rant--Clinton emerges as a serious threat to democracy


The “Red Menace” was the pretext for attacking and delegitimizing all manifestations of social and political opposition, including the Civil Rights movement, as the work of “outside agitators” who received their orders from Moscow. It was Martin Dies, the Democratic congressman from Texas and initiator of the witch-hunting House Un-American Activities Committee, who declared in his 1940 book The Trojan Horse in America that Moscow had “envisioned an unusual opportunity to create racial hatred between the white and Negro citizens of the United States.”...

Nothing is dead in politics. The legacy of McCarthyism is now being revived by the campaign led by the Democratic Party and summed up in a hysterical screed published Wednesday in the Washington Post by Hillary Clinton, the self-professed former “Goldwater girl,” under the headline, “Mueller documented a serious crime against all Americans. Here’s how to respond.”

According to Clinton, “Our election was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated. This is the definitive conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.” The perpetrator again is Russia, which Clinton, citing the Mueller report, claims has carried out a “sweeping and systematic” attack on the United States.

The Clinton narrative, which is the official line of the Democratic Party, is a monumental lie. Responsibility for Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 elections is attributed entirely to the operations of Russian bots and “Guccifer 2.0,” the persona of the individual who supposedly hacked Democratic Party emails. Her campaign, Clinton writes, was the “target of a Russian plot,” directed by President Vladimir Putin, who “seeks to weaken our country.”...

And what did this new “conspiracy so immense” actually involve? According to the Mueller report itself, organizations associated with Russia allegedly spent $100,000 on Facebook ads. This is 0.12 percent of the $81 million spent by the Democratic and Republican election campaigns themselves on Facebook ads, in a campaign dominated by the $5 billion spent by the billionaire backers of the two parties to buy the election.

As for the release of Democratic Party emails, even if one accepts the unsubstantiated claim that it was Russian operatives who turned them over to WikiLeaks, what the emails revealed were true facts about the operations of Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC)—facts that the electorate had every right to know. Among the documents released were Clinton’s speeches to Goldman Sachs and other banks, for which she was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. Other leaked emails exposed the corrupt efforts of the DNC to rig the primaries against Bernie Sanders.

Clinton lost in the 2016 elections because the Democratic Party, in line with the class interests it represents, made a calculated decision not to raise any social issues or make any appeal to the working class in its campaign against Trump. Do Clinton and company really expect the public to believe that Facebook ads put out by Russian agents were behind the collapse in voter turnout in working-class areas of Michigan, Wisconsin and other states?...

The victory of the billionaire demagogue Trump was the result of widespread disillusionment with the Democratic Party after eight years of the Obama administration, which broke every campaign promise and exposed as lies the empty prattle about “hope” and “change.” Obama focused his energies on bailing out Wall Street and shoring up the wealth of the corporate and financial elite.
...
Clinton wants a bipartisan foreign policy that is “fearless” in its aggression against not only Russia, but also China. “Unless checked, the Russians will interfere again in 2020, and possibly other adversaries, such as China or North Korea, will as well,” she warns. Unless Trump is “held accountable, the president will likely redouble his efforts to advance Putin’s agenda, including rolling back sanctions, weakening NATO and undermining the European Union.”...

The September 11 attacks—a terrorist atrocity that killed nearly 3,000 people—were followed by the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Department, the Northern Command, domestic spying, Guantanamo Bay, the institution of torture and drone assassinations as government policy, and other crimes. The campaign of the Democrats over the Russian “attack”—a lie fashioned from whole cloth—has been accompanied by far-reaching moves to censor the internet under the guise of combating “fake news.”..

All of this further demonstrates that in the conflict between Trump and the Democratic Party there is no progressive or democratic faction. The anti-Russia narrative has not been challenged by any section of the Democratic Party, including Bernie Sanders, who is again seeking to cover up this warmongering party with a thin veneer of social reforms that it has no intention of implementing.

The conflict between the Democrats and the Trump administration is a conflict between two reactionary factions of the ruling class. All those political organizations and groups that are seeking to direct social opposition behind the Democratic Party are playing the most criminal role. They are no less terrified than Trump and the Democrats of the development of a genuine socialist movement of the working class, which will oppose American capitalism and its wars.

9--US senators visit S. Korea to reiterate denuclearization must come before sanctions relief--  Top Democrats reiterate Bolton ultimatum

 

Both senators expressed support for President Donald Trump’s “no deal” decision regarding the Hanoi talks.....

The position among US politicians and the US public that sanctions against North Korea cannot be relieved until it takes significant and concrete steps toward denuclearization was reiterated by Democratic Party Senators Chris Coons and Maggie Hassan on Apr. 24 following a two-day visit to South Korea – one of numerous recent visits by US Senators.

Coons and Hassan also said the South Korean government stressed the absence of any differences with the US in terms of its approach to North Korea issues. A member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has shown a particular interest in the North Korean nuclear issue and other North Korea-related matters, Coons spoke with reporters that afternoon at the Grand Hyatt Seoul hotel. “I don't think it's appropriate for [North Korea and the US] to have some big breakthrough that is based on our offering sanctions relief to North Korea without North Korea taking significant, concrete steps,” he said. His remarks came in response to a question concerning ways of achieving progress in denuclearization talks amid the failure to narrow the difference in views between Pyongyang, which wants sanction relief, and Washington, which insists that no sanctions relief can be provided until complete denuclearization takes place. Hassan also stressed, “You can't reward DPRK for, again, just showing up and stating intentions [to denuclearize].” “[T]his [concrete denuclearization process] really has to start with concrete proposals, and real action steps from the DPRK,” she added....

 When asked for his opinion on President Moon Jae-in’s idea of using the resumption of operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex and/or tourism at Mt. Kumgang as an incentive for North Korea in the denuclearization process, Coons said, “There will be some confidence-building measures, but not relief of sanctions.”

Regarding the North Korea-Russia summit on Apr. 25, Coons said, “[I]t would be a great disappointment for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to again insert himself in a way that's unhelpful in terms of the global pursuit of counter-proliferation and peace.” “it is my real hope that they'll have a positive meeting, but it will not result in sanctions avoidance or weakening of the global regime in opposition to North Korea's nuclear weapons program,” he said. Both senators also underscored that the aim of their South Korea visit was to “reinforce the importance of the US-South Korea alliance.”

 

10--Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro: This Country Must Not Become a ‘Gay Tourism Paradise

 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reportedly declared that the country must not turn into a “gay tourism paradise” on Thursday, The Guardian reports. “If you want to come here and have sex with a woman, go for your life,” Bolsonaro was quoted as saying during a breakfast meeting with reporters. “But we can’t let this place become known as a gay tourism paradise. Brazil can’t be a country of the gay world, of gay tourism. We have families.” The remarks sparked immediate backlash with Brazil's LGBT community. “This is not a head of state—this is a national disgrace,” congressman and LGBT activist David Miranda said. Miranda, who is the husband of journalist Glenn Greenwald, also claimed the remark put “a target” on the backs of the LGBT community and encouraged the exploitation of women. Renan Quinalha, lawyer and activist, told the newspaper Bolsonaro’s remark gave a “green light to already alarming levels of violence against the LGBT community” and reinforced his homophobic image. Bolsonaro reportedly previously said he was happy to flaunt his anti-LGBT views. “Yes, I’m homophobic—and very proud of it,” he was quoted as saying.




 11---After losing the war, the US is now strangling the economy


The road to Damascus from the Lebanese border leaves nobody in doubt who has won the war that’s cast a dark shadow over the Middle East for eight years. “Welcome to victorious Syria,” a billboard says with a picture of a beaming President Bashar al-Assad superimposed over the country’s red, white and black flag.
Instead of a frenzy of reconstruction and the promise of revival, Syrians have found themselves fighting another battle. Weary and traumatized from the violence, they’re focused on trying to survive in a decimated economy that shows no signs of imminent revival and with no peace dividend on the horizon.

Robert Ford, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria, said the Trump administration is much more aggressive than under Barack Obama, using more secondary penalties that target those doing business with sanctioned individuals or companies.
In November, the U.S. Treasury Department added a network of Russian and Iranian companies to its blacklist for shipping oil to Syria and warned of significant risks for those violating the sanctions.
“It is a conscious policy of the American government to try to strangle to death the Iranian government in Tehran and the Syrian government in Damascus,” said Ford, who’s now a fellow at the Middle East Institute. “They don’t want to fight a military war with the Syrian government, but they’re perfectly willing to fight an economic war.”
Ford likened the situation in Syria to the one in Cuba after the economy collapsed in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Cuba had financial difficulties, “but the Castros are still there,” he said

 12--Washington's sanctions on venezuela--Death by disease and starvation


The sanctions reduced the public’s caloric intake, increased disease and mortality (for both adults and infants), and displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the country as a result of the worsening economic depression and hyperinflation. They exacerbated Venezuela’s economic crisis and made it nearly impossible to stabilize the economy, contributing further to excess deaths. All of these impacts disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable Venezuelans.

Even more severe and destructive than the broad economic sanctions of August 2017 were the sanctions imposed by executive order on January 28, 2019 and subsequent executive orders this year; and the recognition of a parallel government, which as shown below, created a whole new set of financial and trade sanctions that are even more constricting than the executive orders themselves.

We find that the sanctions have inflicted, and increasingly inflict, very serious harm to human life and health, including an estimated more than 40,000 deaths from 2017–2018; and that these sanctions would fit the definition of collective punishment of the civilian population as described in both the Geneva and Hague international conventions, to which the US is a signatory. They are also illegal under international law and treaties which the US has signed, and would appear to violate US law as well.


 13---archived lies from the NYT--2017--Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence 



Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.

But the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last summer, Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them publi

14-- Zbigniew Brzezinski on Iran


zbigniew--when a country is about to be destroyed economically, the people unite behind the government
can you imagine what the consequences for us would be if the afgahan conflict expanded because of the iranians, if iraq was massively destabilized, if bahrain was set on fire, if the oil fields in saudi arabia were attacked, 
i would not bruing it to the point where their only choice is collision or capitulation, because I think that will precipitate an explosion
 


15--The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has already been reshaping the world, fundamentally....


Entire huge railroad projects in East Africa as well as in the once devastated Laos (devastated by the insanely brutal Western carpet-bombing campaigns, which are still called a “Secret War”) are now connecting continents. Along the railway lines, schools are growing, and so are medical facilities, community learning centers and cultural institutions....

The BRI is not only about the economy, not only about infrastructure and development, it also about the well-being of the people, about the culture, health and knowledge. It is aiming at connecting people of different races, life philosophies, and beliefs....

And so, in Washington and London, and in so many other centers of Western might, thousands of ‘professionals’ are now employed and busy smearing China and its most ambitious international (and internationalist) projects. Smearing and spreading nihilism is an extremely well-paid job, and for as long as China is rising and the West declining, it appears to be a permanent one. There will be no deficit when it comes to funding all those anti-Chinese ‘academic reports’, fake analyses and articles.

...
In his essay “China’s road to a win-win ahead of BRI forum”published by the Asia Times, renowned Brazilian analyst Pepe Escobar wrote:
“Relentless reports that the New Silk Roads, or the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), are a perfidious neo-imperial debt trap set up by Yellow Peril 2.0 are vastly exaggerated. 
Beijing clinched a proverbial showering of BRI deals with 17 Arab nations, including Egypt, Lebanon and Oman. Not by accident, the forum this year was called Build the Belt and Road, Share Development and Prosperity. Up to 2018, 21 Arab nations had signed BRI memoranda of understanding.
These nations are not only BRI partners, but 12 of them also went for strategic partnerships with China…”
Little wonder why!...

In Washington, London and Paris, they love to say: “we are all the same”. Such ‘logic’ washes out their crimes. It means: “everyone is as greedy and brutal as we are”. But no, we are not the same! Cultures are different, on all corners of the globe. Some countries are expansionist, aggressive and obsessed with self-righteousness as well as complexes of superiority. Some are not. China is not. It never was. It never will be. If attacked or antagonized, it defends itself; and if threatened in the future, it will defend itself again. But it does not build its wealth on plunder, and on the corpses of the others, as the West has been doing for long centuries.

BRI is the exact contrast to the Western colonialism and imperialism. I say it not because I am defending some theory on these pages, but because I have seen the Chinese ‘New Silk Road’ in action, in places where I have lived and worked: Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, Latin America and Africa. In places where almost no one dares or cares to go: except for those few tough and ‘insane’ individuals like myself, and for the Chinese internationalists! I know such places intimately. Places where local people are almost never given an opportunity to speak; they never appear on the pages of the Western mass media, or on television screens, or in reports such as the one published by CNAS

16--Joe Biden won't get Obama's endorsement 


17--John Bolton sent out the following tweet yesterday ahead of the rumored Israeli attack on Lebanon this summer that will target civilians

 

Today’s @StateDept announcement that they will be offering up to $10M for information on Hizballah’s global financial networks is another example of how the U.S. is continuing to expand the scope and scale of our maximum pressure campaign against Iran and its proxies.

Hezbollah’s track record on terror is largely speculative. There is no evidence the group kidnapped the president of the American University in Beirut, Davis S. Dodge, or is there conclusive evidence it attacked the US embassy in Beirut or truck bombed a US military barracks in Lebanon. A number of other murders, bombings, and airplane hijackings have been attributed to Hezbollah, again with scant evidence. However, for the neocons, evidence is not required. Big Lies suffice. 

History is, of course, left out of the equation. Hezbollah was formed after Israel invaded Lebanon (to steal its water) and began imprisoning and torturing Shi’a Muslims, most notoriously at the Khiam detention center (see this Amnesty International report on the torture and ill-treatment of detainees at the Khiam facility). 
Hezbollah is now an integral component of the Lebanese government and removing it wholesale from politics will prove to be impossible short of killing just about every Shi’a in Lebanon.



The excuse for starving babies to death and bombing wedding parties? It’s all part of the US-Israeli effort to control access to oil and confront Iran. 

According to Breitbart’s Joel B. Pollak:

Yemen sits on the eastern side of the Bab el-Mandeb strait a key shipping lane for traffic through the Suez Canal. The U.S. Navy has a major base across the strait, in Djibouti—as do many other countries, including China. Allowing an Iranian proxy to command the eastern side of the strait, across from a crucial U.S. Navy asset that helps control piracy and terror, and where China is challenging U.S. dominance, would be foolish to the point of lunacy.


It’s safe to say the MAGA crowd is right up there with the neocons. They are enthusiastic about murder, theft, starvation, disease, and the destruction of societies. 
Boss Trump promised to “bomb the shit” out of civilians and steal oil from Iraq and Syria to pay for the wars of his predecessors. He acted as salesman of the month for the military-industrial-security complex. 
The takeaway from the Trump administration is clear—it hardly matters who is in the White House, the agenda remains the same: forever war, rendition and torture (the awaited fate of Julian Assange), neoliberal debt schemes and strip mining of natural resources, and the ability to convince a dumbed-down and politically illiterate public through interminable propaganda that mass murder and “creative destruction” are in their best interest and represent the hallmark of “democracy.”

NOTES--


Stealth candidate Michelle Obama 

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Michelle-Obama

michelle o tickets
https://www.vividseats.com/theatre/michelle-obama-tickets.html?utm_source=msn&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Public+Speaking&utm_term=michelle+obama&vkid=17282804&msclkid=b3ba84266e64182e14f5d8e47f11b15c


















 







Thursday, April 25, 2019

Today's Links




“I don’t think there is an implicit obligation for the United States to follow like a stupid mule whatever the Israelis do....If they decide to start a war, simply on the assumption that we’ll automatically be drawn into it, I think it is the obligation of friendship to say, ‘you’re not going to be making national decision for us.’ I think that the United States has the right to have its own national security policy.” Zbigniew Brzezinski


Speaking before a conference sponsored jointly by the Arms Control Association and the National Iranian American Council, Brzezinski effectively ruled out a U.S. or Israel attack on Iran as “an act of utter irresponsibility” that would mean “the region would literally be set aflame.” He warned that a policy based on such unrealistic options ultimately undermined U.S. credibility.

“Iran will never start any war, but if the U.S. attacked first “we will turn the region into a slaughterhouse for them. There is no greater place than the Persian Gulf to destroy America’s might.”
former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaei


“We demand that the illegal presence of foreign troops of the US, France, Britain and Turkey on our soil should be stopped and the international alliance disbanded. That guarantees the end of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by them." Syrian Deputy Defense Minister Mahmoud al-Shawa

If you’re feeling down about the continued shelf life of the Russiagate conspiracy theory even after Mueller’s report, here’s some hope: most cults ultimately collapse on their own. aaron mate




 

1--Hezbollah Hunkers Down for Summer War With Israel. How Might US, Russia React?


“I may not remain among you for very long; it is possible that the entire first level of leadership could be killed, including myself. Israel may succeed in assassinating many leaders and commanders. The death of some key personalities will not be the end of Hezbollah, because the party doesn’t rely merely on individuals but rather on the entire society that is an essential part of its existence”, said Sayyed Nasrallah to the gathering....

“There are strong indications that this war will take everybody by surprise, like the 2006 war. Nevertheless, (the Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin) Netanyahu is preparing himself, unlike (the former PM Ehud) Olmert who was hesitant, when the unprepared Israeli political decision was caught out in July (2006). Israel can surprise us all it did in Gaza in 2008 with the objective of removing the threat on its borders once and for all. This is what our people (Hezbollah’s allies) should know, and they should from now on be prepared for the scenario”, Sayyed Nasrallah said...

Hezbollah believes Netanyahu has a unique opportunity to attack Hezbollah after forming his government, because Israel may not again enjoy a president in Washington like Trump who offers him (Netanyahu) unlimited support....

“This is the first time Sayyed Nasrallah has offered such a bleak perspective, raising the chances of war with Israel from 50/50 to 70/30”, said a knowledgeable source.
No one within the Hezbollah leadership knows exactly when and how hard the next war with Israel will be. The first expectation is simple:Israel is expected to destroy between 1000 and 2000 objectives in the first days of the war. The Israeli military command believes it is possible to eliminate the threat from Hezbollah, Sayyed Nasrallah believes.

There is no doubt that Israel will start a war immediately if Sayyed Nasrallah is located. Domestic opinion in Israel would likely be able to digest a war for this price regardless of Hezbollah’s deadly retaliation....

Sayyed Nasrallah believes Netanyahu is no longer following David Ben Gurion’s policy of being content to move the battle into the enemy’s territory. He is taking the initiative to eliminate threats anywhere in the region. Under Netanyahu, the Israeli Air Force bombed Iraq (Hashd al-Shaabi Iraqi security forces) on the borders with Syria. Every time he perceived the presence of a sophisticated arms shipment he bombs it immediately regardless of the consequences. He has destroyed warehouses and arms manufacturers in Syria to cripple the Syrian army. Not only that, Netanyahu is now living in a world where the Arab armies are absent or destroyed: they represent no danger to the existence of Israel. For Israel, the only remaining threat is Hezbollah. Why would Netanyahu put up with such a menace on his borders?

But why this sudden pessimism and increase likelihood of war in Lebanon? 
Hezbollah is watching the movements of the US Air Force and Navy in the region, the behaviour of Netanyahu with Gaza (giving the Palestinians what they want to keep them – with Egypt as a guarantor – quiet in case of war against Hezbollah), the US’s unlimited support presenting a unique opportunity for Israel to take what it wants, Arab support for Netanyahu, the classification of Hezbollah as a terrorist country by more countries, the repeated warnings of the US establishment to Lebanon against embracing Hezbollah, the enmity against Iran by the Arab states and the tightening of sanctions on the Levants, the “Deal of the Century” scheduled for this summer and the extreme right-wing victory in Israel.

2--The Collapse of Deterrence with Iran


Earlier this month, the U.S. administration announced its decision to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).  Just this week, the Trump administration said that it will no longer exempt any country from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil.  These moves are justifiably sparking renewed debate about U.S. strategy for Iran.

The White House portrays these steps as a natural progression in its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign to deprive Iran of “funds that it has used to destabilize the Middle East for decades.”

The reaction among policy pundits has been mixed but imminently predictable.  Supporters of regime change in Iran, like Mark Dubowitz at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, have long pushed for such moves.  On the opposing side, advocates of rapprochement such as Trita Parsi have sounded alarmist assessments indicating that the IRGC designation alone represents a dangerous escalation that might well lead to war.  Still others see the combination of the IRGC designation and the imposition of crippling new sanctions as part of an orchestrated public information campaign to build a U.S. case for war against Iran

One of the most essential components of a successful U.S. deterrence strategy is clear communications.  As Thomas C. Schelling observes in his classic exposition of deterrence theory, “The victim has to know what is wanted, and may have to be assured of what is not wanted.” Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has failed on both counts.  This continued uncertainty and lack of clarity in terms of U.S. expectations for Iran’s behavior are the anti-thesis of what is required for a coherent and realistic deterrent policy.

In terms of what constitutes unacceptable behavior on Iran’s nuclear activities, President Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the meticulously negotiated and internationally sanctioned Iran nuclear deal (formally named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) has unnecessarily and recklessly muddied the waters.  For now Iran continues to adhere to the terms of the JCPOA despite the re-imposition of stringent U.S. unilateral and extraterritorial sanctions.  But the basic terms of the deal which involved Iran agreeing to verifiable restraints on its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief have been clearly violated and upended by the U.S. itself

3--Saudi Bloodbath--US-backed Saudi regime beheads 37 political prisoners

By Bill Van Auken
25 April 2019
The monarchical dictatorship of Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it had carried out another killing spree, publicly executing 37 people in the cities of Riyadh, Medina and Mecca, as well as in central Qassim Province and in the kingdom’s Eastern Province.
One of the headless corpses was then crucified and left hanging in public as a hideous warning to anyone who would even contemplate opposing the absolute power of the ruling royal family.

4--Matt Taibbi on Russiagate  


He didn’t just “fail to establish” evidence of crime. His report is full of incredibly damning passages, like one about Russian officialdom’s efforts to reach the Trump campaign after the election: “They appeared not to have preexisting contacts and struggled to connect with senior officials around the President-Elect.”

Not only was there no “collusion,” the two camps didn’t even have each others’ phone numbers!

In March of 2017, in one of the first of what would become a mountain of mafia-hierarchy-style “Trump-Russia contacts” graphics in major newspapers, the Washington Post described an email Trump lawyer Michael Cohen sent to Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov. They called it “the most direct interaction yet of a top Trump aide and a senior member of Putin’s government.”

The report shows the whole episode was a joke. In order to further the Trump Tower project-that-never-was, Cohen literally cold-emailed the Kremlin. More than that, he entered the email incorrectly, so the letter initially didn’t even arrive. When he finally fixed the mistake, Peskov didn’t answer back.
That was “the most direct interaction yet of a top Trump aide and a senior member of Putin’s government”!


Reporters are going to insist all they did was accurately report the developments of a real investigation. They didn’t imply vast criminality that wasn’t there, or hoodwink audiences into thinking a Watergate-style ending was just around the corner, or routinely blow meaningless episodes like the Sessions-Kislyak meeting out of proportion, or regularly smear people who not only weren’t part of a conspiracy but had no connection to anything (see here for an example).

They’ll also claim they didn’t spend years openly rooting for indictment and impeachment via wish-casted predictions disguised as reporting and commentary, or denouncing people who doubted the conspiracy as spies and Putin apologists, or clearing their broadcast panels and op-ed pages of skeptics while giving big stages to craven conspiracy-spinners like Malcolm Nance and Luke Harding....

Reporters should be furious about being fed these red herrings. They should be outraged at all those people who urged them to publish the Steele report, which might have led to career-imperiling mistakes in print. They should be mad as hell at CIA chief Gina Haspel and the other unnamed officials who told them disclosing the name of already long-ago exposed government informant Stefan Halper would “risk lives.”...

This fiasco will surely end up being a net plus for Trump. The obstruction parts of the report make him look like a brainless goon and thug, but the absence of what Mueller repeatedly calls “underlying crime” make his ravings about an elitist mob out to get him look justified. This is not an easy thing to achieve, but we’re there, and the press is a big part of that picture.

News audiences were betrayed, and sooner or later, even the most virulently Trump-despising demographics will realize it and tune us out. The only way to reverse the damage is to own how big of a screw-up this was, but after the last three years, who would hold their breath waiting for that?

5--Is the UN assisting Caravans?


Research conducted by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) indicates that the United States has effectively ceded its sovereignty to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and other international organizations to operate our refugee program and select refugees from an exclusive pool of applicants. Moreover, the UNHCR is now demanding that the United States open its southern border to asylum-seekers who are fleeing persecution and violence.

Assisting Caravans and Advocating Against Borders
The UNHCR is providing support and assistance to the large-scale migrant caravans from Central America. Under the guise of providing humanitarian aid, the UNHCR has dispatched more than 45 staff members to Mexico to ensure that the United States accepts the throngs of asylum-seekers making their way to our southern border.


The UNHCR has stated that refugees and asylum-seekers from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador have been forced into displacement by a confluence of factors that have led to an escalating situation of chronic violence and insecurity. These factors range from the influence of organized crime such as drug cartels and urban gangs to the limited national capacity—compounded by corruption, poverty, and exclusion—of UN member states to provide protection. However, these factors are not recognized by U.S. law as criteria for asylum.


6--Americans Are Among the Most Stressed People in the World, Poll Finds

 

Americans are among the most stressed people in the world, according to a new survey. And that’s just the start of it.
Last year, Americans reported feeling stress, anger and worry at the highest levels in a decade, according to the survey, part of an annual Gallup poll of more than 150,000 people around the world, released on Thursday.

7--She Wrote The Patriot Act. Her Next Job Is With Facebook

 

8--The ‘Belt and Road initiative’ gains pace 

“The ‘Belt and Road initiative’ (BRI) is not a geopolitical tool but a platform for cooperation,” Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said last week, ahead of the forum “We welcome all parties to take part in it.”
This week’s event is especially important for Beijing, which uses the forum as a way to convince the international community, as well as its own citizens, of the success of the project.

“Such prestige is bolstered by every government signing a BRI memorandum of understanding and every head of government attending a grand BRI summit in Beijing. These countries allow Xi Jinping to then tell Chinese citizens that the entire world is endorsing his policies and that he is the one to have put China firmly back at the centre of the global stage,” Eder said.

The event is to be attended by 37 leaders, including Russian president Vladimir Putin, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, UK chancellor Philip Hammond, Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan and the heads of state of the 10 Asean (Association of South-east Asian Nation) states. The US is reportedly sending low-level delegates, and India is not attending.

So far, China has signed more than 170 agreements with 125 countries, according to Chinese state media. Between 2013 and 2018, these deals totalled more than $90bn in Chinese investment.
Beijing has also begun to take some steps to soothe concerns. Officials are reportedly drafting rules on which projects can be called “Belt and Road”, to prevent the initiative’s brand from being diluted by unsuccessful projects. Chinese ambassadors in Kenya and Mexico have published editorials in local media defending the initiative.

On Friday, Xi will give a keynote address, where he is likely to strike a similar tone. “The Belt and Road is an initiative for economic cooperation, instead of a geopolitical alliance or military league, and it is an open and inclusive process rather than an exclusive bloc or ‘China club’,” Xi said in remarks given at a symposium in August.

9--Trump Whacks the Middle Class: How to Redistribute $4.5 Trillion



10--The Putin-Kim Summit

 

Russia would also like to gain broader access to North Korea's mineral resources, including rare metals. Pyongyang, for its part, covets Russia's electricity supplies and investment to modernize its dilapidated Soviet-built industrial plants, railways and other infrastructure.

 

11--Iran sanctions

 

importers of Iranian oil stand to be excluded from the U.S. financial system. India, South Korea, China, Japan and Turkey stand to experience more serious effects than others. INSTEX, a new transaction channel that the EU set up with Iran, does not cover areas targeted by U.S. sanctions. Nor is that mechanism likely to facilitate the return of companies, which are in business with the U.S., to the Iranian market. INSTEX could only be attractive for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that attach more importance to their business in Iran than the U.S.


 Without a meaningful alternative to the SWIFT system, which remains the single greatest obstacle before trade with Iran, it seems unlikely that Iran will be able to stand American pressure – which means that Russia, China and the EU must work together. The Trump administration currently imposes sanctions on Russia and China, whereas even Germany finds itself threatened by sanctions for importing Russian natural gas.

Trump's America mounts pressure on the world's leading powers and imposes its own national interest and legal system on the rest of the globe as if it were universal law. Washington challenges (and possibly dismantles) the post-World War II liberal international order, which it single-handedly built. Soon, the great powers find themselves unable to effectively respond to American unilateralism. Slowly but surely, the idea of an American-dominated order gives way to the notion of American-made turbulence. All parties will need to make their strategic calculations accordingly

iran sanctions more
https://www.dailysabah.com/op-ed/2019/04/24/us-sanctions-and-the-future-of-irans-oil-exports

12--Bint Jbeil; Hezbollah’s Blood Victory

Monday, September 4, 2006

13--Erwin Rommel was not a Nazi


Only a few months into World War I, Rommel won the Iron Cross Second Class for bravery in the field when he was injured in the leg after running out of ammunition and then attacked three French soldiers in the woods. But his first great strategic triumph is the disastrous defeat he helps inflict on the Italian Army at Caporetto in which he captures 150 Italian officers, 9,000 soldiers, and 81 guns. Captain Rommel is awarded the decoration pour le merite - a medal reserved only for senior generals. He is promoted to Major in 1933 and later to Colonel in 1937 while teaching at the War College. 

Rommel is anything but a Nazi. In fact, early on he starts to harbor "serious reservations" about the Nazi regime....

On October 7, 1944, Rommel declines a summons from Hitler to come to Berlin. On October 14, two generals visit Rommel at his residence in Errlingen and hand him a cyanide capsule and a message from Hitler: commit suicide and be buried with honors, or stand trial for high treason and be hanged, which implied the loss of his family's livelihood. Rommel bid farewell to his wife and son and was driven off in an army car after swallowing the capsule. According to Blumenson, "those who saw his body noted the look of contempt on his face." (Blumenson, 314). Rommel was buried with full-military honors and given a hero's farewell.

14-- Deleted

 

15--War with Iran, No Cakewalk

... a war with Iran would not be a cakewalk, it will be a bloody and protracted affair that would require significant military resources and tens of thousands of  American troops on the ground. US warplanes would not be able to selectively bomb designated targets without provoking asymmetrical retaliatory attacks on US military bases, oil platforms and strategic allies in the region. 
Iranian special forces would be deployed to locations beyond their borders where they would wreak havoc while plunging the Middle East into a broader regional war. The transport of oil through the Straits of Hormuz would be blocked indefinitely which would send gas prices skyrocketing while global equities went off a cliff.

More important, Washington would have no allies in the conflict excluding a few of the corrupt Gulf monarchies whose military value is negligible at best. The traditional European allies would abandon the US in order to maintain their ever-dwindling political base which is fed up with American adventurism.  The war in Iraq, followed by the Wall Street-generated global financial crash, followed by the flood of refugees fleeing US conflicts in Syria, Libya and beyond, have made it impossible for EU leaders to support another bloody US-led fiasco in the Middle East. Washington would have to go it alone which would, in turn, strengthen the position of  rising rightwing politicians in the EU that want to sever relations with the US and develop an more Euro-centric foreign policy.

The end of the Atlantic Alliance would mark the end of imperial America and the collapse of the current global order. If Washington were to lose its ability to persuade or coerce the vassal states to follow its edicts, it would be cut off from its greatest source of geopolitical power. An attack on Iran would precipitate a speedy unraveling of the global system the US has painstakingly stitched together over a seventy year period.  US dominance would progressively erode while foreign governments would ditch the dollar leaving Washington to face a future of pariah-like isolation and grinding poverty.

In my opinion, an attack on Iran would trigger a series of events that would greatly accelerate US economic decline while exacerbating tensions between allies that would lead to the inevitable breakup of the Atlantic Alliance and the end of the dollar’s dominant role as the world’s reserve currency. Is Trump really willing to risk all that in order to punish Iran or is something else going on below the radar?

16-- Pepe Escobar--Storm clouds over Iran?



as Professor Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran has elegantly argued, “If the Trump regime miscalculates, the house can easily come crashing down on its head.”
Reflecting the fact Tehran seems to have no illusions regarding the utter folly ahead, the Iranian leadership if provoked to a point of no return, Marandi additionally told me can get as far as “destroying everything on the other side of the Persian Gulf and chasing the U.Sout of Iraq and Afghanistan. When the U.Sescalates, Iran escalates. Now it depends on the U.Show far things go.”...

Vast swathes of the ruling classes across the West seem to be oblivious to the reality that if Hormuz is shut down, the result will be an absolutely cataclysmic global economic depression....

If Tehran were totally cornered by Washington, with no way out, the de facto nuclear option of shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would instantly cut off 25 percent of the global oil supply. Oil prices could rise to over $500 a barrelto even $1000 a barrel. The 2.5 quadrillion of derivatives would start a chain reaction of destruction. 

Unlike the shortage of credit during the 2008 financial crisis, the shortage of oil could not be made up by fiat instruments. Simply because the oil is not there. Not even Russia would be able to re-stabilize the market.
It’s an open secret in private conversations at the Harvard Club – or at Pentagon war-games for that matter – that in case of a war on Iran, the U.SNavy would not be able to keep the Strait of Hormuz open. 

Russian SS-NX-26 Yakhont missiles — with a top speed of Mach 2.9  are lining up the Iranian northern shore of the Strait of Hormuz. There’s no way U.Saircraft carriers can defend a  barrage of Yakhont missiles.
Then there are the SS-N-22 Sunburn supersonic anti-ship missiles — already exported to China and India — flying ultra-low at 1,500 miles an hour with dodging capacity, and extremely mobile; they can be fired from a flatbed truck, and were designed to defeat the U.SAegis radar defense system

What Will China Do?
The fullfrontal attack on Iran reveals how the Trump administration bets on breaking Eurasia integration via what would be its weakeast node; the three key nodes are China, Russia and Iran. These three actors interconnect the whole spectrum; Belt and Road Initiative; the Eurasia Economic Union; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; the International North-South Transportation Corridor; the expansion of BRICS Plus.
So there’s no question the Russia-China strategic partnership will be watching Iran’s back. It’s no accident that the trio is among the top existential “threats” to the U.S., according to the Pentagon. Beijing knows how the U.SNavy is able to cut it off from its energy sources. And that’s why Beijing is strategically increasing imports of oil and natural gas from Russia; engineering the “escape from Malacca” also must take into account a hypothetical U.Stakeover of the Strait of Hormuz.


https://lyricstranslate.com/en/panzerlied-panzer.html

Panzer Song

Whether it storms or snows,
whether the sun smiles upon us,
The day be burning hot,
or the night be ice cold ,
Dusty are our faces,
but joyful is our mind,
yes, our mind.
Our tank roars forward there )
into the stor
NOTES--
Today, geopolitics is dominated by a 500 lb. gorilla, Pax Americanus, and the enemies of Pax Americanus, call them the Leper’s club, namely Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba to name a few. Some of these nations claim to be socialist. China calls itself socialist but by its actions appears to be the new brown. Iran is an Islamic Republic, whatever that is. Russia and Syria are vaguely nationalist, perhaps brown, but neither is an ethnostate (like Israel) and neither claims to want to be a ethnostate. In fact, government appeals to territorial nationalism seem more like an attempt to unify a polyglot than some kind of exclusionary, ethnonationalism....

If you embrace Pax Americanus, then you support the extension of globalization, Americanization, and hyper-capitalism by force on the entire face of the planet. It does not make you Left or Right, you are just carrying on the reboot of British Imperialism. If you question Pax Americanus or the benefits of globalization, hyper-capitalism or Americanization, that places you on the other side, and it doesn’t make you Left or Right either

Communism is dead. Nazism is dead. The “real” Left is dead. The “real” Right is dead. There are no real Reds, and there are no real Browns, and pretending like 2019 is 1934, or that the political and geopolitical struggles of the present have any similarity to the struggles of the 30’s is blind and stupid. WWII + Cold War was the battle for world supremacy, and America won. History ended.
Tulip says:

https://www.unz.com/article/debunking-myths-of-red-brown-alliances/


The advanced energy system China has built positions itself at the center of the modern concept of the Silk Road it is now developing, the so-called Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is a revival of this ancient route where once ideas, technologies, goods and livestock were traded between the nations of the east and the west. China's new initiative will include one-third of the global gross domestic product and nearly two-thirds of the global population across sixty countries. The scale of the BRI is impressive: It aims at improving regional cooperation and the connectivity of nations and this is where it becomes crucial for the energy sector. Renewable energy benefits from interconnected markets. For instance, cross-border trade is a means of achieving a greater renewable energy share, just like using battery storage. A neighboring grid absorbs the unused wind and solar power that cannot be consumed locally.
https://www.dailysabah.com/op-ed/2019/04/25/belt-and-road-initiative-offers-opportunities-for-turkeys-energy-transition


Current Iranian naval deployments are aimed at deterring an American attack and—in the event of hostilities—entrapping and destroying U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf, at which time U.S. regional bases would be targeted with rocket and missile strikes as well. Iranian naval forces would conduct simultaneous close-in and stand-off attacks, relying on swarming tactics developed and refined during the Iran-Iraq War and highlighted in recent naval exercises in the Persian Gulf. The performance of Lebanese Hizballah guerrillas, who used similar tactics against much larger and more powerful Israeli ground forces in southern Lebanon last summer, provides some insight into what the U.S. Navy should expect in the event of a confrontation with Iran in the Persian Gulf.
https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/irans-doctrine-of-asymmetric-naval-warfare
To compensate, Iran pursues a deterrent-based military doctrine premised on three types of capabilities: an expansive ballistic missile arsenal, asymmetric naval warfare (particularly the threat of closing down the Strait of Hormuz), and ties to non-state militant groups. Although many weapon systems go into implementing this doctrine, five capabilities are particularly crucial
https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/4-ways-iran-could-wage-deadly-war-against-america-26536


The advanced energy system China has built positions itself at the center of the modern concept of the Silk Road it is now developing, the so-called Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is a revival of this ancient route where once ideas, technologies, goods and livestock were traded between the nations of the east and the west. China's new initiative will include one-third of the global gross domestic product and nearly two-thirds of the global population across sixty countries. The scale of the BRI is impressive: It aims at improving regional cooperation and the connectivity of nations and this is where it becomes crucial for the energy sector. Renewable energy benefits from interconnected markets. For instance, cross-border trade is a means of achieving a greater renewable energy share, just like using battery storage. A neighboring grid absorbs the unused wind and solar power that cannot be consumed locally.
https://www.dailysabah.com/op-ed/2019/04/25/belt-and-road-initiative-offers-opportunities-for-turkeys-energy-transition