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Western elites and their lackeys in the media despise Russian president Vladimir Putin and they make no bones about it. The reasons for this should be fairly obvious. Putin has rolled back US ambitions in Syria and Ukraine, aligned himself with Washington’s biggest strategic rival in Asia, China, and is currently strengthening his economic ties with Europe which poses a long-term threat to US dominance in Central Asia. Putin has also updated his nuclear arsenal which makes it impossible for Washington to use the same bullyboy tactics it’s used on other, more vulnerable countries. So it’s understandable that the media would want to demonize Putin and disparage him as cold-blooded “KGB thug”. That, of course, is not true, but it fits with the bogus narrative that Putin is maniacally conducting a clandestine war against the United States for purely evil purposes. In any event, the media’s deep-seated Russophobia has grown so extreme that they’re unable to cover even simple events without veering wildly into fantasy-land. Take, for example, the New York Times coverage of Putin’s recent Address to the Federal Assembly, which took place on January 15. The Times screwball analysis shows that their journalists have no interest in conveying what Putin actually said, but would rather use every means available to persuade their readers that Putin is a calculating tyrant driven by his insatiable lust for power. Check out this excerpt from the article in the Times:

“Nobody knows what’s going on inside the Kremlin right now. And perhaps that’s precisely the point. President Vladimir V. Putin announced constitutional changes last week that could create new avenues for him to rule Russia for the rest of his life….(wrong)

The fine print of the legislation showed that the prime minister’s powers would not be expanded as much as first advertised, while members of the State Council would still appear to serve at the pleasure of the president. So maybe Mr. Putin’s plan is to stay president, after all?….(wrong again)

A journalist, Yury Saprykin, offered a similar sentiment on Facebook, but in verse:

We’ll be debating over how he won’t leave,
We’ll be guessing, will he leave or won’t he.
And then — lo! — he won’t be leaving.
That is, before the elections he won’t leave,
And after that, he definitely won’t leave.” (wrong, a third time)

(” Big Changes? Or Maybe Not. Putin’s Plans Keep Russia Guessing”, New York Times)

This is really terrible analysis. Yes, “Putin announced constitutional changes last week”, but they have absolutely nothing to do with some sinister plan to stay in power, and anyone who read the speech would know that. Unfortunately, most of the other 100-or-so “cookie cutter” articles on the topic, draw the same absurd conclusion as the Times, that is, that the changes Putin announced in his speech merely conceal his real intention which is to extend his time in office for as long as possible. Once again, there’s nothing in the speech itself to support these claims, it’s just another attempt to smear Putin.

So what did Putin actually say in his annual Address to the Federal Assembly?

Well, that’s where it gets interesting. He announced changes to the social safety net, more financial assistance for young families, improvements to the health care system, higher wages for teachers, more money for education, hospitals, schools, libraries. He promised to launch a system of “social contracts” that commit the state to reducing poverty and raising standards of living. He pledged to provide healthier meals to schoolchildren, lower interest rates for first-time home buyers, greater economic support for working families, higher payouts to pensioners, raises to the minimum wage, additional funding for a “network of extracurricular technology and engineering centers”. Putin also added this gem:

“It is very important that children who are in preschool and primary school adopt the true values ​​of a large family – that family is love, happiness, the joy of motherhood and fatherhood, that family is a strong bond of several generations, united by respect for the elderly and care for children, giving everyone a sense of confidence, security, and reliability. If the younger generations accept this situation as natural, as a moral and an integral part and reliable background support for their adult life, then we will be able to meet the historical challenge of guaranteeing Russia’s development as a large and successful country.”

Naturally, heartfelt statements like this never appear on the pages of the Times or any of the other western media for that matter. Instead, Americans are deluged with more of the same relentless Putin-psychobabble that’s become a staple of cable news. The torrent of lies, libels and fabrications about Putin are so constant and so overwhelming, that the only thing of which one can be absolutely certain, is that nothing that is written about Putin in the MSM can be trusted. Of that, there is no doubt.

That said, Putin is a politician which means he might not deliver on his promises at all. That is a very real possibility. But if that’s the case, then why did his former-Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, resign immediately after the speech? Medvedev and his entire cabinet resigned because they realized that Putin has abandoned the western model of capitalism and is moving in a different direction altogether. Putin is now focused on strengthening welfare state programs that lift people out of poverty, raise living standards, and narrow the widening inequality gap. And he wants a new team to help him implement his vision, which is why Medvedev and crew got their walking papers. Here’s how The Saker summed it up in a recent article at the Unz Review:

“The new government clearly indicates that, especially with the nominations of Prime Minister Mishustin and his First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov: these are both on record as very much proponents of what is called “state capitalism” in Russia: meaning an economic philosophy in which the states does not stifle private entrepreneurship, but one in which the state is directly and heavily involved in creating the correct economic conditions for the government and private sector to grow. Most crucially, “state capitalism” also subordinates the sole goal of the corporate world (making profits) to the interests of the state and, therefore, to the interests of the people. In other words, goodbye turbo-capitalism à la Atlantic Integrationists!” (“The New Russian Government”, The Saker)

This is precisely what is taking place in Russia right now. Putin is breaking away from Washington’s parasitic model of capitalism and replacing it with a more benign version that better addresses the needs of the people. This new version of ‘managed capitalism’ places elected officials at the head of the system to protect the public from the savagery of market forces and from perennial-grinding austerity. It’s a system aimed at helping ordinary people not Wall Street or the global bank Mafia.

But while the changes to Russia’s economic model are significant, it’s Putin’s political changes that have drawn the most attention. Here’s what he said:

(The) “requirements of international law and treaties as well as decisions of international bodies can be valid on the Russian territory only to the point that they do not restrict the rights and freedoms of our people and citizens and do not contradict our Constitution….”

 
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The Trump administration is threatening to destroy Iraq’s economy by withholding a critical source of money that is controlled by the Federal Reserve. The threat is a response to the Iraqi parliament’s unanimous decision to end Washington’s 17 year-long military occupation. The Iraqi people and their representatives in parliament are incensed by the recent assassination of Iran’s most revered general, Qassem Soleimani, who was savagely incinerated by a Hellfire missile on the direct orders of Donald Trump. Iraqi prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and his supporting MPs believe that the US committed a gross violation of Iraq’s sovereignty by killing a visiting dignitary without first obtaining the government’s permission. This is why the parliament and the prime minister have asked the administration to respect the wishes of the Iraqi people and withdraw all US troops from the country.

In response to parliament’s request, President Trump has threatened to impose harsh economic sanctions on Iraq while the State Department has issued a defiant statement that flatly rejects Iraq’s demands and refuses to even discuss the matter. Here is an excerpt from the statement:

“America is a force for good in the Middle East. Our military presence in Iraq is to continue the fight against ISIS and as the Secretary has said, we are committed to protecting Americans, Iraqis, and our coalition partners….At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership—not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East. …. There does, however, need to be a conversation between the U.S. and Iraqi governments not just regarding security, but about our financial, economic, and diplomatic partnership. We want to be a friend and partner to a sovereign, prosperous, and stable Iraq.”

It would interesting to know whether ‘shadow president’, Mike Pompeo, composed the communique himself or if he was assisted by his fellow neocon advisors at State. In any event, the terse directive leaves no doubt that Iraq remains the exclusive property of the US government who will not permit any challenge to its iron-fisted rule. By any definition, Iraq remains an American colony, that is, “a country that is under the full or partial political control of another country and occupied by (soldiers) from that country.” Pompeo’s imperious response shows that, despite the nonsensical hype in the western media, Iraq is neither independent nor sovereign.

A closer look at the State Department’s communique hints at the manner in which Pompeo intends to keep Iraq under Washington’s thumb. When he says, “There .. needs to be a conversation … about our financial, economic, and diplomatic partnership.” What he appears to mean is: ‘We have no intention of launching another costly counterinsurgency operation in Iraq. Instead, we will withhold the proceeds from Iraq’s oil revenues, which will drive the government into bankruptcy thrusting the country into another agonizing period of sectarian conflict.’

This new strategy, which is tantamount to blackmail, was fleshed-out in a number of recent articles which garnered only modest attention in the media. According to the Wall Street Journal:

“The State Department warned that the U.S. could shut down Iraq’s access to the country’s central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a move that could jolt Iraq’s already shaky economy, the officials said….

The warning regarding the Iraqi central bank account was conveyed to Iraq’s prime minister in a call on Wednesday,….The Federal Reserve Bank in New York, which can freeze accounts under U.S. sanctions law… said it doesn’t comment on specific account holders.

“The U.S. Fed basically has a stranglehold on the entire [Iraqi] economy,” said Shwan Taha, chairman of Iraqi investment bank Rabee Securities….” (“U.S. Warns Iraq It Risks Losing Access to Key Bank Account if Troops Told to Leave”, Wall Street Journal)

This is how the Trump administration does business. After invading Iraq on false pretenses, killing a million of its people, and reducing large swaths of the country to an uninhabitable wastelands, the US is now conducting a financial ‘scorched earth’ campaign aimed at forcing Iraq to comply with Washington’s diktats. It is hard to see how the State Department can characterize this behavior as “a force for good” but perhaps they are being facetious. In any event, the danger to Iraq’s fragile economy is quite real as can be seen in this article by the French News Agency AFP. Here’s an excerpt:

“Iraqi officials fear economic “collapse” if Washington imposes threatened sanctions, including blocking access to a U.S.-based account where Baghdad keeps oil revenues that feed 90% of the national budget….

The PMO (Prime Ministers Office) got a call threatening that if U.S. troops are kicked out, ‘we’ – the U.S. –will block your account at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York,”….The Central Bank of Iraq’s account at the Fed was established in 2003 following the U.S.-led invasion that toppled ex-dictator Saddam Hussein…Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483, which lifted the crippling global sanctions and oil embargo imposed on Iraq after Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, all revenues from Iraqi oil sales would go to the account.

Iraq is OPEC’s second-biggest crude producer and more than 90% of the state budget, which reached $112 billion in 2019, derives from oil revenues… To this day, revenues are paid in dollars into the Fed account daily, with the balance now sitting at about $35 billion, Iraqi officials told AFP…..Every month or so, Iraq flies in $1-$2 billion in cash from that account for official and commercial transactions.

“We’re an oil-producing country. Those accounts are in dollars. Cutting off access means totally turning off the tap,” the first Iraqi official said… The second official said it would mean the government could not carry out daily functions or pay salaries and the Iraqi currency would plummet in value. “It would mean collapse for Iraq,” the official said.” (“Iraq warns of ‘collapse’ if Trump blocks oil money”, Daily Sabah)

This article is key to understanding US policy in Iraq, so let’s take a minute to summarize:

1– Iraq’s wealth is in the hands of the Fed

From the earliest days of the invasion (2003) the Federal Reserve has held the revenues from Iraq’s oil proceeds. That money has never been directly under the control of the Iraqi people or their elected representatives.

2–The proceeds from Iraqi oil do not benefit the Iraqi people

Iraq is presently OPEC’s second-biggest crude producer and more than 90% of the state budget, which reached $112 billion in 2019, derives from oil revenues. While this may sound like a significant amount of money, it’s worth noting, that Iraq’s petroleum contracts were drawn up under US supervision which means that Iraq is neither being adequately compensated for its oil nor are the revenues being fairly distributed among the Iraqi people.

3– The Fed is a political actor that is deeply involved in the implementation of U.S. foreign policy

The Federal Reserve is a political actor that plays a essential roll in spreading neoliberalism. The Fed works with government agents to prevent countries like Iraq from controlling their own wealth or from establishing their own sovereign independence.

4– The Iraqi government remains in Washington’s death grip

 
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America’s “shadow president”, Mike Pompeo, has acknowledged that the assassination of Iran’s highest-ranking military general, Qassem Soleimani, was part of a broader strategy to restore “real deterrence” by eliminating presumed enemies of the United States. Pompeo’s comments at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute on January 13, put to rest earlier claims that the Iranian general had been killed to prevent “imminent attacks on U.S. targets.” Those claims have since been discredited by independent journalists and mainstream publications that have shown that the assassination was prepared months in advance. In truth, Soleimani was killed to roll back Iran’s influence in Iraq and to reverse the effects Washington’s catastrophic counterinsurgency operation that removed the mainly Sunni-Baathist party from power creating a vacuum that was filled by Iranian-backed militias. The Solemani assassination was just the latest transgression in a conflict that dates back 17 years.

Pompeo’s hand in the assassination is not really in doubt. As the New York Times noted in an article two weeks ago: “Pompeo was the loudest voice in the administration pushing President Trump to kill Iran’s most important general”. The Times also credits the blustery Pompeo as the “chief architect of the rising tensions between the United States and Iran”…”he is in the unusual role of shaping national security policy.” (“Pompeo Upended Middle East by Pushing Trump to Kill Iranian General”, New York Times)

Pompeo is the “chief architect” of the administration’s failed Iran policy. It was Pompeo who pushed Trump to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and Pompeo who promoted the economic blockade that has strangled the Iranian economy. Pompeo has also been the biggest proponent of Trump’s extrajudicial assassination policy whose first notable trophy was Iran’s most decorated and revered general, Solemani. The incident has set the Middle East ablaze. Even so, Pompeo has never shown the slightest sign of remorse nor has he offered his condolences to the millions of people across the Middle East who poured out into the streets to mourn the passing of their beloved hero. Their anguish means nothing to Pompeo who believes he is carrying out “God’s work” by eliminating anyone who stands in the way US ambitions in the region.

At the Stanford confab, Pompeo announced that he intends to move ahead with his plan to reestablish “deterrence” to discourage Tehran’s “malign activity.” Regrettably, Pompeo’s grasp of deterrence bears no resemblance to the original political and military doctrine. Traditionally, deterrence is a strategy “under which one power uses the threat of reprisal effectively to preclude an attack from an adversary power.” In practice this means that Country A will build up its nuclear arsenal with the intention of “deterring” Country B from launching an attack. The strategy is aimed at preserving the peace and avoiding unnecessary bloodshed. Pompeo’s interpretation of deterrence is aimed at liquidating the enemy not deterring him. It is a form of aggression that bears no resemblance to the original military doctrine. Here’s more from Reuters:.

“President Trump and those of us in his national security team are re-establishing deterrence – real deterrence ‒ against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said. “Your adversary must understand not only that you have the capacity to impose cost but that you’re in fact willing to do so,” Pompeo added.” (“Pompeo says Soleimani killing part of new strategy to deter U.S. foes”, Reuters)

Once again, Pompeo is twisting words to confuse his audience. Sure, it’s true that “Your adversary must understand not only that you have the capacity to impose cost but that you’re in fact willing to do so.” But it’s also true that the goal of deterrence is to deter the enemy from engaging in hostilities to begin with. That is the polar-opposite of killing the enemy. Pompeo appears to be stuck on this point.

In any event, a gangland-style hit –that is illegal under US statutes and international law– is not an example of deterrence. It’s barbarism masquerading as foreign policy doctrine. Pompeo knows that, just like he knows that targeted assassinations are powerful provocations that lead to over-reaction, tit-for-tat retaliation, and eventually a full-blown regionwide conflagration. Which seems to be the point. Pompeo wants to confront Iran in the one area in which the US excels, war. Why else would he kill Iran’s most admired leader?

Here’s more from Pompeo’s speech:

“We saw, not just in Iran, but in other places, too, where American deterrence was weak. We watched Russia’s 2014 occupation of the Crimea and support for aggression against Ukraine because deterrence had been undermined. We have resumed lethal support to the Ukrainian military.

China’s island building, too, in the South China Sea, and its brazen attempts to coerce American allies undermined deterrence. The Trump administration has ramped up naval exercises in the South China Sea, alongside our allies and friends and partners throughout the region.” (“The Restoration of Deterrence: The Iranian Example”, US Embassy and Consulates)

Now we’re getting down to brass tacks. This isn’t about Soleimani at all. It’s about the long list of foreign policy challenges the US now faces as new centers of power emerge (primarily Russia and China) putting more pressure on the post-WW2 “liberal” world order and hastening the decline of an aging hegemon who is fast losing its grip on global power. That is why Pompeo is invoking a new and more vicious foreign policy. Washington powerbrokers seem to believe that they need to take more reckless and violent measures to reverse present trends that are steadily eroding US power clearing the way for an emerging multi-polar world order. Taking these things into account, the Soleimani assassination can be seen for what it really is, a desperate attempt to turn back the clock to the early 1990’s following the dissolution of the Soviet Union when America ruled supreme and think-tank pundits proudly boasted of the “end of history” and the beginning of a glorious “American Century”, none of which has worked out according to plan.

“The importance of deterrence isn’t confined to Iran,” Pompeo said. “In all cases, we must deter foes to defend freedom. That’s the whole point of President Trump’s work to make our military the strongest it’s ever been.” (Reuters)

Pompeo wants a stronger and most costly military. He wants to use all the tools at his disposal to maintain Washington’s dominant position in the world, especially the instruments of coercion that can used to force rivals to comply with Washington’s diktats. And, he has invoked a new doctrine, The Pompeo Doctrine, to provide ideological cover for the anticipated bloody assault on foreign leaders and dignitaries. So far, no one has challenged Pompeo’s alarming policy-shift. There appears to be consensus among elites that the only way to arrest America’s relentless decline is by escalating the hostilities, intensifying the violence and widening the wars.

Pompeo’s announcement puts the country on a path to bigger and bloodier confrontations but, as yet, no one has lifted their voice in opposition.

 
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He was a brilliant front-line commander and a tactical genius whose “intuitive sense of the battlefield made him one of the greatest generals in history.” During the First World War, he pioneered the rapid advances and flanking maneuvers that would become his trademark decades later. In August 1914, as a platoon commander, he captured a French garrison with the aid of just three men. He was awarded the Iron Cross for valor and promoted to Oberleutnant. Three years later, in August 1917, Captain Erwin Rommel led “three rifle companies and a machine gun unit” in an offensive on a fortified mountain position during the Caporetto Campaign. With just 150 men, Rommel captured 9,000 Italian troops including 150 officers. Rommel’s daring assault earned him the prestigious Pour le Merite, or Blue Max, which was awarded as “a recognition of extraordinary personal achievement.” By the end of the war, Rommel had distinguished himself as a fearless combatant, a skillful tactician and an able commander. He was already well on his way to becoming one of the most revered military leaders in Germany.

Rommel was a throwback to an earlier era, a stalwart trooper who placed honor and duty above all else. As Jurgen von Arnium says in his article on Rommel:

“His sense of valor and chivalry were the stuff of King Arthur’s knights, but it was his “boldness, use of surprise, readiness to accept risks” and above all his “intuitive sense of the battlefield” that made Rommel one of the greatest generals in military history.”….

“His devotion to the profession of arms was in the best tradition of the gentleman. In a total war fought savagely and brutally, he inspired admiration for his treatment of prisoners. He was not tainted by Nazism….With his troops he enjoyed a deep rapport. He cared for them, and although he demanded their best and more, he never squandered them. Without pretension, modest, he tackled all his tasks with clarity, energy, and common sense.” (Blumenson, 315, “Erwin Rommel”, Jewish Virtual Library)

Rommel’s performance during the Second World War nothing short of breathtaking. On May 9, 1940, he led the famed Seventh Panzer Division (the Ghost Division) across the German border into Belgium, over the Meuse and passed Dinant, slashing through French lines and onto Cambrais, Arras and beyond. He faced resistance at the Somme River but quickly outflanked his opponents and turned the battle into a rout. The Rommel juggernaut could be stopped. By the time the fighting had ended, Rommel’s division had “captured 97,648 prisoners, 277 field guns, 64 antitank guns, 458 tanks and armored cars, and more than 4,000 trucks.” Historians began to refer to Plan Gelb as as “the greatest battle of annihilation of all time.” Naturally, Rommel’s reputation soared and he became the darling of domestic propaganda films. On returning to Germany, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and sent to Libya where he assumed command of the Afrika Korps. Here’s an excerpt from the magazine, Warfare History Network:

“In North Africa Rommel proved to be a superb tactician, repeatedly outflanking his British and Commonwealth opponents and pushing them across hundreds of miles of desert to the Egyptian frontier. Rommel seemed to anticipate his enemy’s actions, and his reputation soared to near-mythical status. In the process, Rommel earned the nickname of the Desert Fox.” (“Field Marshal Erwin Rommel: The “Desert Fox”, WW2 History Magazine)

As Commander of the Afrika Korps, Rommel delivered a lethal blow to the British 8th Army at Tobruk in 1942 forcing the surrender of 34,000 men. Rommel’s battlefield successes in Libya won him international fame as well as the admiration of his peers. By late 1942, however, Rommel’s forces were overstretched and outnumbered. He was attacked relentlessly by land and by air. At the Battle of El Alamein, his battered forces faced a stunning defeat which led to a long fighting retreat that ended in surrender in Tunisia in May 1943. Rommel was flown back to Europe where he was assigned the task of strengthening Germany’s defenses along France’s Channel coast (The Atlantic Wall) in order to fend off the expected Allied invasion.

Rommel’s preferred strategy was to fight the enemy on the beaches and prevent them from getting established, but that plan was rejected in favor of a more conventional strategy that placed reserves further from the front lines. This plan proved to be disastrous when the Normandy landing finally took place and the Germans found they had insufficient armored units to repel the invasion. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Allied forces launched “the largest seaborne invasion in history” which began the liberation of German-occupied France and, ultimately, the defeat of Nazi Germany on the Western Front. Fortress Europe had been breached and the end was now in sight.

Shortly after D-Day, Rommel was implicated in a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. On learning of Rommel’s involvement, Hitler ordered his favorite General to either commit suicide and be buried with honors, or stand trial for high treason and be hanged. Rommel chose to kill himself. On October 14, 1944, he was escorted to the back of a black sedan where he swallowed a cyanide capsule and died minutes later.

According to The International Churchill Society:

“A thoroughly decent man, Rommel had no use for the Schutz Staffel (SS), and no Waffen SS units served under him in North Africa. Hitler ordered that if any Germans serving in the French Foreign Legion were captured, they were to be shot as traitors. Rommel ignored the order. When the British SAS appeared in North Africa, Hitler issued his notorious Kommandobefehl to the effect that they were to be shot if captured. Rommel ignored this, too.” (“Erwin Rommel: May I say across the havoc of war, a great general”. – The International Churchill Society”)

Rommel’s favorite song was “The Tank Song” or Panzerlied. (although I have been unable to find biographical confirmation of this claim.) The song does not promote Nazi ideals or racial violence in any way. Even so, the song was banned in the Bundeswehr by Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen in 2017 “as part of new efforts at denazification.”

Here is a traditional rendering of the piece although similar versions have been removed from the Internet “for violating You Tube’s policy on hate speech.” I leave readers to make that judgement for themselves.

Panzerlied–First verse

Whether it storms or snows,
Whether the sun smiles upon us,
The day’s scorching heat,
Or the ice-cold of the night,
Dusty are our faces,
But joyous is our mind,
Yes, our mind.
Our tanks roar forward
Into the storm’s wind

 
• Category: History • Tags: Erwin Rommel, World War II 
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Donald Trump is under the illusion that the fracas with Iran is over. He thinks that Iran’s pinprick missile strikes on US bases in Iraq have assuaged Tehran’s thirst for revenge. But he’s wrong. The missile strikes were merely the first salvo in an epic cage match between Iran’s Axis of Resistance and its 70 year-long nemesis, the United States. As Iran’s Supreme Leader said on Wednesday, the missile attacks were not sufficient payback for the assassination of Iran’s most decorated military hero, Qassem Soleimani. They were just “a slap”, just Round One in what will surely be a long and bloody campaign aimed at driving the US out of the Middle East.

I wonder if Trump has any idea of what he’s done? It’s one thing to hector, threaten, coerce and sanction a rival nation, especially a nation that sits on an ocean of oil in a strategically-located area like the Middle East. But it’s another thing to assassinate the country’s highest-ranking and most revered military commander, an Iranian Rommel, whose tireless devotion to service spans a 40 year-long period. That’s not something that can be shrugged off or swept under the rug. That’s an act of war that requires a muscular response from the state. No country can allow its military leaders to be killed with impunity. Iran will have to fight back, and they will fight back. The question is “how”?

Iran will likely intensify the strategy that Soleimani perfected; hybrid, 4th Generation unconventional warfare conducted via Iran’s proxies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Lebanon. They will forgo using their bulging arsenal of long-range ballistic missiles and, instead, implement an asymmetrical strategy aimed at roiling markets, blocking shipping lanes, demolishing petrochemical plants and wasting oil tankers. The objective will be to wreak havoc across the region making the US presence less and less tenable while invoking plausible deniability as to the perpetrator. It will be a war that is largely conducted in the shadows. The Middle East is a target-rich environment for those who have the proxies, the weapons and the inclination to create mayhem. This is a war that Iran is prepared to fight and this is a war that Iran can win.

Iran also has more extreme options as illustrated in this excerpt from an article at DW:

“The IRGC can threaten shipping lanes in the Gulf, Gulf of Oman and the Caspian Sea through the application of a wide variety of assets it has at its disposal, including submarines, smart torpedoes, smart mine capability, and land-based, long-range anti-ship missiles strategically based on the mainland, islands, and ships”…Such attacks could put a halt to the world’s oil transport network, at least for a time. One-fifth of global oil production is shipped through the strait between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula. If the Strait of Hormuz were to become unsafe for ship passage, it would not only affect the United States but also a large number of countries around the world. The US would be under great pressure to end any war with Iran as quickly as possible….” (“Iran-US conflict: Tehran’s asymmetrical approach”, dw.com)

Did Trump mull-over any of these grim scenarios before he ordered the assassination of Soleimani? Was he told that both Obama and G.W. Bush opted not to kill Soleimani because they knew the backlash would be too great? Did Trump even know that Soleimani helped the US defeat ISIS and al Qaida in Iraq and Syria?

How much did Trump actually know about Soleimani or was he intentionally kept in the dark by his fanatical neocon advisors like Mike Pompeo? That doesn’t excuse Trump or make him any less culpable for his decision, but it does suggest that his sources of information might be tainted by conflicting political agendas. A recent article in the New York Times titled “Pompeo Upended Middle East by Pushing Trump to Kill Iranian General” appears to support this theory. Here’s an excerpt:

“Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the loudest voice in the administration pushing President Trump to kill Iran’s most important general….The strike against the Iranian general has affirmed Mr. Pompeo’s position as the second-most powerful official in the Trump administration…… as the man at the center of the argument to launch the drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani — and who pushed Mr. Trump to withdraw from the landmark Iran nuclear deal in 2018 — he is in the unusual role of shaping national security policy…

Mr. Pompeo, 56, could become known as the man who helped lead the United States into another conflict in the Middle East — breaking one of Mr. Trump’s key campaign promises just as the president faces re-election..

Mr. Pompeo said he and other American officials “evaluated the relevant risks” that the strike against General Suleimani might bring. He cited “continuing efforts on behalf of this terrorist to build out a network of campaign activities that were going to lead potentially to the death of many more Americans.”…(“Pompeo Upended Middle East by Pushing Trump to Kill Iranian General”, New York Times)

This simply isn’t true. Soleimani did not organize any “campaign activities” to kill American soldiers. That’s baloney. He was in Baghdad working on a peace agreement with his Saudi counterpart when he was incinerated by a missile launched from an American drone. Pompeo has produced no hard evidence to back this spurious claim.

Nor is there any proof that there was an “imminent threat”. That’s another one of Pompeo’s howlers. The only threat that materialized was the threat that an Iranian General on a peace mission would be senselessly obliterated by a bloodthirsty cabal in Washington. Here’s more from the Times:

“…no major attack against the sprawling and heavily-fortified diplomatic compound in Baghdad’s Green Zone is “imminent,” even though Mr. Pompeo has asserted that repeatedly, said the official, who discussed administration deliberations only on the condition of anonymity. Some Pentagon officials had said earlier that there was no intelligence revealing any unusual threats.

On Tuesday, Mr. Pompeo did not repeat his assertions that the United States had intelligence about an “imminent” attack and instead pointed to recent violent episodes.

“If you’re looking for imminence, you need look no further than the days that led up to the strike that was taken against Suleimani,” Mr. Pompeo said, apparently referring to the rocket attack by an Iranian-backed militia that killed an American interpreter, Nawres Hamid, in Iraq on Dec. 27.” (New York Times)

So rather than admit that he was lying, the cagey Pompeo simply diverts attention to the American contractor who was killed last week. That’s called bait-and-switch, a tactic that’s typically used by hucksters and charlatans. The fact is, there was no indication that an attack was imminent. None. Soleimani posed no threat to US troops or US assets at all. He was killed for nothing or, rather, he was killed because Trump and Pompeo wanted him dead. That’s the bottom line. Here’s more from the same article:

“Pompeo… is a chief architect of the rising tensions between the United States and Iran. As Mr. Trump’s first C.I.A. director, he created a special center to deal with Iran…Days after becoming secretary of state in 2018, Mr. Pompeo pushed Mr. Trump to withdraw from the nuclear agreement and reimpose strict sanctions on Iran. He has nurtured closer partnerships with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, enemies of Iran that sometimes have agendas that run counter to American interests….

 
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The Turkish army did not invade Syria to attack the Kurds. That’s simply not true. The actual target of the Turkish operation (Peace Spring) was a group of separatist militants (The YPG) who have waged a bloody 30 year-long terrorist war on the Turkish state killing upwards of 40,000 people. With the assistance of US Special Forces, the YPG has seized most of the territory east of the Euphrates River including the area along Turkey’s southern border. Turkey could not allow a hostile militia to occupy towns and cities along its border any more than the United States could allow members of al Qaida to occupy bases along the Mexican border. It’s a matter of national security. The YPG was given the choice to either voluntarily withdraw or be removed by force. The United States would not have acted any differently.

The media would like people to believe that the Turkish incursion was driven by a pathological hatred of ethnic Kurds, but this isn’t true either. Keep in mind that 18 percent of Turkey’s population, roughly 14 million people, is Kurdish. If Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to launch a war on Kurds, he didn’t have to go through the trouble of crossing the border to do so. He could have attacked them in his own country and been done with it. But that is not what Erdogan is doing. The Turkish operation is focused on one particular group, the People’s Protection Units or YPG, who rebranded themselves as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to conceal the fact that they are the Syrian affiliate of the notorious PKK, the Marxist-Leninist group that is on the US State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Washington formed an alliance with this sketchy group to achieve its strategic objectives in Syria while avoiding US casualties. The obvious downside of the arrangement is that, in exchange for their assistance, the US has helped to create an autonomous Kurdish statelet at the center of the Arab world that is vehemently opposed by every other country in the region. As you can see, the strategy was poorly-thought out from the beginning which is why it nearly exploded into a full-blown crisis.

Fortunately, President Trump was smart enough to respect Turkey’s legitimate security concerns and withdraw US troops from the conflict zone 20 miles deep into Syria. In doing so, Trump avoided a tragic and unnecessary conflagration with its 67-year NATO ally, Turkey. Not surprisingly, the US Congress, the foreign policy establishment and virtually the entire media lined up against Trump’s withdrawal proposal preferring instead to engage in a potentially catastrophic confrontation with Turkey rather than make reasonable and entirely painless concessions to a vital strategic partner in the region. Is it any wonder why US foreign policy is such a hopeless shambles?

In any event, the media has convinced the American people that Trump should not withdraw the troops. Instead, the US should remain in Syria in order to plunder Syria’s oil, defend its terrorist friends, and make a general nuisance out of itself for the foreseeable future. This is madness. The position of the United States is not only morally abhorrent it is also strategically absurd. Turkey is not only an ally, it is also a critical landbridge between Europe and Asia, an indispensable part of Washington’s “pivot” strategy. Turkey has emerged as the southern corridor’s primary ‘energy hub’, the vital crossroads for Middle East and Asian gas pipelines headed for the European market. Imagine if Turkey chose to abandon the dollar in future energy transactions delivering a blow to the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. Such a move would unavoidably put pressure on the sale of US Treasuries which rely on the recycling of dollars into US debt markets. Is Washington willing to forgo its “exorbitant privilege” to defend its fledgling proxy army in Syria? The idea is ridiculous.

Even so, there is no denying that the American people have been effectively bamboozled by the media’s relentless disinformation campaign. According to a University of Michigan critical issues poll, a mere 21 percent of Americans support Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from northern Syria. In contrast, more than twice as many respondents (46%) oppose withdrawing US troops. (33% either ‘don’t know’ or are ‘indifferent’) What are we to make of these results given the fact that a clear majority of Americans are sick and tired of the country’s endless wars and foreign interventions?

It’s not hard to explain. Propaganda works, that’s all one needs to know. The media was given the task of garnering support for an unpopular and counterproductive military occupation, and they succeeded. The majority of people now believe that withdrawing US troops is “betraying the Kurds” which is a tacit admission of cowardice and disloyalty. Therefore, we must keep troops in Syria. End of story.

But what if we can show that Turkey is not attacking the Kurds, and that the US should not be supporting groups that are on its own list of terrorist organizations, and that, most importantly, the US deployment in Syria, however small, is still the main obstacle to peace in the country? Would that change any minds?

We have already mentioned that there are roughly 14 million Kurds living in Turkey all of who enjoy the same rights and benefits as other Turkish citizens. And while its true that the Kurds have suffered persecution in the past, it is also true that ” there are more than 100 Kurdish politicians serving in the Turkish Parliament, more than 10,000 Kurdish soldiers serving in the Turkish Army, more than 4 million marriages between Turks and Kurds, and the Director of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency is Kurdish.”

Erdogan’s AK Party also passed reforms that provide Kurds with “the right to education in Kurdish in private schools, the right to choose Kurdish as a selective course in public schools, the right to use Kurdish names in official documents, the right to have election campaign materials in Kurdish, (and) the establishment of a public television channel …which broadcasts only in Kurdish 24/7,.” (The Daily Sabah)

Does this sound like a government that hates the Kurds enough to wage war on them?

Of course not. And then there’s the checkered history of the YPG which has its own bloody baggage to deal with. Take a look at this excerpt from an article in The Nation that sheds a bit of light on the activities of this shadowy group:

“The Kurdish militia that supplies the ground troops in the US air war against the Islamic State has been a systematic violator of human rights in the area it controls in northern Syria, causing the displacement of tens of thousands of Arabs and even more massive flight by Kurds from the region….

As the collaboration with the United States increased in 2015, the YPG stepped up its expulsion of Arabs from the northern border area. This peaked in mid-2015 with the displacement or denial of return of at least 60,000 Arabs after the YPG captured Tal Abyad on the Turkish border, according to Sa’ad Shwish, exiled head of the local governing council in Raqqa.

The pace of the expulsions picked up dramatically after the United States began joint operations against the Islamic State in Syria in mid-2015, as the Kurdish militia threatened Arabs with air strikes if they didn’t leave their villages. While they slowed in 2016, expulsions continue even as the militia turns on its political rivals and jails, tortures, or expels them….

 
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For the last two and a half years, the Democrats have led the country on a wild goose chase that has been a complete waste of time and achieved absolutely nothing. The absurd conspiracy theory that the President of the United States was an agent of the Kremlin has been thoroughly debunked by the Mueller Report which states that there was neither “coordination” nor “conspiracy with the Trump campaign and Russia.” Even so, congressional Democrats– still determined to destroy Trump by whatever means possible– have switched from the “collusion” allegations to vicious attacks on Attorney General William Barr and demands for Trump’s tax returns.

The ease with which the Dems have shifted from their ridiculous claims that Trump was “Putin’s stooge” to this new round of vitriolic accusations and mud-slinging, shows that party leaders have not only lost touch with reality, but also, that they have no interest in governing the country. The Democratic party in its current form, is less a political organization than it is a permanent inquisition led by duplicitous vipers (Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, Jerry Nadler) who feel entitled to use the Justice System to pursue their own petty political vendetta against a Beltway outsider who had the audacity to win the 2016 presidential election and whose views on foreign policy do not jibe with those of their elite paymasters.

The damage the Democrats (and their allies in the FBI and media) have done to the country is incalculable, but even worse, is the damage they’ve done to their own party. By focusing exclusively on Donald Trump and the fictitious Russian boogieman, the Democrats have betrayed the trust of the people who supported their respective campaigns with the implicit understanding that they would work for the progressive reforms that improve the lives of ordinary working people and not behave like hectoring, obstructionist crybabies who refuse to respect the outcome of elections if the winner is not to their liking. These are the people who have been hurt most by the Russiagate fiasco, the people who thought their Democratic candidates actually wanted to run the country, but soon discovered that those same representatives would rather spend all of their time chasing Russian ghosts down a rabbit hole.

Here’s an excerpt from an article by Andrew McCarthy that helps to explain what the Russia probe was really all about:

“Russiagate has always been a political narrative masquerading as a federal investigation. Its objective, plain and simple, has been twofold: first, to hamstring Donald Trump’s capacity to press the agenda on which he ran….and ultimately, to render him unelectable come autumn 2020….

The Russia counterintelligence probe, based on the fraudulent projection of a Trump-Putin conspiracy, was always a pretext to conduct a criminal investigation despite the absence of a predicate crime. The criminal investigation, in turn, was always a pretext for congressional impeachment chatter. And the congressional impeachment chatter is a pretext for the real agenda: Making Trump an ineffective president now, and an un-reelectable president 18 months from now.

They try to make it look like law. It has always been politics.” (“Russiagate: Law in the Service of Partisan Politics”, Andrew McCarthy, National Review)

Indeed, Russiagate “has always been politics”, but the quality of our politics has deteriorated significantly in the last few years, a point that’s worth mulling over for a minute or two. For nearly three years we’ve seen one party rip up the rulebook and engage in a full-blown, scorched earth, no-holds-barred blitzkrieg on the president of the United States. At no time has there been any effort to discuss issues, ideals, policies, or competing visions of the future. Instead, every ounce of energy has been devoted to inflicting maximum damage on the man who, many Democrats think, is deserving of whatever horrendous reprisal they direct at him.

The Democrats have made no secret of their hatred for Trump or their desire to drive him from office. They have openly supported the dirty tricks, the hyper-ventilating headlines, and the relentless smear campaigns that have been aimed at him from Day 1. Through Russiagate, the Dems have tried to frame Trump as a backstabbing traitor who sold out his country to a foreign power, but now that Mueller has proved that Trump was falsely accused, the Dems have deftly switched to another line of attack altogether. This isn’t how sincere liberals fight to implement a plan for progressive change. This is how unprincipled mercenaries pursue the politics of personal destruction. There’s a big difference.

This isn’t about Trump. Trump could be the worst president in history, and it still wouldn’t excuse the contemptible way he’s been treated. Is it ever acceptable to spy on a presidential campaign, to insert confidential informants who try to entrap campaign assistants to gather information that can be used to intimidate, blackmail or impeach the president? Is it ever acceptable to leak classified information to the media as part of a malignant scheme to destroy a candidate’s reputation? Is it ever acceptable to enlist senior-level officials at the FBI, CIA and NSA to prevent a candidate from being elected or to engage in a stealth campaign of slanders, smears and innuendo that cast a shadow over the legitimacy of the government?

No, it’s not acceptable. Never.

What we’ve seen in the last few years is not only unacceptable, it’s also degraded our politics and divided the country into rival camps. We’ve come to expect that every morning will bring some new crisis centered on Trump’s latest tweet followed by hours of incendiary coverage on the cable news channels, all aimed at throwing more gas on the raging fire that’s engulfed the country. And, of course, no one scandal has consumed more time or been more inflammatory than the Russia probe. Here’s how The Nation’s Stephen Cohen sums it up in a recent article:

“Now in its third year, Russiagate is the worst, most corrosive, and most fraudulent political scandal in modern American history. … these Russiagate allegations… continue to inflict grave damage on fundamental institutions of American democracy. They impugn the integrity of the presidency and now the office of the attorney general. They degrade the many Democratic members of Congress who persist in clinging to the allegations and thus the Democratic Party and Congress. And they have enticed mainstream media into one of the worst episodes of journalistic malpractice in modern times.

Russiagate’s unproven allegations are an aggressive malignancy spreading through America’s politics to the most vital areas of national security policy.” (“Russiagate Zealotry Continues To Endanger Western National Security”, Stephen Cohen, The Nation)

 
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Sometime in the next 4 weeks, the Justice Department’s inspector general will release an internal review that will reveal the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. Among other matters, the IG’s report is expected to determine “whether there was sufficient justification under existing guidelines for the FBI to have started an investigation in the first place.” Critics of the Trump-collusion probe believe that there was never probable cause that a crime had been committed, therefore, there was no legal basis for launching the investigation. The findings of the Mueller report– that there was no cooperation or collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign– seem to underscore this broader point and suggest that the fictitious Trump-Russia connection was merely a pretext for spying on the campaign of a Beltway outsider whose political views clashed with those of the foreign policy establishment. In any event, the upcoming release of the Horowitz report will formally end the the first phase of the long-running Russiagate scandal and mark the beginning of Phase 2, in which high-profile officials from the previous administration face criminal prosecution for their role in what looks to be a botched attempt at a coup d’etat.

Here’s a brief summary from political analyst, Larry C. Johnson, who previously worked at the CIA and U.S. State Department:

“The evidence is plain–there was a broad, coordinated effort by the Obama Administration, with the help of foreign governments, to target Donald Trump and paint him as a stooge of Russia. The Mueller Report provides irrefutable evidence that the so-called Russian collusion case against Donald Trump was a deliberate fabrication by intelligence and law enforcement organizations in the US and UK and organizations aligned with the Clinton Campaign.” (“How US and Foreign Intel Agencies Interfered in a US Election”, Larry C. Johnson, Consortium News)

Bingo. Attorney General William Barr has already stated his belief that spying on the Trump campaign “did occur” and that, in his mind, it is “a big deal”. He also reiterated his commitment to thoroughly investigate the matter in order to find out whether the spying was adequately “predicated”, that is, whether the FBI followed the required protocols for such spying, or not. Barr already knows the answer to this question as he is fully aware of the fact that the FBI used information that they knew was false to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump campaign. Having no hard evidence of cooperation with the Kremlin, senior-level FBI officials and their counterparts at the Obama Justice Department used parts of an “opposition research” document (The Trump Dossier) that they knew was unreliable to procure warrants that allowed them to treat a presidential campaign the same way the intelligence agencies treat foreign enemies; using electronic surveillance, wiretapping, confidential informants and “honey trap” schemes designed to gather embarrassing or incriminating information on their target. Barr knows all of this already which is why the Democrats are doing everything in their power to discredit him and have him removed from office. His determination to “get to the bottom of this” is not just a threat to the FBI, it’s a threat to multiple agencies that may have had a hand in this expansive domestic espionage operation including the CIA, the NSA, the DOJ, the State Department and, perhaps, even the Obama White House. No one knows yet how far up the political food-chain the skulduggery actually goes, but Barr appears to be serious about finding out.

Here’s Barr again: “Many people seem to assume that the only intelligence collection that occurred was a single confidential informant….I would like to find out whether that is in fact true. It strikes me as a fairly anemic effort if that was the counterintelligence effort designed to stop the threat as it’s being represented.”

In other words, Barr knows that the Trump campaign was riddled with spies and he is going to do his damnedest to find out what happened. He also knows that the FISA warrants were improperly obtained using the shabby disinformation from an opposition research “hit piece” (The Steele Dossier) that was paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC, just like he knows that government agents had concocted a strategy for leaking classified information to the media to fuel the public hysteria. Barr knows most of what happened already. It’s just a matter of compiling the research in the proper format and delivering it in a way that helps to emphasize how trusted government agents abused their power by pursuing a vicious partisan plot to either destroy the president’s reputation or force him from office. Like Barr said, that’s a “big deal”.

The name that seems to feature larger than all others in the ongoing Trump-Russia saga, is James Comey, the former FBI Director who oversaw the spying operations that are now under investigation at the DOJ. But was Comey really the central figure in these felonious hi-jinks or was he a mere lieutenant following directives from someone more powerful than himself? While the preponderance of new evidence suggests that the FBI was deeply involved, it does not answer this crucial question. For example, just this week, a report by veteran journalist John Solomon, showed that former British spy Christopher Steele admitted to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec that his “Trump Dossier” was “political research”, implying that the contents couldn’t be trusted because they were shaped by Steele’s political bias. Kavalec passed along this information to the FBI which shrugged it off and then, just days later, used the dossier to obtain warrants to spy on members of the Trump campaign. Think about that for a minute. The FBI had “written proof …. that Steele had a political motive”, but went ahead and used the dossier to procure the warrants anyway. That’s what I’d call a premeditated felony.

But evidence of wrongdoing is not proof that Comey was the ringleader, he was just the hapless sad sack who was left holding the bag. The truth is, Comey was just a reluctant follower. The real architect of the Trump-Russia treachery was the boss-man at the nation’s premier intelligence agency, the CIA. That’s where the headwaters of this shameful burlesque are located, in Langley. More on that in a minute, but first check out this excerpt from an article at The Hill which sums up Comey’s role fairly well:

(There) “will be an examination of whether Comey was unduly influenced by political agendas emanating from the previous White House and its director of national intelligence, CIA director and attorney general. This, above all, is what’s causing the 360-degree head spin.

”There are early indicators that troubling behaviors may have occurred in all three scenarios. Barr will want to zero in on a particular area of concern: the use by the FBI of confidential human sources, whether its own or those offered up by the then-CIA director. …

 
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Your Geopolitical Quiz for the Day:

Two countries are embroiled in a ferocious rivalry. One country’s meteoric growth has put it on a path to become the world’s biggest economic superpower while the other country appears to be slipping into irreversible decline. Which country will lead the world into the future?

Country A builds factories and plants, it employs zillions of people who manufacture things, it launches massive infrastructure programs, paves millions of miles of highways and roads, opens new sea lanes, vastly expands its high-speed rail network, and pumps profits back into productive operations that turbo-charge its economy and bolster its stature among the nations of the world.

Country B has the finest military in the world, it has more than 800 bases scattered across the planet, and spends more on weapons systems and war-making than all the other nations combined. Country B has gutted its industrial core, hollowed out its factory base, allowed its vital infrastructure to crumble, outsourced millions of jobs, off-shored thousands of businesses, plunged the center of the country into permanent recession, delivered control of its economy to the Central Bank, and recycled 96 percent of its corporate and financial profits into a stock buyback scam that sucks critical capital out of the economy and into the pockets of corrupt Wall Street plutocrats whose voracious greed is pushing the world towards another catastrophic meltdown.

Which of these two countries is going to lead the world into the future? Which of these two countries offers a path to security and prosperity that doesn’t involve black sites, extraordinary rendition, extrajudicial assassinations, color-coded revolutions, waterboarding, strategic disinformation, false-flag provocations, regime change and perennial war?

China’s Belt and Road Initiative: A Tectonic Shift in the Geopolitical Balance of Power

Over the weekend, more than 5,000 delegates from across the world met in Beijing for The Second Belt and Road Forum For International Cooperation. The conference provided an opportunity for public and private investors to learn more about Xi Jinping’s “signature infrastructure project” that is reshaping trade relations across Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. According to journalist Pepe Escobar, “The BRI is now supported by no less than 126 states and territories, plus a host of international organizations” and will involve “six major connectivity corridors spanning Eurasia.” The massive development project is “one of the largest infrastructure and investment projects in history, ….including 65% of the world’s population and 40% of the global gross domestic product as of 2017.” (Wikipedia) The improvements to road, rail and sea routes will vastly increase connectivity, lower shipping costs, boost productivity, and enhance widespread prosperity. The BRI is China’s attempt to replace the crumbling post-WW2 “liberal” order with a system that respects the rights of sovereign nations, rejects unilateralism, and relies on market-based principles to effect a more equitable distribution of wealth. The Belt and Road Initiative is China’s blueprint for a New World Order. It is the face of 21st century capitalism.

The prestigious event in Beijing was barely covered by the western media which sees the project as a looming threat to US plans to pivot to Asia and become the dominant player in the most prosperous and populous region in the world. Growing international support for the Chinese roadmap suggests that Washington’s hegemonic ambitions are likely to be short-circuited by an aggressive development agenda that eclipses anything the US is currently doing or plans to do in the foreseeable future.

The Chinese plan will funnel trillions of dollars into state of the art transportation projects that draw the continents closer together in a webbing of high-speed rail and energy pipelines (Russia). Far-flung locations in Central Asia will be modernized while standards of living will steadily rise. By creating an integrated economic space, in which low tariffs and the free flow of capital help to promote investment, the BRI initiative will produce the world’s biggest free trade zone, a common market in which business is transacted in Chinese or EU currency. There will be no need to trade in USD’s despite the dollar’s historic role as the world’s reserve currency. The shift in currencies will inevitably increase the flow of dollars back to the United States increasing the already-ginormous $22 trillion dollar National Debt while precipitating an excruciating period of adjustment.

Chinese and Russian leaders are taking steps to “harmonize” their two economic initiatives, the Belt and Road and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). This will be a challenging task as the expansion of infrastructure implies compatibility between leaders, mutual security guarantees, new rules and regulations for the common economic space, and supranational political structures to oversee trade, tariffs, foreign investment and immigration. Despite the hurtles, both Putin and Xi appear to be fully committed to their vision of economic integration which they see as based on the “unconditional adherence to the primacy of national sovereignty and the central role of the United Nations.”

It comes at no surprise that US powerbrokers see Putin’s plan as a significant threat to their regional ambitions, in fact, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted as much in 2012 when she said, “It’s going to be called a customs union, it will be called the Eurasian Union and all of that, but let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.” Washington opposes any free trade project in which it is excluded or cannot control. Both the EEU and the BRI fall into that category.

The United States continues to demonize countries that simply want to use the market to improve the lives of their people and increase their prospects for prosperity. Washington’s hostile approach is both misguided and counterproductive. Competition should be seen as a way to improve productivity and lower costs, not as a threat to over-bloated, inefficient industries that have outlived their usefulness. Here’s an excerpt from an article that Putin wrote in 2011. It helps to show that Putin is not the scheming tyrant he is made out to be in the western media, but a free market capitalist who enthusiastically supports globalization:

“For the first time in the history of humanity, the world is becoming truly global, in both politics and economics. A central part of this globalization is the growing importance of the Asia-Pacific region as compared to the EuroAtlantic world in the global economy. Asia’s rise is lifting with it the economies of countries outside Asia that have managed to latch onto the “Asian economic engine”….The US has also effectively hitched itself to this “engine”, creating an economic and financial network with China and other countries in the region…

The “supercontinent” of Eurasia is home to two-thirds of the world’s population and produces over 60 percent of its economic output. Because of the dramatic opening of China and the former Soviet Union to the world, almost all the countries in Eurasia are becoming more economically, politically, and culturally interdependent. …

 
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Why did Robert Mueller end the Russia investigation when he did? He could have let it drag it out for another year or so and severely hurt Trump’s chances for reelection. But he didn’t do that. Why?
Of course, we’re assuming that the investigation was never intended to uncover the truth. If it was, then Mueller would have interviewed Julian Assange, Craig Murray and retired members of the Intelligence Community (Ray McGovern, Bill Binney) who have shown that the Podesta emails were leaked by an insider (on a thumbdrive) not hacked by foreign agents. Mueller would have also seized the servers at DNC headquarters and done the necessary forensic investigation, which he never did. He also would have indicted senior-level agents at the FBI and DOJ who improperly obtained FISA warrants by withholding critical information from the FISA court. He didn’t do that either. Mueller did none of these things which simply proves that his final report was what many people had expected from the very beginning; a purely political document that twists the truth to achieve Mueller’s particular objectives. But to understand what those objectives are, we need to determine what the real goals of the investigation were. So, here they are:
  1. To help sabotage Trump’s political agenda
  2. To create a cloud of illegitimacy over Trump’s election
  3. And to prevent Trump from implementing his plan to normalize relations with Russia.
These were the real objectives of the investigation, to create a forth branch of government (Special Counsel) that had the power to keep Trump permanently on the defensive while the media made him out to be either an unwitting accomplice in Russian espionage or, even worse, a traitor. The aim was to reign him in and keep the pressure on until a case could be made for his impeachment. Mueller played a key role in this travesty. His assignment was undermine Trump’s moral authority by brandishing the cudgel of criminal indictment over his head. This is how a D.O.J. appointee, who had never held public office in his life, became the most powerful man in Washington.
My question is simply this: Why did Mueller give up all that power when he did?
I think I can answer that, but first, we need a little more background. Check out this quote from candidate Trump in 2016:
“We will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past…We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments…. Our goal is stability not chaos, because we want to rebuild our country [the United States]… We will partner with any nation that is willing to join us in the effort to defeat ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism …In our dealings with other countries, we will seek shared interests wherever possible and pursue a new era of peace, understanding, and good will.”
Imagine how terrified the foreign policy establishment must have been when they heard Trump utter these words. No more regime change wars? Are you kidding me? That’s what we do: Regime-Change-Is-Us., and now this upstart, New York real estate tycoon is promising to do a complete 180 and move in another direction altogether. No more destabilizing coups, no more bloody military interventions, instead, we’re going to work collaboratively with countries like Russia and China to see if we can settle regional disputes and fight terrorism together? Really?
At the same time Trump was promising this new era of “peace, understanding, and good will,” Hillary Clinton was issuing her war whoop at every opportunity. Here’s candidate Hillary trying to drum up support for taking on the Russians in Syria:
“The situation in Syria is catastrophic. And every day that goes by, we see the results of the Assad regime in partnership with the Iranians on the ground, and the Russians in the air…When I was Secretary of State, I advocated and I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones.”
Interesting, isn’t it? Here’s Hillary, the “liberal” Democrat, pushing for a no-fly zone in Syria even though the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, stated clearly that “Right now… for us to control all of the airspace in Syria would require us to go to war against Syria and Russia.” In other words, if Hillary had been elected, she was all ready to flip the switch and start WW3 ASAP. Is it any wonder why the establishment loved her?
“We have to work more closely with our partners and allies on the ground,” boomed Hillary, meaning that she fully supported the continued use of jihadist proxies in the fight against Assad. “I do think the use of special forces, the use of enablers and trainers in Iraq, which has had some positive effects, are very much in our interests, and so I do support what is happening.”
War, war and more war, that’s the Hillary Doctrine in a nutshell.
It was Hillary’s relentless hawkishness that pushed leftists into the Trump camp, not that they ever believed that Trump was anything more than what he appeared to be, an unprincipled narcissist with an insatiable lust for power. But they did hope that his dovish comments would steer the country away from nuclear annihilation. That was the hope at least, but then everything changed. And after it changed, Mueller released his report saying: “Trump is not guilty after all!”
So, what changed?
Trump changed.
Think about it: In mid December 2018, Trump announced the withdrawal of all U.S. troops in Syria within 30 days. But instead of withdrawal, the US has been sending hundreds of trucks with weapons to the front lines. The US has also increased its troop levels on the ground, the YPG (Kurdish militia, US proxies) are digging in on the Syria-Turkish border, and the US hasn’t lifted a finger to implement its agreements with NATO-ally Turkey under the Manbij Roadmap. The US is not withdrawing from Syria. Washington is beefing up its defenses and settling in for the long-haul. But, why? Why did Trump change his mind and do a complete about-face?
The same thing happened in Korea. For a while it looked like Trump was serious about cutting a deal with Kim Jong un. But then, sometime after the first summit, he began to backpeddle. He never honored any of his commitments under the Panmunjom Declaration and he never reciprocated for Kim’s cessation of all nuclear weapons and ballistic missile testing. Trump has made no effort to “build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula” or to strengthen trust between the two leaders. Then, at the Hanoi Summit, Trump blindsided Kim by making demands that had never even been previously discussed. Kim was told that the North must destroy all of its chemical and biological weapons as well as its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs before the US will take reciprocal steps. In other words, Trump demanded that Kim completely and irreversibly disarm with the feint hope that the US would eventually lift sanctions.
Trump made these outrageous demands knowing that they would never be accepted. Which was the point, because the foreign policy establishment doesn’t want a deal. They want regime change, they’ve made that perfectly clear. But wasn’t Trump supposed to change all that? Wasn’t Trump going to pursue “a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past”?
Yes, that was Trump’s campaign promise. So, what happened?