Nuland

Obama’s ‘stupid stuff’ legacy

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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THE ROVING EYE

chessboard

Originally published in Asia Times on September 2, 2014
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But whether people see what’s happening in Ukraine, and Russia’s aggression towards its neighbors in the manner in which it’s financing and arming separatists; to what’s happened in Syria – the devastation that [President Bashar al-]Assad has wrought on his own people; to the failure in Iraq for Sunni and Shia and Kurd to compromise – although we’re trying to see if we can put together a government that actually can function; to ongoing terrorist threats; to what’s happening in Israel and Gaza – part of peoples’ concern is just the sense that around the world the old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite yet to where we need to be in terms of a new order that’s based on a set of different principles, that’s based on a sense of common humanity, that’s based on economies that work for all people. – President Barack Obama 

Looks like US President Barack Obama made a royal mess of what his mentor Dr Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski taught him.

Dr Zbig always quotes Sir Halford John Mackinder’s three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy; to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals; to keep tributaries pliant and protected; and to keep the barbarians from coming together. 

After dabbling briefly with “leading from behind” – a non-starter – Obama finally went Mackinderesque with his stellar “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” foreign policy doctrine. 

Nevertheless, an always alert former secretary of state Hillary Clinton said “Don’t do Stupid Stuff” isn’t a “foreign policy organizing principle”. Yet “Stupid Stuff” is all that the Obama foreign policy team knows how to do. 

Starting with Obama treating Russia under President Vladimir Putin the way Hillary’s husband treated Russia under vodka container Boris Yeltsin. Then came the decision – without any public debate – to start bombing Iraq all over again. And soon Syria. Bombs Away in Syraq! 

So “protect” Yazidis, yes. Protect Gazans, no. “Protect” Kiev’s bunch of neo-Nazis, fascists and shady oligarchs, yes. Protect Russophones in Eastern Ukraine, no. 

It all started with protecting Irbil – already protected by Sumerian goddess Ishtar for millennia. Then protecting Irbil and Baghdad. Then protecting all “strategic” sites in Iraq. 

Retired General Carter Ham of AFRICOM/”We came, we saw, he died” fame, was adamant that it will be “very difficult” to pull off so much protecting with only a few fighter jets. So drones will be needed. And troops on the ground. 

From protecting ExxonMobil and Chevron to double bombing in Syraq. No wonder the Return of the Living (Neo-Con) Dead are so excited. It’s the Greater Middle East all over again. And guess who will be part of the coalition of the willing to fight the Caliph? Britain, Australia, Turkey, Jordan and Gulf Cooperation Council stalwarts Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 

Almost the same bunch (five among seven) that enabled the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the first place, from “Assad must go” to “good” and “bad” jihadis, and finally to ISIS (now the Islamic State) configured as the sprawling abode – complete with flush private army – of Caliph Ibrahim. 

And no, there’s no strategy. Hee haw! 

Bye bye petrodollar 
Now let’s see the dividends of “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” as applied to Ukraine. 

Back to the Mackinderesque Dr Zbig. Some vassals – the usual NATO/GCC suspects, but not all of them – may still believe they profit from “security dependence”, while others remain nervously pliant and, in theory, feel “protected” by the Empire of Chaos. 

But then the Empire of Chaos “encouraged” a de facto coup. And gave the green light for the new Kiev mob to do in Eastern Ukraine roughly what Israel does in Gaza. The idea in Ukraine was to bog down Russia in its western borderlands and cut off the economic/trade link between Russia and Germany. Cut Eurasia in half. 

But then Obama launched a Cold War 2.0 that could easily turn hot. He destroyed the relationship with chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany and amplified the strategic embrace between the Bear and the Dragon, with the result that Beijing started paying less attention to the “pivoting to Asia” because now it enjoys even more backing from Moscow. Meanwhile, Moscow further stalls Washington’s advances in Central Asia. 

Sanctions on Russia not only reinforce its internal market but also boost its foreign trade – way beyond European shores. Yet still it was not enough to totally sell out to Wall Street and totally wreck US foreign policy. With aides/advisors like National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes, US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who needs enemies? 

Obama’s sanctions hysteria is leading the way to the progressive end of the US dollar as reserve currency, and the end of the petrodollar. 

Witness this – the most important news of these last few months after the Russia-China “gas deal of the century”. 

Obama is accelerating the now uncontrolled collapse of the Empire of Chaos. The new axis of the future – Beijing, Moscow, Berlin – is slowly but surely coming together. There’s nothing “barbarian” about them. And the bulk of the Global South supports them. 

“The old order isn’t holding” – indeed. “The Caliph is evil. So I’m applying more sanctions on Russia.” How’s that for Empire management? Good boy. Now pivot. With yourself. And with no strategy. 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

NATO is desperate for war

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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THE ROVING EYE

mi-24-helicopter-formation-flightairshowfrance-military-wallpaper-czl

Originally published in Asia Times on August 9, 2014
Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is desperate; it is itching for a war in battlefield Ukraine at any cost.

Let’s start with Pentagon supremo, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has waxed lyrical over the Russian Bear’s “threat”:

“When you see the build-up of Russian troops and the sophistication of those troops, the training of those troops, the heavy military equipment that’s being put along that border, of course it’s a reality, it’s a threat, it’s a possibility – absolutely.”

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu could not elaborate if it was “threat” or “reality”, absolutely or not, but she saw it all: “We’re not going to guess what’s on Russia’s mind, but we can see what Russia is doing on the ground – and that is of great concern. Russia has amassed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine’s eastern border.”

In trademark, minutely precise NATOspeak, Lungescu then added that Russia “most probably” would send troops into eastern Ukraine under the cover of “a humanitarian or peace-keeping mission”. And that settled it.

Hagel and his remote-controlled Romanian minion Lungescu obviously have not read this or simply ignored its detailed explanation by Russian Air Force’s spokesman: the “threat” or “build-up” happens to expire this Friday, the last day of Russian military exercises announced in advance.

Fogh of War gets antsy

Right on cue, NATO secretary-general Anders “Fogh of War” Rasmussen arrived in Kiev practically foaming war in his mouth, ready to lay down the groundwork for NATO’s summit in Wales on September 4 when Ukraine, enthroned as a major non-NATO ally, could be projected to become, in lightning speed, fully NATO-weaponized. Moreover, NATO is about to seriously “build up” in Poland, Romania, the Baltics and even Turkey.

But then all sorts of Khaganate of Nulands (as in Victoria Nuland, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs) derivatives started to spin out of control. One can imagine the vain Fogh of War vainly trying to regain his composure.

That took some effort as he was presented with the spectacle of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko – a certified oligarch dogged by dodgy practices – trying hard to evict the Maidan originals from the square in the center of Kiev; these are the people who late last year started the protests that were later hijacked by the Banderastan (as in Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan)/Right Sector neo-Nazis, the US neo-con masters.

The original Maidan protests – a sort of Occupy Kiev – were against monstrous corruption and for the end of the perennial Ukrainian oligarch dance. What the protesters got was even more corruption; the usual oligarch dance; a failed state under civil war and avowed ethnic cleansing of at least 8 million citizens; and on top of it a failed state on its way to further impoverishment under International Monetary Fund “structural adjustment”. No wonder they won’t leave Maidan.

So Maidan – the remix – has already started even before the arrival of General Winter. Chocolate King Poroshenko must evict them as fast as he can because renewed Kiev protests simply don’t fit the hysterical Western corporate media narrative that “it’s all Putin’s fault”. Most of all, corruption is even nastier than before – now with plenty of neo-Nazi overtones.

With Fogh of War already fuming because “Russia won’t invade”, the pompously named “Secretary” of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, neo-Nazi Andrey Parubiy – who is the most likely candidate for having ordered the hit last month on the MH17 civilian aircraft – decided to step out; a certified rat abandoning a sinking ship move mostly provoked by the fact he did not get an extended ethnic cleansing overdrive in Eastern Ukraine, and had to endure a ceasefire. Poroshenko is not an idiot; after loads of bad PR, he knows his nationwide “support” is evaporating by the minute.

Compounding all this action, a US missile cruiser enters the Black Sea again “to promote peace”. The Kremlin and Russian intel easily see that for what it is.

And then there’s the horrendous refugee crisis building up in eastern Ukraine. This past Tuesday, Moscow during a UN Security Council meeting requested emergency humanitarian measures – predictably in vain. Washington blocked it because Kiev had blocked it (“There is no humanitarian crisis to end”). Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin dramatically described the situation in Donetsk and Luhansk as “disastrous”, stressing that Kiev is intensifying military operations.

According to the UN itself, at least 285,000 people have become refugees in eastern Ukraine. Kiev insists the number of internal refugees is “only” 117,000; the UN doubts it. Moscow maintains that a staggering 730,000 Ukrainians have fled into Russia; the UN High Commission for Refugees agrees. Some of these refugees, fleeing Semenivka, in Sloviansk, have detailed Kiev’s use of N-17, an even deadlier version of white phosphorus.

When Ambassador Churkin mentioned Donetsk and Luhansk, he was referring to Kiev’s goons gearing up for a massive attack. They are already shelling the Petrovski neighborhood in Donetsk. Almost half of Luhansk residents have fled, mostly to Russia. Those who stayed behind are mostly old-age pensioners and families with small children.

Humanitarian crisis does not even begin to describe it; there’s no water, electricity, communication, fuel and medicine left in Luhansk. Kiev’s heavy artillery partially destroyed four hospitals and three clinics. Luhansk, in a nutshell, is the Ukrainian Gaza.

In a sinister symmetry, just as it gave a free pass to Israel in Gaza, the Obama administration is giving a free pass to the butchers of Luhansk. And there’s even a diversion. Obama was mulling whether to bomb The Caliph’s Islamic State goons in Iraq, or maybe drop some humanitarian aid. He opted for (perhaps) “limited” bombing and arguably less limited food and water airdrops.

So let’s be clear. For the US government, “there might be a humanitarian catastrophe” in Mount Sinjar in Iraq, involving 40,000 people. As for at least 730,000 eastern Ukrainians, they have the solemn right to be shelled, bombed, air-stricken and turned into refugees.

The new Somalia

Moscow’s red lines are quite explicit: NATO out of Ukraine. Crimea as part of Russia. No US troops anywhere near Russia’s borders. Full protection for the Russian cultural identity of southern and eastern Ukraine.

Yet the – real – humanitarian crisis (which Washington dismisses) is another serious matter entirely. Kiev’s forces are not equipped for prolonged urban warfare. But assuming these forces – a compound of regular military; oligarch-financed terror/death squads; the neo-Nazi-infested “voluntary” Ukrainian national guard; US-trained foreign mercenaries – decide to go for mass carnage to take Donetsk and Luhansk, arguably Moscow will have to consider what NATO types spin as a “limited ground intervention” in Ukraine.

NATO spinsters are foolish enough to believe that if Putin can disguise the intervention as a peacekeeping or humanitarian mission, he may be able to sell it to Russian public opinion. In fact Putin has not “invaded” because Russian public opinion does not want it. His popularity is at a staggering 87%. Only an – improbable – Kiev-perpetrated mass carnage would change the equation, and sway Russian public opinion. Considering this is exactly what NATO wants, Fogh of War will be working overtime to force his vassals to bring about such carnage.

Still, considering the latest developments, what facts on the ground point to is the current oligarch dance in Kiev already unraveling – as in this example here. Moscow won’t even have to bother to consider “invading”. Meanwhile, Poroshenko’s slow motion genocide in Eastern Ukraine, as well as his crackdown of Maidan remix in Kiev, will keep getting a free pass. All hail Ukraine as the new Somalia; a fitting Frankenstein created by the exceptionalist Empire of Chaos.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Return of the living (neo-con) dead

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar

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THE ROVING EYE

Nulandistan

Originally published in Asia Times on June 3, 2014
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Amid much hysteria, the notion has been widely peddled in the United States that President Obama’s “new” foreign policy doctrine, announced last week at West Point, rejects neo-cons and neo-liberals and is, essentially, post-imperialist and a demonstration of realpolitik.

Not so fast. Although stepping back from the excesses of the Cheney regime – as in bombing whole nations into “democracy” – the “desire to lead” still crystallizes might is right.

Moreover, “exceptionalism” remains the norm. Now not so blatant, but still implemented via a nasty set of tools, from financial warfare to cyber-war, from National Endowment for Democracy-style promotion of “democracy” to Joint Special Operations Command-driven counter-terrorism, drone war and all shades of shadow wars.

In the early 2000s, the model was the physical destruction and occupation of Iraq. In the 2010s the model is the slow-mo destruction, by proxy, of Syria.

And still, those who “conceptualized” the destruction of Iraq keep rearing their Alien-like slimy head. Their icon is of course Robert Kagan – one of the founders of the apocalyptically funereal Project for a New American Century (PNAC) and husband of crypto-Ukrainian hell raiser Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland (thus their dream of Ukraine as the Khaganate of Nulands, or simply Nulandistan.)

Kagan has been devastatingly misguided on everything, as in his 2003 best-seller Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order, an eulogy of “benign” Americans standing guard against the “threats” (as in Muslim fundamentalism) emanating from a Hobbesian world way beyond the cozy Kantian precinct inhabited by Europe.

Then, in The Return of History and the End of Dreams (2008), the “evil” was not Muslim fundamentalism anymore (too shabby), but the emerging of those vast autocracies, Russia and China, antithetical to Western democracies. But with The World America Made (2012), the paradisiacal shining city on the hill would once again triumph, more than capable to see those autocracies off; after all, the only reliable guarantee of global peace is American exceptionalism.

Kagan still commands the attention even of the otherwise aloof Commander-in-Chief, who avidly consumed The World America Made before his 2012 State of the Union Address, in which he proclaimed “America is back”.

It’s enlightening to flash back to Kagan writing in the Weekly Standard in March 2011, sounding like an awestruck schoolboy praising Obama; “He thoroughly rejected the so-called realist approach, extolled American exceptionalism, spoke of universal values and insisted that American power should be used, when appropriate, on behalf of those values.”

Any similarity with Obama’s “new” foreign policy doctrine is, indeed, intentional.

Catfight at the Singapore corral
Now comes Kagan’s latest opus, “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire: What our tired country still owes the world“, with a sorry mess already inbuilt in the title (he’s never read Paul Kennedy after all). History tells us that superpowers do retire because of over-extension – not only military but mostly economic and fiscal, as in facing bankruptcy.

Yet it’s hopeless to expect from Kagan and the neo-con nebula anything other than blindness to the lessons of history – with a special, tragic mention of Shock and Awe, trampling of Geneva Conventions, and institutionalized torture. Their parochial dichotomy is either eternal American global hegemony or outright chaos.

Progressives in the US still try to save the day, frantically calling for a core “restoration” of American economic and democratic health; a rather impossible undertaking when casino capitalism rules and the US is now for all practical purposes an oligarchy. These dreamers actually believe this “restoration” is what Obama has done or is trying to do; and that would project the US once again as a global model – and thus “encourage” democracy everywhere. Sorry to break the news, but for the overwhelming majority of the genuine, fact on the ground “international community”, the notion of the US promoting democracy is now D.O.A.

So under the banner of exceptionalism – versus the competing birth of a Eurasian century – it’s been a fascinating exercise to witness the catfight at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, which I described last year as the Spielbergs and Clooneys of the military sphere all locked up in a Star Wars room (actually a ballroom with chandeliers at the Shangri-La Hotel.)

It all started with Shinzo Abe, the militaristic prime minister of that American protectorate, Japan, denouncing “unilateral efforts” to alter the strategic status quo in Asia. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, piled up, saying Asia-Pacific was becoming less stable because of “coercion and provocation” by China. And Pentagon supremo Chuck Hagel also blasted Beijing, accusing it of “destabilizing, unilateral actions” in the South China Sea.

But then Lt Gen Wang Guanzhong, the deputy chief of general staff of the PLA, counterpunched in kind, saying Hagel’s talk was “full of hegemony, full of words of threat and intimidation” and part of “a provocative challenge against China”.

Major General Zhu Chenghu even allowed himself to be condescending (oh, those barbarians … ); “The Americans are making very, very important strategic mistakes right now … If you take China as an enemy, China will absolutely become the enemy of the US.”

Major General Zhu also accused Hagel of hypocrisy; “Whatever the Chinese do is illegal, and whatever the Americans do is right.” Zhu was quick to register Hagel’s own threat, as in “the US will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged.” Translation: Don’t mess with the exceptionalist. WE are the international order.

It’s as if everyone was reading from Kagan’s playbook. The difference is that Beijing is not Baghdad, and will not respond to threats by lying down. Instead, it is deploying selective, savvy, tactical moves all across the Western Pacific chessboard. Washington’s Asian network of vassals/clients/protectorates is and will be slowly but surely undermined. And on top of it, Beijing clearly sees that both Hagel and Kerry – who know next to nothing about the complexities of Asia – are clearly panicking.

Those Deng Xiaoping dictum days – from “crossing the river by feeling the stones” to “carry a low profile” – are in the past. Now we’re talking about the imminent number one economic power, already the world’s top trading nation and America’s top creditor.

lovebombs-anthonyfreda-072812Highway to Hillary
Russia – and not the US – is now the key partner or broker in negotiating hardcore international conflicts. The recent flurry of China-Russia energy and trade agreements, an essential part of their strategic partnership; the progressive integration and concerted economic/financial strategy of the BRICS; and even the slow moving process of Latin American integration all point towards a multipolar world.

Which bring us back to Obama’s “new” foreign policy doctrine. Let’s quickly survey the recent record.

Obama only refrained from pursuing his reckless, self-imposed red line and bombing Syria because he was saved (from himself) at the eleventh hour by Russian diplomacy.

The Iran dossier remains vulnerable to relentless pressure by neo-cons/Israel lobby/sectors of the weaponizing industry, with the Obama administration introducing extraneous factors bound to sidestep the negotiation.

Obama’s sanctions on Russia because of Ukraine were not only unlawful; they are peripheral, as astute European Union business leaders quickly recognized.

A simulacrum of withdrawal is being pushed in Afghanistan – to be replaced by all-out shadow war.

And the Obama administration – covertly and not so covertly – has been supporting neo-nazis in Ukraine and jihadists in Syria.

All this is still not enough for the Kagan bunch – the “conceptual” architects of the 9/11 wars, who always wanted Obama to bomb Syria; bomb Iran; start a war with Russia over Crimea; and even, sooner rather than later, bomb China to prevent it from getting back to number one. Hobbesians gone mad – wallowing in their psychotic sense of perennial entitlement – will stop at nothing to prevent the emergence of a multipolar world. It’s Exceptionalist Empire with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as global Robocop, or hell.

Moscow and Beijing, to say the least, are not exactly impressed; rather, they detect desperation. Yet things could – and should – get much nastier, irrespective of imploding Khaganates. Just wait for the Hillary doctrine.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

This Week in Doom

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964Off the keyboard of Surly1

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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on 3/16/2014
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ze plane

“It is Nixon himself who represents that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character that almost every country in the world has learned to fear and despise. . .  He speaks for the Werewolf in us; the bully, the predatory shyster who turns into something unspeakable, full of claws and bleeding string-warts on nights when the moon comes too close…”

― Hunter S. Thompson

Nixon may be gone, but that “dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character” still remains alive and well, and is currently driving American foreign-policy.

Watchers of doom are notorious for scoring at home, but even those of us in the cheap seats recognize when it’s time to spring to our feet in rapt attention. So it was with this past week’s news, chock-full of chewy nuggets of doom. Center stage, we have the United States fomenting conflict with Russia over Crimea and Ukraine, led by a foreign-policy establishment stuffed full of Bush–Cheney–era neocon salts, and featuring nouveau-cowboy John Kerry acting like he’s John McCain’s Secretary of State; news that Russian oligarchs are pulling their money out of Western banks ahead of expected economic sanctions; a renegade, do nothing, neo-Confederate House of Representatives, pledged to do nothing that will aid anybody outside of its paymasters, passing a law requiring Obama to enforce federal marijuana laws in states which have decriminalized the green (previously held “tenther” scruples and advocacy for “states rights” be damned);  and, oh yes, the missing Malaysian plane, of which the absence of news hasn’t prevented wall to wall cable news coverage, thus providing proof that in the absence of information, people will just make news up.

As of this writing, residents of the Crimea are heading to polls to vote a plebiscite about whether to join Russia, or to remain an independent state loosely affiliated with Ukraine. Since Crimeans are ethnic Russians, and the fact is that Russia’s Black Sea naval bases aren’t going anywhere, the result seems foregone. When Crimea becomes a Russian protectorate, the neocons screeching like howler monkeys inside the Obama administration (where they’ve been safely salted away since the Cheney administration) will gnash their teeth, utter dark oaths, and contrive to keep the United States and Russia on the kind of collision course unseen since the end of the Cold War. The stresses will occasion a new round of demands for high-tech weapons systems, unnecessary arms and airplanes, and high-tech geeks to run them, all of which will swell the profits of arms manufacturers.

Which is exactly the point.

 Let’s be clear: assistant secretary of state for European affairs Victoria Nuland (she of “Fuck the EU” fame,  remained in place along with Robert Gates, David Petraeus, and CIA apparatchik John Brennan. Nuland’s husband,  former Reagan administration official Robert Kagan, (himself an architect the Project for the New American Century, or PNAC),  was the first to call for destabilization of unwelcome regimes in Iraq.  That Obama has allowed such neocon cockroaches to fatten themselves in the foreign-policy apparatus of his administration may prove to be the most unwelcome and  far-reaching accomplishment of his administration.  Robert Parry has recently talked about this:

The crisis in Ukraine apparently caught the President off-guard, even though elements of the U.S. government were stoking the fires of political unrest on Russia’s border. Assistant Secretary Nuland was openly advocating for Ukraine’s “European aspirations” and literally passing out cookies to anti-government protesters.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy (essentially a three-decade-old neocon-controlled slush fund that pours money into “democracy building” or destabilization campaigns depending on your point of view), was running 65 projects in Ukraine. Last September, NED’s president Carl Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and expressed hope that “Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

In other words, even as Obama leaned on Putin to avert more wars in the Middle East, the U.S. government was seeking to embarrass and undermine Putin at home. Not surprisingly, this double-dealing has provoked the Russian government’s suspicion and confusion, made worse because the latest U.S. media swagger in support of the coup regime in Kiev has forced Obama to puff out his own chest and do some breast-beating at Putin’s expense.

. . . which led to the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who in 2002 voted as a senator for the United States to invade Iraq on the basis of Dick Cheney’s hand selected, cherry picked evidence, to utter this bon mot, which may itself in the fullness of time resonate as much as Neville Chamberlain’s, “peace is at hand:”

You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text.”

Hilarity ensued.


(Remember the fall of the Berlin wall and the promised peace dividend? This “nuclear mafia,” this nexus of arms manufacturers, lobbyists, and general officers have claimed it for themselves and for the priorities of the Deep State.  By fomenting eternal war, they have commandeered the surplus of a nation, perverted the sense of domestic priorities, and presented a bill which is, in a literal sense, being paid for with the rapid disappearance of the middle class in this country,  and with it the “American way of life”.)  Well done, plutocrats.

We’re told that

Crimea’s referendum Sunday has been loudly condemned as illegitimate by much of the international community. As heavily armed forces apparently under Russian command have effectively taken control of the peninsula, the vote to join Russia has been widely criticized as a mere formality.

If you check up on Zerohedge, they will tell you that the Russian oligarchs, smart cookies that they are, already pulled their money out of Western banks to avoid the coming currency freeze and credit stranglehold that western sanctions will likely entail.

The Financial Times reported:

Russian companies are pulling billions out of western banks, fearful that any US sanctions over the Crimean crisis could lead to an asset freeze, according to bankers in Moscow.

Sberbank and VTB, Russia’s giant partly state-owned banks, as well as industrial companies, such as energy group Lukoil, are among those repatriating cash from western lenders with operations in the US. VTB has also cancelled a planned US investor summit next month, according to bankers.

The flight comes as last-ditch diplomatic talks between Russia’s foreign minister and the US secretary of state to resolve the tensions in Ukraine ended without an agreement.

ZH notes that the likely outcome of such sanctions will be to force China and Russia to engage far more actively in bilateral trade, and to conduct that train their own currencies, or even gold. Apparently it never occurs to those who think that the highest and best good in life is for the S&P 500 close up to realize that a country that is rich in commodities that others want– like natural gas–cares mostly commodity prices are high.

***

And the Tea Party House of Representatives, that gaggle of unmedicated, unrestrained sociopaths busy doing the bidding of the worst human beings on the planet,  managed to interrupt yet another vote repealing the Affordable Care Act in order to pass the “Enforce the Law Act,” a response to the Kenyan Usurper’s so-called “lawlessness.”

Upon the adoption of a resolution of a House of Congress declaring that the President, the head of any department or agency of the United States, or any other officer or employee of the United States has established or implemented a formal or informal policy, practice, or procedure to refrain from enforcing, applying, following, or administering any provision of a Federal statute, rule, regulation, program, policy, or other law in violation of the requirement that the President take care that the laws be faithfully executed under Article II, section 3, clause 5, of the Constitution of the United States, that House is authorized to bring a civil action in accordance with subsection (c), and to seek relief pursuant to sections 2201 and 2202 of title 28, United States Code. A civil action brought pursuant to this subsection may be brought by a single House or both Houses of Congress jointly, if both Houses have adopted such a resolution. 

Apparently DC is an irony free zone, witness the sangfroid around Kerry’s pronouncement. The fact that Obama has not accompanied the bills he had signed with “signing statements” as Bush did, explaining how he would or would not enforce the law he had just signed, regardless of Congress’s intentions apparently means nothing as long as the incumbent is still uncomfortably black.  Harry Reid pronounced this act of legislative vandalism dead on arrival, and as long as Democrats control the Senate,  such bills, the purpose of which is simply to make it easier for sitting Republiconfederates to sue the president, will go nowhere. But this is an election year.

***

And oh yeah, the plane.  As everyone who is not been hidden in a bunker on a Philippine island waiting for the end of World War II already knows, the search for a Malaysia Airline Boeing 777 has now entered its 2nd week. Flight 370 disappeared from radar screens on its announced trajectory from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The airline’s CEO said Sunday the missing  jet took off with its normal allotment of fuel  on board, and without extra fuel that could have extended its range. The plane veered  deliberately and sharply away from its planned course to parts unknown. A search of the expected crash area revealed nothing.

Over the past several days, little of substance has been revealed, and the plane is still missing. In the absence of hard information, cable “news” networks  manufactured coverage by interviewing former pilots, aviation specialists, and those willing to speculate.

Humorist Andy Borowitz had it best:

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) — A total absence of actual information about the missing Malaysia flight is not in any way hindering twenty-four-hour coverage of the story, the major cable news networks confirmed today.

“As a news network, we regard a lack of news as a worthy challenge,” the CNN chief Jeff Zucker said. “Our people are doing a heroic job of filling the void with rumor and hearsay.”

A spokesperson for MSNBC, however, scoffed at Mr. Zucker’s assessment that there was no information about the missing plane. “We are receiving tons of erroneous and conflicting reports from authorities every hour, and the instant we get them we pass them on to our viewers,” he said.

Over at Fox, host Sean Hannity expressed confidence in his network’s coverage. “When it comes to broadcasting twenty-four hours a day with no verifiable facts, I wouldn’t trade our experience and expertise for anybody’s,” he said.

Promising that the network was working overtime to generate new unfounded conspiracy theories, Mr. Hannity said, “We’ve put our whole Benghazi team on this.”

Recent events as of this writing focus on investigation into the pilots and flight crew.  The Malaysian government has apparently concluded the light 370 was hijacked.

 

One finds it interesting that while the intelligence arm of the Deep State knows about our Amazon purchases, Google queries, porn searches, completed online forms, and every website and cat meme we retrieve, several trillion dollars of orbiting spyware has gotten them absolutely bupkus about the location of this plane. Or so they want us to believe.

The tinfoil hat types are already speculating that this was a deliberate hijacking, either by Islamic cell ready to wreak havoc upon the United States, or by the Deep State itself, the better to mount a false flag attack in the name of said Islamic caliphate. More proof  that, in the absence of news, people make up their own. A  hijacking, a hostage scenario,  the plane exploded or disintegrated, the plane was blown up by the Mossad/CIA/Al Qaeda,  the plane landed on a small, uncharted island, the plane will be repurposed an enormous flying bomb, alien abduction, a viral marketing campaign for Liam Neeson’s next movie, etc.  And they’re out there in droves on the inter-tubes.

Perhaps someone can riddle me this: there were 239 persons aboard this flight, it is reasonable to assume that at least some of them have cell phones. With every cell phone being its own transponder, why have we not heard from any of the people on this flight?

***

And now, doom fans, some bonus coverage. It is often entertaining to watch the Tea Party contort itself into a variety of yoga poses to escape the consequences of many of their utterances.  Here’s the story of one who instead chose to double down on crazy. The ongoing Republican war on women was evident for all to see over the last several years.  It continues apace, even in areas of the country from which one would expect better sense.  Here is the latest episode of Tea Party family values on display.

New Hampshire State Rep. Kyle Tasker, who is no stranger to controversy, yesterday told WMUR that he would not apologize for posting what some call an explicit graphic online. The graphic, pictured above, seemed to mock women who have suffered at the hands of sexual abuse.

“I didn’t mean that as a joke, it was a t-shirt print I thought was pretty ridiculous that someone would wear that around,” Tasker said.

Tasker is the same remarkable waste of skin who dropped one of the guns he was packing at the start of the committee meeting this past session.

State Rep. Steve Shurtleff (D-Concord), a member of the committee, said that he was sitting three seats away from Tasker in the committee room when he heard “a clang” and saw that the gun was on the floor. Shurtleff said Tasker routinely wears two guns in a shoulder holster to legislative meetings.

“I was glad it was his blood that he was giving and not someone else’s,” Shurtleff told The Huffington Post.

Reporters in the committee room confirmed the account. Josh McElveen , a reporter for WMUR posted on Twitter that Tasker had said the blood donation left him “loopy.” Tasker has not returned a call for comment.

The incident comes a year after the Tea Party-controlled House voted to allow guns in the Statehouse and the nearby Legislative Office Building. Shurtleff, a former deputy U.S. marshal, said he has been told that as many as 45 legislators, more than 10 percent of the full 400-member House, carry firearms to sessions.

“There are a couple of other members of our committee, about three or four, who are armed at any time,” Shurtleff said.

Who knew that serving the people of New Hampshire was such risky business?

What gives me pause is the thought, often attributed to Tocqueville, that “In a democracy, the people get the government that they deserve.”

 

***

  Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants and articles on this site, and has been active in the Occupy movement. He lives in Southeastern Virginia.

The Anti-Empire Report #126

Off the Keyboard of William Blum

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KRAINE-CRISIS_505

Published originally in The Anti-Empire Report March 6, 2014

Ukraine

When it gets complicated and confusing, when you’re overwhelmed with too much information, changing daily; too many explanations, some contradictory … try putting it into some kind of context by stepping back and looking at the larger, long-term picture.

The United States strives for world domination, hegemony wherever possible, their main occupation for over a century, it’s what they do for a living. The United States, NATO and the European Union form The Holy Triumvirate. The Holy Triumvirate has subsidiaries, chiefly The International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, International Criminal Court … all help to keep in line those governments lacking the Holy Triumvirate Seal Of Approval: the IMF, WB, and WTO impose market fundamentalism, while foreign leaders who act too independent are threatened with being handed over to the ICC for heavy punishment, as the United States imposes sanctions on governments and their leaders as only the King of Sanctions can, lacking any sense of hypocrisy or irony.

And who threatens United States domination? Who can challenge The Holy Triumvirate’s hegemony? Only Russia and China, if they were as imperialistic as the Western powers. (No, the Soviet Union wasn’t imperialistic; that was self-defense; Eastern Europe was a highway twice used by the West to invade; tens of millions of Russians killed or wounded.)

Since the end of the Cold War the United States has been surrounding Russia, building one base after another, ceaselessly looking for new ones, including in Ukraine; one missile site after another, with Moscow in range; NATO has grabbed one former Soviet Republic after another. The White House, and the unquestioning American mainstream media, have assured us that such operations have nothing to do with Russia. And Russia has been told the same, much to Moscow’s continuous skepticism. “Look,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin about NATO some years ago, “is this is a military organization? Yes, it’s military. … Is it moving towards our border? It’s moving towards our border. Why?”

The Holy Triumvirate would love to rip Ukraine from the Moscow bosom, evict the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and establish a US military and/or NATO presence on Russia’s border. (In case you were wondering what prompted the Russian military action.) Kiev’s membership in the EU would then not be far off; after which the country could embrace the joys of neo-conservatism, receiving the benefits of the standard privatization-deregulation-austerity package and join Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain as an impoverished orphan of the family; but no price is too great to pay to for being part of glorious Europe and the West!

The Ukrainian insurgents and their Western-power supporters didn’t care who their Ukrainian allies were in carrying out their coup against President Viktor Yanukovych last month … thugs who set policemen on fire head to toe … all manner of extreme right-wingers, including Chechnyan Islamic militants  … a deputy of the ultra-right Svoboda Party, part of the new government, who threatens to rebuild Ukraine’s nukes in three to six months.  … the snipers firing on the protestors who apparently were not what they appeared to be – A bugged phone conversation between Urmas Paet, the Estonian foreign minister, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, reveals Paet saying: “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.”  … neo-Nazi protestors in Kiev who have openly denounced Jews, hoisting a banner honoring Stepan Bandera, the infamous Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the German Nazis during World War II and whose militias participated in atrocities against Jews and Poles.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on February 24 that Ukrainian Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman advised “Kiev’s Jews to leave the city and even the country.” Edward Dolinsky, head of an umbrella organization of Ukrainian Jews, described the situation for Ukrainian Jews as “dire” and requested Israel’s help.

All in all a questionable gang of allies for a dubious cause; reminiscent of the Kosovo Liberation Army thugs Washington put into power for an earlier regime change, and has kept in power since 1999.

The now-famous recorded phone conversation between top US State Department official Victoria Nuland and the US ambassador to the Ukraine, wherein they discuss which Ukrainians would be to Washington’s liking in a new government, and which not, is an example of this regime-change mentality. Nuland’s choice, Arseniy Yatseniuk, emerged as interim prime minister.

The National Endowment for Democracy, an agency created by the Reagan administration in 1983 to promote political action and psychological warfare against states not in love with US foreign policy, is Washington’s foremost non-military tool for effecting regime change. The NED website lists 65 projects that it has supported financially in recent years in Ukraine.  The descriptions NED gives to the projects don’t reveal the fact that generally their programs impart the basic philosophy that working people and other citizens are best served under a system of free enterprise, class cooperation, collective bargaining, minimal government intervention in the economy, and opposition to socialism in any shape or form. A free-market economy is equated with democracy, reform, and growth; and the merits of foreign investment in their economy are emphasized.

The idea was that the NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades, and thus, hopefully, eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities. Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, declared in 1991: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

NED, receives virtually all its financing from the US government ($5 billion in total since 1991  ), but it likes to refer to itself as an NGO (Non-governmental organization) because this helps to maintain a certain credibility abroad that an official US government agency might not have. But NGO is the wrong category. NED is a GO. Its long-time intervention in Ukraine is as supra-legal as the Russian military deployment there. Journalist Robert Parry has observed:

For NED and American neocons, Yanukovych’s electoral legitimacy lasted only as long as he accepted European demands for new “trade agreements” and stern economic “reforms” required by the International Monetary Fund. When Yanukovych was negotiating those pacts, he won praise, but when he judged the price too high for Ukraine and opted for a more generous deal from Russia, he immediately became a target for “regime change.”

Thus, we have to ask, as Mr. Putin asked – “Why?” Why has NED been funding 65 projects in one foreign country? Why were Washington officials grooming a replacement for President Yanukovych, legally and democratically elected in 2010, who, in the face of protests, moved elections up so he could have been voted out of office – not thrown out by a mob? Yanukovych made repeated important concessions, including amnesty for those arrested and offering, on January 25, to make two of his adversaries prime minister and deputy prime minister; all to no avail; key elements of the protestors, and those behind them, wanted their putsch.

Carl Gershman, president of NED, wrote last September that “Ukraine is the biggest prize”.  The man knows whereof he speaks. He has presided over NED since its beginning, overseeing the Rose Revolution in Georgia (2003), the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (2004), the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon (2005), the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan (2005), the Green Revolution in Iran (2009), and now Ukraine once again. It’s as if the Cold War never ended.

The current unbridled animosity of the American media toward Putin also reflects an old practice. The United States is so accustomed to world leaders holding their tongue and not voicing criticism of Washington’s policies appropriate to the criminality of those policies, that when a Vladimir Putin comes along and expresses even a relatively mild condemnation he is labeled Public Enemy Number One and his words are accordingly ridiculed or ignored.

On March 2 US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine (Crimea) and threatened economic sanctions. “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text.”

Iraq was in the 21st century. Senator John Kerry voted for it. Hypocrisy of this magnitude has to be respected.

POSTSCRIPT: Ukraine’s interim prime minister announced March 7 that he has invited the NATO Council to hold a meeting in Kiev over the recent developments in the country. “I invited the North Atlantic Council to visit Kiev and hold a meeting there,” Arseny Yatsenyuk said during a visit to Brussels, where he met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and EU officials. “We believe that it will strengthen our cooperation.”

Love among nations

by Viktor Dedaj, Paris, France

Washington’s response, or lack of it, has confirmed the authenticity of a YouTube clip of a leaked telephone conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt that emerged February 6. In the call, posted by an anonymous Russian source, Nuland and Pyatt discuss installing a new, pro-US government that will incorporate the fascistic opposition which had been leading street protests against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Even though Washington’s campaign for regime-change had been coordinated with the European Union, in the phone conversation with Pyatt, Nuland attacks the EU for being insufficiently aggressive, saying at one point, “Fuck the EU.” The same source has provided us with the text of a subsequent conversation between the EU and the US.


EU:
 But you said you loved me!

US: (sigh) There you go again.

EU: I left everything behind for you. Democracy, market regulations, state-owned companies, social welfare, an independent foreign policy.

US: (lighting a cigarette): pffff… Nobody forced you.

EU: I could have been an international star, you know?

US: Yeah, yeah, blah, blah …

EU: The whole world had hope in me! Now it’s that slut, Latin America, who’s showing off with her crummy progressive policies.

US: Oh that one … She was a hotty. I must admit it was fun at the time. But it’s over (for the time being). Now, you’re my bitch.

EU: (sniffing): Seriously? You’re not joking?

US: You are, you’re my little bitch. Come here.

EU: Are you going to hit me?

US: What? Of course not! What’s wrong with you?

EU: Latin America … She says you’re arrogant, and violent. She says that you have no friends, only interests.

US: She’s crazy. Forget her. C’mon, come here my little bitch.

EU: Oh Sam … Sam …

A Question re: Syria

There have been numerous news stories about Syrian government bombing of its civilian areas, with reports of many dead, and photos and videos of heavily damaged buildings. The source of the stories I’ve come across, when it’s mentioned at all, is almost always some element of the “rebels”; i.e., those opposing the Syrian government.

In all these stories – Have you ever seen a photo or a video of a plane dropping bombs? Or of the bombs in the air? I’m not saying that the bombings have not taken place. I’m just wondering why there is no graphic evidence of them.

Dialogue with readers

Last month’s report evoked an unusually large number of critical responses, concerning two basic issues:

1) My questioning the widely-held belief that if John F. Kennedy had not been assassinated he would have ended US military involvement in Vietnam. Those who wrote to me are convinced that in a second term as president, without the need to worry about re-election, the genuine liberal and man of peace residing inside JFK would have been free to blossom, and he would quickly have put an end to a war that he supposedly abhorred.

I had written in the report: “It appears that we’ll never know with any kind of certainty what would have happened if JFK had not been assassinated, but I still go by his Cold War record in concluding that US foreign policy would have continued along its imperial, anti-communist path.”

As I read letter after letter challenging this assertion, the thought occurred to me: This is just what we heard for four years concerning Barack Obama – In his second term the genuine liberal and man of peace would emerge; the Nobel Peace Laureate would show why he deserved the prize. Well, do I need to go into the awful details of the man’s second term, from drone assassinations to relentless persecution of whistleblowers who question his foreign policy?

2) I suggested a possible solution to the international problem of suicide bombers: Go to the very source. Flood selected Islamic societies with this message: “There is no heavenly reward for dying a martyr. There are no 72 beautiful virgins waiting to reward you for giving your life for jihad. No virgins at all. No sex at all.”

I was informed by reader after reader that the whole thing about virgins is a myth. That may very well be the case, but as I pointed out to them, I was using the story metaphorically, to describe killing and dying for a religious cause, then counterposing US military men killing and dying for a “religious” cause called patriotism, nationalism or American exceptionalism. Both “causes”, Islamic and American, need to be unlearned. That was my point. There’s no excuse for setting off a powerful bomb in a crowded restaurant nor for dropping a powerful bomb in a residential area.

In the land where happiness is guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence

President Obama and many other political and media figures have once again made discussion about the minimum wage a heated subject. Time for me to repeat something I wrote in 2007:

“Think raising the minimum wage is a good idea?”

“Think again.”

That was the message of a full-page advertisement that appeared in major newspapers in January. It was accompanied by statements of approval from the usual eminent suspects:

“The reason I object to the minimum wage is I think it destroys jobs, and I think the evidence on that, in my judgment, is overwhelming.” Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman

“The high rate of unemployment among teenagers, and especially black teenagers, is both a scandal and a serious source of social unrest. Yet it is largely a result of minimum wage laws.” Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize-winning economist

Well, if raising the minimum wage can produce such negative consequences, then surely it is clear what we as an enlightened and humane people must do. We must lower the minimum wage. And thus enjoy less unemployment, less social unrest. Indeed, if we lower the minimum wage to zero, particularly for poor blacks … think of it! … No unemployment at all! Hardly any social unrest! In fact – dare I say it? – What if we did away with wages altogether?

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” – John Kenneth Galbraith

Notes

  1. Guardian Weekly (London), June 27, 2001
  2. RT television (RT.com, Moscow/Washington, DC), March 1, 2014
  3. Deputy Mikhail Golovko, RT, March 1, 2014
  4. RT, March 5, 2014, “The EU’s Ukraine policy and moral bankruptcy”; the phone conversation is believed to have taken place February 26.
  5. NED 2012 Annual Report
  6. Washington Post, September 22, 1991
  7. Victoria Nuland, speaking at the National Press Club, Washington, DC, December 13, 2013
  8. Washington Post, September 26, 2013
  9. “Face the Nation”, CBS, March 2, 2014

 

 

William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others.

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

 

 

 

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