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Bigger doesn't imply better. Bigger often is a sign of obesity, of lost control, of overcomplexity, of cancerous cells

Syria civil war: attempt of the USA to create Sunny Theocracy instead of secular Assad government

The testing ground for false flag poisonings: White Helmets as a tool for false flag poisonings

News War is racket Recommended Links Downing of IL-20 reconnaaisance plane Israeli support of headchoppers and air raid on Syria military infrastructure Yugoslav wars
False flag poisonings Khan Sheikhoun gas attack Douma gas attack      
White Helmets as a tool for false flag poisonings Hillary role in Syria bloodbath Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA American Imperialism American Exceptionalism Wolfowitz Doctrine
Media-Military-Industrial Complex New American Militarism Nation under attack meme Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair "F*ck the EU": State Department neocons show EU its real place Hillary Clinton and Obama created ISIS
Cold War II Pathological Russophobia of the US elite Merkel as Soft Cop in Neocon Offensive on Eastern Europe and Russia Madeleine Albright Is Hillary Clinton a war criminal? Samantha Power
Robert Kagan Anatol Leiven on American Messianism Demonization of Putin Predator state National Socialism and Military Keysianism Roots of Reaganolatry 
Neoliberalism as a New form of Corporatism Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement Neo-fascism Gangster Capitalism: The United States and the Globalization of Organized Crime Power abroad rests on justice and decency at home
The Deep State Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Two Party System as polyarchy Neoliberal Propaganda: Journalism In the Service of the Powerful Few Corporatism
Color revolutions Neoliberal Compradors and lumpenelite Neocons Credibility Scam Obama: a yet another Neocon   Conservatives Without Conscience
War is a Racket - Incredible Essay by General Smedley Butler Machiavellism Understanding Mayberry Machiavellis Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition Bureaucratic avoidance of responsibility Bureaucratic Collectivism
Media domination strategy Fighting Russophobia Anti-Americanism Torture Politically Incorrect Humor Etc

“Control over the production and distribution of oil is the decisive factor in defining who rules whom in the Middle East.”
Christopher Hitchens, The Quotable Hitchens from Alcohol to Zionism: The Very Best of Christopher Hitchens

“Anthing that can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”
Windsor Mann, The Quotable Hitchens: From Alcohol to Zionism--The Very Best of Christopher Hitchens

The key idea heind unleashing civil war in cyria using Weapons from Libya and jihadist voluteers from several Arab countries is to reverse the geopolitical gift to Iran which Bush Iraq war created.

Installation of fundamentalist government in Syria also is in the best interests of Israel as this is by definitely a weak sectarian government that terrorizes its own population.  That's why they openly supported head choppers during Syrian civil war.  Politics make strange bedfellows: Izreal and Saudi Arabia.

Political Islam emerges are a reaction to colonialism but now it serve as a puppet of neoliberals to weaksen and destroy secular governments in Arab countries and to weaken territorial integrity of Russia.  So Russia in an indirect way is interested in preservation of secur goverment in Syria as cration of another large traning camp for jihadism is not in their best interest.

The problem is that the US elite lost people who participated in WWII who understood the consequnces of WWIII. now the US is represented by chichenhasks such as Trump, Bolton and the whole gallery of female chichenharks (which were floring in Obana administraion) such as Haley.

This generation of the US elite is idoctrinbated is the "sole super[ower" status and has difficulties to adapting to new realities when economically china will be larger then the USA in 2020 and militiary Russia is on par in some major catagories, returing the situation of mutual assured destruction (MAD) that the USA tried to destrowy (and for some suceeded in 1991-2000 due to collapse of the USSR and Yeltsin marionette government ) since Reagan.

Chemical attacks false flag as a standard method of pursuing civil war by West-connected islamists

Poisoning false flag are the  favorite tackits of British intelligence  services and it was important to Syria by MI6 supported organizations such as White Helmets.  They proved to be  perfectly suibale for Islamists barbarians (aka "head choppers")  who do not care much about human cost and can kill children and woman in cold blood to achive their goals.

One of the most interesting features of Syria civil war is the extent of the chemical attacks false flags by islamists to inflict the damage on Assad forces.  They usually resort to it when they are against the wall and need some time to recouperate of scape or surrender on more favoarabel conditions.

In this sense political Islam is a national liberation movement that "took the wrong turn on the road"  and which was co-opted by the neoliberals to serve as their geopolitical ram.  Instead of fighting Western neoliberal neo-imperialism they are helping them.

There were at least three provable false flag operation of this type


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[May 20, 2019] Venezuela Exposes the Myth of John Bolton's "Genius" by Martin Sieff

May 20, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

The fiasco of the latest obviously unsuccessful US attempt to topple twice democratically-elected President Nicolas Maduro made a laughing stock of the US government throughout the world and is now exposing new splits in the Trump administration in Washington. It is also exposing a dangerous but also ridiculous myth that Washington has credulously swallowed for generations – the idea that National Security Adviser John Bolton is actually competent.

No one among the carefully trained castrated geldings of the US mainstream news media and their pseudo-liberal and libertarian outliers has ever dared to ask how able Bolton actually is. He is held in awe and even fear for his supposed brilliant intellect and for his undoubted energy and relentless determination to push the policies he supports with tunnel vision and fanatical relentlessness as hard as he can.

Yet given such undeniable "qualities" what is truly astonishing is how useless Bolton has been in pursuing his own primary foreign policy goals for more than 40 years. He failed to prevent the first president to take him seriously, Ronald Reagan to conduct sweeping nuclear arms reductions with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and to push ahead with Gorbachev to dismantle the Cold War. These policies were anathema to Bolton who prophesied – falsely – that war and catastrophe would flow from them. But Reagan ignored him and pushed them through anyway.

Now Bolton has destroyed Reagan's legacy of peace by convincing current President Donald Trump to scrap one of Reagan's greatest achievement, the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

He succeeded in helping provoke the US invasion, conquest and occupation of Iraq under President George W. Bush in 2003 but failed to persuade even Bush, Junior and his top foreign policy adviser, National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to pull out of any arms control treaties whatsoever.

Then, the Iraq misadventure was so appallingly bungled that Bolton failed to get any traction whatsoever for his priority project of toppling the government of Iran, even if it took a full scale war to do it.

In Washington, even Bolton's greatest critics among libertarians and paleo-conservatives have spoken for decades with awe of his supposed brilliant intellect, command of all details, endless energy and ability to read and keep track of everything. But now, the latest failed coup in Venezuela instead reveals an ignorant, simplistic rash adventurer and gambler who charges head on into dangerous situations and who relies on bullying and bluster alone to get his way.

Bolton showed none of the ruthless, devious subtlety of a Dwight D. Eisenhower in masterminding a coup and fragrant breach of international law without appearing to have anything to do with it (a skill which Ronald Reagan, though far less masterful than the revered Eisenhower also attempted in Iran-Contra).

Bolton's fingerprints were all over the hard-charging policy of propping up ridiculous Juan Guiado as America's cardboard cutout puppet to run Venezuela, even though he had no credibility whatsoever.

Bolton is in fact is an awesomely bad judge of choosing his own allies in other countries. His combination of recklessness and vanity means he is always a sucker for whatever smooth-talking sociopath can worm his way into his presence.

This explains how the late, unlamented Ahmed Chalabi was able to convince Bolton and his neocon friends that he (Chalabi)) would be welcomed by tens of millions of Iraqis as soon the US armed forces invaded ("liberated" was the politically approved term) his country and how Zalmay Khalizad, a catastrophic clown, was acclaimed as an infallible guru on Afghanistan.

Bolton is widely known to have no small talk, private interests, charm or social skills whatsoever. Far from confirming his "genius", as his many worshipful courtiers claim, this only confirms his haplessness.

If Bolton played poker he would be skinned alive. He cannot read people and being an obsessive courtier and flatterer himself, he always falls flat on his face for the flattery of others. The arch-manipulator is in reality the easiest of figures to manipulate.

Once the strange miasma of worshipful myth is stripped from Bolton, all the confusions and bungles of the April 30 Coup That Never Was in Venezuela become clear.

[May 19, 2019] The OPCW, Douma, The Skripals

Notable quotes:
"... The neocon faction in the US is usually (and reasonably) regarded as the motivator behind much of the western aggression in the Middle East. ..."
"... Granted the US has been looking for excuses to intervene ever more overtly in Syria since 2013, and in that sense this Douma "initiative" is a continuation of their longterm policy. It's also true Russia was warning just such a false flag would be attempted in early March. But in the intervening month the situation on the ground has changed so radically that such an attempt no longer made any sense. ..."
"... A false flag in early March, while pockets of the US proxy army were still holding ground in Ghouta would have enabled a possible offensive in their support which would prevent Ghouta falling entirely into government hands and thereby also maintain the pressure on Damascus. A false flag in early April is all but useless because the US proxy army in the region was completely vanquished and nothing would be gained by an offensive in that place at that time. ..."
"... The US media has been similarly, and uncharacteristically divided and apparently unsure. Tucker Carlson railed against the stupidity of attacking Syria. Commentators on MSNBC were also expressing intense scepticism of the US intent and fear about possible escalation. ..."
"... The official story is a hot mess of proven falsehoods, contradictions, implausible conspiracy theories, more falsehoods and inexplicable silences were cricket chirps tell us all we need to know. ..."
"... The UK government has lied and evaded on every key aspect. ..."
"... Indeed if current claims by Russian FM Lavrov turn out to be true, a "novichok" (whatever that precisely means in this case) may not have been the only substance found in those samples, and a compound called "BZ", a non-lethal agent developed in Europe and America, has been discovered and suppressed in the OPCW report (more about that later). ..."
"... The Skripals themselves were announced to be alive and out of danger mere days after claims they were all but certain to die. Yulia, soon thereafter, apparently called her cousin Viktoria only to subsequently announce, indirectly through the helpful agency of the Metropolitan Police, that she didn't want to talk to her cousin – or anyone else – at all. ..."
"... She is now allegedly discharged from hospital and has "specially trained officers helping to take care of" her in an undisclosed location. A form or words so creepily sinister it's hard to imagine how they were ever permitted the light of day. ..."
"... If a false flag chemical attack had taken place in Syria at the time Russia predicted, just a week or two after the Skripal poisoning, a lot of the attention that's been paid to the Skripals over the last month would likely have been diverted. Many of the questions being asked by Russia and in the alt media may never have been asked as the focus of the world turned to a possible superpower stand-off in the Middle East. ..."
"... So, could it be the Skripal event was never intended to last so long in the public eye? Could it be that it was indeed a false flag, or a fake event, as many have alleged, planned as a sketchy prelude to, or warm up act for a bigger chemical attack in Syria, scheduled for a week or so later in mid-March – just around the time Russia was warning of such a possibility? ..."
"... This would explain why the UK may have been pushing for the false flag to happen (as claimed by Russia) even after it could no longer serve much useful purpose on the ground, and why the Douma "attack" seems to have been so sketchily done by a gang on the run. The UK needed the second part to happen in order to distract from the first. ..."
"... If this is true, Theresa May and her cabinet are currently way out on a limb even by cynical UK standards. Not only have they lied about the Skripal event, but in order to cover up that lie they have promoted a false flag in Syria, and "responded" to it by a flagrant breach of international and domestic law. Worst of all, if the Russians aren't bluffing, they have some evidence to prove some of the most egregious parts of this. ..."
"... But even if some or all of our speculation proves false, and even if the Russian claims of UK collusion with terrorists in Syria prove unfounded, May is still guilty of multiple lies and has still waged war without parliamentary approval. ..."
"... The UK were the most vocal about Syria, and desperately tried to drum up support over Skripal, but it all came to nothing much in the end. ..."
"... Theresa May's political career still hangs by a thread, and her "Falklands moment", at best, staved off the inevitable for a few months. A washout in the EU elections, a very real threat from Farage's Brexit party, and rumblings inside her own party, make her position as unstable as ever. ..."
"... In the US, generally speaking, it seems that the Trump admin – or at least whichever interested parties currently have control of the wheels of government – have called time on war in Syria. Instead, they've moved on to projects in Venezuela and North Korea, and even war with Iran. ..."
"... The failure of the Douma false flag to cause the war it was meant to cause, and the vast collection of evidence that suggests it was a false flag, should be spread far and wide. Not just because it's a truth which vindicates the smeared minority in the alternate media. ..."
May 19, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Via Off-Guardian.org,

In view of the latest revelations from the leaked report, which seem to prove that at least some elements of the Douma "chemical attack" were entirely staged, we want to take look back at the chaotic events of Spring 2018.

The following is an extract from an article by Catte originally published April 14th last year, which takes on a greater weight in light of certain evidence – not only that the Douma attack was faked, but that the OPCW is compromised.

You can read the whole article here .

* * *

PRIMARILY UK INITIATIVE?

The neocon faction in the US is usually (and reasonably) regarded as the motivator behind much of the western aggression in the Middle East.

Since at least 2001 and the launch of the "War on Terror" the US has led the way in finding or creating facile excuses to fight oil wars and hegemonic wars and proxy wars in the region. But this time the dynamics look a little different.

This time it really looks as if the UK has been setting the pace of the "response".

The fact (as stated above) that Mattis was apparently telegraphing his own private doubts a)about the verifiability of the attacks, and b)about the dangers of a military response suggests he was a far from enthusiastic partaker in this adventure.

Trump's attitude is harder to gauge. His tweets veered wildly between unhinged threats and apparent efforts at conciliation. But he must have known he would lose (and seemingly has lost) a great part of his natural voter base (who elected him on a no-more-war mandate) by an act of open aggression that threatened confrontation with Russia on the flimsiest of pretexts.

Granted the US has been looking for excuses to intervene ever more overtly in Syria since 2013, and in that sense this Douma "initiative" is a continuation of their longterm policy. It's also true Russia was warning just such a false flag would be attempted in early March. But in the intervening month the situation on the ground has changed so radically that such an attempt no longer made any sense.

A false flag in early March, while pockets of the US proxy army were still holding ground in Ghouta would have enabled a possible offensive in their support which would prevent Ghouta falling entirely into government hands and thereby also maintain the pressure on Damascus. A false flag in early April is all but useless because the US proxy army in the region was completely vanquished and nothing would be gained by an offensive in that place at that time.

You can see why Mattis and others in the administration might be reluctant to take part in the false flag/punitive air strike narrative if they saw nothing currently to be gained to repay the risk. They may have preferred to wait for developments and plan for a more productive way of playing the R2P card in the future.

The US media has been similarly, and uncharacteristically divided and apparently unsure. Tucker Carlson railed against the stupidity of attacking Syria. Commentators on MSNBC were also expressing intense scepticism of the US intent and fear about possible escalation.

The UK govt and media on the other hand has been much more homogeneous in advocating for action. No doubts of the type expressed by Mattis have been heard from the lips of an UK government minister. Even May, a cowardly PM, has been (under how much pressure?) voicing sterling certitude in public that action HAD to be taken.

Couple this with the – as yet unverified – claims by Russia of direct UK involvement in arranging the Douma "attack", and the claims by Syria that the perps are in their custody, and a tentative storyline emerges. It's possible this time there were other considerations in the mix beside the usual need to "be seen to do something" and Trump's perpetual requirement to appease the liberal Russiagaters and lunatic warmongers at home. Maybe this time it was also about helping the UK out of a sticky problem.

THE SKRIPAL CONSIDERATION

Probably the only thing we can all broadly agree on about the Skripal narrative is that it manifestly did not go according to plan. However it was intended to play out, it wasn't this way. Since some time in mid to late March it's been clear the entire thing has become little more than an exercise in damage-limitation, leak-plugging and general containment.

The official story is a hot mess of proven falsehoods, contradictions, implausible conspiracy theories, more falsehoods and inexplicable silences were cricket chirps tell us all we need to know.

The UK government has lied and evaded on every key aspect.

  1. It lied again and again about the information Porton Down had given it
  2. Its lawyers all but lied to Mr Justice Robinson about whether or not the Skripals had relatives in Russia in an unscrupulous attempt to maintain total control of them, or at least of the narrative.
  3. It is not publishing the OPCW report on the chemical analyses, and the summary of that report reads like an exercise in allusion and weasel-wording. Even the name of the "toxic substance" found in the Skripals' blood is omitted, and the only thing tying it to the UK government's public claims of "novichok" is association by inference and proximity.

Indeed if current claims by Russian FM Lavrov turn out to be true, a "novichok" (whatever that precisely means in this case) may not have been the only substance found in those samples, and a compound called "BZ", a non-lethal agent developed in Europe and America, has been discovered and suppressed in the OPCW report (more about that later).

None of the alleged victims of this alleged attack has been seen in public even in passing since the event. There is no film or photographs of DS Bailey leaving the hospital, no film or photographs of his wife or family members doing the same. No interviews with Bailey, no interviews with his wife, family, distant relatives, work colleagues.

The Skripals themselves were announced to be alive and out of danger mere days after claims they were all but certain to die. Yulia, soon thereafter, apparently called her cousin Viktoria only to subsequently announce, indirectly through the helpful agency of the Metropolitan Police, that she didn't want to talk to her cousin – or anyone else – at all.

She is now allegedly discharged from hospital and has "specially trained officers helping to take care of" her in an undisclosed location. A form or words so creepily sinister it's hard to imagine how they were ever permitted the light of day.

Very little of this bizarre, self-defeating, embarrassing, hysterical story makes any sense other than as a random narrative, snaking wildly in response to events the narrative-makers can't completely control.

Why? What went wrong? Why has the UK government got itself into this mess? And how much did the Douma "gas attack" and subsequent drive for a concerted western "response" have to do with trying to fix that?

IS THIS WHAT HAPPENED?

If a false flag chemical attack had taken place in Syria at the time Russia predicted, just a week or two after the Skripal poisoning, a lot of the attention that's been paid to the Skripals over the last month would likely have been diverted. Many of the questions being asked by Russia and in the alt media may never have been asked as the focus of the world turned to a possible superpower stand-off in the Middle East.

So, could it be the Skripal event was never intended to last so long in the public eye? Could it be that it was indeed a false flag, or a fake event, as many have alleged, planned as a sketchy prelude to, or warm up act for a bigger chemical attack in Syria, scheduled for a week or so later in mid-March – just around the time Russia was warning of such a possibility?

Could it be this planned event was unexpectedly canceled by the leading players in the drama (the US) when the Russians called them out and the rapid and unexpected fall of Ghouta meant any such intervention became pointless at least for the moment?

Did this cancelation leave the UK swinging in the wind, with a fantastical story that was never intended to withstand close scrutiny, and no second act for distraction?

So, did they push on with the now virtually useless "chemical attack", botch it (again), leaving a clear evidence trail leading back to them? Did they then further insist on an allied "response" to their botched false flag in order to provide yet more distraction and hopefully destroy some of that evidence?

This would explain why the UK may have been pushing for the false flag to happen (as claimed by Russia) even after it could no longer serve much useful purpose on the ground, and why the Douma "attack" seems to have been so sketchily done by a gang on the run. The UK needed the second part to happen in order to distract from the first.

It would explain why the US has been less than enthused by the idea of reprisals. Because while killing Syrians to further geo-strategic interests is not a problem, killing Syrians (and risking escalation with Russia) in order to rescue an embarrassed UK government is less appealing.

And it would explain why the "reprisals" when they came were so half-hearted.

If this is true, Theresa May and her cabinet are currently way out on a limb even by cynical UK standards. Not only have they lied about the Skripal event, but in order to cover up that lie they have promoted a false flag in Syria, and "responded" to it by a flagrant breach of international and domestic law. Worst of all, if the Russians aren't bluffing, they have some evidence to prove some of the most egregious parts of this.

This is very bad.

But even if some or all of our speculation proves false, and even if the Russian claims of UK collusion with terrorists in Syria prove unfounded, May is still guilty of multiple lies and has still waged war without parliamentary approval.

This is a major issue. She and her government should resign. But it's unlikely that will happen.

So what next? There is a sense this is a watershed for many of the parties involved and for the citizens of the countries drawn into this.

Will the usual suspects try to avoid paying for their crimes and misadventures by more rhetoric, more false flags, more "reprisals"? Or will this signal some other change in direction?

We'll all know soon enough.

* * *

Back to today...

...and while things have moved on, we're still puzzling over all the same issues.

All these questions stand, and are important, but more important than all of that is the lesson: They tried it before, and just because it didn't work doesn't mean they won't try it again.

Last spring, the Western powers showed they will deploy a false flag if they need too, for domestic or international motives. And they have the motives right now.

The UK were the most vocal about Syria, and desperately tried to drum up support over Skripal, but it all came to nothing much in the end.

Theresa May's political career still hangs by a thread, and her "Falklands moment", at best, staved off the inevitable for a few months. A washout in the EU elections, a very real threat from Farage's Brexit party, and rumblings inside her own party, make her position as unstable as ever.

Britain had the most to gain, of all NATO countries, and that is still true. We don't know what they might do.

This time they might even receive greater support from France this time around – since Macron is facing a revolution at home and would kill (possibly literally) for a nice international distraction.

In the US, generally speaking, it seems that the Trump admin – or at least whichever interested parties currently have control of the wheels of government – have called time on war in Syria. Instead, they've moved on to projects in Venezuela and North Korea, and even war with Iran.

That's not to say Syria is safe, far from it. They are always just one carefully place false-flag away from all-out war. Last year, Mattis (or whoever) decided war with Syria was not an option – that it was too risky or complicated. That might not happen next time.

Clearly, the US hasn't totally seen sense in terms of stoking conflict with Russia – as seen by the decision to pull out of the INF Treaty late last year. And further demonstrated by their attempts to overthrow Russia's ally Nicolas Maduro. Another ripe candidate for a false flag.

The failure of the Douma false flag to cause the war it was meant to cause, and the vast collection of evidence that suggests it was a false flag, should be spread far and wide. Not just because it's a truth which vindicates the smeared minority in the alternate media.

But because recognising what they were trying to do last time , is the best defense when they try it again next time .

[May 18, 2019] Is John Bolton the most dangerous man in the world? by Ben Armbruster

May 18, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

The US is closer to war with Iran than it has been since the Bush years, or perhaps ever. And Bolton is largely to blame

But Bolton is on a fast track, seemingly aware that Trump's time in office may be limited.' Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton wants the United States to go to war with Iran .

We know this because he has been saying it for nearly two decades .

And everything that the Trump administration has done over its Iran policy, particularly since Bolton became Trump's top foreign policy adviser in April of 2018, must be viewed through this lens, including the alarming US military posturing in the Middle East of the past two weeks.

Just after one month on the job, Bolton gave Trump the final push he needed to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, which at the time was (and still is, for now) successfully boxing in Iran's nuclear program and blocking all pathways for Iran to build a bomb. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – as the Iran deal is formally known – was the biggest obstacle to Bolton's drive for a regime change war, because it eliminated a helpful pretext that served so useful to sell the war in Iraq 17 years ago.

Since walking away from the deal, the Trump administration has claimed that with a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, it can achieve a "better deal" that magically turns Iran into a Jeffersonian democracy bowing to every and any American wish. But this has always been a fantastically bad-faith argument meant to obscure the actual goal (regime change) and provide cover for the incremental steps – the crushing sanctions, bellicose rhetoric, and antagonizing military maneuvers – that have now put the United States closer to war with Iran than it has been since at least the latter half of the Bush administration, or perhaps ever.

And Bolton has no qualms about manipulating or outright ignoring intelligence to advance his agenda, which is exactly what's happening right now.

In his White House statement 10 days ago announcing (an already pre-planned) carrier and bomber deployment to the Middle East, Bolton cited "a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" from Iran to justify the bolstered US military presence. But multiple sources who have seen the same intelligence have since said that Bolton and the Trump administration blew it "out of proportion, characterizing the threat as more significant than it actually was". Even a British general operating in the region pushed back this week, saying he has seen no evidence of an increased Iranian threat.

What's even more worrying is that Bolton knows what he's doing. He's "a seasoned bureaucratic infighter who has the skills to press forcefully for his views" – and he has a long history of using those skills to undermine American diplomacy and work toward killing arms control agreements.

As a senior official in the George W Bush administration, he played key role in the collapse of the Agreed Framework, the Clinton-era deal that froze North Korea's plutonium nuclear program (the North Koreans tested their first bomb four years later).

He said he "felt like a kid on Christmas day" after he orchestrated the US withdrawal from the international criminal court in 2002. And now as a senior official in the Trump administration, he pushed for the US to withdrawal from a crucial nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

While it's unclear how much of a role he played in scuttling Trump's negotiations with Kim Jong-un in Hanoi last year, he publicly called for the so-called "Libya model" with the North Koreans (in other words, regime change by force). Just months before joining the administration, he tried to make the legal case for a preventive war against Pyongyang. And if you think he cares about the aftermath of war with North Korea, he doesn't. Bolton was reportedly "unmoved" by a presentation during his time in the Bush administration of the catastrophic consequences of such a war. "I don't do war. I do policy," he said then.

So far, Bolton has been successful in moving the United States toward his desired outcome with Iran – if getting the Pentagon to draw up plans to send 120,000 US troops to the region to confront Iran is any indication. There are hopeful signs that we can avoid war, as US officials and our European allies, seemingly alarmed by what Bolton is up to, are sounding the alarm about the Trump administration skewing intelligence on Iran.

But Bolton is on a fast track, seemingly aware that Trump's time in office may be limited. The question, ultimately, is whether the president can stick to his instincts of avoiding more military conflict, or acquiesce to a man hellbent on boxing him into a corner with no way out other than war with Iran.

Ben Armbruster is the communications director for Win Without War and previously served as National Security Editor at ThinkProgress

[May 15, 2019] Trump's Hired Hands Want a War in Iran

Trump proved to be controlled by Zionists warmonger; a person far different that he presented to voters during his 2016 campaign. As deceptive as Obama -- the master of "bait and switch" maneuver with his "change we can believe in" propaganda.
He slides to to Bush II replica with a bunch of neocons in his administration. As one commenters noted, "Bolton reminds me a bit of Cheney and his considerable influence over Bush's foreign policy."
Notable quotes:
"... Washington is full of advisers, think tank scholars, and pundits who believe that it's simply impossible for the United States and Iran to coexist and that the only solution to the Iranian problem is to change the regime -- whether by force or by collapsing Tehran's finances and instigating a widespread, domestic revolt. ..."
"... Right now, diplomacy between Washington and Tehran is unlikely over the short-term. The Iranians will likely bide their time and hope U.S. policy will change after the 2020 U.S. presidential election. ..."
"... The American people don't want a war. The Iranian people don't want a war. Trump doesn't want a war. And the Iranian government, increasingly constrained by U.S. secondary sanctions, doesn't want a war it would lose. It's not too late for the president to nip the worst-case scenario in the bud. ..."
"... Sheldon Adelson getting his money's worth... ..."
May 15, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

For Trump's hawkish advisers -- National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- instigating or provoking a conflict with Iran would serve their unified purpose of throwing the ayatollahs out of the corridors of power for good. Yet for Trump himself, rightly skeptical of launching dubious wars of choice and having committed to the American people he would extricate the United States from pointless interventions, picking a fight with Iran would be a direct violation of his campaign promise.

More important, a military conflict with Iran would be a U.S. response wholly disproportionate to the threat Iran poses to U.S. security.

Washington is full of advisers, think tank scholars, and pundits who believe that it's simply impossible for the United States and Iran to coexist and that the only solution to the Iranian problem is to change the regime -- whether by force or by collapsing Tehran's finances and instigating a widespread, domestic revolt. But to suggest that the United States, the world's only superpower with global power projection capabilities, is incapable or powerless to manage Iran is a severely flawed interpretation of the overall situation. Indeed, it underestimates the superior power of the United States and gives Tehran far too much credit than it's entitled to.

Right now, diplomacy between Washington and Tehran is unlikely over the short-term. The Iranians will likely bide their time and hope U.S. policy will change after the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

However, what the Trump administration can do is decrease the tension before the situation gets to a point where avenues for de-escalation are further constrained. Trump must take control of the policy instead of leaving it in the hands of those who have been promoting unending confrontation with Iran for their entire careers. The simplest way to do this is by establishing direct lines of communication between U.S. and Iranian officials to -- at the very least -- pave the road for a dialogue and create a node that can be used by both to address any misunderstandings that occur at a moment's notice.

The American people don't want a war. The Iranian people don't want a war. Trump doesn't want a war. And the Iranian government, increasingly constrained by U.S. secondary sanctions, doesn't want a war it would lose. It's not too late for the president to nip the worst-case scenario in the bud.

Dan DePetris is a Fellow at Defense Priorities as well as a columnist for the Washington Examiner and the American Conservative. You can follow him on Twitter at @DanDePetris .

R. Arandas • 13 minutes ago

Bolton reminds me a bit of Cheney and his considerable influence over Bush's foreign policy.

AndrewK • 9 hours ago

Sheldon Adelson getting his money's worth...

[May 14, 2019] Leaked Document Pokes More Holes In Establishment Syria Narrative

Notable quotes:
"... The assessment says more thoroughly and technically what I argued in an article last year , that the physics of the air-dropped cylinder narrative make no sense whatsoever. This is a problem, because the reason we were given for the US, UK and France launching airstrikes on Syrian government targets in April of 2018 was that two cylinders full of poison gas had been dropped from aircraft by the Syrian air force and killed dozens of civilians. ..."
"... Just as interesting as this new report has been the response of the usual establishment Syria narrative managers to it, or rather the lack thereof. NATO narrative management firm Bellingcat , which normally jumps all over these kinds of revelations in an attempt to discredit them, has been maintaining radio silence as of this writing. Its founder, Eliot Higgins, has had nothing to say on the matter other than to retweet a pathetic rebuttal by his mini-me Scott Lucas and take a few childish jabs at me for highlighting this fact. ..."
"... We are being lied to about Syria . Anyone who believes unproven assertions about governments targeted for toppling by the US-centralized empire has failed to learn the lessons of history. The Syrian government had literally nothing to gain strategically from using chemical weapons in Douma, a battle it had already won, and knew full well that doing so would provoke an attack from the empire. Douma was occupied by the Al Qaeda-linked Jaysh Al-Islam, who had at that point nothing to lose and everything to gain by staging a false flag attack in a last-ditch attempt to get NATO powers to function as its air force. ..."
"... If you still believe at this point that the Syrian government dropped poison gas on Douma last year, then I've got some Iraqi WMDs to sell you. ..."
"... Did the OPCW withhold the results of the simulations? Yes. Could the cylinders have broken through the reinforced concrete slabs without being destroyed? No. ..."
"... And not one outlet in the Western MSM raised the slightest question of this. They were all cheering the public towards war. Alex Jones and InfoWars raised questions about the possibility of a false flag, but he was of course painted as a dangerous "conspiracy theorist" for saying so. ..."
"... General Wesley Clark: Wars Were Planned - Seven Countries In Five Years https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RC1Mepk_Sw (2:12) ..."
"... Remember that Russia called it a false flag soon after and even took residents of Douma to testify to the OPCW that it was indeed a false flag. Everyone at the time said Russia and Assad were lying. ..."
"... Remember that the US & UK at the UN have called for giving EXTENDED power to the OPCW to "assign blame" in such incidents. The OPCW ALREADY DID THAT and it was ALL LIES. As USUAL it is the US & CO who LIE AND MURDER INNOCENTS for their political/geopolitical aims. ..."
May 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

"It is hard to overstate the significance of this revelation," tweets former British MP George Galloway of a new report by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM).

" The war-machine has now been caught red-handed in a staged chemical weapons attack for the purposes of deceiving our democracies into what could have turned into a full-scale war amongst the great-powers."

"An important #Douma #Syria 'Assad chemical weapon attack' development and yet more evidence to suggest the 'attack' was staged, as it's now revealed that @OPCW suppressed expert engineers report that found the cylinders were likely not dropped from the air ," tweets former Scotland Yard detective and counterterrorism intelligence officer Charles Shoebridge.

"The engineering assessment confirms our earlier conclusion," the excellent Moon of Alabama blog writes .

" The whole scene as depicted by 'rebels' and propaganda organs was staged. The more than 34 dead on the scene were murdered elsewhere under unknown circumstances."

An important #Douma #Syria 'Assad chemical weapon attack' development and yet more evidence to suggest the 'attack' was staged, as it's now revealed that @OPCW suppressed expert engineers report that found the cylinders were likely not dropped from the air https://t.co/hZCP2Ujlbk

-- Charles Shoebridge (@ShoebridgeC) May 13, 2019

The report has grabbed the attention of those who've expressed skepticism of establishment Syria narratives because it casts serious doubts on the official story we've been told to believe about an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria in April of last year. A document titled "Engineering Assessment of two cylinders observed at the Douma incident" has been leaked to the WGSPM which reveals that an engineering sub-team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission in Douma came to conclusions which differ wildly from the OPCW's official findings on the Douma incident, yet we the public were never permitted to see this assessment.

The assessment's findings, which you can locate on pages five through eight of the document , put forward multiple hypothetical scenarios in which two gas cylinders could have wound up in the locations(Location 2 and Location 4) that they were photographed and video recorded as having been found after the alleged attack. The assessment concludes that "The dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders, and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder being delivered from an aircraft. In each case the alternative hypothesis produced the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene."

The assessment says more thoroughly and technically what I argued in an article last year , that the physics of the air-dropped cylinder narrative make no sense whatsoever. This is a problem, because the reason we were given for the US, UK and France launching airstrikes on Syrian government targets in April of 2018 was that two cylinders full of poison gas had been dropped from aircraft by the Syrian air force and killed dozens of civilians.

The assessment is signed by Ian Henderson, who the WGSPM were able to verify as a longtime OPCW-trained inspection team leader. The OPCW reportedly denied that Henderson was involved in its Douma fact-finding mission, but the WGSPM counters that "This statement is false. The engineering sub-team could not have been carrying out studies in Douma at Locations 2 and 4 unless they had been notified by OPCW to the Syrian National Authority (the body that oversees compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention) as FFM inspectors: it is unlikely that Henderson arrived on a tourist visa."

So far this is the establishment narrative management machine's only attempt at refuting the latest revelations indicating that the #Douma attack last year was staged. It basically boils down to "They're conspiracy theorists and the official narrative disagrees with them." https://t.co/04iFa24do8

-- Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) May 13, 2019

Just as interesting as this new report has been the response of the usual establishment Syria narrative managers to it, or rather the lack thereof. NATO narrative management firm Bellingcat , which normally jumps all over these kinds of revelations in an attempt to discredit them, has been maintaining radio silence as of this writing. Its founder, Eliot Higgins, has had nothing to say on the matter other than to retweet a pathetic rebuttal by his mini-me Scott Lucas and take a few childish jabs at me for highlighting this fact.

Scott Lucas' Facebook post on the WGSPM report remains as of this writing the only attempt from the Syria narrative management machine to address it, and it boils down to nothing more than assertions that the report contradicts the official OPCW narrative (duh) and that the WGSPM are conspiracy theorists. Lucas may have thought it a good idea to author this post believing that he had a more substantial argument than he actually had, but it was pointed out shortly after publication that his claim about Henderson refusing to consider other possible scenarios in his assessment is directly contradicted by the words that are in the assessment, and Lucas was forced to make a hasty revision .

There will be other counter-narratives released by the Syria narrative management machine, to be sure, but the fact that this report has been out for the better part of the day with nary a peep from that lot reveals a great deal about the difficulties they're having with this one.

We are being lied to about Syria . Anyone who believes unproven assertions about governments targeted for toppling by the US-centralized empire has failed to learn the lessons of history. The Syrian government had literally nothing to gain strategically from using chemical weapons in Douma, a battle it had already won, and knew full well that doing so would provoke an attack from the empire. Douma was occupied by the Al Qaeda-linked Jaysh Al-Islam, who had at that point nothing to lose and everything to gain by staging a false flag attack in a last-ditch attempt to get NATO powers to function as its air force.

If you still believe at this point that the Syrian government dropped poison gas on Douma last year, then I've got some Iraqi WMDs to sell you.

* * *

Everyone has my unconditional permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I've written) in any way they like free of charge. My work is entirely reader-supported , so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook , following my antics on Twitter , throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal , purchasing some of my sweet merchandise , buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone , or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers . The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website , which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I'm trying to do with this platform, click here .

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Tunga , 45 minutes ago link

The assessment was generated using photos taken by the OPCW Fact Finding Mission ( FFM) and the use of finite element computer modeling.

There is no reason to accuse the OPCW of lying about the Inspector not being in Douma. He could have produced the report from anywhere that had the computer power and software as well as access to the FFM photos several of which appear in the March 1st 2019 OPCW final report.

Did the OPCW withhold the results of the simulations? Yes. Could the cylinders have broken through the reinforced concrete slabs without being destroyed? No.

The software;

"Abaqus/Explicit is a finite element analysis product that is particularly well-suited to simulate brief transient dynamic events such as consumer electronics drop testing, automotive crashworthiness, and ballistic impact. The ability of Abaqus/Explicit to effectively handle severely nonlinear behavior such as contact makes it very attractive for the simulation of many quasi-static events, such as rolling of hot metal and slow crushing of energy absorbing devices. Abaqus/Explicit is designed for production environments, so ease of use, reliability, and efficiency are key ingredients in its architecture. Abaqus/Explicit is supported within the Abaqus/CAE modeling environment for all common pre- and postprocessing needs."

https://www.3ds.com/products-services/simulia/products/abaqus/abaqusexplicit/

Dassault Systems.

vienna_proxy , 1 hour ago link

obama and hillary still need to be executed for creating isis and the moderate rebel terrorists

Reaper , 1 hour ago link

There are no punishments for false flagers.

Dr. Acula , 1 hour ago link

Reminder that Mossad did 9/11 and tried to blow up the Mexican Congress and blamed Muslims.

Since they control the pedophiles in US's government, it makes sense that US would lie about the Syria gassings. Trump is part of this with his crazy "gas attack animal Assad" tweets.

Velocitor , 1 hour ago link

And not one outlet in the Western MSM raised the slightest question of this. They were all cheering the public towards war. Alex Jones and InfoWars raised questions about the possibility of a false flag, but he was of course painted as a dangerous "conspiracy theorist" for saying so.

And now he's being deplatformed, so we won't have any pesky voices of reason raising questions, the next time.

prymythirdeye , 1 hour ago link

EVERYTHING IS FAKE, STAGED FRAUD. We are being told more lies than truths these days.

Oliver Klozoff , 1 hour ago link

Everything about obama was faked, staged, phony. That's why all the dimms love him. Strange there's no comic book figure of him for hollyjewood to make movies of.

beemasters , 1 hour ago link

Everything about US government is faked. staged, phony. FIFY.

Goldilocks , 1 hour ago link

General Wesley Clark: Wars Were Planned - Seven Countries In Five Years https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RC1Mepk_Sw (2:12)

beemasters , 1 hour ago link

It's becoming too easy. Precedents after precedents have made events like this unusual if not staged, a false flag or hoax.

BGO , 2 hours ago link

A couple of women have for years been exposing the *** stooge fraud in Syria. I won't sully their good names by posting them here, but I will say that if the fraud committed in Syria is a revelation to anyone in the US, the same should wrap their lips around the business end of a 12 gauge and blow.

Gonzogal , 2 hours ago link

Remember that Russia called it a false flag soon after and even took residents of Douma to testify to the OPCW that it was indeed a false flag. Everyone at the time said Russia and Assad were lying.

Remember that the US & UK at the UN have called for giving EXTENDED power to the OPCW to "assign blame" in such incidents. The OPCW ALREADY DID THAT and it was ALL LIES. As USUAL it is the US & CO who LIE AND MURDER INNOCENTS for their political/geopolitical aims.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/431595-opcw-chemical-syria-blame/

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201806281065865144-ex-uk-envoy-syria-opcw-nato/

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201804111063421210-usa-syria-un-response-analysis/

kimsarah , 2 hours ago link

All the more reason to be skeptical about Iranian "attacks" on Saudi oil ships.

Kafir Goyim , 2 hours ago link

I assume that's why this leak is happening now. I think it's too little, too late, but I applaud the effort.

The widespread knowledge by the populace of our owners contempt for the truth and usage of false flags as standard procedure to provide cover for their wars, is about the only thing, at this point, that will derail a war with Iran caused by an "Iranian attack on a tanker".

Gonzogal , 2 hours ago link

The widespread knowledge by the populace of our owners contempt for the truth and usage of false flags as standard procedure to provide cover for their wars, is about the only thing, at this point, that will derail a war with Iran caused by an "Iranian attack on a tanker".

Unfortunately I would not bet on that. Since when did the US regime or any other "Western Partners" listen to reason or their citizens....PLUS I have NOT seen any Americans protesting against their regimes actions in the world and the silence from them will once again be deafening in the attempts to start a war with Iran!

Kafir Goyim , 2 hours ago link

That was the beauty of a draft. It made wars so much more personal for the average person. All volunteer military allows the populace to tune out completely from any foreign adventures their owners may be engaged in.

Gonzogal , 1 hour ago link

That is a VERY sad commentary on the state of America, if the ONLY thing that will make Americans protest against their regimes wars world-wide is if it re-institutes the draft!

BarnacleBill , 2 hours ago link

Caitlin Johnstone is worth her weight in gold.

chunga , 2 hours ago link

Being skeptical going forward is not the result of any "derangement syndrome". Its the result of things like this.

Kafir Goyim , 2 hours ago link

Since these things occurred for that last 20 years, (55 years-Tonkin) and from more than one country, "derangement syndrome" would indeed be an incorrect reason to be skeptical. What is disappointing to non TDS sufferers is that the last two years matched the previous 18.

chunga , 2 hours ago link

The pattern is well established so there is no excuse for repeating the same mistakes and right now the pipeline is full of the same mistakes.

MRob , 49 minutes ago link

20 years? 55 years??!

Pfft....

Lets start with the Spanish American war of 1898...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQvodmOVrHU

(Corbett Report)

HedgeJunkie , 38 minutes ago link

First thing I thought of...

https://www.thoughtco.com/spanish-american-war-uss-maine-explodes-2361193

teharr , 2 hours ago link

No way! A false flag? CONSPIRACY!!!!!!!

Disclosure is slow for those that suspected a false flag the minute it happened. Waking up the sheep is so tedious.

It is all ******** folks, all of it.

Captain Nemo de Erehwon , 2 hours ago link

So who can sue OPCW in the ICCJ for war crimes in terms of knowingly promoting false narratives that lead to massive losses of life? Will at least twitter ban related accounts for false fear-mongering endangering public safety? These people are deeply corrupt. But then information has started to leak out.

Badsamm , 2 hours ago link

Time to check those Saudi tankers that were "attacked".

3nd7ime8oogie , 2 hours ago link

Commercial chlorine cylinders, cheap. But most people couldn't tell the difference between a nerve agent (Sarin/VX), a simple WWI burn agent (Chlorine) & a spicey curry. The feels of supposed invisible clouds choking out children overwhems any rational analysis thus carring the narrative.

Wahooo , 2 hours ago link

Trump's a war criminal and needs to be tried.

insanelysane , 1 hour ago link

By staying out of wars??? Ahhh, Peace is War!

MR166 , 2 hours ago link

Trump threw a giant monkey wrench into the Deep State operations by getting elected. Imagine where we would be today if Killary got elected.

44magnum , 2 hours ago link

Same ******* place or worse. Remember that for the next vote and the next and the next,etc. Because it will always be same ******* place or worse.

Algo Rhythm , 2 hours ago link

Color me shocked.... just kiddin'

We knew this was BS all along and government does nothing but kill humanity.

Kreator , 2 hours ago link

Does this mean White Helmets will have to return Oscar for their heartbreaking story where they pull "dead" kids from ruble, and then couple of months later they pull same kids that "died" again from ruble?

beemasters , 1 hour ago link

Only if the White House apologizes to Syrians for "mistaking" fiction for fact. If not, the Oscar stays.

haruspicio , 2 hours ago link

People of America, your government is LYING TO YOU. Pretty much on every issue. Do not believe anything you read, see or hear, but ask searching questions about how this stuff is down, who benefits etc etc

Why on earth would Assad, every time he is gaining ground and winning, gas people. It doesn't;t make any sense at all. Who benefits? Why Isis, al Qaeda and the terrorists who are supported by your government. Your taxes go to support the folks that bombed the WTC on 9/11.

Chupacabra-322 , 2 hours ago link

Who benefits?

IsRaHell.

SybilDefense , 2 hours ago link

Not sure why it's "acceptable" that many of our "US" leaders are dual passport/citizen "them".

Wonder what one day would look like if politicians were forced to speak the truth?

Jesus must be packing his bags, as we are surely in need of another visit.

Goldilocks , 2 hours ago link

Government and MSM complicity regarding 9/11, set a dangerous precedent...

"What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes" - Harry Houdini

07 - The Key
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rml2TL5N8ds (45:05)
CollinAlexander - May 29, 2012

The key to solving 9/11 is something called a "key". Understanding video compositing technology, both its capabilities AND limitations, proves no planes, and therefore proves demolition.

WhiteOakQueen , 1 hour ago link

Before 9/11 Oklahoma City Bombing watch A Noble Lie on Amazon Prime

[May 14, 2019] The Propaganda Multiplier How Global News Agencies and Western Media Report on Geopolitics

Highly recommended!
Images omitted.
Important article that shed some light on the methods of disinformation in foreign events used by neoliberal MSM
Notable quotes:
"... However, there is a simple reason why the global agencies, despite their importance, are virtually unknown to the general public. To quote a Swiss media professor: "Radio and television usually do not name their sources, and only specialists can decipher references in magazines." (Blum 1995, P. 9) The motive for this discretion, however, should be clear: news outlets are not particularly keen to let readers know that they haven't researched most of their contributions themselves. ..."
"... Much of our media does not have own foreign correspondents, so they have no choice but to rely completely on global agencies for foreign news. But what about the big daily newspapers and TV stations that have their own international correspondents? In German-speaking countries, for example, these include newspapers such NZZ, FAZ, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Welt, and public broadcasters. ..."
"... Moreover, in war zones, correspondents rarely venture out. On the Syria war, for example, many journalists "reported" from cities such as Istanbul, Beirut, Cairo or even from Cyprus. In addition, many journalists lack the language skills to understand local people and media. ..."
"... How do correspondents under such circumstances know what the "news" is in their region of the world? The main answer is once again: from global agencies. The Dutch Middle East correspondent Joris Luyendijk has impressively described how correspondents work and how they depend on the world agencies in his book "People Like Us: Misrepresenting the Middle East" : ..."
"... The central role of news agencies also explains why, in geopolitical conflicts, most media use the same original sources. In the Syrian war, for example, the "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" – a dubious one-man organization based in London – featured prominently. The media rarely inquired directly at this "Observatory", as its operator was in fact difficult to reach, even for journalists. ..."
"... Ulrich Tilgner, a veteran Middle East correspondent for German and Swiss television, warned in 2003, shortly after the Iraq war, of acts of deception by the military and the role played by the media: ..."
"... What is known to the US military, would not be foreign to US intelligence services. In a remarkable report by British Channel 4, former CIA officials and a Reuters correspondent spoke candidly about the systematic dissemination of propaganda and misinformation in reporting on geopolitical conflicts: ..."
"... "In all press systems, the news media are instruments of those who exercise political and economic power. Newspapers, periodicals, radio and television stations do not act independently, although they have the possibility of independent exercise of power." (Altschull 1984/1995, p. 298) ..."
Jun 01, 2016 | www.globalresearch.ca

By Swiss Propaganda Research Global Research, May 14, 2019 Swiss Propaganda Research Region: Europe , USA Theme: Media Disinformation

This study was originally published in 2016.

Introduction: "Something strange"

"How does the newspaper know what it knows?" The answer to this question is likely to surprise some newspaper readers: "The main source of information is stories from news agencies. The almost anonymously operating news agencies are in a way the key to world events. So what are the names of these agencies, how do they work and who finances them? To judge how well one is informed about events in East and West, one should know the answers to these questions." (Höhne 1977, p. 11)

A Swiss media researcher points out:

"The news agencies are the most important suppliers of material to mass media. No daily media outlet can manage without them. () So the news agencies influence our image of the world; above all, we get to know what they have selected." (Blum 1995, p. 9)

In view of their essential importance, it is all the more astonishing that these agencies are hardly known to the public:

"A large part of society is unaware that news agencies exist at all In fact, they play an enormously important role in the media market. But despite this great importance, little attention has been paid to them in the past." (Schulten-Jaspers 2013, p. 13)

Even the head of a news agency noted:

"There is something strange about news agencies. They are little known to the public. Unlike a newspaper, their activity is not so much in the spotlight, yet they can always be found at the source of the story." (Segbers 2007, p. 9)

"The Invisible Nerve Center of the Media System"

So what are the names of these agencies that are "always at the source of the story"? There are now only three global agencies left:

  1. The American Associated Press ( AP ) with over 4000 employees worldwide. The AP belongs to US media companies and has its main editorial office in New York. AP news is used by around 12,000 international media outlets, reaching more than half of the world's population every day.
  2. The quasi-governmental French Agence France-Presse ( AFP ) based in Paris and with around 4000 employees. The AFP sends over 3000 stories and photos every day to media all over the world.
  3. The British agency Reuters in London, which is privately owned and employs just over 3000 people. Reuters was acquired in 2008 by Canadian media entrepreneur Thomson – one of the 25 richest people in the world – and merged into Thomson Reuters , headquartered in New York.

In addition, many countries run their own news agencies. However, when it comes to international news, these usually rely on the three global agencies and simply copy and translate their reports.

The three global news agencies Reuters, AFP and AP, and the three national agencies of the German-speaking countries of Austria (APA), Germany (DPA) and Switzerland (SDA).

Wolfgang Vyslozil, former managing director of the Austrian APA, described the key role of news agencies with these words:

"News agencies are rarely in the public eye. Yet they are one of the most influential and at the same time one of the least known media types. They are key institutions of substantial importance to any media system. They are the invisible nerve center that connects all parts of this system." (Segbers 2007, p.10)

Small abbreviation, great effect

However, there is a simple reason why the global agencies, despite their importance, are virtually unknown to the general public. To quote a Swiss media professor: "Radio and television usually do not name their sources, and only specialists can decipher references in magazines." (Blum 1995, P. 9) The motive for this discretion, however, should be clear: news outlets are not particularly keen to let readers know that they haven't researched most of their contributions themselves.

The following figure shows some examples of source tagging in popular German-language newspapers. Next to the agency abbreviations we find the initials of editors who have edited the respective agency report.

News agencies as sources in newspaper articles

Occasionally, newspapers use agency material but do not label it at all. A study in 2011 from the Swiss Research Institute for the Public Sphere and Society at the University of Zurich came to the following conclusions (FOEG 2011):

"Agency contributions are exploited integrally without labeling them, or they are partially rewritten to make them appear as an editorial contribution. In addition, there is a practice of 'spicing up' agency reports with little effort; for example, visualization techniques are used: unpublished agency reports are enriched with images and graphics and presented as comprehensive reports."

The agencies play a prominent role not only in the press, but also in private and public broadcasting. This is confirmed by Volker Braeutigam, who worked for the German state broadcaster ARD for ten years and views the dominance of these agencies critically:

"One fundamental problem is that the newsroom at ARD sources its information mainly from three sources: the news agencies DPA/AP, Reuters and AFP: one German/American, one British and one French. () The editor working on a news topic only needs to select a few text passages on the screen that he considers essential, rearrange them and glue them together with a few flourishes."

Swiss Radio and Television (SRF), too, largely bases itself on reports from these agencies. Asked by viewers why a peace march in Ukraine was not reported, the editors said : "To date, we have not received a single report of this march from the independent agencies Reuters, AP and AFP."

In fact, not only the text, but also the images, sound and video recordings that we encounter in our media every day, are mostly from the very same agencies. What the uninitiated audience might think of as contributions from their local newspaper or TV station, are actually copied reports from New York, London and Paris.

Some media have even gone a step further and have, for lack of resources, outsourced their entire foreign editorial office to an agency. Moreover, it is well known that many news portals on the internet mostly publish agency reports (see e.g., Paterson 2007, Johnston 2011, MacGregor 2013).

In the end, this dependency on the global agencies creates a striking similarity in international reporting: from Vienna to Washington, our media often report the same topics, using many of the same phrases – a phenomenon that would otherwise rather be associated with "controlled media" in authoritarian states.

The following graphic shows some examples from German and international publications. As you can see, despite the claimed objectivity, a slight (geo-)political bias sometimes creeps in.

"Putin threatens", "Iran provokes", "NATO concerned", "Assad stronghold": Similarities in content and wording due to reports by global news agencies.

The role of correspondents

Much of our media does not have own foreign correspondents, so they have no choice but to rely completely on global agencies for foreign news. But what about the big daily newspapers and TV stations that have their own international correspondents? In German-speaking countries, for example, these include newspapers such NZZ, FAZ, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Welt, and public broadcasters.

First of all, the size ratios should be kept in mind: while the global agencies have several thousand employees worldwide, even the Swiss newspaper NZZ, known for its international reporting, maintains only 35 foreign correspondents (including their business correspondents). In huge countries such as China or India, only one correspondent is stationed; all of South America is covered by only two journalists, while in even larger Africa no-one is on the ground permanently.

Moreover, in war zones, correspondents rarely venture out. On the Syria war, for example, many journalists "reported" from cities such as Istanbul, Beirut, Cairo or even from Cyprus. In addition, many journalists lack the language skills to understand local people and media.

How do correspondents under such circumstances know what the "news" is in their region of the world? The main answer is once again: from global agencies. The Dutch Middle East correspondent Joris Luyendijk has impressively described how correspondents work and how they depend on the world agencies in his book "People Like Us: Misrepresenting the Middle East" :

"I'd imagined correspondents to be historians-of-the-moment. When something important happened, they'd go after it, find out what was going on, and report on it. But I didn't go off to find out what was going on; that had been done long before. I went along to present an on-the-spot report. ()

The editors in the Netherlands called when something happened, they faxed or emailed the press releases, and I'd retell them in my own words on the radio, or rework them into an article for the newspaper. This was the reason my editors found it more important that I could be reached in the place itself than that I knew what was going on. The news agencies provided enough information for you to be able to write or talk you way through any crisis or summit meeting.

That's why you often come across the same images and stories if you leaf through a few different newspapers or click the news channels.

Our men and women in London, Paris, Berlin and Washington bureaus – all thought that wrong topics were dominating the news and that we were following the standards of the news agencies too slavishly. ()

The common idea about correspondents is that they 'have the story', () but the reality is that the news is a conveyor belt in a bread factory. The correspondents stand at the end of the conveyor belt, pretending we've baked that white loaf ourselves, while in fact all we've done is put it in its wrapping. ()

Afterwards, a friend asked me how I'd managed to answer all the questions during those cross-talks, every hour and without hesitation. When I told him that, like on the TV-news, you knew all the questions in advance, his e-mailed response came packed with expletives. My friend had relalized that, for decades, what he'd been watching and listening to on the news was pure theatre." (Luyendjik 2009, p. 20-22, 76, 189)

In other words, the typical correspondent is in general not able to do independent research, but rather deals with and reinforces those topics that are already prescribed by the news agencies – the notorious "mainstream effect".

In addition, for cost-saving reasons many media outlets nowadays have to share their few foreign correspondents, and within individual media groups, foreign reports are often used by several publications – none of which contributes to diversity in reporting.

"What the agency does not report, does not take place"

The central role of news agencies also explains why, in geopolitical conflicts, most media use the same original sources. In the Syrian war, for example, the "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" – a dubious one-man organization based in London – featured prominently. The media rarely inquired directly at this "Observatory", as its operator was in fact difficult to reach, even for journalists.

Rather, the "Observatory" delivered its stories to global agencies, which then forwarded them to thousands of media outlets, which in turn "informed" hundreds of millions of readers and viewers worldwide. The reason why the agencies, of all places, referred to this strange "Observatory" in their reporting – and who really financed it – is a question that was rarely asked.

The former chief editor of the German news agency DPA, Manfred Steffens, therefore states in his book "The Business of News":

"A news story does not become more correct simply because one is able to provide a source for it. It is indeed rather questionable to trust a news story more just because a source is cited. () Behind the protective shield such a 'source' means for a news story, some people are quite inclined to spread rather adventurous things, even if they themselves have legitimate doubts about their correctness; the responsibility, at least morally, can always be attributed to the cited source." (Steffens 1969, p. 106)

Dependence on global agencies is also a major reason why media coverage of geopolitical conflicts is often superficial and erratic, while historic relationships and background are fragmented or altogether absent. As put by Steffens:

"News agencies receive their impulses almost exclusively from current events and are therefore by their very nature ahistoric. They are reluctant to add any more context than is strictly required." (Steffens 1969, p. 32)

Finally, the dominance of global agencies explains why certain geopolitical issues and events – which often do not fit very well into the US/NATO narrative or are too "unimportant" – are not mentioned in our media at all: if the agencies do not report on something, then most Western media will not be aware of it. As pointed out on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the German DPA: "What the agency does not report, does not take place." (Wilke 2000, p. 1)

America's "Righteous" Russia-gate Censorship. "Russia Bashing All the Time"

"Adding questionable stories"

While some topics do not appear at all in our media, other topics are very prominent – even though they shouldn't actually be: "Often the mass media do not report on reality, but on a constructed or staged reality. () Several studies have shown that the mass media are predominantly determined by PR activities and that passive, receptive attitudes outweigh active-researching ones." (Blum 1995, p. 16)

In fact, due to the rather low journalistic performance of our media and their high dependence on a few news agencies, it is easy for interested parties to spread propaganda and disinformation in a supposedly respectable format to a worldwide audience. DPA editor Steffens warned of this danger:

"The critical sense gets more lulled the more respected the news agency or newspaper is. Someone who wants to introduce a questionable story into the world press only needs to try to put his story in a reasonably reputable agency, to be sure that it then appears a little later in the others. Sometimes it happens that a hoax passes from agency to agency and becomes ever more credible." (Steffens 1969, p. 234)

Among the most active actors in "injecting" questionable geopolitical news are the military and defense ministries. For example, in 2009, the head of the American news agency AP, Tom Curley, made public that the Pentagon employs more than 27,000 PR specialists who, with a budget of nearly $ 5 billion a year, are working the media and circulating targeted manipulations. In addition, high-ranking US generals had threatened that they would "ruin" the AP and him if the journalists reported too critically on the US military.

Despite – or because of? – such threats our media regularly publish dubious stories sourced to some unnamed "informants" from "US defense circles".

Ulrich Tilgner, a veteran Middle East correspondent for German and Swiss television, warned in 2003, shortly after the Iraq war, of acts of deception by the military and the role played by the media:

"With the help of the media, the military determine the public perception and use it for their plans. They manage to stir expectations and spread scenarios and deceptions. In this new kind of war, the PR strategists of the US administration fulfill a similar function as the bomber pilots. The special departments for public relations in the Pentagon and in the secret services have become combatants in the information war. () The US military specifically uses the lack of transparency in media coverage for their deception maneuvers. The way they spread information, which is then picked up and distributed by newspapers and broadcasters, makes it impossible for readers, listeners or viewers to trace the original source. Thus, the audience will fail to recognize the actual intention of the military." (Tilgner 2003, p. 132)

What is known to the US military, would not be foreign to US intelligence services. In a remarkable report by British Channel 4, former CIA officials and a Reuters correspondent spoke candidly about the systematic dissemination of propaganda and misinformation in reporting on geopolitical conflicts:

Former CIA officer and whistleblower John Stockwell said of his work in the Angolan war,

"The basic theme was to make it look like an [enemy] aggression in Angola. So any kind of story that you could write and get into the media anywhere in the world, that pushed that line, we did. One third of my staff in this task force were covert action, were propagandists, whose professional career job was to make up stories and finding ways of getting them into the press. () The editors in most Western newspapers are not too skeptical of messages that conform to general views and prejudices. () So we came up with another story, and it was kept going for weeks. () [But] it was all fiction."

Fred Bridgland looked back on his work as a war correspondent for the Reuters agency: "We based our reports on official communications. It was not until years later that I learned a little CIA disinformation expert had sat in the US embassy, in Lusaka and composed that communiqué, and it bore no relation at all to truth. () Basically, and to put it very crudely, you can publish any old crap and it will get newspaper room."

And former CIA analyst David MacMichael described his work in the Contra War in Nicaragua with these words:

"They said our intelligence of Nicaragua was so good that we could even register when someone flushed a toilet. But I had the feeling that the stories we were giving to the press came straight out of the toilet." (Hird 1985)

Of course, the intelligence services also have a large number of direct contacts in our media, which can be "leaked" information to if necessary. But without the central role of the global news agencies, the worldwide synchronization of propaganda and disinformation would never be so efficient.

Through this "propaganda multiplier", dubious stories from PR experts working for governments, military and intelligence services reach the general public more or less unchecked and unfiltered. The journalists refer to the news agencies and the news agencies refer to their sources. Although they often attempt to point out uncertainties with terms such as "apparent", "alleged" and the like – by then the rumor has long been spread to the world and its effect taken place.

The Propaganda Multiplier: Governments, military and intelligence services using global news agencies to disseminate their messages to a worldwide audience.

As the New York Times reported

In addition to global news agencies, there is another source that is often used by media outlets around the world to report on geopolitical conflicts, namely the major publications in Great Britain and the US.

For example, news outlets like the New York Times or BBC have up to 100 foreign correspondents and other external employees. However, Middle East correspondent Luyendijk points out:

"Dutch news teams, me included, fed on the selection of news made by quality media like CNN, the BBC, and the New York Times . We did that on the assumption that their correspondents understood the Arab world and commanded a view of it – but many of them turned out not to speak Arabic, or at least not enough to be able to have a conversation in it or to follow the local media. Many of the top dogs at CNN, the BBC, the Independent, the Guardian, the New Yorker, and the NYT were more often than not dependent on assistants and translators." (Luyendijk p. 47)

In addition, the sources of these media outlets are often not easy to verify ("military circles", "anonymous government officials", "intelligence officials" and the like) and can therefore also be used for the dissemination of propaganda. In any case, the widespread orientation towards the Anglo-Saxon publications leads to a further convergence in the geopolitical coverage in our media.

The following figure shows some examples of such citation based on the Syria coverage of the largest daily newspaper in Switzerland, Tages-Anzeiger. The articles are all from the first days of October 2015, when Russia for the first time intervened directly in the Syrian war (US/UK sources are highlighted):

Frequent citation of British and US media, exemplified by the Syria war coverage of Swiss daily newspaper Tages-Anzeiger in October 2015.

The desired narrative

But why do journalists in our media not simply try to research and report independently of the global agencies and the Anglo-Saxon media? Middle East correspondent Luyendijk describes his experiences:

"You might suggest that I should have looked for sources I could trust. I did try, but whenever I wanted to write a story without using news agencies, the main Anglo-Saxon media, or talking heads, it fell apart. () Obviously I, as a correspondent, could tell very different stories about one and the same situation. But the media could only present one of them, and often enough, that was exactly the story that confirmed the prevailing image." (Luyendijk p.54ff)

Media researcher Noam Chomsky has described this effect in his essay "What makes the mainstream media mainstream" as follows: "If you leave the official line, if you produce dissenting reports, then you will soon feel this. () There are many ways to get you back in line quickly. If you don't follow the guidelines, you will not keep your job long. This system works pretty well, and it reflects established power structures." (Chomsky 1997)

Nevertheless, some of the leading journalists continue to believe that nobody can tell them what to write. How does this add up? Media researcher Chomsky clarifies the apparent contradiction:

"[T]he point is that they wouldn't be there unless they had already demonstrated that nobody has to tell them what to write because they are going say the right thing. If they had started off at the Metro desk, or something, and had pursued the wrong kind of stories, they never would have made it to the positions where they can now say anything they like. () They have been through the socialization system." (Chomsky 1997)

Ultimately, this "socialization process" leads to a journalism that generally no longer independently researches and critically reports on geopolitical conflicts (and some other topics), but seeks to consolidate the desired narrative through appropriate editorials, commentary, and interviewees.

Conclusion: The "First Law of Journalism"

Former AP journalist Herbert Altschull called it the First Law of Journalism:

"In all press systems, the news media are instruments of those who exercise political and economic power. Newspapers, periodicals, radio and television stations do not act independently, although they have the possibility of independent exercise of power." (Altschull 1984/1995, p. 298)

In that sense, it is logical that our traditional media – which are predominantly financed by advertising or the state – represent the geopolitical interests of the transatlantic alliance, given that both the advertising corporations as well as the states themselves are dependent on the US dominated transatlantic economic and security architecture.

In addition, our leading media and their key people are – in the spirit of Chomsky's "socialization" – often themselves part of the networks of the transatlantic elite. Some of the most important institutions in this regard include the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Bilderberg Group, and the Trilateral Commission (see in-depth study of these networks ).

Indeed, most well-known publications basically may be seen as "establishment media". This is because, in the past, the freedom of the press was rather theoretical, given significant entry barriers such as broadcasting licenses, frequency slots, requirements for financing and technical infrastructure, limited sales channels, dependence on advertising, and other restrictions.

It was only due to the Internet that Altschull's First Law has been broken to some extent. Thus, in recent years a high-quality, reader-funded journalism has emerged, often outperforming traditional media in terms of critical reporting. Some of these "alternative" publications already reach a very large audience, showing that the „mass" does not have to be a problem for the quality of a media outlet.

Nevertheless, up to now the traditional media has been able to attract a solid majority of online visitors, too. This, in turn, is closely linked to the hidden role of news agencies, whose up-to-the-minute reports form the backbone of most news portals.

Will "political and economic power", according to Altschull's Law, retain control over the news, or will "uncontrolled" news change the political and economic power structure? The coming years will show.

Case study: Syria war coverage

As part of a case study, the Syria war coverage of nine leading daily newspapers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland were examined for plurality of viewpoints and reliance on news agencies. The following newspapers were selected:

The investigation period was defined as October 1 to 15, 2015, i.e. the first two weeks after Russia's direct intervention in the Syrian conflict. The entire print and online coverage of these newspapers was taken into account. Any Sunday editions were not taken into account, as not all of the newspapers examined have such. In total, 381 newspaper articles met the stated criteria.

In a first step, the articles were classified according to their properties into the following groups:

  1. Agencies : Reports from news agencies (with agency code)
  2. Mixed : Simple reports (with author names) that are based in whole or in part on agency reports
  3. Reports : Editorial background reports and analyzes
  4. Opinions/Comments : Opinions and guest comments
  5. Interviews : interviews with experts, politicians etc.
  6. Investigative : Investigative research that reveals new information or context

The following Figure 1 shows the composition of the articles for the nine newspapers analyzed in total. As can be seen, 55% of articles were news agency reports; 23% editorial reports based on agency material; 9% background reports; 10% opinions and guest comments; 2% interviews; and 0% based on investigative research.

Figure 1: Types of articles (total; n=381)

The pure agency texts – from short notices to the detailed reports – were mostly on the Internet pages of the daily newspapers: on the one hand, the pressure for breaking news is higher than in the printed edition, on the other hand, there are no space restrictions. Most other types of articles were found in both the online and printed editions; some exclusive interviews and background reports were found only in the printed editions. All items were collected only once for the investigation.

The following Figure 2 shows the same classification on a per newspaper basis. During the observation period (two weeks), most newspapers published between 40 and 50 articles on the Syrian conflict (print and online). In the German newspaper Die Welt there were more (58), in the Basler Zeitung and the Austrian Kurier , however, significantly less (29 or 33).

Depending on which newspaper, the share of agency reports is almost 50% (Welt, Süddeutsche, NZZ, Basler Zeitung), just under 60% (FAZ, Tagesanzeiger), and 60 to 70% (Presse, Standard, Kurier). Together with the agency-based reports, the proportion in most newspapers is between approx. 70% and 80%. These proportions are consistent with previous media studies (e.g., Blum 1995, Johnston 2011, MacGregor 2013, Paterson 2007).

In the background reports, the Swiss newspapers were leading (five to six pieces), followed by Welt , Süddeutsche and Standard (four each) and the other newspapers (one to three). The background reports and analyzes were in particular devoted to the situation and development in the Middle East, as well as to the motives and interests of individual actors (for example Russia, Turkey, the Islamic State).

However, most of the commentaries were to be found in the German newspapers (seven comments each), followed by Standard (five), NZZ and Tagesanzeiger (four each). Basler Zeitung did not publish any commentaries during the observation period, but two interviews. Other interviews were conducted by Standard (three) and Kurier and Presse (one each). Investigative research, however, could not be found in any of the newspapers.

In particular, in the case of the three German newspapers, a journalistically problematic blending of opinion pieces and reports was noted. Reports contained strong expressions of opinion even though they were not marked as commentary. The present study was in any case based on the article labeling by the newspaper.

Figure 2: Types of articles per newspaper

The following Figure 3 shows the breakdown of agency stories (by agency abbreviation) for each news agency, in total and per country. The 211 agency reports carried a total of 277 agency codes (a story may consist of material from more than one agency). In total, 24% of agency reports came from the AFP; about 20% each by the DPA, APA and Reuters; 9% of the SDA; 6% of the AP; and 11% were unknown (no labeling or blanket term "agencies").

In Germany, the DPA, AFP and Reuters each have a share of about one third of the news stories. In Switzerland, the SDA and the AFP are in the lead, and in Austria, the APA and Reuters.

In fact, the shares of the global agencies AFP, AP and Reuters are likely to be even higher, as the Swiss SDA and the Austrian APA obtain their international reports mainly from the global agencies and the German DPA cooperates closely with the American AP.

It should also be noted that, for historical reasons, the global agencies are represented differently in different regions of the world. For events in Asia, Ukraine or Africa, the share of each agency will therefore be different than from events in the Middle East.

Figure 3: Share of news agencies, total (n=277) and per country

In the next step, central statements were used to rate the orientation of editorial opinions (28), guest comments (10) and interview partners (7) (a total of 45 articles). As Figure 4 shows, 82% of the contributions were generally US/NATO friendly, 16% neutral or balanced, and 2% predominantly US/NATO critical.

The only predominantly US/NATO-critical contribution was an op-ed in the Austrian Standard on October 2, 2015, titled: "The strategy of regime change has failed. A distinction between ‚good' and ‚bad' terrorist groups in Syria makes the Western policy untrustworthy."

Figure 4: Orientation of editorial opinions, guest comments, and interviewees (total; n=45).

The following Figure 5 shows the orientation of the contributions, guest comments and interviewees, in turn broken down by individual newspapers. As can be seen, Welt, Süddeutsche Zeitung, NZZ, Zürcher Tagesanzeiger and the Austrian newspaper Kurier presented exclusively US/NATO-friendly opinion and guest contributions; this goes for FAZ too, with the exception of one neutral/balanced contribution. The Standard brought four US/NATO friendly, three balanced/neutral, as well as the already mentioned US/NATO critical opinion contributions.

Presse was the only one of the examined newspapers to predominantly publish neutral/balanced opinions and guest contributions. The Basler Zeitung published one US/NATO-friendly and one balanced contribution. Shortly after the observation period (October 16, 2015), Basler Zeitung also published an interview with the President of the Russian Parliament. This would of course have been counted as a contribution critical of the US/NATO.

Figure 5: Basic orientation of opinion pieces and interviewees per newspaper

In a further analysis, a full-text keyword search for "propaganda" (and word combinations thereof) was used to investigate in which cases the newspapers themselves identified propaganda in one of the two geopolitical conflict sides, USA/NATO or Russia (the participant "IS/ISIS" was not considered). In total, twenty such cases were identified. Figure 6 shows the result: in 85% of the cases, propaganda was identified on the Russian side of the conflict, in 15% the identification was neutral or unstated, and in 0% of the cases propaganda was identified on the USA/NATO side of the conflict.

It should be noted that about half of the cases (nine) were in the Swiss NZZ , which spoke of Russian propaganda quite frequently ("Kremlin propaganda", "Moscow propaganda machine", "propaganda stories", "Russian propaganda apparatus" etc.), followed by German FAZ (three), Welt and Süddeutsche Zeitung (two each) and the Austrian newspaper Kurier (one). The other newspapers did not mention propaganda, or only in a neutral context (or in the context of IS).

Figure 6: Attribution of propaganda to conflict parties (total; n=20).

Conclusion

In this case study, the geopolitical coverage in nine leading daily newspapers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland was examined for diversity and journalistic performance using the example of the Syrian war.

The results confirm the high dependence on the global news agencies (63 to 90%, excluding commentaries and interviews) and the lack of own investigative research, as well as the rather biased commenting on events in favor of the US/NATO side (82% positive; 2% negative), whose stories were not checked by the newspapers for any propaganda.

*

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English translation provided by Terje Maloy.

[May 14, 2019] The tanker damage in the Gulf was probably a "provocation" aimed at Iran.

May 14, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump's national security adviser. They do not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops, officials said.

The development reflects the influence of Mr. Bolton , one of the administration's most virulent Iran hawks, whose push for confrontation with Tehran was ignored more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush.

It is highly uncertain whether Mr. Trump, who has sought to disentangle the United States from Afghanistan and Syria, ultimately would send so many American forces back to the Middle East. " NY Times

"It is also unclear whether the president has been briefed on the number of troops or other details in the plans. On Monday, asked about if he was seeking regime change in Iran, Mr. Trump said: "We'll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake."

There are sharp divisions in the administration over how to respond to Iran at a time when tensions are rising about Iran's nuclear policy and its intentions in the Middle East." NY Times

-------------

IMO the armed forces (persons unknown therein) leaked the base information in this article to the NY Times to warn Trump of the wild eyed foolishness of the crew he has allowed to run US foreign policy.

In the information briefing (as opposed to a decision briefing) described in this article concerning military options, Trump was not even present.

What has happened once again is that Bolton asked DoD for options for the president/CinC's contemplation. As I have written in the last days, neither Bolton nor Pompeo has any command authority over the armed forces. Neither does Haspel at CIA. Only the president can command them. Only he has the constitutional authority to do so.

IMO the neocon squeeze with regard to Iran is in high gear. The aim is probably to pressure Iran until they lash out somewhere against US forces or interests.

Trump would then be urged by the madmen in the White House to order the armed forces to attack. pl

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/13/world/middleeast/us-military-plans-iran.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

[May 14, 2019] US Accuses Iran Of Attack On Saudi Tankers

May 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

US Accuses Iran Of Attack On Saudi Tankers

by Tyler Durden Mon, 05/13/2019 - 19:45 0 SHARES

Update: Just as everyone with half a frontal lobe had expected, the WSJ reported late on Monday that according to an initial U.S. assessment, "Iran was likely behind the attack" on the two Saudi Arabian oil tankers and two other vessels damaged over the weekend near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. official said, a finding that, whether confirmed or not, will certainly inflame military tensions in the Gulf and likely result in a global proxy war that drags in the US, China and Russia. Oh, and that would be the Persian Gulf for those wondering, not the Gulf of Tonkin, which is where another famous False Flag naval incident occurred.

Furthermore, as we predicted would happen on Sunday, this "official assessment", was the first suggestion by any nation that Iran was responsible for the attack and follows a series of U.S. warnings against "aggression" by Iran or its allies and proxies against military or commercial vessels in the region. Some more details from the WSJ:

The U.S. official, who declined to be identified, didn't offer details about what led to the assessment or its implications for a possible U.S. response. The U.S. has said in the past week that it was sending an aircraft carrier, an amphibious assault ship, a bomber task force and an antimissile system to the region after it alleged intelligence showed Iran posed a threat to its troops.

"If they do anything, they will suffer greatly. We'll see what happens with Iran," President Trump said while meeting with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House earlier on Monday.

The assessment, predictable from a mile away, squares perfectly with CIA veteran Mike Pompeo's warning from just two days before the alleged attack, in which he said that " The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against US interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive US response," the US Secretary of State wrote in a statement warning that Iran should not mistake US "restraint" for a "lack of resolve," and criticizing Iran for "an escalating series of threatening actions and statements in recent weeks."

Two days later Iran - according to US officials - staged the most brazen attack on oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz in years.

Of course, Iran would have to be utterly irrational to provoke such a sequence of events that culminates with a US campaign against it; so irrational in fact, as to be on par with the false flag chemical attacks staged by the "democratic powers" in Syria on various occasions, whose only purpose was to provoke the Trump administration into launching what were ultimately unsuccessful "regime change" air strikes.

That said, at this point we would urge readers to go long Brent call spreads, or outright calls, as it now appears that the Trump administration is fully intent on launching a "limited" military confrontation with Iran. Which, considering that Iran's biggest geopolitical backers are China and Russian, will be anything but limited.

* * *

Despite now near daily anti-Iran bluster coming out of Washington, fueling rising US-Iran tensions, and now with a major "incident" involving the reported "sabotage" attack on Saudi and UAE-docked oil tankers from an unknown perpetrator, leaders in Tehran do not see war on the horizon . Interestingly, the incident involving the Saudi tankers at the Emirates' port of Fujairah on Sunday came a mere days after the US warned that "Iran or its proxies" could attack commercial vessels in the region -- though there's yet to be blame officially cast over the latest mysterious incident.

Instead, Iran does see possible desperate attempts at a Psyop in the works: "The US military forces' deployment in the Persian Gulf is more of the nature of psychological warfare . They are not ready for a war, specially when Israel is within our range," Iranian Parliament's Vice-Speaker Ali Motahhari said on Sunday after a closed door session with MPs, according to FARS news agency.

But the specific mention of Israel as being "within our range" marks a significant counter-threat which could easily make war a reality, now also given the Persian Gulf region is on edge after Saudi Arabia said overnight that two of its oil tankers were attacked while headed near the Strait of Hormuz. Meanwhile the US Department of Energy says it's "monitoring the oil markets, and is confident they remain well-supplied" amid fears there are efforts to "disrupt shipping," according to Bloomberg .

Norwegian oil tanker Andrea Victory, one of the four tankers damaged in alleged "sabotage attacks." Via the AFP

The Saudis said in the aftermath of the still mysterious incident there was "significant damage to the structures of the two vessels" -- identified by shipping monitors as the Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah . Other tankers were also reported damaged in the UAE's Fujairan port.

Later in the day Monday, images and footage began to appear online via Middle East news sources purporting to show damage from the "sabotage attack" of unknown origin on multiple international vessels.

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And in predictable fashion, the Gulf Sunni dominated Arab League jumped in to back Saudi Arabia's use of "all measures" to safeguard their security, per the AP :

The head of the Arab League has condemned attacks that targeted vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates the previous day, including two Saudi oil tankers, as "criminal acts."

Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said in a statement on Monday that these acts are a "serious violation of the freedom and integrity of trade and maritime transport routes."

He says the Arab League stands by the UAE and Saudi Arabia "in all measures taken to safeguard their security and interests."

Senior State Dept. official Brian Hook responded with "no comment" when asked if Iran was to blame for the alleged attacks on the commercial vessels near the vital Strait of Hormuz.

Hours after, President Trump weighed in by warning Iran against any "provocation" or else the country "will suffer greatly" if conflict breaks out with the US. Trump told reporters while meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House :

"We'll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything it'll be a very bad mistake, if they do anything."

Though so far it appears minor, the sabotage incident could signal the start of a Gulf of Tonkin type incident in the Persian Gulf, which would ultimately force Iran into a direct confrontation with the US and its regional allies, given also the ease with which any major event which disrupts shipping -- and impacting global oil markets -- would immediately be blamed on Iran , and uncritically spread through global and western media.

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Seeming to be well aware of such a possibility, Iran on Monday urged caution and even directly suggested the events could be false-flag provocations designed to draw regional enemies into conflict. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Monday the incidents were "alarming and regrettable," and urged that more details were needed.

He further warned against "plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security" and called for "vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements ."

via The Daily Mail

Last week the US deployed a carrier strike group to the region and further has a B-52 bomber group monitoring the skies over the Persian Gulf from al Udeid airbase in Qatar.

While the Iran's Revolutionary Guard has also dismissed the recent US military build-up as "nothing but psychological warfare", saying that "the US lacks power and does not dare to start a war against Iran," it has also said its finger is on the trigger, ready to respond to any aggressive acts.

[May 13, 2019] Crappy little countries

This was true about Iraq war. This is true about Venezuela and Syria.
Notable quotes:
"... In a rather odd article in the London Review of Books , Perry Anderson argued that there wasn't, and wondered aloud why the U.S. war on Iraq had excited such unprecedented worldwide opposition - even, in all places, within the U.S. - when earlier episodes of imperial violence hadn't. ..."
"... Lots of people, in the U.S. and abroad, recognize that and are alarmed. And lots also recognize that the Bush regime represents an intensification of imperial ambition. ..."
"... Why? The answers aren't self-evident. Certainly the war on Iraq had little to do with its public justifications. Iraq was clearly a threat to no one, and the weapons of mass destruction have proved elusive. The war did nothing for the fight against terrorism. Only ideologues believe that Baghdad had anything to do with al Qaeda - and if the Bush administration were really worried about "homeland security," it'd be funding the defense of ports, nuclear reactors, and chemical plants rather than starting imperial wars and alienating people by the billions. Sure, Saddam's regime was monstrous - which is one of the reasons Washington supported it up until the invasion of Kuwait. The Ba'ath Party loved to kill Communists - as many as 150,000 according to some estimates - and the CIA's relationship with Saddam goes back to 1959 . ..."
"... Iraq has lots of oil , and there's little doubt that that's why it was at the first pole of the axis of evil to get hit. (Iran does too, but it's a much tougher nut to crack - four times as big, and not weakened by war and sanctions.) ..."
Apr 30, 2003 | www.leftbusinessobserver.com

Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small c rappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.
- Michael Ledeen , holder of the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute

Actually, the U.S. had been beating Iraq's head against the wall for a dozen years, with sanctions and bombing. The sanctions alone killed over a million Iraqis, far more than have been done in by weapons of mass destruction throughout history. But Ledeen's indiscreet remark, delivered at an AEI conference and reported by Jonah Goldberg in National Review Online , does capture some of what the war on Iraq is about.

And what is this "business" Ledeen says we mean? Oil, of course, of which more in a bit. Ditto construction contracts for Bechtel. But it's more than that - nothing less than the desire, often expressed with little shame nor euphemism, to run the world. Is there anything new about that?

The answer is, of course, yes and no. In a rather odd article in the London Review of Books , Perry Anderson argued that there wasn't, and wondered aloud why the U.S. war on Iraq had excited such unprecedented worldwide opposition - even, in all places, within the U.S. - when earlier episodes of imperial violence hadn't. Anderson, who's edited New Left Review for years, but who has almost no connection to actual politics attributed this strange explosion not to a popular outburst of anti-imperialism, but to a cultural antipathy to the Bush administration.

Presumably that antipathy belongs to the realm of the " merely cultural ," and is of no great political significance to Anderson. But it should be. U.S. culture has long been afflicted with a brutally reactionary and self-righteous version of Christian fundamentalism, but it's never had such influence over the state. The president thinks himself on a mission from God, the Attorney General opens the business day with a prayer meeting, and the Pentagon's idea of a Good Friday service is to invite Franklin Graham , who's pronounced Islam a "wicked and evil religion," to deliver the homily, in which he promised that Jesus was returning soon. For the hard core, the Iraq war is a sign of the end times, and the hard core are in power.

Lots of people, in the U.S. and abroad, recognize that and are alarmed. And lots also recognize that the Bush regime represents an intensification of imperial ambition. Though the administration has been discreet, many of its private sector intellectuals have been using the words "imperialism" and " empire " openly and with glee. Not everyone of the millions who marched against the war in the months before it started was a conscious anti-imperialist, but they all sensed the intensification, and were further alarmed.

While itself avoiding the difficult word "empire," the Bush administration has been rather clear about its long-term aims. According to their official national security strategy and the documents published by the Project for a New American Century (which served as an administration-in-waiting during the Clinton years) their goal is to assure U.S. dominance and prevent the emergence of any rival powers. First step in that agenda is the remaking of the Middle East - and they're quite open about this as well. We all know the countries that are on the list; the only remaining issues are sequence and strategy. But that's not the whole of the agenda. They're essentially promising a permanent state of war, some overt, some covert, but one that could take decades.

Imperial returns?

Why? The answers aren't self-evident. Certainly the war on Iraq had little to do with its public justifications. Iraq was clearly a threat to no one, and the weapons of mass destruction have proved elusive. The war did nothing for the fight against terrorism. Only ideologues believe that Baghdad had anything to do with al Qaeda - and if the Bush administration were really worried about "homeland security," it'd be funding the defense of ports, nuclear reactors, and chemical plants rather than starting imperial wars and alienating people by the billions. Sure, Saddam's regime was monstrous - which is one of the reasons Washington supported it up until the invasion of Kuwait. The Ba'ath Party loved to kill Communists - as many as 150,000 according to some estimates - and the CIA's relationship with Saddam goes back to 1959 .

Iraq has lots of oil , and there's little doubt that that's why it was at the first pole of the axis of evil to get hit. (Iran does too, but it's a much tougher nut to crack - four times as big, and not weakened by war and sanctions.)

It now looks fairly certain that the U.S. will, in some form, claim some large piece of Iraq's oil. The details need to be worked out; clarifying the legal situation could be very complicated, given the rampantly illegal nature of the regime change. Rebuilding Iraq's oil industry will be very expensive and could take years. There could be some nice profits down the line for big oil companies - billions a year - but the broader economic benefits for the U.S. aren't so clear. A U.S.-dominated Iraq could pump heavily and undermine OPEC, but too low an oil price would wreck the domestic U.S. oil industry, something the Bush gang presumably cares about. Mexico would be driven into penury, which could mean another debt crisis and lots of human traffic heading north over the Rio Grande. Lower oil prices would be a boon to most industrial economies, but they'd give the U.S. no special advantage over its principal economic rivals.

It's sometimes said that U.S. dominance of the Middle East gives Washington a chokehold over oil supplies to Europe and Japan. But how might that work? Deep production cutbacks and price spikes would hurt everyone. Targeted sales restrictions would be the equivalent of acts of war, and if the U.S. is willing to take that route, a blockade would be a lot more efficient. The world oil market is gigantic and complex, and it's not clear how a tap could be turned in Kirkuk that would shut down the gas pumps in Kyoto or Milan.

Writers like David Harvey argue that the U.S. is trying to compensate for its eroding economic power by asserting its military dominance. Maybe. It's certainly fascinating that Bush's unilateralism has to be financed by gobs of foreign money - and he gets his tax cuts, he'll have to order up even bigger gobs. But it's hard to see what rival threatens the U.S. economically; neither the EU nor Japan is thriving. Nor is there any evidence that the Bush administration is thinking seriously about economic policy, domestic or international, or even thinking at all. The economic staff is mostly dim and marginal. What really seems to excite this gang of supposed conservatives is the exercise of raw state power.

Jealous rivals

And while the Bushies want to prevent the emergence of imperial rivals , they may only be encouraging that. Sure, the EU is badly divided within itself; it has a hard enough time picking a top central banker , let alone deciding on a common foreign policy. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is already semi-apologizing to Bush for his intemperate language in criticizing the war - not that Bush has started taking his calls. But over the longer term, some kind of political unification is Europe's only hope for acting like a remotely credible world power. It's tempting to read French and German objections to the Iraq war as emerging not from principle, but from the wounded narcissism of former imperial powers rendered marginal by American might. Separately, they'll surely hang. But a politically united Europe could, with time, come to challenge U.S. power, just as the euro is beginning to look like a credible rival to the dollar.

(Speaking of the euro, there's a theory circulating on the net that the U.S. went to war because Iraq wanted to price its oil in euros, not dollars. That's grossly overheated speculation. More on this and related issues when LBO begins an investigation of the political economy of oil in the next issue.)

An even more interesting rivalry scenario would involve an alliance of the EU and Russia. Russia is no longer the wreck it was for most of the 1990s. The economy has been growing and the mildly authoritarian Putin has imposed political stability. Russia, which has substantial oil interests in Iraq that are threatened by U.S. control, strongly opposed the war, and at least factions within the Russian intelligence agency were reportedly feeding information unfriendly to the U.S. to the website Iraqwar.ru . There's a lot recommending an EU-Russia alliance; Europe could supply technology and finance, and Russia could supply energy, and together they could constitute at least an embryonic counterweight to U.S. power.

So the U.S. may not get out of Iraq what the Bush administration is hoping for. It certainly can't want democracy in Iraq or the rest of the region, since free votes could well lead to nationalist and Islamist governments who don't view ExxonMobil as the divine agent that Bush seems to. A New York Times piece celebrated the outbreak of democracy in Basra, while conceding that the mayor is a former Iraqi admiral appointed by the British. The lead writers of the new constitution are likely to be American law professors; Iraqis, of course, aren't up to the task themselves.

Certainly the appointment of Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner (Ret.) - one of the few superannuated brass not to have enjoyed a consulting contract with a major TV network - to be the top civilian official guiding the postwar reconstruction of Iraq speaks volumes. A retired general is barely a civilian, and Garner's most recent job was as president of SY Technology , a military contractor that worked with Israeli security in developing the Arrow antimissile system. He loves antimissile systems; after the first Gulf War, he enthused about the Patriot's performance with claims that turned out to be nonsense. He's on record as having praised Israel's handling of the intifada. If that's his model of how to handle restive subject populations, there's lots of trouble ahead.

lightness

In the early days of the war, when things weren't going so well for the "coalition," it was said that the force was too light. But after the sandstorm cleared and the snipers were mowed down, that alleged lightness became a widely praised virtue. But that force was light only by American standards: 300,000 troops; an endless rain of Tomahawks, JDAMs, and MOABs; thousands of vehicles, from Humvees to Abrams tanks; hundreds of aircraft, from Apaches to B-1s; several flotillas of naval support - and enormous quantities of expensive petroleum products. It takes five gallons of fuel just to start an Abrams tank, and after that it gets a mile per gallon. And filling one up is no bargain. Though the military buys fuel at a wholesale price of 84¢ a gallon, after all the expenses of getting it to the front lines are added in, the final cost is about $150 a gallon. That's a steal compared to Afghanistan, where fuel is helicoptered in, pushing the cost to $600/gallon. Rummy's "lightness" is of the sort that only a $10 trillion economy can afford.

The Bush gang doesn't even try to keep up appearances, handing out contracts for Iraq's reconstruction to U.S. firms even before the shooting stopped, and guarding only the oil and interior ministries against looters. If Washington gets its way, Iraq will be rebuilt according to the fondest dreams of the Heritage Foundation staff, with the educational system reworked by an American contractor, the TV programmed by the Pentagon, the ports run by a rabidly antiunion firm, the police run by the Texas-based military contractor Dyncorp , and the oil taken out of state hands and appropriately privatized.

That's the way they'd like it to be. But the sailing may not be so smooth. It looks like Iraqis are viewing the Americans as occupiers, not liberators. It's going to be hard enough to remake Iraq that taking on Syria or Iran may be a bit premature. But that doesn't mean they won't try. It's a cliché of trade negotiations that liberalization is like riding a bicycle - you have to keep riding forward or else you'll fall over. The same could be said of an imperial agenda: if you want to remake the world, or a big chunk of it, there's little time to pause and catch your breath, since doubt or opposition could gain the upper hand. Which makes stoking that opposition more urgent than ever.

Losing it all

There's a feeling around that Bush is now politically invulnerable . Certainly the atmosphere is one of almost coercive patriotism. That mood was nicely illustrated by an incident in Houston in mid-March. A teenager attending a rodeo failed to stand along with the rest of the crowd during a playing of Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American," a dreadful country song that has become a kind of private-sector national anthem for the yahoo demographic, thanks to its truculent unthinking jingoism. A patriot standing behind the defiantly seated teen started taunting him, tugging on his ear as an additional provocation. The two ended up in a fight, and then under arrest.

There's a lot of that going around, for sure. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins get disinvited from events, websites nominate traitors for trial by military tribunal, and talk radio hosts organize CD-smashings. But things aren't hopeless. A close analysis of Greenwood's text might suggest why. The song's core argument is contained in its two most famous lines: "I'm proud to be an American/where at least I know I'm free." But the oft-overlooked opening reads: "If tomorrow all the things were gone/I'd worked for all my life," the singer would still be a grateful patriot. That's precisely the condition lots of Americans find themselves in. More than two million jobs have disappeared in the last two years. Millions of Americans have seen their retirement savings wiped out by the bear market, and over a million filed for bankruptcy last year. Most states and cities are experiencing their worst fiscal crises since the 1930s, with massive service cuts and layoffs imminent. In the song, such loss doesn't matter, but reality is often less accommodating than a song.

As the nearby graphs show, W's ratings are much lower than his father's at the end of Gulf War I, and his disapproval ratings much higher. Their theocratic and repressive agenda is deeply unpopular with large parts of the U.S. population. Spending scores of billions on destroying and rebuilding Iraq while at home health clinics are closing and teachers working without pay is potentially incendiary. Foreign adventures have never been popular with the American public (much to the distress of the ruling elite). An peace movement that could draw the links among warmongering, austerity, and repression has great political potential. Just a month or two ago, hundreds of thousands were marching in American streets to protest the imminent war. Though that movement now looks a bit dispirited and demobilized, it's unlikely that that kind of energy will just disappear into the ether.

[May 13, 2019] Not the men we thought we were ...

Notable quotes:
"... The neocon imperialists present in both parties are riding high in the foreign policy apparatus of the United States. As part of their program of gaining a thinly disguised global hegemony they are steadily squeezing Iran into a smaller and smaller "box." ..."
"... The abandonment of JCPOA and the demand for a new agreement that would require Iran to abandon any effort to be a regional power is at the core of that effort. The insistence that Hizbullah, Hamas and the IRGC are terrorist groups that may not be maintained or supported is a direct challenge to Iranian sovereignty. ..."
May 13, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"... Not the men we thought we were ..."

Newt Gingrich once explained to me whilst sitting in my map room in the Pentagon how it was that Japan decided to go to war against the United States in World War II.

He recounted that the decision had much to do with US embargoes of sales to Japan of strategic commodities such as; scrap steel, rubber and oil. Japan in the late 30s was resource poor and skills rich. The government was then in the hands of a clique of militaristic nationalists intent on winning lebensraum for their island empire. To accomplish that, the Tojo government needed the instruments of war as well as a lack of effective US and British resistance to their ambitions.

The embargoes of the materials needed for Japanese industry were seen by the government as a major obstacle to territorial expansion and a profound indication of the permanent hostility of the United States, a country that was the only other serious Pacific Ocean naval power as well as the possessor of a major land base in the Philippine Islands, then an American territory. With these beliefs as background, the Imperial War Council met in 1941 to consider options. The Navy tended to believe that it could not win a protracted struggle with the US, but the Army insisted that whatever the risk Japan must fight the US to find its place "in the sun." After long discussion the council recommended war to the Emperor in the belief that unless they were willing to fight the US and Britain they "would not be the men they had thought they were."

IMO we are creating an analogous situation in US-Iranian relations. The neocon imperialists present in both parties are riding high in the foreign policy apparatus of the United States. As part of their program of gaining a thinly disguised global hegemony they are steadily squeezing Iran into a smaller and smaller "box."

The abandonment of JCPOA and the demand for a new agreement that would require Iran to abandon any effort to be a regional power is at the core of that effort. The insistence that Hizbullah, Hamas and the IRGC are terrorist groups that may not be maintained or supported is a direct challenge to Iranian sovereignty. As I have previously written, the terrorist designation of these groups makes them legal targets for military action under the US AUMF. Add to these things, the effort to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero and you may well have a situation in which the Iranians decide that they must hit back or accept that they are not the men they thought they were. pl


EEngineer , 13 May 2019 at 11:45 AM

I see the parallels, but not that one. I think the neocons hope to force the Iranians into making that "all-in" call though. Perhaps as the neocons see it, such a strike would magically rally the American populous to the war they so desire. Imperial conquest performed as a defensive reflex. So they needle nearly everyone in the hopes of triggering a replay of the WW2 saga which has taken on a mythical good vs evil aura in the US. Ironically, I would say it is the neocons who think they need to start a war with the Iranians so that they can be the men they think they are. The only thing still holding them back is the passive-aggressive need to make it look like someone, anyone, else started it so they can play the victim card once the body bags start coming home.
Ed Lindgren , 13 May 2019 at 11:51 AM
USN CDR A. H. McCollum was the man who conceived the so-called "Eight Action Plan" which he outlined in his Oct 7, 1940 memo. This was his proposal for the U.S. and Britain to initiate actions which would essentially force Japan into making a decision to wage war against the United States.

The key elements of the plan, as outlined in McCollum's memo, include the following:

A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore
B. Make an arrangement with the Netherlands for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies
C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang-Kai-Shek
D. Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore
E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient
F. Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet now in the Pacific[,] in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands
G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil
H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire

Not too terribly different from the squeeze currently being placed on Iran by the team of Pompeo/Boton.

The text of the McCollum memo can be found here:

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/McCollum_memorandum


turcopolier , 13 May 2019 at 12:09 PM
Lindgren

Was this plan approved by Roosevelt? the embargoes had been in effect for some time by then.

blue peacock , 13 May 2019 at 12:21 PM
Col. Lang

It would seem that the best strategic option for Iran is to lay low and absorb the economic squeeze. The Chinese are unlikely to support the oil sanctions, so they'll be able to continue to sell them until the US navy starts to interdict their tankers. But oil is fungible.....

It would also seem that their best military strategy is a defensive one. Obtaining the best air defense systems and significant medium-range missiles with high payload capacity and accuracy. At the very least they'll be able to give a black-eye while going down.

Of course the question is how the Ayatollah controls his fire breathing, martyrdom loving hawks who bristle at their treatment by the US, Israel & the Saudis. My sense is Bibi will get more itchy than the Ayatollah to take advantage of his perception of complete control of Trump.

EEngineer said in reply to blue peacock... , 13 May 2019 at 01:01 PM
I've wondered if the Chinese will use their own tankers to pick up Iranian oil or re-flag Iranian ones with Chinese colors as the US did for Kuwait during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's.

I can see the neocons wanting open conflict with Iran, but I don't know if they would risk war with China.

turcopolier , 13 May 2019 at 12:23 PM
BP Merely logical
Tidewater said in reply to turcopolier ... , 13 May 2019 at 04:15 PM
Sir,

Nice map, I assume it can't be considered a chart. Maps make me think. Anyway, when I heard about the four tankers at Fujairah damaged by "sabotage" I took a look up at Qeshm island in front of Bandar Abbas (it looks to me like a shark) and wondered how far it was down to Fujairah. I get about 140 nautical miles.

I know that there are hardened sub-pens on the land side of Queshm Island probably out to the western end. Recently I have read comments speculating what the Iranian class of mini- or midget subs would be useful for. One learns that one use would be to deliver a sea-mine; another to launch the one torpedo it can carry; and another would be as a transport for naval commandos, or swimmers trained in demolition and mine warfare.

Then I remembered something. I took a look at the last place down on the right side of the map on the Iranian mangrove shore, Trask, once an old fishing port. Trask is also where the pipeline down from the CIS countries will end, and a large refinery, manufacturing, and shipping complex is planned. Since 2008, Trask has been developed for a number of military uses. First as a naval base which berths fast motor patrol boats of the kind that can launch missiles like the Qader, a sea-skimmer carrying a warhead of 200 kilos which can reach out to 186 miles; also as a drone base, complete with a rail launcher which could indicate proficiency in big stay-aloft reconnaisance drones, soon enough to be weaponized, if not already. Significantly, it is also a base for littoral-class submarines, which would include mini-subs design based on the North Korean Yono class, submarines that would be similar to the one that is thought to have sunk the ROKS Cheonan in 2011 with a torpedo. Travelling at nine or ten knots, the Iranian model of the Yono, the Ghadir, could make the crossing to Fujairah in about twelve hours. That's a distance of 127 miles or so.
It looks to me as if the stern location of the tanker the news videos show would not have been hit unless the ship backed into a mine. And it doesn't look like the kind of damage a naval mine would do. A naval mine would have made an enormous ten or twenty foot cavernous dent in that stern, at the least. What it looks like to me was that a swimmer or swimmers placed a sticky explosive or satchel charge. (?) I think it is meant as a warning. 'We can get you any time..."

There's another message. Fujairah and also the ports of Salalah, Sohar, and Duqm, in Oman, have been billing themselves as "the Gateway to the Arabian Gulf." (For that historical and scholarly insult alone they should pay.) Fujairah is the only one of the UAE that is on the eastern side of the Musandam Peninsula. It has been advertised as the emirate that would not be involved in a Gulf war. Out of range. Think again me buckaroos.

The United States has just signed an agreement in late March with Oman which allows US naval and air forces to use the new state- of-the art port facilities and airport at Duqm, down in the middle of the Oman coast, and also Salalah. Sultan Qaboos, a very impressive leader, one of the best, who happens to be gay (but the father of his country), balances carefully between the various powers he must deal with. Iran is already there in Oman and has the right to establish companies and to store materiel there, and to ship cargoes. Just as Iran does in Qatar, where two hundred trucks come across from Bushire every day and have since June 2017 since Trump the Brain gave the OK to Mohammed Bin Salman to lay siege to Qatar. Consider this: "Sohar Freezone has options for leasing pre-built warehouses and commercial offices, as well as 100% foreign ownership...and a One-Stop-Shop for all relevant permits and clearances." (From Overview--SOHAR Port and Freezone.) As to how you get this cargo to points south, that is an interesting question...

Russia will come in if push comes to shove. Russia will not countenance the idea of an America naval and drone base on the Caspian, which is what will happen if Iran is bombed flat. Russia will second pilots to the Iranians and will send bombers like the Tu-95 Bear or the Backfire capable of carrying the KH-101 which will carry Iranian markings etc. These bombers, with enormous range, could wreck havoc on Diego Garcia, and could destroy a carrier group.

The Iranians show us now that they were the ones who invented the game of chess. Trump can look at China, and then he can look at Fujairah, and he can see the American economy going down... The Iranian move is worthy of a grand master...

eaken , 13 May 2019 at 01:29 PM
Iran should publicly invite Trump to Tehran without his posse.
ted richard , 13 May 2019 at 01:37 PM
If the true goal of the neocons is war, provoked upon Iran then any naval battle group which includes a USA carrier sent into the Persian gulf is the match the neocons are looking for once they decide to ''remember the Maine'' to it sending it to the bottom, then use that false flag as their pretext.

If its obvious to me wouldn't you suppose its obvious to the pentagon?

O'Shawnessey , 13 May 2019 at 01:39 PM
An apt comparison, no doubt, to "The Day of Deceit."

Then there is the high probability that, even if Iran shows restraint and plays the long game, a provocation in the manner of "Assad gasses his own people" will be arranged for them.

Even so, time is not on the side of the US Entity. How much longer can the Fed's fraudulent T-bill scheme keep running? My sense is that they wouldn't be weaponizing the dollar if they had other actual weapons to hand.

Jack , 13 May 2019 at 01:58 PM
Sir

What real choices do the Iranians have? It would be foolish on their part to launch any kind of military action.

catherine , 13 May 2019 at 01:59 PM

No sooner 'warned' then done. Who did it?

Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and described it as an attempt to undermine the security of crude supplies amid tensions between the United States and Iran.

The reports come as the US warned ships that "Iran or its proxies" could be targeting maritime traffic in the region, and as the US is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf to counter what it called "threats from Tehran".

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/saudi-oil-tankers-sabotaged-ships-uae-coast-190513055332524.html

ancientarcher , 13 May 2019 at 01:59 PM
Exceptionally good argument. I would also posit that the element of religious belief makes the argument even more potent.

I can't help but think back to more recent instances where the neocons were basically daring the other party to do something - anything. Ukraine in 2014 and Syria later on, come to mind. They had been waiting for the Russians to send in their troops to Ukraine after which they could have totally choked the economy. They also waited for mistakes from Assad, which he wisely avoided.

Similarly, Iran will be wise to avoid reacting in any way to these provocations. Since these provocations are meant to provoke a reaction, if the Iranians bite their lips and hold their hands, they would do more to hurt the neocons than by reacting blindly as the situation and their nature perhaps goads them towards.

D , 13 May 2019 at 03:08 PM
I humbly suggest you watch this series. Unfortunately, I don't know Persian so I can't help with translation. I watched these series with my sister in law who is a Persian Jew with an excellent command of Farsi; the videos are pretty informative.

https://youtu.be/LUHY17zF-9g?t=789

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LersWbaymTM
2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUHY17zF-9g
3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abODp1BeuAg
4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePDXnAe_zm4
5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNboW6WcC3U

Rocketrepreneur , 13 May 2019 at 03:08 PM
Pat,
I share your concern, but for the neocons I fear that they see that backing Iran into a position where it has nothing to lose with a war is a feature, not a bug.
~Jon
walrus , 13 May 2019 at 03:43 PM
Time is not on America's side

In my opinion, the critical element is the forthcoming deployment of advanced Russian and Chinese systems such as the Sarmat heavy ICBM, scheduled I think for 2021, new submarines, etc., etc. and I am not even talking about joint Russo/sino developments.

As Col. Lang/Gingrich explained, we are talking economics here. But unlike Japan, the Russian, Iranian, Syrian, Chinese and associated economies under the stimulus of OBOR are only going to get stronger if left to themselves. The American economy, in my opinion, is no longer capable of replacing ageing infrastructure, matching Russo Chinese military technical capabilities, fielding a million man Army and supporting allies like Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Poland, etc. without beggaring its population.

To put that another way, the American economic marvel of military production came off a low base with millions of underemployed work hungry people available as a result of the depression. I don't think those conditions obtain today.

Hence the Washington logic of picking off the weakest of the Axis - Iran, right now.

LJ , 13 May 2019 at 04:09 PM
The chances of war diminished?

https://ejmagnier.com/2019/05/13/from-karbala-to-al-fujairah-an-act-of-sabotage-may-end-prospects-of-a-summer-war-in-the-middle-east/

Eliot , 13 May 2019 at 04:30 PM
Walrus,

"The American economy, in my opinion, is no longer capable of replacing ageing infrastructure, matching Russo Chinese military technical capabilities"

I was in Russia for the first time last summer. I loved it, but I was surprised by how poor they are. Our debt load aside, they have do have more limited resources.

[May 13, 2019] It's time for Trump to stop John Bolton and Mike Pompeo from sabotaging his foreign policy Mulshine

Bolton power over Trump is connected to Adelson power over Trump. To think about Bolton as pure advisor is to seriously underestimate his role and influence.
Notable quotes:
"... But I always figured you needed to keep the blowhards under cover so they wouldn't stick their feet in their mouths and that the public position jobs should go to the smoothies..You, know, diplomats who were capable of some measure of subtlety. ..."
"... A clod like Bolton should be put aside and assigned the job of preparing position papers and a lout Like Pompeo should be a football coach at RoosterPoot U. ..."
"... "Once he's committed to a war in the Mideast, he's just screwed," ..."
"... Not only Trump, at the same time the swamp creatures risk losing control over the Democrat primaries, too. With a new major war in the Mideast, Tulsi Gabbard's core message of non-interventionism will resonate a lot more, and that will lower the chances of the corporate DNC picks. A dangerous gamble. ..."
"... The other day I was thinking to myself that if Trump decides to dismiss Bolton or Pompeo, especially given how terrible Venezuela, NKorea, and Iran policies have turned out (clearly at odds with his non-interventionist campaign platform), who would he appoint as State Sec and NS adviser? and since Bolton was personally pushed to Trump by Adelson in exchange for campaign donation, would there be a backlash from the Jewish Republican donors and the loss of support? I think in both cases Trump is facing with big dilemmas. ..."
"... Tulsi for Sec of State 2020... ..."
"... Keeping Bolton and Pompeo on board is consistent with Trump's negotiating style. He is full of bluster and demands to put the other side in a defensive position. I guess it was a successful strategy for him so he continues it. Many years ago I was across the table from Trump negotiating the sale of the land under the Empire State Building which at the time was owned by Prudential even though Trump already had locked up the actual building. I just sat there, impassively, while Trump went on with his fire and fury. When I did not budge, he turned to his Japanese financial partner and said "take care of this" and walked out of the room. Then we were able to talk and negotiate in a logical manner and consumate a deal that was double Trump's negotiating bid. I learned later he was furious with his Japanese partner for failing to "win". ..."
"... You can still these same traits in the way that Trump thinks about other countries - they can be cajoled or pushed into doing what Trump wants. If the other countries just wait Trump out they can usually get a much better deal. Bolton and Pompeo, as Blusterers, are useful in pursuing the same negotiation style, for better or worse, Trump has used for probably for the last 50 years. ..."
"... I have seen this style of negotiations work on occasion. The most important lesson I've learned is the willingness to walk. I'm not sure that Trump's personal style matters that much in complex negotiations among states. There's too many people and far too many details. ..."
"... Having the neocons front & center on his foreign policy team I believe has negative consequences for him politically. IMO, he won support from the anti-interventionists due to his strong campaign stance. While they may be a small segment in America in a tight race they could matter. ..."
"... Additionally as Col. Lang notes the neocons could start a shooting match due to their hubris and that can always escalate and go awry. We can only hope that he's smart enough to recognize that. I remain convinced that our fawning allegiance to Bibi is central to many of our poor strategic decision making. ..."
"... I agree that this is Trump's style but what he does not seem to understand is that in using jugheads like these guys on the international scene he may precipitate a war when he really does not want one. ..."
"... "Perhaps the biggest lie the mainstream media have tried to get over on the American public is the idea that it is conservatives, that start wars. That's total nonsense of course. Almost all of America's wars in the 20th century were stared by liberal Democrats." ..."
"... Exceptions are: Korea? (Eisenhower); Grenada? (Reagan); Iraq? (Bush Sr.) ..."
"... So what exactly is Pussy John, then, just a Yosemite Sam-type bureaucrat with no actual portfolio, so to speak? I defer to your vastly greater knowledge of these matters, but at times it sure seems like they are pursuing a rear-guard action as the US Empire shrinks ..."
"... If were Lavrov, what would I think to myself were I to find myself on the other side of a phone call from PJ or the Malignant Manatee? ..."
May 12, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com
It's time for Trump to stop John Bolton and Mike Pompeo from sabotaging his foreign policy | Mulshine

"I put that question to another military vet, former Vietnam Green Beret Pat Lang.

"Once he's committed to a war in the Mideast, he's just screwed," said Lang of Trump.

But Lang, who later spent more than a decade in the Mideast, noted that Bolton has no direct control over the military.

"Bolton has a problem," he said. "If he can just get the generals to obey him, he can start all the wars he wants. But they don't obey him."

They obey the commander-in-chief. And Trump has a history of hiring war-crazed advisors who end up losing their jobs when they get a bit too bellicose. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley comes to mind."

" In Lang's view, anyone who sees Trump as some sort of ideologue is missing the point.

"He's an entrepreneurial businessman who hires consultants for their advice and then gets rid of them when he doesn't want that advice," he said.

So far that advice hasn't been very helpful, at least in the case of Bolton. His big mouth seems to have deep-sixed Trump's chance of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. And that failed coup in Venezuela has brought up comparisons to the failed Bay of Pigs invasion during the Kennedy administration." Mulshine

--------------

Well, pilgrims, I worked exclusively on the subject of the Islamic culture continent for the USG from 1972 to 1994 and then in business from 1994 to 2006. I suppose I am still working on the subject. pl

https://www.nj.com/opinion/2019/05/its-time-for-trump-to-stop-john-bolton-and-mike-pompeo-from-sabotaging-his-foreign-policy-mulshine.html


JJackson , 12 May 2019 at 04:11 PM

What is happening with Trump's Syrian troop withdrawal? Someone seems to have spiked that order fairly effectively.
tony , 12 May 2019 at 05:12 PM
I don't get it I suppose. I'd always thought that maybe you wanted highly opinionated Type A personalities in the role of privy council, etc. You know, people who could forcefully advocate positions in closed session meetings and weren't afraid of taking contrary positions. But I always figured you needed to keep the blowhards under cover so they wouldn't stick their feet in their mouths and that the public position jobs should go to the smoothies..You, know, diplomats who were capable of some measure of subtlety.

But these days it's the loudmouths who get these jobs, to our detriment. When will senior govt. leaders understand that just because a person is a success in running for Congress doesn't mean he/she should be sent forth to mingle with the many different personalities and cultures running the rest of the world?

A clod like Bolton should be put aside and assigned the job of preparing position papers and a lout Like Pompeo should be a football coach at RoosterPoot U.

turcopolier -> tony... , 12 May 2019 at 06:55 PM
No. I would like to see highly opinionated Type B personalities like me hold those jobs. Type B does not mean you are passive. It means you are not obsessively competitive.
ex-PFC Chuck said in reply to tony... , 12 May 2019 at 08:06 PM
What do you expect when the boss himself is a loud-mouthed blowhard?
rho , 12 May 2019 at 06:34 PM
"Once he's committed to a war in the Mideast, he's just screwed,"

Not only Trump, at the same time the swamp creatures risk losing control over the Democrat primaries, too. With a new major war in the Mideast, Tulsi Gabbard's core message of non-interventionism will resonate a lot more, and that will lower the chances of the corporate DNC picks. A dangerous gamble.

E Publius , 12 May 2019 at 06:55 PM
Interesting post, thank you sir. Prior to this recent post I had never heard of Paul Mulshine. In fact I went through some of his earlier posts on Trump's foreign policy and I found a fair amount of common sense in them. He strikes me as a paleocon, like Pat Buchanan, Paul Craig Roberts, Michael Scheuer, Doug Bandow, Tucker Carlson and others in that mold.

The other day I was thinking to myself that if Trump decides to dismiss Bolton or Pompeo, especially given how terrible Venezuela, NKorea, and Iran policies have turned out (clearly at odds with his non-interventionist campaign platform), who would he appoint as State Sec and NS adviser? and since Bolton was personally pushed to Trump by Adelson in exchange for campaign donation, would there be a backlash from the Jewish Republican donors and the loss of support? I think in both cases Trump is facing with big dilemmas.

My best hope is that Trump teams up with libertarians and maybe even paleocons to run his foreign policy. So far Trump has not succeeded in draining the Swamp. Bolton, Pompeo and their respective staff "are" indeed the Swamp creatures and they run their own policies that run against Trump's America First policy. Any thoughts?

Rick Merlotti said in reply to E Publius... , 13 May 2019 at 10:17 AM
Tulsi for Sec of State 2020...
jdledell , 13 May 2019 at 09:23 AM
Keeping Bolton and Pompeo on board is consistent with Trump's negotiating style. He is full of bluster and demands to put the other side in a defensive position. I guess it was a successful strategy for him so he continues it. Many years ago I was across the table from Trump negotiating the sale of the land under the Empire State Building which at the time was owned by Prudential even though Trump already had locked up the actual building. I just sat there, impassively, while Trump went on with his fire and fury. When I did not budge, he turned to his Japanese financial partner and said "take care of this" and walked out of the room. Then we were able to talk and negotiate in a logical manner and consumate a deal that was double Trump's negotiating bid. I learned later he was furious with his Japanese partner for failing to "win".

You can still these same traits in the way that Trump thinks about other countries - they can be cajoled or pushed into doing what Trump wants. If the other countries just wait Trump out they can usually get a much better deal. Bolton and Pompeo, as Blusterers, are useful in pursuing the same negotiation style, for better or worse, Trump has used for probably for the last 50 years.

Jack said in reply to jdledell... , 13 May 2019 at 02:14 PM
I have seen this style of negotiations work on occasion. The most important lesson I've learned is the willingness to walk. I'm not sure that Trump's personal style matters that much in complex negotiations among states. There's too many people and far too many details. I see he and his trade team not buckling to the Chinese at least not yet despite the intense pressure from Wall St and the big corporations.

Having the neocons front & center on his foreign policy team I believe has negative consequences for him politically. IMO, he won support from the anti-interventionists due to his strong campaign stance. While they may be a small segment in America in a tight race they could matter.

Additionally as Col. Lang notes the neocons could start a shooting match due to their hubris and that can always escalate and go awry. We can only hope that he's smart enough to recognize that. I remain convinced that our fawning allegiance to Bibi is central to many of our poor strategic decision making.

rho said in reply to jdledell... , 13 May 2019 at 04:33 PM
jdledell

Just out of curiosity: Did the deal go through in the end, despite Trump's ire? Or was Trump so furious with the negotiating result of his Japanese partner that he tore up the draft once it was presented to him?

turcopolier , 13 May 2019 at 11:17 AM
jdledell

I agree that this is Trump's style but what he does not seem to understand is that in using jugheads like these guys on the international scene he may precipitate a war when he really does not want one.

Outrage Beyond , 13 May 2019 at 11:51 AM
Mulshine's article has some good points, but he does include some hilariously ignorant bits which undermine his credibility.

"Jose Gomez Rivera is a Jersey guy who served in the State Department in Venezuela at the time of the coup that brought the current socialist regime to power."

Wrong. Maduro was elected and international observers seem to agree the election was fair.

"Perhaps the biggest lie the mainstream media have tried to get over on the American public is the idea that it is conservatives, that start wars. That's total nonsense of course. Almost all of America's wars in the 20th century were stared by liberal Democrats."

Exceptions are: Korea? (Eisenhower); Grenada? (Reagan); Iraq? (Bush Sr.)

O'Shawnessey , 13 May 2019 at 01:21 PM
So what exactly is Pussy John, then, just a Yosemite Sam-type bureaucrat with no actual portfolio, so to speak? I defer to your vastly greater knowledge of these matters, but at times it sure seems like they are pursuing a rear-guard action as the US Empire shrinks and shudders in its death throes underneath them, and at others it seems like they really have no idea what to do, other than engage in juvenile antics, snort some glue from a paper bag and set fires in the dumpsters behind the Taco Bell before going out into a darkened field somewhere to violate farm animals.

If were Lavrov, what would I think to myself were I to find myself on the other side of a phone call from PJ or the Malignant Manatee?

turcopolier , 13 May 2019 at 01:21 PM
O'Shaunessy - He is an adviser who has no power except over his own little staff. The president has the power, not Bolton.

[May 13, 2019] "EU statement today is why JCPOA is where it is: the US has bullied Europe -- and rest of world -- for a year and EU can only express 'regret'.

May 13, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 11, 2019 9:07:12 PM | link

< Iranian FM Zarif> said the following on Thursday :

"EU statement today is why JCPOA is where it is: the US has bullied Europe -- and rest of world -- for a year and EU can only express 'regret'.
Instead of demanding that Iran unilaterally abide by a multilateral accord, EU should uphold obligations - incl normalization of economic ties."

Khamenei's Twitter's been silent. Machine translation of what Rouhani Tweeted on the 7th :

"Iran has no obligation to keep its enrichment of uranium reserves and its produced absinthe. = = = = Iran = = = = the following acts of Iran will be in Iran if they can't fulfill their obligations in the day and supply the interests of Iran. The win-win conditions will be agreed."

Otherwise, lots of silence due to VE-Day celebrations. Syrian operations in Hama and Idlib are going very well.

Here's my Wednesday comments about Iranian and Russian statements about Iran's JCPOA announcements that weren't twisted by BigLie Media.

Uncle Jon , May 12, 2019 12:57:07 AM | link

@ Hoarsewhisperer 73

Javad Zarif put it best: "Negotiations and treaties are not about trust, but about respecting your signature".

[May 13, 2019] John Bolton is the problem

May 10, 2019 | www.unz.com

Sunburst says: May 10, 2019 at 3:22 am GMT

U.S. Foreign Policy used to have only two instruments in dealing with rest of the world, namely carrots and sticks. Since the fall of Soviet Union and certainly after 9/11, only sticks remain. Now the World including the so-called allies are getting tired of the threats and start ignoring the Empire, hence the diminishing effectiveness, paving the way for polymorphic World. This transition is fraught with dangers as pointed out by the Author.

SeekerofthePresence , says: May 10, 2019 at 11:18 pm GMT

Lovely post by Ret. Col. Douglas Macgregor on the end of empire:
"John Bolton is the problem"
"Trump's national security adviser is getting dangerous particularly to the president's ideals"
Douglas Macgregor
https://spectator.us/john-bolton-problem/

Could also be titled, "How to Exhaust an Empire."
Sun Tzu warned of the same demise in the "Art of War."
Didn't they used to teach that book at West Point?

FB , says: Website May 11, 2019 at 12:44 am GMT
@El Dato And also the 90 minute Trump-Putin phone call, where Venezuela was the main subject

From the way I understand Trump's comments afterward, it seems the military option is off the table the two presidents agreed that humanitarian aid is the priority

This is great news I have to give Trump credit here Justin Raimondo presciently opined a week ago that Trump may have been giving the 'walrus' just enough rope on Venezuela to hang himself

I have to wonder what Vlad whispered in carrot top's ear

'Come on man you can do it BE A BOSS '

LOL

J. Gutierrez , says: May 11, 2019 at 10:23 am GMT
When we take a close look at the American Government and it's elected officials, we can only come to one conclusion. The US is a thriving criminal enterprise that uses force to get what they want. The military's role is that of enforcers and the US President is no different than a Mafia Don. In no other time in US history has Government and Organized Criminal Gangs been so indistinguishable. George H.W. Bush with his New World Order announcements, his CIA drug dealing operations and military invasion of Panama to steal the drug cartel's money deposited in that county's banks, came close. Bill Clinton working with George H.W. Bush protecting drug shipments smuggled into Mena, AK, the cover up of murdered witnesses and numerous sexual assault allegations also came pretty close.

But when George W. Bush, Dick Chaney, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld came into power, that was a Mafia if there was ever one. That group of criminals stole more money and murdered more people than any criminal organization in history. They even conned the American people into believing some rag-heads in Afghanistan hiding in caves did it. It was the first time since Pancho Villa that anyone attacked the US on its own soil. Not only did they steal all the gold stored in bank vaults located in the Twin Towers, but they put money on the stock market. In true gangster fashion the next move was to retaliate against the Muslim Mafia who was fingered by Mayer Lanski (Benjamin Nuttenyahoo) and their own paid snitches (MSM). It was time to hit mattresses and send their enforcers to get payback so the Purple Gang (Israel) can take over their territory.

There is a big difference between the US Government and the Mafia when it comes to war, the Mafia adheres to a strict code of ethics, they do not target their enemies families.

In 2016 the American people elected a true gangster from New York city. A known con man, a swindler, a tax evader and known associate of the criminal underground. A man with numerous court cases and 23 accusations of sexual assault. A man who was screwing a porn star while his wife was given birth. A man who's mentor was Roy Cohen a mob attorney and practicing homosexual who died of AIDS. A man that surrounded himself with the most perverted group of people in New York such as: Roger Stone a well known swinger and gay pride participant. Paul Manafort a convicted criminal and swinger who attended the same clubs as Stone along with their wives. They liked to watch their wives get screwed by other men. Lets not forget John Bolton who was exposed by Larry Flint for also being a swinger. His ex-wife accused him of forcing her to perform sex acts with multiple men at the same clubs the other 2 cuckolds attended. A Russian agent once commented that the best place to find government people to blackmail was the New York swingers scene.

Jeffery Epstein tops the list of perverted friends of Donald Trump. Epstein is the worst kind of perverted human being. The predator pedophile that uses his money to lure young girls into his sick world. Epstein holds the key to uncovering the nation wide pedophile ring that include some of the most famous people in the US. This is Trump's Mafia, a Mafia not like the Gambinos or Luchesis. A Mafia full of Perverts, Criminals, Pedophiles and Cuckolds. These are just a few of the people in Trump's circle of friends. If these are your leaders, what does that say about the American people!

My dad used to tell me tell me who you hang around with, and I'll tell you who you are! Every single person in DC government is compromised! And this incompetent Mafia of Perverts want you to believe that Madurro is a corrupt leader and Iran is a threat to the US!

[May 13, 2019] Something about Bolton past and sexual preferences

May 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

FB , says: Website May 11, 2019 at 4:46 pm GMT

@J. Gutierrez Thanks for putting together this commentary J

Bolton a swinger ?

LOL that's a mental picture that's deeply disturbing yet funny at the same time

J. Gutierrez , says: May 11, 2019 at 10:42 pm GMT
@FB Yeah brother that POS was called out during his confirmation hearings during baby bush's presidency. Larry Flint had offered a Million dollars to anyone who had proof of republican sexual exploits. He was quickly fingered by someone who attended those clubs. He was forced to accept a temporary position and quietly resigned after a few months so as to avoid facing questions.

Someone said they saw him proposition a teenage girl outside one of the swinger clubs he frequented.

Glad you enjoyed the piece take care brother

J. Gutierrez , says: May 12, 2019 at 1:05 am GMT
@SeekerofthePresence Thank you your comment is very much appreciated. But I'm definitely not a spokesman for moral truth, just the truth. I just watch in amazement from Mexico at what the US government has become. A den of the most vile people ever assembled in the world far worse than the people that demanded the crucification of Jesus Christ. We just went through a serious political conversion, but the people had to hit the streets for it to succeed. I just don't think the American people feel they are in a do or die situation, and they couldn't more wrong.

[May 12, 2019] I have wondered for some time why the US was so reluctant to shell Iran, surely the US could protect Israel and after all, the US have shelled just about everyone in the neighborhood.

May 12, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

frances , May 11, 2019 7:35:12 PM | link

< reply to>
" https://militarywatchmagazine.com/article/iran-may-have-the-s-400-in-all-but-name-what-russia-really-delivered-in-2016-and-why-it-matters "
Posted by: RenoDino | May 11, 2019 4:23:36 PM | 58

Excellent article! I have wondered for some time why the US was so reluctant to shell Iran, surely the US could protect Israel and after all, the US have shelled just about everyone in the neighborhood.

NOW I better understand their reluctance. Even if the possible Iranian S-400 are few in number, if they are shown to be as capable as they are believed to be, it is game over for US military sales and that is the bread, butter and gold of the empire.

[May 11, 2019] Leaked USA s Feb 2018 Plan For A Coup In Venezuela

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... It was comprehensive -- directing military, diplomatic, and propaganda, policies -- regarding the Trump Administration's planned "Overthrow" of Venezuela's Government. His plan has since guided the Administration's entire operation, including "the capacities of the psychological war," regarding Venezuela. ..."
"... Encouraging popular dissatisfaction by increasing scarcity and rise in price of the foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods for the inhabitants. Making more harrowing and painful the scarcities of the main basic merchandises." ... ..."
"... intensifying the undercapitalization of the country, the leaking out of foreign currency and the deterioration of its monetary base, bringing about the application of new inflationary measures." ... ..."
"... Fully obstruct imports, and at the same time discouraging potential foreign investors in order to make the situation more critical for the population." ... compelling him to fall into mistakes that generate greater distrust and rejection domestically" ... ..."
"... To besiege him, to ridicule him and to pose him as symbol of awkwardness and incompetence. To expose him as a puppet of Cuba." ... ..."
"... Structuring a plan to get the profuse desertion of the most qualified professionals from the country, in order 'to leave it with no professionals at all', which will aggravate even more the internal situation and along these lines putting the blame on of Government." ..."
May 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Leaked: USA's Feb 2018 Plan For A Coup In Venezuela

by Tyler Durden Sun, 05/05/2019 - 11:20 2 SHARES Authored by Eric Zuesse via Off-Guardian.org,

A detailed plan from "UNITED STATES SOUTHERN COMMAND" dated "23 FEBRUARY 2018" was issued with the title "PLAN TO OVERTHROW THE VENEZUELAN DICTATORSHIP 'MASTERSTROKE'" and is here presented complete.

This document was personally signed by Admiral Kurt W. Tidd , who was the Commander (the chief), at SOUTHCOM , and he was thus the top U.S. military official handling Venezuela. But this was far more than just a military plan.

It was comprehensive -- directing military, diplomatic, and propaganda, policies -- regarding the Trump Administration's planned "Overthrow" of Venezuela's Government. His plan has since guided the Administration's entire operation, including "the capacities of the psychological war," regarding Venezuela.

It instructed SOUTHCOM:

Encouraging popular dissatisfaction by increasing scarcity and rise in price of the foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods for the inhabitants. Making more harrowing and painful the scarcities of the main basic merchandises." ...

intensifying the undercapitalization of the country, the leaking out of foreign currency and the deterioration of its monetary base, bringing about the application of new inflationary measures." ...

Fully obstruct imports, and at the same time discouraging potential foreign investors in order to make the situation more critical for the population." ... compelling him to fall into mistakes that generate greater distrust and rejection domestically" ...

To besiege him, to ridicule him and to pose him as symbol of awkwardness and incompetence. To expose him as a puppet of Cuba." ...

Appealing to domestic allies as well as other people inserted from abroad in the national scenario in order to generate protests, riots and insecurity, plunders, thefts, assaults and highjacking of vessels as well as other means of transportation, with the intention of deserting this country in crisis through all borderlands and other possible ways, jeopardizing in such a way the National Security of neighboring frontier nations. Causing victims and holding the Government responsible for them. Magnifying, in front of the world, the humanitarian crisis in which the country has been submitted to."

Structuring a plan to get the profuse desertion of the most qualified professionals from the country, in order 'to leave it with no professionals at all', which will aggravate even more the internal situation and along these lines putting the blame on of Government."

the presence of combat units from the United States of America and the other named countries, under the command of a Joint General Staff led by the USA."

It was posted online at the Voltairenet site , and was first copied to a web archive on 14 May 2018 . So, it has been online since at least that date. However, because the photo in it of the document wasn't made available via software which includes the individual symbols, but presented only the full visual image of the paper document, it still hasn't yet gone viral on the Web.

Here, therefore, is the first appearance, on the Web, of the full document, that's manually copied, character-by-character, so that each phrase in this document becomes, for the first time, web-searchable, and thereby conveniently available for journalists and historians to quote from.

This prophetic document -- the source for what has happened afterward in and to Venezuela -- might therefore finally receive the public attention that it so clearly merits.

The document starts with propaganda against Venezuela's existing Government (and it totally ignores the extent to which the pre-existing U.S. economic sanctions against Venezuela had actually caused these problems ), and it then proceeds to present the U.S. plan to overthrow the 'dictatorship'. (Tidd refers to Maduro only as "the Dictator," except at the very start and very end.

At the end, he commands "the denouncement toward Maduro's regimen" and he also uses the phrase "the enemy" to refer to him -- as if there had been the U.S. Constitutionally required authorization, by the U.S. Congress, of this "war." The close urges "the dispatch of a UNO military force for the imposition of peace, once Nicolas Maduro's corrupt dictatorship is defeated." The U.N. is militarily to "impose" "peace," after the U.S. and its allies have conquered Venezuela.)

Although Tidd placed 100% of the blame for Venezuela's problems upon Maduro, and ignored the crucial extent to which U.S. economic sanctions had caused them, his plan emphasized that the U.S. must actively make things even worse for the Venezuelan public than America's economic sanctions had yet done.

His coup-plan is loaded with such statements, and, in fact, opens with one:

"Encouraging popular dissatisfaction by increasing scarcity and rise in price of the foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods for the inhabitants. Making more harrowing and painful the scarcities of the main basic merchandises."

So: he wasn't naive. America's induced suffering upon Venezuelans was part of his plan for Venezuelans, in order to get them to do what the U.S. regime wants them to do -- overthrow Maduro. Furthermore, the United States Government has had extensive successes in previous such operations. One example is that this was how Chile's Salvador Allende was brought down in 1973 (at a time when the U.S. Government's claims to have done it for 'national security' reasons had much more credibility than its current excuse of helping the Venezuelan people does, because the supposedly ideological Cold War was still on).

The only excuse that the perpetrators can come up with, this time around, is "to put an end to the Venezuelan nightmare and the awakening of theirs beloved nation at a luminous dawn, in which the vision of fortune, true peace and tranquility predominate for their fellow citizens."

Impoverish the nation, in order to help Venezuelans attain "true peace and tranquility." That's the plan.

Here is the document's entire text:

SOUTHCOM
TOP SECRET
23 FEB 2018

PLAN TO OVERTHROW THE VENEZUELAN DICTATORSHIP "MASTERSTROKE"

UNITED STATES SOUTHERN COMMAND 23 FEBRUARY 2018

TOP SECRET/20180223

CURRENT SITUATION

The Venezuelan Chavista dictatorship staggers as a result of its frequent internal problems; there is a great shortage of foodstuffs, an exhaustion of the sources of foreign currency and a rampant corruption. The international support, won with petrodollars, becomes scarcer each time and the purchasing power of its national currency is in a constant downfall.

Such scenario is not supposed to change, but the Venezuelan present-day leaders, as they usually do, in their despair to preserve their power, are capable to appeal to new populist measures that perpetuate their positions of privilege; the only mechanism that sustains them obstinate to the struggle to hold on their positions.

Maduro's corrupt regimen will collapse but regrettably, the divided opposing forces, legitimate defenders of democracy and the well-being of their people, do not have power enough to put an end to the Venezuelan nightmare and the awakening of theirs beloved nation at a luminous dawn, in which the vision of fortune, true peace and tranquility predominate for their fellow citizens.

The internal disputes, the supreme particular likings, the corruption similar to the one of their rivals, as well as the scarcity of rooting, do not grant them the opportunity to make the most of this situation and to give the necessary step to overturn the state of penury and precariousness in which the pressure group, that exercises the leftist dictatorship, has submerged the country. We are at the presence of an unprecedented criminal action in Latin America.

This affects the entire region, there is no respect to international right and local political alternatives are unacceptable.

Democracy spreads out in America, continent in which radical populism was intended to take over. Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil are examples of it. The rebirth of democracy has the support of the most valuable determinations, and the conditions in the regions run in its favour.

It is the time for the United States to prove, with concrete actions, that they are implicated in that process, where overthrowing Venezuelan dictatorship will surely mean a continental turning point.

It is the first opportunity of the Trump Administration to bring forward the vision in reference to security and democracy. Showing its active commitment is crucial, not only for the administration, but also for the continent and for the world.

The time has come to

Step to speed up the definite overthrow of Chavismo and the expulsion of its representative:

Undermining the decadent popular support to Government. Securing he the present-day dictator's irreversible deterioration Increasing the internal instability to a critical level. Using the army officers as an alternative of definite solution. Information Strategie

[signature]

K.W. TIDD

Admiral, USN

COMMANDER


WorkingClassMan , 9 minutes ago link

The US military learned their international terrorism activities from the best, the Mossad. This country is run (since at least Lincoln) by terrorists. Money stolen from us every year in the form of taxes used for ******** that destabilizes nations, destroys heritage and expands greater isn'treal.

All this and **** none of us even heard of yet...while our own borders remain wide open and our infrastructure crumbles.

Good use of money you ******* scum.

frankthecrank , 17 minutes ago link

It's fake. The military doesn't engage in such things, the spooks at the CIA do-along with the NSA. Just looking at that pic is humorous -- as if that's what they would title the document.

Gullible people.

fezline , 13 minutes ago link

Who is Gulible now??

https://documents.theblackvault.com/documents/jfk/northwoods.pdf

PeterLong , 9 minutes ago link

https://www.southcom.mil/Portals/7/Documents/Posture%20Statements/SOUTHCOM_2017_posture_statement_FINAL.pdf?ver=2017-04-06-105819-923

Joiningupthedots , 8 minutes ago link

The golden rule of finding yourself in a hole.......

STOP DIGGING!

gdpetti , 26 minutes ago link

BLah, blah, blah... in other words, the usual.... same as always... CIA's Crowley complained about these idiots after he retired... one example is the difference in Bush 1 and Bush Jr....

This plan is just the usual regime change script written about in many books... the only difference is how 'western' it is in targeting the mind of the masses... which only happens in 'democracies'.... real ones make you do that....

Wait till the puppets in DC really get frustrated... .and then see how frustrated their puppet masters get when their plans go awry as well... time is running out for both puppet and its master... Imagine being Putin and having to deal with these freaks.

mailll , 30 minutes ago link

I have a conspiracy theory. Since one of my theories is this: We want to gain control of Venezuela oil in order to secure oil imports coming into the US for when we attack Iran for the sake of Israel. The 22% of imports we get from the middle east, much of which comes from the Persian Gulf region, will be disrupted due to this war. And we would have a shortage here in the US along with skyrocketing oil prices. And we would surely bitch about it. But Venezuela oil will keep the oil coming into the US uninterrupted. And for those of you who believe we are energy independent, we are not. We use about 19 million barrels of oil per day, we produce about 12 million barrels per day, and we import about 6-7 million barrels of oil per day to help feed our craving for oil.

But to add to this conspiracy theory, I believe the window of opportunity is closing and the Zionists have to act quickly. So they will just say, OK, lets take Venezuela with our military and see how the world responds. We will never know until we try, so let's do it. And if it was a bad idea, don't worry boys, we are untouchable. We got away with it in Iraq, so let's do it again. Venezuela today, Iran tomorrow, and Israel always. They pay very well.

But this is just a conspiracy theory of mine, perhaps even a foolish one.

[May 07, 2019] Syria - Russian And Syrian Airforce Prepare The Ground For An Attack On Idlib Province

May 07, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Krollchem , May 6, 2019 3:53:54 PM | link

The US and Great Britain are trying to economically cripple Syria via cutoff of oil supplies as "The Syrian government is scrambling to deal with its worst fuel crisis since the war began in 2011, aggravated by U.S. sanctions targeting oil shipments to Damascus."
https://www.apnews.com/a99a22ad2598474ca39a7d8cde560c31

"(Syrian) Prime Minister Emad Khamis, quoted in local press, said Iranian tankers supplying Syria had been halted due to U.S. sanctions on Tehran.
Oil tankers bound for Syria have been barred from using Egypt's Suez Canal for six months, he added."
https://en.radiofarda.com/a/sanctions-on-damascus-and-tehran-have-led-to-serious-fuel-shortages-in-syria/29880330.html

"Under the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Great Britain, no Iranian oil tankers are allowed to transit the Suez Canal if they are destined for a Syrian port, a Syrian military source told Al-Masdar News this morning."

"The source said Iranian oil tankers are allowed to enter Mediterranean waters if the ship is destined for Turkey; however, due to U.S. and U.K. sanctions, the vessels cannot transit again if they dock at a Syrian port."
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syria-says-iranian-oil-tankers-blocked-at-suez-canal-if-shipment-is-destined-for-syrian-port/

US news sources confirm the Syrian Prime Minister's statement.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-sanctions-hit-irans-oil-lifeline-to-syria-11553267539

Thus the Egyptian government is apparently technically lying about their role in the sanction when they state "Egypt's government denied Wednesday banning the passage of oil tankers to Syria through the Suez Canal. Navigation in the canal is going according to international conventions and treaties that guarantee the right of safe navigation to all tankers without discrimination."
https://syrianobserver.com/EN/news/49720/cairo-denies-syrian-accusations-on-banning-iranian-oil-tanker-passage.html

Consequently, Iran is shipping Syria oil via tanker trucks.
"1200 Iranian tankers loaded with oil products reached Syria through Iraq in the past week," Al- Iraqia reports, adding, "The number of Iranian oil tankers are expected to reach 1500 per week, and after providing current Syrian needs, they will be fixed at 500 tankers per week."

"Syria consumes 100,000 barrels of oil a day and produces about 24,000 barrels, Mustapha Hammouriyyeh, head of the Syrian fuel distribution company, told Al-Ikhbariyya TV."
https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-reportedly-shipping-oil-to-syria-overland-as-suez-not-accessible-/29883951.html

To try to get around US sanctions Iran has reflagged their oil tankers from Panama to Iran registry and in many cases have switched off their AIS transponders.
https://lloydslist.maritimeintelligence.informa.com/LL1126731/Iran-oil-exports-on-the-rise-as-national-tanker-fleet-reflags


Christian J Chuba , May 6, 2019 4:09:17 PM | link

Hospitals being bombed

A sign that this attack is serious is that already the propagandists are already crying about Hospitals being bombed ... https://www.yahoo.com/news/violence-escalates-northwest-syria-claiming-more-lives-112458233.html

After Idlib ...

The Syrians will be able to take back the oil fields from the 5%.

Krollchem , May 6, 2019 5:23:33 PM | link

james@24

Those that oppose US and Israeli world domination has to buy time and promote economic collapse within the Empire. Eventually the Sparta like militarism will bankrupt both countries. The wild card is Venezuela - if they can get their hands on this oil they, and their allies, can continue to spread chaos for a couple more decades. As it now stands the US proven oil reserves are between 36-39 billion barrels and the US is consuming that oil at a rate of about 4.3 billion barrels/year.

The US is also putting pressure on Turkey in hopes of deposing the current government that supports the GNA in Libya and opposes the gulf states and Saudi Arabia. Turkey needs the Iranian heavy crude for its Tupras refinery. Substituting heavy crude from Russia is an issue as Russia has already contracted with Italy and Greece to supply heavy crude to their refineries.
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/04/turkey-iran-usa-ankara-seeks-alternative-sources-iranian-oil.html

psychohistorian , May 6, 2019 5:51:51 PM | link
B wrote
"The Syrian oilfields, which could produce enough to keep the country running, are under control of the U.S. proxy forces. The U.S. prohibited to sell that oil to the Syrian government."

It is about the money. It is another spinning plate trying to be war just like Iran, Venezuela, etc. And when the money music stops (which is only when enough nations stop buying US Treasuries) the elite are going to say that the poor should pay for those attempts at war.

I like the comment by frances above about the drunk on the canal boat and China/Russia/et al are trying to keep us alive, hoping the drunk passes out.....and we all get to watch and learn how not to run a world where the drunk owns the punch bowl.

[May 07, 2019] Hospitals being bombed false flag now can be treated as measuree of success of air operation by Syrian and Russian airfoirces

May 07, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Hoarsewhisperer , May 7, 2019 1:42:17 PM | link

Posted by: Christian J Chuba | May 6, 2019 4:09:17 PM | 26
(Hospitals being bombed)

The Ru-SAA campaign must be proceeding more successfully than the Christians would prefer.
The BBC's Deutche Welle is reporting via its White Helmets correspondents in Syria that schools and hospitals are being bombed by jets and helicopters with "barrel bombs". DW seems to be short of correspondents. One of the White Helmets blokes, without his white helmet, did a piece-de-camera about homes being bombed while masquerading as a civilian.
Desperation?

[May 07, 2019] Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) has provided US$ 2 million grant to the White Helmets

May 07, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU 1 , May 6, 2019 4:34:23 PM | link

https://qatarfund.org.qa/en/qatar-fund-for-development-supports-white-helmets/
"3 February، 2019
Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) has provided US$ 2 million grant to the White Helmets In accordance with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, in support to the Syrian people."

https://www.rt.com/news/453849-white-helmets-usa-funding/
14 Mar, 2019 21:41
The Trump administration is doubling down on backing the White Helmets, the self-proclaimed civil defense group with often controversial activity in militant-held areas of Syria, pledging a $5 million donation at a conference.

[May 07, 2019] Chris Hedges: The Demonization of Russia is Driven by Defense Contractors

Highly recommended!
Apr 05, 2019 | dandelionsalad.wordpress.com

RT America on Apr 3, 2019

Chris Hedges, host of "On Contact," joins Rick Sanchez to discuss the role of the Democratic establishment in the "Russiagate" media frenzy. He argues that it was an unsustainable narrative given the actions of the White House but that the Democratic elite are unable to face their own role in the economic and social crises for which they are in large part to blame. They also discuss NATO's expansionary tendencies and how profitable it is for US defense contractors.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/VkoH3l7c5cI

From the archives:

Barbara Mullin | April 7, 2019 at 10:29 AM

Years ago I kept hearing from the newsmedia that Russia was the "enemy".

Frontline had a show about "Putin's Brain". Even Free Speech TV shows like Bill Press and "The Nation" authors like Eric Alterman push the Hillary style warmongering and do nothing to expose the outright lies out there.

These are supposed to be thought outside of the corporate mainstream newsmedia. The emphasis only on Trump and Fox News is totally hypocritical.

[May 05, 2019] James Petras

Notable quotes:
"... US global power is built on several significant facts. These include: the US victory in World War II, its subsequent advanced economy and dominant military position throughout five continents. ..."
"... The US advanced its dominance through a series of alliances in Europe via NATO; Asia via its hegemonic relationship with Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Taiwan as well as Australia and New Zealand in Oceana; Latin America via traditional client regimes; Africa via neo-colonial rulers imposed following independence. ..."
"... The most significant advance of US global power took place with the demise and disintegration of the USSR, the client states in Eastern Europe, as well as the transformation of China and Indo-China to capitalism during the 1980's. ..."
Apr 29, 2019 | www.unz.com

Introduction

US global power in the Trump period reflects the continuities and changes which are unfolding rapidly and deeply throughout the world and which are affecting the position of Washington.

Assessing the dynamics of US global power is a complex problem which requires examining multiple dimensions.

We will proceed by:

Conceptualizing the principles which dictate empire building, specifically the power bases and the dynamic changes in relations and structures which shape the present and future position of the US. Identifying the spheres of influence and power and their growth and decline. Examining the regions of conflict and contestation. The major and secondary rivalries. The stable and shifting relations between existing and rising power centers. The internal dynamics shaping the relative strength of competing centers of global power. The instability of the regimes and states seeking to retain and expand global power.

Conceptualization of Global Power

US global power is built on several significant facts. These include: the US victory in World War II, its subsequent advanced economy and dominant military position throughout five continents.

The US advanced its dominance through a series of alliances in Europe via NATO; Asia via its hegemonic relationship with Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Taiwan as well as Australia and New Zealand in Oceana; Latin America via traditional client regimes; Africa via neo-colonial rulers imposed following independence.

US global power was built around encircling the USSR and China, undermining their economies and defeating their allies militarily via regional wars.

Post WWII global economic and military superiority created subordinated allies and established US global power, but it created the bases for gradual shifts in relations of dominance.

US global power was formidable but subject to economic and military changes over time and in space.

US Spheres of Power: Then and Now

US global power exploited opportunities but also suffered military setbacks early on, particularly in Korea, Indo-China and Cuba. The US spheres of power were clearly in place in Western Europe and Latin America but was contested in Eastern Europe and Asia.

The most significant advance of US global power took place with the demise and disintegration of the USSR, the client states in Eastern Europe, as well as the transformation of China and Indo-China to capitalism during the 1980's.

US ideologues declared the coming of a unipolar empire free of restraints and challenges to its global and regional power. The US turned to conquering peripheral adversaries. Washington destroyed Yugoslavia and then Iraq – fragmenting them into mini-states. Wall Street promoted a multitude of multi-national corporations to invade China and Indo-China who reaped billions of profits exploiting cheap labor.

The believers of the enduring rule of US global power envisioned a century of US imperial rule.

In reality this was a short-sighted vision of a brief interlude.

The End of Unipolarity: New Rivalries and Global and Regional Centers of Power: An Overview

US global power led Washington into 'overreach', in several crucial areas: it launched a series of costly prolonged wars, specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan, which had three negative consequences: the destruction of the Iraq armed forces and economy led to the rise of the Islamic State which overtook most of the country; the occupation in Afghanistan which led to the emergence of the Taliban and an ongoing twenty year war which cost hundreds of billions of dollars and several thousand wounded and dead US soldiers; as a result the majority of the US public turned negative toward wars and empire building

The US pillage and dominance of Russia ended, when President Putin replaced Yeltsin's vassal state. Russia rebuilt its industry, science, technology and military power. Russia's population recovered its living standards.

With Russian independence and advanced military weaponry, the US lost its unipolar military power. Nevertheless, Washington financed a coup which virtually annexed two thirds of the Ukraine. The US incorporated the fragmented Yugoslavian 'statelets' into NATO. Russia countered by annexing the Crimea and secured a mini-state adjacent Georgia.

China converted the economic invasion of US multi-national corporations into learning experiences for building its national economy and export platforms which contributed which led to its becoming an economic competitor and rival to the US.

US global empire building suffered important setbacks in Latin America resulting

from the the so-called Washington Consensus. The imposition of neo-liberal policies privatized and plundered their economies, impoverished the working and middle class, and provoked a series of popular uprising and the rise of radical social movements and center-left governments.

The US empire lost spheres of influence in some regions (China, Russia, Latin America, Middle East) though it retained influence among elites in contested regions and even launched new imperial wars in contested terrain. Most notably the US attacked independent regimes in Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Sudan via armed proxies.

The change from a unipolar to a multi polar world and the gradual emergence of regional rivals led US global strategists to rethink their strategy. The Trump regime's aggressive policies set the stage for political division within the regime and among allies.

The Obama – Trump Convergence and Differences on Empire Building

By the second decade of the 21 st century several new global power alignments emerged: China had become the main economic competitor for world power and Russia was the major military challenger to US military supremacy at the regional level. The US replaced the former European colonial empire in Africa. Washington's sphere of influence extended especially in North and Sub Sahara Africa: Kenya, Libya, Somalia and Ethiopia. Trump gained leverage in the Middle East namely in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Jordan.

Israel retained its peculiar role, converting the US as its sphere of influence.

But the US faced regional rivals for sphere of influence in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Algeria.

In South Asia US faced competition for spheres of influence from China, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Latin America sharp and abrupt shifts in spheres of influence were the norm. US influence declined between 2000 – 2015 and recovered from 2015 to the present.

Imperial Power Alignments Under President Trump

President Trump faced complex global, regional and local political and economic challenges.

Trump followed and deepened many of the policies launched by the Obama- Hillary Clinton policies with regard to other countries and regions . However Trump also radicalized and/or reversed policies of his predecessors. He combined flattery and aggression at the same time.

At no time did Trump recognize the limits of US global power. Like the previous three presidents he persisted in the belief that the transitory period of a unipolar global empire could be re-imposed.

Toward Russia, a global competitor, Trump adopted a policy of 'rollback'. Trump imposed economic sanctions, with the strategic 'hope' that by impoverishing Russia, degrading its financial and industrial sectors that he could force a regime change which would convert Moscow into a vassal state.

At the beginning of his Presidential campaign Trump flirted with the notion of a business accommodation with Putin. However, Trump's ultra-belligerent appointments and domestic opposition soon turned him toward a highly militarized strategy, rejecting military – including nuclear – agreements, in favor of military escalation.

Toward China, Trump faced a dynamic and advancing technological competitor. Trump resorted to a 'trade war' that went far beyond 'trade' to encompass a war against Beijing's economic structure and social relations. The Trump regime-imposed sanctions and threatened a total boycott of Chinese exports.

ORDER IT NOW

Trump and his economic team demanded China privatize and denationalize its entire state backed industry. They demanded the power to unilaterally decide when violations of US rules occurred and to be able to re-introduce sanctions without consultations. Trump demanded all Chinese technological agreements, economic sectors and innovations were subject and open to US business interests. In other words, Trump demanded the end of Chinese sovereignty and the reversal of the structural base for its global power. The US was not interested in mere 'trade' – it wanted a return to imperial rule over a colonized China.

The Trump regime rejected negotiations and recognition of a shared power relation: it viewed its global rivals as potential clients.

Inevitably the Trump regime's strategy would never reach any enduring agreements on any substantial issues under negotiations. China has a successful strategy for global power built on a 6 trillion-dollar world-wide Road and Belt (R and B) development policy, which links 60 countries and several regions. R and B is building seaports, rail and air systems linking industries financed by development banks.

In contrast, the US banks exploits industry, speculates and operates within closed financial circuits. The US spends trillions on wars, coups, sanctions and other parasitical activities which have nothing to do with economic competitiveness.

The Trump regime's 'allies' in the Middle East namely Saudi Arabia and Israel, are parasitic allies who buy protection and provoke costly wars.

Europe complains about China's increase in industrial exports and overlook imports of consumer goods. Yet the EU plans to resist Trump's sanctions which lead to a blind alley of stagnation!

Conclusion

The most recent period of the peak of US global power, the decade between 1989-99 contained the seeds of its decline and the current resort to trade wars, sanctions and nuclear threats.

The structure of US global power changed over the past seven decades. The US global empire building began with the US command over the rebuilding of Western European economies and the displacement of England, France, Portugal and Belgium from Asia and Africa.

The Empire spread and penetrated South America via US multi-national corporations. However, US empire building was not a linear process as witness its unsuccessful confrontation with national liberation movements in Korea, Indo China, Southern Africa (Angola, Congo, etc.) and the Caribbean (Cuba). By the early 1960's the US had displaced its European rivals and successfully incorporated them as subordinate allies.

Washington's main rivals for spheres of influence was Communist China and the USSR with their allies among client state and overseas revolutionaries.

The US empire builders' successes led to the transformation of their Communist and nationalist rivals into emergent capitalist competitors.

In a word US dominance led to the construction of capitalist rivals, especially China and Russia.

Subsequently, following US military defeats and prolonged wars, regional powers proliferated in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Regional blocs competed with US clients for power.

The diversification of power centers led to new and costly wars. Washington lost exclusive control of markets, resources and alliances. Competition reduced the spheres of US power.

In the face of these constraints on US global power the Trump regime envisioned a strategy to recover US dominance – ignoring the limited capacity and structure of US political , economic and class relations.

China absorbed US technology and went on to create new advances without following each previous stage.

Russia's recovered from its losses and sanctions and secured alternative trade relations to counter the new challenges to the US global empire. Trump's regime launched a 'permanent trade war' without stable allies. Moreover, he failed to undermine China's global infrastructure network; Europe demanded and secured autonomy to enter into trade deals with China, Iran and Russia.

Trump has pressured many regional powers who have ignored his threats.

The US still remains a global power. But unlike the past, the US lacks the industrial base to 'make America strong'. Industry is subordinated to finance; technological innovations are not linked to skilled labor to increase productivity.

Trump relies on sanctions and they have failed to undermine regional influentials. Sanctions may temporarily reduce access to US markets' but we have observed that new trade partners take their place.

Trump has gained client regimes in Latin America, but the gains are precarious and subject to reversal.

Under the Trump regime, big business and bankers have increased prices in the stock market and even the rate of growth of the GDP, but he confronts severe domestic political instability, and high levels of turmoil among the branches of government. In pursuit of loyalty over competence, Trump's appointments have led to the ascendancy of cabinet officials who seek to wield unilateral power which the US no longer possesses.

Elliot Abrams can massacre a quarter-million Central Americans with impunity, but he has failed to impose US power over Venezuela and Cuba. Pompeo can threaten North Kore, Iran and China but these countries fortify alliances with US rivals and competitors. Bolton can advance the interests of Israel but their conversations take place in a telephone booth – it lacks resonance with any major powers.

Trump has won a presidential election, he has secured concessions from some countries but he has alienated regional and diplomatic allies. Trump claims he is making America strong, but he has undermined lucrative strategic multi-lateral trade agreements.

US 'Global Power' does not prosper with bully-tactics. Projections of power alone, have failed – they require recognition of realistic economic limitations and the losses from regional wars.

alexander , says: May 5, 2019 at 1:41 pm GMT

This is a fine synopsis but it leaves out the most fundamental of issues.

The American People don't want to be an Empire, .never asked to be an Empire and despise, to the core, our ruling elites who defrauded us into becoming one.

We do live in an Empire now, to our chagrin, but it is (in truth) a malevolent empire .an Empire of Fraud, Belligerence .. and Heinous
F#cking Debt .

Show me one American, anywhere, who is happy about it .

Our ruling elites have "lied" us into multiple wars of "never ending" criminal aggression ..wars which have all but exterminated the solvency of the nation and reaped untold carnage and misery on tens of millions of people who never attacked us (and never intended to).

This "War Fraud", foisted upon us , has been a catastrophic disaster for our country and the world.

A "mind -bending, catastrophic, . disaster".

Every single belligerent "oligarch" , "plutocrat" and "establishment elite", who conspired to defraud us into these "illegal wars", should be rounded up and thrown in federal prison Every single penny of their assets should be seized to pay down the cost of wars they lied us into.

This is , hands down, the most meaningful step we could take, as a nation.

Not only would it change the direction of the world, almost overnight, but it would lay the groundwork for the United States to rebuild itself.

Once we make "Accountability for War Fraud" our nations highest priority, we can repair and rebuild.

If we don't, we won't and(tragically) might never be able to.